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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Oh, the hell you say?

Birth and death are both amazing things that everyone of us will encounter at some time.  And it is utterly fascinating that at both those events we will be seeking the light!  I have had the pleasure of being present at both ends of the spectrum and I must say it was an honor every time!

First think about the birth.  What starts out as a little seed grows into a tiny human being in the space of 9 months give or take a few days one way or the other.  When the time comes it comes.  The mother does not have a choice as to what day and time this will occur in most cases.  Baby starts positioning itself for the downward journey and if mother is not ready, she better get ready.  I wonder if babies think on this trip?  I doubt it.  Birth seems to be one of the miracles of life.  And then here is baby!  In a well run clinical setting, baby pops out into a room full of medical people ready to catch baby and clear it's breathing passages, weigh the little bundle, measure, probe, prod, and so on as mommy and daddy, grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, beam with pride.  That is a perfect world.

We are all born, there is no disputing that fact and as sure as the world turns, we will all die.  In a lonely room some where we will face out destiny.  We will be the mother or father, the grandma or grandpa, the aunt or uncle, son or daughter.  We know what happens after birth when we have followed the light into this world, but we have no manual to follow when we follow the light at the end.

I am a simple minded woman.  I believe in God and I beleive his name is God.  I beleive in the Holy Bible and I beleive that Jesus is the son of God.  I beleive that when I follow the light out of this world I will be swept up in the arms of Jesus and carried to a place in Heaven,  wherever that might be, where I will never be hungry or cold and will walk on streets that are paved in gold.

Those are my thoughts for this day as I set here thinking of my sisters that have gone before me and the babies that have come since.  My God is good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 5:15 PM So now what do I do?

I have calendars all over the place.  I even have one on my desk top computer that dings to remind me I have something to do.  Usually I have a vague idea anyway, but a little reminder is always nice in case I get a tad bit forgetful.  I know I am supposed to meet up with Kenna this morning.  She will give me a call at some point after her doctor's appointment.  Wednesday is open for the time being, but Thursday is a mystery.  Written on the back of the ONA paper is a notation  "Thursday, January 28, 5:15 PM".   That is all I have written and that meeting was last night.  No name.  No place.  No dress code.  Nada.

I have asked everyone I can think of if they have any idea what that is about and of course there is more blank looks then I can tell you.  They are actually all blank looks.  I look at them with a blank look and they return a blank look.   So, I am appealing to anyone who reads this to call me immediately if I am meeting you on Thursday.

Oh, crap!  I remember seeing an advertisement that shows an appointment like that only it said "Fred's heart attack will happen tomorrow at 3:15."  Wonder if that is my wake up call and I wonder if I better go get some of that medicine?

I have a dentist appointment someday, but that is not it.  Doctor is once a year and always the first one of the day.  I do not usually go anywhere after 4:00 cause I have chores to do.  All I can say is "Damn it all to hell!!"

I had a lady friend tell me the other day that she thought she needed a keeper.  I told her I could be her keeper and that would be like the blind leading the blind.  Maybe I need a keeper or at least some sort of an overseer.

So here is the deal...If you are reading this and plan on seeing me at 5:15 on Thursday, call me so I know where I am going.  Ask your friends also.  If we all put our heads together maybe we can come up with something.  In the meantime, I shall go look at that piece of paper some more.  I may take a nap!  Oh, maybe I will bake a pie.  Or cookies!  Oh, look...a butterfly.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hand washing dishes may be an art!

I like to fill the sink with dirty dishes and then run it full of warm/hot water and put in a squirt of Ivory .  I can then plunge my hands into that and look out my back window at my domain while I wash the dishes, rinse them and put them in the drainer.  But my mind is never still and this morning it flashed back to Plevna and I heard Mrs. Crawford explaining the fine art of washing dishes correctly.

"Be sure that all the dishes are scraped and piled before you begin.  You will pile them in the order they are to be washed.  Glassware first, then silver, then plates, followed by the cooking utensils.  Each item will be rinsed in your tub of very hot water."

"Some times a bit of food will be stubborn and not come off when you whisk it with your dish cloth.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to remove it with your finger nail.  Your hands are in the water and the nail is soft and you do not want to do damage to the nail. There is a wire scratcher that comes in handy for removal of stubborn things that do not want to be removed.  You will want to keep your hands lovely and soft for your husband, so when you are finished with the dishes and the sink is clean and dry, apply a little lotion and rub in in well."

Do I need to interject here that I failed Home Economics under the able tuteledge of Mrs. Crawford?  Now when I say failed I do not mean C or D but a big Red F.

I can still see her in my minds eye standing in the home economics room in her skirt and jacket with every hair in place pointing to the sink and the dish drainer as if they were the most important items on earth.  I actually grew up believing that man was superior and I must do all I could to please one of these creatures if I ever was lucky enough to catch one.  I had a helluva lot to learn back in those days!

