Friday, March 7, 2014

Daily Routines

This little, bright green sticky note draws my attention every time I sit down at my desk.  It is stuck up on the inside wall of my computer desk where I have a few favorite photos of my husband who passed away a few years ago.  I knew then I would not be able to write down the flurry of memories that flooded my head once he was gone. I was beside myself worrying that I wouldn't remember everything.  It will all work out.  I know that now.   I'm thankful now for every memory, no matter how big or small it seems, no matter good or bad.  Although I'm a bit unorganized sometimes, I like writing each of these memories down on whatever medium is closest to my hand at the time, an envelope, scratch pad, notebook, etc.  I told myself to type it, scrapbook, share it or just keep it somewhere special. Some are in the pages of my multiple journals and others are all over the place. 
This little sticky happens to be a short list of all of the little, important items that my husband would carefully jam into the pocket of his work shirt every weekday morning for more than 30 years. It was amazing how all of it fit.  And of course, every evening he grabbed them by the handful wiggling them out of the tight pocket and laid them down on the dresser next to his wallet, keys and any little treasures he would find throughout his day as an Elevator/Escalator Mechanic. The treasures actually fit better in his pants pockets. In his shirt pocket there was the dirty, little black book.  Dirty because he had a dirty, greasy job and  wrote down each job he did throughout his busy day.  It was also his calendar and daily planner and phone book.  I checked over that calendar last year looking for any possible little hint of maybe a scribbled little note of life outside of his work.  It was not there. That book was all work related, as it should be. The funny thing about the little black book is that he could never find the right size that would fit perfectly into his pocket. So each year he would buy the same planner and, using my scrapbook paper cutter, he would slice off the extra 1/8th inch of the book so it would fit into this pocket. There was a stylus for the handheld computer, a black permanent marker, a metal metric scale, metal ruler and little tiny red screwdriver, ballpoint pen, a jumper circuit and wooden orange stick. 

Our early morning routine was probably like everyone else.  His alarm would go off at 4:30 and after a couple slaps of the snooze button, he would get up and in the shower.  As he dressed, his routine was usually the same.  He wore a gray uniform that over the course of 30 something years changed the shades of gray from light to dark and back again.  His black steel toed boots were heavy and laced up pretty quickly, unless, the laces broke like the morning he was in a hurry and nothing seemed to go right. Not a good morning.  
The shirt pocket was packed tightly, carefully, each piece going it's place.  Sometimes, I watched his quiet routine of filling that pocket, clipping the phones and gadgets to his work belt, not saying a word. I often wondered what he was thinking.  I asked him once and  he said, "nothing". Was it all about the pocket?  Or was he already mentally at work?  Could he feel me watching him?  Did he really know how much I loved him? I told myself that one day I would always remember this repetition.  I had to write it down so I don’t forget.  I don’t want to forget.

I went to the kitchen to put his lunch (that I usually made the night before), into his lunch pail. I added a bottle of water, Coca Cola, a sandwich, snack, fruit, veggie and chips and sometimes a little sweet something.  It varied according to what we had in the house at the time and how I felt the night before.  For instance, every Wednesday was peanut butter and jelly day. I don’t know why, he just liked peanut butter and jelly.  He had a heavy, white coffee cup that didn't fit into the holder of his work truck so he built a special wooden cup holder in the console between the seats of the truck.  I think it worked pretty well.

On his last day, December, 3rd, 2010, we were laughing and joking in the kitchen, a little bit before 5 a.m., while he was saddling up for the day.  The shirt pocket, tight with every important item in it's place.  One hand quickly tapped one hip, feeling the heavy ring of keys.  Silently, he checked the electronic communication array that hung from his belt; cell phone, work phone and other gadgets. We were still joking around and then his eyes held mine for a minute, he gently kissed me good bye and said "I love you". Then he walked across the back yard to his work truck with the heavy, white coffee cup in one hand, lunch pail in the other, keys jangling.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Family Flu Bug

On Friday I had asked all my family to come over on Sunday for breakfast.  We all like breakfast, my big boys help out with the cooking and it's fun.  We frequently did it at our other house with their Pop making pancakes and great memories. 

