Thursday, April 6, 2017

WHERE WERE YOU ON APRIL 4, 1974?

This week was the anniversary of the deadly Xenia, Ohio tornado.

I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter and was home on my day off from nursing home care, trying to decide how best to protect a mama cat with a newborn litter I was fostering, since tornado warnings were being broadcast for my town, Dayton, Ohio.  I was thankful the most violent part of the storm bypassed our area, but had hit Xenia, Ohio very hard. I received a call from the Upjohn Home Health Care company for whom I was working as an R.N., and was asked to travel to Xenia on the 4th, to help with triage, first aid, tetanus shots, and anything else that was needed. I will add that I did not tell my doctor I was going, since he surely would have tried to stop me. When I drove into that town, I was absolutely shocked. I'd viewed the photos on TV, but seeing the devastation in person was overwhelming. I was dispatched to an armory where people had been directed to go for treatment and for instructions on how to sanitize their water to make it safer for consumption. I saw mostly minor injuries - scrapes and bruises, feet punctured by nails, and a few broken bones. Most of those injuries had been received when people had been sifting through the piles of rubble that had once been their homes, searching for anything that might be salvaged. Much of what I did there was offer emotional support. Victims who had lost their homes needed to tell their stories of survival. Those who had lost friends or family members also had stories to tell. Some were experiencing survivor's guilt. Why had their loved ones been taken while they themselves were spared? The photo here, of the house with the back of it blown away, was one of the first houses I saw. It looked like an eerie version of a doll's house. The beds still had linens on them and most of the furniture remained untouched. When I went to the front of the house, I beheld another sad sight. There was a large German Shepherd dog, lying partially in and partially out of his dog house, but deceased. There was no visible trauma. He looked as if he was sleeping. He and his house had most likely been blown to their final resting place from another yard. It's so strange the things we remember during tragic circumstances. I don't know if I was truly of much help that day. I did what I could, but nothing could ease the emotional trauma of losing friends or family, and nothing I did or said would ever bring back anyone or replace homes. I was completely composed while I administered first aid that day, just as I'd been taught to do. I went back the next day and did the same. It wasn't until I was driving home that I allowed emotions to waft over me.  It was a time I will never forget.








































































































































































































































Monday, March 6, 2017

I LOVE VINTAGE

We've lived here in the country, in this old house, for five years. It was built in 1919 and in addition to a parlor, a family room with a brick fireplace, a sunroom, and many updates, this house also has two quaint upstairs rooms that are perfect for sewing and displaying some of the toys I had as a child. The one thing that was missing from my vintage toy room was an old iron bed. The space is small, so I wanted a single or daybed, something that would fit the scale of the room.


A few weeks ago, I was visiting one of my favorite shops - Talmadge Rd. Mercantile, in Clayton, OH
https://www.facebook.com/TalmadgeRoadMercantileLlc/ - and there was the bed I wanted. The price was reasonable, the look was vintage, and the size was perfect. I was glad I had driven the truck that day. I bought the bed and brought it home, wondering all the way if I would be able to get all the parts of it to my upstairs room without asking for help, since my spouse was out of town that day. The stairway here is original to the house, so it's a bit narrow and the stairs are a fairly steep. It was a challenge, but I did it. After putting the bed together, I decided I should search for some mattresses and bedding. I did that the next week. I found a twin mattress set and bought red ticking sheets, mattress and pillow protectors, and a bed skirt for the old vintage bed. I already had a quilt I thought would be perfect, so I was all set.


I took the truck to pick up the mattress set and again wondered if I could get the mattresses out of the truck, into the house, and up the steep stairs by myself. Some days, I think it just takes an attitude of determination to accomplish something I ordinarily wouldn't tackle by myself. This is something I wanted to do on my own, but I knew if I needed help, my spouse would lend a hand when he arrived home. I just didn't want to have to ask for the help. I'm stubborn sometimes.


