Story Time ~ 10/1/20

My Swedish Death Clean continues. I wonder what people must think considering I have been writing about organizing and cleaning out for over a year. Even pre-Covid. Well the last hidey-hole for useless junk was my former office. We had created this little alcove with sliding door off the rarely used dining room. In that office is where I earned my degree. I have many good memories of old school balancing the books and other assorted “office” practices of yesteryear. I had a mammoth PC and AOL dial up. Anyone memba that? LOL. And I have no business laughing. We’ve kept our original AOL email despite having upgraded to Spectrum’s high speed.

Now that Lulu Belle has a job, she needed a place outside her bedroom from which to work. Wah-la, the old office was a primo spot. Speaking as someone who knows, working and living in the same small space is no bueno. One needs the distinction aka “work, life, balance” otherwise the 24/7 WORK can drive a gal bonkers. I finally gave up the ghost as they say and ordered a docking station for my work laptop & new work headset. I had been in denial, very sure we’d go back. Stubborn as I was, I worked off a TV tray in my living room, sitting in B’s favorite chair. Now that I know going back is not likely, and we’ll need to have privacy, I could no longer plop myself in the middle of the living room. Instead, Pony’s old bedroom is my new work locale.  Converted when the original office was abandoned.

Alrighty back to cleaning out the old office for Lulu. I found the below.  Picture is worth 1000 words. I’ll add my own words too. Tis my tale to weave 🙂


See the key? That’s for our 83 Mazda which we haven’t had in over 30 years.  Weird that cars even had keys. Not a fob or push start to be found in those days. The cash envelope has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. Cash? COVID-landia calls for cards.  Inside I stored the curls from Pony’s first hair cut (yes I’m that weirdo who saved his hair since 5/2/90).  When I tried to give his hair back to him he said “What? No, I don’t want that! Get it out of here”.  The credit union once located in C building when we only went to D building is no longer around as well. It was moved off campus, then bought out. And look at that area code folks. I’m that old to remember when 512 covered the entire city.

To close, here is a picture that brings me joy. Inspired by finding those curls. If you’ve seen the 10 days of joy, no explanations post going around FB, this picture is one of mine. The envelope, key, and curls are in the trash. Look how far we’ve come. Much love from Me and my Pony Boy!


Awww that’s my baby

As always, more to come.

Story Time ~ 9/24/20

A Lost Art by J-Dub

I had quite the collection of dolls. These are not from the E-Bay collectibles. These were cleaned up and sent to St. PJs.

The dolls’ outfits tell a story.  The aqua/white dress and the red with cherries dress were handmade by my Aunt Annie. From scratch without a pattern. From material scraps left over from shirts made for me.

I’ll never forget the summer when my brother and I stayed with her &
Uncle George. My mom was in the hospital for the mastectomy; her first bout
with breast cancer. As the two youngest, we were shipped off to save us from
seeing anything bad that might scar us.

I was six going on seven. I had no idea the extent of mom’s illness. All I knew
is I wasn’t happy to stay there two whole months. I remember adding big X’s in
red crayon across the calendar moving closer to the date circled in purple to
signify our return. I was miserably homesick. Sewing was something done to
distract me. I helped very little. Mostly I watched in amazement. What a
talent. A lost art.

George & Annie owned the local meat market. We went with them to work and
we played around doing our best to stay out of trouble. Closing my eyes I see
the double wooden doors open wide and the two swinging screen doors with the
Buttercrust sign. An old time cash register sits on a bar that had candy jars
in rows right next to it. The front part of the store was a small grocery with
only two rows of shelves for canned goods, cleaning supplies, or paper products
and an even smaller produce section in the corner. On the back porch sat the
picnic tables for patio dining and a six foot long cooler with the sodas. All
in glass bottles. Treats we rarely got at home. And of course I can still smell
the smoke and BBQ.

