Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reflections- Chapter 2- "To Have and To Hold"

The memories of those early years seem to come more frequently now.  Before there would be a sun-faded photo or a word in conversation that would transport me back to those days but today it seems the reminders are everywhere, demanding my attention.  You've heard it said, "you never know what you had until you lose it", well,  I've always known exactly what I had...I just never thought I would lose it, at least not this soon.
Madison Press

     After we married, Thanksgiving Day 1972, we moved into our small upstairs apartment in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Grandpa Wilson would have said that is where we "took up housekeeping". Andy had been living there for a short time with Dusty, the farm cat, who climbed into his car while he was dropping me at my parents after a date. (And no, we did not live together before the wedding.  Entirely too scandalous and would have put Mom and Dad right over the edge.)  He was attending Urbana College and needed 6 more quarters to finish his education degree because as he was always quick to add, "I'm much younger than Carol!" He left LMU when I graduated in 1972 and followed me back to Ohio.
     Our apartment rent was $75 dollars a month and Andy had promised to take care of any maintenance issues that might arise in our apartment or our neighboring tenant.  A sweet 80+ year old lady who evidently thought Magnum PI was a reality show as she would tearfully recount that Magnum (Tom Selleck) had nearly died on the most recent episode. She was just one of the many colorful characters we met in this "Mayberry"-like town.  Our landlady was the sister of William B. Saxbe.  He was a US Senator and served as Attorney General for Presidents Nixon and Ford and was nearly always the Grand Marshall of any event in town.
Our apartment was upstairs in the back

Bill Saxbe

 George Kratky was the dry cleaner and his business sat next to our building. He had a postcard collection numbering in the thousands that he kept in boxes under his counter.  Any time someone in town would travel they would send George a postcard and he kept them all. Andy would split his time between school, George and Don the barber who owned Don's Barbershop. A wealth of information could be found at either of these establishments and Andy was there to eagerly glean as much as humanly possible.  That is how he scored a job at the local gun club that sat just outside of town.
George in front of his Dry Cleaning shop and me holding our God-son "little' Joey

Andy would spend weekdays, after classes, at the Gun Club pulling out poison ivy, pruning trees and doing odd jobs on the property.  We had permission to camp on the property and we took full advantage spending many weekends camping, fishing and generally getting to know each other as a married couple.  I still had not landed a teaching job so I found work at Sears Distribution Center in Columbus before taking a closer job at Ranco near Plain City testing whirlpool thermostats.
Our first new car, a Chevy Nova, with a camping boot on back. Andy negotiated that into the deal! This was the last new car we could afford until 20 years later. 
The following year, 1973, I was hired by Don Schiff to teach 6th, 7th, & 8th grade girls Health and PE and 8th grade science at Memorial Middle School for Jefferson Local Schools.  To get the job I also had to agree to be the Cheerleader and Ski Club Adviser. Following Spring Quarter of 1974, Andy graduated from Urbana College with his degree in Physical Education and Science. No one was more proud of him that his father and mother. Andy, not being a great student himself, did not receive help financially from his parents for college. (I guess they thought he might be a bad investment.)  He paid every cent of his tuition by working nights assembling boxes and days at a bowling pin factory during his summers in Washington, NJ.  In his spare time he helped his dad on the family farm. As the son of a German immigrant he, too, knew the value of hard work.  He was a hard worker and I never doubted that he would always take very good care of me. 

I am sure we were unaware that our lives were about to be reshaped and redefined by these recent events, a new job and finishing college.  Because we were so young, we had no idea that we were headed down a road that would change our lives forever.  In a very good way.
Andy with his Dad and Mom
Urbana College Graduation 1974

As I look back on these early years, I don't really remember that there was any particular path that we were wanting to take.  We were happy beyond our wildest dreams and  somehow knew that as long as we had each other, everything would fall into place.  We knew that we wanted to teach and someday have children.  Where and when, we could not yet say but we were preparing for that conclusion.  We  saved every penny and never bought anything unless we had the cash to pay for it, didn't even have a credit card. We recycled and reused before it was even a "thing".  Andy learned to eat Hamburger Helper and casseroles while I learned to make meals on a $10 weekly budget or less. And somehow life seemed simpler.  I'm not sure why we insist on making things so complicated?
Our first Christmas with Dusty, our cat, in front of our handmade cardboard fireplace.

I often wonder how different our lives would have been had we taken an apartment somewhere else.  But only briefly because the only thing I know for certain is that I am ever so grateful for that $75  apartment next to the Dry Cleaners in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.  It made all the difference!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Reflection- "I Take Thee" .

