Category Archives: Stories

Grandma’s diaries

Today’s post comes to us from Ben

My grandmother, Lillie (Betz) Eggler, kept a daily diary from the mid 1950’s – about 1987. The small 3×5 book that allowed 1 page per day.   I didn’t know about these until this past summer when my oldest sister mentioned that she had them all. Grandma died in 1990.

It’s been really fun to read about ourselves or the cousins. Seems like every time a grandchild was sick, they went to Grandma’s house. The weather might be terrible but that didn’t stop them from going somewhere; she’d write how bad the roads were, yet she still went to Mothers and Daughters club. Or drove 60 miles to visit her brother. It’s given my siblings and I a lot of things to talk about.

Grandma wrote that she went to a 4H softball game where my brother pitched. He won. The Siblings talked about a club that was our club’s nemesis and their coach. I talked about knowing the coach in later years through farming activities. Part of what is so interesting is that she was still in this area; I know many of the people or places she’s talking about.

Grandma wrote about changes at the farms: Joe and June (my parents) are having a silo built. Who is combining corn or who is planting. She writes about the weather and going over to stay with a friend who had surgery.

On October 27th, 1970 She wrote about June and Joe driving to Menominee to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary. My oldest sister, Ellen, was at Stout University Menominee for college. That sort of blew my mind. Twenty-two years! Five Kids! One in College!! Grandma and Grandpa (Victor) were also married on October 27th, 1920. 1920!!  Grandma writes it would have been 50 years for them. Grandpa died in 1963. (My brother and his wife also married on October 27th, 1979.) But, I just can’t get over mom and dad at 22 years! So Young!  

There’s a lot about taking off or putting on the storm windows.  There’s a lot about car repairs, washing clothes, or going to the doctor. I learned that bad lower front teeth were a family trait. That explains a lot; Her, mom, me; those lower front ones have always been a problem. A lot about the weather and things in the national news: Earthquakes. Vietnam, Apollo missions. 

Sometimes Grandma wrote about things she was canning, freezing, or cooking. She made a lot of jams, buns, watermelon rind pickles, or fried mini dragons. My mom doesn’t remember a lot of this stuff. And it was 50+ years ago so I don’t blame her.  I had to look up watermelon rind pickles; never heard of them before. Fried mini dragons? Anybody? No one in my family knows what they are. Anyone still making watermelon rind pickles? I was a good baby. My brother was “busy”.

I wrote about Grandma and her car in a post back in July of 2011.

https://trailbaboon.com/2011/07/19/handing-down-a-decent-car/

I also have a 5-year diary from 1926-1930 from Kelly’s Uncles mother. It’s just a sentence per day. Lots of household chores, car repairs, and what they did for entertainment that day. She saw Louie Armstrong in concert one night. Pretty cool.

Do you keep a diary? Have you ever?

Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-Generation

Last week, the Day After the Madness in DC, my daughter and I had a conversation. We packed a lot into a few minutes, she and I – and that conversation has stuck with me, because of what she asked and how she asked it.

On the Day After the Madness in DC, she said that each of her classes took some time to let everyone talk about the events of the prior day. What were their thoughts, what were they feeling, what might they do (if anything) about it? The sort of questions you might expect, especially in a high school history class (one of her classes that day).

This is what stuck with my daughter: her teachers reminded her and her fellow students that they are the future and they can make things better. And she wanted to know, appealed to me to know if I am honest, if I was told the same thing when I was her age. It was clear she felt the message was that the onus was on her and her peers to figure out how to fix what we did not. She wanted to know if the same demand was placed on me, because her eyes and her person was telling me it felt like too much in that moment – too much for her and her peers to take on alone, unfair that my generation was asking them to repair and change what we could or would not, and not right that we should deny responsibility for the mess that we made or allowed to happen.

I assured her that yes, we were told the same thing – that we could and should make things better. That yes, with each generation some of the responsibility to make change is passed on. We tried our best, we got some things right and some things we clearly did not. There is work that takes more than a generation to get right, change that was started before I was born that still needs our voices and labor to bring to fruition. I did my best to assure her that it wasn’t all on her and her peers’ shoulders, I and my peers would be standing with them.

