Skipping Up the Steps

A few weeks ago I had the chance to meet a new acquaintance. That makes me really happy to connect so well with someone that just pops into my path. For some reason, we got deep into our health and age in what seemed like a moment. She knows my name and I know hers, but chances of us ever meeting again are slim at best. It was like a feather on the wind and we grabbed the time.

She sought me out from our group and although I had other people that I have known for a long time there she did not. I like hearing others’ stories and am interested in their lives and thoughts. For some lucky reason, she found me and we talked like we knew each other.

I have noticed something about myself lately. I used to have few filters and in the last two years, I have built some barricades when meeting some people. I don’t know if it is because I don’t have time for foolishness (how are we kidding? of course I have time for foolishness), but I find it behind a quick careful study if they can be trusted with my thoughts. Is that because I don’t want to get my thoughts crushed or is it because social media has made me sad about what I thought people were like? Can I trust?

I used to think that I was a very good study of people in knowing if they were trustworthy or not, good or bad, nice or willing to sell their own mother. I may still be, but these days am not as ready to tell them many things from my side of the mask. I feel myself crossing my arms, stepping back a few feet, waiting for them to show their cards, shutting up for once. Maybe it came from wearing a mask for Covid. It has become a security blanket for me or a hideout. This mask thing has had its benefits apart from the health section.

This new acquaintance and I fell in fast to heath talk and how much we are surprised what we have done as humans and what we can no longer do. Maybe we could share so quickly because we both knew we would never probably see each other again, but would happily do so if we were in the same space. Safe.

One thing that grabbed her was when I said that I missed bounding up the back steps. She too felt that way. It is such a small thing in the realm of things, but once it was sooooo easy and done so often. Now it takes mindfulness not to step wrong, the speed alone is glacial, and sometimes….it hurts…a lot. We also know it is going to get worse. We hate to think of our families as they try to see our future through our parents on what will become of each of us. Why wouldn’t they when we do it ourselves? Will the gene pool hit this one like their parent? Will we live to 94, 74, in a wheelchair, have Pancreatic Cancer, be more impossible as we age, sit in a wheelchair and refuse to turn the TV down when you visit, call at all hours because they forgot to look at the clock, have Parkinson’s Disease, CLL Cancer, tell us the senior kids what should be done for our own selves, question their judgments? Then of course we try to remember these cautionary tales and try to do better by trying our best to stay out of their business, staying as healthy as we can, taking all the good models using them to improve our responses and selves. Small potatoes, sweet potatoes?…. but to have a conversation about skipping up the steps with someone who feels the same, had no skin in the game by not being sympathetic yet epathetic was momentous. The thing is that we both knew it.

Is a House Just a House?

Is a house just a house or does it have a legacy? I have been to historical homes both virtually and actually of people who have had various legacies both good and bad. Bad things have happened there, good people have lived there and people who don’t share my views of the world. I enjoy going to places like that to learn about history and the people who lived and worked there. One question I have is would I live there if I had the chance. Would the legacy and the memories made in that house be too much or just right? Would I live in a home that my grandma would have lived in? Yes. Would I live in a home where Lizzy Borden lived in? Probably not. Are they not just wood and stone or are they more? I have been to Monticello, to Mt. Vernon, to the house where Jessie James was shot. I could not live there because they are historical, but would we want to? What is the weight of each property?

In the time of slaves here in America there were slaves who were not compliant to their masters. If a master could not bend them to their will and the slave was deemed incorrigible they were sometimes sent away to be broken. In this case there was a farm in the bay side of Maryland owned by slave breaker Edward Covey. Covey tried to work to death and beat to death the spirit of slaves so they could be returned to their masters compliant and docile. This property sits there today and was historically called and still called, Mount Misery.

The particular slave who endured this sentence of attempted breaking, whose legacy still carries the respect, inspiration and admiration all these years later, is the famous Frederick Douglas. His year long experience under the brutality of Edward Covey is documented in the book written by Frederick Douglas entitled, “My Bondage and My Freedom”.

Yesterday a politically famous American died and he owned and lived in the house on that farm on Mount Misery. The town near that is now called St. Michael’s. Fifteen years ago an article appeared in the Baltimore Sun suggesting that this site might be best kept as a commemorative site for contemplation as a museum or monument to think about the fight between slave and slave breaker. It could be a site for thinking about racial violence and the nobility against it. The meanings between democracy and despotism.

Turns out that about that same time 15 years ago Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld lived there. He served 4 terms in Congress, served various roles in government. He did stay on site at the Pentagon where he was on 9/11 helping to get others to safety. He was the one who planned for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and subsequent wars and the torture of prisoners. Another mixed legacy.

I understand there are many lands and properties that saw the hostile and cruel treatment of people, but would you live there. Is a house just a house?

My View of Mom

This is a rambling of thoughts regarding my mom’s life as I knew it to be. It is only from my perspective. It Is wholly for my benefit as it is therapeutic for me to write. So this was really a selfish act on my part. I have spent zero time on editing, as you will find the sentences clunky and probably full of typos. Probably too much information too, but I didn’t say it all.

