Friday, November 17, 2017

Curses


I regaled you with the amusement of our family curse. Soon before before Christmas we always have mechanical failures. Automobiles, computers, and last week our furnace.

I thought wehad contributed our share to the family curse for this year. But Noooooooooooo. Or as they say in those commercials, "But wait! Ther's more!"

We were sitting here watching TV Friday evening. We were enjoying the heat from our newly repaired furnace and catching up on computer things. It was a pleasant evening.

Suddenly we heard that all too familiar "Whoomph" noise. Our furnace had gone out again.

I called the repairman first thing Monday because I did not want to pay overtime for the weekend hours. He came out Tuesday since he had a full day Monday.

When he came out Tuesday he found that the furnace had died an ignoble death.  There was no repairing it and we would need a new one.

Next came other repairmen who took measurements and dicussed what we needed at the lowest possible cost and highest possible value. They would do some research and get back to us.

The dead furnacce was quite old. Some fixtures like the chimney would also have to be replaced. They managed to find a unit that would fit all the requirements.

They came at 7:00 this morning. Tools were in the nice big tool  carriers and the new furnace was on the truck. The dog was safely shut up in my son's room. Remember she is not fond of men.

First they removed the old chimnet and installed the new and larger one. They shut off the gas. They shut off the electrical power to the furnace. The rest of the house had power so I could watch TV or get on the computer. Best off all the electric space heaters were still operating.

Out went the old furnace. They will give it a decent burial. I could not do it myself. Too painful.

In came the shiny new furnace. It is slightly larger than the old one. They bumped the light with it and broke the glass shade that made it more decorative. They nicely cleaned up the broken glass.

With much yelling back and forth they ran a new gas line to the outside. The noise was so they could hear each other. They put the shiny new furnace in place and connected the gas and electricity to it.

When the gas was turned back on I lit the pilot lights for my cooking stove. I tested the burners to ensure that they were receiving gas. A-OK.

They turned on the furnace. It worked like a champ. It took far less than the four hours they were hoping it would take.

The repairman explained that there would be a strange smell for maybe a couple of days. That is from coatings on the furnace burning off. It does not smell good but it is getting better.

I was so worried about the water pipes freezing and bursting. I had to have work done to them a couple of years ago and did not want to have them done again.

So I got a new furnace. It is my Christmas gift to myself. Probably the most expensive  gift I have received.

I sit here now in a cozy warm house. I want to go to bed and luxuriate in my nice warm room. Good night.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Little Piggy


When I was a little girl all farms had pigs. Grandpa had pigs.

Pigs were good for many things. Pork chops come to mind of course. And pigs are nature's garbage disposals. They ate all the scraps like potato peels, apple cores, and vegetable leaves. Leftover pancakes or oatmeal from breakfast went into the slop bucket too.

Every day someone would take the slop bucket out and pour it into the trough the pigs ate from. It was a good chore for visiting grandchildren.

The pigs also had grains to eat too. Even a big farm family did not have enough scraps to feed the pigs.

I was fascinated by pigs. The snuffling noises they make and of course the grunts and squeals.

Pigs "wallow" in the mud. We were never allowed to be in the pig pen. They are dangerous at times. But I discovered that one of the reasons the wallow is that the mud keeps them cool. So I would make my own mud puddle to wallow in on hot summer days.

When my children were small my husband bought a pig with the thought of raising it to be butchered. Naturally the children and I made it into a pet. We named her Hortense.

When it came time to butcher we refused to allow it. She lived a pampered life. Then we moved back to the big city. A neighbor took Hortense and promised not to end her life early.

Now they have farmers who raise pigs. By that I mean they build large pig barns and sell them to be butchered each fall. The pigs are kept inside so that they won't run off any of the fat. I have not seen a pig in the 6 years I have been back here.

That is until 2 days ago. I was driving to town. There is one farm that feeds the cows in a yard right by the highway. They have several white calves this year.

As I was driving by I saw a pig!

My son said it was a white calf but I know a pig when I see one. It had those little short legs and was skittering along in the pen with the cows.

I looked for it on my way back but did not see it. I am guessing that they are raising it to be butchered. It probably escaped its enclosure for a little run.

So I have finally seen my pig. I am content.

Friday, November 10, 2017

It's Beginning To Look...


I can tell Christmas is coming soon. How you may ask? Well it seems to be a family curse. Mechanical problems happen right before Christmas.

Cars break down before Christmas. One year all cars went kablooey at the same time. My oldest son worked from early morning until afternoon on the east side of Detroit. My second son was driving truck and often left it in line so it would be the first when a plant opened in the morning. My third son had to come from a nearby suburb to work near where we lived. His wife worked in a different suburb in the opposite direction. My daughter worked in a suburb at the end of suburbia. I worked in another suburb near the end of suburbia.

There was one car running. My second son's wife who had three children to get to school was the de facto chauffeur. That poor thing was in the car from morning till night. I forgot to mention that we worked from around 4:00 AM to 3:00 the following AM.

Somehow for that almost week she managed to get all of us to work/school on time and then pick us up when our shifts were over. She seemed to love juggling all the schedules to deliver good service. It was a horror. Let me tell you we were happy to get our individual cars back.

It seems like each year there are car troubles. Even though we are driving better automobiles than we did back then the glitches still pop up right before Christmas.

Now it seems that the curse is spreading.

My computer said I needed to upgrade. I followed all the directions and waited. And waited. And waited. I had been having some minor annoyances and was anxious for them to be solved.

Unfortunately it was worse after the upgrade. It seemed like everything was trying to run in a molasses lake. Finally my computer froze.

I duly did a shut down. It would not come back up.

Thank goodness my son thinks solving problems like this is a fun challenge. But he was not having much success either. After a couple of days he was ready to throw up his hands and give up. He decided to completely re-install Windows to see if that would work.

It took him another day and a half to get it working. Now we are still finding things we need to load again but it seems to be working good anyway.

While he was busy working on my computer we started hearing strange noises from the furnace. After hours we heard a loud WHOOMPH. And the furnace worked no more.

It has been cold out. It will be slightly above freezing today but not so tomorrow.

We do have electrical space heaters to keep us warm but because under the house gets cold the floors get cold. And there is always the danger of the pipes freezing under the house.

It took a couple of days for the repairman to get to us. They have to come from a town about 25 miles from here. They already had repair jobs ahead of us. We were lucky they came as fast as they did.

He gave the furnace a good cleaning and it relit the first try. Bless his little heart.

He was a nice young man who showed us pictures of the dog his family took in. It had been physically and sexually abused. It is doing well now and is a beautiful animal. He was on his way to pick it up from the groomer when he left our house.

So now my house is comfy and warm. My computer is working as it should. Just remember that Christmas is coming.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dale


My husband's oldest brother was Dale. Dale was a year younger than my father. As with many families at that time they seemed to have two sets of children. There were those who were born when the parents were young and then the ones born when the parents were older.

Dale was born with the red hair my mother-in-law wanted all her children to have.

Shortly after I met my husband Dale moved away. I did not meet him before he left.

He left behind his wife and 5 children. For a long time they had no idea where he was. He would occasionally send money to his mother to give to the children.

I actually knew his oldest daughter before I knew my husband. She and I went to school together. We were never friends. That has not changed.

Dale came back for a quick visit after my husband I were married. He went into the house to visit his mother for a few minutes. He left the woman who was with him in the car with her two babies. I still do not know if they were his children. I do not think he visited his children.

After many years he moved back to Iowa with a new family. His wife had 4 children from her first marriage and they had 2 more children together.

They all came to the big city to visit us and another brother's families. His son from his first marriage was with them.

It was an interesting thing that each of my mother-in-law's children had a daughter who looked just like my daughter. Dale had 2. The second was around the same age as my oldest son. His youngest son was the same age as my second son.

As you can see I did not know Dale well because I was not around him very much.

He had a sudden heart attack and died around the time that my husband and I divorced. My father-in-law was inconsolable. I see one of his daughters occasionally. Most of his children live far away from here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Childish



The word childish has a negative connotation and it should not. What it means to me is as a child. Some may say that child-like is the more proper term. Child-like means to be like a child. I suppose the difference is minimal but think about it.

To be child-like you must work to be like a child. To be childish you simply are more like a child. So you may insert child-like but I mean childish.

Think of a baby tasting a new food or eating a favorite food. Do they act "cool"? No. Their eyes light up and their bodies wiggle. They roll it around in their mouths and smack their lips. They might put their hands in it and slap it to see what sort of sound it makes. Why they might even share it with other portions of their bodies like their hair. They are not shy about wanting more. Could life be better?

As a quick side note I made sure that all of my children came with a guarantee that they were washable. That way I could clean them easily after a fun meal. Make sure to order your children that way too.

Mud is a great thing for a little one. It squishes in hands. It oozes ever so lovingly between toes. They might get a tiny bit in the mouth before you can stop them. Do not worry. There is the washable guarantee. Besides they do not grow properly without eating just a touch of dirt. I still love to step into the mud and feel it between my toes. (Try it. You will like it.)

