TIPS FROM 59+

Oh, so much to deal with in this new world of the Virus. Now, just consider what an effect it is having on marriages. There will be lot of break-ups. Quarrels that will leave permanent scars. Then too, a great many will struggle through the bad times and become stronger because of it.

Now today you can get tips from every Tom, Dick, and Mary on every aspect of life in the time of the Virus, including how to cope with your spouse.

Here’s a few from Donald. No, not the thrice married sexist, who treats women like something on the bottom of his shoe, and who recently was told he hurt a lot of women with his words, shrugged it off with ‘Ah, they’ll get over it’.

(Believe me, your spouse might forgive, but will never forget.)

No, the Donald I am referring to has been married to his only wife for 59 plus years. This Donald, (well, yours truly), rode the roller coaster of marriage like people do and learned a lot about that institution from trial and error… a heck of a lot of the later. But my wonderful wife, Gina and I made it this far and are looking for many more years ahead.

Here’s a few things I learned as regards my relationship with my wife.

( The examples are from years ago and have been published, under a pen name, The Old Hand, in roughly the same detail, in the Bulletin Board of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, back in the day printed newspapers counted.)

GIVE HER HER SPACE. SHE’S WORKS HARD AND NEEDS TIME FOR HERSELF

I was reminded of a camping trip my wife took many years ago. It was a long weekend for most people and three sixteen hour days for me. My wife called me at work and said that being I wouldn’t be around much during the weekend, she was going to go camping with some of the girls at work. It was kind of amusing since my wife is certainly not the outdoorsy type. I told her to be sure and call when she got to the camping site and let me know the name of the campgrounds and the number of the camping site in case I had to reach her.

The next day there was voice mail from her. She said they were at the campgrounds and were waiting to go up to their site. The name of the campgrounds was the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The number of the site was Room 1313.

COMFORT COMES BEFORE FASHION

Many years ago, somebody decided to stop giving cash gratuities to stagehands and throw them a tee shirt instead. As a result my sons and I accumulated hundreds of the darn things.

I tended to divide them into three categories. The ones fit to wear in public. The ones fit to wear for work projects around the house and yard. And the ones fit only to wear in the garage when working on the car.

My wife on the other hand tended to grab what was handy or what color suited her, without paying any attention to what was written on it.

I can only imagine the look on the faces of the shoppers in the grocery story at the sight of a grocery cart with a fidgety toddler in it, which was being pushed by a sweet-grandmotherly woman who was wearing a tee shirt that proclaimed: I did drugs with Marilyn Manson.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN

ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS SOMEONE TO SAY

WHAT YOU WERE THINKING

My wife had just come back from getting a permanent. She hadn’t had time to comb out the frizzled curls. Two of the young granddaughters just stood and stared at her. She asked if liked her new hair do. Jena, four, was noncommittal… just rolled her eyes and walked away.

Five year old Jada, however stayed, looking up at her Grandma’s hair. She put her hands behind her back and remained silent. She took a deep breath and finally spoke, “Grandma, I…I think maybe I like your old hair better.”

Out of the mouths of babes oft comes truth and sometimes tact.

AND ABOVE ALL

BE PATIENT

THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS ARE THE HARDEST

Hope this tips prove helpful. And also the tips given by competent medical experts on what we all must do to STAY SAFE.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified Marriage Counselor. I have never read a book nor took a class on the subject. My thoughts come mainly from two sources, OJT, (On the Job Training) and SHK, (School of Hard Knocks).

EPILOGUE – THE FALL

rainbow and roses

Just a few days before my fall, we had celebrated our 57th Wedding Anniversary. I was a few months from turning 80. But, you know, I never really felt old.

I had subjected my body to a lot of things over the years: bucked off horses, bruised up in sports, battered around jumping out of airplanes. A lot of hard work before I found my life’s occupation, stagehanding, and then when I settled on it, it was 24/7. long hours, little sleep, working part of it outside in the heat and the freezing cold.

I was fortunate to work as a stagehand, work that had great diversity, getting paid to work things that people paid big bucks to attend. Working big time names, acts, events. And while I missed so much of my sons growing up, I made up for my loss when they got old enough to work next to me. Sons, nephews, daughter-in-law all worked beside me. What a thrill! Something most people never experience. As the years went by I became one of the old-timers in the business, but I never really thought of myself as old.

Because of all that ‘fun’when I was younger I ended up with knees that creak and hurt, among other aches and pains. Heck, if I raced a tortoise it would be the damn turtle that would have to fall asleep in order for me to win. But you know I really never thought of myself as old.

I saw my our sons grow into adulthood and raise families. I saw our grandkids graduate from high schools and colleges. So proud of the family that my wife and I were blessed with. And even at our family get togethers and found myself looking up to talk to many of the family, I still really never thought of myself as old.

I saw the gray strands of hair that my wife tried to hide with black touch-ups. I looked in the mirror and for several years the face that stared back at me from the looking glass was not mine; but rather the face of my father in his later years. But still I never really thought of myself as old.

