11.02.2014

A Depth of Grieving


I read this, and I think of my Mother. No person ever grieved more for the person they loved, than my Mother did for my Father. For six years, it was as raw each morning for her, as it was the day he died...

10.29.2014

Mom was a Packrat

Mom would have had a good chance of
winning the contest mentioned in #4...
My parents built onto the house in the mid-70s, a new kitchen and a downstairs bedroom. Mom used the old kitchen for her sewing room; virtually all the cupboards were filled with fabric.

It came from various sources - recycled old clothes, remnants on-the-cheap, sales.  Mom used some for quilts, as well as tablecloths decorated with a particular (and very beautiful) style of cross-stitch.  A few pieces were made into dresses for her granddaughter.  Much of it was never used; the various solids, florals, checks, and calicos remained snuggling side-by-side, tucked away in the cupboards...in the quiet dark.

10.10.2014

1's and 0's

Hopper created COBOL
I recently shared on Facebook, about one of the paths I took earlier in my life, "I learned all about Adm. Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, the ENIAC, the UNIVAC I, and more when I took a two-year Associate Degree in Programming. Computer history was one thing we were taught. Our instructors also felt it was important to learn the basics - we had to learn Assembly, which was basic machine language. It was very abstract to many of us, but we learned it. Then we went on to higher level languages like COBOL, which I really loved. If I had continued on that path, I'd be one of a small percentage of women today that are programmers. I often wish I could have. It was fascinating!"

My daughter, Eva reacted, saying, "The cool thing is your Grandson is very into computers and I think will go on to do amazing things...and you did and became what you were meant to be, and inspired a love of computers, technology, and creative thought in me, and in turn in him."

Google Doodle (12/8/13) of Hopper using COBOL code that would display her age...

10.09.2014

Their Song


You are My Sunshine is a well-known song.

Written by Oliver Hood on a paper sack in 1933 before copyright laws, it was also a song that meant a lot to my parents.  You could call it their special song.




It was so special to them, it became impressed upon me enough to have the chorus lyrics engraved on their grave stones.

It has become a special song to our whole family...


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

9.16.2014

One Winter's Night: Grandma & Me Alone

I don't have a clue once I get past the second move
I loved being with my Grandma Fitzpatrick so much when I was growing up. I missed her when in later years she spent half the year with Aunt Pat and Uncle John in Bemidji.

I loved it when she came to live with us.

One of my deepest memories of her is the evening we spent alone in the living room, the room she helped build in 1906, and here we were in 1972...and we talked about games she and other children used to play when she was young..."Fox and Geese" was one...and then we got some yarn out, and she taught me "Cat's Cradle", which I thought I knew, but I only knew a tiny part of it in actual fact.

I learned for one thing that it was a game that should be played with a partner, which enabled much more complex and fun string art to be created. I learned that it was challenging, fun, and that if you start laughing it can really mess up your concentration.

A Winter's Game: Fox & Geese
Grandma eventually gave up with me because I "lost my way", and I began laughing again, and then we both ended up laughing.

We thought we would do it again and I would get further. But it never happened. She forgot because there were so many things she had to cope with due to her infirmities, and I forgot because I was young and unconsciously assumed I would have time.

But time isn't kind, and when I remembered, it was far, far too late.

9.10.2014

Dad & Technology

My Dad never went past the 8th grade.  Back in his day, especially if you were a farm boy, that was common.  You were needed on your parents' farm, you accepted it, it was the way it was.

Thus, Dad never learned things like typing in a business class.

After the war, he came home to a small homestead that sustained the family with pasture and livestock, as well as a large garden.  Soon he realized he'd have to return to education to make a better life.  Despite not having a high school diploma, he was still able to take advantage of the new G.I. Bill, and went away to a school called the Gale Institute in Minneapolis, MN.  He had to be away for the better part of nine months from Mom, but he stuck it out.  He wrote letters home, and looked ahead to making a better life for his young family.

