EVERY PROBLEM HAS A SILVER LINING

Sometimes it happens gradually and sometimes, much to our chagrin, it happens overnight. Yes, winter is often an unwanted bedfellow. Today the wisps of clouds suspended like uncooked meringues in the sky portend a lengthy autumn…at least that’s my interpretation. Maybe we should ask my brother who seems more adept at reading the clouds. I really hope our autumn will be long and mild for meteorologists are predicting a colder than usual winter.

Without my honey and my fireplace to keep me warm [I'm really gonna miss that fireplace and it goes without saying how much I miss my honey] I may have to take drastic measures to keep my blood from congealing; after all when one gets as old as I am the skin gets thin and the blood thickens. I  haven’t had insulated underwear since I lived in Alaska but that may turn into a necessity now. I may also need to invest in a pair of good warm boots to wear with my skirts to church….and that cold car this winter is gonna be a drag; another ‘not so small’ thing Bruce always did for me was warm my car up, even when he had to leave before I did.

That brings me to another related subject. I really can’t understand why women are expected to wear dresses in the winter and freeze while attending church. It would be so much more sensible to dress warmly; nine times out of ten its cold inside the church as well as outside. I mean who decided our dress code? Who decided that men would wear nice warm wool suits, overcoats, and warm socks and shoes while women would wear skirts, nylons and ridiculous high heels? Even when wearing a long coat the cold wind has a way of sliding right up a skirt and chilling a person to the bone. I just gotta say, not looking forward to it!

Let’s hope those weather men are wrong as well as the woolly worms and persimmon seeds. In a couple of weeks daylight savings time will end and it will be getting dark earlier…ugh! Even so it would be nice to have a long lovely autumn and a short mild winter. For what its worth, I’m putting in my order right now for just that, although I probably should have done it back it July. Oh well, better late than never, but I suppose at this late date I’ll just have to take what mother nature sends. And since I tend to believe those woolly worms, I’m going on-line to order my winter survival clothing….shopping, does this involve shopping?  Well now, maybe every problem does have a silver lining!

 

 

 

THE DRIVE IN MOVIE

One of my fondest childhood memories is the drive-in movie theater. It always felt like a celebration when we’d load up in the car and head out to see a movie. Sometimes we’d sit in the car, but many times we’d sit in the chairs by the concession stand…the air was cooler [although dustier] and it was much closer to the popcorn, candy, soda pop and hotdogs. I’m not sure which excited us the most, the treats or the movie but it all worked together for a magical feeling.

The first such theater opened in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey and was called a Park-in-Theater. It was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead and was inspired because of his mother’s struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats. What a good son he was to come up with such a fun solution. After experimenting in his driveway with various ways to watch an outdoor movie while sitting in the car, he opened the first one at a cost of $30.000. He charged 25 cents a car and 25 cents for each person in the car.

After his patent ran out, out-door movie theaters sprang up all over the country and the name changed to Drive-in theaters. The largest one was an all-weather Drive-in located in New York. It featured Parking space for 2, 500 cars and a full service restaurant on 28 acres.

The drive-in movie reached its heyday in the 1950’s to mid-60’s, with 5,000 of them across the country. It became synonyms with that era and the drive-in movie has been featured in many films. It was during this time period that my own memories were made.

I remember on a few occasions my oldest brother took me, unwillingly I might add, with him to a drive-in movie. In revenge he made me sit in the car while he got out and socialized with his friends. Once the movie was a very scary one, The Catman of Paris [yes I remember the title] and I was terrified there in the car by myself. After that I declined going with him even when dad said he had to take me. After I got old enough to date that was the cheapest place to see a movie so I had my share of dates there; I think at that time the cost was $1.00 per car…no matter how many were in the car.

My Aunt Ollie had a 38 Ford for many years. She called it Bessie and I’m assuming that she bought it new. She was a Sunday school teacher and she took her class, of which I was a member, on many outings in that car, from swimming to looking through cemeteries. After she sold it and got another car, my brother bought it and it was that car in which I sat by myself at the drive-in watching that scary movie. Oddly enough when my brother sold Bessie and went into the navy, Bruce bought her. I had no knowledge of it at the time, and I didn’t meet him until later but when he picked me up for our first date he was driving old Bessie. By that time she had seen her best days and the window on the passenger side wouldn’t roll up. Once when we went to the drive-in on a date it started raining and I had to hold a rug up across the window to keep the rain out….good times, good memories.