The market closed up @ 3 pm and we’d go back to their place. There were
animals to take care of and supper to make before what seemed like the longest
evenings in my life. Out in the sticks, there was awful reception. And TV was
for lazy people anyway per Auntie. We played lots of board games. And of course
I had my dolls. Treasures. No wonder mom couldn’t give them away.

For all the coping mechanisms out there now, childhood play still ranks
supreme. Though at the time, I had no idea. Now I believe playing with my dolls
is what helped me deal with things my young brain couldn’t fully understand.  I mentioned I was six going on seven. Mom survived the breast cancer and even had a 2nd battle with breast cancer when I
was nine. She eventually would pass away from cancer of unknown origin when I
was 33. But that is a story for another day.

As always, more to come.

Story Time ~ 9/17/20

Charlie by J-Dub

We didn’t have fancy electronics. Instead we rode bikes, played on the swing set, and made up elaborate stories with dolls, puppets, and assorted stuffed animals. If memory serves, this particular puppet came from a set “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”. As you can see, he is dressed in pajamas. I named him Charlie. He was my favorite toy for a few years. Maybe that explains why mom kept him.

He was in my treasure box that I stumbled upon once again while conducting the Swedish Death Clean. Many times I tried to refuse taking him with me. Each time I tried to throw him out, mom would pack him back up and take him home to her house. She didn’t have the heart to do what I am doing now. In the big scheme of things, I hope I am sparing my children the work that comes with handling my estate. It’s all just stuff anyway. Plus Lulu and Pony said they didn’t want him. Instead, Charlie was cleaned up and sent to Goodwill. Hopefully someone gets as much enjoyment from him as I did.

I have other dolls too that could be worth some money. They are classics/vintage … supposedly. Which is why I am I’m still trying to figure out this eBay thing. Or maybe I will make a for “real” final trip to Goodwill or St. PJs. This stuff is exhausting. But the good kind of exhausted. Where after all is said and done, you feel an emotional weight was lifted.

As always, more to come.

On This Day ~ 9/15/20

Where were you in ’62? This is not American Graffiti. 🙂 Let’s move along.

I mean where were you in ’83? Me? I was applying for my first “real” as opposed to “fake” job. See this post from 2016.

Thank goodness for nosy neighbors

Did you take the ‘click bait?  HaHa!  That post describes my experience better than I could as I tried to re-write my story for this post.  Similar to what Lulu is going through except she has a college degree and does not have a part-time job at the mall.  Thanks to Rona, everyone wants those part time jobs at the mall.  Otherwise she’d grab one!

Moving on, where were you in ’84?

On this day 36 years go, B and I tied the knot. Yep we got hitched despite all the naysayers who said it wouldn’t last. And Rona has us staying indoors instead of going out to a fancy dinner. Too much work to dine-in these days. Take out is the new normal. But today we will cook at home. Yummy grilled steaks, asparagus, salad, and french bread.

Story Time ~ 9/10/20

Bittersweet by J-Dub

Christmas in September. Why the hell not? 2020 has been that kind of year.

The above doll was part of my history. The Santa suit was actually worn by my brother in December of 1963. One year later I wore it. After I outgrew it, the suit became part of the clothes box I kept full of outfits to dress up my dollies.

After my mom died and I had my breakdown, I thought I threw this doll in the trash. In July, while conducting my Swedish Death Clean, I found out that B had rescued her for me all those years ago. 💕💕. Awwww super sweet. Yeah I know, he’s a keeper.

See how I painted her nails with my own polish. Candy apple red. I was a girly girl many moons ago. This is proof.

Mom was very sick when Lulu was born. She had not yet been diagnosed but we knew something wasn’t right. There were a few things she insisted on doing despite her immense pain. One of those things was taking a picture of Lulu in the Santa Suit.

