Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thinking of the distant past.....

This is a picture of my mother at the age of 16. Around 1926 I figure. She had a really rough, sad childhood. I found this picture in a box of old photos that I’ve been meaning to scan. It nearly crumbled in my hand so I scanned it right away. Then I got to thinking and my mind traveled back in time, back to the stories I’d heard about my family. This starts with my mother's grandparents....whom she had never met. She did, however have fond memories of her great-grandparents (James's parents) and spent many summers on their farm.I don't know much any further back than that.

My mother’s maternal grandparents, as well as her great grandparents (James's parents) are about the only ones talked about; the rest is sort of a mystery. I know nothing of Liz's family. I’ll tell you about mom's grandparents and for the sake of this post, I’ll call them Liz and James. They married and its noted that James’s parents were fairly well off for the times (sometime around 1870 or so) since they did own quite a bit of property. I don't know how many children they had other than James. They were German people....hard-working and honest. James and Liz made a life together and had five children, my grandmother being the oldest.(girl #1) When the twin babies were only about 3, James was killed in an accident, which left Liz so shocked that she was never the same mentally. James’s family tried to help her as much as possible but she was stubborn, very proud and had a fiery temper to boot. She yanked my grandmother out of school at the age of about 11 to help her raise the kids and earn money for them to get by. She took in laundry for other people and my grandmother used to tell me stories of delivering the clean laundry by pulling a big wagon down the street. James’s parents were not impressed by their daughter-in-law's living conditions and they repeatedly asked her to at least let them take the children but she flatly refused. I guess things looked pretty bleak and they didn’t have much at all.

One day while Liz was away getting supplies, and she had the twins with her, James’s parents came to the house and packed up the three kids and took them home. The left a note for Liz and told her that they would see to it that the children had everything they needed. They extended the invitation to her as well as the twins, they could see she desperately needed help. Well Liz flew into a rage and, as the story goes, she packed up what she could, grabbed up the twins and left town for parts unknown. The children mourned the loss of their siblings but could do nothing about it and apparently James’s parents could not locate her, although they did hear things about her from time to time.

What had happened as close as anyone knows is that she took off with the twins but could not make it, having to take care of them. She eventually got mixed up with a man and he talked her into giving them up for adoption, which she did do. Fortunately both of them were adopted, but unfortunately not to the same family or close proximity. I think my uncle was about 6 when he was adopted and his twin, my aunt was about 9. James’s family did not find out about the adoption until the children were grown. My oldest uncle (boy#1) looked for years until he found his brother (one of the twins) and reunited him with the rest of his siblings. They were adults at the time. A happy note connected with this is that my uncle (boy #2) made it a quest to find his twin sister and he did find her when they were in their late twenties.

My grandmother really never had a childhood; she was made responsible for her siblings and then had to work early to help with expenses. I have often wondered if that was the reason why she had such a hard time being a mother herself. Don’t get me wrong….. she was a very talented woman; smart, excellent cook and seamstress, impeccable housekeeper and had good business sense, even though she had been denied a decent education. Let’s just say that it’s like that old poem about the little girl with the curl: “when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid”. That was my grandmother. She was not a good mother.

She had my mom at 16, divorced her husband a year later because he was ‘boring’. My mom cramped her style so she pawned her off on her sister who lived in Texas at the time. My mom lived there with her for a while. My grandmother went through husbands at a record rate….she was widowed only once out of eight husbands. Her temper and her fondness for alcohol did not make her a reliable wife. Yet, she was skilled in so many things and would give you the shirt off her back if she liked you. She nursed so many people back to health with absolutely no formal medical training. She, herself, beat Diphtheria twice and managed to outlive all of her siblings and even her own daughter (my mother). She lived to be 94 and it was pneumonia that eventually claimed her.

But back to my mom. Because of all the marriages that her mother had, she was subjected to many different stepfathers and more than a few took delight in beating her……badly. Back then the school turned a blind eye to bumps and bruises that more than likely were caused by beatings. Now that I think of it, it’s a miracle that she wasn’t sexually abused on top of that….but maybe her own mother’s bad temper kept the step-dads in their place in that regard.

