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Christmas Memories

December 25, 2016

How did Christmas sneak up on me?  It is on Sunday and we’ve barely finished Thanksgiving.  Christmas has definitely changed over the decades – yikes, it is literally decades at this point.  Growing up, Christmas was like the rest of the year – family time.  My Dad once told me if they could take the three of us, they didn’t want to go.  I don’t remember Christmas the 1st 7 years of my life in Southern California – my memories are of 1955 when we moved to this house in Seattle.

We usually bought a Christmas tree a week before Christmas, but it went into a bucket of water at the bottom of the outside basement stairs.  There was a  store called Chubby and Tubby that had 99 cent trees.  We would all split up and look for a tree in the lot – then we had to decide which would be our tree.  I usually saw a cool tree – being held by someone else.  I loved the smell of Douglas fir – that is the smell of Christmas to me.

Christmas Eve was when we decorated the house with greens and put up the terrace.  We had a holly tree next to the house and a cedar type hedge by the drive and usually a fir somewhere by the canyon.  As the Christmas cards arrived in the mail, my Mom hung a ribbon or two to the front door and taped up the cards.  She had hooked a NOEL hanging for the front door, so sometimes that went up first and the cards were on ribbons on either side of the fireplace.

During this time, Mom would be making Christmas cookies and we “helped”.  It was mainly decorating, though whatever we did, it was fun to be in the kitchen with all those wonderful smells.   And Christmas fudge – a recipe Dad got from someone at North American.  He was told it is the See’s fudge recipe – whether it is or not, it’s wonderful!! I remember Mom putting it in the hall closet to cool off.  We would also go out to the see the Christmas Ship   –  yacht decorated with lights and a different choir every night singing carols.  There were small boats following it, also decorated with lights.  They would stop at different places w here a bonfire was built and they would anchor in as close as they could and play carols to all of us on shore.  There was a schedule published for the week or so they did it, on the lake and the Sound.

Afterwards, we would be cold, so we came home for hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

The day before Christmas we decorated the house.  The tree went up and after Dad tied it to the curtain rod to keep it from falling.  He put on the lights while the rest of us decorated its.  We never had a “coordinated tree”, the decorations were from different times.  There were some from when Mom and a Dad were first married, some came from friends or we made; others were bought to supplement those that broke – it was a hodge podge – our own special hodge podge.  We had to keep filling the pan for the tree with water because the cats kept drinking it.  We were fortunate it didn’t occur to any of them to climb the tree.

One year we put up the tree a week before Christmas – we all were tired of it before Christmas arrived.  By doing it Christmas Eve, then the next morning was Christmas.  Mom made a sour cream coffee cake for breakfast and then we opened our gifts.  Then Mom made a proper breakfast.

When my older sister was married, Mom  decided to have Christmas Eve, then they would spend Christmas with his family.  when I was married, I went out of the country.  Our first Christmas as a married couple was in Australia – it didn’t feel like Christmas because its was in the middle of summer.  We had a rather sad artificial tree with some ornaments.  What I do remember is one of the women at the store where I worked asked me the significance of a white Christmas.  That brought me up short until I realized all the Christmas cards, movies, etc. show snow – how could they connect in the middle of summer?

The worst day was Thanksgiving – no one there knew what it was or why we celebrate it.  I made the mistake of thinking what Mom and Dad would be doing and it really upset me.  I couldn’t really explain why I felt that way to the other women.  When I came home from work, Eddie had cooked a whole chicken for us.

When we came back from Australia, we were living in San Francisco and no money to go to Seattle for Christmas.  So Mom and Dad and my younger sister came to us for Christmas.  After that, Eddie was able to arrange business trips to Seattle, we just had to pay for my ticket.  So for many years we went to Seattle for Christmas and my sisters would come too.

One year our godson from Australia came for a 6 week visit – 2 weeks in LA where we lived, 2 weeks in Seattle for Christmas and 2 weeks in LA before we left for home.  it was an interesting time, I took pictures, bought postcards and assembled a photo album so he could show his family.  It took some time to do the album, so it was after he left that it was done.

When he came up here, we had a small fir tree by the drive that was big enough for a Christmas tree.  He and Dad cut it down and put it up in the living room.  We also went to dinner at Ivar’s salmon house by the locks and the Christmas ship was going through.  We had a lose up view and heard the carols.

When our 2nd oldest niece came t3o visit, she w as amazed because it wasn’t like Jerusalem at all.  My parents took her on a walk down to the beach on an old logging road – she said she had never been in a forrest before.  SHE saw Vashon from our window and wanted to see an island – not sure what she expected.  I was surprised to find there aren’t Christmas trees and decorations in Jerusalem.