A two-year-old child is the perfect age. That sense of wonder is at its fullest. They are fully mobile and they can talk. Best of all they have learned that they are people. What they say and do matters.

These little people have often been referred to as being in "the terrible twos". They have learned to say, "NO!" They have opinions and expect people to listen.

A two-year-old has a completely uncensored imagination. They will tell you some great stories with very little encouragement. Ask them to tell you why the squirrel ran up the tree. With a few well-placed comments from you there might be a monster chasing them or a baby squirrel wanting its Mommy. All that limits them is attention span. They soon need to move on to another activity.

I love to walk with children. It is an adventure. They like to explore because everything is new and they want to see what it is. That is why they want to look under the neighbor's porch or peak into the sewer. Make sure they are safe but allow as much searching as possible. It would not hurt you to peek into that sewer either. There may be a treasure there. You will not know until you look.

Do you ever look at a leaf? I mean really look. Up close. Pay attention. Is it smooth or bumpy? Is it dark green or light green or has the color begun to change in the fall? What color is it exactly? Are the edges straight or striated? Has something been chewing on them? What was it? Is it on the tree or has it fallen off? Why? What do the veins of the leaf look like? Is it a pretty pattern?

See what I mean? We take so many things as normal that we forget the wonder of them. A child can find that wonder in its finger and examine it for a long time. That is childish and beautiful.

I want to experience my life with the glee that a child has. The glorious wonder and sense of awe that cannot be contained is a joy to watch in others. But to have that sense of wonder and awe is indescribable. And the best part is that all we have to do is open ourselves up and feel it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sticks And Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. A beautiful sentiment that all parents teach their children. It is meant to show that words can roll off your back and you do not have to deal with them any more whereas a physical blow can leave an injury that needs to be cared for after the altercation is finished.

The truth is that we have all been deeply hurt by words. Maybe someone called you stupid or ugly when you were a child. If that was a person whose opinion of you mattered those words would cause great pain. Perhaps someone made fun of you and it seemed to catch on with other people until everyone was making fun of you. Torment. Often a misused word can bring a misgiving you have about yourself to light and exaggerate that into what you see as a serious flaw.

I have mentioned that my family did not have much money. My mother made a lot of our clothes. But there were families in town who spent a bit more on clothing than we did.

I can remember some of the women bringing huge boxes of clothes that their daughters could no longer use. They were expensive clothes and in practically new condition. I loved getting those clothes because they were so nice.

What did bother me was that when they delivered the boxes the women did not pay attention to what they were saying. Even at that age I knew they were trying to do a good deed; it was in fact a good deed. I not only liked the clothes they brought but I needed them too. They were nice people doing a nice thing.

The problem was that they almost invariably said, "I thought Emma could wear these. If they don't fit just throw them away." I always felt like they were saying that they were not good for anybody else but they were good enough for me.

I believe in hand-me-downs. There is no sense in throwing out perfectly good items because you cannot use them for whatever reason. But I make sure if I give something to someone else that I say, "If you cannot use them maybe you know someone who can."

Another example is tasteless jokes. I have to be honest and say that often they are funny. But they are funny at the expense of others.

I was at a conference. A bunch of us met at the hotel for drinks after the meetings had adjourned for the day. Several people were standing around telling jokes. Most of the jokes were tasteless. Of course I had to join them.

I told my favorite tasteless joke. They all laughed. But afterward a woman came to me and told me that one of the other women had left because of my joke. It touched a nerve with her and hurt her feelings. I felt terrible.

I went to her room and asked if I could speak to her. She did not want to talk but was gracious. I apologized to her and she was such a nice person that she accepted my apology. We hugged each other and I left. I have not told another tasteless joke since.
My mother was laughing one day. She had seen my niece arguing with a friend. They were little girls and Mom wanted to make sure the argument did not turn into blows. But it was an argument using words as weapons. Finally my niece screamed, "Well at least MY mother buys real gold jewelry!"

How much did it hurt the other girl? I do not know. I do know that the girls are still good friends 30 years later. If only that was the worst thing we could think of to hurl at someone when we are angry with them.

Mom also liked to tell about her days as a waitress when she was young. There was a young man who came in once a week like clockwork. In those days people were called retarded and she just assumed that was his affliction.

He always ordered allep pie meaning apple pie. Mom would serve him and speak to him for a few moments before moving on to her next customers.

One day a woman came in to thank everyone at the cafe for being so nice to him. The family had to institutionalize him and he would not be coming in any more.

Another time she saw customers sitting at the table who were being very animated while they talked. Their hands were going a mile a minute and they talked and talked.

When she went to the table to take their orders she decided to join in and waved her hands excitedly. To her chagrin she soon realized that there were people who could not hear at that table. They had been using sign language as well as spoken language to communicate.

I hope these examples demonstrate that things are not always as they seem. And especially that words have power. It is so easy to unintentionally hurt someone with a careless word. And all we need to do is think before we open our mouths. Think. Think.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And So On


When I was a child there was a game we used to play. It shows how different minds consider a statement.

No it is not the one where each person whispers a sentence to a person who whispers it to the net person and so on. The final person says the sentence out loud. It is usually nothing like the first statement. It is supposed to demonstrate how the more gossip is repeated the more it is altered.

My game can be played either orally or on paper.

The first person states or writes the beginning of a story. The net person takes up where that person left off until either time is up or the story is at an end.

I am going to give you the first part of the story. If you wish to continue it add the next paragraph. Maybe we will have some fun. If not I had fun.

  One day Noni and Ivan were walking in the field. They were having a nice talk and enjoying all the things they saw in the field. Noni heard a songbird while Ivan kept having to push his hair from his eyes. Suddenly they saw a rippling in the grass.....

(Your turn.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discipline


I received several comments about disciplining my son. None were bad but I thought perhaps I would give my views about discipline for children. Keep in mind that I am not an expert on the subject.

I do have personal experience with being a mother and the oldest of seven children. Of course I did not discipline my brothers and sisters. They had parents for that. I watched my parents though and learned a lot. Usually we discipline our children in the same way our parents did us.

I was raised in the time that corporal punishment was considered to be the norm. Many believed that the way to make a child mind was to beat the tar out of them. Thank goodness my parents did not think that way.

I do remember being spanked three times but there may have been other times. Of the three I remember, the first time I was around 5 years old. My 3 year old brother and I snuck away from my mother planning to go to our grandparents' farm.

My mother had two other toddlers at home and no car. She managed to get word to my father at work. He drove from the town where he worked and went looking for us. He was scared out of his mind and so relieved to see us walking along the road less than a mile from where we lived. As he dragged us into the car he gave us each a couple of swats. I think they were more from fear than anything.

The second time was a misunderstanding. I had asked my parents if I could "go riding around" with some friends. I was 14 but one of the girls was 15 and her boyfriend was 16 and had a car.

Riding around meant just driving around town until we decided to go home. We all had curfews so it would not have been very late.

My parents thought it meant driving from our house at one end of town to the other end of town then turning around and coming back. Miscommunication.

The final time I disobeyed my parents and snuck out to hang out with friends. It was a stupid thing to do and I should not have been so foolish. When I returned home I was reminded how foolish.

Most of the time all my mother or father had to do was give us "that look" and we knew enough to behave ourselves.

I was also paddled in school once. A cousin of a cousin of mine lived across the street from the school. It was the middle of winter and we had a heavy snowfall the day before. We got to school well before time to go in so we wanted to play in the snow.

Snowball fights were not allowed on school grounds. Apparently someone had once put some rocks inside some of the snowballs and caused minor injuries.

Anyway we went across the street to my cousin's cousin's yard and had a proper snowball fight. We all had a good time and had expended a lot of energy. We all quietly went to our classroom when the time came.

Then someone from the principal's office came to take us to see him. It seems that a neighbor had seen the snowball fight and reported us.

We tried to explain that it was before school hours and that we were not on school property. It fell on deaf ears. We were all evil children who must be punished. Besides he had a brand new paddle he had been itching to try out.

The boys were paddled first. They each got 5 hard whacks. Some of them came out with tears in their eyes but they tried to look brave.

There were three of us girls. That fat little man was actually embarrassed at having to paddle us. But he did it anyway.

We each got 3 rather half-hearted whacks. We left his office trying really hard not to laugh out loud. The whole thing was ludicrous.

What I learned from that experience is that no one at any school was to spank my children. If you believe in corporal punishment it should be delivered with love. No one at any of the schools loved my children. I did.

That is not to say that discipline could not be administered. Children should be expected to behave. But there are methods of discipline that do not involve pain.

In the 5th grade my oldest son was in a class that was being punished because of misbehavior by several students. They were being made to stay after school and write some sentence a number of times.

My son took his blank paper to the teacher. He told her had done nothing wrong and he was not going to accept punishment. Then he left.

