Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad

My mother and father were married during World War II.I could not have asked to be born to better people in the world.  You might not have been the best parents, but you were far, far, far from the worst.  You did the best you could.  I wasn’t an easy child to live with and train for the world, and for that I’m sorry.

Dad, you know how I feel.  I wrote a letter to you telling you just how much I loved and admired you before you passed away. I know Grandpa didn’t understand why I didn’t return home to take care of you after Mom died.  I’d like to think you understood, that you were proud I was serving my country, even after I left the Navy.

I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to walk me down the aisle.  For years I felt the pain of never finding someone who loved me, but now it’s more a regret that you didn’t get to experience it.  Maybe you were right.  Maybe I was looking for someone “just like my old man” (as you put it).  That person just doesn’t exist.

Mom, you had a heart of pure gold.  You were the nicest, kindest person I ever met.  I mentioned this once to Margie’s sister-in-law; she said Margie had said the same thing.  (And you thought she didn’t approve of you!)  You left a legacy of good works in our little town, often behind the scenes and without glory. When Dad died, a woman came up to me at the reception and said, “You had such wonderful parents.”  And even though you’d been gone for several years, she added, “Including your mother.”

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I watch as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.

Another Cleaning Sunday Seven

I survived the home appraisal! To celebrate, I took a break from the decluttering schedule for most of the week.  But I did make a date for a couple to help me remove some of the larger, heavy items from my living room.

Yesterday I jumped back into my schedule of cleaning two rooms for 15 minutes each twice a week. You know what that means? More found surprises!

Seven More Items Found While Decluttering

  1. A pasta bowl set from Crate and Barrel, the kind that consists of a serving bowl and four pasta dishes. I don’t remember buying it and I’m not sure why I would. I already have a pasta set I love which I bought in Italy. Maybe I bought it for a wedding gift?
  2. More old Mary Kay cosmetics. I think I’ve now thrown out all of them.  It only took five or six large trash bags!
  3. A package of scrapbooking paper. Since I’ve decided to create some memory books of my parents, I’m going to see if anything might be useable.  If not, out it goes.
  4. A nearly full box of high-quality paper for resumes and cover letters. I’ve had the paper, and the matching envelopes, for over 20 years at least, possibly as long as 33 years—that’s ⅓ of a century!  They’re going out for recycling pickup.
  5. The board game Clue. I think I tried giving it to Goodwill once, but they wouldn’t take open board games. Since Clue is my favorite game, I’ve decided to keep it.  (For now.)
  6. A bag of yarn with a partially knit sweater on a broken needle, along with a book of sweater patterns.  Sorry, organization gurus, it’s staying.  I’ll reuse the yarn.  And I love knitting patterns—something I have in common with Albus Dumbledore.  😉
  7. A picture of me watching the sun set on a beach in Carmel, CA. My best friend took another picture with me facing the camera. It was a lovely photo, especially since I’m not particularly photogenic. I gave it to my parents who kept it by their telephone for many years.  After their deaths, I retrieved it and eventually gave it to a guy I thought might be “The One.” Turns out he wasn’t, and the creep didn’t return the photo.

And the list doesn’t include the several large cardboard boxes I broke down for recycling. I thought about keeping them to us for for hauling things to Goodwill.  But I’d prefer to just get them out of the house.

Summer Blankets

NaBloPoMo prompt for the day:

What are your favourite family dishes?

Pillsbury's Pigs in a blanket call for crescent rolls.

Not my mothers Pigs in a Blanket.

Yesterday I made—for the very first time—what is possibly my ultimate favorite family dish, my mother’s famous Pigs in a Blanket  Famous because the recipe was published in Good Housekeeping magazine many years ago.  I’m not sure why I’d never made them before.  Probably because I hadn’t discovered Bob Evans mashed potatoes, and am too lazy to make them from scratch.

Mashed potatoes!?!  For Pigs in a Blanket?!?  Yep.  Mom’s famous recipe called for mashed potatoes and not crescent rolls.

