Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homeward bound

We are in Oklahoma City, awaiting tonite's dinner at a route 66 diner for some reportedly excellent and highly recommended chicken fried steak with friends Carla Sue and Tom. Well they and Jerry will enjoy that, which I do not eat, so I hope there will be chicken or perhaps just a good old burger on the menu. I do not anticipate any salad type offering, but I loaded up on my greens for lunch. Four years ago when we were here they tried to take us to that diner, raving to Jerry about the chicken fried steak, but when we arrived, we found it closed that night, a Monday. So we try again this evening.

Memorial to the bombing
We took  a quick tour of the Oklahoma Memorial Museum  in honor of those killed in that dastardly bombing on April 19, 1995. Much as I enjoy museums,. this one is haunting, providing an evocative  experience for all visitors as it takes them through the days in 1995.  Visitors leave with a bitter but full understanding of the impact of violence, and a sense of hope and resilience for the future. This tour highlights the Memorial Museum’s Gallery of Honor, which pays tribute to the 168 who were killed. From the photos I surmise it is most beautiful at night, but it is cold here and not being familiar with the area, we avoid night tours and events.  Sometimes it is all we can do to navigate in unknown cities in the daytime, so why borow difficulty at night?

Jerry dismantling the radios in the RV
Jerry has been busily content tinkering, repairing, tightening bolts, installing his CB radio, and generally puttering and entertaining himself with this new RV parked at Rockwell RV while I made a Wal Mart run alone. He is absolutely in his element tinkering. Packing lightly this trip did not prepare me with warmer clothing and as we are now in cooler weather my summer type attire except for one pair of jeans is not enough. Aha I knew it would not work to merely think warm summer clothing could suffice. Well that gives me an excuse to acquire. I found great bargains at Wally World, a long sleeve corduroy shirt for $3, a pair of very crinkly casual slacks for $5 and the ultimate for another $3, a 3/4 sleeve jersey type button up sweater jacket in tangerine that matches the yoga pants I bought at another Wal-Mart last year and which I use for pj bottoms not wanting to parade about looking like a pumpkin in tangerine. But then as now, wow at $2.50 I could not pass them up. Now I have a matching top for lounging about. At these prices I can toss the clothing easily when tired of it, but will I. Likely not, I'll keep them on hand just in case.

I am still pouting at Jerry driving by the store I spotted in North Ft. Worth, L'Patricia; well were on the interstate and I saw it over there, not conducive to exiting. Still a store of my own namesake, one I've never heard of, and one I'll have to Google to see what I missed. I shop almost exclusively at Wal Marts on our journeys, because they usually are one stop shopping. However not so here in Oklahoma, in the Bible belt, I learn that Wal-Mart sells only beer which is Jerry's beverage of choice, but no wine nor anything stronger which I prefer. To quench my evening thirst I must find a liquor store. This reminds me of PA with its antiquated colonial commonwealth blue laws, there are no liquor sales in the super markets. In PA there are private beer distributors, licensed by the state where one must purchase a case minimum and state liquor stores are the only source for wine and vodka. I do not understand why that is acceptable to the natives but I suppose they are used to it. On the other hand the employees at the liquor stores are state government employees so that is a good living for them and the beer distributors have an exclusive as there are not too many in one area, curtailing competition.

In the Wal Mart check out line, I asked the cashier (I avoid those self check out lines) where I could buy wine; she told me a liquor store and explained, "We are not allowed to sell anything but beer in Oklahoma." She was from Texas and said she didn't like that either. 

I told her we had a peculiar dinner experience in Texas where the waitress took both of our drivers' licenses to scan when Jerry ordered a beer and I a glass of Chardonnay. At first I thought the waitress was joking, surely we look old enough to drink! But no, the cousins explained that we were in a dry county and to drink, even though there is a bar in the restaurant, one must become "a member of the club" achieved by scanning in the driver's license, and signing a membership slip like a sales charge, however there is no charge. Then one can purchase adult beverages. So in my experience, Texas was not any easier. Despite all the obstacles these places put in the way of imbibing I do not believe they have any fewer problems with alcoholism or drunk drivers. In fact, about 3:00AM on Monday, there was a horrendous accident caused by a drunk driver in Ft. Worth. The drunk sped 5 miles the wrong way on the freeway until he had a head on collision with a semi tanker, loaded with gasoline, resulting in a terrible explosion and fire, untimely death of the truck driver while the drunk survived. The bridge and freeway section were still closed for the Monday morning commute inconveniencing many with the news reports that it would take six months to repair the damage further inconveniencing many for months to come.

