Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

            I know that the title of my Grandma Bernie's post is a big cliché, but at certain times old people say exactly what everybody is feeling and thinking. I didn’t know what I thought I was going to write about when I asked to write my Grandma’s last blog; if I was going to tell a story about our relationship or if I was just going to reiterate her obituary. I have struggled to get started, and have seemingly developed writers block about the topic. 

            Is it even possible to put your love and affection into words about someone you have known and relied on your entire life? How can I even show how great she was to her friends and her family? It was a struggle, but this is what I have put forth. 

            Most relationships are built on a common interest. For my grandma and me, it was the Green Bay Packers. I still remember the days she would take me and my brothers to training camp when we would visit her in Green Bay. I, the youngest of three brothers, would be timid and didn’t like to approach the players to get their autographs. Grandma Bernie was always there pushing me forward and whispering in my ear what to say to the players. Making me ask for their autographs myself and showing me that I shouldn’t be nervous. Because of her, my brothers and I through the years would run all over Lambeau’s parking lot getting as many autographs as possible. 

            I credit her for my borderline obsession with the team and its players. For the past couple years I would call her before, at halftime, and after every Packers game. We would talk about our predictions and the outcomes of the game. It was always our topic of choice and we would never get exhausted talking about it. 

            Those calls brought us closer together even though we lived a thousand miles away. So, it was only fitting that she would have passed watching the Packers game; the first game in a long time, where we hadn’t talked about it beforehand because she was too ill. I was in Alabama watching the game with my friends when I got the call that she had passed. I shut myself in my room, not able to watch the game. 

            Through the rest of my life I look forward to thinking about her every time the Pack is on TV, and every time the opposing team scores a touchdown, I will yell, “Oh, shit” for my Grandma Bernie, cause that was what she always said. 

            I feel a little selfish just talking about our relationship, but I am using it as an example to show the love she had for her family. I feel when you read her obituary that was posted in the previous post, you only see her accomplishments and a little of the fun outgoing personality that she possessed. It does not show how she was a grandparent that every child would want; a loving and caring women that wasn’t afraid to kick your ass if she needed to. 

Rules were more guidelines to her that could be bent any which way. She was always accepting of everyone and always gave them a chance until you crossed her. Then you needed to earn your way back into her good graces. (And you wanted to be in them) The quirky personality that she had was hard not to love. She had a personal relationship with everybody in the family and was not afraid to tell her opinion on what everyone should do.

I will miss the hunts for a USA Today so she could have her daily crossword puzzle. The “sss” that she did unknowingly when she was concentrating on something. The infamous Kleenex tissues that littered the ground everywhere she went. The orange juice and water that she only took two sips of, but had to have every night before she went to bed. 

Her love for the lake and the calm that would come over her when she would swim. The “dive” that everyone knows she would do while she would swim. The card games we wouldn’t want to play at first, then realized how fun they were. The world famous “Bill and Bernice Show” that everyone in the family loved to see on mornings when we thought we wanted to sleep in.

All of these things are the things I am going to miss most. I didn’t know that I would, but given the fact that I won’t see or hear them anymore and won’t ever again is disheartening.  She was a wonderful woman and I will miss her a lot. She will always be in me and my families’ thoughts for as long as we shall live. 

            She really enjoyed writing this blog, and loved it when you guys would comment and show your thoughts about her topic of choice. It brought her much joy, and I hope it brought you guys the same. This is the last blog post that will appear and I want to extend a sincere thank you to all of her readers.  I hope I did an adequate job. She is a hard act to follow.


A New Adventure

"And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds it morning and is refreshed."
From the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Bernice Madeline Maria Sucha, 85, passed away Sept. 25, 2011 in Rochester, Minnesota. She was born in Chicago Nov. 16, 1925, to the Rev. Axel and Frida Eklund. The youngest of five children, Bernie began an early lifelong love for lakes while at her family cottage on Big Lake, Wisconsin.

At 16, she graduated from high school in Ironwood, Michigan. Bernie then embarked on a college adventure she referred to as the happiest time of her life. Accompanied by a spirited attitude and several expulsions, she graduated from North Park Junior College (Chicago) and Winona State Teachers College, (Winona, Minnesota)

On Sept. 29, 1950, she married Bill Sucha. They honeymooned at the Deluxe Motel in Rochester, Minnesota.  During 59 years of marriage, they traveled throughout much of the US, England and Scotland. They lived in Austin, Minnesota, Denver, Colorado., Muskegon and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the last 31 years in Green Bay. Bernie and Bill had four children, Jon, Julie, Jim, and Jordan.

