Friday, December 15, 2017

Pictures On The Wall


I love looking at photographs. I do not even have to know the people in them to enjoy them.

When we had the junkyard we would sometimes get cars that had pictures in them. I would look at every one. It is fun to see the expressions on the faces and try to place the times when they were taken. Each time period has its own fashions you know. Of course we held them until someone claimed them.

I am not much of a picture taker. But I like getting them as gifts from the kids. They are records of events in their lives and always evoke memories that make me smile.

My mother decided at one time that she wanted a large professional photograph of each member of the family. She would place them on a wall in the living room that she determined was just the right size to hold nothing but pictures. Then she set about making appointments for each of us to have the portraits taken.

After a few months her wall was covered with all these beautiful pictures. Mom and Daddy were the first ones on the wall and one by one the rest went up.

My younger brother had died in Viet Nam. Mom had his service picture on another wall and wanted a civilian picture of him for the family wall. I suggested a favorite school picture. Mom loved that picture from the day she got it. She said it brought out the deviltry in his eyes. It is a happy little boy with a big smile on his face and a sparkle of life in his eyes.

Mom had it enlarged and framed it. It went on the wall with the rest of us.

All the grandchildren who were around by then were up there too. My niece was not yet a year old when her parents had really cute picture taken. Her hair was white not blonde but white. Her eyes were pale blue. The picture looked like her pretty little face was ready to pop right out of the picture. It went on the wall.

When a person walked into the house the wall of pictures was the first thing they saw. It was covered from about three feet abouve the floor to the ceiling. It was gorgeous.

After Daddy died Mom moved. She packed all the pictures into a trunk because she was going to stay with my sister for a short while. The trunk was in my sister's basement when it flooded. Most of the pictures were ruined. We had duplicates of my brother's pictures because everyone in the family wanted one. He is on the wall of many of our homes.

We also had duplicates of Daddy's pictures. He hangs in a prominent place in every single home even the grandchildren. He was a special person and looked upon with reverence by all of us.

Mom's picture was ruined. It was not a good picture of her. She seldom took a good picture. In fact she seldom allowed pictures to be taken. I have no real pictures of my mother. The only one that has remained is from when I was a baby. She was dressed in the stylish suit women wore in the late 1940's reaching out with one hand to me as I sat on the porch steps.

There is also her high school graduation picture. Once my sister, my brother, and I were going through Mom's pictures. Mom had died and we were trying to decide what to do with things. My brother picked up a picture and said with a leer in his voice, "Who is this?"

I said, "That's your mother, you pervert!" She was a beautiful woman but we have no pictures of her.

My own picture was also ruined, thank goodness. I inherited my mother's lack of a photogenic face. Not a good thing. This particular picture made me look like I was in the final second of my life or in the first second after I died. And it was the best of all the poses the photographer took!

Now you know why my photo for the blog is one of my baby pictures.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It Is Rearing Its Ugly Head

I told you about the family curse. During the time leading up to Christmas we have problems with our vehicles. I am hoping that our furnace will take the place of our automobile this year.

Unfortunately I am not the only one in my family to consider. My children and grandchildren are subject to the curse too.

My grandson has no car. He had yet another accident. Insurance rates went through the roof. So he has to walk to work and school unless someone else in the family can take him and/or pick him up.

My daughter's car is in the shop. She waiting for warranty approval to replace her transmission. It will be at last two weeks before she has her car back.

My son was driving at work. He was going one direction. The car going the opposite direction managed to hit him in the side. He said the truck he was driving spun three times before it came to a stop. Thank goodness he was not hurt.

The truck was not so lucky. The whole driver's side is damaged. The front wheel assembly was torn completely off the axle. The truck belonged to the company he works for so he still has his own car.

A couple of days latere my granddaughter was driving to meet her aunt. They were going to go to the symphony together.

On her way she was driving on the freeway. Suddenly a car cut in front of her from another lane. And stopped! My granddaughter slammed on her brakes. There was nowhere for her to go and she hit the car that was now in front of her.

When the police came they said they would push her car over to the side of the road so they could interview her and the other driver. She told them that her brake pedal was stuck on the floor and she might not be able to stop. Using her hand brake she managed to help them get her car off the road.

So now she is without a car. She recently quit her job so she could go to school full time. So she will have to raid her savings to help replace the car. Insurance should pay the majority of the costs but there are things like license plates, title transfer, taxes, and of course insurance fees.

So far that is all. I hope for no more.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Eve

When we were little Christmas was an expectant time. We went to bed early so that Santa Claus could come and leave us presents. We had written letters to him assuring him that we had been good. We let him know what gifts we wanted.

It was so hard to go to sleep. We would try and the harder we tried, the harder it was to relax enought to finally drop off. But eventually it happened.

Christmas morning was glorious. We would get up and file to the living room. That is where the Christmas tree was with all the presents beneath it. There was an order to opening gifts that has been followed from then on. I will tell you more later.

Some Christmases we went to spend the day with my mother's family on the farm. It was fun getting so many people together. But most years it was just our family and that was special.

One Christmas when I was 5 or 6 I awoke to hear the sounds of nuts cracking. That was Daddy. I cannot pass the nuts in the store at Christmas without thinking of him. He loved them so and Christmas was the only time they were available.

There were voices. Had Santa been there?

I got out of bed and went quietly to the door. There were Mom and Daddy wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. Most people would say that was proof there is no Santa Claus. Of course I know better. He is real.

Every year Santa left a giant Hershey bar for each of my brothers and sisters. Mom and I got big boxes of chocolate covered cherries. They are still my very favorite.

Another year my brother and I woke up early. It was about 2:00 in the morning. We went to the living room and there was the tree with all the presents under it. We were much too excited to go back to bed so we decided to wait quietly until everyone else was awake.

We spent the time guessing what was in each package. The round one had to be a basketball. It was fun. The problem was that even our whispering got louder and louder. Mom got up and shooed us back to bed.

Then there was the year my brother and I decided to play sick and stay home from school before Christmas. We knew where Mom was stashing the gifts and we were going to take a peak. Mom was working at the time so she took our youngest sister to Grandma's. We were alone. Yay.

We went into the closet and went through everything. I found two dresses that I assumed were for my sister and me. Mom sewed most of our clothes. She had outdone herself with these and they were gorgeous. I even tried mine on. Perfect fit.

That was a terrible Christmas for me. I discovered that a major part of the fun is the expectation and surprise in the packages.

When I was about 15 I went to my boyfriend's house on Christmas Eve. I had a wonderful time with his family. He was to take me home so I would be home by 11:00.

There was a terrible blizzard that night. I lived at what amounts to be the top of a steep hill. He drove home the way we usually went. His car could not get to the top of the hill. He tried another way. No luck. We went around and tried to get up the hill past the cemetery. It was steeper than the rest.

Then we decided that perhaps he could go part way up and then turn into a subdivision. By winding through streets that only went up for a block we were finally ably to come out on my street and I made it home. He had no trouble going to his house because it was all downhill.

Because it was so late I went to explain to Mom why I did not make curfew. She understood. She was wrapping gifts for my brothers and sisters and told me I could help so that she could get a little sleep. I was happy to do it.

Then the next morning we opened our gifts from Santa. I was miserable because I knew everything the other kids were getting. I do like surprises.

As we got older the kids started buying gifts for our parents and each other. In order to make room under the tree we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve.

When I was a teenager I realized how much my parents loved Christmas and what they did to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. We did not get gifts for birthdays and other occasions. There were special things we did but money was hard to come by.

At Christmas my parents went all out. They would go into debt or sell something that was precious to them just to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. And they never ever let on. I knew but I never mentioned it to them. That was my gift to them.

One year I got my first wrist watch for Christmas. I was being recognized as the soon to be adult that I felt I was. It was before we had digital battery operated watches. It had to be wound by the little stem to keep it running every day. No problem.

The problem was that it felt hot. I told my parents but they just chuckled and told me that I would get used to the feeling of wearing it soon. I kept complaining and they kept being amused.

Then one day I showed them the blister on my arm where the watch had burned it. They took it back to the store. It seems that the watchmaker had not put in that teeny tiny drop of lubricant that keeps the gears from creating the friction that eventually caused my burn.

As we got older and began having families of our own we still tended to go to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Day. Mom always told us she was cooking and we were all welcome. Just don't get between her and the television during the football game.

