Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Daddy

          “Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a daddy.”  Hallmark card

          This morning at our usual Sunday breakfast, I had a wonderful realization about my father.  My friend was telling a story and responded that she saw a lot of her father in her son and in herself.  I thought to myself and brought to my mind’s eye an image of my own father.  I told the group at the breakfast table that I thought the only thing of my father that I had inherited was the ability to tell a good story.

          Later while writing in my journal I realized what a marvelous gift my father had given me.  I am a writer.  I tell stories and thanks to my father’s gene pool, I tell a pretty good tale.

          When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do was to say to my father, “Daddy, tell us something about down home.”  My parents were from the rural Kentucky hills and their childhood seemed to be Waltonesque to me.  Big family, not much money but a whole lot of love and adventures for kids running free in the countryside.

          My dad would conjure up a story about when he was a kid.  He had such wonderful stories to tell.  My favorite one was about the time his brother had challenged him to see who could throw a rock the farthest and my father had hit his brother right between the eyes with his throw.  We would all laugh and Daddy would just beam with obvious delight.  We kids would ask for more and more stories and he would agree and give us another rendition of one of his favorite memories.

          The things that made my father’s stories so good were the fact that they were real and had actually happened.  He used expression in his face as he told the stories and you could tell from his face that he was reliving those moments as he told us about them.  He would laugh and clap his hands and we would cry, “what then? What then?” and he would entice us further even if we had heard the story before.         

Daddy had so many stories about hunting and courting my mother and stories about his brother and sisters.  My most unfavorite were the snake stories because I would have bad dreams.  My mother would try to hush these stories but once he got on a roll there was no turning back.

          I think the reason I loved my daddy’s stories so much were that they allowed me a glimpse of him when he was young.  When I envision my daddy I see him, as he was young, smiling and handsome with such beautiful wavy dark hair.  I’ve heard it said that it is a shame that we didn’t know our parents when they were young.  Because of my father’s stories, I did know him when he was young.  He will always be young to me.  And he was a very special person.

        My Daddy used to tell stories.  He was a fabulous story teller.  He was a big cutup and liked to joke a lot.

        He would meet people for the very first time and tell about when he was in the Army.  (He was never in the army.)  He talked about when he got shot and the person he was talking to asked him where he got shot.  He would point to the top of his head and tell them to feel where it went in.

        When they felt the top of his head he would lift his butt, and then tell them to feel where it came out.  They would all just crack up.  (Sorry about the pun.)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Younger daughter, Jessica, gave me the most wonderful Christmas gift.  It is a subscription to Story Worth.  I write stories this year and they create a book at the end of the year.  I am so very excited.  I may be inspired to write more because of this.

This week’s subject is “How did you figure out how to be a parent?”  I have to admit, first of all, that I never intended on becoming a parent.  I am the youngest of three children and so was never around babies or small children.  I never babysat any children, and I hated being around my friend’s small siblings.

When I found out that I was pregnant I bought a child care book by Dr. Spock.  I read it and figured out a few things from the good doctor.  I also talked to my mother about being a parent and she gave me useful advice.  I called her frequently when I had questions.  Why is the baby drooling so much?  Why does she always get hungry when it is my time to sit down and eat?  When will she start to talk? And walk?

At my first six week check up with Addi the pediatrician lifted her arm and there was this big booger under her arm.  He looked at me and said, “She won’t break.”  I was so embarrassed.  She got a good washing at the next bath time.

I think also that instincts had kicked in.  When you have grown this little human being inside you for nine months there is just something internally that tells you when something is wrong.  You want to protect them, keep them clean and from harm.  The miracle that came from the love between two people is hard to resist.

Addi was a pretty easy baby.  She was so pleasant and fun to be around.  She hardly ever cried but if she did she passed out. (Talk about scary!)  Jess on the other hand, was a handful.  She whined and cried constantly.  She had this horrible habit of flinging herself backwards and clunking her head on the floor.  We called her Clunkhead for a while.

