Sunday, June 30, 2013

Almost, but not quite...

Though I certainly did better than last year's Blogathon, I was not able to do the entire 30 days in Blogathon 2013. No complaints -- I posted for all but one day. For me, that is huge.

Many thanks to Michelle Rafter, the genius behind this contest. Check out her website and you will learn more about her and the Blogathon.

Okay, 29 days is good, but here's what is better for me:

  • I have developed some topics to blog about regularly and I have figured out a schedule that I can actually keep. 
  • I have lost my fear and non-acceptance of blogging as a way of communication.
  • I realize I don't need to write every time for a blog post - photos, links to other sites, and other things  count as blog posts.
  • And people, not a ton, but some...and it's this blog.
  • I'll do this again next year and make it through the whole month.
Thanks, Michelle!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Yes, I'm a grouchy English major - just ask my husband. But I swear the U.S. is becoming illiterate as more and more websites -- particularly news sites (yes, you - Weather Channel ) -- don't pay attention. See below..

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blessed and Sometimes Don't Know It

I met a group of my friends for dinner last night -- two of them are retiring from a company I was downsized from three years ago. One of my friends just reached retirement age. The other is at least six years from there, but took advantage of an early out.

Why are they leaving? They are miserable. They are expected to be available 27/7 and they are not treated with any respect at all from their superiors. While some might think this is an instance of sour grapes -- on their part and mine -- it is not. They are two of a large number of employees there who are bailing out as soon as they can...because of the harsh and inhumane atmosphere.

Though I did not like the way I left my former employer, I realize I am blessed. I work for an outstanding small, family-owned company who treats their employees like family. I have an awesome boss and wonderful coworkers. Am I making the high salary I had at said former company? No - but I am paid well and treated well.

My in-laws sent me this the other day. It couldn't have come at a better time....

I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away..

I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things.. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return. So... while we have it..... it's best we love it.... and care for it... and fix it when it's broken......... and heal it when it's sick.

This is true for marriage...... and old cars...... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs with bad hips.... and aging parents...... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special........ and so, we keep them close!

I received this from someone who thinks I am a 'keeper', so I've sent it to the people I think of in the same way... Now it's your turn to send this to those people that are "keepers" in your life. Good friends are like stars... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there. Keep them close!


1. God won't ask what kind of car you drove. He'll ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation..

2. God won't ask the square footage of your house, He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
3. God won'task about the clothes you had in your closet, He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.

4. God won't ask what your highest salary was. He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

5. God won't ask what your job title was. He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

6. God won't ask how many friends you had. He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

7. God won't ask in what neighbourhood you lived, He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.

8. God won't ask about the colour of your skin, He'll ask about the content of your character.

9. God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation. He'll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.

10. God won't have to ask how many people you forwarded this to, He already knows your decision.

Monday, June 24, 2013

35 years later...

...and it seems like nothing changed. My reunion with my fellow classmates of the Oshkosh North High School Class of 1978 was one of the best gatherings ever. They were a great group then and an even better one now!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Well, it could be...

...grammar! Yesterday I blogged about what I could write about and perhaps be an "expert" on. Never in a million years would I have said grammar. Yet, I find myself mentally correcting grammar everywhere -- work, home, watching television, reading newspapers or magazines.

Hell, the grammatical and spelling errors I see in newspapers would have gotten a reporter fired years ago. As it is, there must not be copy editors in newsrooms anymore, based on what I read. Even The New York Times has errors. Yikes!

Is it no one is being taught grammar in school or no one gives a shit? I think texting has something to do with it -- laziness also is a factor,

Take the photo on the right - the grave is Mayor Ed Koch's in New York - his year of birth is wrong. Hate to know how much he paid for the tombstone. The others are just stupid signs. Funny, yes. But funny gets old after awhile when you see stuff like this all over and all the time. Yes, I am a grouchy English major -- but at least I'm not illiterate.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why I Am Blogging...

