Thursday, April 29, 2010

Therapy Graduate

Mom’s done with therapy! For a month or so, she’s had nothing but speech, and she was released from that this week. It seems like the “end” of her stroke experience, but I know that’s not really the case. Still, it’s a good time to take stock of things.
Her voice sounds a little different than before the stroke and the rhythm of her speech is entirely different – not slower, but her intonation isn’t the same. Her left hand is still weaker and less flexible than her right. I don’t think she’s lost any reasoning ability, but it takes her a little while to process her thoughts. (I suspect this might be part of the difference in the cadence of her speech, too; she seems to be counting her sentences.) She recognizes this when it happens, which I think is helpful, but it frustrates her. I think she’s more emotional than before, too. She may experience improvement for over a year, but I’m thrilled that she’s already where she is.
Last week, we went shopping at TJ Maxx, where we tried on all these beautiful, patrician hats. Because the Kentucky Derby will be run soon, we pretended to be there, drinking mint juleps in our glamorous hats. To excuse our silliness, she told someone, “You’ll have to excuse me; I had a brain injury.” I’m telling ya, this lady will milk it . . .

Mayberry Village

Mom and her cousin are both fans of The Andy Griffith Show, so we visited “Mayberry Village” over the weekend. A development corp created this Mayberry-themed shopping/services area and built sfh’s, condos and apartments behind it. The village is cute and has Floyd’s Barber Shop, Andy & Barney’s Sports Bar, etc. All that was missing was the whistled theme song.
We had lunch at a chili joint and then moved on to the cemetery. I’d wanted to know where Marvel’s parents were buried for some time, since it plugs a gap in my knowledge of family grave locations. This particular cemetery is the location for lots of my family members as well as my husband’s; we ended up staying there over an hour.
We took a long ride before heading home. It’s always fun to hear people reminisce about where they lived, worked and went to school. What a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Mom even drove herself to my house. It’s the first time she’s driven alone since the stroke!


Look at these beauties! I found a baker’s dozen last night while mowing the lawn; I’m sure glad I decided not to use the rider! They were on the north side of a rotting tree stump, just where all the old-timers claim that you’ll find them. I’m taking them to Mom’s tonight for a treat.
After finding them, I called Mom’s cousin to tell him and see if he had any recommendations. There’s a huge amount of morel knowledge out there, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to gain some. Well, I got more than I was expecting!
Leroy had a few preferences about how to cut and store them, of course. He also said to save the water in which they were washed and pour it over the area where I found them. He claims that this will spread spores for next year. Uh, sure. Now, this guy would happily mess with my head. I’m not sure if he was serious or if he was in hysterics after hanging up with me.
As I walked in my pajamas to “morel field” in the dark, trying not to slosh any water out of the bowl, I thought how easy it is to be fooled by your elders. When I get old, I’m going to tell this morel secret: Face west, put your right ankle on your left knee, cross your arms, and hop three times to ensure five years of morel bounty from the ground.
Sheesh, I’m gullible!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sarge's Project

My sister got approval for a community garden! She’s putting up flyers, had a booth at “Tractor Day” (whatever that is . . .), and is holding a perennial exchange to spread the news. It seems to be generating a lot of interest.
She’s planning a no-till garden in a park located in a flood plain of the River Raisin. It’s a beautiful, grassy area where the river makes a near-hairpin curve and a small stream joins the flow. The bank is very high, so it’s quite secluded, although it’s right in town.
When I was a kid, this area was unused and we would climb down the huge bank, cross the stream on a fallen tree and play there. We skated there once and my friend broke through the ice and fell in the water! (That memory takes my breath away today, but we didn’t realize the danger at the time, even after it happened.) The city later put in a wooden access stairway with a bridge crossing the stream and a few empty spools from construction cable as a climbing feature, but I don’t think the place got much use after that, either.
After Sarge made her presentation to city council, someone approached her and told her that she sounded just like my great-grandfather who, it seems, was often proposing a new project. What a great thing to learn about him! I also recently learned that he had served as mayor for a number of years.
My granny would be so proud of Sarge’s project. She loved to support her community and I’m sure she would have tromped down the long stairway to see what was happening in the garden.
Way to go, Sis!

