Friday, May 29, 2015
I grew up drinking milk. It was plentiful because of the farms we lived on and Grandpa had. And it was good for me. I still like milk.
When my husband and I married neither of us drank coffee. We still drank milk.
My mother made Kool-Aid too. I never did like it... too sweet. We could not afford soda pop which we called just pop.
When we got our allowance we would head straight for the store. It would be Saturday which was the day of the free show where they showed free movies to occupy the children while their parents did the weekly shopping.
At the store I would buy a candy bar for a nickel and a pop for 11 cents. (When I returned the empty bottle to the store I would get 1 cent back because of the deposit.) We had to save a nickel for the collection plate at church. The pop was a real treat.
As I got older I had pop a little more often. First my friends and I all drank RC Cola. We put peanuts in it and felt ever so urbane. I drank RC until moving to another town.
Coca Cola was what we drank there. I drank Coke until after I was married. I decided one day I was addicted to Coke so I quit drinking it.
I drank Pepsi instead! I drank at least an eight pack of Pepsi every week. I drank Pepsi until I decided to stop drinking pop altogether.
If I was out partying there were several drinks I liked. My favorite was Long Island iced tea. It is made using all the clear liquors with enough cola to make it the color of iced tea. It is a sipping drink that can last all night.
In the summer there is nothing as refreshing as an ice cold beer on a hot day. I am not much of a beer drinker but it is a good summer beverage.
However these days I drink water or tea.
Hot tea is good for breakfast or on a chilly day. When I was a child we put sugar in tea. My mother always said that if I ever learned to drink tea without sugar I would not drink it any other way.
A friend from Scotland introduced me to tea with milk in it to help me stop using sugar. Of course her tea was so much better than what I make but it worked. I now drink tea with nothing added.
Iced tea is cool and refreshing. It is good on hot days but I drink it all year.
Most of the time I drink water. It is refreshing too.
Where I live the water from the faucet tastes terrible. And my son was giving it to the dog but it made her sick. So we drink bottled water.
I spend more than I should to buy the individual bottles but they are so handy. We buy big jugs for the dog and other uses.
So these days I drink no pop at all. I cannot remember the last time I had an alcoholic drink of any kind. I do not like coffee. I drink milk occasionally. I drink iced tea and water now.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
My father was a creature of habit. He liked his schedule and he liked being at home and sleeping in his own bed.
When I was grown with a family of my own I was often at my parents' house when Daddy came home from work. He always arrived at the same time. When the door opened we knew it was him and we were ready to greet him.
For a long time after he died if someone came through the door at that time we would look up expecting to see him. It was a let down when it was not my father.
When I was a little girl of about 4 and 5 years old my father came home every day at the same time too. He worked at a munitions factory.
His work uniform was different. It was white. All the pockets were strips of cloth instead of a big patch enclosing the pocket. He told me that was so no one would take a lighter or matches into the factory.
I thought that was funny. When I was much older and Daddy no longer worked there I realized that it was to lessen the threat of an accidental explosion.
Every day when it was almost time for Daddy to come home from work I would run into the kitchen and hide behind the door. When he came in from work I would jump out from behind the door and scare him. Of course he was always surprised.
After he was properly "shocked" he would pick me up for a big hug as he walked over to give my mother a hello kiss.. He would ask what was for supper then go change into normal clothes. It was my favorite time of the day.
One day Mom started supper so I went into my hiding place to wait anxiously for my daddy. I crouched with a smile on my face in expectation of scaring Daddy. Mom just kept fixing supper with a wry grin on her face.
Finally she said, "Daddy's not coming home tonight."
I shrieked. I began to cry. Finally I went to Mom and whined, "But I want a Daddy just like everybody else!"
She began to chuckle as she gave me a hug. She tried to explain to me about overtime. She told me my father would be home the next night when it was time. I was inconsolable. I wanted my Daddy.
Of course he came home the next day. I waited behind the door and scared him. All was right with the world.
Friday, May 22, 2015
We moved into a three family house. My parents lived upstairs. My husband and son and I lived in the front half of the downstairs. A Mexican family lived in the back half.
One day I took my son for an outing. When we came back the children of the family living in the back were playing on the porch. I greeted them and we talked for a while.
I noticed the snacks they were eating and I felt so sorry for them. They were eating tortillas with butter on them. I went inside to put the baby down for a nap.
Suddenly I realized that I was feeling sorry for those children and I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I'll bet tortillas and butter were a treat for them. I began to remember some of the things we ate when I was a child.
Our favorite treat was bread and sugar. We pressed a slice of bread onto a plate with sugar on it. Then we ate it. On the farm we would catch a little cream from the separator then sprinkle sugar over that. It was like adding icing to it. It was the best treat ever.
We often made cinnamon toast too. We spread a bit of butter on the bread then covered it with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. That was placed under the flame in the broiler of the stove. Once it bubbled and looked toasted it was done.
