1halffull's Blog

The Surprises of Life…
April 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Change, Dad, Friends, God, Happiness, Humor, Jesus, Kids, Legacy, Life, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents, Travel

For the average person, there are very few really big events that take place in our lives.  You’re born – but you probably don’t remember that.  You learn to walk – don’t remember that either.  Your first day at school – maybe.  Your first visit from the tooth fairy – yep, pretty sure you remember that.

 The first date…the first kiss….the first ‘real’ boyfriend.  High school graduation then college.  Getting engaged then the big (or small) wedding day.  The birth of your first child, and every child after that.  The death of your mom, then your dad; your grandmas and grandpas if you were fortunate to know them at all.  There goes your favorite aunt and suddenly you’re so much older than you’d have thought you could get when you were 20.

 For me, most of that happened in the first 30 years.  It was a lot to pack in there.  They were all a big deal at the time….some remain a big deal in my heart, my head, even now.

 Someone once said that it’s the little things that sneak up and grab a hold of you.  They were right.

 Some of my ‘little things’ include, in random order….

 Going fishing with my dad and catching more fish than him.  He let me.  I loved the lake.  Still do.

 My friend deciding that I wouldn’t be able to deal with a club meeting when I got home after my dad’s death.  She put herself in my place and took care of it so I didn’t have to.  A little, but thoughtful thing.

 My dad poking his head into my room, handing me a $20 bill as he told me that he knew all I’d been doing around the house to help out.  Demonstrated appreciation that meant so much to me under the circumstances.

 Aunt Betty who invited me to visit her in the summers and allowed me to see myself as a valuable person like few others did.

 Learning that my friend Avis daily sang ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ in the final weeks of her life.  I’d always hoped she would.

 Playing a game of ‘keep the car moving till the light turns green’ when taking kids home from church – it’s a fun game – you should try it.

 Having a mother-in-law who patiently listened over the years, didn’t butt in, and has spent hours on the phone with me, talking about anything and nothing.  If we were running the world, it would be a much better place.  Thanks, mom.

 Going to the beach with the whole clan; all the kids playing together; sunburns radiating.  Sea creatures scurrying out of the bucket of sand while one child screamed and the others all laughed.

 My sister-in-law and I in the ocean – without our contacts in – screaming at ‘jaws’ coming for us then laughing our faces off when we finally could tell they were just shadows.  Another time laughing ourselves silly so hard in the card section that a man ‘just had to come see why we were so hysterical’.  “There are two sides to every divorce” the outside of the card said.  “Yours and the s— head’s.” (not my words – but how we howled and promptly sent it to a sibling who may still have it today)!

 Two little faces pressed against the window waving and calling ‘bye mommy’ as I’d pull out of the driveway on my way to somewhere else.

 The surprise 40th birthday party my husband gave me where I was totally surprised.

 The kids so excited to sleep in the van the night before a vacation started.

 All the Christmas videos we made that could be Christmas any year except for the changes in sizes, hairdos, glasses and voices.

 Howling at the moon from the causeway with my daughter.

 Taking my son for his first tattoo.

 Oh, the list goes on and on and is my way of saying, let the little things grab on to you and you hold on tight to them.  In the end, they’re really the only things that matter.


Are you defined?
October 14, 2009, 3:48 am
Filed under: Happiness, Life, Travel

I admit it.  I’m having a bit of a mid-life crisis.  Again.  Okay, so it’s pretty much past mid-life and on into a later life crisis.  That’s probably why I’m having it.  Again.

Last night I was watching “Little People, Big World”, as the mom, Amy, talked candidly about how she’s feeling as her boys approach graduation and her daughter goes to her first winter formal.  Clearly, even though she’ll still have kids around the house for another six years or so (her youngest is about 12), she’s already thinking about and anticipating the empty nest and what that will mean for her and husband Matt.  Airplanes

While Matt is always on to the next big thing, Amy’s more practical.  In spite of Matt always wanting to move on to the next big thing, for him, that doesn’t mean travel; for Amy it does.  For Matt the next big thing is something he can buy or build and usually uses up much more money than their finances should handle.  Amy, on the other hand, realizes they’re not spring chickens any more and they should get a bit more conservative.  After all, they might want to retire some day.