Our lives more often than not read like a well written novel, complete with a beginning, a middle, an ending and if the author is lucky, possibly a sequel or two. Within the text there are a few plot twists, a tear jerker or two, disappointment and joy as well as a few surprises along the way.  As I review my life I have been luckier than most,  not as lucky as a few but satisfied none the less..  Of course there have been bumps, detours and a few setbacks on my life's highway but I've always had someone there to pull me up and set me on my way again.  God blessed me with caring parents, a childhood that taught me the value of hard work, a love of the outdoors, wonderful teachers both in school and church, and a multitude of priceless friends.
The Old Home Place where I grew up. Sitting on our Allis-Chalmers complete with a hand clutch

Me and my dog buddy taking feed bags to the barn.

Under the willow tree with my best friend, Buddy.

Dad wouldn't get me a pony, so I'm riding a boar. On the plus side you didn't have far to fall!


I found my soul-mate in college, 2 peas in a pod some would say. Yes, we first met at the salad bar in our college cafeteria.  He was filling his plate, I was replenishing the lettuce.  I remember he winked at me.  Something he would continue and I'm pretty sure he had practiced it on other girls in the past.  He was a smooth talking kid from Jersey loaded with confidence.  I found the confidence a little unsettling and on our first official date I had him drop me at my dorm feigning some excuse of forgetting something and never returned.  Yes, I stood him up on our first date. But like I said, he wasn't one to give up and the rest is history.  As our relationship continued we learned that we had much in common.  We each grew up on farms, loved animals, sports and were both as competitive as hell.  Yes we were a perfect match....well almost.   Perfect, until it was time for him to meet my parents.
Andy's first deer

CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) Basketball,( 5th or 6th grade?)
 So I will say that my parents were polite, they didn't throw him out or anything but as they went down their checklist of what a suitable son in law should be, Andy didn't tick off very many boxes.  You have to understand that my parents, who were farmers, had mid-western values, they were conservative, protestant, didn't smoke or drink, truth be told we didn't even play cards and Andy only checked one box.  He grew up on a farm!  This Catholic farm boy smoked, had long hair and a mustache, drove a VW bug he named Jessibelle and loved to play pinochle! He ticked a lot of boxes only they weren't on my parents list for acceptable suitors.  We married amid silent dissent on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1972.  On the upside, Andy's parents loved me.  I will say that it didn't take long for my parents to see that he was a pretty good catch.
Andy with his first car, Jessibelle.

Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tn.
Our cake and punch reception in the WJUMC church basement.


Andy's mom, Alice and dad, John.

We did practically everything together. We played tennis, badminton, softball, basketball, table tennis and oh, how we each hated to lose!  We built our home together, taught and coached together and raised two of the greatest daughters you could ever imagine. Yes, we spent the majority of our 46 years being together and it wasn't until the last 10 years that things changed.

(to be continued)

Friday, June 23, 2017

NYC Trip- June 12-13 (Part 2)

So, my last post left off Tuesday morning after we left Madame Tussaud's.  I'm afraid that nothing can compare to the virtual tour of Ghost Busters but we have an appointment at the American Museum of Natural History at 12:30.  By the time we find the right Big Bus and wind through Uptown Manhattan, it is nearly 12 once we find the museum entrance.  We find a street food vendor, and Luke and I order chicken on a stick, a Greek variety. Chad and Ed spot the Shake Shoppe across the street and bring back burgers.  After a quick lunch we enter the security door and security calls Ellen, our contact at the museum.  I met Ellen several years ago when I gave she and her co-worker a VIP tour at the zoo.  She had given me her card and said that if we ever made it to New York to give her a call.  So I did. (I know it's a miracle that I didn't lose the card !)  Ellen is the Senior VP at the museum and she had planned for us to have a personal tour of their visiting mummy exhibit.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in that exhibit so I can only say that it was extremely interesting and our guide, Andrew, the mummy expert, gave us information that kept our entire group asking for more.  Much to my surprise he began by showing and talking about the Peruvian mummies. He told us that in South America it was a technique used by everyone, even the most common people. In Egypt, however, the practice was much more elitist. We were also provided with VIP Passes that gave us entrance to all of their special exhibits such as the IMax theater, planetarium and probably others that we did not have time for.  The museum itself took up an entire block and there were 4 floors open to the public.  I think it would take a month to thoroughly see all of the exhibits in their entirety.  We especially enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit but my favorite was the floor with the North America animals.  Our passes are good until next May so I might just have to plan another trip!
The Big Bus, our transportation

Some of the sights on the way to the museum.  A hippo in a tutu!

