Friday, February 20, 2015

The Transistor Radio Story

I have tinnitus in both ears and sometimes, in the still of the night, with my white noise machine running and the wind blowing, it sounds like I hear something like voices. Now, either I have a BIG problem or more likely, this is just the result of aging and the brain disengaging for the day.

The other night, this happened and I was reminded of a funny time in my life. In “The Circle Won’t Be Broken,” I have made reference to a wonderful family that was our neighbor when I was very young. The same year we moved to our bigger home, they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was more of a drive, but we still visited.

One year, it was early June and I would have been thirteen in July. Our parents wanted to go out for dinner and whatever it was they did, so they left me in charge of the five younger children. Ben was 10, Linda was turning 9 in June, Laurie had turned 7 in May, Lisa would be 5 in a couple of days, and Loren was 2 ½.

I am ashamed to admit that
I didn't even have to get
out of the chair I was sitting
 in to write this blog entry
to photograph this radio.
Wonder who it belongs to?
By some miraculous example of my excellent babysitting skills, I got them all put to bed. I was sitting in the living room reading. Now, I have to describe this living room: the back side of the room was all windows looking out over a ravine. It really was lovely, but I was sitting there and I heard…..music.

The kids were all quiet and—where was this music coming from? I searched the living room, dining area, and kitchen. Eventually, it seemed to be coming from the top of the refrigerator. Upon investigation, I saw a package, a birthday gift for one of the kids. I ripped into this thing and it was a transistor radio! Why in heaven’s name did it choose that moment to turn on?

Scared the living daylights out of me until I realized what it was.

Later, the parental units came home and we did have quite the laugh about it.

So today, when I think I hear music in the evening and no one is watching TV, there must be a transistor radio on someplace!

Until we “connect” again…..



As a P.S. to this story, the family moved to (north of) Milwaukee and added a fourth child, but during my junior or senior year, they relocated to Mason, Ohio. They lived in two rentals while they built their permanent home, at the end of a cul-de-sac on the edge of a ravine. It is almost the exact design of their home in Grand Rapids. Well, as long as no one is asking me to babysit…..

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How I Have Changed as a Result of Blogging!

I knew it was near the “anniversary” of this blog, but I had to check the date. 

The first entry was published February 8, 2011.

I began with the inspiration of tracking my upcoming 40th high school class reunion. The blog would be a place of encouragement and humor about class reunions in general, and why they are important to us as people.

There are people who are not the least bit interested in reliving high school. I have heard stories of families that make me understand that not everyone had the life that I and many of my friends did. There was poverty and abuse, and people had moved beyond that and did not want to look back. I must understand and respect that.

I lived in a military town. For many, it was one of many stops in their life, and just happened to be the stop where they graduated from high school. It was the place that their father’s career put them at that certain time. Some of these individuals thrived and made new friends, even considering it a blessing to have the opportunities that the Air Force gave them. Others resented it deeply and didn’t want to “connect” very much, because this situation was fleeting. I have friends in both camps.

As we plan reunions and events, we must accept these issues. No one should be made to feel that they MUST come. There are two people who have asked to be removed from our lists and I have complied, of course. We have one person who years ago asked to be removed, and then a few years ago, asked to join our website. This type of situation is WELCOME, but I will have a phone-to-phone conversation with them first. If you didn't want to be included; what changed your mind? As a social worker, I realize the motives may be less than honorable. It was not the case this time.

So we have those who don’t want to be included, but we have about 30 “guest members” also. This is not a problem for me and there has never been an issue.

I found myself getting sidetracked in writing during the reunion planning itself, but entries were related to “connecting.” I found a novel about a 40th-class reunion and reviewed it. I found “ten reasons to attend your class reunion” and tweaked that, and will be revisiting that subject shortly.

All in all, it was interesting to write about the connecting of the reunion itself. But, that time came to an end and I still had ideas!

So I continued to write—with the central vision of “issues of interest to people of a certain age.” I have been delighted to know that younger people learn from the blog too.

That said, what exactly HAVE I learned these last four years?