I made them not because I’d planned it, but because it’s what I had and didn’t have on hand.  Had:  two hot dogs left over from Memorial Day; a package of Bob Evans mashed potatoes I hadn’t cooked heated yet; and some single-sliced, individually wrapped processed cheese-like product.  Had not:  any buns or bread to make a sandwich.

Since I never paid attention when Mom made hem, I had to wing it.  Here’s what I did:

Heat up Bob Evans mashed potatoes in the microwave.
Partially cook hot dogs also in the microwave.  (As a hot dog connoisseur, I prefer Nathan’s).
Slice cheese (or cheese food) into thinnish strips.

Slit the hot dogs lengthwise down the middle.
Stuff the mashed potatoes into the slit.
Top with cheese strips.
Broil the entire concoction on a broiler pan.  (I placed the pan as close to the heating element as possible).
Cook until the cheese melts.  Or if you’re like me, until the cheese is burned.

They tasted pretty darned good!  So good, I wish I’d  had more than two hot dogs.  And taken a picture of them.

[Photo credit:  Pillsbury]

Remembering Dad

WordPress.com Daily Prompt:

Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?

My dad, my brother, and me are taking a ferry to somewhere.

My moral compass (with me & bro), on a ferry to somewhere

“Here comes the only honest lawyer in Iowa!”  It’s the greeting often heard in my dad’s presence.

Dad became a lawyer because he loved the law.  He wasn’t motivated by money.  He did a lot of pro bono work, and we were not wealthy.

After graduating near the top of his law class at the University of Iowa, he turned down job offers from “big city” law firms (“big city” being a relative term since we’re talking Iowa here).  He wanted to be part of a community.  He grew up in small town Iowa, and that’s where he settled.

He became a big fish in a little pond, not because he sought it out, but because civic-mindedness and “giving back” were part of his nature.

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The Ides of June

NaBloPoMo Mid-Month Check-In

Cartoon William Shakespeare asks, "To blog, or not the blog.  That is the question."

Alas, I know not who created this; ergo credit cannot be forthcoming.

Wow, I’m 15 days into NaBloPoMo June 2013, and still going… maybe not strong, but going, nonetheless.  Fifteen consecutive blogging days has to be some kind of record for me. So, yay!

What have I gained from the experience?

  1. I found two photographs of my parents I’d been searching for.  One is their wedding photo.  (The other is a great story, too, which I’ll tell later. )
  2. I’m finally starting to scan pictures from old family photo albums into the computer, something I’d been thinking of doing for a very long time.
  3. Along the way, I’m sorting through some of my digital photos and trying to get them organized, as well.
  4. My “nibblings” (two nephews, one niece) now know about the blog and seem pleased to learn more about their paternal grandparents.
  5. And lastly, I’m not watching as much shopping television, which helps my self-imposed shopping embargo.

Anything else I hope to learn?  I’d like to find my passion.  What do I love writing about?  What do I love doing?  Is it enough to write a Greatest Generation memoir, or do I need something else to motivate me?  This can’t be answered in a month, but it’s a start.

Starting Fresh All Over Again

When is it okay to start over?  Is it better to focus on improving one’s current path; or is there a point when the path becomes so overgrown it’s better to just change direction?  Or is starting over the perfectionist’s cop-out when things get too messy?

I’ve thought about rebooting my blog many times over the past years in hopes of making it exactly how I want it.  But since I’m not really sure what that is, I’ve avoided the temptation.  Until now.

Why is now different?  Perhaps Stream of Conscience was too unfocused and cluttered.  Perhaps SciFi Chicks burned me out.  Perhaps Ms. Pack Brat was one blog too many.  Or maybe I’m just inspired by spring.  Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to simplify and streamline my online life—just as I’m trying to simplify and streamline my home life.

Long ago, I started a blog for the purpose of telling my nephews and niece about their paternal grandparents (my parents), whom they didn’t know very well.  But along the way, I got sidetracked by other interests and the minutiae of life.  Life still gets in the way, but I have a better understanding of the stories I want to tell, and  a more focused approach to the things I want to talk about.

Will I be more successful this time?  Only time will tell.  Stay tuned…