I mentioned to the cashier that I’d lived over 40 years in CA where we could buy whatever we wanted in one store, that all the stores carried a full array of wines, beers, and liquors. Well the woman behind me in line overheard and chimed in, "Oh where did you live in CA?" And so started another conversation where I learned she and her husband were from Freemont, CA. He was a professor at Berkeley and on retirement, he was offered another professorship here at Oklahoma University. I laughed out loud, "From Berkeley to Oklahoma! And I thought MN was a tough transition!" She agreed but said that the red state of Oklahoma seems to have received him well and he is quite content. But then she went on to tell me their son is a professor at Sacramento State, after she learned that I'd worked in Sacramento and we lived in the foothills. She said her son and family want to leave CA and are desperately looking to relocate. She did admit to not wanting to remain in Oklahoma when her husband's contract was up. I agreed that it would not be my choice of where to live either. She mentioned that they were considering New Mexico and so we had another conversation about the Las Cruces area which we had left and which we both enjoy. (I likely will not blog about Las Cruces until we are home) In fact, her husband has been in touch with the University of New Mexico there. Serendipity in action from a casual friendly conversation in Wal Mart. I can say that would not have happened in CA where one would have been flailed by people lined up behind you waiting to get to check out!

I had another conversation in the same Wal Mart today leaving me feeling that I was stalked. Amidst my search for bargains on the sale racks of women's, another woman asked if I had been to a store, from which she had just returned. I said that I had not and was not familiar with anything here as I was a traveler. Ahh, my mistake, giving out too much information. This lady, Deliah, was another traveler but who lived in Oklahoma and who went to Bluegrass festivals all over, etc. In fact she followed me around the ladies section and even onto the men's clothing area chattering away, until her husband attired in Bib overalls and long sleeve long john looking shirt appeared, a sight right out of Beverly hillbillies. At which point she introduced me as her new friend from MN. No fewer than three times I tried to get away from her, "Well it was nice talking to you, but I must be going,.." "Well I really need to leave.." and words like that. Finally I fled saying, I had to find a rest room; really I feared that she would follow me there. But I did escape. I wonder what it is about me that I attract these folks. Is there a sign across my forehead, "conversation needed" or is it true as Jerry says, "You have a knack for getting into predicaments..."

For an unexplainable reason the spell check is not working on blog spot; and though I have proofed this post you will have to overlook any typos and misspells as I am out of time now. 







Monday, March 28, 2011

Adios Tucson y Voyager

This trip reactivated the Spanish in which I was once very fluent, but as most skills and abilities, use it or lose it; fortunately I retain sufficient fluency to get by but find I can read and comprehend it easier than speaking, attributable to the quick pace of most conversations.  Good to know it is resilient, returning with practice.

Our week at Voyager RV Resort in Tucson is over and we are in Las Cruces.  As usually happens when we fail to plan, we pay the price.  So sure that we would leave the Voyager on Monday, we did not book for the week. We did spend a week here getting all the kinks and trinks fixed on the new motor home.

Entrance to Voyager RV Resort


Our new Discovery motor home with our HHR, tow car
Notice our shade tree, the palm in front!
The Voyager is an adult resort, no kids running about loose nor splashing in the pools, it caters to snowbirds and all adult rigs.  It really is a nice place offering everything one needs, of course at a price. Our spacein the premium shady area, the photo of our Excursion and HHR show the solitary palm tree which evidently is the shade.  Is this false advertising?  It is funny.

In addition to motor homes, coaches and permanent  mobile homes, the resort has built ever so many small cottages that people can  purchase for their winter homes.  These cottages are smaller than our motor home, and yet serve the purpose for those who choose to spend the winter there and  fly  or drive to Tucson.  I talked with a woman from Manitoba, Canada who bought one as a vacation get away.  She said they spend at least a month there every winter and that she  prefersit to a condo, feeling it is a bit more private. This photo shows three of the cottages across from our spot.