“Take It With You”

Of course. The solution was immediately apparent as soon as the words left my friend’s mouth.
Butch’s Purple Heart will be buried with me (after a thorough cleaning!). I’m so relieved.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Empty

I know that I write a lot about people who are dead. I can’t help it; I know a lot of dead people.
Butch has been gone nearly two and a half years. Today, I took the last pill in a big bottle of IBU Profen that was prescribed to him and it made me cry. If you haven’t been through this, I don’t think I can explain it, but that bottle has his name on it, in print – an official record that he was here. Now, that record is gone.
I wonder who will cherish his Purple Heart after I die?
My aunt practices eastern religious principles; she thinks I am more sentimental and cemented to the physical world than is good for me. When things like this go through my mind, I know that she’s right, at least in part. But, I am, by no means, a Buddhist. I think life is a gift, I cherish it and I will probably hold onto it when it’s my time to go. With that outlook, I would be an embarrassment to Mahayana.
Unless I suddenly grasp the importance of attaining Nirvana, I’ll continue to treasure my little keepsakes from the people I love, even ones as silly as anti-inflammatory meds. If you don’t understand this, consider yourself lucky.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eleanor's Pride

Eleanor raised ten kids in the 1100 square foot home where I live. Just poking around the kitchen and garage gives clues to how hard she worked just to maintain her home and the people who lived in it.
There used to be a double-sized deep freeze in the garage; Eleanor and her husband raised and butchered their own pigs, chicken and cattle for meat. After she gave the house to my husband and went to live in an assisted-living facility, I finally unplugged the freezer and removed the 5 boxes of old veggies for which she kept it running; the electric bill went down by half.
There are butter molds, cream separators, cabbage slicers, de-horners (for cutting bulls’ horns!!), washtubs, wooden laundry baskets, rocking baby cradles, berry baskets, egg crates, butchering kettles and a host of garden implements in my garage. The kitchen still holds countless gadgets and tools, many of which I don’t recognize. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of them.
Eleanor hoed around the veggies, kneaded the bread, churned the butter, picked the raspberries, milked the cows, baked the pies, dug the potatoes, pruned the cherry trees, and plucked the eggs from under the hens all to feed her family. She darned socks, made blankets, mended sheets and made her own soap. She wouldn’t have dreamed of buying pie crust; I doubt she even knew that you could.
Nine of Eleanor’s ten kids were boys. She saw just about any injury you can imagine. Her sons cut off their fingers, wrecked their trucks and shot out their eyes. By the time I met her she was in her 80’s and nothing fazed her. When Butch and I were in an accident and both of us had cut open our knees and foreheads, the difference in response from our mothers was laughable. We left the emergency room and went to his home at 7am; Eleanor saw us bloodied and bandaged, with our clothes ripped open. She greeted us with a dry, “What the hell happened to you two?” That afternoon, we went to my mom’s, bathed and freshly clothed. Mom, who raised two daughters, looked at us and cried, “Oh my God! My baby’s been in a head-on collision!!”
Eleanor prided herself on how tough she was. She once fell while gardening and couldn’t get up; she waited hours for my husband to come home, but didn’t think it was a big deal. She said she was fine, since it didn’t rain that day. I once heard her threaten to take her cane to one of her grandsons. We took her to the emergency room when she fell and cut her head; we really had to argue to get her to go. My husband told me that his dad, after an evening of drinking, literally did throw his hat in the kitchen door to check her mood before he went inside.
Eleanor really liked me and I her. I think it made her happy that someone finally settled her youngest, wayward son who never left home.
There wasn’t a lot of room or time in Eleanor’s world for beauty just for the sake of beauty. This row of daffodils is one of the few pleasures Eleanor allowed herself. I find myself missing her each year in the spring when they bloom.


It’s so nice to have a clothesline again! There is nothing like slipping between sheets with that outdoor smell!
It’s taken me forever to get it installed. I had to hunt all over for the poles last year and finally found them at an Ann Arbor hardware store. I never got around to putting them in so finally, my (husband’s) nephew buried them in concrete for me. Sarge got tired of looking at it, so she ordered me outside and we strung the line last week.
Mom got me pins, a line and line props for my birthday; she had the date and event burned into the wood! It’s one of my favorite presents ever!
I don’t even remember how to hang clothes properly. I think I’m supposed to hang my shirts from the hem, but that leaves them all stretched out with two “tags” hanging from the bottom. So, I hung them from their tops, but had to use 4 clothespins to keep the same thing from happening in reverse. Surely, that can’t be right? For God’s sake, can someone please help this dumb-@ss with this riddle?
Of course, I have forgotten the clothes on the line overnight already . . .

