Sparky at WalMart

Meet Sparky.

Mark and I had to make a trip to WalMart this afternoon while Ben was attending a (mandatory for young people under the age of 16)  snowmobile safety course.  While looking over the goodies sold in the automotive department,  I kept hearing this very strange voice.  At first, I was sure Santa was in the store and one of his elves was speaking.  The voice was greatly distorted and high pitched….as one might suspect an elf would sound.

While Mark was looking at some items,  I took a little stroll to see where the noise was located.  That was when I saw Sparky.  This little dog was amazing.  What I discovered was that a fireman was wearing a headset and speaking into a microphone. As he spoke, his voice was distorted and the animated firedog’s mouth moved like he was talking.  The real fireman stood in an aisle where children couldn’t see him but he could observe them.

As children approached the cute little remote controlled firetruck,  Sparky would greet both children and their parents.  He would ask if they knew what day it was,  then advise them it is “change your clock, change your battery day”. This was in reference to the change to daylight savings and the fire departments realized it isa great time to also alert folks to change the battery in their smoke detector to make sure it is functioning optimally.

As Sparky spoke to the children, he showed them the flashing red lights on his firetruck and also revved the engine a bit.  He then sheepishly told the kids not to report him or the captain would put him “in the doghouse”!  Very cute. I find it interesting how organizations come up with such ingenious inventions to help children learn about fire safety.

And I just bet there are kids somewhere who have seen Sparky and reminded their parents to change the battery!

Happy Birthday Wilma!


Michelle’s request for her special day today was to spend time at the Eastview Mall.  We left home today late in the morning and Mark dropped Michelle and me off to shop.  He and Ben left the area and went to another shopping mecca to attend to their manly business.

Yes, the mall is decked to the nines and I must say I was rather astonished at the number of shoppers out this Friday afternoon.  I don’t remember seeing so many people shopping this early (before Christmas) on a weekday, but there were some pretty good deals to be had. 

Michelle shopped while I observed. Michelle is an incredible shopper.  Instead of heading for the latest and greatest fashions,  she immediately heads to the clearance racks in every store.  While I find it mind-boggling to carefully browse through racks of clothing,  Michelle takes her time and surveys each piece offered.  In the end, she often finds some good bargains.  Such was the case today!

We shopped first in J.C. Penney’s.  In the midst of buying items for her birthday,  Michelle found some Christmas presents for others. Did I mention she is such a great shopper!

As we were leaving Penney’s,  Michelle called out,  “Look Mom!  They are selling Flinstone jewelry”!

I turned to see my lovely daughter with the most humorous look on her face with the largest sting of fake pearls adorning her neck….

Happy, Happy Birthday, Wilma!  Er, Michelle! What a terrific young woman you have grown to be.  How could we have ever known eighteen years ago what an impact you would have on our lives!  Love you, Michelle!  And Happy Birthday!

I’ve Been Thinking…

Dangerous pastime, n’est pas?

As the days become shorter and the weather gets a bit of a chill,  I always begin to think about the holiday season.  Things kick off with Thanksgiving,  then it seems like all eyes are honed in on Christmas.  Ah, Christmas!

I was thinking  about Christmases past when I was growing up.  I couldn’t wait until the day we went out and bought a Christmas tree and brought it home.  The pine scent lit up the living room and made it seem so magical.  My father would then go and fetch several large boxes that contained all of our treasured Christmas ornaments.

My father always placed the lights on the tree.  I remember those large old ones we used to have, but were replaced by the small (more practical!)  sets in the ’70’s.  As soon as Dad had finished with the lights, we all gathered round the tree and Mom would hand out delicate glass orbs of various shapes and sizes.  Mom had a friend who moved to California and she gave Mom many of her blown glass ornaments, including birds with fiber tails. 

When I was a small child,  we got to (carefully!) hang little wax figures on the tree.  I remember snowmen, santas, angels,  and toy soldiers…I think there were others, but I seem to have forgotten.  Our beautiful glass balls were just that.  They weren’t the  strange balls of today that often discolor over a year of storage. 