Cottages at Voyager with carports

 I have yet to do the Voyager evaluation online, but although they advised that if we extended our stay they would not prorate the days paid for to the cheaper weekly rate, we took our chances; they did not and we did stay a week not leaving until Thursday and thereby paying  $150 more than we would have.  Some might find this comical that I worry about spending extra when it could have been prevented; I can see it in faces when I say something is expensive.  They look at me with almost a smirk, as if to say, :sure lady you just spent $150,000 and you are concerned about $50 but they don't know about my bag lady phantom, who haunts.  (I shared her before we left on this trip to procure the new motor home...)  I have learned other of my retired friends share her mystique too.  
Saguaro is the tall single cactus on right
We spent a day at the Saguaro desert Museum, driving and walking and looking at the magnificent saguaros that grow only in this Sonoran desert area.  It was disappointing that my little Nikon camera battery died then, limiting my photo taking abilitities.  There is something about seeing cacti now especially in bloom that fascinates me, likely a result of  living in the north where none exist.  Our neighbor in Newcastle, Bill McGrath grew many cacti and shared a spiny leaf or arm with us to plant out along our back fence where they thrived until we had an unusual frost.  Cacti in bloom as the one above are alluringly beautiful.
Jerry along Octillo cactus at Saguaro Museum Lot
In addition to reactivating my Spanish, Arizona reactivated my allergies.  At first I thought I had a cold but after a couple days and a hint from a friend, I realized the runny nose, sneezes, and watery eyes were allergies, the likes of which I have not had in  many years.   The pollen from the trees, the dust and the breezy winds were not friendly to me.  A trip to one of the many Walgreens to purchase Claritin gave a lot of relief.  The winds spread the pollen and dust readily and do nothing for hairdos.  This did not bother me, I settled for styling my hair in the morning and thereafter  just let it blow, fortunately I have that kind of hairdo that takes little fuss and will settle back to where it needs to be. It was a balmy warm wind, a relief from the MN wintry wind chills.   

The bartender at La Posta in La Mesilla, New Mexico advised that late March through April are allergy season in the area, when the olive trees and fruitless mulberries stir amidst the air.  Bartenders are an amazing source of information.

Another tree that fascinated me in Arizona is the Ironwood, which is also native to the sonoran desert.  As the name implies it is a very hardwood tree but thrives in the heat.  I took many photos of this tree in various stages of bloom or not, in their intermediate leafing stage they are feathery in appearance. The bark on the younger trees is pale greenish but in maturity it is similar to old darkened iron.  I  learned that the cold spell that Tucson area experienced over this winter was fatal to some of the older trees, desert natives.
Ironwood tree not leafed, may not have
survived the winter
This has been a wonderful trip but one which has offered little time for blogging.  I started this post on March 25 and just am finishing it in Texas, more than a week later, and in the third state.  I have yet to share wonderful experiences from New Mexico.....well it is all good.  Better to be so busily entertained that there is no time to write, I suppose, but the irony is that now I have the set up, the right computer laptop and no time. Ahh well, later the memories will flow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So far so good and so warm

Happy face, happy place
Have had no time to post on my blog, comical in that my original intent with blogging was to keep others posted while we were traveling.  As so many other events and circumstances in life, so it is with the blog,  it changes; most quick posts are on Facebook and a few personal emails.  I do find Facebook helpful at notifying several all at once.  Nevertheless, we have had a wonderful journey to date while several times I've had thoughts and or sights about which I've thought, "must  get that onto my blog." I am loving the sunshine and warm weather, laps in the pool and leisurely hikes around the RV desert park.


We journeyed a different route southwest through lots of Kansas, that we had not seen before along Hwy. 54. Avoiding interstates allows for a more scenic route and interesting spots.  I saw signs advertising the world"s largest hand dug well near Greensburg Kansas, as one of the eight wonders of Kansas.  I have asked what are the other 7 but suppose that question will remain unanswered until I do some internet searches..  One evening enroute we stayed at Wal Mart's RV spot, with several other RV'ers.  It was quiet and the price cannot be beat, a nice way to save a few $$ for self contained RV'ers.  Our next  door neighbors were  snow birds from Manitoba, Canada on their way  north.  Many snow birds in their motor homes are already headed north, making us appear to be swimming against the tide.   All through  southwestern Kansas we noticed individual oil well pumps, here and there among the ranch lands, all pumping.  Well at the price of oil and no relief soon in sight, why not.  although I do wonder, what happens to the oil from these scattered individual wells?  It must be refined, is there a cooperative of sorts where individuals gather to ship oil much like the cooperative grain elevators throughout the Midwest?  Or are these not owned individually as I imagine? What would you do with your own oil well?  Dream on....The next morning before we left I noticed right across the street this oil rig.

