Monday, September 18, 2017

Forever Friends

You can tell just by looking at these photos how much we enjoy each other's company. We've been friends for a loooooooong time, some of us since grade school and high school. Our friend, B (second from right), came into our lives as an exchange student in high school and we've remained friends since that time.
We like to travel together and do so as much as we can. There's no fussing or fighting. We all get along really well together and are super considerate of each other. This is my oldest posse. And I love them to pieces.
My favorite photo of us. It was our last night in Bergen and we were having such a wonderful time. We were in the midst of closing a bar and coerced one of the waiters into taking our picture.

With strict guidance from me. I set the camera up and he just had to push the button. He was a good sport and we had some laughs with him.
I count on these women for moral support, emotional support, and heaps of love. They are my champions and some of the fiercest women I know when it comes to their friends.
While we all can't be together every time we gather, we cherish the times we have and enjoy the ones who are there. 

And we plan for the next gathering and hope we all can be together.

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So tonight there were four of us together. B (another B!), farthest on the right, is moving back to this part of the country. She got a job up here and she'll be moving back in a couple weeks. We are all so excited since she'll be an hour and a half away from us instead of twenty four hours. We can meet in the middle for dinner whenever we want!

She flew in for the job interview so we made plans to have dinner together - there were four of us (pictured in one of the photos above where we're peeking out of windows). We face timed with C, second from the right in the photo above. We're currently working on trying to get her back here too.

The pizza was delicious, the company was great fun and when we finished eating S wanted to look at the dessert menu. We picked a couple desserts and ordered them. After about ten seconds, S said, "We should have gone to the dairy barn!" The dairy barn is a local ice cream place on the university campus and they make the most delicious ice cream. We looked up their hours, found out they were closing in fifteen minutes, and decided we could make it there in time. We canceled our dessert order, threw money on the table and just about ran out of the restaurant, yelling at each other to get in the car quick and drive!

We laughed all the way to the ice cream barn, reminiscing about how much it reminded us of high school. Driving around, looking for some place to go, searching for food, and laughing the entire time. No matter how much things change, some things stay the same.

We got our ice cream and sat out under the stars on a picnic bench, talking and laughing for the rest of the evening. Gosh, I love spending time with these friends.

Thanks for a great evening, dear ones.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Newport Boat Show, or how the other half lives

The Man, my dad, and I headed out bright and early this morning to see the Newport International Boat Show and the Newport Wooden Boat Show. We traveled back roads, state roads, and interstates to get there. It was a beautiful day for a drive and the Man was a trooper, considering all the driving he's done this weekend.
It has been a crazy, busy weekend starting with Friday afternoon. We attended a wedding that was a little bit of a distance from home so we left mid afternoon Friday to get there for the five o'clock wedding. GPS took us some wacky convoluted way to the wedding. We went through cities and towns, got stuck behind school buses and found ourselves in the middle of rush hour traffic. We found out on the way home we could have stayed on the interstate almost the entire way. Grrrrrr.

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Don't you love the boat above? So majestic looking.
Dad and the Man taking it all in. These boats were unbelievable. Most of them were in the $500,000 range with a few in the $1M and up range.

They were absolutely gorgeous. Shiny. Pristine. You couldn't board without taking your shoes off.

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I love spending time with my dad. He's smart and funny and witty and fun to be with. He tells us stories of his childhood and listens to our stories about J and K. He smiles a lot and he likes to laugh. He got that from his momma, the famous Nan.

But time is passing and I'm treasuring all these moments with him. We try to do something with him once a week, whether it's taking him to a movie or having him over for dinner or inviting him to the boat show with us. I know how fast time goes by and I don't want to miss out on time spent with my dad.

I hope when J and K are older, and I'm older, they think the same way and remember to spend time with me and the Man.

No one loves you like your parents. And all they want is time with us. At least, that's what I want from my kids so I'm thinking that's what other parents want to. Is this true, parents?
I think the Man wants to buy a boat. 

But not one of these. We are NOT in the 1%.

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As we were walking around, we noticed a lot of international accents talking to the brokers. I'm thinking they are in the 1%. I can't even imagine the life style you have when you are contemplating buying a boat for half a million dollars. Or more.