Although most of her working life was spent teaching high school English, she also sold real estate in Michigan and worked as a secretary, mail clerk and waitress while putting herself through college. She was a substitute teacher in the Green Bay school system until age 80 and is past president of the Substitute Teacher’s Union.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Bernie reveled in learning and remained active in the Learning In Retirement program at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. An avid reader, she loved to paint, play the piano, work crosswords puzzles, watch Jeopardy, dally at golf and bridge, fish and write poetry. She relished The Student Prince and Les Miserables. She completed one mile of the Bellin Run in 2007 and in 2010. Bernie adored golden retrievers, growing blue ribbon flowers--especially gladiolus, and the Green Bay Packers.

Her blog “Old? Who?Me?” has 669 followers and more than 23,846 visitors.

Rowing her boat on Lily Lake brought her much peace, but she preferred speed. She never turned down a motorcycle ride or let up on her lead-foot driving. This past May, she drove a speedboat at top speed down the middle of the lake.

Preceded in death by her husband, William D. Sucha, Bernice is survived by Jonathan Sucha (Frank Fredericks) Denver, Colo., Julianne Anderson (Bob) Austin, Texas, James Sucha, Green Bay, Jordan Sucha (Lori) Sheboygan Falls, Wis.

Bernie enjoyed great love from her grandchildren Jacob Anderson (Chelsea), Jordan Anderson, Ian Anderson, and little Miranda Sucha, who loves catsup and pickles just like her grandma.

Visitation will be noon Friday, Sept. 30, followed at 1 p.m. by service at Grace Lutheran Church, Green Bay, Wis. Burial will be at Woodlawn Cemetery, Allouez, Wis. Champagne, Those Golden Days, Drink, Drink, and Stars and Stripes Forever with fireworks on tap.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I have always thought that the fall of the year was really the more beginning of things than New Year's which falls in the dead of winter after all the activities of Christmas and nothing to look forward to but January, February and March and Income Tax time. 

Ah fall with its bright blue skies, lovely moderate temps, the leaves on the trees beginning to turn eleven different colors with the blue spruces and other fir trees behind them or in the midst of them accenting their beauty.   Everything starts up again.  The most obvious being school which takes on many meanings for different people. Teacher's best three things about teaching--June, July, and August are now over for another year.  Some young mother's are sending their first born  away from home for the first time.  Mothers with older children are breathing a sigh of relief that summer is over.

Churches start up their Sunday Schools and other programs.  And of course, FOOTBALL is back and the Green Bay Packers are filling our daily newspapers with trivea on all the injuries and predictions of future wins.  High school  football is just as important and comcert series and all kinds of things!  Can't  you feel the excitement of a new fall?

Out come the heavier clothes that are kinder to the human form and can cover a lot of deficiencies.  You can hit your ball farther on the golf course because the ground is harder and they roll baby roll.  I'm sure you all can think of other things that fall brings.  It is my favorite time of the year.

Just a note in closing.  I have found out this summer that Old? Who? Me? has now occurred and I am glad this summer when I was in sick bay most of it is now over.  I have seen so many doctors and ERs and they can't find the source of my problem so I am leaving for the Mayo Clinic Sunday.   As usual, I pray for strength and courage.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Change is a word which can include many meanings. If there is one thing certain in our lives it is the fact that there will be changes--some good, some bad. To paraphrase Portia from the Merchant of Venice in her lovely speech about how the quality of mercy is not strained, but drops like the gentle rain on everyone, one could easily insert the word change as having the same quality.

People have different reactions to change. Some crave variety and change while others prefer the status quo. It all depends on what you are talking about. I immediately think of changing one's place of residence. We have had to do this many times in our lives. It is no surprise that all of my children settled in one spot and were determined to stay there the rest of their lives. One said she wanted to have her children graduate from high school with the same kids they started with in kindergarten. And they did. The others are determined to stay where they are too. Except one. Don 't know about him yet

Politicians bombard us with the idea that a change is necessary for this or that office and perhaps I would say that is a good thing. Some enjoy a change of the seasons. Where I live we have an extra season--NFL football season. Others brag about the warmth most of the year around. (They don't talk about the 100 degree summers) We all enjoy a change of scene to go on vacation, new clothes, and some variety in our lives, but we pretty much want the basics to stay the way they are. That is, if your basics are good and not if you are out of a job or homeless. Some have changes in marital status. Kids have to go through mom and dad's divorce or the death of one of the parents or a sibling.

When you start thinking about change, the list grows exponentially (spellcheck doesn't work). I just thought it was an interesting subject. Each of you will think of your own experiences. How did change affect you? Do you wish it could have been different? You can't change it now, but can you turn it into a plus? Or was it a plus to begin with?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


First. I have to tell you all that I won or check-mated a game of chess against the computer last night. Holy Baloney, was I thrilled. I have only played over 700 games heretofore. Takes tenacity or stupidity--I don't know which.