When he came home he told me what he had done. I had a few questions about what happened. When I was satisfied that he was not involved in the mischief I made plans to visit the teacher the next day.

When I told her why I was there she smiled. She told me that she had accepted my son's leaving with no further consequences because she knew him to be truthful. She said that if she gave him a punishment he deserved he always accepted it quietly.

Then she told me that he had caused her to re-think her policy of mass punishment. From that time forward she was going to punish only those involved and not the whole class.

My daughter had a teacher who had a strict rule about children speaking in class. If he asked a question no one was to answer unless he spoke their name. Until another student was called on that student would continue answering his questions.

One day he asked a question and called on my daughter to answer it. She did. He asked another question. My daughter waited a beat and then answered it. The teacher was furious. He had not called on her.

The teacher gave my daughter a topic and told her to write a paper of an assigned number of words to be turned in the following morning. She tried to explain that he had not called on anyone else and she thought she was supposed to answer his question. He was having none of it.

When my daughter came home she told me what happened. She was certain that he was not calling on another student when she answered the second question and she did not feel she should have to be punished. I agreed.

I sat down and wrote a note to the teacher explaining what my daughter told me. I told him I also felt the punishment was unjust and that I would not allow her to write the paper.

The following day my daughter had a note for me from the teacher. He tried to bully me into agreeing with him! And I had to agree that him maintaining discipline right? He was really forceful and overbearing.

But not so fast here. I do not bully well. I wrote him another very sweet letter. I agreed with him about discipline. It is necessary to maintain order. As long as it is fair. and his was not fair. And as far as teaching her a lesson was it not also a valuable lesson for her to be able to stand up for what she believes is right and just?

When my daughter delivered that note she said he heaved a heavy sigh and penned a quick note to me. He had asked other members of the class who also agreed that they were under the impression that my daughter was the correct person to answer his question. My daughter would not be required to write the paper.

Another son got into a fight at school. That is not a good thing. I was at work and received a call from the principal.

"I have your son in my office. He and another boy had a fight."

" Are they hurt?"

"No. I was going to spank each of them but your son told me I could not hit him? I said who said so? He said my mom."

"And he is right. You know that." I knew he knew because at the beginning of each school year I informed the principal of each school my children attended that I would back them up on any fair discipline but never was anyone to hit my children.

"Well the other boy took his whacks and is back in class. If you will not allow me to punish him I will have to exclude him  from school for three days."

"I will be right there to pick him up."  Now just to make it clear he was punished at home. I did not want any of my children to think that they were allowed to misbehave simply because I did not allow anyone to hit them.

So I had a few rules:
Never talk back.
When I ask you to do something do it. I would not ask a second time.
No fighting. I had trouble with that one.
Inside when the street lights come on. They still do that.
Do not steal, murder, hurt, or make someone feel bad about themselves.

My answer to why was because "I said so." I know some experts do not agree with me there. But if I said so that should be reason enough. We could discuss philosophy on it another time.

I tried to make any punishment appropriate for the age and the "crime". But usually a firm word would stop misbehavior before it began. At the same time they were kids. Kids have a knack for doing what they should not. That is why they have parents to help them learn to do what they should.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In The Closet



My parents bought the house they were living in. It had been a three family home so they did a lot of remodeling to make it a home for one family. They knocked out walls between two small bedrooms on the first floor to make a gigantic living room. And there was a door that had been sort of between the bedrooms and the living room. It led to a large closet.

My parents used this closet to hang coats, jackets, and sweaters. Shoes and boots were kept on the floor. Christmas decorations and other things that were not used all the time were stored in the closet. It was an old house so there was no light in the closet.

My family and I spent a lot of time at my parents' house. My children liked being at Grandma's where the food always tastes better. And at Grandpa's because he always found something fun for them to do. My husband felt like he could relax which was not something he often did. I just enjoyed the feeling that comes with being around family.

It was a natural move that my children and I would stay there while I waited for my third baby. My husband had a new job out of state and I was too close to having the baby to be able to safely travel. My husband was able to join us every weekend.

On one side lived an older couple and the woman's brother. They were nice people who kept to themselves. On the other side was a young family with four little girls. The youngest girl was about the same age as my second son.

One day my boys were outside playing. The youngest was with the little girl playing in her yard. My mother was not home and I was enjoying some quiet time in the house.

My three year old son came rushing into the house and made a bee-line for the closet and shut the door!

I was sitting there wondering what on earth he was doing. It was amusing the way he rushed in. Then there was a firm knock on the front door. I answered it.

There stood the neighbor who lived on the other side of the little girl's family. He was holding a mudball that was about the size of a soccer ball. He looked like he was offering it to me. I did not want it.

"Is that little blonde kid yours?" I said that he was. "Well he and the little girl next door just threw this at my bathroom window!" Again offering me the mudball. I still did not want it.

I asked him if the window was broken. That was not the point but no it was not broken.

I looked over at his house and sure enough there was a big spot that had obviously been made by a big ball of mud. I assured him that I would talk to my son and make sure nothing like that ever happened again.

He became totally outraged. Sherry (the little girl next door) had been with my son. When the man confronted her parents, they grabbed her and spanked her. He wanted my son punished too. I told him firmly that I was not going to spank my child in front of him just to make him happy. I would take care of it but in my own way. He was still sputtering as I closed the door.

I then had my son come out of the closet. I explained that we do not throw mud at people's windows. Then we went together to the man's house. I had my son apologize and offer to clean the window. The man declined.

I have told you before that my mother was a resourceful woman. Well she decided to collect returnable pop bottles. She would turn them in once a week to collect the deposit on them and put the money in a special bank account. It kept the neighborhood cleaner and she was getting an extra bit of cash. She was going to buy a car with it.

And buy a car she did. It was a used model that needed a paint job but it ran good. She painted it herself with some spray paint she had. It was fluorescent blue paint and the car glowed in the dark.

One night a police helicopter noticed the glow and came down to investigate. They were astounded and amused.

So Mom had her car. After a few months she began to complain that it was making a "chirping" noise. Daddy drove it around the block and heard nothing. As time went on Mom said the noise was getting worse.

On a Saturday Mom was going to the grocery store. I was sitting in a chair feeling huge and bloated awaiting the imminent birth of my third child. Mom said the chirping noise was getting worse and worse so Daddy told her that when she came back from the store she should honk the horn. Then he would go to the front door and she could move the car back and forth so he could listen.

After about an hour and a half we heard the horn. Daddy sat there. I told him that Mom was honking for him so he heaved that put-upon sigh that he had and went to the door.

Mom was driving forward, then backing up so he could hear the noise. A look of horror came over Daddy's face. He turned from the door. On his way to the closet he said, "I just can't stand watching your mother try to park the car." Into the closet he went and closed the door.

I was still laughing uncontrollably when Mom came in to see where he went.

Eventually they knocked out the wall in the closet to make an entrance to the rooms that my parents were going to use as their room. I miss the closet.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Hardest Thing


While I was talking to my sister the other day we were talking about how all the nieces and nephews are grown. In some cases even their children are grown and have children. The family keeps expanding. It is a wonderful fact of life.

My nephew and his wife recently watched their only child marry. Then because her husband is in the military the newlyweds moved far away.

The parents miss them so much. My niece is wondering how they will fill their empty nest. Personally I think their dog will be happy to fill the spaces.

All my children are grown. My oldest is 50 and the youngest will be 44 in a few days. I watched them grow into people that I would have as friends even if they weren't my children.

During the time they were busy growing I enjoyed them. I never dreamed they would one day want to have homes of their own. They were just babies after all.

When a child was ill I often took them to bed with me. It made it easier to know when they needed something. I was comforted by that.

One of my son's had the flu. When it was time for us to all go to bed I told him to crawl into my bed. He looked at me and said, "Don't you think I'm a little too old for that?" I felt like I had been caught stealing cookies from the jar.

One at the grocery store with my oldest son I looked over to say something to him and screamed. He was embarrassed and yet trying to understand what was wrong with me.

I knew he was growing up. But it really disconcerting to look at your little boy and see that his eyes are at the same level as yours.

My youngest son was living with the young woman who became his wife. They had two children together. They started very young.

My son was working and had his own health insurance. He had a bad virus. He had been vomiting and his wife decided he needed to see a doctor.

The doctor refused to treat him because he would not be 18 until the following month. He needed his mother to authorize treatment.

They came to get me and we went right back to the doctor's office. By that time my son was so dehydrated that his legs would not work. We carry/dragged him inside. He was put into a wheelchair and I signed papers.

When my son's name was called his wife got up and accompanied him and the nurse who pushed his wheelchair back to see the doctor. I never had such a strange feeling before or since.

She was the right person to go with him. I knew that. It had always been my job before.

I have said for years the hardest thing about being a parent is letting go.






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Boo!

My oldest son was easily scared when he was little. A lot of the things people thought would scare him did not but then the strangest things would make him cringe with fright.

