Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27 2013

Christmas is over with and then the New Year looming in our faces.
So we are in sort of a no mans land of celebrations.
If one does celebrate that is.

I wanted it quiet! I got it!
Poor Sabrina came down with  a bad chest cold and could not come out and contaminate us all.
Especially the old mother with lungs made of ersatz.
Grandson Jim and Rhonda came down and we had a nice quiet dinner out and came home to
play a new game. Jim is good at games and just received one for his birthday.
Poor kid was born on the 23rd, he misses out  a bit in the present departments.
While the trio settled down for the competition I quickly said "Goodnight" and crawled in bed.
That took care of Christmas eve.

Christmas day  I did not budge but our good friend Rand came by , his tradition, and we had a nice couple of hours of conversation including Bob. It was pleasant and we are always having something to share from
past years activities. He lives in D.C. Afraid that we may see him sooner this year , his dad is 91 and has a problem with his heart.  I think his visit with his family may not have been the most cheerful .

Boxing day! I got a new Time magazine and again just sat mostly on the couch reading then a phone call.
I may have tubes and mini computers in my ears , 4 grand worth as a matter of fact but on the telephone I hear next to nothing.
I said Hello a dozen times and finally I heard the voice say: It is Janine.
I repeated her name and she said yes.
I said let me run to my other phone.
That is the phone with supposedly hearing capacity with a booster but that does not mean that it works either. With great hopes and my heart pounding I listened to my cousin for 10 minutes.
I understood: "I have a nice kitchen, love the flowers, and the rest were just words flying around and I had no idea what she was talking about....." At the end she said "is it OK?I said yes" No idea to what is ok.

My cousin is two years older than I. Our mothers were sisters. There were many fight5s between the sisters and the 2 mothers had a way of bringing us into the fight. Our relationship was not always smooth.
In adulthood it got a bit better but we still had such a different life style it was sometimes hard to understand each other. She and her brother was all I have left in Belgium. Her brother is my age and has Alzheimer and has been in a rest home for quite awhile. He knows no one she wrote that to me years ago.
I sent her a necklace and long letter 2 years ago and did not get a reply. I did not know if she did not get the letter or she did not feel like writing me just worried me a lot and annoyed me too.
Then last September I get a short letter from her grandson who lives in France and he said here is Janine's address , she is in a residentie per advice of her doctors. Not a word of her condition. He sent a photo and she did not look very healthy, in fact her one shoulder seemed lower and I had the idea that she had a stroke. I sent her flowers. Then letters and cards and I told her not to worry about writing back (because I thought she was unable) . I figured one day her grandson probably would let me know how she was doing or if she had left us for good. I was very sad about  it all.

I sent her flowers for Christmas but the flower shop said they could not let me know if they had been delivered because they were si swamped and had no record of delivery. I told them no delivery then I want a refund. I slumped into my chair thinking the worse.

You can imagine what it was to hear her talking to me. I was so overwhelmed and so in tears and no doubt she could talk very well and probably did not have a stroke because she rattled on and on.
I cursed my ears, my hearing aid and all the words I had missed. I asked Bob is he could trace her number and he said no but after a few seconds he said something came up but I just do not have any idea if it is hers.
I will ask Brie to check it out. It probably is the number of the jerk who called me and said he was
from Publishers House and I called him a liar and hung up. The call was very unprofessional and I knew in an instant it was a fraud.I do not participate with PB. so the jerk called me back and said: Go to hell you Bitch!and hung up. I am thinking we may have his number and not Jeanine's.

I cried for the rest of the day, just tears of joy to know she was still alive and still could babble like before even if I could not hear like before, it was the greatest gift.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost Christmas

How I am beginning to dislike the holidays.
Without Bob it just never becomes excited anymore.
I think I will do a rare thing, I will get drunk Christmas eve.
It does not take much.
We go to the Outback, I have ribs and a Grand Marnier that is all it takes
to fall under the table.
My troops will be there, I will make sure and pay my expensive bill.
Go home with the kids for dessert and crawl in bed.

I promised myself that Christmas day I will read and not budge
I may not even do dishes or in the freezer.

Lets get on with this show.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I am anti war.
I hate it to think that we get involved in so many countries as peacemakers, war makers, nuclear weapons police and on and on. Yet I was liberated in 1945 in Europe ending a brutal war.
I just do not see it all in the whole picture.

BUT...I met a 20 year old the other day.
His mother wanted him to join the army ASAP, he did, not too many choices for this kid,
he came back with a bullet in the shoulder. He was in Afganistan. I bet when he boarded that plane he had no idea where it was located.
I could not help it but admire him.
How do you feel when you are "forced" into a war situation.
How do you feel when suddenly you have to kill or be killed.
By the age of 20 how messed up are you?
Or do you have a clean slate in front of you to have a great life now?

There are thousands of them out there and my heart is very heavy for every one of them.

Friday, December 13, 2013


What You Missed: Vice President Biden Answers Your Questions on Immigration Reform
This week, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, sat down to answer your questions on immigration during a live Skype event. "At its core, we’re a nation of immigrants,” said the Vice President:
"What we’ve been a rational policy to allow these 11 million people to come out of the shadows and have an opportunity to earn the right to gain their citizenship. And it is not only the morally right thing to do, it’s not only in our interest, it’s a thing that would allow us to continue to grow. And it will save us billions and billions of dollars."

I am an immigrant. I cant to the USA 1955.
I became an American citizen in 1967
I am still a Belgian in my heart. Hard to give up the feeling of the culture I was living in for 21 years.
So how do I feel about Immigration Reform?

I am sure there must have been quite a few "reforms" since 1955.
In 1953 my husband and I had a family ready to sponsor us in the USA.
What did a sponsor do?
They promised to take care of the immigrants in case of financial or legal problems.
It was quite a duty.
We never abused it or ever had to ask for help.
You had to have healthy lungs, no TB.
If you had TB you could NOT enter the USA.
If you had even been talking about communism there was not a chance in hell to get in the USA.
Someone even asked questions to our political status from people who knew us in our hometown.

I had pleurisi whenI was a child and the scars on my lungs almost got me excused from entry till another doctor took a second look at the Xray and affirmed I only had scars from pleurisi.

We went first to Montreal, at that time anyone could get in Canada, they were almost begging for more immigrants. We waited 2 years in Montreal before we did get notice that we could  apply as there were x number of available visas for each country. Italy had the most possible entries then, Belgium very few, (it's a very small country). So we started our journey to and fro the Consulate in Montreal for forms, exams and more forms till we finally received the coveted visa.

How much of this ritual is changed? In our time we did not hear from illegal entries ,perhaps they were here but we did not know about them and would not have tried that route anyway.

Why does a person want to come here?
For me it was all about a dream to be in America. Ever since the GI's came and liberated us I would
talk about nothing else but going to America. I had a steady job with chances of advancement in the same office were my Mom was a bookkeeper. My new husband had work in the firm with his parents.
We had an apartment , a dog and enough left over for a movie or a dance. We were young and dreams for us both still was to live in the USA.

I can well understand that in today's situation, some people want to come here hoping to make a better living, or have more freedom, or various reason. I no longer know how the system works. I do not know how the "legal" way works. Do they still have numbers for every country?

I wanted American children, I have 3, I have 6 grandsons , all are respectable people and I am very proud of them.
I am hoping that people who are here no longer have to hide with false papers, that they can get jobs, drivers licenses, learn the language but not forget their own.
I am hoping that we can all stop seeing colors, religions and respect one other for who we are, human beings.
My son in law can be a stick in the mud about politics but I love what he writes on forms in answer to the question :"what race are you?" He always answers: Human race.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



In Brussels at the St Nicholas church there is still a shop or two cemented against the church, the way it was eons ago. They tell us the shops were built all against the church at one time. I should Google that and verify but the guide told me that. If I did not tip him enough he probably told me a story.

Anyway St Nicholas dressed as a Bishop comes with Zwarte Piet, a little black boy.
Must research that too.....

I was totally immersed in his being the one who came with his donkey and gave us oranges and sometimes toys depending what financial state we were in.
We left him cookies or bread and a carrot for the donkey, I think we forgot about Zwarte Piet.