And then one night I fell, and from that night on I felt old, realized my dancing days were behind me. I must be content to watch baseball on TV, rather than climb stadium steps to watch in person or heaven forbid, actually play softball at a family picnic. I’m old…but happy.

As the grandkids grew older they saw less of their grandma and their poppa. What really hurt was the fact I had no more children to sit on my lap, to read to, to tell my stories to. The prospect of great grandkids are far in the future. And then we were blessed again.

Our youngest son, Dirk, married late and now we have three little girls to watch grow into young ladies, which they are doing much too fast. Already they are too big for Poppa’s lap; but not too old to overlook their grandparents’s need to be a part of their lives.

Dirk brought the three darlings to the hospital to see me, to help me recuperate faster, to cheer me up in a way no cards or flowers ever could.

I sat up in bed anticipating hugs and kisses. But the three of them stayed back from the bed.

The youngest, Jaycee, age 8, explained that ‘Daddy said we can’t hug or kiss you, Poppa, or even get close to you because we might give you some germs and get you infected.’

‘But don’t mean we don’t love you, Grandpa’, interjected Jenna, age 10.

‘Right!’ said Jayda, age 11.

What a wonderful get-well gift. A gift an old man can enjoy long after flowers fade and cards are thrown in a drawer.

FAMILY…mi familia…the family that raised me…the family that raised my wife…the family my wife and I raised and now their families.

I beg your forgiveness in my writing this account of my medical experiences due to the fall. I know that old people converse a great deal about their aches and pains and medical experiences like I have been doing. It can grow boring fast. In this case, I wrote it more as a catharsis for myself than for the entertainment of the reader. It is a shock to admit that you too have grown old, and a joy to be given a chance to grow older.

In THE FALL I used music as a prop. Laying flat on my face, hearing in my mind, Sinatra’s THAT’S LIFE, that song clearly was the Present.

The Past was represented by a song, C’EST LA VIE, bringing to mind my growing up in the French/Dakotah town of Mendota and a saying the old- timers said with a shrug of their shoulders.

And the fear of the unknown after brain surgery, QUE SERA, SERA, the Future.

And while all three are some of my favorites, the one song I start out my day is Louis Armstrong singing:

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people goin’ by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’
“How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’,
“I love you.”

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know

And I think to myself

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLDAll Star Night 14

MLB All Star Game 2014

Minnesota Twins Field

THE CIRCLE EXPANDS

ERIK AT WORK

 

Published 12/2/00 – SP PP, Bulletin Board

The story about the little guy who knew the difference between imaginary monsters and real lions reminded me of taking my oldest grandson, Erik, to the movie, LION KING, when it first opened. He was more than happy to go with me even though he had just seen it a few days before with his parents.

It seemed like we had no more than settled down, when he made a bee-line for the lobby. I quickly followed and asked what was wrong. He told me there was a real scary part coming up that he didn’t want to watch, and he would go back when it was over.

Naturally, I got down on one knee and spouted some silly grown-up logic about it being only a movie, nothing to be afraid of, just images on the screen, etc..

“I know all that, Poppa,” he said, “But what if the glass breaks?”

Made perfect sense to me. We watched the movie in bits and pieces. When he took off for the lobby, I quickly followed without argument.

This is one of the first Old Hand stories. Today, Erik is on the other side of ‘the glass’. After graduating with a degree  from Gustavus,  he got a plum internship in EPCOT Center’s Living Seas Aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the world. His prime job is putting on a wet suit and taking care of the manta rays, although he swims with other varieties of sea life, including sharks.

This in turn led to his present job at Sea World where he performs similar duties.

And on Cinco de Mayo he will be marrying lovely Erin O’Neill in Tulsa, OK. Almost all of our immediate family will be there. With a very sad heart I will be there only in spirit due to some recent health problems. But Erik will know I am standing beside him on this, his special day.

Erik is our oldest grandchild, our only grandchild for several years, our first day-care grandchild, and he and I have a special bond.

I look out the window and I can still see him getting off the school bus, running across the field, and coming directly to my ‘office’ so ‘Poppa Donald’ could read him another chapter of HARRY POTTER.

I bought him a pair of goldfish and he learned how to take care of them. He did such a good job the two fish lived for years beyond what pet goldfish usually survive. His two favorite stuffed animals were Sebastian and Flounder from THE LITTLE MERMAID. When he began to read for himself he studied whales and sharks.

The two us once went to the Science Museum to see a documentary on whales. We leaned way back and watched the movie almost directly over our heads. Not content with the narration of the film, Erik, about five or six at the time, supplied a more complete study of the mammals. Finally an usher came and told me that if my little companion didn’t keep quiet, we would have to leave. Erik stopped talking but would whisper to me some important facts that weren’t mentioned.

He loves all animals but has a special love for marine animals.

