Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Thank You for the Music" (Part I)

My mother loved to sing.  Everybody in her family loved to sing!  She had a pretty decent range and was basically an alto.  When she was growing up, every night she and various brothers and sisters and her mother sang while they did the dishes and cleaned up after dinner.  I would imagine that it would take fairly long time as there are a lot of dishes to wash, dry, and put away when you have a family with 11 children!  Besides, a family sing-along is an inexpensive way to entertain a family of that size.

 Between them, they knew a bazillion songs!  As I was growing up, Mom and I carried on the tradition and for as long as I can remember, my mom and I sang most nights over the dishes.  I learned most of those bazillion songs and as I got older we kept expanding our repertoire with new songs including all the popular music being played on the radio.  I learned to harmonize and we sounded pretty decent, at least we thought so!  The point I'm trying to make here is that I have been surrounded by singing my whole life.  It was the best gift I ever received.  I could sing! 

I went to a small Catholic grade school that was staffed by Dominican nuns  (No, that doesn't mean they were from the Dominican Republic.  For the uninitiated, Dominicans was the name of the Order they nuns belonged to.)  Catholics sing all the time, in Latin no less, especially back then and they love doing processions all around the church about a hundred times a year for various occasions! The whole school had to process, singing our little hearts out.  Actually I always liked doing that, as long as I wasn't first in line! 

We would line up according to height.  I was short, that put me in front quite a few times....hated that!  I was always afraid that I would go the wrong way when there was no one to follow!  Didn't realize till years later, that there was very little chance of that, those nuns ran too tight a ship for that to happen.  They were always standing at strategic points ready to grab the processionally-challenged kid who was trying to be the next Wrong-Way Corrigan!

But I digress....When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I became part of the "official" choir.  The official choir was just the girls.  Sister didn't think the boys could pay attention well enough.  We sang every Sunday morning at the 9:00 Childrens' Mass, in addition to all the processions and other events (like Confirmations and graduation).  That was where I learned about group singing, blending, reading music notation, harmonizing, and KEEPING MY EYES ON THE DIRECTOR AT ALL TIMES while singing!  Woe betide the hapless cherub who dared to looked somewhere else.  Sister Rita Terese would start snapping her fingers until the poor child realized that Sister had seen their inattentive little eyes.  Then the kid would get "the Look"!  Oh my, that woman could project such venom without saying a word!  You just knew that your goose was cooked and you were on a slippery slope straight to H-E-double toothpicks!  And Sister would be standing there making sure you didn't escape!

Anyway, I loved singing in the choir!  I loved the glory of those old traditional hymns that had come down through the centuries.  And I must say, that Sister may indeed have been a hard taskmaster, but she knew what she was doing when it came to music.  I learned a lot!!  I sang with that choir for 3 or 4 years. 

As my school was only a grammar school, when I transferred over to public school for Junior High, you can bet I signed up for Chorus.  That included boys AND girls and was taught by Mr. Yost.  After 4 years of Sr. Rita Terese and every Catholic hymn ever written, Chorus under Mr. Yostwas amazing!  We got to have a concert!  Rehearsals were during school time not after school!  We never had to get up early on Sunday in order to sing!  Mr. Yost didn't even try to terrorize us!  And best of all, we got to sing something besides hymns!   I'll never forget walking into his class for the first time.  He handed out a piece of music and I couldn't believe my eyes!!  It was Rogers and Hammerstein's "Its a Grand Night for Singing" (from their show, State Fair.)   Oh wow!  Something fun and happy and familiar!  I was in the right place!  I had found my niche!  I was home.

Tomorrow:  Part II  -  Come on back!

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Happy Birthday"

Yep,  today's the day....people sing Happy Birthday to me all over the place.  Ratchlet called and sang to me; Little Sis sent me a virtual birthday cake; something like 25 Facebook Friends sent me Happy Birthday greetings; the Big Guy brought me yellow roses (my fav!) and a lovely handcrafted ceramic tray/plate, I expect that M-t-G will call me when she gets home from day camp; Ratchlet and the Big Guy are conspiring on some sort of dinner plans for the weekend; and today I will go to eat at one of my favorite places where I will get a free entree; AND I have a brand new book to read!!  Does this sound like a perfect birthday to you??