I must have been about 4 or 5 when I went to visit him at the Innovation. They had done a superb display made walls look like an ice tunnel, I loved it and my mother would not shut up about all the work they had done. So I looked a bit more intently.
Mother had a thing about dirty clothing, a good thing she did not have a boy. She knitted all my clothing and I had to be always neat or what would people think.
So that afternoon I had my beige knitted coat on with a french beret (knitted) which had a large ponpon on top. I slowly watched st Nicholas talking to the kids and became a bit confused about all the angels around him, angels with lipstick. I know my mother did not wear lipstick so this was odd.
Angels I knew also made St Nicholas 's bed and when they shook it too much then it snowed. Sometimes it was God making his bed, mother did get confused about that issue.

I gingerly crawled on st Nicks lap and gave him a good look and I felt I needed to tell him and my mother that his white gloves were dirty. I do not remember what he answered but I know the angels quickly took me to the place where I could get a gift. I was proud of myself because I thought he should know that his gloves would upset my Mama and I better warn him.


I was 14 3/4 , tall, blonde, and still having the shape of an ironing board for which my mother was very happy. I was all legs and thought I was truly an ugly duck. But slowly I noticed boys looking in my direction in town where I had started to work in a fabric shop and going to evening school. All the boys in our small village knew me so that did not mean anything when they looked but city boys was another matter.
So one day there was to be a st Nicholas parade. I stood in the center of town , corner of Veldstraat and the Koornmarkt and waited for the action to begin. Little brats all around me trying to push me out of the way as they felt I no longer belonged there. I stood my ground. I knew a secret. I had been told by friends that the University guys were all going to be dressed up as St Nick and ruin the parade with their dancing and yelling and whatever they had in mind. I knew this was going to be fun. One float with Mayor passed by and flag people and then about 50 St Nicholas guys with baskets of oranges and chocolates. They came running towards me ignoring the little kids and filled my pockets and arms with goodies. I could feel my cheeks exploding  like they were on fire, I must have been beet red. The Mom's around me shouting to the guys and here I stood. I even had a few kisses.
What fun it was to work downtown, I ran into my store and shared with the owners. They had watched me from across the street and could not wait to tell my mother.
I was in another world at least for a few hours.
By January 1st my mother managed to get me hired in her office, well under her control and eye sight!

My first Christmas away from my Belgian home.

Montreal 1953 Christmas time.

We are here since August.
Made friends with another Belgian couple.
They like us, my ex and I, speak French and Flemish intermixed, we get along.

We found an apartment, a "sous terrain"!
What does that mean?
It means that you do have windows but you only see shoes , dogs, a dandelion in the summer and snow for a whole long time in the winter.
You are the basement.
It is the cheapest apartment in all the buildings.

We do not have furniture.
We bought a mattress and put it on the lovely wood floor.
We loved it.
We found heavy crates somewhere and they were our chairs.
Ex made a table with a sheet of plywood on top of some round gadget he found somewhere. I did not ask questions.
Kitchen had built-in cabinets (new to us) a fridge and a stove!!!!
We were in America, albeit North America. We were en route.

We invited our friends for Christmas eve dinner.
She said: lets play it up big.
I have a lovely gown and you do too lets wear that with pearls.
The men laughed out loud but that we did.
I sat with caution on the wood crate not to get the tulle stuck onto it.

My main attraction was my turkey.
I never made a turkey.
We never talked turkey in Belgium it was always chicken or duck.
Turkey's only lived in America I thought.
I called my adopted Aunt J. and asked what to do with it.
I followed all her directions and of course I was going to make french fries with it.
I had with me my good trustworthy frying pot, I would not leave without it.
It was grey enamel inside and red outside, heavy to lift but I was young then.
I was 21. The pot, fresh oil. and the fries done for the first run were all set in the kitchen.
I figured in an hour the turkey would be done, as per instructions.

We went into was the living room and us girls sat with great gestures onto our boxes while the men sat on the floor and we had a glass of wine, all very nice and civil like. Our mothers back home would be proud of us. (Maybe not mine). Our fun was stopped suddenly with faces in the window, grouched on their knees were 2 firemen and then I heard banging on the door.
Firemen came in and ran for the kitchen door.
Smoke came billowing out in dark, dark clouds.
I freaked out . One man opened the oven door and it looked like the oven became a flame, he quickly covered it with something and took out the turkey.
I remember him saying: Madame votre diner.
Then the sous terrain was filled with Montreal fire department.
My first thought was "how much is this going to cost?"
the first thought of these men must have been about these dames sitting in billowing silks and tulle and not a couch or chair in the joint.
They just all made fun of us and told me that the turkey was ok and just smoked now.
My mistake I had put it on a cookie sheet , the fat had run over the sheet and started to burn in the oven.
Aunt J. forgot to tell me to put in a deep pan and I did not have the brains to figure out that the turkey
might be fat!

The fire chief said they wanted to stay for dinner but other crazy people were putting their trees on fire and they had a lot of work ahead. Their service was free.

They opened the windows and let the smoke out , checked all the rooms and the oven (still able to work)
hugged us girls and ran up the steps to the first floor were richer folk lived.

How could I ever forget my first Christmas away from home. For a short while I was embarrassed then we just turned it into something to laugh about for many years.

Solutions are always available.

I said I will not cook Christmas eve. Period.
I said : " kids you bring whatever you want to eat"
Kids said: OK MOM

rind ring ring.....

Don't you think it would be a good idea if we all go to the Outback?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Macaroni and cheese

Frank said: That was some terrific macaroni and cheese, ask your Mom for the ingredients.

Mom said: Yup, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Frank, I love gravies and I try different ones quite often.
I make my white sauce and start from there.
Since I had made such a large pan of macaroni I truly was watching volume so I started my white sauce with a cup of butter, I mixed my milk with cream (like in whipping cream) I kept stirring and then added 2 cups of shredded cheese , mixed, it did not look good enough so I added more cheeses and then I was afraid I would not have enough so added more milk and cream. I had to keep stirring.
I have no idea about recipes. I do by smell, taste and use good stuff!
I could not believe how much of it was gone.
In case you do not make white sauce I make mine with cornstarch or potato starch.
That is how my mother made hers.

I did all this while I was a wreck cause it was the last thing I had to do before I started on the fries and the kitchen was full with man folk.


BOB puts up the tree while I was shopping

Saturday, December 7, 2013

OCD in my house:

Son wrote on Facebook:
Oh good. Red wrapping paper. Not like there's going to be white lines from where you fold it or anything.

It's an OCD xmas.

Artesiana ?

I am not sure how to define this much used name , too lazy to look it up.
For me it is not about the bread or sauces it has to sound of something you make
yourself from scratch and enjoy.

Stop thinking about bread!!!!

I am thinking having sheep on your land, sheering, spinning, dying, knitting.

How much closer can you get to Mother Earth.

Such a lady exists in the UK and I am sure we have them here too (before I get emails with complaints) .
I happen to know about Sue and I am wearing her gloves and now became the price winner of a gorgeous blue shawl, almost a cape, just fabulous, Christmas present.

It is all connected to a lady I will never see in "real" life but has become a friend via the internet for several years. She spoils me with Sue's creation.

Her name reminds me of an Angel.
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it's beginning to look like Christmas

Spring, sweater weather : fabulous
Lunch with my bff at Olive Garden : yummy
homecoming surprise : Christmas tree set up and decorated by son: priceless.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rejoining society

We lived 4 years in Southern Spain. Our girls in high school our baby age 2 , then we decided it was time to come home again. We arrived in NY greeted by our best friends who lived in NJ.
Our well wishers had 3 teen age children.
Immediately the comparison was being made. What is your favorite singer ?
Rhonda beamed and said Cassidy. Giggles and more giggles ...Cassidy was so passe.
Bob and I felt we were in a new era, and that we were.
A trip to the grocery store had me so overwhelmed I could not see it all and rushed out.
My big joy was to find "throw away diapers".
We had left a very small fishing village, and most ladies there went to the creek to do their laundry.
My mother bought me a small portable wash machine after the baby was born and I thought I was in heaven, the envy of the whole populations.
Appliances were very expensive. Only in our second year there did we buy a refrigerator.
We managed very well , no big problem, I went to the market every day and got fresh veggies and fruit and white fish just fresh from the boat. Eggs direct from the farm had huge tasty orange looking yolks.
We had to cook the milk anyway as it was fresh from the goats so who needed a fridge.
The most shocking to us was the way people had changed the dress code and truck driver language.
We moved to NC and there was yet another shock, this was the South, not native California for my husband who loved his Santa Cruz. In the stores I hardly understood the you'all greetings and they sure did not know what to make of this Belgian with an accent.
Settle we did and we stayed here since 1974.