My View of My Mom

My mom, known to many as Ruth, Ruthie, Mother, Mom, Mama went to live with Jesus on Mother’s Day. This was an appropriate day for her to be led off the dance floor to join the other relatives and friends that have gone before her to meet Jesus and return home. She liked holidays and she was a good mother so it was fitting that Jesus came to get her on that day.

When she was young she had dreamed of being a big band singer or a photographer. It seems like she met her goals. She sang with many, many small polka bands which for me equals that big band and took many pictures. Her love of singing carried on to some of us and her repertoire of songs was extensive and often memorized. I know songs from drying dishes with her that are only found on 38s.

She guided me to the right times to play “my music” so as not to disturb our dad. She never negatively commented about my choices. I found that to be amazing as Dad had much to say about our choices.

Mom was plagued with health issues all her life and it started when she was little. Her sicknesses, school set-backs due to this, and having a brother with challenges made her into a person who was sympathetic to the vulnerable. She went out of her way to go to businesses whose owners were meeting the challenges that polio had brought their way, and spend extra attention on mentally challenged people in our community. Good example to us.

She graduated from high school despite her dad being against her doing so. She always said that he thought it was good enough for her to learn to fry potatoes, there was no need for her to graduate from high school and if she went she would have to get her own way there. She did that and carpooled with someone who became a Wisconsin Legislator.

During those years she apparently went to every known dance party and did the jitter-bug with her sister Donetta and all the dancers who asked.

After high school she moved in with her dad’s cousin’s family in Berlin where she told me that she learned more ways of cooking and entertaining. She always held Frank and Agatha close to her heart. She boarded with them while she worked at the phone company. She was making money to get married.

She married my dad on a night when the roads were icy and it was dangerous to drive. Grandpa went to the church early to get the fuel in the fire so it would be warm for the service. Little did he suspect that it would be one of the causes of it getting a little too warm and my dad fainting at the altar. The cake got there by my aunt holding it as best she could on her lap in the car. The icy roads made it difficult to hold and her thumbs went into the bottom layer. During the service the heat and the reality of marriage must have gotten to my dad and he fainted as my mother’s Aunt Pauline cried out, “He’s dead!”  Mom and Dad ended up sitting in chairs during the remainder of the service. They went off to the Grange on Hwy K for a night of dancing. Mom said that they served hot dogs as no one knew after the war what to feed a wedding crowd. That mortified her in years afterward and no hotdogs were served again at a wedding celebration or anniversary party that she was in charge of…and there were many. Although that did not stop her from feeling guilty for serving them to us as an easy meal when she had given all at a church function. That gave her great pause that she had done that. We on the other hand did not give it a second thought.

Housing was short after the war years and they moved a few times. They lived at Grandma and Grandpa Spiegelbergs…not fun, then to a farm they worked on owned by my Grandparents Knutzen…also not fun, then to Appleton. Mom loved it there as they had their baby Jack with them in that apartment and she got to hang out with her sister-in-law Ardene. Then they moved to a farm on the south side of Omro and then bought the farm they lived at for the bulk of their marriage. By then they welcomed baby Chuck. After that it was the purchase of and move to an 80 acre farm on O’Reilly Road then called Dirt Road. Mom was not amused with the house in the condition it was in. My Grandpa Spiegelberg came to disinfect it with a Sulphur smoke to disinfect it before they moved in. Mom made it a home after as she always did.

Trouble struck on an extremely windy April Day when a spark from the tractor ignited the barn and house, burning the barn and animals up and causing extensive damage to the house. Fire became an even bigger cautionary subject in our home as we grew up due to this trauma. Our parents always had their bedroom as the smallest one only because it faced the barn and main yard so smoke or flames could be detected quickly if it should happen again. The small burn mark in the wood flooring in the living room  was never repaired, but covered up with a rug as a cautionary tale to the history of fire in that home.

I cannot imagine the terror of this episode. Mom said that she was washing clothes with little Chuck at Grandma’s and as she came closer she saw smoke. Her first concerns were the whereabouts of little Jack and my dad, then after she saw that both were safe she regrouped. They moved into temporary housing on the other side of the block in an upstairs accommodations as she commandeered food prep for the volunteer builders every day and arranged for her little boys to be seen to. They got community help for some of the food or this huge work crew feeding schedule from the local Co-op that was always her first choice for groceries before and after that.

All their house possessions were saved by the volunteer firefighters, although, her wedding dress took a beating.  All the help from the community  rebuilt the barn and fixed the house with volunteers from their friends and neighbors. Some city elders came to Dad (why not Mom, but hey, it was 1955) to offer him a way to set him up into selling insurance. That was not in Dad’s plan to work for another so they would remain farmers.

Mom’s main role was to be a homemaker. She always said she was a homemaker not a housewife as she wasn’t married to the house. Dad always said that he married a wife not a hired hand so their roles of duties fell along the line of mom in the house and garden and dad in the barn and the fields.

Mom’s joy was doing things at church and having others do things at church. She taught Sunday School for many years, sang in the choir, headed up Ladies’s Aid and Mission League at Grace Lutheran and was involved in all aspects of all events there. This is where they had gotten married, got Dad baptized, got all their kids baptized, confirmed and married all at that same family of faith. It was a full time job for her to be involved there. Her faith sustained her and although her children love Jesus in different ways she did a good job of instilling that portion of faith.

