Wasting Time

Earlier this week, my younger daughter and I were on the phone and the subject of sleep came up. Her habits are much like mine used to be:  work hard all day (she home-schools), feed and bathe children before bedtime, focus on husband until he retires for the night, and finally, collapse on the couch to breathe in the wonderful, relaxing silence, the blessed me-time.

harried-momSometime during that last interval, the urgency to notch various “accomplishments” (onto the day’s figurative belt) hits full force. For the next several hours, determination rules. Whether it’s a writing project or some other creative endeavor, the drive for project completion outweighs all tiredness … until at least 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. When this accomplishment machine is engaged, all-nighters are not uncommon. Continue reading “Wasting Time”

The Golden Brigade

Earlier this week, I posted my comments related to enduring marriage. Given that my Beloved and I will celebrate our 45th year of marriage tomorrow, I’ve been contemplating my current perceptions of marriage and comparing those views with what I recall from my much younger self.golden-anniversary-script-reply-cards-finished-back-motif-celebrating

As if bidden to the surface by my subconscious, three unique recent posts on marriage came to my attention. The first (written by The Boston Globe‘s Billy Baker) features a brief sketch about 75 couples, all of whom have been married more than 50 years, who were invited to a gathering where their unions would be celebrated.

Sponsored by an organization with the official-sounding name, Boston Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, this gathering brought the couples together in one room with the stated purpose of answering a simple question:  What’s the secret to a long marriage? This wondrously exclusive group offered their views, providing opinions that were at times similar and occasionally unique. Continue reading “The Golden Brigade”

Tale of the Two-Minute Job

Over almost forty-five years of wedded bliss (work with me here), my Beloved and I have cultivated a symbiotic relationship. There are numerous facets to this symbiosis, one of which is (1) I break things, (2) I attempt to fix them and (3) he eventually follows up by fixing them correctly. Amid a multitude of missteps, this is a dance we’ve perfected through the years.Handyman_Tools

While he was still in graduate school, we repainted the house we were renting. Since he’d done house-painting full-time during summer breaks, he knew the tricks of the trade (unlike me). When repainting began, I offered to help. As a can-do person, I naturally believed I could assist … I mean, you have a paintbrush and some paint … you slip the brush into the bucket, drench the bristles and slap paint on the wall. It’s not rocket science, right?!

In short order, I was demoted from painting most surfaces and given the task to paint louvered doors. Ugh! Eventually, that task was taken from me as well. Ever since, I’ve been banned from wielding a paintbrush.

… But I’m the kid who assisted my daddy whenever he had a job around the house. Granted, I was mainly there to hold the flashlight or keep the ladder steady or fetch another tool from the basement workbench, but I was his assistant! My experience didn’t qualify me as an expert, but more practice was all I needed in order to attain weekend handyman, er, handy-woman status (so I thought). Continue reading “Tale of the Two-Minute Job”

Breakout

My dear mother was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. (I posted about her recent hospital stay here.) During her time in stir (as it were), she was poked and prodded and put through the usual battery of tests. Considering her recent 88th birthday, hospital staff operate with the standard presumption that she’s lost her wits, so she’s quizzed by everyone who enters her room:  “What’s today’s date? What year is it? What are the names of your children?” She’s usually very patient with the questions, answers them compliantly, but quickly makes known her desire to be at home. (It’s as much like prison for her as it could be … which is why I described her being in stir.)hospital-patient-elderly

Mom is used to the hospital routine because before her blindness set her back, she’d been a long-term hospital volunteer. (She loved it!) Additionally, her history of past TIAs and hospital stays due to DVT has made her familiar with some of the staff and several of the physicians.

When she and I finally had a chance to talk by phone (in between repeated interruptions of hospital personnel coming in to speak with her), she told me she’d actually been sitting in her doctor’s office (for a routine visit) when nonsense word salad poured forth from her lips. The doctor observed for a bit and then excused herself to consult a nearby neurologist. Soon thereafter, Mom was checked into the hospital.

