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Archive for the ‘Home Again in Indiana’ Category

I usually have pretty good instincts. It’s when I ignore that little voice that I get into trouble.

Andy Rooney said something like,

I wish there was something you could take to stop you from doing stupid things.

Well, I wish I could have taken it on Friday because I did that “stupid thing.” As with a lot of you out there, our money is really tight. We’ve even taken to getting meals and some groceries from a local food bank.

I got out my tin of pennies and decided to turn them in. We have a car to pay Indiana’s ridiculous license plate fees on this month. The bank with the coin counter is about twenty miles up a road we rarely go up. There is the price of gas to consider there. I was not going to buy coin sleeves. I don’t think the bank gives them away but I did not ask. I decided to use the Coinstar machine at Walmart.

When you pour your pennies in, and it goes up to $22.16, the machine says, “My, you have a lot of coins.” It did not add, “And, I’ve got a way to scam you so I get all of them, instead of the $2. 16 fee. We rarely eat out anymore. When we do it is the $4.00 meal at Steak N Shake or the $1.00 menu at McDonald’s. If Jacob is playing at Muddy Boots, sometimes we sit with water and once in a while we split a meal.

So, when the evil change machine offered me double my money by giving me restaurant coupons.  I did debate it. Outside of Walmarts was a Steak N Shake, White Castle, something else and a steak house. Surely with over 600,000 restaurants, there was something I could afford.

With a great deal of trepidation, that I ignored like an idiot, I pushed the Restaurant Certificate button.

DO NOT PUSH THE RESTAURANT CERTIFICATE BUTTON.

Just go ahead and pay the $2.16 fee. When you push the Restaurant certificate button, you go home with a slip that says NOT VALID FOR CASH, and that’s all you go home with.

In my search on their http://coinstar.Restaurant.com site, you can search alphabetically or by mileage. Within 15 miles of my home, was 1 restaurant. Opps! Have to buy a $45 dinner to use the certificate. Now, I think that would mean only paying $20, with a $25 certificate. It was for an East Indian restaurant. Could be doable.

Let’s try 30 miles, since they gave me Indianapolis restaurants, closer to 45 miles away. I guess that’s it. Under A’s one restaurant was listed 4 times and there was a second restaurant. So, two A’s. It went like that through the alphabet, other than letters like Q, X, Y, Z which had none. Many meals are pay $75 before using your coupon. Definitely NOT doable.

I had not heard of one of these but I did see a spot that said,

“What do you do if you have your certificate and the restaurant is closed?”

Enough said.

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We do not get one single trick or treater. I guess no one wants to risk our 400 foot long driveway, when the trees even hide the fact that the house is lit up or not. I really miss Halloween decorating though.

And, I would so do this, if anyone could actually see my house.

Is this the spookiest fun house or what?

Photo courtesy of Sean Fallon, I think.  I actually made a copy because I want to do it some day in the future.

After the boys moved in, I always wanted to have a Halloween party for them and their friends.  They are now 19 and 22, and almost 25.  The 22 year old was just home from Afghanistan and sat in a chair, fully costumed, in a dark room, for a half hour as he waited for his two brothers to get home.

I’m a nut for halloween, and never had a bad experience trick or treating, like http://toddpack.com/2011/10/27/the-worst-halloween-ever-or-the-night-a-girl-and-her-mom-stole-my-candy/#comment-6810.

When I was growing up, we lived in a rural area.  We always had pumpkins on our porch and trick or treaters.  Those kids had some walking to do, I’ll tell you.  Mom and Dad were square dancers and dressed up in awesome costumes every year, but not for the trick or treaters.  When I was young, dad drove me into the nearest town.  I loved it.

I was watched, like a hawk anytime I was outside and it was such a neat feeling to be out after dark and around tons of kids and running and laughing with some new friend.  I even remember the year I fell in love with Zorrow, or was that Zorro?  I don’t know how to spell it and I don’t know who he was but his ?ten/twelve year old self was just as appealing to me as Antonio Banderas is now.

