Not Smart Enough

Imagine back to when you were in the 8th grade, about 14 years old. You must make a decision that impacts the balance of your time in school. You can take a vocational program, which you attend to grade 12, or a university prep program, which you attend to grade 13.

Once you make your decision, you cannot change to the other program. Now, consider being that 8th grade boy and before you make that decision your school principal informs you that you aren’t “smart enough” for college, so you better go vocational.

That is the way school in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada was in the mid-late 1950s when Paul Cannon attended. He followed the advice of his principal. The question is, after hearing the principal’s assessment of his abilities, what did Paul do with his life?

The Teen Years

Paul was not afraid of water, and unbeknownst to his mother he and his friends would climb Inglis Falls in the summer. This was the largest of the four waterfalls in town and has a 59-foot cascade. I’ve seen in the fall with a slow flow of water. It is huge! 

Inglis Falls in Owens Sound, Ontario, Canada
Inglis Falls in Owens Sound, Ontario
Photo by Grace Grogan

When Paul was about 14-15 years old he became certified as both a swim instructor and a lifeguard. He worked as a lifeguard at the community pool and taught swimming to adults and children both there and at the YMCA.

Paul was interested in science and technology, and around age 16 he and three friends learned about an Army surplus store in Toronto selling non-working ham radios for parts. The store had ten radios, and they purchased them all. The intent was to build two or three operating ham radios from the parts, and they did!

Paul and his friends had fun communicating on the radios for about a year. None of the teens had taken the required test to become licensed ham radio operators so were broadcasting illegally. An officer tracked them down and removed the tubes, rendering the radios inoperable.  Years later as an adult Paul took the test and became a licensed ham operator.

Paul always had an interest in aviation and was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in Canada growing up. The group’s intent was to introduce 12-19 year old students to flight. As a CAP cadet, Paul received education regarding citizenship, leadership, physical fitness and general aviation. In Canada today one out of every five pilots is an ex-air cadet and 67% of commercial airline pilots began as air cadets.

Bush Pilot

When Paul was 16-17 years old he got a summer job working for a bush pilot in a nearby town. That first summer Paul performed miscellaneous jobs and ran errands. When the summer ended the owner told Paul if he returned the following year the owner would teach Paul to fly.

Paul returned and became a bush pilot, flying a Beaver pontoon plane. Bush pilots fly in remote areas, and Paul’s job was to deliver supplies to cabins in the wilderness. You have probably seen this in movies where a plane lands on a body of water, docking near a cabin to leave supplies.

All pilots must learn how to read the weather, and because pontoon pilots land on water, they must also evaluate the water’s surface before touching down. Accommodations must be made for wind direction, the direction and speed of the current, and any obstacles that may affect their landing. Once on the water the pilot must follow all marine rules.

On one flight Paul was landing to leave supplies at a not-yet occupied cabin when the engine on his plane blew. Oil splattered the windshield and the plane stopped before he was near shore. Pontoon planes must carry a paddle for this type of situation. Paul shut down all systems on the plane, then climbed out to sit on one of the pontoons, straddling it like a horse. Paul then paddled his way to shore. If you think rowing a boat is difficult, try an airplane! 

There was no radio communication, so Paul unloaded the supplies into the cabin and hunkered down for the night. His boss had expected him back before dark, so when Paul didn’t return the owner went out the next morning, flying Paul’s route. When he spotted Paul’s plane, he touched down so see what was going on. Paul already had the cowling off the plane, but neither Paul nor his boss had the tools or knowledge to repair the engine.   

Beaver Pontoon Airplane
Beaver Pontoon Airplane
Photo by Grace Grogan

The owner said he would be back, and when he landed the second time he was accompanied by a mechanic and tools. The owner left Paul and the mechanic to work on the engine. The two spent another night at the cabin before repairs were complete. The plane Paul flew only had one seat, the pilot’s. Once the repairs were complete, the mechanic strapped himself onto the top of a cargo box in the plane and rode back with Paul.

Bush pilots are required to carry a bush pilot’s rifle because situations such as the one above or an unanticipated stop in the wilderness can put you in danger. If Paul was flying his route and saw severe weather ahead, he would land the plane and beach it. Using ropes he would tie the plane to trees to secure it during the storm. When performing these tasks, he always had to be on the lookout for bear.

Paul continued working as a bush pilot for a year after graduating high school, then left for Toronto to attend college.

Radio College           

Radio College of Toronto, Ontario trained students in electronic engineering technology and had a focus on tubes and digital electronics. Electronics technology was the wave of the future in the early 1960s.

While Paul was attending college, he lived in a boarding house with 17 other men. They were housed two to a room, with no locks on the room doors. The home was run by a single woman who ran a tight ship. She made all beds every day and washed the sheets once a week.

Board included breakfast and dinner Monday thru Friday. Paul quickly learned that when sharing a table with a large group of men there were no second helpings. You better get a sufficient amount the first time a dish went around the table. Lunch and weekends boarders were on their own for meals, but could use the kitchen and food she had as long as they cleaned up afterwards. This was a very different type of living than Paul had growing up as an only child.

One evening Paul and his roommate heard a knock on their door, which immediately flew open and in rushed the landlady. She didn’t say anything but hurried over and threw open the window, reached into her pocket to grab a pair of scissors and reached out. The next thing Paul heard was glass breaking on the sidewalk below. Apparently one of the borders owed the landlady money, and she suspected he might try to slip out. By cutting the string to the bundle of belongings the border was lowering from his third-story window, the landlady made it clear she knew what he was up to. No one knows if she collected the money owed her or just enjoyed a bit of revenge.

Paul rode the streetcar to and from college, and sometimes hitch hiked his way back to Owen Sound on weekends to visit his parents. If living in a boarding house and using public transportation bus wasn’t enough of a challenge, Paul was doing this on crutches. Paul played B-Team Hockey and did competition ski jumping. Unfortunately, he landed a jump wrong, breaking his ankle.

Paul quickly learned that in a time of need, crutches make a great weapon. One day Paul got off the streetcar and some guy, thinking he had one-up on Paul, knocked Paul’s books out of his hands. Paul may have been a bit disabled, but not unarmed. He swung one of his crutches around and clobbered the guy. A police officer saw the exchange, came over to pick up Paul’s books and make sure he was okay. When Paul left the scene his attacker was in the back of a police vehicle.

Using city transportation when dating was something Paul learned could be difficult. On one date Paul took a girl out, then escorted her home, staying to visit until about midnight. Big mistake!  When he got to the bus stop he had missed the last bus in that area, so he walked down to the next line, just in time to miss the last subway of the night. He ended up walking all night to get back to the boarding house. Thank goodness it happened on a Friday night, and he was able to sleep when he arrived there the next morning.

Work and Electronics

After graduating from Radio College, Paul took a position installing and repairing x-ray machines throughout Canada. This took him into every Canadian province, a position that nurtured his love of travel and photography. His goal was to emigrate into the United States, work his way west and eventually end up in Australia. He didn’t make it past Michigan.

Immigration into the United States took about a year. Paul needed to find a job that would hold the position for six months while he completed the immigration process. He was about 23 when he got his first job in Michigan doing the same thing as in Canada. Paul was living the bachelor’s life, driving a convertible and working in hospitals throughout the tri-state area of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, where there was plenty of female staff to date.

Many people do not realize that immigrants must register for the draft six months after they become permanent U.S. residents. Paul registered during the Vietnam era and knew how to fly the same type of plane being used in the war. Each year he was obligated to check in at the military office, and each time he met new criteria for a waiver so was never drafted.

Career Change

Paul was talking with an electrician and learned they made more money than Paul  was in the electronics field. Paul purchased code books and studied to become an electrician. Though not licensed, he got a job working for Morgan Electric. When a client requested a special electrical job, Paul volunteered for the assignment. The client was impressed with Paul’s work and offered him a job working for their company.

Paul made the job change. Always looking to advance, Paul later applied and got a job in skilled trades as an electrician at the Ford River Rouge plant. Unfortunately the plant did layoffs before Paul had 90 days in.

Needing work and the economy being bad, Paul took a job working on an ambulance. It was on-the-job training, they were not paramedics. The crew would perform basic first aid and transport patients to hospitals. This was during the 1967 Detroit riots and runs were often into dangerous areas. It wasn’t all bad though.

One run was to Governor Romney’s home. The governor’s wife had fallen and injured herself, requiring an ambulance transport. Paul also delivered two babies during his time on the ambulance. One laboring woman looked at him and said, “it’s my first” and he responded, “mine too.” 

When Paul’s father notified him Pittsburgh Glass Works was opening a plant in Owen Sound and needed skilled trades workers, Paul applied and was the first electrician hired. He moved back to Owen Sound and lived there for two years. The glass plant job gave him experience in trouble shooting factory machinery, which would pay off later.

When the economy improved Paul moved back to Michigan and took a position at Allied Chemical in Mount Clemens. An electrical inspector saw his work and volunteered to sponsor Paul for taking his journeyman’s test. You cannot take this test until you have verification of 10 years of experience working as an electrician and a sponsor. Paul passed the test and immediately began studying for his master’s license.

You must work as a journeyman for a minimum of two years before taking your master’s exam. When Paul reached the qualification period he took the test and became a master electrician. Paul then started his own electrical contracting business, Trojan Electric. This electrical contract work was in addition to his full-time employment. His business was lucrative enough to necessitate employing a work crew.

While working at Allied Chemical in Mt. Clemens, Paul saw an ad for skilled trades at the Ford Motor Company Paint Plant. Paul applied and went into Ford as a re-hire. He remained at Ford as an electrician in skilled trades for the balance of his working life, retiring out of the Ford Utica Trim plant.

Back to Flying

After Paul immigrated into the United States, he checked into getting his pilot’s license. The bush pilot Paul worked for never had him keep a pilot’s logbook, so there was no record of his time in the air. Paul had to start over. Lessons were easy because he knew how to fly, he just had to master landing on solid ground.

Pilots must learn navigation and weather patterns, plus cloud types and cloud levels for flight. Paul can look down the road when driving and recognize rain that is coming down but not reaching the ground. He can also see it ahead and predict the time the vehicle will drive into it. Navigational training allows him to know the direction he is driving based on the sun.

Paul purchased his own plane, a Cessna 177 RG (RG means retractable gear) and served as an adult member on the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The Civil Air Patrol is an Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force that was founded in 1941 to mobilize civilian aviation resources for the national defense.

Cessna 177 RC
Cessna 177 RG
Photo obtained off Internet

Paul underwent training in CAP to fly both counter drug operations and search and rescue. He enjoyed his time working on missions, which often ran one to two weeks at a time. He also volunteered his time working with CAP cadets, taking them up in his plane for a ride or assisting at special cadet outings. The CAP has the same officer ranks as the Air Force, and by the time Paul retired from service he had achieved the rank of Major.

Paul’s love of aeronautics led him to volunteer his time at the air show held each year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He worked in the sound center manning the sound control for the music and announcers during the air show. This required balancing the voice and music, plus timing the music for the air acrobatics of the plane.

Paul learned to be prepared for the unexpected. A woman was narrating her husband’s performance when his plane crashed. Her reaction was a blood-curdling scream into the microphone. Paul immediately cut the sound.

Paul enjoyed his time at the air show, meeting celebrities and working with pilots to time their music to their performance. It was a week of both work and fun, affording him full access to the air show grounds.

In His Free Time

When Paul was ready to move out of the city, he purchased five acres of property in St. Clair, Michigan and built a home. Paul was the contractor for the job. He ran all electrical wiring in the home and finished the interior. This included building the staircase leading to the second floor and installing all kitchen cabinets and countertops. He did this while working full-time at Ford Motor Company and running Trojan Electric.

In addition to volunteering his time with CAP, Paul participated in a computer club and remains a member of the Blue Water Shutterbugs Camera Club. Paul served as treasurer in both clubs. His photographs are sold on Alamy and Fine Art America, and for several years he sold them in fine art shows. Paul spent several years teaching photography, originally in a classroom setting, then one-on-one. He customized lessons to fit his student’s needs, including how to operate a camera, how to take better photographs, and how to process photos in Photoshop.

Paul Cannon now lives and travels throughout the United States and Canada in a 35-foot motorhome, towing a Jeep Rubicon. I am lucky to be living and traveling with him on his latest adventures. We enjoy visiting new places and navigating off-road trails. We produce videos of our adventures and share them on our YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America, Travel With US!

Not Smart Enough?

Can you imagine if Paul had only been “smart enough” for college what he might have done with his life? Maybe it is a good thing he did not attend a 4-year college. Paul may have not been ‘smart enough” in his principal’s eyes, but what he has accomplished in his 78 years of life has been diverse and interesting.

Writer’s Note:  This was originally written entirely from memory based on information I garnered from Paul over the past six years. After publication Paul read the above and advised me of some minor corrections needing to be made. Those changes have been made and the writing is now accurate.

