Saturday, December 11, 2010
Amazingly, that very morning, Dec. 1st, my best friend Barb had called and said she was going to send me a ticket to visit her in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She said I could leave the very next day, but I told her to wait until Dec. 3rd so I could tie up some loose ends. So I spent that morning packing my suitcase, then started to walk to school to pick U'i up. That is when the landlady called and said we needed to move out that day!
I thought she meant my own apartment next door which had been vacated the week before and I reminded her I had already turned in the keys. She told me no, the one rented was the one that we were all living in! Ok, inside I was panicking as Rachel was at work and how the heck was I going to get us moved out that day, Rachel had LOTS of stuff left in her apartment.
I continued my walk up to the school and Rachel called. I asked if the landlady had called her too. Rachel hadn't heard from her, but she had good news. Before telling her the news I had, I wanted to hear her news. The good news was that there was real progress on the house we are moving to on the Big Island. More than likely it would close escrow before Christmas! WOOHOO. Then I told Rach about the call from the landlady.
Rachel said she would take off work and be right home! Then the landlady called back. This all took place on a half block walk to get U'i from school. The landlady said that she had talked to the new renter and we could have until Friday morning at 8am to vacate. This was good news. It was currently 1:20pm on Wednesday. There was no way we would have been able to get out THAT day!
So the scramble, we packed, we cleaned, we didn't sleep and we were out of Rachel's apartment by 8am Friday. Rachel and U'i moved in with my sister, where they will stay until the house is done. I got on a plane on Friday and am in Las Cruces, New Mexico until Jan. 1st. I will go from here to Colorado Springs that day and stay until who knows when so I can see my ready- to- be- born -any- day -grandchild and my son Jeremy, his wife Hannah, my grandson Micah.
Meanwhile, my parents who have been wintering in California are going to leave CA on Jan.3rd so they can see me in Colorado and my son Jason is going to try to make it there from Kentucky. I have a cousin and her new husband from Indiana who are going to go skiing while I am there so it will be a mini family reunion.
Not sure when I'm going back to Hawaii, but HOPEFULLY Rachel will be all moved into the new house and the next chapter in my life will begin. The chapter where I have to get a job after not working for 12 years! That should be interesting...stay tuned.....
Monday, November 29, 2010
David and Zeus shared a common love....cheese...of any variety. Early in our marriage David got in the habit of wanting something to eat after we made love. First it was cookies and milk but later on it became crackers and cheese. Lucky Zeus, he would get a little piece of cheese whenever David had some.
One night after a very pleasant lovemaking session, I could not figure out why Zeus was sitting at the foot of our bed....talking....and then talking LOUDER. He would not stop making noise. Then David and I realized that Zeus was asking for CHEESE. Sadly that night we did not have any cheese and crackers.
I can assure you that for the remaining years of our marriage, there was always cheese and crackers around. Zeus was happy and David and I began to ask each other if we felt like having some cheese and crackers....heeheee.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
This kid always amazes me. She had no one showing her to do these things, but obviously she had been thinking about it. U'i is a deep kid, we always have thought she was 7 going on 57, just an old soul. She would not let us read her speech at that time, so we had no idea what she was going to say. I wasn't worried though, I knew it would be special.
My sister came by and Rachel gave Beck and U'i a "secret" task. I had to leave the house so they could discuss this task and only allowed to come back after Beck and U'i had left the premises.
A couple hours later it was time to head out. The memorial was at David's favorite beach, Ala Moana, specifically in an area called Magic Island. David liked going to this area because the park here has sidewalks throughout and it was easy for him to navigate in his wheelchair. The setting is beautiful, and there always some people fishing off the shore, others enjoying a picnic, kids and adults throwing frisbies or walking their dogs, skateboarders, bikers, joggers, kite fliers, just people out enjoying this paradise of Hawaii.
David came out here often even though we live on the other side of the island. He would catch the handivan and spend the day here. Talking to strangers and I discovered later, he also ran into friends many times on his ventures. He didn't always go alone, this is one of our favorite beaches too and we often spent the day here with him. But for lone trips, this was David's favorite hangout.
On the way to the beach, we stopped to get my sister and U'i. They had finished their secret project and proudly showed it to me. They had gone to Walgreens with a flash drive filled with pictures and had made the most wonderful memory book of David. I cry just thinking about it. They had made several copies for other members of the family not able to join us for this memorial AND a bunch of single sheets of pictures and a journal entry that U'i had written and the Army newsletter bio of David. These single sheets were to be handed out when U'i had guests sign in on her sign in sheet.
After the last guest came, U'i took over. Informed us that it was time to gather in a circle. By this time our friend Bun and her husband had provided plastic chairs from her work for us all to sit under the shady tree. My sister Beck led in a prayer of thanksgiving for David's life and to bless the food we would eat.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Why couldn't he have died somewhere else? In his bed, on the floor... Even on the toilet. He'd been in that chair for so many years, and others like it for over 50 years, reminding him of his inability to use his legs. That fucking chair.
Those were my first thoughts about Da that i had when my mom called me to tell me he died. Now my mother is asking me to say something at his memorial that i can't be there for.
What can i say?
I loved him so much. i LOVE him still. I love him to the point that i gave my daughter his last name instead of my own so that his name would carry on because he never had any children of his own.
I am glad he died in Hawaii... in a warm place, in the place he wanted to die. With my mom.
He loved you so much you know. When i lived with you two, it was great to see how much you were loved.
I remember all the evenings Da and i would go out to the barbeque grills at the Grove and cook. Those were the times where i wouldn't have to hear about cars and gearhead stuff. We would just talk about you, or Maya, or Rachel and U'i or whatever else was important. Those were the times where he and i really connected. Talking about the females in our lives... and how much we loved them.
