Friday, January 30, 2015

So much stuff, So little time

As we move into our dotage, I am culling through boxes.  There are three categories:  GoodWill, Keep, and Good-Grief-Throw-Away.  The garage has yet to feel my wrath, but it has been warned of its place on the list.

My son is moving from New York/New Jersey to Chicago, IL.  John is in his 30s and has accumulated an amazing collection of stuff.

He moved to Illinois 2004, went to graduate school, and then moved the NYC where he has worked as an entomologist (insect expert),a consulting scientist for a major pest company. Now John has been hired by another company based in Chicago.

For most of January, he has been sorting through the boxes left unopened from his last move and the one before that.  The findings have amazed, amused, and left him saying “What was I thinking??”

Third grade math and reading books from Ireland?  Old computer games that used 3.25 floppy discs?  Socks, worn out?  Since New York and much of the Northeast coast are now being hit with a “Nor’easter” storm, he has time to continue his searching while being snowed in.

I mentioned to him that I still had the three Irish milking stools that I have kept for thirty (30) years for my three grown children. Would he like me to send one to Chicago, he burst out laughing.

“You still have those?  Really? No, I don't want one...”  So I won’t be sending them to Chicago.

What would you do with these?  What should I do with them?  Any ideas?

What is their value $?  I have no idea...

p.s. these stools are about 70 years old. We discovered them buried under debris in our tool yard, when we lived in Ireland and owned a hotel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wise Investments

New York, NY : The Bull at NY stock exchange
Ingenuity and investment ventures are alive and well in the economy now.  This courageous enthusiasm encourages adults of all ages.  Even the youngest entrepreneurs have caught investment fever.

A new company, EHC Investment, Ltd, is a fine example of the new generation.  Fifth graders have joined in this somewhat shaky scheme to allow the four members gain wealth, learn participation skills, and eventually experience a dawning of understanding.

My gr-daughter is the CEO/CFO of this new company.  She explained the ideology:  She and three other students earn tickets and fake class money throughout the day.  All deposit these earnings in an official-looking box which my gr-daughter (CEO/CFO) takes home after school.

There she counts out the earnings into four stacks, each one receiving equal amounts.  An odd number leaving only one ticket left remains in the box until the next day.  She is honest to a fault. 

I think one boy already knows that his measly three tickets means he will rake in fifteen tickets on the next day.

It’s all good, right?

We will see what happens next week.  

The New York Stock Exchange logo stands above a board displaying stock prices shortly after the beginning of trading, July 30, 2013.
It's all in numbers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Eighteen Defining Thoughts

Organize Your Thoughts on Paper Step 3.jpg
Your thoughts....

Share 18 defining thoughts….

I do not think I can hit #18, but will at least write a few.

#1 and most important is my relationship with God.  Even when my beliefs were wobbling, God kept His hand over me, protecting me.  Through Jesus Christ, my sins are forgiven.

#2 is the love my husband and I share.

#3 …my children who are now mature adults.  John and I were young parents, in our 20s, and did not know what we were doing.  Somehow, these wonderful people did not know that at the time.

#4 …writing, which began when I was barely able to read. Pencil on school lined paper or pen on better paper, writing is more than just tossing some words.  Writing is a constant growing experience which expands the brain and makes me smile.

#5 …art.  My aspiration at one time was to be an artist.  Have a minor in art.  I watched my gr-daughters quite a bit when they were young; we did art together, with me teaching. (I had a “Grandma Bag” which carried a variety of art supplies.)  Maybe I will be more active now that my gr-daughters are pursuing other arts.

#6 …quilting…which is also art.  Colors make my heart sing.

#7 …reading and journaling.  Books of all types and genre.  My husband loves astronomy and so do I.

#8 …my siblings are precious to me.  There were once five of us, three brothers and my sister.  Two brothers died while in their 40s. 

#9 …memories of my parents and long-past relatives. 

#10 …the stories from my family that I recall and write down, now with the speed a computer provides.

#11 ...seeing a baby...holding a baby...watching parents holding babies....a baby's smile...

Well, now you have it!  There are more but they would probably seem unimportant when I re-read this.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Sharing the Wealth

California has been in the grip of a drought for three years.  Three stinkin’ years!

We did not expect much from our thirsty citrus trees.  Even though we could see the fruit spotted within the green leaves, it did not look like a bumper crop.

A combination of navel oranges, tangerines, Meyer lemons, lemons
But we were wrong.  Last week we picked twenty pounds of the citrus, mainly oranges.  This week, I picked almost thirty fifty pounds. (I bagged it all up in 10 lb. to hand out.  I was astounded that there 50 actually 50 pounds!)

