Saturday, November 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 40

This week I wanted to follow up with a couple of stories regarding my first full time job.  Let's make the question:

Did anything unusual happen at your first job?

It took a few months for me to get my first job out of college, and as I mentioned I was hired as a bank teller. We had little money as we were newlyweds with college debt, but I went to a discount store and bought a pant suit so that I would look professional on my first day of work. I took the bus into Clayton, and was feeling strong and confident as I entered the main bank building. At least until I noticed that people were staring at me and whispering. The head of personnel whisked me into her office and asked me why I was wearing pants. Did no one tell me that pants were against the dress code for women in the bank?

In fact no one had told me, so beyond being mortified I was upset that I had spent money we could ill afford on an outfit I would no longer be allowed to wear. She did not send me home to change, but I was uncomfortable all day. What a way to start my new position!

But in reference to the question in the writing prompt, that is not the unusual thing that happened at work. One day I looking out the front windows of the bank as I had no customers at that time. I saw a black car with tinted windows pull up in front of the building across the street from us. Two men emerged from the car and I could see that the one closest to me had a holstered gun, which was covered as he shrugged into a jacket. Fearing that they were coming to rob the bank, I quickly consulted with my co-workers, and then dialed 911.

The St. Louis County Police headquarters was just around the corner from our bank, so their cars arrived in short order, lights flashing and sirens blowing as they surrounded the black car. And that is how I came to sick St. Louis County's finest on Chip Carter, son of then-President Jimmy Carter. As it turned out, he was giving a luncheon presentation in a nearby building, and the armed guys were Secret Service. Whoops!

Chip Carter photo
from National Archives

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 39

What was your first full-time job?

me with Jim in 1978
Like many starry-eyed college graduates, I fully anticipated graduating from college and landing a great job in the career I had dedicated four years of my life studying. For me, that was a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Environment from Iowa State University. A well-known and highly-regarded program within the State of Iowa, the curriculum recognized and focused on the fact that if one person in a family had a problem, it was not just their problem but affected the family as a whole. The whole family needed to be involved in treatment in order for the situation to improve. In my opinion the program was very progressive in its way of thinking.

While I graduated in late May of 1978 along with my fiancé, I stayed in Des Moines preparing for our August wedding while my husband-to-be moved to St. Louis for his new job. I worked as a temp up until we were married, and didn't begin a serious job search in St. Louis until after our brief honeymoon. This was was before the age of the Internet, and the only way to look for a job was through classified ads in the newspaper. I painstakingly cut potential employment opportunities out of the paper each Sunday, and sat at my portable typewriter composing cover letters to attach to my resume. Then I waited...and waited...and waited...for a call asking me to come in for an interview. It was nerve-wracking, time-consuming and frustrating. Sometimes the ads were so vague that I had no idea what I was even applying for, let alone the name of the company or agency that was hiring.

When I did get an interview, the company or institution always seemed a little suspicious of my degree. It didn't say "Social Work", so they were unclear what I was trained to do, despite my explanations and a wonderful review from my supervisor following my internship with Catholic Social Services in Des Moines my senior year.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the country was in a recession in 1978, with high rates of inflation and unemployment. Budgetary cuts meant entry level positions in many industries were eliminated. Unfortunately my student loans were not put on hold due to a poor economy. So I took the first job that I was offered paying more than the current minimum wage of $2.65 per hour. I became a teller at Clayton Metro Bank.

You certainly did not need a college education to perform the tasks of my position, but the listening and personal relationships skills I learned came in handy when dealing with my co-workers and customers. I ultimately ended up in the commercial drive-up window of the main headquarters in Clayton, which was always busy since we were near the county government offices.

It wasn't long before I recognized that banking was not going to be my long-term career, even though I had pretty good people I worked with and an amazing supervisor. I began looking at master degree programs in the area, and left the bank after a year and a half to attend graduate school full-time. In 1980 I received my Master of Education Degree in Counseling, which opened up many employment opportunities for me.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 38

Today is my birthday, so I chose a writing prompt this week that deals with birthday celebrations.

How were birthdays celebrated when you were growing up?

mom, holding me, with brother Joe
This question made me think about the day I was born, and so I did a little research. I remember my mom telling me that she missed her baby shower, so I must have arrived a little earlier than expected. I was born at 4:36 in the afternoon on Friday, October 28th. The weather in Cincinnati, while cloudy, was an unseasonably warm 71 degrees. On that day 320,000 babies, including Bill Gates, were born around the world. I wonder how many of them are still alive after 22,646 days have passed? Eisenhower was president, and the top song in the nation was "Autumn Leaves" by pianist Roger Williams. It hit Billboard's number one spot on October 29th. Williams died in October of 2011. I'll think about him when "the falling leaves drift by the window..."

Birthdays were not a big deal in my house as I recall. In looking through old family photos, there is exactly one picture of a birthday party celebrating my sister, and none for the rest of us. Cards, gifts, and even cakes were not the norm. My sister probably did the most for me on my birthday, as she took me to see The Sound of Music and gave me gifts such as my first camera and a skate board, both of which I still have to this day.

The only birthday party I remember is one I threw for myself. In my sophomore year of high school I invited my three best girlfriends over and we played pool and had snacks and soft drinks in our finished basement in Des Moines. They gave me the highly desired new Jackson 5 album. It is even now in my collection of LPs.

Was it because my parents grew up during the depression that they perhaps felt birthdays were frivolous celebrations? Did their own parents do nothing for birthdays? I don't know the answer. But things were different in my husband's family. Birthdays were and are a time for family and fun, with cake, ice cream, cards and presents. Once he and I became a family, his traditions carried on first with us and later with our children. Even though they are grown and living on opposite coasts, we send them a card with cash and call them on their birthdays.

Everyone's day of birth should be honored in some way. Happy birthday to me!
October 2016

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 37

What was it like to be the baby of the family?

me in 1956
Though my mom and dad had five children, I grew up with just one sister and two brothers. The oldest child, Roy, died of aplastic anemia was he was only 7 years old. My sister Kathy was 5 at the time of his death, and my brother Ken was 3. I wasn't even a twinkle in my mom's eye when that happened. Following her first successful pregnancies, my mom suffered at least one miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in the removal of one ovary and all but a piece of her second ovary. She was told that there was a chance in 10,000 that she would ever conceive again, and a chance in a million that she would carry a baby to term. A couple of years passed, and my brother Joe was born. I followed 16 months later. So much for the statistics!