Now I see my son recuperating. Almost 7 years in total has agoraphobia,  and no, it is not about spiders.
He has been in my house 5 years and most times he could not go across the street.
In the last year with medication and help he is now able to drive his car in a radius of about 2 to 3 miles.
So before he does that he has to set his mind to where he will go ,where he needs to turn,, where to park and then see how far he will get into the store to find his Coca Cola. It takes a lot of planing on his part. A lot of steps to avoid which areas COULD give him an anxiety attack and freeze him in the car for hours.
I go out with him as I then get a chance to see what is happening in our little town.
Last night we managed  to go into 3 stores and drive through BK. When we got to the grocery store I gave him money and asked if he could go alone and get me 3 bananas. He froze, that was not anticipated, yet he knew my back was hurting and getting in and out of the car can be a b....He started to walk away, came back, :"Mom, what kind of banana?Yellow, Green, spots?" Will I have enough money ?
I told him what I needed and yes I gave him plenty for 3 bananas.
He came back smiling like Cheshire cat. He said : I never bought a banana before in my life.
(I hates them) and I have no idea if bananas are 1.00 each or 5.00 a lb? In fact, he said, I have no idea what anything costs in a grocery store. I am so out of "this" world. I know eBay and Amazon and how much my jeans cost. I buy my T shirts on sale on line, usually with something to be read. I know how much my school costs last year. I know my phone price. I just do not know this place anymore. It is scrary!

When I heard him explain every move he did and how much of it had to be examined and accepted within his mind, I remembered how we felt returning from Spain but it was all a new and fun experience, not for him, every move he makes he has to follow steps for his re-entry. At least  every 100 yards he does more
are a victory, every new store he can walk in is another step forward. When he will ever go into a Wallmart or a Mall is up to his negotiations with himself. I am here with him every step of the way.
If you know someone with agoraphobia please have patience to understand him or her.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


While I am happy with most changes this past year, such as Bob's progressive healing but my heart and soul belongs to Zack recuperation and his great health. I can't stop hugging him.
He has more tests tomorrow but this is for skin rash. Or psoriasis.
Having lived with psoriasis since 1968 I know it's a bitch but there are more medicine now.
I refuses to take more meds, I have one kidney left and I need to baby that one.
Zack is fine, strong, and still my baby. Well..grand baby!!!!

Did you go and shop right after the turkey and went with the mob to the stores?

No, I did not, replied Rhonda.

I found a new way for excitement I went to the ER with my son to find out I had shingles.
I made Belgian Truffles and cream puffs for Mom's dinner and son made a big salad.

I had pills and later a salad with a truffle.

Happy Thanksgiving day!!!!!!

Thanksgiving 2013

Memo to myself:

Do not cook for the whole gang again.
repeat this message for 2014 if I am still here.

Next get together every one brings a contribution of some delectable goodies.
 I will sit in my chair watching Judge Judy.

I think I am 60 again and it is not happening.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Major sin

What a week sending the wrong package to my eBay client.
Posting the same picture twice on eBay.
Being distracted for everything.
Wondering what truly is happening.
Then the biggest blow of all : forgot my best friends birthday!
I have only known  her since I came from the lace and chocolate boat in 1955.
By now I should remember her birthday.
If she reads this and she will.....I would be on my knees to ask forgiveness but then I would not be able to get up until the EMS shows up and I locked my door so they can't come in.
Sorry Old Girl
I am a mess

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


my baby Zack had all his tests today MRI, Cat, bloodwork etc.....
he passed as he should with a NO CANCER verdict.
What a great day for him and the rest warriors, and worriers.

Sabrina does not know it but he really is mine.
I look at that giant of a man and I see this :

Monday, November 11, 2013

NOVEMBER 11 2013

I am no longer here to write my story but I hired a ghost writer......

I was going to graduate in a few weeks, I was missing one credit , we all know how much I hated to do sports and I'd rather sit in a corner drawing their actions. I missed gym. Then I would be going to Salinas College and study art.

However, a war was going on. My mother already had 3 stars on plastered on her window. Would I be the 4th one? I was pretty sure , I was not a hero jumping in to volunteer, how would I ever shoot another human being.? I did not think I had it in me.

Uncle Sam on my birthday, June 8th, called and said hurry up and leave it all behind and go to Fort Lewis in the State of Washington.
Mother was left with 4 girls all weeping because I was the youngest boy. I was my sisters best friend.

I had only left my gorgeous beach town, Santa Cruz Cal., once. I had been to San Francisco so see a Disney film and had done it on my own on the Greyhound bus. So going away again was just going to see the world. I put it out of my mind that I would be fighting.

The winter in Fort Lewis was hard and I was delighted with snow and cold, it was something new and I loved it. I was all grown up now. My pals were much older than I and had volunteered. They took it upon them to tell me about what to watch out for and it was not Japanese. It was about women and about staying within your Faith and not stray.

I grew up a Christian Scientist , my grandmother had started it all and my Mom and sisters were following the little black book from Mrs. Eddy, the founder. My little black book was well worn and so was my Bible. We had daily lessons and I continued to read while away. My Methodist friend was extremely
religious and yet gave me the freedom to be what I wanted to be. I thought everyone in the world would feel that way but found out time and time again that people said I belonged to a cult. So I started to shut up about it and do what I needed to do. I learned that some people were prejudiced about religions.

I learned to smoke while there much to the chagrin of some of the older fellows. They said I would never be able to quit, this was it. It took me 42 years to do it!!! I did not have lung problems at the end but my brain just gave out. Lucky for me I never knew it, people just told me and I did not understand what they were talking about.

In the early spring of '45 I finished training , I had done little of it as they put me in the drawing department making drawing plans for everything needed and not needed.
Now I was on a train to New York with a stop in Chicago. I could not believe my luck when I had enough time to to go the museums while in transfers. I was in heaven. I figured I was very lucky for that experience.
Next I am on a ship on the way to the Philippines. I was to be under the command of GenMc Arthur.
The man with the pipe. I was to go to Manila. I was to go where there was war.
Immediately I was put in the office and back on drawing and burning documents for the General.
We heard the fighting, we heard a lot of action but no one got near our camp. No one died around me.
The hardest part was when I had guard duty. I had never seen bugs the size of my hands, they flew around us, guards, and I was tempted to shoot some.

One day I did receive a medal and I asked why , the reply came when I had gone to the infermary with a burned hand, I had been on the receiving end of dish of hot mush, trying to grab it I had a bad burn and a medal!!!!

September 2 1945 Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender.
I was lucky I did not have to kill anyone. I know what you brave people will think but I just did not have it in my DNA to be a killer or to defend my own body. It just did not register.

Once I was released my greatest journey was ahead of me : School on the GI bill, 2 years in Salinas under the umbrella of the best watercolorist  Leon Amix . then on  the BIG city L.A. to the Chouinard Art Institute  with the best teachers on the West Coast, Edith Head being one of them and she had Oscars to show her talent was genuine. I wanted to be a Disney cartoonist and some of them were my teachers. Once out of school (2 years here too) I decided Disney did pay peanuts and I wanted to became an artist, a watercolorist, and a trompe l'oeil master.
And so I did for all my adult life it was all about colors. Filling someone's wall with something that did not match their couch and they would like to keep forever.

Not every soldier had it that easy to be sure. Today remember them all.
Please remember them !!!!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Saints Day

So in Belgium you used to get the day off and expected to go to church on this Nov 1st day.

My Mom had passed on November 8th , she no longer went to church, well she did for weddings and funerals both with some tears. Otherwise she did not want to go and tell a priest her business.
Besides that sinning was not really a problem with her anymore. Maybe gossiping is a sin ? I do not remember that? I remember stealing cookies from my mother was a sin and that was my weekly rapport to the priest. I could never think of anything else.

Anyway with the Catholic DNA still running in my veins the first year after her death I wanted to go to church. I wanted to go to Asheville, they have a fabulous little old church there. Daughter Rhonda who had just moved there was delighted to take me. To my surprise her husband (then) came also, he was on his way to work anyway so he decided to be with me too.

