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My Blog

June 2013

Fibromyalgia...the Masked Bandit

Good morning once again.  Seems a little hazy outdoors today.   Sitting here thinking about all the different topics I have addressed, about all the going back in time or just pure pleasure and fun, today I thought I would take on an unknown thief, the masked bandit...Fibromyalgia.  Perhaps some of you in cyber land have never heard of this vicious thief and some have heard the name, but don't know much of it. 
I am here to tell you about the horrible bandit. 
Mr. Fibromyalgia comes surprisingly at a time when you least except it.  It sneaks in slowly and takes you as hostage.  It begins to take over one spot at a time and it's victim is feeling a small stun gun here and there....It travels on it's vicious mission from one spot to the next as it feels it has done its mission once 18 areas have been attacked.  Once it knows it has you in it's web of deception, you are left helplessly in pain, struggling to find someone to save you.  At times the Bandit uses his magic formula that clouds up your mind.  You begin to forget where you are, sometimes what you are doing.  It begins to increase in strangled hold on you.  You try to get away, but you can't move, the struggle tires you so  that moving often times is useless. 
You finally find your shouts have found their way to someone you think would be able to help...The good guy...MR.  Doctor!  Only he is puzzled...looks at the problem and needs to call in back up.  Now begins the next line of torture, the dreaded beasts called x-rays and MRI"S.  They drain blood form your already havocked body, which leaves you wondering whether these really are the good guys? The results are in, you sit helplessly holding your breath...waiting for some help.  Then they tell you....they have found nothing.  Perhaps, you should see another person for help...perhaps you should have a visit with Mr. Psychiatrist.  The whole time this is happening.....The Fibromyalgia Bandit keeps you captive. He causes more and more pain, only you never know now where his attack will be.  He is a sneaky character.  It is obvious now to only you that he indeed in the MASKED bandit. 
Now it is a daily hostage.  It have morphed you into actions in the morning that make you wonder what he has done to you in the night. You awake waddling like a penguin...oh my God , what is happening...you look in the mirror to make sure your features haven't changed. No, everything looks the same...that is why the good guys can't see anything wrong...the villain has left no outer scars and to make matters worse there are no visible inner scars.  You are now feeling helpless....you start to question whether it is all a dream...you pinch yourself to try to wake up...but OUCH!! That hurts too!  This is a clever bandit....he must have an invisible solution that he uses during his attacks...sure, that's why no one else can see it!  What to do, I need this thief out of my life...He is taking away my ability to do every day things.  He is crippling me from the inside and no one ever sees him while he travels up and down. 
Next his work begins to be affected by the outer atmosphere....the weather now is making things worse....Oh, the humidity is The Bandit's cohort!  It's mere presence causing me to cry in pain.   Now it is no longer deep inside....it has crept it's way to the top of my body, lying sneakily just under my skin.  I can't stand the touch of clothing on my body.  What kind of monster is this?  And it keeps traveling along t body...one day it is in my shoulder, the next day it is in my knee, and the following day it has hold of my lower back...Help...I keep crying help!  
Years go by and I  keep seeking someone, anyone to save me.  Good guy, after god guy, tests after tests and finally, the Super Doctor with x-ray vision...He has heard of this Masked Bandit called Fibromyalgia.  He affirms that I have been enslaved and are indeed under his control.  But, he has a plan that might make the torture less painful. It is called MEDS...they might help.....but there is no guarantee.,. Seems that Mr Fibromyalgia has some power that has so far has made him un-capturable. 
I am desperate, so I take home the bottle of pills.  I start the first one....oh no...this can't be!  I can't get up the next morning, my eyes are closed tight....I can't get them open.  I lay there struggling...I know I am awake...please let me be awake...but I can't move...I can't get up....I am helpless now!  then I realize...it is the pills.  Oh no...this cannot be...I cannot live like a zombie.   Finally hours later I... find myself awake.  The Bandit is still there and I can barely carry on with my day.  the pills have left me in a drowsy state.  I call the Pharmacist for backup...he tells me that is just the side effect....side effect?  You call being in somewhat coma state a side effect?
I can't do this I tell him....Call the Doctor then he tells me. 
The next day, I am now experiencing another torture...it is called a Migraine...another torture from the Bandit....does he never stop...this is bad ...it feels like he is crushing my brain.  Now the Super Doctor gives me pain pills...This helps a bit....maybe we are onto something....they seems do drug the bandit a bit...but it still doesn't stop him completely.  The Super Doctor, now sends me to another Good guy called a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist....This Super Doctor has more powers to help overcome this villain.  The next day I am off to this doctor.  They must test those 18 spots only causing me more pain, leaving me to wonder....why me??  What have I done to deserve this?  It is uncovered...but still they have no real treatment for this bandit that keeps robbing me of my daily life.  They suggest exercise....really??  Any idea how much pain I have?  Leaves me wondering who really needs to see a psychiatrist?  Water...that seems to be the only friendly person I can go to for relief.  I can walk in water with out to much pain.   Now the bandit has cloned himself...I see and meet others that have been captured by him.  They tell me their horror stories....some have given up.  They lay in bed for hours at a time.  I now have come to realize the this Bandit is the catalyst for other villains, like  diabetes and lupus.  He can invite chronic fatigue to join him in his take over. 
I finally scream out loud.....NOOOOOO!!!!  You cannot take me to a place I no longer want to go, so I fight...each day is a struggle, but I refuse to let this horrible monster take control of me.  I am tired, I am in pain, I am angry, but I struggle along.  He may still be there, but I am not beaten yet....I will fight this monster until I have no breath left.  I will continue on...I will someday win over this villain.  Watch out Fibromyalgia Villain!!!! Someday....someone  or something will find the right tool to avenge you!  And until then....I am your now your worst enemy...so watch out! 
    

What's with Friday's?

Good morning to everyone.  Another day and another blog....who would imagine that the written word could reach so many around the world.  It astounds me to no end to know where my blog gets read.  I am indeed honored by those who follow the blog and hope that it does what I have intended it to do...entertain, take you back, educate or perhaps make you wonder.  Whichever it does, I am also grateful to connect with you! 
Now for todays topic. I decided to blog about Fridays because I thought that out of all the days of the week....most people have some connection to Friday's, more perhaps than any other day of the week.
I started looking at Fridays when I was a child, and well, being raised a Catholic, Fridays meant no meat....Now I was so fortunate back then to have had a Grandmother who was not only the best baker, but also the best cook around.  I started to think about Friday meals.  Now most people, who were raised Catholic, know that we weren't allowed meat on Fridays....it was a sin!  Funny how later in life the sins were removed.  Anyway, My Grandmother, bless her heart, was such a creative chef.  She would make the standard fish as everyone might expect, but I was not really the fish eater.  I  did enjoy Grandma's Salmon Patties though.  I remember she used to make a huge pancake that was the size of her cast iron pan, smear it with her homemade grape jelly, roll it up like a jellyroll and then sprinkle it with tons of powdered sugar.  She also made zucchini fritters and sprinkled them with the powdered sugar as well.  Anything that had sugar on it...she was pretty safe in knowing I would eat it  She also used to make creamed corn pancakes.  They were simply delicious.  There were also potato pancakes as well....now as I grew older I realized that most people use sour cream or applesauce on top of them, but we sprinkled granulated sugar over them.  The first time I did that, I think my husband almost fell off the kitchen chair.  Trust me, even though this may sound foreign to you...they are delicious that way.  Of course we had soups that were meatless.  There was always cream of mushroom and cream of broccoli, clam chowders, and my ultimate favorite was tomato. We had Italian spaghetti an then polish spaghetti...for those who may not know of Polish spaghetti...it was buttered spaghetti noodles with cottage cheese and chives mixed into it.  Today, I believe some may call it the lazy man pierogi. So when I think of Fridays, I cannot help but think back to those days
In fact, in the Christian religion, Jesus was crucified on a Friday and it is celebrated to this day in mourning.  Good Friday seems like an odd name for such a horrific occasion, but when you look at it closer it was the most sacrificial day.  It was a GOOD day for us.  For the Jewish , Friday, at sundown,begins the Sabbath. Special prayers are recited on Friday evening.     
Fridays for some are the TGIF.  Thank God it's Friday.  The last day of the work week.  How funny, that unless you worked at a restaurant, most people back when I was young, Friday was the last work day. Friday , of course is PAY day!  The occasional banker worked till noon on a Saturday, and of course gas station attendants worked on Saturdays, but for most people back then, FRIDAY was it.  We still reach that day and view it as the relief day.  Once it was over....It was time to relax & chill out 
Friday the 13th has always been another day that people always are aware of and anticipating perhaps some ominous occurrence on that day...that is, if you are superstitious, although, you are still aware of that day, regardless.  It is usually highlighted in the news.  There are even movies that have been made about Friday the 13th.    It is also believed in Christian religions that Friday and the 13 are bad days due to the 13th member at the last supper betrayed Christ and His crucifixion was on Friday.  There was even a crazy mixed up movie like Freaky Friday!
Friday has also been associated with parties, drinking, and girls night out, and guys night out as well.  It was the day that you could meet up with people at a restaurant or bar, have a few drinks and dance.  Wells St. in Chicago was usually the place to be on a Friday night when I was of the age to party.  I am not sure if it is the same these days, with all the moves to the suburbs, I am sure almost any area with a bar and music would be the place to be. 
When I was young, weddings were always held on a Saturday, but now it seems that Friday is a great day for a wedding.  It is usually much cheaper and seems that more and more couples are choosing a Friday to wed.
Fridays were the days you left for a special weekend.  Oftentimes, you may have requested a Friday off to do so.  Not many people chose a Wednesday or Thursday....most want to hook it on to the weekend. And then there is always talk about how horrible Fridays traffic would be!   
Now, through the years, there was a saying about the day of the week you were born on, and it denoted how you would grow up....Fridays child was loving and giving.   Were you born on a Friday?  Does this describe you?
Actually, has Friday been significant in your life?  Are you able to relate to some of these memories?   Perhaps next, I should write about Sundays and the difference from long ago to now!  I just think it is amazing how a specific day of the week can mean so many different things to different people!   

A trip to New Yok

Good morning to everyone. I was sipping my coffee this morning going over various ideas of what my blog should be about when I started to think about summer vacations.  I have had so many different vacations in my lifetime and so much that happened on each one, but my New York vacation was more than the just the average one. 
When I was a young girl, my mother decided that we would go with one of her lady friends named Mabel on a vacation to New York.  Now, this was an exciting trip because we were going to fly there.  Neither my mother nor I had ever flown an airplane before and this alone was a very exciting, pivotal addition to the trip.  We anticipated all the things we would go and see.  And the week we were to leave for New York, the airlines went on strike!  That was the summer of 1966.  I couldn't believe it....and boy, neither could my mother....We were all set and ready, and our transportation was grounded....so istead...my mother's friend Mabel, make alternate transportation plans...The Greyhound Bus!  Now let me tell you...traveling from Chicago Illinois on a Greyhound bus at the end of July was not my mother's idea of the perfect way to travel.  It was warm, uncomfortable, and long!! Now, if this wasn't bad enough....my mom's friend also made the hotel reservations.  To my mother's horror....Mabel had made them in a YWCA.  I remember at the time, thinking...why my mother didn't ask her in advance where we were staying or even why she wasn't part of the decision making.  We had taken vacation's prior to this one!  I suppose, since Mabel had been to New York before, my mother just assumed that she knew the best places to go. 
Well, there we were, in New York City, staying at a YWCA, after having ridden for umpteen hours on a Greyhound bus.  We were definitely not off to a good start.  Now, the rooms were clean, but not anything that my mother would call special.  Mabel said that you wouldn't want to rent a car there because parking would be a difficult thing to do in New York and there was plenty of alternate transportation...what MS. Mabel really meant was it would be cheaper to walk. 
I guess, you need to know that my mother was a pretty self sufficient woman, who in the 50's drove her own car and worked what was typically a man's job.  So she was not the average, run of a mill type woman who was all that concerned with pinching pennies when it came to a vacation.  We took buses and underground transportation and walked....A LOT! 
I remember the places we went to see...Greenwich Village, where standing at a Bus stop...some young women started talking to me, and before I knew it my mother stepped in and swooped me away.  Evidently, my mother at the time, recognized that the woman was interested in other woman...something very different in those days and something surely never encountered back home. The Mother bear syndrome kicked in. 
Next, we went to Times Square, and that was probably one of the most memorable walks we had ever taken..Being in Times Square was such an experience.  We were looking up in every direction and at all the sights...We had just come from getting ice cream in one of the shops and as we are crossing the street, in the middle of Times Square my mother is talking to Mabel and asked her a question....and there came no response...My mother and I turned around to look for Mabel, and there she was, laying face down in the middle of the street in Times Square with her face ,smack dab in her ice cream cone.  The only thing visible was her bright Red hair.  It was a sight to see for sure!  We went over to help her up and try to get her to the sidewalk and my mother pulled out her handkerchief to try to clean her up.  Her poor knees had gotten scraped and were bleeding, we didn't have any bandages with us, but my mother had a couple of Kotex in her purse and used one to at least sop up the blood  It must have been an hysterical sight to see for all the people passing by.  To think back now...I can hardly stop laughing. 
No that was not the only adventure in New York.  We got to take the ferry out to Staten Island to see that magnificent Statue of Liberty.  Wow, to imagine how tall she was!  And back then, you were allowed to climb all the way to the top.  Now Mabel's knees were quite sore from her trip on Times Square...so she took the elevator up so the second floor, if I  remember correctly. and of course, I, being just a kid, wanted to climb all the way to the top and look out of her crown.  Unbeknownst to me, my mother was hemorrhaging....she needed to have a hysterectomy and put it off until after the trip to New York.  So, my poor mom, she climbed all those stairs up with me.  What a mom won't do for their child!  I remember the stairway was narrow and winding and once you started up, there was no way to turn around and go back down.  I never realized what a sacrifice my poor mom was making just to make me happy.  She of course would have never allowed me to do it by myself.  I so appreciate that gesture now.  What a mom!   I got the experience of a lifetime because of her.  Bless her sweet heart...I wish today that I could tell her so, but she has since passed away.
The next experience was quite funny when you think of todays modern ways of looking at things.  I remember that we had tickets to go see the Rockettes at Rockefeller Center.  My mother was aghast at the costumes that were worn on stage and that her young daughter of 11 years old was sitting in the audience viewing what seemed to her, quite provocative costumes.  I went to see the Rockettes a few years ago here in Chicago, when that thought had crossed my mind. Compared to what children see now a days on television and in the movie theaters, those costumes were nothing! 
And then there was a night when mom and Mabel decided to have one grown up night on the town and left me to stay at the YWCA alone.  I remember how strange it was, because in the room there were no cushioned chairs to sit on like we have these days, but downstairs in the lobby were couches and cushy chairs to be used.  I remember taking my Nancy Drew book with me and went down into the lounge area to relax an read.  I never said a word to my mother, because she might have had a coronary.  It wasn't that I wasn't old enough, it was just that she wasn't sure how safe anything was over there. 
The one thing I remembered about the trip was that I had been saving all my money to take there to buy something special.  I landed up buying my mother a gold charm bracelet.  I had seen how much she had admired it in one of the stores and I gave my money to MS. Mabel to go in to buy it so my mom wouldn't know.  Her birthday was coming up in August and I wanted to have something really special to give her.  I remember when she opened it on her birthday, how surprised she was!  For years after that vacation, I saved up to always buy her a special charm to go on it.  A couple of months ago, some of her items found their way back to me.  You can't imagine the tug at my heart when I opened that box and found that charm bracelet full of charms looking back at me.  Memories of a lifetime flooded through my head.  As I touched each charm, I remembered each thing it had been associated with.  Each special moment in our lives.  What a treasure. To think all of that came from a trip that was considered a train wreck back then, was worth it's weight in gold!

