Friday, May 26, 2017

A Word About My Aunt


This will be brief. I recently wrote about my Aunt Carol. Five years older than me so we grew up together.

I told you about her lymphoma. She has been battling leukemia for several years.

The lymphoma won. Carol died May 15. I will miss her.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Uncle Raymond


For some reason I never called my uncles on my mother's side of the family "uncle". I knew they were uncles but they were so close in age that they were something a bit more.

Raymond is the oldest of my uncles. He was around but because he was 12 years older than me I was a nuisance to be tolerated more than anything else.

Like all my uncles Raymond worked the farm with Grandpa. Tractors and cattle consumed most of his time.

I do not think he liked farming too much. After all sons working a farm were excrutiatingly short of spending money.

When he was old enough Raymond took a ob driving a delivery truck. He had his own money.

Raymond was getting married! And I would get to go to the wedding. I had never been to a wedding before. I was 11 or 12 years old.

I do not remember much about the wedding. Such things were of little interest to me at that time.

His bride's father was the manager of the country club. That meant he took care of the golf course.

There was an interval of about 3 hours between the wedding and the reception. Pictures had to be taken you know.

So here were all these children with nothing to do. Left to themselves children will usually find something to do and it usually involves getting dirty.

To prevent that my aunt's father gave us a couple of golf balls and a couple of his golf clubs. We stayed relatively clean as we puttered around on the golf course.

The reception was held in the club house. It was not a fancy building as I look back at it. But I was entranced.

There were tables of food and bowls of punch. There was a lot of floor space for dancing. We could dance as long as we stayed clear in one corner and sort of out of the way.

The Witch Doctor by David Seville was so popular at that time. I was thrilled to hear it so many times that night. (My new aunt's father finally removed it from the juke box because he was so sick of hearing it.)

My uncle Donnie got drunk. He was funny to watch. He sort of draped himself over his date (she later married him) and moved the two of them around the floor.

Raymond died 3 years ago after a long fight with cancer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stormy Weather


As all of you have been experiencing this has been a strange year as far as the weather is concerned. In the winter we had balmy days right before getting 10 inches of snow.  In the fall we had unbelievably hot weather right before temperatures would fall below freezing. This spring began early but there were cold days often accompanied by snow.

Here in the plains states there has been a lot of precipitation. Most of it has been rain. There has been a lot of wind. Tornadoes have become common.

Right here where I live I feel somewhat protected from some of the severe weather. Tornadoes have hit within a few miles but I am nestled against a hill. It is not likely that a tornado will touch down here.

I live less than a mile from a big river. It has been known to flood and completely engulf the fields just across the highway from me. That is a distance of about 3 blocks. However the fields across the highway are several feet lower than the little town I live in. It is not likely to flood here.

I think the biggest problem we have other than the occasional hail storm is the wind. Because of the hill the wind seems to blow almost directly from the north to the south. It can be pretty fierce sometimes.

There are a lot of older trees around us. Even a moderate wind will blow small branches all over the place. We are constantly picking up twigs and small branches from all over the yard.

Then there are the big branches that break off and fall. Last year the neighbor's tree lost a huge branch. The base fell right next to the trunk of the tree. The branch itself filled both our yards. It missed our house by less than 2 inches.

One of our trees lost a big branch a few years ago. It was in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. The branch was on the roof and hanging off the edge with the base of the branch resting on the ground. It was too large for us to move without causing some serious damage to the house.

I called a tree service. They made an emergency call for us. They told me that it was a good thing I called. It was a big branch.

While they were there I asked what they would charge to trim the tree over the house. It was a reasonable fee so they did it while they were here.

It was so cold that day. Of course the wind was still blowing a bit making it colder for those poor men. But they were troopers. It took them about 3 hours. I stayed inside where it was warm.

We still have to clean up the small branches that blow from the trees including that one.

Then last night just as I was almost asleep I heard a bang and a tinkling of glass near me. The whole place shook.

I jumped out of bed to make sure my sons were safe. They were coming to see if I was okay.

A quick look outside revealed that a branch had fallen from another tree. It landed on the house right above my bed. It was not nearly as large as the other one had been thank goodness.

My son got up early and got out the ladder. He was able to pull it off the house before I even woke up.

I also realized the tinkling sound of glass was actually from a small wind chime that hangs from the ceiling in my room. No broken windows.

So far we have been really fortunate that there has been no damage to the roof. Knock wood!

I suppose now I will have to have the other tree trimmed too. It never ends.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Butt Of The Joke


I am often the one that makes my family laugh. I do not always do it intentionally but they laugh anyway. Laughter is good for the innards so I am happy to help keep them in good health.

Everyone knows how much I love baseball. My sister-in-law just smiles and shakes her head as she says, "You and your baseball."  But my children are another matter altogether.

We lived for a long time just a few miles from where my favorite major league baseball team played their home games. We went often. My children were able to watch some great baseball and great players. When we were not able to go to a game we would watch on television.

Even after my father died my mother and I had a good time watching baseball together. We would moan when our batter's hit was caught just before it appeared to be going over the fence for a home run. We would cheer when our outfielder caught the ball hit by the other team just before it went over the fence for a home run. We would scream and yell at any perceived infraction to our sensibilities committed by either team or the umpires. It is great fun.

But my children, nieces and nephews, and younger brother and sister were the ones having the most fun. They would sit in the back yard on nice summer days and laugh at us as we screamed at the television.

These days my children still laugh because I am still screaming at the television during ball games. They are joined by my grandchildren. Soon my great-grandchildren will be joining in. At least the dog does not run and hide any more.

I love music. I am the weirdo you see in the supermarket bopping down the aisle when a favorite song comes over their music list. I will being watching TV disinterestedly and suddenly find myself chair dancing to the music of a commercial. And of course I sing long and loud with the radio.

Now I know I cannot sing. If you put the tune into a briefcase and locked it I would not be able to carry it. But I have a lot of enthusiasm. Does that count for anything?

Of course my whole family laughs at me. When I begin to twitch in the grocery store my children used to scatter not wanting to be associated with the crazy lady. Sitting in a restaurant with my grandchildren brought head shaking and comments like, "Don't do that." Listening to music on the computer brings wails begging me to stop singing. (It is my house. I sing.)

When my children were young I would try to plan activities we would all enjoy. Movies were a good bet but we often did not want to see the same movie. Theaters that show multiple movies worked well because we could see the movie we wanted to see then get together afterward for something to eat.

But there were movies that we all enjoyed. Star Wars was one of those. So off we went to Star Wars. But it seems that everyone had a favorite place to sit in the theater. It works for us.

Toward the end of that movie Darth Vader is killed by his son Luke Skywalker. It was an emotional scene and I cry easily at the movies so I was dabbing my eyes and (I thought) quietly crying. Then I hear son number 3 chuckling. He was sitting several rows behind me and to the left.

He then stage whispers to son number 2. "Hey, Mom is crying because Darth Vader got killed." All heads in the theater craned to see me dabbing at my eyes. Son number 2 chuckled as did son number 1 and my daughter. Then the whole theater erupted into soft laughter. Think how good they all felt inside.

After the movie I had plans for us to go downtown in the big city. Summer weekends they held what they called Ethnic Festivals. It was an attempt to introduce people to other cultures and learn more about their own. It was one of the best ideas they ever had.

Anyway this weekend was the Irish Festival. Seeing that I had four little Irish children we went to the festival. After much searching we found a parking structure that was almost within walking distance.

As we were walking into the riverfront area where the festival was being held there were so many people milling about. Son number 3 took great joy in walking up to as many as he could and saying, "That's my mother. She cried when Darth Vader died."

Most people just had confused looks on their faces. But a few of them laughed. My son was having a good time. Add to that the fact that we had a good time at the festival. It was a great day.

It truly does not bother me when people laugh at me. Know why? I laugh at them too. Ridiculous things happen all the time. The trick is to recognize them for what they are and enjoy them.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Screaming Dog


My son's dog needed to go to the vet today. She needed a rabies shot which she has not had since he got her. She also was in desperate need of a pedicure.

The boys made an appointment to take her in. They went together. She was so happy to go for a ride with them.

She is not a huge dog but she is between a medium size and large. Her markings make her look a bit like a bull dog but she has no bull dog ancestry.

She got to the vet's office and trotted right in. She felt so important going along with her two favorite people.

Because of her size a couple of people held tight to their pets as she strutted by. The boys chuckled to themselves.

Because she had an appointment the vet called her right in. The boys were ready to hold her down. The vet put a muzzle on her as a precaution.

First came the vaccination. She did not like it at all. But it was over quickly and she was ready to leave.

When the vet began to clip her nails she was not happy at all. My oldest son was holding her head tight. My second son had a tight grip on the other end.

Apparently something hurt because she began to scream. Not growl. Scream.

Somehow she popped the muzzle right off. No paws... just opened her mouth and popped it off. The vet looked up in shock but saw that the boys had a tight grip so he kept on clipping.

She was screaming so loud that one of the women waiting with her pet came back to see what they were doing to that poor animal.