She went to horse shows, had dogs…even one inside, even though that was probably not her first choice of moments for herself. She even let us have baby ducks on the open stove door to try to revive them and even let me bring in a cat one time for a photo op.

I remember her helping to comfort on the death of a beloved horse of Jack’s, on how I discovered her crying so loudly when Jack’s civilian clothes were sent back after he had arrived at boot camp during the Viet Nam War.  Of how she tried to think of things to tell him to do as he lay in a hospital in another state recovering from surgery and happy to know that may keep him from having to go to Viet Nam to die. She was always telling me how he had the most potential of all of us. Gee, thanks, Mom.

I remember how she was confident to send me with my reluctant brother Chuck to swim in the neighbor’s quarry. He was and is always dependable. She appreciated his loving and kind way of not stirring the pot and trying to get me out of the way of the next tornado that was sure to come through our house. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the Earth. After a kick boxing match between Chuck and myself I landed a good one on his lower back causing him some issue. When she found out, that little person she was, started chasing me, caught me and body slammed me on the living room floor for punishment. I had it comin’.

When we were discussing the way some parents have favorite children I asked about her thoughts on that. She said that her favorite child was the one that needed her most at the time. I liked that very much and I guess that means that no one can really compare the Sun, Moon and Stars as each is its own thing, with each its own way.

She taught us all how to eat properly with utensils and say please and thank you. She taught us how to greet people and answer the phone properly. She taught us with dad to make due with what was on hand. She said that at one farm there was plenty of milk and apples and milk was from their cows so potato soup and applesauce were on the menu a lot.

She took us to Lake Poygan to swim and although she was terrified to swim she overcame that fear and let her kids go while she sat in the car lamenting over her varicose veins. If we went out too far she would come to the shore and call out telling us to come in closer.

She taught us to come when we were called by retelling the story of how Jack and Chuck had a tent under the big tree in the front yard. A big storm came up and she called from the front door for them to get in NOW. They came on the run and just when they hit the front steps a big branch came down crushing the tent.

She was a champion cleaner and was always aware that we lived on a farm and there might be a smell if she didn’t get to it. She was always concerned about the dust from the road and before it was paved my dad called the road people to put oil on it to knock down the dust. The line was always full of clean white clothes and the neighboring farmer joked with us saying, “I am not sure if she is the cleanest woman or the dirtiest woman I know. There is always clean laundry hanging.” The clothes lines were long and tied from house to cotton wood tree and made a good line to get hung up on and tossed off the Shetland pony that I was riding around and around the yard with my friend Terri on the other. Terry was a much better rider than I and she ducked in time.

She taught me how to walk with a book on my head, that old curtains were a viable option for dress up, how to make a food display and allowed me to learn for myself why it wasn’t in my best interest to make double batches of four different types of cookies all at the same time. She even hunted down a person who grew mint so she could teach me how to garnish a sugar frosted edge fruit cup for 4-H. I wore her out and she gave up arguing with me about my hair for Jack’s wedding so I could wear it like a stingy mess. She told me a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who don’t turn the top sheet correctly over the blanket when making a bed. I learned to check myself to make sure there was no lint on my clothes, to be aware that skinned knees would prevent me from being Miss America (turns out that works) and that I should not talk casually to a teacher and never neglect my underwear. She also sucked the love of sewing, but not the knowledge of it out of my head under her instruction. She was exacting. She had a little record player in the kitchen for me to play little records from Concordia Publishing House with religious songs for children. Many years later when the record player could not be fixed by my dad one more time it ended up being my oil and acrylic paint case in college.

She created a  lovely Valentine Party at our house with my classmates from elementary school with heart shaped sandwiches, napkins with each person’s name painted on, a branch painted white with paper hearts as a centerpiece. There were other parties and one where someone got their toe stuck in a fan and another where we made mud pies from the woods. At the same time we weren’t allowed to have a birthday party with friends with gifts or go trick or treating as she thought it was begging although it was fine to attend another’s.

She loved planning our wedding and I let her because it was the wedding she wanted. I got mine later when I planned our 30th.

Probably the hardest thing for her to do was to give me to her cousin Milly for a few months when she was too sick to care for me when I was tiny. Milly and family took great care of me and apparently we also bonded as I think of that family as my own too. I often wonder what the brothers thought of all this. No worse for wear am I.

When I went off to college there must have been a relief as they hooked up with a whole additional social group and danced their way around Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and on a polka cruise in Florida with the famous polka master, Frankie Yankovic. During this time she played and sang with many bands, but also formed one with three others called the Polka Pals.

I am sure that she thought she didn’t expect to fall in love again once she was in love with Dad, but she found out differently when she had grandchildren. John and Chad were the first. She rode bikes with them and they called her the gum grandma. Then along came Kevin and Beth. Then Erin, Steven and Kyle. Mom had great comfort with the birth of our daughter Erin as her own mother and father were declining in health at that time and it was a good distraction. There are only two people who call our son Steve, Steven and one of them was Mom. Our son Kyle turned out to be the baby of all of the grandchildren and she enjoyed playing paddle ball on the floor with him and in later years called him her hugger. She was able to dance with both Steven and Kyle at their weddings. That made her extremely happy to dance with them and they with her. 