Well, Middle Son and Middle Wife said yes and they would be at my house at 7A.M.!!  Their 2 baby boys are up very early anyway and Middle Son wanted to be back home to watch football. 1st son and 1st Wife declined because they worried they might bring unwanted germs with them since they had been battling the current nasty flu bug that is going around.  1st Son had the flu last Monday. 1st Son's young 2nd Grand had gotten sick in the middle of the night,Thursday. 1st Wife hasn't been getting much sleep lately.

Sunday morning bright and early, my grandsons were great and breakfast was good. I couldn't find my copy of a favored pancake recipe but the sons and Middle Wife all pitched in and did well. Middle Wife cooked the bacon so it wasn't "flumbery" like other people make it.  3rd & single Son baked the biscuits to go with the gravy Middle Son was supposed to make after Middle Wife made bacon and sausage. I joyfully played with my grandsons while Middle Wife, Middle Son and 3rd & Single Son laughed, talked and talked. 
I worked Saturday night cleaning up the toys and the patio to make it strategically safe for the little plastic car and the Big Wheel 4th Grand drives.  I made it easier to maneuver around the table, chairs and my plants. 4th Grand looked at me and calmly asked, "Grandma, do you want to play with me?"  "please?"  What could I say?  It was a bit chilly that early in the morning but we had fun.  After we played in the potting soil I keep in the big antique rustic washer barrel my dad gave me.  I set it on a plant roller so I can easily move it where I want it.  4th Grand thought that was cool too!.  The little guy was freezing and didn't want to stop till I finally said "let's go play with the new surprise I have for you!" I bought Lincoln Logs!  He said he was the "building structure" (constructor) just like his dad.  He was all proud when he looked at me eye to eye.  I was also on the floor, and asked me "well, Grandma, what is the problem here?"  Too cute.  We played for a while and 5th Grand tried to crawl and was getting frustrated staying in the same place for way too long.  He wants to stand up or he rolls across the room.  Middle Wife laid 5th Grand down in the office on the big soft chair with the computer (Pandora) music on to drown out the other noises.  He slept for about 40 minutes or so and then they left around 10:30 or so.  3rd & Single Son and I waved good bye, went in and we both took naps. I slept a couple of hours!  :)

Early Monday morning, 1st Wife text me; "3rd Grand threw up in bed last night."  He also managed to hit each of the bathrooms upstairs spewing from one end or the other.  1st Wife and I were so very relieved that they didn't come over on Sunday.  

I had planned to pick the three older grandsons up from their after school programs and feed them dinner on Tuesday evening because 1st Son and 1st Wife had a late meetings after work. But, early Tuesday morning, I received a text from 1st Wife; "2nd Grand threw up last night in his bed".  Wow!  I still planned to pick up the other two.  Then around 11am, 1st Wife was on her way to pick 3rd Grand from school to see the dentist.  Last week he had fallen at a friend's house and broke a big chunk of his front tooth right off. 1st Wife got a call from my Grand's Middle school.  1st Grand said "hi mom, can you come pick me up?  I'm sick".  Luckily one of their uncles was home to watch 1st and 2nd Grand,  so I picked up 3rd Grand by 5:30pm.  We had leftovers and a little dessert, watched TV and played a game.  I took him home around 8:30. 

I am serious!  this is true...1st Wife text me this morning, "guess who is sick this time?" 