The lemons are about ready to pick and I fear we will be buried in them.  Fortunately, we have many neighbors with which
whom we can share our wealth.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Toys

From my cell phone

Even though Benjamin, my grandson-the-car-thief, lives in Switzerland, he and I communicate on Skype.

Again, wheels.

He has his toys, I have my toys, and they converse.  Benjamin still tries to reach through the computer screen, but give him time.  He'll figure it out someday.  Then, maybe, just maybe he will talk with me without me using a stuffed animal or a car conversing with his own frog or truck.

He wondered today why the wheels did not turn on my new Disney Pixar car. He loves the wheels most of all.  I could not give him a clear answer, which amused his father.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday Words: Emma

Ocean floor

 Emma had retreated to the basement  of her mind as years passed and words came less and less.

A gentile in a kind Mormon rest home, Emma heard the nurses as they changed shifts and discussed patients, as if they were inanimate objects.  “Her extremities are more spastic” and “Exhibits increasing imbecility daily” were the diagnoses and observations expressed. 

Rage and anger filled Emma’s mind, but words could not break the barrier the stroke had given her.

A new orderly, Kevin was hired for the night shift and was assigned to Emma’s care.  His kindness was a gift.  Kevin spoke to her with gentleness, a relief after her silence had muted her voice.

One late, late night night, Kevin softly entered Emma’s room and awoke her.  “Emma, you know you have fulfilled your life’s purpose.  Now,” he covered her mouth and nostrils with his big hands.  “Let’s go swimming in a cool ocean.  Take a deep breath, and dive to the bottom.”

Emma’s mind grew darker and darker as she reached the ocean’s floor.  “How lovely!”  were her last thoughts. 

These italicized and underlined words are provided by Delores from Under the Porch Light.  Each Wednesday,  Delores provides six daunting words for any who wishes to participate in this writing challenge. Please visit her site by clicking on the shivering cardinals in the sidebar; you will find other writers who have taken different slants on these words!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Moon Landing: Far Horizons

The summer of 1969 was like a vacation after such an intense school year.  Oh, the usual working with Mom, which I treasure, went on.  The crazy heat and humidity of the Midwest turned our upstairs bedrooms into ovens.  Counting the days and crossing them off until my college freshman year began was part of my calendar.

My weight had been sinking all year until I was at 105 pounds.  Being 5’4”, even I could see how skeletal I looked.  I was not anorexic.  I simply could not eat.  Ulcer medication was not yet so sophisticated, so my diet consisted of baby food, minced meat, and a baked potato.  Those foods my stomach would tolerate.

Once I “won” a scholarship, my stomach sighed and allowed normal food to enter.  My weight zoomed up to 115 pounds, and I felt good. Later the scale would should a healthier 125.

My vision of the future had been through a  mind's eye mental telescope, seeing only the campus and dorms and an education that would move me from cornfields to parts of the world.  

Then July 20, 1969, changed my vision.

The Moon Landing date was projected and changed time over the week.  Then NASA confirmed it would happen at night here on July 20.  My excitement was rising with each hour on that day; I talked of nothing else. 

My parents went to bed, while I settled down in front of our new television, which was color.  Wait, I was waiting on every commentary, every radio transmission. In the “wee” hours of the morning, it happened: finally grainy black and white images appeared on the screen.

Even now, I can remember the images and words.


I moved my single-minded mental telescope from college campus up to the dark sky, where the moon and stars had once seemed so far away until that day.

This time I was not watching for UFOs.  The future had changed for me on July 20, 1969.

It was often said after that time that America had "won" the race to the moon.  Won?  What do you think?

Friday, January 16, 2015

1969 Graduation

Sitting in the folding chair with all the other graduates, the 100% polyester gowns were turning each of us into a massive heap of deoderant-scented perspiration.  We girls realized this immediately; we stripped off the 100% polyester-newly-purchased-or-handmade dresses, heaping them tossed about in the American History room.  We would receive the diplomas with less clothes.

Speaker One was Mary Jane, a brilliant young lady who went on to become a doctor.  I think the lack of participation in school clubs and activities may have not worked in her advantage.

Speaker Two was Rebecca, a very intelligent girl who was active in everything, being a school cheerleader and part of the more affluent families. 

Rebecca and I were on GPA par, but for some reason the principal, David Tyler had chosen me for the final speaker.  Maybe it was because I had “won” many medals in Speech and Debate.  I still have those medals today, wondering why I kept them.

