Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Choosing The Road Less Traveled

I live near a busy interstate highway. I mean VERY busy! And while I am thankful for President Eisenhower’s vision of the national interstate highway system in general (no pun intended), I hate driving it. I mean I HATE IT!

Sometimes, I must. It is the best route to visit my children, who live an hour away. One evening, while my husband and I were coming home from visiting them, I counted 157 trucks that we passed, and I think close to 300 trucks who were coming towards us, all in the space of approximately 60 miles.

This interstate was built during my childhood. We had relatives in the city that my children live in now (still do, actually) and we drove there often. I remember taking parts of the “new road” and then having to switch to the “old road.”

Today, the “old road” is quiet.

And folks, I drive it whenever possible!

Not only is my blood pressure profoundly reduced, I get to enjoy the scenery and it takes me back to a calmer time in life, not only mine, but life in general. Life before trucks (most goods and services were shipped by rail, and that’s another blog).

Much of the drive is rural, and I enjoy that scenery. I pass by the old motels that once were busy to travelers on the old road. They don’t set empty, but the parking lots are filled with trucks and I will draw no conclusion as to whether these are long-term “renters” or construction workers, or what have you. The motels show their age, but I can visualize when they were nice establishments. Pools have been filled in. They are simply a place to stay now.

There are several camping parks which were “resorts” back in the day. Families were content to have a camper and go for a week. There were activities at these parks. Today, there are campers there—but likely folks rent the space and keep their camper there all year long, instead of having to travel with it. Today’s residential codes prohibit campers from sitting in driveways. I have no doubt that there are some inhabited twelve months of the year.

I drive through the small towns, and yes, I have to slow down. Visible from the road is a school where my son played basketball, and I drive by buildings that were once “inns.” One is still in operation, the others are private residences.

There are some not-so-attractive scenes also. There is an agricultural business that supports the nearby university. There is an auction house for farm machinery. These aren’t so visually pastoral but are needed by the agricultural community. I pass by many farms and are reminded that we cannot build communities on all these farms, or we will lose the feed and by-products of the farm production. Farming is necessary, and I don’t say that because I married into a farm family.

I drive through the “largest” small community, and the cemetery that my great-grandparents are buried in is there. I don’t stop, but I know it’s there. I didn’t know these great-grandparents, but I know the stories. I feel a connection.

There are places in the road where I can visually see the parallel interstate and see what I am missing. I smile. By driving the old road, I can relax and truly enjoy the ride. Honestly, I drive 75-80 on the interstate because I have to keep up with traffic. On the old road, I do 60 at night, maybe push it a little during the day. The difference is in my stress level, and that’s worth a few extra minutes.

I can actually drive to my mother’s apartment without driving an interstate at all. I usually choose to drive it for about 5 miles before getting off. I take the old road to that “large” small town, take a state route north to a country road and drive east into the thriving new area that she lives in. I am glad she lives there because of all the amenities that are close to her, but other than a couple of school zones, I have no traffic issues between home and her place. It is glorious!

I know that there are roads less traveled all over our country. Sometimes, we should just be in less of a hurry, and allow extra time. It definitely makes a difference in how I feel at the end of the day! I bet it would yours too.

Until we “connect” again…..

As you have probably figured out, the “old road” is The National Road, US Route 40, which parallels Interstate 70, one of our major east-west routes. You can have it!

The gravestones of my great-grandparents and two of their children.

My great-grandfather John Bundy Hoover outlived
his wife and two children.
 (actually three, one not buried here)
Nathaniel Thomas Hoover. He lived only six months
without enough nourishment.
The family lost a mother and child in 1907.
The following year, they lost a little girl.

My great-grandmother, Rachael Garrett Hoover.
Note the date of her death. She died two weeks after
the birth of her last child Nathaniel. She gave
birth to ten children. Seven survived to adulthood.























Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Findleys Strive for an Education

As many of you know, I have been reading some books that children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, and not because I like kiddie books! I am taking an online course which examines the different aspects of this literature and how it was written, edited, re-edited, marketed and sold during a time when people weren’t buying very many books, the 1930s. Regardless, Mrs. Wilder became an legend in children’s literature. If you haven’t read the books, or at least watched the 1970’s television show "Little House on the Prairie," LOOSELY (I am learning) based on her life, I don’t know what planet you live on.

I also have a book of samplers written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and edited by Stephen W. Hines, called “Little House in the Ozarks.”* This is a compilation of her writings for the Missouri Ruralist, a local farm publication. These writings preceded the Little House Era.

They are fascinating. I have “1992” written on the front cover. I don’t always do this, but it’s so enlightening to place my first reading of the book in my own lifetime frame. I was a homemaker/preschool administrator and I had a child that was 9 and a child that was 4. And yes, I found time to read.

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say my blogs are inspired by LIW, I am impressed by the topics and length. They are longer than most of my blogs, which is a sign of the times. Today, people simply don’t read more than 800 words. But to say that these writings incorporate more of her person than her Little House books just MIGHT be accurate.