My Grandma's Garden

Good morning to all my friends out there.  It seems to be quite a nice day outdoors, I am hoping to get a little done in the garden.  A few last pieces that need to get planted.  The garden is such a peaceful place to be. I have loved the garden ever since I was a child.  That is why I chose Gardens to write about today.
It has been one of the most amazing years for roses that I have ever seen in years.  Everywhere I seem to drive the roses are absolutely gorgeous!  I have noticed one home in a nearby town, called Park Ridge where they have an archway over their front door and it was filled with a climbing white  rose bush all the way over the arch.  What a way to walk in or out of your house.  It looks like something out of a picture book. When I see roses, I cannot help but think of an Aunt of mine.  she loved roses and had her entire one side of her garden with every type of rose plant you could imagine.  I recently noticed that they have a rose bush called Honey rose.  My Aunts name was Frances, but I called her Aunt Honey.  I need to find one at the nursery and plant it in her honor...she passed away 1 1/2 years ago.   I must make an attempt to get to the Botanical Gardens soon to view their rose garden.  It must be spectacular there. 
When I was a young girl, I lived with my Grandmother and her garden was her pride and joy.  She spent countless hours in the garden.  She had flowers of every type there.  From roses to dahlias, to daisies.  She had hostas down the gangway with the stalks of flowers that sprang out of the greenery.  The looked like little oval balloons before they blossomed and I would walk through the gangway and look for the ones that were just ready to bloom and pinch them.  They would make this popping sound,  I still do it when I see that flower today.  Such a simple joy. 
When people say that someone has a green thumb...they had to have been referring to my grandmother.  There was nothing that she couldn't grow.  People came from all over to enjoy her garden.  That was way before  I had ever heard of garden walks and such.  
Now as the years went by, grandma's arthritis had gotten worse and it became more difficult for her to kneel in the garden, That was way before the day of kneeling pads and little gardening seats.  She would just take an old pillow and stuff it in a brown paper bag and kneel on that.  Seemed as though there would be nothing to stop her from her daily chore.
Each day, after breakfast you would see her out there in the garden wearing a simple housedress...she called it a mickey mouse.  I have no idea where that came from.  Whether that was a made up name for the dress or was a regional word, but that is what we called it.  I bought many of them through the year at the nearby department store as gifts for her and they always knew what I was talking about. It was just a simple cotton, straight lined dress with a rounded yoke, oftentimes had rickrack around the neckline and great big pockets on both sides.   These pockets were so large Grandma could carry almost anything in them, including her garden glove and shovels and weed picker.   
She would be out in the garden half of the day.   She always began early in the morning and once noon rolled around she was pretty much done and went in to do her daily baking and chores.
Now one morning when I was sitting at the breakfast table eating my pancakes, Grandma sat down in her rocking chair which sat in the kitchen right between the kitchen table and the stove and proceeded to tell me about the dream she had the night before.  She said that an angel had come to her in her dream and took her for a walk in the neighborhood.  She said it wasn't very far...just a couple of blocks away from our home.  She said that  the angel had pointed out a flower growing in the front garden of a house.  She told her that the plant had been put there for her to find.  That it was a very special plant and she should go there and find it and bring it home.  I just sat and listened to Grandma's story.  I was waiting for the moral or the purpose at the end, but this one didn't end that way, instead, Grandma asked if later in the evening I would take the walk with her to see whether it was just a dream or whether an angel actually came and gave her a message. 
So that evening, Grandma and I took a walk...now you need to know that this is not the average activity for my grandmother, since her arthritis was so bad, but that night she seemed to walk as though she didn't have a care in the world!  We went about 2 1/2 blocks down he street when we came to this house that had a for sale sign in front, plus it  had a SOLD sign on it.  There along the side of the house were these green and white striped plants that were growing. To me, they just looked like weeds.  Grandma stopped dead in her tracks and said" there they are!"  She reached into her great big pockets of her Mickey mouse dress and pulled out a shovel and a small brown paper bag.  She told me that this was where the angel told her to go to find the plant that they wanted her to find.  She told me to dig it up.  I looked at her in such disbelief...I told her that was stealing....she told me no, it was alright because she was told by the angels to do it.  How does an 8 year old argue with that type of logic?  I went to the plant and dug it up for her.  She placed it in the brown paper bag and wrapped the dirty shovel in a towel in her other pocket and back home we went. 
The next morning when I woke up, Grandma was already in her garden planting the Angel plant...that was what she said she would name it.    That plant grew for years in Grandma's garden and bloomed year after year with these sweet little yellow blooms.  Now, the rest of the story was  that the next day on my way to school after our walk, I passed the same home we had just visited the night before.  To my surprise, there was a big landscaping truck there and they had dug up all the plants around the home and were putting in bushes.  I just stopped and wondered about Grandma's dream.  Was there maybe a real angel she had dreamt about?  Did that angel really want her to go and take that plant?  After all, they were all gone the next day!  Through the years, my Grandmother passed away and the house had been sold.  I had been past the house many times to look at it and revisit my childhood.  Then one day, I noticed they had torn up the entire garden.  They had cemented the entire yard.  All of Grandma was now gone.  All those beautiful flowers no longer blooming.  What a shame...I was heartbroken.  That was my Grandma's legacy so to speak.  A few years later, we bought the home that  am in now. 
One day while out was out gardening there seemed to be a plant that just sort of showed up one day underneath the Pine tree towards the back of my garden.  I had put in a second patio there with angel statues and small little signs that said things like WONDER.  I considered it my meditation garden when I just wanted to go and reflect.  Well, a plant  showed up and looked very familiar.  Soon after it bloomed the same way that the Angel plant bloomed so long ago for Grandma.  In that moment, I felt that it was a miracle!  Maybe Grandma came and planted it there for me.  I felt like she was giving me a gift in my angel garden.  She was leaving me a message of sorts.  She was trying to tell me that she was still with me.  The best thing was, that now, as an adult, I learned more and more about plants and never hesitated to look up something that was unknown to me.  When I took my books out to the garden and found the plant.  It's nick name was "Michael, the Archangel".  Now it really made me stop in my tracks!  What were the odds that the plant that Grandma said an angel came to her in a dream about would be named for an angel?  Was it a dream?  Was she meant to have it?  Maybe it was meant for me! Whatever the case, I treasure that plant.  It has traveled all along the angels garden and gives me great peace to know it is there.  And I warn my husband when he is in the garden to be careful of that plant.  And believe it or not...should I ever move, that will be one of the things that will be dug up and moved with me.  An angel's gift that has grows through the years.

What is a STORYTELLER?

Well, hopefully all that are reading this in the Chicago land area are safe and dry.  What tremendous storms have rolled through the area.  Some spots have up to 7 inches of rain from the storms...once again the highways are closed down near Niles, Il., which is just north of Chicago.  Airlines are delayed.  This has been probably the most stormatic summer I think I can ever remember.  When I wrote back a while ago about time to built an ark...I think the joke should morph into reality as I watch the waters take over all over the world!
As for the theme for the day, I have decided to talk about storytelling.  My reasoning behind this is to help educate the public in general of what it means to be a storyteller or simply why you might want to seek one out.  Whether to hear a performance, compare tellers, hire them for entertainment, and what some can and cannot do. 
First off, most people have the impression that storytellers are for children....so NOT the case.  In fact, I, myself have so many different types of programs that are geared strictly for the adults.   The second misunderstanding   that we always address...is that storytellers DO NOT just come in and READ a book.  We are entertainers.  We are there to inspire, excite an oftentimes educate the audience.  We can bring laughter and tears, moments to ponder and question to be asked. 
Now, not all storytellers are adept in all areas of storytelling.  Some are strictly for children, some have their own particular niche in an area that speaks to their hearts like mythology, or history.  There are some storytellers who are more of a performer who will come and do a first person performance of a particular character.  There are performers who will come dressed in costume and some who may have a little extra bling to them in their street clothes.  Some are inter active with the audience, some sing, dance, and play instruments.  There are some that do what we like to call fractured or twisted tales...if you are now wondering what that is...the teller takes a well known story...ex: the 3 little pigs and using that story, twists it around in their own special way. Perhaps they change who the bad guy is...maybe it is the pig instead of the wolf, perhaps they aren't building a house, they have substituted it with something else.  Perhaps it is told as though by a news reporter.  Interesting to hear a number of people perform this back to back.  Now just because the story is the 3 little pigs, doesn't necessarily mean that it is for children either.  Because in todays world, I even question how many children know the story of the three little pigs.  Now some of you may sit and  say "no way"  but trust me...this has been encountered...what we were brought up on, is not necessarily what todays youth are brought up on. 
There are stories that are for bringing the world together with folk tales.  Tales that perhaps your grandparents or parents have shared with you.  Through the past 13 years as a storyteller, I have learned that many countries tell the same tales, only they have their own spin on them...often times to teach a lesson or a moral. 
I myself was raised by my grandparents and know that it was just a common thing to have them share their stories of childhood, whether they were making them up or handing them down from generations before them.  As I have blogged, some of the comments that I receive back say that the stories I have written have transported them back in time...or given them food for thought, or opened their eyes to something new.  That is what story telling is al about.  It is spreading the stories, feeling the story, learning the story.  It is the best feeing as a storyteller to have people come up to me after a performance and ask questions.  They will ask where I learned that from,  They will share that it brought back memories from years ago.  I see their faces as I tell funny and comical stories as their laughter bellows through the air. 
I know that I have touched their hearts as I see them wipe away a tear.  I see their eyes grow wider and wider as I share a spine tingling ghost story. I am able to see children squeal with glee as a puppet is used....honestly, as a child I remember that puppets were an everyday part of my life but not really the case with children today. 
Most people are not aware that there are storytelling festivals that are held all over the world.  Most are unaware of an event called Tellebration.  For those who have never heard this name...Tellebration is an event held by storytellers' all over the world on the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It is a time when a guild of storytellers get to together to educate people about the art of storytelling.   I , as president of my storytelling guild called Windy City Tellers search for a location each year to provide this service.  We do not charge for the performance.  If there is a fee, it is nominal and goes to a charity. 
As I have performed various stories for various organizations and all ages, I usually land up laughing to myself afterwards about the reaction from the audiences.  Sometimes, the parents and grandparents are so engaged in the story, yet they are there because they wanted to bring the children to storytelling. 
Storytelling encourages reading and literacy as well.  Often times I am asked when performing for an adult audience, where I got the information.  Sometimes I am asked if there are books on the information that I can suggest for them to read.  I do not sit and memorize a story, and I usually won't tell a story unless it speaks to me
I have to find a passion inside of me that resonates with the information and find a way to put it all together. 
When you see a storyteller, some may perform the same stories all the time.  This is their niche of stories.  I will repeat stories only when they are told at different locations or am asked to include a particularly loved one.  I, myself  love the challenge of uncovering the unknown.  I myself, am like a dog with a bone.  I am tenacious  when I am investigating a story.  I look down every possible avenue.  If possible I even visit the area I am writing about.  I try to go back as far as it will allow.   I make notes and outlines.  Work on writing an interesting piece to myself.  Tell it in my own words and then rehearse it.  I put countless hours into preparations as a storyteller, as I am positive other tellers do as well.  
To be a storyteller has a lot to take into consideration.  An audiences age is a big one, public told stories are to be  politically correct so as not to offend anyone, the location, the microphone systems, and so much more. 
If you have read this blog, or have been reading my blogs all along, please take a moment and look on my website program page to see some of what sort of programs that I perform. They are all not listed, as I always have stories made to order as well.  Perhaps it will help to explain even further the diversity of storytelling.  I also must interject  that hiring a storyteller is not only limited to large venues.  Imagine a Halloween party that has a storyteller brought in to tell those spine tingling, hair raising stories to both children and or adults.  Imagine Mrs. Claus walking into your holiday party to share stories for the season...or maybe even Frosty the snowman telling some frosted tales.  Years back, I always threw a Christmas party and of course there was always a theme with me and I would hire some type of entertainment.  My guests always remembered what a special night that was.  They always told me that the entertainment always added that special touch.  So why not a storyteller?  It's quaint cozy and familiar.  I hope that this particular blog has given you an inside story as to who I am .   If you are looking for a place to hear stories...I post open venues on my site, and if you are looking for someone special to make your event that much more eventful, I hope that I can be of service to you. Give me a call or email me. Thanks for listening to this story.      