When she was here, we started new tradition – a middle eastern buffet for Christmas Eve dinner.   My sisters were still coming for Christmas and we continued it for several years.  It was getting harder to travel during Christmas and my sisters haven’t been here for quite a while.  Both Eddie and I were glad not to travel this year to Toronto – we love being with them but the getting there and coming home is not always easy.

Lately Christmas has been quiet – my Mom and dementia and for 2 years we went to Toronto to our oldest niece and her family.  This year is just us and for Christmas dinner, we have invited a good friend.

Although things are different, there are always reminders, big and small, of all the Christmases in my life.

Wishing everyone a lovely Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

Stuck in the house again!

March 13, 2016

I haven’t been able to write or read much the last two weeks – I had to have surgery for the Basel Cell cancer I put off taking care of promptly.  It was on the end of my nose and now I have a new nose on the right side.  It was very deep and they had to take a skin graft from my forehead and use that to create the new half.  The first part was the MOHS surgeon used a local for the procedure – a very, very uncomfortable process.  He took the cancer and found there were no roots, then bandaged me up with a kind of round bandage on my nose.  When I saw it, I thought I could paint it red and say I was an off duty clown.

The next morning was the reconstruction surgery, this time a general anesthetic.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to feel that!  Unfortunately I have not  been able to wear my glasses very well because the pedicle (skin flap) is along my nose and part of my forehead.    As a result, my world has been blurry for the past 2 weeks.  I can see things, just not clearly – someone turned the focus dial down.  This coming week I will have surgery again to remove the pedicle – they wanted it to  stay for 3 weeks.  The two  things I am not happy about are:   1. the nose mustache because they had to go up a bit into my hairline.  2.  The nerve in the pedicle is up on my forehead and that is where the pain is – feels as if I keep being stabbed with an ice pick.

When I first took the bandage off, I was horrified to see how drastic it was.  I have a scar down my forehead in a straight line, from my hairline to my eyebrow.  Then there is the patch of new skin sewn around the right side of my nose.  The pedicle was still bandaged but looked awful – I felt like a train wreck.  It was so depressing and scary.  I am as vain as anyone and I felt as if my face was cut up and it would look terrible – I have kept the bandages on because I am uncomfortable looking at it.  I didn’t show it to Eddie.  I have had a long narrow bandage from my forehead to the end of my nose since it was done.

The week after surgery I went back to have the staples and sutures out – he was pleased, though doctors are always low-key.  His comment was the skin graft is viable.  I will admit, I have had no desire to be seen like this – a woman in elevator when I went to remove stitches commented ” They really trussed you up”.  I found I could smile and laugh about it.  Even so, I was glad to be home.  When I changed the bandage yesterday, it was the first time it did;t look very bad – I even showed it to Eddie.

I won’t have to go through all the hoops for the second part that I went through for the first.  They needed a pre-op from Doc Pierce, and EKG and questions, questions, questions.  No doubt we’ll do questions again, but I think all the other stuff I did is still valid for this surgery.  Then I will have to do another surgery for my right temple – that has been there even longer.  Not looking forward to that one.

The hardest part has been not being able to take a proper shower.  I have a small sore on my calf that is a result of a car door that  hit my leg.  Normally it isn’t a big deal, but it didn’t heal.  When I saw the dermatologist, she said it was an ulcer because I have had edema in my legs for quite a while and there is scar tissue.  So every week I go and have the bandage change – they do a compression wrap to help release the fluid.  As a result, I have lost 10 pounds, though all this sitting around and not being able to do stuff has probably added some more weight.  She had me do a vascular ultrasound to see how the veins are doing.  I went for the ultrasound and now you can hear it as well as see it.  Really cool.  Fortunately my veins are fine, no reconstructive surgery for them.  But I can’t get it wet and that means spit baths ( the tech at the wound care center called it a duck bath.)  It was really bad the 10 days I couldn’t wash my hair – oh, it was ugly and felt terrible.  I used a dry shampoo a couple of times, but it really isn’t that great.

Life is rather limited at the moment, I have been catching up on old movies on TCM – some I have seen, quite a few I haven’t.  I like those movies better than the ones now – great entertainment without a lot of “message”.  Eddie bought Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” and of the 6 trailers they had, only 2 looked interesting.  Usually none appeal to us or only 1.  If I write any more, it will end up being whingeing and that isn’t part of my blog.

Update – Christmas 2015

January 12, 2016

I was reminded that my last post had no pictures – unlike the previous one.  So instead of going back to a post you have already read, I will put pictures here with some titles so it makes sense.

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This is Uncle John and  his niece Rose.

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Not the  best picture of Raouf’s brother and Uncle John’s wife Bernadette.

