Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Change in Lifestyle

It may seem incongruous when I preach my minimalist theories ( is my favorite blog) and then move into what we could easily call a luxury condominium. At least it’s luxury in the world that I have lived. Luxury in the sense that the baseboards and the window sills are finished off, our “basic” choices in tile and counter tops were beautiful, and we were given a substantial amount of upgrade money to spend.

I could go on about that, but that is not what I want to say today. I would like to first say that we never would have been able to do this without saving during our lifetime. Period. And, our savings earned well, even during the lean years. I give credit to our financial adviser for our being in the place we are today. It’s not just a dwelling, it’s a lifestyle that I am still adjusting to. We have always had more yard, but we had people and animals that used it. Now, it’s enough to sit in the sun room or the patio and wave at the folks that go by.

We built an in-ground pool in our first house. I am not sure it was the smartest thing to do in a one-bathroom house; as we could not see the future with four people using one bathroom. However, we loved it and it was used! I have missed it since we moved to a larger home to raise our children in. Now, I have a pool I can use just about any time I want to. There are “hours” but those of us who live here know the code and could go for a midnight swim if we wanted. Don’t count on it, but we CAN! This year we will not be on any list, but next year we will take our weekly turn of opening and closing, and checking PH during the day.

But the bottom line is what we gave away and what we kept. We kept what we love and purged the rest. As I look around my home, I don’t have “art,” but everything hanging on the wall has some meaning to us. If it didn’t, we got rid of it. And trust me here, the place is NOT empty!

I didn’t keep all the kids’ toys, but I did keep the children’s books! Both of us purged our own books! I have electronic books. We don’t need yard tools (although they recommended keeping a snow shovel in the event we needed to get out before the snow-removal company comes around) and we don’t need a “pantry” in the garage. Our garage is full enough to store everything that had been stored in the basement. Christmas tree, ornaments, old letters, diaries and pictures from the history of our families and my Bible studies. These are the important things to me. If you are in my graduating class, the class filing cabinet is right to the left of the door—one step out the back door in cold weather.

This is my new sofa-bed with it's matching
love seat in the adjoining sun room.
So, did we need anything new? Of course we did. We got a new bedspread for the second bedroom as the colors were terribly wrong. I can handle eclectic style, but I want colors to coordinate! I insisted upon new living room furniture. If we were going to lose a bedroom, I wanted a sleeper sofa. We put it in the living room and the matching love seat in the adjoining sun room. I got two parsons chairs and some pillows from, which were VERY reasonable! I also used Ebates while purchasing them. We got new bathroom rugs. These are items which should service us for many years, barring any accidents. But aside from miscellaneous hardware, that was all.

Although I enjoy my easy living, I will still be minimalist. I don’t buy what I don’t need. I admit that in the winter I “stock up” on those things we stock up on, but otherwise, I get what I need and that’s about it. I do always like to have something, be it just cheese and crackers, to serve drop-in company.

My favorite thing. The builders built a
desk for me. I am looking for a chair.
I own six dresses and one of them is my mother-of-the-groom dress, which I probably won’t have many occasions to wear, and I don’t NEED more! What I MIGHT need is another bathing suit! But I know when the sales are, since I was born mid-summer.

So, I believe minimalist living can coexist with quality. And I’ve always said, we save here to spend over there. Well, we sure did that!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until we "connect" again.....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Hall of Honor

It was overdue. Long overdue. I think we all knew it, but who was going to do anything about it?

The man who was our choir director in high school should have been inducted into the school Hall of Honor twenty years ago! He spent twenty-two years at our school, directing choirs, ensembles and winning awards. Outside of teaching high school, he was music director at church, adjunct professor at the local university, and many other things I never knew about!

He is 80 years old and we need to do this while he is living.

It started with a Facebook Page. We fretted over the name, as we wanted to make it exclusively choir during the years he was director, not before and not after. Oh, we admitted some others, relatives of deceased members, and a few people who had sung for him outside of our school setting.

We missed the cutoff for the first year we wanted to nominate him, but that worked out fine. It gave us more time to collect information. This task went to another person, as I was struggling with my cancer diagnosis and treatment. She did a fabulous job of assembling the application.

In the “things we don’t expect” department: on the second day of my treatment, a friend of mine, a current band mom, was instructed by the band director to clean out a storage room. She and I had previously talked about our black and red robes—not the school colors—and they never seemed to show up. Well, on that 85 degree day in August, she found them.

I didn’t think about how I felt, I just went. She and I and some high school kids we roped into helping us, brought down six totes of robes, about 50 choir plaques earned at contest, and most importantly, reel to reel tapes from 1963 to 1977—when VHS kicked in and until this date, we have not found those.