Who knows, maybe it was Antonio????

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When I was growing up, there were no malls on every corner, or any corner.  Mom did not have a driver’s license and never did get one and shopping consisted of a payday (every other Friday) foray into the nearest little town, Griffith, Indiana.  Where I would return my arm-load of books to the library and pick out the next two weeks reading, while mom and dad started their grocery shopping.

Occasionally we would pick something up in the Ben Franklin dime store.  Prices were higher for clothing there, but you could get a tube of lipstick or a hanky to give a relative for Christmas.  Our main shopping was from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog.

1958 Sears Catalog

photo via http://www.wishbookweb.com/1958_SearsChristmasBook/index.htm

This was the Christmas catalog of 1958, and I remember that santa ornament hanging on our tree.  We poured over those Christmas catalogs for hours.  When the Sears driver delivered our order, my brother and I would have to leave the room while she opened those pages and checked the goods.  I don’t think they could do that now, in this day of GPS tracking and speedy delivery, but back in the 50s, service ruled.

I belive there was a fall catalog also that signalled the arrival of the school year.  Mom would haul out the catalog and mark the pages I could use to chose my school clothes.  There was a price point obviously.  Mom always ordered two pair of shoes for me, in different sizes, just to make sure.

The Sears truck driver was almost a friend to invite to dinner.  He came in with the order and waited while things were tried on.  So, when it was time to order school clothing,  I looked for my favorite pair of shoes.  Sears carried them for years.  They were flats with elastic cords that went from the front to the back and I thought they made my feet look awesomely small.  Mom would order two pair, in different sizes, and the Sears truck driver would wait, while I tried on my shoes, so he could take back the pair that did not fit.

Now, I drive fifty miles, to Shoe Circus in Indy/Greenwood, to get shoes that feel half way comfortable and pay a $100 for the privilege.  Do high heels make your feet look amazing?  Yes!  Do they feel like the inquisition has arrived?  Yes!

I HATE SHOES!

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It has been a busy week; a tiring week; an exhausting week.

On June 26th, Sunday, we held a (F)UN birthday party to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday.  Her birthday is actually in January but no one wants to travel in January.  It was quite a success, with my sister flying in from Arizona, my neice and two daughters driving down from Michigan, my daughter from South Bend, along with one of her sons and his adorable girlfriend, and nephew and his fantastically funny wife coming down from Wisconsin.  The rest were from all over Indiana.  Mom was dully surprised.  When daughter brought her down from her apartment, to the building’s common room, she couldn’t figure out why I was taking a picture of her and who was that woman who looked like her granddaughter standing next to me also taking her picture, until she realized it WAS her granddaughter from Michigan.

Picture of my daughter, mom, greatgrandson and his girlfriend.

It was fun watching her wheeling around in her power chair going “Oh, you too!” as she spotted her sister-in-law, sister, and old friends.  Some of the food (mostly that made by my husband) was a big hit.  My potato salad needed doctoring.  The cake from Sam’s club was great.  People didn’t just eat and leave and that made it nice to talk with everyone.

Sheryl, Mom and sister, Eve.

Sheryl, Mom and sister, Eve.

I, and my daughter from So. Bend, had been planning the party for three months.  We even had blue grass music compliments of Dan Cantwell, of Travis Creek Band, from Nashville, Indiana and our boy, Jacob Wells, who sings with the band occasionally and threw in some country music. My family is an artistic family and used to my uncle playing guitar in the background, so it reminded the relatives of him. I have movies of Dan and Jacob up on Youtube. My Youtube name is SAVanVleck. You could also search for Jacob Wells. He gets good feedback on his singing. I’m trying to link it but ……. haven’t got that down.  I think I have to upgrade to link a movie?

