Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Soul Is Sad

One of the last of the folks that had an impact on my teen and early marriage years has passed today.  Dan Strong and his wife, Mason, were youth leaders during my last years in high school.  I moved on to being a 'grown-up' by becoming engaged on December 31, 1966.  Mason was one of the ladies at the church that sponsored the wedding shower for me.  Dan and Mr. Boyd were busy building the new church building for our church that year.  As it turned out due to delays, I would not be the first wedding in the new church. 

Dan Strong was a builder.  He was instrumental in moving the little farming town of Allen into a revival of sorts.  Hes company, Strong Built Homes, built many of the new homes in the developments that sprang in the 1960's and 1970's.  Of course he was not the only builder but he was definitely very productive.  With the growth of the little town the need for appliances and the other items needed for home building increased.  Dan and Mason opened a floor covering and decor store. 

Mean time in my life hubby and I were being sponsors of the same youth group at the new church building.  Married for 2 years, we had decided to begin trying for a child.  That proved to be more of a challenge than one would imagine.  After research, we were told having a child probably would not happen.  I had left my job at Collins Radio and was in need of a job.  Again our lives intersected with Dan and Mason.  They asked for me to come work part time at the carpet shop.

Over the course of the next two years I worked for but much more with Dan and Mason.  Always excited and energetic, Dan was a force unto himself.  He and Mason were more than employers, we became friends.  We visited their home and that of their friends, Ken and Sue.  Chili dinners and other such good times were common.  Dan and Mason began a new home and I was able to help with the decorating.  It was shortly after the completion I had to quit working for Dan and Mason.  Seems the adoption agency required the wife to be a stay at home woman. 

I know, really?  Yes, really, a church adoption agency required a woman to not work.  For the next year ++ I would baby sit for some spending money.  We were eventually in line for a placement of a child.  That is when the miracle happened.  Undergoing our exams for the adoption, I mentioned I was late with my period.  Well, a test was taken and just before Christmas a call confirmed I was going to have a baby.  We laughed and said we felt we had been expecting for about 2 years already.

Mason was, again, one of the ladies that hosted a shower, a baby gift shower, for us.  Life happened and we moved to Missouri.  Mom and Dad had their house remodeled in the late '80's.  Dan did the remodeling work.  It was the usual excellent quality.

Dan was a true craftsman.  He showed how to miter a joint once.  I never saw a joint more perfectly matched before or since.  Always a ready smile and a genuine handshake.  He loved mashed potatoes and dumplings, a kind of noodle.  Having grown up in Iowa he was not a fan of some of the southern cooking.  Dan was a good man.  May he rest in peace.   But he will probably be looking for some project to work on with his hands.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Not A Fan

"The Apprentice" is a show that I never watched an entire episode.  I am not much of a fan of reality shows probably because they are not reality at all.  "Survivor" was all the rage before I retired.  Again, I could not get interested in who beat whom.  And in that last sentence I had an ah-ha moment.  To watch someone win means someone has to lose.  I find that concept not very entertaining.

I have lost many more times than I ever won in my life.  I never made the highest grades nor ever won races.  If the Cowboys or the St. Louis Cardinals lose a game or the entire season, my life continues.  I do like those TCU Frogs but, really, "life goes on long after the thrill is gone" to quote a song.  Guess by most definitions that makes me a bonafide loser.

Yet I do not feel like a loser.  I feel like a winner.  I have a husband that allows me to love him and he returns the love.  The same can be said of our son, my sisters and so, so many friends.  By pure accident we seem to be okay in retirement.  Not rolling in the dough but far from the need to stand in the soup line.  Family and friends that allow me to love them.  Sisters that love me in spite of my grating personality.

Not a fan of name calling from a leader.  Whether the leader is a parent, teacher or president.  Not a fan of people thinking that calling a person a retard or fatty is some sort of right they have.  That is nothing more than being a mean spirited human. As a person of faith this type of attitude of name calling pretty well goes against the whole 'do to others as you would have them do to you'.

Having said all this, then it is time for me to consider for what I do cheer.  I cheer for my grandkids to play their best in a fair way.  To lose with grace, not in anger.  I cheer when a person overcomes an obstacle in their life.  I am a fan of young parents as they work with their children.  I cheer for the older person undertaking a new challenge.  I cheer when another endangered species is able to rebuild enough to no longer be endangered.  I cheer when I lose a pound. 