He and Erin got together because she had gotten an internship at the Minnesota Zoo. Erik was working as an instructor at the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul. Erik’s mother had a relative living in Tulsa who was a friend to Erin’s mother. Naturally this led to long distance introduction between the two animal lovers. And, well as they say, nature took it’s course.

It is wonderful that they both got work in the field they both studied for in college. And eve more wonderful that they found a partner they have so much in common with

They live outside Orlando. Erik works at Sea World. Erin at Disney World.

Erin at work

Erin at work feeding one of her pets

 

May the sun shine bright for the rest of these two wonderful members of our family.

OUR CIRCLE OF LIFE EXPANDS

   

AN AROMA OF COOKIES

holiday                  A TALE OF THE SEASON 

 

She told me of this incident that occured prior to her first Christmas as a single parent.

To date, the two children, her son who had just turned seven, her daughter not quite four, hadn’t noticed how she had been pinching pennies, cutting corners, living from paycheck to paycheck; but with Christmas coming…

The tree would have to be smaller. A lot smaller. Presents would have be fewer. More emphasis on clothes. Less on toys. The usual Christmas feast would be more like an everyday dinner. Dessert, usually a Lazy Susan array of puddings and pies, candies and cookies, would be only her traditional oatmeal cookies. A lot of oatmeal cookies. And to sweeten them, the two children would help her with the baking.

The additional heat from the oven made the kitchen extra toasty. The sounds of Christmas from the radio made the event more festive. And the aroma of oatmeal cookies filling the house gave a promise of a happy Christmas, in spite of…

The sight of her two elves, clad in their pajamas, working happily away, gave her joy and pushed her fears aside. She’d work again on finding a better paying job after the holidays. But for the moment…

The boy’s hand was perfect to form the right size mounds of dough; and after he placed each clump on the cookie sheet, he twisted a little curl on top.

It wasn’t that easy for the little girl. She had to take two handfuls and crush them together. Then tried to plump it into the correct shape. She didn’t bother with a curl, but pinched off a little nibble as a reward.

It was almost time to take some of the cookies out of the oven when there was a knock at the front door. The young man of the house went to see about it. When he came back, he told his mother that it was two men from church. They had two bags of Christmas food, Care Packages they called them, for the poor people.

He said he told them that they must have the wrong address ‘cuz we’re not poor’.

She told me how she panicked. Weren’t poor!!!  She hoped she would have time to catch them and get the offered food. But first, she couldn’t let those cookies burn. She quickly pulled out the sheets and put them on top of the stove; but in her haste, she burned her thumb on the last one.

She gave a little yelp and sat down, blowing on her thumb. Her little doctor quickly pressed her thumb in the butter stick, and her little nurse offered some TLC by volunteering to kiss her owie.

It was too late to chase down the two men. And she was glad that it was. Had she ran after the them and taken the food parcels, she would have embarrassed her son. And she would have acknowledged to the two children that there was money problems.

Besides, looking at her two most favorite people in the world, made her realize the boy was right when he said they weren’t poor. They were very rich in what counts, family.

The little lady finished off the after-work cookie and milk and hurried to bed. She said she wanted to go to sleep real quick. The house smells so good, she explained, she knew she was going to have lots of sweet dreams.

The man of the family hung back. Finally, with a knowing smile, he asked if he could change what he had asked Santa to bring for his mother.

She said it depends. If he told her what the change is, she would write Santa a letter the next day at work and mail it and wait and see if he got the request in time.

He smiled and said he wanted Santa to bring his mother an Oven Mitt so she wouldn’t burn her thumb anymore. He gave her a kiss and went off to bed.

 

And now, years later, she’s carrying on a tradition she began just before her second Christmas as a single parent. Her elves, this year, are three of the grandkids. It’s a sleep over at Grandma’s, but the special sleep over. It’s the cooking- baking sleep over.

Like always at the cookie-baking party, the oven makes the kitchen extra toasty. The Christmas sounds from the radio has been replaced by Christmas sounds from the MP3 player; but nothing has, nor nothing can, replace the aroma of the oatmeal cookies, that fills the house.

The three children have their own way of making the shapes, but the twist of a curl on top has been lost over the years. But not so, the little pinch for a nibble of the dough.

There’s much more baking to be done each year, and the cookies have to be packaged, thirteen to each plastic bag that has a zip lock to hold in the aroma. The next day, the four of them will bring the cookies to the parish school gym to be placed in the Christmas food bags for the parish poor.

When the baking is finished for the evening, she gives the children a small glass of milk and a fresh cookie. Then with a kiss, she sends them off to bed, with the admonition to have sweet dreams. She knows she will have sweet dreams, and sometime in the night, she will imagine hearing a long ago voice reminding her that ‘we’re not poor’.

Over the years she often been asked her secret why her oatmeal cookies taste so good. ‘Real vanilla,’ she replies, ‘Real, not imitation! And,’ she adds, ‘A dash of faith. A dob of hope. And a dollop of love.’