When you bake a pie there are little scraps of dough form the crust left over. Mom would take those and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. She placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for just long enough to crisp up the dough. She called them kiddie cookies. I made them for my children too.
A special treat was graham crackers and frosting sandwiches. Mom hated making them because of course there were no cans of frosting like we have now. She would make frosting then spread it on graham crackers. Another graham cracker placed on top of the frosting made a sandwich. They had to set for a few minutes so the frosting would not flow all over as we ate them. They were a lot of work to make back then. I still make them once in a while but I use canned frosting because I am lazy.
The Mexican family would most likely have been appalled at our bread and sugar. Mothers use what they have to make a treat for their children to hold them until supper. And to be honest my own children prefer the buttered tortillas to the treats I loved as a child.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I recently spoke to a dear friend of mine. At one time we were inseparable. Then things changed and we no longer saw each other at all except occasional uncomfortable chance meetings.
Our husbands were friends and that is how we met. Our friendship grew gradually. It was not an immediate thing.
Then I was no longer married. But friendship remained. Our huge group of friends did not drop either my husband or myself from the group. We were not thrust together but we did not lose friends which was fortunate.
I went to work for my friend's husband. Because of this I knew a lot of what was happening in his life as well.
I learned that he had hired two women and the husband of one of them as night watchmen for his business. My employer was having an affair with the second woman.
When my friend found out that her husband was seeing another woman she called me in tears. I went to her house immediately. As she alternated between hurt, betrayal, anger, fury, and fear I listened.
Then I told her that she needed to know that I had known about the affair for some time. I had not told her because if it had been a short term thing she might never have known and therefore never hurt by it. I also told her that I was there for her but that I would not run to her with stories true or otherwise. She understood and accepted that.
His affair continued. She continued to be hurt. She stayed with him because she was afraid to be on her own. She had little education and had never had a job. She did not know how she and the children would live if she left him.
Eventually she had an affair of her own. She needed to feel desirable to someone... anyone.
She became pregnant. She felt that the risk of having the baby borne of an affair was to great so I went with her when she had an abortion. Until now only three people have known about the abortion; her sister, her, and me.
She ended her affair. It was best. Unfortunately she began to drink.
In the meantime her husband began to feel that I was the root of all his problems so he fired me from my job. He had stopped seeing the woman he was seeing but he needed to feel that he was not at fault.
That was when I realized that if they were to be able to make their marriage work I had to break up with both of them.
I miss my friendship with both of them. I think they miss me a bit too.
They are still married. But it is a sad and distant marriage.
The husband has become ill but he still runs his business. I think he feels cut off not only from his wife but also his children and grandchildren.
The wife still drinks too much. She will not leave the marriage but nurtures the hurt. She has little to say to her husband.
All this unhappiness of course affected their children. They are troubled and most have disfunctional families as well.
It is a sad end to a marriage. It was a sad end to a friendship.
When I heard her voice on the phone I felt wonderful. She invited me to go a couple of places with her. She did not know that I no longer live near her. I think she misses me too.
I have also talked to her husband since then. I think he is a broken man. He knows that it all began with him being foolish. The problem is that he cannot change it.
I wish people could see and truly understand what happened to my friends. It is the best deterrent to infidelity.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Being a child is a thrilling experience. Children automatically know how to fully enjoy the moment. You can see joy, puzzlement, curiosity, fright, sadness, and glee on their faces because they have not yet learned to keep their emotions to themselves.
Of course a trip to the amusement park or a memorable vacation are thrilling to all of us. But children do not need extreme stimulation. I remember some of the things I liked as a child and they are the simplest things. As adults we might not give them another thought.
I love the rain. My parents let us play in the rain unless conditions such as lightning made it dangerous. I still go out and dance in the rain. For some reason it seems to be a basic and freeing thing to do.
One time we had a huge downpour of rain. Of course we had to stay inside because we could not even see the street from the window.
When it became safe to go outside we had a swimming pool! The very shallow ditch which was not more than a slightly lower section between the road and the yard held water. The reason it was so deep was that the water ran halfway up into the yard and halfway out into the road. We had a great time splashing around as the water slowly receded.
Bugs and spiders hold a special fascination for children. I think it may be because they move. Some have good colors.
We collected them. Our way of collecting little critters was to catch them in a mason jar and close the lid.After we began to tire of them (usually a matter of minutes) we set them free and went on to capture another critter.
My best friend had gooseberry bushes at her house. My parents always had strawberries. As a family we went into the country to pick chokecherries for jelly. And there were wild berries to be found all over the place. And I will not even count my very absolute favorite mulberries.
It was always thrilling to pick berries. If they were something we could eat right on the spot so much the better.