Kahlil Gibran wrote about children, “Your children are not your children.  They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  You may give them your love but not your thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”  He also wrote “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”  I guess this was my inspiration of becoming a parent.

I feel that you just rent children long enough to housebreak them and then send them on their way, hopefully to become responsible adults who will contribute to society.

I had another inspiration about parenting from a co-worker.  Her teenage son was constantly complaining.  She said she told him one day, “If you don’t like it here, move out.  Get a job.  Have your own house where you can do what you want to do.”

I just loved this.  The children were just living in MY house and abiding by MY rules.  And if they didn’t like it, they could just move.

Once when we were driving to my mother’s house the girls kept arguing and being grouchy.  The hubster stopped the car, went around and opened the door and told them to, “Get out.”  He was sick of their moaning and told them so.  They cried so hard but he gave them a good scare and they were much more pleasant after that.

I had this system of warning them if they were bothering my nerves.  I would count to three. They usually quieted down on two.  Addi once asked me what would happen if I got to three.  I said I’d have to take them to the orphanage.

Later on in that year, we had purchased half a beef from my uncle.  We purchased a side every fall.  We had accumulated quite a bit of beef liver and I decided to donate it to a local orphanage. When I parked the car and went to get the liver to take in, the girls asked me where we were.  I answered innocently, “This is the orphanage.”

They started crying and screaming, “No, mommy.  We’ll be good.  Don’t take us to the orphanage.”  I had to laugh, and I had to hide my laughter.  I gave them both hugs and kisses and said I was donating the liver to the orphanage, not taking them to the place.  That was a meaningful lesson in parenting.  Watch what you say.

I guess what I mean to say about parenting is that I never really learned how to be a parent.  I just made it up as I went along.  I probably wasn’t the nicest mother at times.  I suffered from PMS from Hell once a month, and I’m sure I was a bitch to live with.  On the other hand, I did read to my children and tuck them into bed.  I tried to make sure that they had what they needed but tried not to overdo the nurturing.

My nickname from my children is Smother.  So, I guess I probably overdid the loving thing.  But I think they still like me.  And I feel they both have become responsible adults and are contributing to society.

Peace be with you.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The first Christmas that I recall as a child was the one that I wished for a tea set.  My parents insisted that there was not extra money for a lot of gifts that year and we would have to settle with underwear, socks, oranges and fresh nuts.  We went to church that evening and when we got back I headed to bed to find on my bed a little tea set.  I was so excited, and I really believed that Santa Claus had truly heard my wish.

At church we children always got a little white box that was filled with hard candy.  I have always hated most hard candy but in the box was usually these cream drops.  My brother always called them a most unfortunate derogatory name and I hated him for it.

My mother would make this apple stack cake that she kept in place with candy canes.  She would bake for several days to get all the layers.  I believe there was at least six or eight layers.  She dried apples in the fall to make her cake.  It was a very special cake and we all loved it.  I don’t know why she stopped making them when we got older.

In high school our entire choir would hop a school bus and go caroling in four-part harmony.  That was one of my very favorite Christmas memories along with our Christmas concerts.

When the girls were little we would love surprising them on Christmas morning with lots of lovely gifts under the tree.  Addi got a little Volkswagon one year and the girls had so much fun with that thing.  Another year they got a small slide and they could hide under the stair part.  Dad invented a game called “dolly diving” where he would walk their dolls up the stair and fling them off down the slide.  They would erupt in gales of laughter and try it themselves
I was the Girl Scout leader for my girls from Kindergarten to third grade and I always mase sure we went Christmas caroling for our December meeting.  I love to carol and I forced them to go with me.  I had a blast and I know the old folks that we caroled loved it as much.

We also had a group that put on plays at the Lodge here at Lake Summerset.  We were called the Five and Dime Theatre Company.  We would write the plays and perform for our audience.  We usually had about 30 to 50 people attend, including our friends and relatives.  One year one of the three kings backed out on me at the last minute and I had to fill in wearing my neighbor’s afghan and a Burger King crown.  Not one of my best memories but still a special one.

