Tonight is Saturday and I bet most people are glued to the television watching some big college football game. I actually entertained myself tonight by giving my doodle a bath in my new walk-in shower. If you don’t have one, I am here to say it is an amazing invention. Mine smacks of handicappedness (Is that a word?) because I have a regular shower head and a handicapped one. The handicapped one is for my doodle. It makes the whole activity so much easier!
While I was in the midst of sitting on my little stool in the shower bathing Ozzie, I thought about all the things that no one ever told me about getting older. I am hitting the big 68 in January. I have learned a LOT about getting older as the years go by and generally it was through self-discovery. Sometimes my swim buddies who are also in their 60’s share a tidbit or two with me. It can be a very freeing time! So-wine glass in hand-here with go with a few things I have learned about getting older that I think is worth sharing.
When you were a little girl, did you ever see a woman with this HUGE black hair sticking out of her nose or chin? For me, it was a lunchroom lady at my school. What is it with that black hair? Why doesn’t she pluck it out? Well, warning number one is that one day you will wake up with a HUGE black hair sticking out of your chin or under you chin and you will not notice it. This is probably due to the fact that you are not wearing your glasses and you can’t see it. Or it is in the shadow of your chin. When it becomes two or three inches long, you will see it and be horrified. Why did NO ONE tell me about that hair? Because it has roots all the way to your toes, it will hurt like anything if you pluck it out. Shaving it off is easier! Trust me. And you need to be aware that it will sneak to another part of your face or neck or chin and pop out there. You will also need to know that it grows like crazy-maybe three inches overnight. If you don’t find it at the three inch stage, it can grow long enough to be curled with your curling iron!
Warning number two, is almost an opposite kind of thing. You will go from shaving your legs every single day to having no hair to shave at all. Yep! That is right. You will quit shaving your legs and underarms because there is nothing there to shave off. In the winter, I can go sometimes 2-3 months. In the summer, I try to remember to shave once a month. Or not. No shaving is kind of a nice perk! And while we are on the hair thing, let’s not forget that bikini area. Not much going on there either. No waxing/shaving is needed when no hair is growing! Yippee!
Warning number three is an awkward kind of thing. Years ago I saw a book in a book store that was titled something like “Everybody Farts”. In actual life, individuals do that activity about 14 times a day. Well as hard as it is to say, this activity actually increases as you get older and sometimes they just “sneak” out. Like when you are in public and with a friend or during the silent prayer at the end of Bible study. All you can hope for is that it escapes quietly! What is going on with that embarrassing accident? Well, it happens and you just have to deal with it. Maybe the room noise will cover this oops. Maybe not. Oops! Excuse me!!
So if you are now smiling because you are YOUNG and think this is crazy-well just keep living that dream! And if you are OLD and you are laughing, then I know I told the truth!
Yesterday I wrote about my grandmother and my real grandfather that I never knew. Until I attended a family reunion a few years ago, I never knew anything about my real grandfather. Now I have seen pictures of him and his brothers and sisters. I have worshipped in the church that he helped to build. I have visited his grave. He is a real person to me now.
Years ago after I was married, my grandmother gave me her marriage license. It is the most ornate document that I have ever seen. First of all it’s probably 24″ by 36 “. It is entirely written in German. It has beautiful graphics that form a border around the document. It’s over 100 years old! And it is part of who I am.
When my grandmother became a widow, we have a gap in what actually happened to her and my father. My reunion relatives think she returned to her family with my father. We also know she married again but how she met her next husband is a mystery to me. He was a widower and had several children. When they married, they had children together. They became a “yours, mine and ours” kind of family. I loved when we visited my grandparents because the family would gather and there were a big bunch of folks there. It was like a circus.
One of the funny things that I remember about my grandmother is that she called her husband Mr. and then his last name. I never heard her call him by his first name. She was this stocky little German woman who always smelled like talcum powder. She wore black lace-up orthopedic shoes with cotton hose. In the winter she always wore a wool scarf around her head. She never learned to drive. She either walked where she needed to go or she rode the bus or train. She gave the best hugs where she squashed you hard against her broad chest. And she would whack you on the back as she hugged you. And I loved her dearly.
