A Song at Twilight

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Abby hummed as she worked: Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low. . . .

Her mind was always full of memories, but lately they’d been running like a movie in her mind. Meeting Abe for the first time. . . .their first kiss. . . .wedding. . . .honeymoon. . . .babies. . . . graduations. . . . .marriages and grandbabies. . . . . .Abe’s final illness, robbing his body of mass and strength. . . .their final kiss goodbye. . . .

She stopped. Hummed “when the flick’ring shadows. . . .” She took her last breath, and went to Abe smiling like a bride.

Granny Leah

Granny Leah, confined now to a wheel chair, shook her head at the stuff piled in the garage.

“Ach, ve haf too much dese days!” Her grandchildren rolled their eyes, knowing they were in for another episode of Back in My Day.

“Ja, ve had nossing in da camps. No shoes, no Unterwäsche. No mitts for da hands. Ve came mit nossing, und ve go mit nossing. Nossing to pack und carry ven ve left.

Granny Leah glanced up at her grandchildren. Grinning, she said, “Und das is alles! Wir gehen.”

Note: Unterwasche is underwear. There should be an umlaut over the “a” but I didn’t know how to find it. Und das is alles, wir gehen means, and that’s all. We go.

Another note: I figured how to do an umlaut on my Mac. Easy, when you know how 🙂

A Bloody Place

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Two ghosts sat on the wall beside the keep. They were silent for a very long time.

Finally, the one who knew William the Conqueror in 1066 sighed. “Twas a bloody place, indeed.”

The one dressed in armor from another century said, “Did you die here?”

“Aye. A spear right through my heart, Vultures picked my carcass clean. You?”

“Oh, aye. Took my head clean off, they did. I rotted, over time. Never buried.”

Both soldiers sighed. The older finally said, shaking his head, “All for naught. Look at them down there. Oblivious.”

“Aye, But peaceful.”

Vegas to Fruita

Writing Prompt: Travel and Adventure 

Write about your favorite vacation.

I had to consider this, because there have been some really good ones. I decided, however to focus on a trip that Terry and took, just the two of us, some 11-12 years ago. We hadn’t visited my mom in Fruita, CO for a very long time. Fruita is a small town not too far from where I was born, in Grand Junction. My family moved away from there, to Minnesota, when I was only two, so I don’t really have any memories of living there. Still, it always felt like coming home.

We decided to fly to Las Vegas and then rent a car to drive to Colorado. Several reasons for doing this, one of them being the low cost, way back then, of flying to Vegas. I’d never been there, and i don’t think Terry had, either.

Neither of us is a gambler, so I have to admit to being a bit surprised when the flight attendant announced that she would pass a hat, for anyone who wanted to play. I forget what the challenge was, but whoever won it won all the money in the hat. People went nuts. There was shouting, stamping, whistling–the level of excitement was amazing. I’m pretty sure whoever won the money was planning to use it in the casinos!

Driving through Las Vegas made me feel as if we were in a TV movie! All the buildings you’ve heard about, the lights, the flashing signs–it was fun to see, but I truly wouldn’t want to live there. We found a nice motel on the eastern edge of town, enjoyed a meal, slept well. The next day, we loaded up our car with emergency supplies–lots of water, extra gas, pre-packaged food, and so on.

First stop, not far away, was Hoover Dam. I’ll always call it that. Seems there was an effort to change its name a while back. It’s amazing, a magnificent structure that changed the course of a mighty river. Pictures can’t do it justice. You have to be there to get the immensity of it.

I’ve lost the order of things over the years, so I’m going to hopscotch now. The highlight, for me was the Grand Canyon. As I said, you can’t do it justice with pictures. You can’t understand how vast it is until you’re gazing at it in person. We decided on a helicopter tour, and I’m so glad we did! Our pilot was a Viet Nam vet, totally composed and in control, which did a lot to allay my fear of heights with nothing between me and disaster but a thick glass window!

