Monday, December 28, 2009

NEW YEAR THOUGHTS








Whenever a new year approaches, I think everyone starts thinking about what the next year might bring. 2009 was not a particularly good year for a lot of people and so we all might be approaching the New Year with high hopes for an improvement. Some may have a feeling of apprehension because they are out of work, out of funds, illness may have struck and they are worried they may not make out very well. Others may not have been affected that much and so are just hanging in there thinking that maybe they will be spared the lay-off or other bad things.

I was just reading a short synopsis of Rene Descartes dissertation on his famous statement, often quoted, “I think therefore I am”. Have you ever thought of the word “think” all by itself? It is one that sets us apart from the animals “with which we share this planet”. Descartes comes to the conclusion that he came by this theory by realizing he couldn’t think the thoughts that he does without having received the ability from someone greater than himself. That it is a gift of the highest caliber. Just sit and ponder what the word "think" really means in our lives.

Sometime we may think that it is not so great. Some of us think too much and worry about things we should not. Remember the song “Queue Sera Sera”—whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Queue sera sera. “ The most important things we have are love, family and friends and of course, faith.

This is my message to all of you. Don’t worry. Don’t think too much. Just trust and do your best with whatever cards you are dealt in the New Year. And I hope I can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk as well, for I am a born worrier. My best to you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Impressions while ringing bells for Salvation Army



I just thought I'd send this out without any editorializing at all. It is sort of a slice of the Christmas scene that we all see.

So many different kinds of people. So interesting to watch. So many who have bad legs and have trouble walking. I asked one man who had legs that seemed to splay out all over the place and had a cane if the cold weather made them feel worse, and he replies with a smile that he can’t even feel one of them which I took to mean he had a wooden leg. He forked out $5 to put in the kettle.

The bus stopped in front of the door. He left it running and the door open while he came in the store to use the bathroom. The desire to take the bus and take off was overpowering and when he came out I told him I almost took your bus and took off, he said cheerfully Well, here you go and I’ll ring the bell for you.

Mothers with new babies all covered up against the cold. Little children, many with their grandparents, toddlers. One grandfather wasn’t so nice. You could tell he wasn’t too happy taking care of his grandchild. The child did not want to let go of his hand when they went through the door and he was very irritated with him. The child wanted his grandma on one side and his granddad on the other.

The people who quickly walk by and put in a dime or a quarter are few. Most give a dollar or a lot of change. Some walk by so guiltily not giving. I figure they gave to another charity or maybe sent a big check to the Army and feel no bad vibes for them.

I never realized there are so many people with bad legs, crooked backs, and yet they are trying to shop for their loved ones. I even had a woman in a wheelchair with a beautiful seeing eye dog. It was a golden retriever. I admired the dog and asked if it was permissible to pet it knowing that sometimes you are not supposed to. She said the dog was working now and therefore I should not.

Big burly men with wild hair, sometimes long, would always stop and give some bucks and two very poorly dressed men each gave a dollar or two. One guy happened to come in when a whole bunch of ladies and such were coming and he stayed at the door and opened it and held it for all of them! Such a gentleman. Not many do that anymore these days.

The old ladies on pensions would put in a quarter or two. The young women would give a host of change out of their purses which amount to two or three dollars. So many surprised me by making such an effort. Their arms were filled with packages and they would either put them down and get the money out of their tight jeans or fish it out with great difficulty still holding on to their packages.

There was the little old lady from Denmark, WI who was Danish and stood and talked with me for a while, my being a fellow Scandihoovian. She said she was probably the last of the old Danish settlers in that town.

The people would sometimes come in droves and stand around waiting for their turn to put money in. The men would peel off a dollar. Some came prepared. A foreign lady and her husband, I think they must have been the Russian immigrants they have been talking about, made a great contribution and wished me a very Merry Christmas—so happy they were it seemed to me to make the contribution.

I wish I had had a pad and pencil as they came in so I could remember all of the different people who came in. I get such a kick out of the older men who treat me as if I were a young lady. It makes me feel warm all over.







Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

"So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun:
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature's geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown....."
SNOWBOUND John Greenleaf Whittier

Many of you probably lived through the same storm, but I took a few pictures of my back yard and I thought I would send them out to those of you who live in warmer climes to see. I also included a picture of the geraniums which I rescued prior to the storm and saved a touch of summer.






Saturday, December 5, 2009

GIVE THREE CHEERS


I don't know about the rest of you but when the first snow hit us on Friday, even if it didn't stay, I was not happy to see it. I used to love the first snow. Got down to 18 in the night. Wrote to my daughter in Texas that she can expect a visitor after Christmas, if I am welcome, that is. Course they haven't been having such great weather either. Too cold for dipping into the lake like I did one Christmas. Winter is upon us and I wish I lived where Goosebreeder lives down in Australia where she is looking forward to Spring and Summer. (I mixed up names/places in my previous edition of this post. Please visit Bernie in Alberta. She has a most beautiful post up right now.)

Not much doing on the blog scene either. Everyone is busy this time of year getting ready for Christmas. Jim has decorated the outside and that looks nice and will be prettier when the snow stays. So many people go all out and really decorate more than they used to. The whole city is aglow at night with all the different lights and it gets dark around 3:30 here now.

Have just about finished reading Julie & Julia. It really took until the near middle of the book for me to really enjoy it. I loved her wrestling with killing the lobster. I remember my mom saying they screamed when you threw them in the boiling water. Jordan, my other son, goes to a Christmas party where they each buy their own lobster, and he brings his big outdoor pot, but he won't throw them in. He splits when that part comes. He always was an animal lover and a softy.