The rest of my grandmother’s siblings pretty much all had sad lives, just like they started out. My oldest uncle, boy#1, had a terrible addiction with alcohol and found AA in the last 5 years of his life. They helped him so much and he was finally able to kick the habit, but unfortunately he didn’t live long after that. My oldest aunt, girl #2, was never happy and lived in poverty all of her life. She did not have a drinking problem that I ever knew about but her life was filled with sadness and regret. Then the twins….my uncle, boy #2, went on to be a police chief in a small town, he married twice, the second one being a perfect match. He had a pretty happy life because of that. My aunt, girl #3, lived at the orphanage until she was 9 or 10, then she was finally adopted by a very old couple. She was sort of a wild teenager and ended up getting TB and living in a TB hospital for years and years after losing a lung. She had two marriages before that and no children. She died at 78 from complications of about 4 different things and was confined to a wheelchair and living in a nursing home.

I can’t help but wonder…..if James hadn’t been killed in that accident… different would all these lives had been.

As for my mom, she met my dad and her life changed forever. My mother was happy, loving and the best mother in the world as far as I'm concerned. She and my father were deeply in love and I'm so happy that her life made that wonderful turn. She really had no training to be a good mother, but she was. Was it because her own childhood had been so bad? I think it was because she was happy, truly happy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Black bear.....or not

First I will give you a tiny piece of history. Before retirement, I worked as a police and fire dispatcher and Sunday mornings were always very quiet and very boring. Sometimes we would hear from people, who although we doubted their sanity, we always had to check things out Many calls would give us a chuckle, and if it happened on a Sunday morning....well, it just was a bonus to break up an otherwise quiet day.

I will also tell you that its 40 degrees outside today, with showers and very windy.

So back to the present and the topic of my post. My daughter and her family live about a mile and a half from me. They live in a subdivision. It would not be described as "country" or even "rural" anymore....its the suburbs. About a year ago they started noticing a herd of deer coming through there. Sometimes there is only a couple and sometimes as high as 15 of them at once are walking around in the yards of the subdivision residents. Its a mystery where these deer come from. They sail over fences like they weren't even there. My granddaughter has gotten used to seeing them and also knows better than to go outside when they are around.

This morning she was looking out her bedroom window and suddenly started yelling to her mom that there was a black bear in the yard between their house and the house next door. What? My daughter rushed over to the window and looked where she was pointing. Sure enough....there was something big and black and it was moving. The bushes and trees kept her from getting a good look and she was afraid now to go outside. So she calls me. What do I do, what do I do. The old man next door might go outside with his little dogs and that bear will attack him. Do you know his phone number I ask. No, she says....I barely know his name....he's not sociable. She says I'll call the guy across the street and see if he knows it. Then she says, I'm going to call the police.....but I don't want them to kill this bear.

So while she calls our local police, I call the County, hoping to get ahold of Animal Control....even though I figured that, with all the recent budget cuts, on a Sunday they would be closed. Animal problems are not supposed to take place on the weekends.....we all know that! The County dispatcher had that tone in her voice that said "oh brother...I've got one that's missing a few cards".....but she humored me. ....and passed me off to our local department. I then called the department where I used to work and got ahold of one of my old co-workers.....actually, I trained him. I told him what was going on and asked if they still kept the list of DNR volunteers. They do and he gave me some numbers. Thank God I didn't have time to call them before my daughter called back with the end of the story.