1st Wife stayed home from work today.  She has the flu.  And she is very tired.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Note to Self

Note to self; Life is too short.
Life is to damn short to remain stubborn, holding in anger and frustrationAccept me as I am.  I will accept youI love my family.  We are all so different and kind of the same.  We've all have made mistakes, acted poorly from time to time and probably have many more secrets than we care to share.  Frequent interaction is not always necessary in order to share in each others lives. We don't particularly care for the same things, foods, people, etc. and that is okay.  It is OK not to do the same things. We can come together to share the things we DO enjoy with each other.
Precious time.  Time is precious.  One of my very dear friends found out that she has breast cancer.  She had to wait an almost unbearable amount to time for the doctors to piddle around with her precious time because they were on vacation, or busy for whatever reason.   They gave her a hard time about seeking a 2nd opinion and now her cancer has spread to her lymph nodes.  I know, I don't know for sure if their lack of attention to this matter actually caused the cancer to spread but tell that to this beautiful woman who waited two full months for them to get their act together!  That is precious time.  It makes me so mad!  Oh, yes.  She is strong.  She knows knows the Almighty God and she will fight her way through this and live.  Knowing God is what has helped her get through losing her mother to cancer at the beginning this year.  That disturbing event was quickly followed by the two month premature birth of her second grandson, the hospitalization of her husband due to pneumonia and a lung condition that has yet to be resolved.  The couple in reference has just now celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary.  Talk about precious time!  

Precious Time!  
Another dear friend of mine, in this very same time frame has been spending her days and nights at a hospital in Hollywood because her 17 year old daughter, (one of her twins) has leukemia!
Day after day of prayers, tears, hugs, doctors, etc. and now, finally she is in remission and on her last round of chemo.  I could write a book on this one or just print the on-going journals of her mother's facebook pages. This teenager/young woman and her beautiful twin sister smile proudly at the struggles they have been through.  We all thank God every day the way He guides their many friends and family to hold on to each other and help them through.  

Time is precious and I could go on and on with all the stories.  This sad story....seriously shows how short life is and is not to be wasted.  Early this year a 50 year old man was diagnosed with bladder cancer.   He attempted to connect with a few of his five siblings, most of whom hadn't heard from him in 20 years for reasons only he knew.   Because of stubbornness and this long standing silence he received a less than warm reception. His surgery went well, then chemo, radiation and  his doctor told him he was cancer free!  A few months flew by and he was determined to close out the only family he knew.  The cancer returned and by fall, he was gone.  

 Life is too short.  Twenty eight years of marriage for a couple who absolutely loved each other planned a beautiful life together, just began enjoying their empty nest when one morning the 51 year old husband suffered a massive heart attack and was gone.  He was only 51.  Life will never be the same without him.  I am so much more aware of how truly precious time is and how important it is to talk to one another.  Share with others.  Reach out to help each other.  Love one another.  



Frazzled.  Frustrated. Fumbling. Forgetting.... Started to work on the pictures again.  I opened a box with old, old photos of my sisters & brothers when we were way young.  I start piling photos portraying people with smiles, beach themes, similar ages, similar looks, all kids, all family, just friends, etc.  Then I find a picture I hadn't seen in years and decide that is the one I will frame!  Set it aside.  OOPs.  Where did that pile go?  oh, there it is, next to another pile of pictures of funny faces.  Kids in the pool, at the beach, any kind of water!  I turn around and the table is covered in boxes and photos and cards.  Where did I start?  Where do I go?  I'm tired now.  Don't feel like doing this anymore.  Do I drag all these boxes back to the guest room?  Do I pile them on the floor?  Do I need to use the table?  NO.  Good.  They stay.  I'll turn off the light.  As I turn off the light I realize I have a small stack of photos in my hand....I could look in another box with the cousin or nephew or sister of the child with that adorable smile.  No.  Step away from the table.  Put the picture down.  You can do this.  Tomorrow is another day.  I dropped the pictures into a box and walked away.

Back at the desk, I find a lined piece of paper to make a list.  a new list.
What is on this list?

To do?  To stop?  rewrite the last list because?  I left it at home when I went to the store anyway.  So why do I even bother?  the ideas keep coming!

that's why!    I had a lot of great ideas today!  That's what I can list on the list!  yeah!  