Liberal,  Kansas, Oil well
I  recalled westward  history of our country along this route and both Kansas and Missouri are proud of their heritage in settlement of the west along the trails, rivers and byways.  Murals were noticeable in many of the buildings, and I snapped this from the window while we were pulling out of the Wal Mart lots.  This building,  a full city block long makes a dynamite display for the panorama.

Building Mural  Liberal, .KS

Close up of buffalo in same mural above
While Jerry was  driving, I was reading n article about the history of American  RV's in the Family Motor Coach Association's monthly magazine, which also included some photos supplied by an archivist from the RV Museum in Elkhart Indiana.  Wow, I thought that certainly would be an interesting blog post, in particular for Sepia Saturdays if I can copy/scan some of the  first RV's.  "Houses on wheels" was the term used in the early days of Motor home travel.  Fate often fires loose with her funny sense of humor as she did when we were at a rest stop in Arizona.  What should be there but, Joe,  a man from Georgia in his very own self made motor home/trailer.  I have to say I've never seen anything like this.  He was an interesting character and admitted to an affliction of generating  more ideas than fund$; Joe wants to keep traveling the country and he is enjoying himself to the utmost in his own version of towed 5th wheel, he did this all himself and was very proud to share with Jerry.  Certainly unique, don"t you think?  Well it is working for Joe who says it was more important to be mobile and to see the country than to worry about his rougher venue; he was perfectly content to see the USA from his own bus and he was someone who likely has a very interesting life story..
Joe from Georgia moving along westward
This is what we love about taking  the motor  home on a journey, the experiences,  the sights and the very interesting folks we meet along the way.  Well we are in Arizona after a one day stop in another favorite spot, Las Cruces, NM, Sunny Acres RV Park, where we have stayed before. We will return to Sunny Acres on our way home.  It is a small RV Park with a share of interesting characters.  

I never before thought of taking photos of palm trees the 40+ years we lived in CA.    Now deprived of their daily sight, I find it fascinating to look through the fonds.  And I remember the first "miniature" fan palm I purchased to plant alongside our first home in Fair Oaks conversation went something like this and I have to admit to being mislead (notice not wrong) in the purchase.  "Pat, this will get too big.."  "Well it will not!  See the tag says, miniature, it is just perfect for here."  And 5-6 years later it towered up to the roof of the second story.  Eventually it had to come out.   I remain a fan of fan palms!  
 
Sunny Acres RV Park
Las Cruces New Mexico
More later about our Arizona adventures. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Southward in our Southwind for an Excursion and Warmth

I will not be posting my regular Sepia Saturday photos for a few weeks as we load up the motor home to head to Arizona, 80 degree sunshine and warmth.  My winter weary cabin fever ala southern MN, has gotten to me to the extent  that I, who dislike the desert  am so looking forward to the journey.  I anticipate ditching sweaters and jackets and jeans for capris, bermudas,  short sleeves and sandals for which I had a pedicure this week getting my toes ready to bare themselves!  My toes too shouted Hooray proclaiming their readiness to see the sun again after being winter enclosed and covered with socks!
There is a purpose to the trip.....Jerry has discovered another motor home to trade up, the diesel he has been pining for.  Our motor home is perfectly lovely but he wants a diesel, bigger for our intended trips,i.e. Alaska this summer. After all, he claims, ours has 30,000+ miles.....to which I reply, "so what, my car has 36,000 and we are not trading it in anytime soon?"  With our elderly care responsibilities  (my last relative,  PA Uncle Carl, soon to be 93 who said Friday on the phone, "Jerry should get what he wants because life is to enjoy what we have while we can."  Uncle Carl  is quite the philosopher who said we should go, have a good time and send him a postcard or two. And so Jerry felt quite smug.  I've said before, my family everyone, Mom, the aunts and Uncle Carl always favor my husband in any discussion!  It's a plot!  Meantime MIL,  Jerry's dismal 94 year old Mom here in the local SNF is of course not as amenable but managed to nag about what would happen with her laundry while we are gone!  I told her the SNF will do it, as they do for others there, but as she refuses to change clothing she will likely save it up for our return as she  does other times..)   Well, you get the drift, we have not traveled as extensively in the RV as we had planned.  another one of those life things where we plan and the Greater Beyond laughs...  Nevertheless  over these 47+ years I have observed Jerry's actions and determination enough to know that sooner or later he would get what he wanted.   This is why he dares not say a word when I purchase anything as cost of  his purchases have far exceeded the meager amounts of my splurges.   I suppose my philosophy about all of this, if it's to be it will be, a fated approach has once again worked it's truth, because the other deals and motor homes were not to be and  when those did not materialize, Jerry would pout.  Yes, he can and does...