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Filed under assumptions, Canada, career, children, decisions, Discoveries, education, employment, exploration, Full-Time RV, hobbies, home, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, Photography, time, travel

Hindsight is 2020

While the age-old saying about hindsight being 20/20 is often used, the roll-over of the new year gives it an entirely new meaning. Regardless of what you personally think of the past year, there are likely some choices you would have made differently. This is true for any year, but especially given the horrific one we had.

Are there thing I would have changed?  Not many. I would not have remained in Yuma throughout the summer; day after day of 115 degree heat is too much! The choices we made kept us healthy, except for a couple rounds of illness I had in the middle of the summer so it was not a bad choice either.

I regret not getting back to Michigan to see my kids and grandchildren. Michigan was a roller coaster ride of what the Governor was going to keep open or shut down from week to week, so we decided not to risk it. We are looking forward to our upcoming travel plans.

While death, disruption, loss of income, and depression are what many will likely recall when they think back on the past year, there are also some positives that should come to the forefront:

  • More time together with your spouse/partner/significant-other or any other name you call the person you reside with
  • More time to do gardening, crafts, hobbies
  • Homemade food, especially baked goods became a normal day of life for many
  • Kids enjoyed being home with their parents and having more family time
  • Truly learning what your kids are studying in school if they were doing remote learning
  • Less air pollution from traffic meant cleaner air to breathe
  • Many people learned how easy and convenient it is to work from home
  • Companies may now decide to lower their overhead by having more people work from home on a regular basis
  • Everyone has become more tech savvy thanks to Zoom, Jitsi Meet, and Google Meet
  • Those who reside too far away to attend club meetings were brought “into the loop” through online meetings
  • Vacation doesn’t mean you have to travel far

As for me, I’ve spent my time writing, processing photos and videos, and have taken a real liking to adult coloring books.

Whatever the things are that stay-at-home orders and Covid-19 brought to you, remember hindsight is 2020 and you can now envision a bright future in 2021.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Filed under Activities, career, celebration, children, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, employment, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, grandchildren, hobbies, home, Illness, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, parents, play, reality, school, time, travel

The Game of Life

            When you own hotels, you can collect a lot of rent. Every time you round the corner you collect $200, and there is always a chance you can get out of jail free. Every player knows it is better to purchase property on Park Place and Boardwalk than it is on Mediterranean or Baltic Avenue. The real competition is everyone wanting to own a railroad Monopoly.

            Of course, it is important to know how to manage money properly, which includes  dealing with bills, expenses, insurance, making deals, and getting a commission. Let’s not forget to collect your PayDay at the end of the month. The goal is to always have more cash and savings than any of your friends

            The important thing in being successful is to set your own victory conditions and decide the best way is to allocate your money, fame and happiness to achieve your Careers goal. As with any position, experience is beneficial, and opportunity helps you move ahead. Decisions on life’s goals help you determine your college educational degree and your salary level.

            You don’t want to get into Trouble as you move out of home and start racing around. The way to cross the finish line first is to force your opponents back home.

            When you are racing there is always the risk of bumping an opponent, and in such a case it is always proper to say Sorry! 

            As we all know, when going through life it is easy to have expenses, in which case you may crank your credit cards up to $50,000 due. That is what happens when you always say Charge It! 

            Now that you own a Monopoly, and have solid Careers with a regular PayDay, you may know that the goal is to keep you out of Trouble and you can always tell your friends Sorry when you are constantly saying Charge It!

            I hope you have enjoyed my little tour of some of my favorite games from my youth. Keep in mind that as you proceed through The Game of Life, making decisions about college, marriage, jobs, and retirement there will always be stumbling blocks along the way. That is sometimes what happens when you work with others, only to have them turn against you and before you know it you may be caught in a Mouse Trap and out of the game.

Author’s NoteIt was recently brought to my attention that there are readers out there who may not be familiar with the board games I played while growing up. My favorite by far was Monopoly, and my favorite playing piece was the car. PayDay is a spin-off from Monopoly. I passed my love of Monopoly down to my son, who as a teen had the game Triopoly. I believe all the games shown above are still available today in either vintage or updated versions.

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Filed under exploration, Family, friends, grandchildren, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Celebrating Traverse City’s Centennial 1947

I have always liked this photograph of my paternal grandparents, Louise Elizabeth (Lautner) King and Dominick King. They are wearing period dress for the celebration of Traverse City’s Centennial celebration in 1947. The photo made me wonder what the celebration and Traverse City were like in 1947. 

My grandmother was 35 years old, and my grandfather 44. They were the parents of three boys; my father was the youngest and would have been 5 years old that summer. Did they dress the boys in period outfits too?  I’ve never seen any photos to indicate they did.

Traverse City did not hold its annual Cherry Festival in 1947 because of the Centennial festivities. The majority of men in the area grew a beard in honor of the celebration. This photo is the only one I have ever seen of my grandfather with a beard.

Instead of having young “glamour girls” honored with the title of parade queen, the Traverse City Historical Society was assigned the task of finding an honorary Queen of the Centennial. The queen was to be someone who had lived in the area a lengthy amount of time and could portray the pioneering spirit of the celebration. I did not find anything to indicate who was awarded this honor. The only link I could find indicating information on the celebration required payment of a newspaper subscription and I chose not to.

For the Centennial at least three parades were planned. A children’s parade and pet parade on July 2nd, followed by the big parade on July 3rd. The big parade was planned as a purely historical parade. It was to be divided into sections with each segment portraying an episode or period in the history of the Traverse City community. It was to include floral floats, marching groups, old vehicles, Indians, lumberjacks and other items relative to the pioneer history.

Unable to locate information on the actual celebration, I decided to see what I could find out about the “period” clothing my grandparents are dressed in. The clothing my grandfather is wearing appears to be a tailcoat, which was squared off at the waste in front and cut into long tails at the back. Tail jackets were in style in the 1840’s, and it was fashionable to wear the jacket with lighter colored trousers, so it would have been fitting for their period costume.

The dress my grandmother is wearing is of a style I could not locate. I did find that synthetic dies had led to bright wild colors in clothing, though I don’t believe prints were generally used. Low sloping shoulders and bell-shaped skirts were in fashion, moving into a Gothic Revival style. Another article stated that a long-wasted bodice, narrow sleeves, and a full dome-shaped skirt that skimmed the floor were in style.

Because I could find nothing that resembled the dress my grandmother is wearing, I wonder if it were perhaps something she obtained from an older family member or friend, or whether she obtained a pattern and sewed the outfit on her own.

A Bit of History

In 1847 Traverse City was a small community which originated because a Reverend was looking for a place to settle with his family. The Reverend settled on the banks of the Boardman River. Traverse City remained an outpost until 1864, when the first road was built through the forest to the settlement.

In 1851 one of the owners of the Hannah, Lay & Co. Mill went to Washington DC and requested the new settlement have a post office called the Grand Traverse City. Because at that time Old Mission had a Grand Traverse Post Office, they shortened the name to Traverse City. In 1872 the railroad connected Traverse City to Grand Rapids.

Traverse City has been listed as the second best small town for travelers to visit in the United States. Each July during Cherry Festival, more than 500,000 people visit the town.  The festival was first held in 1926 and now features about 150 events and activities, 85% of which are free.

Between the festival, tourism and having some of the best wine in the Midwest, resident population in Traverse City is now around 15,785.

I have a lot of family history in Traverse City, and my grandmother’s ancestors were some of the original settlers to the area. I am glad she and my grandfather were able to participate in Traverse City’s Centennial Celebration held 73 years ago.

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Filed under anniversary, celebration, Family, Festivals, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Michigan, summer, time, tourism

Looking Ahead Seven Years

It is often said, plan for your future. Everyone is supposed to have a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan. I recently read something that asked where you anticipate your life being in seven years.  

Strange number, but what the heck. What will your life be like in 2027? What do I anticipate for mine?

I know things can change on a moment’s notice. The best laid plans change and before you know it you are doing things you did not anticipate, living in a manner you did not anticipate. Where will the next seven years take me?

LOOKING BACK

I started by thinking back seven years, to 2013.  At that time, I was married, working full time as a paralegal, and my husband, Ron, and I had applied to adopt our granddaughters that had been taken by CPS. 

Between then and now CPS fought the adoption and won, the children were adopted by strangers. My husband developed cancer and lost the battle in December 2015. At that point I thought I would need to remain working full-time until retirement age. My plans included downsizing into a condo or smaller home.

I had begun putting that into motion when in 2019 I had the opportunity to come on board with Paul. I retired out of my full-time job as a paralegal and hit the road.

I now live full-time in a motor home traveling throughout the United States and Canada with Paul. I work part-time ghost-writing blogs and selling my photography online through Fine At America. Paul and I have a YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! about our adventures.

So, where will I be seven years from now? 

LOOKING FORWARD

Seven years from now I hope we still be traveling, but it is possible we may decide to settle somewhere. I hope to travel as long as possible. There is a long list of places I have never been and would love to see. By 2027 hopefully most have been crossed off the list.

If we are still rolling on four wheels, great. If the majority of my time is not spent on travel I may be living somewhere in a park model. Why a park model? Because RV parks are active, people come and go, and there are lots of activities. They do not have the seclusion of a house or condo.

I assume I will still be ghost-writing blogs as a part-time income. It is fun, interesting, and a good source of remote income. Seven years from now I will not only be doing that, I will also be doing regular freelance work writing articles for magazines and doing copy-writing for businesses.

I began a book a few years back then stopped working on it when life got chaotic. Seven years from now I will be a published author of that book, and possibly others. I am hoping it brings knowledge to the country about the way CPS destroys families. It is a sad reality of this country.

Seven years from now I will still be shooting photographs and selling them on Fine Art America, just like I do now. I will be processing thousands of photographs taken during my travels that I never found time to work with. My online gallery will have grown from 1,000+ to 7,000+ photos. The YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! that Paul and I started in 2020 will have several thousand subscribers and we will still be uploading videos of our travels onto it.

The big clincher, seven years from now I will reach my full retirement age. Will I have already taken my social security, will I apply then, or will I decide to wait and take it at age 70? Time will tell. That is something that will be determined based on my circumstances as time goes by.

So where will I be seven years into the future? Pretty much where I am now. Traveling, writing, and taking photographs. I am enjoying life, why change it? 

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Filed under assumptions, decisions, employment, exploration, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, time

5 Problems With Social Media

The most frequent use of our phones is social media. The average person picks up their phone 58 times per day, which includes sending or looking at text messages, checking email, placing calls, playing games, and social media. The total daily time spent on smart phones averages between three hours fifteen minutes to four and a half hours on their phone every day.

Social media is addictive. I became multi-connected for the purpose of promoting my photography and writing. The most addictive for many is Facebook, with a few others close behind.

What are the problems with social media?  Let’s take a look.

1.         Addiction

Social media is used for everything from personal connections to business promotions. It has become a necessity of life. The problem is many people are unable to walk away from it, even for a short period of time. Those are the addicts.

You see them everywhere. Have you ever been in a restaurant where people are sitting at a table together, but everyone is on their phone? Why are they unable to put down their phones and converse with each other?

We all know people who if you make a comment and tag them, they respond immediately regardless of whether it is morning, night, or the middle of their workday. They can’t resist the “ping” that tells them they have a notification for something.

Addiction came to my attention recently when I responded to a political question on Facebook. The poster said, “you didn’t answer within 12 hours.”  She had a time limit on when anyone could give an answer!

That shows she is addicted to social media and assumes everyone else lives their lives wrapped up in it as well. I hadn’t looked at Facebook posts within that amount of time so my answer was, to her, invalid due to being “late.”

I will admit, I sometimes will “share” things to Facebook without going into the program, so I probably fall into a posting habit trap.

2.         Brain Saturation

Social media is a means of sharing information that 50 years ago no one cared about. Do we really need to know that someone is out to dinner and where? Do we need to see a photograph of what they cooked for dinner? Is it important we know they got their hair cut, had a pedicure, got new glasses or went to the doctor?  

That is there life, not ours. This is the type of useless information we now know about everyone we are connected to. We are all guilty of sharing those tidbits at least part of the time. Probably now more than ever due to social distancing orders. Social media is now providing us with human connections that we are unable to get on a more personal level.

3.         Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction

While this is a benefit during the Covid-19 pandemic, it also creates social distancing. Zoom meetings are a wonderful way of connecting from the comfort of your own home, and remote work is great, especially when you live on the road as I do. The concern is whether we will become withdrawn from society as a whole.

Will face-time phone calls replace getting together? Will we remain socially distanced by having our conferences and meetings held remotely, or will we return to in-person gatherings that require more forethought and planning?  Hopefully it will become a combination of the two.

I think the virtual meetings have benefits. There are those who are unable to make it to in-person meetings due to health or distance. Those virtual meetings add personal human connections to their lives.  However I also think nothing can replace in-person interactions we have without the assistance of a computer or phone.