This has been an interesting month, as I have, to date, kept up my "blog every day" commitment to the 2013 Blogathon. I have been a writer for 40 years and it is something I will never stop doing. Yet I wonder - why do I do this blogging thing? Who wants to read about me?

The goal - determining a topic or topics I can blog regularly about and become an "expert" on. We'll see what it turns out to be.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day, Joe McIlree

Dad is not a huge fan of the internet and is a private kind of guy, so this will be brief. I just wanted to wish the best Dad ever a Happy Father's Day.

Dad, you mean the world to me and I am blessed to have you in my life and as my Dad.

Love you!

Annie Girl

Saturday, June 15, 2013


This was one of the most amazing mission trips I've been on. I think the seven people I went with would also agree with this. The family we helped was somewhat leery of having help - this is a "pull 'em up by the bootstraps" kind of guy. And here comes eight WASPs to his home in New Jersey - he doesn't know us, he doesn't know our skill set and it's a bit overwhelming. Who can blame him?

But somehow we clicked -- after that first day, he knew we meant business and we had done this before.At the end of the week, he flew his flags for the first time since the hurricane.

This has been one of the best experiences I've had in a long time and I'd do it again in a minute.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting better every day...

This was New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.

This is New Jersey and its people right after and going forward. They are a strong people and they are getting through this.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Team Jersey

No, we're not surgeons. My friend and I are sanding the walls of a home we are helping restore after Hurricane Sandy last year. I refuse to call this Super Storm Sandy anymore - not after what I have seen.

Houses tipped up on their sides. Houses blown off their foundations. They look like Tinker Toy houses I made when I was a kid and then kicked over.

This year's family is not the typical family we've helped in the past. But then again, who am I to judge? You help who needs help, no matter who they are or what they believe.

I am very glad to have met Donna and Rich and am so very glad our group has been able to help them. They'd do the same for us.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We are Team Jersey!

Heard the mourning dove this afternoon at our job site. Now I know Grandpa McIlree is there with me cheering us all on. He was a huge fixer and very handy with a hammer and nails, not to mention other tools. Had he been around during these disasters, I am pretty certain he would be there lending a hand.

For those of you who'd like to see us on the job, here's a link to We Are Team Jersey's Facebook page:


You'll see a photo of yours truly, with Steve accidentally photobombing in the background.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Giving back...

Steve and I, along with a group of six others, are working on homes on the New Jersey shore that were hit last year by Hurricane Sandy. It never ceases to amaze me to hear the stories of the survivors. Rich and Donna live in a small, modest house on the shore. They were home when Sandy hit. Rich was in the basement when it started to fill up with water. He couldn't get out.

Their daughter swam - yes, you heard that right - swam to the neighbors, who rushed over, cut a hole in the kitchen floor and pulled Rich to safety with very little time to spare. The hole in the floor was a blessing in another way - they got less water in the house because it ran through the hole into the ground.

Rich and Donna had absolutely no help from the government and their insurance company, which they never missed a payment to or were late with, gave them the runaround. This is a story I have heard from others in similar situations in the four other places I've done relief work. And it sucks.

Things need to change - it will not surprise me to hear that the people in Oklahoma who have lost homes go through the same thing. It's not right.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Doesn't matter who needs the help...

I have been on a number of mission trips since Hurricane Katrina - two to Mississippi (following Katrina), one to Nashville and one to Iowa - both of those were for flood damage restoration and clean-up. My husband has been on many more than I have.

This year it is to New Jersey for Super Storm Sandy. What is frustrating about these trips is hearing the same story again and again - insurance companies giving these people the runaround on paying for restoration and clean-up. "Was it the wind that destroyed your home or the water? Or both?" "Sorry, you are not eligible for FEMA."

One person we helped couldn't afford insurance on a family cottage on the shore, and FEMA would pay to restore as it was a cottage, not their primary home. I heard stories that volunteers wouldn't help restore the home we were in because it was a "second" home -- like they are the 1 percent or something. WTF??

