Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving has forever been a very special holiday for me.  I remember as a child, my grandparents always came to our house for the feast.  I remember sitting on the back of the couch and watching out the window for them to arrive.  Grandpa drove the ugliest ass car.  I think it was a 57 Chevy in titty pink and white.  I would yell, “they’re here”, and rush out to the car to meet them.  Grandma’s purse always smelled of Clove chewing gum and I always got a piece right off the bat.

My grandfather was a shy man but tall, strong and blonde.  He gave the best hugs.  He was the first person I ever heard of having Alzheimer’s disease.

Waking up on Thanksgiving morning was the best.  The aroma of turkey and dressing permeated the air. My mother was up early in the morning to cook the innards for the giblet stuffing.  She had a fresh pone of cornbread baked to go in too.  I’ve always said that heaven would smell like Thanksgiving morning.

When we lived in Dayton, Ohio we started a tradition of having all of our friends over the weekend before Thanksgiving for a pre-turkey party.  My house would be full of card tables and tv trays for our almost thirty friends to eat.  Everyone would bring a dish to pass and the hubster and I made the turkey and stuffing.  I really miss those parties.

When we moved to Illinois, we would take turns having Thanksgiving at relatives’ homes.  The first one we had in our new home was very special as my parents and my favorite aunt and uncle came from Ohio to join in with the hubster’s parents, grandparents and his brother’s family.  We had a real house full that year.

Later, when the girls went to college we started having Thanksgiving with Addi bringing friends from Beloit College that couldn’t go home for the holiday.  (Sometimes I think they just wanted to come to our house.)  We had such fun times.  We made the usual turkey and stuffing dinner but the hubster always made a roast beast.  (i.e.  bloody beef roast.)  Everyone was in the kitchen cooking, or opening the wine and passing out spirits.

Now that the girls are at the far ends of the United States, it is just the hubster and me for dinner.  Last year I got to make a small chicken with stuffing and the fixins.  (Stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and rolls.)  The hubster confessed that he really doesn’t like turkey and stuffing and I admitted that I could exist on it.

This year we have settled for making Tonkatsu.  This is a Japanese dish of deep fried pork cutlet on a bed of raw cabbage, rice and deep-fried hunks of onion and green pepper with Tonkatsu sauce.  The sauce is similar to A-1 sauce or Heinz 57 sauce but a lot better.  We usually make this dish when we have company.  It takes at least two people to make it.  One frying and one handing off prepared items to go in to fry.  We decided that it was special enough that we would have it for Thanksgiving.

If you are interested and would like to have it, come one over.  Yeah right!  J M K Nippon serves it, but you have to request to eat on the dining room side and not on the teppan side.

Happy Thanksgiving.  And may peace be with you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

As I get older I find that I listen to NPR a lot more.  I guess I am getting tired of hearing the same old songs on the radio.  I am a rock and roll girl and I love most everything from the late sixties to the nineties.  Pop music sucks butt, rap music sucks something else and some of the new hard rock is a little too hard for me.

And so I digress on the subject of this blog.  My subject is “thank you.”  Or possibly “you’re welcome.”  On the talk shows on NPR the host always thanks the guests for being on the show and rather than them saying “you’re welcome” they thank back.  What ever happened to “you’re welcome?” What I am saying is why not say, “You’re welcome and thank you for having me on your program.”

I believe the problem is that people don’t want to feel indebted to anyone else.  I thank you, you thank me – we’re even.  I thank you, you “you’re welcome” me – does that mean that I won?  I just think it is common courtesy.  Let’s not let “you’re welcome” die.

The sign language for “you’re welcome” is a “W” to the side of your face, and cross over.  We should all learn sign language in case we can’t hear when we get really old. (Back to digression.)  The universal sign for “thank you” is your hand at your lips and drop it to your chin, fingers pointing outward.

Most every day when I walk the dog I thank the universe for “this day”. I am so very lucky to be able to live in the country, breathe fresh air, walk this little dog who lived in a shelter for five years, and be able to speak and write my mind freely.  I have the most wonderful daughters and sons-in-law and a brand-new grandson.  My friends are the best.  I have good health and I think my breath is usually fresh.  And so, I thank the universe every day for “this day”.  (BTW, it has never “you’re welcomed” me.)