I know this is hard on you Ma, i am crying as i write it, but you have been an amazing person concerning your life choices and your dedication to all those disabled people you have helped to have a better life. You even married one. Da loved you immensely and you could always see it in his face and hear it in his voice. And i love you as well... i couldn't ask for a better mother.
Going through his computer, thousands of pictures of cars, mostly older cars, he called himself a gearhead, cars were his passion. No wonder his computer ran so slow, with all those car pictures on it. His email buddies were always sending him pictures, of their roadsters, of races they had been in, pictures of their first cars, cars shows they attended........ pictures of pictures they collected...pictures of parts of cars, why these interested him, I have no idea, I could not name half of what they were. That was just on the computer.....
Boxes we had in the closet, old car magazines. Not too many of these left, we had sold most of his extensive collection on ebay in years past. These sales had helped pay our bills. A small box of 8 x 10 black and white pictures, maybe 200 in total, but original pictures of famous race cars. I had talked David out of selling these, I knew he had this particular collection since he was 14. His best friend's father had been an illustrator for car magazines, doing "centerfolds" of famous cars of the 40's and 50's. These photos were the photos he used to draw his illustrations for magazines like Car and Driver, Rod and Custom, etc. Some of them even had the magazine name stamped on the back. They are pictures of not just the outside of the car, but also the underside, the engine, etc. Views that car nuts love, but which look pretty useless to the rest of us. Back when we were selling off other parts of his car stuff collections I had suggested he scan these photos and sell prints of them. So he could keep these originals. So...I've got that box and one of these days I will sell them. I know they are worth some money, we made a few bucks off the prints and people were always asking if they could buy our originals. So, that is a project I will set out on, I know some gearheads are going to be very happy. Maybe they will cherish these things, call them "Dave's car stuff".
Another of his passions was radio stuff. Walkie talkie, cb, ham radio, other stuff I don't know. I have things he bought and I have no idea what they are, how much they are worth, but I will sell them too. A model ship he hadn't built yet, still in the box. He was waiting to have enough money to buy a radio controlled motor for it. So, I'll be selling that. Its a model not made any more, that company only sells radio controlled car stuff now, no more boats.
Jewelry he had. Cufflinks from when he had to wear 3 piece suits to work, along with the tie tacks. Most of those had been sold in years past, but I found a box with what must have been some favorites. He had some rings, one with pot leaves on it. Looks like gold to me. Some old watches, some still run, these are the windup ones, the quartz ones probably still run too, just need batteries. Some I will sell, some I will give to my kids and the grandkids.
All the furniture is gone, the hospital bed, the hoyer lift, the hospital bedside table, the shower chair, the manual chair, the special desk with legs that were adjustable so his wheelchair could fit under. The reachers, the blood pressure cuff..all of it donated. My mom wanted me to sell this stuff, but it felt like blood money to me.
David would have wanted someone in need to get this stuff. We knew how hard it was for someone on a fixed income to come up with the co-pays for this stuff, or to have to buy it outright. There are needy people out there and I know we would have appreciated having this stuff donated to us when we struggled to find the money for things he NEEDED. Not wanted, but NEEDED. So all of that stuff I donated.
The home health nurse who came over with a big truck said her patients would be so grateful. They could not afford the co-pay of $2000 to get a $10,000 power wheelchair or have the money to shell out for a hoyer lift or a hospital bed. All stuff David had to have and we paid for out of our pockets. Maybe the guy getting the power wheelchair will call it "Dave's chair". I know he will be happy to have it, it will mean new freedom to him, a bit of independence for someone who cannot manually wheel himself around anymore, who has to be pushed everywhere. I remember when David got his first power chair, how he felt independent, how he could go to the store on his own. How he "picked up" our grand daughter from school. Things he could not do in his manual chair any more. Some other person will get that manual chair that we hung onto just in case we went somewhere that a power wheelchair could not get into, someplace not in ADA compliance. Even a manual wheelchair costs a couple of grand. The cushion on his power chair was special, made of gel so he wouldn't get pressure sores, that cushion was over $500. The home health nurse was so grateful for that, said she has a man who really needs that cushion. All of it, she thanked me and thanked me. We both cried. She tried to give me a little money but I didn't want it, I knew David was seeing all of his things going to someone in need and he was smiling, happy to help.
Today, Sunday, we are having a memorial for him at his favorite beach. This place has sidewalks going through the park, so he could get around. We will throw leis into the surf, say goodbye. My daughter asked me if I knew what I was going to say...I don't know, it will come to me. My grand daughter, U'i, informed us that she has prepared a speech. I'm sure it will be a doozie. She has been writing about her Papa for the past two weeks. Just 7, but already so eloquent, I've cried when reading everything she has written. After the memorial....what are we left with? Just memories. My heart is sad, but I'm so fortunate to have had over 12 years with this man. I miss him so much already and cannot imagine never hearing him call out...."Sweets....." again.
Monday, November 8, 2010
"Ok, U'i why is Toy Story 3 a bad movie?" I replied. "They say swear words in it", U'i answered. Rachel and I looked at each in confusion. What kind of swear words would be in a movie rated G.
I was curious, I had to know. "U'i what swear words did they say in that movie?".
U'i whispered her answer, "They said the "a" word."
Now I was really confused...."The "A" word?".
"Yeah, they said A blank cot."
Rachel and I were still confounded...a cot.....omg....ascot!
We are still laughing. Good to know our 7 year old is protecting the world from horrible swear words!
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Love you always, Sweetie.