4.         Cyber-Bullies

Social media brings out the hostility in people. When you are not looking at someone face-to-face it is much easier to be rude. This has happened frequently during the presidential race, most likely inspired by our own president using social media to cyber-bully everyone from people in his own administration to leaders of foreign nations.

I have been called racist, old, a murderer (when discussing right-to-choose re abortion), idiot, ignorant, etc. all because of my political views. Would those same people have said those things to my face? Most likely not. Have I said things on social media I most likely would not have said in person? Yes.

The point is, social media provides a protective barrier that allows people to let down their guard and be rude to people in a way they otherwise would not be. This is especially true because the majority of people are connected through groups, etc. to people they never have and probably never will see in person. If you wouldn’t say it in person, you shouldn’t say it on social media.

5.         Personal Privacy

There are people that post all their personal issues online. If they have a fight with their spouse, it is out there. If they have an encounter with someone at the grocery store, they rant about it online. Have a dispute with your neighbor, it is out there for the world to see. Your child runs into a problem at school, everyone on Facebook knows about it.

People have lost their desire to keep private matters private. They no longer consult with their best friend for support, they now post it on social media for 200 of their closest acquaintances to chime in on and/or share with their social media acquaintances.

Everyone should give consideration to the delicacy of the information they are sharing about their personal relationships prior to posting.

So Where are We Now?

Social media is here to stay. We are a cyber-connected world now, and if you haven’t embraced it thus far, eventually you will be forced into it. The world revolves around our ability to be online for banking, paying bills, work, and communicating.

What social media platforms are you connected to? What are your favorites? What is it you like about them?  Enjoy cyber-life, but don’t forget about real life in the process.

My Social Media Platforms:

I invite you to check out some of my pages and subscribe to my blog and/or YouTube channel.

Facebook Photography Page – I share photographs I have available for sale, sometime videos I have posted onto YouTube, and other tidbits of information on my Times Gone By Photography Facebook page.

Facebook Grace Grogan, Writer Page – Where I share links the genealogy column I write for The Lakeshore Guardian, links to my blogs that are posted here on WordPress, and other things connected to writing.

Fine Art America – this is the place to view all my photographs I have available for sale, which can also be placed on various items such as shower curtains, throw pillows, mugs, beach towels, tote bags, etc.  

Fine Art America – Ron Grogan – This is the page my deceased husband had for viewing and selling his photography, which I continue to manage

Pinterest – a collection of tidbits, including links to my writing and photography

LinkedIn – my business profile, I also share my photography, blogs and genealogy column here. https://www.linkedin.com/in/grace-grogan-0870a433/

WordPress – this is where you will find my personal blog, Life is a Melting Pot 

Instagram – This is where I post photos, mostly pictures taken with my cell phone or older photos from the past.

Twitter – I am not a frequent user, but do share my videos, photographs, and blog here.   https://twitter.com/glgrogan?s=03

YouTube Channel – Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! is a joint page with Paul Cannon and contains videos and slide shows of our travels throughout North America.

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Always Ask a Man

I recently came across Advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual, which has been bouncing around on social media for years and has been verified as accurate. I think this speaks volumes about the era in which it was written.

Advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual
Advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual

How many women today would worry about having on a clean dress, their hair done, and with powder and lipstick applied for the chance encounter with a visitor stopping by while they were sewing? Even more so, the horror of horrors if their husband came home to discover they were not pristinely put together?

At the time the manual was written a woman’s position was to cater to her husband’s desires. She was to care for the home and children, and not be so forward as to pursue her own dreams or ambitions. After all, that would tax her brain beyond its perceived ability.

That got me to thinking about the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. Things were more forward-thinking then, or were they?

The 1960s

The 1960s were a time of change, the beginning of a revolution for women. Gone were the prim and proper dresses and pumps. Miniskirts and go-go boots were the things to be seen in. Long hair, headbands, and wild printed fabrics were in fashion.

In 1968 women protested against the Miss America Beauty Pageant, because not only was it sexist, but its core requirement was that the women be “of good health and of the white race. The requirements went on to state that Miss America was to represent what women are supposed to be, bland, apolitical, and inoffensive.

The push was on to equalize the rights of women with those of men. Women, in declaring their solidarity for equal rights, held public bra-burning events. Huge barrels labeled “freedom trash can” were available for women to toss their bras, panties, cosmetics, high heeled shoes, hair curlers, and any other possessions they considered to be “instruments of torture.”

By going braless women were gaining public attention for their cause. While many men didn’t agree with women having equal rights, they probably didn’t object to the bra-burning protests. This was the jump start for the no-bra fashion trend

The truth is, the 1960s and 1970s were an era of women striving to break out from under the control of men. They wanted recognition for their own abilities. I think one of the best attributes to the feeling of freedom for everyone was Woodstock. Three days of peace, love, and music held in August 1969.

Woodstock was not part of the women’s movement, but it was an event that rocked the nation. Over one million people made it to Woodstock, but only about half of those made it to the 3-day concert because of crowds and traffic jams.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, it was flower children, hippies, middle class, upper class—an event all young people with an open mind and spirit wanted to be a part of. It moved people out of the restrictions of the past, away from the stress of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, and forward into striving for newfound freedoms in the future.

I was too young to attend, but I remember seeing it on TV and my parents being disgusted at the sight of people in all modes of dress and undress, muddy, wet, sometimes naked, gathered in that huge field to listen to music and do drugs.

The 60s were just the beginning. I was surprised to learn recently how many freedoms women were denied throughout the 70s. Some had been resolved by the time I turned 18 in 1978, but it wasn’t without the tenacity of strong women pushing forward.

The 1970s

A prime example is the famous “Battle of the Sexes” which took place in 1973. Bobby Riggs was a No. 1 ranking 55-year old tennis champion. He was a male chauvinist who made a public claim that all women were inferior and that even at his age he could beat any woman in tennis.

Billie Jean King was a 29-year old female tennis player. She took Bobby Riggs up on his challenge. A tennis match between a male and female was unheard of, and hence the “Battle of the Sexes” name was born. The match was held on September 20, 1973.

Billie Jean beat Bobby 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.  It would still be many years before women were recognized as equals in sports, but winning that match established women as professional athletes. It was also a huge victory for women’s rights.

Always Ask A Man

I remember when I was around 14-15 years old my mother gave me a book written in 1965. The book was Always Ask A Man: Arlene Dahl’s Key to Femininity. I don’t remember a lot about the book, but the title gives a pretty good indication of how non-forward thinking it was.

Always Ask a Man - The Key to Femininity
Always Ask a Man – The Key to Femininity

There is one section that still stands out in my mind. It appalled me as a teenager. The topic dealth with shopping for clothes.

If your husband or father went shopping with you, you should try on every outfit you are considering and model it for them. If they don’t like it, you don’t buy it. If the man does not go shopping with you, then upon your return home you model each outfit for them. If they don’t like it, you return it to the store.

I remember thinking “no way!” If I go shopping and like an outfit, I am buying it and wearing it. I am not submitting to some man’s ideas about my clothes. I don’t think I ever finished the book. Once I got to that point, I was done.

A few years later I read The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality, written by Shere Hite, published in 1976. I was probably around 16-18 years old when I read it. Shere Hite asked a lot of women intimate questions about their sexuality. The results were published in a 600-page book. My mother never said much about it, but I doubt she was pleased to see me reading it.

Moving Forward

A popular singer of the time, Helen Reddy, had a very popular song, I am Woman, which was released in 1971. It spoke to the fight for equal rights, one portion of the lyrics saying:

I am woman, hear me roar
in numbers too big to ignore
and I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Even as laws changed, discrimination against women still took place in many areas. It was in the early to mid-1980s when applying for a job that I was asked 1) if I was married, 2) if I was pregnant, and 3) whether or not I planned to become pregnant.

It was illegal for the company owner to be asking those questions, and he knew it because he acknowledged it. He knew he had the upper hand, because I would be concerned about being denied employment if I refused to answer.

What did I do?  I danced around the question. I was off the pill, but when asked about plans for pregnancy I replied, “if it happens it happens.”  It happened.

Women’s clothing took on a very masculine look. If a woman wanted to make it in a man’s business world, they needed to dress like a man. Women wore pants suits with non-feminine blouses. That was the way to climb the corporate ladder.

Working Mother was a magazine launched in 1978 and written for women such as myself who were juggling full-time work with young children. Men were not adapted to this lifestyle and we were juggling daycare, household care, and full-time work. 

On top of that, there was a division between the stay-at-home mom and the working mom. Those who did not work outside the home were looked down on. It was a common phrase to hear “oh, you only stay home, you don’t work?” It was because of this attitude that the term “Domestic Engineer” was developed by stay-at-home mothers.

Things have improved, but gender based discrimination still exists today. If you are curious about how far we’ve come, check out the list of Discrimination and Lack of Rights in the 1970s below.

Please leave me your comments below. Were you discriminated against? Did you participate in any of the women’s rights movements?

Discrimination and Lack of Rights in the 1970s

Financial

  • Have credit cards in their own name—Women needed their husbands signature, and if unmarried a father or brother had to sign the application; banks could deny applications based on gender until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed in 1974
  • Could Not Open a Bank Account—Women were not allowed to open a bank account without their husband’s permission; men did not believe women could handle finances.

Educational

  • No Admittance to Military Academy—Women were denied admission because men believed women would not be able to make it through the academy; West Point admitted their first female in 1976 and four years later 61 females graduated from a military academy.
  • Could Not Receive Equal Education—Men felt that women could not handle the challenges of higher education, that they weren’t smart enough, and that they belonged in the kitchen, not school.
  • Could Not Attend Ivy League College—It was considered more important to educate males than females; Yale admitted its first woman in 1969, other ivy league colleges began to follow suit, but Columbia did not allow in a female until 1983.

Employment

  • Could Get Fired for Being Pregnant—The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prevented this, but employers could give any other reason for their firing
  • No Paid Maternity Leave—Paid maternity leave first made news in 1969 when five states agreed women should be allowed to take time off around the time of birth, resulting in the Temporary Disability Insurance Act; today there are still hundreds of businesses that do not pay women for maternity leave.
  • No Protection for Sexual Harassment—It was not until 1977 that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington DC ruled that a woman could not be fired for refusing to provide sexual favors to her boss; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission established a definition for sexual harassment in 1980 and it was 1986 when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with that definition.
  • Could Not Apply for Any Job—Despite the 1964 Civil Rights Act, women could not find jobs beyond secretary or teacher before the 1970s; employers would find excuses other than gender to reject women applicants
  • Could Not Own a Bank—It was 1975 when the First Women’s Bank opened, becoming the first bank owned and operated by a female. The law did not initially accept the bank, but it was a milestone in the 1970s women’s rights movement.
  • Could Not Be Astronauts—NASA did not ban women, they simply did not allow them to interview, mainly because they only accepted military applications and the military did not accept women; In 1979 NASA began hiring women to train as astronauts and in 1983 Sally Ride was the first female to go up in space.
  • Could Not Be CEO of Fortune 500 Company—It was 1972 when Katharine Graham became the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 Company when she took the position at The Washington Post.
  • Could Not Be a Lawyer—There were a few women attorneys and judges, but it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s they began being accepted into law schools more frequently; a study conducted at Cornell University found 90% of law firms refused to interview women applicants and most law schools would not admit women into their law programs.
  • Could Not Be A Judge—Some states had women judges prior to the 1970s, but it was rare and they were not paid at the standard rate; it was in the 1970s that the majority of the states began allowing women to serve as judges.
  • Serve on the Supreme Court—It was not until 1981 when Sandra Day O’Connor was seated on the Supreme Court that this 100% male dominated area was broken; other than that only three other women have served: Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan.

Medical

  • Get an abortion—in1970 Jane Roe claiming she had a right to abortion filed a lawsuit against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade in the Texas Federal Court; Roe won her case in 1973 when the Supreme Court deemed the banning of abortion unconstitutional
  • Receive the Morning After Pill—This was first available in the 1970s but difficult to obtain; it was not until 2006 that the FDA approved it for non-prescription behind-the-counter sales.
  • Receive the Birth Control Pill—The pill became available in the 1960s, but many states did not allow doctors to prescribe the pill, a woman was arrested for selling them which resulted in the 1965 Supreme Court decision that married women could receive birth control pills, but some states still did not allow their doctors to prescribe it until the 1970s.
  • Could Not Receive A Direct Medical Consultation—Rather than giving women a direct consultation on their health the doctor would speak to their husband because it was believed that the wife could not comprehend the doctor’s diagnosis and/or recommendations.