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This is the dining room – it was loaded for dinner and dessert also was full.

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Raouf near the front door.  No picture of Rose’s daughter, I was talking with her and didn’t have my camera.

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This is the main street of Niagara Falls.  To the left as you go down further are the hotels.

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I always wondered how both the U.S. and Canada could each have Niagara Falls – this is how it is done.

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Canadian side

There is a road all the way along the falls and the river, so you can drive but parking is practically nonexistent.  There is a side walk all along the edge so you can see everything.  You can see the American side and the platform they built so people could really see the falls.  A bit more to the left is the bridge to the U.S. side.

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The hotels are on top of the hill and overlook the falls -that’s why they advertise what spectacular views you have from your hotel room.

The next part is a continuation – so I have already put some of the photos in now instead of in the next part.

Christmas 2015

January 4, 2016

I was amazed yesterday I had the energy to write a post – it hasn’t been that way for quite a while.  This bronchitis has taken all my energy and most of my breath.  It doesn’t take much for me to be winded – I walked up the sidewalk from the garage yesterday and I was out of breath.  However, I seem to be doing a lot better than I was.  I’m starting to feel more my regular self.  It would have been much nicer to be feeling this well in Toronto, but when I think of how I felt when the doc gave me antibiotics and when I went to Canada, there was quite a difference then.

I wasn’t sure I would be  able to pack for the trip. but I did.  We had to be up about 3:30 in the morning to catch our 8 a.m. fight – I wasn’t sleeping all that well, so it wasn’t that difficult to be awake and get dressed.  Just before Shuttle Express came, there was a call from them to say they had upgraded us to a town car – no charge.  So it was just us.  It was a  SUV and Eddie had to push my tush to get up – no problem getting out, I just slid to the ground.    While we were waiting at the gate, Santa and his elf came by.  The kids loved it and then he came to us.  He asked if Eddie had been good and I told him he had been very, very good.  He said I was buttering him up, that I wanted something bug from him – a new kitchen.   I told Santa I already have a new kitchen and new car – that  threw him for a bit.  We had a picture taken with him and he went on to his next conquest.

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We had a direct flight and everything went well, except I was coughing all the time.  Raouf and Sonia were there to meet us and we drove back to their house.  We spent a lot of the visit talking and being together – they are so much fun.  A lot of time I don’t really know what is going on because it is in Arabic, but it is great for Eddie not only to practice it, but to talk with people who know Jerusalem, the family and the things about it.  He doesn’t have to explain himself because they know what he means.  There was also a lot of English, so it worked out fine.

The next day was Christmas Eve and there is a family dinner that night after we watch the service from Bethlehem.  It has been the 6 of us the past 2 years – Eddie and me, Sonia and Raouf and the two boys.  This year Juries and Brahim both have girlfriends and so they were invited.  Juries’ girlfriend is Serbian Jew and Brahim’s is Vietnamese.   We all had a great time at dinner, they decided to try a new place.  It was great, though I appreciated the simple menu section – everything else seemed to have so much food.  I hate to leave food on my plate when it tastes lovely, but I have limited capacity and don’t like to feel stuffed and uncomfortable.

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Christmas gifts were opened when we came home – we usually send ours and I take gift bags but I never got out to buy more.  Fortunately there were bags from last year, so it worked out fine.  We got in the habit of going to bed late and getting up late in the morning.  I slept well some nights, some not so restful.  Eddie either caught some of my stuff or developed his own cold – he and I were a real pair.  He seemed to be stuffed up most of the time, plus coughing and blowing his nose.

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Christmas Day we relaxed, then late in the afternoon we went to Raouf’s uncle’s house.  We had gone there last year and met a lot of his family.  This year was no exception, though one of his brothers wasn’t there.  His wife has MS and she was in a scooter last year.  Now she can’t walk and everything is difficult for her.  Brahim and Juries came in the other car and spent the time downstairs in another apt with the younger group.  John’s daughter was married in the summer, so they had the videotape of the wedding running.  It was quite interesting and because Victor is Portuguese, they arranged to have the Portuguese club come and dance.  Meanwhile, everyone is talking, mostly in Arabic, some English.  Last year I sat by John and we had a lovely time.

Road’s brother in Jerusalem was taken to the hospital – he has diabetes and continues to smoke, drink and not take care of himself.  Fortunately he recovered and was due to go home in a couple of days.  I was glad when we went home because I was tired, but so glad we went.