Daddy never understood why any of us moved into our own homes, much less why we would want to spend Christmas Day at home. As my family got older I wanted my children to develop happy memories of our Christmases like the ones I had. So we began to spend Christmas Day at our house. Daddy did not understand.

Now Mom understood about Christmas Day. However she had a strict rule about Christmas Eve. Everyone in the family was required to be there, no matter what.

We had baked goods, candy, cakes, and pies. One year she even decided to make every fruit cake from the recipes she had been collecting for decades. I always took some of the things I had made. There were cold cuts and chips, pickles and relishes, vegetable trays... all easy to eat and no work at the time.

We all sat and talked and laughed. The kids played and told the adults what had been happening in their little lives. Daddy just sat in his chair and reveled in having his family around him. Mom even was able to enjoy herself because all the work was done for a time and she could join in without interruption.

We are a large family. We were not blessed with those soft genteel voices. As we talked the noise level would rise. So we talked louder. The noise level would keep rising and we would keep talking louder. To new members of the family it was disconcerting but they would learn to adjust.

Then came time to open the gifts. We all took our gifts to each other to Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for Santa Claus.

Daddy played Santa. He did not dress up or anything. He was the person who passed out the gifts. The first gift always went to the youngest member of the family. We would all watch as the gift was opened then ooh and aah at the gift. Then the next in line would receive the next gift and the same oohs and aahs were issued.

After each person in the family had received a gift in the order of their age and the appropriate responses were given, the gifts were not necessarily given in order. But each gift received the same presentation... we watched as it was opened and then appreciated the wonderfulness of it.

As I said we are a large family and there were a lot of gifts. Gift opening took a long, long time. We loved every second.

I miss those huge Christmas Eves. Mom and Daddy are gone. Some of the children are no longer with us. There have been divorces and marriages that have changed who is a present member of the family. Two of my brothers have died. But the spirit of Christmas lives.

I tried to keep the big Christmas Eve celebration going. But people would move too far away so they could not come. Soon it was just my children and grandchildren. There were still enough of us to have a raucous, noisy party.

Now I have moved away. I came back to the part of the country where I was raised and away from the big city that I hated. My children and grandchildren had to stay where their jobs are. My Christmases are quiet now. But I have all those happy memories and they are more than enough.

By the way, for any who doubt, Santa Claus is real. He still leaves presents for me under my tree.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mike


Mike is three years older than my husband.He was the big brother my husband looked up to his whole life. He is also the brother I knew best because we all lived not far from each other after we moved to the big city.

Mike was quite a mischief maker. There was an older boy who lived down the road who was more than happy to be Mike's accomplice. Of course my husband would do anything his big brother wanted him to do. Not to mention that he was not an angel himself.

They decided to play a 'joke' on their mother one time.

Now my mother-in-law was not very tall and was also heavyset. She was a comfortable and comforting woman. She loved her children fiercely. There was nothing she would not do to keep them safe.

The boys went to a tree about halfway up the hill from their house. They tied a rope around my husband's waist and hoited him up into the tree. Then they put another rope around his neck to make it look like he was hanging by the neck.

Then the two older boys ran down the hill yelling for Mom. They screamed that my husband had hung himself!

My mother-in-law ran out of her kitchen door. At top speed she ran up the hill hurdling a fence as she went. As she got closer to the tree my husband could no longer contain himself. He began to laugh.

His mother ripped him down from the tree, got a switch, and hit him with it until it broke. Then she got another switch and started over. By then Mike and his friend had disappeared.

One day at school Mike had done something that required the principal to step in. He grabbed Mike by the ear and pulled him into the office. Mike told his mother what had happened. She agreed that he deserved to be punished and gave him punishment at home.

The next day she went to school with Mike. She found the principal in the hall. She reached up and grabbed his ear and dragged him to his office yelling at him the while way. She told him he was not to grab her son's ear again. Then they had a polite discussion about what had happened and reached a polite decision on the best way to handle it.

When Mike got his driver's license and was able to drive where he wished he and his friends would be found across the river in Nebraska. Apparently there were a lot of pretty girls there.

He found one that he really liked. The problem was that she was Native Amerian. At that time such unions were frowned upon.

My mother-in-law told me herself that she was furious. She said that she could not picture herself walking down the street holding the hand of a little Indian kid and letting people know it was her grandchild.

Well Mike married that girl. That first grandchild was a little boy who immediately became her favorite grandchild.

They had three chilren within three years. Many years later when my own daughter was close to a year old they had another child. When that child was in school they had another for a total of five children.

Unfortunately Mike has a wandering eye. And the rest of him follows closely. His wife was left home with three babies while he was out with other women. It was so hard for her.

She was going to leave him at one time. Then one of her sisters told her that she needed to stay with him no matter what. She shoud have his dinner ready when he came home from work. If he was going out she should make sure his clothes were cleaned and ironed. (Bad advice,)

Eventually he moved to the big city... alone. He left his wife and three children with his mother. She liked having them with her but knew that a father should be with his family. Mom finbally told him when he called one time that he needed to deided. He made the trip home and moved them all to the big city.

Things were not always easy for them in the big city but he seemed to settle down a bit.

When my husband and I moved to the big city after we were married his brother and his family were the only people we knew for a while. As a matter of fact they let us stay with them until we found a place of our own.

My children adored their Uncle Mike. He was a good uncle. He also liked to tease them. I guess it is the purpose of being an uncle.

My oldest son was fun for him to tease because my son was afraid of everything. When my son was about four years old he decided to play a joke on his uncle.

My son had 'won' a plastic hot dog at a carnival. He was going to feed it to his Uncle Mike.

The next time we went to visit my son took his hot dog with him. He secretly showed it to his aunt. She told him she had some hot dog buns so they hurried off to the kitchen. She fixed it up even putting mustard and ketchup on it.

My son took it in to feed to his uncle. Mike sort of glanced at it and said he was not hungry. A friend of Mike's (who was one of the free-loaders always there) immediately grabbed it and tried to take a big bite. My son laughed and laughed. He was disappointed that he could not fool his uncle but he did get somebody.

Mike and his wife were always good to my children. They made sure no one ever bothered them.

After my husband left us he was not as available to our children as he should have been. But Uncle Mike was always available. As a matter of fact he was there for me too. If I had problems with my car he would take a look at and fix it for me. I appreciated it.

I did not always like Mike. He still treated my husband like a little brither which would rankle a wife. And there were a few times he took advantage of us. But I have respect for the way he treated my kids. And I have the utmost respect for the way he treated my daughter.

After her father left my daughter was even more hurt than her brothers. She needed her dad.

Mike stepped in and was there for her. As a matter of fact he really loved her. She was the only person I ever knew him to love that he did not have to.

You know... you have to love your parents, your spouse, and your children. He did not have to love my daughter but he did and she loved him just as much. It was truly the most beautiful relationship I have ever seen.

My daughter spent a lot of time at their house. So much time that they gave her a room of her own. It had all new furnoture. When Christmas came she received the same gifts they gave their daughter of the same age. They were more like sisters than cousins.

Of course my sister-in-law was just as good to my daughter. She liked all children however. Mike really did not care one way or the other about most of those children.

After time I did not go around Mike or his family as often. My childrenstill visited the regularly.

As my children grew and began to have families of their own the visits became less often.

Mike went back to his old ways. He was chasing women again. He developed feelings for one. He could not see her during the day because she was entertaining clients. But he stayed with her at noght.

During the day he would return to my sister-in-law's house and just sit there watching television until he got the call that he could go back.

It was so hard for my sister-in-law. She talked to me about divorce. I told her she should do what she felt was best for herself. She could not bring herself to do it.

Mike ended up in prison. He was gone for several years. His wife should have had a relatively stress free life. Instead she began a long battle with cancer.

She told me several times that she was prepared to die. She always hoped for a few more years to watch her grandchildren grow. But she was ready.

I called one day to check on her. A man answered and I asked if he was their oldest son. He said, "No. This is Mike!" I was surprised even though I knew he was due to be home soon.

She was so glad to have him home. He took her for treatments and doctor appoiuntments. He even took her to church. It meant so much to her.

The bad thing was that he had not given up the girlfriend.

The thing is that my sister-in-law had her husband with her when she died. It was a good thing.

Mike still lives with his youngest daughter. She inherited the house from her mother. She will not allow the girlfriend into her mother's house. So the girlfriend picks him up at the end of her day.

Mike recently fell and had to go to the doctor. The last I heard they were waiting for swelling to go down to know whether his ribs were broken or simply bruised. So he is up and going as strong as ever.