Just running and playing are joys for children. One Easter we gathered at my son's house. We all took the eggs we had colored. I filled plastic eggs with goodies. My son had already hidden the ones he filled. When he finished hiding the ones I took there were hundreds of plastic eggs and dozens of colored eggs hidden in his yard.
We released the kids. They had so much fun running around filling their baskets with the treats. Then we went inside and had a scrumptious meal.
After the meal another son tossed a real egg at my grandson. My grandson tossed another back. The Easter egg fight was on! They were all splatting each other with eggs. The yard was covered with colorful bits of eggshell. And a tradition was launched.
But to watch a game of tag when the children do not realize you are watching makes you smile. They are so carefree.
Do you know what a thrill it is for a child to get a hug from a parent? For no reason other than the child just happened to be close? I remember those hugs. I hope my children remember the ones I gave them because I would notice how cute they were.
I constantly mention our family rides in the country. That is because they are some of my favorite times. A simple drive with no time constraints and people pointing out interesting things. For instance a squirrel running up a tree is interesting. A tree with an interesting shape is good. It is interesting to spot a scarecrow, an different kind of flower, chickens scratching around, a road sign that makes you laugh... you get the idea.
We usually lived near a creek. Wading in the creek is great fun. All that splashing and getting wet has other benefits. On a hot summer day it is the best way to cool off. Plus children who have been playing in cool water dry off and warm up a little. When that happens they feel cozy and will take a nice nap.
We also seemed to live near train tracks. Waving at the engineer and getting him to wave back was exhilarating. If he blew the horn... jackpot!
It takes so little to delight a child. I want to always be able to see the joy and wonder in my world too. I wish the same for you.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Because everyone was so kind when I wrote about my sister having a stroke I felt that an update would not be out of line. And catharsis is good for me.
The doctors have told my nephew that for all intents and purposes the right side of her brain is dead. That controls movement on her left side. However the right side is healthy. It controls speech and cognizance.
So they hold little hope that she will regain movement on her left side. Her eye is still swollen and only opens with assistance. That may or may not change.
They do believe that she will regain her ability to speak. She does know what has happened to her because her intelligence comes from the left.
It will be at least several months before she is able to go home. The hospital cannot treat her that long so they are moving her to a long term care facility.
I am still a believer that she will be able to do more than they predict. But I am no longer certain of how much more.
I must tell you my heart is breaking. She is my younger sister.
I am not looking for sympathy for me. My sister has a long recovery ahead of her and she needs all the support she can get. Please send some positive thoughts out for her. Thank you.
Friday, May 8, 2015
I have known people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. I have also known people who's minds work perfectly well but they cannot communicate easily because their bodies cannot cooperate.
I cannot think of anything more frustrating than to be unable to make someone understand what you are thinking. To have all those thoughts and feelings right there and not be able to issue them has to be painful to the soul.
My heart breaks for those whose minds have betrayed them. Not only can they not remember things but often their judgement is impaired as well. That is why you hear of Alzheimer's patients wandering off. Their minds do not recognize the dangers they face.
My son-in-law had a grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's. Her wonderful husband kept her in their home and took care of her. She thought he was her father because he took care of all her needs.
There were several daughters who did not live close by. They continually asked him to move closer so they could help more with her care but he refused as long as he could.
Eventually he had to put her in a home because he was ill. He went to see her every day. She was happy when she saw her Daddy.
But she did not anyone else in the family. They visited regularly but she did not know them.
Of course we have all had those moments when we go blank for a few seconds. You know how it works. You go to the back door and then cannot remember for the life of you why you are there. Or you cannot remember where you left the leys to the car. Or you need to pick up three things at the grocery store and can remember that there were three things but you only remember two of them. It happens.
I got into my car one day a few years ago. The street we lived on had two directions to go. One was down across the train tracks and then we could turn to go wherever we wanted to go in that direction. The other direction took us up past the fire station to the street that we could use to take us wherever we wanted to go that way.
So I got in my car, turned it on, pulled out into the street and could not remember where I was going. I had no inkling of where I was going. But I knew if I just kept moving I would remember.
Bit I could not remember! I pulled over to the side of the road in a complete panic. The more I tried to remember where I was bound the less I knew.
Was this the beginnings of some horrible problem with my memory? I was extremely frightened.
I decided to start moving again. Most places I would go were in that direction. It had to come to me.
I believe I finally went to my son's house. It was not where I was going in the first place. I still have no idea where I was going in the first place.
Now I still misplace my keys (but less often than I used to) and I still get those blank moments of why am I standing at the refrigerator? But I have never again had a moment like forgetting where I was going.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
How did we manage to grow up in one piece? The dangerous things we did that we would never allow our children to do are scary just to think about.
Now I admit that things were more lax because I lived in little bitty towns or on farms. We did not have to worry about the dangers of the streets. Where I lived we knew everybody and they knew us.
