Category Archives: mother

Exclusive Membership

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Do you belong to any clubs, organizations or places of interest?

This is a short post that holds three pieces of history.  They are

smaller than a 3″ x 5″ index card. Each has elements of nostalgia,

excitement, childhood memories and personal information.

 

I was looking through a stack of my parents’ postcards.

I found items belonging to my mother tucked in between.

Each is rather

fragile and

intriguing.

 

Item # One:

FRONT OF CARD:

Bright red,

Yellow details,

Unique wording

made of rope lasso:

“Hi – Yo Silver”

 

No. 13240

 

Picture of familiar

cowboy

with

black eye mask.

 

Date: 4/20/39

 

“This is to certify that

Rosalie Mattson

is a duly qualified

member of the

Bond Bread

Lone Ranger Safety Club

for Boys and Girls

~ The Lone Ranger ~

Sign your name here  ________________. ”

 

BACK OF CARD:

 

“The Lone Ranger Secret Code

 

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

 

BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZA

 

The top line of letters is in Regular order.

The bottom line is a second alphabet,

EXCEPT it starts with the letter, “B”

and ends with the letter “A.”

Using the Lone Ranger Secret Code

the word “BOND”

would appear as,

“CPOE.”

 

Copyright 1939, T.L.R., INC.

East Bond Bread . . . 3 Times A Day!”

 

My mother would have been 11 years old,

when she got this Lone Ranger Safety Club

card for boys and girls.

I wonder what the

bread card

entitled

her to?

 

**Any clues to share about this

card would be of interest to me.

 

Item # Two:

The next item is quite tiny,

size of a ticket for a raffle.

It holds a lot of information

on this pale dove-gray ticket.

 

“Fort McHenry

National Monument and Historic Shrine

Baltimore, Maryland

Inner Fort Admission. . . . . 10 cents

Federal Tax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 cents

Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 cents

U. S. Dept. of the Interior

National Park Service

International Ticket Company

Newark, N. J.”

 

**Can you imagine such a small

charge for such a treasure and

hallowed place in history?

 

A yellowed library card,

The East Hartford

Public Library card

Rosalie Mattson

17 Oakwood Street

East Hartford,

Connecticut

May 19, 1940.

 

There are multiple dates

stamped on this card.

 

When I think of childhood,

I remember my pride in

carrying my Brownie

membership card.

 

My Sandusky Public

Library card around.

They were kept in a

tan leather wallet.

 

I remember one of my close friends, Amy, having a Mickey

Mouse Club card. I also know she carried around a Blue Birds’

membership card. These were kept in her red leather wallet.

 

My Dad belonged to several clubs, but took quite a lot of pride

in his being a Boy Scout Leader. He was also a member of Bay

Men’s Club and the Ancient Astronauts Society in Chicago, Ill.

He carried around a “Diner’s Club” card and belonged to the

“Brown Derby Birthday Club.” Dad joined the Rock and Roll

Hall of Fame when it opened its Cleveland establishment, 1983.

 

These days my grandchildren belong to Webelos, Cub Scouts,

the Delaware County District Library, Chuck E. Cheese birthday

club, Dora (or Bob the Builder) Nickelodeon, Jr. club and more.

 

My own three children had 4 H membership cards and pins.

My son stayed in Boy Scouts up through elementary school,

while my oldest daughter stayed with Girl Scouts through her

Delaware Willis Middle School years. They belonged to PBS’

“Sesame Street Club” and did not join the Barney Fan Club.

 

I get my gas and produce my Speedway Rewards card and

belong to the same Subway Club the commercial man, Jared

belongs to. I like to receive free birthday burger from Ruby

Tuesdays and print out coupons from other restaurants.

I am a proud member of the Godiva Chocolate Rewards club.

 

It doesn’t have to be an ‘exclusive’ club or organization

to make it a fun place to be. It can be a fishing or running

club, it can be one which includes your circle of friends in

your faith, who gather and label themselves, a “Bible Club.”

 

Would you mind sharing a memory of a special designated

card, a piece of nostalgia or whimsy, something from your

collection of memorabilia or a current ‘club’ you belong to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweaters and Thanksgiving Thoughts

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When I opened my drawer full of sweaters to search for the ones with

Autumn colors, I ended up having to empty the whole drawer onto my

bed. I could not seem to find the one with its patchwork appearance.

Although, as a preschool teacher I had several turkey pins, along with

some orange, brown and tan sweaters, there was always this special one

I wore and called it my Thanksgiving sweater.

 

While I looked at my wide collection of fall and cold weather offerings,

I was smiling since some of them were getting pretty ‘raggedy,’ while

others were less in style. I started thinking about sweaters and their

characteristics.