December 26th is boxing Day, so we went to 2 Middle Eastern stores to buy things. They took us to one we hadn’t been to before – Yikes, you should have seen the traffic in the parking lot!  We found a place fairly near and went in, though it seemed there were only a few things they buy there.  then we went to the one went to last year – now that is an Armenian grocery.  It has a welcoming feel whereas the other is like an impersonal supermarket.  It is so mush fun to look at all they have – this year we didn’t buy anything to take home.

Looks as if this will go into Part 2.

Threads Part 2

November 15, 2015

Since last week’s blog ran so long, I am doing a Part 2.

Then it was time to see Kat in the afternoon for more therapy.  Since she has measurements, we did some exercises and stretching as well as massage.  It was almost enjoyable.  Friday I went to see Dr. Cheryl for an adjustment – I enjoy seeing her and what she does to help me.  I would have had a nap afterwards but we were going to a gala at the Museum of History and Industry in their new home over at the south end of Lake Union.  We were invited by Mike, the Boeing historian, he had a table from Boeing and he wanted to fill it.  Unfortunately his wife Carla wasn’t feeling well – she has been dealing pneumonia and wasn’t up to coming.  I was sorry because I wanted to see her.  Their son wasn’t able to come either because he had to work.  Somehow Friday at 5:30 is not the optimum time for a gala.

Eddie came home  fairly early Friday so he could change and we would still have time to make it to MOHAI.  The invitation said black tie was optional, Eddie decided to wear his suit.  What a great surprise to find it still fit – he used to wear it when he went to Korea.  I put on my embroidered vest from the Palestinian women – a little too much boob for it to fit well, but it was fine.  We weren’t sure how long it would take us to get there, we took the Viaduct and were surprised it wasn’t backed up.  However, getting through on surface streets wasn’t a picnic.  We ended up being very early – once we figured out how to get into the place.  Apparently we came in the exit – the entrance was on another street.  They had valet parking, so we took my car because Eddie didn’t want anyone to drive his Volvo.  He wasn’t happy having someone drive my car either.

We were practically the first ones there.  Some men came in black tie, about 50/50.  Now I realize it was a great time to go tour the museum, but my legs weren’t all that comfortable.  They have a high atrium in the the middle with a plane hanging and Slo Mo IV.  There are 2 or 3 stories around the atrium, I could see some exhibits.  In the back area they had the silent auction.  It was fun to see what was available and later they had a live auction.  Eddie knew the caterer because he had done meetings up at Future of Flight.  The food was good and not in huge portions,  we had a great time.  It was the first time in a long time I had an opportunity to talk with Mike.  He is easy to talk with and is interested in so many things.  The other people at the table are people Eddie knows, so he was at ease.

When they finished the speeches, they went on to the live auction.  this a group of heavy hitters, the prizes went for  quite a lot of money – at least to me.  There was one that looked like fun – a weekend stay at the Rainier Club for 4 people with a special chef catered dinner.  I thought that would be fun with Vickie and Rich.  It went for at least $4000, not quite in my budget.  After the auction items, they had a donor who gave $25,000 – who would match it?  There were at least 3 others who matched it.  The $20,000 all the way down to $1000.  By the time things were done, they had raised $475,000 for MOHAI.

We decided to spend $50 on the raffle prize – about $1000 restaurant package.  It included Canlis – about the only way we will get there.  Just a few numbers away from the winning number.  The raffle tickets came with a blinking ring, they only had 100 tickets and they sold them all.  Everyone with a blinking ring showed who bought the tickets.  At the end of the evening, Jake asked me if he could have my ring for his granddaughter – I was wondering what I would do with it.  So I gave it to him to make his granddaughter happy.

We came home around 10 or 10:30 and it was close to midnight when we went to bed.  I slept until 9 the next morning – Eddie was up a little earlier.  It was a fun and interesting evening and I am glad we went.

Saturday it was pouring all day, we decided to do our errands and head home.  That Sunday Eddie went down to the car museum in Tacoma – fortunately it wasn’t raining.

That was some week.

Slowly Returning To My Life

October 25, 2015

Things started slowly this week and ended up more eventful than I expected.  Monday I only went out around Burien to do a couple of things – I like the choice of going out or staying home a lot more than stuck at home.  I also need to walk more to reduce inertia and liturgy as well as slowly build energy.  Monday was a very quiet day.

Tuesday I decided it was time to go on 518 where the accident happened.  I went down to Southcenter going east on 518, walked  through several stores and just enjoyed being out on my own again.  Then I needed to go home and although I wasn’t nervous or shaky about going back the way where I was hit, I asked God to give me everything I needed and I would just show up and get out of the way.  So I don’t think I was uptight to stressed, mostly I wanted to do it and get it done – back on the horse, so to speak.  Everything went well and I was fine, though looked in the mirror a lot to be sure about traffic behind me as well as in front of me.  I arrived home safely and relieved to have jumped over a small hurdle.