The dog was so happy to leave that terrible place.

When they came home she wanted nothing to do with getting out of the truck. She was taking no chances.

Finally they got her in the house. After drowning her sorrows with a long drink of water she laid down and went to sleep. She steered clear of the boys for a while. You should know that she tends to hold a grudge.

That was all a few hours ago. She has calmed down. She has sort of forgiven the boys for inflicting all that indignity upon her. But I see her giving them sidelong looks every once in a while. I laughed and told them they need to be careful when they go to sleep.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Uncle Norman

Uncle Norman is my father's younger brother. They were both much younger than the rest of their siblings.

Uncle Norman was the reason my father met my mother. Uncle Norman was dating my mother's younger sister. When Daddy came back from the war they arranged for Mom and Daddy to double date with them.

Uncle Norman and Aunt Luella eventually stopped seeing each other. Mom and Daddy got married.

Uncle Norman served during the Korean War. After he came home he somehow met a nice woman from Tennessee. They married and had a couple of children.

They came to visit for a day when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was early in the morning. The rest of us kids were in school. As part of his morning ritual my little brother took his penny and went to the store for a piece of candy.

Mom always watched my brother until he turned the corner on the next block. The woman at the store was waiting and watching for him. When he left the store she watched until he turned the corner going home knowing that Mom was watching then. It was a good arrangement.

So the morning Uncle Norman came he saw my brother walking home but of course didn't see Mom. He rolled down his window and kept asking my brother what his anme was and where he lived.

My brother knew he should not talk to strangers so he hurried home. When my uncle saw my mother he was laughing about my brother not talking to him.

When we went on a long vacation part of it was spent with Uncle Norman's family. They had a son and daughter at the time.

His wife Patsy made us a snack one evening. I raved about how good it was and told my mother she should get the recipe. Finally Mom took me to one side and explained that it was simply donuts made from cans of biscuit dough dredged in frosting.

Uncle Norman decided to show Daddy around town. He was the barber so he just closed his shop and off they went.

Aunt Patsy was sure they were up to no good and dragged Mom to go looking for them. Mom said they saw every illegal still in the county. The menfolk were waiting at home when they got there.

The last time I saw Uncle Norman there were two more children. They were there for Daddy's funeral.

His children obviously did not want to be there and were not shy about making it known. To be fair they did not know us so I am sure they felt out of place.

Uncle Norman was very nice to us. Like family should be. Patsy and the kids never had the opportunity to know us and they felt like outsiders.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Practical Jokes


I like practical jokes... not the kind where someone is hurt or where someone is seriously embarrassed or belittled. I think jokes that make you laugh with yourself and others liven up the day.

That is not to say that I have not always used good judgement in practical joking. I wish to blame age but youth is not a good excuse. But for the most part my practical jokes hurt no one.

Of course there are the standard "Your shoe is untied" and "What is that spot on your shirt?" as you flip your finger up to their nose. Most people do not fall for those any more. But they are funny when you 'get' them.

When I was in my early teens I was wandering around downtown when I came across a novelty store. By novelty I mean the kind of store that sold things like whoopie cushions and fake vomit. I must point out that every two or three years my children and grandchildren receive whoopie cushions for Christmas as part of their stockings. So beware when visiting.

Back to the store. I found all sorts of delights but was fascinated by the loads. I say loads because they were out of cigarette loads. All they had in stock were cigar loads. I had always wanted to try them because I had seen them on television. Besides they were extremely inexpensive and I had little money.

My sister was with me. We planned and plotted. Who would be our victim? We discussed our mother. but she might have a bad reaction to it. Who else did we know who smoked? It had to be someone we had access to. It also had to be someone who would be around when the cigarette was lit so we could watch. There was only one other candidate. Daddy.

When we got home from work we managed to grab his cigarettes while he was in another room. I carefully pulled one cigarette out of the pack. I then took the loads out of their wrapping. They looked like small pieces of straw. Even though they were made for cigars they were so small. I decided to put in three just to make sure they worked.

My father smoked non-filtered cigarettes so I was not sure which end he would light so I needed to push them into the center of the cigarette. I used a toothpick and it worked quite well.

Now all we had to do was wait. Only my sister and I knew what was going on. We were on pins and needles all evening waiting, waiting, waiting...

Finally he took out the loaded cigarette. He lit it. Nothing happened. He took a few puffs; nothing happened. Duds thought we.
.
Suddenly BANG!!!! That cigarette sounded like an M80. It exploded right under my father's nose. His eyes popped open wide and his whole head turned red with anger. He was mad!

As he was demanding to know who did it all of us kids were finding ways to leave the room. Mom was already at the kitchen door so all she had to do was go back to cooking.

I never did admit to Daddy that it was me and my sister. I think that even after a lot of years had passed he might have spanked us. Mom told me after Daddy died that she knew we did it. She never said a word.

As I said age is not an excuse but it is the only one I have. And I was not even able to enjoy it because I was scared that he would find me out.

One of my dear friends was getting married. The best man was a notorious practical joker. When another friend of his got married he went to the honeymoon hotel the before the wedding and he and some other friends removed all the furniture from the room. Because of this the present honeymoon destination was a closely guarded secret.

After a great deal of persuasion and more than a little liquor we were able to pry the hotel name from the groom's father. It was just across the border in Canada.

About 6 of us waited an indecent amount of time. Then we went to the hotel and asked for their room. The clerk was wise enough to not divulge that information.

However we had another trick up our sleeves. One of us was the bride's sister. The clerk finally agreed to connect us to the room if we would go to a house phone.

Sister was on the phone with the bride who did not believe for one minute that we were in the hotel lobby. Until sister began to describe the fountain, the entrance to the lounge, and what band was playing in the lounge. The newlyweds came down to see us.

The poor things agreed to go with us to a little outdoor restaurant for a drink. The groom was in obvious discomfort and the bride was trying so hard to be gracious. I am sure it was the high point of their honeymoon.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I do not believe in violent or destructive mischief but it is a good time for people to be good-naturedly scared. I have assisted in planning many haunted houses.

I was working in the cash office of a large department store chain. We were isolated from the rest of the store because we had all the money and records in with us. We often decorated for holidays.

One year I got the bright idea to make tombstones for those of us who worked the cash office. Of course we needed epitaphs so I wrote funny little epitaphs for each of us. The others in the office liked them so much they invited people from other offices to see them. I had to make them for those people too.

Another time those of us on the night shift decided to decorate the office right. We had access to merchandise from the store. All we needed was someone with the authority to write off the expense. We went straight to our friend and part time co-worker. Then we set about getting our decorations.

We built a scarecrow using things people left on the lanes when they were shopping. (We held those items for 30 days to see if they would come back to reclaim them.) There was a jacket, sunglasses, a hearing aid, a cane, false teeth, gloves, boots,  and even a prosthetic leg. Add a mask and we had a proper scarecrow.

We set up flying ghosts and bats to attack the cashiers when they came in for their cash drawers. If our inner office door opened there were shrieks and moans. We had ghosts and bats hanging from the ceiling. In all the drawers (of which there were many. Each drawer had a special use and each was used often.) there were surprises. There were plastic worms and spiders and all sorts of disgusting things. But the best part of all was the little haunted house we had set up in the vault.

At the beginning of each shift one person had to balance all the money in the office. That included going into the vault to count the money in there.

When the morning shift came in they would have to count the safe which is what we called it. And inside the safe sat our dear friend. We had a long cape and mask on him and he just sat there and waited.

The head of the cash office was doing the counting this day. She counted the stamp drawer. Then she counted the safe drawer. Thne she counted the service drawer. Then she counted the cashier drawer. All the time she counted she was talking about how much she liked the decorations. We were smiling to ourselves and anticipating the moment she went into the safe.

Then she began to talk about how afraid she was of haunted houses. She said she had never been able to go into them because she was so scared. I had a sinking feeling about her going into the safe. As I was trying to find a way to tell her not to go into the safe without betraying my co-workers she went into the safe.

Nothing happened. Still nothing happened. I went over to see if she had dropped dead from fright when she screamed and came running out of the safe. I thought she was going to run me over and go right through the wall into the shoe repair. At the last minute she made a left turn at the coin counter and ran to a corner at the opposite end of the room.

As she leaned against the counter panting I told our dear friend he could come out. He said he would as soon as he could move his legs. He had sat there for so long without moving that his legs would not work.

When he was finally able to stand he came out and told us what happened. She had gone into the safe and started counting the boxes of rolled coin. She was so intent on her job that she did not even notice that he was sitting there. When she lifted her head a bit he slightly lifted his hand and gave her a little wave. That was when she screamed.

She was such a good sport after she had ascertained that she was not going to have a heart attack. We laughed about it for the rest of the time that our shifts overlapped. She also promised that she would find a way to get me back. I welcomed the threat.

These are just a sampling of practical jokes I have been a participant in. I am sure they will not be the last but it is harder to be original the older I get.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Uncle Gerald


Finally an uncle I knew! Uncle Gerald lived in a near-by town from Grandma.