Because of her blindness, the normal hospital television remote is a challenge for Mom. She can’t see well enough to watch the programs, so the noise coming from it bothers her. When she thinks she’s pushing the “Off” button, she’s actually hitting the “Call” button, unintentionally summoning every nurse on the floor to race toward her room! (Apparently, this happened more than once during her short stay!) There’s another down-side for my mom in connection with the “Call” button:  if she really needed help, she’d likely have trouble finding the right button! These are the kinds of challenges from blindness she’s encountered over the last five years.

Continue reading “Breakout”

American Dreamer

Photo by William "Max" Grubb
Photo by William “Max” Grubb

We’re celebrating today! Our grandson, with freshly-minted college degree in hand, has nailed down a job at long last. Four years ago, I posted about his enrollment in college and earlier this spring, I added another post to applaud his college graduation. All of us are so proud of his achievements thus far … and his tenacity in the job hunt.

It hasn’t been easy. Anyone who’s looked for a job over the last couple years knows how frustrating it can be. While accurate, meaningful numbers are hard to find, the Economic Research website of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is a helpful resource for putting things into perspective. According to one chart, 59% of the working age population is currently employed … which means a whopping 41% are not. That in itself is troubling, but consider:  these numbers have stayed relatively constant since December 2009! Is it difficult to find a job? Yes, it is.

During our grandson’s job search, I realized just how many things have changed, things that complicate an earnest search for employment. Once upon a time (l-o-n-g time ago), I worked in the Personnel Department of an insurance company’s national headquarters. They called it Personnel then – which proves how long ago it was! Today, it’s Human Resources or simply HR. But that’s far from the only difference in the hiring-firing field!

First of all, it seems as though the majority of companies have set up their application process online. Depending upon the company, this may mean an applicant is permitted to upload (as part of the process) his or her resumé, but often, resumés are even more superfluous than they used to be. Today, an applicant enters standard data into a website app and hits SUBMIT. After that, it’s much like staring into a dark hole (or a trash can?). Some employers confirm receipt by sending an email but others don’t. Secondly, having the application process handled through an online portal means the applicant may or may not have opportunity to sit across the table from an interviewer. How does a stellar applicant differentiate him or herself from the pack when he or she doesn’t get a single chance to make a first impression?  Continue reading “American Dreamer”

Eighty-Eight Ways

Today is my dear mother’s eighty-eighth birthday! Because she’s my hero, all week long (in anticipation of her birthday) I’ve been planning to list eighty-eight ways in which I think she’s great. I began the list, but as I reflected on her life, I felt like it wasn’t really fair to compile a list … as if this amazing woman could be summed up with a number of facts or trivia! I’ve posted about her in the past, so I invite you to read some of the facts of her life I’ve already shared. (Start here, here and here. There are others but those three will suffice for now.)100_0286

The photo at right is a picture of a pillow my daughter-in-law made for her, painting the picture as a pleasant reminder of the years Mom lived in Florida. (She and my daddy moved there after he retired. After his death, she remained about six more years in the home they had shared and then moved back to St. Louis.) She always loved being near the beach because she was an avid swimmer.

During my mom’s lifetime, she has done remarkable things by living a simple life of steadfast resilience. She encountered early challenges, losing her daddy when she was six years old … and shortly thereafter, losing the daily presence of her mother because Mom was quickly enrolled in boarding school. This double-barreled loss would’ve devastated the spirits of countless children, but my mom soldiered on.

When my mom met my dad during the mobilizing phase of World War II, she fell in love with this Army corporal, not knowing whether or not he’d return from D-Day. (At one point, he was reported as MIA; thankfully, that proved to be untrue.) Once the war ended and he returned from military deployment, he invited her to visit his family in St. Louis. At first, his close-knit family were all pretty wary of this Eastern, boarding school girl, but they grew to love her and she found an extended family unlike anything she’d known before! Continue reading “Eighty-Eight Ways”

Beauty Is . . .