2008 Fleetwood Excursion
 This new motor home is a 2008 Fleetwood Excursion, 40 ft. (ours is only 33 ft., a mini by comparison).  It appears from what we have seen online to have all the features I wanted, 2 recliners in the living area rather than multiple sofas, a table and chairs in the dining area and the flat screen big TV in the galley area, translate that close to the beverages...Here is the description from the dealer:  " This 2008 Fleetwood Excursion is a beautiful diesel pusher with every comfort of home.  Features include: sofa sleeper, ultra leather, rear entertainment center, TV, DVD, satellite dish, satellite radio, power visors, recessed lighting, solid surface counter tops throughout, convection microwave oven, large four door refrigerator with ice, built-in washer/dryer, and central vacuum."

 The interior cabinetry is a bit lighter than I'd have liked;  being quite satisfied with the cherry tone in our current RV, but this looks acceptable.  I do like the splash of red upholstery, and there is another couch for seating for company.  This coach we are told was owned by a couple who seldom used it and then their age overtook them.  That is preferable with amenities more suited to two than a large family mode of travel. Lack of a lower oven  in the kitchen aroused my skepticism, but there is a micro wave and convection oven as we have currently.  But you know once I thought it over, I  have never used the lower oven in our current RV nor in the older one other than for storage. Over 10 years of motor home ownership has not necessitated an oven, so I should not miss that a bit.  We eat differently in the RV and the convection oven meets our needs adequately.   Neither does this model have a dishwasher, an commonly  offered amenity, the former owners opting out.  I never thought I'd say this, but I do not need nor desire a dishwasher in the motor home,  fond as I am of our home dishwasher.  In the RV I am quite used to washing our few dishes now and then and cannot imagine I'd need a dishwasher, preferring the storage cabinet in its place.  We frequently use paper plates too and or eat out. 

Well to my PA girlfriends at  home, Jerry will have something to do--he promised to host  them using his outside kitchen that was in other models but not this one, so he will have to rough it, cooking their meal using our old outdoor grill.  This coach is black, red, white and silver....black and red were our high school colors.  Our Ken Hi 50th reunion is well underway!

Dining area and recliners to the left
Toward the front
Bed Apparently slides are in.
 The photo does  not show room on either side
I wonder about circumstances colliding beyond our sphere of control/belief, serendipity, and that we just might create our life events,  that this could relate to a peculiar happening in 2009 in WY at the Fleetwood RV rally where I took the women's driving school.  There, I had to drive  a 40 foot diesel Excursion!  That was really an experience for me, and though I am glad I did it I cannot say I enjoyed!  The class consisted of primarily driving backwards...I told the instructor that I will go miles around blocks driving my vehicle forward to avoid backing up, it;s just not something I do!  Well her Daddy had been a truck driver and taught her to drive by backing up, saying if you can maneuver backward, you can drive, and anyone can  forward.. Somehow that day with angels on my shoulders and devils in my ears and mouth,  I completed that  "gruelsome" (another of my words)  course only grazing  two rubber barricades  in one back up drill.  The escapade was quite an accomplishment for me!  And so here we look forward to owning a diesel; I had never before driven one...but Jerry I believe must have been a long haul truck driver in another life, as he is so looking forward to this and "more power."


Ahh, well, as  my phobia of  becoming an elderly  bag lady, surfaces with this expenditure, I keep in mind that we gain  less than minimal  interest these days, perhaps a national sales tax looms which will drive up prices, and the only value of  money is to make one's life easier and enjoyable and  help others  along the way....still, it takes a hunk out of savings, that we will not replace in retirement.  We are fortunate that our home is  fully paid for and we have no debt, able to manage well with my pension, Jerry's IRA, and social security.  Still, I see that old bag lady image!  Where does she come from?  She resembles the witch in Hansel and Gretel, a Grimm's fairy tale my Grandma read me in childhood...except that witch had a house and this baglady has a shopping cart!   I really should name her as she has been regularly showing herself to me for a long time whenever we spend $$.  She does some good as she is the reason I saved $$ diligently while working. Perhaps if I give her a name and write a tale about her, she will leave...from the depths of my subconscious and go where she is more welcome!