In that moment I saw her fear that change wasn’t possible, that hatred and bigotry are more powerful than inclusion and justice. All I could do was assure her that we can still aspire to be better, we have been working for and will continue to work for change. That while we have made progress for equity in some places, in others there is still a lot to do and I will be there along side her as the generation before me stood with me in the work of justice and change. I’m not sure it was enough because I couldn’t tell her that there will be an end to when each new generation is asked to pick up the mantle, that maybe, just maybe, she will see real change in her lifetime. Because in that moment, I wasn’t sure that I had seen it yet in mine. (Yes, with distance, I can see that there has been good change, real change, but in that moment it was hard to see.) The kids have picked up the mantle, of that I am sure, but don’t let them carry it alone. We still have time. We don’t have to take our hand off the baton in this relay just yet. We can still make change.

Have you ever felt like too much was being asked of you? What did the prior generation pass on to you that you weren’t ready for just yet?

Glazing Over

A good thirty years ago (plus), I visited my wasband’s grandparents who had just sold their little house and moved into a care center.  They were in their nineties and had never used a computer and smart phones were still in the future.

Wasband was (is?) a techie/programmer.  As we were sitting with his grandparents, he started talking about his job and I could see the two of them beginning to glaze over.  It was clear that they really didn’t have a clue about what he was discussing.  I remember thinking two things.  First, why doesn’t he notice them and shut up?  Then I thought how sad it seemed that the world was whizzing past them.

Fast forward all these years.  WordPress went wonky on my phone today.  It’s been more or less stable for 18 months, since I got this phone.  In fact, whenever baboons mention that WP isn’t doing something, I keep quiet, since it hasn’t been happening to me.  And now it’s happened to me.

It took me a while to get somebody at WP on the chat function and it became clear to me almost immediately that I have become wasband’s grandparents.

WP: What browser are you using? VS:  I have a Safari icon that gets me to the internet… assume that’s the browser?

WP:  Are you opening WP in the app? VS:  If I have an WP icon, isn’t that the app?

WP:  Can you take a screenshot for me? VS:  Not until I can get my daughter in here to show me how?

VS:  I have the screenshot on my desktop – how do I get it to you?

WP:  Is this issue happening on your laptop, your mobile Safari or the app? VS:  Mobile Safari???

These are just a few.  After about an hour “chatting”, my poor WP guy has had to start a bug report and we’ve moved the discussion over to email.  Not sure when it will get solved.  Luckily everything is working fine (so far, knock on wood) on my laptop.  Phone is somewhat functional, just making me sign in for every comment, which stinks.

My “Happiness Engineer” is probably not happy himself right now, since he spent at least an hour and didn’t fix my problem.  I did give him permission to laugh to himself and roll his eyes during our chat.

In what ways have you become your parents/grandparents?

Endings & Beginnings

A couple of weeks ago, Steve sent me an article about the most reviled book endings of all time – with lots of reader opinions and contributions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/bad-book-endings/2020/10/21/b238374c-12dd-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html

I, of course, have opinions about this as well.   I cried for hours at the end of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  I know it probably had to end this way to have any impact, but it still broke my heart.  The same for A Separate Peace by John Knowles. 

The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly got thrown across the room when I came to the end.  As I was getting closer and closer to finishing the book, it wasn’t coalescing like I thought it should be.  I realized at the last page that it was setting up for the next book.  I hadn’t known it was going to be a series and I was spitting mad.  Eventually I calmed down enough to read the rest of the series and I liked it fine enough but I’ve always remembered the book flinging.

I know several people who didn’t like the ending of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell but it turned out that none of them have actually read the book; they’ve only seen the movie.  I contend that if you’ve read the book, then you know that by the end Rhett is completely done with Scarlett.  No going back for him.  This is the reason that I never read Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley – just so wrong.

Lots more, but it’s your turn.

Any book endings that you abhor?  Or that you particularly fancy?

Bikes & Bites

As Guinevere and I were walking along, I heard music behind me.  At first I thought it was a car with an open window but when I turned to look, I saw what looked like a parade of bikes.  But unlike most parades that include bikes, many of the bikers had carts attached to their bikes or they had kid carriers – all filled with toilet paper, paper towels, diapers and other “essentials”.  There were probably about 30 bikers and they were all very friendly.   Guinevere and I stood and watched as they all went by.