The Julliard School of Music
The front entrance of the American Museum of Natural History

I apologize, Peg, you didn't know I was taking this picture.

After the Mummy tour we were on our own.  Luke, Lily and I ran from floor to floor like a bunch of school kids, trying to see as much as we possibly could.  I would highly recommend this museum to anyone visiting New York City.  Everyone in our group was extremely impressed with the enormity and quality of exhibits. For more info click here:  AMNH.ORG
In the Hall of African Animals

The Titanosaur

So large he wouldn't fit in one room. The Titanosaur was the last surviving group of long-necked dinosaurs and included some of the heaviest creatures on earth estimated to have weighed up to 90 tons.  The Titanosaurus genus was named for the mythological Titans of Ancient Greece. 
My personal favorite, although I prefer them alive, was the Hall of  North American  Mammals.



Pronghorn and Bison

Lily and Bison

Luke and Lily with the Grizzly Bears
After wearing ourselves out at the museum, Trish, Chad and the kids took a 12 minute Uber ride back to the hotel as they had tickets to see Aladdin.  Ed, Peg and I boarded the Big Bus and continued our circuit that took us around Central Park.  I decided to get off at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, a church that I had hoped to see on our last trip.  Peg didn't want to do the steps and Ed had no interest in either the steps or the church so they stayed on the bus and continued back to Time Square.  I am so glad that I stopped and even though it was near closing I had the opportunity to see inside the largest cathedral in the world. The cornerstone was laid in 1892 and is chartered as "A house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership."  Behind the main sanctuary altar are 7 Chapels of the Tongues to commemorate the major immigrant groups that were pouring into the city at that time. Although the church was anchored in Episcopal and Anglican traditions, the Cathedral is nourished by the ideas and liturgies of other faiths. Priests, Rabbis Monks and Imams share the pulpit during the over 30 worship services held here each week.  Equally important are the visiting artists, writers, musicians and philosophers who help educate. "Art is a window into the minds of others, fostering the empathy that is necessary for community and spiritual growth." Inside this cathedral well known speakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama have all used this venue to share philosophies or to address issues of injustice both in America and abroad.
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

Stained glass windows depict thematic scenes with both religious and secular images.
They included a 1925 TV, a human skeleton and Michelangelo carving David.

The shallow dome you see near the center of this photo was erected as a temporary roof in 1909 by Rafael Guastavino.
The Statue of Liberty (w/o the pedestal) would fit comfortably under the structure

There were many carved figures, the most recent included Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Susan B. Anthony and Mohandas Gandhi.

The Historical Parapet represents revered icons of the first twenty centuries of the Christian era.
The Altar

The Great Rose window

The 8 granite columns that surround the High Altar were quarried on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine.
Each column is 55 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter and weighs 130 tons.

The 8,500 pipes of the Great Organ surround the Cathedral's choir stalls.
The pipes range from the size of a pencil to 32 feet tall.

The Nave, nearest the entrance, had many interesting bronze sculptures on display

Although this may appear to be out of place in a cathedral, it was my favorite.

The Nave floor, known as the Pilgrim's Pavement, included bronze medallions representing
pilgrimage sites throughout the world.

A sculpture dedicated to fallen members of the NYFD


This is the Great Rose window over the front doors. It is 40 feet in diameter
and the largest stained glass window in the United States.

The Great Bronze doors were cast by Barbedienne of Paris,
who also cast the Statue of Liberty.  Each door is 18 feet high, 6 feet wide and weighs 3 tons.

The cathedral was closing to the public as I was leaving and was so glad that I spent some time there. If you would like more information you can visit stjohndivine.org   Remember I mentioned Trish's 12 minute Uber ride?  Well the Big Bus was a bit longer, try 1 hour and 50 minutes longer.  Had I not been on a bus with no air conditioning downstairs which is where the only available seats were, it wouldn't have been so bad.  It was 5 o'clock and still nearly 90 degrees.  It was so hot that the bus was driving, illegally but much appreciated, with the doors open.  Our narrator made the announcement, as we approached Harlem, that the kids had "uncapped" the fire hydrants and were diverting the water to soak the tourists on top of the double decker buses. I was so hoping that some electronic geek would come downstairs to protect his gear and I would race up the stairs to take his seat and cool off.  It was so hot that no one took the bait although we did take a direct hit and luckily the water dripped down on the poor souls below.  Several stops later a single passenger disembarked and I went upstairs and found the rest of the ride much more tolerable.  The problem was that on this evening there was a street closure for Museum Fest.  The fest is a night when admission to all of the museums on 5th Ave are free. This meant we were taking a detour during rush hour, even though in NYC it is difficult to tell the difference between rush and non rush hours.  I returned to the Crown Plaza Hotel not long after Ed and Peg and we walked down to the Pig & Whistle for dinner.  Ed had the fish & chips, I had Shepherd's Pie and I think Peg had scallops.