Go to bed.  

tomorrow is another day.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sink overflowing

I 'm taking a risk leaving the kitchen to write this but I need to remember what just happened.  Sure, it has happened a few…okay, several times before, but I was right there!  I was browning the pork loin in the frying pan.  I stayed right there, the crock pot was warming up behind me on the counter facing the front door.  I don't know if I really need to "warm up" a crock pot but the plan was to brown, transfer, cover with onion soup mix, set the time and forget about it until dinner.   The house already smelled good .

I needed music but I didn't leave…I don't think I did…..? mm?  Whatever.  I transferred the browned meat to the crock pot and set the pan back on a  cool burner on the stove.  On my right was the sink filling with hot water.  I like to clean as I go.  Turning back to the crock pot, I took my time sprinkling the onion soup mix over the meat and trying to decide if I should add more water or does it have its own water.  I tried to recall a TV cook, like Rachel Ray.  I watched that show, Julie and Julia about Julia What's her name? I should know this....  I decided not to add water.  Set the lid on the crock pot and turned back to the stove, hearing a familiar sound in the background but I couldn't quite place it.  Finally I turned around to the sink.  In my little kitchen triangle I had turned on the hot water to do the dishes turned around again and forgot!  Thankfully, I stopped it just in time and it didn't overflow onto the floor (like last time).  How does this happen?  I was right there?!  My sons laugh at me when I do these stupid things.  I am thankful we can laugh about when I let liquids overflow and burn tasty things. I know they are just teasing so my feelings aren't hurt.  I just get mad at myself for forgetting so often. 
A few weeks ago I bought a big tray muffins from the store and they were sprinkled with sugar making an extra sweet topping. It looked pretty and tasted great!   I can do this!  It's a piece of cake! Easy.  Do I take the time to look it up to find out how its done?  NO.  It's just sugar on the top of muffin batter before it goes into the oven.  Right?  Sugar didn't look like much.  I went and got the pretty little antique glass container that I keep in the glass curio cabinet my little sister gave me.  It is just a bit bigger than the antique salt and pepper shakers, one green and one turquoise, that used to belong to my great-grandmother.  My oldest sister gave them to me and said our great grandma put cinnamon and sugar in the bigger one.  Once it was washed and dried, using a paper towel and the end of a spoon to wipe out the whatever it was in the very bottom of this pretty antique, it was ready to add cinnamon and sugar.  I pulled out my peach colored ceramic sugar container I hardly ever use.  The scoop was too big for the hole of the shaker.  That's what its called!  A Shaker!  The little brass top with holes in it sort of screws on but it is very loose.  Needless to say, sugar was all over the counter, some in the shaker, some in the sink and on the sink.  I pulled out the cool red funnel that stores flat and pulls out into a good size funnel with a handle.  My hubby gave it to me for Christmas one year.  He was so proud of his choice of Christmas gift.  He could hardly stand/sit still while I opened it because I…wait, that's another story.