His course was focused on teaching him skills he would need to be a telegrapher for the railroad.  I don't what the entire curriculum consisted of outside of telegraphy itself, but evidently typing was not included.  To the day he retired, he always typed using what he called the 'hunt and peck' method.
Ad in July 1949 Popular Mechanics for training at the Gale Institute in Minneapolis, Minn.,
for railroad jobs. It was one like this that my Dad and his brother Robert saw that eventually 
got them to attend Gale Institute in early 1951.  Both of them ended up getting good jobs 
with the Great Northern Railway (which became the Burlington Northern) for their entire 
careers - Dad in Minnesota, and Uncle Robert in Montana...

I learned that term from him one day when my mother took me to visit him at his office, in the depot at Noyes, MN.  I still remember well the first time I visited the depot.  I was just a little girl, only about 7 or 8 at most.  To me, it was a thrilling experience to see where my father worked.  Passengers were still part of the business then, and we entered via the waiting room with its beautiful long, wood benches.  There was a water machine, with its big glass container sitting on top.  I went to check it out, and found of all things, paper cups!  I had to try it.  As I put the cup under the spigot and pressed the button, I almost jumped as the machine made a huge "glug, glug, glug" sound and large bubbles drifted up inside the upside down glass bottle.  I tried it again with the same result.  I laughed and thought, what a fun way to get water to drink!

I then noticed the counters and men behind them sitting at desks or walked through with papers, my ears picking up an interesting staccato clicking, of varying speeds.  My Mom went to the counter and Dad came to greet her.  He saw me and I looked up at him and he smiled.  "Would you like to come inside and see where I work?"  I replied, "Yes!"

8.26.2014

Trivial Me







  • I Grew up in the oldest village in my state - St. Vincent, Minnesota.
  • But I was born in Emerson, Manitoba.
  • I am only 4 degrees of separation away from the Hillside Strangler serial killers.
  • I learned to read at 3 years old (and yes, I am a voracious reader who likes nothing better than to lose myself in a good book, fiction or non-fiction...)
  • I have moved over 27 times (so far).
  • It took me 50 years to find the love of my life.
  • I once met Vincent Price at a baggage carousel in LAX.
  • I once went at midnight to observe the annual grunion run at Huntington Beach, sponsored by a local marine museum; we waited, and when the guides saw them, we were told to turn on our flashlights; males wrapped themselves around females, which in turn laid their eggs in the sand; as quickly as they came ashore, they were gone.
  • A friend and I once rode our horses along with a wagon train for 10 miles, during the American Bicentennial.
  • Speaking of horses, I have been lucky enough to have ridden in the Rocky Mountains, along the shore of the Pacific Ocean, in the deserts of New Mexico, as well as my own home prairies.
  • After leaving a bad marriage, I became a single parent at age 25, went back to school at 27, sought and obtained a good government job at 29, bought my first house at 31, and bought my first new car at 33.
  • I left that good job after 23 years to follow a new dream, which brought me full circle, back to a rural life on a small hobby farm like the one I grew up on.
  • I grew up in the house my grandparents built, that my mother grew up in, and later me and my children lived in for 18 months with my parents while I began getting back on my feet.
  • I have a deep love for my home village and its surrounding villages, which are really one, big extended family (and many are related to one another...)
  • I love writing as much as reading - in fact, I daresay I may like it more. It is like breathing to me, necessary to my life, the ability to document and express, to create and to share. 
  • I have a deep passion for animals, and for several years dedicated my life to the goal of becoming a veterinarian. Life had other plans.
  • My best friend growing up was a cat named Dusty. He was a great mouser, who worked part-time as my alarm clock during the school year.
  • I nearly drowned when I was 4 years old. My mother and her friend took me to a swimming pool one hot summer day. They had me go in to the wading pool while they visited nearby. I somehow sneaked away to the big pool which I evidently thought looked much more fun. I slipped in holding the side, not knowing how to swim. A wave pulled me away and before I knew it, I was sinking, looking up at the sun through the water, the world going dark. Next thing I knew, my mother's friend was giving me mouth to mouth, then I was choking up water. She had just saved my life.
  • I used to play the piano fairly well, as an accompanist at my school, church, and as a soloist, including in competitions. 
  • I once had a grand mal seizure
  • I survived an 18-month bout of clinical depression by walking, writing, and with the help of two people - a very special friend, and my daughter.