Saturday, April 30, 2016

Short attention span

Oh look out, trouble ahead for the likes of me.  I have always been fidgety, I guess today they would diagnose me with Attention Deficit Disorder.  My relatives lovingly referred to it as having ants in my pants, I fidgeted, especially when in church--mass was in Latin or Polish, and a child like me paid little attention, sitting still and absorbing was not something I practiced. Back then my grandma never would have thought of bringing along a book to distract me or a toy, no sirree, I was to be at mass and that was that.  

Today, I can get easily distracted, for example when I set out to tackle a domestic chore and navigate to the computer, or even my tablet, checking Facebook or any number of things. Or when I am trying to sort out old photos, discarding most because why keep them?  I find I can begin to browse, thinking about when this or that happened.  Pretty soon hours have gone by and I have accomplished little outside my head.  This was supposed to be a project for me this winter when we did not snowbird, I would sort out the room wide mess I have downstairs to discard old photos.  I have made very minimal progress.  Fortunately this room is downstairs and not needed so not used and that allows me to keep the mess out.  I used to search for photos for something on Ancestry, to post or whatever so I began to just leave them spread out, why have to pack away and unpack.  So there is the mess.  

Just today I was catching up waiting for a load of laundry to finish and went on to reading on the Elderly Blog,

There was a comment about attention spans growing shorter, that a gold fish has a longer attention span.  Wow!  One of my bosses once told me I had the attention span of a cocker spaniel, which had me bust out in laughter, but he was right.  It served me well in career days, multi tasking worked to my benefit then.  Not so much today, I start and can wander off elsewhere especially if the task I began is not appealing to me. Here's the blog writer's comments:

 "The Telegraph reported earlier this year:
"According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.

"Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.

"The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.

"Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds."
Did you get that? Goldfish for god's sake"

 Reading this statistic and relating because I enjoy using my smart phone or tablet and posting fast to Facebook, I could see trouble ahead.  For someone like me, with a life history of attention span shortages, what is next?  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy birthday Granpap

1945  Teofil
While doing some of the never ending work on I noticed that today is my maternal grandfather's 129th birthday.  Teofil Kochanowski, whom I called Pap because my Mom & aunt did and Granpap, was born in Zarsyn Austria, now Poland in 1887.  Yes, he was a character who spent most all his life as a coal miner after immigrating to this country in 1904.  I remember some of his stories about stealing a cow from a farmer to sell to get passage to this country. He told me many times how he regretted that he never repaid that farmer for his cow and "so never steal no matter what, Paruhka."  He always called me the Polish for Patricia, Paruhka, I am unsure of the spelling. I would tell him after I received my first holy communion and learned about confession that if he would just go to confession he would feel better about it.  He would laugh and tell me, "yes, I did that years ago.  I did my penance, but I still regret.  That man worked for his farm and it was not right of me to steal that cow."

 I look over his naturalization papers, and notice the statements he signed, "I am not an anarchist."  But I suppose he might have been considered a criminal, a thief back in the old country.  So today when we have yet more concerns, rightfully so, about immigrants and who should come into our country, who should not, on and on, I think of my own Granpap.  He was so very proud of his citizenship.  Mom told me how they as kids teased Granpap while he would be practicing for his citizenship test and he would get very angry with them. He told them it was so very important and they did not know how lucky they were to be born here.  "Don't you never laugh about me."  Three of my grandparents were immigrants and the fourth, my maternal grandmother born to immigrant parents.  In a way this makes me ever sympathetic to those who wish o migrate here.  But yet, do it the right way and for heaven's sake, do not get charity the moment you enter the country.  It was a different time,  workers, laborers were needed in the mines, the factories.  Yet today, many of the immigrants provide labor for jobs that Americans will not do.  Maybe things are not so very different as they seem.  What worked then doesn't now?  Why

Teofil told me how he rode the rails as a young guy, hobo style, looking for work.  All his life he kept that soft spot for hobos and  I remember my grandparents would give them a meal.  I have written some  stories about Granpap elsewhere on this blog, I wish I had someone today to talk to about the missing links in that family. 
1954 Charles Krolicki visits Rose & Teofil

 He had a half or step  brother, Charles,  who lived near Chicago, but the brother's last name was Krolicki. It could have been through a series of misspellings and immigration and census takers, who knows why the names  differed.   I do not remember him at all and yet I have a photo of when he visited my grandparents sitting in their living room.  Because I spent more of my time with them than at my own home, I am surprised I did not know about Charles' visit.  Some research on Ancestry has been helpful but so many unanswered questions.  Then again, what difference does it make, the line stops here with me and so will the stories.  I guess that is why I take them to the blog, someday, somewhere out  and off this cyberspace, someone might be researching years from now.  Who knows.  