The girls have grown and gone on to their own families and memories.  I have spent several fond Christmases in Arizona with the Muse family enjoying the warm weather and family joy.
This year is the first Christmas that I am a grandmother.  Younger daughter, Jess, and her husband, Anthony, have given us a miracle of a grandson, Vincent.  I got to go visit for Jess’ baby shower and to see my baby pregnant.  I also spent a few days with them after Vinnie was born and got to hold him, sing him lullabies and rock him to sleep.

This afternoon we will Skype with the girls and open our presents. I can’t wait to see little Vinnie for his first Christmas.  I know there will be many more to come but the first is just so very special.

Merry Christmas and peace be with you.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I just love a good pot luck.  I know some folks who hate them because they don’t trust other peoples’ cooking.  The hubster is one of those.  I like trying other peoples’ cooking to find new recipes.  In the past I have found cheesy potatoes, corn bread salad, several wonderful cookie recipes and an excellent recipe for Swedish meatballs.

As luck would have it, I was invited to a recent holiday pot luck.  I took taco cheese dip because I really wanted it but hate to make it because I eat all of it.

I tried a Chinese ramen salad that was very tasty.  There were yummy corn casserole and a notable cranberry cookie dessert.  As I was passing by the table one of the most obnoxious odors accosted me.  I leaned down to discover which dish held the aroma.  As I pretty much always take one spoonful of each dish, just in case it is wonderful, I took one small spoonful of this casserole.

Back in my dining chair, I ventured a taste of the horrible smelling concoction and almost heaved.  I chewed a bit of what I assumed was meat.  I strategically spit the taste into my napkin and got up, threw it in the trash and got myself another napkin.

I have no idea if the casserole was rice, potato, overcooked Noodles or what. and can only venture to guess what this casserole was.  I came up with the most horrid thing imaginable.  It was snake shit casserole.  There, I’ve said it!

Years ago, I had gone to another pot luck with my friend, Nancy, and we had the worst soup I had ever eaten.  We decided that it was butt hair soup.

The next time I saw Nancy I had to tell her about the snake shit casserole.  We had a good laugh.

Although I consider myself an adventurous food consumer, I believe I will be cautious the next pot luck that I attend.

PS  I did a Google search for snake shit casserole and there were images that came up.  I am so very frightened.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I’ve had this little stone haunting me in my kitchen for the past while.  It says, “remember” on it, and for the life of me I cannot remember where I got this little stone.  And I can’t imagine what I am supposed to remember.

I have found lately that I forget words that I want to use.  I will be in mid-sentence and forget the word that I need to express what I am trying to get across.  It’s not that I don’t have a large vocabulary, I do.  I just lose words sometimes.  I also have that age-old problem of going to retrieve something and forget what I am looking for.

I guess Alzheimer’s disease is one of my worst fears.  I try my best to do all the things they suggest you do to protect your brain and your memory.  I do puzzles of all kinds – jigsaw, crossword and all kinds of little memory exercises.  (I just forgot the word “exercises”.)

I’m reading a fascinating book called, The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.  It is a great story about a guy who finds things and makes up stories as to what happened to them and to the person who lost the item.  I am thinking I should start to write about the things I find.

I used to walk around the lake (six miles) every Earth Day and pick up garbage.  I’d go one way one day and do the opposite way the next day.  I have found used condoms, unused condoms, tampons, a ton of Marlboro light cigarette packages (some day I am going to find that asshole).  I once found a paper bag with a bunch of herbs.  There was oregano, marjoram, thyme, and parsley as I recall.  I bet that person was pissed when she started making her spaghetti sauce.

I once found a size large navy sweatshirt that said “London” on it.  I brought it home and washed it and it is one of my favorite sweatshirts.  I also found a pair of pink panties once and threw them back on the ground.  That would be some story to tell.