I keep hoping beyond hope that our President will not tweet some unhelpful comment after a tragedy.  But, no.  He has to tweet that possibly Scotland Yard is not doing a decent job.  Apparently he was never taught to say nothing if you cannot say something nice.  To follow that advice I will say Congrats on becoming grandpa again.  One more person depending on our president for leadership. 

As for that person in North Korea that seems to want to have a war, well, what's next?  Or the fact that Russia is still supporting them by purchasing coal?   Not the first time I have lived in a time of nuclear war threat.  Wonder how many will die during this current time?  I am sad we are going through this craziness once again.

I have no influence nor control over either of these leaders of nations.   So all I can do is pray for peace.  Holding onto the faith that promises,

 "For truly I say to you, if you have faith as of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you." 

May your weekend be safe.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mom's Letters and Cards

In January of 1942 my Mom, Dad, Uncle Clay and two sisters up and moved away from Texas to California.  Mom had two older brothers (Fred and Jim) with wives and families that lived in the LA area.  Dad had a sister, her husband and toddler son (Amelia, Claude and Phillip) that had farms in the Corcoran area.  These "California" families had painted California as the proverbial gold mine in wages.  The Great Depression still had a grip on rural Texas at that time.  Mom and Dad moved looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow.

With only cards and letters to stay in contact with families and friends back home, Mom wrote frequently.  Grandma Chandler held onto those cards and letters.  Recently in going through Mom's family things I uncover a stack of these writings.  I spent a day and a half reading the letters.  The voice in my head as my mind processed the words was Mom's.  Occasionally it was Daddy's voice as he sent a letter or two and scribbled a paragraph along the edges on a couple of the letters.

Mom's early writings were filled with emotions about missing her folks, friends and the Texas dirt.  As they settled into the new area they went on daytrips into the mountains with Aunt Sissy.  Mom's words were excited about the beauty of the mountains.  And the snow higher than her head!  There was the familiar teasing of Uncle Bud and Aunt Opal about their dating girls or boys Mom knew they did like.  Notes about purchases of linoleum rugs, an electric ice box even the cost of milk and bologna were scattered in the letters.  As weeks drifted on there was a change in Mom's tone.  Instead of a sense of adventure and excitement mixed with homesickness fear and anger was becoming a dominate tone.  I checked the dates on the envelopes and I was shocked.  Mom and Dad moved just 6 weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Mom had hardly mentioned the war at the beginning.  She spoke of the Jap lady that ran a grocery store.  She wrote of men back home she heard had been called up to serve.  A sub being sited in the Gulf of Mexico brought her comment that, "..looks like the war is closer to you all than us".  One of my sisters fell in the irrigation ditch but was grabbed quickly by Dad.  It was the usual chit chat of a young Mom isolated from the majority of friends and family.  Then Uncle Bud was called up for his exam.  She began writing how she hoped he failed the physical.  The day she received the letter saying Uncle Bud was going into the service she was devastated.  The letter she wrote the next day was filled with sadness, fear and fits of 'squalling', which is crying in Mom's language.

Uncle Clay was still living with Mom, Dad and my two sisters.  Mom became increasingly irritated with how Dad's brother in law, for whom both men worked as farmhands, was treating Daddy and Uncle Clay.  "Clay told Claude that he could go to h*** and take his job with him" was one line in a letter.  Daddy and Uncle Claude increasingly "had words".  Daddy had to work Sundays at times which was totally against his upbringing.  It seemed about the only thing toward the end of the letters that kept Mom going became a sort of anger.  Truth was when Mom felt emotions that she could not handle, she would get mad.  The stronger the emotion the more angry she would get.

When word came that several of Uncle Clay's friends were pulled The letters ended in August 1942.  I really do not know exactly when Mom and Dad moved back to Texas.  Their original plan was to stay a year.

This post was started back in June as I was working to finish a certain amount before a trip to be with sisters.  I have not gotten back to the letter and photo scanning project.  Possibly in the next few weeks.  My walking wings have been clipped for a bit due to irritated tendons in the knee.  Seems 71 year old with two replaced knees needs to try more that just walking to stay fit.  Guess it is a good reason to begin the scanning again.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvey Came To Visit

As a youngster there was a movie starring James Stewart and his 'imaginary' friend, a 6 ft. 3 in. rabbit.  The film's name is Harvey.  A totally different kind of Harvey has been visiting the southern parts of Texas since last Friday.  I am sure that most readers have seen the photos of the terrible flooding in Houston and the lesser suburbs in that area.  The areas of the state where the category 4 storm crossed onto land are left with considerable wind damage.