Wednesday ended up being one of those busy days.  I went to Breakfast Club for the first time since the accident – they were pleased to see me and I was happy to be there.  It only felt a tiny bit odd after 3 months, but I figure it will be familiar again by next week.  Our numbers are a bit sparse lately, not sure if people are busy with business or something else.  I know one is out for surgery and chemo for a while, a new member has been home because his wife had surgery.  I haven’t met him yet.

Afterwards I went to south center again, picked up a couple of things on sale I had seen the day before.  I checked out a couple of other places and then it was time to go home.  My feet and legs were shouting at me and I paid attention.  Eddie and I were meeting back here at 1 because it was doctor afternoon.  First stop was the dermatologist – I have been putting off having a couple of spots on my face seen to – way too long.  I remember the last time I had biopsy done in earlier years and it was a very unpleasant experience I didn’t want to repeat.  But Eddie and my rheumatologist decided it was time.  So I had a full body exam and she found 3 places she wanted to biopsy – the 2 on my face and one on the back of calf I had no idea about because I couldn’t see it.

Eddie decided he didn’t want to be in the room while they were done – no big surprise.  It was a good thing because I really came apart jut having the anesthetic injected – crying and upset.  I’m not usually like that, though I will protest when it hurts, I think something else emotional was going on as well.  So she took the biopsy and the one on my calf needed stitches.  I will have to admit I didn’t feel the actual biopsy, but I was so glad it was over.  She also froze several spots on my face and arm.  I looked as if I had been in bar fight.  I was given instructions on how to care for them and I will see her in 2 weeks to remove the stitches and find out the results of the biopsy.

Then we went to see my rheumatologist – she wasn’t there but I saw Jennifer, she was Dr. Sheets nurse so I am glad to see her every once in a while.  Then to Infusion for my Orencia.  It was also the evening of the Museum of Flight Volunteer dinner that started at 6.  We finished everything about 5, definitely traffic time.  If we had gone, we would have been late.  However, I just wanted to put on my jammies and crawl into bed.  Eddie has been dealing with cold or flu, we really don’t know what it is but he is feeling ratty.  He didn’t want to give it to the people at the dinner, we opted to go home, have a light dinner and relax.

Whatever he has, I want no part of it, so I have been taking Vitamin C and my Chinese herb capsules.  So far so good.  Thursday evening we cleared things out and found Mom’s bed – we put clean sheets on it so Eddie could sleep there and not give me his stuff.  Does seem strange to be alone in bed, I have bunny to keep me company.  although I am tired at night, I haven’t been sleeping very well, not sure what is going on.

Friday was the end of Eddie’s first week working at Andy’s.  He has found there is not really any organization – just the kind of challenge he likes.  He has been enjoying himself, thought the “stuff” has made him uncomfortable and he felt so ratty that he was home early.  We were both tired and decided soup was a great idea.  A cup of tea in the evening really hit the spot for both of us.

Saturday we just went to PFI for cheese, olives, and halva; then over to Uwajamaya for fruits and veg.  It was a cold, raw day, so we did our errands quickly and came home.  I took a nap and Eddie did the laundry – then I folded it when I got up.  Today is cold and wet, we have been inside all day – should help Eddie get over the “stuff”.  As for me, so far, so good.  Which reminds me, I need to have my capsules and Vitamin C now.

One Year Ago Today

October 8, 2015


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Today, October 8th, 2014 was a Wednesday and as I was about to start getting ready for Breakfast Club, the phone rang.  It was Judy from the adult family home where Mom was living – she called to tell us Mom had died in her sleep about 4:50 a.m.  I realized that was less than half an hour ago.  It upset me but also it was relief for all of us, especially for Mom.  She didn’t want to be here as the dementia began its course and she often asked why she couldn’t just go.  Sometimes I think she was afraid, not sure whether it was true Dad was waiting for her.  A relief  for her that she was no longer afraid, confused and stressed.  Even though she was at the point where she slept a lot and didn’t necessarily know who I was, it was a sad and happy time.  I went to Breakfast Club that morning because I didn’t want to be alone – my friends there were so caring and loving when I told them.

When I was planning the Celebration of Life, I asked my friend Julia to help with a post card to send or hand out to people inviting them.  She did such a lovely card.

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The pictures on the left were taken in 1937 – I think it was about the time she was at Pratt Institute.  The larger one is of her when she went to dance.  The picture on the right was taken in 2008 when my sister Candy had a book signing here in Seattle.  The background is supposed to be lavender, one of Mom’s favorite colors.  I liked the touches of pink because she loved pink as well.  I decided to have a bit of green because she had a wonderful way with plants – wish I had inherited her green thumb.