She was a champion ironer and although she didn’t teach me ironing on my dad’s and brother’s shirts she began with the hankies and the pillow cases. We even had a mangle that ironed the sheets!

If you looked up the word “particular” or “just so” in the dictionary her picture would be the definer. She set the bar high for most things, which often left us deficient, but that only propelled us to do better or cry. She set the same for herself.   

She endured praise hymns and hymns from the supplement, but preferred the old ones from the hymnal which she played on her piano frequently up until she left her piano. One of our most recent and favorite stories is when she was recently so weak and had been moved to a temporary care facility, my brothers who had arranged and taken care of that particular Mom move were talking outside the door of the place when the care manager came out to have them listen as everyone could hear that my mom was playing the piano when just moments before we thought that was her last day here.

Her favorite foods were Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, sherbet, lemon or Key Lime pie, and strawberry shakes.

Her most famous saying was, “You should keep that as it will be worth money someday.”

She always had a tissue in her sleeve or pocket, a breath mint in her purse along with a fabric swatch to match some outfit, a tiny measuring tape and a rain scarf. When the kids were little she would have an empty mint container and an old necklace chain that they would put in and out of the container to distract them in church. Much like the feather she gave baby Jack in his high chair with a smidge of honey on his little fingers to distract him long enough to cook or clean up.

She was known to roll down the windows and shut off the radio while crossing a road, take yearly pictures of the same family tombstones, make sure we were doing our duties and put an index finger on a small grandchild’s cheek to remember to have them chew properly.

Who would ever suspect that the three of us would be so different coming from the same parents could come together so well through the death of parents? It is clear that we learned hard work, love, fun, grit and humor from our parents. I am thankful that I have brothers.

We knew her time was coming to an end, as the signs were strong, yet no one knows. She seemed to be more content when the Hospice nurse told her that she would not be getting any stronger, that her heart was wearing out and no, Mom wasn’t being lazy as Mom had thought. The last time a family member saw her she had about 86,000 heartbeats left. Sounds like a lot, but it is used up quickly. May our lives be a full and impactful as hers. Miss you already, but glad you got home where you belong. Good for you Mama, good for you.

Just So I Don’t Forget

Just so I NEVER forget…..

Gas price was $1.18
School children are taught from home by their teachers via the internet.
Self-distancing measures still are in place.
Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other. Children are putting great pictures and quotes in sidewalk chalk on the paths to bolster morale.

Some stores are limiting the number of customers in the store at a time. The line outside spaces the customers 6 feet apart.
Limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.

Some stores have customers going down each aisle one way.
Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed. The store I work in was closed. They paid us for 2 weeks even though we didn’t work. It though that was good of them. Now they have put me on furlough and I will apply for unemployment. They will continue to pay the health care for those that are full time. The heads of the company are taking a pay cut. Rick continues to go to work, but the hours have been cut from 48 to 40/week.
Parks, trails, entire cities locked up. People are encouraged to get food from restaurants with curbside pickup or buy gift cards for later use to help the small business from going down. Buying gift cards from hair salons also is an action that can be taken as those are closed as well.
Entire sports seasons cancelled. Drafting teams will be remotely done via internet. People are using YouTube to exercise with a coach. Music is being played from balconies in the evening in large cities to promote morale. Non essential doctor/dentist visits like check-ups are being rescheduled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled. Our concert in May was moved to September. We cancelled for now. The lead of the band has Covid-19.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled. Many people are making masks
No masses, churches are closed. We are watching our services streamed at home. Our pastor records them at first in church and then in his basement. The early days of the virus before shut downs there was no handshaking or pacing the offering plate. The last time I went to church was Ash Wednesday.
No gatherings of 50 or more, then 20 or more, now 5 or more. Now we just need to not gather at all.
Don’t socialize with anyone outside of your home.
Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.
We are to distance from each other. It is difficult when your elderly parents need personal care, shopping and cleaning done. We get it done though.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers. Shortage is kind, in some places it is nonexistent. I saw today where some healthcare workers who were not provided with personal protection equipment went home because they would be in peril.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill. States are bidding against each other to get the same pool of supplies. Then FEMA is bidding against them. Insanity.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer or in extremely short supply.
Shelves are bare. One day there were 6 loves of bread on the shelf at the Pig, no TP at that time, 2 rolls of paper toweling, no rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE. People are using innovative ideas to create masks and barriers out of found materials.
Government closes the border to all non-essential travel.
Fines are established for breaking the rules. Right now there are misdemeanors fines.
Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
Press conferences daily from the President. Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
Government incentives to stay home. Not all states want to comply.
Barely anyone on the roads. Air quality is improving. Some insurance companies are giving their customers money back as they are not driving.
People wearing masks and gloves outside.
Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families. Anthony Fauci is the voice people listen to now. Voting in primaries was rescheduled for many states….not Wisconsin though as it seems partisan feelings are more important than life of citizens.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic as seen from my view on de April 7, 2020.

Why, you ask, do I write this status?

One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.

We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone.

