Writing My Life

Now and Then


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Mom & Me – Mother’s Day 2014

Unlike many baby-boomers, I am beyond fortunate to still have my “greatest generation”, rascal of a mother with me. At 88-going-on-89, she still makes us laugh at her quick wit and other shenanigans! Case in point: the other afternoon when I set about sorting her pills, I congratulated her for remembering to down her evening menu of pink, white, and yellow-striped capsules. She is faithful in taking her morning allotment, but is hit-and-miss with the latter.

Seconds into my sorting routine, she shyly said, “I’ve done a bad thing.”

Panic rose as several scenarios screamed through my brain, the first being, “OH NO! She took all her night pills at once!” And then “OH NO! She dumped them down the toilet!” (They aren’t exactly cheap!)

But I calmly asked in my sweetest, slightly teasing tone, “What did you do?” (Smile)

“Well, I poured them all into an empty pill bottle,” she said – rather sheepishly, I might add!

“Why? Am I that mean when I tease you about forgetting them?” I asked as I remembered a childhood of hiding empty Jello boxes  after I consumed the contents – “raw” Jello was a precursor to Pixy Sticks in my time.

Like me, I guess she hates “getting into trouble”, and we can both be a little sneaky to avoid that!

One of the sneakiest things she did, however, dates back to spring, 1966. I can’t remember if it was yearbook day or Senior Sluff day, but a bunch of us planned to spend the afternoon at the beach. Yes, there was a beach in Southeastern Idaho – The American Falls Reservoir, not exactly Malibu or Santa Cruz, but somehow, we made it work.

For the occasion, I bought a  2-piece swimming suit. Far from being a bikini, the lime-green and white pleated skirt bottom with daisies covered my belly-button, and though the square neckline was cut a little lower than normal, it was still something Annette Funicello would feel comfortable wearing on a Disney set. At least, I thought so. Unlike popular Jantzen swimsuits of the time, this two-piece was made from a duck-cloth type material, and I paid a pretty penny for it at Fargo’s Department Store where I worked part-time. I think I put out $25!!!

After the purchase, I took it home and modeled it for Mom and Dad who smiled approvingly. Or so I thought. A few mornings later when I headed out the door to my day of high school adventure, I grabbed my beach bag packed with towels, baby oil, and the new swimsuit. When we arrived at the beach – a rather cool, windy Idaho day, as I recall – the girls had to change into their suits in cars, a dubious affair that required performing acrobatics under beach towels.

While twisting and turning to get into mine, I realized that it was not exactly the  one I bought! The 2-piece had been modified! Yes, it was green and white with a pleated-skirt bottom, but the top was different! It was still white, edged with green piping, but it was cut higher, and a row of matching green buttons ran along a seam that marked the addition of more white duck-cloth to raise the neckline!

Shaking my head in disbelief, I was shocked, but not upset. It was adorable! Mom had jazzed up a rather plain top into something fun as well as modest. And she had performed such a professional job that no one could tell I did not buy it that way.

I don’t remember the discussion that night as I talked with Mom, but something tells me that when I modeled my purchase for her and Daddy and then bent over to retrieve the shopping bags, she knew changes needed to be made before I paraded my swimsuit-clad body across the sands of the American Falls reservoir in the spring of 1966. I presume she thought I would be angry with her so she decided to seek forgiveness instead of permission. Yes, she is sneaky like that. Thanks, Mom!


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Still Thinking about That Time-Travel Wish

Today G.E. and I finished off one fine Labor Day  weekend by going to see Lee Daniels’ The Butler, starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah – what IS Oprah’s last name anyway? The film is inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who served in the White House from the Eisenhower to the Reagan administrations. (Remember that when a movie is “inspired” by actual events, there is very little correlation between the two.) Nevertheless, the movie was excellent, and it served as a time-warp for us both as we sat through some of the tough times of the 50s and 60s.

While we remember the Civil Rights’ headlines and the TV news stories, G.E. and I both remarked how insulated we were from the horrors of those events. Growing up in Utah and Idaho, we knew very few African-Americans. In fact, I can only remember one girl I worked with at Fargo’s Department Store in Pocatello. We often met in the break room at the same time and talked of ordinary, but unimportant, things. So that brings me to the other reason I’d like to that that trip back in time: to be more aware of all that was happening around me; to take a serious interest in those world-shaking events, and to do something about them. Not always big things, but something more than nothing – regardless of the distance between Idaho and Alabama.


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Wishful Thinking

If I could be granted my own “make-a-wish” desire, and if it were truly possible, which Ronald Mallet believes it is,  I would sign up for time-travel. Instead of heading for Swiss Days over the Labor Day weekend, I’d tell the ticket agent me “when” I wanted to go instead of where. For my first trip, I would head back to my own childhood to soak in thousands of details I thought I would remember forever but have sadly eluded me. I would bask in those less-than-significant family moments with Mom, Dad, and Connie  that added up to what I remember as happy times.  time_travel

While I’d enjoy revisiting monumental experiences, I really yearn for those tiny times – eating Dad’s toast and cocoa breakfasts he whipped up for Connie and me; watching Sunday night’s Kennecott Neighborhood Theater but listening to Mom’s rhythmic beating a batch of fudge; or sitting  at the vinyl and chrome kitchenette and talking. I remember the food more than the conversations – why is that? I’d love to listen in to what we chatted about while eating corn fritters, the main course that usually preceded paydays. I hated corn fritters, but I’d eat them again if it meant I could drop into 1958.

Upon my return, I’d record all those particulars that meant little to me then but everything to me now.


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Thanks for the Memories, as I Can’t Find Mine!