Since my sister is 11 years older than me, she was like a second mother to me. She was also saddled with a lot of the care and responsibility for both Joe and me. I've always felt like I was doubly blessed to have two women who loved me unconditionally. Because Joe and I were so close in age, I always had someone to play with when growing up.

Being the youngest in the family had its advantages. I think my dad mellowed a lot by the time Joe and I came along. He was much harder on Kathy and Ken than he was on us two younger kids. Having said that, I also think that I was an observant child. I watched what my older siblings did to set dad off, and I just didn't do those things.

As the baby, I felt secure in my place in the household. While my parents probably felt as though they were raising two families, from my perspective as the youngest, I had the best of both worlds.

Ken, Joe, me & Kathy 1959

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 36

Since I previously wrote about a treasured object I received from my mother, it only seems fair to do the same for my dad. This week's writing prompt is:

What is an object you treasure that you got from your father?

the chair
My mother died in a car accident in 1989, and when my father got older he told my siblings and me that if there was anything in the house that we wanted, we should take it. There is one chair that he and mom owned that had always fascinated me as it was solid wood and had a face carved in the back of it. I've never seen anything like it before or since. Even better, it had a great story behind it.

In 1944 my dad was stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. My mom, who was expecting a baby, and their 2 year old son Roy were with him. Dad received orders to ship off to Chabua, India, so he moved his family back to Cincinnati. They took up residence with my maternal grandparents. One day dad received a letter from mom telling him that the Koch's house was for sale, and asked if she should buy it. The Koch's lived right next door to Mike and Mayme Crusham, so she wouldn't have to move far. Before dad even had a chance to reply, he got another letter telling him, "I bought the Koch house!"

August and Louisa Koch left a few pieces of furniture in the house, including the above-mentioned chair. She told mom that the chair was 100 years old at that time. The chair moved with mom and dad from Cincinnati to Chicago, then to Des Moines, and then back to Cincinnati. After its final move, dad refinished the chair, removing the heavy, dark stain replacing it with a warm oak finish. Those of us who watch Antiques Roadshow know that the appraisers cringe when the original patina is removed from an old piece of furniture, but I have to say the results brought out the beauty of the wood grain as well as the features of the face.

As my husband and I live in a 1902 house that is filled with antiques, I told dad that I would like the chair. None of my siblings collect antiques or seemed interested in it. But dad would not allow me to take the chair. He said that Aunt Marie (my mom's older sister) liked to sit in it when she came over for a visit.

It was not until after my dad died in 2004 that the chair made its final journey to our home in St. Louis. I proudly display it in our entry foyer. When a new antique store opened by our house offering free appraisals, I did not hesitate to take the chair in for her to take a look at it. She told me that the chair was from the 1850s (so Louisa Koch was pretty close in her assessment of the chair's age), and was referred to as a North Wind Chair. The face carved into the seat was not intended to scare small children but rather to dispel bad spirits. The appraiser was excited to see the chair as she had only read about them. When I asked her if dad had diminished the value by refinishing it, she agreed that it was always best to have it in its original state. But then she said to me, "Do you like it like this?" When I told her the wood of the chair and the detail is much prettier this way, she said, "That is all that matters." Too true - I love it and am happy to have it in my family and my home.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 35

me with my brother Joe,
Christmas in Des Moines
Masochistic folks are already posting the dreaded "only X number of days left until Christmas." That made me think back on my days as a child when Santa was so anticipated. With that in mind, I chose the following as my writing prompt for this week

What was your favorite toy as a child?

When I was about 9 or 10 I received a Thumbelina doll as a present from Santa. The first Thumbelina doll was manufactured by Ideal Toy Corp. in 1961. She came in three sizes - OTT-14 (Tiny Thumbelina), OTT-16, and OTT-19. The numbers referred to the length of the doll, although the dolls are actually a little longer than their numbers would indicate. All the dolls moved their heads when a knob on the back of the doll was turned. Beginning in 1962, some of the dolls also cried. Thumbelina was Ideal's best-selling baby doll during the 1960s.

My doll was the OTT-19, and at 20" long she was roughly the size of a newborn baby. Her head moved, and she made a crying noise when you bent forward as if to lay her down, stopping when she was raised up. I was thrilled! If I had a baby doll before her, I can't remember it. There was just one problem with these dolls. Due to their size, normal doll clothes would not fit. Ideal offered some clothing for them, but they were expensive and out of the budget for my folks. Mom purchased real baby clothes instead, or she sewed outfits for my doll.

When I first brought my doll over to a neighbor girl's house, she told me I wasn't allowed to play with them because my doll was too big! I went home in tears. Isn't it strange how the hurtful words of someone you considered a friend can stick with you years later?

My affection for Thumbelina was not diminished, however, and I still have her to this day. She no longer cries, and the head motions are much slower when she is wound up. Like many aging ladies, she has lost a lot of her hair. I have her dressed in a newborn sleeper that was once filled with my daughter, and a crocheted sweater and hat that was lovingly stitched by my mother when I was expecting my first child. I have to say that it looks a little better on Thumbelina than it did on my son - haha.

In Thumbelina I'm reminded of the love of my parents, and days filled with a make-believe world when all I had to worry about was making sure that my precious doll was not crying.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 34

What is an object you treasure that you got from your mother?

There are many items I inherited when my dad died, such as the family photo albums. There is no question that those are a treasure. However, they did not come from my mother as she predeceased my dad. The one thing that my mom specifically said would be mine one day was her diamond cocktail ring. She would tell me that when I was a still living at home, and I would always give her a hug and say that I wanted her in my life, not her ring.

original wedding bands
 My dad had enlisted in the Army Air Corp when he and my mom got married in 1942. As with so many war couples, they had little money so their rings were simple. At a later date, my dad gave mom a bigger engagement ring and a new wedding band. She also bought him a diamond wedding band. Mom gave her original engagement ring to my older sister, who in turn passed that along to her daughter. I guess that is why mom felt like I should have the cocktail ring.

cocktail ring
But there is a funny story behind this ring. My dad liked new cars, and once in Des Moines when he purchased a Cadillac, the dealer gave him the cocktail ring. Can you even imagine? Mom only wore it when they were going out someplace fancy, which wasn't very often. After she passed in 1989, dad made sure that I received the ring. I, too, wear it only when we are going someplace fancy. Every time I look at it, I think longingly and lovingly about my mom. And when I wear it, I feel as though she is going someplace fancy with me.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 33

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday, so I wanted to use a writing prompt that involves mothers.