Here’s wishing all of you that the holidays of your choice be filled with the love of your  family and the aroma of cookies.

MONARCH HIGHWAY

Monaarch and Milkweed

Oh, watching the flight of a Monarch butterfly, flittering from flower to flower, is such joy; but it a joy that could disappear if we don’t do anything to help the butterflies out. Like honeybees, they are natural pollinators, and like honeybees are being killed off. If this trend, both in butterflies and in honeybees, not only will we lose some of the beauty that is in nature, we will lose the natural way of growing our food.

There has been a decline of 90% of the Monarchs in the last two decades. Some of the reason being the frosts in Mexico where they winter; but more so genetic grown crops, herbicides such as Roundup that is wiping out plants like milkweed, the loss of prairie and wetlands. In short, We are killing them off by starvation and outright poison.

The government has offered a plan to help reverse the decline in Monarchs and indirectly help out the honeybees, plant prairie flowers, such as milkweed, along the I-35 Highway corridor, 1,500 miles from Minnesota to Texas, the route taken by Monarchs migrating to the winter home in Mexico. It will not only be a needed food source in their flight, it will provide shelter also.

Oh, not to mention a restoration of some of the prairie beauty the pioneers experienced in their migration across our country. And the price will be but a drop in the bucket to conjuring up yet another weapon of destruction.

 

The following is an article I wrote a few years back .

Published: St. Paul Pioneer Press – 1/4/20/11

The Old Hand:

Our oldest grandchild, Erik, has worked summers at Como Park Zoo, first as a volunteer, then as an intern. The past summer Erik led tours of the butterfly exhibit. One day, he and I got to talking about the monarch butterflies’ migration and the freeze in the Mariposa Reserve in Mexico killed off a large number of the butterflies. I pointed out the various places around my land where I had patches of milkweed plants for the Monarchs. 

One of Erik’s college professors wanted his students to write an essay on something they could do to improve our world. For the most part, the students wrote of great pie-in-the-sky projects like stopping war, doing away with hunger, etc.. Erik’s project wasn’t so grandiose. He suggested that the college plant patches of milkweed on campus to help propagate monarch butterflies. The professor liked both the project and the fact that it was something that could be accomplished. He encouraged Erik to get the project underway. The school officials liked the idea and encouraged Erik to work out the details. 

When Erik called me with the good news, he asked if I had any ideas where to get milkweed seeds or seedlings. I suggested a greenhouse or a seed company that specialized in plants for prairie restoration. We discussed the concept of restoring the original prairie that were native to Minnesota, plants and flowers that have been replaced by the grasses in lawns, pastures, golf courses, all alien grasses that need an enormous amount of water to survive in Minnesota. 

Today Erik called me to tell me the good news. The school is buying milkweed seeds along with other seeds of prairie plants in the prairie garden they are going to plant in the spring. Erik might never change the world but he will make it a better place to live if he has his way. 

It’s so great to be a grandparent. The pride my wife and I take in our five children is increased as we watch how our children raise their children.

 

Today, Erik has his degree in Marine Biology and is currently working with manta rays and sharks. Here’s an earlier post of mine concerning Erik, which you might enjoy: BEHIND THE GLASS

AN AROMA OF COOKIES

holiday                  A TALE OF THE SEASON 

 

She told me of this incident that occured prior to her first Christmas as a single parent.

To date, the two children, her son who had just turned seven, her daughter not quite four, hadn’t noticed how she had been pinching pennies, cutting corners, living from paycheck to paycheck; but with Christmas coming…

The tree would have to be smaller. A lot smaller. Presents would have be fewer. More emphasis on clothes. Less on toys. The usual Christmas feast would be more like an everyday dinner. Dessert, usually a Lazy Susan array of puddings and pies, candies and cookies, would be only her traditional oatmeal cookies. A lot of oatmeal cookies. And to sweeten them, the two children would help her with the baking.

The additional heat from the oven made the kitchen extra toasty. The sounds of Christmas from the radio made the event more festive. And the aroma of oatmeal cookies filling the house gave a promise of a happy Christmas, in spite of…

The sight of her two elves, clad in their pajamas, working happily away, gave her joy and pushed her fears aside. She’d work again on finding a better paying job after the holidays. But for the moment…

The boy’s hand was perfect to form the right size mounds of dough; and after he placed each clump on the cookie sheet, he twisted a little curl on top.

It wasn’t that easy for the little girl. She had to take two handfuls and crush them together. Then tried to plump it into the correct shape. She didn’t bother with a curl, but pinched off a little nibble as a reward.

It was almost time to take some of the cookies out of the oven when there was a knock at the front door. The young man of the house went to see about it. When he came back, he told his mother that it was two men from church. They had two bags of Christmas food, Care Packages they called them, for the poor people.

He said he told them that they must have the wrong address ‘cuz we’re not poor’.