Yesterday, I got the urge to hear my eldest son's favorite record that he played over and over when he was a kid. H. M. S. PINAFORE and I went around the kitchen yelling "Then give three cheers and one cheer morrrre forrr the Captain of the Pinafore. " Was sort of an inspiring and happy memory.

Well I have Christmas presents to wrap that I shopped for the other day, so this is all she wrote.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

LAST OF THANKSGIVING MEMORIES

I thought I would share with all of you some of the bits of our Thanksgiving . Jim and I were invited down to my son's house in a city about 75 miles away. Here are some of the scenes of our day.

Such a vividly beautiful Thanksgiving table setting!





Miranda showed off her Halloween Bunny
Costume



Another view of Matilda

The day ended with a quick return to catch a visit with Bill and we got him just as they were putting him to bed.
Below is something Jim ,my son who is visiting, wrote that I think holds a real thanksgiving message...
------------------------------------
It is his only contact with the God that has sustained him for all these years through toil, war, illness, rejoicing, tears, sweat and now Alzheimer's. He was eager to be there by 10 am, in the activity room where church is held for the residents by a WELS Lutheran pastor who accepts all Lutherans.

Dad rolled his wheelchair down the long halls to the activity room with the altar in the corner. About 13 Lutherans in wheelchairs came where two or three are gathered in His name will have Christ in their midst as we are told by our Lord.

They handed out the red LCMS hymnbooks of yesteryear. Hands that once were confident and strong are shaky, deformed from years of arthritis could barely hold on to hymnals. Eyes weary from age needed help finding the hymns while the pastor said the words, line by line so they would understand them. Feeble voices filled the air when the hymns were sung with a piano, and every stanza was sung to the end.

The lesson was on Psalm 118 of thanksgiving that mentions "O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever!" (I remember singing that in the liturgy during my childhood in the red old Lutheran Service Book & Hymnal)

The sermon was on how unthankful many of us are during this time of economic downturn, job loss, and aged and broken bodies that long to be 20 years old again. However, we were reassured that God still cares and that his mercy will endure in our lives and we need to be thankful.

Then it came time for the Lord's Prayer. Dad at 87, whose Alzheimer's has taken away his speech patterns and physical mobility, started talking and reciting from deep within. I looked at him and watched, as the prayer is something that the demonic Alzheimer's has not taken away yet.

I felt a tear in my eye as it was beautiful hearing my Dad recite with confidence, a prayer, which has been instilled in him from the time of childhood. I gave him a hug. I thought of my family then who I wished were there to see the lovely moment that I had just been given.

The Lord's mercy endured today and I was able to see a glimpse of my father like he used to be. Perhaps that is what God wanted me to see today to help me be reassured that my Dad is still there despite his fading away from us

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MY FIRST CAR



MY FIRST CAR



When we lived in Denver several years ago (a whole lot of years ago, I guess) I had Grandpa’s old green Plymouth Fury with the big fins for my personal use. That car had been many places and did even make the trip from Minnesota, tho it was not in the best of shape .

One day I was going to play golf over on Federal Blvd way and as I went down 104th to the six lane corner, I put on the brakes for the stop light and it decided it wanted to go right on through. I escaped unscathed only because the blue language yelled at me by the entire cross traffic covered me with a fog so that miraculously I was not hit. If you believe that, well, I have a piece of land down in……. No, I don’t know how I escaped being hit. All I know was that I was mad and I made a U turn and drove back to 104th.

Those of you who know Denver know that l04th is car sales alley and so I drove into the first one I came to which happened to be a VW garage. I was met by John who was fascinated by my red striped top. No mastectomies yet! I saw this pale yellow vokes bug which I loved immediately and began to haggle for price and allowance for my great big Plymouth. I got the allowance I wanted and I wrote a check for the rest and drove my first car home that I had bought on my own... Sure, I had been consulted about the previous cars, but this one only I made the decision, signed, sealed and delivered.



My eldest 16 year old son would take the car up in the mountains and he and his friends would ride on Jeep trails with it as far as they could. When they came to a place where there could go no further, they simply lifted the car and turned her around.

Everyone in the family seemed to love Griselda and my husband, tho he complained when he had to fit his 6 foot 2 inches frame into it, went along with it too. When we moved to Michigan, the car came along. Actually, my daughter used it often when she attended Michigan State. They had a lot of fun with that car. One day when she came out of class a gang of guys had lifted the car up umpteen steps and there it sat in front of the doors in all its glory looking down on everybody.

I loved my little yellow VW but one day Bill started sounding the ominous note that the ball joints were going and therefore it was no longer safe to drive. Knowing nothing about that sort of thing, I agreed and Bill turned her in for a Nova. I later found out that VWs do not have ball joints. Men—got balls, but such liars!!!!

My first car was fun. I shall never forget it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Old? Who me? Of course


"The advantage of being eighty years old is that one has had many people to love" Jean Renoir



Hey, everyone, I just had another birthday! I am 85 years old or at least working on it. How can that be, you ask. You were just 83 the last time we looked. This is my way of looking at it.

Years ago, I read somewhere that the Chinese way of looking at age is that when you are born you are not counted to be one year old until you have completed that year. Therefore your birthday is always behind by one year. You follow? So when you get to your birthday, you have been working on that year all the time before and therefore you have finished that year and are starting a new one. So this next year I shall tell everyone I am 85 and then when my birthday comes again I won’t feel so bad because I have been that age for a whole year already. Is that nuts? My kids think so.

There seems to be also something in my memory bank about how they also count the 9 months in the womb some way. Some of you won’t like that. You are already older than you think. Bad. Well, age isn’t such a bad thing. You cannot stop time and although I would like to go back, as does everyone I think, one cannot. So you accept it and enjoy each day you can.