This

is

when

I had

an epiphany:

Sweaters are like our family members.

While you are thinking about the upcoming celebratory feast, you may

have some positive thoughts and you  may have some misgivings,  too.

I hope you will see some of the anthropomorphic references in this poem,

of sorts and I also hope it amuses you.

Wishing you a wonderful gathering of family and friends. I hope it is an

extra special time, with pleasant memories of past holidays spoken of

and cherished, too. Those who have gone on and had their unique places

in your family festivities, hope you will have some of the elderly guests

share some more of their own personal memories of the loved ones.

I also admire the idea of going around the table and all sharing their

reasons for being thankful. This family tradition is often part of our own

ritual. I have been lately asking the little ones, “What was your favorite

part of this year, so far?” I like to try and remember them, to put in their

personal albums, which include their photographs and memorabilia we

have collected along our ways. (Tickets for movies, zoo or museums, as

well as menus and maps. I have a few of their drawings included, too.)

 

“Sweaters and Family”

November 24, 2014

 

Sweaters come in all colors,

They come in all sizes, too.

Sweaters can be quite worn

and scruffy looking,

While some may be in

brand new condition.

 

There are the loud ones,

and there are low key

kinds of sweaters.

 

Each has their place,

both

old

and

new.

 

There are those scratchy ones,

who seem to always irritate you.

There are those sweet, dear ones,

who can ‘do no wrong.’

They never grow old

nor out of style.

 

Some are so big and stretched

while others are such pint-sized.

There are the lumpy ones which have

lots of pills,

there are the smooth, soft ones, too.

 

There are the old, familiar ones

and the surprising ones who

unexpectedly turn up.

Those especially nice ones

appear out of nowhere

to discover and include

around the holidays.

 

When rummaging around in your

sweater drawers or storage tubs,

keep in mind how much you love

them all. . .

 

You certainly would not wish to

ignore them

or discard.

Even those

who are

unraveling

a bit.

They are an integral

part of colder

seasons

and

you

may

as well save them

for next year, too.

 

by Robin O. Cochran

 

Do you have a favorite story about sweaters?

If you wish, I would enjoy reading about some of your family

traditions. . .

 

 

Murder with No Remains

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Sometimes, despite all the pleasant thoughts of the day, we find ourselves contemplating

some dark and dangerous ones. I was so intrigued at work, watching my good friend and

coworker, Mark C. emptying the combustibles into certain designated large metal barrels.

These containers are sometimes full of gasoline type liquids, never to be mixed with other

ones. He wears a rather strange goggles contraption (a mask with a filter in place), helping

protect his lungs from gaseous vapors. Other containers have fluids taken from a variety of

damaged containers. Liquids that remove dirt and stains, flammable cleaning components,

along with others which are oil based. I have written a rather awful, atrocious story here.

In all fairness, “Sweeney Todd” and “The Little Shop of Horrors,” along with many other

gruesome tales have rumbled around my mind. Setting my story partially in the warehouse

where I daily work, along with the rural country areas, is what textbooks for writing say,

“Use what you know.”

 

I used to travel down roads to remote homes, with my teaching assistant, Karen, for our

bi-annual visits with families. I hope these elements help to make my story seem ‘real.’

 

One eerie and chilling day, we went to a one-main-street (if it had been out West, you

could have called it a “one horse”) town. This was a small blink of a place, where no one

appeared to be home.

On her home visit form, the mother had suggested if she and her child weren’t in their

trailer, to venture down the lane to another location. When a hound dog howled, into the

soundless air, just as we both noticed someone peeking out from behind their curtains,

we both jumped! We each exclaimed the feeling of the town being “haunted” (her reaction)

or “This could be a Stephen King setting” (my reaction).

This may be the ‘seed’ that was planted, as part of my ‘inspiration’ which germinated into

the following macabre story.

 

By pressing “Publish,” this holds my own original thoughts and I would appreciate if you

would contact me, before you re-blog this. Here is a piece of my own wicked mind.

 

“Murder with No Remains”

Weary from working with the various poisonous smells, pouring different liquids into

the huge funnel, Mark got into his truck. He had a lot of responsibility facing him upon

his return to his home. He turned on the radio station to Mansfield’s 93.3 which plays

mostly ‘easy listening’ music.

He was trying to drown out the demons in his head. He was slightly irritated by the

incessant chattering of the girl that works above him in the Aerosol Room. The Bomb

Shelter was a dark and cold dungeon of a place, where there was little warmth to comfort

him. Mark was trying to figure out why that woman even bothered to talk to him.

 

His train of thoughts had been keeping him company all day,

“I mean, she gave me her phone number almost a year ago. When I didn’t use it to call

her, couldn’t she get the hint?”

She was not his type. . . Too talkative and self-centered.

