Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Happy Anniversary!

Today (Wednesday) I am celebrating my wedding anniversary. 

Tim, too, I suppose, although it might be said that it is more of a funeral anniversary for him, I suppose. 

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking back to the wedding day. There are a few things I remember about it. I have a rather selective memory, so other than what I have photographs of, I generally don’t recall many happenings. My husband and kids will tell you that I forget entire events and trips if I don’t have photographs of them. 

I do have pictures from the wedding, however, so I know it took place. And I have those few memories. One clear memory is standing in the narthex of the church, waiting for the ceremony to begin and wondering what, exactly, I was doing. I had made three promises to myself earlier in my life and I was about to break all three. 

Promise #1: I would not get married until I was at least 23. Hmmm. Here I was, beautifully bedecked in my mother’s bridal gown, a tea-length dress with a hoop skirt, that she’d purchased at a second hand store back in 1955 for $25. I had a new veil and a pretty bouquet and was all of 19 years old. A full four years short of my promise. Maybe I should run.

Promise #2: I would not marry anyone from the local area. Oh boy. Tim lived a mere nine miles from my home. I would guess that definitely qualified as local. So local that I had spent the previous summer biking to and from his house on a regular basis. Definitely breaking promise number two. Might be time to sprint.

Promise #3: I would not marry a farmer. Absolutely not. I don’t know exactly what made me not want to marry a farmer, but for some reason I had made this promise to myself. As it turned out, not only was Tim a farmer, he was also a dairy farmer, probably the worst kind of farmer. Married to his cows 24/7. Little did I know. In fact, if I had known that at the time, I probably would have run. Full speed.

So, all three of those promises about to be broken, I stood there, waiting for the ceremony to begin. “Our song” began to play. A beautiful piece that Tim and I still love to this day. It began with the bells of an abbey chiming and then the lyrics, “Come, worship the Lord” which set the tone for what we wanted for our wedding mass, a celebration of worship and the sacrament of matrimony. I distinctly remember being yelled at, in shushed tones, to tell someone to end that song, it was too long and was delaying the start of the ceremony and people were getting antsy. I ignored those remarks and concentrated on the music. 

The next thing I remember is Fr. Hugh pulling the wrong string on the pillow which held the rings (yes, we actually tied the real rings on the pillow the ring bearer carried up) and knotting them on and then being unable to get the knot undone. Tim, because he is a farmer, had a nail clippers in his pocket and was able to cut the string. Father said the marriage was sure to last, based on the strength of that knot. The congregation laughed. 

My last memory of our wedding is of the one night stand honeymoon. After the dance at the American Legion, we made it as far as Appleton, MN and checked into a little motel and collapsed for the night. The next morning, a Sunday, we got up early and went to Mass. Then we went back to the motel and slept. Yes, slept. We were exhausted. We were awaken the second time by a phone call at 11:00. Management. “Our checkout is 11:00. If you don’t want to pay for another night, you need to leave. We’ll give you 20 minutes to get out or we’ll charge you for another night.”

Heaven forbid that we would splurge and pay for a second night (it was a one night stand, after all) so we quickly gathered our things and left. We spend the next couple of hours driving around the country side and ended up at Tim’s sister’s house in Milbank where we hung out until it was time for us to go home so that Tim could, yes, you guessed it, milk cows.

And that was the beginning of 37 years of marriage. I’d say they’ve been pretty decent. Some of them, anyway. And, giving credit where credit is due, my fourth promise, “’Til death do us part” I’ve taken much more seriously.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Smoky and Disney

Growing up on a resort on Big Stone Lake was the cat’s meow. I mean, I lived right next to the lake, right next to the state park, and just a short distance away, our neighbors had a farm. 

With a couple of horses. 

I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that. 

I remember that once in a while I’d get a hankering to go for a horseback ride so I’d hoof it up the hill to the Thyne’s farm. I suppose it was about a mile from our house to theirs. Bob and Donna had this great, big family, the only problem was that the girls were all older than me and the youngest one, Linda, was just enough older than me that she didn’t really want to play with me. I mean, I get it. It would have been pretty uncool to play with me. But Donna was a wonderful lady and sometimes she would tell the younger girls that they had to play with me. When that happened I was in seventh heaven. 