  • I have learned that life is certainly unpredictable. My Cancer Journey was never a thought when I started this blog. It has been a ride that I never expected, but I grew in wisdom, faith, empathy for others, and also learned to receive from others. I needed to learn that. I learned that my husband and children had strengths that I didn’t realize, and these were good things to know.
  • I have learned that I share issues with other people, such as My Fitness Journey. I struggle and continue to, but I know that others relate to that. I never expected to break a foot in the middle of the night; struggle with torn menisci (in both knees), and what cancer would do to an exercise program. I wrote the series on Aging Issues and found many commiserates. Some of those entries were painful.
  • I have learned just HOW MANY connections I have had in the history of my life. Some are humorous, some not so much, and maybe, just maybe, someday my children and grandchildren will be interested in the history of their grandmother and grandfather. Examples are “The Other Mothers” and “The Other Fathers.” It was my hope to show how many more people were involved in my upbringing than my parents and immediate relatives. These people helped shape who I am.
  • I have learned that there are issues that we do not all agree on. This blog has challenged me to put to paper the things that are important to ME, even if you do not agree. I admit to being a conservative and as I write this, I wish we had a third political party, even though I am registered with one of them, I am, as many people are, just plain frustrated with ALL politicians! I am a Christian believer and that will always shape my worldview, but I will listen to others.
  • I have learned to be flexible—there are things that happen in life that you just do not count on. When I decided to quit work, I knew that I would have to research and use other methods to cut corners. In truth, it has not been as bad as I expected. From this, I spun-off The Thrifty Tabloid, and there are, and will continue to be lessons I have learned and resources that I have found. As I have said before (many times), “Why spend money on this when you can save and do something special later?” I am all about special! Tomorrow I am getting a mani/pedi!
  • I have learned to appreciate the people in my life, past and present. I was raised in a fine community, with good neighbors, wonderful church family, and the large majority of my friends’ parents were wonderful people. (There are always exceptions) I could talk to these people, and I still do. I come from a closely knit family that—for the most part—is not spread out all over the place. I married into a good family, although some adjustments had to be made on both sides. Sometimes small-town living can seem like “big city” to those who live in rural areas. As the years have marched on, our family members live in all types of locales, from the farming community to the military, to small and large cities.
  • I have used this forum for our Christmas letters, which is like a running history of our family. I have kept some things private for safety, but I know what is available if someone wants to look for it.

How have I grown personally as a result of this blog?
  • I have learned to guard my family’s privacy and make this blog about MY feelings and issues. Anything about anyone else has been “pre-authorized.” My family can be very funny! However, this is MY story; my feelings about life events, not theirs.
  • I have re-thought some of my memories. It has helped me to put some of them away and/or in their proper place. I have also remembered some things that I had forgotten, that have given me a new appreciation for those things. Sometimes it WAS the “good old days.” Other times, it simply was not. (For example, I would never go back to those good old days with my breast cancer diagnosis! I thank God for the progress in medicine that has been made)
  • It has helped me to appreciate other people. I think most of us think mostly of ourselves. We become parents and that changes radically, but it’s still a little bit about us. Did I lose that baby weight (the correct answer is no), am I doing things right? I am no different, I have been about me. The culture tells me to be, and it takes real change to overcome. It takes commitment to other people, it takes a realization that I am only on the face of this earth for a limited amount of time and what AM I going to do with that time? I have learned to respect others’ accomplishments, whatever they are.

Where am I going from here?

I plan to chronicle the 45th reunion. You will be seeing short and longer “updates” about what is going on. If you don’t read this blog for that reason, you can skip that.

I plan a series on relationships with friends (today) that I barely, if at all, knew in high school. All of these will be approved, of course. One of my main gripes is that people think that we are all the same people we were in high school, so therefore I am not attending my reunion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I will explore the relationships that have commenced and endured after high school.

One of the things that has made an incredible impact upon my blogging is, of no surprise, reading other bloggers! I have learned much, make no mistake about it, and I have shared some that were of particular interest or POWER to me; but I learned that I did NOT want to be the “professional blogger.” Oh, I read books on “how-to” and why not turn a hobby into a paying venture? Well, I decided that’s not me on several levels.