We were his only passengers. As we took off, and the trees below began to look like toys, he said, “Get ready. Big drop coming up!” WHAM! He wasn’t kidding! I know I gasped as we flew over the rim and the ground below us just dropped away to a vast emptiness. Once we were settled in, though, I was amazed over and over again with the beauty, the variety, the rock formations, the tiny silver ribbon of the river running through the canyon. Our pilot asked if we’d like a little adventure. Sure we would! He said he wasn’t supposed to do it, but he began taking us lower, into the canyon, dodging in and out of the slopes to show us some things close up. It was wonderful. I wanted it to never stop.

Well. We went on, across miles of nothing. We stopped at the Painted Desert. We saw petrified wood. We visited the meteor crater in Arizona. We did all the touristy things we could find, figuring we’d probably never do it again.

Arizona Meteor Crater

After a delightful visit with family and friends, we journeyed back to Vegas on a different route, enjoying some of the most beautiful national parks–Bryce Canyon, where Terry got to see a bristlecone pine; Zion, The Arches–and picked up our flight back to green, lush Pennsylvania.

I enjoyed seeing the vastness of the West, the desert scenery that is so unimaginably different from where we live. Again, the vastness of it is beyond anything I’d ever imagined. It’s one thing to see pictures; another thing entirely to see it.

We fell in love with a town called Cortez in Colorado. It was near Mesa Verde (green flat-topped mountain) and had lots of trees, rolling hills, a river. We decided, if we ever moved to Colorado, we could live in a place like that.
It was a wonderful trip that went without a hitch. It’s a treasured memory.

Discover Prompts, Day 5: Dish

We didn’t eat out often at all when I was a kid. If we did, it was a rare and exciting treat at the Dairy Queen or the A&W. Best root beer ever, in those frosty mugs! Once the tray of food was affixed to Dad’s window, he would pass our burgers, fries, and root beer back to us. I could have survived on the aroma alone 🙂

But if you’d asked me about my favorite dish, it was–and still is–something homemade.

Mom was a great cook, taking so much pleasure in setting a table filled with aromatic, beautiful, and tasty food. My favorite? Her pot roast. Closely followed by spaghetti and meatballs, and an old-fashioned casserole called Shipwreck. Hamburger, potatoes, rice, carrots, onion, kidney beans, and tomato soup. Also, Meatball Oven Dish. Mom made hers in the Presto pressure cooker rather than the oven. Deeeelicious. She made great potato salad, fried chicken to die for, and of course no end of luscious–fattening–desserts 🙂

She also, using the word in another sense, loved her dishes. She grew up in the Depression, dirt poor. No fancy dishes, nothing that matched, and quite a bit that was chipped or cracked. She didn’t have a full set of china until their 25th anniversary, and how she loved those dishes!

Later, she began collecting pink scalloped depression glass. She had quite a lot by the time she went to heaven. I’m not sure what happened to it.

Pink Depression Glass Bowl Scalloped Edge Etched Floral | Etsy

She had plates, saucers, cups, some serving pieces–I don’t remember it all. She gathered most of her collection after I was married and they moved to South Carolina.

It got it’s name from the Great Depression. Manufactured here in America, it was inexpensive and sometimes free. Quaker Oats, for instance, would put a piece of the glassware in every box of oats as an incentive to buy their product. Since the 1960’s, it has increased in value because it has become highly collectible. Complete sets, including serving dishes, candle holders, dessert fans with a place for a cup and a piece of cake or pie, would bring a better price than just a few miscellaneous pieces.

I think she loved her depression glass just as much for the memories it evoked as for it’s appearance. It was pretty, but it was also nostalgic. If you lived during the Depression and WWII, you understand that, right?

These days, brides expect to have a full set of china before they even say “I do.” My mom and dad gave me mine, and I still love it. I didn’t expect it, though. It was a gift, especially for Mom, that she would love to have received. She took great joy in giving it to us.

Dishes. Lots of stories. Someday, I would love to make a Broken China quilt. There’s history and heartbreak there.

