Middle of the Night Post

It’s the middle of the night and my feet are keeping me awake, so I’m going to post just a few quick thoughts.

My Thanksgiving post was the last time I saw my nephew, Andy. I’m SO glad that we participated, and that I had the chance to be with him before he passed away! It’s a Thanksgiving that will stay in my memory.

I was able to read what I shared with you at Andy’s funeral. Every friend he had ever made attended, and friends of all his family members came, too. He was a special man, and I’m glad his friends made the time to say goodbye.

Cookies. I think I had ten types of cookies by the time I quit baking. I wish I could say the Kolacke turned out well, but some of them didn’t stay folded over. They tasted good, but should have been rolled out thinner. IF there is ever another baking season like this, I’ll make my mother’s recipe for Kolacke, instead. Her’s were the little pillows of enriched dough, with indentations for raspberry or apricot jam, sprinkled with 10X sugar. I remember them fondly, and would like to give them a try.

Dear Husband is now official! His glider pilot license came in the mail last week. His thoughts are turning toward gliding, despite the fact that we are in the middle of winter. He wants to make a trip to Florida to look at a plane that is for sale.

My “Christmas” cacti are in riotous bloom! I have two large plants in the front window that are a hot orange color, with scads of blooms in all stages, and there are two pots of starts in my bathroom window that have the lovely fuchsia color. When they finish blooming, some time in early spring, I’m going to repot them, but I can wait until the blooms are done for the year.

I organized a dinner at a Chinese restaurant for anyone in our exercise group who wished to attend. I thought perhaps 25 people would participate, and was pleased when 22 showed up. I looked out the window around 3:30 in the afternoon to see that it was SNOWING!! It has been dry and cold for days, and we were supposed to get rain later in the evening. Since a large part of our class is in their seventies or eighties, I was surprised that anyone attended at all! It will be interesting to hear what they have to say about the evening when we return to class.

Enough. Perhaps it’s time to see if I can sleep. Night, all!

I Love Winter

I love winter when the sidewalks have been shoveled and the pavement is dry. I love winter when the roads are plowed and there is no slipping or skidding of cars on the road. I love winter when I can stand inside my cozy home and look out on the new-fallen, glittery white snow. I love winter when the temperature is between 30 and 40. I love winter when there is little wind, and very little wind chill.

I really do like winter, but as I age, the danger of slipping as I walk is a much more serious matter than it used to be. I don’t drive in snow storms unless I have no option. I don’t own clothing appropriate for temperatures below 20, or for snows higher than about six inches, and I don’t really want to!

Now that we live in a subdivision with sidewalks, we have to shovel, but the driveway is quite short, and the sidewalk length is manageable if we double team it. Still, I need to find someone to do our shoveling. Dear Husband shouldn’t be lifting heavy, wet snow, and I really don’t care to do the entire job on my own.

On the bright side, winter gives me a chance to piece quilts! I can hibernate in the basement, and sew to my heart’s content. Some days I barely make it upstairs in time for meals, and it’s a darned good thing that my hubby knows how to cook!

When spring arrives, perhaps the neighbors will see me once more.

Andy

My nephew, John Andrew McGrath has passed away at 57. He had been ill for some time, and in great pain, and I believe his body was just worn out from the fight of dealing with it.

Andy will be cremated, and in a week there will be a visitation and funeral. If I can, and I’m not sure my tears will let me, I’d like to say this to those gathered:

HE’S AT PEACE. HE’S NO LONGER IN PAIN.

HE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, AND GOD SAID, “IT’S TIME. COME HOME.”

WE MAY WANT TO QUIBBLE WITH GOD ABOUT WHO NEEDS HIM MORE, BUT I THINK GOD WOULD UNDERSTAND THAT WE MISS ANDY, SORELY. BUT ANDY IS FREE OF PAIN. HOW COULD WE BEGRUDGE HIM THE SURCEASE?

I HAVE MEMORIES OF ANDY, SOME OF THEM SHARED WITH ME BY OTHERS…

OF OUR SOCIAL ANDY RUNNING DOWN ROUTE 59 IN PLAINFIELD IN A SAGGY DIAPER, HAVING ESCAPED FROM THE BACK YARD OF THE HOUSE ON BARTLETT.

OR OF HIS HALLOWEEN COSTUMES.

DID I HEAR THAT HE DRESSED AS THE EASTER BUNNY???

