Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Who Was The Party to Whom Tim Was Speaking?

We had family and friends over for dinner on Monday evening, when Brother-in-law Tim took a call. Being in the same room, we couldn't help but listen in:
"Hello? Oh, hi. Oh, we're doing pretty good. Yep. Holding up. We're at Lori & Clint's right now. Yes, The kids are doing okay, we have good days and bad. No, I can't think of anything right now. Yes, yes, well, thank you for calling; it really means a lot."
He got off the phone and cracked us up when he told us "I have no idea who that was."

Have you ever bluffed your way through a conversation, either on the phone, or in person? Tell us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For All You Big Heads...

Spotted this one, to add to my Signs & Graffiti Gallery, on Saturday, at the Clinton Apple-Pork Festival.

What about the poor little peanut-headed folks?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just so's you know...

NEVER walk under a tree in out yard, at this time of year.

Without a flashlight, I would not have spotted this.

Sweet Dreams.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homemade Meme: What I Haven't Blogged About Yet

Tales aplenty, I seem to have little time lately to put even one together coherently. I was tagged for a "25 Things About Me" meme, but I'm switching it up, and giving you a bulleted list of 25 Things I Haven't Had Time to Blog About.

1. My laptop died dead 2 days ago. This is seriously bad news in LoriWorld.

2. My zoom lens died about 2 days after we moved into the country casa. It makes this sound: "grind, grind, grind," and it won't focus. This is also seriously bad new in LoriWorld. Like, seriously, melt-the-credit-card-out-of-the-bowl-of-ice serious.

3. My friend Mark left a bag full of kitchen utensils in my door, along with a sympathy card and a note inviting me to decompress with all of the fun toys. Sympathy Tongs! I laughed for hours.

4. I'm not sure how I would have survived the last couple of weeks without my Aunt Karla coming to take care of my Mom.

Aunt Karla teaches Mom to play Hopscotch.
(Note shadow cast on the house, of Clint putting charcoal into the grill.)

5. She left Tuesday, and I miss her because I love her, not because she helped with Mom.

6. Brian leaves for Iraq in 15 days. I feel kinda sick that I won't see him before then. Bleah.

7. I'm proud of Brian for spending as much time as he could with my sister while he was home, and for spending the afternoon that she died with me, with us, with her. Lots of young people wouldn't have.

8. We have been plugging away on the house. I need to show you pictures. There is a beautiful porch, now!

9. I am busy at work these days, something that hasn't happened for 3 years or so. I like it; it makes me feel worthwhile.

10. I am stressed out over neglecting my soldier babies for the last 5 weeks or so. I put a care package campaign on hold, and feel guilty. Their lives and situations did not come to a halt when mine did. Time to get back with the program.

11. Speaking of soldier babies, I'm getting more letters than ever from soldiers in Iraq that want beanies. They are working more humanitarian missions now, with orphanages and hospitals, and encountering more children than ever. One young man has told me that I can't send too many.

12. Diane is taking care of Mom for me on Saturday, and Clint and I are heading out to play at the Pork 'n Apple Festival, and surrounding antique shows.

13. I can't remember the last time Clint and I had a day-long playdate, just the two of us, with no worries. I am looking forward to a day with my man.

14. I would like more daylong playdates with my man, for the record.

15. I bought up 25 lb boxes of tomatoes (seconds) and roasted and froze them for future homemade pizzas and chilli.

16. Clint and I picked out THE most beautiful ceiling fan and lights for the kitchen. We loved it! He installed it, and we hated it. He uninstalled it, and we picked out another THE most beautiful ceiling fan, substituted some artsy-fartsy globes on the lamp. We are in love with our ceiling fan and lamp.

17. I am, because I have so much extra time on my hands, toying with the idea of starting a blog that lovingly chronicles my mother's Alzheimer's. I'm considering a blog name of "Lovin La Mama Loca." Is that mean? Please vote.

18. Clint and I are attending Oktoberfest in St. Louis in a few weeks, with Jennifer and Bill. Diane, once again, is taking care of Mom, and I am very much looking forward to that weekend of fun. Maybe I'll buy some lederhosen.