Friday, December 1, 2017

It's A Family Tradition


The traditions I refer to in the title are not things like holiday rituals or alcoholism. The things I am talking about are more like family legends. They are things we feel are unique to us and we have a lot of fun with them.

The seeds of maple trees have a "tail" on them. It is almost see through and is flat. It is wider at the end than it is at the seed. If you throw them into the air they spin and float to the ground. We call them helicopters. A handful of helicopters thrown at the same time is a sight to see.

My second granddaughter took a handful of helicopters to her second story bedroom. She tossed them into the air from her room. Some went up and floated straight down. Some just went straight down. Some caught little flows of air and went to the sides before floating down. It was spectacular.

My family considers snapdragons to be our family flower. My father delighted in taking a snapdragon to show a child how he could make the dragon open and close its mouth by gently squeezing the sides of the blossom.

When my mother died in a cold January I asked the florist if it would be possible to have arrangements made of summer flowers because she loved them so. It was possible. We were all thrilled to see snapdragons in the arrangements. When I asked my oldest son if he would like to leave anything with his grandmother he told me to take some snapdragons from the arrangements. So Mom was buried holding our family flowers.

Most members of the family like rain. We walk in it and we dance in it. Or maybe we just sit on the porch and watch it come down. A good storm is a delight with rolling thunder and an occasional flash of lightning.

When my oldest granddaughter was about 8 years old she came in and said, "Grandma, I smell rain coming. Do you want to come out on the porch to watch with me?" Of course I went right out and we had a wonderful time.

If you drive by a house where someone in our family lives and it is raining you might very well see people out dancing in the rain. From the oldest to the youngest we spin and twirl to celebrate the cleansing of the earth.

Gremlins are those troublesome little creatures who cause glitches in mechanical items. My father claimed that he brought one with him when he married my mother. The gremlin's name is Petey. Whenever an appliance or a car would act up we all blamed Petey.

Then I married a man of Irish descent. Suddenly we had leprechauns too. They were the ones hiding car keys and misplacing important papers. How many families can be so lucky as to have both gremlins and leprechauns?

I told my second granddaughter about feathers. The belief is that whenever you find a feather, especially a white one, a loved one who has died is watching over you. My granddaughter is constantly finding feathers. She even tells us who is thinking of her.

My granddaughter idolized my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law. All of them are gone now. When my granddaughter found three feathers, all separate but in the same place, she knew they were from her great-grandma and her two great-aunts.

Have you ever seen a slope and wished you could just roll down? We do it all the time. It is freeing to be at the top and lie down and roll over and over until you are at the bottom.

My husband's parents owned a small farm in the Loess Hills. As soon as my children arrived on the farm when visiting the first thing they asked to do was climb the hill behind the house and roll down. Soon after there would be what they called "walking the hills".

Sadly after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and father-in-law the farm was sold. But happily the man who bought it has welcomed members of our family and allowed them to "walk the hills" and roll down the hill. He is a nice man.

As you can see it takes little to make a family tradition. It could be your evening walk as you point out interesting sights in the neighborhood. All that is important is that they create cherished memories that are carried to adulthood. Then they will try to re-create the same memories for their children. And the cycle continues.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Paul

Here is another brother of my husband. And another I did not know. What I know of him is mostly from my mother-in-law and husband.

I did not meet Paul until after my husband and I separated. He went to the big city and I wanted my children to meet their uncle.

 Paul was the second son. He had an older brother and sister. He was not tall like his father and older brother.

Paul married and they had a baby girl. She was named Paula after him.

Then he just up and left. He contacted no one for a few years.

Finally he contacted his mother. He was in California. She told him he had a little girl who needed to be taken care of so he sent money for her once in a while.

Paul married again. His wife had a beauty shop and he worked at cleaning and repairing it. Apparently it was a good arrangement. She had a son he helped raise.

When his wife died the son was grown. Paul moved on.

He went to visit his mother at last. I do not know whether he re-connected with his daughter but I hope so.

Paul moved on and ended up in Florida. He also acquired another wife.

I know little else about Paul. He died in Florida in 2005.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Is Going On?


 I try to stay away from topics in the news. On purpose. It is not my job to report on news items that I am not fully educated about. And my opinions belong to me. You have your own.

But now there is something happening that I must speak about. I am seeing on television and all over the web. It is much too important to ignore.

There are many people, so far only men, who are being accused of sexual assault and improprieties.
It is all over the news. Every day brings new allegations. Some people have one accuser; others have many.

The accused are men in powerful circumstances. They are performers, medical professionals, athletes,clergymen, politicians, members of the media, leaders of industry, military members,and people behind the scenes particularly in the entertainment industry. Unmentioned are people in everyday life like us.

Some of the accusers are also "big" names.  Members of the media, politicians, performers, members of the armed forces. Sexual abuse is the big news item right now.

The thing is that so many people are affected. Men, women, and children. And those are only the ones who have been abused. The people around them (both victims and abusers) are also hurt.

In 1977 Roman Polanski was accused and CONVICTED of "rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child" who was 13 years old. Polanski was a film director who used his position to take advantage of a child. He fled to Europe to escape prison where he has been living and directing movies ever since.

In the UK Jimmy Savile was accused of sexually abusing women and children. Mr Savile was dead before allegations of abuse were widespread. His victims ranged in age from 5 years old to 75 years old. Of the children he abused, both boys and girls were victims. He was known to visit hospitals and mortuaries looking to find his victims. In the children's hospitals the children were told to pretend to be asleep during his visits in hopes he would leave them alone. People knew and did nothing. He died while many of the accusations were still being investigated.

Rolf Harris of Australia was convicted of sexually assaulting at least 12 minors. He was a well-known entertainer, musician, and artist. He wrote some of my favorite songs. He molested children. He was recently released from prison.

For years and years Corey Feldman has been trying to tell people that he and other child actors were sexually assaulted all over the emtertainment industry. People said it was because of his drug abuse that he said those things. Now some of those claims are being corroborated by others. After all these years.

Politicians are now being and have been in the past accused of indecencies ranging from lewd comments, groping and touching, all the way to rape. Some of the victims were male, some female, and some were children.

Churches where everyone should be safe from all harm have been guilty of harboring sex offenders. In most cases of abuse the offendeer is simply transferred; problem solved. Schools do the same thing.

I am not going to go through the whole list of names being accused today. The only reason is that it is too long. Some have admitted to doing wrong and apologized. I do not think apologies are sufficient but that is not my decision. However it is a start. Some swear they did nothing wrong. Some say that it is only "boys being boys" or "locker room" antics.

Often the accusers are being blamed. They dressed provocatively. I have seen few 80-90 year old women who dress in a way that shows their feminine wiles. They seduced me. A two year old does not seduce. A teenager in school is too young to decide whether sex is a good thing for him/her. A woman hurrying home from shopping to pick up the kids at school and get dinner fixed so she can do the laundry before bed is not being seductive.

Sexual abuse is not about desire; it is about power. It is strictly to exert dominance over the victim. If you desire a person you will do everything you can to make the person feel safe. An abuser does everything he can to make the victim submit to his power. It is a way to make the abuser feel more powerful in his own eyes. They know it is wrong so they keep it hidden. They use direct and indirect threats to keep the victim from letting someone else know.

One of the most often repeated phrases I hear today is, "why didn't he/she come forward sooner?" There are a variety of answers.

We have been raised to believe that it is our fault if something like this happens to us. So instead we hold the thoughts inside to keep others from knowing that we were a part of a terrible act.

To have physical proof requires a medical examination. That alone is invasive and humiliating. Then there are questions by professionals. Some can be extremely personal. It takes a special kind of person to submit themselves to that. If there is a trial after all that the victim has to relive everything that happened. Then be called a liar by the accused. Demeaning.

It is embarrassing to allow other people to know what has happened to you and your body. Why put yourself through that?

Now people (mostly men) are trying to put us in our places by letting us know that we have made them feel uncomfortable to even look at someone else. To that I say that we all like beauty. It is a form of art. If we look at an attractive person it is like viewing a lovely painting. The lascivious drooling looks are what is offensive.

I hope that because of the bravery of the people who have said something now it will be easier for people to speak out sooner. Maybe we can stop the perverts andd pedophiles before there are dozens of victims. Better yet maybe the abuses will stop.