” I think she should just walk out on me, like the other women in my life. I just wish she

would walk on by me, like the people usually do.”

His further thoughts remembered her recent comment to him,

“‘You represent the Gold Standard for me to hold men up to.'”

“Ha! I am sure this is not what most people would think if they were to read my mind. . .

Strange, but most people thought he gave off such a trusting ‘vibe.’ It has not gotten me

very far in this world, me with the boy next door look,” his thoughts smoldering in embers.

 

Then, his thoughts transferred to another subject. A regular occurrence that may have

come today; the wonderful Schwan truck. Oh, how he loved entering the freezing cold

garage to find his designated location for Schwan food products to be stored- filled with

his favorite foods. On the cooler he left a check taped to the top, to cover the amount for

the products that he and Mother would consume.

 

“I hope they had enough of the Peanut Butter Crackle ice cream and did I order two or

three boxes with fried chicken breast strips? I will get the fire started in the fireplace,

go get my shower and hopefully, Mother will hold off on her wanting something. That is

what I hate about going home. The first bell I bought for her. It should have been ‘good

enough’ for her. But, no, she insisted that it was too ‘tinkly-sounding’ and ‘more like one

rung in children’s church school.’ So, she made me go purchase a large cow bell, which is

most annoying. I feel like she overdoes her bell ringing and wish she would realize how

hard my days are.”

 

“I have the edges of a migraine headache coming on,” Mark thought. He turned the silly

song with Tony Orlando and Dawn singing, “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling,” off.

 

“Ah-h-h! Peace and quiet.”

 

Suddenly, a deer ran out in front of Mark’s truck, which caused him to squeal his

skidding tires, along with sliding on the icy road. Dodging the path of the deer, he

stopped on the precipice of a large ditch.  Mark watched the deer gracefully bound

over the snow fence that ran along the other side of the ditch.

 

“Good thing I got those new tires at Goodyear,” Mark sighed in relief.

 

Then his mind wandered off to Mother again. He smiled a kind of sickly smile, he

was a little amused with the thought of ‘poor helpless Mother,’ lying there ringing

her big, old cow bell and no one to answer her frantically, desperate clangs.

 

“Wonder how long it would have taken for someone to go to the house, after

my death, if the deer had impaled me, through the truck’s windshield?”

 

Sometimes, after four hours of having to run up the stairs to help her, getting her

things, Mark felt like he could strangle her.

 

Mark’s guilty conscience brought him up short, out of the gloomy thoughts that

often accompanied any thoughts of work or home. The migraine’s pain throbbed

his head and he was nearly nauseous,

 

“Not sure if I am about to throw up because of the near death experience or

because of the thoughts of Mother being left alone. . . no one to bring her food,

no one to change her Depends, no one to clean her body and turn her in the

middle of the night so she would not have any bed sores.”

 

It would be days before his sister would come by, since she had given up helping,

never able to fulfill Mother’s request to the perfection that Mark had gotten her

accustomed to.

 

If there were a song playing and his head didn’t hurt too much, he felt that the

one which encompassed his caregiving skills would be,

“Nobody Does It Better.”

 

“Hmm… what is that James Bond song?” As Mark drove down the country lane,

with the rocks making abrupt bumps pounding into his brain, he pondered on

what the movie where James Bond had had this in the beginning.

Later, while he had completed all of his household duties, Mark sat by the fire and

opened up the last book of a trilogy he was reading. When the first clang of the cow

bell of the night came, he knew what it meant. He went into the kitchen and scooped

up one scoop of ice cream into a bowl. He grabbed the little spoon he used to feed

Mother. This was one he had bought for his nephew who used to visit. Then, later,

his grandnephew had used it. This was the best one to feed his Mother. Nothing

fell out of her mouth this way. Mark hated to have to change her clothes again, so he

grabbed a new bib to put on her.

“Like a little bird,” Mark thought of the way her old, wrinkled and puckered mouth

opened up for her bites.

By the time the migraine pain pills were working on his headache, he had heard

the bell’s ring 8 times. Something shifted in Mark’s mind, something creeped into

his thoughts. The fire had made him think of the leaves piled up outside, where

he could add a few pieces of lumber to them. He could make a huge bonfire.

As he walked up the steps, Mark plodded slowly.

“If someone could read my mind now, they would not believe what this quiet

man holds inside himself. I have thought of times where I could use the rat

poison from the barn in Mother’s food. I have thought of an easier way, I could

let her slide down under the water, looking away and ‘accidentally’ she might

drown. I imagine a phone call diverting my attention from her, explaining this

was all an accident.”

Oh, there is one other way I contemplate all day long. It would be the best way.

I have this planned out in details.”