The neighbor she called across the street went outside and looked over and he saw it he went back in and called a bunch of other neighbors. They were coming out of their houses and going across the street to get a good view; some of them had long guns. By now our local police sent ONE female officer to check it out. My daughter was near panic by this afraid that this bear was going to ravage a dog or worse yet, a person who may just be going for a walk. She went with the officer to the location only to discover......a huge black piece of plastic that the old man next door had used to cover his woodpile....probably in anticipation of all the rain that's in the forecast for today. (heavy downpours) The strong wind was moving it around, had billowed it out and the bushes concealed enough of it that you couldn't really tell WHAT it was, other than big, black and moving. My daughter felt like a fool....she apologized over and over. The officer laughed and said that it was ok...."its SUNDAY and besides that it gives me something to tell my kids and future grandkids. This is a happy story". Then she looked down in the snow and said....''are these deer tracks?". Yep, my daughter says....we have all kinds of them that come through here. She said, "I can see that....I'm surprised".

I guess my little granddaughter figured.....if deer, why not a bear? She really did believe it was a bear. You just never know anymore. My first thought was that maybe one had escaped from a circus....we have traveling circuses that come through in the winter and set up INSIDE at the stadium that isn't that far away. The thing that struck me though is that we've encroached on wildlife so much....built up their natural habitat, taken their homes away.......where are they to go? If it really HAD been a bear, what would have happened then? I fear it probably would have been killed. I know we have coyotes here now and we never used to.

Anyway, I feel like a fool too. I called my ex co-worker and told him the details. He was laughing so hard he could hardly contain himself. Remember what I said about Sunday mornings? Anyway, I, Marty, this stays between just us at work and he said....ah yeah....sure...right. (gales of laughter). Oh boy....I'm in for it now. Anyway, it sure did liven up Sunday morning for more than a few people. Black bear, indeed!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Take a couple deep breaths.....

Yes, it was that time again. I had to go back for my 6 month check-up.....back to the place where you feel like you're on an assembly line.

I was right on time but had to wait for 25 minutes before being called into an examination room. My "doctor's assistant" was charming and smiley. She sweetly chirped, "ok, follow me down the hall and we'll get you weighed". I looked at her and said, "no, I don't feel like it, okay?" I was half-way kidding...and was totally surprised when she said. "oh, ok" and we didn't have to do that. Why do they always put those scales out in open view of half the world? Well that kind of perked me up.....I couldn't believe my luck!

Then she started doing all that stuff they do....blood pressure, temperature, and something new....a clip they put on your index finger to check the amount of oxygen in your blood. Interesting. Everything checked out ok. Then she drew blood and that was ok as I'm really easy to get blood from....the nurses just love me. Then my doctor came in. He asked about this and that and talked about my last test results...they were all good, which made me feel even better.

So I decided to ask him about my foot. I woke up with it all bruised up and couldn't figure out what happened. He looked it over and then ordered an x-ray. The x-ray tech asked me how I injured it and suddenly I remembered that I HAD hurt my foot.....a couple days ago as I was HURRIEDLY putting groceries away a 24 oz full bottle of pop fell over and rolled off my kitchen table and landed right on my foot. Of course I wasn't wearing shoes at the time. I swore a little and then went about my work and forgot about it. I guess the pain pills I take kept me from really feeling how bad it DID hurt. Anyway.....come to find out, I have a broken toe. Oh Happy day! Well, it could have been could have been a broken FOOT.

While there I told my doctor about being called for jury duty again and he wrote me a note advising that I would be unable to serve due to medical problems. I don't know if this will work or not.....its not a lie, I do have medical problems as far as walking and getting around but remember what happened when I tried to get door delivery for my mail? So, we'll see. He said if they declined to accept the excuse to let him my dear friends I may not have to go after all and that thought just thrills me to pieces. Let someone else have a chance at it who has never done it before.

I came out of there with my prescription refills and he gave me 90 day supplies refillable. This is the first time I've had them dispensed like this and on the way home it dawned on me that this was going to save me about $160 over the course of the 3 months. All right Doc! Of course the pain pills couldn't be written like that....too many restrictions.

They told me that eventually prescriptions will be transmitted electronically to the drugstore. Now I like that idea....that way they will be all ready for you when you get there.

This is also my first x-ray under Medicare....and I am wondering just how much it will cover. Before Medicare I was covered 100% by Blue Cross. Now Blue Cross is supposed to pay what Medicare doesn't, but I found out that's not always just depends on what it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This is just a quick post to straighten out a little bit of confusion.

