Monday, May 31, 2010

so long, prairie

Well, the natural beauty that was my back yard is gone, but at least I can walk through it now.  It was a good day, but I'm tired, so here's a few things I learned:

1.  When Dad says "we'll work about an hour," RUN.  It was 6 hours!  At some point during hour five I called Mom and said, "He won't stop!"  She said, "Well, apparently he's not finished yet."  I had a REALLY different idea of "finished."
2.  When you keep your grass below 4-5 feet, you can re-connect with your neighbors.  In this case, it was a good thing.  My friend Devon, a 5- or 6-year-old boy who lives behind me hollered hello and we had a great chat (and I got to rest).  His dad will let him talk to me now (long story), so we had a fun, happy reunion and I gave him some toys from $ Tree I had left over from the year.  "You're the best!" he said.  Made my day - I needed a kid fix.
3.  When the weed-eater starts smoking, you get to quit using it - yes!
4.  Rakes work best when you use them right-side-up/down.
5.  I was not imagining things about those scary tarantula/Little Shop of Horrors weeds.  When Dad saw them, he said "Whoa."  He chopped them all down, but they still look gross and scary.

At one point in the day Dad was weedeating (he hadn't smoked his out yet) and I was coming behind him to rake the grass he'd cut away so he could see what he'd cut and what not.  We got into a rhythm, one that we've had since I was a little girl helping him with things, where I can anticipate his needs and we move together without speaking, in unity.  We went back and forth, back and forth, like a dance, staying out of each other's way, watching out for the cord.  I realized that this is a type of "conversation" I enjoy so much having with him, and I gave thanks for our being able to relate, and love, in that way.

practicing community at QT

Every morning during the school year, and a few a.m.'s a week during the summer, I get a drink at Quik Trip.  (If you're not aware of QT, it's a convenience store, not an LSD cafe.  Just to clarify.)  During my visits I began to notice the great diversity of the people there - race, age, gender, dress - and that's just the differences I could see.  I also noticed that a common, unspoken practice is for people to hold the door open for others as they pass in and out.  Since QT can be a busy place, this happens often - biker guy allowing tired mother to pass, well-dressed woman holding the door for landscaper guy, etc.  It's a wonderful hodgepodge of humanity.  And there are always people in need - some asking openly for money outside, the woman counting out every penny she can find in her pockets to buy gas, the man with the sad, tired eyes revealing some inner pain.  I began to inwardly open myself up to these people, creating an inner space, as Henri Nouwen described it, of hospitality and love, where these people could be themselves and I could hold them to Christ in prayer.  And I allowed them to see me, if they chose, as my face revealed whether I was having a good day or a bad one.  Sometimes all that passes between us is a glance or a smile, and a prayer.  Sometimes more.

My favorite interaction was outside the store with a woman who, based on my 1st impression of her, was clearly in need.  But then I noticed the happiness in her eyes and her smile, and her gratitude for ways others had helped her.  Hope was present, too.  I had recently quit teaching, and was struggling mightily with issues of my own.  We started to talk, and she shared some of her story with me, which encouraged me to share some of mine.  We hugged and laughed and offered brief prayers for each other.  Her name was Beatrice.  In the words of Catholic Online's description of Saint Beatrice, "In his own wisdom, God calls each individual to a particular vocation.  The life of St. Beatrice reminds us of how important it is for us to always be open to God's designs in our regard, and to pray that his will be done."  I believe there were three of us present at that encounter, not just two, and I have been forever blessed by it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

it's all a matter of perspective

Isn't this a lovely pastoral scene?  Long, native Kansas grasses, rustic shed and trees in the actually happens to be my back yard.  The truth is, I really don't want to mow it.  I like it.  And look at the pretty white flowers at the top of the "weeds."  I never would have been able to enjoy them if I'd kept the yard mowed.

And then there's this advantage:

The long grasses by the corner of the porch down there mean the dogs don't even have to hop down from the porch to pee.  They love that.  :/

But there are disadvantages.  The dogs and I rarely go into the yard now because it's harder to walk, almost impossible to play, and there's the itty-bitty issue of the dogs being so short they can't see where they are or where they're going.  "Mama?!  Help!"  Plus, there's some type of weed in there that is just plain scary - looked like a dark green, foot-wide tarantula when the lawn was short, and now that they're 4 feet tall I swear they're going to come after me.  "Feed me, Seymour...."

So I guess I will mow it (the scythe's being sharpened now).  I'll miss the beauty of the longer grasses, and I hate mowing just because everybody else does and the general population thinks it looks better and I can get in even more trouble with the city if I don't mow it.  Perhaps I'll leave the part behind the shed long.  Perhaps I'll move to the country.