That's some lifestyle.
The Man wants a little sailboat to putter around in when we go to the beach.  I want a boat with a fast motor so we can go zoom, zoom, zoom.

We may have to buy two boats.
It was foggy and gray when we got to Newport. But the sun came out and washed that fog away. 

Go away, fog. You're wrecking my pictures.
 Moody shot.
Another moody shot.

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I love seeing all these boats. They are works of art. I want one. Or five.

Someday.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Family Reunion Day


Today was family reunion day! We get together with my mom's family once a year to keep connected with aunts and uncles, cousins, and second cousins. It's always fun to catch up with each other and see how much the kids have grown. Yikes, they grow fast.
K was showing my cousin's daughter a pic of her new dog, Brady.
Everyone wanted to see him! K came a little late to the party. She wasn't sure about leaving Brady alone for several hours. He's a chewer. The Man and I had him for a sleepover last weekend while K was at a bachelorette party. He ate one of my slippers.

He got downstairs and brought up a present. The Man walked into the living room/dining room (we have one big great room that holds two areas) and noticed something under the dining room table. He thought it was a chewed up dog toy until he got a little closer. It was a dead mouse in a mousetrap.

Blech.

Good thing I didn't see it or that dog would have been out on the streets.

I wrote a poem to commemorate the weekend.

Chewing dog. Strewing dog.
Stuffing all over the house.

Pooing dog. Doing dog.
Bringing us a dead mouse.


My dad and one of my cousin's wives chatting for a few minutes. See the ball in the pic? My cousin's son, holding a soccer ball this time. He's always got a ball in his hands. See pic below.

My cousin's son. An avid baseball and basketball player, he's always got a ball of some sort in his hands.
There's his dad with a ball in his hands. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
One of my aunts and her granddaughter playing with a new toy she won at the arcade. I tried to convince her to give it to me but no dice.
What a cutie pop. Snuggled up with her momma, pretending to be shy.

She is NOT shy.
Must be a pretty funny story.
Lots of hugs.
My dad and my uncle. The old guys. They still have fun together.

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My mom and dad met when my dad's parents rented an apartment from my mom's parents. He's known my aunts for a long time and watched them grow up. My mom and dad were the oldest in their families so all their siblings were young when my parents met and started dating.

I vaguely remember that apartment building and visiting it when I was very young. My grandparents had a pug dog that we used to try and ride like a pony. It's no wonder the dog didn't like me. It would literally run away when my sister and I came in the apartment. 

And French. I remember my memere and her sisters speaking French. My mother could speak it too. I was always in awe of them speaking another language. I so desperately wanted to speak it as well so I knew what they were saying. But I'm guessing that's why they were speaking it.

It seems like the adults in my life were always speaking other languages to keep us kids in the dark. I wish I knew what they were talking about. It sure wasn't recipes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fritter Maker

I was driving home yesterday afternoon and and saw these guys out haying. I'm fascinated by the ability of a machine to make the hay into neat little bales. I could watch them for hours.
A little further down the road a bigger hay baler was making bigger bales. I love the yellow of the field. Looks like fall, doesn't it?

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Sissy and I stopped in at a local florist shop today to get flowers for Nan's calling hours and funeral. It took us a little while to find something but it was pretty cool when we found what we wanted. 

Sissy and I were looking at a pile of books that the florist left us. We had flipped through page after page after page of flowers, she looking in one book and me in another. I found a gorgeous spray that I loved and looked up to show it her. As I was getting ready to say something, she looked at me and said, "Oh, this one is beautiful!" She lifted the book so I could see it and it was the exact same spray I had picked out! 

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

We chose to have a ribbon put on it and were dithering back and forth about what to put on the ribbon. Do we put "grandchildren" showing it was from us or "Nana" showing who it was for? Back and forth we went unable to make a decision. Sissy started to smile and said, "Nana aka Fritter Maker". We both started to laugh and then said, no, we can't put that. That's silly. But the florist looked at us and said, "You should put it on. It's making you smile."

And she was right. We were smiling. Who cares what anyone thinks?

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wrong Car

A scene from my back porch. I love white on white.

Simple. Sweet. Clean.