So I now have a sweet vintage bed in my quaint little toy room and I'm very happy with how it looks up there. I will continue to do some tweaking and re-arranging I'm sure, but I'm glad to have the bed and linens in place. In fact, I took a short nap on my new/old bed last week. It felt very cozy and somehow reassuring to look around the room and see so many things that reminded me of a simpler time in my life.


Monday, February 20, 2017

MONDAY - MAKE-UP-YOUR-MIND DAY

I love Mondays. Some people hate them, but not me. I like the idea that it's a new week and I have a (relatively) clean slate. This morning I listed what I want to accomplish today - one load of laundry, try a new cookie recipe I found online, start Spring cleaning the cat rooms in the barn, re-arrange some things in the cabin, iron and hang new curtain valances in the upstairs rooms (which will first require cleaning the windows and sills), continue working on some crochet projects for a special order, and make a decision about whether to participate in a local Spring craft fair or not. I'm tempted to cross off some of the bigger tasks and just do what is most feasible for this afternoon, since I've already frittered away part of the day. Some might call that procrastination, but I'm going to call it prioritizing.

I've often had trouble making up my mind. It didn't matter whether the choices seemed fairly simple or more complicated. I tend to list so many things I need to do, that many times I've ended up accomplishing very little because I could not decide which task to tackle first. Indecision can be very debilitating. I did take a first step and extract new curtain valances from their packages. They had been sitting on my upstairs steps for a few months - yes, a few months. I'm not proud of that, but I'm the only one who goes upstairs and since I've spent little time up there through the winter months, it was another of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind things. But they are out of the plastic wrappings now and nearly ready to hang. I took them out of the dryer last night and realized I'd have to iron them before I could hang them. There was my "stopper". I didn't feel like getting out the iron and taking it upstairs. I will do that today though. I'm trying to envision how nice the valances will look when in place. That should be incentive to get it done. The reality is, even with wiping down windows and sills, the whole process will likely only take about 30 minutes or so. Sometimes the thought of doing a task is worse than the task itself.

Laundry is in the works and butter is on the counter to soften before cookie baking, so next I should decide whether or not to participate in a local Spring craft fair. I had long ago sworn off craft shows, after having participated in them for over 30 years. I'm not as young as I was once was - who of us is? - and I was tired of carrying tables, crates, and totes full of merchandise in and out of venues, then sitting or standing for hours talking to people who were only there to see what ideas they could glean from crafters' displays. I also had little tolerance for shoppers who thought crafters should attach garage-sale prices to their handmade wares. I told myself if I heard the phrase, "Oh I can make that", one more time, I'd boldly confront the person who said it and tell her exactly how much was involved in making quality things to sell, then invite her to try it herself. (I guess it's a good thing I didn't have the chance to follow through on that threat.)  Thinking about that reminds me of how weary of it I had become before I "retired" from the craft show circuit. The idea of selling things I make still appeals to me, but I'm not as enthused about sewing as I once was. That's just a fact of my life right now. I still enjoy frequenting primitive and vintage shops and I support local artists when I see things I can use for my home - even when I think, "I can make that", I don't ever say it out loud and I do buy items for my own use these days, since I am very aware of how much time, effort, and funds go into making them, and I'm fairly sure I will  not be making them for myself. Well, I think I've made my decision about the craft fair. I'm honestly not interested in getting back into that mode. While there would be many more customers than I could attract to my cabin in the country, the pressure of getting ready and the actual work of getting it set up are more than I want to deal with right now. There, that wasn't so difficult. Decision made. 