In memory

I put flowers on Grandma's grave today.  It's the first time in 13 1/2 years I've done that without Grandpa alongside me.  One tradition ends, another is born.  I did not feel lonely or sad at the gravesite, however.  I was filled with joy and knew that I was in the midst of God and a community of saints.  Today Grandpa and I watched the beginning of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and when Aslan came out of his tent for the first time, Grandpa's face lit up, eyes wide, mouth open in a large grin.  He may have been delighted by the computer graphics, but it made me think of a future time when Grandpa will see God face-to-face and what joy there will be.

Friday, May 28, 2010

some of Grandpa at his best

Whoo-ee Grandpa was feisty today (as he'd say).  He loves joking around with Y, his home-care nurse from hospice who comes 3x a week.  Today she joked that she wanted to move the desk from the window and bring in a wading pool, fake palm tree, and straw hut.  Grandpa could chill out in the pool and she could give him his baths there.  "That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard," he replied.  "Oh, come on!  It'll be fun!"  "No.  It's silly."  "Just a little one?"  "No."

Later, I wanted to check my facts on his corn-shucking skills - he and his family shucked it by hand and threw the cobs in a horse-drawn wagon box.  The horse was trained when to move forward and when to stop.  Did I have it right that he once shucked 100 bushels in one day?  "Oh yes!  100 bushels, six days in a row!"  He probably could have extended his streak, but they didn't shuck on Sundays.  Did they work from sunup to sundown?  HUGE nod - "Oh yes!!  A wagon box could hold 26 bushels, but you could fit 28 or 29 in there if you put the corn down the sides," (or something like that; I didn't quite catch it.)  "My friend Luther Goldberg once shucked 140 bushels in a day."  Several minutes later, he was dozing off and I asked him how many corn cobs were in a bushel.  "Huh?"  he said.  "How many corn cobs/husks/thingies were in a bushel?"  "Oh I don't know!  Good grief!"  I decided to let him sleep.  :)

This is Grandpa at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base in Lake Bluff, IL, where he trained when he was in the Navy during WWII.  He tells it best:  "I was in the Navy, and the closest I ever got to water was a rowboat in Lake Michigan."  That's okay, Grandpa - we're so glad we have you with us.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

pics i forgot about last time

Whoops - I left out one very special friend, cousin, actually, of Chester's - here is Nelson the beagle at his first Christmas:

Doesn't he look ridiculous - I mean, cute?  Nelson and Chester's favorite way to play was for Nelson to run in circles around the house and Chester to sit on his butt and make a grab at Nelson whenever he flashed by.  Nelson is sadly no longer with us, and we miss his sweetness and playfullness.

Speaking of ridiculous but cute, he's some more of Chester (you can never have too many):

Doesn't Santa look like he could sit there and do that all day?  Except for the Santa hat and a blue sweater from "Grandma," I swear I have never dressed up my dogs.  Eww.  (Nelson's parents didn't usually, either.)

Moving on - this pic can be added to my "awkward pictures" collection - the woman missing her head is my mother.  If I had left her head on, I would soon be missing my head.  We're wearing our new Christmas sweatshirts.  That someone made for us.  Shut up.

And, in the little brother category:

Nothing wrong at all with this picture, until you know our Easter tradition.  The little kids would stay in the house and NOT peek while the bigger kids and adults hid the eggs in Grandma and Grandpa B's yard.  But before the little kids could come out, Brad, who qualified as a big kid, would go around stealing all the eggs, thereby causing mass chaos and tears on the part of the precious little ones.  I might be misremembering this part of the tradition.

the boys (and a girl)

No dog mama's blog is complete without at least some mention of the special furry ones in her life, and given my enjoyment of other people's posts about their own pooches (yours was great, Gina!) I figure there's at least one person out there who would love to hear about Chester, Oliver, and Tessa.  If you are not that person, rejoice!  You can click out of this page without awkward excuses such as, "I can't look at your vacation pics because I'm going to that exact same spot in a few weeks and I don't want to spoil the surprise."  However, if you are not a dog lover, you are really missing out on one of the greatest joys and frustrations of life!

Okey doke.  Chester came to me in 2000, a stray in a rainstorm rescued by a friend.  We loved each other on sight, and we both seemed to know we belonged together.  (No, I am not reading too much into this, it's true, I tell you!)  He forgave me for his first bath...

but forgiveness for my leaving him to go to work every day took a little longer.

Chester is part Corgi, part who knows, and like a Corgi he has short legs.  My mom ("Grandma") gave him his first favorite toy, a stuffed red dog named Andy.

I was in grad. school at the time and lived in a townhouse.  Young, playful dogs and grad. school aren't always a good mix, but I got pretty good at throwing "curve Andys" - whenever Chester would bring me the toy to throw, I could turn in my computer chair and throw it out of the room and immediately left down the stairs.  Then, while he ran to get Andy and bring him back, I spun back around to the computer and typed a few more words.  This may be why it took me 3 years to complete a 2-year program.

