1940s, Books, Family, Holidays

Mom & Dad’s

I spent this last week at Mom and Dad’s staying with Mom while Dad traveled down to a reunion in his small hometown in California.

I drove Mom to dialysis in Salem three days, and during those days I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with the four-hour time between drop-off and pickup.  I had noticed that the St. Vinnie’s thrift store was across from the dialysis center and thought some thrifting time would be in order, so I went across to the St. Vinnie’s and found a great deal on some old Nancy Drew and Dana Girls (like Nancy Drew but with sisters) books — 1930s books WITH the original dust jackets in very good condition for only $3.49 apiece!  I also got some Sue Grafton books, a couple by Aaron Elkins, another mystery writer, and a 1940s Mary Poppins book. I had planned to go to some other thrift stores in the area but decided to go home to eat and get something I forgot to bring with me. 

Most of the time at the house I spent with Mom in the living/dining room watching HGTV and Hallmark Christmas movies. We find the movies very predictable and Mom has seen most of them, but she still likes to watch them. It’s not so bad to have a day full of happy endings! I set up all my things on the dining room table, I pretty much just brought my desk (computer, calendar, books, etc.) and then set up a charging station on the buffet, ha. It is the house I grew up in (but remodeled) and I got to thinking about what will happen to it if Mom and Dad decide to move to town like the neighbors are doing. It will be hard to see it go out of the family, since Mom and Dad built it 48 years ago. The house is octagon-shaped, so very unusual. I forgot to get a photo of it.

On Friday when Mom was in dialysis, I went to the grocery store to get some things. Mom wanted a roast so I got two (BOGO!) although they weren’t the kind she wanted. I waited in the line that had a very big, very slow cashier-in-training. He also seemed to be a bagger-in-training and a coupon-reader-in-training, and the poor guy was sweating. He kept having to ask another cashier to come help him, but I think she really just wanted to talk to the man who represented a Medicare supplement insurance company! After buying groceries I decided to hit up two other thrift stores, the Salvation Army store and the Goodwill. The Salvation Army store doesn’t have a big selection in general, so I went to the book section. I seem to be on a book kick lately. The books at the Salvation Army store are not in any kind of order at all, so you just have to scan the shelves to see if anything pops out at you. I found all these books I was interested in at the Salvation Army and Goodwill (the Perry Mason and “E for Evidence” came from the Goodwill), so I was happy with my scanning job! The Goodwill at least has the books in category and “letter” order, but not completely alphabetical. There were so many people at the Goodwill I just left after perusing the book section.

After I picked Mom up from dialysis on Friday we went to Nancy Jo’s restaurant (Or Nancy’s, as I still stubbornly refer to it, since it was their original name. There was some copyright problem, so they changed it to Nancy Jo’s.) to get burgers, and Mom got onion rings. We drove home in one of those traffic-jams-for-no-reason on the freeway, there was no accident or any reason for a traffic slowdown but we crept along for miles before the traffic started moving shortly before our exit. Since Mom would have a hard time getting into my van, I’ve been driving her to town in her car. It is quite zippy and I have enjoyed driving it, although it feels like I’m going slower than I actually am so I need to pay close attention to the speedometer!

On Monday after I dropped Mom off I had to pick up some things I ordered online. I ordered these Christmas ornaments from Target to pick up at the store, but unfortunately there was only one left between both of our area stores. Isn’t it cute? Since The Hubs likes trucks and we are doing a black and white and blue theme for Christmas this year, I thought it was perfect. It will also go with red and black or pink and black themes. I do themes now instead of using our family and traditional ornaments because the ornaments and decorations have to be plastic or metal so Philip won’t hurt himself with them. He does try to get them off the tree and has knocked the tree over a couple of times by climbing up into it.