Our daughter-in-law adopted a young lady this week. (It was only temporary.) The young lady happened to mention to S. that she was entering a beauty competition for Miss Carroll County (AR) which was one of the competitions that launched S.’s beauty pageant experience!

MissCarrollCountyDIL’s shop, Vintage Violet Boutique, sponsored this young lady in the 2014 competition held this week. The young lady earned (today) a 2nd runner up award. S. also posted a picture of herself (on FaceBook) that I’m borrowing here. I think this may have been the official Miss Carroll County picture from the year she won.

One of the reasons S. became involved in pageants was to earn money for her college education. With those earnings, she was able to put herself through school. She continued competing and won many other pageants, including Miss Hawaiian Tropic events. Her experiences in pageant events through the years makes her a great resource for young girls who also want to enter and do well in these competitions. S. loves to engage in this kind of instruction and she’s a great teacher!

That’s my DIL. Then there’s me. I’ve never been involved in a beauty pageant of any kind. (Truthfully, I always thought they were stupid … until I met my daughter-in-law and saw how valuable the experiences had been for her!)

Looking at DIL’s experience through my more-enlightened eyes, I see how the pageants helped her to develop poise, to think on her feet, and to comfortably express her bubbly personality while being scrutinized by beauty pageant judges. I’m pretty sure I’d have hated participating in the glare of those lights, but I see how it makes her the person she is today. She developed the confidence that enables her to take the risk of opening her own store (in a depressed economy) and to make it a successful endeavor! Continue reading “Beauty Is . . .”

Wanted: Computer Nerd ASAP

Since about 1992, I’ve been working with computers. In those early days, I ignored my younger brother’s advice to go with Mac (what did he know … he was my kid brother after all). I wholeheartedly jumped on the Windows 3.1 bandwagon.

We had dial-up internet and as I recall, the speed (theoretically) was in the 14.4k range (bits per second?) But we were amazed computers could communicate over a network! Wow! Eventually, we ditched the outmoded modem for a smokin’ hot 56k — boy, we were zooming!

(It’s been so long, I’m having trouble recalling the exact terms, but all those old modems are still gathering dust in a box out in our barn. Maybe when I’m old and gray … uh, really, really old and gray … my grandkids will dig through that stuff and ask me, “What’s that odd-looking thing?”)

In the years since, Windows has released multiple iterations and advanced its operating system far beyond what we experienced in those good old days. I remember 3.1 — a single window at a time, but we were tickled pink with its fancy, colorful interface. How far we’ve come! Continue reading “Wanted: Computer Nerd ASAP”

Bucking the System


money (5)
The innocence of youth is always refreshing to observe. Back in June, I posted about my grandson’s perspective when he discovered a cache of coins on the bathroom counter. He was instantly convinced the coins belonged to him and he expressed the belief it was his “lucky day.”

The incident was amusing and reminds me how perfectly happy little children are without an understanding of money and value. Everything is valuable and because they don’t quantify paper into denominations, cash money is just another non-essential product. Further, if you offer a child a nickel or a dime, he or she will likely take the nickel because it’s larger. Value is irrelevant.

I was reminded of this incident with our grandson when my Beloved told me about a similar incident with his mom a couple weeks ago. The two of them were sitting together at her apartment. My mother in law reached for some papers on the table and flashed them at my Beloved. The papers were a stack of “Razorbuck$” which she’d been collecting. She looked at her son and flashed a wide grin, saying, “I’m rich! I’m really rich.

Razorbuck$ are one of the popular ways in which this particular assisted living facility rewards their residents and keeps them involved in the various programs of the facility. If a resident (1) discovers a number on their chair at lunch, or (2) answers a question correctly in one of the trivia games, or (3) wins at bingo, the resident is rewarded … they earn one or more Razorbuck$. Eventually, those Razorbuck$ may be redeemed for an item in the facility’s periodic auctions. One of the goals of this reward process is trying to keep the residents engaged and feeling appreciated. Continue reading “Bucking the System”

A Proclamation

Declaration of Independence, poetry, poem, verse
POEM: Declaration Of Independence