Who are some other important mother figures who have been influential in your life?

My mother-in-law and I first met at Iowa State when I was 19 years old and dating her son. She has been a part of my world for over 40 years, and I can't imagine my life without her in it. Lorraine is a very loving, compassionate and affectionate woman. She is called Honey by her family, and the nickname is perfect for her. I know that I have been extremely blessed in the in-law department. You hear so many stories and jokes about mother-in-laws, and honestly I just can't relate to any of them. Early on in our marriage, I gave her a framed photo of the poem shown below.

Through our relationship I have learned to be a better cook (she gave me wonderful recipes), experienced the rare pleasure of conversing with someone who actually listens attentively when I speak (she truly cares about what people are telling her), and most importantly been a better mother to my own children (I hope) by observing her interactions with her family.

I was only 32 when my own mother died, and Lorraine has filled a very large whole in my heart. She has been an outstanding grandmother to my kids, having the kind of relationship with them that I was never able to have with my own grandparents. I hope to someday have the opportunity to be that type of grandma myself.

The bonus mother that God gifted me with has enhanced my life beyond words, and I could not love or respect her more were she the one who gave birth to me. It's just an added bonus that she makes homemade brownies and cinnamon rolls that could put the mall bakeries out of business.

Happiest of birthdays to my mother and my friend!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 32

What was the first foreign country that you visited?

In 1984 my husband had a business trip that would take him to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for three months. At the time, any income earned in a foreign country was tax exempt in the United States, and Jim received an increase in pay for the time that he would spend overseas. So we decided to take advantage of the fact that his flights were paid for and enjoy a European vacation at the end of his work schedule in Riyadh. We settled on a 17 day, multi-country tour beginning in Rome.

The trip was booked, Jim had been ensconced in his duties in Saudi Arabia for two months, and I was working full-time at MOMEDICO when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Surprise! This was way before the Internet was widely used, and home land lines had exorbitant rates for continental long-distance phone calls, much less international calls. I decided that I would not tell Jim about the baby until I saw him face to face, which meant no one else got to know the secret until we returned from our trip.

Making my first international flight by myself was a little scary, but I survived and Jim met me at the airport in Rome as our flights arrived on the same day. After catching up with all he had done and what had been going on with work and our families back home, I let him know that he was going to be a daddy. We had planned on having a family at some point, so fortunately he was overjoyed by the news.

Being in the first trimester of pregnancy, I was experiencing some morning sickness. Diesel fumes in particular made me nauseous. Fortunately Ritz was the universal cracker, and eating those helped immensely.

We met up with our tour group the day after we arrived in Rome, and the bus took us on a site-seeing tour of the city. One thing we liked about traveling with this particular group is that in each new city we visited they offered a half-day bus tour to get us acquainted with the area. Then we had free time to go back to see what interested us on our own. We were definitely among the youngest people on the tour, with the exception of a college student who was traveling with his grandfather.

Vatican - so young and skinny!
In Rome it was a great thrill to see the Forum, Pantheon, Colosseum, Arch of Titus, the Vatican and St. Peter's, and of course, Michelangelo's David. All the places you learned about in school, church, or saw in the movies - to see them in real life was a bit surreal.

We took side trips to Villa d'Este, a 16th century villa in Tivoli known for its terraced hillside gardens and fountains, as well as to Pisa to see the leaning tower. We climbed to the top of it, despite the lack of guard rails to protect from falls. Unfortunately our visit was marred by the fact that someone stole Jim's telephoto lens right out of the backpack he was wearing! That was particularly maddening in light of the fact that we were only days into our trip and would not have the use of the lens for the rest of our travels.

Villa d'Este and Tower of Pisa
From Rome we went to Venice before heading to Lucerne, Switzerland, then on to Paris (with a side trip to Versailles), and ultimately ending up in London. Since this post is about the first country I visited, I won't go into more details about the rest of the journey. For the most part we enjoyed traveling with the group as the company took care of all transportation, luggage, language barriers, etc., and breakfast was included each morning. Though we soon learned that the breakfast was the same each morning - no matter what country we were in. It included coffee, tea, juice and a hard roll with butter and jelly. By about the 8th day, one of the couples was missing from breakfast. When we saw them later, the gal explained, "We couldn't eat one more damn roll!" The rest of us could relate. But overall, it was a good way to be introduced to foreign travel.

Rialto Bridge in Venice, Eiffel Tower in Paris, and Buckingham Palace in London

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 31

Since I wrote about eating in the last post, it seems reasonable this week to discuss who cleaned up after the meals.

What were your chores as a child?

My mother did not work outside the home (with rare exceptions), so most of the housework fell on her shoulders. As I got older, I was responsible for cleaning my room, dusting, vacuuming and raking the rug. Yes, you read that correctly. I raked our living room and hallway rugs.

Do you remember shag carpets? They were a thing in the 1960s and 1970s. Due to the length of the fibers, these carpets would become flat when people walked on them. Plastic rakes were used to fluff them back up. I understand shag is making a bit of a comeback. My advice? Don't go there. Who wants to add an additional step to the already long list of household chores?

When we got big enough, my brother and I were enlisted to take over washing and drying the dishes. That had been our older sister's domain, but once she got a full-time job the dishes were passed down to us. Dad was a stickler for clean dishes. If he inspected our work and found any food remnants, EVERYTHING would come out of the cabinets to be washed and dried. I think that only happened once. Quick learners, my brother and I.

My brother took out the trash and mowed the lawn, but I like mowing as well so I asked to cut the front lawn. Getting to the back yard involved traversing steep hills on either side of the house, so my dad didn't want me to attempt that part. I also enjoyed washing the car, so I did that when I was free.

My chores at home continued even after I began my part-time jobs when I turned 16. Those skills served me well once I went away to college and even more so after I got married and we had a home of our own.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 30

Let's talk about food for this week's writing prompt.

What did a typical mealtime look like?