A lot of my readers think that my name is Charlotte but its not. My name is Valerie. Charlotte was a nickname that another blogger gave me because she thought I was a good person (like the spider in Charlotte's Web). She always called me Charlotte and somehow everyone else thought that was my name.

I'm still a good person, but for real, my name is Valerie, Val for short.

I'm so sorry its gotten so many of you scratching your heads and wondering what was up. So, that's the story and I'm stickin' to it. LOL

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An award and a Meme.....

Joy, from Joy of Six, graciously presented me with this award and a Meme to go along with it. Thank you so much, Joy, not only for the award but for the kind things you said about me.

If you want a wonderful reading experience, please go visit Joy. Her blog has something to interest everyone, but primarily her thoughts are beautifully transferred to typed word, to be savored, enjoyed and remembered. This is one special lady who I consider a good friend.

Now, I'm going to pass this along to anyone who would like to participate because if you're on my Blogs I Stop and Visit list, then you are definitely "Over the Top" in my book. Answering questions with only one word is a lot harder than you would think.

Hopefully some of you will take the challenge and if you do, please let me know so I can see how you've done. Here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? recharging

2. Your hair? colored

3. Your mother? unforgettable

4. Your father? mourned

5. Your favorite food? steak

6. Your dream last night? vivid

7. Your favorite drink? coffee

8. Your dream/goal? contentment

9. What room are you in? den

10. Your hobby? reading

11. Your fear? illness

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? secure

13. Where were you last night? home

14. Something you aren’t? dishonest

15. Muffins? cinnamon

16. Wish list item? maid

17. Where did you grow up? farm

18. Last thing you did? this

19. What are you wearing? nightshirt

20. Your TV? off

21. Your pet(s)? dog

22. Your friends? cherished

23. Your life? introspective

24. Your mood? varies

25. Missing someone? yes

26. Vehicle? parked

27. Something you’re not wearing? makeup

28. Your favorite store? Kohl's

29. Your favorite color? blues

30. When was the last time you laughed? yesterday

31. Last time you cried? unsure

32. Your best friend? relocated

33. One place that I go over and over? memories

34. One person who emails me regularly? Jackie

35. Favorite place to eat? home

Monday, January 18, 2010

Enough already.....

Damn, damn, damn. I got called for Jury Duty...again! I've already served in District, Circuit and Federal Court....what's the deal. It can't be because I'm so freakin' gorgeous. I believe its a good thing to serve on jury duty.....but come ON! I've done my share. More than my share. This is such a major inconvenience for me. I guess after you reach the age of 70, they will finally leave you alone if you request it.

I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday and I'm going to ask him for a letter to see if I can get out of it....but I've been told by others that its next to impossible to get out of it. So here I am....having a hard enough time getting around in all these slippery conditions and now I'm expected to walk from a parking lot to the courthouse, which is a good distance according to Homeland Security standards....then once inside I have all kinds of more walking to do. This on a bad knee and bad hip and I'm not even taking the bad back into consideration. I've served there before and know what I'm in store for. I think if you've served more than once before, they should toss your name back and pick someone else who has never done it. (how's that for a colossal WHINE......but I'm mad....damn damn damnit)

I may be able to get an extension and serve in 6 months during warm weather rather than now. I remember I did that last time because night driving is so hard on me and court sometimes doesn't let out until after 5:30, depending on the judge and the type of case. So I at least wouldn't have to worry about night blindness OR falling on my ample azz because of ice and snow. I'm telling you, this getting old is the pits!

I know so many people who have NEVER served and here I am going for number 4....or maybe number 5.....not sure. They need to get another method of choosing their jurors. I can't help but think, if this were a drawing for the Lottery or some other prize, no matter how trivial, my name would NEVER come up! Sigh......its always SOMETHING.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Finally, a job......

Well, one person's bad luck is a fortunate turn of events for my son. He's been without work for months and months. His unemployment was going to run out soon and things looked bleak. Then he got a phone call from an old friend, someone he used to work with many years ago.

