Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Divine Providence?

When I was visiting in Indiana, I went through some of my old things that were stored in my mom's attic. I brought a few of them back with me to Florida.

It was funny (and a little mind boggling) revisiting these items I thought were so important that they must be kept or sandwiched between the pages of a scrap book for all time.

I did not write much detailed information to accompany these items in the scrap book. It could have shined a light on why I felt they were so worthy of saving at the time. Hey, I was only 14 and was not thinking about what my 48 year old self wouldn't be able to remember when it came to our priceless memories.

The Colonel and I were looking through my scrap book together one day and one item in particular happened to be very interesting to us.

It was a yellow booklet I had gotten when I went to 4-H camp back in the summer of 1976.

The Colonel was also in 4-H when he was young. Though we were both in 4-H, we lived in different counties and never met one another.

In the past we've talked about our individual 4-H experiences; the meetings, projects, county fair exhibits, state fair exhibits, float building and of course camp.

We often wondered if we had gone to camp at the same time.

The Colonel remembers a Jr. Leader for his little group at camp named Kit (my sister perhaps?). He remembers walking and talking with her during one of their camp outings.

We opened and began reading the yellow booklet...amongst the itineraries (vespers at 9:30 p.m.), classes (crafts, boating, fishing, archery, etc.) and motivational sayings we found the cabin numbers and the names of those assigned to them.

My sister Kit was assigned to cabin #5 as a Jr. Leader. I was a Jr. Leader in cabin #2. The Colonel was a camper assigned to cabin #10.

So, the Kit The Colonel remembered, turned out to be my sister after all and we did go to 4-H camp at the same time. I do not recall seeing The Colonel during the six days of camp; I was a Jr. Leader for a different little group and being 15 years old then, I liked the older boys (The Colonel is two years younger than I am).

Is it Divine Providence that The Colonel and I are now husband and wife? In 1976 were we put on life's same path in hopes of one day finally bumping into one another along the way? I think the answer is yes. We would eventually bump into each other in 1984...and the rest, as they say, is history.

The following are some of the other "treasures" I brought back with me.

I know...I loved Troll dolls when I was young. They are so ugly they're cute. I had a whole family of Trolls once, a Daddy, Mommy and Baby.

Some medals I was awarded.

A little metal box I got one year for Christmas from my maternal grandmother. It was filled with delicious caramel candies. Now I store my medals and other keepsakes in it...

Like this jewelry that was hand painted by my mother.

I also brought home my letter sweater I received in high school. I was in band for four years, three of those in marching band. I played the trombone. I wanted to bring it home to show Spud. He lettered in NJROTC.

Spud's school colors are the same as mine were and both our high schools begin with a "C". (For those who crave useless pieces of trivia like I do).

It has been fun to revisit my youth through these things I held dear at one time. They are important; they are part of who I am today. I also think it is pretty "freaky-cool" that I kept something that had my future husband's name in it along with mine.

The 48 year old me is trying to give more attention to the details when it comes to anything I deem worthy of saving now, so that the 82 year old me won't have to wonder why they were saved in the first place, when she goes through our priceless memories years from now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

23 Years and Counting

Twenty-Three years ago today The Colonel and I were wed. That day I married my best friend, soul-mate, lover and hero. I know...sappy, but true.

Before we got married we had to take pre-marriage classes and a test (apart from one another) through my church. I knew again that I had a good guy when he went through these with me, when he could have been on college spring break instead. We scored a 98% on the test. We were both pleased but not surprised by the score. We had the same likes, dislikes and goals for ourselves and our future.

The day we were married was a beautiful, Hoosier Autumn day. It was sunny and warm. A perfect day to start our lives as one.

The lyrics from the Carpenters' song, We've Only Just Begun says it best...We've only just begun to live, white lace and promises, a kiss for good luck and we're on our many roads to choose...sharing horizons that are new to us...working together day by much life ahead...we'll find a place where there's room to grow...and yes we've just begun to live.

When I look back on these past twenty-three years I have to say I would marry The Colonel all over again. I am looking forward to the years ahead of us with the same wide-eyed hopefulness I had the day I said "I Do".

I love you more today, than yesterday, but not as much as I will tomorrow.

If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to one hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.

