Saturday, December 29, 2018

Remembering the Important Stuff

Yesterday was my 50th anniversary. Bill and I were married on Saturday, December 28, 1968. That happens to be the same week Apollo 8 orbited the moon and took the first photo of the blue marble of earth rising above the curve of the lunar surface. The news media has made a big deal of the anniversary this week, but I don’t remember it at all.

I don’t remember if I knew that there was a moon shot on Saturday, December 21, 1968. I was waiting that day. Waiting to go home and get married. Bill had given me a ring in October. We had called all our family and friends and the pastor of his mom’s church. The plans were all set. We were going to get married at his sister’s house in January during semester break. We were both graduating from college, but staying in Cruces for the spring semester because I needed to complete student teaching to get my certification. The plan was for me to finish up while Bill worked to put food on the table and waited for his draft notice.

During the last week before Christmas, it dawned on us that the Christmas break was longer than the semester break. We called everyone to see if moving the wedding date up would cause any difficulty. No one else had conflicting plans so on the spur of the moment we went for our blood tests on Friday, December 20. Instead of getting in the car after our last class and driving home, we spent the weekend at Bill’s place. On Monday went to the Health Department Office, picked up the results and applied for our Marriage Certificate at the County Clerk’s Office. Certificate in hand we drove home on Monday, the 23rd.

Then the mayhem ensued. I had a wedding dress, but nothing else. Christmas with the usual family dinner and presents, etc. was on Wednesday. The wedding would be on Saturday. I borrowed the cake topper and veil from my friend Dee. My sister and I went to the dime store and got silk poinsettias which we used to decorate the cake table. At the florist we bought live flowers and florist’s tape to make the corsages for the mothers, my bouquet and boutonnieres for Bill and the Best Man.

Since it was Christmas I decided to go with red and white flowers. The doctor who had an office on the corner across from Bill’s parent’s house loaned us the potted poinsettias from her waiting room. I baked a double batch of red velvet cake in layers of various sizes, assembled and iced it.

A hasty bridal shower was put together by my sister in-law. I received some sheets and towels and other household items. Bill already had an assortment of his mom’s cast off pots, pans and dishes. My mom got us a set of brown stone ware plates and bowls which came from the supermarket where she shopped. She had been collecting them all during the fall. Each week a different piece was offered for a small amount of money. I also got a hand held Sunbeam mixer. I had collected some Oneida stainless flatware with Betty Crocker coupons.

There was no money for a honeymoon. We borrowed my new sister in-law’s single wide trailer which sat on a lot down the street from Bill’s parent’s house. In the fall Bill and I had helped paint the new house before they moved to it from the trailer. The trailer was still partially furnished, but it needed cleaning and I had to go grocery shopping.

I don’t know if we watched the launch or the landing of the moon shot or whether we heard the words from Genesis read on Christmas Eve by the crew. I was busier than the proverbial “one armed paper hanger” that week.

honeymoon trailer
The mission crew was equally busy. The mission to circle the moon had not been intended for December of 1968. It was hurriedly put together to stay a step ahead of the Russian space program. The crew had had little time to train and the rocket was not fully tested before the manned launch. The whole thing was a rushed operation of much larger scale than my honeymoon launch. I was fully invested in my project and don’t remember anything at all about that historic flight which orbited the moon ten times and returned to earth.

The flight went off smoothly as did my own launch. There was a lot of scrambling and making do and shifting of priorities in both cases. We were married and drove off into the moonlight to the noise of fireworks exploding under the hood where our teen aged nephews had planted cherry bombs.

After the honeymoon, we had no home. Bill was living with a roommate in an apartment and I was an RA in the dorm. With two weeks until the end of the semester, we had to study for finals, find a house to rent and job for Bill. After looking at several places, we picked the cheap one nearest to campus. It was a furnished triplex near enough that I could walk to class. Best of all it was $55 a month utilities paid.