Uncle Gerald was older than my father. In fact his oldest daughter was close to the same age as my mother.

I was surprised to learned that Uncle Gerald had a first wife. I thought that Aunt Sophie was the only wife he had. I do not know (yet) what happened to his first wife.

Uncle Gerald and Aunt Sophie had four children. Three were girls. Of course they were quite a bit older than me. One was married and had children near in age to some of my younger siblings.

The other two girls liked to take me to their house for the weekend. They would fuss over me like a live doll. Then on weekends they would take me on their dates. We went to drive-in movies or to the auto races. I saw my first demolition derby with them.

Often my aunt and uncle would come to Grandma's house on Friday. They would all get spiffed up and go out to have fun. I think Uncle Gerald and Aunt Sophie usually went to the bar. My cousins would have dates and go with their dates to whatever was happening for young people at the time.

Like so much of my father's family Uncle Gerald's family was on the selfish side. They thought little of other people's feelings. I know that sounds odd after telling you that they paid a lot of attention to me. But that is the way they were.

When my brother was killed in Viet Nam family began calling my parents to offer sympathies. My father sat up most of the night. Every time the phone rang he would say, "That will be Gerald." Uncle Gerald never called.

In fact Daddy did not hear from him for a couple of years. Aunt Sophie sent a letter telling Daddy that Uncle Gerald had cancer and was not doing well. Oh by the way it was a shame about my brother.

Daddy was so hurt. I was furious. They had hurt my father so bad. The one family member he had been around could not even call to see if he was okay.

All of them are dead now. I had contact with the oldest daughter for a while online. Her children and grandchildren live only a few hours from me. They are doing well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Uncle Willis


We have yet another uncle I did not know well. He did not live to far from us but we did not visit back and forth.

My grandmother did not visit him either and he did not visit her. For some reason Grandma did not like his wife. She never had anything pleasant to say about her.

My uncle had three sons. They are all close to my father's age. I'm not sure I ever even saw one of them.

Uncle Willis was a fireman. It was his life's work. Because of his hard work and love of his job he eventually became the fire chief of his suburb of a large city in the area.

I remember reading about him in the paper once. He demonstrated that an oil fire could be extinguished with water if other methods were not available.

My grandmother had cancer. Uncle Willis and Aunt Irma were the ones who offered to take care of her while she recovered from surgery.

When the doctors went in to try to remove the cancer Grandma was so full of cancer there was nothing they could do for her. They simply closed the incision. When she was ready to leave the hospital she wen to stay with my aunt and uncle.

Both my aunt and uncle had back problems. It was not easy for them to take care of Grandma but they did.

Toward the end another aunt and uncle went to visit Grandma. Aunt Irma mentioned that Grandma would not eat.

My other uncle became furious. He screamed at her that she had to feed her no matter what. Force it down her throat if she had to.

The following day Aunt Irma called the doctor. She was worried that she was not taking proper care of Grandma.

The doctor told her that she was doing a good job. He said that very often terminal patients have no appetite, If she wanted something to eat by all means give her something. Otherwise let her alone. Ice chips and sips of fluid were the most important.

We went to visit. It was to see Grandma before she died. She really did not know we were there. Except for my youngest sister who was her favorite.

My sister was only 4 years old but she seemed to understand that Grandma needed her. She sat with her all day holding her hand.

Grandma died that night after we left.

My aunt and uncle were left to take care of all the necessary things one needs to do after a death.

All from the ones that Grandma had no time for. I respected them for that.

I learned that you never know who will be important in your life or why. It is best to treat everyone with kindness. You may someday need a kindness from them.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Family


I need to pause in telling you about aunts and uncles to remind you of a couple of things.

As i have told you before both of my parents came from large families. Eleven babies were born into each family. Two babies on each side died soon after they were born.

That leaves 18 babies. My parents are not included as aunts and uncles so the number drops to 16.

You will notice that I will write about fewer than that. The reason is that my father's family was quite a bit older that my mother's family. Some of my father's siblings I know little about.

I know he had a brother who had epilepsy. Rather than the family suffer the stigma of a "defective" child he was placed in a home. Back then there was little they could do to control seizures and children were often placed in institutions.

I did not know until I was grown and had children what really happened to him. Grandma always said he died in a Juvenile Delinquent Center.  It was preferable to having a son with epilepsy.

I know of a sister too. She married and had children. I have seen her grave not far from my grandparents' graves. Her husband is buried there and several children. I know nothing about them.

So that is why there are fewer than I should have to tell about.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Uncle Rolan


I did not know Uncle Rolan well. I only remember seeing him twice.

The first time I saw him was when my family moved to Washington. Uncle Rolan had lived there for years. He was showing us a few sights.

The only sight I remember is the Grand Coulee Dam. Everything was so new. It was a little too much for a 9 year old to take in.

The second time I saw him was when Grandma died. I am sure he loved her but she was not an easy person to spend time with. So my feeling is that it was sort of a duty thing.

Uncle Rolan and Daddy went to Grandma's house after the funeral to see if they could find the little bust I made of clay. I really wanted to have it. But they found nothing.

Uncle Rolan had a wife and three children. When I saw him in Washington my aunt was in the hospital. I do not know why. It was not discussed in front of me.

One of their sons died when he was a year old.

Their daughter I did not meet either. She was a teenager and certainly not interested in a bunch of little kid cousins.

The other son was with Uncle Rolan the day we went to the dam. He was also a teenager. He did not seem to mind us too much. My parents saw him playing in the Army/Navy football game one year.

It is really sad that I know nothing more about them. I have no way to learn either because all of them have died.

I discovered that while working on my family tree. I found no records of either of my cousins having families.

So this is the first uncle I introduce. Unfortunately I have little to tell.

Friday, April 14, 2017

In Your Easter Bonnet


Last year for Easter my grandson took pictures of him and his daughter making Easter eggs. The eggs were made of Play Doh. They were beautiful in the way that only homemade items can be. Beyond that he spent hours with his daughter creating something they could be proud of and that they enjoyed doing together.

It made me think of Easters past. Of course I love thinking of things from the past so I reveled in the memories.

My family did not have much in the way of material things when I was a child. For Easter we had plenty of eggs to color because we had chickens. The Easter bunny left baskets with candy. Mom made a fancy meal. Then we re-hid the eggs over and over all that day.

New clothes were not often bought for Easter. We just dressed in our Sunday clothes like most of the rest of the children where we lived.

I only had one Easter bonnet. Out house had burned and a collection was taken and placed with a neighboring department store for us to purchase new clothes. There was a little extra money and I was able to talk my parents into letting me have my only Easter bonnet.

However we used to make Easter bonnets at school. They are fun and fairly easy to make.

Some of the items we used were disposable aluminum pie pans, facial tissues, crepe paper, and ribbon. Paper plates could be substituted for the pie pans but they are not as sturdy. You will also need scissors, paste or glue, string or thread and something to punch small holes into the pie pan. Paint might be an addition but is optional.

First we made flowers with the tissues. We separated the plies so that each tissue was two. Then we used several layers. More layers make a fuller flower. After stacking the tissues we would pick up the stack in the center and bunch it. Then we tied the center with thread to hold it together.

We trimmed the corners from the tissues so they will not stick out past the rest of the tissue. Then comes the fluffing. Gently separating each tissue and arranging them so that it creates a full soft looking flower. If you cannot find colored tissue you can spray paint the flower for the desired color.

Use either crepe paper or ribbon or both you fasten a band around the hat. Paste or glue into place. Then punch a hole on each side of the pie plate. Pass the ribbon through each hole from the top. It should be long enough to be able to tie beneath the neck to hold the hat in place.

Punch more holes in the pie plate. When you have decided the placement of the flowers you will need to be able to secure it to the hat by putting the bottom end through a hole. A little bit of glue helps keep it in place.

Bows can be made as well as any other decorations you wish to include. After allowing time for the glue to dry completely You have an Easter bonnet fit for any princess.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Aunt Luella


My Aunt Luella was a couple of years younger than my mother. She had five children who were close in age to my younger siblings. My sister liked to go to their house a lot. She had other girls to play with.

I have said before that my grandfather raised horses. They were a necessary part of the farm besides the fact that he loved them. The horses were the method of transportation.

Luella seemed to have a love/hate relationship with horses. Jenny was her favorite. That was the horse she usually rode to school.

But there was a problem with Jenny. When she was close to home she made a bee-line to the barn. She liked being home I guess.

So one day Luella was on her way home. She was not paying much attention to Jenny. You can do that when you are riding a horse because they will keep moving. Suddenly Jenny took off. She was ready for the barn.

Luella tried to slow her down but Jenny wanted to be home. So Luella sort of allowed Jenny her head. Straight to the barn doors they went.

There was the problem. The barn doors were open... at the bottom. The top halves were closed. Jenny went right on through. Luella was not so lucky.

No she did not fall off. That might have been easier. Luella's upper half was smooshed into the upper doors of the barn. Her lower half was still on Jenny inside the barn.