I am however a realist. Things like this have happened before. Maybe not on quite this large a scale but they have happened. Each time we hope the problem will finally be fixed. Each time we are disappointed. I want this to be the last one. So everyone must stand up and say "THIS STOPS NOW."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Curses


I regaled you with the amusement of our family curse. Soon before before Christmas we always have mechanical failures. Automobiles, computers, and last week our furnace.

I thought wehad contributed our share to the family curse for this year. But Noooooooooooo. Or as they say in those commercials, "But wait! Ther's more!"

We were sitting here watching TV Friday evening. We were enjoying the heat from our newly repaired furnace and catching up on computer things. It was a pleasant evening.

Suddenly we heard that all too familiar "Whoomph" noise. Our furnace had gone out again.

I called the repairman first thing Monday because I did not want to pay overtime for the weekend hours. He came out Tuesday since he had a full day Monday.

When he came out Tuesday he found that the furnace had died an ignoble death.  There was no repairing it and we would need a new one.

Next came other repairmen who took measurements and dicussed what we needed at the lowest possible cost and highest possible value. They would do some research and get back to us.

The dead furnacce was quite old. Some fixtures like the chimney would also have to be replaced. They managed to find a unit that would fit all the requirements.

They came at 7:00 this morning. Tools were in the nice big tool  carriers and the new furnace was on the truck. The dog was safely shut up in my son's room. Remember she is not fond of men.

First they removed the old chimnet and installed the new and larger one. They shut off the gas. They shut off the electrical power to the furnace. The rest of the house had power so I could watch TV or get on the computer. Best off all the electric space heaters were still operating.

Out went the old furnace. They will give it a decent burial. I could not do it myself. Too painful.

In came the shiny new furnace. It is slightly larger than the old one. They bumped the light with it and broke the glass shade that made it more decorative. They nicely cleaned up the broken glass.

With much yelling back and forth they ran a new gas line to the outside. The noise was so they could hear each other. They put the shiny new furnace in place and connected the gas and electricity to it.

When the gas was turned back on I lit the pilot lights for my cooking stove. I tested the burners to ensure that they were receiving gas. A-OK.

They turned on the furnace. It worked like a champ. It took far less than the four hours they were hoping it would take.

The repairman explained that there would be a strange smell for maybe a couple of days. That is from coatings on the furnace burning off. It does not smell good but it is getting better.

I was so worried about the water pipes freezing and bursting. I had to have work done to them a couple of years ago and did not want to have them done again.

So I got a new furnace. It is my Christmas gift to myself. Probably the most expensive  gift I have received.

I sit here now in a cozy warm house. I want to go to bed and luxuriate in my nice warm room. Good night.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Little Piggy


When I was a little girl all farms had pigs. Grandpa had pigs.

Pigs were good for many things. Pork chops come to mind of course. And pigs are nature's garbage disposals. They ate all the scraps like potato peels, apple cores, and vegetable leaves. Leftover pancakes or oatmeal from breakfast went into the slop bucket too.

Every day someone would take the slop bucket out and pour it into the trough the pigs ate from. It was a good chore for visiting grandchildren.

The pigs also had grains to eat too. Even a big farm family did not have enough scraps to feed the pigs.

I was fascinated by pigs. The snuffling noises they make and of course the grunts and squeals.

Pigs "wallow" in the mud. We were never allowed to be in the pig pen. They are dangerous at times. But I discovered that one of the reasons the wallow is that the mud keeps them cool. So I would make my own mud puddle to wallow in on hot summer days.

When my children were small my husband bought a pig with the thought of raising it to be butchered. Naturally the children and I made it into a pet. We named her Hortense.

When it came time to butcher we refused to allow it. She lived a pampered life. Then we moved back to the big city. A neighbor took Hortense and promised not to end her life early.

Now they have farmers who raise pigs. By that I mean they build large pig barns and sell them to be butchered each fall. The pigs are kept inside so that they won't run off any of the fat. I have not seen a pig in the 6 years I have been back here.

That is until 2 days ago. I was driving to town. There is one farm that feeds the cows in a yard right by the highway. They have several white calves this year.

As I was driving by I saw a pig!

My son said it was a white calf but I know a pig when I see one. It had those little short legs and was skittering along in the pen with the cows.

I looked for it on my way back but did not see it. I am guessing that they are raising it to be butchered. It probably escaped its enclosure for a little run.

So I have finally seen my pig. I am content.

Friday, November 10, 2017

It's Beginning To Look...


I can tell Christmas is coming soon. How you may ask? Well it seems to be a family curse. Mechanical problems happen right before Christmas.

Cars break down before Christmas. One year all cars went kablooey at the same time. My oldest son worked from early morning until afternoon on the east side of Detroit. My second son was driving truck and often left it in line so it would be the first when a plant opened in the morning. My third son had to come from a nearby suburb to work near where we lived. His wife worked in a different suburb in the opposite direction. My daughter worked in a suburb at the end of suburbia. I worked in another suburb near the end of suburbia.

There was one car running. My second son's wife who had three children to get to school was the de facto chauffeur. That poor thing was in the car from morning till night. I forgot to mention that we worked from around 4:00 AM to 3:00 the following AM.

Somehow for that almost week she managed to get all of us to work/school on time and then pick us up when our shifts were over. She seemed to love juggling all the schedules to deliver good service. It was a horror. Let me tell you we were happy to get our individual cars back.

It seems like each year there are car troubles. Even though we are driving better automobiles than we did back then the glitches still pop up right before Christmas.

Now it seems that the curse is spreading.

My computer said I needed to upgrade. I followed all the directions and waited. And waited. And waited. I had been having some minor annoyances and was anxious for them to be solved.

Unfortunately it was worse after the upgrade. It seemed like everything was trying to run in a molasses lake. Finally my computer froze.

I duly did a shut down. It would not come back up.

Thank goodness my son thinks solving problems like this is a fun challenge. But he was not having much success either. After a couple of days he was ready to throw up his hands and give up. He decided to completely re-install Windows to see if that would work.

It took him another day and a half to get it working. Now we are still finding things we need to load again but it seems to be working good anyway.

While he was busy working on my computer we started hearing strange noises from the furnace. After hours we heard a loud WHOOMPH. And the furnace worked no more.

It has been cold out. It will be slightly above freezing today but not so tomorrow.

We do have electrical space heaters to keep us warm but because under the house gets cold the floors get cold. And there is always the danger of the pipes freezing under the house.

It took a couple of days for the repairman to get to us. They have to come from a town about 25 miles from here. They already had repair jobs ahead of us. We were lucky they came as fast as they did.

He gave the furnace a good cleaning and it relit the first try. Bless his little heart.

He was a nice young man who showed us pictures of the dog his family took in. It had been physically and sexually abused. It is doing well now and is a beautiful animal. He was on his way to pick it up from the groomer when he left our house.

So now my house is comfy and warm. My computer is working as it should. Just remember that Christmas is coming.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dale


My husband's oldest brother was Dale. Dale was a year younger than my father. As with many families at that time they seemed to have two sets of children. There were those who were born when the parents were young and then the ones born when the parents were older.

Dale was born with the red hair my mother-in-law wanted all her children to have.

Shortly after I met my husband Dale moved away. I did not meet him before he left.

He left behind his wife and 5 children. For a long time they had no idea where he was. He would occasionally send money to his mother to give to the children.

I actually knew his oldest daughter before I knew my husband. She and I went to school together. We were never friends. That has not changed.

Dale came back for a quick visit after my husband I were married. He went into the house to visit his mother for a few minutes. He left the woman who was with him in the car with her two babies. I still do not know if they were his children. I do not think he visited his children.

After many years he moved back to Iowa with a new family. His wife had 4 children from her first marriage and they had 2 more children together.

They all came to the big city to visit us and another brother's families. His son from his first marriage was with them.

It was an interesting thing that each of my mother-in-law's children had a daughter who looked just like my daughter. Dale had 2. The second was around the same age as my oldest son. His youngest son was the same age as my second son.

As you can see I did not know Dale well because I was not around him very much.

He had a sudden heart attack and died around the time that my husband and I divorced. My father-in-law was inconsolable. I see one of his daughters occasionally. Most of his children live far away from here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Childish



The word childish has a negative connotation and it should not. What it means to me is as a child. Some may say that child-like is the more proper term. Child-like means to be like a child. I suppose the difference is minimal but think about it.

To be child-like you must work to be like a child. To be childish you simply are more like a child. So you may insert child-like but I mean childish.