She told me how she panicked. Weren’t poor!!!  She hoped she would have time to catch them and get the offered food. But first, she couldn’t let those cookies burn. She quickly pulled out the sheets and put them on top of the stove; but in her haste, she burned her thumb on the last one.

She gave a little yelp and sat down, blowing on her thumb. Her little doctor quickly pressed her thumb in the butter stick, and her little nurse offered some TLC by volunteering to kiss her owie.

It was too late to chase down the two men. And she was glad that it was. Had she ran after the them and taken the food parcels, she would have embarrassed her son. And she would have acknowledged to the two children that there was money problems.

Besides, looking at her two most favorite people in the world, made her realize the boy was right when he said they weren’t poor. They were very rich in what counts, family.

The little lady finished off the after-work cookie and milk and hurried to bed. She said she wanted to go to sleep real quick. The house smells so good, she explained, she knew she was going to have lots of sweet dreams.

The man of the family hung back. Finally, with a knowing smile, he asked if he could change what he had asked Santa to bring for his mother.

She said it depends. If he told her what the change is, she would write Santa a letter the next day at work and mail it and wait and see if he got the request in time.

He smiled and said he wanted Santa to bring his mother an Oven Mitt so she wouldn’t burn her thumb anymore. He gave her a kiss and went off to bed.

 

And now, years later, she’s carrying on a tradition she began just before her second Christmas as a single parent. Her elves, this year, are three of the grandkids. It’s a sleep over at Grandma’s, but the special sleep over. It’s the cooking- baking sleep over.

Like always at the cookie-baking party, the oven makes the kitchen extra toasty. The Christmas sounds from the radio has been replaced by Christmas sounds from the MP3 player; but nothing has, nor nothing can, replace the aroma of the oatmeal cookies, that fills the house.

The three children have their own way of making the shapes, but the twist of a curl on top has been lost over the years. But not so, the little pinch for a nibble of the dough.

There’s much more baking to be done each year, and the cookies have to be packaged, thirteen to each plastic bag that has a zip lock to hold in the aroma. The next day, the four of them will bring the cookies to the parish school gym to be placed in the Christmas food bags for the parish poor.

When the baking is finished for the evening, she gives the children a small glass of milk and a fresh cookie. Then with a kiss, she sends them off to bed, with the admonition to have sweet dreams. She knows she will have sweet dreams, and sometime in the night, she will imagine hearing a long ago voice reminding her that ‘we’re not poor’.

Over the years she often been asked her secret why her oatmeal cookies taste so good. ‘Real vanilla,’ she replies, ‘Real, not imitation! And,’ she adds, ‘A dash of faith. A dob of hope. And a dollop of love.’

Here’s wishing all of you that the holidays of your choice be filled with the love of your  family and the aroma of cookies.

SPRING YET?

Daffodil

It was a loooooooooong winter. Followed by a yoyo spring.

They have a Misery Scale based on the COLD, SNOW FALL, and LENGTH. We must have had a real miserable winter because all three of the indicators rang the bell. The TV weather people got a lot of face time talking about Wind Chill and Winter Storm Warnings; and this year they had something new to talk about, Polar Vortex.

And then Spring tried to bust through in April, but fought a losing battle against Winter. Just about the time we got comfortable with spring, winter jumped up and bit us in the behind. One day the temperature reached 60 degrees. Two days later, the new fallen snow reached almost 6 inches.

We hit the average amount of April showers up to the last week, and then it seemed like we should be building an ark. Three days of hard rain, followed by four more days of drizzle. After the first three days, the Mississippi rose three feet in St. Paul. At home, we got 5 inches of rain in those 72 hours. We’ve always had a pond on our land; but now we have ponds all over the place.

But hey, we are prepared and use to cold and snow. Nothing like that in so many of the others parts of the country. Up here a two inch snowfall is called a dusting. In Atlanta, a two inch snowfall shut down the entire city. And then the week when the rains hit us, killer storm and tornados hit other parts of the country. All in all, our problems with the weather didn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to other parts of the country.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it:

Oft repeated words wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, but were really written by Charles Dudley Warner, editor  of the Hartford Chronicle. (A bit of pretentious trivia) While I can’t do anything about the weather, I can offer a different view of it, through the eyes of children. Here’s three such tales, two recent, one from way back.

 

The Old Hand:

I just got a lesson in horticulture handed to me by Jaycee, our 4 year old granddaughter. I looked out the window and saw that the daffodils in the field were in full bloom.

‘Come and look at all the pretty yellow daffodils, Jaycee.’ She dragged over a kitchen stool so she could see out the window. ‘Aren’t those daffodils beautiful,’ I asked?

‘Yes,’ she agreed with me, ‘But Poppa, most people call yellow flowers dandelions.’

Published – St. Paul Dispatch – BB 4/24/14

 

The Old Hand: 

I got yet another lesson in nature study from our 4 year old granddaughter, Jaycee. I watched a white heron glide over the trees and land on the far edge of the pond.

‘Jaycee, come here and look. See over there, there’s a white heron.’