Matt plainly states that if there are no more projects to be worked on, crafted, then he might as well be done with life.  Amy contends that if there are any more projects like the recent house remodel, there may not be any life left anyway.  From Amy’s point of view, they both want completely different things.  She wonders aloud if they’ll be able to continue their lives together?  Matt just seems confused by her attitude.

I know how they feel.

Tonight, as I watched a favorite show, part of the telling was through a main character who had been diagnosed with lymphoma last week.  Her journey led her to puzzle through what treatments to take, where to take them, how she would get through it all.  While her mom and her husband tried to bring her to earth in research and the busyness of making decisions, she was about awakening to what made her happy.  She took her soon-to-be sister in law to shop for a wedding dress, drank champagne, encouraged her to try on an ostrich feather dress.  Then she got her family together for a happy dinner that wasn’t.  When all was said and done, she said something quite profound – probably many cancer patients have said the same thing – ‘I won’t let cancer define who I am.’ (paraphrased)


Unbelievably, the very next show I watched – not on the same network – the main characters had also come through a difficult time and one said to the other – ‘You can’t let this define you.’


Okay, so I was hit between the eyes the first time I heard it but to get it thrown at me a second time in one night?  I figured there was a message here and I needed to write about it.

How do we define ourselves?  Once ‘defined’ always ‘defined’ or do we re-define periodically?  Is there a standard measurement for defining or can we define based on our whims of the moment?

Pretty much, I don’t see myself as locked into a one dimension definition – yet.  I haven’t been a person that got a degree (or didn’t) then went to work in a profession and stayed there for 35 years.  I have been a person who’s nearly completed college; a person who’s held numerous positions, each one becoming somewhat of a building block for the next.  What can I say?  I like change and mobility. 

In the first 15 years of my marriage, we moved around a bit going from our hometown, to Niles, to Xenia, to New housesWindsor (my favorite place) then here to Cortland.  Through those times we lived in 10 different homes.  I loved it!  I thrived on it.  I loved the change and I never minded moving.  I learned that every other move is what I call ‘the good move.’  Those are the places you make a lot of friends and have a great life.  Niles and New Windsor – the good moves.

After we moved here, we never moved again.  Is it any wonder that I feel the stirring of the wander lust within?  How do you ask a mobile person to define herself in a non-mobile world?  It’s like asking New York City to be happy pretending to be Warren.  Not possible.  And the lightbulb comes on and I finally see more clearly now that my current definition just doesn’t match the me I want to be, something I’ve actually known as an uncomfortable feeling, but now it’s fully revealed.

The critical question:  How do you successfully change a definition?

More later.   Maybe.

Baseball has been vedy goooodt to me….
July 7, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Baseball, Cleveland Indians, Memories, Travel

That’s what a number of our imported players have to say about the game as they get their paychecks and hit the field to hopefully knock a couple out of the park.

It’s been fun for us as well.

Last Saturday I got a text from my sister asking if I was awake.  It was 10:40 p.m. so it was considerate of her to text rather than call and chance waking me up.  After a text reply, the phone rang and she told how she and Dick (her husband) had just won some great seats at The Jake (I refuse to call it Progressive Field) for July 4th.  Five rows behind home plate!  AWESOME!

As if that wasn’t enough, they also had passes to the Terrace Club to share as well.  To coin a previously movie-coined phrase:

Looking out at the Jumbotron

Looking out at the Jumbotron

“Is this Heaven?”

I thought it would be fun to surprise Dan with this fun evening as part of his forthcoming birthday gift which meant I had to keep it all a secret.  So, I spent the week dodging his constant attempts to plan out what we’d be doing and where and when we would meet up with Pat & Dick on Saturday.  It would have been infinitely simpler had I just told him and been done with it.

Saturday came and I hid all the stuff we usually take to a game, including his new shirt with Colavito on the back, in the back of my car.  Next thing you know, he’s tromping through the house hunting down said items.  Not finding them (because they were in the back of my car) we left in a huff.

We met Pat and Dick, got them into our car and commenced with a prefabricated story about how Dick had to go find this place in Cleveland where he needed to pick up a load on Tuesday (he’s a truck driver).  When we got close enough, Dick handed Dan the parking pass and said, “I think you need to go here.”  Dan didn’t get it, then all of a sudden the light came on and he realized what was happening.

