Friday, May 25, 2018
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. A beautiful sentiment that all parents teach their children. It is meant to show that words can roll off your back and you do not have to deal with them any more whereas a physical blow can leave an injury that needs to be cared for after the altercation is finished.
The truth is that we have all been deeply hurt by words. Maybe someone called you stupid or ugly when you were a child. If that was a person whose opinion of you mattered those words would cause great pain. Perhaps someone made fun of you and it seemed to catch on with other people until everyone was making fun of you. Torment. Often a misused word can bring a misgiving you have about yourself to light and exaggerate that into what you see as a serious flaw.
I have mentioned that my family did not have much money. My mother made a lot of our clothes. But there were families in town who spent a bit more on clothing than we did.
I can remember some of the women bringing huge boxes of clothes that their daughters could no longer use. They were expensive clothes and in practically new condition. I loved getting those clothes because they were so nice.
What did bother me was that when they delivered the boxes the women did not pay attention to what they were saying. Even at that age I knew they were trying to do a good deed; it was in fact a good deed. I not only liked the clothes they brought but I needed them too. They were nice people doing a nice thing.
The problem was that they almost invariably said, "I thought Emma could wear these. If they don't fit just throw them away." I always felt like they were saying that they were not good for anybody else but they were good enough for me.
I believe in hand-me-downs. There is no sense in throwing out perfectly good items because you cannot use them for whatever reason. But I make sure if I give something to someone else that I say, "If you cannot use them maybe you know someone who can."
Another example is tasteless jokes. I have to be honest and say that often they are funny. But they are funny at the expense of others.
I was at a conference. A bunch of us met at the hotel for drinks after the meetings had adjourned for the day. Several people were standing around telling jokes. Most of the jokes were tasteless. Of course I had to join them.
I told my favorite tasteless joke. They all laughed. But afterward a woman came to me and told me that one of the other women had left because of my joke. It touched a nerve with her and hurt her feelings. I felt terrible.
I went to her room and asked if I could speak to her. She did not want to talk but was gracious. I apologized to her and she was such a nice person that she accepted my apology. We hugged each other and I left. I have not told another tasteless joke since.
My mother was laughing one day. She had seen my niece arguing with a friend. They were little girls and Mom wanted to make sure the argument did not turn into blows. But it was an argument using words as weapons. Finally my niece screamed, "Well at least MY mother buys real gold jewelry!"
How much did it hurt the other girl? I do not know. I do know that the girls are still good friends 30 years later. If only that was the worst thing we could think of to hurl at someone when we are angry with them.
Mom also liked to tell about her days as a waitress when she was young. There was a young man who came in once a week like clockwork. In those days people were called retarded and she just assumed that was his affliction.
He always ordered allep pie meaning apple pie. Mom would serve him and speak to him for a few moments before moving on to her next customers.
One day a woman came in to thank everyone at the cafe for being so nice to him. The family had to institutionalize him and he would not be coming in any more.
Another time she saw customers sitting at the table who were being very animated while they talked. Their hands were going a mile a minute and they talked and talked.
When she went to the table to take their orders she decided to join in and waved her hands excitedly. To her chagrin she soon realized that there were people who could not hear at that table. They had been using sign language as well as spoken language to communicate.
I hope these examples demonstrate that things are not always as they seem. And especially that words have power. It is so easy to unintentionally hurt someone with a careless word. And all we need to do is think before we open our mouths. Think. Think.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
I have mentioned before how much I love music and how I love to dance. I have even mentioned being tossed around the floor by an exuberant new father and being taught the polka by a dear friend. I would like to introduce some other dance partners.
When I was married my husband would get up to dance after he had several drinks. He was not a great dancer but I appreciated the effort.
Several of us in the same social circle had the same birthday. We had some wonderful parties. Of course there were always birthday dances among the ones celebrating. They were slow dances because most of the men only knew how to do a slow dance.
But there was one man of the group (I do not know when his birthday is) who could dance. And lucky for the rest of us women his wife did not dance. We made sure they were invited every time we went out.
He told me once that his father had told him that if he wanted to be popular with the girls he should learn the fast dances. Girls like to dance all the dances and most of the boys would learn the slow ones and not the fast ones. A boy who would fast dance would be in high demand. Smart man. It is a good piece of information to pass along to young men.
When the band would play I would dance with almost anyone. I tried to limit it to two dances per partner. Not to be fair and give everyone a chance... there were not that many available partners. I just did not want anyone to get the wrong idea. I was not going to leave with any of them. I did not want any misunderstandings at the end of the night.
There were two men who came in every week. They were a bit older but not old. They were not particularly attractive and both were quite heavy. One wore a cowboy hat. They were very nice but a little awkward socially.
Neither was a very good dancer but they were enthusiastic. The cowboy liked slower dances but the other one (who was much heavier than his friend) liked the faster ones. I would dance two dances with each.
