The North Star

The North Star. Sailors used it to sail around the world, others use it as a guide post, to find their way. In most people’s lives, their Mother is their North Star. It’s always up there looking down on you, waiting for you to look up at it. Waiting patiently for you to use her as a point to find your way in life, even if sometimes it is an example of what not to do, you always look up and see where you are and where to go next. 

The North Star is dim now. Our Mother passed away on Easter Sunday. She had suffered medical issues for years and years. She had cataracts at 23 years old. A doctor messed something up and she almost lost an eye. She contracted Toxoplasmosis and it settled in her eye. They tried to incapacitate the parasite by giving her Typhod Fever, a unique treatment they used in the military. It did cause the parasite to somehow only become active once in a while. That was before I was born. She had several surgeries for benign tumors that had “arms” reaching out in her arm and breast. Several eye surgeries and she wore tri-focals by the time she was 28 or 29. She survived breast cancer, heart by-pass surgery, several heart attacks, was fighting diabetes and her mobility became limited by arthritis in her spine. Her kidneys were going, her capillaries were blocking, and she had been legally blind for years due to diabetic hemorrhages. She fell and broke her arm last Thursday. The doctors said that putting in metal plates would allow her to have the use of her arm quickly and after testing, her heart was strong enough for surgery. She came through with flying colors and on Easter Sunday she got up and ate breakfast and was joking with the nurses. The nurse said she sat on the edge of her bed, got a surprised look on her face and collapsed.

The tried CPR several times and we decided it was enough. She had a thready pulse for a bit. My sister was there and put me on speaker phone so I could tell her Ioved her and go be in peace. My brother got there, told her he loved her and then she took her last breath. It was unexpected, but what better day to enter the kingdom of God and what better way to leave this world. God’s speed Momma.

She would tell us that in college, the boys would play this song for her. Here you go Momma:

Here is a link to her obituary if you are interested.


Mona Mae (Gilmer) Durdel


Time Springs Forward

It’s that time of year again where we humans try to manipulate time to benefit our own agendas. If you haven’t heard yet, at 2 a.m. Sunday (really Saturday overnight), March 9, you are instructed to turn your clocks forward one hour. That depends, of course, on if the part of the country you reside follows the time change guidelines. I expect to see lights come on in neighborhoods all over Illinois at 2 a.m. that night/morning as people rise at the government-designated time to physically change their clocks. What is that you say? Don’t hold my breath? Well, I have to admit, even though we own and operate Willy’s Tick-Tock Clock Shop, we won’t be up then either!

I don’t believe it matters if we move the hands of the clocks forward or backward, because time itself will always move forward no matter how hard we try to manipulate it. As humans, we are used to managing and manipulating nature to our liking. We clear forests, plow up grasslands, tunnel through mountains, and dam rivers to accommodate our wants and needs. We’ve built windmills to harvest the power of the wind, water mills to use the power of water, mined the earth, power our homes with oil, gas, and coal, supplement power with solar panels, geothermal heat,  and even split atoms for both the welfare and detriment to man. The one thing we really haven’t been able to manipulate is time.

We are fascinated by time. It is an enigmatic entity. Entity? What is it really? You can’t touch it, hear, smell, taste, or see it, but it moves on and we are all affected by it. From the moment we are conceived, the clock starts ticking for us. There are some people that seem to have their whole lives mapped out from the moment they come out of the womb. Then, there are those of us that have reached the ripe old age of 50 and still don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. Not to be trite, but, where does the time go?

I look around in my own life and wonder that same thing. When I was in grade school, we had an assignment that I remember very well. We were talking about history and time. We were supposed to take the year 2000 (wow!) and figure out how old we would be that year. I did the math and figured out I would be 37 years old. Thirty-seven years old? Oh. My. God. I couldn’t imagine being 37 years old. I didn’t even think my parents were that old! It seemed like school years lasted for years and summer was but a weekend. Remember the agony of waiting for, well, anything when you were a kid? “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Time was not our friend, or so we thought.