I wanted to sit in the back as I did not remember when to stand, went to kneel, the whole enchalada of church rules and torture. I wanted to watch the ones in front of us who no doubt were "regulars".

No sooner did the organ play a note and an old gentleman came to my son in law and whispered something. Jim , is a physician, and he was dressed in a lovely suit ,shirt and tie. He turned to us and smiled and left with the old man. We just could not figure what was going on. Looking at the prayer book we got into the
service when suddenly appeared Jim holding a basket and collecting money.'
His grin had us in stitches and we hid behind the books. It turned out that they were short of ushers, Jim looked dressed up enough to be one so they recruited the Methodist man to get money for them.

I doubt they ever knew but then a collection is worth every penny even if a Methodist begged for it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's Halloween today and the weather forecast for middle America is horrendous, storms, winds, rains. No Candy today for the kids in America's breadbasket. We have a 50/50.
Bobby will cut the pumpkin today and  I am curious to what he will invent today.

It used to be so much fun dressing the girls with all sorts of tulle, hats, make up. I made all the costumes, we just did not have money to buy them and I thought it a big waste since it only lasts for one day...come to think of it so do wedding dresses but that is another story.

The day of memories for me will be tomorrow. All Saint's day. In a Catholic country such as Belgium every one at least will go to the cemetery that is a given. Going to church?not so much.

My child hood memories about this day are vivid.
My Uncle was a horticulturist , his parents had been too. He had inherited 2 huge green houses and so did his brother and sisters all on one huge plot of land.
Unfortunately my uncle also had agoraphobia. In the 1930's and 1940's no one talked about it being a mental disease. I only heard that he was one lazy .......
He would have his green houses jam full with chrysanthemums. 
I can still see the see of these gorgeous white blooms. Here and there he had some gold ones.

What you do with your crop, a small job this was n't. He had toiled over this but he could not get outside the gate of his property, he could not even cross the street without a panic.
My cousins and I would put pots by the gate in the hopes someone would come by and buy them there but we were several miles from the cemetery so why carry this when you knew there would be thousands of them in stalls right outside the place. 

My aunt wanted to rent stalls but she was the bread winner as a hard working RN. She did have a knack with flowers. She would do the orders  people placed with her every year. She worked with out sleep for several days making "crowns" , pillows, bouquets, crosses etc....all in her kitchen.
Ribbons would be flying everywhere and the floor covered with stem cuttings and leaves ,it looked like a green rug with white petals.

My mother helped some but did not have the talent like her sister, I myself can't put flowers together at all. My bouquet looks like I have it ready for the trash bin.

 Mother was in charge to go to the grave of their Mom, my grandma I called Meme.
She had passed on in 1936 when I was 4. People told me that she adored me and I loved that thought but I had little recollection of her at all. I always felt close to her yet I could not remember her touching me. 

Mother, my two cousins and I would march each with flowers in our arms, bouquets and all sorts of "pillows". The girls did fine but my cousin Etienne , my age, and a red head (read: trouble) would have to walk swinging flowers up and down as he danced along the cobble stones.
I do remember how my mother hated this trip with kids she could not order around like her daughter.

I started to get sad, on purpose, I knew my mother would be talking to the grave and crying her eyes out, she adored her mother. I knew what was expected of us "Crying". I just did not "feel it".
I figured if I did not cry mother would have some choice words for me.
Her favorite for me was "lazy, slow girl, slower than a turtle" she would figure out something and look at me with her steel angry eyes. I just had to muster up crying.

The streets were full of people with flowers and the entry to the cemetery was almost blocked from the crowd. Mother would have walked past the stalls and tell us how puny these blooms were compared to what was in the greenhouse of Leon. Mumbling she would tell us he was too lazy to come out here and sell. Mother did not understand mental health, few people did. You were put on earth to work not sit on your behind was her motto.

The cemetery is ancient, has formidable monuments, I loved the girl sitting by her piano a life size statue on her grave, artists, poets, writers, were buried here with inscriptions and wreaths in full color in Majolica pottery. (in the 90's these would be stolen and sold in the fleamarkets)
In the 80's some parents ordered a partial sculpture of an Harley which obviously had been a part in the death of their son. 
Behind my Meme's grave were some graves of soldiers who died in WW2, can't remember what nationality they were but Mom would always bring them a flower too.

Once at the grave the floods started, the talks to her mother, did she know how hard it was to live today, did she know the kids were here, did she know Julia could not come because that lazy husband of hers had her make bouquets.....I was hoping my Meme did not hear all that. Mother was weeping, her hanky was getting quite wet and looking at her I finally felt sorry for her and started to cry, so did my cousin but Etienne was gone to see what else interesting he could find.
I often forgot my hankies but that was OK I always had a shawl around my neck and that was handy for the nose as well.

We  would stay there forever, Mother rearranged the flowers over and over again. She knew her sister would come tomorrow and see if it was done correctly. We took over the tasks as critics, after all we had the major one with us. We, Janine and I, would check the flowers around us, we would grade them .This one was ugly, that one we would have stolen it was so gorgeous, that one was cheap, look at the ugly ribbon, look at the faded one and the day is not over yet, a bouquet made many days ago and sold cheap, no doubt. It did not take perception on our part to be flower critics we just followed the talk of the grown women. 

My biggest memory of the Nov 1 days was the cold. I do not remember rainy days, I remember always bitter cold, snow, ice and the fact that I could no longer feel my feet. Hoping mother would walk away and lets get on home to a warm house with a carpet of leaves. 

It seems to me that year after year it was the same freezing cold. Now you hardly hit frost yet in B. they have rain, they had a bad storm last week, winds and rain. Not the enormous cold we had. Weather for sure has changed a lot.

We hoped that my Uncle would have the french fries ready for the second frying when we'd walk in the door, he was very good at that. We also hoped that his family had run out of blooms and had come to his rescue to purchase wholesale mums.

Me, all I needed was the coal stove and put my feet in the oven for a little while.

Now, most probably no one will see the grave tomorrow.
The crypt was full, my Meme, her husband, my aunt, then the last my Mom.
Cousin Janine always filled it with flowers.
Cousin is now in bad health and in a residency. Etienne is in a home with Alzheimer.
I am 3500 miles away. 

A few years ago the whole row of these graves caved into a large sink hole.
Who knows how they managed to get all the graves correct.
They rebuilt the area, it took forever to sort it all out.
Who could possibly know what skeletons they had?
For me it does not matter. I can only hope that they are around us still in spirit.


Monday, September 23, 2013

My son:

My son has agoraphobia. It started with a panic attack while he was at the movies watching "The Lion King", I believe it was in 1994. He struggled with the attacks on and off for many years. It runs in the family , I had them in the 1970's and they lasted 7 years. Daughter had them too. Bob was still working at the time and I remember that at times he just had to run to the back rooms of the shops to calm down.
There was a progression , they came more often and lasted longer. His fear of getting an attack multiplied , often we had to go and get him on the road as he was totally frozen behind the wheel of his car. One time he was in the back at Walmart and saw no way out. they would not allow him to use the back exit door. His dad and I rushed to help him out, by then he was calmer.
My experience had been that most doctors thought you could control these emotions and get on top of them....I survived with Valium and did not get addicted but it was in the 1970's.
Bob did not have help at all. Neither did his sister.

The attacks escalated so one day he and I on my way to work, he stopped abruptly and said he could go no further. It then took several short trips with his wife to get him home only 2 miles away.
I think then agoraphobia set in.

A move of his family had to be made to Texas, I am not sure how he did it as I was not there but without help his condition did get worse. When he returned to NC ,his sister picked him up, he was pretty much medicated and does not remember much of the trip at all. To make things worse they broke down with a U haul attached to the car. Sabrina had to hire the right transport to hook up the car and leave him alone till she got the help. Bob called me in tears, he had no idea where he was and what to do. It was a frantic moment as he obviously was not clear of mind.
It took until 1 year ago for him to find an agency which would allow home visits.
I felt like kissing the feet of the psychiatrist. It took many trials to find a drug which kept him calmed down but that does not mean one can just go out and stay in the outside world.

Last year he did drive around for a mile or two but then dropped that scenario and stayed more in house.
He did start to visit a couple of people next door. That helped a lot as one gal is also in the field of mental health. But then they had to move a month or so ago and Bob's world collapsed again. To make things worse he lost his best counselor as another company purchased his agency.