Growing up our meals were always eaten as a family, and that included breakfast, lunch and dinner (though we referred to the latter as supper.) The six of us would gather around the table to eat, except if someone was working or out of town. During the week my mom was responsible for the cooking, though she and dad did the grocery shopping together. On the weekends, my dad was right in the kitchen with mom. Dishes were the responsibility of the kids.

Mom with Duke
The household rule was that you had to eat everything on your plate, and dad made us sit at the table until the plate was clean. On several occasions that meant that I sat there until bedtime. There were some things even our German Shepherd Duke wouldn't eat, despite my best efforts to feed him under the table. Rutabagas come to mind. Dad mellowed a bit in later years, and mom was allowed to make me a hot dog for times when things like liver and onions were on the menu.

Both my mom and dad were excellent cooks, and most things they served tasted really good. While they never were into baking goodies like cookies or brownies, dad could whip up awesome pineapple upside down cakes, lemon meringue pies, apple or peach pies, etc. My dad's pineapple upside down cake was so good that I took the pan he baked it in after he passed so that I could try to duplicate his masterpiece. Regular cakes were pretty much reserved for birthdays. But the best part of eating was getting to catch up with everyone on what their day had been like.
pineapple upside down cake
My husband experienced pretty much the same thing in his house growing up, so sharing meals was something we carried through to our married lives. When our children came along, we made it a point to sit down together for meals despite both of us working full-time outside the home. We learned a lot about their daily experiences by being tuned into the conversations that flowed as we ate. The greatest compliment my kids ever gave me was the fact that they both planned their extracurricular activities around our dinner time whenever possible, so that they could eat at home. I hope that is something they will continue to do now that they have households of their own.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 29

This week's writing prompt:

What sports or other extracurricular activities were you involved in?

As a young girl I was always interested in dance lessons, but there never seemed to be any extra money for me to take them. I got to live vicariously through my friend across the street, Sherry Coon, as her mom invited me to Sherry's recitals. It was also through Mrs. Coon that I became a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout.

When I was in 7th grade I joined a girls' softball team with some classmates at Holy Trinity. We were the Carnations. All of the teams in the league were named for flowers, and I thought that was stupid and sexist even back then. Since I wasn't the coach's kid, or even a friend of the coach's kid, I got stuck out in right field.  I hated every minute of it. I'd been playing baseball with my brother and the neighborhood boys for years, so I understood the meaning of being placed in the outfield. It was hard for me to adjust to the larger, softer ball and wider bat. I did okay, I guess, but only stuck with the team for a couple of years.

Hooverettes junior year
When I got to high school (which at Hoover High was only 10th-12th grades) I tried out for the Hooverettes, a precision drill team run by an ex-military guy. Out of 72 candidates, only 17 of us made the team. Mr. J. conducted weekly weigh-ins, and if you were an ounce over your recommended weight, you didn't get to march that week. Fortunately weight was not an issue for me back then. One of his other requirements was that you could not participate in any other school activities. There were a lot of rehearsals before school, and we marched at every football and basketball game, as well as various parades throughout the year.

Normally the parades were in Des Moines or nearby towns such as Pella for the Tulip Festival. But when our band was selected to march in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC, that was a huge thrill. Due to expenses, only two sophomore Hooverettes were allowed to go, and that was as alternates in case one of the junior or senior girls couldn't march. All the sophomore names were thrown in a hat, and mine was one of the two drawn. Diane Howdle was the second, so we ended up as roommates in the DC hotel. It was my first time flying on a plane, as well as my first time in the nation's capital. Neither of us got to be in the parade, instead following along the route with numerous cameras taking pictures for those who were marching. When we were returning to Des Moines, there was a blizzard and we were stranded in Chicago for a day. From April 8-10, Des Moines received 14" of snow. We ultimately made it back home. It was quite a trip.
Cherry Blossom Parade 1973

At the end of my junior year our school sponsor quit and we were told the Hooverettes were disbanding. Later on, another sponsor took over but by then I had it in my head to try other activities my senior year. I helped with student council, was a track clerk, and got involved in the theater department - both on stage and behind the scenes. My senior year I was also a Voter Registrar as I had turned 18 in October. I was enlisted to help register other students so they could vote in the 1974 presidential election. I also went throughout my neighborhood registering voters. In retrospect, I'm glad I branched out senior year and got involved in other things as it gave me a chance to meet many other students in the school.
The Miracle Worker                                  voter registrars

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 28

Today is our 39th wedding anniversary. In a happy coincidence, the couple who sang at our wedding is here in town visiting us. It is fitting to go with this writing prompt as the question of the week.

Tell the story of how you met your own true love, what first attracted you to him, and how long it took for you to know he was “the one”?

Alpha Sigma Phi
Jim and I met our freshman year at Iowa State University. Having neither the interest nor the cash to try to get into a sorority, I lived in Freeman Hall. Jim, on the other hand, pledged the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity located on the other side of campus. A friend from high school, Todd Buckton, also pledged at the same time as Jim. The Alpha Sigs had a Little Sister organization in the house. These organizations were formed in the late 1960s to early 1970s as an opportunity for the brothers to have social interaction with gals without the stress of dating, for the fraternity to receive help with service projects, etc. Each new gal received a Big Brother to help with the transition to college life, and the upper class gals were assigned a Little Brother to do the same for them.

The new pledges were expected to invite freshman girls to the Little Sister rush party in the fall, and Todd called and invited me to come over. I went, and was later asked to be in the organization. While I met all the brothers at the party and later the Little Sister initiation ceremony, Jim first stood out to me at a mixer between the fraternity and the Little Sisters. Held at a bar right before spring break, I clearly remember spending a lot of time talking to him and his two roommates, Jon and Steve. Jim mentioned that he was going skiing with some friends back home during our time off, and I remember being jealous because 1) I had never skied before, and 2) we never did anything during school breaks.

May 1975
When classes resumed I decided that I was going to invite Jim to a dance my dorm was planning for later spring in Des Moines. I didn't want to call the frat house and ask for him in case the person answering the phone that night recognized my voice. I had a friend from the dorm call instead, and when he got on the line I popped the question. He said he would like to go. Because he wanted to become more acquainted before the dance, he came over to the dorm one day and helped my roommate and me paint our room. Then he asked me out to see the movie Jeremiah Johnson. He borrowed Todd's Volkswagen Beetle to pick me up as he didn't have a car. We had a very nice evening, and it smoothed the way for the dance.