For instance there were horror movies on late night television when the boys were small. We stayed up and watched them with glee. My son still likes them. The old Hammer films are his favorites.

His uncle drove a delivery truck for a beer distributor. Often the company had promotional displays for retail stores. One such display was the famous delivery wagon along with the team of horses that pulls it. It was impressive with the barrels of beer on the wagon.  It was probably 3 feet long in total. His uncle took one home with him and placed it so it could be seen by everyone.

For some reason my son was afraid of it. It was on display so it could be seen as you entered the house. My son would grab my leg and clutch it until we were inside the house and past the horses and wagon. Then he was fine.

My brother-in-law bedeviled my son at almost every turn. It was done as a loving thing and he meant no harm. It was what he did with all the kids including his own. My son just reacted differently. So at his uncle's house he never knew what to expect. He was appropriately scared all the time.

It was one of my son's favorite places to visit. I think he liked being frightened. Now that he is grown he tries his best to scare his nieces and nephews in the same way.

Once when my mother-in-law was visiting we were sitting on the front porch swing talking. My son was in the house where his uncle must have been aggravating him. My son burst out of the house and went to his grandmother. "Grandma will you please make your kid leave me alone?"

Naturally Grandma yelled at her son to "leave this kid alone!"

My son has always been interested in gadgets. We had some of the very first home computers and my son was the one who used them the most. Of course there were video game systems too. His brother and sister thought they were okay but he loved them.

My son researched what made them work and studied about what new technologies were coming soon. He learned to troubleshoot which is so handy when you are dealing with this kind of thing. He even began building his own computers using what he judged to be the best components. For little money he could have a top-of-the-line computer.

My son is the first to try a new electronic gadget. Cell phones, tablets, readers; all are things he researches intensely and then buys what he has decided to be the best. It works out well for me because I get his old one of whatever it is.

He even bought a Roomba. Roomba is a flat little robot type of thing. He has programmed it to vacuum the carpets while we sleep. We wake to clean floors. It works well and I highly recommend it.

When I think of him owning a robot it brings a smile to my face. When he was almost two years old Santa gave him a robot for Christmas.

It was a marvel. It was battery operated. It stood about 18 inches tall.

When you turned it on it would walk across the floor in a menacing manner because it was a warrior. At intervals it would stop, its chest would open, and a gun would pop out and noisily fire. Then the chest would close and the robot would advance some more.

My son was terrified. I tried to have him become more familiar with it by handling it while it was turned off. Nope. He wanted nothing whatsoever to do with that robot.

Even my little brother who was only 6 years old tried to cajole him into not being afraid. Nothing worked.

I am not sure what ever happened to that poor robot. Not much scares my son any more. He might even like the robot now.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Experience Wtth A Vampire



I know I have mentioned that I am afraid of vampires. They are the one thing I am sure does not exist (I have to be sure) but they terrify me.

I also have to admit I am fascinated by vampires. When I was younger I watched the movies. I read Dracula by Bram Stoker. I recommend this book. I also highly recommend the Wamphyri series by Brian Lumley. Actually it is the Necroscope series if you want to go to the library and look for them. But I digress.

I no longer watch vampire movies. For one thing I am afraid. For another most "scary" movies today are more aptly just "icky" movies. They show blood and gore just for the sake of making a mess. I am not a fan of all that. I can enjoy a movie that frightens me but I do not want to be made sick.

Back in the 1970's there was a movie that was made for television about vampires. It was named Dracula and starred Jack Palance. After the children were in bed my husband and I decided to watch it.

I had a nice rocking chair that I sat in. It is where I sat when I was feeding the babies or just to relax them before bed. While I rocked them I always wore a knitted brown shawl. It seemed so cozy to drape around the baby and me. It created a cocoon that separated us from everything else.

But the kids were in bed. I sat with my shawl around my shoulders in my comfy rocker and watched this vampire movie. I was never a big fan of Jack Palance. This movie was okay but I felt no big feeling about it one way or the other. But it was about a vampire. It did spook me a little.

Before going to bed myself I suddenly realized I had no milk for the children in the morning. We lived next door to my parents at that time. One of the things that I hated the most about living in the city was that the houses are so close together. For instance the house on the other side of us was so close that there was barely room for a little walkway between the two houses.

But in this case I was lucky to have my parents so close. I decided to run next door to see if Mom had a little extra milk until I could get to the store the next day.

As I was going out I turned to my husband and joked, "If I'm not back right away, it will mean a vampire got me." Then I hurried next door in the dark of night.

Was I afraid? I was a little. I knew there are no vampires but ... well you know how it is.

I was lucky Mom had an extra gallon of milk. She told me to take the whole thing so I did! I wished them good night and went back home.

Now I have to tell you that I knew my idiot husband was going to do something to try to scare me when I got home. I knew it. And I was prepared.

What I was not prepared for was the figure that came flapping at me from the dark between the two houses. It was the size of a man but it had what appeared to be wings of some sort that were flapping crazily. I screamed as loud as it is possible to scream.

Then the figure came out from between the houses into the relative light of the night. It was my husband! He had my shawl over his head and arms and was still flapping like a vampire. He was laughing.

He went into the house with me hot on his trail. I threw the gallon of milk at him. He knew how scared I would be. Well maybe not because he told me that if he had known that I would throw the milk at him he would not have done it. Yeah, right!

Once I stopped shaking I thought I should call my parents to let them know I was okay. I peeked out the window and their house was dark. They were already in bed.

The next day I was talking to my mother and told her what had happened. She said, "We heard you scream. I looked out the window and didn't see anything so I figured you were okay and we went to bed."

What!?!? I think that perhaps, just perhaps, I was under-protected in my experience with the vampire.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sorrow


A blogger friend expressed some interest in my brother who was killed in Viet Nam. In order to try to clarify my family's reaction to it all I am reprinting a previous post. Questions and comments are welcome
* * * * * * * *

.My brother was two years younger than me. Our whole family was close. He and I were not necessarily closer than the rest but we did have a knack for getting into mischief together

The 1960's were a time of extreme change. Many people were demanding changes to the way they were treated. Peaceful demonstrations sometimes turned violent. We were learning to challenge authority not meekly follow what we were told. And of course there was the war in Viet Nam.

My brother who was one year younger had been drafted into the Army. He seemed to get a lot of breaks as far as time at home and assignments. His overseas assignment was to Korea.

The brother two years younger knew he would also be drafted when the time came. He always said that if he was drafted he would be sent to Viet Nam and if he was sent to Viet Nam he would come home in a "baggie". That was his term not mine.

So he was in fact drafted. He did not get any time at home between Basic Training and the second round of training. After that he was home for about a week and a half and he went to Viet Nam.

Before he left he made arrangements for the distribution of his things. And his insurance money was to go to our mother with the exception of a brand new car for our father. The car was to be a red Ford with black interior.

My brother was a person who lived his life to the absolute fullest. Everybody loved him. At the same time he could be so infuriating. He had a circle of friends who saw him as a leader. They occasionally got into a bit of mischief but nothing major.

One of those friends was a boy who had never really had any friends before. He was extremely overweight with an extremely possessive mother. Another boy also had a possessive mother but she had allowed him to have friends so she could entertain her gentleman friends. Another boy came from a large family too. There were others but those three stand out in my mind.

All the boys were drafted except for the one who was so overweight. The boy from the large family ended up in Germany. The boy with the popular mother was sent to Viet Nam as were the others. Members of my family and I wrote to them all regularly.

The overweight boy knew of my brother's prediction for what would become of him. He went on a rigorous diet to lose enough weight so the Army would take him. If he could just get in he reasoned that he could volunteer to be sent to Viet Nam. Once in Viet Nam he felt he could somehow find my brother and protect him. He finally fit into the weight restrictions and joined the Army.

In the meantime my brother was in Viet Nam. We received letters from him. We wrote to him. We sent him "care packages" from home. My mother, my sister, and I tried to take turns so he would receive at least one each week. We included personal items like socks, underwear, and grooming supplies. And they were full of homemade goodies.

He wrote to tell us how much his buddies enjoyed the cookies and candy we made and sent. He told me one time that there was a particular type of cookie that I sent that always arrived in crumbs. I apologized and said I would not send them anymore. He wrote back and said to send them because they were one of the most popular items in the box. He suggested I send them in coffee cans so they could just eat the crumbs so that is what I did.

My brother was a tank driver. One time he was driving and his tank hit a land mine. Luckily no one was hurt but it did blow one of the tracks off his tank so he was idle for a few days until they fixed it. He sent my oldest son pictures of himself standing in the hole that was left after the explosion. It was as deep as he was tall.

He missed everyone so much. He sent silk jackets for my oldest son and my youngest brother. He sent silk pajamas to my second son who was my youngest at the time. They wore them until they were completely worn out.

One letter I received was tragic. They had been out on a mission and several of his buddies were killed. It was the first time he had ever seen anyone die. And to die so violently only made it worse. He was drunk when he wrote the letter and there are teardrops on the pages. It broke my heart for him to have to go through that.

