Daddy

My father was somewhat of a wild child in his youth.  No one thought he would grow up to be the serious, successful man he became.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and didn’t always obey the rules.

He and my mother grew up together in the same small town, so they always knew each other.  I think they fell in love at a young age.  Maybe it was because my father was so much fun to be around.  I know he adored my mother until his dying day.

While trying to enlist in the service during WWII, he discovered he was color blind. Consequently, he joined the CB’s (Construction Battalion) and spent the war building bridges and other structures for the Navy.

He learned a lot about construction during his tour, which served him well the rest of his life.  Psychologically he never adjusted to military life.  That old thing about not obeying rules, especially if they didn’t make sense, really got in his way.  He always had a bit of a rebel in him.

After the war he married, went to college and had three children. Those were lean years, but fun according to him.  He always had a funny story to tell about any period of his life.

And living in a mobile home with a family while working and going to school on the GI Bill must have been hysterically funny, because his memories of that time were amazing.  I think my mother remembered having three babies in three years in a small mobile home a little differently!

Daddy was always the epitome of what a father should be. He was smart.  He was witty. He was honest.  He was fair to a fault.  He loved me completely.   He could fix anything. He was a gentleman.

He made mundane things fun.  His sense humor was legendary.  He could make the grumpiest people laugh.  It was magical to watch him.

And he had a way with kids.   Strange children would just slowly come up to him and climb onto his lap.  No words were said.  The children would just snuggle into my dad’s embrace as if they knew him their whole life.  Even he was mystified as to why it happened.

I have such wonderful memories of my father helping me with school work, questioning young boyfriends, driving us all on vacations, trying to punish the three of us children while hiding his smile, teaching our dog tricks, making Halloween costumes and teaching me to drive.

My dad taught me many things but mostly how to treat other people well.  Respect your elders.  Help the needy.  Say please and thank you.  Treat everyone with kindness.  He seldom got angry and was more often forgiving.

I did see him get really frustrated with the recurring plumbing problems in one house we rented and he threw a mop down the stairs.  That was as angry as I ever saw him and really pretty funny now as I remember it.

He wasn’t a perfect man but he was so perfect for me.  He died with dignity and grace after a long full life.  He left behind a wonderful legacy, to the following generations, of a great human being.

He was my Daddy my whole life.

My Favorite Day

We all have a favorite day of the week. A day we look forward to and wish it would last longer than it does.

Maybe it’s Monday, the beginning of the week. The best day to start a diet, a project, a job or a resolution. A day for fresh starts is always a good day.

Or maybe your favorite is Tuesday – a good day for bargains and senior prices. It’s the best day for shopping and for going to the movies.

Perhaps Wednesday? Hump Day, “middle of the week” day? You feel you’ve almost made it through the week. Most of your work is done and you are on the other side of the mountain.

Could it be Thursday you can’t wait for? I can’t think of a good reason to love this day but there must be one. Maybe it’s your day off or maybe it’s the day you get your house cleaned. Whatever, you are allowed to adore Thursday.

Now Friday is a great day! End of the week, last workday. We celebrate the day with lots of fun in the evening – parties, dinners, movies, entertaining. We all love our Fridays.

But Saturday is the best of all to me. Now that I’m retired, every day is like Saturday (Except Sunday, of course).

My favorite day is relaxed and carefree with no deadlines. I’m free to do what I want. I can sleep late, if I want or wake early to get a good start on a project. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want.

My everyday Saturday is open to any whim or wish. I can visit a friend, go to lunch with the girls or stay home with Gramps. I can attend a sewing group, read all day or even sleep my afternoon away, if I wish.

The non-Saturdays are Sundays, which are days set aside for church, choir, bell choir practice and car races on TV. Sometimes family come over but they are required to watch car races on TV also.

So again my favorite day is Saturday, which is everyday, except Sunday (which is my second favorite day!). I look forward to every day, wish it would last longer than twenty-four hours and can’t pack enough into it.

My only problem? Today is Sunday!

Best Weather

Most people love a nice warm sunny day.   Then there are those that can’t wait for a great snow day to stay home and build a snowman.  Of course, there may be the the odd person that likes a windy Fall day when all the leaves flutter around.

Me?  I really appreciate a good rain.  The sound of pitter-pat on the roof and water dripping off the eaves is music to my ears.  Like the sound of a rushing river or a waterfall, it is very soothing and calming to me.

I even love the look of a rainy day.  Kind of misty and smudgy – watery, even.  It looks like a painting to me.  Dare I say, a “watercolor?”  The colors all blend and there are no hard edges.