I'm sorry-these are our fellow human beings. You help them when they need help and they help us when we need help. You don't think twice about it and you don't judge.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

So...when was it?

I promised to explain yesterday's photo, so here goes. It was 1976 in Munich, Germany. The place is the famous Hofbrauhaus. I was 16 years old, which I will note was the legal drinking age in Germany. And yes, that was a liter of beer. Not a bad place to have one's first beer, ever.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My first beer...

Though not of legal age in the U.S., I did not drink my first beer in the U.S. Tune in tomorrow to find out where and when.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Games will save me!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Alzheimer's Disease runs in my family. My mother has it - her mother had it...and who knows how many others before them that we don't know about.
I just read something the other day that not only made me laugh, but gives me justification for my habit of playing video games - it helps fight dementia/Alzheimer's as it keep your brain active.
Yeah! I have a good excuse now - Tetris, here I come!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Commitment is something that can't be taken for granted anymore -- unless you are my inlaws, Jim and Helen Noble. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They remind me of my aunt and uncle, Joyce and Mel Behnke -- who have been married more than 60 (but less than 70 - I just don't know the number) years. My dad and stepmother have been married 33 years. I admire them all, and sincerely hope marriage and longevity are not a thing of the past.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Too tired to write...

This is the type of day/evening when I would have blown off the Blogathon. Long day at work - I'm pooped.

But here I am -- posting. Granted, it's about nothing...but I blogged. I don't plan on spending the other 27 days copping out like this. But for now...good night!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Smart phones are really dumb

I never thought I'd see the day when I dissed technology. In my younger days I loved new technology. To really date myself, cassette tapes were way cool - much better than record albums. CDs were even better! And I really love today's digital music. And I had one of the early cell phones -- called a bag phone. Really thought I was cool and I loved it.

But smart phones...not so much. Yeah, I think they are cool, but I don't like what they are doing to society. Yeah, I'm one of those grumpy broads who hates seeing young people walking around staring at their smart phones, texting, and ignoring the world around them. I hate it even more when I see them doing it while driving. And I can't single out young people - this crosses all age zones.

Did your employer give you a company smart phone? Welcome to "I now work 24/7." Been there, done that - life is too short.

Don't get me wrong - I love the technology. I just think it's taking over social interaction and that is sad.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The month of June

So here's a little bit of a preview of what you will have from me this month. Today I met the team my husband and I will be working with later this month on the Jersey shore. It is only in the last decade that I started doing relief work via church mission trips after some natural disasters our country has faced - my husband has done it for years. My first was to Bay St. Louis, Miss., to help with Hurricane Katrina clean-up. I've also been to Tennessee and Iowa, both for flood relief. Later this month I'm headed to Jersey to help clean up after last year's Super Storm Sandy. It's work I'm sorry I didn't do when I was younger. I've learned from these people what it's like to lose everything - not just your house and possessions, but your history -- in a storm disaster. It's devastating, but it also brings out the strength in people. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

It's ironic...

Today is the first day of the 2013 Wordcount Blogathon contest - for 30 days I must blog each day. I entered last year for the first time and ended up blogging more, but not for the entire 30 days.
Dr. Gail Griffin

So...I'm at it again this year. It will be an interesting challenge as I am not the type of person who likes to put herself out there. In some ways I look at blogs as public diaries -- and I hated it when my siblings read my diary when we were kids. As I said to a friend of mine recently, I became a journalist because I didn't have to write about myself - I asked questions and wrote about others.

Ironically, this first day in the Blogathon falls the day after the woman who taught me to write about myself retired. I first met Dr. Gail Griffin, now Professor Emeritus of English at my alma mater, Kalamazoo College, when I took a course on autobiography my freshman year. We had to write an autobiographical piece as a final paper, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever written.

Gail became my academic advisor and I graduated with a BA in English and a lifelong friend. So Gail -- I'm going to try to draw on what I learned in your class 34 years ago and I hope I do it justice. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement - K's English Department will not be the same.