Instead of studying for finals I spent most of that week scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom in the apartment. It had previously been inhabited by male students who had obviously never wiped the grease off the stove or mold out of the refrigerator. I spent literally the entire week on my knees scrubbing. The distractions must have paid off because both of us had our best ever GPA for that semester and Bill found a job working at the hospital as an operating room orderly. We had successfully completed our launch.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Looking Back

Another year is almost gone and we’ve little to show for it. Thankfully neither of us was gravely ill, though I did have a nasty respiratory infection in June which took me a month to recover. Then there was the 12 hour bout of food poisoning while I was in Florida visiting my aunt which was not fun while it lasted. 

The AC died in summer and had to have a new part. In September the heater suffered from a similar malady. About the time the AC was ill we discovered that the refrigerator freezer was full of ice. Instead of falling into the ice tray, water was spraying down the back of the freezer. It had to go so now I have the old reliable ice tray doing the job.

We traveled to see relatives for visits and for memorials. We’re all getting old. It was fun to see all the aunts, uncles and cousins and remember those who have passed on.

Gary and I watch the antics of the squirrels and chipmunks that use our back fence as a super highway. We know there are at least two lesser chipmunks around because we’ve seen them together on occasion. There are literally hordes of squirrels that chase each other up and down the tall pines and run down the fence with peanuts and then leave little holes all over the yard where they have been digging. 

Green leaves sprouted last spring where I had not planted them. It finally dawned on me that the sprouting plants were sunflowers. The squirrels had little garden plots all over the yard where they had deposited the sunflower seeds they took from the neighbor’s bird feeders. The javelina paid us a visit last week and rooted up the front flower bed. The elk have wandered through the neighborhood and tasted this and that, but found nothing much to their liking so they move on leaving a tracks and poop.

The weather here has been gorgeous all year. We enjoy walking in the afternoon. Gary has been out riding his motorcycle a few times and I play a little tennis and bowl. Both of us listen to a lot of podcasts and I watch too much TV. Mostly I watch the Hallmark Channel and baseball. Those Dbacks are getting harder and harder to watch. You think they’re going to get it together and then they drop the ball—literally.

I worked a few days at the Food Bank this summer as a sub for my friend Kathy who was out RVing through the North West. I do some volunteering at church and make things for the Merry Mall. Gary gathers up the pine cones that fall from our trees and herds the leaves so he can scoop them up into the trash. Last winter we didn’t have any snow to shovel. It was dry for months and then we had a good monsoon in late summer. No forest fires here so far. Life goes on quietly here. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Out of Touch

For the last couple of years I’ve been off balance. I thought I was part of the majority. I was much surprised to learn that I’m not in the mainstream. I thought that Americans were kind and good and tolerant. Now I find that tolerance is no longer a staple of our national diet. We’re consuming more and more junk food. Conduct that I would have considered laughable and sophomoric is now considered appropriate in polite society.

What I once considered to be scientific fact has now been declared fiction. Though the weather worldwide appears to be becoming more and more extreme and storms are more frequent and devastating, nothing has changed. No action is needed. It’s just the natural cycle. We don’t need to plan such disasters. The international scientific community is mistaken. None of these threats is being exacerbated by people. There is no need for international concern about climate change.

What we should be worried about is the influx of foreigners who are fleeing the intolerable conditions of their homelands. Forget about the history of previous migrations of the Irish, Chinese, Germans and Scandinavians who flocked to our shores during the last two centuries bringing their strange languages and food. All of us became Americans by immigration. Even the Native Americans got here by making a long pilgrimage from their place of origin.

Those earlier immigrants came with few belongings, but had the desire to make a better life for their families. They learned the language, worked long hours for low wages and sent their children to the public schools. Most of us now are only a few generations removed from our own ancestors who walked off ships and registered at Ellis Island. There is currently huge interest in seeking out those ancestors. My siblings are sending in their test kits and getting the reports back that show what we knew all along. We came from a variety of places in Europe. Our roots are not from this continent, but our ancestors chose this place because they hoped it would provide opportunities that were not available in their home villages. They came here and adapted to a new culture and language.

Over the years other immigrants to this country suffered at the hands of those who had arrived in previous decades. There was persecution of the Irish, Italians, Chinese, and other groups who came here seeking prosperity. Most of them came by choice, but some came because they were captured and sold into slavery or arrived as indentured servants. Our ancestors survived and thrived in spite of the slurs and poor treatment they received. They took the lowest level jobs and worked their way up. Eventually they became shop owners, union workers, doctors and lawyers.