The air is cooler and damp, of course.  What fun to even go out in the rain and get soaked.  It feels sort of like swimming with your clothes on but freer.  There’s something absolutely daring about dancing in the rain.

For those who like to stay dry, rainy days are perfect for huddling indoors.  Maybe enjoying a fire, a blanket and a nap.  With or without a pet on your lap.  Your choice.

For the more industrious, there’s always reading a good book (mysteries are perfect!), baking (brownies, of course!), or sewing.  Do not clean the house on a rainy day.  You will be miserable.

My preference is always sewing – especially hand-work.  You just can’t beat sitting in the big chair and binding a quilt while hearing the soft sound of rain on the patio.  I could do that all day.  And I have.

Now a big loud rainstorm is something else.  That requires a storm buddy, candles (because the electricity will probably go out), popcorn and a board game.  No electronics allowed here.  And no fear either – just fun.

All rainy days are fun for me.  In fact, having a rainy “season” makes me delirious.

Did I just hear there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow?

Yippee!!!!!!!

Looking Forward

Everyone has a past. We learn a great deal from the past – positive and negative. In other words, there are things that definitely need to be repeated and there are things that everyone agrees should never be done again. Good lessons all!

Everyone has a present – the right now that we are all living. I’m a strong believer of enjoying the present, taking the joy from each moment and living life as it presents itself to you.

Everyone has a future – the life not yet lived, the life on the horizon, the life dreamed about. The future can be very compelling and enticing. I want to have things to look forward to, plans that promise to be exciting and fun.

In the near future, I have two quilting retreats that I am so excited about attending. Having them on my calendar not only brings me joy, it also keeps me organized.

I have been busy gathering together what I will be working on for the two retreats. That means getting projects started, finding the right fabrics, packing projects together, finding notions I haven’t seen in my sewing room for awhile, planning food, etc. Retreats don’t occur by chance. They require organization and that is good for me.

Thinking about future activities sets me to thinking about past activities too. I’m reminiscing about other quilting retreats and remembering good times, good people, good food and good quilts. Recalling previous fine memories is good for me.

Planning for the future also keeps me active. I cannot sit still all day and get ready for two quilt retreats. I must do something every day to prepare for being on retreat and also for being away from home all those days. Being a doer everyday is good for me.

Looking forward to my retreats keeps me excited about my hobby of quilting. I know I will be seeing new patterns, new skills, new fabrics and new notions. I will be with women who will challenge me, inspire me and uplift me. I will come back with more ideas than I can ever use, more enthusiasm than I can ever channel and more fabric than I can ever process. Looking forward is good for me.

How great it is to have all those wonderful reminders of coming events on my calendar. Those events that keep me so happy, so organized and so active. They are like little carrots always dangling in front of me, keeping me heading in the right direction.

As I said – looking forward is so good for me!

Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome back! Let me continue my story of the great vacation with the grandsons. Let me see, now where were we? I think Day 6 – yes.

It started with a two-hour boat ride on the Wisconsin river. Two stops for refreshments and a look at some great rock formations. The boys got wonderful pictures and may have learned something about Geology.

The afternoon was spent at another water park. Yessirree – four hours of sun and water, AGAIN!!!! By now I was practically glowing in the the dark!

While driving into the parking lot and going over a speed bump, we heard a strange noise from the truck but, seeing nothing, we parked. Walking to the entrance, we came upon a tire next to a speed bump in the parking lot. Gramps and I looked at each other. This couldn’t be our tire, could it? Gramps went back to the truck and sure enough, our spare had fallen out. What were the chances?!! So we loaded it back in the truck, shaking our heads at the unbelievability of the whole thing.

This being the 4th of July, we later joined the residents downtown for a spectacular fireworks show. Nothing beats fireworks, patriotic music, red/white/blue colors and the national anthem surrounded by families of every color and nationality under the sun. Another great day!

Day 7 was a really slow starter – I think we all slept until 11 am. Being a tourist is hard work! By early afternoon, Gramps and the boys were off for some golf lessons. They planned a round of golf, but all three decided it was too hot. So back in the pool they went. It seems boys and water are a natural combination. Just add suits.

That evening we had a campfire at the RV site and roasted huge marshmallows. The boys looked up a list of the 100 best jokes, and told us one joke after another until I thought I would die from laughing – mostly fourth-grade jokes but still pretty funny.

My favorite? OK here it is. The Lord said to John, “Come forth and I will give you everlasting life.” John came fifth and got a toaster.” I know! I’m still laughing!!

That night was the best ever. We talked, we laughed, we interacted, we got to know each other better, we looked at Jupiter’s moons through the binoculars. How perfect! We kept the fire going as long as possible because we didn’t want the night to end. I wish all nights could be as wonderful as that one was.