Later after we were married and living in California we saw Mary Poppins in a drive-in with our first child who was then a toddler. By that time the popularity of the drive-in theater had begun to wane. Today because of the high cost of real estate, the many walk-in theaters, video rentals, movies on demand, pay-per-view and other ways of seeing movies, the drive-in movie theater is, sadly, almost obsolete; less than 500  survive in the United States.

One of my sons has a large covered patio with an outdoor fireplace, a grill, a picnic table, zero gravity recliners and….wait for it….a large HD movie screen that covers one wall. I think he has taken movie watching to the next level, and its even better than sitting in a car at a drive-in. I ate dinner with them the other night on their patio and afterwards we sat in the cool night air and watched a movie. Might I say, pun intended, we had all the comforts of home. It doesn’t get much better than that….if we can eliminate those pesky mosquitos it will be absolutely perfect!

 

WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP

My husband always said I was a pessimist…I’d retort I was a cautious optimist; the truth is probably somewhere in between. Anyway, I’ve sort of been waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’. When my husband passed away I thought that was the end of the world [and it was the end of my world as I knew it] and that I’d die of a broken heart. Well I’m learning that even if ones heart is broken life goes on and the heart can, and most of the time will, heal if given enough time.

Six months after that life changing event the pain in my heart isn’t quite as sharp, I’ve come out of that merciful first fog, and much to my everlasting surprise I find muself still alive. Improbably I’m even experiencing some small joys and satisfactions in my everyday life; in fact, life has been perking along better than I’ve any right to expect. Everyhing has mostly worked out and fallen into place without many hitches, giving me a more or less smooth road to travel from now on….just as Bruce would have wished. Maybe its guilt, or maybe it’s that ugly pessimism rearing its head, or maybe I just don’t believe I have any right to have an easy life or feel anything but sadness. At any rate I keep waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop and bring more heartache, trouble and unhappiness.

Perhaps this is just another stage of grief…I hope so for I’d hate to admit, even to myself, that I am a pessimist just as Bruce claimed. Jeffrey R. Holland said ” Life ought to be enjoyed at every stage of our experience….we of all people ought to savor every moment.” ‘Man is that he might have joy is a concept which I must continually remind  myself. There are many forms of joy and I know that Bruce would want me to embrace as many of them as I can find. However knowing these truths doesn’t seem to make a difference in my acceptance of them….yet. Maybe after a few more months of healing I’ll be ready to move forward with this knowledge and not feel guilty for any perceived happiness that comes my way.

A few things are nudging me toward this goal; the sound of geese flying overhead in the mornings; an owl hooting at night; a nesting bird over my porch; a bit of nostalgic star-gazing; air cool enough to open doors and windows; and  yes, chrysanthemums. Bruce would take note of and revel in these things so I feel I can let myself enjoy them on his behalf without too much guilt. It’s a start at least.

Joseph Smith said, “When we lose a near and dear friend, upon whom we have set our hearts, it should be a caution to us….our affections should be placed upon God and his work, more intensely than upon our fellow beings.” I’m trying, oh I’m trying to put things in the proper perspective.

But if [when] that other shoe does drop, I wonder if it makes the case for my being a pessimist if I say, “I told you so…I knew it.”

LAUNDRY, THEN AND NOW

Most homes in America have one and we think of it as a necessity; those few homes that don’t, can easily find one available for use. I’m speaking of the washing machine of course. It’s every woman’s [and many men's] most intimate, hard working friend. We spend more time doing laundry than we do any other chore, even cooking…especially in this day of fast foods and convenience foods.

I for one am grateful for this modern appliance. Somehow the thought of scrubbing clothes against rocks in an open stream isn’t very appealing; graduating to using a rub board in a tub in 1797 was only a slight improvement which I don’t find a bit more appealing. My grandmothers used large iron pots which had to be filled with hand-drawn well water then heated over an open fire outside. The clothes were stirred with a long paddle until they were deemed clean then transferred to the rinse pot where they were stirred some more. Finally, they had to be rung out and this same paddle was used to help with that. It generally took two people wrapping and twisting the article of clothing firmly around the paddle to expel as much water as possible. Then the clothing had to be hung on bushes, fences, or later a clothes line just for that purpose. That still seems like way too much work to me….no wonder laundry day was an all day affair and it was put off for as long as possible.