I DO read others, and I am annoyed at the pop-up ads or the “slowly-loading” ads that make me want to give up before the blog page even loads. Those ads are how money is made. That is not what I want happening to my reader. While I realize that not all entries are of the same interest to all readers, I want them to at least SEE the blog before they make the decision to read or not to read.

You also have to write ALL THE TIME! I have no deadlines and I do not write without some "inspiration." In other words, I don't write just to write.

I have consulted with some of my readers, and we have agreed that the simple format and layout is “enough.” There are different “topics” on the right side. If you just want to read about how breast cancer affected me, well, there you are. Click on that link and you won’t be bothered with anything else. There is also a “search” feature. I never expected to have over 300 entries, and there may be something you are looking for that was published two years ago!

There is also links to the most read posts “of the month.” If I posted “of all time,” those would always get clicked on and no others would get read. There are a few blogs I follow listed. I do not take those lightly. They are either (1) interesting or thought-provoking, or (2) they are those of good friends. Sometimes both. I will not post a blog unless I think it’s worthy of being read. The one on Sears Homes is well-done, but I realize the audience is small. (I love it though!) And, most importantly, the “Blog with Integrity” badge. That is what I strive for—integrity in all things.

That’s it, keeping it simple and concise as I move forward. If you wish to follow, you may do that privately by email, or you can become a public follower. I do like having “fans.” I still am a little vain.

Wrapping up, I do like to see comments. If you don’t have one of the accounts on the drop-down arrow, then choose “anonymous” but leave your initials or first name so that I know who it is. Just me; the whole world doesn’t need to know.

Blogging has changed me and it will continue to change me. It challenges me to learn new things. It disciplines me to put those things or ideas down on paper. And, hopefully, there is a little creativity in there too. I am not expecting any literary prizes.

Until we “connect” again…….






Friday, February 13, 2015

Aging: Whose Phone is Ringing Anyway?

I don't think I have abnormal hearing loss, although I have suffered from tititus for over fifteen years. I noticed this in early 2000, when I was laying quietly in bed and listening to the crickets. I thought, "How lovely the crickets sound." Then, I realized it was February and I was not listening to crickets!

After an exam from my friendly ENT, it was determined that there wasn't much we could do about this condition, so my best friend is a white noise machine at night.

I digress.

On any given evening, I am sitting in my chair and the dryer is running (behind a door), the TV is on, the fan on the gas fireplace is blowing, the dishwasher is running and the ice cube maker is making ice cubes in the refrigerator. All of these noises are within 10-12 feet of where I am sitting. I can HEAR, but it's hard to differentiate different sounds.

I am not at the point where I can't hear people in a crowd, but I am at the point where I appreciate SOFT music. I really don't care what genre, but I want to hear the person seated across from me speak. I was talking to a male friend yesterday, and we were discussing the hearing decline in our left ears, and I said that my theory is that it is the ear we all have used our telephones with since we knew how to use them!

I do NOT believe it is from rock concerts, as our parents swore would happen to us. I didn't go to that many, anyway. I haven't used earphones that much, in the grand scheme of things. They don't fit right.

However, why is it, that we are sitting of an evening, and some sound goes off, we wonder what it is? We have new phones, and by George, I downloaded a ringtone that no one else would have, so I know my phone is ringing! "It's All About the Bass." Don't judge, people. I know when my phone is ringing!

My husband has one sound for incoming mail on his tablet, another sound for texts on his phone, and I don't know what his ringtone is! I have kept the defaults for texts and cut out all alerts except text messages, so I am not ringing, beeping or dinging as much.

I never thought life would get this complicated!

And I ONLY have one ringtone; I don't have a ringtone for each person! That'd be crazy-making!

Until we "connect" again....be it by text, email or phone call......

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Of Course, We Marry Opposites!

