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Posts Tagged ‘relatives’

Before Facebook, people could not hide behind an icon/avatar. They would have to be man/woman enough to look you in the eyes and call you a stupid idiot. That takes a lot of guts to do and perhaps the self-destructive desire to be smacked in the face with a fist.
Think about that as you sit around the table this Thanksgiving, with your relatives who you used to just see on holidays and now can ‘speak’ to daily on Facebook.
Would you really have said any of the following to them, in person?
“You voted against God. You voted for the death of people.”
“You are lazy, live on welfare, housing assistance, food stamps and will make our system implode.”
“Before the election, you promised to riot, cause mass destruction and violence and assassinate ….”
The above quotes are atributed, originally to a Kimber Chitwood and forwarded to me on Facebook, by relatives, who I am pretty sure would never say any of that to my face.
I may disagree with your vote, but I would never denegrate the way you vote or your right to vote.
On a personal side, from people who would do sit across from me at Thanksgiving Dinner, I was told, on Facebook:

“…watched Jerry springer for a second and we were like damn these ppl are stupid. He (husband) said, “Well here ya go hunny, these are the ppl who must’ve voted!”

“…those of us who voted for Romney are educated enough to develop a plan of action to get Obama out of office. There are just a lot more uneducated people in America today.”

They are saying this to an Edmund J. James scholar and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society member with six years of college under her belt.  I’m hardly uneducated nor stupid.

And, that is only two entries. For months now, I have felt like I was personally attacked because my politics doesn’t agree with their politics.  Do I think I am right, “well, of course.” Do I think they are wrong, “yes.”  Do I think they are stupid because of the way they vote, “NO.” That is who they are and what a sad boring ‘Stepford Wife’ world we would live in if we all believed the same way.

This country was founded on checks and balances to stop one belief system having all of the power. If you cannot accept that, and need to denigrate the other belief than yours in a personal way, then you have a problem.

I’m told not to take it personally, but my belief system is who I am.  How do you take being told you are an idiot? Do you take it personally?

“We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation,” said a wise man.

So, what do you think?  Are people forgetting they are texting/tweeting/facebook(ing)?? to other human beings? Are they losing courtesy? Have they lost respect?  Is this the downfall of man? Let me know what you think.

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It is always nice to have a new subscriber, but it is especially cool to find one from a far away land. I believe it helps to remind us just how similar we are. There are jobs we hate to do and then find out how worthwhile they were. There are times we do not realize how much we miss our relatives until we see them again.

If i cannot travel, at least I can read about other places and people. Sanchari is in Delhi, and blogging at, http://sancharib.wordpress.com/. If you scroll down her posts, you will see some great photos of the Jaisalmer Fort.

But, what really brought me home was her November post on cutting down the Mango tree which was just one year older than she is.

When I was growing up, my side yard had a large weeping willow tree. I could crawl under the branches and have an instant play house/fort/whatever I wanted. Many a day was spent eating lunch and playing under that tree. So, when mom and dad moved to a subdivision, they took a start with them and grew a new weeping willow in the backyard.

When I divorced, I moved back home again with my daughters. Super teacher daughter was in kindergarten and was delighted to live with a weeping willow in her very own backyard. It was she now who spent hours eating cookies or sandwiches and playing dolls under her grandparents tree. That is, until one day years later when lightning split the tree and it was taken down.

We had moved out a couple of years before this, but daughter always ran to visit her tree. We did not think to warn her as we got settled in for our visit, until she came back in the house in tears. Her beloved tree was gone.

She never ate mangoes from it but that tree was a wonderful memory for my daughter, as well as Sanchari’s Mango tree was for her.

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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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When I was a girl, and boy am I dating myself here, you could take an auto trip across America and eat your way across this country, trying foods that were new to your palate and never eating fast food.  There were grits in the south and vinegar on fries in Canada. The architecture was not all the same; as my neighbors pointed out to the rest of our rural block when they came home from California and painted their home a “California lavendar color.” It was shocking, in a block of white and tan homes.