My parents were out of town at my Uncle Martin’s funeral on the day Lulu was born. One week later when they got back home, she insisted daddy drive her to our house almost immediately. This request was made despite having just spent hours on the road, hurting all the way. “Tomorrow is soon enough Theresa. We have Mass at 5:00” daddy told her. To which she replied “We just buried Martin. Tomorrow is not guaranteed!” And sure enough, four weeks later, my mom passed away.

Skipping church was a big deal. In all their years together, come hell or high water, Sundays were reserved for Mass attendance. Even when you spent hours on the road and had to go to “sinner’s service” on a Sunday evening. Mom was on a mission to get that picture. Tradition!

They didn’t stay long. Enough to meet sweet baby girl. To snap that picture. And to give us the musical angel figurine for Lulu’s baptism. Mom’s sense of urgency was palpable. Like she knew her time on this Earth was coming to an end. She wanted to make sure Lulu got something special from her Gran. I’ll carry the memory of that day in my mind forever.

As always, more to come.

Story Time ~ 9/3/20

Story Time: New Beginnings

It’d be funny if it wasn’t funny. Well duh Jilly. You know what? My mom would’ve hated that. She’d get so irritated when us kids said duh to each other. If we called each other stupid, that was worse than saying fuck you. Not that I ever said the eff word out loud in front of my parents. I still don’t say it out loud all that often. I think it a lot and I write it a lot …

I never heard a curse word out of either of my parents mouths. Well until I was in 4th grade that is. We had a set of utensils hanging above the stove and when a ladle was knocked off the rack and fell behind the stove, I heard my mother say “oh shit”. And I thought “oh shit” this is bad. My ears!

Mom also disliked chewing gum and us sticking our tongues out at each other. In fact, she’d tell us Mother Mary cries every time kids stick out their tongues! Well that cured me. The thought of making Mother Mary cry. Heavens no. What an awful thing to do.

Now back to it’d be funny if it wasn’t funny …

Lulu is looking for work. Four long years and she graduated with a degree in psychology and minor in criminal justice. Yay! Not to take away anything from her, she made it through but the degree is not what you’d call in demand. Still she is done and looking for her first “real” job. But and it’s a BIG but, she has no experience. She worked a few part time gigs but nothing really that is resume worthy. She has loads of volunteer hours but that’s not really the kind of experience employers are looking for.

She’s been told no and received more that a dozen “you suck” emails. We called them that at work too. The dreaded automated rejection letter that goes something like this:.

You’re great! Yea right.

Your skillz are mad. Sure they are.

But we’re going with someone better. Gee thanks a lot. I suck.

Lulu asked me “Why don’t they just say, I didn’t get the job? Telling me they are going with someone else is salt to the wound”. Hear that you HR types!

I remember being in the same boat … worse with only a high school diploma. Crying to my dad about getting turned down for no experience but how was I supposed to get experience without someone giving me a chance. He told me he just had a feeling it would work out and somehow it did. But when you’re knee deep in the middle of it, hard to see things turning out okay.

And this is not about me. Shocker I know! For I am the sun and the sun is me.

Had Rona not hit, she would have gone back to the campus in March. She had two interviews and an on site career fair that were cancelled. Not that she would have got those jobs either but she had a plan. That plan has changed significantly.

Still she keeps trying. Bless her heart. These days everything in online. Not like me walking into a placement agency and being sent out to companies that were hiring. She set up her profiles on all the sites. Somehow in applying for two of the jobs, her name went through as San Antonio. She was pissed. She sat there for quite some time, pounding on her laptop keyboard until finally correcting her info. Of course her brother has taken to calling her San Antonio. See it’d be funny, if it wasn’t funny.

As always, more to come.

Story Time ~ 8/27/20

Story Time: Memories

I took a bit of a break since my last story. My Swedish death clean continues as a work in progress. One day I hope to sit down seeing nothing but uncluttered space; a sterile environment is okay by me.

The reason for the brief hiatus was two-fold. There was no room for the recycling that is created from this exercise. We secured as second recycle bin for the low, low price of $3 a month. After tomorrow’s pick up, I will begin purging again in earnest since I will have room.  Followed by the final trip to Goodwill.