More than once I’ve commented upon my absent-minded behaviors. Thank heavens I have kind friends and family members who help me keep track of myself. Among those is a clever colleague who just left our school district’s curriculum office.

For sometime, Luann watched me leave the office and return for my purse and again for my phone or for my glasses or my laptop.  Once I couldn’t leave because my keys had totally disappeared, NEVER to be found. Another instance, I had to enlist the help of our young custodian to rifle through his large trash can to find my cell phone. And a few times returned home to retrieve my work laptop that I forgot!

One day about a year or so ago, I was packing up to head home and Luann walked to my desk.

Reminder 1“See this little check-list posted here,” she said. “I did that as a reminder to gather your critical necessities BEFORE walking out the door.” Even though I had not noticed the flashy reminder during the day, I was delighted!

“That’s perfect!” I said.

“Oh, but that’s not all,” she answered. Then she led me past the 5 cubicles that lined the aisle to her desk. “Here is a second checklist just in case you forget to refer to the first one!” Reminder 2

Thank you, Dear Luann. You don’t know how many times these little checklists have saved me trips and time.  I especially appreciate the last two items on the lists: “smile” and “mind”. I will ALWAYS smile whenever I look at these as they will remind me of you! Many hugs to you, my friend.


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I Miss Me

Every time I pull up my iGoogle page and see the last entry I posted on “Writing My Life” was in March, I am sad. I miss my written reflections whether anyone else does or not. I think about life and its crazy characteristics all the time, but until I record those thoughts, I don’t feel as if I’ve truly reflected.  Besides, those hit-and-miss ideas are fleeting.

So, with a few weeks off work, I hope to capture those momentary meditations before they take flight and confine them here. That won’t be easy because some are long-gone, but I know I want to record the follies of growing older. The process is really quite humorous.

For example, yesterday I was talking to G.E. as I finished combing my hair. When I started hair-spraying the styled coiffure, he yelled, “Stop! Stop!” and  tried to grab my arm.

“What?” I said, pulling away. And then I noticed the Windex in my hand. Can’t say the spray increased the shine, nor did it help my “do” hold up in this Windexheat, but maybe the ammonia brightened my highlights???!!!!

Remember Gus Portokalos, from MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING,  was convinced that Windex could fix anything. Now my Grandpa B. claimed the same of VicksVicks Vapor Rub – maybe I’ll use that instead of mousse. =)


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44 Years and Counting!

How can a type A personality and a type Z stick together for 44 years? Such a good question, but G.E. is a BIG “A”, and yours truly is far beyond type B, C, D, etc. And yet, here we are – an old couple who have been together for four-plus decades; that’s two-thirds of our lives! Surprising?

My friend and colleague, who is also a scientist, says, “Not so.” Opposites do attract and for good reason. According to studies she has perused, humans are often drawn to those who say “poTAYto” when their personal preference is “poTAHto”. (You have to be pretty old to understand that reference.)

It seems that this is Mother Nature’s way of producing “normal” offspring; otherwise, the youngsters would all be busy cleaning, organizing, calculating, and so forth. Or they would be in a constant state of  spilling “stuff”, stumbling over “things”, and searching for lost items, people, and places.

There are some who may doubt our sons are “normal,” but the boys do have some of both of us mixed in with a lot of “them”. Which is a great thing. I’d like to say they inherited the best of their dad and mom, but that’s wishful thinking. Instead, they’ve combined everything together to be A.MAZ.ING people that we love so darn much.

But, I have to say, the best decision this crazy lady made o-so-long-ago was to marry her crush! He was adorable then and even cuter now. In between have been trials and tears, laughter and LOTS OF LOVE!!!!

Before this starts sounding like a Hallmark card, I’m wishing for NOTHING more than many many days of continued adventure.

I love you, my Gar! (not GAHR).


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Before February Bows Out: My Funny Valentines

The month of March, with its lambs and lions, moves in tomorrow, but before it does, I want to bid farewell to the Valentine month by posting a few pictures of 10 of my favorite sweethearts.

His big brother made the heart crown in his kindergarten class, but Carter models it!

His big brother made the heart crown in his kindergarten class, but Carter models it!

While the menfolk watched the Super Bowl, us little women worked on Valentine Boxes!

While the menfolk watched the Super Bowl, us little women worked on Valentine Boxes! Nice job Mia and Evie!

 I didn't help Maegan create her Valentines, but I did oversee the construction of her Valentine box!

I didn’t help Maegan create her Valentines, but I did oversee her construction of her Valentine box! 

Miss Abby and her "50's-clad" daddy date enjoyed a good ol' Valentine Sock Hop! Fun stuff!

Miss Abby and her “50’s-clad” daddy date enjoyed a good ol’ Valentine Sock Hop! Fun stuff!

I think  Connor - ninja on the left - prefers October 31 over February 14!

I think Connor – ninja on the left – prefers October 31 over February 14!

Drew isn't too cool for Valentine's Day, he just "looks" like he is! Such the cutie!

Drew isn’t too cool for Valentine’s Day, he just “looks” like he is! Such the dude!

Spencer celebrated the V-Day at the 6th-grade dance, BUT he also headed into the wilderness for the Klondike Derby!
Spencer celebrated V-Day at the 6th-grade dance, BUT he also headed into the frozen wilderness for the Klondike Derby!

Brayden's big February celebration is his birthday, which takes precedence over Valentine's Day. The Zombie Apocalypse outweighs cheesy cards any day!

Brayden’s big February celebration is his birthday, which takes precedence over Valentine’s Day. The Zombie Apocalypse outweighs cheesy cards any day!

In a Valentine message to her dad/coach, she wrote, "I love posting up against you." Too funny.

In a Valentine message to her dad/coach, Taylor wrote, “I love posting up against you.” Too funny.

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