After my 21st year, time seemed to speed up. Juggling school, work, and a social life became the new challenge. I didn’t feel like things were taking forever, now I had to try to keep up as things were moving faster. I didn’t meet my Husband until later in life, so consequently, I wasn’t chasing little ones around during this time. I had a career, roommates, friends, family, and time seemed to just slip by doing other things. I fought against time by not acknowledging it..

I met my Husband and time changed again. Time was so short when I was with him and workdays were forever until I could be with him again. Maybe that’s why we say love makes us feel young again. Coincidentally, we met in the year 2000. We moved to Chenoa. I worked as a secretary and Will was a nursing home administrator. Will’s Grandfather collected clocks and tinkered with them, he had downsized his collection and Will had a couple of his clocks. He wanted to keep them in good running order and have the movements restored. They meant a lot to him. He remembered watching his Grandfather make the case of one we have in our house. We searched a long time to find someone and when we did, they complained about working on them. Will decided to learn how to work on clocks, especially if he was going to collect them. So he did. He trained with a professional, read every book on the subject he could find, watched videos, and spent hours upon hours training. It seemed like forever!

He found out that a lot of other people also had timepieces they needed restored. Hence, the birth of Willy’s Tick-Tock Clock Shop. At first, he just did restorations, but then we needed to expand to sales as well. We remodeled the other half of the building into a showroom for new clocks. We worked long hours and with help from friends and family, finally finished the project. Next came the website. We had people wanting to see clocks, but there is a limited amount of space and too many clocks to be able to house them all. Will spent more long hours of researching and developing the website. Clock descriptions, pictures, videos, music clips, shopping cart features and a lot of faith went into In the meantime, I have been learning to restore clock movements as well.

I come from starting out as an art major and finally getting my degree in psychology. May I tell you that no matter how gently you speak, or how often you curse at it, a cuckoo clock will still need to have all the adjustments made properly before it will run correctly. Trust me. The restoration process is time consuming and not for the faint of heart. The movement is disassembled, we check all the parts for wear, polish the pivots (end of gears that come through the brass plates) to a mirror finish, replace all the bushings (holes where the pivots come through) that are not perfectly round, broach the new bushings to fit perfectly, run the movement through a cleaning system, reassemble the movement, oil, and test the clock. This is a continuing learning experience for me, but I have come a long way. There is great satisfaction in taking something might be 100 years old and giving it new life again, while preserving it’s beauty and value.

I look back and it seems like we started the business just yesterday, but it has been about 10 years. It’s like looking at children and how fast they grow. It just amazes me how time goes so fast watching our nieces and nephews grow up. Our oldest nephew is 22 now. It seems like I was just holding him my arms watching him follow my bright blue gloves. That’s how I got my family nickname, Aunt Bleu (french spelling please). It made my heart melt when I got to cuddle with our oldest niece the other day. She is 17, but still wants to curl up next to her Aunt. The 11-year old wants to take over the clock shop when we retire and during visits, wants to “handle” the customers. The seven year-old still wants to be a pirate princess, and we just celebrated our youngest nephew’s 1st birthday. Love makes us feel young and children make us feel old!

Passing time makes us sentimental. Remembering things that happened in the past fondly. We attach those feelings to objects, pictures, jewelry, and yes, clocks. Our business’ foundation is built on sentimental emotions. Will started the business because he felt a closeness to the clock his Grandfather built. You can tell when people bring in a clock the real value of that timepiece. Sometimes they bring it in swaddled like a baby; sometimes, they bring it in and tell us how they remember hearing it tick and chime growing up; and we have had widowers come in with a clock they want fixed because it was their spouse’s favorite piece and they think of them every time it chimes. We strive to honor those emotions, those memories, not just because we get paid to do it, but because we would want our memories honored in that same way.