 

Now, we travel and it’s the same choice in every town, TGIF or McDonald’s and Arby’s.  Regional flavors and differences are disappearing and not just in food either.  Wide Awake in Wonderlands is on a backpacking/hostel tour of Europe. She is reliving her “after school” type tour and finding the same thing in Europe.  Where hundred year old buildings house designer label stores. 

 

Before the rest of the world becomes too homogenized, with McDonalds popping up in the Colliseum and Western clothing the norm:  I would love to take pictures of:

 

The architecture of India as a backdrop of the electric color of Saris and food of India

 

Dusty African planes and the smiles of their people.

 

Architecture in Japan and the beauty of simplicity their culture respects

 

The Outback in Australia and the life of the fires of the Aboriginal people

 

Markets of spices and vegetables everywhere

 

In the meantime, I will travel with Wide Awake in Wonderland and Anthony Bourdain and today, I am off to the wilds of Tennessee, to visit relatives and where the only thing exotic that I have experienced in other visits is the southern accent of my cousin who was born and raised in Indiana.

 

OPPS!! Trip just cancelled because of Ike.  Apparently roads into Tennessee are being closed.  Hmmm! Does that keep the rain out?

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Okay, what are blogs for, if not to vent about your relatives, right?????????

Morning is my quiet time. My peaceful, internet morning ritual. Post a poem for mom on her blog, at  Padairvanvleck’s Weblog  , post my post here, check my writing post and decide I have nothing to say. Then, I check my email. BAD MOVE this morning!

 

1.       I was trying to make a joke, to BrainDebris, about mom’s penchant for watching certain tv programs and it didn’t come off very well. Especially, when I sent it to mom and not BrainDebris.  Three emails of apology later and I move on to other email.

 

2.      WHY DID I BOTHER!

We have another wedding coming up next month and I am taking mom to it. This one is only three hours away and near to the area we are from, so lots of relatives. I wrote a relative, who I had been told had one of my brother’s chess sets to give me and was coming to the wedding. I received a reply email this morning.

 

 (XXX’s to protect the innocent)

 

MY EMAIL:

I was glad to hear you were going to  XXX  wedding. Grandma really missed XXXX when you were hoping to stop on your trip last summer.

 

I do have a request. XXX two chess sets of (my brother’s) so that I could pick one to have. It would mean so much to me to have one of his chess sets.  I wonder if you guys could bring them and I will go out to the car with you and pick one and put it into my car.  It would mean a lot.

 

I’ll be bringing Grandma to the wedding.

 

That’s it. Fairly friendly I think, and to the point. I have had some good laughs with this relative. We have visited their house when they had birthday parties etc. Last time I saw the relative, we were warmly welcome and treated well.

 

 HER REPLY:

1st paragraph informing me in five different ways that her husband has to work. I kind of got that he had to work . THEN:

 

“We are hoping to be able to just pick Grandma up by herself to spend some time at our house, since she will be only 2 blocks over from our new house. We would love to have her spend some time with her great grand babies and us. I would love to grill out for her  and make  a nice dinner for her.

 

“We really are only about 1 minute from XXXX  house” ( the house we are staying at for two days)

 

ME AGAIN:

Okay, I get that I am not invited. But, I replied simply that Grandma would love to spend time with this woman’s children and I would forward her letter to mom.

 

She found it necessary to email me again; just in case my head was extra thick and I did not get the message that I was NOT welcome to accompany mom to her house.

 

SHE WROTE:

Hopefully she can spend a little while with us, we would love it. XXX does have off every Friday and Sunday.  So, not sure how long you will be here, but if you could see if we can pick her up one of the Friday evenings or Sunday anytime – that would be special for us to be able to have her over.

 

 

OKAY FOLKS!  You be the judge. Am I being overly sensitive here or was I good enough to come to their kids birthday party, with a present, but they do not want to cook for me?? I haven’t been around in years, certainly not enough to offend her.