There are a lot of misconceptions about old agers. One that I always debunked when I was teaching school was to tell the kids that just because someone is old does not mean they are wiser. If they were stupid when they were young, they are just as stupid when they get old. Harsh? Perhaps, but wisdom does not come automatically with experience and long life.

This post came out of the blue. I did think of a topic yesterday as my son and I were driving home from Appleton after a brief shopping trip. But I forgot what it was and he can’t remember it either, so there you go. It probably will come back to me sometime. So for now, this is it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Your Face Laughter


“Laughter is the sun that drives the winter from the human face “

Mark Twain


Have you ever gone back in your life and thought about the things that really can still make you laugh? I, of course, have a huge advantage here as I have lived longer, but then again I have forgotten more.

One of the funniest memories that can really make me haw haw laugh is the following. Bill and I were attending one of our daughter’s friend's wedding and were staying in this cool hotel along with the other guests. At the reception which followed, Bill had a great time dancing like a mad fool and drinking probably too much.

The party broke up and we got to our hotel and as we were going to get ready for bed, Bill in slurred speech said that he wanted “one more drink with his daughter and that husband of hers” and took off out of the room. I tried to stop him. Apparently my daughter didn’t enjoy his drunken self either for he came back to the room fairly soon. I was already in bed and he was trying to get undressed in the near dark as quietly as possible.

I lay there listening to his efforts and his blistering comments under his breath as he got tangled up in his clothes. Finally he made it. He turned toward the bed and I heard him take a deep breath and throwing his arms in the air made a flying leap toward what he thought was the bed. He landed Kerplunk right beside it on the floor!

I turned on the light and looked at him sprawled out on the carpet and I could not stop laughing. He wasn’t hurt, just mad. My mom used to say that God takes care of drunks and babies. And I guess that was the case that night. But I can still see his big 6 foot 2 inches frame flying through the air and landing –thump. And I have to start laughing all over again.

And then there was the time we were on a trip to Canada in my son Jon’s new Regal Buick. . We were staying in this hotel and I had gone into the bathroom. The fire alarm sounded and Bill and the boys all ran out of the motel (Jon to move his precious new car away from the building) and without a thought for their mother and wife left me in the john. The fan must have drowned out the sound of the fire alarm and when I finally came out and heard it, I grabbed some suitcases and struggled down the hall. When I reached my gang outside they took one look and laughed and laughed. Especially Bill. He said he could just see the headlines of the morning newspaper WOMAN DIES IN BATHROOM WHILE SITTING ON THE THRONE and laughed and laughed again. Oh, by the way, it was a false alarm.

Then there’s the story of my new vacuum cleaner. Lorraine my best friend and neighbor came over and we were reading the instructions on how you put the dustbag on. It was a good old Hoover with the plastic hose sticking out upon which you were supposed to put the rubber thingy which was attached to the bag. As we struggled to pull the rubber like attachment onto the hose, all of sudden we both thought the same thing- and we rolled over in laughter on the floor. I think of it every time I change the bag on my present vacuum (still a Hoover) and laugh and laugh again.

I’ll bet every one of you could think of funny events that occurred in your life to make you laugh. How about sharing some of them?



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hail to the Veterans today


Today is Veteran’s Day and I wish to add my tribute to all who have fought for our country. These soldiers and sailors and marines and air force men and women have earned our respect and gratitude. Two of my brothers served during that war, one in the South Pacific for four years. My husband is also a veteran of that war and served for four years in England, France and Germany. So Veteran’s Day is important to me. However….

The first Veteran’s Day I remember was when we lived in Ironwood, Michigan. We had just moved there from Illinois and it was my first day in the new school in the new town. The observance was for veterans of WW1 and the war seemed long ago as this was 1935. I had just turned 10 years old. I was in the Seventh Grade (skipped a couple) and I can still feel the churning in my stomach as we walked single file into the auditorium. A tall girl named Carol had been assigned to be my buddy and of course we were directed to the front row. I was so nervous and so upset already but when the trumpets sounded right in front of me, I lost it and threw up all over me and Carol. Needless to say, Carol didn’t like me much after that.

Today we are engaged in two other wars. They are a little unlike the first and the second World Wars and the wars in Korea. Guerilla warfare make our superiority in nuclear power useless and the wars seem to not get anywhere. I hope that soon we can have peace again and the men and women can come home again soon.

I hope those of you who have close ones in the service come home safely.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What have we done to the first Americans?



The hard rains from the hills are our father
The soft gentle rains are our mother

Paraphrased : Navajo belief


What kind of thoughts does the words “global warming” conjure up in your minds? We used to hear a great deal about it every day, but now we hear about our two wars, health insurance reform, immigration, education and killings at Fort Hood in Texas and again in Orlando.

Tonight I watched Bill Moyer’s Journal as usual, and the topic was a movie about the Hopi and Navajo Indians in Arizona whose land has been ravaged by a coal mine that has polluted all their water for energy to light up Los Angeles and San Diego and other southwestern cities. They fought that hard and long in court and finally the mine was shut down. First small victory. But they were left with ruined land, loss of jobs, and no way to climb out of their depression.

They have formed a coalition to fight to supply these areas with energy with the use of windmills and solar energy. They have the most sun and lots of wind there to use. They feel they are owed help on this project from California and some of the other states who used their coal. And Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that they will not let new mines come back to the reservation. Second small victory.