Grandma's next gift was a great idea - for a taller dog.  She gave him a frisbee, and when she threw it he chased it, ducked (nerves of steel, this one), picked it up, and immediately tripped over it.  He's so short the frisbee dragged on the ground and got in his way.  We tried turning the frisbee over, but then it stuck up in front of his face and he couldn't see, so we gave up on the frisbee (after watching him trip and run into things a few more times).

Chester loves the snow - must be the Welsh (Corgi) in him.  Instead of walking in it, he hops around like a bunny with a big grin on his face - trust me, it's adorable.  (Okay, no grin in this one, he's going for the looking-into-the-distance-pondering-the-meaning-of-life look.)  (I really am not crazy - I just have too much time on my hands now that school's out.)

Chester's first doggy friend was a female poodle named Popcorn, who belonged to my sister-in-law.  She was older, and a bit of a snob (the dog, not the sis-in-law).  Actually, I think she just preferred not to associate with young male goofballs (obviously I still mean the dog; my sis-in-law married my brother).

For a few fun months my bro and sis-in-law lived in a townhouse across the parking lot from me, and Chester and I enjoyed going to their place for visits.  One day Chester got in big trouble for something-or-other, and I started yelling at him and he ran out the open front door, across the parking lot, straight to "Uncle B and Aunt L's" door, and stood there, nose pressed as far as it would go into the crack between the door and the doorjamb, bouncing up and down on his toes and glancing from me (chasing him) to the door, to me, etc.  I could just hear him thinking, "Come on, come ON!!!!"  Unfortunately, Uncle B and Aunt L weren't home and were unable to provide sanctuary, but Chester didn't get into much trouble after all because I was laughing too hard.

Chester's next (and best) friend was a female terrier named Tessa, a rescue dog belonging to a friend of mine.  Chester adored playing with Tessa - his favorite move was to get a good grip on her tail and yank it, which drove her nuts, which was what he was going for.

On this day I'd just returned from the store and was unloading the car when the dogs decided it was time for a ride.  It took me forever to get them out of there; I think we ended up taking a trip around the block, then they leapt out happily and went back in the house.  Probably poor dog-mothering skills, but it was easy.  I don't know what Tessa's going for in that 2nd pic - maybe she thinks this is for the Dog Fancy swimsuit edition.  Sadly, Tessa is no longer with us - she is missed!

Fast-forward a few years (stop that cheering and sighing with relief!) and my adventures with "Money" occurred (another post).  After I gave back Money, I still wanted another dog, so I went to the Humane Society and the Animal Shelter.  The last dog I saw was at the shelter, a dirty, scruffy mutt (who turned out to be a Lhasa Apso) who appeared to have given up, he seemed so depressed.  I visited him 3 days in a row, once with Chester to see how he'd get along with another male, and on the last day (which was one day past his death date - they held him longer for me) Oliver greeted me with such joy and hope that the deal was sealed.  After a bath, during which he escaped from the tub a few times, he cleaned up pretty well:

Chester and Oliver are your typical 1st and 2nd birth order "kids" - once C. learned a few rules and got comfortable with my leaving for work, I never had to discipline him.  He lived to please.  Then Oliver showed up, and Chester realized all the fun he could have been getting away with.  And because I think it's cute when Oliver gets a tissue out of the trash and prances around the house with it like a Lipizzan horse, discipline flies out the window and I have completely lost the Alpha dog position.  That's okay, though - I prefer to laugh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

prom guy

This picture from the "dressing myself" post reminded me of a story.  If you've ever felt extremely inferior to someone, you will relate to this.  This story is about the guy I chose not to humiliate by keeping him in the pic above.  He was (probably still is) a great guy - super sweet, good-looking, blah blah blah.  We went to a private school, and he'd been going there since preschool, I think.  On Christmas break of our senior year, he and his family moved to California.  He sent us a letter after the move, telling us how things were going, and I kept it.  (I'm a girl.  That's what we do.)  Anyway, about 7 years later I found the letter again and thought, "Hey, I'll write X again and say hi and see how things turned out."  What you have to know about our school is that it's a very competitive, private college-prep school and the fact that a number of my classmates went to Ivy League colleges and are now mostly lawyers is considered normal.  For a while, I bought into that vision of success.  On the other hand, I had not yet finished college, wasn't dating anyone (why else would I have written??), and didn't have a career-type job.  I did, however, live on my own, so I was 1 for 4. 

X was kind enough to return my letter, which was passed to him by a relative that still lived at that address.  He is a humble, nice guy, so I'm sure he didn't mean to make me feel like crap - I can do that all by myself.  His life was like some kind of Disney movie - he and his wife enjoyed jogging on the beach with their white German Shepherd, Laila (or something).  He'd graduated from Stanford or somewhere, and was moving up in the graphic design world - had I seen the current Toyota commercial?  He'd worked on that.  Etc. etc.  Well.  Okay, then.  That's the end of that.