 

Mark felt a lift in his mood, jubilant that the release would be in less than an

hour.

 

Mark’s step was lighter and he started to almost run up the stairs to Mother’s

bedroom. The time flew quickly by, as he smothered her with the pillow. He

counted the allotted time which he had studied and practiced in his mind. He

wrapped her up in the blanket. Such a tiny package and light weight to carry. Then,

once again he made sure she was not moving, unrolled the bundle to check. He

decided to kiss her one more time on her cool, papery cheek.

 

The body was light as a feather, as he ran down the stairs.

When he got to the bottom, he unwrapped her one more time, took her dental

plate out of her mouth. He stopped to think about what he could do with it.

He scolded himself for not figuring out this detail ahead of time,

“Would it melt?”

Then, Mark got his coat, gloves, hat and scarf on. He was ready for this, it was

long overdue.

 

He picked her up roughly, “After all, she can’t feel a thing now.”

 

As he hurried out the door, he started to whistle. It was strange but not one bit

of guilt slipped through his mind. His mood was lifting, part of his daily torture

was over.

Mark built the bonfire, stacking tinder under the logs, since he was uncertain if

the leaves were dry enough to ignite.

 

Everything fell into place, not one bad move. The rest was a ‘piece of cake.’

In the later hours of the night, he would get up. Mark had set his alarm clock. He

knew how long the fire would rage, how long it would take till the bones would

snap and become mere splinters, ashes and soot.

 

He had ‘cremated’ his dog, when Buddy had passed away. He remembered how

long it had taken him to get over the death of his faithful hunting hound dog.

Somehow, he didn’t feel he would have any problems getting over the death of

Mother.

 

Sifting through the ashes, he found little bits of bones, he put these into the first

large freezer ziplock bag. The burnt chips were easily gathered, using his gardening

spade and put into bags. He had barely one and a half bags full of her remains.

He laid down to sleep a restful couple of hours more, jumping up when the alarm

went off. Made his toast and coffee, packed his lunch box and left on time. There

was blissful silence in the house.

 

Mark turned on the rock and roll station while he drove into work, tapping his hand

to the driving beat of AC/DC and feeling quite rejuvenated.

 

At the security check point,  he opened his lunch box to show Len, the Security Guard,

the top layer of his lunch box. He did not bother lifting the sandwich, apple and chips.

Instead of his food items lying upon his usual blue freezer pack,  they rested on top of

Mother.

 

When the Aerosol Girl went to her first break, he walked over to his lunch box, took

out his drink and opened it. He rustled around his lunch box to find his straw. He took

a long draw through the straw of Coca Cola. He then took the can, along with the two

ziplock bags over to the large drum of  most toxic chemicals. He had left the large

funnel set carefully on top. He put the pop down and opened the first bag, the ashes

drained easily through the funnel, siphoning down smoothly. When the little brittle

pieces of bones came, he grabbed the straw and poked them through the hole in the

funnel. He had chosen the barrel with full contents, took the lid and screwed it shut.

He hammered it a bit to make it ‘secure.’

Mark  went over to his desk, grabbed the labels that indicated both “Toxic” and

“Flammable” with its skull and crossbones image.

Mark plastered the two large stickers on the blue metal barrel.

“All that is left of Mother is ‘goo,’ he thought.

He went back to work in his small area of the warehouse, whistling.

Tomorrow, since it was a longer day. . .

He would come home and report Mother wandering and missing.

 

He imagined his sincere, most innocent expression on his face as he would

pronounce the words,

“I don’t have a clue where she may have gone off to.”

 

From his pocket, as an after thought, he went to a second big container,

unscrewed the lid and shoved her dental plate into it.

After that, he dumped a few extra jugs of the oily solution into it.

 

With a resounding thump of his hand, not unlike a pat on the top of his coon

dog’s head after he chewed up one of Mother’s slippers, he finally went back

to his daily procedures.

 

“The End”

 

 

 

Lost in Translation

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When I arrived at Mom’s, I mentioned that I had a project for her to do. I wished to

have her mind challenged, trying her ‘hand’ once again at translating. I borrowed an

adorable book from my grandson, Micah, called:  “Bear Says Thanks.” This has been

already translated into Spanish on the bottom of each page. I was hoping Mom would

enjoy this little idea and tell me a little bit about how things that rhyme in English,

as this is written with a nice cadence and lovely blending of words, turn out when put

into another language.

(If you are just dropping by, my Mom taught World Literature and Spanish to high

school students for 30 years.)

 

The Spanish title of this book is easily translated with no changes in meaning:

“Oso Dice Gracias.” If you would like to find this book, written by Karma Wilson and

illustrated with charming animals who gather for a feast. Perfect Thanksgiving book,

with the meaning of gratitude and friendship themes easily understood by a 3-4 year

old. The illustrator, Jane Chapman, captures sweet expressions on the various creatures

of the woods, along with the playful sense of humor.