We dated exclusively all through college, and the more time I spent with him, the more I realized how much we had in common. Meeting his parents when they came to Ames to attend a play was the icing on the cake as they were great, and he got to meet my parents when we went to Des Moines for the dance. In fact, six of us spent the night at my mom and dad's house after the dance ended. 

Alpha Sigma Phi pin
The only time we had a brief breakup occurred during sophomore year, over something inconsequential. We were soon reunited, and never looked back. By junior year I was wearing his fraternity pin, and senior year we got engaged. We married less than three months following our graduation from Iowa State and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wedding Day August 19, 1978

Footnote: The Little Sister organizations were abolished in the mid 1990s for various concerns including liability, suggestions that the organizations discriminated by gender, and other obscure reasoning.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 27

This week I am going back to school with my story.

Who was your favorite school teacher? Why?

Mr. Wadden 1974
There are several teachers I remember throughout my school years, which is amazing since my memory has never been the greatest. Sister Mary Geneva from second grade was young and very kind. Sister Liguori, while older and more stern, was very supportive of my poetry writing in fifth grade. Mrs. Yelick in 8th grade reinforced my love of English, and Mr. Parker in 11th grade understood that American History would be more interesting to his students if he let them select projects that appealed to them while at the same time imparted knowledge about our country's history. I still remember my presentation that discussed how the music of the roaring '20s contrasted with that of the '30s as the country fell into the Great Depression. The music was a reflection of the tone of the country. But the teacher who most influenced my life was Mr. Wadden, who taught A.S.P. English.

I signed up for Advanced Special Placement English, which would be called AP English today, my senior year of high school. I had heard that it was a challenging class, which most kids tend to shy away from their final year of high school. But hey, it was English, so I wanted in. My friend Kim was in the same class as me, and we tentatively made our way into the room together on the first day. As Mr. Wadden explained the curriculum and work load for the class, you could see the looks of dismay on the faces of many of the students. He said that if any of us did not want to put in the full effort for the class, we were welcome to leave. And a handful of students did exactly that.

Kim and I stuck it out, and while the class did entail a lot of work, Mr. Wadden was mostly bark and no bite. I think he just wanted to separate the serious students from those who were looking for an easy ride their last year in school. There was a lot of reading required in the class, and he taught us to critically examine what we were reading. From there we had to write papers discussing the meanings of what we had read. His class not only changed the way I read books, but my writing skills improved dramatically.

Those skills carried through in college as well as every job I have held since then. Mr. Wadden is one of the biggest reasons that I am a published author today. I am so grateful that I was able to tell him exactly that when we met at my 40th high school reunion a few years ago. He attended the reunion because I invited him. It was humbling to learn that I was a student he remembered out of all the thousands he had taught throughout the years. He recalled my friendship with Kim and the unique name we called ourselves. Way before Brad and Angelina became known as Brangelina, we were the Kimlers (Kim Kubler and Kim Taylor). Mr. Wadden also asked if I had indeed gone on to Iowa State University. (I did.) At any rate, it was wonderful to see him and his wife at our reunion. It's not often that we get to show appreciation to our teachers, and let them know that they made a difference. Thanks, Mr. Wadden!

me with Mr. Wadden in 2014

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 26

In my post for Week 22, the prompt asked about how my parents met, and then also how my grandparents met. While I knew the story about my parents, I was unsure about my grandparents. I was in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago and took the opportunity to ask my two aunts the question of how their parents met.

How did your grandparents meet and fall in love?

Margie, me and Betty
There were eight children in my mom's family, with only two surviving today. Aunt Margie turned 95 recently, and her surprise birthday party was one of the reasons I was in Cincinnati. Aunt Betty's birthday was last month, and she turned 90. They are both an inspiration to the family as they are fairly healthy, active and living on their own.

While at the party, I took the opportunity to ask them if they knew how their parents had met. Aunt Margie did not remember ever hearing the story. Betty believes that Michael Crusham and Mary Barbara (Mayme) Metz met at a picnic in a park in Delhi (a township in Hamilton County).

I explained to them both that as I was looking through notes in preparation for some research I was going to do while in Cincinnati, I had found a reference to an interview I did with their older sister Marie back in 1994. Marie told me that Mayme had a friend named Rose Kenney, and she would sometimes spend the night at Rose's house. She thought that is where Mike and Mayme met. But she said that Mike also may have been a friend of Rose's future husband, John Buchanan. I shared this story with Margie and Betty, and neither one had heard this version.

So the bottom line is that I really don't know for sure how my grandparents met. What I do know is that they were married at St. Aloysius Church in Cincinnati on 21 June 1911. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June of 1961. By November, Michael was dead.

Mike and Mayme, seated, along with Mike's brother
Edward and Mayme's sister Helen

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 25

Last week's post reminded me of another story that involved plane travel. Here's my follow-up question:

To date, what has been your strangest plane experience?

me with Clinton Kelly of
What Not to Wear fame
I have previously written about this event on my other blog, but it is a good story and bears repeating. In May of 2010 I traveled to New York City to attend a book publishing conference. The conference went well, and I was eager to get back home to my family when the conference ended on Thursday. My first clue that it would not be smooth sailing was in the cab on the way to the airport.The cabbie asked me if I had called the airline as some flights had been canceled due to storms. I called my daughter on my cell phone and had her look up my flight on her computer, and American Airlines showed it to be on schedule. The weather in New York was fine, but apparently storms in the Midwest were causing problems.

At the gate it was apparent the flight would be late as there was no plane there. At 5:20 we finally boarded, and the plane left the gate around 5:45. Then we sat out on the tarmac for 2 hours. I counted 17 planes on the runway ahead of us. In the meantime I chatted with the gal in the center seat next to me, and the guy in the end seat. The gal had grown up in Ferguson and was on her way home for a baby shower. Her own, as it ends up. She is 7 months pregnant with her first baby, and since she now lives in New York the family was hosting a virtual shower so that everything would be shipped to her home in New York. Smart! The guy was on his way back home to Chicago via St. Louis, which I thought was odd since there are lots of flights direct to Chicago out of LaGuardia.

