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Posts Tagged ‘JCountry’

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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  • Three year old JCountry eating the Christmas tree bulbs.  Not so funny at the time but we now laugh a lot about all the things he ate back then: 1/2 tray of brownies while sitting on top of the refrigerator; dog food out of the bin, at the store and the bag, at home; and, light  bulbs.  For a while, we followed him around with white bread (poison control said that was all we could do).
  • While we are on food, the joy of throwing up on Christmas even because  I ate the whole package of chocolate covered wafer cookies, while everyone else decorated the tree.  Hey, I was a kid and it beats me eating so much liver sausage at grandma’s house that I threw up in the car, on the way home.
  • Last year, at Teacher daughter’s, watching her new shelter dog lick everything in sight.  Mia especially liked the new grandchild, whose mother so patiently bit her tongue at dog spit on her child for days.  We love you Francis!!!  Okay, maybe that was last summer, but it was still fun.
  • Mia also entertained us with her immitation of a short range missle tracking a lazer point on the floor.  When said lazer pointer was turned off, Mia spent the next hour/s trying to find the missing red dot.  ‘Sniff, Sniff, Oh, it’s not between the chair and the cabinet, it must be under the rug.   Dig, dig, dig, nope, not there either.  Where’s the dot?  Where’s the dot?’
  •  There was the Christmas that we had to turn back from visiting my sister’s house as the snow was too bad so we joined my aunt at her house instead.  Her turkey ended up on the floor, but she had a great story about her husband’s temper.  Seems he got really mad about the floor not being clean and waxed , so on the way to work, he went to get his lunch out and yanked the refrigerator door really hard and pulled the whole thing over on himself.  (he wasn’t hurt and that’s not the funny part), he was late and only had time to change his pants and not his underwear.  When he got to work, and went to change into work clothes, he realized the beets had done quite a spill on his boxers and his fellow employees ribbed him for months about it.  But, the floor was clean enough we could eat the turkey.

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We did not decorate much this year.  After grandson/son #2 (Army Guy) went off to the Army, the boys moved bedrooms and I am left with the extra bedroom on the main floor.  It will eventually be my workroom, but right now is just a mess.  The first thing I did though, was move grandson/sons #3 (JCountry) piano out to the dining room. 

We have an L shaped main floor, with 1/4 of that square (that’s not an L) being that bedroom, now workroom.  The other parts of the L are the kitchen, the dining area, a tv, a couch collection (my mother likes to replace her furniture and we have inherited quite a few extra pieces), and a computer area.  Trust me, this is NOT a big house.

Which I really realized when it was time to put up the tree.  There just isn’t anywhere to put a Christmas tree.  Heck, there’s a comfy rocking love seat in the middle of the floor.  I did consider hanging it (the tree, not the couch) but there was no room for that either. 

I took my trusty Menard’s rebate and got a 24″ tree and a can of spray snow (Any tree I have is having snow on it.) and I went to Hobby Lobby, and for 50% off, I bought a fake garland (which also now has snow on it) and a cloth runner to protect the ancient piano from the fake snow.

In our first house we had a fireplace and I did this every year on the mantle, only with real boughs and fake snow and shiny ornaments and (when we were in the room) lit candles.  Now, I have two plastic battery candles.

It’s in a pinch.  The guys are older now and not so excited about going into the attic for decorations.  I just wanted something up.   I used to decorate every square inch but this house put a stop to that.  I really need to declutter more; which I have been doing for the last seven years actually and still have more to go.

I have another reason for decorating.  On my facebook (http://SAVanVleck.Wordpress.com) a couple of people have mentioned not enjoying Christmas because they have lost a loved one. 

I know the feeling.  When my brother died, I just wasn’t sure I would ever enjoy the holidays again.  Then, Dad died and I was left with this horrible guilt because we thought we were doing him a favor by taking down the tree before we left their house after Christmas.  He got up and was not happy.  He wanted to look at it for more time.  That was his last Christmas.

So, what I tell people and firmly believe now, is do not deprive yourself because you feel lonely, or sad, or guilty or whatever.  My brother and father were both big on Christmas and, by decorating, it is more a reminder of that joy and a tribute to the ones you love who loved the holidays.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

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JCountry was excited about World War I history on Friday. He had seen Flyboys in class and wanted us to see it.  Movie was rented and Saturday night was family movie night. 

It is rare anymore to get all five of us at home at the same time, so it was really nice.  Well, it was nice once we got JCountry to stop talking about all the stuff he thought was neat in the film.

This was the 2006 Flyboys, directed by Tony Bill.  Flyboys (2006).  It is a tale of the adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille.  These were young Americans who volunteered to enter the French military before the U.S. entered World War I.  They became the country’s first fighter pilots. 

We are talking bi and tri-planes and the Red Barron here.   I had never seen Flyboys before and, once we got JCountry to shut up about all the things he was excited about in the movie, we really enjoyed it.

These young men were trained so crudely and quickly that the average life expectancy of a fighter-pilot was three to six weeks.  The Germans had better planes, weapons and trained pilots. 

I highly recommend this movie.  The violence is sad more than gruesome.  Planes do explode and there is some blood but, compared to a lot of movies of today, it is pretty tame and it is an excellend character study of people who are idealistic and have values and who learn and grow.

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‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and just what do you give those who have “it” all and also money?  Check out, Wacky Gifts for the Holidays for some great ideas, including a personal hovercraft.  I WANT ONE!