The second reason was other parts of life intervened. I wrote snippets but I stop short of relaying all that was going on around these parts because I don’t want to create a false alarm. I’m doing that thing I do to minimize my feelings since in the big scheme of things, my stuff is small stuff. Many more items on the plus column.

After that long preamble, I’ll keep my story short and sweet. Maybe. Wink, wink. See the following picture for a delicate snot rag, found in a box of my mother’s things.

Seeing my mom’s handwriting always does a number on me. She and her sister embroidered this handkerchief some 76 years ago when mom was 12 and Aunt Anne was 15. Three short years later, they would lose my grandfather. Then three more years after that, grandma passed away leaving mom and her siblings adult orphans.  The year was 1950.  Mom was only 18.

I’ll stop short of saying this is why she got married but it explains much. After the funeral, with the homestead sold, she moved from Runge TX to San Antonio to live with Uncle Red and Aunt Carol. They were newlyweds themselves and times were rough. She didn’t want to be a burden so she found someone else to take care of her. Of course she worked and could’ve taken care of herself. I guess saying she wanted to maintain a good relationship with her brother and sister-in-law is more accurate.  Being underfoot did not help things.

My parents were married 15 years before tragedy struck when dad was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Story goes the surgical team went in to remove the tumor and instead “sewed” him back up. The doc came into the waiting room announcing “if he lives through the night he has six months!” Mother was bitter about the doctor’s bedside manner for years.

I was still a baby at the time. Daddy Wes powered on for two more years before he succumbed.  Long enough to sell the farm, pay off the house, and otherwise get his affairs in order.  I have some moving stories about his strength and fortitude during this time. I’m convinced his actions ensured we’d have a better life.   I may or may not share them though.  Much is foggy and more than likely not “real” memories only what I conjured up from what I was told.  Only now am I able to admit my mother’s embellishment of many things.  

I still loved her desperately in spite of what I look back on now with sadness and confusion.  I’m writing in innuendo.  I’m still the Queen Comma drama.  Please don’t look behind the curtain.  Look only into the magic mirror on the wall …. How’s that for symbolism and storytelling?  LOL.

Don’t cry for me Argentina.  Enough?  Yes enough.  

As always, more to come.

Story Time 8/4/20

Story Time: Best Friends Forever

I’m enjoying this stroll down memory lane. Read em and weep fellas. Or read em then toss em because I’m taking this Swedish Death cleaning 🧹🧻 🧼 thing to an extreme. I’m pretty sure that getting autographs on the last day of school was an annual event but I only kept two of the books. The orange one above shows the cover that came with. I don’t know any of those people. It’s like the paper inset picture that comes with the frame 🖼.

Do you guys remember me talking about Lisa Ann? My tip stealing friend. Share Your World ~ 6/22/20. Seeing her 5th grade scrawl made me smile. I’d forgotten her nickname for me. Boney! Ha! I was a stick.

Lisa and I got into such capers. During #SYW, I gave a few. We were in Girl Scouts together. We played volleyball and baseball. We crushed on the same group of boys. Her neighbor was like Kelly Leak from “Bad News Bears”, the bad boy who was exciting.

I remember sleepovers, birthdays, the skating rink. Our parents were glad we were friends. Lisa brought me out of my shell and I helped her be more studious.

I thought we’d be best friends forever. We talked about marrying our beaus and buying houses on the same street. Of course that never happened but it was really fun to dream.

She moved out of town and we lost touch. The last I saw her was at our reunion @ 2009. We laughed and reminisced like no time had passed. There she told us that during a routine eye exam, they found a brain tumor. Fortunately it turned out to be benign.

As always more to come.