Bozo Circus is on the Air!

Wishing all my readers a good morning.   It is very overcast and will get to the 90 degrees In the Chicago land area.  
In Chicago, one of the icons of the city was Bozo's Circus.  It was on television for years.  Their studio was down on Addison Ave. in Chicago and  to get tickets to actually be on the show took often times 5 years. It got so that people would write to Bozo Circus when a new baby was born to get on the list so they could go. 
Bozo Circus was the most amazing show to watch as a kid.  I remember when I was in grammar school, it was a time when, if you lived close enough to the school to walk home and back, you could go home for lunch.  Now I was about 6 blocks from school and that was just a right distance to be able to walk home, have lunch and walk back.  The one thing I remembered about that was that when I ate lunch, I was able to watch Bozo on TV.  I would sit at the kitchen table with my tomato soup and bread for dunking, and watch the program.  The Bucket game was the highlight of the show.  There were 6 buckets that were lined up and an arrow would flash on the television set as it strolled through the audience and then would stop.  That was the child that would get to play the bucket game.  If my memory serves me right...there were 3 children chosen.  Once in a blue moon, a child would refuse to go up...boy, I bet if they look back now, they regretted that decision. Well, Mr. Ned, he was the ringmaster, would give you ping pong balls and you had to stand behind the line and throw the ball into the buckets one at a time.  If the ball went in, you won a prize.  Each bucket had a better and bigger prize as you went along.  The final bucket they had put in a $50.00 Bill and a ticket for a Schwinn bicycle.    Countless children in my day practiced throwing ping pong balls into buckets just in case they ever got to the show.   They would break away to watch a cartoon... Rocky and Bullwinkle was the hit show at the time.  They would have all types of acts and shows on from dancing poodles to magic ticks.  There were routines done by Bozo, Cookie and Sandy.  They were the other clowns on the show.  They had this big old Dog house that they would bring out and Mr. Ned would knock on the door and this raggedy dog, name Cuddly Duddley  would come out and speak with him about the topic of the day that came in the mail..
You knew the end of the show when they announced the March at the end.  Bozo would have a baton and would begin the march and all of the audience would file out , marching away with Bozo, waving into the television.  Oh what a kid wouldn't have given to be on that show. 
I never had the opportunity to be on the show when I was a child, but thanks to my daughters Godmother, she had written for tickets when my daughter was born.  And when she was about the age of 5 we got to go to Bozo Circus.  What an experience.  You expected to walk into this BIG circus area, when actually it was just this small studio.  You piled into the bleachers, and watched the show.  Neither of the girls were chosen with he arrow. for the Grand Prize Game,  but just having been on the Bozo show was such a big deal for them....and me! 
A few years went by, and I became the Camp Fire Girl leader for my daughters group.  Well, I wrote to the Bozo Circus about the group and lo and behold.  I received 15 tickets.  I couldn't believe it,  There we were, all of the girls, myself and another 2 moms, back at the circus.  I remember one of our girls from the group was chosen to play the game...and of course all the rest were so disappointed at not being chosen, but happy at the same time for the girl that was.  What an experience I felt that I was able to give them.  I had found out that they reserve a certain amount of tickets for group like the scouts and such.  Glad someone passed that bit of information down. 
That day I am sure lived in those girls hearts forever. 
And when you would think that would be the end of the story, I have to surprise you.  You see, I worked in a rectory, and was in charge of one the Parish fundraisers.  It was my job to secure donations from various business'  so that we could sell Raffle tickets.  I had gotten tickets from local Theaters for plays, Dinner certificates from some really great High End Restaurants, Comforters and appliances were also secured, but the most surprising was, and I am sure by know you have guessed it....was 4 tickets to Bozo Circus.  The Parish made a ton on selling their raffle tickets, mainly because of the Bozo tickets.  They were like Gold.  That was the GRAND PRIZE!  I was thrilled at the sales, all the proceeds went to the church.  Then ,the final day came.  We had a great big dinner dance and one last chance to buy those tickets.  St. James in Chicago's Parish hall was filled.  The dinner was over and the attendees were all enjoying the coffee and dessert when it was time for the drawing.  Of course the anticipation was building.  We raffled off prize after prize.  You could see the anticipation written over everyone's face.  Finally, the last raffle was brought down out off the stage....I held the bucket and the last ticket was drawn....I announced the number, everyone was frantically checking their numbers simultaneously looking around to see if someone else claimed the prize...no one was answering, no one seemed to have the ticket....and then I realized, that I had not checked my own tickets.  I reached into my pocket....and there it was....I had won the tickets.  I could not believe it!  Go to the Bozo Circus AGAIN?  This was surreal.  In the end, I did not go to see Bozo.  I gave the tickets to my daughters who were just in high school and they took a young girl who was a family friend along with  another one of their friends.  They had one more experience with Bozo, only this time they were more like the mom...so they got to experience it from another angle. 
No matter how or when.  Bozo Circus was one of the biggest deals in Chicago.  It was sad to see it leave WGN. It was a Chicago staple.  It was a piece of Chicago's History.  It was a moment for my family that we will always remember.  I am so proud that we had the opportunities to be part of it, and that we were able to share it with others.     

Grocery Stores

Good morning.  As I sit here today, once again I ponder over what topic I should use for the day.  If you ever tried blogging..let me tell you, .after a certain amount of time, it entails digging a little deeper for a subject. 
Today I choose grocery stores because when I thought  back a bit, I found a connective thread.  You see, way back in the early 1900's. my great grandparents owned a grocery store...it was just a mom and pop type store in Chicago, around North Ave and Clark St.  Now I can't really say that I know a whole lot about the  store, and that alone makes me want to do some investigative work.  What I do know is that my Great Grandfather died of stomach cancer at the young age of 42, which made my Grandfather Joe have to leave school to come home to help his mother in the store. 
Now, when I was young, I had this grocery store that was made of a corrugated cardboard that had 3 sides to it.  It had heavy cardboard shelves on the inside.  A shelf where the cut out was, which would have been where your customers would come to  check out their groceries.  It was in the Basement at the bottom of the stairs.  My Grandma would save all kinds of empty boxes from Oatmeal, Farina, Maypo, there were empty Betty Crocker Cake boxes of various flavors,  empty coffee cans, evaporated milk cans (back then, they used to use it for the milk in their coffee), egg cartons and much more for me to set up the grocery store with.  Funny how we were recycling with out ever knowing it!   I had grocery bags and the best thing was I had a small cash register with money in it.  It sat on the counter part where I would check out people.  Now, when I say check out people...they were the imaginary people that would come to shop...I, on occasion, had Grandpa come down and play with me...I think he came down mostly in the beginning so that  I would learn to add up the groceries and learn to make change for my customers.  Bless my Grandpa Joe.  He was always teaching me, even when I didn't realize it.  Of course, if your came from my era...the register didn't total up the sales for you, there was nothing digital back then.  They just plunked out the number as you pushed down the keys.   You had to keep a pencil and paper next to you to make a tally of the sales, just like when you went to the neighborhood grocery store.  Plus, the register didn't tell you how much change to give either.  You had to figure out the math yourself to be able to give the proper change.  Grandpa played  many of those types of games with me.  Hmmmm, I later in life had math as one of my majors....any surprise?  As I think back on those days....they were a huge part of my life. 
 As my children grew up, things were more modern.  You could actually buy the miniature groceries and a shopping cart for them to do the shopping.  I remember when my daughters were young, they had the  grocery and kitchen set in my kitchen along one of the walls.  This used to be one of their favorites to play with.  I of course was their customer or the recipient of their prepared foods.  I remember taking a brown grocery bag and rolling up the edge for my eldest daughter as a chef hat.  Even though we could buy things, I was still saving boxes and cans for them to use. The apple didn't fall far from the tree...did it? 
Then as years went by, Granddaughters came into existence and there was even more for them that could be bought in the stores to play with .  But I am still an advocate for teaching them to actually make something or to encourage them to use their imagination.  They are too far away from me now, (they live in South Carolina), that I cannot be there to foster them, but I sure can add things to their life to encourage using their imagination.  I know that last year, I bought my youngest granddaughter a kitchen set for Christmas.  It came with all sorts of pots and pans and food, the darn things even talked!   But the one thing I sent there was a Pizza making kit, made all from felt.  She could actually put together the pizza with sausage and onions, mushrooms, green peppers and cheese.  I also sent her tea bags and cookies made from felt. so that she could have and serve tea and dessert.  I have the video of her playing with them.  It gave me such pleasure to see her making the pizza while she is answering the pretend phone and cooking at the same time.  this year. more felt food will be added to her collection. 
I have been to Kohl's Children's Museum with my granddaughters through the years.  I must say, boy have things come a long way!  They actually have a miniature Jewel Grocery set up where the children could go and play grocery store.  They have a fruit department, bakeries, meat departments, scales, and the list goes on and on.  Imagine that in todays world, we are actually  paying to have the children use their imaginations and play grocery store, when they could be doing it right at home.  It is now just an occasional fun thing to do!  Not a lesson of sorts, not something that can easily be done with recycling on our own. Is it that todays generation is actually  too busy to instill these inherent traits in their children?  I worry about where the world is going.  I worry when I go into a store and the computerized register has an error and the employee can't make the proper change on their own.  I worry, that tomorrow's artisan's will have vanished and become extinct. What IS becoming extinct, is the imagination.  The value of simple times and pleasures.  The thought process of "how to make learning  fun". 
All I can say is that I was so blessed with my childhood  and the people that were in it!  I am still imagining and creating today, thanks to them.  I became a storyteller so that I can hopefully  encourage  future generations, as well as  to remind the older ones to be appreciative of what we had.  It is my belief that if we don't share these moments, the newest generation will never have a yard stick to measure anything with.  Sometimes, a simple story just might encourage them to want to do the same.
Grocery stores....add it to your grocery list. a learning experience that may just last a lifetime!        