On Wednesday morning we slept in and after we packed we walked to Ellen's Stardust Diner.  Peg stayed in bed.  Sharon and I had eaten lunch here on our visit and I really enjoyed it and thought Luke and Lily might like it too.  All of the wait staff are aspiring singers hoping to make it on Broadway.  So they not only serve you breakfast, lunch or dinner, but they also sing Broadway show tunes.  So you get fed and entertained all at the same time!  Our waitress sang a song from The Little Mermaid and even serenaded Luke and Lily, causing much embarrassment, as she walked through the restaurant.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect visit to New York City.
ellensstardustdiner.com
Have a Happy 4th of July!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Still No Chick-"Let's talk ballet & NYC

When I arrived home late Thursday I did check on the egg.  It was still there and it is still an egg. The trail cam showed that the parents are still with the egg so we will give it another week.  Any way, I thought I would switch gears and show some of our great pics from my trip to Delaware and New York City.  It was hot but we had a great time!

Friday- Lily had her dress rehearsal so Peg and I took Luke to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Good but I liked the first movie better.
Saturday- Peg and I took both kids and had lunch and tried to find a joystick for an I-Pad that Luke saw online.  No luck so we went to Byler's for an ice cream cone.  Lily had to be ready for her recital at 6.
Lily with her ballet teacher, Ms. Trisha

Showing a little attitude with friend, Caroline

Caroline, Lily & Addie

Addie photo bombs our selfie!
Sunday- We left for NYC at 10 am and arrived at our hotel, The Crowne Plaza at Time Square at 12:30.  It was too early to check in to our rooms so we had the car parked, stashed our luggage and headed out to find a place to eat.  We ended up at John's Pizzeria and had an authentic NYC "Pie"!


Great Pie!!
Lily's birthday present from me were tickets to the Broadway show, School of Rock.  It was fantastic, although pretty loud, and we were so very impressed at all the young actors who also played all their own instruments during the show.  It rocked!!

BGB's Best Grandma Buddies!


Getting ready to Rock &  Roll

Monday- we boarded the Big Bus and headed downtown Manhattan to see the One World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty.  It was a great day!  92 degrees but still a great day.

Chad found a review that said this was the best donut place in NYC.  Not so, but we ate them anyway.

Back on the Big Bus, we have ear buds to listen to the guide on the bus giving us information as we travel.  Lily changed her channel to music.


The One World Trace Center

Peg wasn't so sure about going to the top but later said she was glad she went.

The 360 degree views are fantastic



I'm so glad Luke & Lily still humor me when I want to take a picture.
After leaving the One World Observatory we stopped by the 9/11 Memorial and we saw the Survivor Tree.  We also had time to eat lunch before we caught the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty.
9/11 Memorial



The Survivor Tree



Lunch at O'Harra's

Mirror photo
Trinity Church not far from where the Twin Towers were.  I believe this was a staging area for first responders.


"Fearless Girl" on Wall Street

Being "Bullish" with "Charging Bull".  There was a line for photos at both ends.
Next stop is the Statue of Liberty.  We have tickets to go inside the Pedestal.  No crown tickets were available until end of August.
On the ferry, Miss Ellis


One of my favorite selfies. It is also why we were late for the ferry to leave the island. But we were having so much fun!!







Luke took this and told me that Lady Liberty had a booger on her nose!

Tuesday- In the morning we went to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.  The kids wanted their picture taken next to every figure until Trish reminded us that we only had an hour and a half before we had to be uptown for our appointment at the American Museum of Natural History.  The highlight of Madame Tussaud's was the Ghost Buster's virtual reality exhibit.  It was awesome!!






Lily face to face with Kim Kardashian

Swooning over Morgan Freeman









Walking Albert through the theory of relativity!


"I ain't afraid of no ghosts!"


to be continued..........