I also picked up some things I ordered at Ulta on Monday. The girl at the checkstand there had combed her eyebrows straight up and then penciled them in so it looked like she had really long, straight up eyebrows. I had to try hard not to stare. Is that a thing now? When I think of long eyebrows growing straight up I think of an old man, so I wondered why she wanted to look like a grandpa, ha. They do hire some of the most interesting-looking people at Ulta and many of them have what I would consider odd eyebrows, but then I really do prefer the natural look for brows. Eyes, go ahead and do ’em up! Lashes to the sky! But eyebrows, just pencil them in natural-like and not conspicuous. After Ulta, I went to TJ Maxx and bought all sorts of socks I really don’t need. ‘Tis the time of year when warm fluffy socks in the store seem so inviting!

Dad got home on schedule and right when the “bath girl” was finished helping Mom. We were glad he arrived safely. He had a good time at the reunion and visiting with my uncle and other friends.

I had a nice, relaxing visit taking care of Mom this week. I meant to work on some writing and reading and didn’t get to that, but that’s okay. I leave you with this photo of the view from Mom and Dad’s dining room deck.

November evening view.

Mental Illness, Observations

The Clothespin Theory

 

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Photo by Cheryl Casey

(This post was written last month but not published.  Of course, it is still just as relevant…)

 

Many people have shared a Facebook post this weekend attributed to Morgan Freeman, encouraging us to forget the name of the person who attacked the school in Connecticut. His last paragraph says, “You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

While I agree with most of the statement, I don’t like that it seems to be encouraging us to forget this troubled young person and the terrible effects of mental illness on his life, his family, the lives of those he killed, their families, everyone else involved in the aftermath, and all of us whose hearts break for every life lost. 

It’s a lot like having a horrible odor in your house and just putting a clothespin on your nose instead of searching for the source of the smell. The smell won’t go away because you put a clothespin on your nose, right?  You’ll go about your way for a little while, but eventually you’re going to notice it again. And seriously, how many of us would admit out loud to actual people that we believe ignoring a problem will make it go away? Anyone? <crickets chirping…>

Writing off Adam Lanza or Jacob Tyler Roberts as simply “evil”, or as non-persons, or as jerks who “just wanted to be famous”, is an easy, comfortable way to keep from dealing with the issue of mental illness.  It’s like smelling that awful smell I mentioned before and saying to yourself, “Oh, it’s probably just a dead rat in the cupboard under the sink. If I don’t look at it or think about it, everything will be fine.” Raise your hand if this is how YOU would handle a dead rat in your kitchen. Anyone? Yeah.

Thinking about a dead rat problem can make people feel uncomfortable. It would be much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.  But, you have to get out the shovel and the bucket and take care of it, because if you leave it the situation won’t improve. It will get stinkier. There will be unpleasant things living in it. Germs will swirl around your home. Your family could be adversely affected.

Now, perhaps comparing mental illness to a dead rat isn’t the BEST analogy in general (although those of us who experience mental illness pretty much think it stinks).  The point is, if something affects our lives or the lives of our families, we don’t usually ignore it.

We do something about it. <Gets rubber gloves and bucket>.

We ask for or encourage others to help. <”Honey, I’ll give you a big smooch if you remove this dead rat! I’ll even hold the bucket if you bring me one of those respirator thingies so I don’t have to smell it!”>

We feel free to voice our feelings and opinions. <”Ohmygosh there was a humongous dead rat in my kitchen cupboard and it smelled and I had to LOOK at it and it was yucky and it was THERE and I had to deal with it! Dead rats are hard to deal with!”>

We inform ourselves and then gladly inform and help others.  <”Yeah, so you get your rubber gloves and a bucket, and maybe a shovel, but if it’s not too far gone you can just pick it up by the tail and put it into the bucket, but be super careful, and be sure not to LOOK at it too much because it will be really gross! Here’s a link to an informative and helpful website about stinky dead thing removal!  You can get through this!”>

So, let’s start taking mental illness as seriously as we would a dead rat in our cupboard, or, say, any other chronic-but- treatable-with-various-methods illness like asthma; or any other scary-and-possibly-life-threatening illness like breast cancer.  Let’s encourage medical professionals to do more research to find out how to better treat and prevent mental illness.  Let’s not leave the mentally ill and their families ashamed, afraid, and alone, no matter what they’ve done.  Instead of telling the media to close the cupboard and leave the kitchen, let’s ask that they dispense accurate information about mental illness so we can better help people before illness ruins their lives and takes others down with them.  And let’s take the responsibility to educate ourselves with accurate information. 