But, what if you have to give to one of those irritating people who pick up the wrapped Christmas gift and tell you what it is before they open it?

Yes, folks, these are Decoy Gift Boxes for products no one probably makes, but I bet you will see for sale, next year.

OR, you could do what my mother did every year for most of our lives!!!!

She gave gifts in Kotex boxes.  Yup!  Those highly decorated boxes held everything from toys to underwear.  If it did not come in a box, and she could cram it in a Kotex box, that’s what you unwrapped. 

We started taking bets as to who would get the Kotex box this year.  On good years, she could fool you and you would see that your brother got it and think you were safe, but noooooo!  Unwrap your next gift and there is the Kotex box.

The very best year was the year that JCountry got it.  He was all of two or three years old and I really would not have thought that he knew what a Kotex box was, but I have a movie of him unwrapping his gift, taking one look at the box and staring up open mouthed in wonder at just what was his Great-Grandmother was giving him.

Hmmm! Good idea, as soon as those old movies are transfered to CD’s, I shall post it on U-Tube and he shall become a U-Tube sensation and be properly embarrassed, AGAIN!

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This picture is “Waiting for Grandad.”  Left to right we have, EMT, JCountry and Gaffer.  Pardon my over-crowded house.

Four men in the house and anytime that we can get all four in one room, a game happens.  The latest “greatest” game is 1942, Axis and Allies.  The challenge is getting them all in one room.

The first thing that happened was EMT disappeared.  Literally, disappeared.  He left, on Friday night, to go help with Bingo at the fire department and never returned.  He told me he might just sleep at the department, but would be home in the morning. 

EMT has a bad habit of not letting us know what he is doing.  He is twenty, so it is hard to complain; however, I have repeatedly explained to him that it is a matter of courtesy to let the people you live with know when to expect you back.  Heck, it is even a matter of your own safety, as we have a relative who died when his car flipped over and he wasn’t found for three days.  The first two days he lived. 

So, the first day EMT was missing, I grumbled about him all day.  I left the outside light on until 3am and then swore and went to sleep.  The second day, I began to worry a bit.  Late that day we called his friends.  Why is it no one is ever home when you call them for something really important?  Late that day we drove around.  No one was at the fire department.  No one was at his friend’s house. 

At seventy-two hours, we went to the police and filed a report on him, missing, in our car.   He has had a problem with a couple of guys and we were concerned they had cornered him and beaten him to a pulp and left him in the woods.  We drove around staring between trees for our red van.   Our County is wooded.

Two hours later, when we arrived home from the police station and driving around, for the second time, Gaffer decided to make a library run for books, movies and high speed.  Twenty minutes later, Gaffer calls and lets us know that he is parked next to our Red Van at the library, and will call if his brother is in the library.

YUP!  That’s where we found EMT, after seventy-two hours.  During the time he was missing, he had gone camping, torn apart a car with a friend, and made money scrapping the parts, done Christmas shopping, and gone to the library.  He really does not understand why we were so upset.  In the meantime, my hair is grey!!!

EMT, anticipating leaving for the Army in January, where he will be the problem of the U.S. Government and they can figure out where he is, brought home the Harry Potter Clue game.  He gave it to the family for Christmas and wanted to get a lot of gaming in before he left.  He also figured it was maybe a game I would play.  He was right.

Playing games is akin to having a kidney infection, for me.  I am more a knit and giggle with daughter, while games are going on, preferably with a glass of Bailey’s in hand, kind of gal.  There are now three games I will willingly play: Cribbage, Dominoes and Harry Potter Clue. 

I should be cleaning my piles of projects out of the front room and baking pies or cookies for our Thanksgiving dinner, instead I am blogging and listening to Gaffer speak with a Russian accent as he rolls his dice to defend Russia from Germany.  The are figuratively spitting at each other, I am told.  JCountry is Germany.  Gaffer is Russia.  Granddad is back in from his disappearance to my studio and all is well with our world.

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They say that people who are social live longer.  I cannot help it.  I am a loner and I have always been a loner.  My brother was six years older than me and my sister, 10 years older, grew up in the next state.  We lived on a half acre with empty lots on both sides and farmland in back.  Mom was very protective and there were not many other kids on our road either.  I am used to being alone.

I am sitting here watching the males of the house playing cards.  Since Gaffer came home, the table has been clean awaiting the nightly game marathon. It starts by 4:00pm.  EMT gets home from work by 6 and joins the game, no matter what it is.  Risk, Monopoly, Clue are favorite board games.  Pinochle is being taught to JCountry right now. 

I have no desire to join their game.  Anytime I have been forced to play, usually because they are short a person, I have spent my time, in my head, wishing I was doing something else; something that seems productive to me. 

Personally, laying in the grass watching patterns in clouds is more productive.  Usually, it becomes more productive because I run back inside and grab my camera and do a series of sky photos. 

My last series of photos, involved looking up into trees.  I think I have five good shots now to paint from.  The series before that, involved shadows.  So far, I believe I have only one shadow painting to do.  It needs more work.

I do enjoy an evening, or day, laughing and socializing with good people.  We had a wonderful evening, sitting around the fire in the back yard of my oldest daughter’s neighbor’s yard, not long ago.  I think most of my “good evenings” involve a campfire.

Maybe if they played cards outside, I would enjoy it more.  I have wonderful memories of playing chess and cribbage, by the fire, with my brother. 

Or, perhaps it is just that social people, who are playing games, feel as if they have lived longer.  I usually am saying, “will this never end?”

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