Think of a baby tasting a new food or eating a favorite food. Do they act "cool"? No. Their eyes light up and their bodies wiggle. They roll it around in their mouths and smack their lips. They might put their hands in it and slap it to see what sort of sound it makes. Why they might even share it with other portions of their bodies like their hair. They are not shy about wanting more. Could life be better?

As a quick side note I made sure that all of my children came with a guarantee that they were washable. That way I could clean them easily after a fun meal. Make sure to order your children that way too.

Mud is a great thing for a little one. It squishes in hands. It oozes ever so lovingly between toes. They might get a tiny bit in the mouth before you can stop them. Do not worry. There is the washable guarantee. Besides they do not grow properly without eating just a touch of dirt. I still love to step into the mud and feel it between my toes. (Try it. You will like it.)

A two-year-old child is the perfect age. That sense of wonder is at its fullest. They are fully mobile and they can talk. Best of all they have learned that they are people. What they say and do matters.

These little people have often been referred to as being in "the terrible twos". They have learned to say, "NO!" They have opinions and expect people to listen.

A two-year-old has a completely uncensored imagination. They will tell you some great stories with very little encouragement. Ask them to tell you why the squirrel ran up the tree. With a few well-placed comments from you there might be a monster chasing them or a baby squirrel wanting its Mommy. All that limits them is attention span. They soon need to move on to another activity.

I love to walk with children. It is an adventure. They like to explore because everything is new and they want to see what it is. That is why they want to look under the neighbor's porch or peak into the sewer. Make sure they are safe but allow as much searching as possible. It would not hurt you to peek into that sewer either. There may be a treasure there. You will not know until you look.

Do you ever look at a leaf? I mean really look. Up close. Pay attention. Is it smooth or bumpy? Is it dark green or light green or has the color begun to change in the fall? What color is it exactly? Are the edges straight or striated? Has something been chewing on them? What was it? Is it on the tree or has it fallen off? Why? What do the veins of the leaf look like? Is it a pretty pattern?

See what I mean? We take so many things as normal that we forget the wonder of them. A child can find that wonder in its finger and examine it for a long time. That is childish and beautiful.

I want to experience my life with the glee that a child has. The glorious wonder and sense of awe that cannot be contained is a joy to watch in others. But to have that sense of wonder and awe is indescribable. And the best part is that all we have to do is open ourselves up and feel it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sticks And Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. A beautiful sentiment that all parents teach their children. It is meant to show that words can roll off your back and you do not have to deal with them any more whereas a physical blow can leave an injury that needs to be cared for after the altercation is finished.

The truth is that we have all been deeply hurt by words. Maybe someone called you stupid or ugly when you were a child. If that was a person whose opinion of you mattered those words would cause great pain. Perhaps someone made fun of you and it seemed to catch on with other people until everyone was making fun of you. Torment. Often a misused word can bring a misgiving you have about yourself to light and exaggerate that into what you see as a serious flaw.

I have mentioned that my family did not have much money. My mother made a lot of our clothes. But there were families in town who spent a bit more on clothing than we did.

I can remember some of the women bringing huge boxes of clothes that their daughters could no longer use. They were expensive clothes and in practically new condition. I loved getting those clothes because they were so nice.

What did bother me was that when they delivered the boxes the women did not pay attention to what they were saying. Even at that age I knew they were trying to do a good deed; it was in fact a good deed. I not only liked the clothes they brought but I needed them too. They were nice people doing a nice thing.

The problem was that they almost invariably said, "I thought Emma could wear these. If they don't fit just throw them away." I always felt like they were saying that they were not good for anybody else but they were good enough for me.

I believe in hand-me-downs. There is no sense in throwing out perfectly good items because you cannot use them for whatever reason. But I make sure if I give something to someone else that I say, "If you cannot use them maybe you know someone who can."

Another example is tasteless jokes. I have to be honest and say that often they are funny. But they are funny at the expense of others.

I was at a conference. A bunch of us met at the hotel for drinks after the meetings had adjourned for the day. Several people were standing around telling jokes. Most of the jokes were tasteless. Of course I had to join them.

I told my favorite tasteless joke. They all laughed. But afterward a woman came to me and told me that one of the other women had left because of my joke. It touched a nerve with her and hurt her feelings. I felt terrible.

I went to her room and asked if I could speak to her. She did not want to talk but was gracious. I apologized to her and she was such a nice person that she accepted my apology. We hugged each other and I left. I have not told another tasteless joke since.
My mother was laughing one day. She had seen my niece arguing with a friend. They were little girls and Mom wanted to make sure the argument did not turn into blows. But it was an argument using words as weapons. Finally my niece screamed, "Well at least MY mother buys real gold jewelry!"

How much did it hurt the other girl? I do not know. I do know that the girls are still good friends 30 years later. If only that was the worst thing we could think of to hurl at someone when we are angry with them.

Mom also liked to tell about her days as a waitress when she was young. There was a young man who came in once a week like clockwork. In those days people were called retarded and she just assumed that was his affliction.

He always ordered allep pie meaning apple pie. Mom would serve him and speak to him for a few moments before moving on to her next customers.

One day a woman came in to thank everyone at the cafe for being so nice to him. The family had to institutionalize him and he would not be coming in any more.

Another time she saw customers sitting at the table who were being very animated while they talked. Their hands were going a mile a minute and they talked and talked.

When she went to the table to take their orders she decided to join in and waved her hands excitedly. To her chagrin she soon realized that there were people who could not hear at that table. They had been using sign language as well as spoken language to communicate.

I hope these examples demonstrate that things are not always as they seem. And especially that words have power. It is so easy to unintentionally hurt someone with a careless word. And all we need to do is think before we open our mouths. Think. Think.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And So On


When I was a child there was a game we used to play. It shows how different minds consider a statement.

No it is not the one where each person whispers a sentence to a person who whispers it to the net person and so on. The final person says the sentence out loud. It is usually nothing like the first statement. It is supposed to demonstrate how the more gossip is repeated the more it is altered.

My game can be played either orally or on paper.

The first person states or writes the beginning of a story. The net person takes up where that person left off until either time is up or the story is at an end.

I am going to give you the first part of the story. If you wish to continue it add the next paragraph. Maybe we will have some fun. If not I had fun.

  One day Noni and Ivan were walking in the field. They were having a nice talk and enjoying all the things they saw in the field. Noni heard a songbird while Ivan kept having to push his hair from his eyes. Suddenly they saw a rippling in the grass.....

(Your turn.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discipline


I received several comments about disciplining my son. None were bad but I thought perhaps I would give my views about discipline for children. Keep in mind that I am not an expert on the subject.

I do have personal experience with being a mother and the oldest of seven children. Of course I did not discipline my brothers and sisters. They had parents for that. I watched my parents though and learned a lot. Usually we discipline our children in the same way our parents did us.

I was raised in the time that corporal punishment was considered to be the norm. Many believed that the way to make a child mind was to beat the tar out of them. Thank goodness my parents did not think that way.

I do remember being spanked three times but there may have been other times. Of the three I remember, the first time I was around 5 years old. My 3 year old brother and I snuck away from my mother planning to go to our grandparents' farm.

My mother had two other toddlers at home and no car. She managed to get word to my father at work. He drove from the town where he worked and went looking for us. He was scared out of his mind and so relieved to see us walking along the road less than a mile from where we lived. As he dragged us into the car he gave us each a couple of swats. I think they were more from fear than anything.

The second time was a misunderstanding. I had asked my parents if I could "go riding around" with some friends. I was 14 but one of the girls was 15 and her boyfriend was 16 and had a car.

Riding around meant just driving around town until we decided to go home. We all had curfews so it would not have been very late.

My parents thought it meant driving from our house at one end of town to the other end of town then turning around and coming back. Miscommunication.

The final time I disobeyed my parents and snuck out to hang out with friends. It was a stupid thing to do and I should not have been so foolish. When I returned home I was reminded how foolish.

Most of the time all my mother or father had to do was give us "that look" and we knew enough to behave ourselves.

I was also paddled in school once. A cousin of a cousin of mine lived across the street from the school. It was the middle of winter and we had a heavy snowfall the day before. We got to school well before time to go in so we wanted to play in the snow.

Snowball fights were not allowed on school grounds. Apparently someone had once put some rocks inside some of the snowballs and caused minor injuries.

Anyway we went across the street to my cousin's cousin's yard and had a proper snowball fight. We all had a good time and had expended a lot of energy. We all quietly went to our classroom when the time came.