I’m not so sure that Linda and Patty thought it was such a great deal, but they endured. 

I distinctly remember the times I would want to ride Smoky, their horse. Smoky was nearly as fat as he was tall. He was also the laziest horse in the world. Pretty much all he wanted to do, in my recollection, was stand around and eat. He certainly was not interested in giving horseback rides. 

However, periodically I would show up at the farm hoping to talk someone into letting me ride horse. Despite the fact that this is precisely what I had set out to do, I was rather timid about asking. I would hee-haw around for a while, just kind of hanging out, and finally I’d get up enough courage to ask. Of course, none of the girls would want to get the horse out, saddle him up and take me for a horseback ride. 

But Donna, bless her soul, would generally step in and demand that one of the girls do so. Donna was the best. 

And so Smoky would be prepared. Now Smoky was incredibly stubborn and unwilling. But I was determined and so was Donna. So the girls had no choice and neither did Smoky. Donna would win the battle. I suspect Donna won pretty much any battle she engaged in. 

In all honesty, I don’t remember many of the details, as I was very young. What I do remember quite vividly is that once I was onboard Smoky, by legs and feet stuck straight out, side to side, because Smoky was rather rotund and my legs were short and didn’t go ‘round his middle. I also remember that Miss Thyne had to use hay to lure and, well, basically drag Smoky about a quarter of a mile down the road, in the road ditch, towards the entrance of the state park. This was a long, slow, tiresome process that was a battle between the horse and the girl. Eventually the girl would win. Once we reached the entry of the state park, Smoky’s rein was let go and he would run, full speed, back to the farm. 

That was the part I loved. 

I would beg to do it again. And again. And again. 

Until Linda or Patty or whichever Thyne girl would grow sick and tired of dragging the horse around so that he could run back to the farm. Then the fun (for me) would be over and I’d go home again, happy to have had my horseback ride.

Maybe this is why I love Disney so much…the long, slow, tiresome wait in line followed by the exhilarating rush of the ride. There seems to be a pattern there, doesn’t there?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Our Life as Foster Parents

We’ve had a foster cat at our house the past couple of months. She went home Tuesday evening. We kind of miss her.

Her parents morphed into snowbirds this winter - and I must say, they chose a good winter to do this, what with all the subzero temps and snow we’ve had - and so they needed a home for their beloved Blackie while they were basking in the hot sun down south. Tim and I agreed to take this task on. 

We’ve never done the foster parent thing before, so weren’t exactly sure what to expect. We have two cats of our own, and they are both quite old. Seventeen, to be exact, and pretty set in their ways. Our biggest concern is that our two would not be very receptive to Blackie. 

However, our cats are extremely mellow and while they exhibited mild curiosity when Blackie first arrived, that was about it. 

Blackie, on the other hand, had quite a lot to say about her new surroundings and her new siblings. Blackie, as it turns out, is a very vocal cat.

Hiss. Hiss. Hissssss. Growl, growl hissssss. Hhhhhisssssss. GRRRRRRooowwwwl. 

We never once heard her meow. We don’t think “meow” is in her vocabulary. Nope. In the entire two months she lived with us, although she did far less hissing and growling as time went on, she never actually meowed. The closest she ever got to a meow was a less abrasive growl. 

It didn’t take her long at all to get settled in. The first night she made herself at home with our daughter Katrina, who was still home on Christmas vacation, and so Katrina’s bed and bedroom became Blackie’s bed and bedroom. That worked wonderfully, as that area is one we normally keep closed off and so our cats don’t frequent it. We put her toys and her cat bed in there. Now mind you, she didn’t touch them the entire time she was here. Heaven forbid that she’d use them. We spread her blanket on the bed and that became her sleeping area. 