It sure does to me!  Wheee....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"When I'm Sixty-Four"

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too,
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone. 
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday morning go for a ride.
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four? 
Every summer we can rent a cottage,
In the Isle of Wright, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera Chuck and Dave 
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

This song, written by Paul McCartney, was on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. It was released in 1967. I was 21 years old at the time. And yes, back then 64 was definitely "many years from now." When you're 21 (and especially in 1967) being 64 years old seems very nearly unimaginable.

Life goes on though, doesn't it? And tomorrow morning at approximately 6:20 a.m. the unimaginable will become my reality. So, "will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four??"

Guess I'm gonna find out!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"The Counting Song" Reprise

I'm in the mood for a list!  I don't claim to be 100% correct grammatically all the time, but when I see or (even worse) hear these gems, I get that "fingernails on a blackboard" kind of feeling, and I just want to scream  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!  Do any of these bother you?

**  I "graduate high school" in May.  Well, no!  You WILL graduate FROM high school in May (but you sure won't be the Valedictorian!!) 

**  Dinner sure was "tasty."  Is that something like "but she's got a good personality??" To me this phrase seems more like "damning the meal with faint praise".

**  Speaking of food, many restaurants seem to be training their wait staff and managers to ask customers some variation of, "Is everything Perfect for you?"  Well, no!  That would NEVER get a positive response from me.  If you're asking me a question, don't provide me with the answer you want to hear!   Nothing is ever "Perfect"!  In fact, I am then compelled to tell them all the ways my meal isn't perfect!!

**  "It turned out wonderful."   Well, no!  It might have turned out wonderfully, or horribly, or even outstandingly!  There appears to be a conspiracy against adverbs!!  Can't people just hear that it's wrong??  As soon as one of these gems is said or written or read, I start to twitch!!  It only needs two letters more.  "LY"  That's it, just add the "ly! "  Arrrgghhh! 

**  "The day was so fun."   Nooooooo!!!!  The day was so MUCH fun....or the day was SUCH fun....or the day was a LOT OF fun.  But "so fun" is a big least it is in MY grammar notebook!

**  "New experiences don't "phase" him."    No.  The word is "faze".   Some moms are not "fazed" by their children's different "phases."

**  "The work was quite hard, but she came through "like a trooper."  No, no, a thousand times NO!  Unless you mean like a storm trooper, the word is "trouper".  As in,  a troupe of actors; as in the show must go was originally a term about actors continuing with the show despite all kinds of problems and thus, saving the day!

**  And then there are "could of, would of, and should of".  Does anyone even listen to what they say anymore??  It's easy to hear, really.  HAVE not OF!  Really folks, it's not all that hard!

Okay, I'm done!  I feel so much better now!!  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Sunrise Sunset"

It is officially summer!!  Whoo hoo!  Yesterday, June 21, marked the Summer Solstice, sometimes called Midsummer, sometimes Litha, and a variety of other names related to various ancient and historical practices, rituals, and beliefs.  Thousands gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise on this day every year and have been doing so for centuries.  Litha is one of the lesser holidays celebrated in Wiccan.  The Druids had a thing about the Midsummer moon, which they called the "honey moon".  They performed their marriages on this day.  (Guess you can connect the dots and figure out the whole honeymoon thing yourself, huh?) Shakespeare even wrote one of his most famous plays about this time of year.  

Being neither ancient nor Pagan (don't believe everything you hear!) I don't celebrate any rituals or practice any belief system related to the rising and setting of the sun or the moon. I don't get up in the middle of the night to be ready to greet the Midsummer Sun.  I'm already married, so I don't need the Druids to come fix that!  Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite days of the year. 

If I lived south of the Equator this would be the Winter Solstice!  That's all due to the rotation of the Earth and the Sun.  (Just don't ask me to explain how it works!!  I'm lucky I remember that much!)  Anyway, if I lived south of the Equator, this would be still be a lesser favorite day.  And none of that has anything (well....not MUCH of anything) with temperature.

Nope.  Its not the temperature, it is the amount of visible daylight! 

