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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some things will always be the same.

I lay in bed awhile this morning thinking of something from long ago.  The road in front of the Strong Street house was dirt.  Actually all the roads in Nickerson except Highway 96 and 56th Street (the back road to Hutchinson) were all dirt.  Well, the county road to Sterling and 3 blocks that made up Main Street were paved.  I think they were originally brick, but who knows.  Back to Strong Street.

It was the silty stuff and I can still feel it on my bare feet.  In the summer it was very warm, but the sidewalk was hot, so the sandy dirt was much preferred.  I should explain that the sidewalk of which I speak was a block away over beside the highway.  It was a 2 block long sidewalk that ran from the Fein house, along an empty field and then the block in front of Mr. Kings house, a rental house and then in front of the house where some crazy lady lived that we never saw and she may or may not have actually lived there.  The side walk on that block was pretty cracked and had chunks missing.  So if we were lucky enough to snag a pair of skates we could only skate on the first block.

Three things come to  my mind from the above paragraph.  First, Mr. King (and that may or may not be his actual name, but it works for me this morning.) is the one who slept face down in his garden one day all day long until a black hearse took him away.  Second is the matter of snagging skates.  My friend Barbara had skates and sometimes she would let me borrow a pair to skate home from her house which was in town and where I visited sometimes.  There was always the stipulation that I not skate in the dirt and I not lose the "key".

For those of you who do not know about old time skates, I will update you.  They were made of 2 steel platforms with two steel wheels in front and two wheels in back.  The body was held together with a nut which required a "key" to tighten and loosen.  Loosen the nut and slide the platforms either apart to make them bigger or together to make them smaller.  The front had clamps which were loosened and then adjusted for the tight fit needed to hold the front of the skate on your shoe.  The back had a strap for you ankle.  If everything was not tightly fitted your skate could come off and down you went with your tender flesh skidding along the rough side walk.  Ah, but when everything was perfect the feel of the wind on your face and arms as you sped along at 3 MPH was worth all the risks!  The best way to stop was to steer off into the dirt and that worked every time.

click here to see a pair

The last thing that comes to my mind from that paragraph is that the corner of the sidewalk that was by the Fein house had several steps that brought you up from the highway to the sidewalk.  It was on those steps that my brother brought the news to me that Hank Williams had died in the back seat of his limousine on his way to do a show in Nashville.  He was so young and we could not believe it.  People did not die for no reason, but there it was.  How very sad we were that day.  WSM had announced it.  WSM was the Grand Old Opry station.  I wonder if it still is?  I may turn the radio on some Saturday night and see.  That is if I can find the radio and if I know which button it is.

But what I really started out to tell you this morning, is how clearly I can feel the sandy dirt on my feet from all those years ago.  I used to like to wiggle my toes into a pile of it where it had blown up along side the road.  It felt silky and warm and made me happy.  But when it would rain and there would be puddles, that was fun too.  If the puddles stayed several days there would be little things in the water that looked like tiny dots with a tail.  I soon learned that those were pollywogs, which would turn into toads or frogs in just a couple days if the mud puddle did not try up and we did not step on them.  They were pretty damn fast, so stepping on them was really not an option.

Ah, but the best part was when the puddle dried up if we did not disturb it, there would be a whole new thrill.  If left alone the sun would dry the mud and the top layer would curl up.  When that happened I could step barefooted on the dry mud and feel it crackle under my feet.  That was a whole new feeling and if Jake got to the puddle first he did it and that used to piss me off so bad!  Sometimes he would save it for me and that made my whole childhood worth while.  I do not know the last time I actually stepped on dry mud.

Funny the things we think about in the middle of the night when the world is asleep and we are all alone.  Guess that is why God gave us a memory.  It keeps me grounded.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Just a hairy mass of molecules.

My late husband had his own way of describing the various pets we had over the years.  He called them a "hairy mass of molecules"  and that seemed to describe about any one we had.