Luella tried to make Jenny back up so she could dismount but Jenny was having none of that. She was home.

It took some time before someone realized what a predicament they were in and came to rescue Luella. I am not sure how they accomplished it but Luella and Jenny were both unharmed.

Bird was another horse on the farm. She was a good horse. Bird was the horse we all learned to ride. She seemed to understand that a small or inexperienced rider needed her to be more gentle.

But older experienced riders were fair game. One of her favorite tricks was to hold her breath and puff up her belly when her saddle was being put on. If the rider was paying attention they would wait for her to let her breath out and then tighten the cinch. Sometimes it would even take a poke to the stomach to make her breathe.

Luella was going out to bring in the cattle for milking one afternoon. Her mind must have been elsewhere when she was putting the tack on Bird. She climbed up in the saddle and off she went.

There was a dog-leg part of the trail out to the pasture. Right at one corner was a huge walnut tree. Bird decided to walk right under a low hanging branch. Luella leaned to one side to avoid it. The saddle kept moving and Luella ended up on the ground. I can almost hear Bird chuckling to herself.

Luella married a man who drilled water wells. He was partners with his brother. They made a good living because in that area there was always a need for good water.

They built a new house to her exact specifications. It was spacious with plenty of room for all their children. They lived on a small farm outside of a small town. They raised sheep and bees.

Luella was also a fashion plate. She wore the modern styles in clothing. She was the first person I saw wearing culottes.

My sister has many of Luella's facial expressions. My daughter has many of my sister's facial expressions. So I guess you could say my daughter got them from my aunt.

Years after my uncle died my aunt remarried. I lived a long way  from her so I never met the new uncle.

My aunt's sons bought the well drilling business. They drilled wells all over the world and conducted seminars about the business. Eventually they sold it for a hefty price. Neither has to work any more.

One of them makes periodic trips to Africa to help with water concerns there. For him it is an act of love.

The girl cousins married. The youngest was in the army for a long time. She became a welder. Because they needed women to fill quotas she could pretty much decide where, when , and how long she would go to any assignment.

My aunt died of cancer a few years before Mom died. She was able to see her children grown and settled and that is what most parents hope for.

Friday, April 7, 2017

It Is A Poem


I dearly loved school  In one very small town (as in most of them) all grades were in one building. Elementary school had three grades to a room. There were only three girls in my grade.

There were several programs for our parents each year. We performed plays, or sang, or danced, whatever the teacher decided we would do.

My grade was not the only one with a shortage of girls. Often the boys from another grade would need dance partners. Sometimes they would need additional girls for a play. So the girls were called upon to do many different things each time. It was fun

I was in second grade and my teacher recognized that I had a good memory. In addition to the other things I was doing for the program she would often assign a long poem for me to recite. I remember them fondly but of course I can no longer recite them completely.

I believe the first one was The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat by Eugene Field. The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat side by side on the table sat... If you do not know the poem you can do a search for it. It is a cute little poem with a surprise ending.

Another was Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. It was originally titled The Elf Child then renamed to Little Orphant Allie. In a later printing there was a typo and it became Little Orphant Annie forever. It is meant to threaten children into good behavior with the admonition of An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out! 

I Have A Little Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson is a description of a child's shadow. It is light-hearted and fun. I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.


A.A. Milne who wrote Winnie The Pooh also wrote a carefree poem about a child who likes to sit on a step at the middle of the stairs. He likes it there because it is not up and not down. It is a short poem that explains a certain logic.

Hiding by  Dorothy Keeley Aldis really captures the way a child thinks. I'm hiding I'm hiding but no one knows where for all they can see is my toes and my hair. Then the parents begin to search... Have you looked in the inkwell... but I was not there.  It is absolutely enchanting.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt. "Will you walk into my parlour ?" said the Spider to the fly. The cautious Fly is seduced by the crafty Spider. Can you guess how it ends?

The patriotic Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is probably still taught in most American schools. While not completely factual it is exciting and rouses pride in our country. Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It is full of action from the beginning.

The Owl And The Pussycat by Edward Lear tells of an owl and a pussycat who are eloping. The Owl and The Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat... It is a beautiful love story.

The Raven by my favorite author Edgar Allen Poe made my mother happy. She loved the alliteration. For those who do not want to look it up alliteration is when the first sounds of several words help convey a setting. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain givers the feeling of being able to hear the curtain swishing against each other. It is a melancholy tale of a lost love. Most people remember "Quoth the raven, Nevermore."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also wrote The Song Of Hiawatha. It has such a rhythmic primal beat and it was fun to recite. By the shores of Gitchie Gumie by the shining Big Sea Water tells of Hiawatha observing the morning.

There were others but I think you get the idea. I loved that teacher. All of her students did. She gave me an interest in poetry and taught me that it is more than a sing-song group of words. She also told my mother that I was too young at the time but to make sure I was exposed to Shakespeare when i was ready. She was sure I would enjoy it. She was right.

These are all good poems for children. If you like you can begin with shorter poems that they will not lose interest in because they do get wiggly if asked to sit too long. Look them up for yourself as well. They are all great fun.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Aunt Carol


 I am skipping an aunt. There is a reason.

Aunt Carol is only 5 years older than I am. She is more like an older sister who liked to boss me around when we were children. Carol has a twin brother who I will write about another time.

Carol is enough older than me that I was an annoyance to her much of the time. Imagine a lovable child like me being an annoyance. I must admit I did a good job of living up to her view of me.

She used to ride a horse into town on Sundays to attend church. Our church was only a block form the house. My parents had her tether the horse in a different spot each Sunday. We needed no lawn mower there.

My grandparents had an attic stuffed with treasures. Grandpa's musical instruments were there. He could no longer play due to the arthritis in his fingers. His stuffed bobcat stood near the top of the stairs. Walnuts from the walnut tree were kept in a big box in the attic.

The best things were the old clothes we used to play dress-up and the paper dolls my mother and other aunts had played with.

On rainy days or cold winter days we would go into the attic and dress up in those old clothes. My aunt would hold tea parties for elegant women or we would be men off to work in the fields. We might strum the guitar or banjo. We couldn't play the fiddle... no bow.

Paper dolls were the most fun for me. My mother and aunts made their own paper dolls using models in catalogs as the dolls and clothing in the catalogs as the dresses. Carol taught us how to match the clothing to the model so it would look like it was made for each one. There were cigar boxes full of them and we added to them.

When the Singing Nun was so popular with her song Dominique we all sang along. It was much like Let It Go from Frozen is for little ones today. One day I heard my aunt having a heated discussion with one of her friends. Her friend had mentioned the Singing Nun. My aunt insisted it was the Singing Num. After all nuns were not allowed to make records.

Like all the women in my family (ahem) my aunt was extremely intelligent. She and another student had identical grades in high school. When it came to choosing who would be valedictorian they chose the young man. At the very least they should have been co-valedictorians but it was the late 1950's and he would have a family to support so he also had the honor.

My aunt married. She was like many of us and made a bad choice. Luckily no children were involved and divorce was relatively painless.

She married another man who has been her husband for around 50 years now. She has a son and grandchildren. Until recently her life has been good.

Carol has been fighting leukemia for a few years. There have been ups and downs but she has been coming out on top.

A few days ago she let us know that she has an advanced case of lymphoma. She has begun some intensive chemotherapy. If it works we will rejoice. It if does not work we will have her for 3 to 6 more months.

All of us have families. It seems there is always something that is a little scary. We are hoping for a good outcome.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aunt Florence


Aunt Florence was the other aunt older than my mother. She was curvaceous in the style of that time but never would you mistake her for being overweight. She had a lovely round face and the most beautiful evenly toned skin.

My mother and her sisters were all very close to each other. They lived on a farm and usually only left to go to school. They were all each other had. When horses were the only transportation you had for travel of any distance you were severely limited.

Aunt Florence married Uncle Harold. I could listen to him talk forever. His voice was hypnotic. Many Sunday afternoons I would sit on the porch just to hear the sound of his voice.

Florence and Harold dearly wanted children. For some reason it was not happening.

In the meantime I was born. Aunt Florence had me at her house quite often. I loved it there. She had a box of toys that I could play with as long as I wished. My favorite was a toy telephone. I have so many fond memories of being at her house. It was truly a second home for me.

Eventually Aunt Florence and Uncle Harold moved to Missouri. Of course I could not see her as often. We did go down there for a week one time.

They had a pretty front yard. No children to mess it up you know. Anyway the grass was so inviting. We had so much fun rolling around and doing somersaults in that lush green.

When we were getting ready for bed we were all in distress. We itched and had red bumps all ove. The lawn was full of chiggers. I had not had contact with those before.

Out came the Bactine. It stung and the itching did not seem to go away. It took a couple of days for the itching to stop.

Aunt Florence still desperately wanted a baby.

My grandfather dies when I was finishing my senior year in high school. My family went to the little town in Nebraska where my grandparents lived. Grandpa was a wonderful man and raiseda fine family.