Both of my parents passed away many years ago. And although I felt that I knew a lot about them, I now know that I really did not. There are so many questions that I never thought to ask. If only—–
My parents were divorced and my father remarried many years later. When my father died, my stepmother got the address book and when she died, I have no idea what happened to it. As a result, I lost every family contact that I had. I searched several times to see if I could find anyone but eventually gave up. I was afraid that any relatives I had were gone. Then just a few years ago, one of my distant relatives found me. Yay! He had been searching for me, too. Anyway, there was a big family reunion coming up and he wanted to invite me. I was SO excited! I had “people” left from my father’s side of the family. So my husband, my daughter and I went.
That is when I realized I knew nothing really. I learned a lot at the reunion and one of my favorite tidbits was about the farmer and the spinster. My grandfather came from Germany with his seven siblings during the 1800’s. They answered an ad about needing farmers and carpenters in the USA. So they came here. Most settled in Kansas and became farmers. My grandfather married and had several sons. When his wife died, the sons were grown. Usually when a wife died, the man married again and had additional children. But he was in his late 60’s and had sons to help him. This is where the story gets a little cloudy. My grandfather was friends with another farmer who had a daughter. She was unmarried and although young-considered a spinster. Story A is that he hired this young woman as a housekeeper for his house and several years later they married. Story B is that my grandfather kept visiting his friend but would spend time talking with his spinster daughter. Then the farmer said “marry her” or “leave her alone”, so my grandfather married her. No one in the family knows which story is correct. The sad part is that no one asked when they were still alive.
Well, that spinster woman of 20ish married this farmer man in his late 60’s. Two years later when he was in his 70’s, they produced a son who was my father. I think that this whole story is pretty awesome. I never realized this.
The saddest thing is that my grandfather died when my father was only 15 months old. He never really knew his father. And I never got to know him either.
I was born and bred in the South. I am Southern from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. So tonight, I am reflecting on the drinks that spell SOUTHERN in capital letters!
Who can talk about the South and not talk about sweet tea? No one. Not a single person. Sweet tea is best when it is brewed and sweetened with white sugar. It is even better when a freshly cut chunk of lemon is squeezed into it and then left floating among the ice cubes. It is best served in a glass. I mean a real glass. Not paper, not plastic, not foam. Pour that wonderful, thirst quenching liquid into a glass. Another very special tea is mint tea. Only a few people can make proper mint tea. First you have to grow your own mint in your garden plot. My Nannie had a plot right beside her back door with nothing but mint in it. Her recipe for mint tea was a secret. When she was done, there was no “muddiness” in the bottom of the pitcher. The brew was perfectly done and had just the right amount of minty taste. And of course, it was sweet. Ahhh-to have a glass of her mint tea again.
The second drink that shouts Southern is Coca-Cola. I am not talking about Tab or Coke Zero or any other form of Coca-Cola. I am talking about Coca-Cola that is bottled in Atlanta, Georgia and comes in a glass bottle. The best place to get a cold one is from an ice chest that is filled with ice and those lovely little green bottles. You would reach your hand down into the ice to find the one at the bottom because it would be the coldest. Your fingers would feel like they were freezing as you searched for that cold one. And it was all worth it. You used a bottle opener-also called a church key-to pop off the lid. FYI, in those days, the twist cap had not been invented. You would sit on the swing and just swig down that drink. It would almost take your breath away. When you were done, you burped. Sometimes a lot. Coca-Cola was also good with an individual bag of salted Mr. Planter’s peanuts poured into the bottle. Coca-Cola and peanuts-a delightful combo! Kids would also sit around and compare whose drink came from the farthest away. In those days, the bottle had a city name stamped on the bottom to indicate the city of bottling. When your bottles were empty, you returned them to the store of purchase because you had to pay a deposit for those bottles!