Seems as though, as his old friend told him, that a certain guy just got fired because of having failed a random drug test while employed at a certain company. My son heard about it before it was really public knowledge and he went there and put in his application. He had put in his app many months before as this is the type of work he is skilled in.....but they had hundreds of applications and probably pitched them since at that time they needed no one. He was hired on the spot. They are probably breathing a sigh of relief to obtain an experienced worker and he's breathing a sigh of relief to be part of the work force again.

So thanks to a good friend and the bad choices made by someone else, he's once again employed. Its a dirty, hard job with no luxuries. In the winter, its worse than ever.....but its a job and he's elated. He once again feels like he's a contributing member of society. At least he doesn't have a job as bad as t-paper in the cartoon, but its a dirty, strenuous and dangerous profession...... he mounts tires on vehicles and that includes semi's. A lot of the work is done outside in the elements. Some of these tires are bigger than I am tall. You can understand why the company would have to be reassured that their employees are thinking with a clear mind.....can't have the wheels coming off while going 80 down the expressway, now can we.

Hopefully this will be a good year for me and my family.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cold snap.....

Seems like a lot of the nation is suffering from what they call a "cold snap". Living in Michigan, I've experienced a lot of them, several a lot worse than this one....but the older I get the more uncomfortable they are for me. We are supposed to suffer through the weekend and its promised that we are in for a 'heat wave' next will get close to 30!

I can't help but wonder, each time we get some unwanted dramatic affect in the weather, what we would do if it just stayed that way. Everything we do is influenced by the weather, it seems. Sure, we would carry on and go to our jobs like normal, pay our bills, get our supplies in.....but after more than a few days or weeks of sub-zero temperatures, it would begin to wear pretty thin....not to mention the stress put on your vehicle and your body. Boy, I sure don't want to think about that anymore.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking......'hmmm, it wouldn't be bad to have, say....80 degree weather and sunny each day'. But....where is it likely to have those conditions? Probably California and not all of us could live in just one state. Ughhh...that would create horrible traffic conditions (worse than it is now), not to mention housing shortages. So something freaky would have to happen where ALL of the nation was 80 and sunny and we have as much chance of that happening as we do of Florida hitting freezing. What? It did? Oh oh. (freaky.....) The constant type of weather would probably wear pretty thin after a matter what it was. Humans seem to get bored easily.

Speaking of being bored.....when I went to the hospital the other day for my daughter I attempted to do one of my favorite things when I'm out in public. I people-watch. But either I was too worried the other day to focus or the selection of people to be watched was extremely bad. There was absolutely no one that held by interest. Gawd....I hope I'm not getting too old to do that anymore! Many an evening I've laughed and giggled over something I've seen that day.....I wouldn't want to lose that ability. Well, I'm not going to think about that anymore either. (do you notice a Scarlet O'Hara syndrome popping up repeatedly, here?)

I had to park in a parking garage and they scare me. I figure if you're gonna get mugged, then that's the place where it will most likely happen. My fears are confirmed by the signs up all over the place. "This area monitored by cameras" or how about this goodie. "E$c0rt$ available". Now if that doesn't put fear in your heart, nothing will. I didn't ask for an e$c0rt because I had my grandson's friend with me. (sorry, I had to do that to that word to thwart the search engine pervs) Grandson had to stay home to be available for his little sister when she came home from school, so his friend accompanied us. He is about 6'3, at least. I did feel rather safe with him. We must have made an odd looking at 4'11.

It was an uphill walk all the way to the hospital. True it was only a little over 2 blocks, but it almost did this old girl in. I'm not used to walking so much at once. The knee and the hip were screaming at me, then at each other. I had to stop twice and rest. That it was 15 degrees with a wind chill of 8 didn't help matters either. Did this make me feel old and horribly vulnerable. You bet your sweet bippy it did. I did notice, however, the walk back was much easier. Maybe it was because it was downhill or maybe it was because my mind was free of the tensions and apprehensions of a couple hours earlier.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'll get to it......eventually

Dang! A brand new year and I have so many things I want to get done....but I just have NO all. I must start to do twenty different things a day ..... key word here is start. I can never seem to finish anything anymore.