It didn’t take long for me to find information on like.  Brian Boyer started Bikes & Bites this summer after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest that followed.  It was clear that supplies were needed in the affected areas, as well as in the homeless camps in the city parks.  So he combined donating essential items with his love of biking.  Initially it was just one or two bikers with a handful of folks purchasing extras when they did their shopping.  Since August, it was clearly expanded to the bike parade that I witnessed. 

This kind of thing keeps a little of glimmer of hope alive for me during this awful year. 

Any new organizations that you’ve seen pop up in 2020?

Following My Pajamas

I ordered some new pajamas on September 22, and, because there is really very little else to do here and because I have no life outside of work, I took great amusement following their progress from Maine to North Dakota via FedEx.

It took more than two weeks for them to arrive. They left the warehouse in Maine on 09/25 and arrived in Massachusetts that same day.  Five days later they were in Connecticut.  As I recall, it isn’t very far from Massachusetts to Connecticut.  I hope they had fun in the interim.

By 10/1 they were in Clyde, Ohio and then Chicago.  By 10/2 they were in Fargo. I live 300 miles from Fargo, and for some reason they left immediately for Billings, Montana,  which is 600 miles to the west of Fargo.  They left Billings on 10/3 and travelled 300 miles back east,  arriving in my town at 9:00  pm according to the package tracker.  They appear to have meandered around town for twelve  hours. I imagine them at the Spur Bar, having a couple of beers before climbing wearily back into their box. They were checked in at the FedEx warehouse in Dickinson at 9:00am on 10/4, and were delivered on the morning of 10/5.

I wish I could get the story behind all the delays and the visit to Billings and what they did in town for twelve hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning. They are really nice pajamas, but I wish it didn’t take so long to get things out here.

What stories, book series, authors, famous people, movie series, trends, or comic strips do you follow?

Voting Options – who knew?

This past summer the state sent out a “do you want a mail-in ballot” form and it asked about the primary and general election.  I checked both boxes so wasn’t surprised when the ballot for November showed up two weeks back.

I had actually intended on going on election day to vote but YA wanted to vote early.  In fact, she was rather adamant about it.  So we both filled out the ballot and got then into the envelopes to mail.  That was when she informed me that she didn’t want to mail the ballots because she was worried about the postal service getting clogged up.  I said I didn’t think that was likely, but certainly not a month out.  But I acquiesced and looked up where you could drop your ballot off.  Downtown.  Ick.  I detest driving downtown and I didn’t want to pay $10-$15 for parking either.  But the drive-by drop-off in August didn’t happen until just a few days before the primary and YA was nagging me every day; I knew she wouldn’t want to wait until the end of October.

So yesterday I took a deep breath and looked up the exact location for drop-off and was ready to drive downtown and take the plunge when I saw a link to drive-by drop-off.  Yesterday was the first day!  As I headed into town I was a bit worried that it would be hard to find or that there would be big crowds, but I worried needlessly.  As I turned right onto 4th Avenue South, there were big banners at the sidewalk and there was only one other car in the drop-off area.  The worker who came out to take the ballots was friendly and helpful.  I mentioned that I was glad the weather was so accommodating and hoped it would stay that way.  She told me that they would actually be getting a tent soon so they would be able to operate in the rain.  Way to think it through Minnesota!

How will you be placing your vote this election?  In person?  Mail-in?  Drop-off?  Drive-through?

Christmas Is A Comin’

We purchased scads of stories on audio cassette tapes when our children were young. They listened to them as they drifted off to sleep. Daughter says she still has to listen to audio books before she can go to sleep.  Some of these were stories narrated by famous actors.  Meryl Streep narrated Peter Rabbit  and The Tailor of Gloucester.  Danny Glover narrated How the Leopard Got its Spots.  Jack Nicholson narrated The Elephant’s Child and How the Camel Got Its Hump.  The stories changed as the children got older, and there were crime mysteries, old time radio shows, and, finally, recordings of novels like  A Wrinkle in Time and the Lord of the Rings.  They all sit now in the basement in boxes.