I have been getting a massage (or fifteen minutes of absolute torture) every Monday morning, trying to break up these knots in my shoulders and neck.  When she finishes, I always say “thank you”.  She usually just murmurs something.  I appreciate her so very much.  I took her one of my jams.

Today my big project is to write six “thank you” notes.  I oversee the maintenance of the garden at the front gate where I live at Lake Summerset, Illinois.  I have a crew of six women who on and off help me.  We usually work for an hour but sometimes we must work for two.  The more hands the faster the work.  And I am so very appreciative of these ladies.  Two years ago, when I took over the task of being team leader, I worked by myself on many Monday mornings. That year when I got a couple of workers, I took them to breakfast for our last Monday.

“Thank yous” are given right and left to each other, to our waitress, to our teacher, to just anyone who comes into our world and helps out.  The “thank you” that is not given enough is to ourselves.  In this day and age, we do not have enough pats on our back to ensure that we are doing a good job.  There is too much depression in way too many lovely people.  There is way too little kindness drifting around the atmosphere.

Just for today, thank yourself.  Say “thank you” to the mirror after you brush your teeth.  Say “thank you” to yourself after making your bed.  Thank yourself after making and eating your breakfast.  Thank yourself for every little task you perform.

Make a big-ass sign that says “THANK ME” to remind yourself to give yourself some thanks.  You deserve it.  You need it.

You’re welcome.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I’m reading a book for my Master Gardeners’ Book Club in November and there was the most wonderful chapter about water and it got me thinking about how water has played such a role in my life.  I’ve never been without water but when we lived in Dayton, Ohio I wasn’t thrilled with the taste of the water and I often carried water from my aunt’s home in Germantown, Ohio.

My first love of water was as a child.  My dad was a fisherman and we would pack up on a weekend and go to Twin Creek which was also in Germantown. Us kids would play in the water and have a rip-roaring time and my dad would take off away from us to fish.  We would skate rocks over the creek and catch crawdads. I learned to swim at Twin Creek and enjoyed many fun days swimming there and at the local swimming pool in Chautauqua.

Our house had a well which provided us with drinking water.  I remember waking up in the middle of hot summer nights and drinking from my hand the ice-cold water from the bathroom tap.  My mother would get up to check on me and I would be close to drowning in the refreshingly cold tap water.

On occasion my parents would allow me to hook up the sprinkle and run through it.  Why is it that you know how cold that rush is going to be but you persist in running in and out of it? Years later as an adult I ran through a sprinkler in a stranger’s yard while on tour with the marching band in Minnesota.  It was so darn hot, and I really didn’t care that I was soaking wet.  This was my only wet t-shirt episode.

After the hubster and I married he was my brother’s fishing partner.  They fished Twin Creek.  We had small mouth or rock bass for breakfast almost every weekend morning.
In my third year at college the hubster and I decided that I would take scuba diving lessons as one of my classes.  I made it through the physics thanks to him but when my check-out dive came time, I discovered that I was pregnant. I waited a whole year before I finally did my check-out dive.  We dove mud ponds in Ohio but I just loved being under the water.  We have dived many times since in Jamaica while on vacations.

We set up an aquarium at our little house in Kettering, Ohio.  The hubster brought home a large mouth bass whom we named Bucket Mouth and a rock bass named Sideburn.  Bucket Mouth had tried to eat Sideburn and took half his dorsal fin, hence the name Sideburn.  We turned the fish loose in a little creek near our home one Sunday morning and to this day if we drive that way I think of our little fishies.

We set up another aquarium at our house we purchased in Dayton and raised gold fish which had come from my dad’s outdoor pond.  His neighbors complained about the fish pond and so he gave the fish to us and filled the pond and make a flowerbed.  The pond was only a foot deep and really was not a threat but my dad didn’t like confrontation and got rid of the pond.

When the girls were little we set up a swimming pool in the back yard.  The hubster dug a big hole in the ground and we sank a little plastic pool about five feet big.  It was about eighteen inches in depth.  The girls would take off from the back door and run and dive into the pool.  It made those horrid summer days bearable.  And when the girls went to sleep the hubster and I would go out back and lounge in the cool water.

The girls didn’t want to go out to play if it rained so I made them up as Wonder Woman.  They put on their bathing suits and rubber boots.  I tied towels around their necks for capes and taped their wrists and foreheads with masking tape. They ran around and tromped in the rain puddles and had a blast playing Wonder Woman.