June 21 (or sometimes the 22) is the longest day of the year, and conversely, the shortest night.  Simply, more sun, and less dark!  (Except, of course, south of the the equator, where it is exactly the opposite.)  I look forward to this day every year.  I love the sun!  When the sun is shining I am generally a happier person.  So on Summer Solstice, I'm more likely to be having a happy day!  Even if it is a cloudy day, it doesn't matter too much, because its still light outside for a longer period of time.

When I think about it, it's a bit surprising that I don't celebrate any rituals or the like related to the sun, considering how I feel about it.  Not that I'm tempted to, you understand, but I can definite understand how all those ancient pagans felt!

The Winter Solstice in December (except south of the Equ....oh, I'm sure you got it already!  If not, go look it up!).  The Winter Solstice as I said, is the exact opposite:  it is the longest night and the shortest day.  That is not what I like about it exactly.  On December 21, it's true that we have the shortest day, BUT every day thereafter gets a few minutes longer than the one before until June 21 when summer appears again!.  I can live with that!

Of course, even if I vaguely understand about the northern and southern hemispheres, I have no idea what happens the closer you get to the Poles (either North or South).  I 've read that at the Poles, the days and nights can last for really wonky amounts of time, even all 24 hours!!  I don't really get that, but as it's really ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' IMPOSSIBLE ....uhmm....unlikely that I will ever visit either Pole, I guess that doesn't matter.

So, I am glad to once again greet Summer, and especially the summer sun!  I welcome that early/late "Sunrise Sunset" thing with a happy heart!  Yes, June 21 is one of my favorites days.

.......Of course, it COULD also just be that my birthday is now only four days away!  Even if I lived south of the Equator!!!) 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Paint Your Wagon"

Well, of course I don't really have a Wagon to paint, but I do have a thrift shop chest of drawers and a garage sale headboard in desperate need of painting.  The chest is hot pink with brushed gold metal knobs (seriously!  Garish is the word you're trying to think of!)  The headboard is a pale baby blue, with only a carved design of some flowers that is barely visible.  Both of the pieces are wood, not the same wood though.

For a couple of years, before I stopped watching TV altogether about 3 or 4 years ago, I discovered HGTV and a couple of other channels that had a lot of home improvement shows.  I really enjoyed some of the programs and loved to see a home transformed by a designer and a team of home owners.  Some of the designs were peculiar, and some of the finished projects were not very successful.  Nonetheless, it was fun to watch what a designer could come up with for very little money.  Now I realize that film can be edited so that the disasters never make it on air, but still, some of the techniques didn't look like they would be too difficult to do.

Because I am married to a locomotive .....uhhh, I mean ....a World Class snorer, the Big Guy and I have separate bedrooms.  So he gets the Master Bedroom (MB)with the  big walk-in closets, and the bathroom with the jacuzzi tub, and I get one of the other bedrooms.  Of course, my bedroom is a LOT smaller, has a closet that's about 1/3 the size of the MB closets, and has NO private bathroom....but it's mine!

One offshoot of not being in the MB, is that I don't have the pretty bedroom set with an armoire and a big dresser with a three way mirror, plus a rocking chair and a couple of nightstands with lamps.  In my little room, are a twin bed, some extraneous bookcases, my desk, and some small wicker furniture from World Market.  There isn't anything wrong with it, its just small and doesn't hold much.

I decided I needed a grown-up chest of drawers that could hold more than 3 items per drawer!  We went bargain hunting and found just what I wanted, the above-mentioned hot pink number.  I probably paid more for it than I should have, but I liked it.  Other than the color, it was a nice piece.  Not too long after that I was at a garage sale and saw the blue headboard.  I really needed a headboard to lean against so that I could read at night without killing my neck.  The headboard was only $10. 

So after watching all those do-it-yourself-ers, I figured I could rehab both pieces in a sort of shabby chic look.  I found a paint color (sort of a creamy off-white) and would then distress both pieces.  I found new pewter drawer pulls and a nice liner for the drawers.  Under the guidance of the Big Guy, I bought paint brushes, sand paper, and other such tools to do the job right.