Denmark gets all its energy from windmills and even sells some to other countries. And Germany has done a lot toward using solar energy and mills with some success and they don’t even have a lot of sun or wind. The Federal Government was into using windmills during Carter’s administration, but since Reagan, all presidents who followed have been advocating “clean coal”, oil, and nuclear power. These Indians, even tho the lines crisscrossed their land and the slurry water pipe ran under their land, never had any electricity themselves. Oh, they were paid $20,000 a year but what is that to a whole
Tribe?

But the saddest thing of all is the land being ruined for all future generations of these Indians in addition to their not having anything to live on nowl Some Indians in North Dakota and other states are going ahead with building the solar energy thingies and windmills. Did you know that it only takes 1 or 2 days to put up one mill and you get immediate energy from it and it takes 5 years to put up a coal station?

Seems to me there is no doubt about the proper answer to the problem here. I know many people do not believe in global warming. Even my son often says in the winter,” I just shoveled 12 inches of global warming off my driveway.” But I do. And I am for windmills and solar energy.
Just NIMBY.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beautiful Door County, Wisconsin

One beautiful day, my son Jim and I drove up to Door County. Door County is renown for being like a mid-west New England. It was a little late in the season, however, for pics of the boats and the beaches and such but the colors were beautiful. So I am going to take you on the trip with us.






















video
All trips to Door County must include a
visit to Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in
Sister Bay where you must order the traditional
Swedish Pancakes and Swedish Meatballs.
With these you must have lots of
Lingonberries, a delicacy grown only
in Sweden. (They are sort of like cranberries
only they are sweeter) And they have a
thatched roof with live goats living there.
The Boutique has all these wonderfully
expensive Norwegian sweaters and Swedish
woolens and clothes for about $300 a pop.
I always buy the 10 cent matchbooks!









These are the pancakes with lingonberries spread liberally on top. Jim likes his lingonberries almost more than the pancakes.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Church Hijinks





Church Hi-Jinks

I didn’t go to church this week, but have gone most Sundays of my life and observed some very funny things there. For instance, I once read an article in a magazine that said that most married couples have sex on Saturday night. I thought it was very interesting to look around the congregation and pick out the couples that obviously did have sex the night before. You could always tell by the exchanged glances, the closeness with which they sat, the little rubbing of their partner’s shoulder.

My husband belonged to an irreverent group of men when I first married. They consisted of the local high school football coach, the owner of the local dance hall, (a person who the minister considered was going to hell in a bread basket) and Grandpa (who one time walked right into church smoking his pipe) and a few others. They sat in the back of the church and talked football or whatever right during the service. One time, the pastor pointed them out and asked them if they wanted to come up to the front and carry on the service inasmuch as they had so much to say.

Some of these men also served as ushers from time to time, and as soon as the service started, they went across the street to have coffee! It so happened that we had an influx of late comers and when the pastor called for the ushers to get more chairs there wasn’t an usher to be found. Next Sunday was spent stating new rules for the ushers; they were to remain at their posts during the whole church service.

As I said before, my husband was extremely irreverent and one time we went to a neighboring church. There the minister, who resembled Colonel Klink, gave the announcements, read the epistle and then crossed the nave to read the gospel. Did he sit down? No, then he got up and directed the choir. At that, my husband leaned over and whispered (in a voice that carried) “All he needs is a broom up his butt and he can sweep the floor while he is at it!”

Just last Sunday my son took me to a Lutheran church I have never been to before. My COPD was acting up so I sat during the “Lutheran Aerobics” as my son likes to call them. (They do stand up and sit down a lot) But, the guy in front of me had his jeans hanging down low (if you get my drift) and every time he stood up, I had this crack staring at me in the face.

I had a neighbor once who was not a swearing person ordinarily, but she did have a favorite expression for when she was frustrated. Trying her best to do whatever the task was at hand, she would finally throw her hands up in defeat and say. “Oh, piss on it.” Somehow this transferred itself to the Christmas carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear”, and it ruined the lovely carol for me forever. Whenever it came to the part where it says, “Peace on the earth good will toward men” she and I would break up every time.

I leave you with the story of the time we went to church for the first time in Denver. We had just moved from Minnesota and things had not been easy. Jordan at 3 had almost died of food poisoning and we almost lost the house we had bought from a crooked contractor. We came to church to find some solace. When the pastor announced the special music for this Sunday, two ladies stood up, patted their hair, cleared their throats and proceeded to sing “Whispering Hope” in the most off-key voices Jon and I had ever heard. “Wheesp-er-ing hoooope!” We broke into that kind of helpless laughter that you try to quell but cannot control with the whole pew shaking further and further. To our frazzled minds and psyches it let loose a lot of the angst and the pain we had experienced the past week and we continued successfully with our lives in Denver. Did find another church, however.

How many funny things have you witnessed in church? Or elsewhere?



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rewards and Blessings of Children

Here we are at the Weidner Center in Green Bay for the symphony concert.

I have had the pleasure of having my son, Jim, visiting me for several weeks. It is so wonderful to have someone here with me and we have had a good time together. Though it is only temporary, I am enjoying it to the fullest. I fear I shall have a hard time going back to living alone when he goes.

When I was 23, my mom lay dying. She looked at me and told me that when I was born she was 45, and had said " I was her “olderdom’s truyst”. This was in Swedish and I think it means having someone to care for her when she would become old. As it turned out, I was the one who took care of her in her last days as she suffered a slow and painful end. I have never regretted it ever. At the time, taking care of her at home was the only option. As I had the summer off from teaching, I was the available child.

Jim is not my youngest but he is my bachelor son and is at present out of a job. He has been living in Denver for the last 15 years and has looked for a job there and is looking here. I surely would like for him to find something around here, but I guess it would be a miracle if he did. I don’t want him or any of my children to have to be my “olderdom’s truyst”.