I don’t think I have answered the question about what time is, either socially or scientifically. I don’t know that I, or anyone ever really will answer that, but what I do know is that we should be mindful of how we spend this fleeting time that we are gifted.

“Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.” by an anonymous USMC Veteran

Wuve, twue wuve


It is February! We all know what that means, Valentine’s Day. Actually, it is St. Valentine’s Day. According to the Catholic Church, St. Valentine was a priest that was aiding, abetting, and marrying Christians during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. In the year 269, he was arrested for assisting Christians and held at the Emperor’s pleasure. He apparently tried to convert the Emperor and for that was beaten with clubs, stoned, and beheaded. Pope Gelasius  marked the remembrance of St. Valentine’s martyrdom as February 14th in the year 496.

So here we are today and how do we honor someone that gave their life to help others that were being persecuted for their beliefs? Do most of us even have that kind of love to give out to others? Bruno Mars would die for you, but would you die for him? How deep is a love that is requited with candy hearts, chocolate (I’m not saying not to give me chocolate. Just making a point here folks, don’t get carried away.), a dinner at a nice enough restaurant, or some flowers. Gestures are a nice way to demonstrate affection, but the marks of real love are small and cumulative.

Don’t tell my Husband, but I am rethinking the whole card thing. I always want at least a card to mark Valentine’s Day, my birthday and our anniversary. I am starting to believe that society has trained us to want those things as proof that our significant other has not taken us for granted. That they still remember and acknowledge those moments in time that are milestones for us as humans and as a couple.

Perhaps it would mean more to tell someone how much they mean to you on those days and share the day with you, rather than picking through cards that have generic sayings in them. What would I really like instead of a card on an essentially Hallmark driven day? I would love for my Husband to come in with some of my favorite flowers, freshly cut from the neighbors lilac bush. Oh, that is without prompting. We are still working on that one!

I don’t need specified holidays to know my Husband loves me. I know it every day. I wasn’t feeling good today and went in and laid down on the bed in the afternoon. He came in to check and see if I was alright. I know it when he tries to cop a feel as I get into the shower, curl my hair, handle a sharp knife, lift a boiling pot of water, and etc. I know it when he lets me take his arm when I am tired or when it might be slick. I know it when he refills my coffee in the morning. I know it when he volunteers to turn off the Xbox and watch a documentary about the Amish with me. I am very lucky to have a man that loves me. We are lucky to have each other.

We met by happenstance, but our being together was by a group of determined forces. We were both working in human services. He was the Administrator of a larger facility, and I, was a director of a program for community and residential services in the same town. I had begun holding networking meetings for agencies in several counties once a month. He came with the Director of Nursing (DON) for his facility. We were introduced and neither of us thought anything of it. However, his DON (and boss’ wife) decided then and there that we were going to be together. The scheming began.

My roommate worked for the same company and was sent home by the DON to tell me about this amazing man. The stories of his greatness made me laugh and ask where the bodies were buried! I was also informed that at the next meeting he would be asking me to lunch and I needed to go. I scoffed, but figured that it would just be an hour out of a day. I found out later that the DON had dropped a hint that he should take me for lunch. He had no idea of the scheme.

That next meeting, he came to the meeting. I kept looking at him and thinking how stoic he was and what was I going to do with that? I looked down and saw that he had Spacejam socks on. For those of you that are too young, Spacejam was an animated movie with Michael Jordan and the Warner Brothers characters. I loved Spacejam. Yes, I am a cartoon girl. Maybe, I thought, there was at least a sense of humor. Well, he asked me to lunch for the next Wednesday. We went to lunch. It was over two hours and we were almost inseparable after that. She was right and we acknowledged her at our wedding. He also wore the Spacejam socks with his tuxedo.