I was all gung ho and wanted to get started on my bedroom up-do!  I stripped and sanded the top of the chest, and found a lovely wood underneath that I decided to stain rather than paint.  So back to Lowe's, compared stain colors, choose just what I wanted, and got some polyurethane to seal the top against future damage.  I sanded the rest of the chest and got much of the pink paint off and prepared the surfaces.   I was ready to paint!

The only place we have to do that kind of work is in the garage.  May I remind you, we live in Austin, TX.  It was summertime.  It was HOT!  No air conditioning in said garage  Before I could get onto the painting, the Big Guy informed me that it was too hot to paint.  Evidently the paint would dry too quickly and wouldn't "cure" properly.  O.K.  I could understand that.  Temps over 90 would never do!  Sooo, I agreed that I should wait until fall, when it was cooler.  I'd lived with my tiny wicker stuff for a while, I could wait a bit longer.

Early fall came around, the temps dropped, but it was so nice, I ended up doing other outdoor things for a while.  When I was once again ready to begin the painting.  It was November and the temps were in the upper 50s.  Perfect, right??The Big Guy said "NO!  You can't paint now, it's too cold!"  WHAT?  What do you mean it's too cold?  You told me I couldn't paint when it was hot, and now it's too cold???  When CAN I paint? 

It turns out that you can paint only when the temps are being 70 and 80 (or something like that).  So the two pieces continued to sit in the garage over the winter.  Stuff started ending up on top of the chest and other stuff ended up in front of the headboard, by the time spring rolled around and there was a chance of the right temps, I had lost my enthusiasm and I didn't feel like finding somewhere to put the stuff that was blocking the pieces.

Soooo, there they sit.  It's been a couple of years now.  I still have the little wicker furniture with not much room.  More stuff has been accumulated on top and around the them.  (I would like to explain that 98% of the stuff  that's in the way belongs to you-know-who!)  I suppose I'll get to it one of these days.  Some day when it's 72 degrees, the stuff finds a new home, and I remember the technique I wanted to use, and I'm not too old to lift a paintbrush!!

Vern Yip, where are you??  "Paint Your Wagon"???     Evidently not at my house! 


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"In the Still of the Night"

Years ago, when we were young and fearless, we decided that we needed a vacation.  Ratchlet was not quite 4 years old, and other than one or two short trips for a couple of days here and there, we hadn't had much of a "real" vacation at all during the time we'd been married.  You know what I mean by a "real" vacation, "an out-of-state, stop the newspaper and mail delivery, go stay in a hotel where someone else makes the beds, gone for two whole weeks," vacation!!   After a quick stop-off in Atlanta to see my BFF, we would go on to Florida, my old stomping ground, and I could show all the sights to Ratchlet and the Big Guy.  Besides it was "going home" for me, at least for a little while.

We decided to take my Little Sis along, both as a break for her and as an additonal someone for Ratchlet to play with.  Little Sis would be 12 that summer, just the right age to be fairly responsible but still enough of a kid to enjoy being with us!  She and Ratchlet have always had a pretty close relationship (even now), which is understandable.  The are closer together in age than Little Sis and I are!  Anway, it was a win/win deal!

In order to be able to afford this adventure, we decided we would drive there.  Well, in fact, we decided that the Big Guy would drive there!  (I was a late bloomer and didn't have a license, but that's whole 'nother story.)  The Big Guy, being the the kind of guy he is, said we should drive straight through, and not spend money on motels along the way, besides, that would mean we would have more time actually IN Florida.   Although I had some real reservations about that, he SWORE that if he got too tired, we would stop at a motel.  Plus, the idea of trying to entertain a 4 yr old  in a car for several days held very little appeal. 

As I said, we were young and fearless, so off we went! 

At the time, we were still living in Chicago proper in the same apartment we'd lived in since before Ratchlet was born.  It was smack dab in the middle of one of Chicago's neighbhoods and the building had no courtyard or play area, or pool.  In fact, it pretty much had no amenities at all!  We didn't have a covered, designated, parking space, we had to find on-street parking.  We were right on Irving Park Road, which at that time, still had noisy, obnoxious, and frequent trolley buses!   Anyway, it wasn't a place to spend much time outside.