For today, though, Happy birthday, Granpap. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The weight of the world lifted and the sun shone even brighter.

The last few years in particular, well OK for about 9 years now, I have seriously pondered returning to the religion and faith of my raising, the Catholic church.  Oh one thing and another always had me putting it off.  I admit, I was so very worried about what the priest might say to me, I am married to a non-Catholic for it will be 49 years this October.  Jerry is not a church goer and he has listened to me ponder and wonder over the years.  He has said so many times,  "well just go find out already".  It was as Father shared in our talk, "like avoiding a dentist until you have a major toothache and then you imagine they will have to pull all your teeth, you will need dentures, you will suffer....we build things up in our mind and imagine the very worst situation.  

On this blog previously, October 10, 2011  at this link, I wrote about my  anxiety.  What to do?  So this has not been a spur of the moment decision.  Not just a whim.  Indeed I have wondered and wandered over this for so long, stewing would be a good description.;postID=8113700771898186590;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=7;src=postname

And so it has dragged on and on.  I have not attended the former UMC here in town for almost a year now.  I just could not abide going to church and encountering myself in the midst of a community center gathering.  I missed the liturgy.  So I started going to mass routinely not just on the days I always attend like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc.  So in this Year of Jubilee, so proclaimed by Pope Francis, a man for whom I have deep admiration I finally did it.   

Yesterday two weeks  after running into Father Havel at a cousin's bedside, a cousin on Jerry's side who is awaiting death in a local nursing home, I had an appointment to go talk with the priest privately.  I waited a week to make the appointment and then talked to myself once again, "well wait until next week,  maybe later,"  The doubting voice began to intimidate me. And time can continue.  In the nursing home hallway I told Father that I am a very lapsed Catholic and needed to talk.  He assured me, "when you are ready, just call, anytime."  I quickly told him how unsure I was and that I had been attending mass for sometime, but still.   I could hear my grandma Rose's voice laughing at me as she said so long ago, "Don't talk crazy, Patty.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic.  You don't just decide you are not."  Father smiled knowingly.  Indulgently, he assured me, "there is nothing that cannot be fixed, Just  come talk to me when you are ready."

Yesterday was my day!  After  our long discussion and his listening to how I thought I was doing well enough but that I missed taking communion.  When I attend mass, I  always hang back and do not go forward, although I also shared that there have been times at funerals for loved ones where the priests and Monsignors have told me to partake.  I told him about my Grandma again and he laughed.  I told him about my late friend Roberta who tried to encourage my return fully to the faith on our attendance at mass in CA, how her  husband tried to facilitate the process with me with their Irish priest, Father O'Brien.  How many times I avoided, wondering, after all I had been lapsed for so long.  

He listened patiently to my stories, my trials, my struggles, he answered my questions (I had many), he counseled me with some scripture and offered that I might consider taking some of their ongoing faith classes.  He asked me, "who told you that you are no longer Catholic?"  I stammered, "uh, I guess myself."    He shared how when he meets with an ecumenical group and the Protestant  pastors discuss their church rolls and  rules and when someone is no longer a member of their church he is amazed.  They ask him what he does and he said, "nothing.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic." 

 I opened my mouth and he smiled, "yes, your grandmother was right.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic."  He asked me if I thought I was excommunicated?  I stammered again, "well I haven't been faithful, ah  um,uh  but..."  He laughed and  admitted to teasing me, then asked me if I was ready for Reconciliation.  My mouth fell open again, "Right now?  Right here?"  He said, "yes, here now unless you are not ready."  So with my continued  amazement, we  proceeded.  My following his words, my Act of Contrition and Confession( my first  in about 40+ years).  I felt tears of relief.  I will not go into detail for my own privacy, but when it was all over I beamed and could only say , "WOW."  Why had I waited so long?  

I had read online about Catholics returning: "If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invites you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too."