We are all one! ❤️

My Quarantine Guest List

Since I have excessive time on my hands and the whole reason for writing this blog in the first place was to release anxiety through writing, I figured this would be a good day to give it a go again.

I have been thinking of all the people that I would like to sit down and talk to or listen in on them talking to others. I decided to make lists. I am good at that. If this was even a possibility I would have rules, well…because it is my event and I can make rules. Since this will never ever happen I can make rules that the guests have to adhere to.

The problem is, and everyone knows this, if you have an event and there are many guests it is rare to actually sit down and have heart to heart conversations with as many people that you want to and have the time to do it. So here are the rules;

Everyone invited has to be pleasant, if not deep down lovely to me, my friends and each other. They have to speak and understand English so my friends and I can communicate effectively. They need to know what is going on currently and what has transpired to this time since their demise. They need to be patient with me as I may ask questions they think I should know about, but don’t. They have to eat what we have, though they will have to bring snacks or make food to share. They need to be clean and follow standards of modern cleanliness. They can cook and order food as long as they share. They have to do their own laundry. They really have to be nice. I can’t emphasize that enough. They can disagree, but there will be no actual fighting or calling of names.

They will stay at a resort of some sort where people can mingle and talk. That way there will be enough rooms and they will be there for a long time so I can talk to everyone. With this many people they will have to be there a very long time. It will all be recorded in case I forget something they said. It won’t cost anyone anything….because…this is a fantasy.

So, who is invited? All my friends and my agreeable relatives. The others have gained recognition in some way and would be affable enough (see rules) to talk to and I would surely learn many things.

I put them in no particular order. Some are alive and some are passed. I may add to it as someone pops into my mind. Mind you, I may not agree with what I perceive are their positions at this time, but would like to talk about it and find out. There were others that I considered, but don’t perceive them as people that are affable in general or can be persuaded to be affable. I would really like to talk to Steve Martin, as I think he is a great talent, but am not sure he would like to talk.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth I, Deborah from the Bible, Nellie Bly, Maya Angelou, Clara Barton, Barbara Jordan, Lillian Gilbreth, Abigail Adams, Sacagawea, Jane Austen Brene Brown, Julia Child, Elizabeth Blackwell, Helen Farnsworth Meers, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Beatrix Potter, Edith Wilson, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Laura Bush, Michele Obama, Madeleine Albright, Condolezza Rice, Pink, Joanna Gaines, Suzann Stabile, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Elizabeth Warren, Trisha Yearwood, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Merkel, Katie Luther, Marie Yovanovitch, Melinda Gates, Alicia Keys, Christiane Amanpour, Beyonce Knowles, Rachel Maddow , Eve , Gayle King, Fannie Brice, Dollie Parton, Corrie Ten Boom, Robin Roberts, Emma Thompson, Ada Lovelace, Diane Sawyer, Amy Klobuschar, Meryl Streep, Phillis Wheatley, Maria Montessori, Leslie Stahl, Melissa McCarthy, Shirley Chisholm, Shirley Temple, Goldie Hahn, Fiona Hill , Doris Kerans Goodwin , Jenny Lawson, Betty White, Tina Fey, Cokie Roberts, Laura Logan, Phyllis Diller, Annie Oakley, Sonia Sotomayor , Joan of Arc, Mary the Mother of Jesus , Pocahontas, Ellen DeGeneres, Barbara Walters, Mary Magdalene, Margaret Thatcher, Jim Lovell, Yo-Yo Ma, Adam, Jesus, Andrew Weil, Andrew Yang, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther , Conan O’Brien , Sanjay Gupta, Dave Asprey, Fred Rogers, Ira Glass, Dean Ornish, David Brooks, Ralph Lauren, Wayne Dyer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jon Stewart, Dr. Phil, Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, Richard Davidson, Dwayne Johnson, Stephen Dubner, Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, Pres. Truman, Abraham Lincoln, President Obama, Theodore Roosevelt, Phil Donahue, David McCullough, Joseph Ellis, Andrew Carnegie, J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ken Burns, Anthony Bourdain , Paul from the Bible, Dave Chappelle, Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis Warren Buffet, St Francis, Michael Lewis, Anthony Fauci, Charlie Gibson, Paul Ryan James Comey, Stanley McChrystal, James Cordon, John D. Rockefeller, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, George Washington, Galileo, Johannes Gutenberg, Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Francis Collins and Edward Snowden.

Maybe the next thing would be; what interests me about them and what food would they bring with them?

Reasons Why I am Pulling Out of the Presidential Race 2020

I bet you didn’t know that I was running for President. Neither did I, but I decided that if I am following the candidates I really am running for president. That being said, I cracked myself up the other day by thinking that I would write this blog and pretend that I am really getting out as if I was a candidate and could have really won. I look at all those candidates and really wonder what their life is like. Here are some reasons why I am not running….anymore.