When we first got there and walked into the house someone said, "Hi EmmaLine." No one had called me that since I had been a lot younger. I looked and there was a man with a bit of chin hair and a strange haircut. It was not just a bowl cut but a mixing bowl cut. He was soft looking and a bit overweight.

I muttered a quick, "Hello" and hurried into the kitchen to greet Grandma. I went to my mother and asked her who the funny looking man in the living room was.

Mom laughed at me and said, "That's Florence." I was shocked.

I went back to talk to my aunt. I loved her so much. She was sincerely happy to see me. She was.undergoing treatments to try to have that elusive baby.

I spent as much time as I could with her while we were there. I had missed her. It was sad When we had to say good-bye. As it turned out it was the last time I would ever see her. I married and moved far away.

But there is good news. The year I had my first baby my aunt had a baby girl. It was her only child and she was overjoyed to have her.

My Aunt Florence died after her daughter was an adult. Life may not have granted her a child easily but she had those years with her daughter that I know she cherished. After all I knew what a loving person she was.

The reason she looked so different to me was that she was very feminine when I had known her before. As soon as her fertility treatments stopped she once again looked like the aunt I knew and loved.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Dad


What can I say about my father? He was the most important man in my life. I adored him. Like all little girls my first love was my daddy. That is the yardstick we use to measure all other men, especially in choosing a father for our children.

I was a teenager before I realized that my father was not perfect. I also realized that he was so close to being perfect that the imperfections did not matter.

Daddy was born into a family of 11 children. He and his slightly younger brother were what was called "change of life babies" because their mother was older when they were born. Most of the older siblings were already gone from home.

It was a dysfunctional family. My grandmother was a cold woman who found it hard to care for anyone. I do not know the reason why or if there was one. Daddy loved her though.

His father was a heavy drinker.... sort of the town drunk. He worked as a brakeman for the railroad. My father always had a fascination for trains and had them for the boys to play with all the time.

The older siblings were gone from home. They could not wait to get away from the turmoil. Most of them moved far away and seldom came back for a visit.

I know very little about Daddy's childhood. I know where he was born and some of the places he lived when he was growing up. I know that once there was a terrible flood that destroyed their home and everything in it. That is about it.

Apparently Grandpa's drinking was a problem for Daddy. One day my father came home and found his father drunk again. They had a terrible argument. Daddy told him that he was through getting in fights to defend his father. Then Daddy left the house and joined the Navy.

World War II was in full swing so it did not take long for him to be sent to the Pacific arena. We do have a picture that he had taken somewhere in California before he shipped out. On the back he wrote "To the best Mom in the world".

Daddy was a gunner's mate first class, whatever that is. He told us very little about his experiences in the war. I do know that his ship engaged the enemy more than once. One time they were on radio silence for days. That menat no communication at all with the outside world.

When the silence was finally lifted he was notified that his father had died. It was too late for him to go home for the funeral. His last interaction with his father had been an argument. I know it hurt him for the rest of his life.

Daddy got the required tattoo of a sailor. Apparently it was a naked lady on his upper arm. He could make her dance by flexing his muscles. When they married my mother told him he needed to cover that lady because they wanted children and her children were not going to look at a naked lady on their father's arm. He went back to the tattoo parlor and had clothes put on his lady.

When the war was over he went home, met my mother, they were married. they were happy to find out that they would be having a baby soon after. My parents turned out to be very fertile.

Daddy wanted a daughter. He had come back from the war with a kimono for his wife and one for his daughter. I was the daughter he wanted and I have always felt very special because of that. 

My father is proof that a person can rise above a bad childhood. He was a loving family man. He truly enjoyed his wife and children and we all knew that. He showed it in so many ways every day.

That is not to say that he did not make mistakes. I guess when I was a baby I was crawling around with no diaper on. It was believed that fresh air helped prevent diaper rash. Anyway I bumped the table where his glass of iced tea was sitting and spilled it. He had a terrible temper and swatted my bare behind before he realized what he was doing.

When he saw the red mark left by his hand he vowed to never hit any of his children again. There were a couple of times that he went back on his word but we usually deserved a lot more that the smack we received.

My father never seemed to find his "home" as far as where we lived. He was always looking for that place over the hill and far away. We moved a lot. I went to 10 different schools before I graduated from high school. And that is not counting the times we lived somewhere only during the summer.

Most of the places we lived were in Nebraska. We lived on farms and in small towns. If we stayed in a town for any length of time we moved to different houses. We kept looking for the place that was his.

One summer we moved to a dairy farm outside Spokane, Washington. I loved it there. We lived at the top of a mountain. The only employee of the farm who lived as high up as us was a man who lived in a small mobile home nearer to the barns.

Evergreen trees covered the mountain. We could run and play in the trees to our hearts' content. And we did. My brothers got caught smoking up there one day. They were made to smoke cigarettes until they got sick. It did not stop them from smoking when they got older. Pobably did not stop them then.

The Spokane River was at the bottom of the hills and across the highway. We used to go fishing almost every day.

Daddy got very sick while we lived there. He had the Asian flu. The doctor said to keep all of us away from him. Daddy was put into the boys room. Mom had to take all his meals to him even though he could hardly keep anything down. She had to take care of all his needs plus care for all of us. Poor thing.

It seemed like he was in that room forever. He was so sick. And we were not allowed in there at all. He had never been sick before. It was a little scary.

Finally he began to get better. Sometime after that we were allowed to visit him for a few minutes only. No touching and no getting too close. He looked so thin and weak. It was hard to see him like that. Eventually he recovered and was good as new.

It was a happy day when my grandparents arrived. They moved there with my youngest aunt and two uncles. Grandpa had a job at the dairy farm too. They lived about halfway down the hill from us. My aunt raised worms for us to use for fishing. What she did was keep the soil under a big rock loose. She put coffee grounds in it every once in a while. We had plenty of worms for fishing.

The owner and his wife lived in a big fancy house at the bottom of the hill. The wife had three big bulldogs. They were her babies and she spoiled them rotten. Everyone laughed at her because when she took them for a walk to "do their business" she carried clean white cloth hankies to wipe them afterward.

The owner died at the end of the summer. His wife sold the dairy farm. We packed up and moved back to Nebraska.

Daddy always found work. He often worked as a farm hand. One time he was on the back of the tractor while the farmer backed up to get near enough to a piece of machinery that Daddy could hook it up. Somehow Daddy got his foot between the hitch on the tractor and the tongue of the machinery. He broke his foot and the farmer had to replace him.

For  a few years he worked for a house mover. People would own a house and buy new land to put it on. It was the responsibility of the house movers to get it there safely. We sometimes got to go watch them if they were driving near enough to home. One time they were close and we drove out to watch.

Daddy and another man had long poles with a "V" at the ends. They had to hook the utility wires and lift them so the house could roll safely beneath them.

While they were holding the wires up Daddy was waving to us and maybe showing off a bit. They rolled that house right over his foot! Thank goodness for those old dusty dirt roads. His foot sank far enough into the dust that all he got was a bruised foot.

After a severe car accident and long recovery Daddy got some training. He was able to get a job as a foreman on the night shift in a factory.  He loved his job. But the factory was experiencing financial diffficulties and they shut down the night shift. They told him they wanted him to stay on as an hourly employee but he declined.

I had my first son before this. I wanted my father to see his grandson but we lived so far away then. I finally saved enough money so I could take the bus with my baby and visit my family. Of course Daddy was proud to be a grandfather.

When it was close to time for me to go home to my husband Daddy told me that he would drive me. He and my mother had decided to move again. They moved to the big city that I was living in.

Daddy found a job almost right away. He was a foreman at a chemical plant. He and my mother actually bought a house. He found his place. He was so happy there.

The plant manager who was also an owner decided to retire. My father was made plant manager. He was liked and respected by the men who worked there. He was a very likable man. Most people liked him immediately.

One Good Friday a friend and I went shopping for Easter. My husband insisted that I take his beeper so he could contact me. I took it but I turned it off. I do not like being so connected. When we were done shopping my friend dropped me off at home.

When I went inside no one was home. In a few minutes my friend called me and told me my husband and children were at her house. They wanted me to come on over. I decided to stay home. It was quiet for a change. She insisted and said she was on her way to pick me up.

When we got to her house my husband finally worked up the courage to tell me that my father had died of a massive heart attack. I wanted to see that my mother was alright so we went to their house.

There were arrangements to be made. Several of us kids went with her. When she was picking out his coffin she was having a hard time deciding between two. One was a nice hardwood  and the other was a metallic gray. Both were nice. Mom said she kept being drawn back to the metallic gray one and could not understand why. When I gently told her it was because it was the exact color of a suit she had given him for Christmas when I was a little girl she smiled and chose that one. She loved that suit because she said it went so well with his blue eyes.

Daddy put great stock in honoring the dead. Visits to the cemetery and keeping graves looking nice were a must. And attending funerals was a way to show respect.

The chemical company was a union plant. When someone died the union would send a delegation to show respect. That is what they did when Daddy's predecessor died.