My son, Jim, and I just returned from a week at my favorite lake in Minnesota-Green Lake at Spicer. We had a great time even though we didn't have all the rest of the family there as usual nor my boat. But the lake still has the velvety silky quality about it and is lovely to swim in and we did have a boat at our disposal. It was an old-fashioned aluminum rowboat with a 6 and 1/2 horse motor and you would be amazed at how fast it seemed to go and how well it took the waves and swells even when you are used to going 30 or so miles an hour in the Bayliner.

I've sent along some of the pictures of the resort which I have been going to for over 52 years. (We missed some when we lived in Denver and Michigan but not more than 5 or 6 I would say.) The first time we went, my daughter, Julie, now 54, was 2. So figure.

This is our cabin 9 where Julie's family used to stay all the time. Years ago 9 of us stayed there until cabin #8 opened up and then we got more room.

Cabins 8 and 9 are still advertised in the resort brochure as being the new cabins. We stayed in them in 1958! It is Deja Vu as they have not changed in all these years.

When our family gathered, my oldest son stayed in Cabin 5 with his family and my youngest son in in Cabin 3 with his family. Most fun to have them all there all those years.

Here we are in front of the Spicer Castle, bed and breakfast, and then here is a close up of the enchanted Spicer Castle.

For our 50th wedding anniversary, the kids had a dinnerparty here at the castle for my husband, Bill and I. They brought in my Bill's best man and other lovely friends that had attended our wedding so long ago. Our good friend the judge had us repeat our vows.

Wanted to share a bit of the piece of heaven we find there each year.

Monday, July 11, 2011


For lack of a topic for this post, I found this tidbit which I had jotted down years ago. So I m going to print it just as I wrote it then.

It is an unfinished poem I was composing as I drove the car on a trip and Bill tried to write it down. I know words are missing and we haven't refined it or got it right, but I have been carrying it in my purse for so long on an old envelope that I did copy it down to preserve it for future work.

It is about the time we were in Estes Park, Colorado and just as we were leaving I saw a car stoppd by the side of the road. I looked and a glorious herd of elk were coming down from the woods into the town. I didn't have a camera. Many more people stopped and took pictures. I almost gave one of them some money and my address and asked them to send me a shot of the scene, but I never did and have regretted it ever since.

Apparently it is quite common for there is a preserve nearby and I understand it occurs every rutting season. One lady told me in the grocery store that the elk had gathered outside their church one Sunday and they were bugeling so loudly they had to cancel the service.

That day also I saw my first white Mountain Goat high up on a sort of shelf as we went by. He stood out in the sunshine like a white god and I was thrilled at the sight of him. It was a miraculous day.

Here is my description of the Elks:

And there they emerged from the wood
Materializing where before there had been nothing.
Yet the wild things were surely and slowly
Softly picking their way down the hill
God's gorgeous four-legged creatures.

But wait! Here comes their King! Who with every movement displays
Royalty and the mantle of command;
His rack is large and has many branches
His head heavy with its weight.

No matter he is old and infirm
Deference and honor belong to him
And he knows it and glories in it
Because he knows that his strength
Lies in past victories of wars won.

This is all she wrote folks. Can you see what I saw that day?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Yesterday was the fourth of July--a celebration of our Declaration of Independence where among many other rights we were given was the pursuit of happiness. Some of our Middle Eastern countries are now beginning their revolutions against the tyranny of dictators and seeking the same rights as we enjoy.

So just what is happiness. Happiness is different for a lot of people. Some are happy just to have something to eat and a place to sleep. Others have to have houses with all the amenities, the supposed disappearing middle class. And still others are not happy unless they own big and multiple houses built like castles. A lot of us today would be happy to just have a job!

That is just one phase or example of what makes some people happy. We could list many more. Healthy children. Being loved by someone, having numerous friends, traveling wherever we like, being healthy which is probably foremost as none of the others matter if you are not well. Having a lifework that one enjoys and supports one's family. Certain foods one loves to eat. Losing weight. There are so many things one can think of that make us happy.

So why are so many of us unhappy? Are we getting too greedy? Do we try too hard to keep up with the Joneses? Do we forget to count our blessings instead of the bad things that happen to us? Do we take our measure of health for granted? Have material things taken over what really matters in life? The loss of a loved one. Do we forget that there is a mystery here that we cannot know.

What makes you happy? Little things like someone I know--a cold glass of beer. Being able to get up when you feel like it. Being able to even walk. The feel of the water around your body while swimming in a beautiful lake. A piece of lemon meringe pie. A surprise visit from a friend. A warm Spring rain or a lovely floaty snowfall. A dog who adores you for no reason at all.