I share here that I have never felt lighter, better. I couldn't stop smiling.  So much was lifted, I never appreciated confession more ever.  I never felt better, more blessed even though I have been blessed many times. Such glorious feeling, nothing ever compared.   Not even when following my heart attack a year ago, the  cardiologist told me I would need no surgery, treatment, etc because there was no damage to my heart and that my guardian angels came through.  I truly felt lifted, blessed, so relieved, so happy that I can now fully participate and receive communion.  I fairly floated home as I had walked up town for the meeting.  I am still in amazement today.  I know my Grandma is smiling from Heaven with my late friend Roberta. 

I will write more later sometime but I wanted to be sure to document and share this day. Yesterday will always be another birthday for me, my true home coming. And Saturday when I attend mass I will be receiving communion!  Thank you Father!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Warm weather abounds

Front shrubs, snowball tree, barberries trimmed thanks to Lucas 
We have turned the corner into a lovely spring, it's been in the 80's all weekend, perfect for me although some days it  felt a bit too warm too fast, but I am not complaining.  The sun's rays here in unfiltered clean skies of MN do tend to scorch me a little,  despite sunblock, then again I prefer a  little coloring to pale winter white skin.  It's time for shorts, tanks, sandals, my kind of weather. 

   I  spent most of Friday, Saturday working outside, clearing the rose beds of winter mulch and  trimming and clipping. We were able to hire someone from a Landscaping service to trim some of the shrubs and I was very pleased with Lucas'  work which saved me a couple days, well worth the $$ spent.  With his power equipment he was done in less than an hour, I was in awe.  
Apple Jack Rose bush is already filling out with leaves
As I do each year once I start, I cannot quit, so I overdid it and by Sunday I decided my bones needed a break that they were demanding.  Despite weight toning that I do twice weekly at the Y,  those long  hours of gardening labor had my body protesting with vehemence.  Cartloads of mulch, at 50 some gallons a load up and down the hill to our side  dumping ground, back and forth in addition to the trimming and pulling are a way to add a nice few miles and  over 6000 steps to my GearFit measuring watch.  

One small pile of limbs to drag up the hill to shredder
On Thursday  I spent a good hour and half dragging huge downed tree limbs to where Jerry was operating the shredder,  making wood chips for the garden beds. He had done some serious pole trimming but left  the big limbs laying there.  No one took them over night, so, that was another project the next day.    It was easy to give in to my body and bones that yelled out, "would you  puleeze stop for a day" by Sunday morning  

 I love this outside physical work, the smells and the ground and am thankful I can do it, but I suppose I could learn the art of pacing myself. Still one of my cousin's reminded me that as her mom, my aunt said, "If you do your own housework and yard work, you will be strong, healthy and never need to go to a gym."  I do though maintain my Y membership and  spend my quality time there, zumba, weights, toning, yoga, then I come home and hit the grounds for free workouts.  

Clear blue MN skies  above our tall pines out back
It's the most wonderful time of the year and love especially the grilling that is underway on the back deck.It keeps  Jerry busy too making good use of that gas grill.  .    As always more detail as it happens on Facebook, look for me there. 
Grill Master at it, side table hold his Busch,
 which is not for pouring on the burgers these were the first this year, winners.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

RIP Sandy

Me with Sandy October 14, 2015
My heart tore off another piece of itself yesterday, after Jennie's phone call, "I have sad news."  My reply, "Yes, I have been expecting this."  My last very close friend in California died Friday evening, April 8.  She had not been well for years. I am thankful we were able to visit for a bit when we were in CA in October.  This picture is me with Sandy at her home in Woodland.  As we left to drive back to  our motor home I told Jerry, "She's not going to last long.  I will never see her alive again."  He agreed.  And yet, she looked better than I was expecting, but I knew in my heart where we know beyond doubt. 
She was 78 years old if I am correct and had she made lifestyle changes years ago along the way, I would not be writing this today.  

 In our lives, we meet many people, some we call friends but those who really become friends take time to grow the relationships from acquaintance into full "framily", my word for those closer than family to me, very dear friends.    These are the rare ones  of life.  Once I was blessed with 3 now there is only me.  She was a sister I never had. 