Relationships and Marriage

  • Refuse Sex from Husband—Women received very little protection from any type of spousal abuse; it was not until the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 that a woman received protection against any violent act from her husband, including rape and physical assault.
  • Could Not Divorce Because of Domestic Violence—The No-Fault Divorce Act of 1969 allowed women to request a divorce without proving wrongdoing of their husband; prior to that time women had to prove their husband was at fault, adultery being an acceptable reason, spousal abuse was not.
  • Interracial Marriage—This was illegal in most states until Loving v. Virginia in 1967 made it to the Supreme Court where it was ordered that denying couples interracial marriage was a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Living Together—Many states had laws against living together prior to marriage, and it was not until 2013 that all 50 states adopted laws allowing couples to legally reside together without being married
  • Could Not Adopt if Single—To adopt a baby a woman was required to have a male partner, even if the woman was wealthy, healthy, and could provide the child with a home, she was not allowed to adopt without a husband.

Other

  • Not Acknowledged for Running Boston Marathon—Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run in the marathon in 1967 for which she was spat on, taunted, and attacked; it was not until 1972 when Nina Kuscsik was one of the first women acknowledged for running.
  • Could Not Serve on Jury—Women on juries prior to 1970 was rare, and many states did not allow women jurors until 1973 when all 50 states ruled that females be allowed to serve as jurors.
  • Could Not Purchase Athletic Shoes—Women who desired athletic shoes had to purchase men’s shoes until the late 1970s and early 1980s; when women began to be recognized in the sports world female shoes became available.
  • No Voice in Their Work or Homelife—Men did not have to listen to what women had to say about their employment, civil rights, household matters, or their own bodies; women were expected to listen to their husband on how he wanted things done at home until sometime during the 1970s.
  • Unable to Participate in All Olympic Games—Women’s ability to participate began in the early 1900s but it was very limited; in 1976 ice dancing, basketball, rowing, and a few other events for women were added, in 2012 women’s boxing was added.
  • Discuss Sex—It was considered inappropriate and socially unacceptable for a woman to discuss sex prior to the 1970s; a book by Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique is believed to be a trendsetter in changing women’s behavior on this tabu subject.
  • Breastfeed in Public—This was not just controversial, it was not allowed; congress finally passed a law saying that a public place could not discriminate against women for breastfeeding because it was a violation of their equal rights

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Meaningful Music: 5 Songs That Evoke Emotion

I love music and can listen to almost any genre. Of course what I listen to often depends on what I am in the mood for, upbeat and quick for dancing or classical when writing.

Music Is Life, That's Why Our Hearts Have Beat

Meaningful music songs can stand the test of time. They evoke an emotion in the listener. It doesn’t matter if the event is something that personally happened to you. The story in the song makes you feel something — empathy, compassion, longing, or any other feeling.

Here are 5 songs that evoke emotion in the listener

1. In the Ghetto

This song was written by Mac Davis and recorded by Elvis Presley in 1969. The story is the sad truth about social inequity. A child is born into poverty. Society turns its head and ignores the child’s needs. The child grows up on the streets in the ghetto, learning survival through theft and fighting, and that leads to his death as a young man.

Lyric Excerpt:

People don’t you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to see?
Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way?

What hits me is that here we are 50 years later and this inequity still exists today. People in lower income areas are deprived of quality education from the time they are young children.

They experience the harsh realities of gun violence and other crime at an early age. Their outlook on life is not one of opportunity and success, it is one of pure survival. When will the world stop turning its head?

2. Maybe This Time

Released in 1983 and sung by Michael Martin Murphey this song talks of old sweethearts who after years apart meet again. Romantic feelings are rekindled and the relationship is better than it ever was. I’ve known at least two couples who have lived this story. A song that makes you believe in love and romance.

 Lyric Excerpt:             

It’s the same old feeling back again
It’s the one that they had way back when
They were too young to know when love is real
But somehow, some things never change
And even time hasn’t cooled the flame
It’s burnin’ even brighter than it did before
It got another chance, and if they take it….

There are people everywhere who experience relationships long dissolved and they move on in life. Most are for the better, but some come back for the better.

3. The Dance

The Dance has been my favorite song ever since it was recorded in 1990 by Garth Brooks. It says so much about life. People who take the chance and live life to the fullest may suffer a loss when someone dies too soon. To miss the pain of their loss, you would have missed the joy of the dance during their lifetime.

Lyric Excerpt:             

But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Most adults have had someone in their life that was taken too soon by death. Would you surrender the time you had with them to have not experienced the pain of their loss?  Of course not, because then you would have missed the dance.

4. Cats In the Cradle

A story of a boy growing up with a father who is always busy working and never has time for his son. The song was written and released by Harry Chapin in 1974. As the child grows, he adopts his father’s habits.

As the father ages he looks forward to spending time with his son. The son has grown up and is now too busy to time to spend with his dad. The father realizes that his son has grown up to be just like him.

Lyric Excerpt:             

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, dad”
“You now I’m gonna be like you”

There are so many families where this is the way life goes. The parent is busy working and does not take time to spend with their children. One wonders, while there is love, is there true bonding? Sometimes yes, but I think sadly, sometimes no.

5. Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning

This song was written and sung by Alan Jackson in 2002 following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. It speaks of a country united by an attack on its people. The country was unified as it had not been in a long time, bound together for the greater good.

Lyric Excerpt:             

Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset for the first time in ages
And speak to some stranger on the street?
Go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you’re watchin’
And turn on I Love Lucy reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

As Americans banded together following the events there were no political attacks. Some liked the president’s actions, some didn’t, but as a country we were strong. President Bush pushed unity and pride in our country.

Now we are fighting a different kind of war, a battle against Covid-19. Unfortunately, we are no longer a country united. Both the citizens and its President have become hostile, angry, and violent. Instead of supporting each other, the country is at war with itself. We are never going to win against Covid-19 if we cannot stand as one united country waging the same battle in the same manner.

Meaningful Music

There are so many songs with lyrics that make an emotional impact. What songs evoke emotion in you? Comment below.

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Memories of My Grandma – Part 2

The memories I have of my grandmothers, two very different but wonderful ladies, are as different as they were. Although they were both born during a time when women didn’t work outside the home, my paternal grandmother did on occasion out of necessity.

Both of my grandmothers wore a full apron when at home. When you arrived they were always happy to see you, and you knew your were going to be fed a full meal. While my maternal grandmother always made homemade pie, my paternal grandmother favored cake and cookies. Her sour cream drop cookies were the best!

If you haven’t read Memories of My Grandma – Part 1 I encourage you to read it, as it will show how different two very important women in my life were.

My Paternal Grandmother

Louise Elizabeth Lautner King was born on January 1, 1912. She was born into the well-known and respected Lautner family.  The Lautner’s had immigrated from Bohemia in the 1800s.

Eight Lautner brothers settled a huge track of land that became known as the Lautner Settlement in Traverse City, and they became prominent dairy farmers. When my grandmother was growing up her father, Louis Lautner, was a restaurateur.

Grandma Wins Beauty Contest

My grandmother won a “most beautiful baby” contest when she was 2 years old. Her prize was a doll that was larger than she was. After having 3 sons, she gave the doll to the daughter of a needy family and thought she would never see it again.

When Grandma’s 90th birthday was announced in the Traverse City Record Eagle the family she had given that doll to decades before saw the announcement. They still had Grandma’s doll and Grandma was reunited with her prize possession at her 90th birthday party.  

My grandmother’s desire was that the doll be donated to a museum. My aunt and uncle took the doll and a framed scrapbook page I made for Grandma showing her pictures with the doll at 2 years and 90 years to accompany the donation.  I don’t know if the donation has been made. It would be neat to visit a Traverse City museum and see my grandmother’s doll on display.

Growing Up

When Grandma was 6 years old her father built the farmhouse she grew up in. Grandma remembered hearing the sirens that signaled the end of World War I on November 11, 1918 as her father was working on the home. 

Grandma lived in that home from the time she was 6 years old until she placed herself into assisted living in her late 80’s.  I don’t know the exact dates, but I estimate it was around 82 years she lived in that home. 

My grandmother grew up at a time when education for females was not considered important.  When she graduated from 6th grade her parents refused to attend the ceremony. They didn’t think it was important for her to be educated. I think it is sad that Grandma’s parents refused to witness this important day in her life.

Grandma had a bit of a wild side to her. She met the man that would become my grandfather when he and a friend pulled into the yard of the farm. She thought Grandpa was cute. When he invited her to go out riding in his car, she hurried to get her chores done and left before her parents knew.

Louise Elizabeth Lautner married Dominic Florian King on January 18, 1931. Grandma was 19 years old; Grandpa was 9 years older. Grandpa moved into the farmhouse with Grandma and her parents. A year after the marriage her parents moved out and Grandma and Grandpa continued to reside and raise their family on the farm.

After their marriage Grandma taught Grandpa to sign his name. He was a smart man and a hard worker but lacked a formal education, having only attended school through the 3rd grade.

My grandparents worked the farm and raised three boys there, including my father. They had a considerable amount of property, but that didn’t keep them from suffering financial loss as a result of the great depression.  Due to a need for additional income my Grandmother sometimes worked outside the home in canning factories.

Memories of the Farm

From the time I was about 3 years old we lived several hours from my grandparents. Prior to that time we would visit, but I don’t have much recollection of time spent there.

On our trips to visit family in Traverse City we always stayed at the home of my maternal grandparents. We visited my paternal grandparents on every trip, but my memories of the farm are scant.

I do remember when they had the property across the street from their home, which included a barn and pigs. Other than walking over to see them, I don’t remember anything about the pigs or barn.  I assume they slaughtered them for meat.

When my parents were dating my grandmother made Schwarz Sauer. That is a German soup made with pigs’ blood, but my mother never ate it. Grandma had made her an alternative dish when she was visiting during that meal.

I remember walking the woods of the property across the road, searching for morel mushrooms with my grandparents. The property seemed huge to me as a child, and it was sizeable.

They sold the land across the road when I was a young teen. It was purchased by a Mennonite family, and for a long time one huge house stood grandly on the land. That land is now a subdivision.

As an adult I drove through the subdivision and was impressed with what a prize piece of land my grandparents had and sold. There are areas on the property with a view of Grand Traverse Bay.

I have always wondered why my great-grandfather didn’t build his home on that section of land.  The spot he chose for his home did not offer the scenic views available across the road.

Back on the other side of the road where the house is located, the property behind the house had two large barns and a chicken coop. I do not remember any of those having livestock in them, but I know that when the farm was in full operation it did.

As a child I remember going inside the barn with my father and grandfather. It was filled with farming equipment. I remember standing and tilting my head way back to see the upper loft. Being a city kid, I was amazed at the barn’s size.

There was an outhouse that still stands behind the barns. When the home was sold 2-3 years ago but had not been used in decades.  I wish I had asked if there had originally been one closer to the home.

I know the electricity was put into the home when my father was a child. He spoke of running from the fields in excitement when the lights came on for the first time. I’m not sure when the house had plumbing installed.

I remember Grandma keeping ducks in a pen attached to the chicken coop. I wasn’t there often enough to have any detailed memories of that. There was a large field next to the house and the property ran as far as you could see behind the barns.

The property went all the way from M-72 where the house was back to Barney Road. They had a total of about 50 acres just on that side of the highway. As a teen my cousins, my sister, and I road snowmobiles on the property one winter. We ran in a loop through the field, back to Barney Road, around the woods and back. I was amazed at how far we could go and still be on their property.

  • Louise Elizabeth Lautner, age 6, December 21, 1917 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Grandma watering her garden
  • Grandma with Ron and me on our wedding day
  • Grandma, Louise Elzabeth Lautner, 6 months old with her father
  • Grandma - Louise Elizabeth Lautner - 4 years old
  • My grandparents, Louise and Dominick King
  • Grandma with my daughter, Caroline
  • Louise and Dominick King - Easter Sunday 1930
  • Grandma after winning most beautiful baby contest, age 2 with her prize
  • Louise Lautner King with horses Barney and Chuck hooked to plow
  • Grandma and Grandpa - on the back Grandma wrote it was a picture of her and Dominick before they were married. She was 17 years old with a glass of homebrew in hand. "Ma took the picture so guess her and Pa approved"
  • Grandma ready to go help her Dad with the hay, didn't want to but had to - age 16 years

The House and Yard

The house was unique, and part of that had to do with my grandparents remodeling the home before I was born. It had wide wood trim throughout that I always liked, and a big front porch.  The porch was not often used, at least when we were there, but did have a glider seat on it.

Porch Sitting

The back of the house had a huge cement porch that resembled a patio. Near the house was the cistern, which we were warned to stay away from. A cistern is a reservoir tank for rainwater. When placed near a home like that it is often used for flushing toilets. I don’t know if that was its purpose, but it was near the bathroom.

The land was at different levels near the house, so on the side of the porch you could walk onto the driveway. From the back of the porch you had to go down steps to reach the yard. Because it was of sizeable height in that area Grandma had flowerbeds planted beside it. On the other side of the porch, you could again walk right off and into the lawn.

Grandma had a wash line in her backyard. There were flowers planted at each of the poles, and what most didn’t know is that was where her deceased German Schnauzers were buried.