I had taken white 3 x 5″ cards and carefully covered the given Spanish translation, using

yellow Sticky Tack to keep the cards over the words, without ruining my grandson’s book.

 

Mom decided to give me a short tutorial in translation, reminding me of several rules

of language since I had had about 6 years of Spanish, along with one year of French. I

was not too bad while teaching a non-English speaking student while fresh out of

college, in my sixth grade class. I was always much better listening and comprehending,

as in my travels to Mexico and Spain. I also was fairly adept at reading Spanish, just have

a hard time speaking in complex sentences. She reminded me that there are sometimes

words that may change according to the ‘sex’ of the person. Her example of this was:

“vieja” would mean an older woman and “viejo” would mean an older man. When you

learn beginning Spanish, I remembered “amiga’ was my girlfriend, while my guy friends

were “amigos.”

Mom said this book in English has “beautiful flow of words,” which is difficult to capture

when translating it.

Here is an example of the English words that Mom found challenging.

“I’m back from a stroll

from the old fishing hole

(and it later rhymes again with ‘pole.’)

The words ‘fishing hole’ are already complicated becoming: “pescaria.” This is an all-

encompassing word for all things that are fishing related.

 

Here are the list of animals in the story:

(Mom was easily able to translate all but the Raven, Wren and Gopher.)

Badger  =  Tejon (It needs an accent on the “o” Mom told me.)

Wren  =  Chochin (It needs an accent on the “I” Mom mentioned.)

Owl  =  Buho  (The “u” needs an accent to emphasize the first syllable, Mom said.)

Mouse = Raton (The “o” gets an accent.)

Gopher = Taltuza

Hare = Liebre

Raven = Cuervo (I thought this was part of an alcoholic beverage. Smile!)

 

**Mole  =  Topo

This was very confusing to us both.

We peeked at this name, which both Mom and I made a comment about “Topo Gigio,”

a puppet. I had forgotten this little character in both Spanish and Italian plays until I

heard the word, “Topo” which I immediately blurted out, “Gigio.” Mom sagely nodded

her head, when I said the last part. She told me this was ‘puzzling.’  We both thought

that  “Topo Gigio” was a mouse! Why in this book is the word for mole, “topo” while

the word for mouse sounds like it is a rat, “raton”?)**

 

 

Mom did not easily translate the following phrase, so I let her ‘cheat’ and ‘peek.’

In English, “smiles real wide.”

In Spanish, “y de oreja a oreja sonrie.” This means a smile that is ‘cheek to cheek.’)

 

The friendly tone and playful words of:

“There’s a flap and a flutter

and a flurry in the den,

when in flutters Owl, Raven and Wren.”

(Karma’s lovely flowing words.)

Mom read and re-read those words, she was uncertain how to translate the “f” words.

Mom refrained from saying her own “f” word!

In this case of the different animals arriving there are several different words used to

describe the motions.  Even in English there are a lot of words you may use for one word.

 

“You need to be careful,” Mom told me, “when you are choosing a word with a distinct

meaning. We want to carry out the flavor, intent and feeling of the author’s writing. You

would not wish to offend anyone, either, while translating words from one language to

another.”

This children’s book, “Bear Says Thanks/ Oso Dice Gracias” was overwhelming for Mom,

to change into Spanish. We still don’t feel we did as well as the examples given on each page.

“We didn’t do this simple, but meaningful book justice,” Mom exclaimed.

 

The last page where all the animals gather has a considerate Bear apologizing because

he doesn’t have any food to bring to the feast. The different animals have gathered to

commune together and break bread.  All of them tell Bear, ‘his gift’ is to tell them stories.

This is what makes him special.  There’s no need to bring anything to eat, since each one

has brought more than enough to share.

What a beautiful lesson given with charming pictures which could be a book your

family will treasure.

 

Mom said that the way a person may choose a tense or a synonym may be the same

as people writing a paper in English. We may choose ‘lovely’ and another may choose

the word, ‘beautiful.’ We may use the word, ‘sparkly’ while another may use ‘shiny.’

She made a funny comment that I had to immediately write down so I would not forget.

She even used a little ‘saucy tone,’

“Different strokes for different folks.”

Mom went on to emphasize the meaning behind the words we choose depends not only

on the context of the sentence, but also upon the tone used.  Here is another “Momism:”

“Our different experiences color our reactions to things. We need to use reverence and

respect towards the culture of the country whose language you are translating from or

into. This is important whenever we try to translate someone else’s writing.”

Reversing Roles

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Many times during one’s life, you may find someone older helping you and teaching

you. Especially as a young child, most of us were lucky to have parents and role models.