In 1851 the first hand cranked washing drum made the work a little easier…or did it? It took some muscle to turn that crank enough to agitate those wet clothes and then they still had to be rinsed and wrung out. The addition of a hand cranked wringer in 1861 made things a little easier but it wasn’t until 1911 when the first electric wringer washer became available commercially that washing day actually became easier and more efficient. In 1915 a gas engine was added to some models for homes without electricity.

I can vaguely remember my mother using an electric wringer washer. It was fascinating to see the clothing run through a wringer which pressed the water out. The wringer could be tightened and the clothing run back through to get out additional water…it could also be dangerous if one accidentally got a sleeve or hand caught in the wringer. I actually go to church with a woman who, as a child, got her hand caught in one; she lost her arm to just below the elbow. Such a terrible consequence for doing laundry.

In 1951 the first truly automatic washing machine was made available in Europe. That finally revolutionized laundry day, especially when an automatic clothes dryer was added. My father embraced all forms of technology and our family was one of the first to get an automatic washer and dryer in our southern community. The brand was Maytag and he bought it from Western Auto, a store he had worked at when he was newly married. I don’t remember the exact year of that purchase, but I was still quite young so it had to be in the early to mid fifties. Wringer washers were still commonly used by most persons through the 1950’s and mid 1960’s.

In 1978 the first microchip washer was on the market and as the saying goes, the rest is history. These days one can even buy a combined washer and dryer so that the clothes don’t have to be changed from one to the other. New technology using solar power or microwaves may soon make the old ‘agitate and tumble’ types obsolete. Perhaps it won’t be as soon as some would like however. Solar power has fallen out of favor in some circles and progress in this area has slowed. We may just have to be content for a while with all the buttons, bells, whistles and gadgets currently on our laundry room appliances. As I listen to my washer and dryer hard at work while I sit here blogging, I believe I can truthfully say, I can live with that!

THE DRAGON HAS AWAKENED

It’s come as a shock…the cooler weather, much to my chagrin, has revived my long absent appetite. I’ve lost weight these last few months and had started feeling a little smug about it. I guess its true that pride goeth before the fall; if I’m not careful I’m going to fall, and fall hard. It would be a terrible shame to gain back the weight that has melted away without thought or effort and left me so much slimmer.

The problem is that I’ve been on a cooking binge….we’re talking banana chocolate chip muffins, peanut butter no bake bars…twice, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, meatloaf, fried vegetable medley, stuffed bell peppers, chicken broccoli casserole, pizza, stuffed baked potatoes….to name just a few of the things that have been rolling out of my kitchen this last week. True, the amounts have been adjusted to accommodate one person and I’ve made them as healthy as possible but my appetite only seems to be increasing. It’s as if my body has been asleep and the change to cooler weather has finally roused it. I think I know just how a bear feels after hibernation.

A diet may be in my future if I continue eating in this fashion. I’ve been longing for a break in the heat but I never suspected this eating pattern would accompany it. Well its too late now, I believe the temperature has moderated for sure and the dragon has awakened and must be fed. I’m pulling out my cookbooks, not the ones filled with salads and health foods, but the ones filled with comfort foods for if anyone needs comforting it’s certainly me for the predicament I find myself in. So if any of you have a delicious comfort food recipe send it to me ASAP. I’ll be hungrily waiting to try it….after I finish off these cream puffs, and coconut cake, and caramel brownies, and chicken and dumplings, and…

THE SMELL OF HAPPINESS

Autumn is in the air; I can feel it, smell it and even note the difference in the slant of the sun. The air this morning had a welcome coolness to it and the forecast is for decidedly cooler weather this weekend. Those enthralled with football might say this is football weather but I say its chrysanthemum weather.