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Once, through a totally insane decision, I was involved in rehabbing a house. The only good part of rehabbing a house, is burning the scrap wood when you are done. The worse part of rehabbing is when you are stupid enough, or desperate enough, to live in a house while you are rehabbing it. There is absolutely nothing exactly like listening to a table saw eighteen hours a day. Thank God!

 

The tenants had moved out of my house; taking the interior doors, cabinets and water softener with them. I don’t even want to know what they were doing with them. When I called her to inquire into her health and what I thought she could do with it, her response was, “Just try and find me.” 

 

The insurance company told me that someone had to live in the house to insure it and I didn’t intend on returning to Indiana for six months. A young man needed a place to stay and was (Ha! Insert me laughing insanely at this point.) going to pursue a life in the building trades, so might prove helpful in exchange for a free place to stay.

 

The problem with this was, well, EVERYTHING! The boy was lazier than mud and he was totally insane. He got up around two in the afternoon, and would walk in the room, would hip chuck me out of the way, and grab whatever I was holding to make it look like he had actually lifted a finger to help. He obviously has a problem with women because I was the only one he physically pushed/shoved, told filthy jokes to and laughed at. I have since started lifting weights and it will never happen again.

 

An hour later, he was off to a class, which he was most likely failing, as it took him six years to complete an associate’s degree. I was going to help him once with a problem he was having in class and asked to see his text book. He told me he didn’t buy them because the teachers all told him that books were optional and you didn’t have to read them. I guess, that is why education is so expensive. The publishers are able to sell books the professors never have you read.

 

When he arrived home from evening classes, he cooked himself a meal which consisted of cooking the vilest smelling wine poured over what must have been rotten hamburger. And, the above, lists the good points of having him live in my home.

 

His stay in my home ended because he had taken to damaging the stuff I worked on. This led me to believe that the kid had some type of mental problem and one of us had to go or the other would end up in jail. 

 

 

His damage consisted of: I finished mudding the bathroom and the next morning someone had taken a flat head screwdriver and dented the ceiling in numerous spots. Since there were only three of us in the house, I was able to isolate the cause. There was no way that was an accident, nor was it an accident several days later after I finished sanding drawer fronts, and stained and applied urethane to them, only to wake up the next morning to find a nickel size, deep gouge out of one drawer. It was right in front, of course. I could never have missed seeing that.

 

By this time, I figured the kid was just plain mean and stupid. Other things were damaged, but the final straw happened as he was moving out. I had sanded a door down to fine grit, stained it and applied urethane to it. It was ready to be hung. Since it was the front door, I had been extra particular with it. We were outside seeing him off. I went inside to crack the champagne I was going to celebrate with when he left, and there, on my beautifully finished door, was a line of black marker from top to bottom.  Luckily he had driven out of the driveway already, thus saving me from a murder rap.  

 

When a rehabbed house you are living in is complete you have the joy of sitting around, in a near empty house, and waiting for your realtor to call. The good part is that it is much easier to keep a nearly empty house spotless. The bad part is that there are a lot of hours after that and only so many relatives you want to visit. I purchased paints and canvas, set up a still life and painted. The odor of solvents is not the odor you want people to associate with your house when they have a decision to make between one house and another. That is when I began to take my writing seriously.

 

I had read every Mystery that the Lake County Public Library stocked during the remodel.  I often found myself saying, as many writing inclined people do, “I could do this.” I did. It needs some major work, but at the time Eleanore Taylor Bland, critiqued it at A Dark and Stormy Night Conference in Chicago and gave me the name of her agent. They were not interested. I did so many things wrong, from plot to final edit to critique letter. I was so excited, I didn’t take it seriously enough. 

 

The house sold. We drove back to Wyoming with money in the bank and began looking for a new house. The first property we viewed was fifty-three miles down the road, twelve miles down gravel and three miles down dirt. I got out of the car, let out a deep breath of air, for the first time in years, and listened to the sound of silence. No table saw in sight. It wasn’t the property we could get but I took out my camera and my soul thanked me.

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