So, of an evening, I was reading an entry entitled “The Findleys Strive for an Education.” In an era, where children were needed on the farm, it was unusual to educate them beyond the basics, if at all. Many people were illiterate. Although there are other points I might discuss—this is the statement that stood out to me as a young mother. Mrs. Findley said: “We are doing something worthwhile, for in raising the standard of our children’s lives, we are raising the standard of four homes of the future, and our work goes on and on, raising the standard of the community and of future generations.”**

I had an AHA moment, for I realized, that although I only had two children, this is exactly what I was doing and my purpose in life. We certainly did not live in the impoverished conditions that Mrs. Wilder describes—taking in laundry to purchase one reading and writing book—but we also placed our priorities on the two homes of the future. I do not complain that I did without, because our needs were always met; but sacrifices were made in wants so that our children could participate to the fullest in what they wanted to do.

First of all, I agreed with Mrs. Findley that the parent is the first teacher. I always believed that the home is where education begins. I remember telling my daughter’s first grade teacher, who was wonderful by the way, that every parent is a home-schooling parent and that some of us “sublet” to public, to private, and to parochial schools; and if they aren’t getting the job done for whatever reason, then it falls back to the parent to finish the job. I get very annoyed when I hear people say “the schools aren’t doing this and the schools aren’t doing that,” and I want to say SO LOUDLY, “Parent, what are you doing to make up the difference? It’s YOUR job!”

Mrs. Findley believed that the children’s studies should be started at home. She lists an age of 6-8 to send children to school, but that doesn’t matter. The child matters. I taught my children from the time they were about 18 months old, real educational stuff! (Not “what does the cow say?”) I sent the boy to kindergarten reading. The girl didn’t have a great kindergarten experience, but that wonderful first-grade teacher did make up for it. I volunteered for the teacher and I was involved! I knew where to fill in the gaps.

It’s important to be involved during the elementary years, where the basics are being taught. As the child grows into that “middle school” timeframe, it is time to start backing off and letting them take responsibility for their own lessons. As parents, we were still there, but not in the foreground.

There is nothing that disgusts a high school teacher more than a “helicopter” parent, but it’s so easy today, to login and keep track of what is going on in the student’s work (homework being done?) rather than nag. If there’s an issue, it can be nipped in the bud. It may be a difficult subject, and help beyond what you can give may be needed. The only weaknesses that we as parents had were Spanish (but the kids had an epic teacher!), Chemistry, and Higher Math. The rest we could handle. My husband literally re-taught my daughter Biology II at the dining room table. I swore child #2 would not take that subject as long as the same teacher was teaching it.

We knew we were building for the next level—life and college. Hopefully, two more homes that would educate more children and future homes that we would never see. If every family could duplicate itself twice—in the realm of education—what a world we would have.

Just as Mrs. Findley said in 1922.

*”Little House in the Ozarks,” A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler The Rediscovered Writings, Edited by Stephen W. Hines. © 1991 by Stephen W. Hines, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.

**Ibid. Page 55.


Until we "connect" again.....

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Transistor Radio Story Part II

Sometimes I feel like writing a sequel that I never planned to write. Such is the case with The Transistor Radio Story.

There’s another transistor story to be told, and it has been approved.

All of us had transistor radios; I got mine at around the age of eleven. I had spent the week with my cousins in Columbus and they listened to the Top Forty on WCOL. I remember listening to the songs in the evening under my pillow as I went to bed. Mom, I distinctly remember being in the small bedroom. It must have during the time you and Dad tried to put the boys in one bedroom together. THAT didn’t work!

Anyway, this story is not about myself.

The BIG tractor. 1984.
My father-in-law always had a transistor radio with him. He kept it under his cap. He listened to music, the news and of course the farm reports at noon. After we were married, he bought his first cab tractor—that was a BIG DEAL—and it came equipped with a radio; but there was plenty of other farm work and orchard work, that he did with the radio under his cap.

The radio was his constant companion.

After he had his debilitating stroke in 1987, he spent more time in the house. The farming was cash-rented out, but he still worked in his orchard. His vision was affected so he was somewhat limited in what he could do. They say that when one sense is diminished, another becomes more pronounced and that could have been the case with this hearing, at least for a while. He had his stroke at the age of 68. Yes, his hearing eventually diminished with age.

He still had that radio with him, even in the house. He also watched TV a good bit. (Not at the same time). I remember when we were watching a baseball game together, and he was calling balls and strikes (correctly) and I thought, “And you can’t see?” The truth of the matter is he lost half of his vision in both eyes, so I don’t know how he compensated for that.

As he declined with age, he eventually had to be placed in a nursing home. He took his radio with him. That was his daily connection to his former life. His wife passed away before he did, and he had plenty of visitors, and the staff, but he still listened to his radio. By that time, he rarely watched TV.

On December 13, 2007, he passed away during the night. He was alive at the 2:30 AM check, but by the 4:30 AM check, he was gone. However, during those two hours, he had somehow reached over and grabbed his transistor radio. He died with it beside him.

The radio followed him to his grave, but the batteries were removed.

Until we "connect" again.....

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……