Friday, July 20, 2018

Another "Melanie Question"

Once again I happened to read one of my daughter's daily questions on Facebook. This one said, "What was your favorite summer activity when you were a kid?"
Well, my life was pretty boring, let me tell you. We lived on a farm. My mother didn't drive. She baked for a local grocery store to help put my sister through nurses training. I read and played piano.
But I thought, I did do something that was fun when I was about 8 or 9. I looked at the comments that people had answered Melanie's question with and it went like this: swimming, swimming, swimming in the river. (I was one of the very first people to read her question.)  "Hmm," I thought, I had only gone swimming once in my life and didn't like it when I was a little girl. I can still "smell" the chlorine in the air at the pool in Holstein, Iowa.
So I decided to answer my daughter's question truthfully.
When I was young, yes, I was an avid reader. Along with the Little House On The Prairie books, I loved the Boxcar Children books. I had and have an avid imagination so I asked my mom if I could go hiking and take a lunch. She said, "sure." and packed my lunch in one of my dad's farmer hankies. It was really fancy; homemade bread and butter and a quart canning jar with water in it. If she sprinkled sugar on my bread and butter, I wouldn't be surprised. She did that a lot for an afternoon treat.
Ok, I was "hoboing" it and off I would go. I walked  through Iowa prairie grass that followed a very shallow little creek that seldom had more than three or four inches of water in it. My life wasn't as exciting as the orphans, but to me it was as good as it got.
Cattails by the creek
The first thing that I would do is to lay down in that tall grass and look up into the sky. I loved looking at the clouds and imagining shapes of animals etc. that they made. My sister, Rosie, taught me how to do that from our bedroom window.
A person has no idea how noisy a field of prairie grass is if you had not done as child as I did; just being still and listening. There were no airplanes, trucks, tractors, cars going fast down the highway. We lived about a quarter of a mile off of the highway. To an adult walking through the grass the air was only disturbed by birds chirping. Down on the ground I could hear crickets, grasshoppers, and the swishing of the grass itself in the breeze. There must have been a gazillion ants and beetles and who knows what, but I loved it! Would I do it now, no way.
When I tired of that I would eat my lunch and drink some of my water and catch tadpoles in my canning jar. I was fascinated with them. My mother was not. She was not happy with the condition of my grass stained dress either. No slacks for little girls in those days.
I did go "hiking" again once or twice, but it was not as fun because I had to worry about my dress getting stained.
I'm sitting here typing thinking, "It was too bad you didn't have a dog to go with you on your hikes, you might have enjoyed it more." We had off and on dogs. They were strays I think sometimes by their own choice. Another story someday.
Melanie asks the questions I get to reminisce!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

You Say Too-mah-toe I Say Tomato.......

Yesterday things weren't all great in my life. My best friend had suffered a severe health condition which caused a lot of people great worry and made me cry. I don't cry very often. More often than not, I cry when I'm mad. Well that situation made me mad too, so I cried off and on most of the day.
To top my day off yesterday afternoon I almost stepped on a gecko. I am thinking that a bunch of his cronies and him had applied to Geico to audition for a part in their insurance advertising campaign. I am not scared of these little guys, but I was on the war path and he caught the brunt of my frustration. I called Fran and said, " I have a slithery thing that I almost stepped on and you had better get down here and get him out of here!" I had him trapped under a Kleenex box and was not going to move until he joined the Wonderful World Of Outside Where You Belong Club.
Not cute!
So Fran came down and picked up "the poor little feller" and said, "Why are you so upset, he doesn't bite, sting, or anything to hurt you?" Then he said, "You know, there are a lot of these out in the yard this year. Must be the weather."
Have you ever paid attention to the conversations concerning things that are out of the ordinary or difficult to explain. Folks tend to say, "Must be the weather." Awk!!
That's cute!
Geico Mascot
If you have watched the Geico commercials as long as I have, I much preferred the two squirrels that caused an accident and gave each other the high five in satisfaction. Squirrels do not slither. I hate "slithery" including geckos. So no matter how you say it, Geico or gecko do not bless me with your presence again, "poor little feller."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