After 2 hours the pilot took us back to the gate because nothing was flying out, and with the new FAA guidelines he could not keep us on the plane longer than 3 hours. He knew there was no way we would get out before the 3 hour timetable was up. If the plane returns to the gate, then the 3 hours can start over again. Back at the airport we were asked to wait 10 minutes until a decision would be made on whether we would fly out that night or not. Then we de-planed and they said it would be 8:45 before a decision would be made. Around 8:30 the flight was canceled. No flights heading west were allowed to leave that night.

The people on the plane who had smart phones were able to schedule their flights for the next day. Those of us stuck in yesterday's technology had to do it the old fashioned way - we stood in line. One sole AA rep was trying to handle the entire flight. My pregnant seat mate and I decided to go upstairs to the AA counter where there would be more agents available. Big mistake! Since all flights were canceled, the line was atrocious. We headed back downstairs to collect out luggage, and seat mate got both of her phones (yep, she carries two of them!) going on the AA 800 number. She finally got through, and after she booked her flight she took my information and changed my flight as well. For herself, she was able to get a direct flight at 9:00 p.m. Friday night. For me? A 5:30 p.m. flight to Dallas, with a flight from Dallas arriving in St. Louis at 11:30 p.m. Friday night. Are you kidding me? According to the agent, that was the best thing they could do.

The luggage finally arrived and I bid farewell to my pregnant friend who was lucky enough to be able to head home to her apartment, and I went to tackle the next issue. Where was I going to sleep that night? I waited for my turn at the Airport Hotels phone bank, asking each person I saw if they could recommend a decent place in the area. We were all in the same boat, with no idea of which way to sail. I struck up a conversation with a nice, younger woman who also needed a place to stay. She had one hotel phone going and I had the other. We agreed that if either of us found a hotel with rooms, we would grab 2 of them. It was soon apparent that all the canceled flights had resulted in a run on neighboring hotels. A number of people headed back to NYC for the night. But new friend and I persisted. I was on hold with Holiday Inn Express when she struck gold with the Comfort Inn. YES! They had openings. Could we have 2 rooms? No, only 1 was available. I looked at my new BFF and said, "I'm not an axe murderess." She replied that she was not an axe murderess either, and with that we agreed to share a room. She told the man she would take a room with 2 beds. Uhhhhh.....the only room available was a king bed. Alrighty, then....We had agreed to share a room but did we want to share a bed? It was that or the airport floor. We booked the room ($180 per night for a Comfort Inn!) and headed out in the now rainy New York night to catch the shuttle.

At the Comfort Inn I called AA and again asked about a different flight. The frazzled agent said there were no direct flights available, but if I would hold she would check on some alternatives. She came back with a 10:00 a.m. US Airways flight to DC followed by an AA flight to St. Louis, arriving at 1:55 p.m. Much better than the 11:30 p.m. arrival time I was currently scheduled on. My new BFF Michele and I settled in for the night, but I have to say I did not sleep well. I never did get any supper with all the delays at the airport, so my stomach was a little upset. I didn't want to pass gas and embarrass myself with my new BFF. Plus I was afraid that since I had slept so poorly on my trip I might snore. Also not a cool way to impress a new friend. It was not a restful night. Michele got up at 6:00 a.m. to make her flight, so we bid each other a safe trip. Slept with Michele on a first date and never even got her last name. I am so loose!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 24

Not being inspired by any of the writing prompts on the list, I decided to come up with my own for this week's post.

To date, what has been your worst plane experience?

All of us have dealt with delayed or cancelled flights, screaming kids, the passenger who doesn't shut up for the entire trip, a seat mate who spills into your personal space, the person in front of you who reclines in your lap, the one behind you who kicks your seat, the unpleasant aroma of carry-on food or a filled diaper - I could go on and on.

But none of these things comes close to my story of being marooned - not on an island, but on an airplane. It was 21 March 1992, and I had a business meeting at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. It was a daylong meeting of marketing people from around the United States, so we had all flown in that morning and were flying home that night. Or at least that was the plan. We held the meeting in a room right at the airport for the sake of convenience. My trip home was on American Airlines Flight 1413, scheduled to leave at 6:14 p.m.

An unpredicted snow storm began that afternoon, and we were advised to change our tickets to an earlier flight. I was able to secure a seat on an American flight leaving at 4:15, and considered myself one of the lucky ones able to get out before the airport shut down. Some members of our group could not change their tickets.

My plane boarded at 3:30, and after a delay pushed away from the terminal and took its place on the tarmac waiting for clearance. That move ended up to be a costly one for all of us on the plane. Once another plane entered our gate there was no turning back. We sat on the runway for hours. My best move was hopping out of my center seat and claiming the two seats across the aisle from me so that I could spread out. We were all given our one soda and one package of peanuts (those were the days when you still received a drink and a bag of nuts for "free"), and that was it. We learned that there was only one runway open with 45 planes ahead of us waiting to take off. Additionally, only two of O'Hare's de-icing trucks were working.

There were no phones on the planes, and we were still years away from mobile telephones being a standard business travel accessory. I had no way to contact my husband, at home in St. Louis with our 6 year old and nearly 1 year old, to let him know the situation. He was sure that something terrible had happened to me.

The plane finally took off at 2:30 a.m., landing in St. Louis about 3:45 in the morning. Essentially we were on the plane for 12 hours. We barely got an apology as we deplaned. As for the people from my meeting who could not change their flights? They ended up being the lucky ones. They were able to spend the night in our meeting room where there was plenty to eat and drink. The rest of the airport ran out of food, and all the nearby motels were quickly filled.

I wrote a scathing letter to American Airlines regarding the incident. It will come as a surprise to no one that I never received a reply. I've taken the liberty of re-writing their 1990's slogan.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 23

This week's question involves food - school food, to be exact. Some of my memories are fond, others not so much.

What are your memories of school lunch? Did you bring from home or eat at school? How did the food and your experiences change from school to school?

My kindergarten was only half day, so I had lunch at home after the bus dropped me off at the corner. From 1st-7th grades, I attended Holy Trinity Catholic School. They barely had a lunchroom there, much less a cafeteria, so mom packed lunches for my brother and me every day. Once each semester they would have a hot lunch consisting of beef burgers, chips and homemade desserts. The moms would prepare and serve the meal in the gym. It was such a treat to see my mom during the school day, and to have something different to eat for a change.