Wigilia

Good morning to my fabulous readers.  As I state here and there in my blogs, please feel free to make comments.  They truly are inspiring and welcomed. 
Now for some of you, you may have looked at the title and wondered what in the world is that?  Anyone out and try to look it up?  Well, it is a Polish tradition that occurs on Christmas Eve. 
For those who may not be of Polish descent, or are and don't celebrate the tradition or know the facts behind the customs, I thought that might share.  Why on such a warm day in June?  Why not!  Perhaps it will inspire you to get ready for one this coming Christmas. 
You see, the Polish Santa, number one, is called the star Santa.  If you have perhaps seen one you might have questioned why the stars?  Well, the answer would be that in Poland on Christmas Eve it was tradition that the evening could not begin until a child saw the first star in the sky.  After that, the Wigilia begins. 
Now Wigilia is the Christmas Eve dinner, which is traditionally a 12 course, meatless dinner. 
When I was growing up, we just called it Christmas Eve.  We were of Polish descent, but my Grandmother first and foremost always insisted we were Americans first.  We somewhat had celebrated Wigilia, but never had used that word.  I remember that on Christmas Eve, all the Aunts and Uncles and cousins would come over and we would have all types of meatless food.  There was always big trays of Shrimp with cocktail sauce.  Fried Fish, Grandma's Potato dumplings, Chubs (smoked fish) Cheese balls and crackers, and Potato and Sauerkraut Pierogi.  I remember everyone spending the evening and then when they would go home, we would prepare to go to midnight mass.  Everyone but Grandma would go.  We belonged to St. Stanislaus B & M. in Chicago.   Oh how I can close my eyes, even till this day and remember the beauty of it all.  The church was large like a cathedral, and to the right of the Main alter was where the large state of the Virgin Mary stood.  For Christmas, they would erect scaffolds around a life-size Crèche and Nativity scene,  Around that, using the scaffolds, they would fill in in all around with live Christmas trees lit with blue lights.  It appeared as though the trees were a mountain and the sky at the same time.  The church was dimly lit and the choir singing in Polish was magnificent.   After mass was over, we would return home to opening up the front door to some of the most delicious smells.  Grandma had prepared  our Christmas Day meal.  We gathered once again around the table and now partook in another meal...this one was with Ham and Polish sausages, sauerkraut, coleslaw and mashed potatoes.  We could also munch on any of the early delicacies if we wanted as well.  After the meal, we would open our Christmas presents because Santa had come while we were gone and they were all under the tree.  I can remember that we wouldn't be finished to often times 4 in the morning.  Christmas day was always spent in our Pj's.
When I married, my husband and his family had all come from Poland via a refugee camp in Germany during the WWII.  They celebrated with the Wigilia on Christmas eve.  I remember all of his family gathering to their 12 course meatless dinner,  There were so many foods that I had never eaten before in my life.  Their polish background was much more different than mine. It is regional thing. Before any of the partaking in food, they had the tradition of sharing the Opratek, (a blessed wafer).  His Grandparents broke the 2 large sheets of wafer and made a wish to each other.  They then proceeded to break the wafer with everyone there.  And each person must in turn break with everyone, making sure that when you broke the wafer that you would get a piece of theirs and they a piece of yours.  Once everyone had broken bread (so to speak) and made their wishes to each other, out came the first course, which was either mushroom or a sauerkraut soup called Kapushniak.  It was after the soup that trays and trays and trays of fishes, meatless rolled cabbages, salads of every sort, egg dishes, etc.  came out.  I remember one year I asked what I could make...and I was told pierogi...so some 300 pierogi later...I decided from then on that I would tell them what I would  bring, I never wanted to get stuck with that chore again.  They had to be made with fruits or sauerkraut. I had never heard of making pierogi with fruit, but they were delicious.  I used blueberries and strawberries, plums and peaches.  They can be eaten as a dessert with sour cream.  Boy they were delicious. 
As years went by, and my husband and I were the only children in each family, I took over the holidays, and my children grew up with a Christmas Eve Wigilia and had  Christmas Day, American style.  This went on for years and years, until my daughter got married and her husbands family celebrated Christmas Eve, and for the first time is many a moons, I had to let go of the Wigilia night.  I remember crying and crying that first year.  It just didn't seem like Christmas.  I sat on the chair, angry, mad, upset, and depressed.  Friends would say...."Have it on Christmas"  But I couldn't imagine not having my families traditions of the American Christmas.  I finally grew up the next year.  I finally considered myself an adult because I had rationalized it.  My main reason for being so sad, was that I didn't want my grandchildren to not know the Wigilia tradition.  So, the more I thought about it...I decided it was the tradition and not the day that it was held on that should be so important. So from that day on, I would hold it on a day in January when I could include not only my family, but also friends.  I loved it even more then, because now, every one could relax and enjoy and listen to the stories and the tradition of our ancestors.   
I started also adding a German tradition to the Wigilia since my son-in law was German .I started  hanging a pickle on the tree.  The first year, I read the tradition and had the children charge towards the tree...there was a special gift for the first one who found it.  On the next year...I knew they would be checking out the tree for the pickle before dinner and chuckled to myself on how clever I had been.  After the meal I read the story of the spider and they were shocked to hear that this time they needed to locate the spider in the tree  I told them the story of the first star on Christmas Ev,e and had stars at each person's place setting that we each made, out loud, our Christmas wish on and added it to the greeneries centerpiece on the table.  So in the end, all was happy.  Christmas was shared , and well, in the beginning, the first Christmas...that was the whole message.   Traditions are an important memory.  It is like an ink spot on our lives.  It is the family tree in real-time.  I would love to hear your traditions if you would care to share them with me.  As time goes by, I will share more of mine.  What Christmas represents should carry out throughout the year.  I am so happy that I learned that valuable lesson.  Christmas is all about sharing love and remembering the reason for the season.

Playing Cards

Good morning to everyone.  A little over cast here in the Chicago land area  this morning, but he sun seems to be trying to peak it's head out. 
This morning I decided that the topic of the day is going to be playing cards.
Growing up, playing cards was just a vey natural thing to do.  I remember that I was about 5 years old when my Grandfather Joe taught me to play poker.  Now, we didn't play for money, just so that I could learn the game. Later on we played for toothpicks.  I think it was because I was so interested in what the family was doing.  You see, when I was growing up, I lived with my Grandparents, so when there were dinners, family gatherings or a party, afterwards, everyone played cards and being the nosey person that I was , I wanted to understand it. 
So one morning after bringing a deck of cards to my grandfather, he sat me down and the kitchen table and taught me the game.  Now he taught me what beats what in a game.  How to play 5 card stud....but my favorites were called dime store and baseball.  Dime stores were popular back in the 50's, so in that game it meant that 5's and 10's were wild.  In baseball, their were 3 bases and 9  players.....so those numbers were wild.  The was also a seven card down no peak with a 7 knocking you out.  you would have 7 cards laying down in front of you, face down,  and the object was to lift a card one at a time.  The objective was to beat the other person's highest.  If you pulled a seven you lost. 
I remember when the family came over...when everyone was finished eating and the dishes had been washed, most gathered around the table afterwards to play cards. If you weren't in the card game, which were usually most of the women, they would go off and talk.  I thought that was okay, but I stuck around my Grandpa and watched his hand so I could learn first hand how to really play in an active card game. 
When Grandpa passed away, I earned his spot at the card table.  I remember how most of the family thought it was silly that a kid wanted to play, but when they saw that I knew how, they were amazed.  They had no idea that Grandpa had taught me how t play the game.  In fact, there were a number of times when they wished I didn't.  By now, I was a pretty decent card player and knew the rules.  We would play with our change...this was no big deal, nickels and dime sort of stuff.   I loved it because we talked and laughed.  It was just what a family did...or so I thought.  I was quite surprised when I met my husband and he didn't know how to play cards.  His friends all knew...in fact I remember the night before our wedding we had a poker game going after the dinner and all was done.  And it was ME at the table with the guys  I just loved the game. now how strange or unusual was that? 
Now there were other card games through the years that were played like WAR, and of course there was OLD MAID.  There was always SOLITAIRE when I was by myself.  I even remember the magic tricks that we did with cards...one in particular always kept the person wondering how we did it.  You would ask a person to pick a card and show it.  then I would call the Magic Wizard up on the phone.  Speak briefly to him and then hand the phone to the person that picked the card and the wizard would tell them the card they picked.  They were standing right there and knew that I had not told the wizard the card....so ho did it he or she know it?  Great trick to blow away everyone's mind. 
I know that when you would pack a suitcase to go anywhere....a deck of cards was always packed.  Whether you were going on vacation, going to a hospital or a picnic, cards would tag along.  We played countless games of 500 Rummy, Gin Rummy.  I taught the kids early on.  We built houses with cards. Such an amusement for so little of a price.  I even have a deck of cards in my car today for a "just in case" occasion.
I remember that I had a good friend who was a nun from my high school.  She would come over to the house often after I married for dinner and an evening of games and cards.  She was way too funny.  She would walk in the house...off went the veil, her favorite drink was a Golden Cadillac and she would pull out her little black bag of change for the card game.  It seems as though there was a card game for everyone. 
Seems like with the computers these days, there isn't such a need for cards.  You can play solitaire right there on the computer.  There are poker sites to play as well.  This is really becoming a solitary life for most people of all ages.  There seems to be less and less connection and communication with others in this world.
I know that some of the most successful and well loved events that I have with my red hat ladies are usually the game nights.  I have to share with you a very cute thing that happened one year when one of my Granddaughters was visiting and I had a Texas Holdum Party with my red hat ladies.  She was about 7 and of course we let her help us play.  She went between me and some of the ladies as we played and she got to lay down the cards.  She had a great time.  Well, when we took her back home to South Carolina, one night we were on the deck and she comes waltzing out the back door onto the deck with a deck of cards.  I wish you could have seen my son-in -laws face when she asked him if he would play Texas TOAST with him.  He just turned to me, with this very puzzled look on his face. Laughing away,  I then explained that it was Texas Holdum, not Texas Toast.  We all got a big laugh out of it.   
It makes me wonder how many card games a child might know today, if any. I often hear children say they are bored.  How can one be bored with a deck of cards around.  If they would tell me they are bored...I might just take a deck of cards and drop them on the ground and tell them to do a 52 card pick up, then once that was done...start a lesson.  We as adults need to become interactive with our kids.  This is not only a learning process, but also a social event.  You and they gain a line of communication.  I think the times are just right for it.  In fact, I think I read it in the cards!  

Blondie and Dagwood

Good morning to all my cyber friends.  Today is predicted to be hot, so, I am going to get out early to do a few things and then lock myself in where it will be cool. 
Todays topic is Blondie and Dagwood.  I was sitting here thinking about the old days and that is what came to me.  For those of you who may not know who Blondie and Dagwood are...they were a television series that came on once a week when I was young.  They were a married couple with 2 children.  Dagwood worked for man named Mr. Dithers, Dagwood was the office manager in Mr. Dithers Construction company.  Blondie stayed at home to raise the children ,Alexander, better know as Baby Dumpling and Cookie his sister.   They also had comic books and a comic Strip in the Sunday Funnies. Now this may not seem like anything different, especially back in the 50's/60's, with other shows around like Father Knows Best and the Donna Reed Show or Even Make Room for Daddy, but Dagwood was a bit different than the rest of the men.  Scattered brained perhaps, always in a hurry to get to work.  Always blundering something.  Blondie always seemed to be saving the day.  I remember watching the show and thinking what an odd name Dagwood was...but compared to the names that some parents have come up with through the years...it doesn't seem so strange anymore.  Now the one thing notable from the show was when Dagwood was hungry...he would build an enormous sandwich that when it was time to eat, it was hilarious to try to see him trying to open his mouth wide enough.  That is when they began calling the submarine sandwich a Dagwood.   Funny how little things like a television program can change what goes on in our daily loves. 
I remember that as a child, one of the things that we would do for enjoyment was jump rope.  Now there were various ways to do that depending on how many kids were around.  You needed at least two if you were going to do BIG jumping.  Of course you could jump rope independently.  But the BIG jumping was so much more fun.  Now you may question the 2.  Well, you really needed at least 3,but with two, we would tie the one end to the railing of the house and that would act as the 3rd person. 
You may wonder how I went from Blondie and Dagwood to jumping rope....well, the connection to that is that when I grew up...that was one of the songs we used to sing while we jumped the rope.  I am not sure if everyone did, but I know that we did.  It went like this "Blondie and Dagwood went downtown, Blondie bought an evening gown, Dagwood bought a pair of shoes, and Cookie boughtt the Daily News...in it said...and well folks...that is all I can remember.  I have searched my memory banks for years trying to figure out the rest.  If any of you out there remember, please comment it back to me.  It drives me crazy when I cannot remember things like that  Now we had lots of songs back then that we used to sing to play jump rope.  We did it at home, we did it at school on the playground as well.  Nothing real fancy...for the group jumping we would use an old laundry rope,  We didn't worry abut anything being politically correct.  The songs were just that...songs.  We would jump into the rope while it was moving.  When there were a lot of kids we used 2 ropes that went in reverse of each other and we would jump in.  That as called Double Dutch. There were jumping rope songs for how many times you kissed a fella...like Cinderella, Down in the Valley, ? and Johnny, sitting in a Tree.  We even did tricks while we jumped to songs like Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around, Teddy bear, Teddy Bear..touch the Ground and so on and so forth.  It was a common thing to see children playing the game, even as we got older it got more and more challenging for us. 
A jump rope used to be something back in my ay that was a great gift to receive. Back in our day, a jump rope got a lot of wear and tear.  And new ones were a welcomed gift. 
Today, I can't honestly say that when I walk up and down the street I see children play with jump ropes anymore.  I can't say that when I go past a school yard that I see it anymore as well.  I guess with all the electronics that they have today, that is a better use of their time?  I suppose when I really took the time to analyze it, the playgrounds are filled with jungle gyms and playthings, that there is no need for jumping rope.  Such a shame.  I think the only time you might see someone jump rope might be if they are in a gym, training.  We are all worried about the health of our children today.   Concerned abut their growing waist lines.  Worrying  about the junk foods that they are eating, and yet, exposing them to some good old fun like jumping rope doesn't seem to come to mind.  We are concerned with how much things cost today that the children want.  I say it is time to return to some basics.  Let children gather together....look around...even when they are together...their heads are faced downward and in their games. No one is interacting.  They are all sitting on their backsides, playing a game.  In my day, that was unheard of. I  say it is time that we look to some of these problems and do something about it.   Blondie and Dagwood went downtown......????  Hope someone out there has the answer to both  the song and how to get our kids moving. 
JUST IN from one of my readers...Bless her sweet little heart.  The Blondie and dagwood rope jumping song....compliments of Cindy
Blondie and Dagwood
Went to town.
Blondie bought
An evening gown.
Dagwood bought
A pair of shoes.
Cookie stayed home
To watch the news.
And this is what is said:
Close your eyes (* Jumper close eyes *)
And count to ten.
One, two, three, ... (* Continues counting to 10 *)