She looked and looked and finally saw it. ‘That’s a goose, Grandpa.’

‘No. It’s a big white heron.’

‘It’s a goose, Grandpa! A big white goose!’

‘Okay, it’s a big white goose – named Heron.’

She let out a great sigh. ‘Grandpa,’ she said, extending her arms, palms turned upward. ‘Gooses don’t have names.’

Published – St. Paul Dispatch – BB  5/10/14 

 

The Old Hand:

This Easter that resembled Christmas reminded me of a long ago Easter at the end of a long, cold, snowy winter.  Finally, by Easter, the snow had melted, the yellow daffodils were in bloom, and the lilacs began budding. At Easter Mass, the priest gave a sermon on Resurrection, pointing out “deadness” of winter was being replaced by the “new life” of spring. Soon, the grass would be green, flowers would bloom, the farmers would be planting crops, etc..

My youngest brother, Ray, probably about three or four at the time, stood up on the pew, and began to clap and shout ‘hurray’. The priest stopped talking. People looked at Raymond. Everyone snickered, and when the priest began to clap also, the entire congregation joined in. At the end of Mass, we were told to go and enjoy the spring resurrection. And people went out of their way to ruffle Ray’s hair and smile at him.

Now, Easter has come and gone, and we still have snow on the ground and in the forecast. But never fear, soon we will soon be mowing green grass and slapping pesky mosquitoes.

Published – St Paul Dispatch – BB 3/27/00

 

 

Some times, when things wear on me, I try to look at them through the eyes of children. It usually helps.  

SAY WHAT?

        

            In the early days of bumper sticker ‘humor’, one of the best sellers read: I’M NOT HARD OF HEARING. I’M JUST IGNORING YOU. If ever I was so inclined to have a bumper sticker, mine would read: I’M NOT IGNORING YOU. I AM HARD OF HEARING. I can see humor in the first reading; but to me, there’s nothing funny about the second reading.

            Most of the times, when a person wearing a hearing aid, asks the speaker to repeat what was said, it has nothing to do with volume. It is really a plea for slower and clearer speech. And the saddest is when you can’t understand what your little grandchildren are trying to tell you. And you ask them to repeat what they said. And you still don’t understand. So you either smile and not yes, or turn to your wife and see if she could tell you what they said.

            It is said some things are genetic. I guess I inherited my bad eyesight from my mother, bad hearing from my father.

            Dad was never much to listen to small talk. It took a lot of persuasion to finally convince him to get a hearing aid. He expected that if people had anything really important to tell him, they would holler. Other things  he needed to know could be found in the newspaper, and the only thing he really watched on TV was baseball, which he could follow without having to listen to the announcers. (On that point I totally agree with him. When I am watching sports on TV, I usually hit the mute. With the new hearing aids, the clarity is less of a problem than the inane statements of the announcers.) When Dad finally got a hearing aid, he didn’t like it. For one thing, the bad clarity made things more confusing than helping.

            Dad finally reached a point where he wore his hearing aid, but…. Mom would be talking to him. He’d nod and answer ‘yes’. She’d go on and on, and he would just nod and answer ‘yes’. And then she would say something where ‘yes’ was not the right thing to say.

hard of hearing ‘Dick’, she’d scream, ‘You got your damn hearing aid turned off again! Haven’t you?’ Like I said, he was never one for small talk.

The Old Hand :

It has been several years since my wife and I began to talk two, three times as much to each other as we had done in the past. It isn’t that we have that much more to say to each other; it’s that we have to keep repeating everything to be understood.

Now the concept of a hearing aid may sound good on paper; but in reality, it is often a pain in the ear. You can’t understand what the person talking to you is saying, but you sure as heck can hear the noise of a fan in the next room. And when a vacuum is turned on, you know why dogs hate them.

Now, one aid for the hard-of-hearing that I found that really helps is close- captioning on the TV. On taped shows, it affirms that what was said is as silly as what you thought you heard. And on live shows, the accuracy and spelling often suffers, but what comes across the screen is often more entertaining then what was actually said.

I remember when I first started using it, and two of the grandsons were over. Alex came running through the room, glanced at the TV, and stopped.

“Avery, Avery,” he shouted to his brother, “Come here and look. Grandpa’s TV is so smart, it can even spell.” I am glad he said it loud enough for me to enjoy it.

Published SPPP, 8/2, 2006

       And there are occupations that cause damage to your hearing. Stagehanding is one of the worst. You can’t wear earplugs and hear cues at the same time. If you are on headset chances the cue caller has his/hers mic open, which amplifies the noise. And rock and roll concerts!!! The PA fader is set at 11. (See SPINAL TAP)  

       Pyro explosions are becoming more plentiful as more spectacle is needed to cover up the lack of talent. And, of course, the audiences of today tend to confuse concert going with playing an interactive video game, they think they have to make more noise than the entertainers on the stage. 