He was so down that I just did not know where he would get the power to continue to fight.
Last Saturday he texted his sister. "Can you drive with me? In case I get stuck, you can drive me home!"
She came and off they went. He did go into one store. Then he drove to a place where he had volunteered for a while at a Gem Museum. He  went inside albeit the way down (not easy to get out) is several steps. He always has to know he can get out quickly. He stayed one hour in the museum and admired the new specimens. No one there was from the old gang. Then he drove to visit his friend and tattoo artist which is several miles down the main highway. He went in and talked a bit then came home while stopping at BK to bring back a hamburger. It took them almost 3 hours for the trip. He recorded everything on his phone.
He sat at the table with Brie and I and said it was all just very "weird". He did not feel elated, terrified, nor could he find any emotions for the day. He said he was void of feelings, period.
Then he opened up a bit on facebook:
First his sister's entry:
I share my brothers journey as a reminder to those whom do not understand mental health. He has been agoraphobic ( no not a fear of spiders.. Look it up and educate yourself) for over ten years now. With mental health always being last on the list of help, it wasn't until last year that he was finally able to get someone to come to the house. I recently shared pictures of him in various locations. This is the first time in six years that he has managed to go that far and enter a building for an extended period of time. His strength surpasses that of anyone I know, having suffered with panic disorder for seven years myself, I still have only a small clue of what he has gone through. He has so much to offer society, my only hope is that society will give him a chance, welcome him with open mind and arms and not judge. I adore you brother, more than you will ever know!
and then his:
I was just thinking about some of the things we take for granted. Simple everyday things to most, but in a certain light, kind of frightening and abstract to others. I have been away from society for so long that I wonder if I have lost any social skills (and if much). Being out yesterday can best be summed up best as "stranger in a strange land." I didn't feel like I was supposed to be there nor did it feel like a place I remember. I handed my debit card to the cashier and almost said "Do you still do this?" I had been out of it so long that I had no idea. At the drive-through I stalled for a moment because I wasn't sure what was the next step in the order of things. I am hoping that I get that back, but in many ways it was inevitable to lose some of that. It's all been eBay, Amazon, Facebook and very little actual human interaction. You people scare me at times, but I scare me too, so I guess we're even. At any rate, I hope to get out more and finally shake this off. Then I can have my cabin 300 miles away from people by choice. It would take something pretty incredible to ingratiate myself back into the old model of life. A bit terrifying in itself if you step back and admire it outside the frame that holds it together. Camus said it took greater strength to live and he wasn't joking. I guess I'm hanging on because I'm still thinking there might be something incredible out there in the mist. As terrifying as it is to go looking, I have nothing else to do at this point in time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The "POESIE" BOOK 1942 part one

If I told you that I am the only one left alive to tell this story you surely would wonder if I am in lalaland and ready for the straight jacket.

My story I have lived and still around to tell it.

In 1942 Belgium, middle of a war, I had my Holy Communion. Very important for young Catholic girls.
I was 10 .
It was a very hard time for all of us but I had maiden aunts who always spoiled me.
They surprised me with a gorgeous "Poesie" book.
It was the trend of the time to get one of these books and have your friends write in it or do a drawing.
This book was pure luxury, faux suede in nuances of grey and "Golden" letters to tell us it is indeed for poems and whatever else.
I stroked that book a thousand times over the years.

The importance of the book is truly not so much about my school friends who wrote known poetry but most of all that grown professional men in wartime sat down gifted me with their own poems and illustrations.
Let me explain: My house was situated about 100 yards from the electrical plant which was bombed and a target. In 1939 the plant started to built a bunker. Quite large with different rooms. My father who was a policeman in that district was watching the construction and was told that a bomb could land on top of it and the walls would not budge.

At least this is the story he told me and my Mom.
The plant gave us permission to go in it day or night and take shelter.
We did not have time to use it before the invasion because it all went so fast and we changed flags in no time.
Equally fast the German army decided to put a huge cement fence around the whole plant properties which included around the bunker.
Mom and I could only look at that wall and our hopes for safety were gone.

My mother was a woman with determination in her eyes  she decided to go talk to the commandant at the plant. She dragged me with her, both of us trembling and trying to look brave. My mom was fluent in the English language but did not know a word of German. She told me to kick her if she started in English.

We stood in front of this neatly uniformed officer and started to explain with gesture ...bunker climbing over...bombs falling....permission to go to the bunker over the fence. She had even drawn a picture. He had other things on his mind and quickly dismissed us with a "JA".
Triumphed we marched home and asked father to fix it so we could climb over that cement mountain. He got two ladders and we started to learn how to use them.One on each side.

My mother has always been like a Rubens model, she was heavy, but she could beat me in running and climbing. I was all legs and did not quite know yet how to use them, they seemed to grow an inch every day and I had extra length that I was not quite used to.

So our adventure started which would last till our liberation in 1944- the war not over yet as it lasted till 1945 and the Battle of the Bulge had yet to happen .
Daily alarms let the workmen and engineers free to come in the bunker if they wished. The people involved with work that could not be left were stuck in the factory.

My mother at first was very uncomfortable. She was the only women in there and she was afraid of men.
I on the other hand had lots of attention. Rooms full of fathers telling me stories was just up my alley. Soon groups were formed and card playing was the entertainment. I knew how to play whist, my grandfather had taught me. I had a memory like an elephant, I knew and constantly counted the suits. So I became the partner of choice, the man would ask me in advance like with a dance card to play with them.
They would say" Jeannot next alarm is my turn, play on my table!
Mother did always play with others, she never got a chance to be in my corner.
She did not allow to play for money but the guys would slip me a centime or two and I would always have left over but returned it for fear of a spanking when I got home.

The bunker had it's own generator or such an item that we did not often sit in the dark. Even so we often had days without the electricity in our house, My mother took up taking care of the wounded as there was a sort of small infirmary . It was said that when a man came in with part of his scalp cut that she saved his life and bandaged him until the electric little van from the factory could take him 7km away to Gent and a clinic.
She was good at that she should have been a nurse.

How often did we have alarms, almost daily because we were also on a flight path for other cities and as soon as airplanes had been spotted the alarm went off. They did not know who would get it so they did not take chances. I could hear my mother ramble when the siren started and she was mid stream to cook on her coal stove, had to remove it all and then start again later.

Mother always told me we were bombed 13 times. The factory was hit quite often. One  time bomb landed in our yard in a deep hole stand waiting. My fearless father wanted his picture taken with it and we did not have a camera so he borrowed one. He picked up the bomb and my trembling mother had to take his picture. What a stupid thing to do. I think he knew more about the bomb than he was telling us.
Then the soldiers came and took it away.

So in between the card playing I begged my  partners to write in my poesie.
My mom did not like that, she said they had better things to do than writing in a girl's poesie book.
Well, she lost in that game. Many did. Therefore I am writing this because I was the only kid in there during the whole war and of course no one who was there then is alive anymore. My own Mom left us in 1993 and she was 83 and young when we were bunker occupants.

To think that engineers, workmen, (remember we were very class conscious in those days) but regardless of blue or white collar workers they replied to this girl's pleas.

I did forget to mention that mid stream the Germans put  barbed wire over the fence. That was more tricky to get over in a hurry while sirens are blasting away or a squadron is over your head flying too low for comfort. We did not wear slacks in these days, Mom and I had to repair many a dress or skirt because we just hung in the barbed wire. The one day I took the climb too short and landed on the wire with my thigh.
No doctors near us, no cars to take us, Mom doctored me up but I still have the patterns of  open wounds (4 of them) which I claim as my "war injuries".

Our cat knew way before the alarm that planes were on the way, she was so adept on climbing over the wires and sat by the bunker door waiting for the first visitor. My father used to say that she knew when they took off in England.

Here a few examples of the men who made my heart sing with their entries in my "Poesie" book.
Hero's of a different kind to a child in her early teens.

Two brothers took the time to do these little vignettes.
They were both engineers in the drafting department.

 Translated somewhat : twelve years , how lucky is the child who can live without worries with mother and fatheer.
Twelve years what a great time even if the war is raging and humanity has hate and destroys all that is good.
And with days loaded with sadness and sorrow , clouds covering o ver you with the years, perhaps with a tear you will feel better remembering your twelve years.

a workman at the plant.