Friday, October 16, 2009


When I was a kid I could not understand what all the hoopla was about when it came to Kool-Aid. Why did the kids on and off television act as if Kool-Aid was the best thing in the universe to quench one's thirst? I did not think so. It did not seem to be sweet enough for my youthful palate.

My mom would make Kool-Aid once in a while. She did not make it often because 2 quarts of the stuff did not last long when eight kids were drinking it.

One day I went to a friend's house for lunch. We had bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread, potato chips from a canister and a very delicious, sweet drink. After one sip I asked her what we were drinking and she said Kool-Aid. What? Kool-Aid? This tasted nothing like the Kool-Aid my mom made. May I have some more please?

When I got back home after my day with my friend, I went into my mom's pantry and found a packet of Kool-Aid and read the directions. Empty contents into large plastic or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup sugar. Add cold water and ice to make 2 quarts: stir to dissolve. Do not store in metal container.

I asked my mom how much sugar she put in the Kool-Aid when she made it. She said she put in 1/2 a cup. Only half a cup?!? No wonder I did not think the fruity drink was awesome like all the other kids in the world did.

Now that I am older and a mother, I can see the wisdom of my mother's skimping on the sugar. She did not want eight little ones pinging off the walls after drinking super sweet Kool-Aid the way it was meant to be.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

My parents had eight children in ten years. There are five girls and three boys. The girls came first and then the boys.

When we were young, because we were so close in age, we girls were similar in size for a while. We shared our clothes. I am not talking about hand-me-downs; the clothes were communal.

Because we shared the clothes, the wear and tear was five times that of normal wear and tear. Socks quickly became thin at the heel and toe. They lost their elasticity and sagged down the leg instead of staying put. Underwear had the same problem; the loss of elasticity and not staying put.

The number of socks and underwear was finite. Although we had enough to go around, some of the pairs of socks and underwear were more coveted than others. Those with less elastic were less desirable. When you had a pair of the coveted underwear or socks in your possession (or pantie drawer) you tended to guard them like they were gold from Ft. Knox. (There were pantie raids in times of desperation).

If you were lucky enough to have a pair of the primo-panties in your possession and laundry day came around, it was hard parting with them, you might not get that same pair back. Sometimes when Mom was doing the laundry we would lay in wait until the dryer beeped just to be the first one to grab the good underwear (and socks).

Sometimes I would not get to the dryer first...

I went to a catholic grade school for eight years. We had to wear uniforms. The uniform for girls was a plaid, skirted jumper worn from first to fifth grade and then a skirt for the next three years. The school rule was that you could not wear shorts under your uniform (although many girls did, which made recess more fun for the girls, but maybe not for the boys).

One morning as I was getting ready for school, I reached into my pantie drawer to find that I had only one pair of underwear...a pair with not much of an elastic waist band left! Trying to keep a cool head (remember I was only in 2nd or 3rd grade), I quickly and stealthily rummaged through the drawers of my sisters. To my horror no replacement undies were to be found (it must have been laundry day). I could not wear shorts under my uniform, that was forbidden by school rule and my Mom. What could I do? I had no choice but to put on the undesirable undies...they immediately slid down towards the floor. I was now beginning to loose my cool head. I could not go to school without anything on under my uniform! Wasn't that a sin or something? Plus that would feel weird...the stuff nightmares are made know, showing up to school naked (or at least naked under your uniform). I had to do something quick, it was nearly time to head out the door for school and I hadn't even had my breakfast yet.

I quickly looked around the room I shared with my sister (clutching one-handed to the underwear so that they would not fall off during my search effort), hoping I could find something to use to help keep my underwear up. I searched under the beds, in the closet and through the drawers. Finally, I stumbled across an old, beaded, Indian belt. It would have to do.

I pulled my underwear up and cinched the belt around my waist where the elastic band should have been, got dressed and headed down to breakfast.

I do not recall what my day at school was like then, but I can bet that using the bathroom took me a little longer than usual.

These days I only buy my underwear from Victoria's Secret and at the first sign of the elastic band giving way, they go directly in the trash.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Trip!

My sister Kit and I...a la Thelma and Louise (without the bad stuff or the Brad Pitt character)...took a road trip to Vincennes and Terre Haute, Indiana. We even snuck a little bit of Illinois in too. We both attended Vincennes University (V.U.) and Indiana State University (ISU) and we wanted to visit our old collegiate stomping grounds.