  1. There might not be enough snacks.
  2. I change my mind…a lot.
  3. I think that perhaps I am too nice to run for president as hopefully I would not be as mean or shady as many candidates have been.
  4. I think that perhaps I am not nice enough to be a candidate because sometimes I don’t have a filter and do tell people what I could easily shut up about.
  5. I like Wisconsin from April through October and would hate to live where it gets so hot.
  6. I wouldn’t put my family through that although my mom would LOVE it. She would do good on camera.
  7. If I was a candidate I would ask my kids and hubs for their opinions and they are too busy already.
  8. I wouldn’t put my friends through that either, but if I won I would have so many people that I could ask to be advisors…but that is hard to drag them into that scrutiny. I know people for every single cabinet position. I should write a blog post about that!
  9. I don’t think they would allow me to make up new cabinet positions. That may also be a good blog post.
  10. I start singing and dancing for no apparent reason, that might not always be timely.
  11. I am not photogenic.
  12. There is not enough money in my bank account. Sad to say that this is even a thing.
  13. I would have to create my own political party. Look what happened to the Federalists and Whigs.
  14. I’m not good with putting up with bs.
  15. If I was doing a debate and got attacked I most likely would start crying.
  16. My feet and knees already hurt, I can’t imagine doing the heel deal all the time. I would have to wear my lovely black runners.
  17. They most likely would not recommend that I wear black all the time as I tend to do.
  18. The parade walk is grueling. I’d have to do the hay rack.

Changes in the Workplace

I just got back from where dreams die..aka Walmart, because someone asked me to go there for something. Lots of empty shelves and coolers…I was wondering if there was a storm situation coming that I was unaware of. Ran into a daily shopper from my store who questioned why I was there…I had the same question. Unfortunately I was behind her in the check out line where she was not too gentle with the checker about why the shelves were empty. I tried to side with the checker as the customer tried to drag me into the conversation. This was a slippery slope because in her eyes I was still associated with my store even though I was not there. I still represent.

The checker was growing frustrated, but kept her cool trying to explain that there had been a lot of traffic at the store starting with EAA, the Pathfinders, back to school and college dorm runs. The customer kept it up and then complained about the curbside grocery pickup now available and how those pickers in the store were in her way and how were they finding products when there were such gaps. She also wanted them to shop for that service at night so she wouldn’t have to see them. I too have been annoyed at the people doing shopping for curbside pickup as many don’t use any words before they butt in front of someone or nearly run me over although I am sure they are on some sort of crunch….still, there is always time for courtesy. The checker told her how that was now the biggest part of their business and how they were the #1 store in the country in those sales when the Pathfinders were in town. Someone had a 5K pickup!!! I said that I had yet to use that service and was really considering it for any future stops especially now that I was being expected to weigh in on this convo. The customer continued with her irritation that she would now have to go to another store for other things they didn’t have at Walmart today. I was thinking of the same thing. Milk in half gallons? Not for me today.

I had waited by a back employee access door to catch someone to see if there was milk in the back somewhere. I get the back thing. Customers always think we are stashing things in the back at our store, but it’s white milk milk I want, not specialty milk milk….at a grocery store….at Walmart. I snagged a guy who was there as a distributor and he was nice enough to find me a store employee. Some Luke guy comes out, didn’t believe that I couldn’t find it and asked me 9 times what I wanted. 2% milk in half gallons is really hard to remember. As he was about to approach the cooler a co-worker walked up where they engaged in all the facts about her FMLA, when she was coming back, how much her boyfriend wanted to have her like walking in the outdoors and how much she didn’t want to walk in nature, what her plans were. I cleared my throat and they kept chatting. I took a small step forward. All I got was a look like I was getting in the way of their convo. They finally finished their wag and he returned to looking in the empty area where milk should be. He waved his hand all in the area as if to reach the non-existent. He said he would go look in the back. Gee thanks. He returned to report that there was no milk in that volume. Awesome. Thanks Luke. You are not a stellar employee and don’t try to get a job where I work although you won’t because starting pay is way more than what I get now even after 7 years. Things are not equal.

Back at the checkout that checker finally held up her name badge with her title on it. “See that?”she says to the customer ahead of me. I am the assistant manager of the women’s clothing department and here I am checking. We need all hands on deck because there are not enough workers to fill all the jobs we have.” I added, “You are doing the best you can.” The customer said to the checker, “You need to do better.”

I thought of both of those employee encounters at the same place and see such differences. One doesn’t care, the other can’t do anything about those that don’t care and still has to deal with customers that are disgruntled about something she can’t fix.

I was telling Rick about this and he responded that it is the same where he works. Frequently a new employee will begin and leave for good at break time or not return the next day. Then my husband and lots of his friends give the full measure. One of our favorite stories is how a guy named Jesus, was working and went out on a smoke break and never returned. I didn’t even know Jesus smoked.

We recently watched the Netflix documentary, “American Factory”. I think it was an even handed take on workers and corporations. I am wondering if there was always such a large volume of people who are not willing to do their best and expect so much or employees who are doing their best and expect enough

Boundaries in Reverse

When I last wrote I was working on my boundaries and I got to use them today, but in reverse. When I was at the eye doc today there was an elderly woman in a wheelchair ahead of me. I didn’t know she was in line before the receptionist pointed sharply with her whole arm and finger that I was NOT next, as this woman was before me.

That woman was parked about 20 feet away with chair not moving. I assumed she was with a person close to her left. Turns out I had assumed wrong. This woman in the chair gave me the stink eye while I excused myself as she rolled up. The receptionist was sort of full on bouncer and I took a seat finding my place in the world.