Ready for another absolutely miraculous coincidence? The next morning Gramps was getting a new tire put on the truck to prevent another flat. A piece was missing from the spare tire carrier that had fallen off in the parking lot two days earlier. So he drove to the parking lot and there, on top of the now infamous speed bump, was a little washer. Just the right size washer, mind you, that fit the holder for the spare. Really?!! No kidding!! He found it days later in the parking lot of a water park in a resort town on a holiday weekend! One single 1″ round washer!!!!!

Now I need to tell you that throughout the week it rained – everyday. But sometimes it rained at night or early in the morning or if it rained during the day, it only rained for about 5-10 minutes. The timing was unbelievable. It never interfered with our fun or ruined any activity. Uncanny really.

Day 8 was devoted to a Drum Corps performance in Whitewater, about two hours away. We met some friends there and had a tailgate dinner with one of the Corps. Both of the boys play musical instruments – one the sax, the other tuba and drums- so we knew they would enjoy the musical extravaganza of Drum Corps. Well, it was perfect weather and a great show. Shawn, who had never seen a Drum Corps performance before, was enthralled. He sat on the edge of his seat all evening.

The next morning we all got up early for the long trip to Kansas City to put Shawn on the plane back home. Thanks to modern technology, the boys again entertained themselves in the truck for hours.

We also reminisced about our days in Wisconsin, the fun things we did and some of our favorite jokes from campfire night. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the memory of it.

Shawn got on the plane for his second time in the air. He was evidently a “pro” by then, of course. How funny to see a thirteen-year-old who thinks he knows everything about a subject, but still needs help.

Mac and Gramps and I got home the next night with no problems.

Were we alive? Barely! Were we exhausted? Completely! Were we still laughing and telling grand stories? You bet! Was it the best vacation ever? Absolutely! Would I do it again with two thirteen-year-olds? In a heart beat!

Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 1

It started out like any other camping trip. No serious problems really. Day 1 both propane tanks turned up empty, so we had no hot water or refrigerator cooling on the road. Day 2 was a quick stop for propane, then we had our obligatory flat tire on the way to the airport to pick up grandson Shawn. (Grandson Mac was already with us.) That makes about five flat tires we’ve had on camping trips now. It turned out to be a blessing though, as we were able to limp into the airport, and Gramps was able to get the tire changed there in the time we waited for Shawn to arrive. Perfect!! (We are actually getting pretty good at changing flat tires after all those previous flats!!) Like I said, no real issues!!!

So on Day 2 we had two 13 year old grandsons in the back seat of the truck. Now that was an issue! I’m talking entertaining two teenage boys in a vehicle for 8-9 hours. Yeah! (Thank goodness for I phones, Netflix, earbuds, video games, chargers and just plain sharing of devices.)  That turned out to be a long day, facing an enormous thunderstorm all the way to Iowa City, but we didn’t reach it.  Arriving at 11pm, we were fortunate that the one remaining spot in the campground was ours – reserved.

Next day was shorter, and after setting up camp near the Mississippi, we enjoyed a great day with relatives, but only after Shawn fell trying to spin the bicycle in the RV campgrounds and gouged his left knee. Who says thirteen year olds are coordinated? But the boys were lucky enough to see a river barge pass through the locks in Dubuque.  When out tour continued at the riverfront, our wine-tasting was made more memorable by a severe thunderstorm and a tornado warning.  The boys held the restaurant door closed!  Perfect ending to a perfect day!

How about keeping enough food and milk to feed said boys in a refrigerator the size that would fit in a Barbie Doll house? Uh huh! And then there’s keeping enough sun screen on two teenagers at a water park, so I don’t have to explain to their mothers why I am sending home two crispy fried critters. Now that is a real problem!!! Can I get an AMEN to that?!

Day 4 – we arrived in the Dells and chose a list of activities.  First was the famous water skiing show, so we didn’t spend much time not having fun. That night we started a rousing game of Monopoly that wouldn’t end, so we put up all our individual holdings to finish the next night.

Of course, I have to mention here that our RV space was right next to the railroad tracks. Now I personally love the sound of a train going by. The rest of the family, not so much. Some sleep was lost due to the frequent passing of the loooong trains carrying grain south.

Day 5 the two boys spent the morning testing their Go-Kart skills. Pretty good actually! They sped around passing each other, waving each time they went by and smiling from ear to ear.