From another blog, another Californian no less, is it because we  witnessed this daily in the metropolitans(http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/index.php/2007/03/13/help-could-i-have-bag-lady-syndrome/)  " I found out that I actually have a few things in common with these women: Lily Tomlin, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine, Katie Couric, and even the wife of Charles Schwab and Company’s ex-CEO! It may not be what you think, as we don’t share the same fortunes; what it is, in fact, is that we all share money anxieties. These women all admitted to having “bag lady syndrome.” And I’m afraid I might actually have a touch of it as well.  What is “bag lady syndrome” exactly? It’s this irrational fear of not having enough money. That maybe one day we’ll wake up and we won’t have quite enough to feed, clothe ourselves or put something over our heads. Maybe we’ll find ourselves holing up in our cars or even just loitering the streets. I’ll admit I feel this way only sometimes, but why do I feel it at all?" 

That blogger continued, and bingo, there I am...."I don’t think I necessarily have a pronounced case of this, although I am certain that my frugal habits stem from the need to store up, like a squirrel does its nuts, before the winter season hits. What I discovered though, was that despite making fairly good progress with our household’s financial plans and goals, any concerns I was harboring regarding having a “lack of resources” at any point in time may be due to my tendency to anticipate the future a little too dramatically. Because I try to ground myself in reality too much and realize how future changes in our lives can impact our current lifestyle and financial standing, I end up acting like the proverbial hoarding marsupial and have made this a way of life. I also have this terrible habit of catastrophizing too much thus leading myself to adapt certain behaviors that have been both good and bad for our plight. Good, in the sense that our conservative fiscal habits have earned us a stable foundation today, but bad, in the sense that unpleasant and sometimes irrational fears can cloud our decisions and just plain make us miserable."


She will not be able to keep up with us on the road and I cannot see her being welcomed inside.
 Here she is, even upscale with her baby carriage, instead of the normal shopping carts. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Louisa Behrndt Week 64 Sepia Saturday (click here to go to the Sepia site)

Louise Behrndt and William Lemke
 This week I introduce Louise Behrndt, another of Charlie Behrndt's (Jerry's maternal Grandpa) sisters.  Louise  was born November 29, 1876 to Adelbert and Sophia, one of their eight surviving children and the third daughter.  Finding  her gorgeous wedding photo to William Lemke in about 1900  initiated my interesting journey accompanied by email exchanges with a generations times removed cousin of Jerry's whom he does not even know but who found me through Ancestry.com. She shares my passion for genealogy and history, so we have pieced information together and shared photos.  She'd not  seen this wedding photo and I'd not seen the newspaper clipping she had.   

Marriage to William for Louise meant moving over the hills and around the bend to his farm where they worked hard farming the land.  
They had two children William Ezra (1902-1983)  and Aleta, a daughter who died in infancy in 1905.  In 1906, when he was only 35, William was eating supper after working all day in the fields and choked on a prune pit.  The brief newspaper account has some gruesome  detail, along with the misspellings we have come to expect. Not only a sad death but freakish.  The  widow Louisa somehow kept the farm going for a time, likely with help from family, friends and hired hands but then moved back home with her parents.


Copied from Winona Daily Republican June 1906
 
In 1908 Louise  married her second husband,  a widower,  Albert Kletzke.  In my study of these families and this farm area, I note that it was common  for the same family names to reappear.  William Lemke's  ( Louise's first husband)  mother was Bertha Kletzke.  So far as we have been able to determine Albert was a distant cousin to William Lemke.  The life of the farmers centered around their  community  churches for social activities along with threshing and work parties.  So often when a spouse died there would be a distant relative of someone and I imagine the locals thrived on matching together widows and widowers.  

1917, About 1 year old,
 Charlotte
Albert and Louise had one daughter, Charlotte born in 1916.   Although Albert was quite well known in the area, and is mentioned prominently in an old  history of Houston County published in 1919, there are few  photos of  him but we had one, taken in 1923 at the gathering for her parents' golden wedding anniversary.  I've shared the Adelbert Behrndt's here  before, but here are Adelbert and Sophia again at their  50th amid two daughters Frances and Louise.  Albert Kletzke is the large man, with almost  head chopped off standing to the left in the back and Louise is standing on the far right, next to her sister Francis and  behind, her daughter, Charlotte.  There were many photos taken of the sisters and their husbands but I found none of Louise and Albert during this celebration  that lasted the entire weekend at the home farm.  The little girl standing in front to the left, Carol Jean Frey, is the daughter of Frances and her husband Philip who stands in the back between the two sisters.  Carol Jean looks like she is about done with the posing while little Charlotte  seems to be praying she keeps still.  
 