I had seen the nursing home bus drive off as I drove in and it appears the wheeled one had been a passenger. She told the receptionist that she was probably late for her appointment and didn’t really know what time it was. This was sounding like a situation to me. The receptionist asked for her name and told her that she didn’t seem to have an appointment today. “Well, maybe it is tomorrow!” she replied and started to rub her arms in what I imagined was nervousness.

My characteristics of the Enneagram #2 kicked in and I looked over at the woman who I thought was her companion. That person was deep into People magazine and not showing that she was part of this and realized that then I was. I listened to the receptionist go over a few scenarios of what was going on with this wanna be patient. It seems as though she was dropped off and left by the nursing home bus at the wrong clinic. I had seen the bus driving off. Hmmm.

The receptionist said that she didn’t know where this other doctor’s clinic was. Really? I couldn’t help it and told the receptionist that the correct clinic was about 2 blocks away. This was news to the receptionist and since I have my doubts about her abilities and social skills anyway I was about ready to jump up and say, “Save my appointment, I will take her over there myself.” This lack of boundaries is sometimes hard to bottle and I am trying to learn that not all problems are mine to solve.

This was just before the woman herself said, “I will do it myself.” For many reasons I know many random and often useless things and one of them is that the sidewalks are not in good repair in that way to the other office and the street is full of holes. I was thinking that this may not go well for this chaired one, but my parents always told me that one of the things I said first when learning to talk was, “I can do it myself.” I tipped my invisible respect hat to her.

I assessed her chair’s little motor and weight from afar and thought that she maybe could do it herself, but if that was my mother I would not want her to do that herself. I remained silent and in my boundary trying to figure out how to make sure someone called the bus and the other office. I did not have faith that this receptionist could accomplish this as I had dealt with her myself last week. Then I also was thinking about myself, “Wow, you are a 2 on the Enneagram Scale and you need to tone it down as you are not the only one that is responsible for strangers. You are not responsible for her safe travel, her making her appointment somewhere else, the other office not getting her in anymore today as she is really late now, letting the bus driver know that he goofed big time and will he know now where to find her, and most importantly that she is nervous and growing overwhelmed because of this whole thing. What to do? What to do? Of course this took just seconds of consideration as who waits that long to help? I think that lots of people don’t worry this much, but I do. Then one of the nurses came out and heard of it and said that she would go with that woman on her way to the other clinic. Whew!!!! All that mental boundary jumping is exhausting. A nurse did it instead as it was in her actual boundary, but even though some things are not mine to do, I am willing and have to learn which things are mine and which things are not.

Working on My Boundaries

Just when I think I am more evolved and am getting better at working my stuff on my Enneagram #2, along comes a former store employee that drove me bonkers. “HI JANE!!!!”, at decibels that rival the War Birds, “YOU ARE STILL WORKING HERE AND AT THE LIBRARY?”

I don’t want to tell her one thing about myself. I am sometimes like that and do not let all people into my typically open world. I find that I am a good actress when I am called on to pretend a few times a year. The reason for my fakeness those few times a year are because I am not interested in wasting the little energy I have on dealing with people that I don’t want to see. Why be angry? I am sure someone loves them, but it doesn’t have to be me.

I had wasted enough time years ago explaining to her why you don’t pet service dogs in training especially when it says, “Please don’t pet me. I am a service dog in training.” or something like that. Then there was the time I had to tell her that if she was going to refer to Asian people as Orientals over the walkies at work and China-men in person, although the particular people involved at that moment were not Chinese citizens as they were American, then she should really be educated in cultures , geography and modern vernacular. Her response to that was the her now nephew was Oriental and he didn’t mind it at all that she called him that. I suggested at the time that she could be mistaken about his feelings and that perhaps she should discuss it with him.

There was the time that someone had inconsolable crying children in the store and she walked up to them and told them that they were bothering other customers, that she had heard people complain and maybe they should call it a day. I get that a bit as some parents don’t understand that buying nice smelling candles and soft blankets is not a diaper and milk emergency run. Still, you don’t tell people that as maybe they haven’t been outside of the house for a while and this was their best chance to see other life forms. New parenting, gee, all parenting is hard.

Then there was the time she called me over on the walkie to ask if I would make her cement leaves for her garden. She heard that I make those as she said she would pay me to redo her garden and buy several of the leaves. I didn’t bite as I wanted my leaves to go to a good home and that I would have to go over there to deliver them and I didn’t want to get involved with her.

Then there was the time that she dragged me into the office to have a sit down with the managers and herself about why I was not her friend. At that time I told her that we didn’t need to be friends, but did have to work together as employees which was adequate and besides, “You can’t make me.” The managers were great and had tried to hide little amused smiles on their faces as I was getting up to excuse myself as there was work to be done.