I have betaken (how’s that for an ancient verb!)(probably not even a word) him many places. He even accompanied me to the symphony to hear Arnaldo Cohen perform Rachmaninoff‘s Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor , one of my very favorites, and he even enjoyed it! I have been grateful to have him go to see his dad every day and so I have been given some respite from that. Bill is in a rest home 15 miles from here so I usually drive 30 miles every day.

But he needs to live his own life and that life is in Denver, I think. His publishing stuff is there (he published a hymnbook) and other musical things and he sings like an angel. So I shall enjoy him while I can and send him off when it is time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cussin' Card Player

Is there anyone out there as stupid as I am to sit here and play Free Cell over and over again until I win? I never knew I was so stubborn or competitive or whatever it is that makes me sit up all hours to finally solve one of these.

It is so stupid because you don’t learn anything by doing it over and over. You don’t know what it was you did wrong to not get it earlier. It is just a chance of finding the right combination of cards to get them all in line.

I also play bridge but against the computer only. I tried going to the bridge rooms and they soon got to know me by my password and as soon as I entered a foursome the room emptied. Have you ever played the trick of filling a plate with a little water and then sprinkle pepper on it and then dropped a drop of Dawn on it and the pepper all disappeared to the edges? Well, that is how it was when I tried to play in the bridge game rooms.

And the dirty comments I used to get if I did get to play a game. Like “Go home” and “who taught her how to not play bridge.” Go back to the beginner’s room. “ And much worse which I won’t repeat. You can tattle on them if they are abusers, but I have never been a canary.

My friend says she plays Free Cell every morning just to see if all her parts are working. I guess that is as good a reason to wasting all the time I do playing this game. It is good for the mind. Won’t get Alzheimer’s they say. I also do crossword puzzles every day but I enjoy those tho I am finding that I should watch TV more and get hep on the rock bands and the rap musicians (did I say musicians?) I must be senile already!

My dad always told me that cards were sin and the tools of the devil. I think maybe he was right in that it does cause me to swear a lot.

I dare anyone to play No. 21664 and if you get it on the first try –don’t tell me. My inferiority complex is hitting me too strongly now. Now the next one I played No. 28874 was a breeze. Did it the first time. Now I feel better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mystery woman



I have spent the last few evenings viewing old movies as my son is making them into a video. It is a fascinating experience and a fun thing to see each child enter the family home from the same hospital and then go on to the first birthday, first day at kindergarten and so on.

The first three all used the same mat when they went off to school and opened the same door when they arrived. First Jon alone and then later with little Julie in tow playing on the climbing bars. Then Julie’s turn and eight years later Jim. Jordan started kindergarten in Denver.

What is most interesting to me, however, is that I cannot relate or recognize myself in these photos. I know it is me, but I watch her curiously as if I had never met her before; she with the raccoon eyes and the teased hairdo. Who is this woman who cares for baby after baby, who skips around 8 little girls playing “duck, duck, gray duck”, who is teaching this one to swim, who presents the birthday cakes to the birthday child? And what must it be like for her to have that dark handsome man at her side painting the garage, playing with her children, laughing with her over frosting spread all over Jimmy’s face at his first birthday

After the viewing, I sit and ponder why it is that she is such a stranger to me? When did all the 15,140 days pass and why does it seem that they never occurred tho I know they did.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Come See My Backyard










Inspired by Wanda's lovely pictures of her walks, I want to show you some of the trees and flowers I love in my backyard. I planted every living thing in my yard as my husband was not into this sort of thing at all. He just liked to sit under them and enjoy them after they grew to a height that would provide lovely shade.

Actually this is the last of my garden before winter sets in. It is still quite colorful and don't look too closely for the weeds as I have not done any weeding for quite a while. But it is a lovely scene in the summer to come into the kitchen and look out the patio door and see them.








This is my huge old Mr. Willow. It began as a small starter tree but it split in the middle so I went back to the nursery where I bought it and told them and they gave me a new tree which I planted elsewhere but left this one in and it became this big big double willow. So it is the granddaddy of all trees in my yard.



Here is another shot of my favorite willow. Jon thinks the roots probably extend under the whole block! I love the way the wind blows the fronds of the branches in the wind.



And this is my sugar maple that I planted the year I had my first mastectomy. I remember sitting at the kitchen table crying and thinking I would not see that tree grow up. I made a sort of pact with the tree telling it that if it made it to the next year, I would too. Each Spring of those first five years I waited to see if the buds would appear and the tree would continue to grow. The second year, I staked it up again and when Spring arrived, it again had made it and so had I. This went on for many years --14 I think to be exact. Then my cancer returned in the second breast. The tree was robust and growing and I took that as a sign I would make it through this one too.

In 2008 I had to have all my trees pruned and my dear old maple needed to have several branches amputated ----like me I told her and spoke more often to her as she healed. This is just one small scar left near enough to the ground for me to take the picture. Only one big difference--new branches are growing on her trunk filling her in nicely. I'm not getting any new boobs!!!

And so my walk ends with my friends and my dearest, the maple, and she is still flourishing and looks great. We're still together--she and I.













Monday, October 5, 2009

Green Bay Packer Backer


Just a few words to tell all of you that tonight in Green Bay, Wisconsin you can walk down the middle of any of our streets, go into any of our stores and be the only customer, and crowd into all of our sports bars because------------tonight we play the Minnesota Vikings with Brett Favre as their quarterback!!!!! I am willing to bet that 99% of this town will be glued to their TV sets watching this game. Whether you thought Green Bay was nuts to let him go, or whether you thought it was o.k.(and the town is a little divided on that) it will be fun to see them play tonight.