Big as life - Grady Sizemore

It was a lovely evening with dinner in the main dining room of the Terrace Club, window seats.  Because it was July 4th, they were serving an upscale version of picnic type foods.  I’m not a big rib fan, but theirs were scrumptious!

Big as life – Grady Sizemore

After we’d feasted ourselves full, we went down to our seats where we learned that the players are actually as large, if not larger than we are instead of the usual two inches tall you see from the upper decks.

It was a beautiful night for baseball!  Not too cold, hot or windy.  Just right.  We could hear every sound – the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the umpire clearly calling the strikes, the crack of the bat.  The cotton

Score keeper

candy vendor actually came to our row – he never does that when we’re in the upper deck – and Slider shook my hand!  Howfun!

Pat and I took reams of photos of every sight visible including one of the actual game scorekeeper who sits in section 157 and keeps the score of the game!  I never knew about him.

Unbelievably, our Tribe actually won their second game in a row after having lost five games prior to this series with Oakland.  As if that wasn’t the icing on the cake, there were wonderful fireworks following the game, complete with musical accompaniment.  I don’t think we could have asked for a much better night!

Thanks to Pat & Dick for sharing this evening with us.  It was grand!

The Jake 080

As if…
June 30, 2009, 3:22 am
Filed under: Humor, Travel

….you thought that I was done with the vacation saga, that would be a big NOT!

Saturday we spent floating in the ocean while we waited for the in-laws to arrive.  It was lovely and, of course, I got a bit sun burned.  For me, that’s normal.  I rarely tan; mostly I just wait for all my freckles to get close enough to give the appearance of a color change.

Sunday came and while Dan went to do some business, we cooked up the plan that we’d go to Key West when he got back.  It’s only about a four hour drive so we thought we could get there by four, spend a couple hours then come back to the hotel.  The best laid plans always go awry.

First, Dan didn’t get back to us until 1:30 so we decided to do the abbreviated version of the Keys and just drive as far as Key Largo which was only about an hour and a half journey.  A friend of the in-laws told them there was some road construction, but we didn’t think much of that comment as we headed for the car.

Ft. Lauderdale 012The scenery along the way was beautiful – blue skies, blue water, boats, birds, sunshine.  What more could you ask for?  As we got closer to Key Largo, we noticed road construction in the northbound lane.  Finally, we also realized there were absolutely NO northbound vehicles in sight anywhere.  Uh-oh.  That was our first clue.  Then we got to the end of the highway at the edge of Key Largo.  Our eyes were immediately drawn to two lanes of traffic on the other side of the road, all headed north.  As we drove on, the traffic jam continued on the other side, one mile, two miles, three miles then five miles worth of backed up traffic!  No way!

It became apparent that there was no other way out but to get into that mess to head north.

No one wanted to spend that much time in the traffic jam so we decided that rather than face the mess, we might as well go to a local park and stick our feet in the water.  We pulled in, paid the park fee, parked the car and headed for the beach.  Imagine my surprise to find that we’d landed on the beach at Mosquito Lake!  Seriously!  That’s exactly what it looked like.  We found ourselves on some backwater cove with even less charm than the shores of Mosquito Lake in Cortland, OH.  We got out of there in a hurry.

Photo_062109_003When we got to the road, we found ourselves in the midst of the five mile traffic jam.  Everyone groaned and simultaneously agreed that we should go south to Key West.  We thought this would buy time for the jam to get much shorter.  We rationalized that it would be better to be in the car going someplace fun than in the car, annoyed in the middle of the traffic jam.

The visit to Key West was great.  We saw the Southern Most Point of the United States and the various establishments that named themselves the southernmost whatever.  The beach there was pure white sand; the water was that wonderful caribbean blue.  We had dinner at The Original Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffett’s sun2place) then walked down to the pier to watch the sun seemingly melt into the ocean in a firey, beautiful blaze.  Absolutely gorgeous!  All too soon it was time to head north.