The first, Poody, was trained to do tricks. I remember as a kid how fun it was to watch him jump through a hoop held in different positions. He would also sing when prompted.

After Poody was given his resting place, Grandma and Grandpa got Hantze. They decided not to train Hantze to do tricks, but he was a good dog. Hantze traveled with them, and loved a nice dish of ice cream.

The back porch was where Grandma enjoyed sitting. She had a large rose bush along the house that my mother had purchased for her early in my parent’s marriage. Grandma had a garden hose that ran out of the house for watering the flowers, but the best was the hose direct from the well.

One time my sister got the hose from the house and sprayed me with it. It had a lot of power, but Grandpa said he would fix me up and took me to the well house. He gave me a hose that ran direct from the well and the pressure was awesome!

I was able to stand on the back porch and spray my sister, Carol, as she was running away. She was almost to the barns before I couldn’t spray her anymore.  I can still see the spray of water arching up into the sky and back down at Carol’s back as she ran. What fun that was!  

On the Inside

We never entered that house through the front door. You always pulled up into the drive, went down by the barns and turned around, then drove up and parked on the drive so you were facing the road when ready to leave. Grandma lived on M-72 and cars went by fast.

You would enter the back door, which took you into a shed. You would go down a few steps, then back up a few steps into the back of the kitchen. If you turned left before entering the kitchen, you stepped up into the storage area of the shed.

The shed had a counter and cupboards. It was an overflow storage of sorts and where grandma sat cakes and cookies so they stayed cool until ready to serve. It was also through this area that you walked to go upstairs.

The Kitchen

The kitchen was a huge, traditional country kitchen. The door you entered through from the shed had a glass center, so you always knew if Grandma was in the kitchen when you arrived. She would come rushing to the back door to greet you upon arrival.

As you stepped in there was a large farmer’s sink to the right. That was used for washing up after you had been in the garden or other miscellaneous tasks. There were two large wooden rocking chairs, one on each side, my favorite spot in the kitchen.

To the left was Grandpa’s chair, and beside that a long low table holding magazines and other miscellaneous items. Grandma’s chair is on the right, next to the window. From there you can look out onto the drive if awaiting the arrival of guests.

When visiting I loved sitting in the large wooden rocker and talking with Grandma as she prepped food. Chatting involved catching up on the latest gossip. You found out everything that was going on in the family.

Grandma loved gossip!  I can still here her saying “oh go on!” when she was questioning something or as emphasis in one of her stories.

Beyond those rocking chairs was the kitchen table and refrigerator, and then the stove, counters and cupboards stretched across the back. There was a stool Grandma would sit on while cooking, which allowed her to keep an eye on food while chatting.

The layout of my grandparent’s house was interesting. Probably because they had done some remodeling, which added character to the layout. I loved the wide molding and built-in cabinets.  

Living Room

Leaving the kitchen you stepped into what I had always known as the living area. To the left was the entry to the bathroom. Normally not something worthy of mention, but I always thought it was interesting it had another door that went out into the shed. Most likely because it made it easier to access the bathroom if coming from upstairs.

The living area itself was long and narrow, running probably 2/3 the depth of the house. The part immediately off the kitchen had once been a formal dining area. This was evident by the huge built-in china cabinet. That is where Grandma displayed family china, photos and knick-knacks.

In front of the china cabinet was a recliner, and next to it a stand with the black rotary phone on it. This was a convenient set-up, because Grandma could sit down and talk on the phone, but still have a clear view of the television at the other end of the room.

The rest of the room had ample seating for family gatherings, plus a small organ. Grandma enjoyed playing the organ, polka music being her favorite.  Off the front of the living room was the front door.

Grandma’s Bedroom

Off the side of the living room was what my grandparents used as a bedroom. I believe it had originally been a parlor. There was no door, just an arched entry with built-in book cases on either side that faced into the living room. The bedroom itself was bright and welcoming with windows on two of the walls.

Upper Floor and Basement

I didn’t get into the upstairs or basement of my grandparent’s home except on a few occasions.  I found them both interesting and worthy of mentioning.

The upstairs was, as typical of the day, unheated. It was made into two bedroom areas, but there was no doorway between, just opening to walk through one room and into the next. That is where my father and his two brothers slept when growing up.

One neat feature was that on both sides of the room there were small doors below a slanted ceiling. That was how you accessed a long narrow attic space. I remember Grandma had all kinds of things stored inside. Lots of unknown treasures!

My grandparents had a Michigan basement. I’m a city kid, I was amazed to go down into a basement that had dirt walls and a dirt floor. It was cool down in there and that was where she stored produce. It was dark and damp, had a low ceiling, and without someone with me I would have found it scary.

Things About Grandma

My grandmother had a wonderful sense of humor and loved a good laugh. She enjoyed attending parades, festivals, and loved polka music.

I didn’t realize it until she was gone, but my grandmother had a talent for writing. After she died I saw poems she had written in her 80’s and they were very good. I wish I had known we shared that interest when she was still alive.

Another regret is that I wasn’t able to spend more time with her as an adult, hearing stories of her years growing up and living on the farm. There is much I missed by living so far away.

Grandma loved surprises. One year after I was married, I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas.  She was in her late 70’s or early 80’s at the time, and I came up with an idea. I made her a certificate saying she would receive one gift a month for a year.

When I made that certificate, I had no idea what I would send her. It was a fun year for both of us. I was struggling to come up with ideas, and she was waiting anxiously for her monthly package to arrive. One of her favorite gifts didn’t cost me a penny.

I had received a head scarf for free with a cosmetic order. I didn’t wear scarfs but Grandma did, so off it went in the mail. She was thrilled!  Grandma liked the print of the fabric, it was the perfect size, and it didn’t slip off her head like some of them did. I never anticipated that kind of success from a freebie!

Grandma was living on her own in that huge farmhouse. She didn’t drive and it was a good distance from town for anyone to reach her. Grandma had been in and out of the hospital a few times, and without telling anyone made some calls and decided that the next time she was hospitalized she would not be going home, but would instead go into assisted living.

That must have a hard adjustment, leaving the home she had been in from the time she was 6 years old. Grandma did like to socialize, and being in the home she no longer had to fix her own meals, so the move had its benefits.

Grandma Turns 90

Grandma was in the assisted living facility for her 90th birthday. The family decided to hold a surprise birthday party for her. It was a wonderful gathering with two very special moments.

Grandma had been best friends with Mary from the time they were 6 years old, but they hadn’t seen each other in years due to their advanced age. Mary’s daughter brought her to Grandma’s birthday party.

When Grandma saw Mary come in she jumped up and rushed over. They hugged and then Grandma announced to everyone who Mary was. Two best friends beaming with joy at being together again. If only all friendships could last like that.

The second special moment was when Grandma was presented with the doll she had won in the beautiful baby contest at age 2. She was very happy to see the doll and kept referring to it as her baby. Photos were taken of Grandma with her doll. 

I later made a scrapbook page of her with the doll at ages 2 and at 90, which I framed and gave to her the following Christmas. It hung on her wall until she passed.  

What do you give a woman for her 90th birthday?  I didn’t want to do the normal stuff, so I decided to make a 90 Years of History book. I used my scrap-booking hobby to fill a 4” 3-ring binder.

I researched and found at least one event and coordinating photo for every year of Grandma’s life. These were not personal events, they were world events, U.S. historical moments, and technological advances.  It all began with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

It was a fun project, and revealed how things had changed during her lifetime. I received a card from Grandma later that said it took her a while, but she read the entire book. She was also surprised at all the things that happened during her lifetime.

Grandma Liked Eye Candy

Grandma may have been old in years, but she still appreciated a good-looking man. When she first went into assisted living, we figured there must have been a male resident she liked. She took a bit more care with her hair and makeup. She also was wearing nicer looking clothes.

After one of her surgeries Grandma needed physical therapy. She told me her therapist was a good-looking man with a nice body. She summed it up with “he’s cute!” Grandma said she didn’t mind going to physical therapy at all! 

When Grandma was turning 90 I knew she would receive tons of sentimental cards decorated with flowers. I decided to shake things up a bit.

The card that accompanied my gift had a well-built man, shirtless, in tight jeans and a cowboy hat sitting backwards on a ladder chair. I wrote inside that I thought she needed at least one card that wasn’t full of flowers. She loved it!

A couple weeks after the party I received a note that she really liked my card, and that she was still fanning herself.  She may have been 90 but she wasn’t dead yet!

Grandma died in 2005 at the age of 93. The book and scrapbook page I made celebrating her 90th birthday were displayed at her memorial. The book was returned to me. The scrapbook page is to be displayed with the doll in a museum.

If I Could Go Back

I would love to go back and spend a day with Grandma on the farm. It would be a fun day, filled with laughter.

As enter the house through the shed and walk into the kitchen Grandma will turn from the sink and rush over saying “well, hello Gracie,” giving me a kiss and hug. She will walk me through the house, showing me anything new she has gotten since my last visit. I will get an update on each family member she has received a photo of.

We will sit in the living room talking for a while. Grandma will get out the old Victrola and records. I’ll crank the handle to hear the music just like I did as a child.

When the phone rings Grandma will rush over, sit in the chair and pick up the receiver. “Oh, hello Mary, I can’t talk right now, Gracie is here. I’ll call you later, Bye.”  Mary may have been Grandma’s best friend, but when you were vising, you came first. That is a courtesy people have lost these days.

While Grandma fixes us something to eat I will sit in large wooden rocker and listen to her fill me in on the latest family news. She will sit on her stool by the stove waiting for the hot water to warm in the kettle.

Grandma will fix us both a cup of instant coffee.  I think it was a “modern convenience” that she liked. Instant was the only type of coffee I ever remember having at Grandma’s house. I don’t normally drink instant, but when visiting Grandma, I do.

After lunch Grandma will go out in the shed to get a cake she baked for my visit. It is made from a cake mix, but exceptionally moist because she always adds a cup of sour cream to the batter.  

We go outside and walk around the yard as she shows me her gardens and how they are doing. She decides the bushes need some water, and I haul a lawn chair over for her to sit in while holding the hose.

When the watering is done we sit on the back porch and enjoy the weather. She talks about how the nicely the rose bush is blooming against the house. We talk about the barn on the adjacent property, and how it is falling apart compared to how nice her barns look.

Before I leave Grandma grabs me a gallon jar of homemade pickled bologna, and another of homemade dill pickles to take with me. I’m in snack heaven! 

As I climb into my car I look up. Grandma is watching out the kitchen window by her rocking chair. I knew she would be there to wave goodbye. She always is.

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Filed under Family, farm, freindship, friends, friendship, grandchildren, home, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality

Memories of Grandma-Part 1

We all have memories from our childhood of what a grandma is. The type of grandmother I am is nothing like what my grandmothers were. Grandmas like them no longer exist.

My grandmothers were of the era where women stayed home, and when at home wore a full apron. They were excellent cooks and always made sure they fed everyone who visited.  When you walked in the door, they were always happy to see you.

That is where the similarities in my two grandmother’s end. They were each special in their own way, but so very different.

My Maternal Grandmother

Grace DeVries Hilts was born May 3, 1899 and grew up one of 10 children. Her parents and some of her siblings were born in the Netherlands. Grandma was born in Jamestown, Michigan. Her mother died shortly after childbirth and her father married the family housekeeper.

Grandma did not get along with her stepmother and married the first man who asked her. She was 18 years old on August 11, 1917 when she took her wedding vows to Ralph Hilts in Hershey Michigan.

I have fond memories of my grandfather, but his stature in life was far below what my grandmother’s had been. I’m sure the early years of their marriage were most likely difficult.

Grandpa was a hardworking man and together they built a life, raising two boys and later my mother. When my mother was born her brothers were already 19 and 23.  

My grandmother was 61 years old when I was born and she became my babysitter. Both my parents were employed full time in Traverse City, and because of the distance from their home in town to the farm, I essentially lived with my grandparents the first 2-3 years of my life.

My parents would drop me off at the farm on Sunday night, visit me on Wednesday evening, and pick me up on Friday night. Because of the time I spent at their home, I developed a very close bond with my grandparents, especially my grandmother.

Memories of things that were part of my life as a toddler have stayed with me for life.

Front Porch Sitting

My love of large front porches probably started with Grandma. I remember sitting on the large farm house porch as the sun was going down. We would watch children playing across the street, but we never talked to them, and they never came over.

The people across the street lived in a large barn and were referred to as “the cherry pickers.” I now realize they were Mexican migrant workers. They would arrive in Traverse City every summer to harvest the cherries.

We also sat on that porch during the day, and Grandma would give me the glass saltshaker off the kitchen table. She told me that if I could sneak up on a bird and get salt on its tail that it would not be able to fly.

Oh, how I tried to get salt on those tails, but I never accomplished that task. I wonder how much salt I put on Grandma’s front lawn. Thinking back Grandma must have found it quite entertaining to watch me try to tiptoe up on a bird, knowing perfectly well that the bird was far more keen then my young mind realized.