The opening of my speech had a general opening about a commercial (taken from a movie, "The Graduate") with intro to the body of the speech: The Future.  It was filled with some glowing phrases: looking forward to the great future, the incredible inventions and technologies, challenges and potentional, etc.  Basically it was the fodder of every graduation speech.

But looking at those other students sweating in their chairs, I knew that the future meant something very different for each of us. Heck, my speech would have put me to sleep in my own sauna graduation gown.  

Instead my speech changed direction, completely changed. Addressing the parents, the people who had been through the Great Depression, WW11, and/or Korean War became part of my new, unpracticed speech..  Their futures during that time had been very different.

Vietnam War but a very different type of war…drugs becoming available in our own towns…a time period unlike their own…confusion unvoiced…patience please patience…seeing the challenges of the future with eighteen year old eyes…time to grow…talk with us not at us.  But, the last sentence or two were aimed at my peers.

The only words I can clearly remember were these:

Don't be afraid.  Whatever you chose to do, don't be afraid.

That is all.  My memory of the rest is cloudy.  It was a short speech and we dozed during the main speaker’s address.

What next?  The Moon Landing in July 1969: Far Horizons post on Friday, January 16.

**The names are fictional.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wednesday Words: Plasma Globes

No one had been injured…that was important to remember.  As hindsight with spectacular telescopic vision showed, the procedure was not smooth in its execution.

Science Fair Booth 206 wanted to create floating incandescent orbs by using plasma globes with various neon gases within, connected to stacks of framed sheets of copper. Then five car batteries would be connected, the switch thrown, and Bob's your uncle.

Many scientific safety protocols and principles were not applied here. Booths 206 through 210 were not occupied at the time.

Thanks go to Delores at Under the Porch Light for challenging writers to create poems, prose, fiction, etc.  Each week Delores provides six unrelated words with which to create something comprehensible, or not.  The above underlined words above are the words provided. Please click on the freezing cardinals in the right sidebar to access her site. Interesting stuff, there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1969 and Winning

No more UFOs were seen, fortunately or unfortunately.  They were a diversion, and God knew, I surely needed one that senior year.

Fake High School Diploma, Midwest Design HS MidWest D
The year 1969 brought graduation from high school.  Thank you, God. 

The senior year had been one of hard work, very hard work.  My whole college life depended on the sacred "win" of a scholarship.  Long story there, but anxiety level was such that I developed an ulcer and lost twenty pounds.

My GPA before senior year had been a miserable 3.5; it could not, would not “win” me much.  The word “win” was confusing then and is now.  One could not “win” anything as precious as a scholarship.  One could claw up the mountain of hope and perhaps make it to the top, holding that gold medal scholarship high.

End of school and graduation--- a memory I will never forget.  I was one of four valedictorians.  Our high school had a policy that if the GPAs were so close by the middle of May, there would be three or four valedictorians.  This “win” required me to speak at graduation. 

A scholarship was soundly mine.  A selected college accepted my application. I had a speech written and then re-written in my head.  The other two and I practiced our speeches in an empty gym, where our words sounded hollow. The fourth declined speaking at the commencement, so shy.

I “won” the position of the final speaker, the one who would introduce the specially invited speaker.  Even though I knew each word, each nuance, something changed as I looked out at the other graduates, knowing each one, suspecting their dreams and hopes. 

Some boys, too many boys would be heading to Vietnam.  A few pregnant girls would be getting married in a few days, since the district’s policy forbid married students from attending school.  College, farming, marriage, vocational schools, and just moving somewhere were the rest of the tasseled hats.

What did I say?  Tell you in two days.

This post is dedicated to Joanne Noragon who asked an important question after my three UFO posts: I'll enjoy seeing how college changed your outlook and furthered your education. What was the big letdown?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finally: 1969

File:Cornfield Texas Mulder Scully Fight the Future.jpg
The Truth is out there...
Months passed, with no other meaningful news from the National Enquirer, a respectable newspaper as we all know by now. Nothing else had happened 1968, except for the wedding of Elvis Presley and Priscilla something, and the birth of their only child (Lisa Marie—exactly nine months after the wedding!!) on Feb. 1, 1968

1969 rolled in with an endless winter.  When spring and then summer arrived, we gladly opened the windows and put in the screens.

NOW this is what happened:

I was woken after midnight by a whirring sound and flashing lights outside my bedroom window.  I sat straight up and curled up into the corner of my bed against the wall, watching the lights and hearing the strange sound.  The sound and lights lasted maybe three minutes.  Then suddenly the show ended, and I forced myself to look out the window at the total darkness.