When I married him I had a dog named Sysnyck.  She was a poodle/Chihuahua mix.  Very black and with the hair that required a groomer.  She was named after a television show that was about a drill instructor that opened a gym in the heart of gang territory in New York City. I just name my animals whatever comes to mind.  No thought for gender or looks or size.   Sysnyck lived to be 12 years old and died of kidney failure, a weakness in both of the breeds at the time.  She is buried in the front yard.

Then Kenny's sister gave us a red dingo cattle dog.  We got her the same day I peeled 3 bushels of chile, so we named her Chile.  I guess she was actually a heeler.  She was nuts about tennis balls and loved to play catch.  She played catch as long as someone would throw the ball.  Key here was it was between you and her.  You throw and she fetched.  One time we had company come and they had a couple boys about 11 or 12.  We sent them out to play fetch with Chile and they decided to toss the ball to each other.  The came in crying and terrified because Chile sent them up the tree because that was HER ball.  End of that game. 

She would play with one ball at a time.  When she was tired of the ball she would shred it and pick another.  We picked up 12 tennis balls at the flea market once and brought them home to her.  We dumped them all out on the ground.  She sorted through and got the one she wanted and the rest were put away because if we threw one of those she would not chase it.  She only wanted HER ball and when she tore it up she was ready for another.  She is in the front yard.

While Chile was still with us we got a little blond poodle since that was Kenny's choice of a dog.  Chile helped house train Tammy by standing in the flap of the doggie door so Tammy could go out and in to potty.  Damn smart dog.  Chile died before Tammy.

Next dog was another heeler named Polly.  She was white with one black eye.  She became very possessive of me and finally attacked Tammy for getting too close to me.  That was sad as we had to have Tammy put down from  her injuries.  We thought about having Polly done also, but decided to be a one dog house instead and that was what we did until the neighbor lady came dragging home a little white dog with 2 black eyes.  By this time Polly was ready for company and we pretty much lived happily until Polly passed and Elvira needed rescued.  I never knew how old she was.

Also interspersed through the years were several cats.  I only like calico cats and I only like distinctly marked Calico.  First was Charmin who lived 18 or 19 years.  Boots was Kenny's cat because he was a boy and he was gray.  He was around 15 years.  I finally got my last Calico 7 years ago.  I had a friend who named her.  Calicos are always female for some reason.  He named her Icarus.  When I explained that Icarus was a boy, he informed me that no one but me was smart enough to know who Icarus was.  So Icarus she is and is on my lap constantly.

My menagerie that is shrinking.  But memories live forever, don't they?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So now the shock has worn off and reality sets in on us.

It has been almost a year since Donald Trump took office and not a day has gone by without a new upheaval and new ways to shock us.  His approval rating hovers right around the sewer pipe  as we express our disgust at his latest hate filled statements.  We are shocked.  We are offended.  We shake our heads and go back to whatever we were doing.  Is my assessment of the situation correct?  Sure it is.

Well, after a year of down hill maybe we need to rethink this little fiasco we are involved in.  In order to not sound confrontational I will say "We elected a mad man to the white house and we need to do something about that."  I want to go on record as saying I did NOT vote for that man, but by saying that I would appear condescending and that is not the point I want to make.  But we have to think about this logically.  He was voted into office.  I was not worried because I know we have a system of checks and balances and the Senate and the House of Representatives should keep him in check.  We elected those people on promises they made to us, so we should be safe, right?  Uh oh.  It ain't happening is it?

His cabinet is a joke.  He has hired and fired more helpers than Walmart and all the retailers combined and still has people operating from positions of power that are incapable of tying their own shoes.  Betsy DeVos is a prime example of what not to do to advance education.  Schools are operating with ice cycles hanging in bathrooms and kids wearing coats in the class rooms, but thank God the private schools get their tax breaks.  And speaking of tax breaks, I am so happy that they got that tax bill passed.  How long did it take for Walmart to declare they were giving a $1000 bonus to employees while slamming the door shut on 63 Sam's clubs to idle how many employees?  And they are raising the pay to $11.  Holy Mother of God!  That is just a few dollars more than I make on Social Security which does not stretch to cover my bills and there is only one of me.