At the end of the semester my grandma passed away and I was returned to Nickerson and enrolled in Home Economics where Miss Irvin was my teacher.  Here I attempted to learn how to make a simple dress.  As I recall mother bought me the required pattern in the size I needed and cotton fabric that was white with small blue flowers.  And thus that exercise I futility began.  We measured each other to get the proper measurements.  And then it was time to cut the pattern and pin the darts for the chest area.  Well, until I was 16 years old, I never had a sign of a boob, so darts were pretty well wasted on me, but nonetheless, there would be darts because as sure as there was a God in heaven, I would develop before that dress wore out!  Not sure that happened though.

After 4 1/2 months of cutting, ripping, stitching, and crying, the dress was finished.  The darts in the chest were perfect, but there was nothing there to hold them out for the world to see.  My sewing career was finished and Miss Irvin gave me a final grade.  Seems I had been a very difficult student.  I had not listened and I was disrespectful with all that crying.  You guessed it.  A big RED F.

Now, after a full year of schooling on how to cook, clean and sew for my man, I walked away empty handed!  My life was over as far as my mother was concerned.  I would never catch a man.  Even grandma kept telling me things like "Where spider webs grow, no beau ever goes."  The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."  And more crap like that. 

So I finished high school and began life in the real world.  My first marriage lasted 10 years and produced 5 kids.  After a string of husbands I finally found one that understood all I needed was stability.  I do not think my cleaning and cooking skills were ever on any of the divorce papers. 

What is the most amazing part of this whole thing is that I am now an excellent seamstress.  I have a sewing room to die for and am the proud owner of 5 sergers,  5 sewing machines, a machine quilter and a 6 needle embroidery machine, all of which make me money. 

I raised my kids on money I made as a short order cook, a dinner cook, a caterer, and personal orders as needed.  I baked and  decorated wedding cakes while I was at the Red Carpet.

Sorry, Mrs. Crawford and Miss Irvin!  I know you tried, but I am just one of those people that have to learn the hard way.

Isn't it amazing how I can get off track?  Guess I was not meant to be a writer.  Oh, wait a minute!  I am a writer!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Damned old age!

So when bedtime comes around here I start turning out lights and then head into the bathroom to hop into my jammies.  Elvira always manages to get in before I close the door. Elvira is the little furry cream colored one.  She waits patiently while I change clothes and then we go into the bedroom.  Icarus gets her treat up on the dresser.  She gets 5 pieces cause they are small.

Then I give Daisy her milk bone and then Elvira.  This is the order of the pack.  There always has to be an alpha and that is me, whether they like it or not.  Then comes Daisy because she was the first dog.  Elvira is the baby, but she may be the oldest.  But the pecking order remains the same.  It never varies.  At no time am I ever left alone.  When I am on the computer I have a cat on my lap and a dog at my feet.  If I nap in my recliner I have a cat on one side, a dog on the other and the other dog is under my foot rest.  When I go to close the geese up at night, I am accompanied my my trio.  Some times Elvira is tired and waits in the house.  Are you getting the picture?  My animals love me and I in turn, love them.

Of course there are times I need to go do errands and they can not go.  At those times they set in a row and watch me go out the door.  They know I will be back and I know they will be there.  And homecoming is always the same.  They are so happy to see me that I feel guilty for leaving them.  Daisy is the most insecure as she is always first to greet me and there are not enough pets to calm her.

As I was driving in to town yesterday, I was thinking about my menagerie.  And then I was jolted to reality by the memory of a stray dog on South Road.  I thought how many people get dogs and tie them outside.  I pictured myself as a dog in that postition.  

I could see my humans inside the warm house.  I could see them eating and drinking and laughing, and I could see myself alone.  Alone and cold.  No warm food for me.  No one to hold me close.  The ground is cold and my water is frozen.  Maybe they forgot about me.  I barked to remind them I was there and the man just opened the door and threw something at me.  All I wanted was a little attention.  Why did they bring me here?  If they did not want me to be part of the family, why didn't they just leave me at the pound?  At least there I had hope.  Here I have nothing.  There is nothing I can do.  I have an old rug, but no house.  I can not even run away because I have a chain holding me to a tree.

Of course I had to  set there and bawl about it, but what can I do?  I am not sure that it was even about dogs.  It rather parallels life, doesn't it?  Once I was young and vital and active, but now I am slowing down, much like the old dog in the yard.  But whatever it is , I do hope if you are reading this and you have a dog and he is tied outside that you will bring him inside.  It is cold and why do you want an animal if you aren't going to love it and keep it warm.? Take it back to the pound.  Of course it will no doubt end up being euthanized, but at least that is quicker than the slow painful reality of living on the end of a chain.

Don't know why I am on this trip tonight.  I suppose we all go through this when we get older and lose someone.  It makes us face out own mortality and I face mine in the guise of a dog.  So guess I will go to bed.  Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

15 degrees below zero.

32 years ago today it was 15 degrees below zero.  Bet you wonder how I can remember that and still not remember where I put those car keys 30 minutes ago!  Very simple.  32 years ago I was living with a man named Kenneth Mercer.  We had discussed marriage, but this time I really wanted to be sure, as did he, that it was meant to be.  He was replacing the drive line in one of the tandem dump trucks we owned.  When he went to Pueblo Brake and Clutch to pick up the repaired part they were closed.  It was thier Christmas party as I recall.  So he came home.