She was fired for something and had amassed a bag of items she had purchased on QVC for some of the other employees. She was going about the store handing out good bye presents and walked up to me and ordered, “STICK OUT YOUR HAND!” I didn’t. I acted like I didn’t know what she had been doing and said, “What’s up?” She commands, “STICK OUT YOUR HAND AND CLOSE YOUR EYES!!!” I said, “What can I do for you?” She dangled a ginormous ring in front of me. It had a huge yellow stone on it the size of 2 robin’s eggs. She says, “I am giving all my FRIENDS good bye gifts and picked this one out just for you as I know you would just LOVE IT!” I wouldn’t take it and told her that it was thoughtful of her to buy gifts, but it certainly wasn’t necessary. The rest of the conversation was mostly me fighting off the ring and I made a suggestion that she should wear it. I didn’t explain to her that I was not a ring wearer because of my horrible fingernails and if she actually knew me she would know that. That I would never ever wear a ring that size no matter if it were a diamond let alone this yellow. There was not a need for me to be cruel so I didn’t say those things, but I can have boundaries. I drew a little invisible line in the sand. We are not friend and you can’t make me.

There she was again today. I had seen her once when I worked at the library and didn’t make it passed her although I tried my best before she accosted me with questions. Some people would also call my actions passive aggressive. Boundaries. I acknowledged her without answering and instead said. “What are you up to today?” I did see her coming and she was leaving a wake through the store talking one at a time to the three of us that are still there from when she was let go five years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t see her soon enough before I was trapped with the first question. After I asked her what she was up to today, she ended up reyelling the question again, “YOU ARE STILL AT THE LIBRARY, RIGHT?” I told her no and she went on and on about how it was my dream job and that it was amazing that I don’t work there anymore and again, “BUT IT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB!” “Ah, no, ” I responded. The library was a place I imagined to be very different than it was, but didn’t tell her that. She started in with pointing to, perhaps a grandson. She started to tell me all about his clothes and his school. The poor kid looked like he was wishing to be anywhere else. I said hi and he just starred at me. I assumed that he was not used to talking.

Then I just couldn’t stand it any longer I put my finger to my ear piece as if receiving a request to do some urgent business in the store, grabbed the mic hanging off my lanyard and talked into it pretending to answer their request. “Sure, I’ll get right on that. Thank you.” I walked away. I’m not mean, I just have boundaries.

Wrinkly

I was at work today when a woman who seemed to be a good 15 years ahead of me came up to me asking about a skin care product. I don’t know much of anything about cosmetics and I called on the headset for someone that worked that beauty area to lend a hand. While we waited for help from a much more in the know person, she asked what I used because I had no wrinkles. I laughed, thanked her and told her there were a few reasons for that. She wanted to know what I put on my face. I told her i use soap and water to wash, and SPF foundation and some eye makeup to make me look like I am awake behind my glasses.

I didn’t want to tell her that my wrinkly gene pool is shallow and that having extra weight on sort of plumbs out those spots. I’m lucky like that. So I did not. She also had a hard time reading the back of the bottles so her eye sight is not that great either. I suggested she look for Retinol if she was really wanted to put something on for wrinkles. I tried reading the backs for her too and you know how that might have gone. Where was my young colleague anyway, who wears ALL the makeup? She is good!

She showed up and I passed the customer onto the expert and listened into the convo from afar. The woman wanted to know how she could get rid of all her wrinkles. Then she wanted to know what was the best product we had. She wanted to know about comparable products and I heard my colleague telling her suggestions of products we had in stock and where she could find new info on the internet. This didn’t work as the customer didn’t own a computer. Then she wanted to know how long it would take for the product to work and if it didn’t if she could return it for a refund. My co-worker was so good with her and told her the news that we don’t take back used beauty products, siting the health factor. The lady was hopeful and walked off with some Retinol infused something.

I was concerned for her right away when I saw her looking at anti-wrinkle creams. There is no way to fix all the wrecked skin unless you want to have surgery and then a lot of times it just looks nasty. For example: Kenny Roger’s eyes. Yikes.

Maybe it is just me, but this lady was sweet, kind, polite and nice. I put a lot of store into nice and that is what I remembered. I am not sure I could even now pick her out of a line-up, but if she would talk as nicely as she did to us, I would know her as I remembered that about her.

I imagine it is easy for me to always be surprised at the women looking at anti-wrinkle cream as mine appear to be full with someone looking with compromised vision. I have gazed at it a time or two myself. I do use make-up too as it makes me feel good and I suppose that is the goal for these others as well.

I have always struggled with my appearance so I shouldn’t be surprised that others would put such stock in theirs as well, even if their worries are about different parts. As I age I have increasingly been thinking about the people who were physically gorgeous as a young person and how hard that is for them as their face takes on someone they might not recognize and they fret about it. They have put so much value on that look that now that it is changing to something new they cannot abide it and are holding the hands of time back with so much superficial stuff. I have some friends that have taken the changes in stride and it shows as sort of a glow. I like that, but they also had other things that were important to share and it seeps out of their pores like gold. All of my friends are gorgeous. Truly.

The other day two 45’s came into the store and they are beautiful, but had gobs of make-up on and it seems the tipping point is about to go over with one more eye lash. They are at that point just before the skin on their upper arms separates from their muscle a wee little bit, despite their work outs and Pilates. I applaud them for staying in shape and I will cheer them on, but their beauty slumped tragically in my eyes when they dropped their item number on the floor and they couldn’t pick them up to hand them to me because they just had their nails done so they kicked it over to me.

You be you and I’ll be me, wrinkles and all.