What is it going to take to wake you people up anyway?  Now here is the deal, Trump is in bed with the Republican controlled congress.  Or they are in bed with him.  Six of one and half a dozen of the other.  Same thing.  For some reason the word Republican seems to loose a legion of demons and we Democrats do not stand a chance.  You want to know why?  Because we are honest, we have feelings for the under dog, and we live in a polly anna world where right will always triumph.  Sorry guys.  The other side plays dirty.  So here is what we have to do. We have to vote and get our friends to vote.  And we have to vote Democrat.  See we are so sure that good will triumph that we are setting here on the back of the wagon singing our song and the bandwagon is headed for one helluva cliff.

See the dipwad at the helm is spewing his filth and signing his executive orders and congress does nothing to stop him.  Republican Congress.  Luckily most of the shit he pulls can be undone by the court system, but it should not even be happening that way.  The man is not fit to pull latrine duty let alone hold the highest office of the land, so if Congress won't stop him, we have to replace Congress.  For now, stay on top of the news.  Call your Senator and Representatives and tell them what you want.  Vote in you local elections.  If it says Republican after the name, that is not the one you want.  Democrat. Bleeding heart Liberal Democrat.

Vote early and vote often!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rubber Hoses are replaced by time outs!

I have my biggest inspirations at 3:30 AM and if I don't go with them, they are just lost.  So this morning I woke up with a boy named Dwight Kite on my mind.  He was an 8th grader at Nickerson Grade School and I must have been in 4th or 5th grade.

* I must put a disclaimer here to say that while the names are pretty close to accurate from my childhood days, the memories that accompany them are solely my perceptions recalled 65 years later and may or may not be completely accurate.  But the events usually have some merit for some reason.  That having been said, I will continue.

As I recall Dwight was a big boy.  He was referred to around town as "now quite right in the head."  There were several of those in my growing up days and were times different they would have been referred to as "special ed" and later "special needs" and today I think they are just kids.  We have certainly come a long way in how we treat our children, but remember the time frame I am talking here.  Dwight was big.  Dwight was slow.  Dwight was easily led astray.

The incident that is in my mind today was one of those times.  There were also big boys who thought it fun to "rile Dwight up."  I have no idea what had gone on and it is entirely irrelevant.  I do know Dwight was "called into the office."

Mr. Houston was our principal.  As I recall he was tall and skinny, but when you are 3 feet tall everyone looks tall.  He wore suits and his shoes were always polished.  His hair was parted on the side and combed in the manner hair was combed in those days.  Several times a day he would walk slowly down the hall and peer into the class rooms to make sure we were studying.  He could stop a heart with a look so we always kept our heads down.

Dwight was in the office with amazing regularity and we heard things were going to "come to a head" soon.  Now you need to know, that back then a teacher could administer "discipline" in the classroom.  Miss Howe in 4th grade was fond of coming up behind the dawdler with a wooden ruler and cracking it down with the straight edge on top of your head.  Oh, trust me!  You do not know what pain is until suddenly that ruler hits your bony head and the stars fly.  Dawdling days were over then!

But if the teacher could not control someone, they were sent to the Principal for a "talking to" and usually that was all it took.  I never got a "talking to" and I was very sure I did not want one.  Dwight on the other hand received several of them.  Mr. Houston kept a rubber hose in his office and we always thought it was just to scare us straight, but Dwight learned different.  We all watched as he came out of the office with tears streaming down his face and red marks on his arms.  Mr. Houston had won.  We all were sad and of course went home at night to report the action to our parents.

Well, that is called "corporal punishment" and Dwight had been bad and no one seemed to know just what he had done that was so bad, but it must have been bad or Mr. Houston would not have whipped him with the hose.  Dwight was never quite the same after that.  He came to school and was just a big, hulking boy who didn't have much to say.  And then he was gone.  He still lived in the house across the street with his mother and father, but he was rarely seen.  I never saw him, but the other kids said they did.  I don't know.

That was a long time ago, but it still sticks in my mind.  I marvel at how our world has changed, but no matter how much it changes, it still stays the same.  Oh, the days of the rubber hose are gone, pretty much and replaced by more modern methods like "time out" or Lord only knows what.  But there is still the standard there that kids have to measure up  or be labeled different. 