My husband, children, and I were preparing for vacation. I had the dreaded feeling that we would be called home from that vacation because my brother had died. I had some last minute shopping to do before we left so I drove to my parents' house to pick up both my sisters to help me. They would spend the night and we would shop the next day.

It was fairly late when we got home. As I did every night I sat in my rocking chair to rock my children before I put them to bed. Suddenly I looked at my sisters and said, "Did you hear that?" Both of them asked what they should have heard. I remember telling them that it must have been the rocker creaking. They remember me telling them what I heard.

It was a young woman's voice. It clearly said, " Emma, Randy's dead." I was a little frightened but I pushed it aside and we all went to bed.

The next day we finished our shopping. I had to finish packing for our trip because we were leaving the next day. As I drove my sisters home we heard one of our favorite songs on the radio. It was Creedence Clearwater Revival singing "Looking Out My Back Door". When it was over we switched stations and there was the same song.  Once again at the end of it we switched and the same song played again.

As the song was ending we pulled up in front of my parent's house. We were laughing and carrying on. Daddy came out and came right to the car. He worked in a chemical factory and his eyes were all red. I assumed it was from something at work. He told me to turn off the car.

The girls went into the house immediately. I asked him what was wrong, hoping to find out what had happened to his eyes. He told me my brother had been killed.

My first thought was for my mother. How was she? Did she need a doctor? I took my boys into the house to see her but she was not there. I assumed she had gone to her room to try to relax. My youngest brother and sister were sitting on the couch looking totally lost.

My husband who was very close to my brother had gone to see his own brother after work. I called and talked to my sister-in-law. I told her to tell my husband where I was and that he should meet me there instead of at our house.

She could tell from my voice that something was wrong. After she insisted on knowing I told her and asked that she not tell my husband because I wanted to be the one. Then I took my boys outside. They were so small and I did not want them to upset anyone.

The boys and I were sitting on the front porch steps when my husband arrived. I told him what had happened. He didn't believe it. He was certain it was a mistake.

With my husband to support me I went back inside. My mother was sitting on the couch between the two little kids. I asked her if she was okay and told her that I had been in before but I thought she needed to be alone so I had not bothered her. I did ask if she had been lying down. She had seen me when I was in before. She was sitting on the couch with my brother and sister and wondered why I had not said anything to her!

The soldiers who came to notify my mother had stayed with her until my father could get home. They were actually so kind and so helpful. My parents decided to have a military funeral.

The soldiers told my parents that my brother's tank had been in for repairs. Some of his buddies had been caught in an ambush and he volunteered to be part of the rescue team. The vehicle he was riding in hit a land mine and he was killed instantly. They would not tell us if there were other casualties.

We found out many years later that what we were told was not the truth. What actually happened was that they were out on maneuvers. He was driving his tank and there were other tanks there too. They stopped to decide what to do next. My brother was thirsty and knew there was Kool-Aid in one of the other tanks.

That tank driver knew the area and that it was heavily planted with land mines so he told my brother to stay where he was. My brother assured him he would be fine and proceeded to get a drink. He stepped on one of the land mines. It killed him and another man instantly. Either way, he was dead.

For the military funeral there was to be a military honor guard  The Army tries to grant as many of the family's wishes as possible in circumstances like ours. We had only one wish. Remember the overweight boy who finally made it into the Army? He was in Basic Training. We asked if he could be part of the honor guard. We were told that Basic Training was rarely interrupted but they would inquire. We got our wish.

My parents were devastated at losing their child. The rest of us were devastated at losing someone who loved living as much as my brother did. The service itself was heartbreaking. But at the cemetery the military took over.

A military funeral is beautiful with all the pomp and majesty involved. They have been trained to do things exactly. There was no milling about wondering what to do next. But for the people who loved the deceased the closing can be heart-wrenching. The playing of taps and the gun salute are something that I wish for no one.

After my brother died my mother, my sister, and I continued to send the "care packages" to his unit. It was the least we could do and I think we knew my brother would have appreciated it. Some of the guys wrote and thanked us. It was comforting.

As we all know life moves forward. We still miss my brother. He was not much more than a baby when he died. It is not right. We have tried to keep his memory alive by introducing his life to our children and grandchildren.

Two years after he died I had another son. I named him after my brother. The strange part of that is that if I had waited until my sons were a bit older to name one of them after him, it would have been this one. He has a lot of the same traits, especially his love for life.

Before my brother was killed I never gave much thought to war. It was something in history books or so far removed from me that it was not real. I wish that a day will come when war is a thing of the past. No families will have to mourn sons and daughters lost so senselessly for what always seem to be petty reasons. I understand there needs to be a balance but there must be a better way to solve disagreements.

My brother died just a couple of months before his 21st birthday. He has been gone almost fifty years. Too young. All of them were too young.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Buttons And Lemons


My father once bought a red Thunderbird to drive. For anyone who is not sure Thunderbirds were sports ars made by Ford.

He and I loved that car. It was used, not new. It had a strip of leather and metal that started on the ceiling and ended at the front of the bucket seats. On the strip were buttons... lots of buttons. We liked buttons.

Most of them did not work. But they were buttons and we liked them.

As a brand I prefer Fords. For some reason the seats fit my bottom and back better than most brands. I drive a Jeep SUV right now and I like it a lot too. But back to Fords.

For a luxury car I liked Lincoln Towncars or Mercury Crown Victorias. I liked Edsels too. Thunderbirds are sports cars. The 1956 model is one of the nicest looking cars ever. That is the model driven by the mysterious blonde in the movie American Graffiti.

I once bought my own Thunderbird. It was beautiful. Powder blue was the color. It had a tuck and roll white interior. Not very practical with children I know but nice to look at.

It also had a turbo engine. I have little idea of what that actually means. It is supposed to sound like the car is fast. All I know is that those turbos were one of the first things to go wrong with the cars.

I did love that car. I knew it was a lemon almost as soon as I got it but I loved it anyway.

I spent a lot of money on repairs for that car. Including a new turbo. Something was constantly needing to be fixed. I did love that car.

I finally gathered my senses and sold it for far less than I paid for it. I was lucky to get anything for it. It was a lemon after all.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

From These Roots


I write this blog to leave a family history for my children, their children, and on down the line. They are the leaves on my tree.

I include stories about family, tell about different family members, and sometimes I simply put down my own thoughts.

There is an old Irish saying that says, "Every branch blossoms according to the root from which it is sprung". It simply means you are who you come from.

I want my offspring to know who they are and who they came from. It helps them get an idea of where they may be going. Besides it is fun to look back at the laughter, tears, and scallywags that belong to our family.

Over the years I have worked off and on to make a family tree. It is such hard work. Trying to find records is difficult. I know quite a bit until we get past grandparents and great-grandparents.

I did not know my paternal grandfather. He died before I was born. I do not remember even seeing a picture of him.

My paternal grandmother talked about being the first child born in the United States after her family arrived from Denmark. She had one sister that I knew a tiny bit. She had brothers who lived in the same town but I did not know them.

My maternal grandfather had several brothers and sisters but I only knew one brother. Others had died or lived out of state.

My maternal grandmother had a sister who lived near to all of us. She was married but did not have children.

Grandma's father was still alive though. He was one of my favorite characters. I thought for years that he was a leprechaun. He's not even Irish!

My son recently discovered yet another family research site. It begins with him. Then he puts in information about his parents. Then information about his grandparents. It took off from there.

Some branches end early. I believe it is because the families did not keep records and did not do family trees. Great-grandpa was orphaned as a baby and came to this country to raised by an uncle. He had older brothers. The family lost track of them over time.

Some branches go back to as far as 600 BC. Can you imagine? They are the ones who did extensive family trees.

We have discovered rascals and royalty. Most are common folk like we are. So now we are trying to find more connections to the shorter branches. It is fun but oh my is it tiring.


Friday, September 22, 2017

It's A-Comin'


I have been seeing signs of autumn. The leaves on the trees have been turning yellow. No oranges yet but they will happen soon.

The sumac leaves are a blood red now. The rust colored fruit clusters at the tops of the plants are showing off their fall finery.

There is a vine growing up a tree beside the highway that has bright red leaves. If ther were any way I would pull over to see what it is. The olor is beautiful.

I see squirrels in the back yard busily running with the nuts they will bury for winter.

Farmers are beginning to harvest the corn. The soybeans are yellowing and about ready too.

Once the crops are harvested the farmers turn the cows out into the fields to forage for any grain that did not make it to the trucks. I like to drive in the mornings to see the deer in with the cattle eating up before winter makes food hard to find.

I guess that means I should think about winterizing the house. I will only think about it though. The temperatures are still in the upper 80's some days. I do not like the heat.

So some guy has predicted that the world will end tomorrow (Sept. 23). If we are still here I will have my favorite time of year to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Uncle Harry and Aunt Helen



Uncle Harry fancied himself a ladies man. He liked pretty women and tried to keep as many as he could close to him. I have pictures of him in his World War I uniform surrounded by lovely nurses. He had been injured in a mustard gas attack.