BUT, THE MEMORY THAT I WILL ALWAYS TREASURE IS OF HAVING WATCHED ANDY DANCE IN HIS EARLY TWENTIES.

ANDY HEARD THE BEAT. HE HEARD THE RYTHMN, THE HARMONIES, THE FORWARD MOTION CREATED BY THE COMPOSER, AND THE LYRICS.

HE HEARD IT ALL, AND HE TRANSLATED IT INTO JOYOUS MOVEMENT. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE ELSE MOVE AS ANDY DID, AND I CHOOSE TO REMEMBER THAT HAPPY MOMENT.

JOHN ANDREW MCGRATH, YOU FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
I WILL MISS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN MY HEART,

FOREVER.

Generations and Holidays

My siblings are widely spread apart in years. There’s nineteen years between my oldest and youngest sisters. My two older sisters have four generations on their family trees, while my youngest sister and I are grandmothers of fairly young children.

I tell you this because I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving, and how it has changed over the years. When we were young, even when we were newlyweds, we all gravitated home to share Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad. Those who married into our family occasionally complained that we were a tight-knit bunch and that we always wanted to be together. It meant that spouses celebrated with us when they might have occasionally wanted to celebrate with their families.

We have done the same Thanksgiving dinner for years, even when Dad arranged for us all to dine out together one year. Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Dressing and Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Broccoli Rice Casserole, Vernice Kastman rolls, and Mother’s pumpkin pie. My oldest sister makes a cranberry sauce, too.

This meal has altered a bit over time, with interesting veggies being added as one branch of the family veered toward a cruciferous diet, and another needed to go gluten-free, but the basic meal is still there. I personally am very happy that someone introduced pretzel salad to the mix! My preferred version is raspberry but one of my nieces made two of them last year, so that her stepfather could have strawberry pretzel salad.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that as you add generations to a family, it’s really difficult to keep drawing them all to one dining room. Now that both Dad and Mom have passed away, we have splintered into smaller groups. Distance and other family celebrations pull our younger ones away. I wonder if we will see a time when just the five of us, and our spouses meet for Thanksgiving, while the kids go off and do their own thing.

I truly loved hosting the family during the time when Mom lived with us. We set up three large tables, and occasionally a couple of smaller ones, and I chose to sit at the kid’s table, so I could see how they had grown over the year, and hear a new crop of jokes. We have some fierce competitors among the younger ones. If you got suckered into any of the games played after dinner, you learned early on that they took no prisoners!

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving with my oldest sister’s side of the family. Dear Husband and I will take a Caesar salad, corn for the young kids, and Vernice Kastman rolls. It will be fun to catch up with her family and hear how things have changed this year.

To my friends, and the rest of my family, we hope that you have a wonderful day filled with loved ones and great meals. May we all reflect on just how fortunate we all are, and give Thanks.

He Did it!

Dear Husband has passed all three parts of the test to become a licensed glider pilot! YEAAAAA! He brought it down to the wire, but was able to squeeze in the flight test before they took apart the last glider for the winter. It’s a testament to the fact that he has built friendships, that they were willing to hold off so that he could finish his licensing.

This test makes him a pilot for life, but the glider association will require that he pass a test every two years to reassure them that he is still qualified to fly their planes.

Now that he is licensed, he is also eligible to be a board member. I don’t know if he embraces that option, or if he would like to avoid it. We’ve had more than enough politics in the past two years. I probably won’t hear anything more about METARS, NOTAMS, DUATS, or the PAVE model until he needs to review for the next test.

Congratulations, Sweetie! You Did It!

Odds and Ends

Today was a day of odds and ends, errands and good deeds.

At exercise today we said goodbye to a member who is moving to Texas to be close to her children. She, too, is a quilter, so we occasionally had the chance to talk about our favorite pastime. Our exercise guru brought a big platter of cookies, and encouraged everyone to help themselves and take the time to say our goodbyes.

I started taking pictures of class members in groups of four. I want to see if this is a possible way to put together a picture album so that class members can learn each other’s names. If I can do them four to a picture, the cost would be much more manageable, given that we have over forty in our class. I need to work with my computer to learn how to “tag” people in a photo, for this to work.

After class, four of us gathered baked goods the class donated and dropped them off at the Army Reserve unit. One of the women in our class encourages us to let the military know that we support them. We mailed 15 boxes overseas to three servicemen related to class members, and we collected baked goods for the local reservists who will be on maneuvers this weekend.