19. I need to stop spending money on stuff I don't need. Like lederhosen.

20. I'm going to need to find someone to rent my house soon. Only most of my stuff is still there, and I need to get in and out and come 'n go as I please. This is going to be tricky, isn't it?

21. Although one would claim that one would never keep track, one notices who does and who does not step up in a time of crisis. We've had our jaws drop over who stepped in, and we have whispered to ourselves at some that did not bother. It's something one just cannot keep from doing, I think (and I'm not pettily referring to anyone that reads this blog.)

22. That said, one jaw dropping moment in my life was glancing around at Teri's funeral, and seeing D & Clay walking down the aisle to take a seat. I literally felt my mouth fall open. Clay just arrived home from Iraq, and they came from far, far away, to attend the services and give me giant hugs. They buckle me. Someday, I'm going to go to their house and kiss them on their mouths. Who's with me?

23. Hostess with the mostest: While serving a table full of folks a few weeks ago, my cat marched under the dining table with a mouse in her mouth. Save your fork, there's pie!

24. Momo is preggers again, and needs to move back "home." At least to within weekend driving distance.

25. Every single one of your comments, e-mails, and cards, if I have not acknowledged them, has not gone unnoticed. Please know this. I intend to hit the brakes and respond. So many of you have sent me countless good wishes, and I love you all for bothering, and understanding that it may take me a minute to get back to you.

Smooches, people.

And for the rest of you bloggers out there whose lives are moving faster than the speed of BlogLight, I tag you: 25 blogs you didn't write!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Fine

It's been a week. Monday, we...ummm, ate some dinner or something.

Tuesday, Clint worked, and my Aunt Karla, here from San Diego, declared that she and Mom had leftovers aplenty, and told me to "do my own thing." I vaguely remember cheering, and then ending up wondering just what in the hell "my own thing" is.

Wednesday and Thursday some things must have happened. I know I saw people. I think I might have cooked. Or did we order out?

Friday, Clint worked, and Diane, Aunt Karla, Mom and I met at the Esquire for pizzas. Delightful. Newsflash, however: Mom does NOT belong in a bar-ish environment, no matter how informal. Duly noted.

Saturday: Farmer's market and ethnic groceries, and I'm serving pork verde and green rice at home, and there's a campfire hoopla that lasts until 12:30 a.m. We hoot and holler and laugh until we cry...

...and at the end of the night, Tim suddenly says to me, "It's been 2 weeks, and it's not any easier."

And I can only agree. "I know."

We have bucked up, and heartache came crashing down at the end of the week.

When we will stop counting, I do not know.

I only know that I am doing fine.

Just fine.



until it occurs to me that my sister is gone...

and there is a fucking anvil that lands on my chest...

...and weighs me down, from my collar bone to my thighs...

...and I'm not sure, if I will ever breath again.

But, darlings,

I'm fine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces 'n Back to Work

Upon cleaning out Mom's house this summer, I came across the ring my father wore when he was in the Navy. It comforted me somehow, and with Mom AND Teri's permission, I took custody of it, and put it on a chain. It made me feel better, and I wore it while simultaneously yammering to my father as I took charge of Mom's house. Having primary control of what went, what stayed, and what was locked into a safe, I arrived home many days to sit down and ask aloud, "OK, Dad? Did I do ok?"

Crazy or not, it got me through. I took it off when I was doing ok, and then put that thing back on when I was feeling shaky.

I wore it last Wednesday and Thursday, to Teri's visitation and funeral.

Over 400 people signed the guestbook on Wednesday evening. 100 or so people attended the funeral on Thursday. I hugged almost all of those people, multiply and fiercely.

Friday I found myself with a bruise on my breastbone, where that ring had been pressed into my torso 1000 times or so over the course of the last few days.

My father, my sister, a sweet, sweet, bittersweet bruise over my heart. I keep touching that bruise to see if it still hurts. I don't want it to go away; I'd wear the bruise over the ring forever, if I could.