We could get up and as soon as our chores were done we could roam at large. We climbed trees, caught snakes, and wandered to places we were not allowed to go. Somehiw we were not seriously injured.
We could go visit a neighbor and not worry about being in their house for hours. As a matter of fact if we stayed too long we were usually put to work. But we were not harmed. And we often got a few cookies and some milk.
On Halloween we grabbed our paper grocery sacks and went from house to house all over town. We got candy bars ( the real sized ones not the minis) that did not need to be checked for harmful materials before we could eat them. We got homemade goodies too. Popcorn balls, candy apples, cupcakes, candies, cookies, pieces of cake, muffins... all kinds of things. When our grocery sacks filled up we just went home and got another one and went out again. None of us were ever poisoned or injured in any way except for maybe an upset stomach from eating too much of our swag.
I have told you about our rides in the country on Sunday afternoons. Most cars had bench seats at that time. Room for the driver, his wife who would hold the baby, and whichever child was lucky enough to sit in the middle. The rest of us crowded into the back seat. If we had our friends with us as we usually did there were children all over. We sat on top of the convertible top which had been lowered into the recessed area. We stood on the floor. We sat on the sides of the car and the back. No one ever fell out or was injured in any way.
Cars had no seat belts or air bags. Only race cars had safety features like that. Often just to have a bit of room we rode standing on the floor. We only had one casualty that I can remember.
We were on our way to my grandparent's farm for Thanksgiving. There were going to be a lot of people there because it is a big family. Mom said she would bring the pies.
She made pumpkin of course and mince meat pies. I do not remember if there were any fruit pies. But there were a lot of them.
The pies were placed on the shelf of the back window which was large but could not hold them all. So the rest were put on the back seat.
Of course there was no room for us to sit but that did not matter because we liked to stand up and see things anyway.
We were a little over a mile from the farm. Suddenly Daddy slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting something in the road. We flew forward into the back of the front seat.
I was the one who then bounced off the front seat and sat down onto the back seat. Not too bad, you say?
That seat was covered with pumpkin pies. I sat directly into one and my hands managed to find a couple more. What a mess.
So there was a dead pie and a couple of pies that needed surgery before we could eat them. My fingers tasted pretty good for a couple of minutes though.
Friday, May 1, 2015
I was taking a drive through the country the other day. I love to just drive and look at scenery. Often I spot a tree that sings to me. I do like trees. And of course there are farm animals.
I saw some cows grazing in a field the other day. I began to think of some of my eperiences with cows.
On my grandparent's farm we liked to go into the barn at milking time to watch my uncles and Grandpa milk the cows.
Cows can be rather cantankerous during the milking procedure. They move around and sometimes kick. That is why Grandpa insisted that we stand against the wall far enough away so we were not in danger and we would not upset the cows.
My uncles would drive the cows into the barn and up to the stanchion that held hay for them to munch. There were wooden bars that moved to hold the cows in their spots.
Behind the cows was a sort of ditch in the cement floor. That was to catch whatever when the cows relieved themselves. Even so as soon as evacuation began the milk buckets were snatched up and moved out of the line of fire and any splash-back. The milk had to be kept sanitary at all costs.
Occasionally one or more of the cows would start to kick or jump about even though they could not move around much. If one managed to kick over a bucket there was much swearing. The loss of milk meant a loss of money.
On days they were feeling generous my uncles might squirt some of the milk for us to catch in our mouths straight from the cow. It was great fun.
One farmer my father worked for also had milk cows. They were grazing in a field of some kind of awful weed. Obviously the cows loved it.
Cows milk will absorb tastes from what they eat. Since we got our milk from the farm we could taste what the cows had eaten.
Now whatever weed these critters had eaten tasted just terrible. I kept complaining about the milk but of course we had no voice about which field the cows fed in. Boy was I glad when they were moved.
As time went on many farmers began to get milking machines. They consisted of a container to hold the milk and vacuum fixtures that fit over the cows teats to remove the milk.
It seems to be a more efficient method. Not only is the udder drained more completely but even if the cow decides to empty a bladder or something the milk is inside a closed container so it will not be contaminated.
Then we moved to a dairy farm. We lived on a mountain and the milking barn was fairly near our house. We would go sit in the windows of the barn at milking time to watch because of course we were never allowed inside.
The milking machine here was really something! There were still stanchions filled with feed. There were still vacuum tubes connected to the cows to obtain milk. But the most interesting thing was the container for the milk.
Instead of individual containers there was one huge container to collect all the milk from all the cows.
These days I wonder if there was a machine on that huge container that separated the cream from the milk or if that was a different operation. I do not know. I suppose I will have to Google it.
The thing that struck me however is that things change. No matter how much the same they are, they change.
Milk is still obtained from cows. Someone or something still has to manipulate the teats to pull the milk from the udder and put it into a container. It must still be kept clean.
So I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.