No Partridge, But It Was The 13th

My life is generally the same day after day. I am not superstitious so I was unaware that it was Friday the 13th yesterday. I only look at the calendar to make sure that I water Marie's Christmas Cactus every two weeks. I mark the dates of this task religiously. She warned me repeatedly that this must be done or it would surely die. Yes, it probably would.
We had her 103rd birthday party last Friday. I love baked beans and peach cobbler, so I had purchased gallon cans of each. When her brother and I attempted to open said cans, all she had was an electric opener. The job was not doable with an electric can opener. We needed the real deal! So I sent her grandson to our camper across the road to get us a manual opener.
 I had not cleaned her cupboard drawers. They were her cupboards and it is her home. But yesterday I thought she is unable to tell me to find her things that she needed anymore like she had always done so I decided to clean her cupboard drawers.
I filled an old plastic mixing bowl that needed a new home for the soapy water  I needed to wash out the drawers. Marie needed me so I left my task and was gone about 5 minutes. When I returned the kitchen floor was flooded. I thought, "What in the world!?" I thought for sure there was a plumbing problem. I quickly picked up that old bowl and emptied it in the sink. For some reason I held it up to the light. I circular crack all the way around the bottom of the bowl TWICE! How could that happen? The bowl found a new home alright, into a black trash bag. What a bother, now I had to scrub the floor with a whole big bunch of water. I let the floor dry.
When the floor was dry I resumed my three drawer job. Yes, folks, only three drawers. Top drawer was for silverware I presumed because it had a silverware holder in it. That was where I was always instructed to get the majority of her things that she wanted/needed. I knew that her straws were in there. Oh, such surprise finds did await me. There were a mutlitude of cheese slicers (6) and a many many things that I could not identify their use. They were all in their original plastic bags that they came in. The brand new inhabitants of Marie's silverware drawer were also accompanied by thank you notes. The notes were accompanied by Certificates of Achievement by many different charities. Marie believed in giving to children, the American Indians, to Disabled Veterans, and of course, the dreadful Publishers Clearing House. I say dreadful because the odds of winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes is almost the exact same odds as winning the Powerball Lottery per Google.
The drawer and silverware holder are all spotless and now holding appropriate pieces of eating utensils.
The second drawer was off the track and took me approximately ten minutes to get that fixed. Remember what day it was. It held a variety of tools, and larger cooking utensils. I had in fact added to the disorder that drawer was in because she needed bowl covers. So there were several of those that I had thrown in disregard to order. That drawer is now all clean and sorted.
The third drawer was the most interesting to me. It held 2 can openers!! A turkey baster, which we needed for our turkey on Friday. It also held, a variety of packaged cooking additives that were long out of date. She is a lot like my husband. Buy new something or other because you probably don't have it at home. I know this because last week I cleaned our cupboard drawers. Oh, my.
You probably would have shook your heads if you would have heard me talking to myself saying, "I wonder where the partridge is at." Nope, never found one.
This morning when I was fixing Marie's breakfast I was at a loss. All the things that used to be on the counter for fixing her meals were now hidden away in her cupboard drawers. What a nuisance! I will have to get used to my orderliness that's for sure.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Charlie's Dog, Smokey

If you have been reading my blog on a regular basis, you will have found several posts about Charlie. He is my mother-in-law's brother. He was in the Navy for over twenty years. He and his wife, Nancy, and their children had the chance of a life time to experience life all over he world. Charlie, or Uncle Charlie, as a lot of his family call him was at our house to help celebrate his sister's 103rd birthday. He also got involved in repairing his sister's granddaughter's car. She lives in Texas and that is a long ways away without a running car 90+ degree heat, two small grandsons, plus the air went out on the way here.
 Most of the relatives had for the most part settled down for the evening. Charlie and Fran and I, however, were just sitting in the living room visiting. We hadn't seen him for three years. I love to listen to his stories. Once again, I messed up and did not record this story. He is a great story teller and uses hand gestures to  make the story even more fun.
This is Charlie's story, not mine. For the most part it will be in quotes just the way Charlie told it to us that hot evening in July 2018.
"Smokey was a dog we added to our family when we were stationed in Spain. He was a Wire Haired Terrier, the runt of the litter, but that's what the kids wanted so that was that.
Nan and I started teaching him easy tricks such as sit up, roll over, and turn around. Then we started to try more difficult tricks such as speak on command and progressed to counting by barking to hand signals and voice commands. Like 1 finger is one bark,  2 fingers is two barks etc. He could count to 3 and subtract from 3 to 1 at first with voice commands then to just hand commands.
Nan taught him to close doors because the kids would run into the house and fail to close the door. One day I came home from shopping and I had my arms full. I told Smokey to close the car door. Little did I know that our neighbor was in the front yard watching this. He (Smokey) jumped up and pushed the door but it did not close so I told Smokey to go back and close the door which he did. My neighbor came over and said that if he had not seen this with his own eyes that he would not have believed it. He said, "I wish I could train my children to do what he just did."
Smokey did not like to be penned up in the back yard and would dig his way out of the fenced back yard. I finally took two pickets off the fence at the bottom so that he had a way out. When I did that, he stayed in the back yard until one of us came home; then he would greet us in the FRONT yard. (I capitalized Front not Charlie. This story just amazed me.)
We were moving to Dallas from Austin and put the house up for sale and put it in a realtor's hand. We told the realtors to leave the dog in the back yard when they left the house. They put him in the back yard and proceeded to lock the house and put the key in their lock box on the door handle. She looked down and there was Smokey. She was sure that she had left him in the back yard, but she unlocked the door and went in the house. She opened the sliding door and put Smokey back in the back yard. She left the house, locked the door, put the key in the lock box and lo and behold there was Smokey! She proceeded to call me and swore that she had left him in the back yard. I told her that it was ok because he had his own key!
We used to play hide and seek with him and the kids would go hide. He would go find them. He sometimes would cheat by peeking to see where they were going. So I would have him cover his eyes with his paws til they were hidden. Then I would tell him to go find them. He would always go to the last place he found them and then would search the rest of the house and as always found them all.
All of the things that we taught him were done without treats after each trick. He would do them for anyone as long as they spoke clearly.
He loved to play games that the kids played and tried to do everything that they did. We lived across from a playground and there was a slide that the kids were using. He would climb the slide ladder and slide down with them just like it was a natural thing that dogs did.
When it was bedtime, the family would say prayers before going to bed. We taught Smokey to lay his head in my lap and cover his eyes while we prayed. Every once in a while he would uncover his eyes to see what was going on and I would scold him and tell him to pray. He would cover his eyes until we were done."
In his email he said at the end " to be continued."
Charles and Nancy Aubin
I can't wait to hear the rest of the story again. Hopefully Charlie will send pictures of Smokey with his family.
I hope you enjoyed this story as much as Fran and I did. I shared it to Marie's Memories also.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

