I walked into the bathroom earlier to see that Nephew has been filling in a puzzle in the crossword book I keep in there. It’s a habit I picked up from my grandma, my mom’s mom. She always had a puzzle book in the upstairs bathroom of her house. Sister and I would often start working on one of her puzzles during a visit and carry the book into the bedroom we shared, where between the two of us, we’d end up completing the book before the end of our visit. Poor Grandma; I wonder how many new books we made her start that way.
…has long been my father’s reassurance to Sister and me. Whatever is going on in our lives, no matter our age… if we need to, we can go home for a while and regroup.
As I type this, I’m sitting on a floor in Minnesota, across the room from half-empty bookshelves, a stack of stuffed plastic bins stashed in the closet. In a desert dwelling 1,824 miles away (according to Google), my father is reserving a U-Haul trailer and making road trip plans with his friend. Not far away from him, Sister, Brother-in-Law (BIL), and Nephew are clearing out a room, probably confusing the dogs in the process.
I’m going home.
A message to all parents: Please – please – always be on time to pick up your children!
Last night, HousemateF and I were watching this week’s Castle. Without dropping a spoiler upon the wild wrath of the Internet, let’s just say that there was a very, very cold scene. So I turned to HF and asked her if I’d ever told her about the night my dad was late picking me up from Hunter’s Safety class.
When I was growing up in Wisconsin, my parents hunted: deer, pheasant, grouse, etc. There were shotguns and rifles kept in the house – safely locked up, with the ammunition in a separate, locked drawer. They weren’t hidden or mysterious or glamorous; we knew they were there and exactly what they were for. From a very young age, Sister and I were taught how to handle guns, shoot guns, and – most importantly – respect guns as deadly weapons. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of afternoons spent with Dad, helping him refill shotgun shells. It was also required that, as soon as we were old enough, Sister (not interested in hunting) and I (interested in bow hunting, but never actually went) both go through Hunter’s Safety to learn outdoor activity and gun safety.
By the time I was 12, I was already a crack shot with Dad’s .22 rifle; when my Hunter’s Safety class split in two to take turns at a local shooting range, I (metaphorically!) blew my instructors away with my neat shot cluster in the middle of the target. Meanwhile, my peers were sometimes hitting the middle of the paper, but more frequently scattering their shots from edge to edge and even hitting the wall. But I digress.
Hunter’s Safety was scheduled in the evening, so we kids had time to leave school and go home for dinner before class; and the first class after I turned 12 was, I think, late winter/early spring. On what I remember as a particularly cold evening, Dad was late picking me up. Mom was away, probably in Chicago at one of her Seminary classes; Sister was back living at home and commuting to her university.
As I waited outside a junior high I didn’t attend during the day, I watched all the other kids be retrieved one-by-one by their fathers, mothers, or licensed older siblings. Time passed, the crowd disappeared, and there I stood, shivering alone in a dark sporadically cleared by lampposts.
Remember, this was 20 years ago. Mobile phones were still a distant glimmer in some geek’s imagination, and there wasn’t a convenient pay phone to be seen outside the school, which was locked for the night. I didn’t know anyone who lived within walking distance of the school, and even if I hadn’t been carefully warned against knocking on strangers’ doors, I was convinced that Dad would show up the moment I left the usual pick-up point to find a phone or warmth.
Here’s the kicker: that was the night they’d shown us the film on how to recognize and prevent hypothermia. Continue reading
I posted this to my LiveJournal on this day last year, but I no longer really use LJ and a lot of you reading this now didn’t know me a year ago, so I thought I’d repost. If for no other reason than: It’s my birthday and I’ll post if I want to!
One of my favorite stories of my childhood didn’t happen during my childhood, but a week or so before my actual birth day. Obviously, my parents tell it much better than I do, since they were there and all; but I’ll do my best. (And hope that Mom and Dad forgive the errors.)
Before I get into the story, thanks to everyone who’s already wished me a happy day and advance thanks to those who will as the day goes on (this is not an attempt to “guilt” anyone into saying the words; I’m just saying). And now, without further ado:
Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 1979
Okay, so not a story per se, but thank [insert deity of choice] for the Internet! My mother used to have this recipe on a sheet of paper that would float about the house, turning up at the oddest times. That said, we haven’t seen it in years, so I was thrilled to find this old family favorite on the web.
An odd choice to read, perhaps, but I just had to share. Enjoy!
Now retired, my father has taken to writing down his mental collection of short stories – hunting anecdotes, old Native American tales, etc. It didn’t take long before he started being accepted for publication, knocking on their collective ear all the dire warnings about struggling, first-time writers and rejection letters. To be fair, Dad was a pastor for more than 30 years, writing what amounted to a multi-page essay (sermon) to deliver every Sunday morning; it’s not like he’s just started writing.
You might even blame him for the blog you’re reading now. Because Dad is “where I get it” – he’s largely responsible for my own love of language and precision grammar. From him I inherited the pet peeve regarding the near-constant misuse of “decimation” (for an example of correct usage, see Doctor Who – I knew I loved that show for a reason).
Dad’s blog is here, and his first story, “When the Leaves Didn’t Fall” – a Native American legend explaining why the oak tree retains its leaves late into winter – has been published in the Wilderness House Literary Review.
Oddly, I remember the year it happened because of 9/11. I remember that the reason Mom was home when the planes hit the Towers was because she was off work due to going through chemotherapy.
My mother was lucky. Because of the cancer developing near the mammary duct, there were warning signs that caused the doctor to bump the mammogram schedule from once a year to once every six months. Thus, the tumors were discovered when they were still tiny dots on the scan, small enough to be removed with a “simple” lumpectomy. We didn’t know how lucky Mom was until the biopsy revealed that it was a highly aggressive cancer. Had she still been on an annual schedule or had the tumors developed in another location… Well, I’d rather not think about that. Continue reading
Yeah, so much for the “daily” bit in my MHAM goal, huh? Well, I’ve been busy – and really tired lately. I’ve been going to bed earlier than usual the last few days, often because I fell asleep in the early evening while reading or watching TV and took that as a sign.
Two really great bits of good news today:
- Found out that my current temp job is going to extend my contract through October now! Yay for consistency, a regular schedule, routine, predictability! And – even more so – YAY for getting to stay at a workplace that I’m actually quite enjoying – friendly people, nice atmosphere, feeling appreciated…
- Today was Brother-in-Law’s last day as a U.S. Marine! He is officially retired! His retirement ceremony isn’t until June 2, but today was his last day of work. Halle-freakin’-lujah.
That’s it. Just wanted to share those two tidbits. Need to get some work done tonight, but with any luck I’ll resume the MHAM series, too.
What a day!
HF and I were up by 5:45am to get to the Mall of America for the 2010 Susan G. Komen Twin Cities Race for the Cure (the 18th anniversary of the event). The 5K Walk wasn’t until 9:00am, but there was plenty to keep us busy until then. There was the aerobic warm-up led by Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders at 7:00am. There were numerous tents and booths, giving out everything from information to keychains to ribbon-shaped bagels to Yoplait yogurt. And we had to park so far out that by the time we walked all the swag out to the car to drop it off, walked back, walked around inside the Mall some, we figure we added another 5 miles to the “official” 3.1 miles of the Walk. Continue reading