And by “accurate”, I mean “accurate”. NOT myths, NOT things like “Everyone with any kind of mental illness is bad and stupid and they all want to shoot people or jump out of a moving car on the freeway because they think they’re Jesus, and they will bite me if I’m kind to them” and NOT “There’s nothing wrong with that kid that a lot more discipline wouldn’t cure – those parents just need to wise up.” and NOT “There’s no such thing as mental illness, those people just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and figure it out because they’re just lazy and they could do it if they tried.”  These ideas are as valid as “Dead rats go into your cupboard to die on purpose because they’re mean and they know it will annoy you.”

Remember that illness can affect anyone, in any neighborhood, in any income bracket, at any age.  Remember that dealing with a problem is a lot smarter than going around with clothespins on our noses.  “There, but for the grace of God, goes (Your Name Here).”

 

 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness website is a great place to start learning more.

 

 

 

Cool Stuff, Family, Fun, Memories

Up, Up and Away

As my last post anticipated, a week or so ago my son and his grandpa went for a hot air balloon ride.  On Friday they were instructed to meet at 7:00 a.m. at site “W”, a church in West Salem.  (The church has a sign that says “Drive-In Church”.  I’m still trying to figure out how that works…)  The balloon van arrived and the crew started unpacking.  The whole process of unpacking and blowing up the balloon took about a half hour – I’m always impressed when people accomplish such big things in so little time!

 

The whole balloon is in this bag!

 

Cold air is blown into the balloon with a fan:

 

 

The burner is fired up and hot air is blown in:

Balloon is up and they’re ready to go!

 

Up…

 

Up…

 

and Awaa…

 

…yyyyyyy!

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I had planned to spend the morning checking out some estate sales, or rushing home to take photos if the balloon was going to come our way.  But, the winds were “light and variable” and the balloon floated off toward downtown.  I was snapping away when one of the crew asked if I wanted to come with them in the chase van. Yes!

When they call it a “chase” vehicle, they aren’t exaggerating.   There’s a sign on the back of the van that says “Warning: Frequent Stops and Indecisions!”  While we zoomed and stopped and looked and went around the block and zoomed the other way, Dad and Ben were floating over the river looking down at the Oregon State Capitol building with the Gold Pioneer on top, and all of downtown Salem; and listening to the balloon pilot, Jim Desch, guide them through their aerial tour.  Jim, who owns Balloon Flying Service of Oregon, has been flying since 1989 and knows every possible landing spot in the area.  They estimated that this spot would work so Cecil pulled the van in here and stopped:

But…oops!  The winds changed direction and we had to jump in the van and take off to the east, where there was a nice big field next to the city shops.

Coming in:

 

It cleared the wires effortlessly (although from the ground it looked like they were coming in right on top of them!)

 

 

A perfect landing!

 

Time to pack up…

 

 

At the top of the balloon – it’s 200°F on this end!

 

They wrap straps around the balloon and then pack it into the bag…

 

 

They have to squish it so it will fit in the van!

 

When everything was packed up we all rode in the van back to the launch site, and took our cars to Wallace Marine Park in West Salem for the traditional champagne or sparkling cider breakfast.  Jim graciously invited me to join in, (but only those who flew in the balloon were allowed to have champagne)!

Setting up for breakfast.

 

Ben wanted to go throw a rock in the river (ka-bloop!)…

 

Before breakfast, Jim introduced the champagne toast with a history of ballooning…

 

…and presented Dad and Ben with framed Certificates of Ascension! (They also got to keep the champagne cups with the little balloons on them!)