My family is as one on this night calling back and forth from Texas mainly as my grandson is a avid Green Bay fan as are his parents. My sons in Denver will be watching also but they don't call as much. Texas and I call after each big play.

Well, get on your TV and let the game begin!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A New Award


I've received a new award from Helena. I have written to Helena twice but the e-mails did not go through. Guess I screwed up. Anyhow, I did want to thank you for your kindness in giving me the award. I hope to live up to it.

I spent the other night in a bar. I haven't been to a bar in ages but that night was special in that my no. 2 son who is visiting me was going to sing Karioki( I don't know how to spell it) for me. I knew he had a wonderful voice, but I was unprepared for the transformation it made in him.

As soon as we got there he changed before my eyes. He became a confident, happy, charming man completely in charge of himself and what he was doing. This is not the son that I have known all his life. The change was so drastic that all I could do was stare at this man that I had not known before. His normal demeanor is quite different. And he does have a beautiful voice and performs in front of an audience like a professional.

It was a wonderful experience for me and I wish I could see him like this for everyday living. Your children surprise you all your life. Nice surprise, this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

59 TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Today is our fifty-ninth wedding anniversary. I thought it might be fun to show you what we looked like way back in 1950. And then to show you what we look like now. We have been through a lot together, but all in all we have had a good life together. Bill is now in a rest home with Alzheimer’s disease . He has had it for the last 7 years but has only lately become more disabled. I go to see him everyday. He is here but not here but I am glad he is still here.







































Monday, September 28, 2009

Death of Panty Hose





It was homecoming for several local high schools last Friday and many appeared for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. There were girls with dates but many more were going stag. Where heretofore they had chosen to bare as much of their boobs as was legal, apparently this year was the year of the leg.

I didn’t know that mini-skirts were back in but the vote for them in my town was unanimous. And my how mini!!! Some looked as though they had swimsuits on with the dress just barely covering their butts .

If ever a female could get away with wearing this style successfully, it should be high school girls with their young, supple and thin figures. But I felt there was a huge flaw in their appearance. Bare legs just don’t go with lovely expensive dresses which go up to here, and spike - heeled shoes. One especially tall girl looked three-fourths legs!

When panty hose first came out they were built so one could get them on without making oneself into a pretzel. Talk about hot flashes. One was so worn out and sweaty after all the gyrations just completed one hardly was able to finish dressing. There was a sort of built in panty which made it relatively easy to put on and was very comfortable.

Then the people, undoubtably men, had the idea of making it into a sort of girdle to help you hold your gut in. The top got narrower and narrower. I detested them.

I don’t think I was alone. I imagine the heavier you were, the harder it was to get them on. I even bought the XXlarge queen size, when according to the chart; I could have fit into a medium. Wrinkled with too much hose. They didn’t work either.

I bet if I could start up a business making panty hose the way they used to be, I could be a millionaire in no time. Bare white legs are ugly and I rue the day they became fashionable. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Own Cheers Place



“Where everyone knew your name”

We were returning from our annual vacation spot in Minnesota when we saw this delightful moving bar in Minneapolis. Bellying up to the bar had a whole new meaning with this unusual contraption. Sure beats the streetcars I used to travel on when I went to school in Chicago.

These barflies were not flying. They were peddling for all their worth to propel this vehicle down the street as they imbibed their favorite libations and conversed and laughed with their fellow boozers. Midst the cacophony of the street sounds, they appeared like an island of coziness—close enough to each other and certainly close enough to grab the bar tender to get his immediate attention to order another round. We could not see who was doing the steering, but they seemed to be getting it right and having a hilarious time doing it. I would have loved to have a ride on it and try it out.

When I saw this happy scene, I was reminded of when I was in college in Winona when we too had a favorite bar, The Blue Blazer, where everyone knew our name. It was a very congenial place—a place where our gang hung out most nights a week and the guys from St. Thomas did also.

Our gang happened to consist of returned veterans on the GI Bill (WWII folks) who didn’t have much money to spend . The gal that ran the place would be very kind to our guys. If they carried cases of beer up from the basement for her, she would give them beers in return. I was a cheap date in those days. Two 35cent Virginia Dare Light wines would put me in nirvana for the evening. (Never could get that back again later in life.)

Sometimes we would cross the Mississippi and go into Wisconsin to a bar called The Blackhawk. This was true particularly if we had underage gals with us. I was the only one over 21, so when they started asking for ID’s, the guys would all point to me to show mine and we were good to go.

A bar in a distant way propelled us into an earlier marriage than planned. When my husband, Bill, and I were courtin’-- he teaching 500 miles away from me-- our only place to go would be the town bar or the back seats of the local theatre or sitting in the car freezing or walking the streets. In those days, we did not have apartments, but only rented rooms and my landlady did not permit visitors! And Heaven forbid for me to go up to Bill’s hotel room. The whole town would know that in 5 minutes and teachers were to be models of moral decor . But this bar was really not your usual bar in that it sold ice cream and stuff to kids and parents as well. Bill would order a beer for him and a 7-up for me. I hate 7-up to this day, but I drank it and then the rest of the evening Bill would fill my glass with beer.

We had planned to be married in December, a Christmas wedding, but one especially cold night we changed our plans and decided to be married right away. We didn’t have a big wedding, but we did it in four week’s time. All of my siblings were sure that I was pregnant, but I didn’t have Jon until three years later!

In your past or present memory, do you have a bar that was your favorite hang-out if that was your scene at some time in your life?


Monday, September 21, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I am so happy to have received my first award from Linda at Wander to the Wayside. Honest Scrap. It was a big surprise and was greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

I'm enjoying spending time reading other people's blogs and am so impressed with the beauty of the photography, the variety of subject matter discussed, and the humor and talent that is represented.