S.A.M.A. (Stockton Area Ministerial Alliance)

This little thrift shop is not so little. It has long arms that stretch to the big city of Springfield about 50 miles or better away from our little town. Our area citizens donate and buy from here to help our needy people and to help themselves.
Our citizens in our small county are for the most part kind and generous to each other. Because of this many of our seniors and folks that need a hand are always welcome here.
 Fran and I shop at this little thrift shop frequently. We also donate to them whenever we have nice things, but don't fit! Hmm seems to be a problem of continuing to grow out of our clothes? We also donate household things that we don't need anymore. We just don't have parties, or company of groups of four to twenty- four for the most part anymore. I think that is the sad part of growing old. Outliving your most wonderful friends, family living far away, and  not able to drive to see them unless it's daytime, or the trip is divided into short hourly parts for us anyway.
My mother-in-law needed many things as her health deteriorated. She needed tops that could be made into a hospital gown type opening. She is a girl and I thought that she "needed" girly stuff to decorated her home and tables. I needed clothing that not only fit, but was easy to wear to take care of her and her needs.
One day I told my husband that I must be getting shorter. He asked why I thought that. My answer was "I have to stand on my tip toes to reach a coffee cup. The cupboard is almost always empty of cups in the front so I have to reach clear to the back to get myself a coffee cup."
My youngest son at times comes over for coffee and I have a feeling some of my cups may be in his shop. We also have a fifth wheel camper that we use for guests. I searched out there and there were not many cups in that cupboard either. You guessed it; Marie's house was short of cups also. We have a missing coffee mug mystery! (Not unlike missing socks in the laundry.)
So to the S.A.M.A. Thrift shop we go. I bought a dozen coffee mugs. I need tall mugs with wide handles so that my hand shaking doesn't lend to me spilling my coffee. They were a quarter a piece. I even bought Marie a cute Happy Birthday mug to help her celebrate her 103rd birthday.
So last night I again had to reach for a coffee cup. I said so very sweetly loudly, "Fran, where in the world are my coffee cups I bought? I can't find but two or three in the cupboard. Are they all in the dishwasher? (It was running.) Fran replied, "No they are out there." And that was the end of the answer. Well, I dug in my heels and said, "Where out there, I want a cup of coffee!" (Voice a bit raised.) The answer I got was an index finger pointing to the kitchen because he was watching TV.
I tromped out to the kitchen followed by Fran thinking I might be a bit P.O.'d. There they all were because he said he didn't know where I wanted them; sitting on a shelf above the microwave. Mercy!
I love my new cups that are now resting nicely in my kitchen cupboard.
I also love that Marie has new cups and now the camper has way too many cups. Just can't please me. Seems like I've heard that somewhere before.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Uncle Charlie Sees "Project Rhonda" Through To The End