During the day she hung out with me - and our other two cats, because, as cat people know and non-cat people don’t know, cats really are quite social and like to be with people. They just aren’t in-your-face, demanding attention all the time, like dogs. They are more passive. So wherever I go in the house, the cats are always nearby. If I am sewing, they are in the sewing room. If I am card making, they are in my studio. If I am working at the computer, they are perched nearby. If I am reading a book, they are vying for my lap. Or sitting nearby on the window seat or on another chair. That’s the way it is with cats. The perfect kind of companionship. 

Blackie would get up bright and early each morning and sit with Tim while he ate breakfast and said his morning prayers before going to work. She didn’t miss a day. The other cats and I don’t bother - we stay sound asleep at that unreasonable hour (Tim gets up at either 2:40 or 4:40, depending on his shift. In my book, that’s before God gets up.) But Blackie was tried and true and always joined him. What a trouper! She would greet him with her gentle growl and hop up into the dining chair next to him so he could pet her and brush her. I suspect this was her favorite time of day. No competition from the other cats.

On the night her mom came to pick her up, Blackie was at the open door with me. She heard Mom’s voice and her ears perked up. I could see that she was excited. She stayed at the door, listening and watching. However, as soon as her mom walked in and greeted her, she turned and walked away, with both her nose and her tail in the air, in a huff. “If you think I’m giving you the time of day after you deserted me for two months, you can think again!” 

It’s awfully quiet around our house now. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to it.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

One of Those Days

Saturday was apparently “one of those days.” I think you know the kind I am talking about. Those days when things just seem to go all wrong. 

I always say you can laugh at the goofiness of it or you can be upset and frustrated. Tim and I choose to laugh, because being upset and frustrated never changes anything and laughing is so much more fun.

All was going well until about 4:15 in the afternoon. Tim and I were sitting at the dining room table, visiting with our daughter Alexandra on the phone, when Tim realized that he needed to get going as he likes to be at the church at 4:30 on Saturday afternoons to lead the rosary before the Vigil Mass. He rushed off to the bedroom to change clothes and then dashed out of the house and left for town. 

As this was happening it occurred to me that I also needed to get going as I needed to be to work at Shady Beach at 4:30. So I ended the call with Alex and hurried to change clothes and get out the door to work. 

Except then I couldn’t find the keys for the car. 

Now we have one of those push button start cars, so I leave one set of keys in my purse at all times and the other key hangs by the door to the garage. Except it wasn’t there. Where oh where could it be? I ran around the house, frantically trying to figure out where I might have put it. I don’t take my purse to work, so I always grab the single key and drop it in my coat pocket - and I could not find it anywhere. 

Finally I gave up, grabbed the set from my purse and scrambled out the door. When I got into the garage I discovered where the single key was: Tim had it. He’d taken Poppy to town instead of his pickup.

What the heck! Poppy is MY car! He never takes Poppy, unless I am not going anywhere. Then I realized that he’d had a brain fart and forgotten that I had to work that evening. 

So I got into his dirty, icky pickup and drove to work, laughing about what Tim’s face would look like when he got home and saw the pickup gone. I was also a bit dismayed that I wouldn’t be able to remote start the pickup when it was time to leave work - but if I’d had Poppy, I would have been able to do that!

About 8:30 that evening I did sent a message to Tim and asked him if he planned to come start the pickup for me so that it would be nice and warm when I was ready to leave. He didn’t even feel sorry for me.  

When I got home I was very nice. We currently don’t have room for the pickup and Poppy both in the garage, so the pickup is parked outside. I made sure I put the old, ratty blanket over the windshield so that Tim would not have to scrape ice or frost in the morning. I also plugged in the block heater, because I thought it might get cold, and I figured it would be a kind thing to do. I struggled mightily to plug it in - it doesn’t fit very well. 

And then I went to bed.