What happened to change my mind? I actually let him be him, not what I thought he was going to be. He is a wonderful soul, caring, loving and intelligent. He is strong, soft, brave, and my balance. I could not be more proud to walk beside this man who walks beside me. Even when I cringed the other night when he was doing laundry and we went to the neighbors’ house with him in plaid fleece pants and a plaid work shirt, I would not trade him for anyone. I want our love story to continue and never end.

This is my St. Valentine’s Day card for my Husband. I don’t know if he will read this, he doesn’t really like to read my blog. But maybe I will just open it up for him sometime around Valentine’s Day.

Think about if you would die for someone.  Grenade by Bruno Mars

Super Bowl XLVIII: A Trafficker’s Playground

This is the first time I have reblogged another person’s blog. I think it is an extremely important issue and needs to be addressed more publicly. I pray that God will shine a light on the traffickers and people that take part in abuse. Thank you for writing this.

Forte E Bello

woman hostageIn just a few short days hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood to the MetLife stadium in New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII. Many visitors will be coming to show their pride and cheer on their favorite team, but tragically, thousands more will be coming for something entirely different. What most people don’t know is that the single biggest game of the year has also been called the single largest human trafficking event on the planet.

Just beyond the stadium lights, hidden within the shadows will be thousands of victims, women, children and even men, caught in the inhumane web of sex trafficking. For them this day will bring something much different than football, loud cheers, hot dog stands and painted beer bellies. For them it will bring pain, abuse, repeated rapes and even fear of death. The exact numbers of trafficking cases in a given year or…

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How Daddy Got Kicked Out of Anne Frank’s House

Remember that old adage, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’? My brother proved that during his time in the Air Force, stationed in Germany. He’s going to kill me for posting this, but I have been telling him he needs his own blog. If he won’t do it, I will do it for him! Isn’t that what siblings are for after all?

A couple of things you should know before you read this: our family is not descended from quiet people and my brother is about 6′ 5″. Now, you may proceed.

It was a long time ago in the city of Amsterdam where I was on a mini-vacation during my USAF European tour of duty. I was with my good friend Dominic Mascis, a short, scrappy, mouthy character which made good company to keep in such an exotic city. We were part of a tour group that cost a fixed price to visit several attractions around Amsterdam. Some historic, and some less so (it is also the trip in which I may have eaten dog meat, but I’ll save that for a later story).

One of the tour stops was at the world-renown home of Anne Frank. Anne Frank was the young girl who was hidden from the Nazis along with her family and others for an extended period of time in the attic of a house. You can refresh your knowledge of the events elsewhere because I dare not belittle their importance by including them in this terribly embarrassing admission.

Prior to arriving to the house Dominic and I took an alternate route that included many small taverns with the consumption of many adult beverages. Needless to say we were feeling mighty fine by the time we rounded the corner to see the front of the historic landmark.

As we did so we could not help but notice our tour group was not there, yet perhaps four tour buses had just pulled up. At that instant, I saw more Asian people in one place than I had ever seen in my entire life. They poured out of the buses in rivers of racial stereotypes. Dominic could not help his laughter which only grew to uncontrolled bellowing as we were overtaken and I was nipple-deep in black hair. It was like Gulliver’s island.

Our humor having been activated already, we walked in with our new tour group. Going through the house proper, then into the hidden living spaces above the second floors. All the while being propelled by a constant flow of people. I lost Dominic a few times, and I must have seemed like a giant parting Asian people yelling his name like as if he was drowning.

Finally at the climax of the tour, the centerpiece in the large living room on the first floor was a 1/6 scale model of the house with all hidden rooms included. By this time Dominic and I had tried to keep our composure in this solemn place, but I had seen something that sent me into an uncontrollably sarcastic exclamation. Something so tacky, so out-of place…. the museum had a 1/6 scale model of Anne Frank… AND USED A BARBIE DOLL TO REPRESENT ANNE FRANK.