BLOCK Friday: Broken Dishes Quilt Block - Fons & Porter | Quilting ...

Discover Prompts: Day 4, Street

As almost always happens, the first thought that came to mind was a song. This time: The Street Where You Live. But that’s not what I want to write about.

The very first street that I truly remember is 515 West 15th street in Minneapolis. We lived in an apartment building for families of attendees at Northwestern Bible College, where my dad was studying for the ministry. A whole other story for a different time.

I was 5, ready to start kindergarten, when we moved from Fairmont, MN to this place in Minneapolis. I remember Mom and Dad painting walls before moving the furniture from the center of the rooms where it huddled under blankets or tarps. I remember Dad teasing my mom when he used a brush to paint the word Pud on the wall before using a paint roller to cover it up. That’s what he called her in their courting days. I don’t remember him ever saying it to her. Maybe he still used it when they were alone.

When I was eight, starting 3rd grade, we moved to 1212 Oliver Avenue North. It was a Jewish neighborhood, and Dad warned us we would have to work hard to keep up with the other kids in our classes. He said those kids were really smart, and they worked hard, so we would have to up our game. It was a wonderful neighborhood, lots of kids to play with, and lots of moms to watch over us all as we enjoyed our games. I especially loved the fall season. It wasn’t illegal to burn leaves, and the street was lined with big old trees that happily shed their leaves for us to rake up into huge piles, then jumping into them until they were all scattered again. Eventually the dads would say it was time to clean them up because it was going to snow soon. At that point, we looked forward to exchanging piles of leaves for piles of snowballs 🙂

When I was ten, we moved to Oregon. For a year, 5th grade for me, we lived in a rented house in Milwaukee, a suburb of Portland. I have no memory of the address there. We lived in three places in Portland. Again, addresses escape me, but my favorite was a huge old house that had porches, french doors I-can’t-remember-where, and a large living room/dining room that was L-shaped. The dining room led to the large kitchen. There were front-and-back stairs that led to the upstairs bedrooms. I loved it there.

In my 9th grade year, toward the end, we moved back to southern Minnesota, to a small farm town. St. James. We lived on the same street on which the new high school had recently been built, and it was maybe half a mile to walk to school. Again, I can’t remember the name of the road, but I got to stay in one place for all three years of high school.

I can picture every place I’ve lived. There were lots of moves in the early years of our marriage, and strangely enough, I can’t remember addresses. Isn’t it odd that I can remember those first two, when I was very young, but not the rest?

Streets. Sometimes they define a person’s whole childhood. Or, like mine, there was a new street address to remember every other year or two, and huge changes to which we had to adapt.

Who knows? This may be the last street I’ll live on until I get to the Streets of Gold!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Mom

She was 69 here, three years younger than I am now.

May 8 is Terry’s birthday. May 12 was Mother’s Day this year. May 16 was my mom’s birthday. She was born in 1925, and was part of that Great Generation. She was widowed at 68, and for a while I don’t think she really wanted to go on living. But, while she never got over missing my dad, she did get through her period of unbearable grief and went on to live almost 20 more years.

When I think of Mom, so many things come to mind. Right now, I’m thinking of her losses.

Her mother died of typhus when mom was just 22. I have no memory of my maternal grandmother. I was just one year old. But I certainly remember the way my mom loved her mother so much, and talked about what a kind and loving woman she was. I think Mom missed her for the rest of her life.

Mom and Dad married when she was 16 and he was 19. He went off to war, and there’s a lot of story to be told there. But not now.

I’m pretty sure she had at least one miscarriage when my sister and I were small. I have very vague memories of my dad carrying her out of our apartment and a neighbor coming in to stay with us. Mom loved babies, and that would have been a terrible loss for her.

There was a long period when there were no deaths to interrupt her normal life, but I remember, when I was about 14, a very dear friend of hers died of leukemia. Mom grieved for her, and I was old enough to feel that loss for her.