Air Conditioning

Good morning.  It seem as though the temperatures are predicting to begin their rise today here in the Chicago land area.  It have been pleasant here for most adults who are not crazy about the stifling temperatures.  Time where all the air conditioners will be turned back on. 
Funny  though, how  time and  things have changed.  I often look back to when I was a child and we had no air conditioning.  We were lucky to have had a fan back then.  And I am not quite sure what the fan did?  It seems as though it only blew around the hot air. 
Growing up in Chicago...we lived in a 2 flat story home on the northwestern edge.  The gangways between the houses were quite narrow and there wasn't much air that could circulate between the houses.  Consequently, on a really hot day there were not a lot of options.  I remember that we had a really odd looking fan.  It was round and it sat on the floor  I never really understood it's purpose unless you wet a washcloth with cold water and wrapped it around your neck and sat right in front of it to cool yourself. 
Back then, we didn't have automatic ice makers where you could just go ad grab some ice at will, we had to use ice cube trays...oh, and they weren't the kind that you just grab and twist, they were metal and had this insert that had a handle and you had to pull up the handle and it would crack through the ice.  You really could only fit 2...maybe 3 in the freezer at a time...and of course it took quite a while to freeze. On a hot summers day getting ice was a problem most of the time, especially if you had a lot of people living in the house. 
I can remember on really hot summer nights, my bed was up against the window and I would put my pillow on the window as far as it would go and sleep at an angle to try to feel some breeze .  When that wouldn't work, I would take blankets and the chaise lounge from the back yard and my pillow and set it up out on the front porch and sleep there.  That seemed to be the best way to handle getting some air, but then you made sure you were up and off the porch early to avoid being seen.   Later on we had a large pool and, as silly as this seems now, I would go into the pool, get wet, then try to rest on the large floating mattress.  The movement didn't work very well, but the dipping in the pool did. 
We eventually got an air conditioneer in 1968.  But it only got tuned on if it was stifling.  It sat in the kitchen, which meant only the kitchen got cooled.  It didn't reach the bedrooms, and of course, the fear that it might overheat during the night and cause a fire, only meant it was not on for the night time and once again it was back to sleeping in the window sill.
I remember getting married and the first apartment we lived in was a 2 story, flat tar roof building in Chicago. We couldn't afford an air conditioner in the beginning and oh how hot the days could get up on the 2nd floor where we lived.  Bu the worse was when I became pregnant.  I had toxemia and was always miserable.  I tried the same technique as I did as a child.  Only this time I had to build up the pillows on both ends, one for my head on the window sill and under my feet for the severe swelling.  Some nights, I just opened up the window and stuck my had out attempting to find some sort of air circulating.   The next year, I was pregnant again...I abhor the heat.  I remember being 8 months pregnant with an 11 month old baby.  I used to carry her down the 2 flights of stairs, fill up the baby pool and sit in it with her all day long.  I used to laugh with my neighbor over the fence that if my water would break, I wasn't really sure whether I would know it or not.  Finally, after my 2nd child was born we were able to purchase a second hand air conditioner that only cooled one room.  We choose the living room,
Mostly because we had a sleeper couch and we had French doors that closed it off from the rest of the house.  That meant we could sleep on the pullout and have the baby in the bassinet and our 1 year old in the padded up playpen and get a good night's rest.  I remember on July 2nd that year it was 104 degrees and we had our baby's Christening.  She kept slipping all over the place in her long china silk Christening gown.  But at least we had a place to be comfortable. 
Our next home didn't have any air conditioning as well, and the old one we had gave out.  We put up fans, but they don't really help.  I used to wait until my husband would fall asleep and then go on the back porch and lay on the chaise lounge like I did as a child.  He would wake up and go searching for me and then would go ballistic that I was outside sleeping.  He  grew up in a neighborhood that was very different than mine.  He grew up in an area where often times you would fear for your life.  I had no yardstick to measure that kind of fear , and needless to say, neither of us would listen to the other. I landed up coming back in the house to lay awake through the night to keep peace.  Finally we got an air conditioner.  We put it in the living room, only this time it kept the living room and dining room cool. I would tack up a sheet on the dining room door to ensure keeping the coolness in those rooms and to the maximum. The children and I spent the summer nights on couches or sleeping bags on the floor, while my husband still choose to sleep in the heat.  He is one of those people who actually enjoy it.  Not me, for sure.
When we finally moved into  the home we now reside in..once again I am faced with radiators and no central air...NOW, I love the radiators...but I now put an air conditioner in almost every room.  It is pretty nice, because I can turn them on or off depending on which part of the house is being utilized.  At night the only one that needs to run is in the bedroom.  I still use fans, whether portable or ceiling fans to now circulate the cool air.  I have an automatic icemaker that makes ice continuously.  I am so grateful for the technological changes, but every so often, nature will trip us up.  I remember last year on the 2nd of July, we lost electric when a generator blew out in our neighborhood.
I had a red hat event at the house, we were just about finished with our project when the lights went out....I am used to lights going out here in this area and learned a lot from the Amish.  I must have 15-20 kerosene laps that I am able to light.  The ladies and I sat around the soft glow and chatted.  The house was still cool so all was fine, but once they left....I started to worry about what we would do.  Upon calling the electric company , we were informed that  we might not have electricity for 48-72 hours.  I wouldn't  have worried as much at any other time, but we were hosting a large party on the 4th of July.  I had freezers and refrigerators full of food. 
A friend of ours lent us a generator...problem solved, so we thought.  Well, neither my husband or I had any idea of how to use it.  At first we attempted to put in in our enclosed back porch...it was too hot and began to cause a burn stain on the back door....we took it out.  Attempting to figure out what to do next, the carbon monoxide detectors went off, which now caused me to have to open the windows....which now made what was at least a semi-cooled house hot and sticky.  We finally figured out a way to get the machine hooked up through the back yard, all the extension cords to the refrigerators and freezer and one to the bedroom so that we could have air to sleep in.  In the meantime, we sat out in the front on chairs to wait till the carbon monoxide cleared and I had the sprinklers turned-on and ran back and forth through the sprinklers to cool down.  My husband just laughed at me.  I am sure I was quite the site.  This older woman acting as though she were a  young child.  When I look back at that moment now...I just chuckle to myself.  No matter how much I change on the outside, I am still a little kid on the inside.  And when the truth be told, I am glad that I am not afraid to show it....or I would be missing out on a lot of experiences and adventures. 
 

First Love

Good morning to all.  Thank you to some of the recent comments...I have left feedback on the story lines...it is such fun to read your stories as well. 
Today I have thought back on my youth and thought about my first love in life.  Now I had infatuations, that seems to start early for girls....not sure how it goes for boys....I can only speak for myself. I remember having an infatuation by the time I was in 3rd grade, there was another when I was in 6th grade...but when I got to the later part of 7th grade...I think the hormones really increased and found myself totally enamored with a young man.  He didn't even go to the same school as I....I think he had already graduated the year or so before.  Well, then you might ask how did I meet him then?  Well, he worked for the priests doing odd jobs in the church hall.  Sort of a part time handy man.  Being that I was so active in the school and church, I was always in contact with him, and with time, became fascinated with him. 
Now of course I had a best friend who hung around with me as well. 
Well, we went everywhere together...all the school functions, gatherings, events.  And he was always there.  I made sure to always take the opportunity to talk to him, joke around, etc.  I made myself known...that was for sure. 
Now, here is where the story takes its twists...he was crazy for my best friend...wouldn't you know it.  It didn't take long, before he was making his move.  Well, let me tell you...I was crushed to pieces.  But my girlfriend was happy and I couldn't let her know how I really felt, because that wouldn't be a nice thing to do. 
There were additional problems with this relationship, because her parents were very strict, and even in eight grade was not allowed to have any boys over to her house.  So her relationship was kept a secret.  She wanted to be with him and go places, but he could never been seen by her home....soooo....you get it....they met at my house.  Now I think  that they felt that since they were meeting at my house, they didn't want a third wheel, so he would bring along a friend for me.  Can you imagine how hard it was to watch the two of them and make conversation with some guy I had no interest in at all? 
I can still remember back then, one Christmas in particular, he bought her this beautiful gift.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the manufacturer of the cologne, only that he purchased the BIG kit.  It was in a lemon and had all their products in this special packaging.  From perfume to cologne to dusting powders.  The joke of it was that my friend couldn't keep it because she didn't have a way to explain away such an elaborate gift  So, if you haven't guessed by now...I was the new recipient of the gift.  I got the gift by default  It was so hard as a young girl t think that the one person you were crazy about was in love with your best friend.  But there was nothing to do, except accept it, and of course enjoying powdering myself with the dusting powder.
As the year went by, my girlfriend and I  went to different High Schools.  Our relationship soon parted because we had both made friends in our own separate schools.  We would occasionally see each other at a sock hop or so.  For those who don't know what a sock hop is...It is a dance that the high schools used to hold.  You actually danced in your socks,because the dances were held in the gymnasiums and they didn't want their floors scuffed up with shoes.  We always had live bands and they would take breaks and you could go down to the cafeteria and mingle and get a refreshment. 
As more years passed, our friendship dwindled away.  I of course moved on to other activities in my life, other relationships and more crushes and loves.  But I never forgot my first real love. 
Many moons passed and my friend and I found each other again,   made a date to get together and reminisce...well, I always had wondered what had happened to the two of them...and of course...they married. 
The sad thing was they weren't married very long.  they soon discovered that that childhood fascination was just that...and  so, they divorced. 
I was sad that they both had to go through that.  thinking of al the trouble and sacrifices they had made to be with each other and it had come to an end. 
I often hear about those childhood romances that lasts forever, Unfortunately, this was not the case for this young couple.  I of course went through all the joys and sorrows of dating and searching for mister right. I found a couple of them along the way, or so I thought at the time.  I married and am soon celebrating 39 years of marriage.  But every now and then, my thoughts travel back to those youthful years of butterflies in my stomach for a young man who never knew of them.  Those butterflies moved on, but oh it still brings a smile to my face to remember that unrequited love.  I hope that they both have found another love that will last the rest of their lives.  I guess sometimes we have this check list of the way we imagine things should work.  It only goes to show you that destiny has its own check list!  

Crayons

Well, good morning once again to all my blogging friends.   Today is so much cooler than yesterday.  I was amazed last night when I walked out of the Library to see that it had dropped about 25 degrees.  The thing I worried about the most, was if the ominous sky opened up..what a horrendous storm might be upon us, but luckily, that was avoided.   
As I sit in the morning sipping my coffee, all sorts of ideas run through my head as to what the topic of the day should be.  I think about those that are out there in cyberland reading my blogs and wonder what benefits it brings to them? Randomly writing this blog makes my mind wonder what my readers are thinking.  Are you taken back in time? Are you getting pleasure from the blogs?  Does it make you think of your past?  Do you learn anything or get food for thought?  I urge you to comment as it gives me a path to follow.  As a storyteller, I am used to feedback from my audiences. That gives me a hint as to whether the story came off well, where I will decide I need to tweak it and even the subject matters themselves.  So if you enjoy my blogs, I would love to hear from you.  I value your opinions and thoughts.  They encourage me as to where to go with this.  
I truly love that I can somewhat journal my thoughts into story form.  Some, I may build upon and use for performances down the road. 
So, now that all that has been said, I want to move onto todays topic, crayons.
This is an topic that I think almost all ages can identify with. Our childhoods all seem to have begun with them. 
When I think back in time, I remember how exciting it was to receive a new box of crayons.  I remember the advancement from the small box with 8 crayons to the larger and then to the largest there was.  I remember what a treat it was getting the 64 Crayola box and it came with the built in Sharpener!   I can remember  what it felt like opening up the lid and seeing all those pointed little heads.  They almost seemed like hats.  I remember the smell of the wax.  It was delightful.  I remember pulling each one out to look at the colors, read the names that were inscribed along the sides of the papers.  They had names that were often times hard to say. They were names or words I had never heard before.  Words like Sepia Prussian Blue and  Indigo.  I think I was finally in my 40's when I really knew and understood what sepia was. 
To think that through the years, crayons have changed so much and that there is a history behind some of the changes.  That's right, history.  I was just as surprised as you may be at this moment.  Did you know that during the times when the nation fought for Civil Rights...a crayon changed its FLESH colored crayon to PEACH. INDIAN RED was changed to CHESTNUT. PRUSSION BLUE was changed to MIDNIGHT BLUE. 
I guess everything changes with time.  I know that for now, children's excitement over a box of crayons would be the 120 crayon box.  New colors and names have continued, as old ones became retired.  Now they have Jazzberry  Jam and  Mango Tango...Mango Tango?  I thought about that name and wen back into my childhood and would not have a yardstick to measure that with, since I had never heard of a Mango back when I was a child.   Times change and so did crayons.  The quantities changed from an 8 pack to 120 pack.  It seems as though crayons almost tells the history of the times. 
The retired color of crayons now are green blue, orange red, orange yellow, violet blue, maize, lemon yellow, blue gray and raw umber. Blizzard blue, magic mint, teal blue and mulberry have been retired most recently..
I remember that when I was growing up, my Grandfather Joe used to pay me a nickel if I colored an entire coloring book.  Now, I remember coloring each day, kept inside of the lines, learned to blend the colors.  I took great pride in my coloring and also in the finished product.  I would remember taking over the finished coloring book to my Grandfather and him reaching into his pants packet for his  coin pouch and pulling out a nickel.  I watched as he flipped through the coloring book and his eyes would twinkle.   It was almost the same sort of look you would imagine Santa Claus might have.  He made it appear as though he was walking through an Art Gallery filled with amazing art.  I so appreciated the confidence that I generated from his pleasurable  nod of acceptance.  Now, I know that he didn't really need to pay me to color...for I  loved it anyway, but now, with hindsight, I cannot help but wonder if it was his way to have me learn to finish what I start.  Perhaps he was trying t foster the artistic side of me.  Perhaps, he just wanted me to learn to occupy my time.  Whatever the reasons, I am so grateful today because I am now a Professional artist as well as a Storyteller.  I have bought countless boxes of Crayons through the years, for my children and their children.  And in the thick of it all, I still enjoy sitting down to color with the grandkids.  The most amazing of all is that I also use Crayons to color with the Alzheimer's.  Crayons can teach us all a wonderful lessons.  We are never limited.  We are only a stroke away from genius if we decide to just use our imaginations. 
   