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I had to stop at the bank today and when I was leaving a very nice gentleman was exiting in front of me. He held the door for me and let me go through. I thanked him as I passed him and noticed that he followed me out towards my car.

I got to the car and opened the driver's side door. There was a woman sitting in the front passenger seat.

Yikes!

Startled, I jumped back a bit and almost hit the gentleman who was now behind me.  He was laughing. I looked back at the woman and she was smiling.

I was trying to get in the wrong car.

Egads.

I apologized profusely in case I scared the woman. That's got to be something else - watching a stranger approach your car, open the door and start to get in. Or if you're the gentleman following a stranger to your car and watching all that unfold.

Those poor people. We had a short chat about approaching the wrong car and they confessed they, too, had done the same thing. They were very gracious and kind to the crazy lady trying to get in their car.

In my defense, it was an identical car except for a missing roof rack. You would think I would have noticed. But I didn't.  As K keeps telling me, "Mom, you have no sense of self-preservation."

Just call me Mr. Magoo.



Monday, August 21, 2017

My Nan


I've had a day to start processing the loss of my grandmother or as we knew her, Nana. It's not been an easy day. Odd moments of remembering and crying. Memories flashing in and out of my mind, bringing smiles and then more tears. I'm not going to lie to you - this is horrible. I miss her. There's another hole in my heart and I know it's never going to fill in. I've been down this road before. She was the most influential woman in my life. I can't even imagine life without her.


But I refuse to grieve and instead, I'm choosing to celebrate. I'm going to celebrate her long life. She lived 101 years. She saw some pretty spectacular things - the birth of the automobile, the airplane, electricity, telephones, rockets that made it to the moon! Good golly, what a life she had.
I'm going to celebrate her family and upbringing. She came from a large family and loved to share stories about her childhood. Lots of older brothers and sisters around to play with and laugh with and learn from while growing up. She shared close relationships with her sisters and I used to love watching them together. These were some seriously crazy women! They would sit and talk and laugh and speak pig latin, especially when they didn't want us kids to know what they were talking about. When she finally taught me how to speak it, I felt so grown up. I was now part of the secret club they belonged to. I still use it every now and then with my sisters and I always think of her and her sisters. Sisterhood. Something I learned from watching Nan. 

I'm going to celebrate her married life. She had a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man and together they raised four remarkable children. My dad and his siblings will tell you she was a determined woman that helped them all get through school and earn full scholarships to college. She wasn't fooling around - her kids were going to go places. And they did. They raised a daughter who worked for the military and three sons who became engineers. Later in his career, my dad collaborated with NASA after the Challenger shuttle explosion to help work that problem. They are all smart people and they got that from their parents. 
I'm going to celebrate her independence. She lived during times when most women didn't work outside the home. Not my Nana. She told me she wanted to work and decided to go get a job - without telling my grandfather. He did find out eventually and she worked steadily after that. Sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness than beg permission. Something else I learned from Nan. One of the best jobs she had, at least as far as this granddaughter was concerned, was her job at the cookie factory. How many kids can say their grandmother worked in a COOKIE FACTORY? This kid! She used to bring home all kinds of cookies and crackers. It was like a fairy tale.
I'm going to celebrate her playfulness. She would spend hours and hours playing cards with us. And later on, with her great-grandchildren. If you have children, you'll understand just how long they can play - a loooooong time! Pig in the well, Go Fish, clock solitaire, Rummy. Boy, did I love playing cards with her. But my favorite thing to play was Pokeno. She would pull out her jug of pennies and we would play for those. She always let us keep what we won. And she never let us win. If we won, we had to do it fair and square. We tried harder because of that. Something else I learned from her.
I'm going to celebrate her selflessness. She always put others first. She would spend hours and hours in the pool with us. Making whirlpools and playing volleyball with her giant beach ball. In and out of the pool, jumping and splashing. She was great fun. 
She even made shopping fun. When you're a kid, shopping is not fun unless it's toy shopping. Every Saturday we were with her, she and my aunt would go downtown and shop. My sister and I always tagged along - we just wanted to be with her. My aunt would drag us around shopping for clothes and shoes and makeup. Boring. But at the end of the day, Nan always made sure we stopped at the five and dime and picked out a toy or book or stationery, whatever we wanted. Gosh, she was great.
I'm going to celebrate her love of food and home cooking. She made the best apple pie, the best Thanksgiving stuffing, and the best fried dough. Or as we call them, fritters. I spent many mornings with her, helping her stretch the dough and learning how to do it JUST RIGHT. I still make fritters for my family now, though not as often as she did. Nothing says "Nana" to me more than the taste of fritters spread with melted butter and maybe some cinnamon sugar. 
I'm going to celebrate her handwork skills. That woman could crochet anything. And she did. We were kept warm in hats and mittens. Scarves. Afghans. She made us Christmas stockings, which we still use. And my tree is decorated with a handmade tree skirt from Nan. She passed along those skills, teaching me how to crochet when I was a young girl. I would sit next to her, snuggled up, and watch her wrap the yarn again and again. Over and pull through. Over and pull through. She was so patient. That is something I need to learn from her.