It appeared that the assimilation had begun to level out and we were accepting each other as Americans. Then the towers fell. Since September 11, 2001 we’ve become paranoid. We fear and distrust anyone who is not of our immediate community. That mistrust prevents us from living with the spirit of generosity and optimism that we shared before 9/11.

Now we behave with suspicion of anyone who is different. Instead of giving one another the benefit of the doubt, we’ve adopted the “my way or the highway” approach to human relations. Now bullying, road rage, mass shootings and protests are rampant. We call ourselves a “Christian” nation, but ignore Christ’s admonition to love our neighbors as ourselves and to turn the other cheek. We claim the banner of Christianity, but don’t practice its tenets. We’ve regressed to the Old Testament law of an eye for an eye while discarding the teaching of the One who came fulfill the law by showing God’s love and forgiveness to all.

I didn’t think we were like that, but it seems that I’m out of touch with mainstream America.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Unexpected Choices

In my life there have been numerous “God” incidences. Some of them were trivial others life changing. 

When I was 17 and a senior in high school, I applied for college because that’s what my friends were doing. There was no expectation in my family that any of us would go to college. There were then four kids in my family (later five). Dad’s pay barely stretched to meet the monthly bills. The only person I knew who had graduated from college was my uncle who went on the G.I. Bill after the Korean War.  My cousin went to Kilgore Jr. College and was a Rangerette for one year before she dropped out and got married. I had always assumed that after high school I’d just get married and be a housewife like my mom. Like her, I might work for a while before I had kids.

I took the SAT and ACT tests and applied to both of the major state universities because that’s what my classmates were doing. I was accepted to both. One offered a tuition scholarship. That was wonderful, but it didn’t seem that there would be any way to use the scholarship. I had no plan. My family had no money to spare. I had not been working with the school counselors or been in contact with their university counterparts. I had not really considered even the possibility of attending college until the last few months of my senior year.

I went to the office and told my tale of woe to the counselor, Mr. Garcia. On awards night, I was surprised to learn that I had been awarded a $500 scholarship from a local business. That was enough to pay for my board and room for the first year of school. I had to ask for $65 from my parents to finish out the last month. 

After that first year, I was able to work enough during the summer and school year to hang in and finish. There were times when I had to shake my piggy bank and empty out the last few coins to eat, but I made it. Jobs turned up on the bulletin board. I was hired sight unseen to be a camp counselor. There was always just enough.

When my husband was shipped out to Vietnam in November of 1969, I hadn’t found a job. I had been waiting, hoping that he’d get assigned somewhere else. I didn’t begin looking for anything until late in the year. The public school had already filled its positions. I had worked as a sub at McCurdy School a few days. The day after Bill shipped out I received a call from the Catholic school. I hadn’t considered applying there. Would I be interested in interviewing for a job teaching 7th and 8th grade? Sister Thomas Mary had gotten my name and number from Mrs. Schutzel who had been a high school counselor. I don’t know how Mrs. S knew I was back in town, but I happily accepted the position and went to mass every Friday for the rest of the school year.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Hack, Hack, Hack

I’m getting real tired of being sick. I caught some respiratory thing in early June and it seems to have gone away, but has left me with worse coughing than my usual amount—which is way too much. Now instead of coughing for a while in the afternoon and evening, I’m hacking almost all day. My throat is sore and I’m worn out. Usually I get through till noon pretty well, but after that I’m pretty much miserable and getting to sleep has become a crapshoot. Can I lie down yet? Or should I just stay up longer and hope I’ll eventually get to sleep.

I’m hoping that eventually this will pass. It’s not quite as bad as my old hacking spells before the miracle of 2007, but it is close. It’s hard to enjoy doing anything. Went to the doctor early on and probably should have gone back when I wasn’t over it after the first two weeks. Now she’s supposed to be getting her knees replaced and is off for the next month. I have an appointment with the lung doctor in August, but that’s a whole month away and he’s 100 mile trip from here if I did make an additional appointment earlier.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.