Being optimists, we convinced ourselves that the traffic jam would be much shorter by now.  WRONG!  Even though we didn’t get to that point until about 12:30 a.m., the back up was still a full five miles long.  We crept along at a maddeningly slow pace, two lanes merging into one, watching as some selfish drivers made their own lanes in an effort to get further ahead only to be thwarted by angry drivers who would have none of their antics.  Frustrating as all this was, it got worse when we finally got onto the two lane transfer road.  It was Pavlov’s experiment all over again.  Drivers had been so conditioned to drive bumper to bumper at 10 miles an hour, even when we hit the open road again, they kept up the ever slow pace!  It was just insane and one of those times you wished you either had a cruise ship horn to blast or were driving a military tank to be able to roll over everyone in front of you!

A four hour trip took us six and a half hours.  We were so tired, we got slap happy then got serious.  It was just one of ‘those’ times that you wouldn’t mind missing.

Unbelievably, we’re all invited back to Key West in December to celebrate a relative’s birthday.  We’ve all agreed that if we attend, we’re going to fly.

A Trip Without Adventure Is….
June 26, 2009, 3:06 am
Filed under: Humor, Travel

….not a trip I’m likely to take.

     Today we start our mini-vacation.  But it can’t begin until I work a full day where I get faced down by a volunteer who thinks I should control another 80 year old volunteer, prepare a work schedule for four students coming in to begin an eight week rotation of volunteering, deal with numerous interruptions all the while trying to forget my fear of flying nervousness.  Finally it’s 3:30 and the vacation can begin.

     But this is just the beginning!

     We (my husband Dan and I) were scheduled to leave for a much needed vacation in Ft. Lauderdale at eight tonight.  When we got to the airport, Dan dropped me off and went to park the car.  While I was waiting for him, I thought I might as well get out my driver’s license and be ready for check in.  To my dismay there was NO driver’s license to be found!

     I started to panic.  What if they won’t let me on the flight?  I knew I shouldn’t have taken this trip!  I quickly decided I’d go to the ticket counter to see what I could do about my situation before Dan arrived on the scene.

     I explained my predicament, then the lady explained hers….I needed a government document with my photo on it to get through security!  There’s very little one can do to produce a government document in the middle of an airport.  So, I did the next best thing….I brought out my photo I.D. work badge, my AAA card and various other assorted credit and bank cards.

     With all of these in front of her, the lady at the counter finally got permission to let me go through but warned me I’d probably have some trouble at security.  While I did have to provide even more cards with my name on them, I actually got through security without also having to be strip searched!  YEA!

    Our flight to Charlotte was pretty uneventful in spite of thunderstorm warnings and I breathed a sigh of relief on touch down.  Little did I know that there was still more fun ahead to be had. 

     We got off the plane just in time to run to the gate of our next flight only to catch the strains of the words….’technical difficulties’ and ‘delayed.’  Oh well these things happen.  To stave off starvation we decided now was a good time to grab a sandwich.

     We’d taken about two bites of said sandwich when they announced we’d be boarding …NOW!  We dumped the food back in the box and jumped on the plane with all those in zones one and two.  We sat waiting expectantly for those in zones three and four to board….but no one else got on.  We noticed that our pilot stood in the doorway of the cockpit, drinking his coffee, hanging out with the flight crew.  This was probably not a good sign.

     After about 15 minutes, Mr. Pilot finally told us what the technical difficulties were….the computers stopped talking to one another and they couldn’t fly the plane without them.  “Everybody off!” he crowed.  “We’ll see if we can get another plane to get you out of here!”

     Yeah, right. 

     By now it was 10:30 p.m. so we figured we didn’t have much hope for another plane tonight.  We pulled out our sandwiches again and began to eat.  We’d only swallowed about three bites when we heard:  “Ladies and gentlemen.  We’ve found you a new plane!  Go to gate D13 and we’ll begin to board shortly.”  YEA!

     Of course D13 was all the way at the other end of the airport.  We tossed our food and ran for it.  Quite soon we found ourselves ready to board the plane.  Our pilot stood in the doorway of the cockpit enduring some good natured ribbing – ‘This is the same plane isn’t it?  You just drove it around to this gate didn’t you?’

    With lightning speed we were herded back onto the new plane for the fastest take off I can remember.  I’m still in the air and I know we’re clipping along to make up some time.  Hopefully today’s excitement will end with a three point landing in Ft. Lauderdale at about 1:30 this morning.  I’ll let you know!