But he unknowingly got me again about 7 years later when he and his graphic design team were nominated for an Academy Award (naturally).  I emailed the alumni office of our school and said hey, this is really great, even though he didn't actually graduate with us we still consider him one of our own, you should put this in the next newsletter, etc. etc.  Their reply?  Well, no mere mention in the newsletter!  Not only did they already know about the nomination, they had flown him in from CA that month to speak at their annual mentors dinner!  Are you KIDDING me?  AGAIN?

It's been about 6 years since he won the Oscar (you didn't really think he was going to lose, did you?), and since we all know things happen in threes, I can't wait to see what happens next.  I'm going to traffic court next month; he's probably accepting the Nobel Prize.

In all seriousness, X, I'm very proud of and happy for you!  (My therapist made me add that part.)

you know...#2

You know you shouldn't quit your day job when you plan a baby shower and the guest of honor contacts you 3 days before the party to ask when and where it will be.  Oh, was I supposed to tell you, too?

You know you've hit bottom when your dogs get more mail than you do.

You know to think twice next time about what you wear to Target (red shirt and khaki pants) when people keep stopping you and asking you if you work there.

You know you should move the pedometer you clipped to your waistband when you bend over and your flab hits the "reset" button.  Dang it!!!

dressing myself

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was stylin' in the 70's.  Here's another hot one of me at age 4:

You go go, girl!

(I believe I am mad because Bozo kept popping back up after I'd laid him out.  I had the same problem a few years later with my little brother.)

The reason I was dressed so well (if I do say so myself) is because my mother picked out my clothes.  Here's a pic of how I dressed myself in the 80's for prom:

Is that seriously a mullet?  And where did I think I was going?  Tara?
At least you can tell I'm having a fabulous time.

And this is how I dressed myself in the 90's (on the weekends, anyway):

I am not the cute little blonde in the foreground.

I'd add a pic of myself in the 2000s, but you get the picture.  (See how cleverly I worded that?)  What is the moral of this story?  Let your mother dress you.  I'd have her help me now, but she no longer admits to knowing me.

And since I'm sharing awkward photos, I'd like to thank Kevin for his great positioning of me and my friend Kristin in this shot of us at the Grand Canyon:

As if I needed help looking like a dork.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ahh, the teenage years...

I've been looking through my old journals for stories about students or anything that might be interesting to post.  Not sure if the stuff below qualifies, but it made me laugh - so boy crazy, so everything-that-happens-to-me-is-critical (still haven't outgrown that one), so young.  And we see a glimpse of my klutzy side...

9/23/84 - T. hasn't written back yet (I wrote him over a month ago), so I'm pretty sure he never will.  I'm not going to write again...I'll probably never hear from him again.  It sure is boring not having someone to like.  I just can't believe that after he was so sweet that week (in the summer) that he'd just drop me (although my letter was pretty stupid).

10-6-84 - I like A. again.

1-17-85 - A. and I never did go out so I told D. (a girl) I was just going to stop thinking about it and go after someone else.

Tuesday I drove by myself for the 1st time - C. and I went to McD's.  I almost had an accident in the parking lot (I pushed the accelerator instead of the brake), otherwise I did okay.

4-9-85 - Many things have happened since I last wrote.  I drive like a normal person now.  I don't like G. at all anymore.  I think I like D. (a boy) now, at least, I sure wouldn't mind going out with him.  I'm mad at A....I saw him last Sun. and just said "hi" and left....I hope I gave him something to think about.

1-20-86 - We're back at --- Church - the only problem is there aren't many people my age....One guy seems like the guy I've always wanted.  One problem:  he's practically engaged to this other girl.  (And he eventually married her!)

...(summer) camp was so awesome (I hate that word)....If I can't go back next year I'll die.

1-22-86 - Mom & Dad are letting me go to Europe or somewhere else this summer for that Teen Missions team.  I'm in shock.  I don't know if I want to go though, it's a lot of hard work and as far as I know I'll go alone - I'd be gone for 2 months.  So far I'm thinking of Switzerland or France.  I'm trusting the Lord to take care of it so I know whatever happens will be the best.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

directionally-challenged blonde moments

One recent early morning, I was driving north to my parents' house and looked to my left and saw the sun.  It looked like a pale, flat disc, like it does on hazy mornings.  "Hmm,"  I thought, "I didn't realize the sun was this high this early in the morning."  I blissfully kept on driving, la la la la la, then looked at the sun about 10 minutes later and realized it was lower than it had been before.  "Wait, it looks lower...."  Then a sneaking suspicion hit me, and I turned my head back over my right shoulder, to the EAST, and saw the sun - the REAL sun - rising.  Fortunately I am smart enough that I realized I'd been looking at the moon.