Doing Laundry

My grandmother had a ringer washer. Once the clothes had been washed and rinsed, each item had to be run through a ringer to squeeze the water out before being hung on the clothes line to dry.

My most vibrant memory of that machine is when my younger sister stuck her arm in the ringer, and it sucked her arm in and got stuck. Carol screamed and my mother slammed her hand down on a quick release, popping the ringer open. I’m not sure who was more scared, my sister who was stuck or me watching the entire scenario.

When the clothes were washed and rung out, they were carried out to hang on the wash line. I had my own little laundry basket and clothes pins.

A low wash line was strung for me at the end between two poles. That is where I had the task of hanging small items such as wash clothes. A very important task for a two year old.

Down on the Farm

It was a farm and chores had to be done. I remember going into the hen house with my grandmother and taking the eggs out from under the chickens.

I also remember she let me carry the egg basket back into the house – that was gutsy!  I guess when the eggs are available daily if I broke a few it was no big deal. 

We also fed the chickens. I’m not sure what Grandma gave them, but I remember it was in a pan and she would throw it over the top of what to me seemed like a super high fence. For years I wondered how she did that, but now realize it probably wasn’t as high my memory makes it out to be.

Grandma had a few rows of raspberry bushes, and I could go out and pick all the raspberries I wanted to eat. To this day I love fresh raspberries. I wonder if I got my love of other fresh fruit and vegetables from my time with my grandparents.

At night we would call the cows. I can still here her saying “Come Bessy, Come Bessy, Come Bessy Come.”  The next thing you would see is the cows walking over the hill and heading to the fence where we stood.

  • With Grandma Pre-Christmas 1961
  • Grandma with my Mother and cousins
  • Grandma and Grandpa
  • My maternal and paternal grandparents on my parent's wedding day
  • My grandma in 1982 - 83 years old
  • Grandma, I am standing and my sister is on the pony
  • My high school graduation in 1978 with my two grandmothers
  • Grandma in November 1964 - 65 years old
  • Grandma and her son/my uncle, Lee Hilts
  • With Grandma on my wedding day, September 12, 1981 - she was 82

Going to Get the Paper

While memories of my grandfather are not as strong, there was one daily activity I loved, and that was going to get the paper. He had to drive to a small store or gas station to pick it up.

This was before seat belts and car seats were used. I remember sitting in the center of the front seat, and as we drove he would let me push all the buttons on the radio. Then when we got to the store, I could look inside a chest freezer and pick out an ice cream or Popsicle. A simple routine that holds fond memories.

I also liked walking the garden with him when he would pick the tomato worms off the plants and drop them into a can. I don’t know what was in the can, but it couldn’t have been good because they died.

Another memory of my grandfather is being in his garage with him. He kept beer out there, tucked behind his toolboxes. He would pull one out and pop it open to drink it.

Thinking back that is the only place I ever saw him drink anything alcoholic. Beer was never kept in the house. My grandmother did not drink at all, so I don’t know if she opposed having it in the house or if he simply did that out of respect for her.

The Move From the Farm

As they aged my grandparents sold the farm. Even though we weren’t there often, they had kept a pony for my sister and I to ride when we visited. That would be no more.

They moved into two-story home on a smaller piece of property when I was a child. It was next to a cherry orchard. It was from there that I first saw the automatic cherry pickers.

I still remember the disappointment I felt seeing that machine violently shake the tree so the cherry’s would fall. I felt bad that the Mexican cherry pickers would no longer be climbing the trees with their buckets to harvest the crops.

While living in that house my grandfather passed away. I was in 9th grade when he died, and Grandma would move again. She moved to a house next to my aunt and uncle’s home.

Grandma didn’t drive, so I’m sure this made things more convenient for her, plus it was a ranch style, so easier to navigate. It did have one wonderful feature, a mini orchard behind it filled with an assortment of sour cherry, sweet cherry, plum and peach trees. A fruit lovers paradise!

Habits I learned and Things I Didn’t Learn

My mother always said I have traits of my grandmother that I probably acquired while living with her. One of those was the fact that I don’t easily share my feelings. I keep things to myself.  I think over the years I have become more open, but I still walk a cautious line in that area.

I used to do a lot of embroidery, and I now have my grandmother’s embroidery basket. I remember my mother saying I make my stitches just like Grandma, tiny and precise.

One thing I didn’t learn and wish I had is how to tat. Grandma put tatting on the edge of everything she embroidered. Dresser scarves and pillow cases all were edged with tatting.

When it came to cooking, Grandma made the best beef and noodles. I never learned how. I remember my mother making it one time and I told her they weren’t as good as Grandma’s. She never made them again. I wish I knew how Grandma made them.

If I Could Go Back

If I could go back and spend just one more day with Grandma, what a wonderful day it would be. I would get up and not get dressed, just so I could hear her say one more time “get your duds on.” 

I would enjoy watching her cook breakfast. I don’t know how she could prepare a full serving plate of over-easy eggs, never breaking a yoke going into the pan or onto the plate.

I would sit in the kitchen and observe her laying an antique curling iron over the stove burner to warm it up before curling her hair so we could go to town. Of course she would change into her “going to town dress” because a house dress wasn’t proper. Once we got home she would immediately change out of that dress and back into her house dress, placing a full apron over it.

I would enjoy the orange slice candies out of the candy dish on the coffee table. They are still one of my favorite candies. I would also grab a couple Windmill Cookies from the depression glass cookie jar that sat on the end of the kitchen table.

My foot would quietly work the peddle on her sewing machine up and down, amazed that she used to sew clothing on that old treadle machine. My mother said when I was little Grandma could look at me, take a piece of fabric and freehand cut a dress, sew it, and it would fit me perfectly.

I would sit and watch the goldfish inside the glass fishbowl that sits in a wobbly, antique metal fishbowl stand next to her chair. She enjoyed sitting and watching them.

At the end of the day Grandma and I would sit on the front porch as the sun goes down. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning, red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

I would watch Grandma standing in the drive waving as I backed down the drive, one last time.

Grandma died on February 11, 1988, one month after my son was born. I have always regretted not making the drive north so she could see her great-grandson prior to her death. Grandma’s health had been deteriorating following a stroke. My mother said she thought Grandma held just on long enough to know that I and my son, Patrick, were fine.

I hope you enjoyed reading about memories of my maternal grandmother. Watch for my upcoming Memories of Grandma–Part 2, which is about the memories I have of my paternal Grandma, Louse Elizabeth Lautner King.

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Filed under birds, children, Family, farm, grandchildren, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED …WHAT IF?

Have you ever looked back on decisions made in your life and wondered What if I had made a the other choice? What would my life be like now?

Of course, the preponderances about how your life would have been different are all fiction, and they can be good or bad.  So have some fun, wonder what if and see what you come up with. Here are a few of mine.

What If Wondering…What if I had made the other choice?

What if I had followed my dream of studying journalism and become a “breaking news” action reporter?  I didn’t because I let my mother talk me out of it. Call is sexist, call it the era in which she was raised, or call it a mother being a mother.

But what if I had forged ahead on my dream?  Would I have written great articles that resulted in a huge demand for my services? Would I have graduated from newspaper writing to televised reporting? Would I have traveled the world to exotic countries or dangerous war zones?

I will never know the answer, but sometimes the speculation leads to regret. I wish I had followed my dream. Now I write from the comfort of a motorhome while traveling throughout North America. I’m not a high-demand reporter, but I am having fun.

What if I had married my boyfriend from high school? We had been together off and on from the time I was in 7th grade until two years after I graduated high school. My parents didn’t like him. Friends assumed we would end up married. Heck, we assumed we would end up married.

Then I met the man that would become my husband. Ron and I were married 34 years when he died. If I hadn’t met Ron, would I have eventually married Brad?

Speculation is yes, but it wouldn’t have lasted. It was too volatile of a relationship. Good for a few months, then separate for a few months. He wanted commitment, but he didn’t want commitment.

Brad wasn’t ready for anything that required him to settle down and not play the field. Sixteen months after I met Ron, we married. I think on this one the What if would not have ended well. I think we are better as friends.

What if I had applied to Ford Motor Company when I had the opportunity?  Ron was a Ford employee, and somewhere around 10 years into our marriage each employee was allowed to sponsor one application. He asked me if I wanted it and I turned it down.

I had always worked for small, family businesses. I was happy in that small, close-knit setting. He had complained about the red tape it always took to get anything accomplished in a big corporation.

Looking back, I may have made a huge financial mistake. What if  I had applied and gotten hired? I would have worked at a higher pay scale, had my own benefits, and had my own pension upon retirement.

At the same time, maybe I didn’t make a mistake. From an emotional standpoint, I have never regretted working for small family-run businesses throughout my career. If I had taken that job, I might still be working but close to retirement.

If I had been hired into Ford I would never have had the opportunity to go to college and become a paralegal, another job I loved doing. I am now living and traveling in a motor-home full time throughout Canada and the United States. I work remotely during the hours I want. 

I don’t have the benefits and financial security that job would have brought me, but I don’t think the What if would have led to as much personal happiness as I have enjoyed. That leads to my final scenario.

What if I had downsized into a Condo? After my husband passed away, I spent 2-3 years in a bit of a muddle both emotionally and financially. When I began to look at things closer I realized I was living beyond my means and needed to downsize.

While I pondered between moving to a smaller house or a condo I started separating my belongings into what I would keep and what I would put in a  moving sale. Then the offer came.

Paul asked me to come on board with him and travel full-time in a motor-home. After analyzing my finances I realized it was feasible and changed my plans. I notified my boss I was leaving and started planning for the biggest downsize of my life.

Was it good decision? Yes. Travel between August 2019 and April 2020 went as planned, and we saw a lot of area. Covid-19 led us to the decision to stay put in Yuma, Arizona during the stay-home orders. We will remain here until August, when we finally hit the road again with stops planned in Port Huron, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; and South Padre Island, Texas before we head back here to Yuma, Arizona for the winter.

So What if I had downsized into a condo or small house?  I would still be doing cold Michigan winters and working full-time in an office. I would have spent the stay-at-home period isolated in my home by myself.

Better an Oops Than a What If

Instead I have traveled to many of the spots I may never have ventured to on my own, and there are many more to come. Some think I made a huge mistake to pack up and go before I reached retirement age. You know what I think – Better an Oops than a What if. 

What are your What ifs in life? Do you regret the choices you made? Do you think your life is better because of them?  Comment below on your what ifs in life.

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Filed under decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, travel, Writing

A Country at War With Itself

It is sad what the United States has become in just a short period of time. As we look at the destruction created by the looting and vandalism in the past few days, it is disturbing to see how much anger and hurt is harbored by so many of our citizens.

In truth, this is not a hurt or anger created by only George Floyd’s death, when a white officer pushed a knee into his neck for 8+ minutes, resulting in his death. This came only a few months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was attacked and gunned down by two white men while out for a jog. It took months for those men to be charged with a crime, and only after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

The protests being waged following Mr. Floyd’s death are the result of pent-up anger that has continued to grow as black people are disproportionately killed by white law enforcement officers.  Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but are 2-1/2 times more likely to be killed by police.

What is further infuriating is that in many cases the officers are not charged for having committed a crime. If charged many are found not guilty.

A huge problem in this country is the blue wall of silence, also referred to as the blue code of honor. This is a silent code under which police officers stay silent, refusing to report other officers who exercise misconduct, criminal behavior, discrimination, police brutality, or any other unethical action. Body cameras and bystanders recording on their cell phone cameras are finally bringing some of this to light.

I was very pleased to see the Minneapolis Police Chief remove his hat and kneel at the spot where George Floyd’s life was taken, and also remove his hat when he answered their questions on the news. This shows him to be a person of moral and ethical character.

When questioned the police chief stated that he fired of all four officers because the other three officers, by not intervening, were complicit with Derek Chauvan having his knee in the neck of George Floyd for 8+ minutes, resulting in death. Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter.  The other officers have not been charged.

I have seen many cities where police officers are walking with demonstrators or kneeling with them in prayer. This shows that not all law enforcement condone the behavior of the bad, but it is not enough to heal the pain that has been going on for too long.

Obama Administration

It was only a short 12 years ago that this country reached a milestone when it elected Barack Obama as President of the United States. This country, with its horrible history of slavery, racial oppression and discrimination, had elected a black man into its highest-ranking position.  That said a lot for how far our country had come.

Barack Obama served for 8 years as president.  During his presidency there were several high-profile deaths of black Americans engaged in encounters with the police and protests led to rioting:

  • Oscar Grant, a black transit passenger, was shot by a white police officer. Riots broke out in Oakland, California. The officer, Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
  • George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, and riots broke out in Los Angeles.
  • Manuel Diaz, a 25-year old black man, was shot to death when he ran from police. Destructive demonstrations broke out in Orange County, California.
  • Kimini Gray, a 16-year old, was killed by police after allegedly pointing a handgun at them. Riots broke out in Brooklyn, New York.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013. It was created to give black people a voice in civil rights. Issues included a broken criminal justice system and a higher unemployment level among black Americans. Those problems still exist today.