Then someone from the principal's office came to take us to see him. It seems that a neighbor had seen the snowball fight and reported us.

We tried to explain that it was before school hours and that we were not on school property. It fell on deaf ears. We were all evil children who must be punished. Besides he had a brand new paddle he had been itching to try out.

The boys were paddled first. They each got 5 hard whacks. Some of them came out with tears in their eyes but they tried to look brave.

There were three of us girls. That fat little man was actually embarrassed at having to paddle us. But he did it anyway.

We each got 3 rather half-hearted whacks. We left his office trying really hard not to laugh out loud. The whole thing was ludicrous.

What I learned from that experience is that no one at any school was to spank my children. If you believe in corporal punishment it should be delivered with love. No one at any of the schools loved my children. I did.

That is not to say that discipline could not be administered. Children should be expected to behave. But there are methods of discipline that do not involve pain.

In the 5th grade my oldest son was in a class that was being punished because of misbehavior by several students. They were being made to stay after school and write some sentence a number of times.

My son took his blank paper to the teacher. He told her had done nothing wrong and he was not going to accept punishment. Then he left.

When he came home he told me what he had done. I had a few questions about what happened. When I was satisfied that he was not involved in the mischief I made plans to visit the teacher the next day.

When I told her why I was there she smiled. She told me that she had accepted my son's leaving with no further consequences because she knew him to be truthful. She said that if she gave him a punishment he deserved he always accepted it quietly.

Then she told me that he had caused her to re-think her policy of mass punishment. From that time forward she was going to punish only those involved and not the whole class.

My daughter had a teacher who had a strict rule about children speaking in class. If he asked a question no one was to answer unless he spoke their name. Until another student was called on that student would continue answering his questions.

One day he asked a question and called on my daughter to answer it. She did. He asked another question. My daughter waited a beat and then answered it. The teacher was furious. He had not called on her.

The teacher gave my daughter a topic and told her to write a paper of an assigned number of words to be turned in the following morning. She tried to explain that he had not called on anyone else and she thought she was supposed to answer his question. He was having none of it.

When my daughter came home she told me what happened. She was certain that he was not calling on another student when she answered the second question and she did not feel she should have to be punished. I agreed.

I sat down and wrote a note to the teacher explaining what my daughter told me. I told him I also felt the punishment was unjust and that I would not allow her to write the paper.

The following day my daughter had a note for me from the teacher. He tried to bully me into agreeing with him! And I had to agree that him maintaining discipline right? He was really forceful and overbearing.

But not so fast here. I do not bully well. I wrote him another very sweet letter. I agreed with him about discipline. It is necessary to maintain order. As long as it is fair. and his was not fair. And as far as teaching her a lesson was it not also a valuable lesson for her to be able to stand up for what she believes is right and just?

When my daughter delivered that note she said he heaved a heavy sigh and penned a quick note to me. He had asked other members of the class who also agreed that they were under the impression that my daughter was the correct person to answer his question. My daughter would not be required to write the paper.

Another son got into a fight at school. That is not a good thing. I was at work and received a call from the principal.

"I have your son in my office. He and another boy had a fight."

" Are they hurt?"

"No. I was going to spank each of them but your son told me I could not hit him? I said who said so? He said my mom."

"And he is right. You know that." I knew he knew because at the beginning of each school year I informed the principal of each school my children attended that I would back them up on any fair discipline but never was anyone to hit my children.

"Well the other boy took his whacks and is back in class. If you will not allow me to punish him I will have to exclude him  from school for three days."

"I will be right there to pick him up."  Now just to make it clear he was punished at home. I did not want any of my children to think that they were allowed to misbehave simply because I did not allow anyone to hit them.

So I had a few rules:
Never talk back.
When I ask you to do something do it. I would not ask a second time.
No fighting. I had trouble with that one.
Inside when the street lights come on. They still do that.
Do not steal, murder, hurt, or make someone feel bad about themselves.

My answer to why was because "I said so." I know some experts do not agree with me there. But if I said so that should be reason enough. We could discuss philosophy on it another time.

I tried to make any punishment appropriate for the age and the "crime". But usually a firm word would stop misbehavior before it began. At the same time they were kids. Kids have a knack for doing what they should not. That is why they have parents to help them learn to do what they should.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In The Closet



My parents bought the house they were living in. It had been a three family home so they did a lot of remodeling to make it a home for one family. They knocked out walls between two small bedrooms on the first floor to make a gigantic living room. And there was a door that had been sort of between the bedrooms and the living room. It led to a large closet.

My parents used this closet to hang coats, jackets, and sweaters. Shoes and boots were kept on the floor. Christmas decorations and other things that were not used all the time were stored in the closet. It was an old house so there was no light in the closet.

My family and I spent a lot of time at my parents' house. My children liked being at Grandma's where the food always tastes better. And at Grandpa's because he always found something fun for them to do. My husband felt like he could relax which was not something he often did. I just enjoyed the feeling that comes with being around family.

It was a natural move that my children and I would stay there while I waited for my third baby. My husband had a new job out of state and I was too close to having the baby to be able to safely travel. My husband was able to join us every weekend.

On one side lived an older couple and the woman's brother. They were nice people who kept to themselves. On the other side was a young family with four little girls. The youngest girl was about the same age as my second son.

One day my boys were outside playing. The youngest was with the little girl playing in her yard. My mother was not home and I was enjoying some quiet time in the house.

My three year old son came rushing into the house and made a bee-line for the closet and shut the door!

I was sitting there wondering what on earth he was doing. It was amusing the way he rushed in. Then there was a firm knock on the front door. I answered it.

There stood the neighbor who lived on the other side of the little girl's family. He was holding a mudball that was about the size of a soccer ball. He looked like he was offering it to me. I did not want it.

"Is that little blonde kid yours?" I said that he was. "Well he and the little girl next door just threw this at my bathroom window!" Again offering me the mudball. I still did not want it.

I asked him if the window was broken. That was not the point but no it was not broken.

I looked over at his house and sure enough there was a big spot that had obviously been made by a big ball of mud. I assured him that I would talk to my son and make sure nothing like that ever happened again.

He became totally outraged. Sherry (the little girl next door) had been with my son. When the man confronted her parents, they grabbed her and spanked her. He wanted my son punished too. I told him firmly that I was not going to spank my child in front of him just to make him happy. I would take care of it but in my own way. He was still sputtering as I closed the door.

I then had my son come out of the closet. I explained that we do not throw mud at people's windows. Then we went together to the man's house. I had my son apologize and offer to clean the window. The man declined.

I have told you before that my mother was a resourceful woman. Well she decided to collect returnable pop bottles. She would turn them in once a week to collect the deposit on them and put the money in a special bank account. It kept the neighborhood cleaner and she was getting an extra bit of cash. She was going to buy a car with it.

And buy a car she did. It was a used model that needed a paint job but it ran good. She painted it herself with some spray paint she had. It was fluorescent blue paint and the car glowed in the dark.

One night a police helicopter noticed the glow and came down to investigate. They were astounded and amused.

So Mom had her car. After a few months she began to complain that it was making a "chirping" noise. Daddy drove it around the block and heard nothing. As time went on Mom said the noise was getting worse.

On a Saturday Mom was going to the grocery store. I was sitting in a chair feeling huge and bloated awaiting the imminent birth of my third child. Mom said the chirping noise was getting worse and worse so Daddy told her that when she came back from the store she should honk the horn. Then he would go to the front door and she could move the car back and forth so he could listen.

After about an hour and a half we heard the horn. Daddy sat there. I told him that Mom was honking for him so he heaved that put-upon sigh that he had and went to the door.

Mom was driving forward, then backing up so he could hear the noise. A look of horror came over Daddy's face. He turned from the door. On his way to the closet he said, "I just can't stand watching your mother try to park the car." Into the closet he went and closed the door.

I was still laughing uncontrollably when Mom came in to see where he went.

Eventually they knocked out the wall in the closet to make an entrance to the rooms that my parents were going to use as their room. I miss the closet.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Hardest Thing


While I was talking to my sister the other day we were talking about how all the nieces and nephews are grown. In some cases even their children are grown and have children. The family keeps expanding. It is a wonderful fact of life.

My nephew and his wife recently watched their only child marry. Then because her husband is in the military the newlyweds moved far away.