Somehow I fell asleep and had a strange dream in which the aliens took two of my brothers, Robert and Bill.  For some reason that gave me pleasure.

I told my mom about the incident.  Odd enough, Mom had heard the same sounds, but saw no lights because her room was on the north side of the house.  My room was on the south side.

Is there something to be fathomed from this experience?  I do not know.

HOWEVER,  if this appeals to you, go to this On the edge of my Bed.

This really happened to me...hard to explain...

Friday, January 9, 2015

1968, part two

The 1968 UFO never showed up, although I waited from 10:00 to 11:30 when it was time to help Mom fix dinner.  Sadly no aliens zoomed in to pick me up.

Fastest US Fighter Jet

Oh, sure.  BUT the next week a dull green fighter jet zipped over my house, clipping the leaves from the top of the maple tree near the house (on the north side!). I saw it, heard it, and felt the sound. 

This had never before happened: a fighter jet in our own skies, from an air base two hundred miles south of St. Louis.  The pilot rotated, dipped over the nearby creek, and disappeared.  What was he chasing?? 

The same girl who had shared the last headline from the National Enquirer sneaked another copy of this respected newspaper, on which the header said “UFOs Seen over Corn Fields”.  We all gasped, knowing darn well that each of us had waited at 10 AM last week, on the north side of our houses.

Were we getting a second chance?  Were the Aliens giving us second look-over before making their decisions?  What next?  What next? 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wednesday Words: It is never too late...

Kazuko Renees

Delores  challenges Wednesday Word participants with a variety of words or a phrase to write a poem, prose, or fiction each week.  This week, Delores provided us with this quote:

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."  by George Eliot

As it happens, my wonderfully crazy Aunt Vada had just sent me this from her wealth of wild emails. I thought, "Well, what the heck..."

So I am providing this from an anonymous writer, since it does address this quote in some way:

Yesterday my daughter e-mailed me again, asking why I didn't do something
useful with my time.  "Like sitting around the pool and drinking wine is not a good thing?" I asked.

Talking about my "doing-something-useful" seems to be her favorite topic of conversation. She was "only thinking of me", she said and suggested that I go down to the Senior Center and hang out with the guys.

I did this and when I got home last night, I decided to play a prank on her.
I e-mailed her and told her that I had joined a Parachute Club.

She replied, "Are you nuts? You are 78 years old and now you're going to start jumping out of airplanes?"

I told her that I even got a Membership Card and e-mailed a copy to her.

She immediately telephoned me and yelled, "Good grief, Mom, where are your glasses?! This is a Membership to a Prostitute Club, not a Parachute Club!!"
"Oh man, I'm in trouble again," I said, "I really don't know what to do. I signed up for five jumps a week!!"

The line went quiet and her friend picked up the phone and said that my daughter had fainted.

Life as a Senior Citizen is not getting any easier, but sometimes it can be fun.

Please note that I did not write this, but I wish that I had.

This quote was provided by Delores at Under the Porch Light .  Words, phrases, photos--Delores challenges all.  Please click on the fall church in the right side bar to access her site and visit some other participants. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

1968: Take Me Away!

In Russia?
1968…was an important year in my life for many years, one of which will make you gasp, hopefully.

One girl in my junior high school English class brought a National Enquirer-like paper to school.  Our circle of girls encircled her as she read aloud:  “UFOs need young women!”  That’s what we are!

Apparently, alien planets desperately needed healthy human teen-age girls/women with which to reproduce, replenishing their depleted planet.  The first requirement?  These breed stock must be healthy, with no flaws. The second requirement?  These healthy perfect females must stand in an open area north of any dwelling at ten a.m. on a certain day.

Did I want to do that?  Heck, yes.  Anything to escape a male-dominated farm life of repeated drudgery!

Flawless?  I was a little weak on the one, being near-sited.  BUT the eye doctor said that this was probably due to the excessive amount of reading I did, and this would clear up when I reached the extent of my growth.

To prepare, I ceased heavy reading and ditched the glasses for a week. The night before the transporting I showered thoroughly, put my hair in rollers (so I would look like Mary Tyler Moore), and slept lightly.

Ten a.m. found me pacing eagerly in the wide open driveway and pasture. Here I am!...Please take me!...I waited over an hour, scanning the clear sky.  Nothing.

Why did I do this??

Escape has already been mentioned.  Another reason was I was darn curious about sex.  In a rural environment, birth control was virtually impossible to obtain, especially for an unmarried woman.  Getting pregnant by an aggressive teen age boy would be a certain lock in farm life.

So…I continued to think Here I am? Until my college years.  End of this post.