The funnel worked.  Cinnamon is more difficult to pour into the pretty little antique shaker.  But I didn't care that cinnamon was also all over the counter. I held on to lid with one finger while I shook out the mixture over the muffin batter in the little cupcake liners.  Not a neat job.  What if the sugar burns on the muffin tin?  Will it turn black and yukky?  I tried to look for something to sweep the sugar and cinnamon off of the muffin pan in between the muffin cups.  Didn't work.  I searched each of the drawers in the kitchen and ALMOST went looking for a paint brush in the other room.  I knew just which one I wanted too!  The long green one I bought when I started taking my watercolor class a couple of years ago.  And I knew where it was….. But I didn't go.  I stayed in the kitchen.  It bothered me a bit that I couldn't see the cinnamon, only the sugar and thought adding just a bit of it over the top…did the trick.  Into the oven they went!  I turned to the sink full of dishes and hot water to the right side, remembering to turn off the water this time. 
Later in the afternoon I was going to go to a bridal shower so I needed to finish a letter I had started writing outside this morning with my coffee.  I love to sit outside in the morning when its cool and so pretty and quiet as long as the dogs in the neighborhood don't start barking.  That drives me crazy.  Focus, I told myself. I was sure I could hear if the timer went off.  I was right there next to the kitchen. Never did write the note to the future bride.  Instead I wrote a long letter to my brother in law.  I didn't realize I had so much to say and wrote and wrote not hearing the timer at all!  Thankfully, I remembered!  I don't know how long ago the timer went off before I remembered and I was so proud of myself for remembering, that I didn't care or notice that they were a little more baked on the bottom of the muffin cup than I had planned.  I used a table knife to get the hot muffins out of the muffin tins and quietly happy that I didn't see burnt sugar.  They smelled pretty good but the tops didn't have that same chunky glazed topping like I planned either.  Pretty on a tray on the counter, I left them to cool and went back to my letter outside. 
I was engrossed in the letter, hands cramped, back achy and my hand was numb and falling asleep but I wrote on... until…the unmistakable  sound of metal on waxed metal made me jump.  My son's head was almost through the patio window with a warm muffin in his hand, "thanks mom, they are a little burnt on the bottom."  I looked at him, "they didn't look too bad",  I said, defending myself.  He smiled that adorable grin  pulling the hard crystallized  top off of the muffin he said, "Oh, man, it isn't even soft in the center this time!".  I hung my head.  Smiling even bigger and shaking his head he said, "I love you, Mom".

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Awakened By The Beep

I didn’t know what to do!  I didn’t hear the sharp, high pitched “beep” until 5:00 this morning.  My ceiling fan on medium may have drowned out the sound of a dead battery in the smoke alarm.  I don’t know if the beep had been going off for a while or if it had just started. Once I was awake, it was driving me crazy!  I didn’t want it to wake up my son who didn’t need to be up yet.  
As quietly as I could I walked to each fire alarm in the hallway, trying to figure out which one was on the blink.  It sounded like it was the one right outside my son’s bedroom.  That is when I also realized that my dog who sleeps in my room had been following me up and down the hallway almost leaning against my leg as I tried so hard to be quiet.  Unfortunately, my hall is mostly hardwood floor so the sound of her claws on the floor was more annoying than the occasional beep. So I quietly walked the dog back to my bedroom motioning her to lay down on the carpet and “stay”.  
As quietly as I could, I tiptoed down the hall past the empty guest room and past my son’s room which is also next to the laundry room and the garage.  My brilliant idea was to tiptoe into the garage, pick up the ladder which was right inside just left of the door.  A piece of cake. My dog decided that “stay” didn’t apply to her since she was again right at my legs tap dancing around on the cold tiled floor of the laundry room.  I whispered to her and using my hands, motioned to her to return to my bedroom.  This time I had to get back to the laundry room where the batteries are stored.  I knew I needed a 9-volt battery so I grabbed a screw driver with it and layed it gently on the top of the ladder which I opened right in front of my son’s bedroom.  My pride in being so quiet and stealth-like was quickly lost when, there again, was my “best friend” eager to please and tapping away on the hardwood floor, also right in front of my son’s bedroom door.   Now it is 5:15 a.m. and I realized that my son hadn’t stirred in all this time.  If I climb on this lightweight aluminum ladder right outside his door, which sounds would be more upsetting, the steady beep of the fire alarm or the tapping of the dog’s feet, again, right next to mine.  This time I took the dog back to my room, closing the door.  There, quiet.   
I left ladder in front of his room with the hall light on, tiptoed to the kitchen, turned on my coffee maker which wasn’t set to go off until 6 a.m., then I returned to my bedroom, turned on the news because now I can’t sleep. All the while I typed this piece, the “beeping” outside the door has actually subsided.  Seriously, no beeping at all right now.