The following is what someone at the Army museum where David volunteered wrote....thank you, Fran:
David Baumgardner was formally designated a US Army Volunteer on February 3, 2010. His official duty was security officer. This is the first time a volunteer had been assigned the duty as a security officer. The results were outstanding, and best of all, David enjoyed doing it. Expertly cruising along in his motorized wheelchair, he was often seen patrolling the museum to keep an eye on things. He counted the weapons on display, and kept a watchful eye on anyone who he felt looked suspicious. On several occasions he had to tell kids to be mindful of where they were and to keep their voices low. He was so vigilant he was even able to hear coughing of the occasional ghost reputed to haunt the dark halls and crannies of Battery Randolph. He could reproduce that cough very well, as those of volunteers who also heard it can testify.
David was born in Los Gatos, California on December 27, 1941. As a small child in the mid 1940’s, he contracted polio which confined him to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. This did not stop him from having a full life in the workforce. After spending many years in California and Atlanta, Georgia, David retired as a Genzyme Medical manager and moved with his wife, Cat, to Hawaii to be near his grandchildren. All of us were inspired by his optimistic and humorous outlook on life, and not least, his smiling face—something which no doubt contributed to his looking much younger than 68! David was especially fond of cats. He owned many over the years, and was often regaling the other volunteers with stories about them. David passed away on October 26, 2010.
David, when we hear more unexplained coughing in the museum, we will have to wonder…
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Pulling up my bootstraps....starting over from zero....the good news is that I only have to wait 5 1/2 years to be 60 and collect his Social Security. I will get more from that than he did as I get to collect on my first husband's SS too, since we were married more than 10 years. Meanwhile, I've got that whopping $255 check for funeral expenses coming from SS.
Remembering Uncle Chuck's words...."What happens in life can make you either bitter or better." I'm going to opt for the better, gotta keep reminding myself. I did hit the "anger" stage of the grieving process today, I will admit.
Monday, November 1, 2010
I feel as though I can barely lift one foot in front of the other. The nights are the worst. It is so quiet. Too quiet. I turned off the satellite tv. I never watched it anyway, but the sound was always there at night, as David loved his tv. All those cops shows, and the car shows. History channel. Stuff I would never pick to watch. But I heard it. And he was always saying, "Sweets, did you see that?" Of course I hadn't seen whatever it was, because I was on the computer or reading a book or doing some project. But I was there in the room with him and the tv. Now it is quiet. Soooo quiet. I could put music on, but every bit of music we own, David picked out. What I have listened to is worse than the quiet. Too many memories wrapped around each song. I'm selling the tv. I didn't watch tv most of my life, didn't even own one for at least 5 years before I met David.
Meanwhile, I try to slog thru the quicksand. In the quiet. I never knew how much this hurt for other people. I've never lost someone that I saw every day. Sure, friends and relatives have died....but those were distant deaths, I didn't live close to those people, I didn't see them, smell them, hear them every day. I haven't worked for 10 years. Spent a few years on the road with David, in our motorhome, going across the US. Then he had back surgery 4 years ago. Since then I have been with him.....24/7.....365 days a year. But I wasn't there when he fell forward and couldn't get up and suffocated. I wasn't there.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Upon entering school, David faced many challenges. Wearing his braces became more trouble than they were worth. To go to the bathroom required assistance from a couple of people to remove the braces which were not just covering his legs but his lower torso. Often he would fall and getting him up entailed finding help from several people. At age 12 David chose to live the remainder of his life in a wheelchair as it actually gave him more mobility and independence than the braces. At first David's parents fought him on this decision but after conferring with his doctors, his teachers and friends, they saw the wisdom of his decision. His legs would never develop muscles, he would never be able to stand, or walk without the extensive braces, which were getting heavier with each growth spurt in order to support his weight. David moved on from being stuck in the braces, to being permanently stuck in a wheelchair.
Life in the wheelchair did not slow my husband down. He was very popular in Jr. High and High School. An excellent student, a reporter for the school newspaper, an artist, the ultimate gearhead and an all around nice guy. When the March of Dimes asked him to give a speech at his school to help raise funds for polio research, David gave such a moving speech that his small school in Los Gatos, California became famous for the amount of money raised from one student body. The kids emptied their pockets of their allowances, their lunch money and organized fundraisers. That school raised more money per capital than any other school in America.....all due to the words from the heart of a guy stuck in a wheelchair.
To be continued..............
Friday, October 29, 2010
Jason (also known as Boddhi) had a close bond with Da. That is what my kids called David...Da, sort of a cross between Dad and David. David was their step-father, my second husband. He never had any children of his own and was thrilled to have a ready made family. He was there for the births of our first two grandchildren and truly felt that he was their Papa.
Anyway, back to being stuck. David had polio as a child. He was not quite 5 when he contracted polio, it affected him from head to toe. David spent an entire year in an iron lung. He was stuck in that contraption and was only allowed to view his parents through a window. At that time polio was considered very contagious and anyone with polio was put in quarantine. The only people allowed to touch a polio victim was a nurse or doctor. They would change their clothes and scrub themselves before leaving the room. And a little 5 year old kid would just gaze at them from a machine that breathed for him. I can't even imagine the terror and loneliness that must have been for that little boy. But David survived. Eventually he was able to breathe on his own. All the therapy that he received had gone to his upper body, to enable him to breathe, to use his arms. After a year, his little legs were atrophied beyond help. He would never stand or walk on his again.
To be continued...............
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Maybe he meant for me to meet him at baggage? The Heartsfield Airport is huge, you have to get to baggage by catching a train. I got on, and made my way to baggage, picked up my two huge suitcases containing the contents of my life. Ok, this was totally crazy, I admit that. I was here in Atlanta, shutting a door on my past, to be with someone I had met over the internet and where was he? I didn't know a soul in Atlanta. I had no money to speak of, David had sent me a plane ticket. One way. What the heck HAD I BEEN THINKING? My mind racing....was he in an accident? Had he somehow changed his mind? Oh my god.......