Besides being known as a prosperous farmer  Albert was the president of the small local telephone company and a share holder in the bank that was established in town. He was involved in many community activities and the local history book mentions him as a generous sort.  

 Louise survived Albert Kletzke, who died in 1933.  Here is Louise in 1930 with brother Charlie; she'd have been about 46. Her  once dark hair appears completely white or gray.  Louise lived to be 95, following the longevity of the Behrndts. 

We have an array of photos of Kletzke's daughter Charlotte who died in 1999 at age 82 and who married  Clarence Vanderohoe who died in 1992.  They had four daughters and two sons, some if not all of whom may be alive today.  Some may live in this area; I wonder what they know of their great grandmother Louise?    
Charlotte Kletzke Confirmation
As usual click on the title of this post, to go to the host Sepia Site and see what others have shared this week or what Alan has dug from arcives as our photo find of the week.

Charlie and Sorry
PS Afterthought, when I saw the long horn cattle Alan posted this Saturday I recalled this photo of Charlie Behrndt, with his "Sorry" goat; that was the goat's name after all....you can only imagine how longhorn cattle evoked this photo....

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reminiscing on the reason, season or lifetime

I've been thinking while busily scanning old photos and digging into genealogy research,  recalling  the verse I'd heard long ago about a Reason, Season, Lifetime.  I thought about some people I have known but no longer do, some friends, some professional acquaintances, some family all of whom I no longer have as contacts nor know whether  they are alive or dead.  Professional acquaintances used to be primarily important in my career days, but after retiring most of these fall by the wayside. I can count on both hands, the career acquaintances who remain a part of my life today and  morphed into lifelong friends; to the rest either they or myself have become absolutely irrelevant.  Today with email and Facebook, one would think it all the more easy to maintain contact, but I find it is not so...


And yet, another phenomena,  Facebook has reunited me with long ago friends from school and my old neighborhood of childhood days.  Friends with whom I'd lost connection as our lives diverged and mine away to California from Pennsylvania,  but real friends whom I see on trips to PA; lasting friendships where s a gap of over 35 years is merely another thing to catch up on, those friends with whom I talk and visit just like it was only yesterday. 

 
1992 Judy in PA

 

On the other hand, there are those who have just faded out of my life , like some old photograph.  My stepsister, Judy Degnan Shondeck , Barney's daughter, someone I enjoyed when  we met in adulthood.  Judy remained in contact through Mom's illness and a year after her death, and then nothing.  I tried to reconnect to her with cards but no response.  I recall Judy suffered moodiness, according to Mom, something I recognized as dire depressions; Judy  never recovered from the grief of the tragic death of her 19 year old son, Craig,  in Mexico in 1987, nor the death of her mother to whom she felt very close and I suspect her divorce left a scar too.  Well I know something about grief, but realize  life moves on with or without us, reflecting on Mom's mantra, "life is for the living."   So last fall while in PA I called Judy's son, David, who remembered me and promised to tell his Mom, but still no response.  If you look closely at Judy you can see the pervasive sadness she carries. Lack of contact with Judy, saddens me.  On one trip, Judy drove us to Canonsburg to eat at Sardi's where the ice cream is served with a  delicious candy coating.  Better yet, Canonsburg, the hometown to Perry Como,  is  an antique haven where I found the set of depression ware plates matching the pieces I had from my Grandmother Rose. That was a humorous escapade where despite loud admonitions from Mom and aunt Jinx to me "Don't you buy any junk" I could not resist buying  Amber Rose of Sharon pattern dishes which the proprietor shipped safely  to me in CA.  In 2004, when Mom died Judy was right there.  When we cleaned out Mom's home I gave Judy  many items she wanted; one was my very own poodle circle skirt from teen time and  the white lace dress might have belonged to my Grandmother, but Judy admired it and said she would have it on a mannequin in her home.  I left behind more things for Judy and David including a painting that David remembered as always being on the wall on the couch, the only thing David asked for but decided not to take with him the day they were at the house as he felt they had enough.  Too bad because, although I  left specific instruction that the items were for Judy and David, they never got them.  After I left PA and my greedy ex-half brother took over. I was not the only one he cheated on that estate.  Perhaps this upset Judy but the last time we talked in 2005 she'd  had forgotten all about it.  The Christmas cards stopped and then all contact, so that she is a memory today.