 

Breakfast included croissants with strawberry cream cheese or chive cream cheese, crackers and a cheese spread, chocolates, and brownies. For beverages we could choose hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles or coffee. Everything was delicious, and I was enjoying the meal and the conversation (mostly about Jim’s former career – monument making) so much I completely forgot to take any photos of the food!

I JUST realized that the whole time Ben and Dad were on their balloon ride and I was in the chase van, I didn’t once think of the song “Up, Up and Away” until just now when I was trying to invent a title for this post. Can you believe it?

(Sorry about the weird fonts in this post.  I can’t figure out what happened, and it won’t let me edit the font sizes!)

 

Animals, Fun, Travel

Safari

My son, my parents, and I just returned from a trip to California to celebrate my Aunt S~’s 70th birthday.  On the way home we decided to stop at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. You drive your car through the park, stopping where you like to watch the animals.  The big cats – lions, tigers,and cheetahs – used to roam about like the the rest of the animals but are now all behind fences so I couldn’t get clear photos of them.  Same with the elephants.  But, my son got great photos of one non-vegetarian type – you’ll see them at the end of the post!   Here are some of the critters we saw.

Rhinoceros derrieres.  The sign said to keep “3 car-lengths away” from the rhinos.  It wasn’t a problem, as they turned their pointy noses up at us and then ignored us completely.

The elands didn’t seem to mind our car…

 

Giraffes are easy to spot (bwaha!)

 

It was lunchtime for many of the critters when we were there:

 

Guanacos running to their noms station.

 

Watusi Cows – a bit crowded in there with those horns!

 

Sitka deer cooling off on the way to lunch.

 

White fallow deer…we stopped to watch them and they kept popping their heads up one after another to look back at us.

 

Action shot!

 

H is for Hippo eating Hay…

 

 

Here’s a llama…

 

The dignified Mr. Bison…

 

Comin’ through! (This camel wasn’t stopping, we had to drive out of the way before she just plowed into the car!)

 

I’m the yak, I’m the yak, having my nap, having my nap…

 

This IS my best side!

 

Shell, the Sulcatta Tortoise, out for his daily walk around the Village…

 

My favorite snack?  It’s written all over my face!

 

And last, but certainly not least, these guys:

Well, hi there!  They call me Grizzly…

 

A bear hug? I thought you’d never ask!

Life

Kite Man

Hey, does anyone know where I could find a video of the Kite Man commercial put out by Pacific Power in Portland, OR in the 1970s?  It was a public service announcement aimed at preventing electricity-related injuries due to kite flying.  To this day when anyone says “Ever?” I shriek “NEVER!!” in my head, and when I hear the word “frogs” I immediately think “I like frogs!”   I want to show the video to my children so they will understand me better…!

 

I just found the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial (the one with Donny Most from Happy Days) on YouTube and showed it to my son – “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!  You got peanut butter on my chocolate!”  I also still hum the “Reese’s PEAnut Butter Cup” jingle when I eat a Reese’s.  And we didn’t even have a TV when I was growing up – we had to watch the neighbor’s TV.  My sister and I must have watched the neighbors’ TV more than I remember!

 

Why do we remember these unimportant tidbits from childhood and not the more important things?  I was listening to “Radio Lab” on NPR the other day.  The consensus was that our brains are supposed to keep significant details in storage, and fade out the insignificant ones while we sleep.   Maybe I’m just not collecting enough significant details to replace the insignificant in the closets of my brain.  Maybe the closets of my brain are like the closets in my dear grandma’s house – so stuffed with silly things that you couldn’t fit another thing in. 

 

I cook bacon for my son’s breakfast every morning lately.  The bacon smell swirls stubbornly in the air and won’t go out the open doors and windows.  It refuses to be slurped up into the bathroom fan or filtered out through the fan over the stove.  When I open the door after coming home from taking Benjamin to school I’m enfolded in a bear hug of bacon.  But, it reminds me of my grandparents’ kitchens, and that’s one of those significant, important, comforting memories.  I love that memory, so – hooray, bacon!  And hooray for anything that brings a significant thought out of storage.