Uncle Harry was Grandpa's younger brother. He is the only one of Grandpa's siblings that I knew.

Aunt Helen was one of three sisters. All had first names that began with the letter H.

Aunt Helen was pretty with red hair that she enhanced a bit with a henna rinse. She also had the redhead complexion. That meant she burned easily. She also hated freckles. I remember her working in the garden with a huge hat to protect her skin from the sun.

Aunt Helen was a school teacher. She loved children. Uncle Harry did not much care for work. He did not want to be a father.

When they decided to marry Uncle Harry told Aunt Helen that she would have to be the breadwinner. The school she taught was in another town quite a distance away. At that time teachers were not allowed to be married so she had to keep that a secret.

Uncle Harry was not without resources. When my great-grandfather died he left a farm and a business in town to each of his sons. Uncle Harry sold the grocery store he owned. He kept the farm. They had a house in town too.

I spent a lot of time with them. When I would spend the night Aunt Helen would tuck me in on the couch. Then she would carefully line chairs in front of me so I would not fall off in my sleep.

Because they had no children they had what I thought of as fancy food. I remember them having cantaloupe for breakfast one morning. Cantaloupe was not that fancy. We often had it in season. But Aunt Helen and Uncle Harry ate it with salt and pepper on it. Fancy.

Aunt Helen loved strawberry preserves. Me too. But we usually only had jelly. It was cheaper to make I guess. So I liked having toast and strawberry preserves with her.

Sometimes during the school year Uncle Harry would come and take me to a movie. That was fun. He even got popcorn.

What was the most interesting thing for me was to go to the farm when they cut hay.

Uncle Harry hired Indians (as they were called then) to help. Once the hay was cut and dried he did not bale it. He made haystacks.

Of course I was not very old so I could not help. I just sat on a wagon or back of a truck and watched. I found it fascinating to watch the men fork hay up into a huge pile. It may sound boring but I enjoyed it. During lunch break I would listen to them speaking their native language. I know it was some Sioux dialect but I do not know which tribe.

On a trip a few years ago I saw the house in town. It looks exactly as I remember it. I wish I could have gone inside.

Friday, September 15, 2017

As You Like It


Everyone has favorite foods. Some of my favorites are watermelon, devil's food cake with fudge frosting, and lobster.

Most of us have foods we really do not like. I cannot eat liver even though I have tried. I will not eat "gamey" meat even though I have tasted some of the varieties and some are not bad. I still will not eat them.

I also do not like pancakes. I used to eat them when we stayed on my grandparents' farm. Grandma made pancakes for breakfast and she made her own syrup. It was the syrup I liked. There were usually leftover pancakes too. We would sprinkle one with sugar and roll it up to make a "cigar". It was a fun treat for mid-morning.

I still did not like pancakes. But I could make pancakes. Remember this is before mixes were available. My pancakes were very good they tell me. Mom loved pancakes.

I do like waffles. Mom did not like waffles at all. She made good waffles.

What we did was one of us would make waffles and the other would make pancakes. We found out who in the family wanted which and we would make breakfast.

We could not afford maple syrup. What we had on our pancakes was Karo syrup. I did not like the dark Karo. Mom preferred it. We would have both on the table.

My youngest brother loved pancakes but did not make them as good as his wife. She liked over easy eggs but never was able to make them without breaking the yolks. She did not like pancakes and he did not like eggs.

Sunday mornings when they had a big family breakfast my brother would make her eggs and she would make his pancakes. Their children put in orders for what they wanted. It was a good arrangement.

Do you have a favorite that someone else makes for you because they do a better job?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day Off


I have no post for today. My son is having a colonoscopy and I am designated driver.

It is simply part of a routine physical and we have no concerns about a good result.

However there is a family history of cancer so it is worth doing. Check with your doctor to see if you should have the procedure. It is painless and time consuming but it is worth getting that clean bill of health.

Be back Friday.

Friday, September 8, 2017

How To Say Hello


Living in the apartment next to us in the big city was a man with his two young children. The oldest was a girl and the youngest was a boy. Occasionally the father's girlfriend was there with her daughter also. We did not visit back and forth but we were on a "smile and say hello" basis.

When my family moved to the big city they took an apartment on the first floor of our building. My sister and the girl next door to us became close friends.

My husband had a younger brother about the same age as the girls. He still lived back here with their parents but visited every year when they came to the big city to visit.

I stayed in touch with the girl next door even after both families moved from the building. She was a nice girl who had been given some rough knocks in life.

Years passed and my brother-in-law came to the big city. He wanted some excitement. He also wanted a wife.

He brought his other brother's wife's sister with him. She would be the one. Thankfully it did not work out.

He dated a girl who lived across the street. They were talking marriage. For some reason it did not work out.

Then he connected with the former girl next door. I cannot remember how. Before long they ran off and got married. Then they moved to California.

The girl next door was now my sister-in-law and going to have her first baby. Then my brother-in-law was drafted.

She was all alone in California. I invited her to stay with us until they knew where he would be stationed. I knew she did not want to stay with her father and she did not want to be alone.

She had a beautiful baby boy. Eventually she moved. Then when my brother-in-law came home they moved to Florida. They proceeded to have 6 (yes 6) more children.

They moved to Tennessee. They have a gorgeous home with a bit of land. They have done very well for themselves.

Years passed and my father-in-law died. My children and I came back here for the funeral as did the rest of the family.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law had a nice big camper with plenty of room for them with all 7 children. They were staying at my sister-in-law's in town so I did not see them right away when we got here.

Much of the family was sitting in Mom's living room when they came out. My sister-in-law rushed toward me.

"Emma, How the hell are you. I'm so glad to see you!" Then she hauled off and slapped my face as hard as she could!

I just sat there in shock. No one ever did that to me before. She sat down and we started to catch up as if nothing happened.

My son later told me that that was a sign of affection in the area where she lived. After the funeral she insisted that I sit with her and we talked for a long time.

So now I know how to say, "Hello." But I will not. Not that way.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Success?


What does success mean to you? This is an important question.

Some people think of fame. A lot of people know who you are. Hopefully more love you than do not.

Is it education? The more you know the more successful you feel.

Power. Some long for control over people or businesses. They are the final link in the chain.

Does a lot of money mean we are successful? Some think so.

Maybe you are successful if you have a career you enjoy. It might even be what you always wanted to be.

Maybe you have a different idea of success.

A few years ago my son and I were just sitting around talking the way family members do. I mentioned that I was sorry that I had not prepared myself better to give them a better life and myself a more secure future.

My son asked me what I had wanted to be when I was younger. I searched my mind. There were those fleeting and basically childish dreams. I would be in a group like the Lennon Sisters. I would be the next Hayley Mills. I would marry Ricky Nelson (his wife would not mind). I would go to college and decide then what I would be. I would be a physical therapist. There were so many.

Needless to say I was not a Lennon Sister,,, I cannot sing. Hayley Mills was not threatened by my desire to emulate her. Alas Ricky Nelson's wife was unreasonable so I did not become Mrs. Nelson. I did not make it to college until after I married and had four children. I realized that physical therapy was not for me.

There were many other short-lived dreams. None of them were serious either.

After much thought I told my son the only thing I had always wanted to be was a mother. I do not ever remember a time that I did not want to have my own children.

Of course I knew that in order to have children I would need a husband. A husband was not my priority.

I had a sister-in-law who lived to get a husband and keep him. For me what I really wanted was a father for my children.

My son simply looked at me and said, Then you are a success." I guess I am.

Friday, September 1, 2017

HELLO


So I was lying in bed this morning as I love to do. I was looking at the sights out my window. The phone rang.

Since it was only about 7:30 AM I quickly put on my glasses to see who would call so early. The number is the cell phone of my youngest granddaughter.

I quickly answered. "Hello?" There was no response. "Hello?" No response. "HELLO?' Still no response.

Then I can hear screaming and yelling. In the background someone seemed to be crying. "HELLO!"

I still heard no answer. Suddenly the phone hung up.

I immediately called back. No one answered. I tried again. No answer.

So I called her mother. I told her what had happened. She said my granddaughter was at school. We live in a different time zone so I had not considered that. 

Her mother said she would call the school to see what was happening. She would call me back as soon as she had spoken to my granddaughter.

After a grueling 45 minute wait the phone rang. My granddaughter had been on her school bus when her phone called me. The noise was apparently normal children-on-the-school-bus noise. 

My granddaughter did not realize that her phone had dialed me. It was in her pocket. Somehow it also hung itself up. She was surprised that it happened. 

Her mother thanked me profusely for contacting her. Of course she was my first thought after my granddaughter. If it had been my child I would want to know. Thank goodness nothing serious happened. It was one of those cases of better safe than sorry.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Find A Wheel And It Goes Round, Round, Round


I bought new tires for my truck last summer. I did not need the expense but I did need the tires.