During the first couple of years I was married, Mom’s stepmother died. We all loved her. To us, she was Grandma Millie, a big-hearted soul who loved to take care of people. It wasn’t long afterward that her father was hit and run over by an empty gravel truck. He was severely hurt, but he was a tough little guy and he survived. When he died, she felt the loss. But it’s in the natural order of things, and she was a grandmother by then, a position she absolutely loved.

She lost both my dad’s parents, and she loved them, too.

But then she lost my dad. That was the very worst. I’ll never forget her calling me at midnight, 1 a.m. her time, about six months after Dad died. She was crying so much that I barely understood her. We talked for a long time, and I tried to reassure her that it was normal for her to be grieving so hard. That it WOULD get better, but it would take more time than she had expected.

Fast forward. My brother John had a son, also John. He was a delight to my Mom. She adored him. And then he was gone, at age 23, in a car accident that killed him instantly. And we began to see her age more clearly.

Only nineteen months after that, my brother John died at age 49 in a one-car rollover. And I really believe, at that point, that my mom started living in the past a lot. She didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but there was some senility. Not all the time. But stories of all the men in her life that she loved became a central topic in her conversation.

Mom was a strong Christian, and she loved the Lord more than anything. I believe it was her love for Him, and her confidence in being reunited with her beloved husband and the others she had lost, that kept her going.

I was able to see her, together with my daughter, about two weeks before she died. She was so excited to see us. And then my son from Germany flew in, and she was over the moon about that. On July 4, there was a gathering at a dear friend’s house and we took Mom so she could be a part of it. She loved for me to play the piano, and my son, my sister and I sang for her, and then everyone joined in. She glowed with happiness that night.

Two weeks later, she was singing in the heavenly choir. She was 87 when she left this life for the one she’d been longing to see.

I still miss her. I used to call her almost every Saturday, and even after seven years I catch myself thinking, “I need to call Mom. It’s Saturday.”

I miss her, but I would never, ever want her to come back. She lived a long and full life, and she was ready to go. I’m glad she did.

I’ll see her again, not so long from now.

Our Story: 50 Years #5

Once we had spent time together riding Terry’s motorcycle, we had our first official date. He asked me out for dinner, and I remember a few things about that evening.

He bought a suit just for that date. Of course, I didn’t know that right away, but I knew it before too much time had gone by. Terry didn’t do suits if he could avoid it, but he felt he should dress up for our first formal date. It was a light olive green suit, perfect for his coloring.

Second, it was the first time I had eaten beef stroganoff, and it’s been a favorite dish of mine ever since.

Third, without the noise of the bike, we actually had to carry on a conversation. I realized quickly that this was a bit of a strain for him. I was less shy than he, but for some reason I had trouble with the conversation that night, too. It got better, and we were much more comfortable by the time dessert came around.

After that, we did several different dates. One that I loved was going to Como Park in Minneapolis. There was a zoo, and they had lions. I don’t remember ever seeing lions up that close before, and I loved them. Huge, beautiful golden animals, they were graceful and watchful. We went several times, and that’s where I stayed the longest.

Image result for Como Park Zoo lions
I don’t know if this particular lion is still there. I couldn’t get enough of them!



The park also had a lake. They rented canoes, and we enjoyed that several times. Once , I remember, Terry decided he wanted to follow a byway on the lake just to see where it would take us. It was quiet, peaceful, and warm but not hot. Very relaxing. As the sun began to drop lower, I suggested we might need to get back to the landing. The park closed at sundown. But my Terry has never paid much attention to rules like that. He grew up in the wilds of northern Michigan, where there weren’t any rules about how long you could stay on the water.

Image result for Como Lake Canoeing

Then, we heard this: “ATTENTION ALL CANOES! IT’S TIME TO COME IN. THE PARK IS CLOSED. ALL CANOES MUST COME IN IMMEDIATELY!”

I’m sure the bullhorn was amped up so that the whole state of Minnesota could hear. Terry knew where we were, thank goodness. He has an excellent sense of direction. But we had paddled a significant distance from the landing, and it took us at least 15 minutes to get back.