I wonder what Dwight Kite's home was like.  I wonder if our society been back then what it is today what Dwight would have become.  I do not know when they quit beating kids into submission, but I am thinking maybe some of them could still benefit from a little of that.  Just not from the principal of the place you go to learn.

It was a different world back then.  It is sad that all these years later, I still think of Dwight Kite.  Our family went to church with Mr. Houston and his wife and son, and I was as afraid of him in church as I was in school.  Later Miss Barkiss, the music teacher, married the son, David.  That is all I know.  That may be all I want to know.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Another year down the shitter.

Made it through the New Years Eve thing stone sober and sound asleep.  Not the first time that has happened.  Oh, I had a nostalgic moment before I went to bed.  I thought about the past year and asked the good Lord to forgive some of the vindictive thoughts I had.  Also asked him to bless all those who are less fortunate then I am.  All in all the last year was not a bad one.  I managed to spend a lot of the kids inheritance.  I made a few enemies and got rid of a couple toxic friendships (for want of a better word.)  And I thought about making a bunch of New Years Resolutions on a sheet of paper and putting it on the refrigerator so I could look at it every day, but I had a second thought that beat hell out of that first thought!  But since I did all this thinking in the middle of the night, I just rolled over and went back to sleep!

Let's just face it!  I am who I am and I shall remain that way.  I should quit cussing, but that just ain't happening.  I should start being a softer person, but hell with that.  I already go to church every Sunday, so that is a given.  I try to be kind to people, but some people are just such total assholes that they make it impossible.  Most of the time I grit my teeth and just put one foot in front of the other and it works for me.  But of course there is always that one person that is insistent on having my honest opinion on our politics and they ding at me until I give them my opinion and then they will talk louder and faster to convince me that I am wrong.  Well, it is down hill from there.  When I get in a screaming match I tend to spit when I talk and there is nothing more degrading then an old woman foaming at the mouth  over something she has no control over.  I am getting pretty good at just walking away from those situations, but it has taken me 76 years to learn that art.

I gotta tell you I am not happy with our political climate today.  I spent many years working on gay rights, migrant rights, women's rights, racial equality, animal rights, Black Hills Energy rate hikes, health care, food labeling and that damn GMO crap that we are forced to eat or starve.  I want a quiet peaceful world where we all are equal and it just isn't happening.  I thought we had made strides and then some lunatic becomes our leader and with a stroke of his pen changes it all.  Or he thinks he does.  Most of his edicts can be overturned because they are illegal and won't happen just because he wants them to, but we are in limbo as they creep through the judicial system to be declared unconstitutional.

And that damn wall!  Did we not learn anything from the Berlin Wall?  I knew a lady once who moved to Mexico and lived there until she died.  Why?  Because she could afford to live on her Social Security down there and she had a cleaning lady and ate very well.  The climate suited her and her little condo was very nice.  I survive on Social Security because my home is paid for and so is my car.  Sadly, if I want anything extra I am dipping into the kids inheritance or taking in some sort of work that pays cash under the table.  And while we are on the subject of the border wall, is that for us to keep the Mexicans out, or for keeping our own people in?   Our little world is collapsing around our heads and we are not smart enough to see it.  But that is alright, because they just voted us a tremendous tax cut!  As long as they keep telling us how well off we are, we can keep thinking some one cares for us.

We can not pass a gun law because the NRA owns us.  I hear the argument that "guns don't kill people, people kill people and they can do it with a knife, or a car, or anything."  We live in an atmosphere of hate.  Pure and simple.  We are controlled by who we send to Congress.  It is that simple.  We have morons in Congress who have been there forever and we keep sending them back because when re-election time comes they tell us things will be different.  Well now you see what different is!  Talk about raping and pillaging that goes on way back in history and then take a look at what we have in Washington today!  And enjoy yourself, its later than you think!

I hope I live long enough to see Americans pull their heads out of their asses.  

Friday, December 29, 2017

Now they call it harassment. I thought it was a way of life.