Because of the wind, the soaring association didn’t meet today, so Dear Husband was willing to give me a hand with errands. Our next stop was at church. The Empty Nesters are gathering items to fill four laundry baskets for women being helped by a shelter the church supports. We donated large containers of Tide, sponges, kitchen scrubbing sponges and zip-type storage bags. I was really grateful to have the help carrying everything in. And, while I was there, I got to meet the interim pastor and give him a quilt from Scraps on a Mission (two more things I really needed to get done.)

I thought we might stop there, but Dear Husband was willing to make a 60 mile round trip so that we could pick up my sewing machine. With Scraps on a Mission ending for this year, it was time to get the machine cleaned and checked out. I take it back to the shop where I bought it, so we’ve made that trip twice in about a week. It’s good that he was able to get to it so quickly.

We had lunch and then made our way home. Naps seemed like a really good idea, but we got caught up in a movie that lasted until dinner time. Ah, the life of a retiree.

I’m delighted that we got so much done, ahead of the worst of the bad weather coming our way!

Lots of little things

The past three or four days have been gorgeous! We have a small maple in the back yard that looked like it was on fire! We enjoyed the color with the sun rise, and through the day, until it lit up the back yard as the sun was setting. Then, we had a rainy night. The next morning it was as if the tree had blown a raspberry and dropped ALL it’s leaves! Our tiny back yard has a lot of wonderful trees, but this one speaks to my heart.

I think we may have the stupidest squirrels in town. I bought one of those bird feeders that has the bar that closes off access to the seed when something too heavy (read: squirrels) sits on the bar. We don’t have a great deal of space along the patio where we could plant the bird feeder. I thought I’d chosen a place far enough from our flaming maple, but I underestimated the squirrel’s leap. However, I’ve been saved by the fact that they aren’t familiar with this style of feeder. They fly off the tree and land on the feeder, and then sit there. They don’t seem to understand how to slide down to the bin. I’m anticipating some fun watching them try to figure out how to hang off the edge of the feeder and scoop seed into their mouths.

Scraps on a Mission has had their last meeting. We made 42 quilts this year, and shared them with 2 shelters, a hospice and the pediatric department at the hospital. Two members of the church have received quilts, too. During this session I needed to make four baby quilts for my extended family. Those were my only personal quilts during the summer. Today I started working on a quilt top that has been patiently waiting for me for several years. This one is the only quilt I’ve ever made of Depression era reproduction fabrics. It will be bright and cheery, with white to contrast the pink, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple fabrics. I have all the patchwork sewn (actually twice as much as I need), so I just need to sew the rows together. Once I see what is left over, I can decide whether I’ll make a second top, or two baby quilts. It’s good to be getting things finished!

Dear Husband is studying for his oral and flight test, which is scheduled for a week from today. Each day we go over a portion of the study guide. I give him the subject and encourage him to tell me what he knows about it. I’m learning a LOT about soaring! I hope and pray he does well, and gets his certification this month.

We’ve had a month of wretched excess thanks to birthdays and anniversaries. Both DH and I have October birthdays. Our anniversary was in September. The kids gather each year to celebrate their father’s birthday. DH decided this year that we would go somewhere where our granddaughters might not be able to order grilled cheese, or mac’n’cheese. We have watched them eat endless meals with no variety. So, he chose Benihana! It was a joy to watch them experience the “circus” part of the meal, and they were able to find loads of things that they would eat: chicken, shrimp, corn, noodles, soup and rice. We had a good time, and the kids will be talking about it for years to come.

Happy Fall, All!

Move to Trash

My blog is published on the Word Press platform, and I just noticed that they provide the option to Preview, Publish or Move to Trash. A great deal of what I post could be moved to trash. This is not the place to come to solve the world problems. You’re more likely to find the minutiae of my life. Tonight’s thoughts:

When I was working on my master’s degree, I had to take a class called “Mental Health.” For some reason when I say those words, the image of someone holding a hose to one ear to wash unhealthy thoughts from their mind pops into my head. I wonder if our teacher planted that image when she introduced us to the subject? It doesn’t seem likely to have originated with me.

Speaking of mental health, the election is driving me crazy. I have come to hate the election campaigns. We allow this tripe to go on MUCH too long. I would wholeheartedly support limitations on the duration of presidential campaigns. For that matter, we could limit how much is spent on a campaign, too.