What's next?  I'll bake those cookies before going to the barn to clean up after cats, but I'll go upstairs and put up those valances before I bake the cookies. As for the special-order crochet projects - that kind of handwork lends itself well to the evenings when I can put up my feet and watch a little TV, so I will definitely work on those projects tonight. I'll go to the cabin and spend some time either before or after I've been to the barn, so I think I have my to-do list covered for now. The dryer is buzzing so my play time is over for this afternoon. Off to work I go, but my heart is lighter since I was able to actually make a decision. Some days I just need to make up my mind!  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Christmas is now a pleasant memory and the weather here in Southwest Ohio has been Spring-like the past two days. The temperature reached the mid 60's yesterday. I suppose we'll have some more cold days and maybe a bit of snow before winter finally subsides, but I'm one of those crazy people who will miss the winter weather. Everybody seems to love Spring, but it's not my favorite time of the year. That might be due, in part, to the fact that Spring seems to be when my allergies flare and I can start out the day in winter duds but then become so hot that I need to change mid-day. Apparently I don't adjust well to Ohio weather changes, especially when they are so erratic.

When I was a child and would express a wish for the school year to be done or for Christmas to come sooner, my mother often admonished me to not wish away my days. She told me that as I grew older, the days would seem to pass more quickly so I should not wish for them to go faster than they were meant to go. I can remember thinking that was silly, but now that I'm much older, I understand why she said those things. The days and weeks DO seem to go by faster now and instead of wishing my days away, I'm wishing time would slow down and allow me to at least catch up a bit. What's that adage - "So much to do, but so little time in which to do it"? That's how I feel these days. My January to-do list did not get done and here we are half-way through February already.   

So here comes another Valentine's Day. I've seen Valentine's hearts in the stores since just before Christmas. For me, that's too soon and seems to be rushing the season. Once again, I did not sew the fabric hearts I thought I'd make as decorations for my home. It's as if I finally put Christmas behind me but turned around and Valentine's Day was knocking at the door. I surely don't need more fabric hearts but I thought it would be fun to make some. I'm seeing Spring items in the shops now, but I haven't even gotten ready for Valentine's Day, and after attending a local shop-hop this past week, I now feel I'm behind in getting ready for Spring and Easter. The problem is, I don't know how to get myself in the mood to make things or even unearth my bunnies, eggs, and Spring florals so I can use those things for decorating. I think I have a mindset that it's sometimes too much trouble to get everything out, only to put it all back after a few weeks. I never thought I'd feel that way about seasonal decorating. But there it is. I admit it. 

Oh well....as with all the other seasons and holidays, Spring and Easter will be here before we know it, but for right now, I'll just enjoy looking at some Valentine hearts and I might even decide to make some tomorrow.




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

READY OR NOT - HERE COMES THE NEW YEAR


Here we are, a few days into the New Year, and I'm still wondering how time passed so quickly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as I love the holidays, I almost always feel a bit tired after the celebrations. We made some great memories over the holidays though.

Our daughter and her family gave us the most amazing gift of a weekend in a secluded log cabin in the Hocking Hills of Ohio. We were there from Christmas Eve day until the day after Christmas. Glenn and I arrived at the cabin around 3pm on the 24th. He started a fire in the fireplace while I fixed a simple supper. We unloaded the car and set about making the cabin our own for the weekend. I took along a small tree, candles, and white lights - for a bit of decoration - as well as sandwich-makings, cocoa, spiced cider, a CD player with Holiday CDs, Christmas movies, popcorn, games, and homemade goodies to share with family members when they joined us on Christmas Day.




LAZY DOG CABIN - HOCKING HILLS, OHIO - 2016
We were kept a bit in the dark about the cabin and directions until close to the day of our trip, since our daughter wished for it to be a great surprise, which it was. I didn't know what to expect or what accessories the cabin management might provide, so I packed everything I thought we might need for a weekend. That proved to be more than enough, perhaps too much, but I was happy to have more than we needed, instead of wishing I'd brought more with us. Even the family dogs, Mandy and Cooper, were allowed to come along for the weekend.