The book, like myself is a bit ragged.
The spine is giving out (how well I feel that one)
the color has vanished for both of us
the skin .....well..let's not go there.
But this book has been with me from the time I left Belgium 1953
then Canada till 1955
then New Jersey till 1962
then California till 1970
then Spain Costa de Sol till 1974
then North Carolina
The Poesie book never left me neither did my Holy Communion dress and I am no longer Catholic...go figure......Oh! I forget I have the Catholic GUILT still.

This was an engineer in the plant who was also a writer, my mother would type his manuscript in the evening in the plant while I slept on the chairs. One day he asked my mother if I could live in the summer with his family. His house was a few miles away from the danger zone and I do not believe that area was bombed by mistake either. The writer had 2 daughters 2 and 4 years older than I. I was completely at home in what they called le petit chateau."La Tourelle" , at one point I slept in the tower. Even so they had maids I was like a member of the family and roamed all over and ate with them. My only problem was that Mr. Ryffranck wanted me to drink water with the meal. Mother had never insisted in that. I just hated it and still do.
He wrote the poem and the eldest daughter signed it. She may still be with us.
The second daughter passed on after the war in a horrific car accident.

The top brass at the plant had a plot of garden and a gardener, so it was instructed at the gardener to make a nest under the hedge and when there were eggs he was to place one egg every day just for me.
Their gardens touched ours just separated with hedges. My daily egg hunt was always a pleasure, if the gardener would have a lot to share he would put more in the nest. I could not thank that man enough, he helped my family during the whole war.

I asked a friend a few years ago to show me where that "Tourelle", we could not get near it but here is a photo taken a few years ago. Obviously everything around it now is new.
The poem he wrote : On the road of existence
goes dear little Jeannot
serene full of hope
happiness is not a vain word

Be always good and sincere
adore your parents
joy has no other mistery
than your work well accomplished

from this cruel war
perhaps you will remember sometimes
also think of la Tourelle
which gave you shelter under her old roof.

I think about it often.
The fun was when I went home and refused to dry the dishes.
I said the maid could do it.
Mother said: Look in the mirror, you are the maid.

And now we have a few from friends and my mom:

My Mom with photo,.
cousin Jeanine pencil,
last one second cousin Stephanie also my teacher and a great artist.
Mom would always give me cyclamen for my birthday (our house was cold enough to keep them for a long time).
Not all my entries are in here and some will come in part II and have changed my whole life.

I posted this in honor of the grown ups who took the time to humor me and enter something I always cherished.
It was war time but I did have some fabulous people around me who cared.
I am wondering in our busy days today if a 12 year old would approach a CEO and ask to write a poem or draw something in her book what the answer would be. I can only hope it would be YES.

Friday, September 13, 2013

FALL 2013

Walking Bijou ever so slowly because I am watching the wind pushing the leaves towards me like a ballet of colors. It is really cute, dancing leaves. I stop at the end of the street and see the same scenario from a different direction. It makes me think of Leo Buscaglia , in one of his lectures he said that he had a "leaf party". Instead of gathering all the leaves in neat bunches and clearing his lawn he told his guest to go outside and get an arm full of leaves and bring them inside. Once the floor covered every one danced in the leaves and had a great time. I am guessing he had a maid to clean up.
I would love to see that  in my is not going to happen because Brie would have my hide.

The garden started gorgeous this spring, basket drooping with all sorts of flowers, all sorts of colors.
I was in heaven, then started the rain summer, every day rain for how many weeks? The flowers started to droop then rot at the stem. I no longer looked outside. I did not want to get involved anymore and clean up the weeds which took over my hosta garden. Besides that the mosquito population has surpassed all the other summers. One comes inside with bumps on arms, legs etc....I stay in!Period!
Having said that when I finally made it to the entrance of the garden with Bijou wondering why I am so slow and he truly wants the reward when he goes in, then I see almost in my face the green hummingbird, he is so gorgeous with luminous plumes as he buzzes around and does acrobatic flips in the air. He does not seem to see me. He just hangs around very close and I stop in my tracks to admire. At the same time Bijou is pulling at his lead and runs towards a chipmunk who was in the squirrel feeder. This year we have tons of chipmunks. I watched him run in a zig zag fashion between the weeds and the hostas and for a moment I forget that I have not taken care of my garden. The little "friends" have tons of places to hide and the hummingbird finds a sad looking bunch of left over flowers.
I forget my neglect guilt for awhile, this was fun, Bijou thinks so too but he still runs for the steps and his treat.
Life is good.
Meanwhile my black walnuts are falling and so are the chestnuts, better duck them.
The squirrels are running about with nuts in their mouth larger than their heads.
I let them have the whole lot and be prepared for winter.


With the new dining room set up I promised Brie I would have people over now and then and get out of my "Greta Garbo" style of wanting to be alone.
Early on in his disease, old Bob, did not like people in the house.
Workmen in here became a nightmare.
He still knew most of the family but he did not enjoy them coming in either.
To avoid his rambling and discomfort I pretty much locked the door and we became
a twosome for the next decade.
Looking at the changes in my life, I had a lot of anger, so I put my gorgeous mahogany dining room table on the side walk and a big sign "FREE". The chairs had been my grandfathers so I gace each of the girls 3 chairs. Poof dining room gone.
I had several sets of Limoges china (I am after all an antique dealer) both girls got a set I am not even sure Sabrina wanted it. Bobby wants nothing.

Somehow in my very busy mind I felt better. No more people over, no more cooking for others, "just you and I ,my love" is what went through my mind.
That became quite a chore as he wanted less and less food. His teeth became bad from the medication but I did  not want him to be more confused with dentures. I made all soft food.
Often 3 choices. Flan, rice pudding, very well soaked bread pudding. Often he would refuse all 3.
Finally we went to the bottle stuff but that he did not like much either. He lost weight and I worried about stuffing him with anything he would eat.

After 13 years Bob gave up , he had been a fighter. Well at the end he became a fighter. The kind gentle soul was lost. We knew all along that he would die, Alzheimer is a dead sentence the minute they give you that diagnosis. How many years you have is a ???????

I was totally lost when he was gone. A lot less work and yet I even missed that. It felt strange to sit and relax. It did not feel right. Within six months almost to the date I was in the hospital and had a serious surgery. I kept hearing the words from our meetings at the Alzheimer group :"Every one in our group has been ill or died within 6 months after a loss".
Say what? Here I was in a hospital and I did not truly want to go on. I wondered why I had even come out of the surgery. It would have been so good to go to sleep on the operating table and not wake up.
Did I think I would meet him somewhere? Not really but there is always that slight hope...will we meet again...will he show up one day in my bedroom like a cute cloud who would come and go....Nah...
I am realistic. I have seen and lived in too many situations.

My return to my own reality did take time. Depressions came and went like the summer storms. Dark clouds over my head and then wake up to sunshine one morning and be happy to be alive. Then by evening the cloud comes and gets bigger and darker. I go to bed and cry some more.
My big helper and truly my own Valium pill comes with 4 legs. My Bijou, Maltese, knows me. He looks at me with his big black eyes and come to lick me, hugs my body in bed and I sleep protected.

I decide to take up a hobby, years ago in the late 1960's and the hippy age, Bob and I, we made necklaces and sold them in his shop. Not much design then but lots of color. We went to Venice and stocked up on Mille Fiori Beads and sold them all a week after we got home. I love beads. I was in my element. Bob too loved beads he had made a giant curtain to fit between our door opening. He was a demanding beader all of his had to be real vintage crystal beads. The sun would play in them and it was a spectacular albeit very heavy piece. Later he sold it to the Shilling heiress who was a good client of ours. So....I decided that I could go back to that and make necklaces.

Equipment had changed quite a bit from threads to the enormous selection of beads on the internet.
With daughter's help I opened a mini shop in a small mall with other dealers. I did well for almost 3 years and then the mall had to close and we were all out of selling spaces and had to leave within 7 days.
At this point I figured that I am 81 1/2 with the 82 looming very closely and it was time to just stop.
Last Christmas I was working late in the evening to get enough stock together and now I like to go to bed early with my kindle, enough work.

So that period gone in my life and finding more and more of who I am  when I am riding solo , I decided to clean my work studio and try and find space for the hundreds of beads I have in stock. Change the studio back to a dining room. Not fancy like before but what they now call country chic. Found the table and chairs at a consignment shop, got my loyal family painters on the job and voila. A new phase coming.