I would love to say that the band in front of the window was a wonderful cinematic affect, but I’m afraid the shaky camerawork and the one place of missed lyrics will make that a true lie.  I plan on rerecording this song when I can and have my tripod with.  I am afraid I am developing a family tremor.  I used to shoot 35 mm photos at f-stop15 with nary a shake, now I can’t hold it still at any speed.

Now, the bad of the week: A few days before the party we found out that my mom is in Stage 3 heart failure. With that, and other problems, the doctor has decided to have Hospice come out to her apartment. It is really a blessing. It will help ensure she is getting the best of care and take a load off of me. I suspected last month, as I purchased only a small amount of food for her that she wasn’t eating right. This month, it didn’t seem as if she was eating at all. Turns out, she is too tired to eat and they will figure out what to do about this, and send people out to help her with her personal needs and her house cleaning needs.

Today, when I went to her apartment to give her a shot (of blood thinner) and take her for blood work and meet her new Hospice nurse, she met me with: “I’m not stupid.” I told her I knew that and asked what was wrong. She decided that she only had six months to live and I was trying to hide it from her and that was why we had the party and Hospice coming out. While it is true she could only have six months, it is also true that she could have only one week or she could have two years, and we started planning the party months before I found out. I think she finally believes me but I am pretty sure that I will have to settle the matter several more times before she moves on to something else.

I have always wondered at older people saying they have no one left alive (no mate, no children, no friends) and so they are ready to die. I miss people who have died, but I do feel that life is a blessing to be lived to the fullest. Yet now, as I look at the photo of my dad’s family that I posted two months ago and realize that there are only two people left alive in that picture: my cousin, Richard and my sister, Evelyn. There is something that sets you adrift when you realize you are so close to being that alone. I mean, I have a family other than dad’s family; husband, daughter, grandsons, but not so many of those people who were there when I was born. It’s just strange.

I’m limping from sciatic nerve  leg pain, tired from everything, including taking steroids for the leg,  and probably boring, but meeting all the Hospice people makes it all so real.  Thanks for listening.

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Dude, please.  by | Blurt.  posted a rather disturbing picture today of what he feared would be a new fashion.  On his way for a bagel, he saw a man in a spandex wrestling suit. 

Now, this may not seem odd in the gym or in the wrestling ring, but trust me men, this is not a sight I want to see on the street.  It ranks right up there with those spandex bicycle shorts.

Mom and I were having breakfast, last summer, and I was up at the front register when four men, all in spandex bike shorts walked in.  Now, if you knew my mother, you would know that men rank right up there with dirt, snot, smelly pooh and, well, MEN!!!  She’s not a fan and the last thing she wants to see at breakfast is four men’s penis’.  How do you spell, penises?

Mom has reached the age where she can’t be quiet.  She comments and I hide.  All I could do, was walk back to our booth and pray.  “Keep your head down, Mom.  Keep your head down, Mom.  Please don’t look up.  Please!  Please!”  Luckily, at five foot tall, she sits with her chin in her plate.  She did not look up. 

But, really, guys, REALLY!

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Eons ago, I’ve seen my readers Avatars I’m sure it was from before they were born, there was this strange little fellow who did guest appearances on variety shows.  Okay, let me explain that concept.  Variety shows were a combination of – well, variety.  No, everyone has talent singing show, but just one or two acts singing.  A comedy sketch was done and, what became, stand-up comedy.  Sometimes they did sketches, which were micro-mini stories, told in a humorous way in less than five minutes.  It’s the only time I have ever really liked short stories.

Anyway, there was this guy who came out on stage, all by himself, brave man, and would recite a poem he had written.  He would do an Ode to ____, anything. 

Now that you have had your television history lesson, I will move on to the electric skillet.  Also, eons ago, I think for my first wedding, we got an electric skillet.  This was a honker of an electric skillet, solid steel, weight a ton and held four inches or more of grease.  It was great for everything.  You could pretty much do without the stove top with this thing.  I fried pork chops and steak and shit on a shingle.  Ah, make that meat, in gravy on bread (if I remember right).   It looked rather like this:

Electric skillet

One day I discovered I could make homemade donuts.  Dunkin had nothing on me.  Actually, I don’t think Dunkin even existed at this time.  My girls were pre-school and I did my part to add to the clogging going on now in their arteries by frying donuts every morning for one year.  I know this because I remember the house we were renting.