The bullhorn yelled at us a couple more times. When we finally made it to the landing, it was clear the workers were not our best friends. Very little was said. Terry did apologize, but the guy who pulled our canoe to the landing just grunted in return.

I did have a job that summer as a cashier in a grocery store, but most of the rest of my time was spent with Terry. It was a wonderful summer, and holds some of my favorite memories.

Memories

RDP THURSDAY – BLIZZARD

early 19th century (originally US, denoting a violent blow): of unknown origin.

***************

How about that,  Unknown origin, but apparently first used in the USA.  Huh.

Well, I spent a lot of my growing up years in southern Minnesota, so I know about blizzards.  Hoo boy.  Cold, cold.  Lots of wind.  We lived in an old farmhouse across the road from a corn field.  The wind would come charging from the northwest,  whistling across that empty winter field, and find a way to dig its icy fingers into every tiny  opportunity.

Image result for southern Minnesota blizzards, 1965

The sound of the wind against the windows, and then the never-ending clatter of the snow thrown by the wind, would always make me hope for a snow day when I woke up.

Almost never happened.  It was a little farm town, and farmers are a tough breed.  The only real concession was the year it stormed every weekend in March (1965).  It would start snowing around noon, and we could expect an early dismissal.  The farm kids had to be safe home before there was any chance of a bus getting into trouble.

By the time the blizzard was done, and the wind had done its work, we could walk from housetop  to housetop on the piled up snow.

While it was still snowing, there were plenty of times we literally couldn’t see more than a foot or so ahead.  It could be really dangerous, and there were some awful stories of people being stranded in their cars with no one knowing where they were, no able to rescue them.

I don’t miss all that.  Here in my corner of PA, we do have some heavy snow at times.  Some people call them blizzards, but the area here is too hilly to allow for that horrendous wind to drive the snow like a weapon.  It does get thick, but I’ve never seen a whiteout here like I remember back in my teen years.

Of course, memory can fail 🙂

RDP: Blizzard

Grandpa Shorty

Wednesday Prompt – SOBRIQUET

1640s, from French sobriquet “nickname,” from Middle French soubriquet (15c.), which also meant “a jest, quip,” and is said to have meant literally “a chuck under the chin” [Gamillscheg]; of unknown origin (first element perhaps from Latin sub “under”).

****************

My Grandpa Shorty was known for his teasing, his practical jokes, his skill as a cabinet maker, his gardening genius, and his lack of height.

Image result for short man

It’s his fault that I barely stand five feet tall.

What I remember about him, though, has nothing to do with his physical height. I remember what he smelled like, for one thing.  When he came home from a day of working, he’d scrub his hands, arms, and face with Lava soap.  To this day, I think of him when I smell Lava soap.

I remember the bumps he had on each arm, just below his elbows.  I would poke at them.  He’d laugh and say, “Those are my spunk bumps!”

I was fascinated by his hands.  There were fingers missing on each hand, from various accidents over the years.  He never let that keep him from working with his hands, though.

He had what I now realize was a very good singing voice.  He loved country music, which didn’t appeal much to me, but he could sing every word of every song on the radio in his truck.  He taught us Oh, Susanna and I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad.  And Jimmy Crack Corn, and Clementine.

He would stretch out on the grass between my sister and me in the evenings, and we would sing.  He would tell stories, probably exaggerated to the max, and sometimes we were just silent.  I loved being with him.

We got to see him rarely, maybe once a year, when we were small. We’d go stay with him and Grandma Millie, his second wife, in the big old Victorian house that Grandma Millie had turned into a home for the elderly that she took care of.  Later, they bought a cafe in Marshall, Minnesota.  Millie’s Cafe.  She was known all over the area for her amazing cinnamon rolls.  Grandpa Shorty was known for his yarns.

Shorty was his sobriquet.  His real name was Homer.   I think he liked Shorty better 🙂

RDP: Sobriquet