I promised Sabrina that I would put the dining area to use and invite people.
People? I can count my real friends on one hand. After all I had shut the door a decade ago.
So to make good at my promise I asked my good friend L and C for lunch.
They have taken me out almost every week and L. being a proud male will not let me pay.
Time turning the tide.

I was delighted when an email told me they would come and then I sat down and panic set in.
What to cook? I suddenly felt like a new bride who is expecting her mother in law to show up for lunch. Mind you, my friends are very low key, do not expect a gourmet lunch like at the Tour d'Argent.
Somehow I just did not remember what I had ever fixed for lunches...yes...I had done the Belgian Bouche a la reine, but it is so hot to turn on the oven. I went blank again and Brie said:"Mom, just do cheeses a glass of wine and grapes ". OK that sounded easy. So I had a table with 5 different cheeses and different ham and salamis wrapped around mozzarella, Kalamata figs, croissants, Asiego buns, grapes and melon. For dessert I did turn on the oven and made my mothers flan.

I was a hit. My guest seemed to enjoy it a lot. Table was full like a buffet and enough choices.
I stopped shaking and started to enjoy this renewal. It would have been so much better if I had been able to hear them. Their voices are on the low sound , but then I just occupy all conversation and tell them my life story. They are gracious and let me do my monologues they are used to it by now.

Next invite is out to the kids for Christmas eve like we always did when daddy was alive.
I know what to cook then and the kids will help and bring stuff.
Life is good.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Three Piles: Keep, throw away, donate

not in that order.........

I know the drill, I have seen many a TV show and Jeff Lewis brings out the worst in me, his idea OF "Throw away" is to empty the room and put it all in the dumpster.

For many days now I have been following the rule in order to empty a work shop room full of beads and "stuff". Today is my last day and I am coming to the end of a little box here and one there and I am so numb that I have no idea anymore what to do with what.

I am saving my children a lot of work because I did do a lot of donate and throw away. A lot. When I am gone they will not have to sort that junk.

Hospice in Asheville will have a lot of goodies for the Christmas season buyers. They may even be overwhelmed. Meanwhile my back feels like it is going to crack some more and my mind is a jungle of ideas propping up. Next Saturday Bob will have a BBQ outside. We have a cook ready and that is about it.
So next week I will be very very busy.
This is important, this is the first time in 5 years he even wants to see his old friends and be comfortable.
It is huge.

OK back to the last 2 boxes or I may just hide them in my bedroom till Sunday!

Tomorrow it will be apple festival in Hville. Rhonda broke 3 toes and I do not know if she will be able to walk that much. Brie will be here too. We shall see. It is near the end of the month and I don't exactly have Biltmore luncheon money either. At the Festival a 5.00 streudel will be terrific.

Tomorow the painted table and chairs will arrive. Zack the strong one will load up the Bee.
Anxiously waiting to see what the paint has done.
If it is to new looking I know what to do.
Bob's favorite thing: "Lets antique it, where is my burned umber".
If a frame needed antiquing then we got some old forks and made them very hot and made holes in the wooden frames looking like wormy chestnut! I was very good at it. Great to just burn your frustration away.

Night all.

Lets hope we do not have a war by tomorrow.

So the Brits said NO

Syria: The Brits said they are no longer "IN" for whatever force the Americans are going to do next.
I have given Obama all my admiration for a job almost well done in a very touchy time.
I love Obamacare and I trust that he is not being told by big money what to do next.
He has a very bright mind but even so I lament over the death of so many I am sure we can't put a stop to it.
What we start will have a snowball effect in the region.

I am scared.
When Grandma Kensinger was in her 80's she's giggled and tells me:
"I am so glad to be so old, I do not want to see what comes next in this country"

The future:

      The millennial generation is the generation of children born between 1982 and 2002, some 81 million children who have taken over K-12, have already entered college and the workforce.  This generation will replace the Baby-boomers as they retire.
       The millennials have different characteristics than any generation before them and in order to serve them better, K-12 education and colleges and universities are having to change the way they do business. The millennials have grown up in a society that is very different than any group before them. They have been plugged into technology since they were babies, are a safe generation, are the first generation for which Hispanics/Latinos will be the largest minority group instead of African Americans and have the most educated mothers of any generation before them.  They are the most scheduled generation ever, are true multi-taskers, expect to have 6-8 careers in their lifetime and are attracted to diverse environments.
       The millennial student has been a different animal for their teachers.  K-12 institutions, colleges, universities and now the work force are wondering how to motivate and meet the expectations of this generation.

Are the Millenials going to save us ? I have two grandsons already in the work force and look at everything in a different way. One is a type of computer science genius, makes tons of money, trying to buy a car with cash and a house with cash. The other one is a dr on way to be a psychiatrist, he and friends built a mud house and have lived in it until now during his hospital work he needs to be close . Up to now he lived with second hand clothing has a partner but they decided not to marry. She is on a bike tour to "clean green farms" to write a book about them. Later they say they will adopt a child when they are secure with work.

No one speaks of the house with the white picket fence, babies and nurseries. Their friends are many and have all different colors and attitudes and it is just fabulous to see how well the mix works.

I think that that generation will no longer know color. How they can maintain peace in every region is another matter.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I can see clearly now the beads are gone....

Done and I am exhausted.
How I wish for the days when I could do 3 things at once and run 3 business at once.
I get tired after I am up and running for just 2 or 3 hours.
Take little naps and I wake myself up because I snore.

I should stop the bitching after all many my age are not able to do what I do.
I should count my blessings.

This week is a hot week.
Saw the farmers all but cry as the tomatoes touched by rot and bugs and dry roots and going to cost us plenty and the farmers are begging for help from the government.

We have the apple festival this week end and the crop is dismal
 Ouch looking out my window I see a large plane way too low on way to Asheville airport.
Makes me a bit nervous.

Tomorrow we pick up where we left off with a promise to go to Biltmore.

It will be hot with showers after lunch.

The news from the Pres. is scary.
Is Syria the new Iraq?
Are we not sure about who is killing these people with chemicals?
Are we going after the illusion that we can help?
I love Obama but he better be sure of what the consequences will be in the region.
It could all back fire.
Again " weapons of mass destruction" story????
Lets hope not.

Goodbye beading workshop

Mixed emotions as I am on my last day to find room for all what I have left in the beading department.
I sorted it all out so if I want to sit and do a few necklaces I can do that too on the kitchen table.
Kitchen table is my center of living.
Round and tiled and sturdy enough to hide under if a tornado comes.

I am sorry that the Ecclectic mall had to close. I was on a roll for awhile.
I did not have what it takes to start over again in a new place.
Sabrina is the main helper for such adventures and she set up for me in Brevard .
I did not want to do another project that I can't do alone.
Tired of asking for help.
I do not do that very well.
I am stubborn.
I am independent , I have been so since my divorce from husband 1.

My mother used to say that I am the spokes of the family wheel and the family needed me.
That is no longer so.
Brie is taking this over.
Brie is also on overload.
The last year has made a very big change in that gorgeous woman.

So new adventures are in my future as I am remaking my studio into a dining room again.
Not fancy like it was but utterly country chic is what they call it now if they want to sell a piece of wood all banged up. In my shop days all this would see the trash can. The Millinials want country chic or
metal. The industrial look is also in. Too cold for me.
The Millinials are taking over the market.

I have a huge long narrow work table. High. I thought it being ideal for me to sit and bead without bending much. It did not work out. The nice swivel high chairs made it even worse. After one hour of beading I found myself back at the kitchen table. The back in spasms. I am giving the table to a friend who can use it.

Today is my deadline to have the room empty.
Little beads are appearing out of nowhere.
I swear there is a bead fairy aiming at me in anger.

Saturday comes the new look.
meanwhile I have to stop writing and get to work....
10 hours to get it done...............

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Living in a house

for 37 years, add several shops plus Santa's dolls and then in moves your son with his toy collection, not playing toys but collectables and one day you figure that no one can walk into the garage without falling over something.

Enter the one with the red cape? No but close. Sabrina watches all the home improvement shows so she came and we now have walking "lanes" between the metal shelving. Most of my stuff went to the dumps as it had been here since 2001 and then Bob got sick and the garage was my last thought. So Zack and I had 4 trips with the Bee to the dump. Since I had been there with old Bob it is now very well scheduled and it was a pleasure to deal with them.. Problem is they have only certain months and 1/2 a day when they accept old paint cans.