Summer Home Vacations

Good morning to all my followers..  Beautiful day once again.  It is almost officially summer.  When I think of summer there is one memory that I keep close to my heart, and that is going away to the summer house each year. 
Now, when I was young, I had a best friend Susie.  This friendship goes back to the very beginning of time for me.  We have been friends since birth.  In fact....the history between us goes back even longer than that.  Our mothers were friends and even our grandmothers were friends.  We all grew up living 2 doors away from each other on Latrobe Ave in Chicago,...until one day, they finally moved out of the neighborhood.  Our friendship took a sabbatical...but fate was in our court and reunited us, and even though there maybe 6 months that goes by when we don't speak...we pick up  right where we left off when we do.  Now that is true friendship.
Well, Susan's Grandma owned a house on a lake in Wisconsin.  It was a nice big white home on Spring Lake.  She used to rent out rooms in the summer for the fishermen.  She had off the side of the house a small deli  where the fishermen could come in, rent a row boat, buy some worms and get a sandwich to go.  In the summers, I got to go up there sometimes with them to spend a weekend.  It was an awesome place, We would get to go swimming all day long and at night we would  go out picking night crawlers for the men to buy. I especially loved when it rained at night.  Her grandma would always have a puzzle going on the kitchen table and she would put on the kerosene lamp and by the glow of the lamp we would work on puzzles. 
Years had passed and when Sue and I reunited, She was engaged to be married and soon after, so was I.  We both married within 2 months of each other and I had my first daughter a year after marriage.  Sue was going up to the house in Palmyra.  That is the town that the house was in, and invited us up for the weekend.  Sue's grandma had since passed away and the home now belonged to Sue's mom. Oh what glorious memories there were in going there.  I remember taking turns with my husband on watching our baby.  Sue and I would swim out to the raft that was in the middle of the lake and just lay there and reminisce about the good times we had there as children.  We took advantage of each moment available.  My husband, not a swimmer would go up and down the lake on some makeshift raft using a long tree branch to row it along.  What a superb weekend it was. 
As years went by, Sue's mom would rent out the house, but only to people she knew, so we began to rent the home each summer to go up and take the children.  My husband had to work....he had a job that if you took time off, you didn't get paid, and of course being young parents, we couldn't afford for him to take too many days off.  So I would go up with my children Janeen and Valerie, and our dog Louie.  My husband would join us on Saturday night and stay until we all left on Monday. Sometimes Sue and I would arrange so that the week she and her family would be there was back to back with ours and we would overlap the day so that we could all be there together. 
That was a week that I planned for all year long. I would pack up boxes of groceries, Gallons of water...oh they had water there, but it was well water...and the kids didn't like to drink the well water...and to be honest, I didn't like the taste of coffee when made with it.  We would have all our summer clothes, although the ones we stayed in was our bathing suits.  Packed up the car,, the kids and the Louie, our German Shepherd and off we would go.  There was a row boat that belonged to the house, but across the street was a paddleboat rental place.  I would rent a paddle boat for the kids and we would carry it across the street, put it in the water and the kids would paddle it over to the house while Louie and I would walk back.  One time, we got it in the water, the kids got in and I waved goodbye..."See you both in a few minutes " I told them.  Well, within a few seconds, I hear all this yelling and stuff.  When I looked back, the girls were frantic....evidentially, the boat didn't have any paddles attached.  I had to get a long stick to pull them over to the waters edge and get them out.  We removed the boat from the water, took it back across the street,  and they replaced it with another. It was a little excitement for the day.  All was well from that point on.  The girls, myself and Louie our dog would spend most of the time in the water. Louie absolutely loved the water just as much as we did.  Sometimes you would forget he was even a dog.  One afternoon, the girls and I decided we would just sit on the pier, dangle our feet into the water and just talk.  Well, this confused the daylights out of Lou....He just kept looking at us with his head crooked to one side and then to the other.  He finally went into the water and swam up to the area where we were sitting, he got up on his hind legs and with his front paws , he started splashing us while at the same time barking away.  He wanted us in the water with him.....and made sure we were aware of his intent. 
Once, while I went into the house to start dinner, the girls said they were going to take the row boat out and go around the lake.  I said fine, but to just keep in mind that I was making dinner and not to stay out too long. 
Now I was inside the house, pulling out the potatoes to peel when all of a sudden, I hear this screaming coming from the lake.  Now a mother knows the sound of her own children and of course...the screams were from my girls.  I dropped the knife and went running out with all sorts of horrible thoughts racing through my head.  When I reached the bank of the lake, I could see them way out almost in the middle of lake screaming for me.  As I looked at the boat....there was Louie....they had left without him....I am sure he thought it had to have been some sort of mistake, so he, of course swam after them and upon reaching the boat, was trying to jump up and in.  With this sort of action, of course the boat was tipping to it's side and the girls were panicked.  They of course thought he would tip them over.  They knew how to swim, but it was a pretty long distance from he shoreline and were afraid they wouldn't be able to swim the length.  Now they tried to help him in, but he weighed about 100 pounds and they couldn't handle his size.  All my calling  for him to come back didn't help....so I had to get into the paddle boat and paddle my way across the lake so he could get into that boat with me.  It was much easier for hi to jump onto the flat backboard.  I am sure he thought to himself, well at least I get to go for a ride with someone!  He then, of course jumped from the back to the front and sat regally in the seat next to me as I paddled back home with his head held high up in the air and his one ear lopped forward,.   What a dog!  When people say their animals became part of the family, they do....but Louie sometimes took it to the extremes. 
Oh the fun we would have year after year at the house in Palmyra. It was picnics each night out along the lake.  In the mornings, when the house was quiet and all were still asleep, I would arise, make coffee and sit on the stoop outside the back door which faced the lake and melt into the stillness of the lake.  The water would be still like a sheet of glass. Often times there would be fog lifting up and rising to the heavens.  The sound of the geese flying over the water on their way to their daily destination.  When they speak of meditation, that was mine, that moment that seemed to belong only to me.  It was though that moment was God's gift to enjoy because soon   all the hub bub of the day would begin.  It was as though God was bestowing a  blessing  on me.  Soon I would hear the pitter patter of Louie coming down the stairs with the clomp, clomp, clomping of the girls behind him.  the day had begun...always accompanied with the question of 'What's for breakfast?" .
Oh what I wouldn't give to hear that all over again!  What I wouldn't give to be able to go back in time and relive those precious moments. 
It was always such a sad day when we knew that the week was over and we had to leave.  It was even sadder when the house was sold. 
There were no longer going to be those weeks of splendor at the lake. 
As I look back, I even remember that I rented it for a week in the early fall and ran a craft show there.  I billed it as The Craft Faire in the White House. 
My friend and her mom couldn't imagine who would ever come.  But I had over 500 people walk through the show.  It was all handcrafted and enjoyed by all the women in the area.  Luckily it's main road was just behind the house, so it was easily seen.  That was the last time we were there....at least on the inside. 
Through the years we took many trips up to that house.  Passing by with longing in our hearts.  It was always like paying a visit to someone you love in a cemetery.  Our past lingered there.  In that white house, with bedrooms known by the color of their walls, the kitchen table where the pieces of the puzzle no longer are joined together.  Where the waters eats away, bit by bit against the shoreline.  We look longingly with fond memories. Times have changed, life has moved on, but our hearts and souls still remain there with that longing for just one more moment of splendor and joy and more than anything, a place where a family laughed and played, and, even more importantly, where love always resided. 
Since then our family has grown and moved on, and moved away.  Louie, God rest his sweet, loving soul has gone to rest.   But I am not alone, because those sweet days remain in my heart to cherish until my days are finished here. 
My Red Hat group and I are going to go up to Eagle Wisconsin to visit Old World Wisconsin, about 10 minutes from the house.  I will surely visit once again and pay homage to the place where memories lie. Oh if those walls could talk, they would probably tell you the same.  They would probably tell you stories of all the families that came together in love and laughter.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have been one of those families.
If you have never had the opportunity to spend such a vacation...I highly recommend looking into it.  For moms...it's a lot more work...but oh, the payback is worth it. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Water Bottles

Good morning and Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.   And to all the moms who have for one reason or another have had to play the role of dad.
Today, I thought that my topic would be on water bottles and after I typed it I and thought a moment, I had to laugh to myself, because in today's world...when we think about a water bottle, we immediately see that clear plastic bottle that contains drinking water.  Hmm.....perhaps some of you may not even know of another type of water bottle.    Well, the one I am thinking of was used long ago, when I was growing up.  It was a big red rectangular rubber container that could hold hot water and it had a screw in plug at the top of it. 
I remember that water bottle for many reasons.  I cannot rightly say that when you purchased one if it came alone or with all the paraphernalia as well. Now, you may question what else would come with a water bottle.  Those of us old enough to know...it came with the enema attachments. 
In my house growing up...Grandma had MANY of them and they hung in the bathroom...it hung on the rod where the shower curtains hang.  They had all the tubes attached and sat there ready for use.  Use?? You may wonder why such a thing would be useful and always hanging?  Well, you see, it was my Grandmother's firm belief, that if you complained of a stomach ache...there had to be something in the stomach which connects to the colon and therefore...to make you feel better...we would need to get an enema.  She would make a warm water based solution using soap and you would lay on your side on the bed as the solution entered your backside through the long enema tube.  I know I don't need to get any more graphic here....when you were ready, you were emptied out.  Grandma believed that this was the first step to good health.  I hated to say I had a stomach ache back then, because you knew what was coming.  I thought that everyone in the world was kept internally cleansed this way.  It was much later in life when I found out that it was not the case for all.  But through the years of reading and studying holistic medicine, I realized that enema's, along with Grandma's beliefs were right on.  If you have ever read any of Edgar Cayce's work, you will note that this was a treatment that he recommended.  It is also recommended by holistic and naturopathic medical books.  In fact, they say one of the best enemas is with coffee.  Who would have ever dreamed coffee would clean you out...but when you think about ingesting coffee, it has diuretic properties, so why not? 
Now, the water bottles were also used for other things as well. 
When I was growing up, the only type of heat we had came from one selectively played space heater in the kitchen of the house.  It kept the kitchen, which was the largest room in the house pretty toasty, but the bedrooms were another story during winter.  So, about 1/2 hour before you were going to go to sleep, my Grandma would use three water bottles filled with hot water and place them strategically on the bed between the sheet and the comforter.  One was near where your head would rest, one was in the middle and one where you feet would be,  Now, when it was time for you to actually go to bed, Grandma had the fourth bottle ready and would pull out the three that were on the bed and have you jump in, placed the new one under your feet and cover you up and tuck you in.  Grandma believed that if your feet stayed warm, so would the rest of you.  And it really worked.  But oh my, when you got up in the morning and out of that bed you would shiver through the house right up to the space heater and warm your backside until you stopped shivering and chattering your teeth. 
That wasn't the only time a water bottle was used back then either....when we had a sore throat, Grandma would rub Vicks around my neck, wrap a sock or a piece of flannel around it as well and put a warm water bottle on top of that.  It would always seem to help soothe that sore throat. 
Years went by and I married and there were water bottle in my home for my children.  Fortunately we lived with either forced heat or radiator heat and I never had to tuck them in with a water bottle, but I did use it for when the girls became of age and got cramps...that was another one of grandma's remedies...a shot of blackberry liquor and a warm water bottle over your stomach.  I used them for backaches an muscle aches as well  I have used my Grandmother's so called boyfriend...BEN GAY, and a water bottle even to this day. 
I know that now a days with microwaves and all, there are all types of heat packs that are filled with rice or flax seeds that can be warmed up in the microwave and placed on your aching body parts, but to be perfectly honest with you...they don't keep the heat anywhere near as long as the water bottles do. 
I have seen that they make them now covered in flannel, and they make them into teddy bears and such for children, but I often wonder whether parents today actually realize what to do with them.  Of course there is no longer the need for all the tubes and such since here are now disposable enemas that you can purchase and use. Although today, I think they the main reason for their use is for constipation.  Water Bottles of course no longer hang in bathrooms today with all their tubes and such.  I keep mine in my linen closet.  And pull them out quite often when there are aches and pains or the beginning of a sore throat. 
When I think back to my childhood....Grandma was pretty on target.  She knew how to treat just about anything. The only coffee Grandma used was in a cup from the big old Gallon coffee pot that sat on the stove filled all day long with coffee for drinking, I can imagine though that if she would have known that coffee enemas were better that soap and water she would have used that as well.  But, I can't help thinking that even Grandma, who loved coffee could imagine using it for that reason....but, I will never really know for sure!
Water Bottles...times have changed, right along with the definitions!