Black Lives Matter believes in peaceful demonstrations. They do not participate nor do they encourage looting and violent acts like those taking place today.

George Floyd’s Two Autopsies

After the autopsy of George Floyd’s death indicated he died from underlying health conditions, not from the loss of breath created by a knee on his neck for 8+ minutes, people were angry and upset. His family ordered an independent autopsy.

That independent autopsy determined George Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure”. The difference in the two determinations makes one question whether the first medical examiner works frequently with the police and is part of the “code of blue.” Both medical examiners ruled the death a homicide.

Where We Stand on Race

In 2016 a survey showed 56% of white Americans said the race of a subject made no difference in the use of police force, but only 18% of black Americans believed that to be true.  More than 2/5 of black people said that police in their community made them feel more anxious than safe.

U.S. citizens, looking for change, elected Donald Trump in 2016. A non-politician, non-military, public figure who promised to Make America Great Again.  The question now comes to mind, Is America at War With Itself?

There continues to be racial divide in this country on how people are viewed based on the color of their skin. There is inequity that results in black people being disproportionately injured or killed by white police officers.   

The fact that we have protestors trying to storm the White House and destroying Secret Service vehicles says a lot about what a lot of Americans feel toward President Trump.

Where else in American history can you recall riots where Washington DC monuments were defaced?

Where the Treasury Department was attacked?

Where the White House was at risk of being breached by protestors? 

When Chopper One lands at the White House lawn and is greeted by protestors with their middle fingers raised? 

Why is former Vice President Joe Biden was out speaking with protestors while President Donald Trump is hiding in a bunker under the White House? 

Trump Administration and Racism

It is likely that a culmination of numerous factors has led to the anger displayed toward President Trump.  We are all familiar with his tweets that repeatedly insult people, make racial slurs, and instigate violent acts.  

American people have come to realize what a strong racist their President is. Mayors of cities undergoing riots have asked President Trump to be quiet. To stop posting comments on Twitter that instill violence. To stop posting racial comments from the 1968 racial riots.

It isn’t all about tweets and verbal comments. His tendency toward discrimination against those of non-white ethnicity screams out from his campaign and administration: 

  1. In 2016 there was a strong correlation between Trump campaign events and acts of violence. Data from the Anti-Defamation League showed that counties hosting Trump campaign rallies had more than double the hate crimes than similar counties that did not host a rally.
  2. Counties that voted for Donald Trump by the widest margins experienced the largest increase of reported hate crimes.
  3. Surrounding the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes peaked from October to December 2016 and continued through 2017. This was the second largest increase in hate crimes in 25 years. The highest increase in hate crimes followed September 11, 2011.
  4. Quinnipiac University released a poll that states 80% of African-American voters feel Donald Trump is a racist. 55% of Hispanics feel Trump is a racist, and 51% of all Americans feel he has racist views.
  5. In August 2019 President Donald Trump spoke at the 400th anniversary of the year slaves first arrived on American soil. His behavior prior to his arrival resulted in the Black Caucus of the Virginia legislature boycotting his appearance. In doing so they stated “It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the President represents” and referred to his “repeated attacks on black legislators and comments about black communities” and they felt he was an “ill-suited” choice to commence that monumental period in American history.
  6. The Trump Administration is working to roll back President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat racial segregation. This roll-back would make it easier for banks to deny loans to black and Hispanic people. It would also make it easier for cities to confine families to minority neighborhoods.
  7. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has in 2020 proposed cutting back data collection that helps track discrimination in the mortgage market. In 2015 the Obama administration began tracking patterns of poverty and segregation with a checklist of 92 questions that had to be completed to access federal housing funds. The Trump administration is trying to eliminate that tracking system.  Of concern is that the Trump financial regulator could encourage banks to invest in inner city projects such as sporting arenas instead of loans that benefit local residents. 
  8. Black home ownership is at its lowest rate since segregation was legal. White rate is about 73% and black rate under 43%. 
  9. Housing discrimination complaints rose 8% in 2018, as reported by the National Fair Housing Alliance. This is the highest level since tracking started in 1995.

Trump Admnistration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks

Between 2017 to 2020 there have been at least 79 Trump Administration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks. Many of those rollbacks have a direct impact on low-income and racial minorities, which include:

*          In February 2017 President Trump signed three executive orders to fight crime, gangs, and drugs, and restore law and order, supporting the men and women of law enforcement. Civil rights organizations viewed these orders as vague and suspicious.

*          In August 2017 the Obama administration ban was lifted regarding the transfer of some military surplus items to domestic law enforcement, rescinding guidelines that had been created to protect the public from law enforcement’s misuse of military-grade weapons.

*          In August 2017 the Trump administration halted the EEOC rule that required large companies to reveal what they pay employees by sex, race, and ethnicity. The rule was intended to remedy unequal pay in American companies.

*          In September 2017 the Department of Justice ended the Community Oriented Policing Services Collaborative Reform Initiative. This program was created to build trust between police officers and the communities where they serve.

*          In February 2018 the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal denied critical health care to those in need. The funding was being diverted to funding the border wall.

*          In February 2018 the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget proposal eliminated the Community Relations Service which was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its purpose was to address discrimination, conflicts and tensions in communities around the country.

*          In 2018 The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education released a new Case Processing Manual that created a larger hurdle for people filing complaints. It allows for the dismissal of civil rights complaints based on the number of times an individual has filed.

*          In January 2019 the Trump administration was considering a roll-back of regulations that provide anti-discrimination protections to people of color, women and others.

*          In January 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration had stopped cooperating with and responding to UN investigators over potential human rights violations in the United States.

*          In April 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration would not nominate nor re-nominate anyone to the 18-member U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

*          In January 2020 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a proposal that would gut the agency’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. HUD’s proposal would leave people of color, women, and protected communities already harmed by unfair and unequal housing policies at further risk.

Heal the Country

There is a very strong divide in this country. Racial discrimination and violence are at the heart of it. We are a country divided, and it needs to be healed. There is a Michael Jackson song that says in part: 

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me

When Will it Stop?

We are now in our 7th day of protests, vandalism and looting. When will it stop? It is hard to say. We have had a President hiding in a bunker tweeting words that incite violence.  We have more than 37 cities in 22 states plus Washington DC destroyed.

It is time federal and state legislatures took action to make sure that the rights of every person in the United States are protected. Treatment and protection need to be equal regardless of whether a person is White, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Jewish, Black, or any other nationality.

This country was built by being accepting of all, a melting pot of immigrants that created a wonderfully diverse country. It is time laws were in place that guaranteed equal treatment for all. Until that is done and people are satisfied that their lives matter, history will continue to repeat itself.

Update:  As this writing was being finalized President Trump spoke in the Rose Garden.  Lafayette Park across from the White House was filled with peaceful protesters. Suddenly right before the speech law enforcement moved in, using tear gas and rubber bullets to force the peaceful protestors out of the park. Why?

It soon came to light. President Trump’s announced that he is deploying the 1807 law to deploy military then commented he was going to a special place.

Those peaceful protestors had been gassed and shot at by law enforcement because President Trump was walking through the park to St. John’s Church for a photo op.

Almost immediately the DC Episcopal Bishop denounced President Trump’s use of St. John’s Church as a prop. The Bishop stated that after having military police fire munitions against peaceful protestors President Trumps actions were an abuse of a sacred space.

And So We Continue

The anger continues. People want the remaining three officers involved in George Floyd’s murder charged. They want equal treatment by law enforcement. They want a justice system that is just.

It is up to the United States citizens to regain control of their country. It is time this country becomes what it was created to be, a melting pot. Many cultures living together, all on equal ground. Equal and just treatment for all races.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one….from Imagine by John Lennon

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DOCUMENT YOUR PART IN HISTORY

I look around, the place has more people than normal for this time of year, but it is still pretty well emptied out. Why wouldn’t it be? Who wants to stay where the summer temperatures go as high as 120° Fahrenheit?

Yet, here I am. Our original plan was to leave here at the beginning of April and visit several national parks and scenic areas through several states before heading to Michigan to visit family. Then head south and west again, hitting Sault Lake City and Colorado Springs for photography and RV conferences before going for a three-month stay on South Padre Island, Texas, followed by winter back here in Yuma, Arizona.

Those plans have been crushed by the Coronavirus shutdowns. We have extended our stay here in Yuma until at least August 3rd. We are trying to secure reservations in Michigan for somewhere between mid-August to early October, but so far have not had any luck. The state is still locked down and the few campgrounds that are open do not have long-term spots available.

Time will tell if we travel, where we will be, and when we will get there. When you live full-time in an RV, campgrounds are an essential part of life.

We are living through an event that will be written about in history books. Have you recorded your stay-at-home location and changes in lifestyle? Have you noted the schools closing, people doing work-at-home because businesses closed, hospitals overrun with patients, people wearing face masks and gloves to protect those around them?

If you have young children, have you recorded their thoughts on what is going on around them? These are memories that may be forgotten over time but will be important to future generations.

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Paul and I are hanging tight in Yuma, Arizona. I walked around the park and took snapshots of the camp, documenting the place that was full when we arrived in February and is now almost empty. A lot of the people here in the winter are Canadian snowbirds who were ordered to return to Canada in March or lose medical insurance due to the pandemic.

So where are you? Have you documented the event? Leave me your comments below.

Stay Safe!

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Be Kind, Always Be Kind

If you find yourself getting frustrated with an elderly person, think of them like your grandmother or grandfather, then treat them accordingly. That is something in the midst of this pandemic people need to remember. Be kind to strangers – all strangers.

I recently read a post on Facebook, and when I saw this image quote “Even the strongest hands can lose their grip, the greatest of minds can become cloudy, and the biggest of hearts can break. So Be Kind, just always be kind.” I put the two of them together.

The story behind the Facebook post is that the person’s father went to the grocery store to pick up a few items. He did not realize that the aisles were one-way. It can happen to anyone. Arrows posted on the floor, but who looks there when shopping?

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Instead of nicely mentioning it to him, someone snapped at him rudely, belittling him for his stupidity. Her father, feeling ashamed and humiliated, left his groceries in the cart and exited the store without purchasing any food. He did not go to another store. He went home without any food, fearful of making another mistake.

I was grocery shopping and went the wrong way today. I had the store memorized on the directional arrows, and today I was halfway down the first aisle when I realized they had changed them all. Probably because they realized they originally had them backward for the way people navigate through the store. It can happen to anyone.

I have noticed that men are more likely than women to go the wrong way when shopping. Why I don’t know, but 4 out of 5 times, if someone is going the wrong way it is a man. Usually as I’m passing, I’ll say “you’re going the wrong way.” When they look at me confused, I’ll point out the arrows. The normal response is “thanks.”

If you see any person not following the rules, it doesn’t mean they are stupid and uncooperative. They probably didn’t notice that something has changed. You can let them know without being rude.

I would assume the daughter of the elderly gentlemen above purchased his groceries for him. What if he didn’t have family nearby? What if there was no one to help? Was it worth the possibility of him going hungry because of someone’s superior attitude toward him?

Be kind to everyone, especially the elderly. Think of how you would want them to be treated if they were your grandmother or grandfather and act accordingly. Everyone deserves to be treated nicely.

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Stay-at-Home Orders: 10 Positive Points

We have all been watching the fear of the unknown unfold before us with the Coronavirus spread throughout the world, but more closely to home here in the United States.

We all need a break from the chaos, and below I am going to give you 10 positive Points to the stay-home orders.

I am in a unique class of citizens. We do not have a “sticks and bricks” home, we live full-time in an RV. Stay-at-home orders affect us a bit differently. We elected to stay put in the RV park here in Yuma, Arizona until things calm down. Being in an area where temps average 107 in the summer is not our choice, but we feel it is the best alternative if things do not calm down before then.

When I think back to one year ago in April 2019 I was winding down on the sorting out of my house in the anticipation of moving into an RV full time. I was prepping for an estate sale, selling my home, leaving my full-time job, and hitting the road. By mid-August, those things had been accomplished.THINK POSITIVE IMAGE

I enjoyed a wonderful fall traveling in eastern Canada, and warm winter in southern Texas and Arizona. Our plans for this summer to hit some national parks before heading back to Michigan to visit family have been pitched. We don’t know when or if we will be able to travel to Michigan this year.

The Port Huron Township RV Park we stayed in last summer is closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus. The Port Huron Lapeer Road KOA is price gouging, charging $75 per night if you want to make a reservation. Under the circumstances, our plans are in limbo.

