Of Lemons and Lemonade

Some friends are extra special people. Take Laurie. We met in 3rd grade. We were never ‘best’ friends, but were always good friends. Remained friends through the trials of junior high, even went to the senior prom together on a double-date. I shared an apartment with her for a semester when we were seniors at college, along with two other gals. Became family after she introduced me to her “Cuz” – her first cousin, Michael – and he asked me to marry him, and became “my man.” Laurie’s mom, Ruth, even made our wedding cake.

Laurie has done some amazing things in the years after college. Went on as a professional costume designer to earn the respect of the St. Louis theater companies, worked on two major motion pictures, did some terrific commercials (remember the Budweiser commercial where the donkey dreams of becoming a Budweiser Clydesdale?) and much more than I can ever list. Married a great guy, too, and has traveled with him all over the world. Her stories about visiting Africa made it come alive.

She always has had a positive attitude, making lemonade out of lemons, as she herself put it.

Last year she got a whole truckload of lemons all at once.

Cancer. A very nasty, aggressive form of breast cancer.

Laurie sent me an email about it, and I’d like to share part of it here. She titled it, “I would Like to Share a Little Lemonade With You,” and here’s what she said:

Spent some time in the hospital, got radiation, and am setting up for potentially more chemo rounds. Have to keep a positive attitude, but it is getting harder everyday, since I am so weak and can’t do much of anything. I know I should be able to make lemonade out of this lemon called cancer, but it getting more difficult to do it lately. Today, however, I got the best lemonade of the year.

I needed to renew my driver’s license, which expired last week. I couldn’t believe it happened this year. But I guess it all happens for a reason, and mine was lemonade. With documents in hand, in Missouri this year we have to produce a passport, or birth certificate, a utility bill and surrender an old driver’s license, off to the Department of Revenue I go to stand in the long line. (It is the last day of the month, and I wasn’t the only procrastinator.)

When was the last time you came out of a government office with a smile on your face? It was the truth when I was asked about my weight. I actually weighed fifteen pounds lighter than when I had the last licensed. Guys probably don’t care, but I guarantee most every woman in the US lies about her weight on her driver’s license. This time I didn’t! Then there was the picture. They told me I could keep my hat on since I was a chemo patient, evidently the only exception to the rule. I chose to leave it off. The six year old standing with his mom behind me in line got very big eyes. I wanted to tell him they call me Yoda Girl, but didn’t figure he would understand. Guess what? It is by far the best driver’s license picture I have ever taken, and it is good for eight years.

She didn’t get to use that driver’s license for eight years. Laurie passed away Thursday evening while her husband Roy was holding her hand.

Laurie and I had talked back and forth in the last year about lemons and making lemonade, as both of us faced the ongoing challenges that cancer (in her case), and chronic illness and disability (in my case) bring. I promised her that I’d do my best to make lemonade out of her passing, if it came to this.

So here’s my lemonade: I’d rather have the pain of losing a friend and family member like Laurie, than never have had the privilege of knowing her. She made the world a better place for being in it.

Laurie Jean Trevethan, d. January 29, 2009

Memory Lane

Breyer 1987 US Olympic Team Set of Model Horses.

I was born horse-crazy. As we lived nowhere near a stable, and didn’t have the money to boot for such an expensive luxury as a horse or even riding lessons, I made do with reading every book I could find about horses, and collecting Breyer model horses, one at a time. Every year on my birthday and at Christmas I would eagerly look forward to getting a new model horse – such excitement!

Breyer Red Roan Running Mare.

As a graduate student, I began those riding lessons I had wanted as a child, and discovered over time that I enjoyed the companionship and personalities of the various horses I had as much as others enjoy the company of a cat or dog. Throughout the years, however, I continued to collect Breyer models, enjoying their beauty and craftsmanship and the friends I had made around the world who also enjoyed this hobby. Collectors like myself had great fun when we gathered together to hold and judge model horse shows, most of us scroungers who loved ice cream, chocolate, swapping stories about our families and careers and sharing tales about pouncing on an old model found in a flea market bin that was prized as a unique treasure.

Breyer Smoke Belgian.

I haven’t bought any model horses in almost two decades. All the models in what remains of my collection are at least 20 years old. The big gray Belgian shown above is over 40 years old… which means that I have friends who are younger than some of my model horses! I quit collecting when the hobby changed, become bigger, with a price tag on even the most basic of models higher than makes me comfortable. The manufacturer moved the factory that created my beauties to China, laying off hundreds of employees while doubling the prices for the horses, something I couldn’t stomach.

Breyer Bay Might Tango Mold.

The memories I have about those years when I did collect model horses? Those are mostly about the wonderful people I met and the times we shared together.

Good memories, those.

O Happy Souls!

Got an email late last night that one of my friends and favorite people, Dennis McGinley, had died.

“Mac” was one of my co-workers when we both worked in a team of computer systems consultants for a Fortune 250 company. Smart. Hardworking. And the nicest guy you’d ever meet. Ever. In 25 years of knowing him I never heard one mean or gossipy thing from him about anyone or anything. Mac was a faith-filled man who lived his Christian faith through action and deeds, without ever buttonholing anyone else and telling them how they were supposed to act, believe or think.

He and his wife, Bonnie, were always the first persons on the scene when someone was sick, or had a tragedy, not in the spotlight but behind the scenes, filling your freezer with frozen homemade dinners or doing the shopping to help out. Over the last several years, Mac was part of a team that built many Habitat for Humanity houses. He visited friends who were housebound, not just when they first got sick, but on an ongoing basis over the years. Had a smile for everyone, a smile that would light up a room, and it was always sincere.

If Mac had gotten up on Christmas morning and found mounds of manure under the tree instead of wrapped presents, he’d have grinned ear to ear, grabbed a shovel and started digging — because he’d be sure that, with that much poop, somewhere there had to be a pony.

Mac was that kind of guy.

He was only 58, and went without any warning, we were told: a stroke… followed by an aneurysm.

Mac, we’re going to miss you down here.

“Oh happy souls,
how fast you go,
and leave us here behind;
Don’t stop for me, for now I see,
The Lord is just and kind.

When you get to the world above,
And all their glory see,
When you are home your work is done,
Then look you out for me.

For I will come as fast I can;
Along that way I steer,
Lord give me strength, I shall at length,
Be one among you there!

– ‘O Happy Souls’ – early American folk hymn

Our Ears Were Burning!

Petunia the yard bunny

Kris over at Reflections By Kris is clearly suffering from a serious case of Yard Bunny Deprivation. She’s so filled with longing, so absolutely desperate for a yard bunny of her own that she’s now chasing after the neighbor’s rabbit, Mr. Bun Bun, and snapping shots of him with her cellphone camera.

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Sad, no?

Petunia the yard bunny pretending to be a loaf of bread

Petunia says to tell Mr. Bun Bun howdy.

(Take that, indeed! Humpfh!)

Oh, yeah!

Lop-earred Bunny Statue

Woot! Woot! Kris, me n’ the bunnies are sending a salute to you!

After you told me about bracketing, I went spelunking through my 200 page camera manual and found this:

Bracketing Option paragraph for HP-R817

It lets me automatically push the exposure in several different ways on its own, and combines with other pre-set or manual options.

Oh, yeah.

Thank you, Kris!

(The little bunny pictured, btw, lives in one of my flower beds – she was a gift from Michael. She’s the only bunny in our yard that doesn’t eat my flowers!)