A ten-dollar bill was probably the best thing I have ever found.  I find change all the time.  I even pick up pennies.

Last summer I kept finding those little booze bottles.  They were empty except for the Rumchata that I found.  I gave it to Garnet as it is one of her favorite things.  By the way, I was the inventor of Rumchata.  We were in Arizona for Jess’ graduation from college and she turned me onto Orchata.  I remarked that it would be great with rum and we purchased some and I drank it for her graduation party.

At that party the funniest thing happened.  There was this guy at the party who was obviously one of Jess’ friends and he was like six-foot six and about 250 pounds.  He claimed that he could stop anyone from attacking him and I took his challenge.  He grabbed me from behind and smothered me.  I bit him.  He screamed like a little girl, “she bit me.”  I didn’t do it hard but I certainly broke his grasp. I won!!!

I do remember the strangest things, but I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, half the time.  I remember lyrics to songs from the sixties.  I remember my phone number from childhood.  When I worked for Liberal Markets in Dayton, Ohio I could remember half the phone numbers from the thirty some stores that I worked with.

In this book that I am reading the protagonist drinks Diet Coke.  If you know me this is one of my worst hates.  I hate anything with aspartame.  I especially hate Diet Coke.  I think it is bad for your brain and I try to tell everyone who drinks it, not to.  I heard on NPR the other day that our beloved President drinks a ton of Diet Coke.  We wonder why he lies so much.  He can’t remember stuff because he is poisoning his brain with Diet Coke.  (Perhaps the Democrats have hope yet.)

It’s almost Christmas and I have everything ready.  Of course, I don’t do a whole lot.  I sent my packages to my girls and the Webbs already.  My cards went out the second week of December.  I don’t buy many gifts but got the hubster a little something.  Yesterday and today I delivered cookies to all the folks I love and appreciate.

We are going to the in-laws for Christmas Eve.  I’m making big-ass salad.  I hope I don’t forget it this time as I did on Thanksgiving.  But since it is the main meal I am sure I will remember it.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

I started out my day eating a baked potato with cottage cheese and Pace hot salsa.  Breakfast of champions!  I then continued to Facebook where I watched daughter, Addi, baking Cookiepalooza.  She is so very entertaining.  I think she is unique and I am so proud that I had something to do with her creation.

Another friend, Alicia, recommended me to watch Zooey Deschanel explaining that white bread is garbage and we should be baking our own bread.  I reminisced about the time my good friend, Dave Staddon’s mom taught me and his wife, Mari, how to make Butterhorns.  She was so patient with us.  We also make homemade Whole Wheat Bread.

Two years in a row, I made Buttterhorns for my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My mother made those store-bought dinner rolls and everyone ignored my homemade bread.  I quit making homemade bread for my extended family but made them for my own little family.

Now-a-days, at the Faerber residence we don’t eat much bread.  The hubster decided years ago that white food was bad for him and refused to eat it.  I occasionally buy a loaf of whole grain oat bread and have a piece of toast for breakfast.  I keep the bread in the fridge.  (Don’t you think the smell of fresh made cinnamon toast is one of the best smells ever?)

I wish you could buy just four slices of bread at a time.  Then it wouldn’t waste away in the fridge. Or perhaps I should start baking my own bread and making little loaves and freezing the rest. I do love a warm piece of bread with real butter melting on the top.

I like shopping at Sullivan’s grocery where you can purchase just one roll or a dozen if so desired.  I do so love having a bigass burger on a fresh onion roll.  Or a meatball sub on a fresh hoagie bun.

Years ago, I wrote a story about baking bread with Dave’s mom and I want to share it today.


            We have this friend of the family, Dave, who is a Native American and he ate with us frequently when we were young.  He talked about the fresh bread his mother would make and suggested that I should learn to make bread someday.