I’ve always loved chrysanthemums…the vibrant fall colors of bright yellow, dark red, purple and  bronze. A lot of people like the look of mums but despise the smell; not me, I adore their pungent fragrance. It reminds me of…of…well something that makes me happy. Perhaps I associate it with a forgotten childhood memory, or my mother, or maybe it’s because the smell heralds the autumn season with cooler temperatures. I’ve never been a fan of hot weather so that may very well be the reason, anyway it’s as good as any other explanation. But regardless of the why, I’m ready to get some mums. Last year my husband, knowing how much I like them, proudly brought home three huge pots of these wonderful flowers. He’d been downtown when he got the chance to get first pick directly from a truck headed to his favorite lumberyard. Oh yes, he was well aware how happy he’d make me.

I suppose that alone would be reason enough for me to enjoy them but my love of mums has been there for as long as I can remember. One of my sons gave me a gift card to Lowes so I plan to haunt that establishment until I find the most beautiful, flower filled plants available. I’ll need two at least; one for the front porch and one for my patio, or maybe two for my patio, or…well who’s counting? If such a small thing can bring such good feelings, why not load up on them…yes, why not? The thought virtually makes me dizzy.

I have a notion that autumn this year is going to be very nice; a change from the intense heat, being settled in my own place again, being close to family, and having plenty of chrysanthemums to lift my spirits. I’ll think of my husband when I look at them for they were the last flower he gave me, and I’ll feel euphoric when I catch a whiff of them because it will be the smell of….happiness. What a simple way to gather happiness; goodness knows we all need as much happiness as we can gather, so maybe at least one chrysanthemum of each color?

 

HOME

After being gone for a day and a half, I unlocked the front door and stepped into a bright, cheery, comforting space, a space that I now call…home. Home, a word I wasn’t sure would ever be mine to use again in such a context. Home can be a  room in someone elses house, an apartment, or your very own house but it must be more than just a place to just hang your hat and sleep.  Sometimes we fail to make our living space into a real home, especially if we deem it to be temporary accommodations.

After leaving my home in Arkansas I was fortunate to have a large room and bathroom in a son’s house. He made it comfortable and inviting for me with some of my things on display and in every day use. As pleasant and nice as it was and as much as I enjoyed being there, I was aware that it was a temporary situation for when I was ready I’d be moving . Being a widow [wow, a new term to use in conjunction with myself] I didn’t know if I’d ever actually have a ‘ home’ again even when I got my own place. In the intervening months I’ve thought about it a lot to try to determine what makes a space into a home, for I wanted  to achieve that if I could.

First I believe that one has to choose a place that feels right…not just any ole place will do. I looked at many apartments and none of them sparked anything inside me until I saw this apartment complex, then I felt it…the karma or the rightness of it. I knew this place was the one for me so even though I was really only looking to see what was available, I made the decision, took the plunge and secured it on the spot. I was afraid I’d be sorry later but that never happened.

The next important thing in making a home I believe is filling the space with things that have special and sentimental meaning. I didn’t bring many pieces of furniture with me to Texas but many of the ones I did were Bruce’s handiwork; a grandfather clock, a dining table, a side table, a free-standing cabinet and many, many decorative wooden boxes. Those things along with pictures and a few special books and knick knacks strengthen that element of comfort and familiarity. I bought only a couple of items of furniture after I rented my apartment but I was careful to purchase things that were cheerful and made me happy….my new happy color is lime.

A final important acquisition was a few large indoor plants. Nothing makes a place a home more than the warmth of plants…why this is the case is a mystery to me, but it’s true nonetheless. Plants are aesthetically pleasing, they have been shown to sharpen mental focus [I need all the help I can get in that area] by as much as 70 percent, they make people happy and cut down on cold-related illnesses by 30 percent. Depending on the season they can raise or lower the air temperature in a room by 10 percent and many clean and purify the air. So investing in house plants is definitely worth it. My mother always had a variety of house plants as I did until my husband and I started traveling extensively. I’m glad to be able to add plants back into my decor, I’ve missed them. Even if one doesn’t claim a green-thumb or have rooms with an abundance of natural light, plants can be found that will accommodate each situation.

Anyway, I must have struck the right combination because my little apartment is definitely a home. I’m happy here [well as happy as I can expect to be] even though I live by myself in a place very different from any other place I’ve lived. I count my blessings daily; I feel fortunate that I can spend this part of my life in such a cheerful, safe feeling environment. And I feel grateful that, despite my misgivings, I once again have a home.

 

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