Sometimes, in unfortunate situations, there are children who have to become adults

far too soon. They become the ‘caretakers’ of siblings, they may even take care of their

mother, as my Dad did at age 11. The mentors in his life, teachers and a minister, are

who really ‘saved him.’

Here are some thoughts about a day with my Mom:

As my Mom slides more easily backwards in time, more comfortable in her childhood

outlook and way of looking at things, I see this in a brighter, happier light these days.

Reverting to a time where things always seem new and one can exclaim, “I have never

seen the sky so brilliant in a sunset!” or “The leaves are so lushly colored, freshly painted!”

It makes me smile more. I appreciate this way of thinking and it helps me embrace her,

hold her hand and guide her across dangerous paths where cars may not judge her slow,

plodding movements.

She loves her dog, it is like children want to give their dogs ‘treats’ every time they are

‘good.’ I have to remind her that Nicki only should eat twice a day, but don’t worry too

much as she is 12 years old. She can refuse if her belly is too full, she also can run around

and wear off the calories… Mom is very good at taking her on two long walks a day. We

go to the edge of a woods, where she uses her cane to remove prickly sticks and makes a

path less treacherous for her ‘little girl.’

Life, to my Mom, is full of excitement and she arises late with sleepy eyes, needing a cup

of black coffee, a tablespoon of peanut butter and I have brought her pancakes (one

morning), oatmeal a couple of mornings, but mainly she rubs her hands together in

anticipation to see if there is a sweet roll or Danish from the dining room. Her ‘expectant’

air about her is catching.

There have been some ‘stories’ told about my Mom, like a child who is part imp and part

angel. She has used a sharp tone when someone mentions Nicki needing to be brushed.

She has been insulted when she wore her pajama pants in the dining room. ‘After all,

many wear their sweat pants.’  She doesn’t like it when she forgets what day it is, nor

does she appreciate lectures about times for things. The rascal is quite independent and

I have less fear of her being ‘hurt’ each time I hear her strong-willed letters she has sent

off to the Director of the building. She has written about the sumac bushes around  the

lake, telling the staff that they should be trimmed, they hinder the residents view while

sitting on the patio. She feels her ‘rent’ should cover gardening and pruning. She wrote

another letter abut the rose bushes, their mites or bugs. She notes, “They need dusting!”

People who are not able to hear well should be paired with others who cannot. She is not

happy when she needs to repeat herself, just as children who must explain themselves

give up and throw their arms up. She misses the bus, when she feels they should ‘Wait on

her.’  Patience is expected by her of others, even when hers is limited at times.

My Dad had admired her ‘spunk’ and her strength of character. He would find it here, still

in large quantities of self-assurance. She still delights in mischief and would still capture

his heart, were he still on Earth….

 

While the rain dripped down upon the branches outside her balcony, she stopped several

times yesterday to exclaim over their appearance, using these words:

glistening,

glowing,

shining,

trembling

branches.

When the rosy-colored purplish hued sky was about to lay the sun to rest,

she had a radiant face aglow watching it from her balcony.

She turned to me, more than three times yesterday to say,

“I have never seen the Fall leaves so special!”

“This view is the Best one I have ever had!”

I could picture her, as a girl, fully appreciating nature’s wonderful changing, colorful

palette. I also thought of her bravery while children taunted her and for some reason

knew to call her, “Zema Puss.” Yes, she had had arthritis and eczema but had always

been beautiful inside and out. She had undaunted courage given her by her parents.

 

Giving the teen-aged servers candy in the dining room, this is one of her ways of

showing she includes the next generation. She may forget where her eyeglasses,

keys, purse, checkbook, medical card and other ‘meaningless’ items are, but she

takes the time to every season or holiday to spend money to make up bags of

candy for the ‘kids.’ She also says a few French words to the one who is studying

French, a much longer passage of Spanish to the one who is in her third year.

She asks Zach, who has this movie star quality, about his theater productions

and his college courses in drama and English. I have no clue why she is able

to retain this information and use the whole concept I used while raising three

teenagers: “They must have ‘selective memory!'”

As she leaves the dining room, she grabs packages of sugar, Sweet n Low packs,

and a handful of mints at the Hostess Station. She may be one of the best ‘pack rats’

around. She even gives that sly glance sideways, to see if anyone notices how big a

wad of those peppermints she has stuck in her pockets.

 

Mom is a quieter, less sure woman at night, as she turns on the light in the closet,

leaving the door askew, pushing the nightlights on in the bathroom (one), kitchen

(two), living room, (three and four), and the hallway (five). She looks down at her

little shadow, Nicki, and says,

“She gets scared of the dark. Hope it is okay to have so many of these on, Robin.