The Old Hand :

For a great many years my brother Ray has had a lot of trouble hearing but never had much success with hearing aids. The problem with all the various hearing aids he had bought over the years was they all amplified the sounds, but  the heat and noise made them unpractical to wear at work, driving a blacktop dump truck, and the lack of clarity made them frustrating to wear anytime. Ray reached a point where if anybody wanted to say something to him, they better just talk loud because the hearing aids were in the dresser drawer.

Recently, having retired from his noisy job, he gave the hearing aid route another try and finally got one that worked for him. Not only did he wear it, he even kept it turned on.

The first time he wore it to the weekly card tournament, he announced to everything that they would no longer have to holler at him. He had a good hearing aid and he could hear them, and even understand what they are saying. He went on to tell them how it is different from the ones he had before, how much clearer it sounds, and how being able to hear makes a big change in a person’s life.

One of the card players, who had been considering getting a hearing aid himself, asked Ray, “What kind is it?”

Ray looked at his watch and said, “Ten to nine.”

Published SPPP, Bulletin Board 9/27/11

           

260px-Dave_Letterman    A month or so after this story was published, David Letterman used it in his monologue with two differences. He said it was his mother who got the new hearing aid, and it was his son who asked her what kind she bought.

            Come on, David! My story was true. Yours was probably bought from someone who sent your writers a copy of the published story. Okay! But do you really think anyone would believe that your son, age 8 at the time, would really care what brand of hearing aid his grandmother bought?

 

            We can officially add two more certainties to Ben Franklin’s death and taxes.

           First: With the depletion of the ozone layer, cataract surgery will be as common as tonsillectomies were in the 40’s and 50’s.

            Second: With the volume of things like IPods and rock concerts  cranked up to destruction levels, hearing aids will be as common as eye glasses were before contacts and lasik.

            So please, on behalf of all of us with bad hearing, speak slowly and don’t mumble. WHAT SAY?  

           

 

                         

TV WAS YOUNG, AND SO WAS I

                  The three youngest granddaughters were sitting at the kitchen table, creating artistic pictures, suitable for hanging on the refrigerator. The TV was on, largely ignored by them until it was time to shout out the correct word in Spanish to Dora. This they accomplished without bothering to look up from their drawings.

               “You know,” I said, “I didn’t have TV when I was your age.”

               I must have been repeating myself from another time, because the oldest said, “We know. You had to listen to the radio.”

               “And you didn’t get to watch TV until you were old, old, old,” the middle one added.

               “Then you watched Dora the Explorer,” the youngest chimed in.

               “Scooby Doo!” argued the middle one.

               “No, Dora!” said the youngest, raising her voice and looking up from her drawing to argue with her sister, about the merits of Dora versus those of Scooby Doo. The oldest continued with her art work. She couldn’t be bothered with that childish argument. After all she is in kindergarten.

         

               And while that debate was going on and on, I thought that maybe a similar debate had been conducted by my sister and younger brothers over Kuckla, Fran, and Ollie, versus Howdy Doody. When we first got TV, these programs were for little kids, not a 5th grader like me.

          I don’t know if I dream in color, but I found myself day- dreaming in black and white.

When TV was young – And so was I

                 

When TV’s first hit the market, small rounded screens in enormous cabinets. There was no box involved in purchasing one. The TV’s were on shelves and all of them were turned on. You picked out the one with the best picture. Dealers allowed potential customers to actually take a set home for two weeks for a trial run.

There was one family down the road that used these trial runs to the nth degree. I bet they went over a year getting TVs on trial runs before the various dealers finally caught on to the fact that as long as this family could watch TV without actually buying one, it would always be a no-sale. I went their house every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 to watch the Lone Ranger. And sometimes on Fridays at 8:00 to watch All Star Wrestling with stars like Gorgeous George and King Kong Kashey. And later on, Da Crusher.

And TV repair shops opened up all over. Some time taking over a vacated store. Some time being incorporated with an existing business like shoe repairing. Occasionally a person could actually find an honest repairman that actually knew what he was doing. Most of them, though, had taken the correspondent course that was advertised in comic books on the same page that sold sea monkeys. There was also ads in comic books that sold a kit to bring color to a black and white screen. A kit consisted of a tin frame that held a sheet of photographic filter. Depending on which sheet you used, the black would have either a red or blue tint.

The first accessory, after the rabbit-eared antenna, that you had to purchase, when you got a TV, was a roll of aluminum foil. You made two flags and attached them to the rods of the rabbit-eared antenna. You still had to turn the antenna when you switched to a different channel, but the picture came in a lot clearer, for a while.

Today’s TV’s usually has one person in charge of the remote. Old TV’s had one person that sat close to the set and was in charge of rotating the antenna and playing with the horizontal and vertical dials to keep the picture steady. To get it settle down required the light touch of a safe cracker. For some reason, the TV’s almost never acted up during the commercials, but always during the most exciting part of the show, like the gun showdown on the main street or when the rassler wearing the long black trunks had the chair taken away from him by the crowd favorite in the short white trunks.