Yesterday after visiting with a friend in McPherson (who gave me excellent directions to the coffee place that included NO confusing words like "north", "south", etc, just "left" and "right") I headed out of town, knowing I just needed to follow her directions in reverse.  So once again I am blissfully driving when I realize I'm seeing shops I don't remember seeing when I drove in.  Usually, that's normal for me (and a whole separate issue), but I checked the street signs and realized that instead of heading, er, some direction or other on Kansas St., I was heading, er, perpendicular to that direction on Main St.  So I turned around, drove back to Kansas St., reconnoitered, and, fortunately, turned in the proper direction.  Once I was on I-135 I double-checked and found the sun, the REAL sun, setting to my right, which meant I was heading...south, which was the right - I mean correct - way to go.

People think I'm joking when I say my special ed. and/or early elem. ed. students have better spatial skills than I do.  I AM NOT JOKING.  now how do I get out of this page...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One-act play

In Feb. 1995 I wrote a one-act play as an assignment for an Intro. to Theater class.  I changed a few words for this post...


Time:  1990's
Setting:  An apartment high-rise elevator in a large city

(The six characters are without identity, and although we do learn two characters' names in the course of the play, they are known to us simply as #1, #2, etc.  A brief description of each character is as follows:

#1 - Male, 28-32 years old, well-dressed for a night out
#2 - Female, 40-50 years old, casually, inexpensively dressed
#3 - Female, 20-25 years old, dressed in the gothic style of the time, wearing all black, dark eye makeup, etc.
#4 - Female, about 35 years old, smartly but inexpensively dressed
#5 - Female, 38 years old, casually dressed
#6 - Male, about 70 years old, casually dressed

As the play begins, all of the characters except for #3 are on the elevator or entering the elevator.  #3 is the last to enter, running toward the elevator as she looks to an apartment behind her and says:)

#3     Sure, see you tomorrow.  (Turns to elevator)  Hold the elevator!

(#3 squeezes in as the doors close.  For a few minutes all stand quietly, in their own worlds, until suddenly the elevator lurches to a halt.  For a moment all is dark, then we see a small, dim emergency light in the elevator ceiling and the old-fashioned illuminated dial above the elevator, the arrow hanging in limbo somewhere between two floors, motionless.  We see at most the tops of the characters' heads, definitely not their faces.  At first there is stunned silence.  Then...)

#1     Uh-oh.

#2-6     (All speaking at once)  What's happening?  Oh my God!  Why'd we stop?  etc.

#1     Does anyone know how to get this thing running again?  (We can hear him pushing the elevator buttons frantically)

#5     There should be a phone somewhere--

#1     Yeah - I found it....It's dead.

#2     Oh my God.

#6     The power must have gone out.  I'm sure someone will get us running again soon.

#3     (Drily)  At least the Musak stopped.

#5     Isn't there an alarm button somewhere?

#1     Probably, but I can't tell which one it is - it's too dark.  Does anyone have a light?  (Silence)

#2     (Getting hysterical)  Well push ALL of them!  (We hear people being jostled as she pushes toward the panel, trying to do it herself)

OTHERS     Hey!  Look out!  Watch it!  etc.  (Soon #1's voice is heard above the rest)

#1     Hey, HEY, HEY!!!  Stop panicking!  It's alright!  I pushed them!  We'll be alright!

#6     I'm sure this is just a temporary outage.  There's nothing to worry about.  Let's try not to panic.

#2     (Quietly)  I'm not panicking.

#5     (Ignoring her)  Well.  I guess we just wait.

#4     I don't have time for this.  I've got to pick up my daughter at school in ten minutes.

#3     You're not the only one.  I've got to be at an audition--

#2     (Eagerly, grateful for a way to take her mind off the situation)  Oh?  What kind of audition?  For a play?  A commercial?

#3     A band.  The Screaming Vigilantes.  They need a drummer.

#2     (Not sure how to respond)  Oh.  How nice.

#1     I've got a date.  She's gonna' kill me.

#6     Surely she'll understand when you explain--

#1     You don't know Maria.  She'll think I set the whole thing up....Hey, your voice sounds familiar.  Have we met?

#6     (Uncertainly, after a brief pause)  Who, me?

#1     (With a small laugh)  Yeah, you.  I'm Joe Mitchell.

#6     I'm Joe Michaels.  I think we have met...

#1     Yes!  We keep getting each other's mail--

#6     And passing it back and forth.

#3     (Slightly, but not quite under her breath)  It's like old home week in here.

#6     (Ignoring her)  Did you ever talk to that mailman?

#1     Are you kidding?  I've tried twice.  I don't think he speaks English.