The coronavirus has been the main focus of news for the past couple of months and will likely be for the next few months ahead. We all need is a positive brain break during our stay-at-home time.  Here are some positives of the stay-at-home orders:

  1. You no longer need to set an alarm clock. Sleep in or get up early, your choice.
  2. You can dress however you want – casual, pajamas, the scroungy never-wear-in-public old clothes – whatever suits your fancy. You aren’t going anywhere, no one is visiting, so it’s all good.
  3. No need to wear makeup – who is going to see you?
  4. You can now read those books you purchased but never had time to read. Clean off that shelf and prepare for a literary shopping spree when the stay-home orders lift.
  5. There is plenty of time to do spring cleaning. Does anyone really do that anymore?
  6. Do the spring yard cleanup, plant flowers, ready the vegetable garden.
  7. Clean the junk drawer, the closet, or the basement. Think how neat and organized things will be once this pandemic is over.
  8. Lower gasoline expense – if you aren’t going anywhere you aren’t using any gas
  9. Skim through recipe books and try some new recipes. Think of all the money you save by not eating out, shopping, going to events and concerts.
  10. More time with your spouse, kids, significant other. Make art projects and play board games. Did out your old hobbies – woodworking, sewing, ceramics, stained glass – anything you used to do and normally don’t have time for.
  11. Sit on your porch or deck and enjoy the sun, listen to the birds, drink a glass of wine.

Use this stay-home time to enjoy life. Someday you will be able to look back and remember the brain break you were awarded in the midst of a pandemic.

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Twists and Turns

We all experience them from time-to-time.  The twists and turns of life created by things we aren’t expecting or choices we make.   It is what we make of them that determines our destiny and happiness.

My life was a whirlwind of twists and turns for several years, with the culmination being my decision to sell my home and the bulk of my possessions, leave my job prior to being of retirement age, and live and travel on the road full time in a motor home.  LIFE IS A MATTER OF CHOICES

When I made that decision I knew I would need to find some type of remote work.  I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a spousal pension from my deceased husband and some savings/investments to help me float through the beginning of this, but not enough to sustain me long-term.   I plan to live a long time and my investments need to support me in old age!  Income on the road is a must.

I have always loved writing, and one of my goals when I set off on this was to expand my writing career.  When you travel throughout the United States and Canada, travel articles for magazines is a good possibility.   The income generated from that is not steady enough to support this new lifestyle, and so I continued looking for part-time remote work.

I applied for and was accepted on a contractual basis to be part of a pool that writes ad-scripts for radio advertising.   This is giving me some good experience, but is more of a pocket-change job than a lucrative career, so I continued looking.

I joined The Barefoot Writer, then signed up for a course on becoming a copywriter with American Writers and Artists, Inc.  I had not even started the course when two days later I received a response to another contractual job I had applied for and have now accepted to write marketing blogs for various companies.

As part of a pool of copywriters I am obligated to complete five assignments per week.   This includes research and writing a marketing blog that meets the clients specifications and the company’s QC requirements.  I look at this as a wonderful opportunity to make money while that is compatible with the instruction I am getting from my copywriting course.

I’m sure the time spent learning to juggle work, class, travel, and photography in a time-efficient manner will leave me twisting and turning. Now, if you are a long-time reader of this blog you know that I am a photographer and sell my work on Fine Art America.  I am also looking to expand my sales avenues for my photography, so add another matter to my juggling act.

I am starting off 2020 with a juggling numerous things that are the culmination of the twists and turns of my life.  Here’s to what should be a very interesting year!

Please comment:  What are the twists and turns you are juggling?  What are your plans for 2020?

 

 

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

Well, we arrived seven days late, had to cancel a planned 5-day stop between South Padre Island and here, but have finally arrived in sunny Tucson, Arizona.  In a way it doesn’t feel like Christmas.  There is no snow on the ground, the average temperature is around 65 during the day and upper 30’s at night.  I have a meager supply of Christmas decorations which I was finally able to put out upon our arrival, but it just doesn’t have the Christmas feel I am used to.

One thing we will remember in the future, when traveling and doing a quick overnight in a Walmart parking lot, the lot is very busy and very full on the last Saturday before Christmas!  The one we stayed at in El Paso, Texas had a Texas Roadhouse restaurant within walking distance, so we did have a good, but very noisy dinner.  Shop-till-you-drop shoppers get hungry!

The positive side is the KOA campground we are in has citrus trees on every site and while staying here you are welcome to walk around and pick whatever fruit you can use.  Yesterday I went out and picked a couple grapefruit, four oranges and about five lemons (I’m going to make old-fashioned lemonade).  Boy is fruit fresh off the tree way better than store-bought!

Cactus with Christmas Hats

Photo found on internet

As Murphy’s Law would have it, we arrived Sunday in a city that has 360 days of sun per year.  Today, Christmas Eve, it rained a good portion of the day and is forecast to rain again this evening, and then again tomorrow.  Thursday should be partly sunny, and then rain is predicted for Friday and Saturday.  Go figure I would get four of the five days of yearly rain almost immediately upon arrival.  On a positive note, the remaining 98 days I will be in the this state should be bright and sunny.

My Christmas Eve has been quiet, as will Christmas Day tomorrow.  I will miss having my kids and grandchildren coming to the house to open gifts.  The noise, chaos, and mess as gifts are opened and paper strewn around are what makes the holiday.   The positive is that I do not have to deal with snow, ice, or bitter cold.  Everything has a negative and a positive.

Whether you are experiencing Christmas in a winter wonderland or a tropical paradise, I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas.

 

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Filed under celebration, children, Coping, events, Family, Full-Time RV, grandchildren, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, travel, vacation, Weather, winter

Planning Flexibility

We all plan out our lives, whether it is the routine we use at work, getting the kids to bed and then up again for school, or what we will do on vacation, we all have a plan.  What happens when that plan doesn’t work, or something happens that means those plans need to be changed?  Do you get stressed or just “go with the flow?”

There are times when no matter how well you have activities planned, something will happen that throws a wrench into the pot — it can be job loss, car problems, an accident, a fire, natural disaster, or someone made a mistake.Blessed-are-the-flexible-for-they-will-not-be-bent-out-of-shape_

In dealing with problems I have noticed there are those who get stressed, angered, frustrated, and do not cope well.  There are others that may feel frustrated but seem to be more flexible, adapt where necessary, and continue on without experiencing much stress.

Why is it people are so diverse on how they cope with problems that arise in their life?  Is it learned from when they were children observing their parents?  Is it their natural personality?  Is it something that happened in their lifetime that impacted their manner of handling stress?

In my opinion, it is all of these combined together to create a personality and coping ability that is unique to each person.   A person’s everyday lifestyle, economic level, personal experiences, and childhood combine together and impact how each person will handle different challenges as they occur.  The same challenge may be handled with ease by one person, but create immense stress in another.  There is no right or wrong, it simply is.

A person who has always lived a financially strong life will likely find it difficult to handle a sudden loss of income that leaves them unable to purchase everything they need, much less want but don’t need.  A person who grew up in a low income family or has spent the majority of their adult life with financial struggles would also find loss of income difficult, but they are more prepared mentally and emotionally to handle dealing with meager funds.

Someone who grew up in an environment where every minor problem was over-exaggerated into a major catastrophe will likely not have the coping mechanisms of someone who grew up in an “accidents will happen” and “life goes on” mindset.  The first would teach you to always be on edge and the person will likely “fly off the handle” at bumps in the road, while the second is more likely roll with whatever life throws at them.     While there is not a right or wrong personality, it is likely that the person with better coping mechanisms will have a less stressful life. 

What about someone who has encountered war, been in a horrible accident, experienced death of a loved one, or been assaulted?  There are uncountable incidents that could happen to a person which may have a profound effect on their way of thinking, what they fear, what angers them and how they react to various events.  Those lifetime encounters impact their way of thinking, how they plan their life and how flexible they are.

Whatever your personality type and how well you cope with upsets to your daily or lifetime plans, keep in mind that the more flexible you are, the happier you will likely be. Stress is normal in life, and there will be times when the best laid plans are disrupted.  Allowing those disruptions to create undue stress can make you more irritable and does nothing to resolve the problem.  Stay calm, focus on the solution, and make adjustments where needed.  Remember, flexibility does not always, but can, result in something better than you originally planned.

 

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Nature’s Palette

As you drive to the north end you encounter drifts of sand on the road, then a small sign points to Beach Access #6.  This access is outside the city limits and not maintained, but people use it every day.  The sand is thick, so a 4-wheel drive is necessary.  You maneuver through sand piles that will make you think of maneuvering deep snow if you are from the north.  Once you break free you are on a beautiful beach that you can drive for about 3 miles south and 26 miles north on the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the north drive that has the most to offer.  Every day is the same but different.  Nature creates an ever changing palette intermixed with human elements.   We enjoy driving in the edge of the water, but there is always a possibility a larger wave will come in and leave you a bit wet.  That is what happened to us one day when we had top off the jeep.  A wave hit the side coming in the driver’s side window and splashed so high it came down through the roof opening.

A trail of shells leads you down the beach, not only on the water’s edge, but also up near the dunes.  This is because during high tide the water is considerably higher on the beach, and high winds bring it in even further.   If you are lucky enough to be there on a high winds day not only will the waves be higher, but there will also be sand swirling off the dunes and flowing across the surface of the beach until it meets incoming waves,  giving a soft, mystic feel to everything.   The pounding waves provide a rhythmic music of nature as you drive.

Fishermen line their poles up along the water, sitting in lawn chairs waiting for their catch. some with BBQ grills set up to cook up their meal fresh.  We stopped to watch one bring in his catch, but it was soon discovered he had hooked a sting ray, which he cut his line from so that it could work its way back into the water.  Herons, gulls, pipers and pelicans congregate along the water’s edge, satisfying their hunger with the offerings of the water.

Visitors walk along with a bag in hand, searching for the perfect shell.  On occasion you will see a group of horseback riders from a nearby stable.  We came upon a driver in a car who was stuck in the soft sand along the surf.  We pulled him out with the Jeep’s power wench.  You may sometimes encounter nude sunbathers or swimmers.  Everyone is friendly, everyone waves.   The beach is a relaxing, fun place to be.

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Landmarks, both natural and human-enhanced, mark your way.  Mile marker signs are mounted on the edge of the dunes so you know how far you have gone.  Some of my favorites include a log decorated to look like an alligator, a log with an upside down boot on it, a buoy that washed ashore, a container anchor that has been covered in graffiti, a piece of driftwood shaped like a sea serpent, and even a water rescue pod that has been decorated.  These items are constantly changing, impacted by nature and man, so each day brings a new look.  Sands drift and cover parts while winds uncover new discoveries.  The sea serpent log that was open and clear on our first visit now has sand over parts of it.  The water rescue pod was moved further onto the beach by the US Fish and Wildlife workers as it was sitting on the edge of a wildlife preserve.  A buoy that had drifted ashore was complete one day and missing its top a few days later.

I have enjoyed the time spent on the beach of South Padre Island, Texas.  I will miss nature’s palette of beauty and change when I have gone.  It will be interesting to see what items remain the same, what has disappeared, and what has been added by the time I return next year.

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Driving the Chesapeake Bay Bridge- Tunnel

While in Virginia I was able to ride across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel twice – once going over, once coming back.  This is an experience worth a special trip.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened on April 15, 1964 and was selected as “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World” in a worldwide competition.  In 1965 it was described as an “Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  From shore-to-shore the bridge-tunnel measures 17.6 miles and is the world’s larges bridge-tunnel complex.  It consists of 12 miles of low-level trestle, two 1-mile tunnels, 2 bridges, almost 2 miles of causeway,  4 man-made islands and 5-1/2 miles of approach roads for a total of 23 miles.   The clearance below the bridges varies from 40 feet at the Fisherman’s Inlet to 75 feet over the north channel.

I took the drive, which crosses over the Chesapeake Bay,  from the City of Virginia Beach north to Cape Charles, Virginia on the Delmarva Peninsula, then a few hours later made the return trip.  I shot photographs from a moving vehicle, which show driving across the bridges, going through the two tunnels, and on the way back I was able to capture a ship passing over the tunnel and between the bridges ahead of me.

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Once you cross over onto the Delmarva Peninsula be sure to stop at the Visitors Center for information and directions to the 1942 Bunker of the Winslow Battery from WWII.  It is within walking distance from the visitor center, or if you prefer you can drive to the location where handicap parking is available.    It is a unique treasure hidden from view and well worth the side trip.

Artillary Memorial_GLG0588_0109

Bunker from WWII

Despite the official name change to Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge Tunnel in 1987, honoring the man who spearheaded the building of the project, to preserve the bridge-tunnel’s identity and name recognition it continues to be known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.  The bridge-tunnel is one of only ten bridge-tunnel systems in the world, three of them are located in the water in the Hampton Roads area of Tidewater Virginia.    I went through the Hampton Bay-Bridge Tunnel on my way to the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel.  While it gives you a small taste of what is to come, the overall experience is small in comparison.  If you get the opportunity to experience the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, do not pass up the opportunity.

 

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