The rest of the day was spent at the Mt. Olympus Water Park (Just so you can get an idea of its size). Now I’m talking in the sun, in the wave pool, being buffeted by a 9 foot wave every two minutes for 5 ½ hours!!! Who can do that?!! Well, two thirteen-year-olds can! And of course, Gramps and I in chairs with cameras taking pictures of both boys the whole time.

What a day! We all looked rosy and sunkissed, were exhausted and starving. Back to the RV for dinner. Now just so we all understand . . . “starving” to a 13 year old means eating while dinner is being fixed, eating dinner and then snacking all evening until bedtime. No kidding!!!

In the evening, while snacking, we resumed the Monopoly game from the previous night. Tension was high! No one had a monopoly! Trading was about to begin! Everyone had a plan! Everyone was determined to win! Then the dice rolled – cut-throat Monopoly began!

But, as usual, Gramps had the best properties, the most money and won by a huge margin. He always wins- we can’t figure it out. This is a game of chance, right? So how come he ALWAYS WINS!?! Ah well, we had a great time. I found being in Jail to be the safest place – no rent to pay to Gramps and his many houses and hotels!

Day 6 started out slow, We slept in, late breakfast. Then took the boys to a hands-on science laboratory. Lots of interactive fun there and we even learned a thing or two. Took a video of Mac on the Gyrotron, spinning around. He did fine – I got a little sick just watching him turn every which way but up.

We ate lunch while watching women’s soccer on TV. We hit the proverbial tourist’s wall about then and came back to the RV for some rest. As my Dad used to say, “Having that much fun can kill you!”

As I look around the room now, everyone is on their mobile device, in a reclining position. One is playing a game with a scowl on his face, another is watching a movie, laughing out loud and the third is playing solitaire with a look of satisfaction. Does it get any better the this? Surrounded by my family, feeling such contentment and love, and so completely ignored by everyone!!!

I’m going to end this now and check in with you all later when I have recovered my dignity.

We are planning more activities, July 4th fireworks, a Drum Corps performance and of course, daily trips to store for food.

Check in later for the rest of the story.

Granny

What An Adventure!!!

So Gramps and I decided to go on a little camping trip to Iowa, spending a few days with his two cousins and their wives along the Mississippi River.  Just a week to get away from the heat here in Texas, visit with family and enjoy the outdoors.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Doable, easy, no big problem.

Well, that’s what I thought too, at least on Day One. The first day of travel was uneventful. A peaceful day of driving and arriving at a pleasant State Park in Kansas.

After a couple nights in another campground, we headed for the Iowa State Park and the group campout, although with one camper tire that had turned up low on air.  After re-inflation, things started to fall apart, although we didn’t know at the time how much.  Other drivers passing us started pointing.  I thought they were rude.  Gramps finally realized something was wrong and pulled over.

Sure enough, a flat tire. Not just a flat tire, but an exploded tire!  We were driving on the rim and the tread was wrapped around the axle.

Gramps was unable to get the lug nuts off the wheel because it kept turning – brakes wouldn’t hold it, chocks no good, pry bars…nothing.  And we couldn’t call for help because we were in a “No Service” area – cell phones wouldn’t work.

Well, we were just going to have to rely on the kindness of strangers, so we flagged down a nice gentleman who drove Gramps to the nearest spot where the phone would work and he could call for roadside assistance.

As things happen, a nice burly man stopped on his own accord and offered to help while Gramps was gone.  He was able to get the lug nuts off and started to replace the wheel.  I could not call Gramps to tell him to return because, as you recall, I was in a dead zone.

By the time Gramps did return, the tire was almost in place and a service tech was on his way.  We finished getting the spare on, thanked all our helpers and drove off to find cell coverage, and cancel the service request.

We soon arrived at the State Park, set up, had dinner and fell into bed.

During the night, a big thunderstorm came up and we noticed a leak coming from the skylight.  So we put a big bowl under it and went back to bed.

Before sunrise, I picked up my clock to check the time (5 am!!) and found my hand in a pool of water on the top of the bedside table.  At the same time, I felt water dripping on the back of my hand. We had another leak!!  We got up and sopped it all up with paper towel, then put another bowl in place to catch the drip coming from the ceiling.  No more sleep for us.

That same day, we discovered the carpeting in the living area was sopping wet.  Not just wet, but saturated, soggy, boggy wet.  We finally discovered that the water tank fill hose is in that corner and we had used that inlet to fill the tank with about twenty gallons of water the previous day.  Searching further, we found a large cut in the hose, which meant that most of that water leaked into the camper and got sucked up by the carpet.

Well, we tried sopping it up with paper towels until we ran out.  It became clear that paper towels were not going to do the job, so to save the flooring, we started removing carpet. Gramps cut out a four foot square of carpet – can’t tell you how ugly THAT looks!!!