I decided to go outside, wait near the street. Maybe I could see his van circling the airport. That new/used van he had told me about getting just YESTERDAY. I had seen the pictures of it on my computer. Dark blue, raised roof, wheelchair lift and they had outfitted it so he could drive from his wheelchair, without having to transfer to a driver's seat. I sat outside....looking, looking. Trying to breathe slowly, not panic. It was past two hours since I landed....suddenly I looked up. There he was! A huge smile on that beautiful face....a bouqet of yellow roses in his hands.....those incredible brown eyes with a twinkle in them, his wheelchair racing towards me. His apologies, explanations....how he had been trapped in the lockdown for the wheelchair in that new van...somehow they had wired it incorrectly and the manual release was something he could not reach. How finally he had been able to stop some old man walking to his car in the handicapped parking area. How he had arrived almost two hours early, had been trapped in that van for 4 hours, trying to find a way to get out. Worried sick about me getting off the plane and not finding him there.
Hugs, kisses, caressing each other's faces.......we had fallen in love in a chat room, on the phone, in our snail mail and email, we had waited, planned for 8 months...and at last......
The face to go with that incredible radio announcer voice. At last. I've never looked back,.... we were meant for each other and have been together for these past 12 years.....today I go to the mortuary to make arrangements for his cremation.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
1. Hollows Eve is when the kids come out and the vampiors.
2. Hollows Eve is inpotent. The Hollows are swaying in the wind.
3. The ravans are cawing and so are the crows.
4. HOLLOWS EVE!
Chamber of Love
He's sitting arownd doing nothing and I asked baby is there something rong? with you
He ses no, I say back to him are you in the Chamber of love? with someone else
he ses no, no I am not
I say to him do you know even know what is the Chamber of love?
And he ses no.
I say back to him well it is a prosses.
First you have to go meet someone then go on a date affter that you go though the Chamber of love then you merry! And it will be a hapily ever affter. And that is the Chamber of love.
Chamber, chamber, chamber baby, chamber of love!
Just like I am in the Chamber of love with you and your in the chamber of love with me! And he says if your in the chamber of love like us were going to get merred? And I said yes! And were never going to get devorsed are we? And he says no. Chamber of love, chamber of love, chamber of love!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
One family tradition (I can call it a tradition if I want to) was that every time my dad had any time off from work, we would pack up the car and off we would go. Now, there were five kids and one of the cool things my parents always did, was that any trip we took, one of us kids would get to bring a friend along. We took turns doing this, and between your last turn and your next turn, it was so much fun deciding which lucky friend would get to go along.
These trips were not just your average ride to a park. We would go camping and fishing and visiting some New place. My parents are both gypsies at heart and thanks to all our many, many trips, the five of us kids are gypsies too. We always had a station wagon and we would pack it up and take off. First we had tents but later we upgraded to having a pop-up tent camper that we towed along. Much later we upgraded to a motorhome. My parents got to sleep in the motorhome and we kids would set up our tents.
I realize now how fortunate I am that my parents loved traveling. As a kid, living in Italy, I saw most of Europe, except the countries behind the Iron Curtain. My dad's military clearance prevented him and our family from going in those areas. We went to castles, museums, parks, art galleries, and on and on. If you watch a movie showing some scene in Europe, whether it is Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, etc, etc. I've probably been there and seen that in person. I've been the Vactican, seen the Statue of David, rode a gondola thru King Leopold's Blue Grotto in his Palace, seen the Louvre, strolled the sands of beaches in Spain, toured the camps in Dachau, hiked in the Alps in Switzerland, skiied on Zuitspikke in Bavaria, and countless other trips. Upon returning to America, we spent my dad's time off camping in nearly every national park, state park, county park and even private parks and we visited all of the lower 48 states. I've now seen every state except Alaska and visited several foreign countries including traveling extensively in both Canada and Mexico. I am soooo lucky.
We kids were good travelers. We knew that my dad would pull over on the side of the road and we would get it (more threats than actual spankings but enough spankings to make us fear the threat) so we rarely fought. Instead we played games. One of our favorite games was something we made up that we called Forfeit.
Now, I know this game is alot like other games, but we kids thought it our own personal invention. The person who is IT, gets to think of a question. Any real question, and whoever is picked to answer the question must do so within 2 minutes (dutifully timed). If they fail to answer or have the wrong answer, they have a Forfeit.
The IT person picks the Forfeit. It can be anything as long as someone doesn't get hurt. Forfeit earned me my first tongue kiss, with my brother Steve's best friend Jay. Forfeit earned my brother John a toe licked clean by my littlest sister Jeanette. Forfeit earned my sister Rebecca many games that she was required to play without quitting. Rebecca was never one to want to play a game for very long, so she would usually quit just when we were most involved. Forfeit earned my Brother Steve many hours of being someone's personal slave. Forfeiet earned my friend Patty the pleasure of being tickled half out of her mind. Forfeit earned us all many fart smellings, snacks being given to others, homework help, chores being turned over to someone else, and a really good use of our imaginations to find the perfect devious Forfeit. I can't even recall how many times we played this game, but I remember hours and hours of car travel time melting away as we wracked our brains for questions and consequences. The hardest part of the game was to become the person who was IT. This was accomplished only by being able to answer a question correctly. We had to actually draw cards, high card wins to be the one who was IT first. Sometimes one person was IT for hours so later we had to institute a new rule that you could only be IT for a total of 5 questions, then IT would be the person who had picked the next highest card.