There are a couple of other things that stand out in my mind. One is that during lent, we could eat meat on Fridays. All those tuna fish sandwiches smelled horrible in the coat closet! No one had insulated lunch boxes in those days. The second was the day my brother and I knew that we had a half day and didn't need a lunch. Mom made us take one anyway, and we ditched our lunches in the shrubs at a neighbor's house. Wouldn't you know the lady would choose that morning to do yard work, found the labeled paper sacks, and called our mom to tattle on us. She was not happy with us, but we ate the lunches when we got home - early, just like we thought.

Meredith Junior High School
The junior high school I switched to in 8th grade must not have left an impression on me, food-wise. I'm guessing it had a cafeteria as it was attached to the high school, but I honestly have no recollection it. I probably continued to pack a lunch for financial reasons.

At the high school I remember going through the food line with my friends. I bought the same thing every day - an orange and two peanut butter cookies. It cost me twenty cents. Once in a blue moon if there was something special on the menu and I had some extra money, I would buy my lunch.

When I got to Iowa State, if you were in their housing program you paid for room and board. I still remember that the cost was $525 per quarter (the university was on the three quarter system at that point) for the room and meals. We received a punch card good for three meals a day, except on Sundays when only two meals were provided. You were assigned a dining hall, and your punch card was only good there. Most of the food was actually pretty good, but I remember being thankful that dining hall duty was not my job in the work-study program I was in. Sunday nights I would eat popcorn or heat up a can of soup in my hot pot.

My senior year I moved off campus into a mobile home with another girl. Cleaning, paying bills, grocery shopping and cooking were all skills that have benefited me throughout my life.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 22

As I look at the various prompt questions I can select from each week, it makes me sad that I did not ask my parents and grandparents more questions. I know they told stories when I was growing up, but they just didn't interest me at the time. Of course now I wish I had written them down, or even better, recorded them.

Here is this week's prompt:

Do you know the story of how your parents met and fell in love? What about your grandparents?

It was 1941 and my father, Roy Kubler was twenty-four years old, living with his parents and two of his sisters, and working as an assorter for the Railways Express Agency in Cincinnati. The Railways Express Agency delivered freight from the railroad car to the customer, and Roy’s job entailed the routing of packages through the express terminal. 

My mother, Catherine Crusham, was the third oldest of eight children. She had dropped out of high school after completing her junior year in order to help support the family. She worked at a sporting goods manufacturing factory sewing basketballs. In 1941 she was twenty-one and living with her parents and six of her siblings.

They met when Roy was out driving with a friend one pretty spring afternoon in 1941. Catherine was standing on a street corner with her cousin Joan Armstrong when the two young men happened to pass by. As Roy's friend was acquainted with Joan, they stopped the car to chat. Roy was immediately attracted to Catherine's red hair and sparkling green eyes, and she to his tall stature and quick wit. The two began dating and found common interests in their backgrounds, music and dancing.

Joan on the left with Catherine in 1941
But WWII had cast a shadow over the light of their love. Anticipating that he would shortly be required to enter the military, on 10 January1942 Roy and Catherine applied for a marriage license. They married quietly on 17 January 1942 at Resurrection Church in Cincinnati, with only Catherine’s sister Margaret Crusham and their brother-in-law Lawrence Wambaugh in attendance. Two months into their marriage, the Army Air Forces called Roy into service.

While they had a difficult beginning to their marriage, the foundation held for 47 years until my mom was killed in a car accident in 1989. The example they set contributed in part to all of their children having successful, long-term marriages.

The story of how my grandparents met is one I don't know. I will be making a trip back to my birthplace later this year, so it is a question I will ask of my aunts. And this time I will listen, and write it down.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 21

For this week's question I decided I was going to modify one of the ones from Family Search regarding holidays. It is almost July 4th, so I want to write about that particular holiday.

What is your most memorable 4th of July?

My dad went all out for July 4th when we lived in Chicago. He bought a ton of fireworks and shot them off in our back yard. The neighbors would gather to watch, and it was quite a party. One year my brother dropped a firecracker on my left foot. Now, we lived in Chicago from the time I was several months old until I turned 5, so my brother could not have been older than 6 when this happened. How he got his hands on a firecracker, I don't remember. It hurt like the dickens, and I carry a scar on that foot to this day.

After we moved to Des Moines where the houses were much closer together, dad didn't put on the big display like he had done in the past. But we always had sparklers and snakes that we were allowed to set off each year. That tradition my husband and I carried on when our own children were old enough to be responsible with them.

The last time that I saw my mother alive was over the 4th of July holiday in 1989 when she and my dad stopped here on their way to Colorado to stay with my brother for a couple of weeks. We all sat outside and played with the sparklers and snakes. She was killed in a car accident on their way back from Colorado later in July. So this holiday is always a blend of celebration and sadness for me.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 20

Wow, it's hard to believe that this is my 20th post for the 2017 Family Search 52 Stories project. For others participating in the project, I guess they would be on week 24. But I took February off as I was writing daily for Family History Writing Month, so I'm not going to feel bad that I'm off a few weeks. The prompt for this post involves academics.

What do you consider your greatest academic achievement - earning a degree, passing a challenging class, getting high marks on a test or project, reading War and Peace?

Iowa State 2014

I didn't have to think too long for this question. While I am proud of my undergraduate degree from Iowa State University of Science and Technology, I wasn't given a choice regarding my post-high school education. My dad told me I was going to go to college, and further that I would attend Iowa State where my older brother was enrolled. I wasn't interested in science or technology, nor did I have the skill set for either. I wanted to go to the University of Iowa, which had (and still has) an excellent writing program. But dad was adamant and you just didn't argue with him, so off to Iowa State I went.

It became abundantly clear following graduation, marriage and a move to St. Louis that an undergraduate degree in Family Services was not going to open employment doors. While my degree was highly recognized and respected in Iowa, St. Louis employers had no idea what it was since my diploma did not say "Social Work" on it. I've always felt that Iowa State was ahead of its time with the program because when an individual has a problem, it's not just their problem - it impacts the whole family. So we treated the whole family. It makes so much sense.

At any rate, with an unknown degree and the distressed job market that existed in 1978, I found myself employed as a teller in a bank. While it was not the worst job in the world, it was a far cry from what I was trained to do. It was clear that an undergraduate degree alone was not going to allow me to work in the field of helping families. And so, at the ripe old age of 23, I enrolled in graduate school full time at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But this time I picked the curriculum and I picked the college.