The third drink that I hate to mention but probably should is moonshine–also called white lightning. It was very illegal when I was a child. I never saw anyone drinking moonshine. But I know that if you were camping in the mountains in the rain, you could purchase some “fire starter” from most of the locals who also sold wood to campers. Hmmm. Of course today, moonshine can be consumed in public with no problems. Our local history museum has a benefit every year and the big draw is the moonshine tasting. I have never been but have considered it! I understand that the peppermint is quite tasty.
Well, all this talk about drinking has me parched. I am heading to the kitchen for a Coca-Cola!
I live in the South where we seriously sweat all summer. Then fall begins to creep in and you are jolted into DEER SEASON. Hunting is BIG in the south. There’s bow season and gun season and whatever season. I grew up in a family that did not hunt. My father could shoot but he laid his gun aside when World War II ended. My mother’s side of the family pretty much stuck to hunting squirrels. My husband is not a hunter, either. He is not getting up that early for anything. My darling daughter-in-law has hunting in her blood. Her father hunted, her brother hunted and she hunted. She is my source of all knowledge about hunting.
Last fall, we were having some work done on our house and had the most amazing contractor doing it. He is a big hunter and a fisherman. He likes nothing better than getting up at 4am to drive to the mountains to fish for trout. So one day while he was at my house, he asked me if I liked deer meat. Yes I answered. You see I had eaten deer meat before and it was pretty yummy. So he said he would bring me some if he got another deer. Cool, I thought!
Days went by and I didn’t hear back from him. Then one Saturday morning, he called and had a deer. He told me he would bring me some in a bit. I immediately thought about what I could do with this tasty meat. In an hour, he showed up at my house with a cooler. He brought it up to my porch and threw the lid back. “What do you think?”, he said. I didn’t know what to say. All the deer meat that I had seen came in white butcher paper with labels. This was a shank of a deer. That’s the leg part. It was a leg in a cooler! OH MY! I said it looked wonderful-what else could I say? I thanked him again and off he went.
I put the lid down on the cooler and called my D-I-L. Help! I have a deer leg. What do I do with it? It has to be processed, he said. She laughed and told me what to do. You soak it in ice water until the blood is out so it won’t taste gamey. So for several days I soaked it in the cooler before cutting the meat into huge chunks and soaking it in big bowls in my frig. Finally I was done with draining the blood. What I had was the most gorgeous red meat I have ever seen. Then I had to cut it up again into cubes so I could freeze it. Sticking the knife in the meat was hard the first time. I kept thinking that this was NOT Bambi-it was just meat.
If someone gives me deer this year, I know exactly what to do. I am experienced! Bring on the coolers!
There is not a mother who does not either dread or look forward to school starting! Actually, how you feel can vary from day to day or morning to evening. So I thought I would take a little jog back to the 1950’s and tell you about school starting then!
First of all, our calendar was different than calendar’s today. We started after Labor Day and had no holidays until Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. There was NO Fall break! We started again in January and went until Easter when we had Good Friday off. We finished up right smack dab before Memorial Day. That’s it. What a change from calendars today!
My Mom always took me shopping for school clothes in August. That was exciting! We looked for dresses that would do well for everyday wear. Yes, you heard me right–dresses! Girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Never. Ever. Even when it snowed. Never. Ever. And the dresses were knee length. We did not have any kind of sneakers in those days. Surprise! Girls and boys wore leather shoes to school. So you looked for some sturdy shoes that would do well for school and playing outside. Flip flops had not been invented! And anyway, they would not have been allowed at school. Socks were a necessity. I can remember being excited when my foot reached the size that would fit knee socks! That meant that my legs would be partially covered up and a lot warmer! We didn’t have tights to wear. One time my Mom bought me a corduroy skirt and vest that had matching knee shorts. So when it was really cold, I would wear the knee shorts under my skirt to school. Was that classy or what??? I looked like a fat tub of corduroy. But I was warmer!