I can remember clearly the Forfeits, but I can hardly recall the questions. I know sometimes they were ridiculous, like how could I know what my brother John's fifth period teacher's name was? Or what an oscilliscope was for? Or who my sister Jeanette had punched in the arm at recess last week? We did learn many interesting facts that later came in handy when playing Trivial pursuit, so that was a great bonus to Forfeit. PLUS all the gossipy things, like who was the first girl my brother Steve had mooned, or how much Rebecca's friend Andrea's father made, or who had dared my sister Jeanette to eat ants (which she DID!).
One memorable Forfeit game ended up actually giving our family a new tradition. It was near winter time. We lived in Colorado at the time and we were on the way home from visiting my Grandmother who lived in New York. My parents often let us miss school for up to two weeks at a time for our family trips. We had to take along our school work and a favorite Forfeit was having someone do your homework for you.
This was one of those trips, not an actual school break, but a break for us. I think it was at the end of October or the beginning of November. We were nearly home and it began to snow as we were playing our Forfeit game. My brother John was IT. He asked some question, I don't remember what it was. This was a GROUP question, a refinement to our game where the whole group was asked something and if no one could answer the whole group got the Forfeit. Sure enough, none of us could answer whatever question John threw out there. We awaited our Forfeit with dread, hoping we would not have to sniff his armpit or spit shine his shoes or have to re-cover his school books with brown paper bags, or clean his room.
John was inspired by the snowfall. He declared that upon arriving at home, we would have to take off our socks and shoes and run to the top of the hill in our back yard. BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW! The yard was about 1/2 acre and we had to run to the top of the hill and back down in that snow.
We loved it! It became a family tradition for us kids to do that on the first snowfall every year. When my parents went back to Europe after I got married, I rented the house from them. My own children carried on the BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW tradition! They also learned to play Forfeit.
The last time all 5 of us kids were together at my parent's house, it was Christmas time. We 5 and my 3 kids and my brother John's daughter and my brother Steve's son all ran up the hill BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW. We also played a few rounds of Forfeit! I'm ready to teach my grandkids our crazy Forfeit game and I can't wait for the next family reunion at my parent's house so we can go BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW!
Friday, August 6, 2010
So, here goes, a few memories of my own. Will add other installments when I have some free time.
Cooking.....my Grandmother was a great cook. She loved to make all of our favorite goodies whenever we would visit her, which was not often enough. Gram lived in a tiny little house that my Grandfather built, right on the banks of the Delaware River. That tiny house had an even tinier kitchen, and Gram had ALOT of stuff in there. When we would come to see her, the top of the refrigerator would be PILED up with all kinds of baked goodies. My dad's favorite red velvet cake, my mom's favorite cheesecake, my favorite Boston cream pie, my two brothers' favorite desserts and my two sisters' favorites too. The refrigerator itself was stuffed with so much food, all of it yummy and things my own Mom never made for us. Don't get me wrong, my mother is a great cook, but GRAM, she was in a class all by herself. Everything was homemade, everything was a work of art and Gram always remembered what each of us liked. I think she must have taken notes or something, because we could count on what we loved being there when we came to visit. We never lived near Gram, always at least a couple of states away, and sometimes years would go by between visits but when we came, she was ready for us.
One year, my parents, my 3 kids and I went to see Gram. We were on a road trip from Colorado to New York state in an rv. Now, this itself might sound like a nightmare, 3 generations in a tiny motorhome going across country, but it was actually wonderful and one of my fondest memories. My kids were 10, 11 and 12 years old. It was not the first time they had ever been to my Gram's house, but they had gone as little children on the previous visits so this was probably the first time they actually were aware of how tiny Gram's house was. Sure enough, when we arrived, there was all that FOOD.
Two days after our arrival was the small town of Narrowsburg, New York's annual 4th of July carnival, parade and festivities. This holiday is the biggest one of the year for my Gram's tiny town. There were bake sales and picnics to attend and participate in, so we got busy making even MORE FOOD. My Grandmother's kitchen began to feel even smaller. I think it was probably the size of your average bathroom. I'm not kidding. There was the kitchen sink, with about enough counter space on one side to hold a dish rack for drying dishes, then the refrigerator, a corner, then a doorway leading to the hallway, on the other side of the doorway was a tiny, tiny stand alone counter/cupboard and Gram's little stove, the apartment size kind not a big stove. Then a corner and along the wall across from the sink was a little tiny table. Usually only two people could sit at this table, and you had to pull it away from the corner to even have two people sit. Then from that corner was the door to the screen porch/mudroom and the back door. When people were sitting at the table if someone walked from the back door to the hallway doorway, you either got a butt shoved up against the sink and refrigerator and the front of you smashed against the back of someone's chair or whoever was at the table had to stand up and move out of the kitchen to let you pass. Gram kept all her dishes and appliances in the screen porch or down in the cellar because the kitchen didn't have any room. The little counter near the stove was moveable, but generally didn't move. It was full of Gram's various vitamins, pills and spices. There was no room to really hold anything else, except maybe the toaster or blender when in use. The rest of the time those appliances where kept in the screen porch. So, if you have a picture in your mind of this tiny space, you can maybe appreciate what a feat it was to even cook in that kitchen, let alone make such wonderful creations. Add to this, my Gram was not a little person. Well, she was little, as in short, but she was probably as wide as she was tall. For some reason, whenever anyone came over, they always sat in her kitchen at that tiny table. Sometimes with even 4 people, which meant you really could not move unless everyone stood up and the drop leaf was dropped, and the chairs were moved. Why all the adults hung out there instead of Gram's huge living room with windows that looked out on the river and nice chairs and couches with room to stretch is beyond my imagination.
