Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Me & My Dad

Dad always liked me best. I know, I was only the middle child, but I’m sure I was his favorite!

My dad was very frugal. Growing up we would take walks for entertainment. Sometimes we would go for a ride in the car. (Gas was about a dime a gallon back then.) We kids always wanted ice cream, but dad was firm----actually he didn’t say anything, we just didn’t get any! If we were thirsty we didn’t get Cokes – we had to wait until be got home and had water. We were so deprived! On Saturday evenings we got to listen to “The Old Barn Dance” on the radio. If we were real good we got popcorn and a big glass of ice water.

I remember one time when my dad bought a new car – he drove to Watseka, Illinois to get it because he could get it cheaper there. It was a pretty green and white Pontiac. Dad always put it in the garage, and when I started to drive I too had to put the car in the garage. Dad didn’t even get mad when I put the first scratch on the side of the car backing it in just a few weeks after he got it…after all, I was his favorite!

After I got married and had kids, I used to visit at Mom & Dad’s house for an occasional weekend. Mom was working by then so I tried to help her out by doing her laundry (since I had probably come there to do my own anyway). Dad would come up to me in the basement and hold his hand out to give me something – he collected quarters, so I figured I was getting a handful of quarters for helping out – but it turned out to be a small envelope stuffed with $5 bills! I guess he collected those too! There was usually about $100 in there. Back in 1960 that was A LOT of money. He’d always say, “Now don’t tell anybody.” It was our secret. Yep he liked me best!!

Dad bought seats that fit on the front of his bicycle so he could take the grandkids for a ride. They each got the exact same amount of time in the seat. No favorites there. When he worked at the Girl Scout camp all the grandkids would all go on hay rides together. One spring, when the tractor got stuck in the mud halfway up the wheels, we all used to make weekly pilgrimages to watch the guys try to figure out how to get it out.

We reminisced a lot after Dad died. He was an interesting man - caretaker of a Girl Scout Camp, self-taught naturalist, master gardener (“When are you going to come and pick beans?”) and livestock farmer - he had peacocks, pigmy goats, sheep, chickens, raccoons and any other animal we gave him as gifts. He had only one job in his whole life – at US Steel. He never smoked... Oh, yes, he drank. He’d take a sip out of 16 oz. bottle of Pepsi and fill the space with bourbon. Sometimes he would tell us he was “Tipsy”. Yep – a real drinker!

But I was his favorite. My sister and I were talking about that one time after his death and I told her (even though I wasn’t supposed to ) how he used to give me envelopes full of $5 bills when I did the laundry. And you know what? She had the nerve to say he did the same for her…..with the same admonition – “Don’t tell anyone.” Imagine! I guess he really was a smart man. Bob was his firstborn – Grace was the baby, but I still think Dad Always Liked Me Best!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mystery Bug

OK, all you geniuses out there. I have attached pictures of a bug that I found INSIDE my house yesterday. It was on the window to the patio - possibly trying to get out. I carefully picked it off the window and took it outside. The picture that looks like bumpy mud is actually a dish with wet sand in it (for the butterflies) I first put it there, but then moved it to the top of the cold grill. It never tried to fly away (at least while I was looking at it), but was gone this morning. It's possible the wind blew it away. I know it was alive, because it moved it's front legs, but never actually walked or moved otherwise. It had 3 sets of legs and black beady eyes. I wish I had gotten a better picture of it's antennae - not even sure it had any. It did have that antennae like thing on it's tail.

I'm curious what it is, but don't even know where to start looking. I do know, dragonflies have 4 wings - this only had 2. Moths fly at night - butterflies during the day. It didn't try to fly, but it's wings could have been injured.

Why didn't I just put it in a jar until all my questions were answered????

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Mom

One of my fondest memories of my Mom is when we went SHOPPING! Whenever she would come to visit, we would go SHOPPING. To this day, SHOPPING is still probably my favorite recreation.

It used to be kinda of a joke – I would take Mom shopping--- and did I take her. I was married while still in college and had babies right away. (What was I thinking?) Money was always tight, so when we went shopping Mom always bought the luxuries that we otherwise couldn’t afford. Pop, cookies, beef roasts and chocolate usually found their way into my cart and of course she paid the bill. I remember her saying once, “You don’t always have to buy a toy for the kids!” (Now why didn’t I think of that). The kids were probably only a year, and two, and three (this was before Marc) so they didn’t really look for anything? Of course, there was always something for them. I don’t think I ever bought shoes for my kids until they went to school, but they never went barefoot. Mom always seemed to be there at the right time – to shop.

After Dad died and Mom got older and didn’t drive any longer I would really have to take her shopping – every Saturday. She needed Kleenex and TP every week – oh, and don’t forget the Tribune! Even then there was always something extra that she would buy for me and my family.

No matter what it was that I needed, Mom was always the one who was willing to foot the bill. I really missed it when she couldn’t walk any more so we no longer were able to go and look around the stores. In her last years, Mom would say, “ I wish I could go and just see what’s at Walmart.” Her sight was failing and the florescent lights made her crazy so her shopping days were over.

I sometimes wonder why I like to shop so much. Maybe it goes back to those good old days shopping with Mom. I miss that.