We thought Ratchlet would enjoy seeing the country from the car.  She loved going for rides in the much to see!!  Besides which she could always fall asleep in a car!  No danger of driving for 27 hours straight with a cranky, unhappy, sleepy but unrested child! 

On the day we were to leave, by the time we picked up Little Sis, and got everything situated, and finally got on the road, it was later than we hoped.  That was okay, because we wanted to be driving mostly at night when it was cooler.  It was, indeed, a lovely ride.  Of course we stopped fairly frequently for food and potty stops (we had a 4 year old in the car....'nuff said!)  We sang songs and played word games and watched for cows, horses, and other critters (again, remember the 4 year old!)  But after supper, once it finally got dark, Ratchlet and Little Sis drifted off  and it was peaceful and quiet.  They slept for a long time.  I can't sleep in a car so I kept the Big Guy company as he drove

We were somewhere in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee in the middle of the night.  It was a clear night, with not much moon so it was pitch black, there were big tall trees on both sides, the road was empty, except for us!  It wasn't scary (it was an interstate after all), just DARK. 

Somewhere around 2 am, we heard Ratchlet's little voice, pop up, with a question.  "Mommy, what are all those little white things in the sky?"  OH. MY. GOD.  My almost 4 year old daughter, did not recognize STARS!!  She had a great view out of the back window and there were millions of stars visible.  (There's nothing like star-gazing on top of a mountain!!)  But my poor, city-bred, apartment-raised, little girl, hadn't ever actually seen stars.  I was crushed!  How could we have neglected teaching her about this rather significant portion of the world she lived in??  Luckily, not too far ahead there was a place we could pull off the road to park and get out of the car.

So we did!  There we were, all four of us, at 2 o'clock in the morning, standing in the parking area, somewhere in the Smokey Mountains, looking up at the sky while we explained about the stars to our little girl! 

After about half an hour later, we got back in the car and went on our way.  The rest of the trip was great, we all had a wonderful time.  I introduced my family to the places I grew up.  We saw a lot of the sights.  It was terrific.  In fact, we all enjoyed it so much we did it again a couple of years later!

But the thing I always remember first about that trip, was when Ratchlet discovered the stars "in the still of the night".

Monday, June 14, 2010

"The Star Spangled Banner"

This shows just how on top of things I am these days.  I thought today was June 13 until just a few minutes ago.  I'm sure some country somewhere celebrates June 13 for something.  However, today is June 14.  And that, my friends, is a day of celebration (of the minor variety) in the U.S.A.  If you don't know what this day commemorates, shame on you!

 Flag Day

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.

If you've never thought about these words, watch this video.  It is from 1969 (or so), but it bears repeating for every citizen!

(Remember, I'm a techno-dweeb.  I've never downloaded a video before, so I hope it works!!!)

The link below will tell you just about everything you ever wanted to know about the flag of the United States....and probably more than you wanted to know!  Nevertheless, anyone who loves this country believes in this flag and what it represents.   Most of us have gotten choked up at parades, or funerals, or ceremonies when the flag is displayed .

No matter if you think of it as Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Red, White, and Blue, or "The Star-Spangled Banner"....this country has survived under this flag (or one of its ancestors) for more than 230 years keeping us FREE! 

So Happy Flag Day.  Long may she wave!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Teach Your Children Well"

Austin is really an interesting town.  With it being the state capital, the main campus of the University of Texas, all the music events and venues, the galleries and museums, Austin has a lot to do.  One of the best treasures of Austin is the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on the campus of UT.   I've been there a couple of times and the Big Guy has been there more often than that. 

It is the only Presidential Library I have ever visited.  It is particularly meaningful because we lived in that turbulent time.  I was 17 when John Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson became President on Air Force I that same day.  I lived in Chicago in 1968, one of the most turbulent years in American history (Democratic Convention in Chicago, MLK assassination, Robert Kennedy assissination,  Riots, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, and so much more).  LBJ was President throughout the whole thing.  His life was interesting and his Presidency fascinating.  Going to the Library is like reliving that era.  There are TEN floors of Exhibits, history, documents, archives, traveling exhibits, research all about Lyndon B. Johnson's place in history.