Ok, back to making all this FOOD. Two days after the 4th of July we were due to proceed on our RV trip up to Niagra Falls and across Canada and back to Colorado. We had been to several picnics and family gatherings and of course the annual 4th of July Carnival. Each place we went to, we brought food, and we also ate food, and for some reason we seemed to bring food back with us to Gram's. But one thing we had not gotten to eat was Gram's famous cheesecake. Gram had made a couple, took one to the bake sale that raised funds for the volunteer Fire Department and the other one went with us to Aunt June and Uncle Sal's house for a huge feast. By the time we got to the dessert table, there was not a crumb left of Gram's cheesecake. This was just not cool. Gram told us she would make one for our trip. She sent Aunt June and me out in search of some cream cheese, as Gram only had one block left and her cheesecake requires two packages of philadelphia cream cheese. Gram had all the other ingredients. So Aunt June and I went to the local store. The day after 4th of July, there was no cream cheese left, and there would not be more for a few days when the next shipment of groceries came in. We hit every store in town (2, this a tiny town) and had to proceed to the next town in our search for cream cheese. Well, after traveling 30 MILES from Gram's house, we finally found some cream cheese. Aunt June was only going to buy one package but I suggested she go ahead and get two, who knew when there would be more cream cheese since there seemed to be such a huge shortage. After all, Aunt June and I had probably hit 6 or more stores by this time.
We headed back to Gram's with cream cheese in hand and Gram proceeded to show me how she makes her famous cheese cake. She mixes half of each ingredient in her blender, pours it into the spring form pan and then mixes the other half and adds it to the first half. This is because your average blender can't accomodate all of the ingredients at once. I got the honors. Gram and my parents and Aunt June sat at the tiny table, and I climbed over and around everyone and filled the blender. Gram reached over and turned it on. I hadn't tightened the bottom correctly. Cheese cake stuff flew all over the room. All over the people, all over that tiny counter with the pills and vitamins and all down the side of the stove. I was laughing so hard I couldn't turn the blender off. Gram was swearing like a sailor. It tooks us hours to clean that stuff up. In fact, my mom said if Gram was still here she would probably still be finding bits of cheesecake makings. Gram was determined to still make our cheesecake. By this time it was late at night and we were going to leave the next day, so we weren't going to taste that cheesecake until we were actually on the road. Gram was glad that we had opted to buy an extra cream cheese, as she needed it. Gram whipped up her two blenders full of stuff, baked the cheesecake, and somehow cramed it into the refrigerator. I think by the time we set off the next day, she was probably glad to get us out of her hair. At least it seemed that way.
At lunch time we pulled over on the side of the road, to eat some of the great stuff Gram had sent with us, potato salad, macaroni salad, all kinds of stuff. Finally it was time to eat that cheese cake. My mom and I each took a forkfull. I can't remember if we actually spit it out or what, but I do remember it was AWFUL. I still don't know what ingredient Gram left out. I think it was only left out in one of the two batches. Probably sugar, I really don't know, I just know that was her worst cheesecake ever. My mom and I didn't finish our pieces, but my dad and my kids ate every bit of what Gram had made. They seemed not to notice the missing ingredient. We never told Gram.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Maybe after a certain age, most people start thinking this way, but for myself, this is a first. I'm not sure why I never thought this way, I've been around death, people dying and even faced close encounters with death. I've thought often about other people dying...my parents, my son, various relatives, even some of my friends. My own death has not registered with me until now.
I even went so far as to tell David that if something should happen to me, I want a do not resusitate order. I don't want to be hooked up to machines and drain my life and a ton of money away. I just want to die when it is time, don't prolong it. I'm ready. I know where I'm going after this life. I know my family, my friends all have been told that I love them, that I appreciate them. I do need to clean the closets, I don't want anyone else to have to go through that crap, but all in all, I'm ready. I won't be leaving much behind, just some memories, I've got nothing material to leave.
All this thinking about death has made me wonder if I will be missed, if I ever touched anyone to make a lasting imprint.
I've also thought about people like Grandma Moses. She was much older than I am when she found her niche. My own Great Grandma learned to crotchet when she was 80, for the next 16 years she crotched like a possessed person. We all have afghans, pillow cases, toilet paper roll covers, etc, made by my Great Grandma. I think of her every time I see those things she made.
I have other things people made for me that cause me to think of them. Objects my children made. Gifts friends made. Pictures. Even sayings, phrases that stick with me, that made a difference. Some songs, some poems, some books and some stories that people I know wrote or sang or shared with me.
Today I heard from someone that sat behind me in grade school. His name is Herb. He found me on facebook and wrote to me. It was strange because last week I found a drawing he had given me, I think it was in 5th grade, though I first met him in 3rd grade. This drawing was a caricature of me. If my friends saw it today, they would still know it is me. It shows my big smile, the one I hate because my gums show and my teeth look big and my eyes are so crinkled up that you can barely see them. That is my real smile, the one I make when I am laughing out loud, the one I make when I'm not thinking about anyone looking.
Anyway, back to Herb, he wrote me today and this is how he titled his post
.....I'm not pulling your hair anymore.....
I didn't even have to see the name, I knew who wrote that! Herb went on to write that he had been on an online reunion with some people from Jefferson Elementary School. He had written a contribution about me! He then cut and pasted his contribution and sent it to me. It told how this girl, Kathy, sat in front of him and how I had long blonde hair that draped all over his desk. This is true, as my hair was long enough to sit on. I used to comb it all around my head and put little wire rimmed glasses on and I looked just like Cousin It from the Adams family!
Back to Herb. He reiterated how he used to pull one strand of hair out of my head at a time, trying to get my attention. Apparently my hair just fell out and the only time he could get my attention was if he pulled a handful of hair out at a time. He said that I was always nice to him, even when he was being a pest.