My oldest sister's BIL lives in Rockport.  He had evacuated so he is safe.  Have not heard about his property's condition.  My youngest sister's husband has a brother, nieces and other relatives in the Houston suburbs.  No water in their home but there is no way out as all the roads are under water.  Finally this afternoon the storm moved away from the Houston area.

We live about 175 miles from where the eye crossed onto land on Friday.  The storm slowed to a crawl sending the swirls of the rain filled clouds swirling across our town starting Saturday afternoon.  Our 5 inch rain gage was filled rather quickly.  Winds buffeted the walls of our building.  We remained inside, safe and secure.   I stepped to the sliding glass door to peek out just before going to bed and stepped in a puddle of water.  Once or twice before we had experienced water coming in through the sliding door some how.  At least that is what we thought.

We pulled out towels and soaked up the water.  Added dry towels in the event it continued to seep in then went to bed.  Promptly to sleep only to be awakened by the storm alarm beeping.  Hubby was up and dressed.  Actually he was waking me to say not to be frightened but firemen were on their way.  The noise was our smoke alarms.  Hubby had been up trying to get them shut off and finally gave up.  After all maybe there was a short someplace.  The firemen arrived and began checking.  They found water leaking into the fire alarm in our bedroom.

More lights turned on and sure enough our dresser had a puddle of water.  After the firemen left, more towels placed in areas.  A ladder with a bucket to catch the drip and back to bed.  A few hours later we were up and more water was seeping across the ceiling.  The wall in the bedroom now had areas the size of a half dollar up and down where there appeared to be wall studs.  The area around the smoke detector was now about 11 inch diameter.  The drip had become a stream from the detector.

It was time to move furniture and valuables away from the moisture.  So now we have Finally Sunday afternoon the rains and wind died down to just the occasional gust.  Water kept seeping into the bedroom carpet overnight on Sunday.  By Monday the ceiling was no longer dripping.  It looked like Harvey was done with the visit to our home.  We now have part of the bedroom furniture in the living area till the carpet is dry.

The corporate folks have been looking over the apartment building.  The plan is to resolve the root issue of the leaking in the walls.  Once that is resolved, the cosmetic things will be repaired.  Till then the furniture will be in slightly new locations.  This inconvenience is helping me look at further downsizing/decluttering.  

As I think about the slight inconvenience we have experienced I can only imagine the folks in Rockport.  In Houston.  In Galveston.  In Spring and all the other suburbs that are in that area.

Prayers and peace,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The 50's Party for our 50th.

The Saturday of the Big Party started with us 4 sisters at Youngest Sister's home.  Breakfast is a must to get us all going.  My camera was being contrary and would not focus past the stove where the cooking was happening.  Guess it was hungry.

 Once breakfast was eaten and kitchen put back together the steaming began.  The fifty year old wedding gown, Mom's dress she wore, my going away suit and one other outfit all required the steam treatment.  Table cloths and other types of stuff to just give everything that extra little touch.
Our Son, DIL, grandkids and Youngest Sis had worked for weeks gathering goodies and deco for the event.  And since it was a 50's party there were costumes to gather as well.

Hubby and I were responsible for picking up the cake and dropping off other items like the 50 year old dresses at the restaurant.

As Hubby and I headed out for our hotel and the cake pickup, the sky became threatening.  To complicate matters, the 'quick' way via the toll road was closed for construction.  We spent 30 minutes going a mere 10 miles.  Finally reached Elizabeth's cake and headed not to the hotel but straight to the restaurant to have the cake refrigerated.  We unloaded the cases of records, picture albums and dresses and headed to the reserved room.  That was filled with people having another party.

We had the room reserved since March for this event.  An the 'new' manager said the other people had reserved the earlier time and we were just going to have to wait to decorate.  I called Son and he said he had been told 3 times in the last week the room was empty all day.  We could decorate whenever.  Sister was already on the road by now just in front of the rain storm.  After a few discussions via phone, I explained we needed room to do work.  There were flower arrangements to be completed.  The manager said we could have the room at 5:30 and no sooner.  He did give us space in a large, empty room to leave my stuff.  He promised that area could be used for all prep and the staff would help with the move.