LAZY DOG CABIN FIREPLACE WITH TREE AND CANDLES

Glenn and I spent a quiet relaxing Christmas Eve watching Polar Express, taking in the beauty of the cabin, and sipping hot cocoa by the fire while munching on Christmas cookies. It felt as if we'd stepped inside the cover of a Norman Rockwell Christmas card - you know the kind that when it's first opened, you're gazing at a glittery window that allows a peek inside a cozy room with a roaring fire in the fireplace, a tree glowing with lights, and where mugs of steaming hot cocoa are being consumed by mom and dad. The little ones are sneaking down the stairs to see if Santa has come and there is a plate of Christmas cookies prepared for the jolly old elf. Have you not always exclaimed (as I have), "Oh, I could just live there"?  That was the exact feeling and it was wonderful.

Christmas Day, our daughter and family arrived at 9am, ready to make a delicious breakfast for all of us. That was another part of our gift - Christmas breakfast cooked to perfection. After breakfast, the grandkids opened their gifts and then we played games and listened to Christmas music the rest of the morning and afternoon. Our daughter prepared a wonderful supper for us and then we all relaxed by the fire and watched movies and shared stories for the rest of the evening.  

The morning after Christmas, even though we were sad to be leaving the cabin, we knew we'd be taking the memories with us. Packing for the trip home might have been chaotic if not for everybody pitching in to help - and the fact my daughter is more organized than I am. Leftovers were given to our grandson who was heading back to college and happy to have them. Our granddaughter had to hurry back to a new job, but most of us stopped at a restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio to enjoy a great breakfast and one last visit before being swept back into reality. It was a wonderful weekend, and for possibly the very first time, I didn't feel the least bit depressed when it ended. I was simply grateful we'd had the experience and thrilled that our daughter and her family had given us such a fantastic gift.

I hope all of you had memory-making times with family and friends this holiday season, and that you will have a New Year filled with Peace, Love, and Joy. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

IS EVERYBODY READY FOR CHRISTMAS?






Every year, this season seems to sneak up on me, no matter how much I try to plan ahead for it. I make lists, check items off one-by-one, but still never seem to accomplish all the things on my lists, done exactly as I want them to be done. The key phrase is, "as I want them to be done". This year I've take some shortcuts and made a few compromises. Although I'd love to accomplish all of the things on my lists, I understand that isn't always reasonable nor  is it necessary in order to experience a joyous Christmas season. In my last post I shared about simplifying Christmas decorating around the house. My desire was to have a little bit of Christmas displayed in every room, but I also wanted a simpler holiday season and inner peace. The compromise was to put up one tree (instead of 5), display a few favorite snowmen, santas, and holiday items, bake some traditional holiday cookies, and make two batches of fudge - Chocolate Rocky Road and Peanut Butter. During the Christmas season, I always intend to  try some new recipes, some of which I've found on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com) but the reality is, when time is in short supply, I often return to the old favorites. While it's not as much of a baking adventure to use the tried-and-true recipes, it does seem to be a bit easier. I really should try out some of the newer ones before the next holiday season arrives. My traditional favorites are:  Spritz, Russian Teacakes, and Cut-Out Sugar Cookies. This year I added Reese's Cup Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, and Saltine Toffee. Those recipes can be found on Pinterest, in my "Christmas Kitchen" board.
Today I'm checking my lists and realizing I actually do have most things done. During this season, besides setting aside time to put up the tree and lights, we needed to make time for two veterinary visits for a cat with an ear infection, an appointment for the dog who needed dental cleaning, and the weekly trips to the doctor for allergy shots. All of those things took up precious time. Then there was gift shopping and wrapping, grocery shopping, meal planning, card sending, and numerous other things that always need to be done, like laundry, house cleaning, and cat care. Most everyone has to juggle time and errands during the holidays, and we are not exceptions. While I may never be able to claim I've done everything well, I'm content that what I've accomplished will be just fine. I think we often spend time worrying about finding just the right gifts, wishing our homes looked like something from a magazine, and striving for that perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas. But those are not the things that matter most. Love, peace, and serenity are what we truly value. If we can achieve those, we will have succeeded.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!