I had a long talk with my son today.  Not the young one, the older one who will no doubt put me  in Shady Pines someday.  The subject of the "Me To" movement came up and I was explaining to him that when I was newly divorced and in the work force needing to make a living it was what it was.  Back then women were supposed to stay home and if a divorce was your lot you should quickly find another husband.  When I mentioned that I was paid less then the men in the work place for the same exact work or sometimes more work because the men had families to support, he could not believe it.

When I left my husband, I immediately went to work because I needed a place to live and food for the table.  I applied for welfare, but was turned down because I worked.  I could not get a medical card because I worked.  There were no programs to help me because I was eligible for child support.  Of course there was no child support forthcoming, but since I was eligible I was out of luck.  No stipend for child care either because I had a husband who did not pay child support.  I am happy to say that has changed.  Well, not for me, because my kids are all grown and gone, but for other women.

Back in the early 1970's I went to work at the Holidome which was owned by Holiday Inn.  Fancy place with an indoor pool and poolside rooms.  Top notch back in the day.  There were 2 cooks.  I do not remember the other cooks name, but it seems like it was George.  Our duties were the same.  We cooked orders for the clientele.  George had a helper so mostly he just smoked (and you could have a cigarette dangling out of your mouth and a spatula in your other hand and that was alright back then) and told his helper what to do.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that they were both paid more per hour than I was.  I say surprised, but not really.  Back then it was expected.  Men were superior to women and they had families to support.  I had 5 kids at home, but that was irrelevant.  What really frosted my cookie was when I found out that the boy who made salads earned more than I did.  He was hired after me and called in sick at least once a week.  That meant I had my work and his work to do for $2.00 an hour less than he made.

I talked to many people about starting some sort of union so pay was more equitable and sick days could actually be earned, but all that ever got me was laughed at.  It was a lot easier to get a  husband then to get a day or 2 paid vacation.  When I first started the restaurant jobs we got free meals, but then the owners decided we were eating them out of house and home so we could buy our meals at a reduced rate, but if we sat down to eat them we had to clock out.  Having a pizza delivered was out of the question as was bringing a sack lunch.  We either paid or starved until we got home where food was free.  Although free in not to say it was free.  Just cheaper then eating at work.

I bartended a while and was also a waitress in a bar.  Now if you think my ass was not grabbed on a regular basis you are nuttier than bat shit!  It went with the territory.  If a woman worked in a bar it was because she wanted a husband or a sugar daddy or at the very least a one night stand.  Being friendly brought tips and I needed tips, but not that badly.  A drunk in a bar is not what I wanted out of life.  When the bell tolled midnight I just wanted to jump in my car and race home to my bed...alone.  I did not last very long in the bar setting.

The point I am trying to make here is that sexual harassment has been around as long as I can remember.  The "glass ceiling"  has always existed and it was not until I left the work place that there were improvements made.  I am happy for the women who have made strides, but let me clue you and them in on something, it is still alive and well in suburbia.  After my husband passed I was left to handle all the household repairs and maintenance.  First order of business was to have the septic tank pumped.  Being new to this I got out my yellow pages and called the first one listed.  And here he came.

Short, greasy and with a definite attitude.  He jerked the lid off and informed me that it was dirty and nasty.  (Concrete lid covered with dirt on top of a riser where there were spider webs.)  Where was my husband and why was he not there?  Let's see, after he died he quit caring about the septic tank!  The $100 fee I was quoted immediately jumped to $150.  He informed me that it needed pumped every 6 months.  I paid him and never called them again.  I have a nice guy now who comes every 2 or 3 years.  Just one of the ways he discriminated.

Want my car worked on?  I get several estimates and if they ask about my husband, I don't call back.  There are shops out there who will discount because I am a widow.  And they repair what I want repaired and don't pad the bill.

It is no fun being a widow in this world of men, but more women are making it better for me.  I appreciate that.  But do not kid yourself into believing that we are on equal footing with the male population because they want us to be.  It is dog eat dog world out there and you can bet your sweet ass on one thing and that is I am no longer going to cow tow to the mean spirited little men I deal with on a regular basis.  If I pay they are going to treat me fair.

Life goes on.