Take a minute or two and comment on what makes you happy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Called a Lifetime, Stupid

Dr. Mehmeh Oz

"The reason so many otherwise rational people don’t screen themselves for disease is not that they don’t understand the risks—they do. And it’s not even that they believe they’re somehow immune from disease or death. We all grasp that in a primal way from the time we’re very small. But even as we age, death still seems somehow remote—something that will happen at some vaguely later time and that we’ll deal with it in some hard-to-fathom way. It’s that distance that helps us cope with the idea of our mortality."

When I found this gem of philosophy I latched on to it and felt that here was a real explanation of how I had felt for a long time. Actually I have been feeling rather stupid because of my lack of realizing that there would one day be an end to our lives as we knew it. Oh, I cared for my mom when I was 23 when she suffered so and died of cancer . My dad died when I was in my 30's and my sister died when I was 56 but somehow in my mind I guess I thought Bill and I would go on forever.

He had Alzheimer's maybe (they never knew for sure) but his folks had all lived into their 90's and Bill was in good health until near the end. And we who had been one for so long were ripped apart with great pain and a lot of you know how that feels. So I just thought I would share this quotation with you because some of you might have the same problem I had. I have come to the realization that everyone has a lifetime--even stupid me. I know this sounds crazy and perhaps I haven't explained it well. But I tried. I guess you could call it an acceptance I can tolerate.

On a happier note I have included some beautiful pictures I have taken. The first two is of a garden in Shawano, Wisconsin. I have visited that garden many times in the past. Mrs. Riley says they have been there building this huge garden with every kind of flower for over 50 years. Her hands were encrusted almost with soil. No gardening gloves for her!!

These are the two mannequins Mrs. Riley has added to the garden. They are up on the porch that overlooks the garden. The mannequins really add to the ambiance of the garden.

This is my backyard flower garden with my dog Dodger blending in so well with the green grass. My son, Jim, has put out 4 bird feeders in the back yard and the other day he came home and I told him to look out and all feeders were full of cardinals a
and those redheaded redbibbed sparrows or
whatever they are called and underneath were 4
squirrels, two bunnies, and two two mourning doves. Jim said he felt like Francis of Assisi.

This is the front of my house. Jim has planted and planted, though I did the pots.

Here's Dodger on his 2nd birthday. He is a fine dog.

I leave you with the sunset over the bay. Green Bay that is.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I am sure you all have been bombarded with return address stickers, notepads, cards, even talking wristwatches from zillions of worthy organizations and causes. If you open them and read them, some of them will break your heart and others not so much. Which makes it difficult to choose which causes you want to support.

Which exacerbates the problem more often is trying to decide which one is the legitimate representative of that particular disease or cause. There are many for my most obvious choices--cancer and Alzheimer's and the ones that help children like Boys Town, the children born with cleft palates (yup, they got me on this one too) and the blind children (talking wristwatch).

I understand that their expenses are ongoing and if you do donate to their cause, they are right back at you for more. I finally realized the Paralyzed Veterans were sending me something almost weekly and the included "gifts" were increasing. But I guess it is up to us to figure out things like that and act accordingly.

My favorite charity though is Habitat for Humanity. Here in my town, a few years ago, only women could work on the house they built. I was enraptured at this and wished to pound a few nails myself but they were working mainly on this steep roof and the things I could do had been done. But they did have a problem. The guy next door would not let them use his hose for water. Talk about a selfish old bastard. After watching and kibitzing for a while, I left after putting my name in for the next house women built and went to the drug store (my second home) and they had this tremendous sale on bottled water! Like almost giving it away. I bought up all they had left about 16 crates and brought them back to the building site. That was a fun fun thing. I know, just a blip in the radar, if that. Since then I have kept up with the organization.

Where they have helped all over the world is amazing. In addition to building new homes, they have a Microbuild Fund which they offer to those who have started a home, but lacked funds to finish it. In places that have been hit by disasters such as Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Ethiopia, Haiti, Bosnia, and here in America, they offer help with clean-up and rebuilding. The figures are astonishing. Since their beginning, they have served more than 2 million people! This is a world wide effort by many nations helping other nations.

You can sign up for more info here habitat.org.gov or Habitat.org.getinv if you are interested. As I said starting out, you all probably have your own favorite charities. Tell us what they are!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We left from this Spring storm which left us with 16 inches of snow in one day with thunder and lighting mixed in.

We arrived to this delightful view from the lake house toward the setting sun over the mountain, well, sort of a mountain. It reminds me of the one in Phoenix. 80 degrees and lovely. Guests visit by boat every now and then.

We went out to eat and of course we started out with the ubiquitous Margarita pictured here and it was delicious!

Here we all are at dinner--my sons and daughter and grandsons and wives and husbands--all except the two Jordans and Jim and Bill. We had wonderful food and fun.