Ken was there too. As a matter of fact, there were several Kens. All dressed to the hilt in Nazi SS uniforms. Normally, I would have sighed and allowed the river of black hair to carry me out the door. But I fought against the tide and screamed “DOMINIC! IT’S ANNE FRANK’S MALIBU DREAM HOUSE!!!!” Dominic instantly erupted in howling laughter. “AND THERE’S LITTLE NAZI KEN! IT’S A LITTLE GIRL’S DREAM!” At that point our gutteral laughter and tomfoolery caught the attention of museum staff.

The Asian folks ignored the ugly, disrespectful Americans. Immediately we were escorted out of the building and to the sidewalk where our legs ceased to cooperate due to the insane cackles that wretched free of our reddened faces. What a humiliating experience.

And that, kids, is how daddy got kicked out of Anne Frank’s house.


It looks as if they have removed the offending dolls now.

I love you my brother!

WARNING: Too much information

I know I shouldn’t share, but damn I had a rough day. It actually started last night when I heard a rock tumbler in the bedroom. We don’t have a rock tumbler. I then became aware it was coming from my body, and upon the realization, the race to the bathroom began. Luckily for me, the bathroom in our bedroom is about 15 feet from my side of the bed. That was the beginning of a long night for me. 

I should have known what the night would be like,as I returned to the bed, after the first of many evacuations, Gracie decided to take a ‘pony run’ at me and give me a surprise ‘love bite’. I screamed which set off our Cockatoo, Murphy, into a terror-filled squawking episode, which started the dog barking, and Wil yelling at everyone to shut up. I did sleep fitfully after about 1 AM, rotating between visitations to the bathroom and waking up frightened from dreams that I may not have made it in time. 

By this morning, I felt as if I had been reincarnated as a young slave boy owned by a group of Greek philosophers on a party night. Using my wits, I thought the best thing to have for breakfast was yogurt. I think that was a pretty intelligent choice, except for passing by the Luscious Lemon to go with the mixed berry blend. The next genius move was being health conscious and adding two and a half teaspoons of Chia seeds. They are wonderful, on a normal day. 

I actually post this as a warning to my fellow humans. Eat the plain yogurt. Fuck healthy eating. I learned so many things today. I learned that jellyfish can swim up your plumbing, sting your anus. I learned that you can take your heartbeat by counting the number of times your sphincter throbs in a minute. I also learned that Chia seeds can pass through the human body within two hours and seem to have barbed wire wrapped around them by then.

I didn’t even have any sugar free gummy bears.

“We accidentally had sex”

This is really better for “Hump Day”.

I have heard this phrase used on reality shows, talk shows, scripted evening shows, and daytime soap operas. I have never quite figured out how one ‘accidentally’ has sex with another person. This is bothering me today.

My Husband and I were having our lunch today as I watched a soap opera to which I have become attached. Since we work together in our clock shop and I fix the lunch, he is subjected to it as well. Today, two people had sex that don’t belong together. I know that may shock some of you, but it does happen from time to time. We surmised that when they are found out they will use the excuse that they had sex “accidentally”.

How does one have sex accidentally? “Excuse me honey, but we were just talking and out of nowhere, her vagina just grabbed my penis and began gyrating!” I can’t see that flying. I can’t imagine being able to turn off my consciousness and suspend my cognitive abilities long enough to not realize that my clothes have been parted, as well as my legs, and then suddenly become aware. Oops, I believe I’ve just had sex with someone. Now, I am clumsy, but come on people!

For several hours this afternoon, I kept trying to come up with scenarios where one might have sex by accident. The only one I could come up with was if you were perhaps riding a special “Nude” bus, using the hand bars (because it is full of naked people). Then just at the moment you had to bend over to pick up the bible you dropped, the driver slammed on the brakes as you entered a ‘slow speed’ area and the gentleman behind you (alert and erect) was thrown forward with enough force to enter your vagina. Then, before the two of you could disentangle yourselves from this awkward predicament, the bus driver kept hitting the inappropriately spaced speed bumps for the next mile or so.

Any other ideas?