As I looked at the pictures for the postcard, I thought about as her younger self and found some pictures that make me think of her especially.

 

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This was the house where grew up – 1715 ma

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Fortunately Dad wrote dates and places on the photos

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This also about 1919.

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Every summer for several years her Dad would rent a house at Clinton, Conn – right on Long Island Sound.  Many of the other family members also rented houses there.

I remember as we were growing up hearing stories of her childhood and her relatives – The seven Smith sisters and their young brother Charlie. They put the “fun” in dysfunctional.  Her brother Don used to drive them to places and he needed a scorecard token track of who wasn’t speaking to home, who was talking to whom.  He used to tell stories about them – I began to call them the Awesome Seven.  There was Aunt Bertha, Katie, Victoria, Amelia and Tillie – I can’t remember the other 2.Aunt Amelia and Aunt Tillie were the most interesting.  Aunt Amelia worn long, baggy and drab sweater and dress from the missionary box.  Don said he always thought the uncles’ first names were Poor.

Aunt Amelia was married to Poor Allie – Allen – who worked as a night watchmen at Brown Thompson, a well know department store.  He dies before her and she lived a few years after.  When she died, the family went to clean out the house and found a lot of Brown Thompson boxes filled with lovely new clothes – with price tags.  Now no one is sure if Poor Allie “liberated them from the store or just what the story was; but Aunt Amelia never wore the clothes.

Aunt Tillie was the pot stirrer, so the family was glad when she and Poor George moved to Meriden.  Poor George worked for International Silver and on summer evening he was  a night watchmen in the park.  It gave him a great opportunity to enjoy looking at the ladies.  I suspect Aunt Till was not the easiest person to live with, she was a bit peculiar.  When Poor George died, she moved back to Glastonbury near the family and stirred the pot most of the time.  She had Poor George buried in Glastonbury and she arranged for a bench to be put by his grave.  Every day she would go down to his grave and cry.

She was living on the second floor of a two family hose, when she died she wanted to be put in her coffin there and then brought down.  Mom’s brothers had to hoist the coffin up the outside and into the window.   While they were having a service there, Uncle Howard jack knifed in the chair – took a while to rescue him.  Then they decided to take the coffin down the stairs – unfortunately Mom’s brothers had a problem and Tillie went down the stairs end over end.

We grew up hearing about the aunts, mostly Aunt Marion, Aunt Dot and Aunt Marge.  They were her father’s sisters, though Aunt Marge was an aunt by marriage.  But I always think of them as a trio.  When Mom’s parents went away, the kids stayed with Aunt Dot and Uncle Howard; they had no children and they enjoyed looking after Mom and her brothers, later her much younger sister.  Aunt Marion was the only one who supported Mom when she went out to California right after Pearl Harbor to marry Dad.

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I think this was taken at “The Farm”, the house Grandfather bought in Waterford on the Connecticut River.

Ruth Paull-2

I know this was taken on the river in Waterford.

Mom came from a big family, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. in town.  I have always wondered what it was like to grown up that way, though it was lonely for Mom  for quite a while.  During the war she made a trip up to Glastonbury to show her family Ellen – the first grand child.  Around 1964 or 65 she went back for her Dad’s funeral – she was a little embraced to say she had a wonderful time.  When she came home, she started rug hooking and volunteering for Traveler’s Aid at the airport.  In 1970 Mom and Dad started a custom wood business for sailboats – Dad had been told he wouldn’t have a job in 1971 and he retired to the business.  By then, all of us girls had left home, so they were too busy to experience the empty nest syndrome.

Ruth Paull-4

This was the small desk in the airport when she started.  What a change from then to now.

They ran the business until 2000 together and when Dad died, Mom continued to run the business for 4 or 5 years.  She was in her 80’s by that time and she decided she didn’t want to be a captain of industry any more.  She continued to volunteer at Traveller’s Aid until it was decided to discontinue it – some bright spark at the Port had some ideas of her own and wanted to build her own empire.  So Traveller’s Aid was thrown out.  Really bugged Mom, but she started volunteering at the Senior Center Thrift shop.  She enjoyed it a lot and really liked the women there.   There was a burst pipe and rather than fix it, the city decided to close the shop.  Seems someone had their eye on the property.

These ladies were not about to be kept down; they decided to come here on Mondays to play Mexican Dominos together.  Mom really enjoyed having them here and they didn’t lose touch.  They stopped coming shortly before Mom moved to the adult family home.  Mom was a member of the 1918 Club for quite a few years.  Unfortunately they began to pass away and Mabel in particular was a great friend.  I think Mom missed her a lot after Mabel died.