We met these two newlyweds (well, one year anniversary really) out for a spin while I was out driving the boat around
on my last day. My grandson Jacob and his wife Chelsea.

We had a couple of cold rainy days--most unusual for Texas this time of year, so I taught some of my grandchildren how to play hand and foot. They liked it and we played for several hours.
It was fun as the boys were always trying to cheat!

And sometimes we just hung out on the balcony.

We had a visit from this Great Blue Heron. You can see how big he is by comparing him to the pots. He was a 747 when he finally flew away.

And we had this darling baby goose with his parents and fed them every day.

Jim and I taking a swim

Happiest driving the big boat!

Going really fast! It is so much fun!

Julie was supposed to take a video of when I went past, but she didn't know how to use my camera to do that so we just have the stills.

Great boat!

The end of a perfect day.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


We're flying! We're flying! Oh how my heart aches for all you guys that have to face all this snow and sleet and wind as I fly down to the sunny beaches of Texas to bask in the sun! It almost makes me want to stay home because I feel so bad about that. And if you believe that, I have this land down in Florida..........

By the way, I'm riding with these guys!

Really tho, I am feeling so fortunate to be able to get out of this April Christmas weather. Julie tells me it is 90 down there. That can get a mite uncomfortable so I guess I'll be living in the water for 17 days. I s'pose I have to get out sometime or my skin will get more puckery that it already is.

Well, I just had to tell all you people my good fortune. And by the way, this is my 100th post. I started in 2009 in August and I feel that I have made so many new friends. When Bill died, your comments were the ones I cherished and Julie mentioned that she noticed all the wonderful support you gave. Thank you again for that.

So I get to drive Bob's boat. No speeding tickets on the lake! By the way, the one car speeding ticket is off in May and so now I just have the one left. I think it runs another year. That was a three year one. So I have 8 points left. A lot better than the five I was going with. I've been so good driving right at the speed limit.

Got the invite to the Bellin Run today for the one mile walk. Would like to do it just one more year. Like the t-shirts.

Wonder where I will get 100 more topics to write about? Who was it? YaYa, who said she could not imagine anyone having trouble finding something to write about? Well, I do. So here's to another 100. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Last night I went to the symphony. Bill and I used to go to the symphony and it is rather difficult to go alone now. It was brought so poignantly to my attention last night as the senior (and I use the word senior to show that they were not what I consider old) couple I was sitting next to were holding hands to share the feelings that the music was sending to their souls. Bill and I used to do that. I almost grabbed this guy’s other hand to see if it would help my lost feeling. A tiny example of the things that bind people together.

It is called sharing. The sharing of life’s experiences over a long period of time cements a couple together that man cannot break asunder. As I look back more and more these past few months, I am remembering events, problems, joys---all becoming more vivid as time goes on.

The early years where we had a long honeymoon as Bill was teaching 100 miles away and came to me only on weekends. The time I told him of my becoming pregnant with our first child. Those early months with the first child when we were up all night trying to feed him. We were so woefully inexperienced taking one and one-half hours to get 3 oz. down him with a nipple hole so small the poor kid was sucking and sucking and not getting much. By the time he finished one feeding, soon it was time for another and we thought it had to be warm and Bill kept running to the kitchen to heat it up and I kept feeding it to him. Finally I burnt a needle and made a bigger hole and that problem was solved. Sounds so simple now but we were so afraid to make a mistake then. The book (Dr. Spock) said not to feed him too fast because then he would get colic.

All of the four children’s triumphs and failures. The decisions for running for election and the triumphant run for the Clerk of Court. The decision to go for the Judicial Administrator’s degree and the move to Denver. The loss of a job in Michigan later and his departure for Iowa for two years while we stayed in Michigan. Back to weekends again. The triumphant landing of the position in Wisconsin with his choice of three cities. Feast and famine.

The physical trials of all three boys with hernia surgeries at 7 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks. The first, misdiagnosed and just being saved by calling in a new surgeon and only a few minutes. The teenage trials with scoliosis, one wearing a brace, and one having spinal surgery. Me with breast cancer and nose cancer and lung biopsy and another breast cancer and Bill with hiatal hernia surgery a few weeks after a move to Wisconsin where the doc I just met told me he had a 10% chance of living through it. Then this surgery having to be done over at the Mayo Clinic when the stitches all started to come out. And a lot more but all blessed with full recoveries. We went through it all. Sharing.

Hang in there, folks, through the good and the bad. It will be worth it in the end. Though he is gone, I have great memories and lots of them from a long life together. How I wish he were still here, but well and himself again!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Invasion of the Privacy Law

If you have been watching any TV lately, you may have been seeing some strange commercials. Some do not make any sense at all. Some border on the line between what is acceptable and what is not. I have been taking note of the ones that are what I consider some of the biggest offenders.