Also grateful for all of you who have visited my blog and I apologize to many of you for reading your blog but failing to leave a comment. (Sometimes I can't find the right place to put one in, but I am learning.)

So this is just a "thank you" post.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Mother's Lot

One of the things I like best about being sick is getting well. After you have suffered through a night or two of coughing your guts out and you finally get some relief permitting you to feel human again, the world seems really cool and you feel this urge to get up and do. I have just had such a session and am feeling much better.

I remember when my children were small and sick and you were sick right along with them. You just stayed up, held their heads and put cold cloths on their foreheads. You never got to lie down and any breaks you took were to do your own barfing.

I am thinking of one such night when my husband, Bill, came home from work and pronounced himself sick and went immediately to bed. Now all of you know how men are when they get sick. Get me this and get me that and moan and groan. I helped him the best I could and put all the kids to bed. Three of them. Tonight I had four-- Let’s not forget hubby!!!

I finally got the dishes done and went to bed myself. As I lay back luxuriating in how good it felt, I heard my son, Jonathan, hit the floor above and the usual sound of Harrumph. As I ran up the stairs, there he was sliding across the floor in his own fluids trying to get to the stairs. Cleaned up him, the floor, the sheets, and the blankets. He kept it up for about 2 hours and then I went back to bed. Then my daughter, Julie, started in. Just the sheets and the blanket for her. Why is it they can never get to the toilet on time? Then the baby started. This went on all night with Bill snoring in bed.

In the morning, after feeding the baby who had recovered quite well, I spent the day lying on the couch with him in the playpen next to me. That is, when I wasn’t bringing hot tea and Seven-Up to my husband and the other two.

At five o’clock my husband came out of our bedroom, waving a cigar like Groucho Marx, declaring that he was now feeling very well. I looked at him and if looks could kill he would have fallen right there. I have always said if I had had a gun, I would have shot him .

It is then I vowed if I ever came back to this world again, I would come back as a man.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Matilda





Meet my youngest granddaughter, Miranda Sucha a/k/a Matilda by her grandmother. I don't know how that came about exactly but I was talking about her on the phone to my son one day and used the name Matilda and it seems to fit her in my mind. Her folks don't mind and think it is funny.


Today she is two years old. She came two months prematurely so we are doubly glad she is a fine and healthy and beautiful girl. She has older parents (in their 40's) and God knows a rather old grandmother, but she does have a younger grandmother on her mother's side.


Happy Birthday, Matilda. I am so glad you're here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

College Days


We were down by the lake smooching (in those days we did just smooch) and looking at the moon on a beautiful night in the Spring of l944 when all of a sudden I whispered, “Look, Bill. What IS THAT coming toward us?

Bill turned to look and the rear car door opened and two women in nightgowns with robes over them climbed in the back seat.The Dean of Women snarled,” Long past time for you to be in your room at the dormitory, Bernice. Here I was, 21 years old , a junior m college and Miss Pederson and Mrs. Griffin, the house mother were in my face. She snarled because this was the third time she had caught me out after hours and she had me now.

Bill’s car would have well qualified to be a clunker in today’s world. If he ran at a certain speed, it would shimmy like crazy and he ran it that speed all the way back from the lake to the dorm and the wicked witches from the west in back were holding on like mad.

We got back to the dorm and the two fell out relieved to have survived and led the way, heads held high. even in their ludicrous apparel and Bill and I followed. Bill didn’t add to the occasion much when he bent low and pretended to doff his hat and said,” Been nice knowing you, Bernie?” grinning from ear to ear.

As I followed the women into the dorm, the Dean turned to me and told me I was expelled for good this time.

The next day I had two finals and I skipped them both because I thought I was done. The president of the University (Prexy ) called me up at noon (his niece and I were best friends) and asked me why I had skipped the tests. I told him that I had been expelled the night before and saw no reason then to go and he told me he would arrange for me to have them given to me that afternoon. The expulsion was not legal yet.

I had spent a restless night. After all I had worked for six years to get through college and here I had blown it. In those days there was a 10 o’clock curfew for all women students . No exceptions, a rule I had broken climbing out windows and out fire escapes.

After the prexy’s call, I dressed and ran into a friend and he told me I looked terrible and needed a shot. He took me to the Blue Blazer and ordered two shots. Me—no breakfast and no lunch.

I guess you can imagine the rest. I went back to the campus and could hardly see the first test but it was a multiple choice mostly and I guessed my way through for I could not see too well. The second was an essay for history, my major, and tho the content was o.k. the handwriting was filled with strange loop-de-loops and zig zags. I think I hit a C on each.

Later, I was expelled. Destined never to graduate with my class.

During the summer, the prexy called and told me to bring my dad to meet with him and the Dean of Women. My DAD? Had they no idea what they would be up against?

My dad should have been a lawyer for he took on that old bitch with great aplomb and left her speechless, arguing that I had already been punished by not being able to go to summer school and graduate with my class .

Revenge was sweet but I hope Ms. Petterson may rest in peace in her pink nightie.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Elm Tree's Shadow Linger


Life has nothing sweeter
than its Springtime
Golden days, when we’re young—
Golden Days
The Student Prince


My college days have always been the happiest days of my life. I've never wavered from this feeling.. My children have sometimes been upset by the fact that other great moments in my life take second place such my wedding day or their births. But I still know that taken all in all, I had more fun in college than anywhere or anytime else.

Every day Iwoke up with anticipation of the fun I knew was in store. Oh sure, there were classes and tests. There was that. And I worked three jobs in addition to carrying a full load of credits.