I'm going to celebrate her laughter, her sense of humor and her love of a good story. She was witty, sarcastic, funny, and loved to laugh. I'm happy to say I got my love of laughter from her. I don't think I ever had a conversation with her that didn't include a few good belly laughs. She loved to tell a story and she loved to hear stories. One of my favorite stories happened when she spent a week with me after I had one of my babies.
I was making something for dinner that involved pan frying. As in three inches of oil in the pan and drop the food in to fry it up. I started heating the oil and noticed that I needed a new dishtowel since the old one was wet and unusable. I walked away from the oil to get a towel and by the time I got back, the frying pan was on fire and the kitchen was filling with smoke. I ran to get the fire extinguisher and was able to put the fire out without too much damage. But there was so much smoke in the house we couldn't stay inside.
So me and Nan and the two kids went outside to sit on the back porch while we waited for the smoke to clear out. I asked her, "Why didn't you tell me how fast the oil could burn?" And she said, "I thought you knew what you were doing." She wasn't taking the hit for this one. The Man eventually pulled in the driveway and saw us all sitting outside. He took one look at us and held up his hand, saying "Don't say a word." He walked in the house, got himself a beer out of the refrigerator and came back outside. He opened the bottle and said, "Okay. Now tell me what the heck happened!" Nan burst out laughing and we all enjoyed a good story while telling the Man what happened.

Nan and two of her boys. We spent a lot of summers at the beach with her. She would bring her inner tube and float in the water for hours while we played around her.
The whole family. Quite a legacy she and Gramps created.



These four pics are from her 100th birthday we had at my house last year. She had a larger one with extended family but this was a small, intimate party for our immediate family. It was a great day filled with love and smiles and happiness and hugs and kisses. And it was a good chance to take a lot of photos with her. She was gracious and patient and really got into the spirit of the day, smiling and laughing and hamming it up.
I'm going to celebrate her hair. That sounds funny, doesn't it? But my grandmother refused to let her hair gray and colored it until the day she died. My sisters and I took her for hair appointments the last five or six summers that she spent nearby. We would take her to her hair appointment and then we'd treat her to lunch. She had a favorite lunch spot and always got chicken salad, onion rings and Sprite. We had the same waitress every time and she never had to ask what Nan wanted. It was always the same.
Several times after lunch, we would go for a drive and stop for ice cream somewhere. It was a chance to make the day last longer. I treasure those days now.
My grandparents. Love their laughter in this pic.
One of the few times I ever saw her cry in public. We were celebrating her birthday and she got overwhelmed. There was so much love around it was too much.
One of the last times I saw her, I had to wear a mask and gloves and a gown around her. I stopped in to visit and started talking to her. I don't think she recognized me with the mask on and the more I talked with her, the more obvious it became that she didn't know who I was. She thought I was a nurse. I lifted the mask so she could see me and her whole face lit up with a smile. "My Cheryl! It's my Cheryl!" And she held her arms out for a hug. I hugged her and we both started laughing and I thought to myself, "Yes, it's your Cheryl. I'll always be your Cheryl."

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So today I refuse to be sad. Instead, I choose to celebrate and remember all the good things that came from this remarkable, incomparable one-of-a-kind woman.

My Nan.