The one that got me started was the one with the wife holding onto a package of toilet paper. She is saying that it has made such a difference in her life and that her husband is using it right now. Just then he opens the door (obviously the bathroom) and saying something like I feel great and we are going out dancing tonight. What kind of picture does that place in your mind?

Absolutely stupid is the 5 Hr. Energy drink. Guy wakes up to his ALARM CLOCK which he obviously set the night before and looks at it and says, Geez, I have to be at the office in only 20 minutes. No time for coffee. So he swigs down this little bottle of caffeine (tho if fact be known, it contains less than coffee) and thus hurried on to work saying “No hassle wait to get to work.” Now why would he SET the alarm so that he would only have 20 min to get to work?

We all have been bombarded with all the sex dysfunctional remedies available If you don’t mind having one of your bodily parts expand for too long or go blind or deaf, this is the product for you. And what’s with the two bathtubs in the middle of the woods? I looked it up on Bing and there were many comments on the why of the two bathtubs. And some are pretty funny but I dasn’t quote them here.

Charmin has come out with new ads too. Woman shown caressing a package of toilet paper, the ending line being “Enjoy the go”.

And TV isn’t the only offender. Why, for instance, did they name the family in the movie THE LITTLE FOCKERS ? Which reminds me of when I was teaching, I had several students with the German name Fochs and every time I had to call roll, I would pronounce the first name loudly and practically swallow the last because I didn’t want to say it.

Why is there such a need to be so explicit nowadays and why do we have to hear about what used to be considered private matters? And so often are they shown. Am I showing my age by finding these ads irritating? Don’t answer that!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Most all of us can recall some neighbors that we have had that became very close to us, almost part of our family, but we also can think of the ones that were a bit different and interesting to watch and live near.

I can think of many in the many cities in which we have lived, but I think I will only tell you about our house on 18th street in Minnesota in the early years of our marriage. It was on a street with all those post-war G.I. houses with 2 bedrooms down, a living room and a kitchen and a large room with eaves upstairs. Janet next to us lived in one that was very different as she was always renovating and adding this and that and her house was always perfect in every way as was her yard. She had married this husband after her divorce and felt she had come up in the world, as his dad was a bigshot at Hormel's. She always thought that Tessie across the street was beneath her and her kids as well.

Tessie and Joe had three little girls. The seven year old daughter was crazy about horses so they did own a horse named Big Red. They kept him a block or so away on a vacant lot as we lived on the outskirts of town. All the kids in the neighborhood were fascinated with Big Red and sometimes when Terry rode him to their house they gave rides to the kids.

Of course, as horses do, he would sometimes leave horse apples in the street. My neighbor Janet, who was an immaculate housekeeper, complained to Tessie about the crap in the street and told her that she should clean it up. So one day soon after, Tessie, who was a very unconventional outspoken individual, scooped up the poop in a pail and went to Janet's back door, opened it up, and holding the pail aready to heave ho, she yelled "I cleaned this sh--t up, so what do you want me to do with it?” Tessie stood there laughing at the expression of horror on Janet’s face. She turned; shut the door, laughing all the way home!

All of us were young and had small children and babies. We had morning coffees together most every day. This was in the 50's when women stayed at home with their little ones and daddy made enough to support a family by himself. However we were a little competitive in some ways. They always made fun of my being the last to get my washing on the line on Monday mornings. (I always have been a night person.) I still had a wringer type washer, a good ole Maytag. So one Sunday night I decided to beat them at their game.

I washed my sheets and hung them out on the line around midnight in the dark and then with a smug smile I went to bed. It didn't take them long to figure out what I had done, but it was fun while they were still trying. When I ambled over to Lorraine's for coffee that morning, they were all waiting for me and laughingly accused me of my deception. Then they each told me of their individual thoughts when they first came out to hang their clothes on their lines. I got most of them for a few minutes and then they all thought that no way did she get up early and get those out there.

Neighbors you don’t forget.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gorgeous Music Soothes this Savage Beast

I have just been blissfully entertained by this on my public TV station. It was a 25th celebration of Les Miserables in concert, and though I have seen it before many years ago, it was fantastic tonight. It was staged in London and they ended up with an encore including many of the former Jean Valjean portrayers singing some of the songs, especially the Bring Him Home number. It was so spectacular and done so beautifully! What lovely voices they had and how all four sang it in sinc and just as beautifully as the next guy.

I can't remember when I have enjoyed a concert so much. I was so moved by it often. That is not easy to do to a television listener where there are so many distractions in one's home, but they did it! Jim took Dodger (my dog) and went down to Sheboygan to Jordan's and so I was lucky to be home without any distractions at all. I'm eager to hear if Helena was there. I looked for you in the audience, but that arena must hold thousands. :) I hope many of you listened to this feast of beautiful music with me.