But, I had always dreamed of going to North Park in Chicago. My dad graduated from there in 1910 and my sister had gone there also. I could have gone to the local community college but I went to work instead for a year and with scholarships and the money I had saved from my $10 a week secretarial job.
I have a diary I kept for the first three months at college. (Longest I ever managed to keep a diary) and my entry for my 18th birthday states,” It is everything I ever imagined it would be and I am so very happy to be here.” In this case, anticipation was not greater than realization and I thought life was wonderful.

College was freedom, friendships, belonging –really finding a place for me in life. I had been brought up very strictly as had many of my new classmates. We went to the movies three times a week and sat through three at a time. Most of us had never seen a movie before. Folks, this was the time of no TV, and no cell phones.
We had one phone on the wall in each dorm. It wasn’t quite the time of my father’s favorite radio show “Fibber McGee and Molly” where he had to ring up the operator and yell, “Hey Myrt, get me Johnny, will ya?” but we had progressed to a dial phone I think.

World War 11 was going on and we were mostly a girls college because of it. But that did not dim our fun. We had servicemen on leave and some girls had boyfriends who visited with buddies in tow. And there were always the Seminary lads -- great guys, most engaged, the rest called up for service . But we made our own fun and I think all of us reveled in the same things I did that now we were on our own and could do as we pleased within the boundaries of the school rules-------ahhhh, but there is the rub.

WhenI look back, the breaking of those rules was the most fun.
Another story to come.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Does the Food Bring Them Home?

Since time immemorial, mothers have welcomed a visit from their grown children. I was only 9 years old, but I remember my mother’s excitement when her two eldest came home to Michigan for Christmas. It was during the depression and we had moved from Illinois and left them both behind. Each were graduated from college, but both worked at the Wurlitzer Piano Factory. (When you had a job, then, you kept it and were glad to have one.)

It was the first time our family had broken up and she missed them deeply. She had baked and prepared for their coming for many weeks. All of their favorite dishes: Swedish Limpa bread, Swedish Coffee Bread, Peppeeracawker ( I can’t spell Swedish) a kind of ginger cookie, and Spritz, a butter cookie. Even the good old fruit cake.

Why is it that when we moms have grown children coming to visit, the first thing we do is get their favorite foods ready to go the minute they get there? I know I do. My eldest son is visiting and I was thinking about it as I made his favorite dinner—good ole roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy and a lemon meringue pie. I smiled as I remembered an incident that happened not too long ago.

My daughter had been home for a few weeks one summer and my eldest son flew in to visit also. He and I were in the kitchen making my his favorite lemon pie when my daughter walked in, saw what I was doing and said, “Oh, SURE!"

It was such a delightful déjà vu moment, her reaching back to a sibling rivalry and especially funny after I showed her that her favorite butterscotch pie was already in the oven. And these “kids” were in their 40’s!

So is food our foremost way of showing how much we love them and how much we miss them?

But my biggest question is this? Do they come home and are glad just to see us and be with us , or do they come to gather up some of their childhood by eating their favorite foods?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The C Word - Hope, and Fun


In l990 the United States invaded Iraq and that same year I first heard the big C word and was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2003 we invaded Iraq again, and I had my second breast removed. We shall never invade Iraq again (if we ever get out of there) because I have no more breasts to give to my country.

My heart bleeds for every woman who hears the word breast cancer as her diagnosis. I have often felt the very air which we breathed full of fear and foreboding while sitting in my blue gown at the Mayo Clinic, together with 6 or 7 others waiting for the results or to go in for our mammograms. One time I looked and counted. Every woman’s left foot was jiggling with nerves and we were all united together.

But I am one of the blessed ones. At the present time, my cancer is in remission. I long to help others when they hear the same news, but so far my help has only been monetary and joining in the walks for cancer.

In Green Bay we have the 10K Bellin Run. I participated in 2003 with 15,000 others. I began with the crowd and was going along with a guy on crutches and a wheelchair alongside pushed by his buddies. Soon he tired and got in the wheel chair and off they went.

I walked alone down Webster Avenue, me with my number plastered onto my front. The street had been shut off to traffic, but when a Buick almost kicked me in the butt, I took to the sidewalk until I approached the turn on Green Avenue. This road is all downhill and I saw way ahead of me the wheelchair flying in the wind and the buddies running alongside it.

People were all along the race route and clapping as I went by. I felt very embarrassed until I heard one person say,”Now this is what this race is all about.” I raised my hand in greeting and plunged on. I quit at the half-way point.

In 2007 I thought I should try it again. This time I played it smarter and lined myself up at the head of the walkers, just behind the runners. I figured I had a better chance of having some company for a little while longer on the trail. I did for about the first mile, and then it petered out and I was walking alone again. At the way stations offering water they all looked behind to see if I really was the last one and I told them to never mind—I really was.

The hardest part of this walk was all the police attention I received. First one squad car came and asked me if I was okay and I said "Sure." He continued to follow me just to see. Pretty soon he got bored as I was still upright and drove off. This happened 4 times. I really don’t know if they were that concerned about me or if the people at the stations wanted to go home. I told the last cop that I wanted to get to the halfway point to ping the binger and so when I got there, lo and behold, of course he was there waiting for me. I really wasn’t tired yet and wanted to go on, but I figured I had better get in as he had been waiting for me and spent so much time on me.

I would like to counsel women who get this news, and yet I don’t feel I can because I was lucky enough to have caught both my cancers before I had to have chemotherapy. I think the thought of chemo scares me more than the cancer so I feel I have no right to counsel anyone. I’d like to tell them that mammography really does save your life and that early detection is vital and if anyone is out there now with this facing them---remember there are many, many survivors nowadays.

And actually it is rather cool not having to wear a bra -- ever.

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