Will you be able to find your way to the bathroom?”

When I look down at Nicki, I almost perceive a gentle shrug of the shoulders, as

if her dog is saying,

“Let her have this habit. No big deal. Give this to her.”

Later, when I need to use same nightlights to guide me to the bathroom, I tiptoe

in to gaze upon her sleeping, serene countenance. A moment of remembrance of

doing this ritual with my own children, now my grandies when they sleepover. I

imagine her doing this for each of her three children, as we slept peacefully.

I kiss her forehead and whisper, “Sweet dreams, Mama.”

 

Holding my hand, we go to the doctors. I hope this one will go smoother than the

one this summer, when frustrated with her purse’s zippers, she threw her photo

ID and her medical card at the poor, slightly impatient receptionist, who repeated

the request instead of just waiting as Mom searched…

As we leave the doctor’s office, after paying her co-pay, I tell her that she doesn’t

have to go to another doctor until next July. She nods, repentant,  turning to tell

the receptionist, “Have a wonderful day and Happy Thanksgiving!”

 

Walking together, we lean in.

I am fully blessed,

counting the time (and steps)

I have left with my mother.

Thrift Store and Road Trip Adventures

Standard

The road to almost anywhere seems to take you much longer than the

trip home. My brothers give me directions around Cleveland, forgetting

my crooked path that began on the lake which I call ‘home’ to the small

towns I have lived in and then back again, to visit again. The total number

of years away are much more than the years I lived at ‘home.’ I had lived 6

years in Bowling Green, Ohio, four while attending college and two while

young, newly married and teaching middle school. I spent 5 years farther

south, in Lancaster, Ohio, and a big chunk of 28 years in my chosen (picked

it on a map) location of Delaware, Ohio.

So, we valiantly set off to a short distance away to go shopping. Mom and I

were off on another one of our adventures, traveling around the city streets,

some I have forgotten their names. “Fasten your seat belt, Mom! Hold onto

your hat, since the windows will be down it is such a beautiful and warm

day!”

Mom and I ate lunch out at a casual location, fortifying for our shopping

expedition. So serious, that Mom had made a list and so had I! We were

heading towards Lorain Road (one town over, North Olmsted) from Center

Ridge Road (Westlake). We located the Dr.’s office we would go to on Wed.,

along with the Dr.’s office we would head towards on Thurs. Then, we were

on Busy and much traveled, Dover Center Road. We passed the church where

my early days of Girl Scouts had met, along with a house of where one of my

Mom’s favorite fellow Westlake (Demons) teachers had lived. They live out

West in Colorado, writing letters and exchanging cards with Mom.

When we arrived on Lorain Road, I traveled East first; nope!  Wrong direction!

I saw an outstanding and extraordinarily low priced familiar gas station, where

there were several people, one elderly man who may have been retired, chatting

by the door of the place. It is one where Brazilian coffee has joined the hot brews,

along with my favorite cappuccino mixes. Having had three days of the Senior

Apartment brewed coffee, a little above average and the Maxwell House instant

coffee my Mom drinks all day, I decided to grab a flavored ice tea for Mom and

pre-pay for some gas. I left my Mom’s windows open and locked her in. We gave

a little laugh, since she knows I worry a lot about her memory and her safety, too.

I was told I was only a few hundred feet to get to Dollar General and only two

blocks away from Giant Eagle, whose plaza has a huge Volunteers of America

Thrift Store. I thanked the men who were gathered on the step of the gas station,

and gave the elderly, very genuinely concerned man a brief but sincere hug. He

laughed and said, “You made my day, Honey.”

Once we got in the doors of the V. of A. Thrift Store, we checked carefully for the

“Colors of the Day” chart. I repeated them twice to Mom, since the color of orange

meant 50% off the price tags of that color, the color of green meant a whopping

75% off.

We spent over two hours searching for our own respective list of ‘clothing needs.’

Which for me usually includes dark and patterned shirts and jeans that are ‘not too

tight’ for my warehouse job. She was fascinated by the Halloween decorations, I had

to insist she had her ‘door and shelves covered with October décor.’ Once I had her

steered towards the relaxed pants and turtle necks part of the store, I could head off

into the misses and juniors areas.  I went back to her twice, to find her cart piled

high in clothes she WISHED she could wear. I loved the attitude coming from her,

really like her sparkling belief that she can still wear pants with belts and shirts

with buttons. We had to put the black pin striped suit she wanted to wear ‘to go to

meetings in’ back. I got her to go back one row over where the pants were elastic-

waisted and the shirts were pullovers.

This time I headed off to the Sundries department. It makes you think of a garage

sale or one of those big flea markets that are set up on fairgrounds. Twice I had to

stop people to ask first, for the frames area and then, for the photo albums area.