The next day I found out about the other mishap - the one in addition to Tim taking the wrong vehicle. When Tim got to church, he put his cell phone on silent mode, but earlier in the day when he’d taken a nap and set an alarm, he hit “repeat” for the alarm, instead of shutting it off. As you may know, alarms on cell phones do not abide by the silent mode. Tim had his phone on the pew next to him, on his left side. Tim is completely deaf in his left ear. So when the alarm started to ring, he didn’t know it was his phone. He couldn’t tell where the noise was coming from. He proceeded to look at the guy behind him, thinking he was the idiot whose alarm was going off in the middle of church. Fortunately, when he turned to look behind, his good ear then picked up on where the sound was coming from. Oh boy. He was a bit, just a tad bit, embarrassed.

And me? Well I struggled to plug in that darned block heater, only to find out the next day that the other end of the extension cord was not plugged into the wall. Well now, that’s a fine how-do-you-do. Tim said it was very nice of me to work so hard at it for him, especially considering that he’d stolen my vehicle. Too bad I wasn’t successful, especially since it was another bitterly cold morning.

Here’s hoping the trend of mishaps doesn’t continue.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Miss Cheerleader

I used to be a cheerleader. You know, one of those bright, punky girls who bounced around happily on the sideline of the basketball court shouting joyfully and encouraging the crowds to do the same. That was me, in a nutshell.

Truly, because I was never a good cheerleader or a skilled cheerleader. No, not even in the loosest of terms.

Fifth grade is when cheerleading began in my alma mater. It was a very exciting time for the girls in my class. We didn’t have girls sports back in the day for those in fifth grade, so cheerleading was the end all, be all. And all the girls wanted to be cheerleaders, but only two were chosen. It was set up so that there were two from fifth grade and two from sixth grade, as the boys’ team was compriseed of both fifth and sixth graders. It was a popularity vote amongst the classmates. I was lucky enough to be chosen the first year - which meant that by default I would not be a cheerleader as a sixth grader. Nope: The two chosen in 5th grade were automatically disqualified for the sixth grade cheering squad. We all felt that was fair enough, even if we were a little disappointed. 

The very same principle applied again in seventh and eighth grades, so in seventh grade I became re-eligible and was again elected as cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team. By seventh grade, however, we also had a girls’ basketball team, and I actually played on that. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. 

Anyway, I was a lousy cheerleader, in reality. Oh, I could bounce around and scream really loudly for the boys and I could entice the crowd to yell loudly, although I think they were inclined to do that on their own.

My downfall then, as it still would be today, is that I have an incredibly short attention span. So learning cheers was always rather difficult for me. Or maybe I should say, remembering cheers was always difficult for me. Specifically the actions. Because of this I always had to stand in the back row when we did floor cheers, so that I could watch the other girls and follow along, albeit a fraction of a second behind. 

Basically, I looked like a newcomer in a Zumba class - the one that doesn’t know the routine. Yep, that was me.

Have you seen that I Love Lucy episode where she is trying to keep up in the exercise class, but doesn’t know the routine? Well, just imagine that episode every time there was a junior high or grade school basketball game in Wilmot and I was cheerleading. Because there I was, out on the court in front of the entire town of Wilmot, pretending to be a cheerleader.

Of course, I realize this was a bigger deal to me than to anyone else, because, believe it or not, the world does not revolve around me. I’d like to think it does, but I know better. 

The good news is that all this foolishness as a child taught me that it’s okay to be foolish. Which is maybe why I continue to enjoy life so much as a “grown-up,” eh?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Nightmare Heebie-Jeebies

The other day I was chatting on the telly with my daughter, Alexandra, and she was telling me about a dream she’d had about her job. She works as a teller at a bank and in the dream she was the only teller working that day and the line of people was never ending. It just went on and on and on. She said when she woke up she was actually quite anxious.

Which got me to thinking about the times I’ve had waitressing nightmares. The first one I had was about rolling silverware. In real life, it had been an incredibly busy week and every night at work I had rolled dozens of sets of silverware. Rolling silverware is something we typically do at the end of each shift, when we are done with all our cleanup. It’s rather relaxing and I enjoy doing it. Kind of theraputic, really. So simple that I can carry on a conversation while I am doing it. One napkin, two forks, one knife.

Anyway, after a week of rolling silverware every night at the end of the shift, I’d probably rolled several hundred napkins with two forks and a knife wrapped up nicely inside. And then I had the dream, or rather the nightmare. 