After hanging all the fancy doo-dads on the tree, it was then time to spend quite a bit of time meticulously and tediously placing the lead icicles on the branches.  Mom and Dad insisted these needed to be hung one at a time and carefully so the other ornaments could still be seen.

Funny now….in looking back,  I realize this was a real tradition in my family, although I had never thought of it as such. And in thinking about this,  I feel like a failure as my own children have no real tradition like this.  I always rationalized that tradition becomes dangerous when it morphs into “rote”.  Yes, I tend to be much more spontaneous and always looking for new things.

I shan’t muddle through a list of my shortcomings as that remains between me and God,  but as I walked through Lowe’s home center early this morning,  a sharp realization hit me like a ton of bricks!  Much of my lifetime,  I have heard people gripe about how commercialized Christmas has become.

Rows and rows of brightly colored “seasonal” decor called out to me and I must admit, many of the items made me smile.  But then, I wondered….what about the poor people manufacturing these items in China. What do these people think?

It is nearly impossible to find items made here in the US of A anymore.  I did find a display of “collectible” ornaments that proudly displayed an American flag on the front, along with the words Made in the USA.  I guess I should have bought one!

For years, I have told Mark I would like to build a tiny cabin where we could retreat for Christmas week without telephones, computers, and television.  It would be so much fun to just hang out as a family and enjoy the real reason for the season!  Why, just think how much more fun it would be to become snowbound for a few days.  No pressures from the world outside.

I guess deep inside I am just trying to resolve issues that cause discomfort in my life.  I long for simplicity.  Perhaps having an Amish friend reinforces such a desire.  I will never fault others for elaborate displays and their own traditions as that isn’t my business and I really do enjoy seeing many of the setups people do for Christmas every year. (Of course, as a child, another tradition was driving around town and observing all the beautiful Christmas displays!)

I have decided that I am going to work on some handmade presents this year, specifically designed for the recipient.  Although they might be small, the thought and care going into them will hopefully be appreciated. 

Perhaps my kids do know of some little traditions we have established that I was too busy to notice.  In the meantime,  I will just keep thinking.  And dreaming.   Of a White Christmas, of course!

A Quick Post

Today was another one of those days filled with running around.  I guess it was a kind of continuation of yesterday, really!

Yesterday we left home and went to Mark’s mom’s house so Mark and Ben could put the finish coat of plaster on the wall they replaced in the garage.  It was so bitter cold out that Mark had his mom set up a heater in the garage so he and Ben could work.  As one thin coat was drying,  we had to run to Home Depot to grab the compound for the final coat.

While Mark and Ben applied the final coat of plaster,  Michelle and I ran up to a craft store where I (YAY! Finally!) found a glass dome large enough to place over the cute little beaded Christmas tree Randy gave me last year.  The store is called Hobby Lobby and let me tell you, that store really knocked my socks off.  Not only is it huge, but I have never seen so many crafts in my life under one roof!

We returned home well after nine last night and I was exhausted.   I had some things to do before retiring to bed and by the time I plopped my head upon my pillow, it was about 11:30.  I nearly cried this morning as I crawled back out of bed shortly after 5. 

Enough bellyaching, though!

I took Michelle to college this morning and as I made my way back home, I took just a few photos.  Thought I would share!

Tis shortly before 9 and I am so dog-tired, I am calling it a night!

It’s Already November?

Wow, where has the year gone? 

Almost on cue,  November came in with a bit of a chill.  That’s okay, though, as it is getting to be that time of the year. It seems like I am always so ready for the cold weather while the vast majority is bemoaning the passage of summer and its warmth.  Ah well…

Michelle went to church in Middlesex yesterday.  Her friend Jacob’s dad is the pastor of the Baptist Church there.  We passed by some interesting sights and I had to stop a couple times, but Michelle understands my passion and is very understanding.