#2     That's comforting.

#5     Of course he speaks English...

#1     Well, in any case, I don't think he understood me.

#4     (After a lull in the conversation)  Say, is someone wearing Giorgio?

#2     (Hesitating, after a brief pause)  Oh, that must be me.  It's not really Giorgio.  It's that stuff that's supposed to smell like Giorgio...(embarrassed pause) Georgette.  Do you really think it smells like Giorgio?

#4     Oh, yes.  It's very nice.

#2     It must be overwhelming in this small space.

OTHERS, except #3     (Murmurring unconvincingly)  Oh no, it's fine, etc.

#3     (Again slightly under her breath)  Oh.  My.  God.

#5     (After another awkward lull in which we can hear the characters rustling around impatiently)  I wonder when this thing will get working again?

#2     (Nervously)  I don't do well in tight spaces.

#3     Oh, great.  You're not going to lose it, are you?

#2     No, I just get nervous...

#6     My mother had the same problem.  She never stepped foot in an elevator, not once in her 89 years.  She sure was stubborn.  (Slight chuckle)  I had to admire her strength in the midst of weakness.

#1     I know what you mean.  I have the same problem with heights.  It sounds silly, living and working in high-rises and being afraid of heights, but when I'm inside I'm okay.

#5     I'm scared to death of spiders.  Even tiny ones.  I won't go near them.

#3     That's nothing.  I'm scared every day.  (Her voice softens, seems younger and more vulnerable) I live on the streets and believe me, I have a lot more to be scared of than spiders or heights.

#1     Hey, it's the same in the business world.  I may not fear the same things, but it's there - having to watch your back all the time, making sure the guy who gives you a tip one minute isn't going to walk all over you the next, always having to do a better job, make a better deal, or be left behind--

#4     What about trying to raise three kids on a single income?  Or trying to believe you're worth something and to go on living when your husband walks out on you after 16 years and marries a girl half your age?

#2     I'm afraid my husband's having an affair.  He comes home late, seems distracted...I know the signs.  He says there's no other woman, but I wonder.  I don't know what I'd do if he walked out on me.  I married so young; I was still living with my parents.  I've never had to take care of myself.  I don't think I could begin now.

#5     You may learn faster than you think.  I'm 38 years old and have never been married - never even been asked.  I'm scared of being an "old maid" the rest of my life, of the lonely, quiet nights, of my friends getting married and moving on with their lives, leaving me behind...

#6     You think it's lonely now.  Wait 'til you're 68 years old and your wife of 45 years, your beloved partner through all of the trials and celebrations you can remember, dies and leaves you to carry on alone.  You haven't been lonely until someone you've loved so deeply for so long, someone who's become a part of yourself, is gone.  (Softly)  Just like that.

(Suddenly the elevator lurches again, and the lights come on.  Musak returns.  The men and women blink in the light and look at each other hesitantly, embarrassed by what they've revealed to total strangers.  They clear their throats, shuffle their feet, adjust their belongings, and look up, down, anywhere but at each other, until the elevator reaches the lobby and the doors open.  The group disperses, heading in different directions, and each person leaves the stage, silent and alone.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Celebration of a life - part 24

Do you remember celebrating any special wedding anniversaries of your parents or grandparents?
Yes I remember celebrating my folks' 25th wedding anniversary in 1934 and my folks' golden 50th in 1959.

Do you have any knowledge of the origins of your family name?
My family, I am talking about my Grandparents, came from Sweden.  As far as the origin of their names I don't know.

Is there anything else that you would like me to know about your childhood?
All I can say is that my childhood was the very best.  My folks and brothers and sister were great.

What special memories do you have of New Year's Eve or New Year's Day?
The one memory of New Years Eve was that when I was growing up our family was invited to our neighbors' house for the evening meal.  And we stayed there until the New Year began.  We kids thought that was great.

Kerri - Thank you so much for this book.  It brought back many memories.

Grandpa's parents' wedding anniversary

Grandpa, Grandma, and their children Rick, Don, Janet, and Ken - 1959

Great-Grandma, Ken, Great-Grandpa, Rick - 1958

Grandpa and Grandma and their kids and grandkids - early 80's

A few more added to the brood...

So much for doing this in chronological order...

Brad and Kerri rockin' the 70's with Great-Grandma!

No story about Grandpa is complete without Grandma...

We could have a caption contest for Sherrie in this one...
"How do you turn this TV on?"  :)

Celebration of a life - part 23

If you have another childhood picture for me, put it here.

(Grandpa at 7 years old)

Do you have a Pearl Harbor Day memory?
Yes, I well remember the Pearl Harbor Day.  I was driving my car in Wichita, Ks. and a paper man was in the street telling about the bombing and selling papers.