When Daddy died all the workers in the plant demanded the day off to attend his funeral. The plant finally realized they would have to close for the day.

It was a beautiful spring day. Much too nice to be indoors. Every last one of the men from the plant came to Daddy's funeral. They could have gone boating or anywhere else and they came to the funeral. The funeral home was so full of people they had people outside waiting to come in. He would have been so proud and touched. I know I was.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My Sister


I thought it time to update about my sister. As you know she had a stroke a couple of years ago. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to care for herself.

Her speech is back so it is easier to have a conversation with her on the phone. She has breathing problems because she is bedridden but she is given treatment whenever she becomes uncomfortable.

My sister has resigned herself to being in the nursing home... pardon me... long term care facility. She hates being there but she is dealing with it.

Her husband was helping my nephew move into a new apartment. He stepped wrong on the edge of the sidewalk and broke his foot. Poor guy. But he still visits her every day.

Recently she was taken to the hospital a couple of times because her blood pressure dropped so drastically. They have determined that she has had at least three small strokes. There does not seem to be any permanent damage from them but they are certainly not a good thing.

I am afraid she is giving up. She does not say so but I get the feeling that she feels like she is nothing but a burden. She is tired of not being able to do things for herself. And she really misses being in her own home.

So that is where it stands now. I hope to have good news next time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aunt Frances


Aunt Frances is my oldest aunt on my mother's side of the family. She had married and moved away by the time I was born so I don't know her well.

Aunt Frances, like all my aunts, is very intelligent. The females in my family are prideful of their intelligence.

She is also the mother of the only cousins I have who are my age. In fact her oldest son is older than her youngest brother. Then came two girls one of whom is older than I am and the other is about 6 weeks younger than I. She had 9 children total.

The reason I did not know her well is because she married a young man who was in the service during World War II. He was from West Virginia. After he served his country they went home to that state.

My uncle worked in the coal mines. My aunt raised their children.

Aunt Frances looks the most like my grandmother.

My uncle worked hard in the mines. It ruined his lungs. Because of that he insisted that none of his sons did the same kind of work.

Aunt Frances is still alive and living in West Virginia. She has supplied me with a lot of information for our family tree.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Top O' The Morning!


La Fheile Padraig, or as we say in the United States... Saint Patrick's Day, celebrates the life of St. Patrick in Ireland. Now I do not promote any religion or lack of religion. However, after that disclaimer, I think the fellowship of St Patrick's Day is fun. On this one day of the year everybody can be Irish.

St Patrick was not Irish. He was born into a


wealthy family in Briton. At the age of 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and made a slave. As a slave he tended sheep in Ireland. That is where his appreciation of nature began. Being alone with nothing but sheep and the predators he had to save them from, he had a lot of time to learn about the world around him.

After 6 years, he managed to escape his captors and went back to England. He became a priest and eventually managed to convince his church to send him back to Ireland. There he used the things he found in nature to teach the people about his religion.

It has been said that St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. For those who take this statement literally, that is a falsehood. There is no evidence that there have ever been snakes on this island. But the pagans of the area were represented as snakes and that is what St Patrick tried to drive away.

St Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed clover which had previously been sacred to the Druids, to explain the aspects of his god. It was a visual aid that made sense to the people. When St Patrick died on March 17, the Irish people chose that day to celebrate his life. And in the Irish way, that means a party.

Now I have a few fun "facts" about St Patrick for you.

In Ireland, the potato crop was traditionally planted after St Patrick;s Day.

St Patrick's color was St Patrick blue but is now considered green in sympathy with Irish independence.

According to legend, St Patrick asked that on judgement day, he be allowed to judge whether the Irish are worthy of heaven.

Every year between 40 and 100 pounds of green dye are dumped into the Chicago River for St Patrick's Day.

In the custom known as "drowning the shamrock", the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is put in the last drink of the evening. If it stays floating while you drink your beer, you will have a prosperous year.

Many cities paint the middle line of their streets green to mark the St Patrick;s Day parade route.

Cities all over the world have parades to celebrate the day. One of the shortest St Patrick's Day parades is in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

An Irish toast: “St. Patrick was a gentleman, who thru strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland, Here's a toasting his health
But not too many lest you lose yourself and then
You forget the good St. Patrick and see those snakes again.”

On St Patrick's Day, people drink green beer and wear green clothes. Anyone not wearing green might get a pinch.

Now everybody grab a leprechaun, have a green beer, and dance an Irish jig. And always remember...

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Slainte!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Impulsive


I guess you could say I am child-like in many ways. I like children's music and children's movies as much as they do. Playing card games and board games are the joys of my life.

I am an impulsive person. Whatever catches my eye is where my interest will go. My mother said I was flighty.

I often told my children that I know it was a trial to have me as a mother because I tend to go off on a tangent at times. they assure me that they thought all mothers were like that.

Checkers and chess are fun games. My grandfather was a good checkers player. He and my mother showed us how to play. He explained that it was very important to keep the back line of checkers in place until you absolutely had to move them. I tried but it is difficult to keep them back when all my other checkers were being taken.

I really like chess. The planning and the different pieces moving different ways make it a game of logic. The problem with chess is that I will examine the board before making my next move. I will imagine a move and try to anticipate what my opponent's response will be and what eventual results will come from it. I look and study. I plan and observe.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see a move and grab the piece and move it. Usually it was a move I had already rejected. I made a stupid move and would end up losing the piece and eventually the game.

But there are times when I appreciate being impulsive. When my children were little and their father was on the road during the week we would often pack up and head for the park. There were trees to shelter us, a creek for wading, and plenty of room to run and play. We would cook on the grills placed strategically near picnic tables. Even though we lived at the edge of town and had a spacious yard the days at the park were fun for all of us.

I'm also well-known for driving along and suddenly spotting something I want to see. I stop and see it. I may have to take a detour and spend some extra time but it is usually worth it. I have found some interesting places to visit and fascinating things to see by doing this.

I encourage everyone to be impulsive once in a while. I do it too often but you might be amazed at the joys you will experience by doing something out of the ordinary once in a while.

As the song by Leroy Pullins says

I'm a Nut, I'm a Nut,
My life don't ever get in a rut
Well Hell, my shoulders are sore and loose
That I ain't got the sense God gave a goose
Now Lord I ain't crazy but, I'm a nut


And I like it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Daylight Saving Time



This year Daylight Saving Time begins on March 12. While I remind you to change your clocks appropriately I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about DST.

01. Where did the idea for Daylight Saving Time come from?

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea. It may have been in jest. He noticed that daylight always came at the same time as the sun rose. He noted in his journal that the French (he was living at the time in France) could make better use of daylight hours and not stay up so late during the darkness.

02. Is Daylight Saving Time used everywhere?

No. Few countries near the equator feel the need to utilize more daylight. Many countries do not change their clocks to accommodate more daylight. Even in the United States, Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST although the Navajo Nation which extends over three states does. Their part of Arizona does observe DST.

03. When is Daylight Saving Time?

In the United States it begins at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday in November. Europe countries have different times. Winter is the opposite of ours in countries south of the equator so their DST is also opposite ours. Russia decided to institute a permanent DST. Many of the people there do not like it in the winter so there is some talk of adopting some other method.

04. How is Daylight Saving Time useful?

It is believed that the extra hour in the summer months gives farmers extra time in the fields. Some research shows that some crimes lessen during DST because of the extra daylight. Auto accidents seem to be fewer because fewer people are driving to and from work in the dark. It can also conserve energy because a smaller amount of electricity is used for lighting. "They" seem to think there is more time for exercise if people use the longer daylight hours.

05. Are there drawbacks to Daylight Saving Time?

During the first couple of weeks of DST more heart attacks are reported. Conversely when DST is over there are fewer heart attacks than normal. Perhaps the adjustment to a person's system is adverse. International travelers can become confused by the time changes and DST sometimes makes it worse.

06. Do strange things happen during Daylight Saving Time?

Twins were born in North Carolina. The first, a boy, was born at 1:32 AM. His younger sister was born 34 minutes later but because of DST the clocks had been changed at 2:00 AM. Her time of birth was recorded at 1:06 AM making it appear that she was born first.

In September, 1999, Israel had just switched back to Standard Time. The West Bank was still on DST. West Bank terrorists made time bombs and smuggled them into Israel so the terrorists there could plant them on two buses. Because of the time change the terrorists planted them one hour off from the time they were intended. Three terrorists were killed in the resulting explosion meant for the people who would have been on the buses if the times were the same.

A bomb threat was called in to a school in Pennsylvania. An honor student was arrested because the automated line recorded a call from him at the time of the threat. Actually he had called the school to get some information about his classes. The time changed. An hour later in real time someone else called in the bomb threat.

07. What other problems are associated with Daylight Saving Time?

Trains cannot leave the station before their scheduled times. During times when the clock changes the trains sit idle for one hour to accommodate the schedule. That can upset commuter times and family schedules.

08. What is the correct name for it?

It is called Daylight Saving Time with no "s" at the end of saving.