After 1,000 miles I was to take the truck back to have the tires rotated for "maximum usage". Of course I put it off. Putting things off is something I am really good at.

So a couple of weeks ago I got up early to make the trip into town. I figured if I was at the tire place I would be in and out without too much waiting. Then I would treat myself to lunch. Maybe I would buy some fast food and take it to the state park and eat under the trees.

I pulled into the parking lot. I was in luck. There was only one other car waiting to be serviced. I would be second.

I parked near the front door and went inside.

"What can I do for you?" asked the young man behind the counter. I smiled. Then I explained that I had bought my tires there at the end of last summer. I needed an alignment.

He assured me that it would be a quick job. Then he quoted the price. Not quite $60.

Now I knew that tire rotation should be at no cost. And this guy wanted to charge me $60?

I thanked him and turned around and walked out. I got in my truck and drove away.

I did not treat myself to lunch. It was too early. But I did pick up a breakfast sandwich and a hot tea. I drove to the state park and found a good place to eat. And soothe my mind.

Halfway through eating my sandwich I realized my mistake. I said I wanted a wheel alignment not a tire rotation. Once again I felt so stupid.

I waited a week before I went back. Even I am not immune to embarassment.

I got my tires rotated. I had my lunch in the park. All is right with the world.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Total Eclipse


It was here. August 21, 2017. The day of the total solar eclipse.

My son had ordered the special glasses to be able to look at the sun without frying our eyes. I had called my sister-in-law to invite her to go with us to the viewing. We agreed to meet for an early lunch before the big event.

My son and I had scouted for the ideal place to see the eclipse. We agreed that the rural cemetery that is the final resting place of family members would be perfect.

Around the edge of the cemetery there are no trees. We would have an unobstructed view. It is located in the middle of cornfields. Few people even know it is there.

We decided on the best spot before we drove home.

So I woke up bright and early. To an overcast sky. Oh no. After having little to no rain all summer we have been having quite a bit lately. The plants need it but not this day. Please.

I watched the weather on television. The forecast was for intermittent rain and mostly cloudy skies. Noooooo.

The weathercaster did say that the best chance for the skies to clear enough to view the eclipse was in our area. Dare we hope?

My son and I gathered our things together making certain that we had those special glasses and his camera. We were going to take a chance. Off we went to have our early lunch.

As we drove toward town the clouds did seem to clear a bit. Hope flourished.

My sister-in-law had just arrived so we sat and ordered. It was a nice lunch which we ate quickly. Then on to the cemetery.

We were a little early so we set about grooming the graves a bit. A quick touch up with the weed-eater, dig up a couple of thistles, and clear off the headstones.

We opened the package and each took a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses and put them on. Then we realised that they were too dark to be able to see normally. We took them off and found our spots to watch the eclipse. Then we put them back on.

I chose a nice bench near the edge of the cemetery. There was a tree behind me but it would not be in the way.

I looked up and found the sun. The eclipse had begun.

At first there was a small edge of the sun that darkened just a bit. Then I could see the moon moving farther into the path of the sun. As it moved across the sun the moon looked totally black.

The temperature dropped a few degrees. It was not cold but a difference was felt. The wind increased significantly. Whether the eclipse was the reason or not I have no idea. But it was windy during the eclipse.

The sun looked like a wedge of melon and then a banana. As the moon moved to the southeast the yellow of the sun with the orange edges moved from the side of the sun to the top.

Then there was a thin thin eyelash shaped yellow with orange edges on top of the sun.

We were not in the line of complete totality. We only had about 97 % eclipse here. But it was so close that I am more than satisfied. As the moon began to leave the front of the sun a large fluffy cloud moved across the whole thing.

We did not see the end of the eclipse. The cloud covered the rest of the time.

My sister-in-law went home. My son needed to go to the pharmacy so we went on to the town where it is.

As we drove that way we saw a nasty black cloud in that direction. It covered the sky as far as the eye could see and was moving quickly toward us.

By the time we got to the store the sky was dark above us. We rushed inside.

We were only there for a few minutes. When we went back outside it was beginning to rain. By the time we got in the car it was raining pretty hard.

We stopped at a nearby drive thru to grab something to drink because my mouth was dry. My window was open long enough to pay for and collect the drinks. I was soaked clear through on that side.

By the time we reached home the rain had stopped temporarily. I was glad to be in my house.

My son did get a couple of pictures of the eclipse. They turned out well.

I am grateful that we were able to see the most important parts of the eclipse. Were you able to see it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Year I Was Born


 In a couple of days I will be 70 years old. I have had a full and wonderful life. As a matter of fact I have been telling you about it for several years.

I began to wonder about major happenings the year I was born. Let's see what I found.

The most popular song was Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette sung by Tex Williams. I even know the song... imagine that.

I will not name all the popular songs of 1947 but I do want to mention a few. Remember that they were not necessarily new that year (although some like This Land Is Your Land were).
  Civilization (better known as Bongo, Bongo, Bongo) by Louis Prima
  Too Fat Polka by Arthur Godfrey
  This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
  Move It On Over by Hank Williams
  I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder by Eddie Arnold
  The Wiffenpoof Song by Bing Crosby
  Open The Door Richard by Count Basie

There were a lot more but you get the idea.

Movies? There are so many. I am going to name only my very favorites. It is a hard list to make.

  The Farmer's Daughter starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotton
  The Egg and I starring Claudette Colbert and Fred McMurray (one of my all-time favorites)
  Life With Father starring William Powell and Irene Dunne
  The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer starring Shirley Temple and Cary Grant
  The Ghost and Mrs Muir starry Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison
  Miracle On 34th Street starring Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara
  It's A Wonderful Life starring James Stewart and Donna Reed
  The Bishop's Wife starring David Niven, Cary Grant, and Loretta Young

You will notice that my favorites are mostly comedies. If you want to see westerns or drama there are a lot of good ones from 1947. You can find them by doing a search.

Most people did not own televisions in 1947 but there were television programs.

  Kraft Television Theater was the first commercial dramatic series on TV
  The first broadcast of the baseball World Series was broadcast featuring the New York Yankees against the Brookline Dodgers (the Yankees won)
  Howdy Doody Time was introduced
  President Harry Truman gave the first presidential address on public television
  Meet The Press began and became the longest-running news program on television

The average annual salary was $3,500
Minimum wage was 40¢ per hour
A loaf of bread cost 12¢
A gallon of milk was 80¢
To mail a letter cost 3¢ for the postage stamp
You could buy a house for $13,000
A new car cost $1,500
Gas for the car cost 23¢ per gallon

In history 1947 was interesting.

  A special UN committee recommended the creation of not one but two Palestines, one Jewish and the other Arab. Jerusalem would be maintained as an international city under permanent UN trusteeship.
  Richard Nixon became a member of the US House of Representatives. Then he was invited and accepted a position on the House Un-American Activities Committee. 
  In 1947 the HUAC began its investigation into the entertainment industry and was responsible for the blacklisting of 320 artists.
  John F Kennedy also became a member of the US House Of Representatives in 1947.
  Jackie Robinson became the first African/American Major League Baseball player.
  The Diary of Anne Frank was published
  Larry Dolby became the first African/American Major League Baseball player for the American League.
  In the Soviet Union the AK-47 went into production.
  Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain became engaged to Lt Philip Mountbatten. Of course she is now Queen.
  President Harry Truman signed the Presidential Succession Act which states the line of succession in case a president dies while in office.
  Thor Heyerdahl and crew sailed the Kon-Tiki across the Pacific Ocean to show that ancient people could have traveled in primitive boats.
  The US Department of Defense was created.

Okay. Enough of that. There is much more but again you will have to investigate for your selves.

History for my birthdate includes:

   In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted burying Pompeii and Herculaneum
  The scheme of Wall Street insider trading was begun in 1982. 
  The Britsh captured and burned Washington DC.

In 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico, something fell to Earth. The headline of the Roswell Daily Record said, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer In Roswell Region". Ever since then the UFO phenomenon rages on.

It was not the first sighting of something in the sky that could not be explained. Why on my birthdate alone:

  A mysterious light was seen traveling across the sky over Denver in 1897.
  In 1947 and mother and young daughter in Florida saw several discs maneuvering in the sky.
  A UFO was seen hovering over Adrian, Michigan in 1950.
 
I will not list more but there have been several dozen sightings on this date alone throughout the years.

Of course a lot of famous people were born this year as well as those of us not so famous. But sharing this date although not necessarily the year with me are:

  Dave Chapelle
  Vince McMahon
  Mike Huckabee
  Marlee Matlin
  Hal Smith (Otis from The Andy Griffith Show)
  Yasser Arafat
  Anne Archer
  Cal Ripkin Jr
  Rocky Johnson (father of The Rock)
  Steve Guttenberg
  Duke Kahanamoku

So that is a bit about my birthday. I hope you have as good a day as I plan to have.