If you are married, and you are cold-blooded, chances are that you married a person that is hot-blooded. It is imperative to have a dual-control electric blanket. Although usually priced out-of-reach, a car with two different sides of temperature control would be lovely.

If you are married to a person who likes to read all the product manuals, then most likely you like to look at pictures, or just be shown how to do something and learn “hands-on.” If you are a morning person, your partner is inevitably a night person. If you like pictures hung in an “interesting” arrangement, you are married to someone who needs balance and order.

In other words, opposites do attract.

But they also compliment.

We recently went shopping for new cell phones. My iPhone5 had to be charged twice a day. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that my car charger gave up the ghost. Hubby wants the simplest “old fashioned” cell phone made. He is struggling to find a cover for it. I wanted the iPhone6 and I was ready. Two years ago, I had to pay $200 up front and the rest of the cost of the phone was “woven” into the two-year contract. This time the company has reworked their pricing so that the iPhone is part of the price, and the rest is my phone plan and his phone plan. There is no “regular” phone price and $30 a month for a data plan. It is all wrapped up together.

They gave me a good price for my old phone and we walked out of the store with two new phones, one of which was my new iPhone6+ and case, with a protective cover (the salesman said it was like a windshield?) for $34.00 and a reduction of $45 per month on our cell phone plan. That includes insurance for my wild and crazy use of a phone, which I might break.

Even though we are different, I appreciate some of those differences. The same mind that reads all those product manuals does our taxes and doesn’t miss a thing. And, even though I don’t sign them anymore, I have complete trust and confidence that they are being done properly, or to the best of his knowledge.

We both research products quite a bit, and he’s better than I am most of the time.

Sometimes it does depend on the product. Maybe I throw up my hands, and he takes over; or he may tell me I am better at whatever it is, so he’s not getting involved. After a third of a century plus, we have that all worked out.

There's nothing that
beats this!
Although we are interested in different things, there is no one that I am more comfortable sitting of an evening with—doing “nothing.” By that I mean, me sitting in one chair playing “Trivia Crack” on the iPad and him sitting three feet away doing crossword puzzles on his tablet. We may not speak much—except to ask a question about a definition or piece of trivia—but we are “together.” There is no one I’d rather shout “AND ONE!” with as we watch basketball on TV. There is no one with whom I would rather critique “Dancing With the Stars.” There’s no one I would rather nap with during a baseball game!

And.....there is no one I would rather be a grandparent with.

Until we “connect” again……



Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Clean Car!

Last summer, I used my mother’s birthday money (to me) to get my car detailed. The car was pretty awful. It represented two years of my living and eating in that car.

I write this six months later and though we have not had a slushy winter, and that is probably going to change, my car is still pretty clean on the inside. Why is this? Because I am not eating in it.

Well, this is a stretch, but it
is the model.
Social work is the type of occupation that you eat in several ways. There is no “lunch hour.” I would grab something between appointments and eat in the car. I always said I could tell how busy my week was from what my car looked like.

When I was employed, I took out $60 every pay period and that usually lasted for the two weeks for whatever I needed. Now, I take out $20 and it lasts two weeks! I am just not eating in the car anymore. When spring arrives and the snow is gone, I will be able to clean the car easily myself. There will be no need for Zeibart©.

Last night we got a snowstorm and, of course, I had the car washed two days ago. You’d never know it, but I’m glad I did it. It never hurts to get the top layer of crud off before adding another layer.

With the exception of always having an umbrella on the floor of the front seat, my car is empty. I clean it out wherever I go. I do not throw bank receipts into the trash at the gas station, but I will throw just about anything else out as I fill up. I keep up with it.

Years ago, when I was the executor of two estates that overlapped, I bought a really cool item that would set on the passenger seat and you could put file folders or any other thing in it and keep the things that you needed handy. I never used this with client papers or anything because they never stayed in the car. They were always on my person.

I still keep this “folder holder” in the trunk and now it’s the holder of all things “necessary,” such as a second umbrella, a flashlight, scraper, ice remover spray, and other items. I also have a laundry basket to help with grocery (or other shopping) items when I have to keep them together to bring them in the house. 