UMSL 2014

The program could be completed in 12 months, including a three month internship. What I didn't realize until I went to enroll in my courses was that the classes were at night to accommodate folks who were working full time. (This was way before the time where you could check everything out online.) That schedule would put a crimp into the time I would be able to spend with my fairly new husband as he was working full time during the days. But we decided that for a year, we could make it work. It may have been for the best as I drove to campus early every day to avoid the traffic, which gave me lots of time in the library before my classes began.

My electives provided me with an opportunity to take daytime classes, and I took business classes for  all of those. I believe my business minor contributed to the fact that I was hired by Ralston Purina for my internship in 1980. Those classes also paid off down the road when we started our own businesses.

My Master of Education Degree in Counseling was awarded following completion of the internship in August of 1980. I was the first person in my family to receive an advanced degree, and I graduated with a 3.9 GPA. This degree, unlike my bachelor's, opened the door to jobs that required a masters in order to even be considered. To date, that is my greatest academic achievement.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 19

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there - to the ones who are with us still as well as those who are no longer here to celebrate. My own father died in 2004, and I think about him often, but especially on his birthday and Father's Day. My writing prompt, of course, involves dads.

What is something you never understood or appreciated about your dad until much later in life?

Dad and me 1978
It takes becoming a parent yourself to appreciate most things about your own mom and dad. Once you recognize the great responsibility you have in caring for and raising children, you begin to understand the pressure your parents were under. My dad grew up during a time where it was considered the man's job to provide for his family. Consequently, my mom never worked once they got married except for the short stint when they owned the Dairy Queen.

They went through some difficult times when their oldest son was diagnosed with aplastic anemia as a young child. In addition to all the hospitalization bills, the serum the doctors believed necessary in order to keep Roy alive came at an exorbitant cost. The family incurred a lot of debt, and in the end Roy died at the age of 7. Before he was even buried the administrative nun from the Catholic hospital was already hounding dad for money. He and mom spent years paying the hospital off.

Dad began his working career in transportation, which took our family from Cincinnati to Chicago and finally to Des Moines. When his company was bought out, he lost his job as Regional Sales Manager. How devastating and scary that must have been for him. He tried many other things after that, always involving sales in some aspect. Looking back, I believe he was a bit of a frustrated entrepreneur, not unlike his own father.

He was so pleased and proud when Jim and I began our own composting business back in 1991. I think he lived a little vicariously through our business endeavors. It was so great to be able to talk about how things were going whenever we got together. Trying to juggle jobs and family responsibilities while facing the unknown future of the company we started helped me to understand how difficult things must have been for dad when he was supporting a young family.

But I like to think that I got my tenacity and spunk from him, and I know that he would be proud of the things I have accomplished in my life. (Except he wouldn't understand the part where I wrote a book about him - he would shake his head over that.)

Thanks for all the strength and knowledge you passed on to me, dad. Happy Father's Day!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 18

It's not Father's Day weekend, but this topic deserves more than one post as I have a couple of people I would like to write about. Today's writing prompt is:

Who are some other important father figures who have been influential in your life?

As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, when you get involved with someone you aren't just letting "that" person into your life. "That" person comes with a bunch of other people, whether family members, friends, co-workers or whatever. You may choose your significant other, but you don't get to choose the other folks.

Jim and I come from similar backgrounds, raised in Catholic families with comparable values. We both spent most of our childhood in Iowa, though he was from a small town and I lived in the "big city" of Des Moines - population ~ 200,000. We ultimately ended up at the same university and began dating when we were 19. I met his parents shortly after that when they came to Iowa State to see a play. We went out to dinner before the show and they immediately put me at ease. When they met my parents, they all hit it off as well - an added bonus. It's hard to believe that they have known me for 42 years - more than nearly anyone else except my spouse and my siblings!

Lorraine, Gerald, Catherine and Roy, 1979
As I got to know them better, I could see that the man who was to become my father-in-law was a very special person. He valued his family and all the men who worked for him, who were every bit family to him as well. Being raised in a household of 11 children - 8 of whom were girls - cemented the importance of family, I think. In the years that I have known him he has demonstrated time and time and again the utmost love and respect he has for his wife and his children. As the spouse of his only son, I am blessed to know his love as well, as are our children.

Andy, Gerald, Lorraine and Kathryn

Early on in our marriage I found a framed poem "To My Other Mother" that I purchased for my mother-in-law one year. A recent Google search revealed that they have exchanged the word Mother for Father and sell the same poem for father-in-laws now. I decided this would be a good time to write one of my own.

From the very first moment we met
you accepted the girl I was;
the woman I was to become.
Though not your daughter
you have embraced me as one.

We don’t share the same blood
though we share the same name.
But we don’t need genetics
to prove our relationship
because we know we are family.

Our paths have intertwined
for more than four decades.
The memories we have made
are tucked away securely in my mind. 
It’s been a treasured journey.

When it comes to the in-laws pool
I definitely won the lottery.
Some women don’t even have
one man in their lives they call dad.
I’ve been blessed with two.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 17

For this week's writing prompt, I chose a question involving spring. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is, indeed, spring as we have just returned from Australia and New Zealand where it is late fall. Nevertheless, here is this week's writing prompt.

What do you look forward to every spring? People, places, things, events, food, hobbies, traditions?

Each spring the thing I most anticipate is the whole process of getting my annuals into the planting beds and pots at our house. I keep a master list each year of what I planted and how the various flowers and herbs performed. Then I head off to the nursery to select the plant material. I like to patronize a nearby nursery as it is owned by a local family, and they have been very generous to our schools throughout the years. I know that I could buy the same things at one of the box stores for less money, but this is my way of supporting a hometown business. The employees are knowledgable too, and have helped me with many selections in the past.

It brings me great satisfaction to put each of the new little babies in the ground, and to watch them add color and interest to the yard. The herbs add flavor to our meals and beverages, and I like being able to walk out back and pick them fresh off the plant. As the season wears on, I do grow tired of going out into the heat to water them though. I am a mosquito magnet, and so I have to wear long sleeves and jeans to water, even during the day. That takes a bit of the romance out of the whole gardening thing, especially when the heat and humidity top 90.

Because we have been gone, I am way behind on my yard work. Hopefully things won't be too picked over by the time I finally get to the nursery.

spring flowers 2016