Jess now lives in Arizona and misses the rain.  She says she misses the smell of rain.  I claim she misses the smell of the earthworms that cover the driveway when it rains.
Years later we would go boating at Caesar’s Creek Lake with our friends, The Miller family.  We would take a lunch and the kids would jump off the boat and into the water with their life preservers.  We tried skiing but found knee boarding much more to our liking. The kids had a big innertube and we would pull them around on that.
When we moved to Illinois, we decided that we really had to live on a lake.  We drove out into the country looking for a lake near Roscoe but ended up at Lake Summerset and fell in love.  We spend every day possible in the lake or at the pool.  Every evening when the hubster got home from work we ended up at Beach Two when we claimed we had reserved seats on the beach.  We would swim and lounge until the sun went down and then made it home to fix our dinner.  Addi claims that even now when it is hot she isn’t hungry until she has swum.
Addi brought home a beta fish and set up a little aquarium for him. She even took him to college with her.  I called him Fluffy because he was so beautiful.  She called him Tolstoy (talk about stupid names for a fish!).

One of my good friends, Kim Clark, passed away when she was 39.  She had gotten a goldfish for entertainment and asked me to take it when she became unable to take care of him.  The hubster set up another aquarium and he began raising fancy goldfish.  Kim’s fish was named Marley.  We got a black moor fish and called him Bob.  We then got Rita, Ziggy and the Whalers.  Ziggy tried to eat one of the Whalers and the hubster had to extract the Whaler from Ziggy mouth.

When Marley got really large his wen grew so big it covered his eyes.  The hubster did surgery on him and removed the top of his wen.  I’ll have to blog that story some time.
On occasion when I am canning I don’t have a full canner and so I can water.  I have several jars of canned water in the pantry downstairs.  If there is ever an emergency, I will be prepared.

I drink a lot of water and for some stupid reason I have always thought the water in the bathroom was sweeter than the kitchen tap water.  Perhaps it is that childhood memory of our ice-cold well water in the summertime.

I have so many memories of water and adventures in and with water.  I love living on a lake and seeing so many people enjoying it. I’ve never had a time in my life that I wasn’t without water.  I think the reason I don’t like the desert very much is because there is so little water.  I’ve also never been in a flood.  Our basement gets a little water from a crack in the foundation, but I am pretty sure that our septic pump has never been run.

I’ve got to get off this computer and go get a drink of water.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Today is my younger daughter, Jessica's, 36th birthday.  I made her a quilt for her college graduation and I wrote this that day in 2003 when I was finishing her quilt. She has just presented me with my first grandchild and I am so very thrilled. Happy birthday my love.

As I sat sewing the last stitches of Jess’ graduation quilt I was overcome with memories of her and Addi, me and my problems, and our lives intertwined.  When I was pregnant with Jess, I was scared that I wouldn’t love her.  I had such an overwhelming love for Addi and didn’t know if I had it in me to love two people in the world like that.  Believe me, love for your children is a lot different than romantic love.

Not liking most people is one of my problems.  I know I can pretend but not well.  I guess that is the reason I never wanted to have children.  I was afraid to have this little person thrust upon me and then – what if I didn’t like them?

Addi was so easy because she was so pleasant.  When she did cry, she cried so hard that she passed out.  Talk about scared!  And Addi was so adventurous.  Everything was exciting -- bathing, nursing, swimming, the dogs.  She was such a pleasure to take care of.  I thought when I was pregnant with Jess that I was having a boy.  I had sort of wanted a boy with Addi but she turned out so perfect that it didn’t matter.  I thought having a boy would be a new adventure for me.  I was so afraid that I didn't have any more love possible within me though and I was more afraid of the bond between my new baby and me than I was of having a baby.

Jess’ breach birth scared Rick to death.  He was so afraid he would have to tell me that my (our) baby was dead.  He was so relieved when she finally cried.  I had been anesthetized to give way for the baby’s birth because we were well beyond doing a Cesarean.  Jess’ feet were out while I was first examined and I could have had her in the exam room while waiting for the doctor to arrive.

I know how pioneer women and native women must have felt when they found themselves alone and birthing.  I needed to push and there was no one near.  I was in too much pain to cry out.  All I could do was pant and try not to push.

Luckily, I had a wonderful pediatrician and Jess was born amid a melee but was healthy.  I suppose the strain of this horrendous birthing experience scared Jess for life.  She was caught in the calamity of the moment and still allows this hurricane out of her on occasion.