            Dave spent two years in Japan studying Martial Arts and came home to America with his Japanese wife.  Dave’s mother, Agnes, called me one day before Thanksgiving.  She invited me over for a Saturday and asked me to bring a large mixing bowl, a stick of real butter, a bag of flour and some baking sheets.

            Agnes, Dave’s wife and I spent the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and she taught us how to make Butterhorns and whole wheat bread.  She stressed the importance of the temperature of the yeast, the strength of kneading the bread and the love we were putting into the creation for our families to enjoy.

            My baby, Addi, spent the day also and banged on Agnes’ pots and pans with wooden spoons and got flour all over the kitchen.  We girls shared cooking stores and Agnes told us stories of when Dave was little and how much he enjoyed it when she baked bread.  Agnes shared stories of when she was little and lived on the Ojibway Indian Reservation in Canada.  We had such fun and learned so much about her and baking bread.

            Almost twenty years later I still take the time to prepare Butterhorns for my family for Thanksgiving dinner.  My memory of that day and all that Agnes taught me has remained with me.  I feel she shares Thanksgiving with us each year.
Peace be with you.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Something interesting happened to me yesterday.   We had a new student in our Pilates class last Friday.  His name is Jeremy and he is a 33-year-old black man in training for some kind of martial arts thing.  He had asked me about my broken finger and I took the opportunity to bitch about my broken finger, eczema and the fact that I ran over a freshly painted yellow line on the highway.  I was unable to clean my truck of the yellow paint.
He told me that he would wash my car for $5.00.  We decided next Wednesday after Pilates, he would wash my truck.  “I’ll bring my stuff.’  He told me.

I got to the Pilates class yeserday and he didn’t show.  I was so sad but at the end of our class, in he walked.  I was elated and I know the other ladies in my class were happy to see him.

We made arrangements with Fitness Lifestyles to use their water and they loaned Jeremy a five-gallon bucket.  He had brought a sponge and a bottle of cleaner.

He got started and I went back into the gym to pottie.  I had my phone and a book but I had forgotten my reading glasses. I went out into the parking lot and sat on the book.  I pulled up some music on Pandora – Steely Dan.  I figured he wouldn’t mind a little soft jazz & blues.

We got to talking and I learned that he was a deeply religious person. While we talked he looked to the sky frequently and gave thanks.  He was very sweet and quite ripped for such a little guy.  During our conversation, he told me about his ambition in this martial arts thing.  I found out he was originally from Chicago but had lived in New York City for the past eight years.

It took him over an hour to get most of the yellow paint off the truck.  I commented on what a good worker he was and he told me, “if you are going to do something, do it the best you can.”  He also told me that he was going to clean my car as if he were cleaning his own.  He certainly did.

For those who don’t know me, I drive a 2003 Chevy S-10 pickup truck which my father left me when he passed away in 2006.  I have been pretty hard on it.  I have hauled dirt, compost, manure, rocks, weeds, and have loaned it twice to people who were moving.  It has had regular oil changes and maintenance as needed.  Just this year we had to put $1,000.00 into it.  But I love my Daddy’s truck and was heartbroken when I discovered the yellow paint.

Jeremy put in over two hours washing my truck.  He said he would come to my house and clean it too. “I’d knock that bitch out.” He told me and I sure believed him.  What a fantastic worker.  I had $36.00 in my change purse and I gave it to him. He jumped for joy and gave me a quick hug. 

He said, “Today I can pay my way.”

When I got in the truck I found two more dollars and gave him those too.  I almost invited him to lunch with me but didn’t think he’d want to.  I was also afraid he would want to buy and I wanted him to keep the money.

I believe the truth of the matter was that Jeremiah is homeless and has been for some time.  He has no family or friends.  From the things he told me I also believe he has been institutionalized before.  He is quite the fanatic.  He is also a lovely human being, and I believe the powers that be brought him to me to wash my truck so he could pay his way that day.

I am forever grateful for all my blessings and yesterday, Jeremiah was my blessing.

Photo is my Daddy, Don Marshall VanHoose

Peace be with you.