Election debates: I think once a participant has had their two-minute say, their microphone should be turned off. Personally, I think time should be taken away from a person who talks out of turn and given to the other debater. Or we might consider electric shock, in increasing voltage for repeated offenses, for those who can not restrain themselves. I’d also like a siren to sound when a candidate waffles and avoids responding to the question. DO NOT WASTE MY TIME WITH THIS SILLINESS!!

The CUBS! I’m afraid to talk about it. Watching the most recent games was a thrilling roller coaster ride. Beyond that, I don’t want to jinx them with my hopes.

I want new feet. My feet hurt so much tonight that I couldn’t sleep. Hence, this silly post. At least the one person who is likely to read this will know that I’m yet living.

Fall. I LOVE Fall! I had several errands to run today and had the pleasure of driving through lanes of trees just getting into their most beautiful colors. Some trees are becoming burnished from the top down, others were flaming in the sunshine. Houses have Halloween decorations up. At the very least, you’re likely to see pumpkins and mums and asters, which are my favorite. I’d like to talk to the chipmunk or squirrel that’s chewing on my pumpkins, though. Little rotters!

I may give sleep another try.

Snowbirds

One of the things you face, when not blogging on a daily basis, is the plethora of subjects that you might blog about when you return to that blank screen. Unfortunately, in my case, there are usually dozens of one-liners that pop up, but not as many full blown thoughts. Tonight the subject that has floated to the surface and seems stuck in first place has to do with “snowbirds.”

A few years ago I used to think of snowbirds with distain. They were “elderly” people who fled areas as moderate as northern Illinois (HA!) for the colder months of the year. Some would go for a month, others for the entire period from November to April. I thought, “They’ve been raised here. They know what our winters are like. They should be able to make it through the winter without needing lengthy vacations in the (much warmer) south.” I thought, “Canadians don’t run from a little cold. What’s the big deal?”

Well, I have a great deal more empathy for those “elderly” people these days. I am in my late sixties and I have arthritis, and I could be the local weather girl. This is OCTOBER, for God’s sake! We had one rainy, cool day yesterday and I wanted to stay in bed for the day with an electric blanket. I can’t imagine what it will be like this winter when it is truly cold.

I was conversing via e-mail with my three sisters, and the youngest, who lives in Indiana, was requesting an electric sleeping bag that she could wear when teaching because her classroom was so cold. The oldest one was talking about buying more socks! It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in not looking forward to winter.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll stock up on hand warmers and look for my crocheted sock patterns. I think I’ll take a serious look at a room heater for the basement so that I can continue to quilt without icicles dripping from my nose, and I’ll buy stock in Advil.

Who knows, there might even be an extended road trip south in my future one day, or perhaps a lengthy Caribbean cruise. Just don’t call me a snowbird, though. That would mean I’ve joined the ranks of the elderly. (Sigh)

Network News

For some time we have been bemoaning a trend in network news on TV.  The stations repeatedly tell you what they will be covering. Five, six, seven times they will “tease” you with the news to come.  And when it’s time to report on those subjects, they don’t have time to say more than a sentence, or two if you are lucky.  This is not the journalism I remember from my childhood.  Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and Peter Jennings must be spinning in their graves each time a network news program is aired.

It used to be that “Who,” “What,” “Where,”  and “When” were the absolute minimum in reporting, and we hoped to to know “Why” as well.  Sometimes we also were treated to “How.”  Now, we’re lucky if we get two of these questions answered.  Frequently we are told that someone has been shot, but while they might tell us the corner where the shooting took place, they most likely won’t tell us where the victim was hit, or whether they will survive.

Today must be a very slow news day.  The big news byte is that the shooting in California is now being classified as a terrorist attack.  I think we could conservatively guess that in a five minute period at 4:55 this afternoon, we heard this same comment fifteen to eighteen times on one station.  I’m sure it’s the same on all the others.  Why not do a good job of covering the story in full, and then go on to other news?  Just as I am sick of the commercialization of Christmas, I detest the same thing happening to the news.

Serious reporting has disappeared at such an alarming rate that we are changing to news programs that will give us the deeper story, like the “PBS Newshour” and “Charlie Rose.”  I  rarely go to CNN for news, but I may check them out to see if they are doing a better job than the networks.

And, while I’m at it, it seems that radio news announcers feel that time is money, so they now leave out the little verbs, and report in incomplete sentences.  Stations which used to pride themselves on their presentations feel they have to go with the flow, so there will be a generation of radio listeners who won’t know there is anything wrong with this.

We need a groundswell of complaint, a grass roots movement, to let the stations know WE DON’T LIKE IT!!