We unloaded all but one suitcase of stuff and headed to our hotel to dress for the event.  DIL wanted us to be surprised by the room.  We arrived back at the restaurant with the suitcase in tow.  It had the last table cloth that was needed for the cake table.  Guests were already waiting.  So I did not have time to take in the full beauty of the room before I needed to greet our guests.  Thank goodness our sweet DIL took great photos of everything so we could enjoy later.  We did get to look at the setup during the party, just wished I could have absorbed it a little more.  So here are the photos for your viewing pleasure.
Welcome table with book and cards to sign telling one story about us.

A little closer look.

The chrome chairs added to the 50's feel.  And this tray of glasses were for all to wear!

Each place setting had an old record with our photo in the center.  How cute is this!!!!  BTW Son told me this was his most favorite photo of us he had ever seen.  Love that man child.

Each table had these adorable centerpieces.  The children of friends and family got to take the cars home as well at the glasses.  Love the arrangements that looked like soda fountain drinks.

The center dress is what Mom had made for herself to wear.  Just beautiful work.  All the others were 'store bought'.

The lace table cloth and under cloth were Mom's while the runner belonged to Hubby's grandmother, then his mother and then it hung in our house for decades.  Love having the past with us on this occasion.

Yes, the original topper from 50 years earlier.  And a gardenia topiary as I carried gardenias as my bouquet.
Now for the fun 50's styles our friends and family wore to the sock hop!

Our God daughter niece and her three children.  My Mom had made the poodle skirt the great niece is wearing for her mom, our niece.  Niece sent a pic of her ready for the party and said I would not go out in public like this for anyone else.  Must really love Aunt Janice and Uncle Gene.

Our bonus grand daughter and grandson.

All our wonderful grandkids!!!!  Love, love and more love for this bunch.

Our token nerd from the '50's complete with taped glasses.  Love our youngest nephew!  The two ladies are my sweet Aunt Opal's daughters.  They were wee little girls at our wedding and always a part of our family gatherings.

My sisters and I posing with our daughters.  My sisters each had two sons and one daughter.  I now have a sweet DIL and
grand-daughter.  My life is rich in love.

The host and hostess of this bash, aka, Son and DILove.  My heart is so full.

 Now for just some random photos of the crowd and room.  If you have been a reader of this blog you may recognize some of the names from previous posts.

Long time friends visiting with Son.  These folks drove from Missouri to surprise us and they surely did!

Our Grands, again!
Son reading emails from friends telling stories about us.  Some were a little off color cause that is me.

My friend from high school.  We called ourselves Sally Sadass and Patty Pickup when we met guys while
cruising the streets in my folks 1959 turquoise Ford Galaxy 500.   Never give your real name, girls.

This is a family circle, clockwise from 9, oldest niece, Son, BIL, Oldest Grandson, Bonus Grand daughter, DILove.

Youngest to oldest Sisters thumbing a ride!

Reba Jane being silly in our lovely hats.

Some visiting time with long time friends.

Oldest Sister being the statue of liberty.  This girl turns 81 the end of August.

Four sisters AKA, Arleigh's Angels and we never did get a ride.

Youngest Sister's family.  All out for the 50's.

My baby Sissy admiring her daughter and granddaughter.  

This table had nieces, nephews sisters and great nephews sitting and laughing together!

Reba Jane snapping a photo of a wreath that has the original invitation, gloves and other things from the wedding and honeymoon.  Andy Williams album was a bonus find from Son that had our Hawaiian Wedding Song on it.  Son, DILove & Grandkids made the collage of photos from our 50 years of pictures I scanned and printed for them. 

Hubby and I thanking the folks for coming.  I basically said that making it 50 years is not done alone but with the help of every person in the room.  People that were there to rejoice in the good and care in the bad.  Friends, family and loved ones.

Twin great nephews.  Seniors at UT Austin.

By the end of the evening the rain storm was in full force.  All the stuff we had carried in would be wet and most of us soaked.  The younger ones would not let us old folks do much of anything.  They did let me take down the wedding gown and dresses then pack them.

It has been a little over a week since the party.  Hubby and I flew to Missouri to be at some close friends' 50th.  Now back home and savoring the new memories of our own celebration.  What a summer, what a 50 year ride and what a life.

Thanks for stopping by and joining the party.  Keep coming back as we work toward our next big celebration.

Peace and love
Janice & Hubby