Zack is a tower of force. He seems to be able to lift anything.
What is nicer is that he does whatever it takes to help his Meme.

One job out of the way.
Now I have to finish to empty the office/bead work shop , I am almost done and then comes the dining area again. Albeit rustic this time.

Thank you Brie and Zack and Bobby for all the work.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Grab a plate and throw it on the ground.

-OK Done.

Did it brake?


Now say "sorry" to it.


Did it go back to the way it was before?

This lesson came my way last week and it is sticking in a corner of my brain. Maybe I will remember it for awhile and not brake anything I can't mend.
But then I look at Bob's explanation:

" A simple psychological way to give the client an epiphany about the varying levels of cause and effect. Everything carries a different weight, so you should consider your actions (and the effect or fallout) before doing."

OK, Bob, I still think there is some hope after one "breaks" the plate and you can reglue it to be perfect again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

keep the dog

My mother passed away at 83. Her routine every day was to bathe get dressed,, stockings and all and be ready for the world. The world had left her. She was difficult  Her friends in her apartment building had either died or just did not come back anymore. She had a state worker 3 times a week and that was her entertainment plus the TV. She followed tennis and anything Royal. She saved from an ample pension and became more frugal than ever before. Her knees had given out and the drs. decided that surgery would be too much for her.
What I can't figure out is how she got up  every morning and did the dress routine.
Now me at 81, I HAVE to get up. I have a Maltese with the blackest eyes sitting on my face looking to see when the eye lids will move, next his tail is wagging. Mommy is awake.......I look around and even so it is already 9 am I just want to stay in bed. If I did not have Bijou or hired a dog walker I am not sure how often I would be washed and dressed and get out of bed.
What my mother had in determination I only have in obligation to my best friend Bijou.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Should I complain?

Should I complain? I better not. Reflecting on my life there is no reason to moan, bitch or complain.

I grew up during a bad war. I survived it. 

Separated parents? That is now a norm.

First Marriage? A disaster but I do have 2 gorgeous daughters from that marriage.

Divorce of my own ? so what? I met the love of my life and for 42 years I was his queen, we added the icing on the cake and had a son. 

Lost him and still grieving. So what? This is life.

I can still walk in spite of a complicated surgery on my ankle broken in 3 places, I do not even limp, only bad weather reminds me of the accident. Lots of people my age are in wheelchairs.
Complain? I better not.

They took a kidney. It was cancer. Now can I complain? NO, not at all you still have another kidney working like a charm, the cancer is gone, no chemo was needed. You better not have a negative word to say about this experience.

I have vertigo, its a bitch, in the end it is just the same as someone with a drinking problem , I just sway and do pirouettes and sometimes I fall. I have a nice big cushion on my derriere but I still damaged the L1 and L2 and gorgeous dr Brooke said"Your back is broken"
I said" why can I still walk if it is broken? He said:"you are very lucky not to be in a wheel chair, do not overdo it. I am still walking and my dog Bijou is very happy about that.
Many people are not that lucky after a bad fall.

I lost 80 percent of my hearing. That annoys me A LOT, I have to learn not to bitch about it.
I have to remember that I heard my babies laugh and cry, I heard divine music, I heard loving words  whispered in my ear. I lived long enough to hear the giant grandson tell me:"I love you Meme". Many people are born without hearing anything. Who am I to moan about it?

Life has been good. If I have 1 more year or ten more years I should reread this often and remind me that I should not complain. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

People come and go in our lives for a reason.

Well, that is what I feel. There is a reason (at least for me) when we meet people and make some sort of connection.
I have oftene learned a lot from these connections.
The latest two women who made a deep inpact actually were our neighbors.
They had been there for 4 years and Bob and I "discovered" them a year or so ago.
I am very much a recluse and Bob then did not leave the yard due to his illness.

I would see the girls (to me they are girls) working in their backyard and wave and it would all stop there.
One sunny day I looked over to the yard and saw Bob talking and laughing with one of the girls.
I could not believe that he had gone that far out and even more so that he actually had a conversation.

That ws the beginning of a friendship with the "girls" . They were instrumental in bringing Bob out of this house and into their lives. He' go first thing in the morning to say hello to them.
He went inside their house, that was a big new step.
He helped in their yard.

He started to smile a lot more and even going back to his sarcastic funny jokes.
He did not seem to have attacks when he was over there.

It was a terrific year in relearning how to deal with people. Bob was ,of course, in therapy now for a couple of years but we all saw a difference in him.

I took second seat to this environment letting him be the visitor in their milieu but I started to take to them too and as they left this week for another state and a fantastic future (teaching in a University while working on 2 doctorates) I was just sad to see them go while rejoicing to what waits for them.

Bob does not have that support team anymore but I am sure he will continue to heal, he is on his way.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


My complaint for the day:
Just because a person has lost their hearing it does not mean that you sit at the same table and turn your back to that person. It does not mean in a group conversations that you just push the afflicted person aside and stand in front of them. The person has sadly enough lost their hearing they are not invisible, they are not there to be totally ignored. Do not be so rude, try and explain what you are talking about as well as possible.
Most people (not always old either) like to be still a part of a world, most of them are already shutting out too much in their social life.
It is not something you are going to "catch", it is a problem you may encounter yourself at some point in your life. Thank you for taking this in consideration next time you are with a deaf person.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Check little girls with tempers

I sat in the car, tired and wanting to nap, Peter in the back seat already asleep while the sisters went into Walmart to pick up a few items for me ......

As I am adjusting my seat I see a little girl walking in the parking lot, she is not exactly walking, she sort of floats with her arms swinging to and fro with full force while her pony tail is hitting one shoulder then the other. I have seen that scene before. I smiled as I remembered my Sabrina and her tantrums.
This girl was having a tantrum and no one watching except an old lady who wants to take a nap.

About 4 or 5 cars in front of me she stops at a beige truck, nice truck.It is a 4 door cabin truck and she is now hanging at the door handles, they do not give in to her. She lift up her legs and with all her weight she hangs on two budging. I started to worry that they were going to come right off the door.
I look around , people come and go but no one stops at the truck, no one seems to know she is there.I am wondering where the parents are.

She walks around the truck and out of my sight I figure she tried the doors at the other side too, she comes back in view and tries to crawl in the bed of the truck. I am getting sleepy and want to rest. She is a little brat intend on waiting there for the parents. I doze a bit but come out of that snooze thinking about that kid.
She is still there, she walked around the truck over and over again. Should I approach her? I am concerned over that, what if she was told not to speak to strangers? What if she runs away and I am hardly in a position to run after a 7 year old (my guess). Brie left the key in the car, Peter is asleep, do I make it my business?
I do not know how long I sat there hoping someone will come out of that store and think it normal for her to act this way. Or maybe not.

I want to get home, these two dames must be buying out the store, I only had 6 items on MY list.
I have me cel with me, I call Sabrina:
"Brie? Where the heck are you?"
"Hi, Mom I am at the register, be there in a few minutes"
"OK, I was just getting a bit antsy"
"I'll be there in a few"
"Brie by any chance has anyone called out about a little girl lost?"
"Yes, Mom, several times, it is an Amber alert"
"Brie I have been watching her , I see her"
"OMG she tells the cashier "Mom found her in the parking"
"Mom , do not loose her, follow her if she goes away"
"Mom, OK?"
I leave the car door open forgetting the keys are in it and my purse wide open on my seat, Peter still sleeping.
I walk towards the girl but do not try to get near.
Within 5 feet or so I say:"Your Mom is coming"
she answer, I do not understand.
She keeps looking at the store door.
She is still in a bad mood, stomps her feet a bit.
I wait and waive if someone is looking where we are....
2 security people, young woman, young man.
The woman runs to the girl, she tells her something takes her by the hand and goes to the store.
I am somewhat shocked.
First of all, what if she was told not to go with strangers????Why did they not bring the parents here to the parking?
The young man asks me what I saw and I tell him. He does not seem to care much because all he wants is a reunion and I conquer.

The girls come out and hug me "Good job Mom"
Brie: Our family is always aware of what goes on around us.

I am thinking if this had been nothing at all and a usual habit with this girl I would have been told:"Oh Mom do not be so negative"!