The reason that we've gone so often, aside from it being a fascinating place, is that it is one of Maddie-the-Great's favorite things to do!  Go figure!!  She has loved going there since she was about six.  She is nine now and still enjoys it every time she goes.  She looks at just about every exhibit, she reads all the narratives, watches all the video clips, she asks questions, she is quiet, polite, respectful, doesn't seem to get bored, and seems to retain what she learns. 

We went again over the weekend.  It was about the fifth or sixth time M-t-G has gone.  We all enjoyed it again.  It is so large with so much to see, although much of it not open to the public, I'm not sure we've actually seen it all and we were there for three hours this time. 

Our family has always enjoyed American history and museums and the like.  Now it appears M-t-G is following that path as well.  And it is not just LBJ or Texas that intrigues her.  She is enthralled with WWII, particularly the South Pacific and Pearl Harbor. 

Just South of Austin by about 90 minutes is the town of Fredericksburg, a small community with a strong German background.  Its one of those towns that works hard to attract tourists with restaurants with really good food, craft shops, boutiques, and has been a Texas landmark destination for many years.

Johnson City and Stonewall, Texas, where LBJ was born and raised, lived, and is buried, is just up the road from Fredericksburg by about 20 miles.   Fredericksburg is the home town of U.S. Navy Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.  And so, logically enough, I guess, Fredericksburg is also home to:
The Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site in Fredericksburg is the only institution in the continental United States dedicated exclusively to telling the story of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and World War II in the Pacific Theater.
Located on a seven-acre site, the Center includes The National Museum of the Pacific War George Bush Gallery, the Japanese Garden of Peace, the History Walk of the Pacific War, the Plaza of the Presidents, the Surface Warfare Plaza, the Memorial and Victory Walls, the Veterans Walk of Honor and the Center for Pacific War Studies.
In addition to nearly 24,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, the museum boasts an impressive display of Allied and Japanese aircraft, tanks, guns and other large artifacts made famous during the Pacific War campaigns.

The museums many fine exhibits highlight the story of early Fredericksburg, the Nimitz Family, Chester Nimitz from his birth in 1885, his early childhood in the old Nimitz Hotel, his appointment to the US Naval Academy to his role during World War II until his death in 1966.

We went a few weeks ago....with M-T-G.  She was thrilled!  There was a Japanese mini-sub that had been captured.  There were individual exhibits for each of the major battles and campaigns in the South Pacific....Guadacanal, Corregidor, Tarawa, New Caladonia, and of  course, Pearl Harbor.  It was wonderful. We were all amazed and impressed. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this museum, I strongly urge you to do so.  I learned a great deal that I never knew before.   It is a very moving museum filled with things and information about a war that I've heard about all my life.  (My dad spent over 5 YEARS in the South Pacific in WWII.) 

M-t-G was so excited but just like in the LBJ Library, she was quiet, respectful, and read every word!  Again we were there for a couple of hours and  didn't see it all.  We will go again someday soon.

It is important to remember the history of our world. There are lessons that need to be learned.  It is even more important to "Teach Your Children Well" about the history of the world they are inheriting. 

And sometimes, if you are very lucky and you have a really special kid, like our Maddie-the-Great,  they teach themselves!  She's some kid!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Those Were the Days"

When Ratchlet was just over a year old, I needed to find a job.  I had been home with her for a year, but money was tight and I was not really cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.  The Big Guy was very supportive and knew I was not doing very well emotionally with just the baby to keep me company! 

This happened many years ago and times were definitely different.  Moms just did not work outside the home, unless there was an overbearing  financial need, like a divorce or something.  I received a lot of skepticism and disapproval from a lot of different people, but those who really knew me and cared about me (like family and good friends) understood and supported me.  Of course, that was only for the first couple of years I worked, after that it began to be more and more common and accepted, but when I started, I was unusual.

Now obviously, we needed to make some arrangements for taking care of our daughter while I worked.  It was bad enough that I wasn't going to be there every minute of her life, if the arrangements were not top notch, there was no way I would have done it!!