Today was a tough day: we headed back to work today.

The 4th day after her funeral, we snapped to attention and returned to our routine.

It knocked me off my ass. Would I not die when she did? Could I ever tell my mother? The visitation, how could I ever live through that? The funeral, would I survive?

Lord Have Mercy, I hadn't anticipated "moving on."

The alarm went off this morning, and it was "Here we go: Life without Teri." It seemed terribly too soon, and I knew for a fact that whatever I was feeling, her husband was feeling ten-fold as he prepared for work this morning. I texted him: "U holding up?" He sent me back an OK, then another, checking on me.

"Yeah, kinda hard to return to routine...feels weird, wrong."

He responded "Yep."

At days end, we spoke and agreed: We'd both have preferred to have had more time to remain..."reverent." It seems too soon, and disrespectful to "move on."

Ah, but we have house payments, and none of us own money trees, and we are thus thrust back into the rat race with our heads still spinning that we can't call Teri on our lunch hour.

We all continue to hold one another up.

It is where we are, on Monday following.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fightin' Mad Mary Wins an Emmy!

Hey, ya'll, my friend Fightin' Mad Mary just won an Emmy for her editing work on Project Runway! She's famous!

I was fortunate enough to meet FMM 2 years ago when she was working in Chicago.

I wrote in that post that it seemed like we'd been friends for years, and I still feel that way. Last December she threw a fundraiser for Toys for Troops in her home, and brought in almost $2300.00 worth of donations for us.

Mary is beautiful and funny and generous and smart, and now we know—as if we ever doubted it—that she is very, very talented and good at what she does!

In the midst of chaos here, I've enjoyed following Mary's posts about being nominated, and attending bootcamp with GloZell to get in shape for that gorgeous dress and Emmy night. I haven't said enough to her, but I've been cheering for her, and I'm over the moon for her now!

Congratulations, Mary! Love you, girl!

Run on over to her place and tell her congrats, will you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is That What You're Wearing?

My sister had a "rep" for being a prankster, a cut-up, that went way back into our childhood days. As kids, she'd nonchalantly pretend not to understand a story I'd told, just to see how many times I'd repeat it. "I don't get it," she'd say, and I'd tell my story again. "That doesn't make sense..." And again I'd explain it. "I still don't understand," and off I'd go again, until I realized she'd been laughing at me the entire time.

A longtime favorite family story of Teri getting one over on me was when we were in our teen years. Every Friday night I'd ready for hours for a date, painstakingly spraying every hair into place, as teen girls do. 20 minutes before my date was to arrive, Teri would ask me "when are you going to start getting ready?" Then, minutes before I was to walk out the door, she would say, "Is that what you're wearing?" It would send me into fits every time, and back to my bedroom, tossing my closet for a better outfit, while she laughed and tried to assure me that she'd been kidding.

As I rushed to get ready for her visitation last night, had applied the waterproof mascara, and had every hair...wherever it landed, and I threw on a new shirt and headed out the door.

I suddenly imagined Teri asking me, "Is that what you're wearing to my visitation?!" and I laughed out loud.

For all of our heartache now, I know that her memory will live in our hearts forever, and as much as we cry, we will laugh at her antics for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Little Help!

I told you I'd tell you if there's anything we need, right?

Well, we need something. My niece, Brandi, has painstakingly scanned 300 photos of Teri and her life for a slideshow to view at the visitation Wednesday afternoon.

Turns out we need video-making software to create a movie, to burn on a DVD that will play on the equipment at the funeral home.

The funeral home folks will create the DVD for us, at a cost of $100. That seems a little steep to me. 29 cents seems reasonable.

Anyone out there that can take our CD, quick-load them into video software, and burn a slideshow on a DVD for us? Is it that easy, or am I crazies?


Thanks so much to everyone that responded here, via e-mail, and facebook with suggestions and offers to help. We managed to squeak by with a DVD slide show by 2:30 in the afternoon, rush off to get showered and dressed, and back to the funeral home by 4:00.