As far as any embellishment goes, girls didn’t have pierced ears in those elementary days. I was nearly 16 before the pierced ear fads began. Girls wore their hair in pony tails if it was long or it was pulled back and held by a barrette. We didn’t have scrunchies to hold our pony tail-we had rubber bands and they hurt when you took them out!
When preparing for a new school year, you generally purchased a new lunch box. They were metal and are collector’s editions now! Why didn’t I keep them!?!
School supplies were easy. You needed pencils and a Blue Horse 3 ring notebook with paper. If you were in seventh grade, you needed an ink pen with extra cartridges for penmanship class. You also needed 50 cents for your year long subscription to Weekly Reader. That’s it. My Mother would have had a heart attack if she had been presented with the supply list that students receive today!
Hey! And you know what? We did just fine.
Since today is Sunday, I thought I would reflect on my childhood Sundays. First of all, Sunday was a day of rest. In my town in the 1950’s, stores were closed. There was no shopping on Sunday afternoon. None.
Sundays were also the best, I thought. My dad made breakfast because he liked to do that. He liked oatmeal. So that is what we had for breakfast. Then everyone got dressed for church. We didn’t have a shower at our house. We had a bathtub and folks took their bath at night-not the morning. Girls washed their hair on Saturday nights and put it up in curlers so it would look nice for church the next day. Then we all loaded up in the car and went to church.
After church we came home to eat. Folks didn’t eat out in our town on Sunday. If you really wanted to eat out, you did on Friday night because that is when your Dad got paid! My Mom would fix Sunday dinner on Saturday. She cooked the vegetables and just had to warm them up on Sunday. The meat was either a ham or chicken that could be eaten either warm or cold. Sometimes we had macaroni and cheese as the meat part of our meal. Biscuits were the only thing made directly before the dinner.
Well, you are saying-this sounds pretty regular. Yep it was. The unusual part is that after dinner my Mom would take a flat sheet and just cover up the table and the food. It just sat there all by itself — completely unrefrigerated all afternoon. Even when we had deviled eggs–they just sat out under the sheet. So anytime I needed a snack between either reading or playing the piano, I could snitch it from under the sheet!
The BIG thing is that we didn’t get sick from our unrefrigerated food. Never. Not even when it was slaw or potato salad. Never. No one thought a single thing about leaving your dinner out all day.
Sixty years have passed since I was 8 and snitched food from under the flat sheet. And you will be happy to know that I put my leftovers in the frig-not under a sheet on my table!
In the beginning, there was no Twitter! Or Facebook! Or Instagram! Or whatever other things that folks do these days to preserve memories and share with others. I know that is hard to believe for all you young techies, but that is the truth! I promise!
So in the olden days, what did we do to remember precious things? That is what I am reflecting on tonight. Girls had scrapbooks. Big scrapbooks that we bought and devoted hours to documenting our lives. I am not talking “Scrapbooking” as in the million dollar craft/pastime that women do today. I am not talking cardstock and glitter pens from the expensive craft stores. I am talking about a large hardbound book that was generally filled with black construction paper. I have scrapbooks from my mother’s teenage years and I have them from my stepmother’s teenage years, too. It is amazing that they both date back to the early 1940’s and they are still in decent shape! WOW!
What girls would do is purchase little corners that you would glue to the papers in order to “hold” the corners of the pictures you wanted to save. Pictures were not the only thing saved. You would clip out newspaper articles that talked about teas or birthdays or cousins from out of town because that was “news” in the local paper in those days. You kept ribbons from a corsage. Paper napkins from tea parties or showers were saved and mounted. You kept movie ticket stubs along with your opinion of the movie-as in the dreamy Cary Grant was the heart throb. If you went to a dance, you kept your dance card. For you youngsters, a dance card simply listed who you would dance with during a specific dance. The first and last dance were the most important. Boys would sign their name in order to dance with a girl. Popular girls filled up their card in no time. And of course, girls danced with girls. There was nothing wrong with that. I love that after all these years that I can look at my Mom’s scrapbooks and read in white ink the names of people in her pictures or a description of where they were and what they did.