Roberta and Charlie Valla 2001
In California I lost and mourned  my best friend, Roberta Valla, a true friend I met in 1975 at work,  who died unexpectedly and suddenly in  2002, too soon after she'd retired.  I could  write a chapter in my book about Roberta and maybe I'll get to that someday, but she's not the one that vanished although she is not on this earth. To each other, we were the sisters that neither of us ever had.  I spoke her eulogy at her funeral and her husband, Charlie presented me with the crucifix from her coffin at the gravesite.  After the funeral Charlie insisted I visit their home in Vacaville where to my amazement he'd laid out on the table all of Roberta's valuable jewelry which he said was for me.  They'd  never had children and there was "no one else" no relatives and Charlie assured me  Roberta wanted me to have all  this warning him to give me the entire lot.  I think about her every time I wear a piece;  one black hills gold necklace in particular is my favorite as she wore it the last time we had lunch.   True to Roberta she had these in an old brown cardboard raggedy box amongst rags, where she was certain a burglar would never look if their home was ever broken into.  We remained  in touch with Charlie and he'd visited us in Newcastle.  Then suddenly mysteriously contact stopped; he changed their unlisted phone number.  Cards and letters I sent were not returned so I suspect they were delivered  and that he still lived there.  I wondered if one of the church widow women who had their eye on Charlie, immediately after Roberta's passing had not snagged him; he'd have been in his mid to late 60's and so a catch for some single woman.  Still, I find it odd that Charlie would drop all contact and I wonder if he survived or became ill.  Odd to hear nothing. 


Debbie Erickson was a close friend in CA through commutes to Sacramento, Rose Society and teatimes.  Debbie was a "spinster" (if you knew her you'd agree she epitomized that  old fashioned term and in fact was something of an anachronism in dress and lifestyle)  and lived with her parents on the family farm  in Penryn where she enjoyed her horses and mules on her off hours as well as growing beautiful roses.  We did a lot together, Auburn season symphony tickets, tea times, antiquing, or thrifting.   It was great to have Debbie in for tea where I could make dainty sandwiches and my favorite butternut squash soup, which Jerry disdained but Debbie and I enjoyed.   Debbie especially was fond of Jerry who was the only person she trusted for maintenance on her big chevy truck that was an essential to haul the horse trailer.  We began to lose touch when she went to the train to commute and I remained with the van and then went to the bus.  She did know we were moving to MN and promised to take the train to visit sometime.  I last heard from her Christmas, 2005 but then all contact stopped, vanished gone.  I learned when I was in CA in 2008 that her mother had died, that might have affected her badly as they were very close.  She was several years younger than me and would not have yet retired.  The phone number I had has changed, none listed and not a clue as to what happened.  She had two brothers living in CA, one a highway patrol officer and the other worked for a state tax agency. I don't think I even have a photo of Debbie.

 
Sharon Mikus in our motor home in 2008
There's my 2nd cousin, Sharon who found me in about 2000 online when we lived in CA, as the previously unknown link to the family of her father, an Ostrowski, and people she never knew.  Sharon and her husband Joe Mikus  live in PA and we'd always visit on our trips there. Joe visited us first in Newcastle, Ca when he came out to see his brother in the area.   But in 2009 she stopped returning phone calls and  has not responded to cards, calls, emails, nothing.  I know she receives them and the e-card sent on her birthday was opened, so?   

 
I hope all these people are well and happy.  There are a few  others and maybe someone thinks this about me, why did she stop responding, though  I doubt that because I am known to say "wat's up."  If I dwelt on this and had not thought of the Reason and Season philosophy I might begin to wonder if I'd done something offensive but I'm reasonably confident I have not and so I can just let it go.  Still for some reason these thoughts  surface and so what better way to let them meander than here on my blog. This is not about those who die but those who fade off.  Do you have any relationships like this?  Meantime, I am grateful for Lifetimers,  recent and long timers.  

  
                                   Reason, Season or Lifetime   by    Author Unknown

  • People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

  • When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

 
  •  When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

 
  • LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

 
  •   It was never easy, and it didn’t get easier as time went by. There may have been tears, followed by sadness, and sometimes just a deep feeling of loneliness. You keep in contact for awhile and then one day one of you just stops writing. There was no fight, no reason, you both just stopped. I learned that friends come and go, and your life goes on