At present, I have a partially filled box of old notebooks that I am sharing with Bible study classmates (call me if you need a notebook!) and certainly in the very near future will be the bearer of a 40 lb. bag of water softener salt. But that’s another person’s job.

What I’m trying to say is that working and not working make a big difference in what the car looks like, and most of it is food! It really is easy to keep up with.

Now, I’m not promising that you would not find an M and M down under something…..



Until we “connect” again……

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The First Anniversary of My Retirement!

It is January 31, 2015; the first anniversary of my retirement/leaving the workforce. I have had dozens of people tell me that I would get bored at home, and be looking for something (implying paying work) to do within a year.

I was ill--I didn't look so good!
I do stuff, but I do not give a whit about getting another job. From the time I was barely 6, I had to get up in the morning and go to school. Although there were summer vacations as a child, by the time I was in high school, I was taking classes (whether audit or for credit) and going to camps for this and that. I began college the week after I graduated, finished in three years and three months, and started employment one week after that August date.

I have worked or raised children (or both) for 40 years. I had to get up almost every day of those years. I have mentioned previously about my sleep issues, but it didn't matter if I had a good night or a bad night, I still had to get up. NOW, I still have some bad nights, but I can SLEEP IN and it DOESN’T MATTER. I’ve always been the early bird by nature, so I’m not sleeping in until 2:00 PM, but I can sleep in until I feel like I’ve had enough.

This is honestly the best thing about retirement; letting your body be what it is.

I exercise at least three times a week. Right now, I sing in church choir on Thursday night and Symphony Chorale on Saturday morning. I have Bible study on Friday mornings (and IT HAS HOMEWORK!). I clean my house (usually) on Monday mornings and on Wednesdays I usually go visit my mother. As I write this, she is in Georgia with my brother for the winter. Tuesday and Thursdays are reserved for my husband, although I don’t spend all day with him! He has things to do also.

Monthly I get together with high school pals, and have meals with other friends at other times. Overall, I like to have one meal a week with a friend.
This is life! You cannot put a
monetary value on it.

My husband informs me that in 2014, I had twenty-six doctors’ appointments, so that’s enough said about that. It’s a part-time job. That’s just ME, not the appointments that I took my mother to.

We welcomed a new granddaughter in October. I have been able to bond with this baby in a way that I didn’t with the first. However, with more time, I can go on field trips with my preschooler, just as I did with her mother and uncle. That is precious to me.

We took a cruise in November and enjoyed the last of warm weather for a while. We hadn’t had a real vacation in over two years.

Goals for the future?
  • Building strength and stamina with exercise.
  • Getting back to playing the piano.
  • Planning (with others) our 45th class reunion for 2016.
  • Enjoying my grandchildren (and their parents).
  • Going to some concerts and sporting events.
  • Spending time with my husband.

Until we "connect" again.......

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Friday, January 30, 2015

A Worthy Use of Time

One of the best things about retirement is that usually, we are not in a rush to go anywhere, and many times opportunities present themselves to talk with those we meet in the day-to-day of life. Examples of those persons would be wait staff, store personnel or other service personnel.

I always say, "Once a teacher, always a teacher; and once a social worker, always a social worker" and we end up giving and receiving information regularly.
Those who know me know where we might
have been!

Today we talked to a waitress at a favorite restaurant and found that she was studying to be a social worker. We spent some time discussing the courses that she had taken, would be taking and should be taking. We talked about planning her practicum.

Even though I was (am still licensed) the social worker, he is always the educator and has much to say also about the process of taking the right classes.

These are the intangibles of retirement. Neither of us will ever win an award for giving guidance to younger people on any subject, but it's a worthy use of time.

On the other hand, we still have much to learn from others also, and we are in a position to discuss many issues with them.

It's important to learn from others, and it's important to mentor those that follow us. It is the job of everyone, but retirement slows us down so that we can actually recognize and use the opportunities.

It's so nice not to have to rush to the next thing, and take advantage of time that is spent learning. We do it regularly.

Until we "connect" again.....