He told me he could not finish the truck and so we might as well go to Canon City and "get this shittin' mess over with.".  Now what woman in her right mind could turn down a proposal like that?  So off we went and to make a long story short, we got our license and then sought a minister or someone who could do the deed.  I do not recall his name, but he and his wife were in the senior housing close to the court house.  He mumbled a few words, caught a woman in the hall to be  a witness and then had his wife, who was in the bed in the next room, sign as the second witness.  Kenneth paid him $20.00 and we left to go have our wedding supper which was a donut at the donut house since neither of us were very hungry.

And thus began a friendship that would span 20 years until his death in 2003.  Funny how life leads us in one direction and then another, isn't it?  We were a very unlikely couple, but our wants and needs seemed compatible.  His kids were grown and gone and I had 2 still at home.  Mine did not need a father, but he filled the position as an adult male companion.  It worked well.

I will not attempt to describe our life together.  Suffice it to say when I became a widow at the tender age of 62,  I thought about returning to Kansas.  But, by that time Colorado was my home.  I do entertain ideas of "going back" especially when things happen like losing my sister this week.  Someday I may, but not now.  For now Pueblo is my refuge.  My port in the storm.  My anchor in life's ocean.

One of my friends was by today, but  I never mentioned the anniversary.  An anniversary just marks a point in time that something happened.  Like a dot on the timeline of life.  So as I pack to go bury my sister, I just note that the temperature right now is 43 degrees.  That is a difference of 58 degrees.

And life goes on.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Nickerson revisited.

Here you have it.  Strong Street.  Unfortunately 709 North Strong Street no longer exists.  The fences, barn and out buildings are not there.  Neither is the cactus in the front yard, or the Catalpa trees we climbed or the shed where my Dennis calf died or the chicken house.  The out house collapsed years ago.  What is there now is a double wide trailer house.  Reinke's house is gone as is Jake Smith's the Ayer's and Goodricks.  Hank Windiate's house is there but it has been added on to and painted.  All vestiges of my growing up years are turned to dust and blown away.  So on to the cemetery.
Even the sign out here is new.  I could not see which tree my kite was tangled in so we headed over towards the Ailmore place.  That was not there either.  Just more trailers.  I did not know there were that many trailers in Reno County.  Main Street was deserted and looked like a ghost town with the empty, decaying buildings.  Berridge Grocery seemed to be doing a thriving businesss, but nothing else.  I forgot the card for my camera so I was at the mercy of Karen and Donna and nothing I saw was really worth the effort.  We did get to the Stroh place though. I think the house has been updated and I do not remember so many trees.

This is the drive going up and the house is tucked in the trees.  The barn is off to the right.  It is much as I remembered it, but sadly it is not going to be standing much longer if you look at this close up.

That is sad because it was very majestic in it's hay day!  I know we had a big yellow tomcat when we lived there because it ate one of momma's baby chicks.

Well, my friends, it has been a long 3 days and I am very tired tonight.  I need to get some stuff done so I can take the drive to Hutchinson again next weekend.  December is a sad time of year for me, but Christmas is coming.  If I do not see you between now and then, Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Family ties.

And here I am in Kansas.   Right now I am in the room with my sister,  Dorothy at the Hospice House.  We are awaiting the inevitable harbinger.  Then there will be 2 of us.  This is not something I am looking forward to, but it is what it is, nonetheless.
There are a few places I want to visit while I am here, if time permits.  I want to go back to Strong Street.  Donna tells me the only house left standing there is Hank Wingates.  That is hard to imagine as his was the one I would have placed bets on being the first to fall.
 I want to drive to the cemetary which was located about half a mile from our house.  I remember when I was very young having a kite and the wind pulled the string from my hand and the kite ended up caught in a tree.  How sad I was to see it bucking on the end of the string trying to escape.  I slept very little that night and when morning came, I raced to the cemetery to find it crushed and broken in the field with the string held tightly by the relentless tree.
I want to go out the highway to Bull Creek.  That us past Athey's Sandpit.  It used to be a bridge over it, but now I think it is just a trickle.  I want to walk through the field and see if the old swimming hole is still there where Jake and his pals used to swim while I fished for turtles up on the road.  I think they might have swum nekkid!
I want to go see if the Stroh place is still standing.  That is where my memories of life began.  That was where Donna had the turtle stuck on her finger.  That is where we played in the mud holes and Josephine almost beat us to death.  That is where mother pumped cold water over our heads as she washed our hair under the pump in the kitchen.  I swear that woman had 6 arms since she would tuck me under her arm, hold me with her other hand,  wash and rinse my hair with a hand while pumping furiously with yet another hand.
It was also where Dorothy was born.  I must have been about 6.  As I recall, I did not much like her and I was pretty sure we did not need a baby and yet there she was.  I am kind of anxious to see if I really remember accurately or not.
Since I began writing thiis  earlier today my little sister has passed.   So now there are 2 of us left out of 6.  Tomorrow Donna and I will take a trip to Nickerson.   A walk down memory.  I will let you know how that goes, but for now I am just very tired.

August 20, 1947
December 19, 2015