I was often amused because the non-cowboy reminded me of an elephant when he danced. Now I do not mean to make fun of him at all. But he sort of swayed from side to side the way an elephant will do. As time went on he became a better dancer and the elephant sway was gone.
Eventually the cowboy found a girlfriend at church. She did not like the closeness of the friendship between the two men and the friendship was over. Sad. But the other one kept coming in to dance.
Over time he lost a lot of weight. Dancing is fun exercise. He met a school teacher and they also fell in love. They had a beautiful wedding and reception. They continued to come in and dance.
There was a group of women who were all friends. Some were married and not interested in finding a mate for the evening, some were like me and just wanted to dance, and some were pining after a member of the band. We congregated at the band table.
We all liked to dance. Most of the time there were no men to dance with so we danced together. Most of the songs were faster dances anyway so we could dance in a group. Line dances were popular at the time too. We had such fun.
My most interesting dance partner was the cousin of a male friend. he was deaf. He could read lips but he could not hear a thing. I asked him how he could dance and he told me that he could feel the drum beats in the floor. He loved to dance.
He came in every so often and became comfortable sitting at the band table with us. After a time he stopped coming in too. It seems he had also found a young woman and they were keeping steady company. Isn't love grand?
All these tales are interesting. As Fred Astaire would sing, "It only happens when we dance."
Friday, May 18, 2018
In my last post I told you my battery had died. It turns out that my power cord was also bad. I now have brand new ones.
The main problem was that when they went bad was sometime during the new upgrade for Windows. That was also a problem.
I could use my laptop a bit because of the electrical connection but it was so slow that many connections would time out before they connected. Most of my apps would not connect or they took several minutes to load. Using the computer was more trouble than it was worth.
I had to redo my whole computer. What a pain.
I missed being able to reading my news feeds in the morning. I do like to know what is happening in the world. I missed being able to play my solitaire games. I missed reading my favorite blogs.
I missed posting on my own blog. Perhaps the break was good for me. Yes that is the attitude I will take. It was a vacation.
Now as you see I am back. I will begin leaving comments on all the wonderful blogs I have missed. I may not comment on any but the newest but I will read them all.
Next week I will leave a real post here for you to read.
Thank you to all who left encouraging comments. I aprreciated them.
Friday, May 4, 2018
It is Thursday, May 4. My battery on the computer has stopped working. I do not know how much longer I will be online before I am once agin computerless.
I have a new battery on the way but it will take a week or so to arrive.
So if you do not hear from me I will be back as soon as possible.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
It is May 1st. It is also known as May Day.
I have seen pictures of girls dressed in lovely dresses dancing around the Maypole. Each carried a long brightly coloredl ribbon. As she skipped around she would weave in and out with girls doing the same but moving in the opposite direction.
When the dancing was finished the Maypole was covered by the different ribbons in a tight weave. I am not certain why they did it but it looked like fun.
When I was a little girl there was a custom in our area. We gave out May baskets.
May baskets are made of those oversized paper cupcake cups. Pliable pipe cleaners are attached to make a handle. Then the basket is filled with various candies and maybe a small trinket or two.
I was seven years old when I delivered my first May Day baskets. It was great fun putting the baskets together. Then we put them in a box and into the car. Off we went.
It was then that my mother told me what to do. I was to take a basket to the front door of the person's house, knock on the door, and run back to the car.
If the person could catch me they had to give me a kiss.
The first stop was Susan Otradowski's house. I took a basket, went to the front door, knocked, and ran back to the car.
Nobody said anything about leaving the basket before I ran.
As I was climbing back into the car Mom was excitingly telling me that I had to leave the basket on the doorstep. I had to get out of the car to take the basket back. Susan caught me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Of course I was mortified.
I guess I delivered the rest of the baskets with no problems. I only remember Susan's delivery.
Now back to my original reason for this post.
I think, I believe, I hope that spring is here.
The snow has been gone for a couple of weeks. The temperatures are closer to what they should be. Birds and animals are spending more time in my yard. I love to watch them.
A couple of days ago the little rabbit that comes to nibble near the spot I work on the computer and watch out the window was here. He is out every day about this time.
So the other day he was nibbling when another rabbit came from behind the garage. Ever alert the two rabits stopped and looked at each other. They each edged closer to the other. Closer, closer, closer. Finally they were almost nose to nose.
One rabbit lunged at the other who jumped about three feet straight up into the air. They separated and repeated a couple of times. They disappeared beyond my vision to behind the garage.
Within seconds one of them hopped back out and went to the neighbor's yard to nibble over there.
Was it a fight for territory? Was it a mating ritual? I have no idea. It was fascinating to see.
Things are becoming green again. The ground is sending up plants that will be grass, weeds, dandelions, and violets soon.
The trees are thinking that maybe they can begin to send out a few leaves. There are none yet but I can see the buds.