So we advertised and interviewed and discovered gold!  We found Mrs. P.  Oh, she was wonderful!  She was about 15 years older than I, she only lived about 3 blocks from us.  She had 3 children of her own, 2 school age boys (about 9 and 10) and one 4 year old daughter.  Several months before she responded to our ad, she had suffered a miscarriage and was looking for something to help fill up her days. 

In the interview we discussed what we needed and she met my little Ratchlet.   Ratchlet loved her!   It was a perfect match and she became part of our lives for the next 2 years. 

Every weekday morning Mrs. P and her 4 year old daughter (Little P) would arrive at our apartment at about 7:15 am.    We only had one car, so the Big Guy would drive me to work and then go off to his own job.  After we left, Mrs. P would give Ratchlet breakfast, get her dressed for the day, and then clean the apartment (beds, vacumming, dusting, bathroom stuff), while Little P and Ratchlet played together.  Once those things were done, Mrs. P would take Ratchlet and Little P back to her own house (she had a yard!!) or the park or shopping, then Ratchlet and Little P shared lunchtime and naptime and they became good friends.  Little P was like the big sister.  Mrs. P played with them, took them to the library.  Whatever she did for her own daughter, she did for ours!  After work the Big Guy and I would come and pick up the baby and go on home.  Ratchlet even stayed at their house for dinner a few times when the Big Guy and I needed to do something after work. 

It was perfect!  My house was neat, clean, and de-cluttered every day, the baby was safe, well-cared for, well-mannered, and happy.  By the end of the 2 years Mrs. P had accomplished complete potty training for us!  No angst, no fuss, no muss, no trauma!  Mrs. P's whole family (including the boys!) loved our little girl and made her a part of their family.  It was wonderful, the best time of my working life (and I had a pretty great career).  In the two years she took care of Ratchlet, Mrs. P only had to take off 2, the day of her mom's funeral, and the other the day they read the will in the lawyers offices.  That's it!  Twice in 2 years! 

Mrs. P was a gem!  She treated Ratchlet like her own daughter.  It was a mutual admiration society.  Ratchlet loved being with her and she loved have Ratchlet with her!

(Ratchlet, at about 2 1/2 years old.  Wasn't she a cutie?  )

Of course, ultimately, like all good things, Mrs. P's time with us came to an end.  She again was pregnant and due to her history of miscarriages, her doctor ordered her off her feet as much as possible and to take it easy.  Little P was starting school soon and with those restrictions Mrs. P just couldn't continue.  Of course, we totally understood and agreed that the health of Mrs. P and her baby were of primary concern.  Ratchlet was about 3 yrs old by this time and she would easily adapt to nursery school.  So with much hugging and a few tears, and much love we said goodbye to our Mrs. P, Mr. P, Little P, and the boys.  The gave Ratchlet a lot of love and she benefitted from it for a long time.

I am happy to note that Mrs. P's baby boy was healthy and born on schedule and Mrs. P came through with flying colors.  We kept in touch with Mrs. P through the years.  We moved out of the neighborhood about two years later and the contact was reduced to notes at Christmas time.  We got announcements about graduations for the boys and Little P and they heard all about Ratchlet's achievements.

I'm sad to say that I don't remember anymore exactly when it happened, but one day we got a phone call from Mr. P telling us that Mrs. P had died from an illness that she had been fighting.  Little P was still in college.  It was so very sad.  Of course, all of us went to her funeral to pay our respects to this lovely woman who was Ratchlet's 2nd mom.   

A couple of years after that we were invited to Little P's wedding.  Ratchlet was away in Grad School, but the Big Guy and I went to the wedding.  She was a beautiful bride who looked a lot like her mother....they both had flaming red hair.  It was so sad that her mom wasn't there to see Little P all grown up!   I know how proud Mrs. P would of her daughter.   Although not consistently, Little P (who has a bunch of kids of her own) and I still occasionally trade Christmas notes.  Isn't that amazing after all this time? 

Mrs. P was one of life's gifts.  She was amazingly perfect for us.  We missed her for a long, long time.   

......oh...uhmm......did I happen to mention that for those two years she was with us, we paid Mrs. P. the grand and glorious sum of .....(you'll never believe it...I don't believe it and I was there!)..... $25.00 a week???!!!

Oh yes, "Those Were the Days, my friend...."

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