Little does Herb know, I had a crush on him. He was kind of a "bad" boy. The kind of kid who grew up to be a biker. The kind of kid who wore his hair long even when we had a dress code. Who never seemed to have his shirt tucked in, even when the dress code said that boys were not allowed to show the tails of their shirts. I do know he was (and still is) one of the smartest, most talented people I ever met. I have thought of him often over the years, wondering what happened to him.
I remember one time Herb made this little shrunken head, I think from an apple. It was adorned with hair that he pulled out of my head! It looked realistic, like an actual shrunken head!
I also recall the time that I went up to the front of the class to give a speech. The entire class was laughing at me. I had no idea why, as I hadn't even started to talk. Someone pointed to an area behind me. I turned around and saw that Herb had tied several strands of my hair end to end, and attached it to my head, and on the very end was a ball of maybe silly putty or maybe chewing gum or something like that. When I was walking that little ball was bouncing along behind me. It was funny, I even was able to laugh about it at the time.
I'm glad that Herb wrote to me today, I think that email might just have been my highlight of the week!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I've recently re-opened my ebay store after a two year hiatus. I have a ton of stuff to sell and am going to be listing stuff daily. If you want to check it out, remember it is in the construction stage. http://stores.ebay.com/808-deals YAYE!
News on the homefront: Boddhi turned 35 on Monday, May 3! My baby boy. He is living in Convington, KY and his daughter Maya will be joining him on May 20 for at least the summer if not permanently. YAYE!
Jeremy and Hannah and Micah will be arriving in Hawaii on May 25th for a month long stay. YAYE! Can't wait to see number 1 son and wife and only (so far) grandson! YAYE!
Rachel is doing well, but looking for another job. If you are interested in hiring her she has an MBA. Meanwhile, she goes to work every day at a job site that she hates. I feel for her but am glad that at least she HAS a job as her employer just laid off hundreds if not thousands of people. She was lucky not to be included in that number. YAYE!
U'iLani, the grand daughter who lives next door, will turn 7 on the 7th of this month! YAYE! Where has the time gone, she is growing way TOO fast! Heck she is almost as tall as I am already. As always she continues to amaze us with her many talents. She is a blue belt in Karate now, she did miss a huge karate meet on Sunday due to puking her guts out all Saturday night. That was a disappointment for her as it was to be her debut in team kata, which was the debut of her dojo's first team also. So sad she missed that as she worked so hard for that event. Oh, well, there is always next time. Meanwhile, she is still excelling in school, now reading at 5th grade level in the first grade! YAYE!!!
David...the hubby...is doing well. He now volunteers 3 days a week at the army museum here in Honolulu at Fort DeRussey. YAYE! He is meeting tons of old farts who are now on his emailing list and all of them are busy sending out jokes to each other. Actually this new outlet has been a literal life saver for David, it is the first time in years that he has not been wallowing in depression, but has a new lease on life. DOUBLE YAYE!! I'm so happy that he is doing this. Who would have thought that someone in a wheelchair, with multiple health problems could be volunteer security to a museum! YAYE. Fun to hear him come home and tell us how he met Colonel so and so or General so and so and now they are on his email list! Plus all the tourist visitors he has met from all over the world. Several have sent him police and firemen patches and other memorabilia after finding out that he collects these things. Very cool. YAYE!!!
Now, about me. I've been paddling with the outrigger canoe club. Usually 2 or 3 times a week. It is way fun. But hard! I'm sore...but happy. Meeting new friends and getting out on the water. YAYE! I've also been discovering old friends thru facebook! Even finding family members that I had lost track of! YAYE. Last week when Uncle Chuck passed away, my mom found 2 cousins that she had not talked to in over 50 years. I talked to friends I had not talked to in 20+ years. Yesterday I found 2 other cousins that our family had lost track of over the years. These two cousins didn't even know about the 5 kids my parents had, they only knew that somewhere they had an Uncle Jack they had never met. I am actually the only one in the family who had ever met these two, I saw them once when I was 15 and they were 5 and 2. Anyway, due to facebook and the internet, our family is slowly getting reconnected. YAYE!!!
Today, I talked to an ebay blogger friend that I've "known" for over 3 years. This was our first phone conversation. YAYE! The fact that we had never talked was my fault, she gave me her number years ago. I've just never been one to like talking on the phone. This past year I've changed that. I decided that I should overcome my phone phobia and TALK to people, get that real connection..if not in person, at least over the phone. It was cool to hear her voice. To hear her kids in the background. To feel connected even more than I have. YAYE!
Ok, the bedpan is ready to be emptied and I have actually had time to blog. YAYE!!!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Last week he got a special coupon from the Gerentology Center for wheelchair repairs. This is enabling him to get new batteries, tires and arm rests for his chair which would have cost us about $1200 and we are getting this FREE.
Some of you may know Shartey / Nigel (from ebay blogs) and may remember her writing about praying a certain kind of prayer. I started doing this, though I still haven't read that book that tells about it, but essentially the prayer is for the Lord's blessings. I don't pray specific things anymore, just for HIS blessings and I thank Him for blessings He has already given. I have no idea if I am doing this the right way, but ever since I have been doing this, things have been happening. I know that these free services are directly because of those prayers. I know that the Lord will continue to pour His blessings upon my family and that our needs will be met. Anyway, I'm excited to see what comes next and how the Lord will choose to bless us!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Beautiful sunny day here in Hawaii. We are waiting for a possible tsunami in the next half hour to hour, but lasting for several hours after the first waves arrive.