It was a little house on the back of the property and the landlord lived in the front house and used to come through my house when I was gone.  We had two bedrooms but I refused to use the back bedroom because the furnace was in the hall on the way to the bedroom and the fear of life that runs in my family, would not allow me to trust that it wouldn’t blow up one day and we would not be able to get out or to get to our daughters if they were in it.  I guess they slept in a crib and bassinet in our bedroom, as the youngest was still doing her projectile vomiting then.  Life has never suited her.

Oh, that’s good.  I only perpetuated to the clog in the oldest daughters artery, but I made some radically good French Crullers in the day and we ate them as we watched Sesame Street.  It was new.  It was good.  So were the crullers. 

I think my no-oil Vegan diet is making me light headed.  I just took a hunk of cheese, a DEFINITE NO on my diet, popped it in the microwave for 5 seconds and ate it.  The two things I miss the most are melted cheese and butter.  There is no substitute for butter.

I don’t know what happened to that electric skillet.  I mentioned it to my mother the other day, who makes it her business to know who has what in the family and where everything went.  Of course she cannot remember anything that happened last week, but that is for another day.  So, mother says that she has an electric skillet and she would be happy to get it out of her cabinet as she has no room in her senior galley kitchen.  I pull it out and it’s like a toy electric skillet.  I could only cook one crueler at a time in it.  Why do they even make something like that?

I will spare you all and not make a real ode, a rhyming ode, for the skillet.  It would be too painful to read.

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Brown County decided to give the kids the day off , from school, for Martin Luther King, Jr., day.  Apparently, we have not used up our snow day allotment, so JCountry is sound asleep, where he prefers to be at 10 a.m.  He is one of those kids who does well on the two-hour delay days, but not so well when he has to catch a bus at 7:30 a.m.

Not to give away my age or anything, but I was a teen in the 60s.  I still have a copy of my letter from President Eisenhower in response to my complaint that it is just stupid that people hated other people because of the color of their skin and he needed to do something about it.  I’m sure I was very polite though, as children of the 50’s were always very polite.  Sometimes, overly polite, like Eddie Haskell polite.  And, if you don’t know who Eddie Haskell is, well, I guess you weren’t there. 

I attended a fairly large school, address Gary, Indiana, called Calumet High School.  I do not know what the facts or figures are, but it ranged from Doctor’s children to children who barely had a home.  It also had a good number of African Americans and Latinos.  This is unlike the school JCountry attends, which (I am guessing here) has less than five non-Anglos in attendance.

My lab partner was an African American girl and I will never forget the day I sat down at our lab table and looked over to see her, head on crossed arms, crying.  That was the first I knew that we were going to have riots.  She told me that some of the kids hated her because she was black.  I was appalled.  I mean, out of all the things in life that you have a choice of, the color of your skin is not one of them.  I comforted her, as best as someone who has not walked in her skin could.

At lunch, I was hit and yelled at by a black student, who I did not know.  By the time we went home on the bus, school was closed.  I think we had three days off to let things settle down and probably let the teacher’s regroup.

I have never understood how people can hold so much hate in their hearts as to hate another person for such a dumb reason.  Nor, how the same people who honor and revere someone like Michael Jordan, can turn around and hate everyone else whose skin is darker than theirs.  

This blog post does not circle back around to the opening.  It has no answers for the question.  I wish I did.  I have learned though, that you cannot change people’s minds much.  If they want to hate someone because they are black, they will.  If they want to hate their President, they will.  If they want to believe every stupid rumor they will.  I just wonder — what can make a person learn to think for themselves and not believe every stupid rumor they hear, no matter how illogical it is.

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