All this time Mom was rug hooking, making friends and began to teach rug hooking here.  After a while, she told she really didn’t want to teach, she just wanted someone to play with.  So they came every Thursday – they needed to come here and Mom needed them to be here.  It was difficult for her to give up hooking, but her hands and neck were bothering and she couldn’t see any more because of macular degeneration.  I think that robbed her of a lot of thins she loved to do – hooking, reading, gardening  – she wasn’t unhappy to give up driving because she always hated to drive.

Dad tells the story that in 1942 or 1943 she had to learn to drive very quickly.  Her brother Don helped her buy a car in Connecticut and drove with her to , I think, New Bern, NC.  Dad was going out of town on business and she would be left with Ellen by herself.  I think Dad taught her to drive and when they went down to the Motor Vehicle Department, the guy asked Dad if she could drive.  He of course said yes and the guy told Mom “Lady, if your husband thinks you can drive – here’s your license”.  When Dad had to leave, they drove to the train station, he left and Mom had to drive home with baby Ellen.  Unfortunately she got stuck in the middle of a parade – not conducive to feeling comfortable driving.

This has become a lot longer than I planned – I will give it a rest and will probably do another installment.  I’ll see what other pictures I can find – I finally have mastered the fax machine.

That Was The Year That Was

October 4, 2015

In some ways it seems a long time, other times it only happened a little while ago.   A lot of things have happened since my Mom died last year on October 8th, 2014.  I scattered Mom and Dad’s ashes on January 16th, 2015 into the Sound from a ferry – she wanted her ashes combined with Dad’s and I was able to do that for her.  In June I did a Celebration of Life Open House for her and was pleased to see so many people there who knew Mom and Dad, plus special friends of ours.  It was the last thing I did for her, except to remember her and all she gave me and my sisters as our Mom.

I know she was definitely ready to go on the next journey, she missed Dad and Josephine the cat so much.  I  had talked to people who communicate with spirits and they told me Dad and Josephine were waiting for her, there would be a big party to welcome her.  The animal communicator told me Josephine loved them both  – she was definitely their cat.  She also said Josephine was waiting for Mom so she can sit in her lap – how true that was in life.  Some would say it is just woo woo, hocus pocus, goofball, airy fairy nonsense; I don’t agree.

An intuitive told me that Mom kept us at arm’s length because she thought that was how she was supposed to do it – in some things, that explained a lot for me.  I was upset about  seeing her descend slowly into dementia, it was difficult to deal with her and it hurt to lose my Mom and wonder who this woman was who took her place.  I finally realized Mom was teaching me and giving me gifts in the process – it has taken awhile because I was in the middle of all of it.

I took a 6 week grief support class and that helped, I find myself getting teary eyed as I write this – I am not sure where I am in my grief or what works for me.  I know there were many times I wanted to run away and not have to deal with all the changes and what was happening to her.  But there wasn’t anyone else  to help, just Eddie and I.  People told me I would regret not being there for her and I now realize they were right.  There were times when I didn’t want to visit her twice a week, but I didn’t want her to ever think she had been abandoned, so I went.  I mostly read to her towards the end; mostly I put her to sleep.  I brought chocolate each time until she was at a point she couldn’t eat it.

Eddie and I cleaned the house – still a lot of things left – and made sure the furniture went to good homes.   We painted the living room and then brought up our furniture to make it finally our home.  We still have a lot of work to do, but the living room and kitchen makeovers have made an amazing difference.  I wanted it to be done for the Celebration of Life and it was.  Then as I was resting from all of that and getting ready to continue cleaning out, I was rear ended, my car was totaled and my arm was broken in 2 places.  The surgeon has said the humerus is healed after 8 weeks, just be careful and do the exercises he gave me.  I need to be able to drive to have the focused physical therapy to help get me back to as close to normal as possible.

The past 5 years have really helped me grow and mature – I have the confidence I can handle whatever situation comes up, I have a support team and people I can count on for help and information.  I thought I had to do it all myself, it scared me because I had no idea what to do in any given situation.  I’ve felt like a scared little kid for most of my life, it made me feel powerless and helpless.  Now I know I am an adult and I know I can handle it, and/or ask for help.

Stretching to Drive

October 2, 2015

It’s so lovely not to have the sling on, restricting my movements.  I am slowly feeling a little more my regular self each day, though stretching my muscles to be able to drive again is not a comfortable activity.  I have simple exercises to do, some are not all that easy.  I do a few at a time each day and now after a week, I’m not sure which is stiffness from the sling and which is from stretching.  I can see a little progress from last week, I just want to have it all stretched out right now.  Too impatient – where is the patience I have learned from RA?