Tell about your favorite store to browse in as a child.
As a child I liked to browse in a store called Woolworth.  A 5 & 10 cent store.  And in those days a child could get something good for 10 cents.

What did you like to look at there?
I mostly liked to look at tools and I still have one thing that I bought at the 10 cent store.  It is a small crowbar.

Tell about something you built, designed, or made as a youth.
I had a piece of board 6 inches wide and 3 feet long and made a cut out in the end of the board and put a rubber band and a small piece of wood for a paddle in the cut out and wound the piece of wood in the rubber band and put it in a stock water tank and it moved like a boat in the tank.  Pretty good HUH.

Were you ever in a church or school Christmas or Holiday program?
I was in a Sunday School program in our church for Christmas.

When did you put up your Christmas tree?
I would put up our tree before Christmas.  That was my duty when I was a teenager.

How did you get your Christmas trees?
I would cut a big branch off one of our evergreen trees.  It made a good tree.  Then we would decorate it.

How did you decorate your trees?
We would hang ornaments on it.  In the country we didn't have electricity but it was nice and pretty without lights.

Did you hang a Christmas stocking?
As a rule we didn't hang Christmas stocking(s).  One year my sister hung 4 stockings up for decoration.  It was for fun.

Did your Grandpa or Grandma ever make gifts for you?  What?
No my Grandpa or Grandma never made gifts for me.  My Grandpa died when I was just a baby.  But I got to enjoy my Grandma for several years.

Tell about the neatest present you remember giving to your Mom.
The neatest present that I can remember that I gave my mom was a kitchen scale, to weigh different ingredients for baking.

Tell about the neatest present you remember giving to your Dad.
The neatest present that I remember that I gave my Dad was a small plastic parrot bird that sat in a small plastic ring.  We hung it in the back window of our car, and when we would drive the bird would swing back and forth.

Tell about the best Christmas present you ever received.
The best Christmas present that I got when I was a child was a small hen that would lay eggs.  It was a toy.  I would put eggs, it was really marbles, under her beak and peck down on the head.  Then a spring would release the marbles and the "eggs" would come out.  I had a lot of fun with it.

Tell about the worst Christmas present you ever received.
I can't tell about the worst Christmas present I received because all the presents were nice and my folks meant for us to have the best when they bought things for us.

Tell about your experiences with Santa Claus.
As a child our neighbor man dressed up like a Santa Claus and came over to our house.  Our dog didn't like it when he came over, so he barked and carried on a lot.

Did your family go to a special church service at Christmas?  Tell about it.
Yes our family went to a special church service.  It was early in the morning on Christmas Day at 5:00 a.m.  It was a highlight for our family.  Then we had a Sunday School program in the evening.

When did you open your presents?
We always opened our presents on Christmas eve.

Tell about Holiday celebrations at a relative's house.
Our Holiday celebrations were at my cousin's house.  We always had meals there and visited in the afternoon.

Do you remember a "best" Christmas?
As far as a "best" Christmas, to me all Christmases were the "best."

Share any other Christmas memory.
Other Christmas memories are when we 4 "kids" got married and had our own families.  We would go home to our folks for Christmas.

Celebration of a life - part 22

Tell about Thanksgiving traditions of your youth.
In my youth the Thanksgiving traditions were to go to church on Thanksgiving morning for an hour or so.  Then have dinner as a family.

What foods were on your Thanksgiving table?
At our home we most always had roast chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, fruit and dessert, pie I think.

Share a favorite Thanksgiving memory.
My favorite Thanksgiving memory is that my family were invited to my cousin's home for the noon meal.  We had roast turkey.  It was the first time that I had tasted turkey.  It was good.

Do you have any ice skating memories to share?
I didn't go ice skating any but I have a memory of my oldest brother when he went skating on a pond and the ice broke and he went down in the water up to his neck.  A friend of his got him out and he was O.K.

What hobbies or collections did you have as a youth?
When I was a youth I liked to collect keys.

Did your Mom or Dad have a favorite remedy for what ailed you?
Yes my Mom & Dad had a favorite remedy for me and it was sort of a medicine I think it was called castoria.  It wasn't a very bad tasting stuff.

Celebration of a life - part 21

When you were a child, how did you keep your house warm?
When I was a child we kept our house warm by a big coal or wood burning stove.

Who was the President when you were born?
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was president when I was born.

At what age did you first vote and for whom did you cast your first Presidential vote?
When I was 21 years old I voted for the first time for President.  It was Alfred Landon I think.

Did you ever see a President or a Vice-President in person?
Yes I have seen a President in person.  He was Gerald Ford.  President Ford was in Wichita Ks. and I heard him speak.  It was between 1974-1977.

Did you ever make a purchase that you later regretted?
I don't remember any special purchase that I regretted making but I am sure that I did.