Story Time ~ 7/28/20

Story Time: Griswold Vacation

This book was in my treasure trove trunk.  It contains professionally shot, color photos of wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.  We took one of the best family vacations ever when we went there in June of 1972.  We pulled a travel trailer behind the station wagon.  Yeah buddy!  We stayed in various KOA parks between Texas to Wyoming.  KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America.  Drives all English majors krazy.  Kool right 🙂

I remember seeing snow on the ground in Colorado.  We were shocked!  We pulled off the side of the road for pictures.  We had left Texas in shorts.  Thank goodness mom had reminded us to pack our jackets.  Boy was it cold. 

We stayed in Colorado to see Pikes Peak and the Royal Gorge.  We actually took the wagon sans trailer up the narrow one lane road to an observation area before turning around and going back down. I hid my eyes the whole way up.  At the Royal Gorge we had a vote between cog train or the tram. The older siblings voted tram which was actually less scary than the drive up Pikes Peak.  Of course, not realizing that I cried.  Pitched a fit (or so I was told) and almost did not get in.  Seeing Old Faithful in Yellowstone was also a treat.   But mostly I remember a stinky egg smell of sulfur.  The stay in your trailer/tent bear warnings blasted through speaker in the campground were a bit unnerving too. 

I only have flashes of images.   I was only 7 1/2 years old at the time.  Even the memories I do have are likely from what I was told or what we talked about for years after the trip.   We were always allowed to get a souvenir and I picked this picture book.  I was a weird little kid. 

Now that I am doing my Swedish Death cleaning, this book is going to Half Price books.  I don’t have the heart to toss it into the trash or recycle.  But I know the family won’t want it.  Since I have decided to downsize versus organize, I feel mucho mas bueno.  

As always more to come.

Story Time ~ 7/24/20

Story time.  “It’s Happening Again”

When my dad’s first wife died from a brain tumor, he became very depressed.  Her passing happened suddenly.  He became a young widower with six kids to raise on his own.  Once the people supporting him returned to their “normal” lives, he developed a practice to bring himself some semblance of peace.  He’d stop at her grave every day on his way home from work … to talk.  For weeks this went on. But as I mentioned, he had six kids to take care of …  to get home to … that reason propelled him forward.

When mom died, times were different.  He didn’t have anything to keep him in this world.  He couldn’t drive to the cemetery every day to have those conversations.  He was’t physically able or I think he would have.  Instead he became very depressed again.  He stopped showering.  He was barely eating.

Dad was able to muster the strength to go to Mass every morning.  Only a small group … less than 10 were in daily attendance.  The gang would go to breakfast after church.  In particular, he struck up a relationship with Irene.  In short order he began to shower again and look forward to the next day.  We got my dad back for eight more years.  They married when he was 82 years young :).  I credit her with saving his life.  She gave him companionship and a will to live.

Fast-forward to 2020.  My mother-in-law fell for the first time.  It was February and we could still go out.  We were at the Rosary of a dear friend’s mother.  I remember her being so embarrassed.  She blamed her tumble on the slope of the floor.

We’re in March.  We got the 2 am phone call for help twice in a row.  She went in for tests, they changed her medication.  She was back to her feisty old self.  This was temporary.

Marking the time.  The day was Monday 7/20/20.  Lulu and I were taking our walk.  As we passed the brush pile/rabbit hutch, we saw PoPo standing on his back porch.  He was looking toward our house to see if B’s truck was still there.  He told us “Mary fell again”.  Pony works from home so Lulu and I ran back to get him to help lift his Grandma back up.

She had split her lip and hurt her shoulder.  EMS came whisking her away … alone.  Thanks to Rona no one could go with her.  After head CT and shoulder X-Ray, they sent her home in a sling for her broken shoulder and a next day appointment with orthopedic surgeon.  The surgeon diagnosed setting the shoulder had a 75% chance of success.  But no surgery needed.  A blessing.

Lulu spent Tuesday night staying with her grandma while PoPo attended to getting her a wheelchair and other items suggested by the doctors.  Things sucked, she was in pain, but we thought Mary would be okay.  We were wrong.

As always, more to come.