I will never have to convert a file or update or load her scrapbooks. I will just turn the page, laugh at what she said and did and think that she was quite a gal! Thanks Mom! I love you!
Welcome to my Write 31 Days blog! This year I have titled it “Jest Saying” -Reflections from my Porch. It’s my third year to participate in this writing group. I have really enjoyed the previous years and in some ways can’t imagine not writing this October. At other times, I think I must be crazy especially since all the others have so much better technology skills than me. Getting started and wading through the button making, page landing, “URL ness” causes me a little anxiety since those are such foreign terms to me. But I have a large bag of M & M’s available in my pantry upstairs! And coffee!
This year I will continue with reflecting back on my life. I primarily write so that my grandchildren will have some clue to their heritage from their slightly crazy grandmother. Some are funny and may remind you older readers of things and some are sad. They have all touched my heart and life in some ways
I hope you enjoy this month with me!
As you already know, I was a teacher for many years. And I was also the crazy teacher who loved to take middle schoolers on field trips-overnight. One of the most interesting and physical field trips that I ever did was the time we went to a wilderness camp. Yes, you heard me correctly-a wilderness camp! We could have a total of 15 people. The reasoning for 15 was that was the size of a van. And we didn’t need to take too many students because not everyone is ready for that kind of experience. By experience, I mean that we were going to do a ropes course, go hiking on the Appalachian Trail and we were sleeping in tents on the trail. We didn’t have to do cooking-thank goodness! The other teacher had never been camping-EVER! But she was a good sport and willing to give it a try. So that left space for thirteen students. We were not sure how many eighth graders would want to attend but we figured that it would be mostly boys. Right? Nope. We had ten girls and three boys. All of the boys were in Scouts-so no worry there. The girls were bright and funny and cheerleaders. I was concerned a little about them.
The day began misty and gray as we set off from the school parking lot. By the time we had driven 20 miles, the girls had begun to tell knock knock jokes. They were hilarious! By the time we reached the 30 mile mark, the girls had switched to blond jokes. The fact that they were all blondes made the jokes even funnier! Next they switched to singing songs. The other teacher and I didn’t have to do a thing. The girls were the undesignated entertainers for the trip. When we arrived at camp, we put our things away and started on the ropes course. Ropes was the key word here. We were divided into teams and used group strategies to use ropes and cross rushing streams and climb cliffs. It is a good thing that I could do heights! The strangest and scariest activity was something called the pamper pole. It was as tall as your typical telephone pole with the little iron steps up the side. The activity for this was to climb up the pole using the iron steps/grips. When you reached the TOP, you were to crawl up and stand up on your two feet on the very TOP of the pole. BTW, we wore a safety harness. Once you reached the top and were standing up straight, you were to spring from the top and grab a swinging bar. The harness person would then let you down to earth. Some of the kids started up the pole but came back down. Most of the kids climbed to the top and leaped to the swing bar. No one made it to the bar yet. Then it was time for the adults. My teacher friend said no and looked at me. So up I went. Once you got into the groove of climbing up, it was ok. But when I looked down when I was almost to the top—yowie! I made it to the top and then climbed up. Next was the swing bar. Man, it was hard to leap into the air but I did it. I missed the swing bar but was fine. Well, check that off my list!
The next morning we left the base camp and headed to the mountain trail. It was misty rain. The guys were glum. They were not hikers. The girls were cheery and sang the WHOLE day! We had a great time eating by the campfire and sleeping in 2 man tents at night. The next morning after a hearty breakfast, we hiked back to base camp. The guys were tired.. The girls were singing-again! The guys even mentioned how difficult it was to hike with cheerful people. The girls mentioned that the boys were real stick-in-the-mud campers and started singing again.
Well, I know one thing from this experience. I will choose blonde cheerleaders to hike into the woods with any day over Boy Scouts. Sorry guys!