I think its just the winter blues.....although I'm really not depressed.....or at least, I don't think I'm depressed. I'm not a cold weather lover and do tend to hibernate when the temps dip below 30. Throw in some snow and ice and I don't want to even think about going outside. But you'd think I would have all kinds of time and desire to do inside stuff......wrong. I just want to either nap, read or watch movies when I get like this. I'm wondering if I should check into one of those light panels. You know the ones that simulate sunshine? My doc already told me I have a Vitamin D deficiency so I take supplements for that. Oh well, I will snap out of it sooner or later (around July, I'd say) so in the meantime I guess I will just have to put up with it or hire a maid. Gosh I'd love one of those, but I know me.....I would kill myself cleaning up my house so she wouldn't see it in a mess when she came. Oh gawd.....I'm hopeless! (and just discovered how to find some

My daughter went shopping for a washer and dryer. She hit several stores looking for a good price. Washers and dryers seem to have gone up considerably since I've purchased mine so I can't tell if she got a good deal or not. I guess the main thing is that she's happy. Her washer finally died around the first part of October and she's been coming here to do her laundry. Its a pain in the patootie to pack up all your dirty clothes and lug them elsewhere in order to get them everyone who has to go to a laundromat knows. So, she found a set she loves and bought them yesterday. They are going to be delivered today. Her friend knows of a family who could use a washer and dryer so she's giving her old set to them. The dryer works and the guy is handy so he may be able to fix the washer. If she's made life easier for someone else at no cost to them or very little cost anyway, that makes her happy. She is her mother's daughter!

But anyhow.....she was telling me that her washer is a top loader and has no agitator. Now this, I've got to see. I can't wait to check this set out. We've always had very good luck with either Whirlpool or Kenmore products and she stayed with the brand.....her new set is a Whirlpool. I've been told that even though they have different names....its the same company that builds both. She said its also large I guess she could throw the couch in there if she wanted to. Seriously, though......I guess she can easily wash 2 or 3 blankets at once. This is a god-send to any woman with kids running around getting things dirty as fast as you clean it up.

I watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles last night. I do this at least once a year.....usually when I feel stressed or out-of-sorts. This movie has never failed to make me laugh.....and last night was no exception. Its laugh out loud funny in places and I love a movie that can do that. If you've never seen it, make it a point to watch it. Its been around for a few years....John Candy and Steve Martin have the lead roles. Is it just me.....or do you feel that movies are just not as funny as they used to be? Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky. Oh yeah and I also watched the latest Harry Potter. (the half-blood prince) I didn't like this one. Out of all of them so far....this has been one that I did not enjoy....even the acting didn't seem as good. Could it be because "Harry" is grown up now and I still want to think of him as a boy? But even though I didn't like it as much, its still better than a lot of the movies out there.

Here's hoping I'll find my motivation ..... probably hiding in the back of that closet I've been meaning to straighten up and organize. But more than anything....I just hope that everything else goes ok in my family ..... at least for a while. Its been a rough ride for the last couple years. My daughter gets out-patient surgery on her spine tomorrow at the hospital....its a procedure in which they kill the nerves in a certain area of your spine. Sounds scary and it room for any errors, that's for sure. She's had this done before and it does seem to help with her chronic pain for about 6 months. I'd be so grateful if you could say a small little prayer for her, if you would. Thank you. Happy days peeps......look for the small things to make you smile. Til next time......take care my friends.

**Update, Wednesday. My daughter came through her surgery just fine, the doctor was pleased. From what I understand, he used radio frequency to burn the nerves in her spine from her tailbone up to her ribs. We'll find out more about the procedure, which was a lot more extensive than the other ones she's had when she goes back for her check-up. Hopefully, this will reduce her pain significantly. Thank you for your prayers!