Handkerchiefs

As I sit here drinking my Dunkin Donuts coffee this morning, I must tell you that I think something goes on with the birds at 5 A.M..  Oh my goodness...they are all so loud and are chattering away.  It sounds like thousands outside.  But how amazing.  It must be their chat time.  I don't think I have ever noticed it before...it might be because the windows are open.  All the different sounds as well.  I wish I could understand what they are saying.   Any bird whisperers out there?  LOL.
Anyway, If you have ever looked at my home page or know me, you know that I do a program on the History of the Handkerchiefs.  Probably, many of you would wonder why and how. 
Well, you see, one day I was thinking about how different it is between a young person today versus years ago.  I questioned whether a 10 year old child years ago was more responsible than a youth that age today, or was it that as we become older, we don't allow the young to have the responsibility? I also questioned whether it is the difference in the parents that are raising them? Or was I that different from the rest...maybe being raised by my Grandma had a lot to do with it?  Maybe it was because I was an only child of a single parent?  I am not sure of the answer to my question.  But I do know that growing up...I was a responsible young lady. 
When I was young I went to a private Catholic school in Chicago called t. Stanislaus B & M.  It was located on Long Ave/Lorel Ave, just south of Fullerton.   I went through school pretty much taught by all Franciscan nuns.  I know that I was one of those children that many may have called a brown nosed kid....but I was always ready to lend a helping hand.  When a nun wanted a volunteer...there was my hand, raised up in the air.  Well, during my years at St. Stan's, I volunteered to help clean at the convent.  I would assist in the laundry, wash floors or dust furniture.  Sometimes the sisters had projects to be done, and since I was the artsy kid...this was always a pleasure time for me. 
So here I was, one evening, some almost 50 years later, thinking about a project that one of the nuns taught me to make.  It was a favor made from a handkerchief.  It was made into an umbrella.  Now the kicker to this story was that I remember that when I helped them to make it, they allowed me to take one home.   Well, everyone was impressed...it was really different, and of course Grandma shared what I made with the neighbors.  Well, lo and behold, our next door neighbor Rita, asked me to make them for a shower she was having for her niece and needed 50 of them.  She would pay me of course, and of course...what child didn't want extra money?
I remember that it seemed like it took forever to finished 50 of them, but I did.  The more I thought about that, the more I tried to remember how I made them.  I remembered rolling paper into a straw like pole...I had to roll it real tight, and I remembered having to use straight pins to put the folds together, this is when I learned how handy a thimble is, and then stuffing the folds with pieces of tissue paper.  But I just couldn't remember the bottom.  I couldn't imagine cutting it...and then strained my brain to try to remember and thought...hey, wait a minute..everything and anything is can be found on the internet...surely there are directions for that umbrella...so off I was on my search.  Well, I couldn't find the directions, but I did find a picture of the umbrella....and that was all I needed to have my questions answered.    When I was reading the article, I started to remember my Grandma.
I remember my Grandma always having a hanky in her pocketbook back then.  She always had some Violet candy wrapped inside of her hankie.  When she would open that purse, the aroma of the candy wafted in the air.  oh, how wonderful was that smell.  Needless to say I was on a search then to find that candy as well.  I finally did find them....shared them with my granddaughters...and now they are hooked.  The scent is so specific that I always ask them now..."when you smell the violet scent, who will you think of?" and of course the answer is  "you Grandma".  How cool is that?  I only pray that the tradition will continue.  Anyway, back to the hankies.  I remembered  how hankies were always something that we would crochet edges on while we sat on the front porch.  Hankies were also the first thing I learned to iron with.  I remembered my mom wearing hankies on her waitress uniforms and especially the holiday ones.  I remembered carrying them to school with me.  I remembered the children's hankies that were nursery rhymes.  The more I thought the more I wanted to learn about them.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to have them again.  So I began a collection.  The history behind it was amazing.  The stories that are connected to hankies were astounding...so I decided it would be a great program to put together for storytelling.  It is  program in which I use a visual as I tell the history.  I use a big reverse umbrella type laundry hanger that opens up and I have a pole that I am able to set it on. The piece turns and has numerous levels.  During a program I fill the laundry lines up with handkerchiefs.   have probably close to 800 of them now.  I only take about 125 with me to a program and choose the ones best suited for the audience.  People are amazed when they see them.  Most would think that handkerchiefs are just for women...but oh, they are so much more...I wish more schools would become interested in the program.  A great piece of History to learn.  Bet most of you in cyberland have no idea WHO put an end to handkerchiefs...?  Little Lulu..remember her?  Her children's book came with a package of portable Kleenex and the book was about magic tricks you could do with them.   They tried to push in advertisements that carrying around hankies in you pocket, purse or sleeve was unsanitary...which I laugh about...because where do we carry our Kleenex today?  . 
And if you think there is no history there for men...oh you are so misinformed.  There is plenty...especially connecting them to the wars.  I had one gentleman come up to me after a program and started telling me about how the program brought back all those memories for him of when he was in the war and would go in search of something to send home to his mom and sister and girlfriend. 
I didn't stop with just hankies...I then started to collect the boxes that they came in, the cards that were sent with them.  The dolls and angels that were made with them  They even came in a six pack can of Miller beer for men. 
I have books on them, the hankies boxes and satin holders.  From pretty ones to the ones from the wartimes.   I have a collection of children hankies as well.  I even have some framed  You can use framed handkerchiefs to decorate an entire wall, aprons made from them, you can  make a quilt or even a purse.  They are truly works of art. 
What a lost art and a lost piece of history.
When my mother passed away, I received a box and on the top were a stack of handkerchiefs in it.  I held them up to my face and could smell her scent and some even still had violet scent on them....they had to have been Grandma's  Oh, how comforting that is to pull out and admire and remember.  It as though they are still with me.  It is difficult today to find a handkerchief to purchase unless it is a vintage piece....but oddly enough, when I go to the Amish area, they are plentiful.  They have them for the children and for adults and  in one particular place I purchase the beautiful lacy ones  to make Christening bonnets that latter, the stitches are snipped and it becomes a wedding hankie for the little girl and if it is a boy, the hankie is given to his bride to be.  It comes with a lovely little poem and is a very touching and tender gift. 
I remember that on my wedding day, my boss gave me her hanky that her aunt gave her on her wedding day....and her aunt used that hanky on her wedding day.  My daughter has used it on her wedding day and I look forward to the day that my granddaughters will use it on theirs.  Today I am performing the program at a church for a ladies tea.  It was nice to pull  out my selection and touch those delicate reminders of yesteryear.   Traditions,
Hankies...something's you just don't throw away!
     

Amish Living

Good morning.  Another beautiful one so far. Temperature is so nice that the windows are open and the coolness of the morning feels perfect. 
My topic this morning is the Amish.  No, I am not Amish, but I have plenty to say about one particular area of the Amish that I have been visiting for over 20 years. 
It all started with my reading an article about this area in the newspaper, mainly because of it being one of the largest flea markets ever. 
Well, that peaked my interest and off I went.  It is 130 miles from home, a simple 2 1/2 hour drive away.  When I arrived, you could have knocked me over with a feather, it was in an Amish community. The town is called Shipshewana in Indiana.  Now it wasn't like I had never seen Amish before...I had for years taken the family on outings to a place in Arcola, Illinois called Rockome Gardens.  The Amish town of Arthur as well.  But this place was much different.    It is such a clean an pristine little town.  Cute shops with great little finds everywhere. 
Now, I must tell you through the years, I had been questioning the taste of food.  It seemed like I kept saying that nothing tasted the same way it did when I was young.  I thought perhaps my memory of food from days gone by made me imagine that it was different...or perhaps it was that I was older and my taste buds were altered, and even wondered if it was because I had false teeth...could that be the reason?  Well, the first meal in Shipshewana gave me the answer....NO to all of the above.  It was the food at home.  The food I had become accustomed to eating.  It was all the processed foods filled with chemicals and preservatives.  That is why things didn't taste so good any more. 
In this charming little town...on the corner of the main crossroads there was this quaint little blue house...it was a restaurant called Blue Gate.  You will still find that restaurant there....but not like it was 20 years ago....but the food is the same.  In that little house, you were seated in what were bedrooms, perhaps living room or even the dining room.  The wait was at least an hour or so....but you never minded because you would walk the stores and shop, or jut sit on one of the rocking chairs on the porch, or take a horse a buggy ride while you waited.  You were served a family style meal that tasted like you were back in time.  Fried chicken, pot roast that simply fell apart it was so tender, with stuffing, potatoes and gravy, green beans and a sweet potato casserole.  But before all those tantalizing main foods were brought to your table you had a loaf of hot homemade bread, butter, apple butter  and a concoction of peanut butter mixed with marshmallow fluff that was amazing.  Your salad had fresh made croutons, assumingly from the left over breads and  homemade salad dressings. To top off the meal at the end you given a choice of pie.  Homemade pies.  My favorite choice was one that was called Raspberry Cream.  It had a cream cheese layer on the bottom, next came a raspberry jam layer, then a layer of a vanilla custard and then topped with a dream whip type topping.  The crust was so flakey and delicious.....oh my...what a treat!  The tables were small and on the table sat small homemade Lazy Susans that had a kerosene lamp with a shade in the center.  It was a charming and delightful way to end your day.  It was hard to leave at the end of the day.  I kept going back and discovered many new places each time.  The flea market was great, but it was the town that endeared me. 
I am quite the adventurer, so I found myself up and down the country roads finding small stores inside of Amish homes.  I found a small place back in the days called Ferns.  You could go in and have lunch...and what a lunch it was, and while you were there, you could see the Amish girls making homemade noodles. They were on the menu as well.  They served it with gravy and either beef or chicken  over mashed potatoes...yes, you read that right...and it was to die for.
The first time I stopped at a farm that had a sign that read "watermelons 4 sale", I pulled in and waited for someone to come out... there  was an Amish man chopping wood at the back and I approached him.  I told him that I wanted to purchase some watermelons...He said go right ahead...take what you need..there is a box there with money...just put the money in and if you need to make change it is there as well.  Imagine how astonished I was...Never in a million years in this day and age could you do that in Chicago.  There was another road through the years that I go down that has a vegetable stand at the end of the farm on the edge of the road that has all the vegetables and fruits from the farm for sale.  They have a little table inside the shed like building with a scale on it.  there are bags for you there as well.  On the table is a notebook and pen on a string to write down your purchase and there are envelopes to put you money or check in and a Mailbox outside on a pole to drop in the envelope with payment.  Trust in God...that is their motto.  I have bought the best vegetables, no chemicals, all freshly picked. 
I found in town a Meat Market called Yoder's....well almost everything there  just about has a Yoder name...anyway, I purchase cartful's of meat.  No steroids, no hormones.  It is all wrapped in butcher paper.  You don't see what anything looks like...but trust me...you know every piece is good cut.  In the past 15 years that I have bought my meats..I have never had a bad piece or cut ever.  I load my coolers up jut before I head home.  Everything is frozen so the minute I get home, into the deep freezer it goes.
One of the stops that is a must for me, is to go and get a frosted glass of homemade root beer.  That reminds me of my Grandma.  That's a topic for another day.  And then I absolutely must go down to the Mercantile and have a homemade pretzel that is dipped in butter from JOJO's  Unbelievable!  I know most of you may think...big deal ,we can get those in the mall...well, let me assure you they taste nothing like these.  There is Yoder's department store that has just about everything under the blue moon.  It is like walking through a Woolworths years ago, combined with a hardware store. 
I, one day walked into the Bulk grocery store there and was talking to a young girl and asked it there were any of the Amish on the farm that make furniture.  I was looking for a dining room set.  She directed me to the farm.  The gentleman and I spoke and designed the plans for him to make my dining room set.  It is solid Oak...48 inches wide and has 3 leaves to insert.  which makes it 120 inches long.  It has 6 chairs to go with it.  I got to choose the color of stain I wanted, the style of legs and chairs.  I wanted to have it for my daughter's bridal shower and he did it in one month.  We went back, picked it up, and it all only ran me $1,000.00.  What a bargain for a table that will last forever and be handed down generation through generation.   Nowhere will you ever find a standard table so wide...the first time I put our Easter dinner on the table...My family and I thought something must be missing since there was so much room on the table, where once we had to juggle things to make it all fit.   If that table could talk today it would have story after story of all the things the occurred around it.  Hmmm...that would be another days topic. 
Well, I found countless more places and things to do.  I go into the side porches of Amish homes where they sell their eggs from their chickens.  And they too have their change boxes sitting there with a list as to the cost of the eggs...they even have the math done out for you as by how many dozen you buy.  I also go  down the road a piece to a Bakery, where in this side home they make homemade pasties everyday.  The list goes on and on.  All I can say is that when I make my visits there...and I enter the town...my heart and my soul say 'I am home".  Some say you can never go back....but with this town...I have learned that you truly can.
 