Monday, April 12, 2010

Museum's 3-Story Relief Map

Isn't this map great?
If you're from Michigan and don't know where each of the Great Lakes are, make that today's learning opportunity!

Historical Museum

Remember this flag from the 70's? I was suddenly and happily reminded at the Michigan Historical Museum, where I spent the day Saturday. What a nice museum! It's on five levels and spans Michigan-specific pre-history through 1975.
In the WWII section, there's a bottle of what looks like the old, liquid "foundation" make-up. It was intended to be used on your legs at a time when neither silk nor nylon were available to manufacture stockings. This brand was called "Liquid Nylons" and it occurred to me that this was a pre-cursor to early tan-in-a-bottle products.
Look at this pink and turquoise kitchen from the 50's! My kitchen colors are similar, but I don't have the pink appliances, darn it! I never liked the "nursery" look, but it looks great here!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I just talked to my friend, Jack. He's on his way to the funeral of his brother, somewhere south of Los Angeles. He's driving alone, left Monday and is sleeping in his car!
I admit that I don't have much fear of traveling alone. I do it often and, although I wouldn't say that I prefer it to traveling with someone, it sure beats not traveling at all.
I have also slept in the car on quite a few occasions. Sometimes, like Jack, my friends and I have planned to sleep on the road. I'm getting a little old for that, but I would probably still do it.
Yet, I don't think I would sleep on the road if I were traveling solo. I think those days are over; I just wouldn't feel comfortable nowdays.
Yet, Jack spent the night in a truck stop parking lot in Las Vegas last night. Now, he's somewhere this side of CA, catching a few winks in the front seat of the Subaru before heading west to arrive at a relative's house around dawn.
And Jack is 72 years old.

Glass Blowing

One of the most memorable classes I’ve ever taken was Glass Blowing. This was an intense, 16-hour weekend workshop for people with no previous experience. It was offered by The Toledo Museum of Art, which is one of the top glass centers in the nation. The class was expensive and they only let 8 students register; of course, it was already full. I asked to be put on a waiting list and called them every day until they finally took me.
I came home with the ugliest, most amateurish pieces you’ll ever see, but they are proudly displayed in my home. It was so exciting to work around a 2,400 degree furnace with old-design tools and time-honored techniques!
I learned that glass blowing terms easily lend themselves to sexual innuendo, too. The artisan slides his “blow pipe” into the “glory hole” to access the molten glass. You can imagine the T-shirt slogans . . .

Adult Education

In the fall, my class will be on the curriculum of nine different schools and I’m currently negotiating with a tenth! I am amazed at how quickly this has happened; it seems like this has been way too easily marketed. (I haven't forgotten that I promised a free session to some of you!)
The Director of one of the schools admitted to stalking me online! I do that all the time, so I’m sure I’ve been stalked, but I’ve never had anyone admit it. She said that she checked out my program and bio from the online brochures from two other schools to “make sure you were legit.” It felt really strange to know that she did that, but I’m sure I’d have done the same. How did we ever get by without the internet?
I’m still working on a degree in Adult Ed and Training, which covers Curriculum Design. It’s a fascinating field, although I’m plodding along very slowly. I've taken many online classes, but this is my first experience with self-paced classes. Both require lots of discipline, which has never been my strong suit . . .
I really love adult education programs, so it’s no surprise that I’m involved in them. I have taken classes through them for years and there’s nothing I won’t try - upholstery, Polynesian cooking, dulcimer lessons, German language, anything! I hope to be one of those old women who take full advantage of senior citizen tuition waivers.
Adult ed holds so many unique opportunities that really satisfy my curiosity for things completely foreign to me. Where else can you find these topics? On the way to my last class, I found a flyer for Art Welding! Are you kidding? I love sculpture and now I can learn to make my own??
Many public school systems have done away with their Adult Ed programs, due to funding shortages. However, most community colleges and many 4-year institutions have thriving programs. Check out what your community is offering. If you find something really unusual, let me know!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Brunch

Family, old friends, good food and euchre - what more could anybunny want?
I hope everyone's Easter was as good as here on Clover Lane. This is a shot of our Orange Bread Pudding with Orange Sauce. YUM!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Mom's new puppy. Is he adorable or what?