I threw it out on Facebook: would you buy a robe to help raise money to transfer these tapes to digital? Would you “adopt a tape?” I did sell some robes, but most of them were not in good shape. However, the money rolled in for the transfer project. While I am struggling with my treatment, I found a place in the next town to do the project. We’re talking $1400 here, but the money rolled in.

Former students wanted access to their music. The shop told me the tapes were in magnificent shape for their age and they transferred well.

I uploaded them to Google drive and another alumnus went through them all, named them and made it easy to differentiate the pieces from each other. That was tedious work and I just wasn’t up to it.

Eventually, we could publish the link to the Google drive and alumni could access the music they wanted. He made CDs for those who didn’t want to download it themselves. Many others just downloaded the music. Both this alumnus and I have flash drives with back-ups—mine is in the lock box—and another woman is going to keep the archival CDs. She’s on the younger end of these folks and we feel that is best.

So, as we worked on this project, we waited to hear if our teacher would be inducted. (I really didn’t have any doubt).

When we learned that he was to be inducted, we learned something else. The school did not want the plaques that we had earned. So, another alumna came up with the idea of buying ONE plaque to cover the information on all the other plaques. It was a good idea, but not a cheap one. The total came to $1263.00. Without worry, again I asked for money. It came in like gangbusters, and my husband just shook his head as he brought in the mail each day. (As an aside, remember, my husband taught with this man). We ordered the plaque and it would be there to view at the Hall of Honor induction. (Later it would be installed)
Back in the Day--My Senior Year 1971

The actual Hall of Honor plaque provided by the school.

A group picture of some of those who turned
out to honor him.

We had a beautiful table set up. This includes the
plaque that we purchased for the music hall.

Signing the guestbook.

My project was to make a scrapbook with letters and pictures from all the years. It came together fine, but that was during the last week before the induction.

Well, we were all psyched up for this induction evening in late April and then totally disappointed to learn that the teacher's doctor would not let him travel. I know why, but I don’t talk about it and I am not revealing it here either. We were all just crushed!

However, if there is anything that 48-68 somethings have learned in life, is to make lemonade, and to cherish the time with EACH OTHER, even if he couldn’t come!

Some gathered for lunch that day and others gathered for a meal/snacks after the ceremony and reception. We all celebrated that time in our lives when we enjoyed our music, fellowship and accomplishment.

As for the ceremony itself, one of his students, the perfect choice as far as I am concerned was the “presenter.” He gave his speech, and when he got to the part where he said “Mr. (Superintendent), I now present so-and-so for induction into the Hall of Honor,” his former students gave a rousing standing ovation as if he were actually there. The “presenter” then had notes that our director had given him during the week, as an acceptance speech. It was flawless and excellent.

I wish we could have Skyped, but the news came too late to set that up. 

Nevertheless, it was a wonderful evening and we truly connected with each other, our history, and our thanks to a man who gave us love for music.

Thank you, Mr. Mac!

Until we connect again……

Two Months of Insanity!

Yes, two months have gone by since I have put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be. What a two months it has been!

I have blog posts rolling around in my head, and I have written a few as we begin the next phase of planning for a 45th high school class reunion. Those need polished, but they will be posted.

BUT, in the meantime; my husband had arthroscopic knee surgery at the same time I was involved with the induction of a former choir director to our high school’s Hall of Honor; we both recuperated, and began the task of packing our house. It took much of the month of May, along with the various miscellany of life.

My annual mammogram was clear, we closed on our old home, and we moved June 1st into our condo, literally before we had closed on it. Don’t ask. It all worked out fine. I was rather discombobulated when the condo association decided to pave the whole place the day we were planning to move (2nd), but it was all good. I was tired. The biggest work was carrying boxes in prior to the move. Even though we had purged and purged some more, I just couldn’t believe how many boxes there were. We had help from the football coach and his wife and there was STILL so much to do!

My curio cabinet
fit perfectly!
I learned some things about us. I keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom and kitchen. We lost a bathroom in the move. However, by the time I had unpacked, I had cleaning supplies in an overflow cabinet and ANOTHER overflow cabinet. We won’t need cleaning supplies for two years. How in heaven’s name did we collect all of these?

The condo itself is wonderful for us. It is truly the “open concept,” with a den off to one side and a sun-room off to the other. The only doors are to the two bedrooms and hall bath. Well, there is a door to the laundry room. We have a big great room with a dining area that can be for four or twelve. The den is as cozy as can be. It may be my favorite room in the house—housing Jerry’s “command central” desk, our old couch, chair and TV, plus two bookshelves, one for Jerry and one for kids’ books.