09. How will I know what time to turn the clock to?

The saying is "Spring, forward; Fall, behind". In the spring you turn your clock one hour ahead. At 2:00 AM you will change the time to 3:00 AM. In the fall you turn the clock back an hour. At 2:00 AM you will change the time to 1:00 AM.

10. Is there anything else I should know?

The changing of the clocks is a good time to check the batteries in your smoke detector. They need to be changed twice a year and DST will remind you to do it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Back In Time



I have already talked about some of the things I have seen change in my lifetime. Today not everything will be a change but many were historic and some shocking.

Probably the most outstanding thing was the space program. There were comic books and radio and television programs about humans traveling in outer space. Pure science fiction. Or was it?

When Sputnik was launched the United States was frantic. We were experiencing the Cold War. We were not too far removed from World War II and the Korean War. There were air raid shelters and air raid captains who were supposed to guide us to safety in case of an enemy attack.

We had fire drills in school. We also had air raid drills. When the air raid siren sounded we were to "drop and cover". That meant dropping to the floor under your desk into a sort of fetal position but with your face and body toward the floor. Then you covered your head with hands and arms. You remained in that position until the "all clear" was sounded.

I have read how so many children were traumatized by "drop and cover" drills. I was a child. I thought it was great fun. Children cannot comprehend consequences of viotent acts. All parents can do is teach them what to do in case of a violent act and deal with the fallout later.

But back to the space race. The US and Russia both kept launching rockets and planning for manned space flights. It was an exciting time. Our schools did not have televisions so we could not watch the launches at school. School would close on launch days so we could watch from home. And we did watch. It was exciting.

Eventually there were too many launches to allow us to have the day off school so they were limited to only the more important ones. Animals were launched and finally came the time when there were manned flights.

Finally I got to see a man actually walk on the moon. It was like something from a movie.

I vaguely remember some of the McCarthy hearings from television. I was very young. McCarthy was a senator who  believed that Communism was not only a threat to our country but that we were infiltrated by Communists and Communist sympathizers. He chaired the Senate hearings on unAmerican  activities.

The McCarthy hearings rapidly turned into a witch hunt. People who testified at the hearings came from all walks of life. They may or may not have been guilty of any charges. A lot of people lost their jobs and were blackballed from being rehired elsewhere. It would be nice to have a reliable means of revisiting that time to find out what was true and what was not.

I watched the first televised debates between two presidential candidates when John F Kennedy and Richard M Nixon opposed each other. Kennedy had a charisma that showed on camera. Nixon did not seem as comfortable. Kennedy won the election.

There have been 13 presidents in my life. I remember all but Truman. I was just a little too young.

I am not Catholic but the process of choosing a pope fascinates me. There have been 7 popes since I was born.

When I was a child most homes had an automobile. We call them cars. We still walked most places. Everything in the little towns I lived in was too close to bother with driving.

Back then cars were built sturdy and to last a long time. They were very large. They had one long seat in the front and the same in the back. There were no seat belts or air bags. The steering wheel was huge. Tires were not as sturdy as they are now so there were a lot of flat tires.

Gas stations could fix those flats. They also did minor repairs. Most of those older cars could be repaired with a screwdriver, pliers, and a bit of wire.

Gas stations also offered full service. When you stopped for gasoline they washed the windows, checked under the hood for oil and water levels. They checked the air pressure in the tires and filled them if needed. All as part of the regular service and all FREE!

Gas was not free. But it was inexpensive. My father used to fill the 16 gallon tank and hand the attendant $2.00 and get change back.

Once a new gas station opened in town. It was right across the street from the existing station. There was a price war. For the longest time gasoline was 6¢ per gallon. Wouldn't that be nice now? And we still got full service.

Now cars do not necessarily need gasoline to operate. We have electric cars and hybrids that use both gas and electricity. They are working on cars that will hover above the ground instead of rolling along.

Penny candy was the joy of my life. For a penny there were many items you could purchase. KitKats came in a little 4 piece package. You could get a piece of bubble gum. There was a whip of licorice either red or black. Pixie sticks. Gumballs. Jawbreakers. Tootsie rolls. Suckers or lollipops. A child's handful of jelly beans or candy corn. You get the idea.

Soda pop was 5¢ and you got 1 penny back when you returned the bottle. It only came in bottle then.
Candy bars were 5¢ and my mother complained. She said they used to buy a big chocolate bar for a nickel and there would be enough for all of them to share.

There was a soda fountain at the drug store. One of my favorite treats was a phosphate. Phosphates are carbonated drinks made right at the soda fountain. You could choose any one of the delicious flavored syrups (also used to top sundaes) and that would be the flavor of the phosphate.

If you lived in town milk was delivered 6to the house. It came in milk bottles with little cardboard inserts at the mouth of the bottle to close it. When my children were small I had milk delivered but it came in cartons. I do not know if home delivery exists any more.

The saddest thing I have observed is the loss of freedom to be a child. We would be outside from the time we woke in the morning until it was time to be home for the night. It was safe to wander all over town or through the countryside. Nobody would bother us. Children now have to be wary of every person they encounter. Sad

I had an excellent education as a child. Now pay attention. There were three grades to a room. The teacher in the room taught all three grades. She taught all subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic, history, art, and recess. Often she was also our music teacher. She escorted us to lunch and made us mind. We learned at school. There was NO HOMEWORK.

I still do not believe in homework. And now teachers have specialized classes. Students with similar abilities are placed in the classroom. It seems to me that teachers could, oh I don't know, maybe teach. Then there would be time to play after school because that is a valuable part of their learning experience.

Music has changed so much. I came in at the end of the big band era. I really do not remember it but I listen to some of the big bands and love the music. Rock'a'billy and rock and roll were what I listened to when I was young. My parents liked country music and I do too. My family listened to classical music too. I have to be in the mood but it is called classical for a reason.

The English invasion changed the way we viewed music. They took rock and roll and the blues and turned our music world upside down. Then came disco music. Now hip hop but I am seeing a return of some of the older styles coming back.

Clothing styles. Oh my goodness. When I was little women were very modest in their clothing. Most women wore dresses all the time. The hem of the skirts fell below the knee. Little girls wore short skirts with lots of petticoats. When I was a teenager miniskirts were the rage. And little girls skirts became longer.

There were sack dresses with no shape, mini skirts, maxi skirts, the little black dress, muu muus, caftans, sleeveless, strapless, spaghetti straps. Permanent press fabrics made ironing easier and sometimes even unnecessary.

I have seen terrible things happen. The Viet Nam War, the Gulf wars, terrorism running rampant. I watched the endless reruns of President Kennedy being assassinated. The drum cadence from his funeral will be in my head forever.

I was actually watching television when they were transferring Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby jumped out of the crowd and killed him. There was nothing on TV for a week that did not deal directly with the assassination.

I saw the Challenger explode after take-off with seven crew members on board. I heard the astronauts when the capsule caught fire on the launch pad.

The World Trade Center suffered from an explosion in one of the underground parking lots of the World Trade Center in New York City. A truck with explosives made of fertilizer blew up at the front of a government building in Oklahoma City. I was just home from work and had dosed off on the couch when I woke up just in time to see the second airplane fly into the World Trade Center the day it collapsed and the whole world became fearful.

That was the day I called my sister. We worked together and rode to and from work together. I asked her if she was still awake and if she had her television on. She said yes and no respectively. Her question was a moderately disinterested why. I said, "Somebody just declared war on us!"

Children go to school with weapons and bombs intending to kill as many people as possible. People go to the movie theater with automatic weapons and open fire  People shoot stab, beat, and bomb at an alarming rate today. We live in an increasingly violent society.

When I was a teenager Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Carol Ann Fugate went on a killing spree. They killed her whole family and then traveled across Nebraska and Wyoming. Charles Manson and his followers were found guilty of killing a total of seven people in California. The list goes on. It is just too sad.

My own children were raised in a large city. I always hated it there but a person goes where the work is. I told them of growing up in a part of the country where people are polite. If you walk down the street and encounter another person you both smile pleasantly and say, "Hello." People say please and thank you. If you need assistance you can get it. If someone else needs assistance you offer it.

I am not certain my children believed me. A few years ago one of my sons moved to this area. He loves it here and recently told me he cannot believe how friendly and nice people are.

I think there are more amazing changes in me. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Landholder


Great-grandpa, father of my grandfather,  owned several farms and almost all of town. He wanted to have a farm to leave each of his sons. It turned out that he also left each of them a business in town.

You might think he was wealthy. Not so. My great-grandfather got his holdings in an unscrupulous way. He traded whiskey to the Native Americans for their land. It was not ethical but at that time it was legal.

My grandfather inherited a farm and I believe the assay office. He eventually sold the assay office because it was not his area of expertise. He lived on the farm and raised his family there until he decided the grass was greener in Oklahoma.

The only great-uncle that I knew still had his farm and house when i was a child. I would not know how to find the farm now but If the house is still there I'm sure that it now has indoor plumbing and electricity.