Friday, August 18, 2017

In The Kitchen


When I graduated from high school I needed to find a job. My friend saw an ad that said one of the hospitals was looking for help in the dietary department. It was a fancy way of saying kitchen help.

We both applied. She took a part time job there. Her parents had a little money so she did not have to work. I was hired full-time. 

I was to work the morning shift. It started at 6:00 AM. Once I was trained I was responsible for taking steam carts of food to the floor that served maternity and then to the floor that served pediatrics.

The steam cart was a heavy push cart filled with water. It would be plugged in to heat the water and then again on the floor to keep the water hot. That kept the food warm. And boy were they heavy and bulky. Not easy to steer.

Carts containing food trays with whatever dishes and silverware necessary had been taken to the floor a little earlier. They also had napkins and a name card with the room number, bed number , and name of the patient.

Special diets were served by a different part of the kitchen staff. Those were meals for diabetics or other patients who needed special foods.

For breakfast I made toast as well as looking at the menu for the day and serving each tray. I made sure that whatever beverage was placed on the tray. Juices and milk were kept in a refrigerator on the floor. I had a large coffee pot to fill individual pots for the trays and hot water if tea was the requested drink.

After serving my floors I returned to the kitchen area and the work really began. The steam carts were pushed back to the kitchen. The food wells were removed and emptied. They were sent through the dishwasher. That steam cart was thoroughly cleaned and refilled with water to heat for lunch.

We took turns operating the dishwasher. There was a pressure sprayer to clean most of the food off the dishes. The dishes were placed in racks. When the racks were full they were sent on a conveyor through the washer. It also sterilized them with extremely hot water.

When the dishes came out of the conveyor they air dried fairly quickly because of the heat. Someone would stack them and carry them to where they were ready for the next meal.

My regular chores were to make coffee in all the big coffee pots for each floor. After they were emptied I also cleaned them. Once a week they were cleaned in a special solution to keep that coffee oil from building up.

I made the Jello that is a staple of so many hospital meals. It had to be done early enough to be set when needed.

Each day we had to get salad ingredients ready for both lunch and dinner. We peeled potatoes. We did have a potato peeling bin that spun them against a rough side that scraped the peels off. Then we had to rinse them and make sure that there were no peels or eyes left.

Then the potatoes were put into huge pots and covered with water. Our dietician wanted us to put MSG into the water to keep them fresher. We finally convinced her that we could not do that because it was against dietary rules.

Then we got lunch ready to go.

After lunch I again made coffee, did dishes when it was my turn, and we cleaned, cleaned, cleaned. The afternoon shift and part-timers would be in soon and we would be going home.

My salary was $240 a month. We were paid twice a month so before taxes I had $120. It was good money at the time.

As I say all the time my family did not have much money. I still lived with my parents and siblings. I gave Mom $20 each time I was paid. That was for room and board. My parents never asked me for it but it was what I wanted to do.

I also gave Daddy $20 to help with the car payment and gas for the car.

My youngest sister and youngest brother were very small. After I got paid I would take them to town. They each were able to choose a toy or something they wanted. Then we would visit the food counter at Woolworth's. They usually had strawberry shortcakes and I had strawberry cheesecake. It was a fun outing for us.

They were both so small that they do not remember anymore. But they were fun days for me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Nightmares


We all have nightmares occasionally. Some experts claim that we need to work out problems and/or feelings and nightmares help us do that. Others feel that nightmares help to release fears. I am sure there are many other "reasons" for nightmares. I know that I have a bad dream once in a while.

I have also learned that nightmares are common in people who have certain health conditions. Epilepsy is one of those conditions so I qualify.

As I said most nightmares are just bad dreams. When we wake up we may or may not remember the dream. If we do remember it the memory fades and usually we feel better.

Then there are dreams that fill us with terror. A terror so real. A terror that stays with us for much longer than a few moments. I had several of those when I was younger. I even remember them in detail.

Most of the little towns we lived in had railroad tracks running through them. As a matter of fact we usually lived fairly close to those tracks and had to cross the tracks to go to school.

We were told not to get too close when the train went by. Of course that was good advice. But often it was added that the reason not to get close by was that the train would suck us under and we would be killed. Talk about a scare!

I dreamed we were walking to school. It was early morning in the fall. The air was a little nippy so we were wearing jackets. There were just the five of us.

My youngest brother at the time was in kindergarten. You may remember that he acted like he had a sort of "cloud" surrounding his head. He often seemed oblivious to the things going on around him.

As we got closer to the tracks we heard a train coming. We were going to have to wait for it to pass. Trains going through these little towns tended to be very long so there would be a long wait. It was okay because we might get the engineer to blow the whistle and then the conductor would wave from the caboose.

So we were standing there watching the train go by. Then I saw my little brother walking slowly toward the train as if in a trance. He was hypnotized by the movement of the train and getting closer and closer.to it.

I started screaming for him to stop. Over and over and over. But he just kept walking toward the side of the train with that glazed look in his eyes. His face was totally blank. He did not hear me at all.

In the meantime the other kids felt like they were going to run to save him. I had to hold them back while I was screaming at him to come back.

He got too close to the train. It sucked him under! There he was between the tracks looking at me with his big brown eyes full of terror. I then began to scream at him to not try to get out. He was safe as long as he was between the tracks but he would be cut to shreds if he tried to get out.

Boy was I glad when I woke up. At the same time you can see that the dream stayed with me.

My baby sister who was about two years old and I had died. It seems that the place you go after you die was where you were living when you died. Except that the base (or invisible floor) was about the same level as peoples' heads.

I was so grateful that I was there to be able to care for my sister. She would have been alone if I was not there.

So there we were at head level. There was no one there but us. There was no furniture, no anything, just my sister and me. It does not seem too bad. But there was a problem.

We could see our family. We could hear our family. The house was just the same, furniture and everything. That was the problem.

My sister could see and hear our mother, but of course our mother could not see or hear us. My sister could not understand why Mom kept totally ignoring her pleas to be held. She was crying uncontrollably. Nothing I did could console her. The afterlife was going to be miserable for my sister and me.

In high school I seem to remember my biology teacher telling us about a parasite called a glassworm. Whether I remember correctly or not is beside the point. A glassworm reproduces by carrying it's eggs inside the body. Shortly before the eggs hatch the worm breaks open and dies expelling all the eggs so they can hatch and continue the cycle.

Remember that the glassworm is a parasite. They burrow under the skin of the host. When they break open and die they cause a great deal of damage to the host, including death.

In my sleep my husband had gone into a small grocery store to cash his paycheck. We were going to grab a hot dog afterward and go home to watch TV. I waited in the car for him.

While I was sitting there waiting I noticed something funny about my arm. There was an elongated lump just under my skin.

When my husband came back to the car he noticed that I had a strange look on my face. When he asked me what was wrong I told him that I had a glassworm in my arm. In a shocked tone he told me that he had warned me about that. What if it exploded? I would die.

Precisely as he said that the glassworm broke open. I died.

I had always heard that if you died in your sleep you would also die for real. I am here to tell you that I am still here.


I lived in Nebraska. It was a time and not far from where Charles Starkweather and Carol Ann Fugate murdered her whole family then drove to another state killing people along the way. It was a shocking series of crimes. I felt awful about all the murders but the worst of all was Carol Ann Fugate's little 2 year old sister.

My baby sister was close to two years old at the time. We were in the process of potty training with her.

I have to stress that potty training meant that anyone who saw signs of her needing to use the potty would help her to the potty, sit her on it and wait until she was finished. There was no yelling or other punishment about accidents. There was no throwing her in the little chair and making her sit there until she did what was expected of her. It was all a gentle and ultimately very successful process.

It is no wonder that I was surprised beyond belief when I woke up in the middle of the night to find my sister sitting on her potty. At first I thought she was asleep. When I went to pick her up I realized that she was dead. She had been beaten and set on the chair.

My parents were asleep in their bed. I was crushed that they would do such a thing. Then I was angry and wanted revenge. I was going to kill them.

I woke up for real. Unfortunately those raw feelings were still there. I went to my parents' bedroom and woke up my mother. I told her about my dream and that I had (in my dream) wanted to kill them.

She just put her arms around me and held me while I cried. I finally calmed down. Mom suggested that I go back to bed and try to get some sleep. I was still afraid. She said to read for a while and see if that helped. It did.

Would you have been so loving and understanding if your child woke youo and told you she wanted to kill you?

I had several other nightmares that I will probably share one day. The problem with the nightmares was that when I woke from them I could not go back to sleep right away or the nightmare would repeat. I learned to keep a book by my bed. I would turn the lamp by my bed on and read until my eyes were heavy. Then I would slowly allow the book to settle on my chest and I would go back to sleep. I could not even move enough to turn off the lamp.

Mom knew if she woke up and saw the light on that I had another nightmare. She would always find a tactful way to talk to me about it. It helped.

I have since learned that you can train yourself to wake up when a dream goes wrong. It has made my life a lot easier.