The old TV’s never liked thunderstorms and Ford cars. We could always tell when there was storm approaching well before we saw any lighting or heard any thunder. The picture was next to impossible to get to settle down. And we could always tell when a Ford drove down the road past the house. Not only did a Ford cause the picture to act up, it also caused the sound to turn into a static machine. It never happened when a Chevy or DeSoto or any other make went past, just a Ford.

But while the old TV’s caused problems in getting a good picture, there was no problems in finding something worthwhile to watch. The Golden Age of Television was shown in black and white, even though it was broadcasted live and you had to accept the fact that maybe a set door wouldn’t open, an actor forgot his lines, or a stagehand was seen in the picture.

And, unlike TV shows today, the actual context of the show itself was greater than the sum minutes of the commercials. Or when you fell asleep watching TV, you were never rudely awaken by the blaring of a commercial. The picture might jump and roll, but the sound was the same level, shows and commercials.

Sometimes the commercials were as funny as the shows. They were always live and anything could happen. The most popular newscaster in the Twin Cities had to do the commercials for the show’s sponsor, Ford. One night, when he came on, it was apparent he had had a liquid supper. He was slurring his words and having a hard time reading from the script he has in his hands, no cue cards or teleprompters in those days. The commercial required him to walk around the car that was in the studio. He opened the doors and talked about the features. He opened the trunk to show how roomy it was. He closed the trunk. It bounced open again. He closed the trunk. It bounced open again. He kept try to close the truck slamming it harder and harder. He tried using words that were not suppose to be used on TV. This whole fiasco went on and on. Finally, there was a blackout and when the lights came back on, somebody else was reading the rest of the news. We never did see the most popular newscaster in the towns anymore. A few years later there was a short item in the paper that he was reading the news in a small town in Montana.

The queen of the national commercials was Betty Furness speaking for GE products. The audience liked her because she seemed real, like she actually used the appliances she touted. And the sponsor like her because she never lost her cool or chain of thought when a refrigerator door wouldn’t close.

The broadcasting schedule was much shorter than the 24 hours of today. Very early TV started as late as 6 PM, went off the air at 10 PM. Gradually it started sooner and was on later. Prior to the station’s start, there was a test pattern that ran for several hours. The test picture was the same for all the stations, graphs and lines that meant nothing to anybody except the studio techs, and on the top was an Indian in full war bonnet.(Of course, there wasn’t many stations to choose from, one for a while, than another and another.) They always signed off by playing the national anthem with a video of the flag blowing in the breeze. This was followed the bug races, a screen of dots flicking on the screen.

In a way it changed the way people lived. With radio, listeners could pursue other things at the same time, do house work, homework, and of course, milk cows. TV changed that. People had to be in the same room as the TV, and pay attention with the eyes as well as the ears.

      Of course, if , like my granddaughters, you’ve already seen that particular episode, maybe several times, you can still,do more important things like pursuing your art projects, while  following what’s on the humongous set in HDTV.

A TIRED ANGEL

The Old Hand of Oakdale:
This is our granddaughter Jayda at age one. I carry a copy in my billfold. When I’m feeling a little world weary, I take it out, look at it, and smile. If one so young can get her priorities in order, I should be able to do likewise.
Published 7/10/11 Bulletin Board Jada asleep
St Paul PP

JAYCEE’S LAST NAME

the tomboy

 

Our granddaughter,  Jaycee, age 3, was being quizzed by her grandmother to see if she knew things like her full name, where she lived, etc.. She asked Jaycee her name. Jaycee answered, Jaycee. My wife asked her what was her full name, Jaycee who?

‘Well, I know it’s not Jaycee Penney, she quickly answered.’

BEHIND THE GLASS

ERIK AT WORK

ERIK AT WORK

BEHIND THE GLASS:

The Old Hand of Oakdale:

Published 12/2/00 – SP PP, Bulletin Board

The story about the little guy who knew the difference between imaginary monsters and real lions reminded me of taking my oldest grandson, Erik, to the movie, LION KING, when it first opened. He was more than happy to go with me even though he had just seen it a few days before with his parents.

It seemed like we had no more than settled down, when he made a bee-line for the lobby. I quickly followed and asked what was wrong. He told me there was a real scary part coming up that he didn’t want to watch, and he would go back when it was over.

Naturally, I got down on one knee and spouted some silly grown-up logic about it being only a movie, nothing to be afraid of, just images on the screen, etc..

“I know all that, Poppa,” he said, “But what if the glass breaks?”

Made perfect sense to me. We watched the movie in bits and pieces. When he took off for the lobby, I quickly followed without argument.

This is one of the first Old Hand stories. Today, Erik is on the other side of ‘the glass’. After graduating with a degree  from Gustavus,  he got a plum internship in EPCOT Center’s Living Seas Aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the world. His prime job is putting on a wet suit and taking care of the manta rays, although he swims with other varieties of sea life, including sharks.