I find I can sleep on both sides at night, though the left side is a bit uncomfortable.  It feels as if there is a heavy weight on it, the right side is fine.  I still also sleep a bit reclines as well – it’s just so good to have other options at last.

Things have been in a bit of an upheaval at the Future of Flight – Eddie submitted his resignation on Monday.  He is going to be working with our financial advisor in Bellevue learning the basics of financial planning but won’t be selling.  He will be running the office and doing meetings and events – I suspect there will be a lot of other things they will create as well.  We have worked with Andy for several years, he has handled our investments and Roth IRAs doing a really good job.

The focus of the Future of Flight has changed a lot – it is now more education than commercial aviation.  It is the commercial aviation that drew Eddie there and he loved it.  But the fun has gone out of it and the atmosphere is very difficult now, it is time to close the book on it.  He is working with PNAA – they work with suppliers and manufacturers in aviation – they are a great group to be with  and he enjoys working with all of them.

It really feels like Fall now, crisp sunny days and sweater weather.

Later

I called my friend Melanie Hope in Las Vegas this afternoon – she sent me an email to see how I am doing.  I so enjoyed talking with her, once again I realized how much I miss seeing her at Breakfast Club.  We would laugh, joke, talk and everything in between – it is so satisfying to have someone who “gets” me.  I will admit we didn’t do a lot of laughing during this conversation – we both have been through some very difficult times and it helps to tell her things I haven’t sad to anyone else.  I know it will never go farther than the two of us.

I felt so much better after our conversation – she is such an amazing, loving woman.  I so glad we are such good friends, the kind who may talk for months and then pick up right where we left off from the last time.  I hope she felt the same.

Friday

Hmmm, this is going into another day.  I had an email and photo from my sister Ellen; they have buttoned up the hatches and are prepared for Hurricane Joaquin coming up the East Coast.  Ocean Grove seems to get off fairly lightly in storms, so I pray the worst that happens is they just lose their electricity.  She wrote it is supposed to continue through Tuesday.  The hurricane is going out to sea, but close enough to send a lot of rain and wind along the eastern seaboard.

Now our Fall weather has become cloudy and foggy – less bright and cheerful than it was yesterday.  The prediction is for rain – we’ve heard that before and nothing really came of it.  It is just wait and see, dress for what it is at the moment and be prepared to bring a sweater of jacket “just in case”.

Since I can’t think of anything else to write about – no one wants to hear any more about my arm and its progress.

Free At Last !!!!!!!!

September 24, 2015

I saw my surgeon yesterday – end of week 8 – and he said I am healing well.  I don’t have to wear the sling any more.  I still have to be careful and of course I can’t drive yet.  DRAT!  Since I have to be able to drive myself for outpatient focused physical therapy, he gave me some simple exercises that will help me.  I am supposed to see him in 3 or 4 weeks – another period of being housebound.  The good news is I am less hindered now without having to wear the sling and I am healing.  I want to speed it up, it is a slow process and this is where my patience has to really kick in.

This morning was the first time I had a shower by myself in 8 weeks.  Unfortunately my arm doesn’t quite stretch to my tush, so I had to ask  Eddie to help me.  I will be able to stretch in a bit as I use the exercises to get myself back to normal – whatever normal is for me.  Who knows, I will be able to break out of this bubble I have been living in for weeks – I know the world is out there and it has continued on while I have been healing.  I know it has stopped to wait for me, I wonder how it will feel to be independent again and be out on my own.

It’s interesting that the one thing Eddie really noticed was my bruises from the accident.  My right arm was nearly black all over as well as the right side of my back.  He saw the full technicolor range as they began to heal.  I couldn’t see the total picture, I saw the inside of my arm – that was plenty for me.  Now I am back to my regular color again.

I need a haircut in the worst way – I am 8 weeks overdue, it looks shaggy and doesn’t work well.  I have a cowlick that sticks up no matter what I do.  I look a bit like Alfalfa in the Our Gang comedy.  I had  found a great way to comb it over to the left, now it is too long for it to work well.  It covers the cowlick well, when I have it combed to the right, it sticks up.  I’m hoping maybe I can get to Michelle soon.  I know she will be horrified by the trimming I did to keep it from being too shaggy.  I have cut places to make sure I don’t have some bits sticking out – not the best job but it seems to have helped.  Well, that’s from my perspective, not having been able to see the full effect.

I am able to sleep on my right side for brief times – its more comfortable than my left side.  I am so tired of sleeping reclined that I want to sleep in a different position.  Still have to do the reclined but the side sleeping is getting better.  Small improvements take more time to notice.

That’s the update for now – slowly getting better and able to do more things.  Sure beats going backwards!


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