The sirens have been going off since 6am, first every hour, then every half hour, now every 15 minutes. We are not in an evacuation zone so we are just sitting tight at our house. But it is weird. We live on a busy highway, but just 35 minutes ago all major roads were shut down to any traffic except emergency vehicles. So it is quiet until the sirens wail again.
How did we prepare when the first sirens went off? We immediately started baking. And doing laundry. Filling the bathtub after each of us got a hot shower. Loss of electricity on these islands is major, sometimes not getting turned back on for months. We don't know if we will have any electricity soon. They even shut down the waste water stations. Those have been known to be hit and badly. Good thing all our laundry is done. Phones are charged up, and the wheelchair is charged. Gas stations ran out of gas, and stores just closed after having unbelievable lines, selling everything from toilet paper to rice. This happens every time there is an impending disaster here. Luckily our gas tank was filled just yesterday and we have plenty of non-perishable foods.
My sister came over because she lives alone, my daughter and grand daughter live next door and I'm getting ready to go over there and play games. We do this when we have disasters. Families draw close. On our news they are showing entire neighbor hoods gathered at high ground, having what looks like a tail gate party, the grills are going, everyone is sitting on their beach chairs. All the beaches are closed, the police will not let anyone get near the water. Its like a party, but with stress, since we have seen disasters here in paradise and they aren't pretty. Hurricane Iniki wiped out the island of Kauai, there was not a single tree with leaves left on it after winds of 270 mph. There was no electricity on that island for 3 months, there was no regular phone service for longer than that. You could not buy batteries or flashlights ANYWHERE in Hawaii for months and months. So we prepare. It might come to naught, but we are ready. Our prayers are sent up and now we will play some games and try to relax. Catch you on the flip side, and our hope is that we are not water logged in the next few hours.
Hugs, and waves ~~~~~~~~~~~~ from Hawaii,
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
This morning's activities caused me to reflect on the many people who have been an inspiration in my life. It made me realize that even little things we do can be the "touch" some other person needs, that even small gestures can be life changing for someone else.
Barb, I can't even begin to say what you have meant in my life. I love you and I am so happy that I can truly say that I have a bestest friend. You've been with me through thick and thin since 1986, when we met. You and I are like spam and musibi, like popcorn and arare, and da kine....you know what I mean. Luv you more than I can ever say and thank you for EVERYTHING. I can't wait til we see each other again. I miss you so very much.
I want to thank Judy for writing, for posting beautiful pictures, for jogging my memory of days gone by and to remember to cherish and live in the now. She probably has no idea that her blog has done this for me, first on the ebay blogs, then in blogspot and now on facebook. She is a woman that inspires me to do MORE, to work harder and to play with abandon.
Reading Judy's blogs let me know where my friend Joe disappeared to! I met Joe on the ebay blogs too. He was there for me during one of my darkest periods. He would write wonderful blogs, exposing evil, espousing good and making me laugh. He was there PERSONALLY for me, not just for everyone else on the blogs. He would email me and send me packages. I have all the gifts he gave me still, except the edible ones. He encouraged me to believe that things would get better, that God was in control. Thank you Joe. I know I haven't written to you, and that though we don't email, or blog, and it has been awhile since we were in touch, still, I think of you every day. I have postcards and things you sent me right in front of my desk, and every time I see them, I think about how you touched my life. I wonder how you are and how your M is and I miss you.
Thank you Chris, another blog buddy. I feel like I have known you my whole life. I cherish the prayers you send up for me and my family. I look forward to your emails and I love talking to you on the phone. You make me laugh, you make me cry, and I am so honored to have "met" you and that you have shared not just your joys with me but your sorrows. Thank you, Chris.
Thank you, Cindy. I'm so glad you found me on facebook. We hadn't talked to each other in 25 years. I don't know why we lost touch after I moved away, but shame on me. I am so grateful for all the fun we had together. I'm so grateful that my first garden was due to you. I can't wait to call you and just hear your beautiful voice again. I am still in awe that you named your daughter after me. I had no idea.
Thank you Mary. You are another person I lost touch with. I was amazed when I found YOUR daughter on facebook. Now I have your phone number and I will be calling you today, too. How strange to see your daughter, all grown up. It seems like just yesterday that she was a tiny baby and that our kids were so small. I can't wait to hear that infectious laugh.
That brings me to my kids, my siblings and my parents. All of you have made life worth living, have brought me so much joy and love. I look at each of you and am amazed at what wonderful kids, brothers and sisters, and parents I have been blessed with. Thank you, thank you.
Thank you, Mal. I need to reconnect with you too, my nekkid chicken soul sister. I think of you every day too. When I dry my hands on that lovely pink kitchen towel that you crocheted with your own lovely hands, I think of you. I think of you when I feed my free range chickens. Every time I see or hear the word cancer, I think of you and your friend Jo, and I miss you so much. I thank you for all those lovely blogs you wrote just for ME and I can't wait to someday hear the end of the story. I love you.
Jodi, you know I love you. I'll be talking to you soon. You ROCK and you are just the best friend a girl could ever want.
To my NEW friends, if you are reading this, you know who you are, thank you, thank you for being there, for loving me when you have never even met me in person. I love you too. I can't wait for the day that we can hug for real.
To anyone reading this, maybe you remember me writing that we should hug our loved ones, we should tell them how much we love them because we never know what tomorrow will bring. Here's a hug from me. I love you all and I'm so grateful for the inspirations you have made in my life.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
My parents celebrated their 58th Wedding Anniversary last Friday. Pretty incredible, huh? Someone asked my dad what was his secret to such a long marriage, and Dad said, "You have to get the right woman, and I've already got her and you can't have her."
Hoping there will be many more Mom and Dad. THANKS!!!