The river is flooding a bit. Not nearly as bad as a couple of years ago. It is up over the banks and into the fields on both sides.
Most farms on this side of the river have built earthen levees to keep them safe from the modest flooding we are having right now. If they do not have to open the dam too much north of here we should see a receding river.
We are ready for spring.
Here is hoping.
Friday, April 27, 2018
Mom was mostly a stay-at-home mother. That was the way it was back then. Fathers worked away from home to earn the money. Mothers worked at home to keep house, cook, and raise children.
Mom always had a huge garden. She raised, peas, carrots, beets, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, melons, lettuce, squash, pumpkins, and corn. We had fresh vegetables all summer.
She also loved flowers so a partionof her garden was saved to raise flowers. There were flowers growing all around the yard too. When she was a bit older and we were also older she managed enough time to cut some of her flowers and make fresh arrangements for the house.
She liked strawberries so she had Daddy build a terraced strawberry bed. That way she would have a bigger yield in less space.
Daddy planted grapes every place we lived but they seldom gave us any grapes. He did have a knack with roses and was trying to develop a new rose.
Mom canned a lot of the produce from the garden. She made pickles of all kinds.
In the fall when the farmers brought fruit into town to sell we would buy several bushels of several kinds of fruit.
Mom would can some, bake with some, and make jelly, jam, and fruit butter. She was a marvel.
Needless to say we had plenty to eat all winter.
When I was very very small Mom decided to make her own cottage cheese. It was the best I ever had.
She was also artistic. Bedides her writing she wanted to draw.
At the time the was a program on television called Drawing with Jon Nagy. She watched it religiously. She even ordered his special eraser. He said the more it was used the better it worked. It became black with use but always erased cleanly. So Mom was an artist.
Just about anything she decided she wanted to do she would find a way to learn and do it.
Mom insisted on us using proper grammar and good manners. For instance the word (or non-word) of ain't was forbidden. I was the oldest and it "took" with me. The rest of the kids seemed to get by with grammatical slips. I guess it was too much work.
Mom sewed most of our clothes. I think the boys blue jeans were possibly the only exception. She would hold a newspaper up to us and make a pattern from it. So when we weren't wearing hand-me-downs we had the nicest clothes in town.
When I was in 1st or 2nd grade she used Daddy's pea coat from the Navy and made the warmest coat I ever had. I was sad when I outgrew that one.
After she retired Mom wanted to live somewhere warm for a change. She tried Florida where my sister was living. She said everything smelled like fish there.
She and I took a road trip through New England. We just drove until we saw a place we wanted to stop.
We ended the trip at myother sister's house in Kentucky. Mom liked it there. She took me home after a few days and went back.
She rented a little place a few miles from my sister. Mom actually built her own furniture. She said she had always wanted to do that. My sister has it now and is still using it.
When my sister needed someone to help with her children Mom moved back in with her.
My mother who never complained about aches and paions became ill. My sister and her estranged husband had to carry her to the car to take her to the hospital. Although the doctor would not tell her what was wrong Mom snuck a peek at her records. She had e.Coli. She went home finally but was not the same.
The last time I saw my mother who was the rock of the family she seemed so frail. I think she was tired of her being here.
Mom died in her sleep in early January. When my brother died Mom and Dad purchased a triple plot. Mom was laid to rest on the coldest windiest day. As we drove into the cemetery I could imagine her chuckling about our discomfort for just an instant.
I had good parents. Our whole family revered both of them. They are missed every day.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Maybe a famous actor. Or perhaps a pilot. Or a teacher. Maybe an olympian athlete. A firefighter. A scientist. A doctor. Rich.
There were unlimited choices ahead of us. I am certain your parents told you the same things our patrnts told us. You can be whatever you want to be as long as you work hard and get good grades.
Getting good grades was easy. It is the one thing that comes easily to me. I never developed good study habits because all I had to do was pay attention in class. I was not necessarily smarter than some of the others. I just have a knack for retaining information and being able to being it up when necessary.
Girls my age often wanted to be Annette or Hayley Mills. Or one of the Lennon Sisters. I suppose boys wanted to be Mickey Mantle or Davy Crockett.
Girls often dreamed about getting married. Planning a fairy tale wedding was the goal.
I really never cared about being married. A husband seemed like too much work. I did know that you needed a husband to have children.
What I always wanted to be was a mother.
Perhaps it is because I am the oldest. I helped with the younger children as happens in large families. I liked it.
So I dutifully was married before I began having children. I was so anxious to have babies but it took a couple of years before I did.
I will be telling you about my children in My Family eventually.
I used to say that I was not very successful in life. I had little money and not much in the way of possessions. That is what successful people have.
One day my oldest son asked me what I wanted to be when I was a child. I immediately replied that I wanted to be a mother.
He told me that I was successful because I was what I wanted to be.
I was a bit taken aback at first. Then I realized that I am just what I always wanted to be. I am a success.