Then we decided to put the fan down on the remaining carpet to help dry it out. The only problem?  It’s a 12-volt fan, without an outlet in that area.  Time to go to Wally World!!  We needed a 110-volt fan and certainly more paper towels.

By then the cousin couple from Michigan had arrived, so we all began setting up their unit and cheerful visiting.  All was well for the rest of the day.

Next day, we found the truck carpeting along the sill was saturated.  Did it leak in the all-night rainfall?  Yes, we tried paper towels by the roll.  Then Gramps pried the carpet up with screwdrivers and pliers to allow air circulation. By the end of the day he had added a hair dryer that eventually ran three straight days and nights and never did dry out the carpeting.

Then the camper lost battery power, which meant we had no 12-volt lights or water pump, and no water service.  We started hauling water in a big tub from the fill station to the camper for the toilet and the sink. That was a fun day!!!  Meanwhile, battery trouble-shooting continued.

Suddenly the next day, the battery power come back on all by itself.  No one knows why or how.  We were just glad that finally something good had happened.

Finally all three families had arrived and we had nightly campfires together.  We had drinks for everyone, big dinners made by one couple each evening, long talks, lots of laughs . . . and bugs.  Biting bugs.  Bugs that bit some of us but not all of us.

That’s right, I was one of the chosen and in two evenings was covered on my hands, arms, back, legs, ankles and feet.  With so many bites I looked like I had measles. And itch?!!  I felt like a bear in heat.  I was rubbing on everything and everybody.

Then the truck door panel, held on by one screw because Gramps had been working on it, came loose when the screw fell out and so every time he opened the door, the panel fell down a few inches.  It had to stay connected for mirror and window power.  Solution?  Climb across from the passenger door.  No problem!!!

Oh, and don’t use the driver side window either, because it had become unreliable and got stuck in open position once.  So when going through Toll Booths, Granny had to jump out, run around, pay the toll, run back and jump in the truck.  Quite a sight really!!!

Days with the cousins were fun.  We shared meals, we shared war stories, we shared many laughs and hugs.  The campout was over too soon.  Time to get ready to go home. Make plans to do it again.  Stock up on wine from an excellent Iowa winery, stock up on fresh sweet corn. ( We were in Iowa remember!! ).  Get the camper ready to go.

While breaking camp, we found that one of the gray tanks couldn’t be drained due to a broken tank valve.  Yikes!!  I was starting to get a little paranoid.  What more could happen?  I didn’t even want to think about it.

We drove home with dread following us.  What was going to happen?  Where would it happen?

Our first day of the return trip, we got to our campground with no issues.  Maybe our luck had changed.

The last day started out fine and then suddenly Gramps began slowing and pulled over to the shoulder – he heard and saw yet another tire (the old spare) flailing. It couldn’t be!!!!!!!

BUT IT WAS!!!!!  And it was the spare tire we had put on after the first blowout. Yessirree!!! The exact same tire!!!

We were getting pretty good at changing tires by then.  I knew exactly where the jack was and how to put it together.  We had just been through this routine.  It all was very familiar, and even a blessing to have trouble on a beautiful day, good highway, little traffic, and plenty of space for the tire change.  In hindsight, we should not have used that old spare, but rather the new tire.

By now, I was laughing a bit hysterically.  It all seemed so funny, so ridiculous, so arbitrary. Whereas earlier, I was stressed and worried, thinking how will we make it through all this?  If anything more happens, I will surely crack.  But then more happened and I didn’t crack.

It all looked pretty funny now, so absurd.  We had no control of anything, we might as well enjoy the ride.  We sure couldn’t stop or change it.  When my mind changed, it became a lot more enjoyable.  It was almost exciting, waiting for the next catastrophe to occur, to be surprised by the next disaster.

We started making bets on what would happen next.  Would we arrive home in a ball of flame?  Would the grey tank become too full and spill into the camper?  Would the roof come off in a wind gust?

The options went on and on and got more bizarre.  But it kept us entertained that last four hundred miles.

We got home in one piece, so to speak.  But we were limping for sure.

We got the camper into emergency surgery the next day, thanks to our sympathetic RV dealer.  We had only four days to get her fixed before a two-week trip to California.

Four days later she came back with all the immediate needs fixed.  Good news!  We could go to California without a care in the world.  She would work like a charm.

So we got her home, opened her up.   OMG!!!!!! She was full of ants!!!!!!  Ants everywhere!!!!!!!  ANTS, ANTS, ANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It feels like deja vu.

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

I’m back to hysteria again.