The parents miss them so much. My niece is wondering how they will fill their empty nest. Personally I think their dog will be happy to fill the spaces.

All my children are grown. My oldest is 50 and the youngest will be 44 in a few days. I watched them grow into people that I would have as friends even if they weren't my children.

During the time they were busy growing I enjoyed them. I never dreamed they would one day want to have homes of their own. They were just babies after all.

When a child was ill I often took them to bed with me. It made it easier to know when they needed something. I was comforted by that.

One of my son's had the flu. When it was time for us to all go to bed I told him to crawl into my bed. He looked at me and said, "Don't you think I'm a little too old for that?" I felt like I had been caught stealing cookies from the jar.

One at the grocery store with my oldest son I looked over to say something to him and screamed. He was embarrassed and yet trying to understand what was wrong with me.

I knew he was growing up. But it really disconcerting to look at your little boy and see that his eyes are at the same level as yours.

My youngest son was living with the young woman who became his wife. They had two children together. They started very young.

My son was working and had his own health insurance. He had a bad virus. He had been vomiting and his wife decided he needed to see a doctor.

The doctor refused to treat him because he would not be 18 until the following month. He needed his mother to authorize treatment.

They came to get me and we went right back to the doctor's office. By that time my son was so dehydrated that his legs would not work. We carry/dragged him inside. He was put into a wheelchair and I signed papers.

When my son's name was called his wife got up and accompanied him and the nurse who pushed his wheelchair back to see the doctor. I never had such a strange feeling before or since.

She was the right person to go with him. I knew that. It had always been my job before.

I have said for years the hardest thing about being a parent is letting go.






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Boo!

My oldest son was easily scared when he was little. A lot of the things people thought would scare him did not but then the strangest things would make him cringe with fright.

For instance there were horror movies on late night television when the boys were small. We stayed up and watched them with glee. My son still likes them. The old Hammer films are his favorites.

His uncle drove a delivery truck for a beer distributor. Often the company had promotional displays for retail stores. One such display was the famous delivery wagon along with the team of horses that pulls it. It was impressive with the barrels of beer on the wagon.  It was probably 3 feet long in total. His uncle took one home with him and placed it so it could be seen by everyone.

For some reason my son was afraid of it. It was on display so it could be seen as you entered the house. My son would grab my leg and clutch it until we were inside the house and past the horses and wagon. Then he was fine.

My brother-in-law bedeviled my son at almost every turn. It was done as a loving thing and he meant no harm. It was what he did with all the kids including his own. My son just reacted differently. So at his uncle's house he never knew what to expect. He was appropriately scared all the time.

It was one of my son's favorite places to visit. I think he liked being frightened. Now that he is grown he tries his best to scare his nieces and nephews in the same way.

Once when my mother-in-law was visiting we were sitting on the front porch swing talking. My son was in the house where his uncle must have been aggravating him. My son burst out of the house and went to his grandmother. "Grandma will you please make your kid leave me alone?"

Naturally Grandma yelled at her son to "leave this kid alone!"

My son has always been interested in gadgets. We had some of the very first home computers and my son was the one who used them the most. Of course there were video game systems too. His brother and sister thought they were okay but he loved them.

My son researched what made them work and studied about what new technologies were coming soon. He learned to troubleshoot which is so handy when you are dealing with this kind of thing. He even began building his own computers using what he judged to be the best components. For little money he could have a top-of-the-line computer.

My son is the first to try a new electronic gadget. Cell phones, tablets, readers; all are things he researches intensely and then buys what he has decided to be the best. It works out well for me because I get his old one of whatever it is.

He even bought a Roomba. Roomba is a flat little robot type of thing. He has programmed it to vacuum the carpets while we sleep. We wake to clean floors. It works well and I highly recommend it.

When I think of him owning a robot it brings a smile to my face. When he was almost two years old Santa gave him a robot for Christmas.

It was a marvel. It was battery operated. It stood about 18 inches tall.

When you turned it on it would walk across the floor in a menacing manner because it was a warrior. At intervals it would stop, its chest would open, and a gun would pop out and noisily fire. Then the chest would close and the robot would advance some more.

My son was terrified. I tried to have him become more familiar with it by handling it while it was turned off. Nope. He wanted nothing whatsoever to do with that robot.

Even my little brother who was only 6 years old tried to cajole him into not being afraid. Nothing worked.

I am not sure what ever happened to that poor robot. Not much scares my son any more. He might even like the robot now.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Experience Wtth A Vampire



I know I have mentioned that I am afraid of vampires. They are the one thing I am sure does not exist (I have to be sure) but they terrify me.

I also have to admit I am fascinated by vampires. When I was younger I watched the movies. I read Dracula by Bram Stoker. I recommend this book. I also highly recommend the Wamphyri series by Brian Lumley. Actually it is the Necroscope series if you want to go to the library and look for them. But I digress.

I no longer watch vampire movies. For one thing I am afraid. For another most "scary" movies today are more aptly just "icky" movies. They show blood and gore just for the sake of making a mess. I am not a fan of all that. I can enjoy a movie that frightens me but I do not want to be made sick.

Back in the 1970's there was a movie that was made for television about vampires. It was named Dracula and starred Jack Palance. After the children were in bed my husband and I decided to watch it.

I had a nice rocking chair that I sat in. It is where I sat when I was feeding the babies or just to relax them before bed. While I rocked them I always wore a knitted brown shawl. It seemed so cozy to drape around the baby and me. It created a cocoon that separated us from everything else.

But the kids were in bed. I sat with my shawl around my shoulders in my comfy rocker and watched this vampire movie. I was never a big fan of Jack Palance. This movie was okay but I felt no big feeling about it one way or the other. But it was about a vampire. It did spook me a little.

Before going to bed myself I suddenly realized I had no milk for the children in the morning. We lived next door to my parents at that time. One of the things that I hated the most about living in the city was that the houses are so close together. For instance the house on the other side of us was so close that there was barely room for a little walkway between the two houses.

But in this case I was lucky to have my parents so close. I decided to run next door to see if Mom had a little extra milk until I could get to the store the next day.

As I was going out I turned to my husband and joked, "If I'm not back right away, it will mean a vampire got me." Then I hurried next door in the dark of night.

Was I afraid? I was a little. I knew there are no vampires but ... well you know how it is.

I was lucky Mom had an extra gallon of milk. She told me to take the whole thing so I did! I wished them good night and went back home.

Now I have to tell you that I knew my idiot husband was going to do something to try to scare me when I got home. I knew it. And I was prepared.

What I was not prepared for was the figure that came flapping at me from the dark between the two houses. It was the size of a man but it had what appeared to be wings of some sort that were flapping crazily. I screamed as loud as it is possible to scream.

Then the figure came out from between the houses into the relative light of the night. It was my husband! He had my shawl over his head and arms and was still flapping like a vampire. He was laughing.

He went into the house with me hot on his trail. I threw the gallon of milk at him. He knew how scared I would be. Well maybe not because he told me that if he had known that I would throw the milk at him he would not have done it. Yeah, right!

Once I stopped shaking I thought I should call my parents to let them know I was okay. I peeked out the window and their house was dark. They were already in bed.

The next day I was talking to my mother and told her what had happened. She said, "We heard you scream. I looked out the window and didn't see anything so I figured you were okay and we went to bed."

What!?!? I think that perhaps, just perhaps, I was under-protected in my experience with the vampire.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sorrow


A blogger friend expressed some interest in my brother who was killed in Viet Nam. In order to try to clarify my family's reaction to it all I am reprinting a previous post. Questions and comments are welcome
* * * * * * * *

.My brother was two years younger than me. Our whole family was close. He and I were not necessarily closer than the rest but we did have a knack for getting into mischief together

The 1960's were a time of extreme change. Many people were demanding changes to the way they were treated. Peaceful demonstrations sometimes turned violent. We were learning to challenge authority not meekly follow what we were told. And of course there was the war in Viet Nam.

My brother who was one year younger had been drafted into the Army. He seemed to get a lot of breaks as far as time at home and assignments. His overseas assignment was to Korea.

The brother two years younger knew he would also be drafted when the time came. He always said that if he was drafted he would be sent to Viet Nam and if he was sent to Viet Nam he would come home in a "baggie". That was his term not mine.

So he was in fact drafted. He did not get any time at home between Basic Training and the second round of training. After that he was home for about a week and a half and he went to Viet Nam.

Before he left he made arrangements for the distribution of his things. And his insurance money was to go to our mother with the exception of a brand new car for our father. The car was to be a red Ford with black interior.