When I awoke from the anesthesiology Rick was right next to me waiting.  I asked him, ”where’s my boy?”  He told me that he thought to himself, “I’m so glad I don’t have to tell her that he is dead.”  He replied and told me the one thing that he knew would make me relived.  He said, “Wilma, our baby is a girl.  And she has the longest eye lashes.”

I took a moment to incorporate the shock of another little girl and in my mind’s eye I saw her looking similar to me with my long eyelashes but even longer.  Addi had looked like neither Rick nor me and the thought of a little human being similar to me touched my heart and soul.

When the nurse finally arrived and I asked to see my baby, she wheel chaired me to the nursery.  She placed this blanket wrapped package into my arms and I looked down on her little olive puckered face.  She did have beautiful eyelashes.  I began to cry gently.  I was sad that the son I would have had was not to be and I was relieved that this child who had scared the living daylights out of an entire maternity ward was all right.  And I cried because my question was still not answered.  Did I have enough love in me for one more?

One of my tears must have run down my face and dropped onto Jess’ eye.  I looked down at her and in that instant I saw the tear fall into her closed eye.  At that moment she opened her eyes and looked at me.  I looked back and we continued to gaze at each other for what seemed like a very long time.

“It’s going to be all right,” I whispered to her.  “I’m going to be your momma.  It’ll be all right.”

And most of the time it was all right.  We had our ups and downs but they weren’t significant.  Only the good times were important and there were so many of them.

As for enough love within me for two daughters – they call me “Smother” because I guess I have too much love.

Jess and her "Pa" traded glasses.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today, October 14, 2017 would have been my mother's 99th birthday.  I wrote the following many years ago as a tribute to my mother.  Wherever she may be, I hope she is the most spoiled princess of all times. She deserves so much for being the lovely human being that she was.   

            The last time I was home to visit my folks I came to realize that my parents are getting old.  Of course, I have always known that they would eventually grow older but until that visit it really did not hit me.

            When I was ready and packed up I gave my dad a hug and went to hug my mom and she seemed so small and fragile.  I held her to me and felt her quivering yet quiet sob.  I knew she was crying because I was leaving and I began to cry softly because she was old.

            My mother has never enjoyed good health but she certainly enjoyed a happy life.  She was a housewife and mother and obviously was quite good at it.  She ran a loose ship.  When company was coming, it was more important to have a good meal on the table than for the house to be spotless.  Our house was always clean but not always “picked up” for my mother is a collector.

            One of the things I have always admired about my mother is the fact that she can gather together 10 simple things in the kitchen and in an hour or less have the most wonderful feast spread out on the table.  Flour, milk and butter miraculously become bread.  Green beans and a couple of seasonings becomes a vegetable that warms your heart and soul.  Dessert appears from an apple or two.

            And my mother was always open to having company.  My aunts and uncles and all their kids would show up on a Saturday and she was up and creating her miracle of food materialization from nothing.  When I was a teenager all of my friends loved to come home with me because my mother would fill their stomachs with food. Teenagers with their hollow legs and unabounding appetite would be welcomed at my home and my mother loved feeding them.

            Once mother was fixing a picnic for me to take with a new boyfriend I had acquired.  I was in a hurry to look good and be on time and was not paying attention to what was important to her and that was the food.  She had packed our picnic lunch in the container we owned.  It was a stack of aluminum containers held together with a handle that snapped over them all.  Little did I realize but the handle was not very stable.  She warned me of the instability but I was more intent on my hairstyle.  As I was leaving with the picnic the handle gave and our beautiful picnic crashed to the floor.  This was the first migraine headache I remember ever having.  I was hysterical and suddenly I couldn’t see.

            My mother shooed me to wash my face and lie down and she proceeded to patiently salvage what she could from the picnic I had ruined.  I relaxed and got over my temporary blindness, my headache subsided and sure enough, Mother had a picnic lunch ready for me to be off and on my way.  She warned me of the handle and this time I listened.

            My mother’s patience is another of her attributes that I greatly admire.  I sure received none of it but she bestowed it on me frequently.  She is a warm, loving and nurturing mother and an excellent Grandmother.  When my girls were little she and Daddy would take them and give me a much-needed rest from them.  My girls loved going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. 