Sewing

Good morning to all my readers.  Thanks goes out today to all who are reading and commenting.  I truly appreciate the feedback and also enjoy the remarks.  Hope you will continue to give feedback and comments. 
Todays topic is sewing.  Once again, as I think back to childhood, sewing was a very large part of my life..not that I was a seamstress or anything.
When I was a young child, my Grandmother had an old treadle Singer sewing machine downstairs in the basement...not far from the laundry room.  Now that is where she would sew and make repairs on torn clothing.  I remember the first time she sat me down in front of the machine.  She, step by step, carefully showed me how to thread it and so on and so forth.  The running of the machine was easy...all you needed to do was pump your feet on the bottom iron grid and it moved the machines mechanisms along.  I had to have a shorter chair than Grandma since my legs weren't as long as hers.  I remember her giving me simple pieces of fabric that I put together.  She taught me how to stitch a pillow case together..now thinking about that, it was probably the most simplest of projects to do.  As years went on...I would learn how to make a ruffle by running a long stitch and pulling one side of the thread to gather it up.  And the I learned about measuring it out along the edge of the pillowcase for a decoration.  The next phase I took on by myself...I could fix my doll clothes. 
One Christmas, I got my very own child's Singer sewing machine.  Nothing like you would buy today for a child.  It was made of a heavy metal and it really performed like one of those more modern day adult machines.  In fact, I still own it.  I display it on a shelf in my sewing area.  I am so proud to have kept it ...I unfortunately do not have my grandmother's sewing machine, but I do own my mother-in-law's treadle Singer sewing machine and my husband's grandmother's White treadle Sewing machine. 
Now, through the years, I did attempt to learn to sew.  My cousin Sandy, got married and lived upstairs from us.  She was really into sewing...she must have taken sewing in high school. I was not allowed any type of classes that had anything to do with home economics or the arts.  My mother was pretty insistent that I take only the main subjects and honker down in all the business classes.  Well, anyway, my cousin attempted to teach me to sew.  I remember the first time going upstairs for a lesson and it was how to lay down a pattern.  She showed me how to pull a strand of thread out of the fabric so the I could line that up with the grain line on the pattern.  It all seemed so ridiculous to me that I lost interest pretty quickly and decided that sewing may just not be for me. 
And then many years later, I became engaged to a young man when I was 19...his mother was a seamstress from Italy.  She knew all the shortcuts and was a wonderful teacher.  If you ever attempted to make a nice knot at the end of a needle and constantly never get it right...as was the case for me....She taught me the best method ever and I have used it till this very day.  I became finally interested in the art of sewing...thank you Judy wherever you may be.  Her son and I never did get married.  But I got so many gifts from that relationship.  The art of sewing was one.  After he and I broke up...I went to Hawaii and wanted to have a new wardrobe, so now with the talents acquired, I made myself some of the most awesome outfits to wear.
As years passed, I married my husband and was blessed with 2 girls.  My mother bought me my own sewing machine as a gift one year.  It came from Montgomery Wards. It was a really heavy sewing machine that took all sorts of punishment...nothing like the plastic machines that they sell today.  I remember..the deal was made that in exchange for the gift.....I had to learn to sew and make her some clothes.  Well, let me tell you.  I had this Big "How to Sew" book that got plenty of use.  I made my mother suits for work, Blouses galore.  I made my girls pants, shorts, dresses, pinafores.  I even one year made them purple corduroy coats with a thermal lining and sheep skin fur lining that had attached hoods and Nero collar closures.  That machine took all that heavy fabric and sewed those seams together like a dream. One Christmas, when money was REALLY tight and the big thing that year was the Cabbage Patch dolls... I sewed outfits upon outfits for their dolls.  I made every little dress they ever wore for the holidays and when they got into High School, even sewed their prom gowns.  Well, my favorite was one that was slim lined in a charcoal grey velvet with white pleated satin sleeve straps with a huge white satin train.  It was gorgeous! 
It went on from there and I sewed little bride dresses for flower girls, and then went on to sew gowns for entire bridal parties. 
Now a days, I no longer bother to do sewing....my passions have changed and I only pull the machine out for an occasional crafting project.  I have sewn rag purses with friends as something fun to learn and do.
One day my daughter said she would like a sewing machine for Christmas...you cannot imagine the excitement I had over hearing that request...you see, no matter how hard I tried, neither of my daughter ever cared to learn any of the arts that I knew how to do.  So when this request came in,  thought..."OK....the tables have turned."  But the only reason I think she wanted it was so that when I visited, I could do whatever sewing was needed.  At first it was the dining room curtains and I attempted to teach her how to use the machine...needles to say...I did the curtains to avoid any more tears on my daughters part. I assumed from that day on, that unless the granddaughters' decided one day to earn to sew...the machine will only be used by me.
When my last Granddaughter was born, I sewed the sheets for the crib and matching bumper pads, matching pillow that wrapped around the baby so they can sit, and the largest Diaper bag I think I could ever imagine with the rag style effect.  My daughter later used it for a beach bag, if that tells you anything.  She wanted the straps big and long so that you could easily put it over the buggy handles.  I sewed the other granddaughter purses and bean bags for their rooms.
Now in my life, l have this unbelievable young lady that I am so proud to call my friend, and feel as though this was God's choice in giving me a third child. 
She has so wanted to learn to sew.  She comes over and spends the weekends on occasion with me.  We craft and laugh and do all sorts of fun and wonderful activities.  I couldn't love her more than if she were my own flesh and blood.  Well, one day she brought over her mother-in-law's sewing machine and we went shopping for fabric and I taught her to sew a  runner for her dining room table that was reversible.  Since then, she has wanted a machine of her own...but you know how things are when you are younger...the money you need is not always there.  Now, this young lady base coats more wood for me to paint than is ever imaginable...so last Christmas, I bought her  Brother sewing machine.  She was so overwhelmed by the gesture.  I am not sure why, because she is the most giving young lady I have ever known. 
So recently, she came over and she and I took a trip to the fabric store and I taught her all about fabrics and linings, threads and patterns.  She decided she wanted to make a quilt...turned out the pattern was a rag quilt in an antiqued Americana fabrics.  We sat in a side room for about 40 minutes putting together the bolts of fabric so that she could visually see how it would turn out.  We came back and began cutting the squares of fabric and batting.  She was amazed with my a rotary cutter and the cutting board.  She got halfway through the blanket before she left. I am so confident that she now has the skills to move ahead on her own to sew.
Funny how life can take it's twists and turns.  How we all seemed to be stitched together in one way or another.  The nicest compliment I ever received was that she asked me if someday we could do a project TOGETHER.   That way she will always have a piece of me to cherish. A piece that we both made with our hands together. 
Families are pieces of our lives sewn together...I look forward to that day and that project.  
 
 

Yarn

Good morning.  Gloomy as ever today...storms predicted, I think this will definitely be a stay home day and work.  I bet you are wondering why  I chose to have yarn as my topic today.  Well, I am crocheting a baby blanket this week for a brand new baby that was born on the 7th.  She wasn't due until the 5th of July..I thought I had some time, but babies do come when they want.  Well, towards the end of the skein, all the yarn was a mess.  I had to find the end and start untangling.  These days, it s not common that this sort of thing happens with a skein of yarn.  As I started untangling the mess...I started to roll it into a ball and then that is where the memories started to flow.  When I was young, yarn came in what they called a shank.  I remember that the first thing you did was to roll it into that ball.   I can tell you that my Grandma and I spent plenty of time together rolling yarn. 
To roll yarn balls from a shank would entail one person holding the hands up, fingers to the sky, and they were placed as far apart, which might have been somewhere between 9 to 12 inches, the yarn was placed over them like a loop and the other person would begin rolling the ball.  If you were the yarn holder, you would dip your hands slightly each time the yarn went over and around that particular side.  We would do sometimes 12 shanks at a time. 
Boy skeins of yarn have sure come along way since then. 
I was so fortunate to have learned to crochet at an early age.  I was 5 years old when I started.  I still remember my first project which was a bathroom rug.  It was crocheted in a single crochet....one of the first stiches you learn after learning to chain.  It was made from what they called Rug Yarn which was a much heavier yarn.  I think for a young person it was easier to handle.  It was a blue yarn and once the rug was finished I learned to stitch with white yarn, Feet on it....and then of course, there was the lesson on how to make tassels. I would wind the yarn around the palm of my hand so many times, cut, and the using my crochet hook, pull it though an end stitch , pull the rest of the yarn through that and voilà, was finished....except I needed to do that all the way across the end and on both sides.  But my Grandma used it proudly in the bathroom.  I remember when I crocheted, I often sat in my little yellow vinyl rocking chair which sat next to my Grandma's big wooden rocking chair, which of course always had cushions both on the seat and on also tied on the back.  We would both sit there in the kitchen and crochet.  I especially loved Saturday mornings, because Shirley Temple was always on TV , and we would watch the movie while we crocheted.  I became rather proficient as a crocheter as the years went by.
I remember my mother was the manager at Woolworths in the cafeteria.  She worked at the one on Ashland and Belmont in Chicago.. Actually it was on the corner of School Street.  Well, she had a lot of people who worked under her and at Christmas time she always gave Christmas gifts to everyone.  One year she decided it would be crocheted slippers....so I crocheted countless numbers of slippers for her, that is when I learned how to make pom-poms to put at the top front of the slippers.  The next year she decided that the women should all get hats that had bangles crocheted into them.  I can't remember how many of those colored bangles I crocheted in, but I do know that they were the trend that year...anyone who was anyone wore them. 
I became well known by the neighbors as the kid who could crochet anything...well, the next thing I knew....I was getting orders from neighbors to crochet baby blankets, baby sweater sets and countless numbers of scarves.
When I was 16, one of my boy cousins asked me to crochet a granny square blanket for his girlfriend.  He bought all the yarn...white, pink and hot pink, and I made him the blanket to give her for Valentines day.  Looking back now...I never charged him a penny for it....boy did he get a deal.  Well, that is what families did for family in those days.  He has since passed on and I wonder whether she still has that blanket?
I learned to crochet with every type of yarn there is...I learned to read every type of imaginable pattern made....and just this year, I have been teaching a very dear friend to crochet.  She is much younger than myself and it is such a rewarding moment to see her accomplish a project.  It is so nice to see someone in the younger generation become in love with the art.  I learned early on to knit....but it was never a love for me.  My mother, on the other hand was a phenomenal knitter. 
I remember, about 20 years ago, she bought this very expensive fuchsia colored yarn and knitted me the most intricate, beautiful sweater I ever saw.  I LOVED that sweater.  One day I put in in the washing machine with WooLite on a delicate cycle....my husband, trying to be helpful...unbeknownst to me...put it in the dryer....well, that gorgeous piece of artwork could now fit a 1 year old baby.  I could have strangled him...I never told my mother, because she would have been devastated...all that work....I threw it away.  I wish now I would have framed it as a keepsake, especially now that mom has passed away.  I most recently received her knitting needles.  I would have shadowboxed the sweater with the needles and a picture of her, but hindsight....such a great thing, but doesn't solve the problem.  I am still crocheting and selling my things...I still make gifts for friends and loved ones.  Who would have ever thought that yarn would make up a story...and what is even funnier is the reference to telling a story is sometimes referred to as  spinning a yarn.  Guess it's a good topic, but even more so for a storyteller. 
 
 

Summer Baseball

As I begin today, I encourage you as a reader to contribute ideas, comments, thoughts and especially topics you might want to hear about. 
Today I thought that I would use baseball as my topic. 
Did you know that softball was created right here in Chicago?  In the Farragut  boat house no less.  It was on Thanksgiving Day in 1887  and it was between the Harvard boys and the Yale boys.  They were all standing around waiting  to hear the results of the Harvard-Yale football game. It was a  Yale victory. One young man from Harvard,  picked up a  boxing glove and threw it at someone, who  in turn, grabbed a broken broom handle and hit it. One man shouted, "Let's play ball!"  And the game was invented.
Growing up in Chicago, and growing up with my Grandfather in the house meant there was baseball.   When   television came...and a baseball game was on, Silence was golden in the house.  No one dared to utter a peep until the game was over.  We have 2 Baseball teams: the Cubs and The Sox.  The closest to my home on the north side of Chicago is Wrigley Field on Addison Ave.  I remember going there for a game and meeting Ernie Banks.  He was unbelievable and I remember rooting for him and also Don Drysdale.   I remember the seats and the peanut man that walked up and down the aisle yelling "Peanuts, get you peanuts here!"  And the hot dogs. 
I actually have an autographed picture of Ernie Banks.  There was another Baseball field called  Cominsky Park...now known as Cellular Field and that is where the Sox play.  I never went there due to it's location.  It is quite I distance in Chicago on the South side. 
But baseball wasn't just for the professionals.
Us kids played it often in the street at the corner.  The streeto f course had four corners and that was all that was needed...we had 1st, 2nd, 3rd and home plate.  We would all gather on the corner with all of our softballs and bats and play.   I remember that I was usually the pitcher for the game.  Once I got hit with a ball right on my shoulder with a line drive straight down the middle.  Wow...did that ever hurt.  I couldn't' get out of the way fast enough.   We would play sometimes starting first thing in the morning until it was time to go in for lunch.  I don't ever remember a window getting broken on any of the corner houses as you often see depicted on TV.  Just a day of fun and laughter and determination. 
As years went on, and I became a teenager....playing ball on the corner wasn't exciting any more so I progressed into boy watching and of course, the boys still loved playing baseball.  Only now, the games were moved to the park and played  by real teams.  I was the so called mascot of the team, back then girls didn't play on a team....but they would always have me pitch for them during warm up.  I remember those days well.  We played over at Blackhawk Park.   
Many years went by and much later in life I had 2 daughters.  We would often go to the lakes in the summer and at one of the lakes, they had this really nice baseball diamond.  We were there with another family and decided we would all play a game of baseball.  My one daughter , who has always loved the game, laughed when I got up to bat...she didn't think her mother had any idea about how to hit a ball.  Well, if you could have only seen her mouth drop when the pitcher pitched one over the plate and I hit it out of the park.   She never said another thing abut my incapability's again.
That was probably the end of my baseball career.  I hadn't thought much about it until the movie came out called A League of Their Own.  I loved watching that show.  Brought back so many memories for the love of the game.  Recently, I went to the Midway Museum with my Red Hat group in Rockford, Illinois and sure enough....there was a section dedicated to the Rockford Peaches.  What it took for those women to have done what they did.  It opened up baseball  for girls today.
My daughter eventually joined a team when she was in High School.  I'll never forget the games, but mostly, I will never forget the day I got a call...she was hit in the head with the ball....In the emergency room at the hospital.  I was so worried that something horrible had happened...you know how us mothers are.  Turns out she had a really bad bump on the head, but luckily all else was fine.  Slight concussion, so I watched her through the night.  I have a picture of her hanging up in her baseball suit till this day and still smile when I pass it by. 
I still get a special feeling when I hear the song..."Take me out to the Ballgame".  Baseball....what a game...what memories.  
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