The city and university of Vincennes are very historic. Founded in 1732, Vincennes, which sits on the banks of the Wabash River,was once a French fur trading post. In 1779 George Rogers Clark (brother of the Clark of Lewis and Clark) and his little army took the largest land conquest of the revolutionary war from the British who were inside Fort Sackville at that time.

In 1800, the Indiana Territory was formed and Vincennes became its capitol. William Henry Harrison was its first governor and later became the ninth president of the United States. His home, Grouseland, the first brick home in the territory, is still standing and is on the grounds of Vincennes University.

Mr. Harrison was having trouble with the local Indians and one of them tried to kill him by shooting at him through the window. You can see the bullet hole in the shutter in the pictures below.

In 1801 the Jefferson Academy was founded and it eventually became Vincennes University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States.

The campus of V.U. is very different now than when my sister and I were students. More classroom and dorm buildings are there. The new student union is nice with its bookstore and food court. I recognized some of the campus, but on the whole it had changed greatly.

After walking the campus, Kit and I visited some of the local historical buildings and monuments. Like the George Rogers Clark Memorial below.

And the Francis Vigo (an Italian business man who gave lots of money in support of the American Revolution) statue with the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in the background.

Also the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. It is part of the oldest parish in Indiana. There are four bishops buried in the basement of the Basilica. When Kit and I entered the Basilica there was a group of roughly 40 men taking a tour. One asked if we were tourists and we said kind of...he said we could join the tour. It turns out they were all priests. Usually we can spot a priest a mile away (8 years of catholic school) but the priests were in civilian garb. It was a bit strange being the only women on the tour.

After the tour we drove over the Lincoln Memorial Bridge into Illinois. It is called the Lincoln Memorial Bridge because when he was young, Abe Lincoln, with his family, crossed the Wabash River here, into Indiana.

Years later university students would cross the river into Illinois to take advantage of its lower drinking age. One of the watering holes was Hank's. My sister and I wanted to see if it was still is.

Some students would visit Hank's and then take their purchases under the bridge on the Illinois side to enjoy them along the river bank.

After visiting Illinois we headed back over to the Hoosier side of the Wabash and decided we were a bit hungry for something sweet. Thank goodness the ice cream shop of our college days was still in business (it has been there since 1957 we were told).

Kit and I agree that Lic's ice cream is possibly THE BEST ice cream in North America. I had some of their vanilla and it was like of the gods.

We then went to our hotel and wanted to swim in the pool, but remembered we had not packed swimsuits. So we got back in the car and headed for Wal-Mart. We found one tiny rack of suits with very little to choose from. Luckily we found suit bottoms in our sizes for 50 cents each, but no tops to go along with them. The bottoms were identical. We ended up having to get $7 shirts from the women's athletic department. The shirts were also identical.

Happy with our inexpensive, piecemeal "swimsuits", we went back to the hotel. We slipped into our recent purchases and headed for the elevator, hoping not to run into anyone along the such luck...a lady who saw us commented on our matching suits...had we been quicker with thinking on our toes, we would have answered her with accents from an eastern block country, saying we were from a synchronized swimming team. (The fact that my legs and underarms probably needed a closer shave at the time may have made the ruse more believable). When we finally got to the pool we had it all to ourselves...thank goodness comrade!

The next morning after a delicious complimentary breakfast at the hotel we headed north to Terre Haute and Indiana State University.

This is where I met The Colonel 25 years ago. The ISU campus was different. The new large fountain and student union were very pretty.

The Colonel lived in this dorm while he was a student at ISU. My dorm was across from it.

We checked to see if a popular student hangout was still around, it was. We could not go in, it was not open yet. Peeking in the windows, we saw it looked exactly as it had when we were students at ISU.

Before we left Terre Haute and our Thelma and Louise road trip behind us, we met up with our niece and her husband for lunch. She had picked up a dozen square donuts (more Ambrosia) for us to take back to our dad, and lunch was a good way for her to give them to us and visit at the same time. As we ate our lunch our nephew, her brother, came into the restaurant with his wife and young son. It was like a small family reunion and it was nice to see them all.

Kit and I had a wonderful time together as we tripped down memory lane, visited college haunts and took in the historical sites.

Thanks for going with me sis!