His house in town is still there and looks exactly the same as it did then. I saw it a couple of years ago.

Another great-uncle is listed on a monument in front of the City Hall. He died of illness during World War I and was listed with the war dead.

Great-grandpa did not feel the need to supply the same inheritance to his daughters. I guess he felt that when they married their husbands would provide for their needs.

None of the land or businesses are owned by family any more. I can only imagine what all that land would be worth today. I could be independently wealthy, for goodness sake.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Aunt


I did not know all my aunts. On my father's side there was only one sister still living that I knew.

Aunt Bernice was my father's sister. She was much older than he was so they were not particularly close.

She married and became Catholic because that was what her husband wanted. In that process she became a devout and somewhat rabid Catholic. She seemed to feel that her religion gave her the right to pass judgement on everyone else.

She was unable to have children for some reason. It turned out for the best because she divorced her husband. Because of her strict religious rules she never remarried although she had a long-term relationship with her ex-husband's brother.

My aunt was not a loving person. In that respect she was very much like my grandmother.

My aunt had a good job as a legal secretary. She eventually became the manager of her office. She was not rich but she was comfortable.

She bought half a block with a small house for my grandmother to live in rent free. It was her duty and she was big on duty.

She also made a duty visit every summer for two weeks to my grandmother. For those two weeks we were even more on tip-toe at Grandma's than usual.

For the Fourth of July one year my uncle and his married and dating children all came for the day. There was lots of food and there would be fireworks after dark.

My mother cooked most of the meal even though she was due to have a baby any time. After everyone ate they retired to the living room. As Mom was walking in my grandmother announced that Mom could take care of clean-up so "the family" could visit.

I did help with the dishes but I was only 10 years old. I was happy to be released to go play.

When we went home my mother called her doctor and told him she simply could not take any more. She was exhausted. He checked her into the hospital. He knew how my relatives could behave.

So the next day while Mom was resting in the hospital The doctor suggested that she try to have the baby while she was there. She thought it was a good idea so they induced labor.

While Mom was in the hospital my aunt came to our house to watch us. There were 5 of us. She decided the best way to handle us was to put us to work. All of us. My youngest brother was 4 years old.

We were assigned cleaning jobs. We mopped floors, washed windows, and even scrubbed the walls. The whole time my aunt berated us for taking advantage of our mother's condition and letting the house get into this slovenly condition.

Actually we were only told the week before that we were having a new baby in the family. I guess children did not notice that sort of thing then. I know we were oblivious.

In the midst of the cleaning flurry the phone rang. My aunt informed us that we had a new sister.

By the time Daddy came home from the hospital to get some rest all of us kids were exhausted too. It was an early night for all of us.

At the end of her two weeks Aunt Bernice went home. Her duty was done for that year.

Periodically we would hear from my aunt. She always informed us that she was updating her will. She needed names and eventually married names for each of us. She also needed addresses.

I felt a bit insulted every time she did that. It was the only time we heard from her and it seemed as if she was trying to bribe us into caring about her. She was not easy to care about but we did.

When Daddy died Aunt Beernice came to the funeral. She spent a lot of time trying to dig up dirt about our family. It would be fodder for her to take to any other distant family members to make her look better than us. She even cornered my brother's ex-wife and wanted to know what horrible things he had done to make their marriage fail.

My sister-in-law (bless her) told her that she and my brother still cared for each other very much. They just wanted different things from life. (She is still a member of the family by the way.)

Then she started on my husband. He was drinking beer. She was outraged. Of course she would not come right out and say so.

Instead she began to talk about her neighbors who liked to drink. Do you know that they actually had the nerve to drink beer after a funeral?

She was going on and on about it. My husband was not stupid. He knew what she was doing. He finally looked her square in the eye and said, "That's Pa's chair you're sitting in. Nobody sits in Pa's chair." Then he walked out of the room.

When Aunt Bernice died she really did leave us some money. I received an inheritance of $300. It benefited my family at a time we really needed it. It was truly a nice thing for her to do.

I cannot honestly say I miss my aunt. I only saw her a few times in my life so there was not a bonding between us. I regret that. But I do admire her business acumen.

And her middle name was the same as my real first name. I suppose that was how my parents knew that they could use a feminine form of my father's name for me. So I will always have something of her with me at all times.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Hendrix?


I love music... any kind of music. My children like music but they do not know how to enjoy it. At a concert they just sit and listen. Most of my nieces and nephews are the same as my children. No fun.

My youngest sister had a second son. From the beginning I could tell he would enjoy the music. He could not even sit up by himself but he could bop around in time to the music.

As he got older he spent a lot of time listening to music. He was not even in school yet when he began playing air guitar. Jimi Hendrix had nothing on my nephew.

He would play his air guitar down low, up high, and even behind his head. He danced all around the room as he did so.

Everybody would just leave the room when he got started. Everybody except me. We had some great jam sessions.

My nephew would hand me a couple of pencils so I could play air drums. We would turn the music up and have a time.

He liked Tie Your Mother Down, I Got My Mind Set On You, and Old Time Rock and Roll. We sang along using our marvelous singing voices. It was such fun.

Now he is grown with two little girls. I certainly hope he still plays air guitar with them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You Look Just Like...


I must have the world's most common face. All my life I have had people tell me that I look just like someone they know. It is amusing most of the time but sometimes I wish I had something unique to distinguish me from other people.

Usually it is nothing more than a waitress saying, "You look just like my cousin's best friend!" or someone might say, "You look just the the person who used to live next door to me!" After so many times of this happening I have learned to just smile and say, "Really? I guess I just have a common face."

My husband and I had a junk yard. We bought cars for scrap. We salvaged usable parts and sent the remains to larger scrap dealers. I was the one who dealt with the public. I also dealt with other companies, like the larger scrap companies. I went to the small factory that made the work gloves we used. I went to the company that supplied the propane we used to power the cutting torches. You get the idea.

Often I was mistaken for someone else. But this time she had a name. She was MetaCore Mary.

MetaCore was a company that rebuilt auto parts like carburetors and starters then resold them. Mary was the one who picked up the gloves and propane for her company.

I would walk into one of these companies and be greeted with, "Hi. Mary. We've got your order ready." When I would tell them I was not Mary I was always told, "You look just like MetaCore Mary."

After a couple of years of this I finally crossed paths with MetaCore Mary. I had gone to refill the propane tanks. I was waiting for my turn when I heard the man at the counter refer to the woman in front of me as MetaCore Mary. I had to get a look.

I said, "So you're MetaCore Mary." She turned around with a guarded expression. I guess she thought I was going to accuse her of something.

I could see a resemblance but it only looked like we might be related, not that we looked alike. I told her about how I had been mistaken for her for several years and I just wanted to see what she looked like. She started to laugh and had a hard time stopping.

I was puzzled at her reaction. When she was able she finally said, "I've been hearing about you too. I don't think we look that much alike, but you look exactly like my younger sister!"

Yep. I have a common face.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Great-Grandpa


My great-grandpa was a leprechaun. At least that is what I thought for years and years.

Great-grandpa was from Bohemia. He still had a bit of an accent even after all the years he had been in the United States. He had a fringe of hair around his head the way you might think a monk would look. And his voice was high pitched probably because of age.

Great-grandpa seemed small to me because he was slightly bent with age. But actually he was a big man. He had a barrel chest and from what I heard he was strong as could be.

Great-grandpa's parents died when he was young. His mother died from burns she received in a fire. Great-grandpa and his brother were brought to the United States by his uncle who raised them as his own. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for two young boys to make that trip across the ocean to a new land and a family they barely knew.

He grew up and held various jobs until he married. Then he became a farmer. Farming was a good living back then. You could raise most of your own food and hopefully enough extra to sell to supplement your income. That would pay for anything you could not grow.

I am not sure how many children there were. I know that there was at least one son, named after Great-grandpa. He died in a trucking accident after he was grown and had a family. I do know there were two daughters, my grandmother and her older sister.

My great-grandmother died when my grandma was very young. Great-grandpa had farmhands but he needed all the help he could get. So my great-aunt was chosen to help in the fields and to do other chores around the farm.

Grandma was too small to be any help so she stayed in and kept house. Even at that young age she was responsible for seeing to it that all the men and her sister were properly and completely fed. Needless to say she was not a fancy cook, but boy oh boy, what she did cook was the absolute best.

Grandma begged to be able to help with milking the cows but her hands were too small. By the time her hands were big enough she saw what being out in the sun and weather every day had done to her sister's skin. Grandma decided the kitchen was good enough for her.

Great-grandpa came to live with Grandma and Grandpa when he got older. I used to love to sit and listen to him talk with his accent. The strange thing is that I do not remember one thing he ever said. I listened to the grown-ups talking because that was how I learned a lot of the family stories.

As I said, I thought Great-grandpa was a leprechaun. One year for Mother's Day he gave Grandma a shamrock plant. That clinched it! He was a leprechaun! I am ashamed to admit I was a teenager before I discovered the truth.