            I remember once arriving to pick up my girls at the Grandparents house, and there sat my mother with both of my girls sitting behind her on the back of her lounge chair.  They were fixing her hair and had every bobby pin, barrette and hair tie in the house arranged in my mother’s hair.  She winced when they pulled her hair but she never complained.  Again that patience was showing.

            When I was a little girl I had frequent bad dreams.  My mother would scoot me over in bed and lie with me until I went back to sleep.  She smelled of powder and her body was warm and comforting to me.  I suppose comfort will always mean having my mother’s arms around me although she would probably prefer that comfort be a full stomach of her food.

            I have a very special mother and I am quite grateful.  And although her shoulders are stooped and her hair is white, she will remain in my eyes as she was when I was a teenager – happily moving around her kitchen and preparing a feast for my friends and me.

Pretty Arms

by Wilma Faerber

"You have pretty arms," she told me once.
She had always been overweight, so her arms were not.
There was strength in her arms and in her soul.
I was a gardener.  Hoeing and shoveling make your arms pretty.
Sunshine -- a little tan doesn't hurt, does it?
Melanoma on that pretty arm.

She is gone now.
I remember the last time these pretty arms held her.
She cried because I was leaving and going far away back to my home.
I was crying because for the first time in my life, I saw her as OLD.
My pretty arms did not want to let go.
But they had to.
And now it is over and these pretty arms will never hold her again.

Peace be with you.  And thanks again for all the birthday greetings.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My newest retirement adventure is one that I never thought would happen. I have become a Grandmother. Daughter, Jessica, called in January or February to alert me to the fact.  She had baby, Vincent Anthony Muse, on September 1.  She went in to the doctor for an appointment and because her liver enzymes were so very high they took her right in for a “C” section.  Her due date had been September 14.  Baby Vincent had to be incubated for some time and was not brought to Mama for a while but he is healthy and so sweet.

Since Jess hadn’t gotten time to prepare for birthing a baby, there was a lot to do around the house and so I got out on the 16th to help her out.

I spent the 15th with my good friend, Ellie, and her husband, Jeff in Mesa.  They too are expecting to become grandparents in about four weeks. They drove me down to Tucson from Mesa on Saturday to see the baby. Ellie and I cooed over baby Vincent and made grandmother idiots of ourselves.

I had such fun just watching Vincent.  He is so animated.  Stretching and cooing, farting and pooping.  His every move is just a miracle.

I got to rock him to sleep a couple of times.  I sang songs to him and snuggled and kissed his cheeks.

Jess and I put together his Pack and Play.  I wondered how many babies dressed as clowns we could smash into the thing.  We figured three on top (one in the bassinette area and two in changing area), six or seven on the next level, and if we stacked them, about 12 to 14 on the bottom.  Of course, we then had to surf the internet to see if we could get clown wigs for all these babies.  I’m going to dress the Pack and Play like a Volkswagen.  The video will go viral I am sure.  (Now where to find 24 babies with mothers willing to let us dress them up as clowns and stack them in the Pack and Play.)

Vinnie did this finger pointing thing, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, and I said “keep in touch”, and Jess took a photo of Dad and Vinnie touching fingers.  Hiliarious!

What can I say?  Our family have strived to have a fun time doing whatever it is that we are doing.  Vinnie will join in with us in a few years and we will get a new attitude of jocularity that we have never experienced

Welcome Vincent Anthony Muse.

Oh, and I a baked an apple pie.

Peace be with you.

Monday, September 4, 2017

This morning I cleaned the bathrooms. I know its Labor Day but it is also Monday. And Monday is bathroom cleaning day.  So I am cleaning the mirror in my bathroom and there is dog hair on the mirror. I began singing in my head “Dog hair on the mirror makes me not happy, dog hair on the floor makes me go sky high, dog hair on my black dress makes me nauseous, dog hair almost always makes me cry.  “

I love this little dog but this dog hair thing is getting out of hand.

I have just finished two of the best books I have read in a very long time.  They were Everybody in Town is Talking by Fanny Flagg and the other Containment Failure by J. Robert Kennedy.  Two very different books but I enjoyed both.

I’d like to hear about some of your favorite books.

Some of mine are Shibumi by Trevanian, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman and anything by Desmond Bagley.

Won’t you share five of your favorites with me?

Peace be with you.

P.S.  I am a Yia Yia.  Vincent Anthony Muse arrived on the 1st of the month and the family are doing well. I will be heading out to Tucson his month to hold him.