In our effort to get rid of stuff, we are going to have these stories transferred to electronic files and CD’s, and give them to our children for Christmas. Our grandson is old enough now to appreciate stories. It will give us the pleasure of passing on these wonderful recordings and make space in the basement shelves.

Christmas is coming, and we are starting to plan for quiet visits with our son and his family in Brookings. Our daughter is flying to Sioux Falls for a wedding at that time, and we will see her in Brookings, too. It will be a quiet and very much appreciated time together.

What are your plans for Christmas?  What are your ideas for gifts? What stories do you think are essential for children to hear?

But You Were Supposed to Read My Mind!

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last week VS and I arranged for pick up or delivery of some plants for Anna’s memorial garden for her late husband, Tom.    We arranged for 10-ish on Sunday morning.  Things in my world have been moving kind of fast, despite COVID restrictions, so I read VS’ email to everyone about donating plants, contacted her VS about my donations, and did not read the details closely.

So at 10-ish on Sunday morning, I pulled into her driveway and called her.  She picked up immediately and said, “I’m just turning on to Scenic Heights.  I’ll be there in a second.”

To which I said, “Great.  I just pulled into your driveway.”

We both started laughing.

“This is meant for a blog post.”  I told her, adding, “I guess I did not read the email closely enough.”

“I said in the initial email I could come pick them up but didn’t reiterate it in our back and forths” she said.

And I replied, “You were supposed to read my mind.”  I needed to get out of the house to go somewhere, anywhere, and just assumed….well you know.

Tell about a memorable miscommunication or assumption you might have checked more closely.

Mad Cat

When I moved into my house 30 years ago there had been a cat door installed in the door from the kitchen to the basement.  At the time it never occurred to me that I would ever have a cat so I took out the flap (which was broken anyway) and put a brass kick plate across the hole.  Since I left the door to the basement open most of the time anyway, it was just fine.

Then I got a cat.  And a cat box in the basement.  And a dog who was VERY interested in the cat box.  Eww.  So I took off the kickplate and closed the door.  Zorro was just fine with just a hole in the door for many years, although it always bothered me.  When we got Nimue I decided that I wanted something nicer looking so I bought a cat door/flap kit to install.  Of course, the hole was too large to install the kitty flap (or any kitty door/flap that I could find) so my local hardware store crafted a piece of scrap wood to fit into the hole so I could install the door.  Of course, this makes it sound easier than it was; after I got the scrap piece in place, I put off installing the door for a couple of weeks.

At the end of that two weeks, we had a thunderstorm during the day.  I’m sure I’m probably mentioned that my Irish Setter was not a big fan of thunderstorms.  At night I could keep her a little under control but that day, while the storm raged, I was at work.  I came home to see that in her mania to get to the basement (she always thought she would be safer from thunder in the basement), she had completely clawed the wood piece, to the point where it was unusable any longer.  I decided a hole in the door with no kitty flap would be fine after all.  I left the scrap piece in place and put the kitty flap kit in a drawer.

Fast forward to this week.  Rhiannon is no longer with us and Guinevere, while afraid of almost everything else on the planet, is not afraid of thunderstorms (don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me either).  And we have company coming in October so I have a long list of projects that I’d like to get done.  Kitty flap/door was yesterday.  Turns out that the kit had instructions written by Martians and if I originally had all the pieces and hardware, I didn’t have them now.  Punting took just two trips to the hardware store.

Once the flap was installed, I took Nimue’s favorite kitty treats, went down the basement stairs and shut the door behind me.  She came to the door almost immediately when I shook the treat container; I had a treat in my hand and was just about to partially open the flap from my side when the dog decided she needed to assist in the operation.  Unfortunately, she wanted to assist by herding the cat, which is one of the cat’s least favorite things.  She fluffed up and ran.  When YA tried to help, Nimue ran upstairs where she ensconced herself in the middle of my bed.  She practically dared any of us to get near her.

She did eventually settle down but I’m worried that her first traumatic experience with the kitty door may be a bad omen.  I put several of her kitty treats on the other side for now, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you pissed anybody off lately?  On purpose?  Are you sorry or not?