My trophy kitchen!
The kitchen is HUGE and I may be forced to cook. For the first time in my life, I have all of my linens in one place, I have a cabinet for small holiday decor, a "wine cellar," and they built me a desk between the refrigerator and the laundry room door. It has four drawers and then the cabinets above that I can use. It is literally six steps into the garage, where I have my class filing cabinet right by the door!

MY room is the four season sun-room. It has my piano and my brother’s guitar, a love seat and chair, and a table for all of Jerry’s plants. A couple of years ago, Mom bought me a water feature which is perfect in there. The sun-room opens to our patio. It’s small, but our four chairs and table fit fine. It’s like sitting on a front porch of bygone days, and waving and talking to those who walk and ride bikes by in the evening.

We’ve met several of our neighbors and moved in just in time to attend the Annual Meeting, so we were able to elect two new board members. We didn’t talk much that night as there were just so many people there. We have met several people at the pool. Our neighbors are lovely. Thank you God.

So after some little bumps in the road, we are settled. The dishwasher broke a piece off the shell of the inside of the dishwasher, so that will be replaced this week. We hung pictures without killing each other, and we did a job that I am proud of. The garage is completely organized and we had two cars residing there within two weeks.

Come see us!

The left knee that I have been having trouble with since April 25, 2013 is really stressed. I know Jerry’s knee was stressed also, but he was supposed to be fixed, and as far as we know, he is. I didn’t worry about going to exercise class. I figured boot camp had nothing on me in terms of work. My upper body is strong. But that knee is nagging me, to the point that I don’t sleep at night because of the pain.

So I went back to the most wonderful surgeon in the world and we scheduled me for July 2. It will be arthroscopic and it’s the opposite knee from Jerry’s, so after I get off meds, I have no driving restrictions. Hopefully this gets me back to exercising. My Fitness Journey has been non-existent and it shows. Harrumph! We have a pool and I’ve been pool walking and that feels good. I lift my 5 lb. weights in all kinds of formations.

It has been a crazy time in life. I am grateful for no other drama, illness or major problems. I have learned over the years that when things like having the condo association decide to pave the day we decide to move, it WILL all work out. Our buyer couldn’t have been more patient and helpful.

Until we “connect” again……

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Buying and Selling in Three Days!

The old.
I haven’t written in a while. I've been too busy. As far as my “Fitness Journey” is concerned; I have relapsed because I have been too busy to get to the gym. I do what I can at home and try to make good choices in what I eat.

Let it not be said that we do anything without research. Jerry said one day that he was ready for a condo. I said no—I wasn't. But after a few hours of thought, I sat down with him and said “This is what I can do and this is what I cannot do.”

So we started looking. We found two communities we were interested in. The new condos were beautiful. We briefly considered the HECM loan, but decided it was not for us. It was much study before we decided that. That involved our trusty financial adviser; who also sat down with us and figured out how we could do this. (This is not to dis the HECM product, it can be good for some people.)

Therefore, we had plenty of meetings and appointments. We finally decided which community we wanted to live in. It comes as no surprise that we are moving back to the community we raised our children in. Once that was decided, we talked with the saleswoman about specifics, but we needed to sell our home.

This condo builder builds to the drywall and the customer comes in and picks out what they would like. We did some of that before listing our home, so we had a general idea of what we wanted.

We called the Realtor that sold our last home in 2008. She sold it in a terrible market, after it had been listed over a year. It’s a better market today and she would get the job done.

She listed the home on a Friday afternoon, and Friday evening I fielded three calls to show the house the following day. I was flabbergasted! Even more so, the first person to look at it gave us a full price offer without a contingency! Our Realtor came over on Sunday afternoon and we signed that contract; and then on Monday we went to the condo salesperson and signed our contract with them. This is a contingency in case something falls through, but that is unlikely.

The new!
Buying and selling in three days. My head is spinning. This is a good time to have a partner, who looks at things through another pair of glasses, to see all the paperwork. Although I would definitely say that no one in this transaction was pushy. We all want what is best.

We don’t do this every day. But once we decide on something, we go for it. The end result will be lovely to look at and our lives will be less complicated. We would like to be able to just go on a vacation at last moment, although that won’t be happening this year! We will have enough room to entertain, and enough for the kids to visit. That was my first desire. I couldn't go back to a 1200 square foot living space.

Although we lose our basement, and I am working on that as I write this, our first floor living space jumps from 1550 to 2050 square feet. I think we’ll be fine! Much of this is in the kitchen, which will be the family joke as I am not a big cook. They are building me a desk in my kitchen to have all of my computer and office things together (my books will be in my bedroom closet). There is a sun room which my husband thinks that he is going to claim. We’ll see about that.

So, I have much work ahead of me. And during this process, we also begin the work of our next class reunion also, so there will be more about that later.

Until we “connect” again…..

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…

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…..