My brother was a person who lived his life to the absolute fullest. Everybody loved him. At the same time he could be so infuriating. He had a circle of friends who saw him as a leader. They occasionally got into a bit of mischief but nothing major.

One of those friends was a boy who had never really had any friends before. He was extremely overweight with an extremely possessive mother. Another boy also had a possessive mother but she had allowed him to have friends so she could entertain her gentleman friends. Another boy came from a large family too. There were others but those three stand out in my mind.

All the boys were drafted except for the one who was so overweight. The boy from the large family ended up in Germany. The boy with the popular mother was sent to Viet Nam as were the others. Members of my family and I wrote to them all regularly.

The overweight boy knew of my brother's prediction for what would become of him. He went on a rigorous diet to lose enough weight so the Army would take him. If he could just get in he reasoned that he could volunteer to be sent to Viet Nam. Once in Viet Nam he felt he could somehow find my brother and protect him. He finally fit into the weight restrictions and joined the Army.

In the meantime my brother was in Viet Nam. We received letters from him. We wrote to him. We sent him "care packages" from home. My mother, my sister, and I tried to take turns so he would receive at least one each week. We included personal items like socks, underwear, and grooming supplies. And they were full of homemade goodies.

He wrote to tell us how much his buddies enjoyed the cookies and candy we made and sent. He told me one time that there was a particular type of cookie that I sent that always arrived in crumbs. I apologized and said I would not send them anymore. He wrote back and said to send them because they were one of the most popular items in the box. He suggested I send them in coffee cans so they could just eat the crumbs so that is what I did.

My brother was a tank driver. One time he was driving and his tank hit a land mine. Luckily no one was hurt but it did blow one of the tracks off his tank so he was idle for a few days until they fixed it. He sent my oldest son pictures of himself standing in the hole that was left after the explosion. It was as deep as he was tall.

He missed everyone so much. He sent silk jackets for my oldest son and my youngest brother. He sent silk pajamas to my second son who was my youngest at the time. They wore them until they were completely worn out.

One letter I received was tragic. They had been out on a mission and several of his buddies were killed. It was the first time he had ever seen anyone die. And to die so violently only made it worse. He was drunk when he wrote the letter and there are teardrops on the pages. It broke my heart for him to have to go through that.

My husband, children, and I were preparing for vacation. I had the dreaded feeling that we would be called home from that vacation because my brother had died. I had some last minute shopping to do before we left so I drove to my parents' house to pick up both my sisters to help me. They would spend the night and we would shop the next day.

It was fairly late when we got home. As I did every night I sat in my rocking chair to rock my children before I put them to bed. Suddenly I looked at my sisters and said, "Did you hear that?" Both of them asked what they should have heard. I remember telling them that it must have been the rocker creaking. They remember me telling them what I heard.

It was a young woman's voice. It clearly said, " Emma, Randy's dead." I was a little frightened but I pushed it aside and we all went to bed.

The next day we finished our shopping. I had to finish packing for our trip because we were leaving the next day. As I drove my sisters home we heard one of our favorite songs on the radio. It was Creedence Clearwater Revival singing "Looking Out My Back Door". When it was over we switched stations and there was the same song.  Once again at the end of it we switched and the same song played again.

As the song was ending we pulled up in front of my parent's house. We were laughing and carrying on. Daddy came out and came right to the car. He worked in a chemical factory and his eyes were all red. I assumed it was from something at work. He told me to turn off the car.

The girls went into the house immediately. I asked him what was wrong, hoping to find out what had happened to his eyes. He told me my brother had been killed.

My first thought was for my mother. How was she? Did she need a doctor? I took my boys into the house to see her but she was not there. I assumed she had gone to her room to try to relax. My youngest brother and sister were sitting on the couch looking totally lost.

My husband who was very close to my brother had gone to see his own brother after work. I called and talked to my sister-in-law. I told her to tell my husband where I was and that he should meet me there instead of at our house.

She could tell from my voice that something was wrong. After she insisted on knowing I told her and asked that she not tell my husband because I wanted to be the one. Then I took my boys outside. They were so small and I did not want them to upset anyone.

The boys and I were sitting on the front porch steps when my husband arrived. I told him what had happened. He didn't believe it. He was certain it was a mistake.

With my husband to support me I went back inside. My mother was sitting on the couch between the two little kids. I asked her if she was okay and told her that I had been in before but I thought she needed to be alone so I had not bothered her. I did ask if she had been lying down. She had seen me when I was in before. She was sitting on the couch with my brother and sister and wondered why I had not said anything to her!

The soldiers who came to notify my mother had stayed with her until my father could get home. They were actually so kind and so helpful. My parents decided to have a military funeral.

The soldiers told my parents that my brother's tank had been in for repairs. Some of his buddies had been caught in an ambush and he volunteered to be part of the rescue team. The vehicle he was riding in hit a land mine and he was killed instantly. They would not tell us if there were other casualties.

We found out many years later that what we were told was not the truth. What actually happened was that they were out on maneuvers. He was driving his tank and there were other tanks there too. They stopped to decide what to do next. My brother was thirsty and knew there was Kool-Aid in one of the other tanks.

That tank driver knew the area and that it was heavily planted with land mines so he told my brother to stay where he was. My brother assured him he would be fine and proceeded to get a drink. He stepped on one of the land mines. It killed him and another man instantly. Either way, he was dead.

For the military funeral there was to be a military honor guard  The Army tries to grant as many of the family's wishes as possible in circumstances like ours. We had only one wish. Remember the overweight boy who finally made it into the Army? He was in Basic Training. We asked if he could be part of the honor guard. We were told that Basic Training was rarely interrupted but they would inquire. We got our wish.

My parents were devastated at losing their child. The rest of us were devastated at losing someone who loved living as much as my brother did. The service itself was heartbreaking. But at the cemetery the military took over.

A military funeral is beautiful with all the pomp and majesty involved. They have been trained to do things exactly. There was no milling about wondering what to do next. But for the people who loved the deceased the closing can be heart-wrenching. The playing of taps and the gun salute are something that I wish for no one.

After my brother died my mother, my sister, and I continued to send the "care packages" to his unit. It was the least we could do and I think we knew my brother would have appreciated it. Some of the guys wrote and thanked us. It was comforting.

As we all know life moves forward. We still miss my brother. He was not much more than a baby when he died. It is not right. We have tried to keep his memory alive by introducing his life to our children and grandchildren.

Two years after he died I had another son. I named him after my brother. The strange part of that is that if I had waited until my sons were a bit older to name one of them after him, it would have been this one. He has a lot of the same traits, especially his love for life.

Before my brother was killed I never gave much thought to war. It was something in history books or so far removed from me that it was not real. I wish that a day will come when war is a thing of the past. No families will have to mourn sons and daughters lost so senselessly for what always seem to be petty reasons. I understand there needs to be a balance but there must be a better way to solve disagreements.

My brother died just a couple of months before his 21st birthday. He has been gone almost fifty years. Too young. All of them were too young.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Buttons And Lemons


My father once bought a red Thunderbird to drive. For anyone who is not sure Thunderbirds were sports ars made by Ford.

He and I loved that car. It was used, not new. It had a strip of leather and metal that started on the ceiling and ended at the front of the bucket seats. On the strip were buttons... lots of buttons. We liked buttons.

Most of them did not work. But they were buttons and we liked them.

As a brand I prefer Fords. For some reason the seats fit my bottom and back better than most brands. I drive a Jeep SUV right now and I like it a lot too. But back to Fords.

For a luxury car I liked Lincoln Towncars or Mercury Crown Victorias. I liked Edsels too. Thunderbirds are sports cars. The 1956 model is one of the nicest looking cars ever. That is the model driven by the mysterious blonde in the movie American Graffiti.

I once bought my own Thunderbird. It was beautiful. Powder blue was the color. It had a tuck and roll white interior. Not very practical with children I know but nice to look at.

It also had a turbo engine. I have little idea of what that actually means. It is supposed to sound like the car is fast. All I know is that those turbos were one of the first things to go wrong with the cars.

I did love that car. I knew it was a lemon almost as soon as I got it but I loved it anyway.

I spent a lot of money on repairs for that car. Including a new turbo. Something was constantly needing to be fixed. I did love that car.

I finally gathered my senses and sold it for far less than I paid for it. I was lucky to get anything for it. It was a lemon after all.