If you had a watch, tell about it.
Yes I had a pocket watch when I was 6 years old.  Refer to Jan. 4th.  (Part 1)

Do you have an Armistice Day memory?
When I was growing up I heard my folks talk about Armistice Day.  They were referring to World War I.

What was your most prized possession as a child?
The most prized possession I had as a child was a teddy bear.

Do you have a story about standing up against odds for something you really believed in?
I don't have a story really against odds.  But I was a Ford man and the other person was a Chevy man and we would really argue.

Tell about the best birthday present you ever received.
The best birthday present that I received was when I was 10 years old.  I got a tool chest with some tools in it.

Did you ever chew tobacco?
No, I am thankful that I never chewed tobacco.

Tell about someone who had a big influence over your life.
When I was growing up, my Dad had a big influence on my life.  I really looked up to him.

What were you doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?
I was working at Beech Aircraft when Kennedy was assassinated.  I remember it so well.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Celebration of a life - part 20

Relate a story about a mouse in the house.
I don't remember about any particular story about a mouse in the house, but we did catch mice in small traps.

Share a memory about a bat in the house.
We never did have a bat in the house, but I enjoyed watching them fly about in the evening hours.

How did you get to and from school?
We walked to and from school, except in bad weather.  The first grade school I went to was 1 mile and 1/2 to school.  The second school was only across our front yard to school.

Tell about pulling or losing a baby tooth.
One time I had a loose baby tooth and I was afraid to pull it as I was afraid it would hurt, so my Dad tied a piece of thread around it and jerked it out, it didn't hurt a bit.

Where did the clothes you wore come from?
The clothes that I wore came from a clothing store in Essex, Iowa.  Then I wore some that came from a clothing store from Red Oak, Iowa.  Then I wore a grey suit that I bought in Clarinda, Iowa.

Share a favorite fall memory.
In the fall, I like(d) to get up early and go outside and enjoy the weather, when it wasn't too hot or too cold.

Did you ever pick apples?
Yes I have picked apples.  I really enjoyed a good apple that was picked from the tree.

What is the farthest (or fastest) you ever ran or walked?
The fast(est) that I ran was, one time that my brother and another man was in a Model A Ford.  When the man was driving I ran by the side of the car.  I think it was maybe 10 miles per hour.

Tell a story about a time when you dressed up in a costume.
The time that I dressed up in a costume, was one Christmas I was Santa Claus in a country school program.

Share a memory about being very scared.
I remember one time when it was dark a neighbor man grabbed me and I was scared.

What did people do at Halloween?
In the neighborhood where I lived there were not any trick or treaters.  We didn't do much of anything special.

Do you have a special Halloween memory?
The special Halloween memory I have is that I made a jack-o-lantern out of a pumpkin.

Did you ever tell ghost stories?
I suppose that we did tell ghost stories when my two brothers and sister were together.

What is the strangest thing you ever saw in the sky?
When I was about 6 years old I was in the barnyard and my brother came running out of the barn and we saw a dirigible in the sky.  It went overhead right over our farm.  That was quite a sight.

Celebration of a life - part 19

NOTE: I added more pics on older posts.

Who was the best teacher you ever had?
Ruth Abbot was my eighth grade teacher and she was the best teacher I had because she helped with math which was hard for me.

What made that teacher good?
Miss Abbot also help(ed) me in many other ways. After I took my eighth grade exam and I showed her my report card that I had passed she was very happy for me.

What was your favorite sport to participate in or watch?
As far as watching sports that was when after Mother and I would watch our children play football, baseball, and softball. When they were in different schools. This answer is aside from the question, but I thought you might enjoy this what I wrote.

Grandpa's children - Janet, Don, Rick, Ken.  I still have one of dad's (Ken's) softball jerseys - like Grandpa like Granddaughter, I guess.

Did you ever have a good friend who did something mean to you?
I had a good friend but I don't remember if he done anything mean to me.

Do you remember a school custodian?
Our grade school custodian was our teacher.

Tell about your school lunches.  Did you have a lunch box?  What did you eat?
We had lunch box(es) for our lunch the first 5 years.  We had sandwiches, small goodies in our lunch boxes.  Then the last 3 years we lived close to school, so we went home for our noon lunches.

Did you ever have a crush on a teacher?
No I never had a crush on a teacher.

Do you  have any special memories about raking and burning leaves, or mowing the lawn?
I don't remember much about raking or burning leaves but I sure do remember about mowing the lawn because we didn't have a power mower.  We just had push mowers.  We would tie a rope on the mower and my brother would pull the rope and I would push the mower, which made it better to mow.

What allowance did you get?
Where we lived on the farm we didn't get an allowance, but we got spending money when we went to town.  We had chores to do on the farm.

Did you have to earn it?
We kind of earned our spending money working on the farm.  We had small jobs, that is the best way I can explain it.