Marie with Rhonda and her 2 great greats
Some of you may know that years ago I repaired appliances for Sears. I had my own truck, toolbox, and backup in my tons of manuals! What I did not have was confidence in my ability from not only my colleagues (men) and many of my customers. I was good at my job. What I did not repair was automobiles. I knew that they had a motor, needed gas and oil and occasionally a tune up. So when Rhonda and Brian's car broke down I did not have a clue what the part was that had given up the ghost; a harmonic balancer or something like that. I looked up the part on Google and this is what it looked like to them. It was good enough for me to understand that it had nothing to do with music. I really thought it would be spelling Philharmonic like in orchestras. Anyway this is a picture that would be similar to the part whose bolt flew out onto the parking lot.
Rhonda was trying to explain to me that she was driving back to the motel via the grocery store when she heard a wap wap tap tap sound. I know, you had to be here. She was not happy but did go into the store and was so upset she forgot half of what she needed. When she started the car again she portrayed a sound of a metal spoon whacking a drinking glass (ping!) At that time she actually saw a 3-4" bolt fly out of her car onto the parking lot. She got out or Brian did and got the bolt and actually drove the car a few blocks back to the motel and backed it in so that the motor would be accessible for her dad to help inspect it to find the problem other than the obvious.
The power steering had quit so she had to manhandle it, the alternator belt had jumped off, therefore, all the guages had lit up ultimately saying, "I am not working!!!" When they opened up the hood the pulley was actually sitting on the frame. It was a definite save!
This story could go on for pages, however, it was an ultimate "fixed it" so that Rhonda and her family did arrive back home last night safe and sound. What a relief not only to us, but to Rhonda's whole family. 
And, Uncle Charlie with his helpful supervision and ideas was able to be there for the turn of the key to a smooth running automobile. 
The fun part of this story if there is one, is that Rhonda's husband, Brian, and Fran, Rhonda's dad, worked as a team fixing Brian's car 32 years ago, even before Brian had married his daughter.
I wanted to tell this story because page after page of this long story could have been told in one word: FAMILY
Marie 103 to youngest 5 years old= family

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Charlie Gets Involved in " Project Rhonda"

This story actually began in the late fall of 2017. I was in a discount store and discovered that they had four remaining box fans on clearance for $8.00. I just could not pass up that good deal; no matter I did not need a box fan.
Okay, I have now given you a bit of trivia you are all wondering what does that have to do with Uncle Charlie?
About nine o'clock in the evening the night before Marie's birthday, the phone rang; it was Rhonda. Why would she be calling if there was not trouble. I immediately asked her if everything was okay. She said, quietly, "I need a mechanic. We all knew that her air conditioner had gone out on the way up here so me, being naive thought it was the problem. Not the problem. She again said quietly, "I need to talk to Dad." When she was telling me the story after the fact, she said she kept remembering a sign she had seen in Branson at the Toy Museum. It said, "If it's broke, call Dad open twenty four hours.
The problem was extensive too extensive for me to comprehend. Her dad seemed to understand what she was saying. He called my son. He and Fran went to the motel where Rhonda and her family were staying.  My son called mechanics that he knew and also a garage that took one look at it and I'm two weeks out and I would have to order parts and besides that, I am not going to touch it. It seemed that no one in our small county would work on it. Her family was 751 miles from home! Rhonda's dad and my son had put her car on Fran's big trailer, so they brought it home and backed it into our carport.
 Enter Uncle Charlie. I thought I kept hearing him say Gorilla Glue, but just shook it off and went about my business.
When I came home from Marie's house there was the biggest mess I ever saw. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't want to make Rhonda mad. I found out she was disappointed that I didn't. There were two box fans, Aha, my box fan that I did not need, paper towels, tools, and a myriad of car parts on the floor of the carport. At one point her Uncle Roger, Uncle Charlie, cousin Chuck, brother Joe, my son, her father, and of course her husband Brian were all entering into the project with a variety of opinions. They were working into the early evening and Fran just quit. He said, "I can't see in the dark, I've had a Crown or three, it's hot, and I'm done." Uncle Charlie came in the house and said, "I think I'll have a few fingers of your Crown now." Again I could have sworn I heard him say something about Gorilla Glue added with a chuckle.
Fran told Rhonda to take his pickup and take her family to the motel; everything would be fine the next day.
Charlie and I were having coffee on Marie's deck yesterday morning at 7:00 and Fran comes up the sidewalk and said, "Charlie, you and I are going for a ride." He looked at me with a look that said, "Don't ask," so I didn't.
Family was starting to leave and Rhonda was anxious to say the least.
Oh, but wait, I haven't told you what was wrong with the car and how the whole mess started out complete with sound effects
. Part 3 tomorrow if I can. I promise I will finish the story, but my time is not always my own. This was a 2 1/2 day project, so my story is rather lengthy, but fun.