I kept wanting to contribute tonight over and over, but I have a video of a performance somewhere which I bought the last time I watched it. Bill and I saw the play in Chicago many years ago too, but we had terrible seats and were not able to even follow it until the second half when we moved down to a closer balcony. (Got those tickets over the phone and she assured me they were in the balcony just above the orchestra!)

Public TV I support and it is one of the best things I give to. I think Phantom of the Opera just was supplanted by Les Miz as my very favorite. At least for tonight.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Went to bed early with nausea and a terrible headache. Amazng all the things you think of lying awake all night. First, I say my prayers and end up with the Lord's Prayer which I share with Bill whenever I visit his grave. Then I usually think of an incident or something about Bill. Tonight I focused on his hands. I loved his hands and that was the last thing I clung to. Where is he and why does it have to be such a secret!

Then I thought of Jim and how happy he was tonight. This morning he even got a haircut. He had his first bona fide good interview with a very good company and was in such high spirits hoping for the job. I prayed that he would get it, but then I took back my prayer, cognizant of all he people dying in Libya, Egypt and the whole Arab Rim and the four people killed by pirates in Somalia and I figured it was not important enough to bother God with.

My last post came to mind and I figured not too many people liked my views of the people rallying for collective bargaining rights. It was not a political view. I am not a Republican nor a Democrat--I have voted for both through the years trying to pick the one who best represented my views. This right extends to people who belong to both parties and to all people. If the governor wins (and he just happens to be a Republican) how long do you think it will be before unions in the private sector will lose their rights? This is like the first Amendment. It is worth fighting for. The public employees have agreed to pay the additional monies and if this is just a budget bill then how come collective bargaining is even a part of it. According to the gov the purpose is to save the state from economic collapse. He has the money. Why not compromise as the governors in other states have done?

In my misery, I watched parts of American Idol. I have watched it very few times. I used to like the sarcasm of the guy from England . Tonight they were supposed to sing like the Beatles. My goodness, what an assignment! Tough! Anyhow I was just wondering if the judges really felt so terrible after they cut someone, crying and feeling so bad, or is that just theatrics? I didn't think any of them came anywhere close to being like the Beatles and that was brought home very clearly when the last cuts came and in the background they played the lovely "Hey Jude" by the Beatles.

Well, the dawn is coming up and I do feel better. I hope you all had a better night.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Wisconsin, where in 1959 was the first state to introduce collective bargaining for public employees, and was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees, has again become the battleground for labor versus capital. And I could spell that Capitol for that is where over 70,000 firemen, policemen, teachers, paramedics, and all other supporters of labor and our long fought battle for collective bargaining are rallying to protest our new Republican governor's budget bill that smacks of at best union busting and at worst arrogant dictatorship.

Rallies are also being held all over the state and schools are closing and one parent is objecting for her favorite baby sitters are not there for her today. That public employees need to pay for some of their pensions and health care, I have no argument. But to take away the right of teachers, firemen, and other public workers the right to collective bargaining is downright wrong. I am a former teacher and we fought hard for smaller size classes, for a preparation time during the school day so that we could help students that needed extra help or make-up tests, for sick days and comp time, for lunch time away from supervising students-- not only money matters--through collective bargaining. That battle was fought long ago and won as one of our basic freedoms in this country. How can the governor take it away in one fell swoop of ill use of power! Then he says if they will not accept this, he will cut 10,000 public service jobs--policemen, firemen, teachers, paramedics, ambulances etc.

The rush to push it through in five days gave no time for adequate debate or discussion. Telephone calls and e-mails have flooded the state house. That the Democrats had to leave the state to delay the vote was a last resort. Don't the Republicans hear their constituents outside their doors and windows? On the one hand, the governor tells the Democrats to come back and they will discuss the bill. The bill was to be voted on yesterday! The next interview he says he will not retract any phase of the bill. He speaks with a forked tongue. Or, as some have ventured to say, this is pay back time to all the big corporations who put him in office--to bust the unions.

He is targeting the middle class and that is the strength of America. They have already been hit in many directions already so we will have essentially only the very rich and the very poor.

The state is in debt and out of money. We know that. But does this one group have to take the brunt of the economic downturn? Have them pay for some of their pensions, and for some of their health insurance, but leave the right to collective bargaining alone.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Jim has been making these Swedish Tea Rings since Christmas. It is a specialty of his. He brought some to various Christmas events at his Church and now everyone wants one!

And now for that yearly task of gathering all my files together to get the data for my income tax ready. It is sort of interesting to go through each months files of receipts and checks --a sort of review of the past year. My bank does not send the checks back anymore---it just makes a copy of them and I must say I have found out I have to improve my writing because sometimes I cannot tell to whom it was written. Usually the ones written to various charities with strange names. Course I guess it really doesn't matter as it would go under contributions==a jumble of letters. If they ever audit me --let them figure it out!