The show was a big success, and put smiles on a lot of faces tonight.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Arrangements & Haphazard Thoughts

Funeral services for Teri will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 9 & 10

Renner Wikoff Chapel
1900 Philo Road
Urbana, IL 61801

Visitation will be Wednesday Sept. 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10

On a personal note, we are keeping one another afloat here. Today was a particularly tough day as I got up early to say goodbye to my son and his wife. (I will not see my kid for 13 months; have I mentioned he's deploying?) I later met Tim and the kids at the funeral home to finalize the funeral arrangements.

We are still in a state of disbelief. We move about in a daze, one minute believing we are holding it together only to suddenly find ourselves sobbing. I have talked to some friends with such stoicism that I wonder what they must wonder, and I have cried my guts out on whichever shoulder is closest.

I have spent the majority of my time the last couple of days trying to hold my mother up. She is understandably, a wreck. When she is not crying, she agitated, and asking the same questions over and over: Does Grandma know, Does Grandma Know? I've had to tell her countless times that we can NOT knock on the door to tell the neighbors, whom we do not know. I can't leave her alone, but she falls apart in Walgreens, when I pick up her Rx, and in Walmart, when we run in for dogfood.

I am so, so tired. I cannot stop her tears, and have given up constantly trying to sooth her. I feel like I haven't had a second to stop and absorb the events of the last 2 days. Has it only been 2 days? 56 hours, it's been 56 hours.

Mom's sister, my Aunt Karla, is flying in from San Diego tomorrow evening. To comfort her, and be with her, of course, but I selfishly find myself thinking "to give me a break."

And I know damned well that my pointing my finger at my mother for my hardship and heartache is misguided. My Aunt will arrive, a Knightess in Shining Armor, and I'll be able to sleep late a few days, or come home early and take a walk, or talk to Clint and when I have all that, I will find out...

...that I am so, so tired, and it has nothing to do with my mother. I am scared. Scared of the visitation, and scared to see my sister on Wednesday, and scared of the funeral. And I'm scared to live without her. I'm scared of the first time I grab my cell phone to call her and realize that I cannot. I'm scared to not have someone that I can mutually gripe and vent and annoy, someone that will roll her eyes at me and then call me back the next day to listen to another round of whatever it is I'm griping about. Who would put up with that shit but my sister?

Breathe deep, you tell me.

I'm doing lamaze over here, people.

You say I'll get through this.

I'll just have to trust you on it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Teri Pittman: 1964-2009

Teri Pittman
October 6, 1964-September 4, 2009

My sister, Teri Pittman, was surrounded by loving family when she lost her battle to cancer yesterday afternoon at 3:30.

I have few words at this time that make any sense. Please keep us in your prayers.

Much love.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

WILL Power!!

If you've been reading my blog for the last year or so, you might remember this little guy. That's Will Page, and I've blogged before about his making brownies for soldiers, and preparing care packages for them over the last year or so. An admirable chore for any 3 year old boy (now 4), but Will's been making brownies, and sending packages to soldiers while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy.

Will's parents, Angela and Jim, have been documenting his story on their Caring Bridge website. Read about Will here. The last story is an an amazing story about their running into the owners of the Weinermobile, who volunteered to pick Will up at his hotel the next morning and chauffeur him to the hospital for his treatment.

It really is a must-read.

Brian has been trying, his last couple of visits home, to coordinate a visit with Will, to thank him for his service to the military, and we finally managed to make it happen, tonight. They got to know each other on the trampoline:

And after some dinner, we laughed as Will let out a war whoop and chased a gaggle of geese into the pond:

We admire his fashion sense:

Brian brought a special gift back to Will, and presented it to him before we left:

He pinned it to his shirt, telling him it was a Military Achievement Badge, for making brownies for all of the soldiers.

I have to note here that although I've hung on every word about his treatment, I was still surprised when Angela coached Brian to pin the medal on the right side of Will's shirt, he has a port in his chest, on the left side. Will is such a delightful, happy child, and so full of energy, it was easy for me to forget that it's just been 3 weeks since his last chemo treatment.