I found five albums for my grandkids’ photos, various covers and styles from a

big pile of these. I liked the ones I found for the girls, one with flowers, another

with a geometric design and the ones for the boys, one had a red ‘leather’ look

for my oldest, Skyler and another had a green ‘leather’ look for Landen. The

others will be ‘jazzed up’ like I do with dollar store albums, using stickers and

little bit of acrylic paint designs. So much money saved and I may have told you

this summer I printed out 700 photographs, dating back to Fall, 2013. Yikes!

Blogging has taken me away from my usual careful seasonally printing off the

pictures and individually separating them into 6 distinct albums. My grandies

have looked more into their past, then their recent happenings, when they go

to my four foot stack of photo albums, one for each season of their lives.

The other great find was a beautiful mahogany or cherry antique frame to put

my #86 Birthday Gift to my Mother in. I know how much she loves Autumn

leaves and found a beautiful branched photograph, with multiple leaves of

brilliant shades to place a male red cardinal on and the step below him, a

female yellow cardinal perched on a branch. I painted this in watercolors,

starting in early October. The frame was a ‘firm’ price, not one that will be

reduced by its tag, $3.99. What a bargain! I gave my Mom her gift early, since

we have plans for dinner Wednesday with my youngest brother and his wife,

then on Friday with my ‘older’ brother, just 18 months younger than I. (We

ran around in a ‘pack’ from childhood through high school, 3 born in 4 years.)

Here were Mom’s purchases in a list:

1. Four pairs of elastic waist pants,

*Pink ones made of denim material, brand new condition. Mom’s favorite color.

*Blue jeans, a nice dark denim with large, deep pockets. She acknowledged their

benefits by saying,

“Robin, I can put tissues and my keys in this pocket and the doggie bags in the

other one. Some may call them doggie doo doo bags… but I also put her treats

from my dinner in them, too.” (Not at the same time nor same bag, may I add!)

*Black soft cotton material pants with pockets. They may resemble sweat pants,

but she wears this style to bed and to answer the door in the morning.

* Black sturdier, some acrylic/polyester material pants that look ‘dressy’ and less

worn. Mom exclaimed about her next three purchases that would be worn with

these same pants,

“Robin, look at this beautiful jacket for the holidays, this red turtleneck and this

red cowl necked sweater! You will not believe how lucky I was at finding them!”

 

 

Here is the best part of the red plaid wool jacket labeled, Norton McNaughton,

with its black velvet color and such a Scottish printed plaid:

It was marked “99 cents” and happened to be a green tag, so take 75% off and

Mom paid only one quarter for this jacket, with its freshly dry cleaned tag attached.

 

The trip back home was short and sweet, we sipped our tea, (Mom’s) and coffee,

(mine) quite content to bask in our wonderful purchases. We stopped on the way

home to sit in the woods of Bradley Woods Park, looking at the busy squirrels, the

chirping birds and sun glowing colors of Autumn. I pulled out of my purse two

Milky Way bars and two little dark chocolate Hershey kisses. We felt like we were

almost in Heaven.

 

A flyer in Mom’s door had a religious message but I loved the

quote:

“The Clock

The clock of life is wound but once,

and no man has the power

to tell just when the hands will stop

at late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,

To lose one’s health is more.

To lose one’s soul is such a loss

That no one can restore.”

(Author Unknown, found on a religious tract)

 

*As far as I am concerned,

in this poem, the word,  “soul”

can mean our enthusiasm and

sometimes Grace. ~Robin E. O. Cochran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trio of 2014 Children’s Books

Standard

When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming

and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing

home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on

top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes

and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.

Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would

cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along

with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children

I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents

whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count

on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which

included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations

they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my  ‘back up’

babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I

‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the  7 years, 9 summers  watched their kids.

When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were

planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get

our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics

and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine

included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the

water would be nice and warm in the morning.

I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget.  I did

not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their

Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher

conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go

wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys

have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.

I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,

which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many

more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She

listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.

The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in

their bedroom.

My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means

they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four

children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter

books.

The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested

in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include

Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is

a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one

that is quite dramatic!

 

1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated  by

Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,

“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes

was quite beautiful and artistic.  Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the

movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys

and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle,  mentioned the quote, “Actions

speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt

this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,

using descriptions and  her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her

preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she

thinks.

 

 

2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,

was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book

which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town

in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri

feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery.  In the

true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set

out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to

inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been

added to every scene. Glorious!  This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an

‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring

Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.

Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone

of the story told in simple prose.

 

3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure

his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This

book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had

read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.

He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very

lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come

alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates

in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of  ages 4-8. I also

was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the

phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.

 

What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?