I was standing in the waitress station, looking out into the dining room as the customers were opening up their napkins and taking the silverware out. People were startled, and were asking questions, such as, “Why do I have four forks?” Or, “Why do I have three spoons, a knife and no fork?”

“Why is my napkin empty? Where is my silverware?” 

I was terribly distraught and embarrassed and did not want to admit that I had been the one that had rolled the silverware. I couldn’t ‘fess up that I’d make the huge mistake. 

When I woke from the dream I was in a panic, sweaty and anxious. 

Another time I had a dream that I was serving a table of 16 people. They each started out with a full glass of iced water, but when I first went to the table to tell them the feature and take their drink orders, I noticed that most of the glasses of water were already empty, or nearly so. So before I even told them the feature or took their drink orders I dashed off to get water to refill their glasses. When that was done, I was again going to tell them the feature and take their drink orders. Once more I noticed that the water glasses needed refilling, so again I went to get the water pitcher to refill them. Once done I proceeded to start telling them the feature and take the drink orders, only, again, you guessed it, their water glasses were in need of being refilled. This continued ad infinitum

Finally, I woke from this horrible, terrifying experience. That particular nightmare haunted me for days. It gave me the heebie-jeebies for I don’t know how long. It was dreadful. 

Since I am not much of a night-time dreamer, I don’t put much stake in my dreams, but perhaps there is something to be learned from these nightmares? 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Government Shutdown

I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to politics and what’s happening in our government, but I can tell you that I am pretty sure this whole shutdown thing wouldn’t have happened if we had a majority of females in charge instead of males.

I say this because of my experience in dealing with the “stronger” of the two sexes. 

Just a couple of weeks ago my dear, sweet husband came home from one of his all male meetings and informed me that they, the men, had set a date and made arrangements for a social event. They, he informed me, had everything planned. I could tell he was pretty pleased with himself and the all-male group for having accomplished this with no female assistance. Which is why he was telling me about it. 

I made a mental note to request the night off from work, as it would be a husband and wife event and I knew he would want me to attend alongside him.

This was on a Tuesday evening.

The following Monday night, a full week later, Tim asked me if I had, by chance, told my employers that we would be needing to reserve the banquet room for this social event. Needless to say, I looked at Tim rather askew and remarked, “I thought you had this all planned out and taken care of?”

He, being a typical guy, gave me a quizzical glance and replied, “We did.”

“But you didn’t call Shady and actually book the event?”

“No, I thought you would take care of that.”

“Hmmmm,” I said. “And you didn’t think it was necessary to mention to me that I was responsible for taking care of that minor detail?”

I will admit he did look a bit sheepish then.

I went on to suggest that perhaps he might like to call Shady right then and there and make his request, which he did. 

Fortunately, this all played out well enough in advance that we will not be having a social event shutdown the night of the social event. Everything will go smoothly and all in attendance will have a wonderful time and no one will be the wiser about how incredibly close we came to a major disaster. 

The men will all think they did a fabulous job of planning this amazing gathering and they’ll be all puffed up with pride. 

I will know, on the other hand, how close they came to not having an event at all. Just because of a minor detail that the “stronger” sex didn’t think was all that important and didn’t actually need to be planned or confirmed with the venue. 

In contrast I think about my lady friends and how when we get together, also on a Tuesday night, and make plans for a gathering. We work together to set a time and place and then, get this, we call the venue to see if that will work into their schedule. After we’ve verified with them, we go ahead with our plans. We don’t just assume that the venue is going to be able to accommodate us, and we don’t assume that someone else will take on the responsibility of making that phone call - especially if we don’t tell them they are going to need to do that. 

It’s an amazing concept, this one that the ladies and I have, about actually planning an event. 

So, although I don’t know exactly what’s going on with our senators and representatives, I can about imagine that it might be something along the lines of the scenario I just played out - basically, someone had the ball, but dropped it and now no one wants to pick it up. And since it’s a male dominated organization, well…