And Will had a gift for Brian then, also:

Will's courage and strength over the last 11 months or so has inspired and moved thousands of people. The term "WILL Power" was coined, and the family is now selling these bracelets. They motivate us when times get tough, and the proceeds from the sales go into an account at the St. Joseph Apothecary, to pay for Will's meds.

After all awards were presented, Will asked "will that soldier watch Peter Pan with me?" Angela said "ask him yourself." He did.

They did.

It was a special evening, for all of us. We were so happy to finally meet Will, and it was so heartwarming to see him happy and healthy, after watching and praying along with the family, during much scarier times.

Of course, upon taking our leave, Brian got a promise of Soldier Brownies when he deploys.

WILL Power Bracelets can be purchased for $3.00 ($4 if Jim & Angela have to mail them to you.) They have them in every size, and you can e-mail Angela at to arrange to get yours, or hit me up, and I'll pick some up for you!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I've just looked back over the last few posts, and all that comes to mind is "bleah." And Blah. Blurp. Blop. Man, I'm tired of being sad and stressed and tense, and I'm tired of being tired.

There are still things going on that are joyful and wonderful and that keep me on my feet. Sometimes it seems superficial to write about joyful moments when we are so heavy of heart, and at other times it feels absolutely crucial.

I was blessed, yesterday, to spend most of a day with my kid. Hours, people! Do you know what a gift this is? As I am pulled in many different directions, he is also, trying to tag up to as many friends and family as he can before he deploys.

But the planets aligned, and we picked Grandma up and went to see Aunt Teri. Her nausea subsided since last week, and our visit with her was longer. While she sipped on a grape Arctic Rush from Dairy Queen, we, along with Tim & Brandi, mucked through photo albums, laughing at our own bad haircuts from days gone by.

We took our leave, fixed dinner for Grandma, and then, we shoe-shopped. We ran into friends. We grocery shopped. We visited Clint at the fire station.

And in the interim, we talked. We got a giant booth at the Esquire and we ate pizza and we talked. We talked about our own lives, and about Teri and Mom and Iraq and about feet and money and cooking and trucks and people, and what did we not talk about, I just do not know.

We choked up at times, and laughed our asses off, and took this silly picture that I already posted to lure you to read this post:

He is, for the record, doing me a favor here. After previewing our first photo, I whined "Aw, I have dark circles under my eyes!" He said "We'll take another, and I'll cover them for you!" There. That's better.

Bonus! I loaned him my car today, so we grabbed lunch during the trade-off: "D.P. Dough" has a chicken fajita calzone full of a vinegary-wing sauce. We ordered 2, and hit the road back to the office, where Brian announced that he was coming in to hang out and eat.

Flashback to me as a single Mom, promising him some crappy happy meal if he could sit and behave with his toys while I worked some overtime on a Saturday morning...

...only he didn't sport a beard, back then.

At the end of the afternoon, we lucked out with one more beverage and one more hour of conversation. When I drove him back home, to ready for a date with my daughter-in-law, Courtney (working while she's home), one stoplight found me telling him "it's so nice to talk to you."

I have said here before, and I can only reiterate, that I am never more myself than I am with my son. I never defend, I worry not that I will offend. I never "smile politely." We agree, we disagree, we call each other on any B.S. or sugar-coating.

I am so proud and comforted, sometimes, to hear him initiate sentiments that mirror mine. He nonchalantly tells me of a friend that talks smack in public places, not bothering to curb his language or offensive discussion, say, when the waitress appears. "Whoa, whoa, whoa ... there's a time and a place, and you need to shut it, and I'm sorry for my friend here."

(Profanity-profanity) I'm so (profanity) proud of my kid when he tells me this!

I have a long list of other nice things that have transpired in the last week or so, but I've gone on long enough, and will save them for another day. I am, quite honestly, not at a loss for joyous content, any more than I am for heartache.

I've been handed a gift, of time, with my son.

I am thankful.

Godspeed, that kid.