It is still cold here in Wisconsin--below zero at night. I woke up the other night and my face felt frozen. Warm everywhere else though. Have you ever thought how we cover our bodies like when we go outside and in bed and our poor faces are bare and right out there? And women from time immemorial have lavished lotions and creams on their faces to keep them soft and smooth and here they are subject to the toughest test. Course some have gobs of make-up on--maybe that protects them some! My one grandson always takes the pillow and puts it over his head. Maybe he has something there though I have often wondered what he does for oxygen.

Speaking of my grandson, it is soon about time to think of another visit to Texas. About March I think. Though they have had a cold winter there too for them.

I have been reading some blogs lately and seeing some wonderful pictures and paintings. My, we do have some talented people out there. I have one friend from Scotland who paints miniatures and she always has a penny faintly somewhere to illustrate how tiny the painting is. I wrote her that it is easy to see as she enlarges them for her blog, but what do the originals look like? And she does wonderful work. So why miniatures? If I could paint that well I would paint big so everyone c ould see how great it was. I guess I am just uninformed because they have miniature painting societies and everything so there are a lot of them and it is a valid medium.Her blog?"WatercolourArtist Diary" Just poke on it and you will get her blog.

Back to my files and the income tax preparation. Wish some of these big corporations with their millions owed in back taxes would pay up. And the loop holes the others use to avoid paying. It always irks me when I read about them. Oh well, and so it goes.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Hey, trains and streetcars are coming back. If you lived in a family like mine where your father-in-law and his father were engineers on the railroad and my husband wanted to be, and loved trains and passed that on to all his sons, you would be elated. My husband even proposed to me beside a railroad track and on our engagement night he went to pick up his dad and his crew as they were deadheading back to town!

The way the airlines are treating us these days, causes one to think back on the comfort and the amenities of a good old train ride. It also reminds me of the first time I took a train ride. It was during WW2 and I was at school in Chicago during the Christmas Holidays as I had no money to go home. I, along with other students from California and Massachusetts, was working at the Chicago Post offices as part time Christmas rush help. When I arrived home from work one day on the EL (elevated train in Chicago) and the streetcar, I had a message to see the President of our college. He asked me if I wanted to go home for Christmas. He told me the person who had given me my scholarship had given him money to give to me to go home. I was thrilled.

I also was a little nervous about taking a train for the first time, so I went down to Union Station the day before I was to leave and took a sort of 'dry run'. In 1943, Union Station looked almost like an army and navy base for it was fraught with soldiers and sailors. They were mostly a serious lot, anxious to get home on a long awaited leave before being shipped overseas they knew not where. Once you were sent over, you didn't come back except in a body bag or injured. Not until the war was over. I bought my ticket and found the proper gate and watched the very train I was to take leave at 6 P.M. sharp. My brother Paul always thought this dry run was so funny and frequently told the story and laughed.

The next day the train was loaded with military personnel. It was so crowded I did not think I would be able to get on, but some of them hoisted my suitcase up the steps and me also and there I sat for part of the journey---on my suitcase. As we continued on our trip, some of the congestion was relieved and eventually I ended up in the aisle on my suitcase. Later a soldier got me a seat. It was on an old car as they had scared up all the old cars for use during the war. The seats were stiff and straight and were actually benches that faced each other.

As the night progressed, I ended up sleeping on the bench with some soldier's heavy overcoat over me. He was so nervous and paced the aisle smoking one cigarette after another. The train plowed through snow and we were diverted to a side track also and we did not reach Ironwood, Michigan (in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) until 12 noon the next day. Reunions with family were a sight to see. There were no social divisions here as everyone, rich and poor alike, had someone in the service. We had two stars in our window for my two brothers . We were glad that they were blue and not gold.

As for streetcars, how much fun we had jumping on the Kedzie Avenue streetcar in Chicago near our college hanging on to the rear platform bar and sometimes extending way out into the street! I just read where they are going to put some l950's streetcars into use in Milwaukee. And they are in great shape--albeit l950's shape. They use them in some cities in Europe and the strange thing is that though bus companies are competing sometimes on the same route, when the people have a choice, they pick the streetcar to ride.

It is a freer more open kind of transportation. Easy on and easy off with more room to move. In Portland and New Orleans here in the U.S. they have put the streetcars back and the people love it. And according to this report, more cities are looking into it. Man, how I loved to hear the clang of the bell in the Spring from our dorm from Kedzie Avenue. It is the same when I hear a train whistle in the night.

Trains and streetcars--some of my most favorite things in this world.


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