Sandy was never one I could have foreseen becoming so close to.  I met her at the CA State Employment Development Department (EDD)  in career days,  in 1991 when I was managing the establishment of a group to guide quality improvement through the entire behemoth organization.  We were interviewing candidates to work with on a team that would be known as Leading the Quality Team.  That effort would take multiple pages to explain, suffice that it was new and daring, in an overly bureaucratic traditional state agency as was EDD.  In came our next candidate, a white haired "old lady" I thought, when I first saw Sandy who was only 6 years older than me, but she had lived hard and large and was a devoted EDD staff person venturing up  from one of their field offices into headquarters.  It was not a typical interview because we wanted extra ordinary staff.  Sandy blew us away with her demonstration removing any doubt I had that she had the stuff to "train" and present to management above her pay level.  We hired her and that began in what I never expected to happen, the growth of a deep friendship for the rest of our lives.  

Here is just a bit  from a letter I wrote to surprise her on her embracing the faith and taking the Walk to Emmaus in 2007, I frequently think of all the spiritual activities that you are now so fully embracing and am more than amazed.  Sometimes I feel like a proud mama.  Sometimes I feel like a teacher whose student has far surpassed expectations.  Sometimes I feel like I helped create a Frankenstein!   But overall I am so thankful that God placed me in your life or you in my life.  What a joy to have played a small part in your journey back to the God who never left you even when you didn’t pay much attention to Him!  From your joining the Woodland church to your studies and your Emmaus walk, you are growing in faith and learning more and more about our amazing God and Jesus.     

I recall that white haired lady who had the nerve to interview to be a facilitator back those many years ago at EDD. (Well that’s the note I made on my interview sheet “white haired lady” to distinguish you from the rest!  Back then I thought I might not remember you from the rest of the crowd!)  Little did I suspect that through many years, miles, tears and smiles you would become a dearest friend, an extra ordinary link in my life.  It’s been a long time since ’91. 

I recall that same white haired lady who took her sewing machine along to Santa Rosa training; I thought that was an odd thing to bring. For me who was far more interested in clothes and matching shoes with outfits I couldn’t imagine what would a person do with a sewing machine and how/why carry such a thing around?  Little did I know then of your passion for art and quilting.  I learned how you would retreat within yourself while stitching away and recharge your spirit. 

 Sandy "found religion" at my and her sister, Jennie's example as Methodists", and then Sandy became almost addicted to that for years taking every class she could, questioning and researching.  We were friends through thick and thin, past retirement which she began and enjoyed ahead of me, and with me in the tragedy of my life, the loss of our son Steve, with me even though we moved from CA to MN.  We talked on the phone almost daily for years. She  thought she would come to visit us for several weeks, I would take her around this area to different quilt shops,  and she would take in the Midwest,  but that never happened, her illnesses began to prohibit any travel, it became a pipe dream.

Sandy was an accomplished
Our "Salute of Roses" quilt by Sandy.  
artistic quilter  beyond excellence and  adored fabrics and working them into designs.  We have a beautiful handmade quilt on an antique bed.  It is a true interstate quilt, she worked on it in Woodland, CA, her renowned quilter friend in Washington designed the templates for her,  I sent her fabric from Wisconsin, she ordered fabric and batting from Paducah, Kentucky and it graces this patriotic bedroom on an antique sleigh bed in our home in MN today.  Sandy set about making this quilt when she knew I would inherit that bed and it was the last quilt she would make, as illnesses brought frailties to her.  It took over 2 years from the idea to the finality.  Here is  an excerpt from Sandy's documentation letter to me in 2010 upon its completion:  
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:11:31 EDT
Subject: Quilt related Info
Finally here is the letter I had penciled out on the 22nd!!!!!
Dear Pat, Well, the label is on. I had asked my friend Joan Mack in Sequim, WA( Sn award winning quilter and use to be neighbor) to make the label and her equipment couldn't do it, so she asked her friend in Seattle, WA to make it! Walla, a label was born! Just another wonderful reward of having friends during this earthly journey.
 As you know "Salute of Roses" went in to the big floor frame for hand quilting in March, 2008 after several months of searching for the perfect fabrics. It was the beginning of a new journey I was super excited to start. Since we had decided the fabrics were perfect via snail mail and telephone from CA to MN I prayed for perfection of my hands and needles.

But this is not about the quilt which could consume this posting, instead, I am saying farewell to my friend, Sandy.  As she  began to fail and suffered through hospitalizations and nursing home stays her world got  smaller and smaller.  She  spent her last few years rather confined to her home and was on oxygen 24/7.  The last year I noticed her dementia that she joked about was increasing, she repeated herself more and more she didn't remember.  I worried about her living alone, although she had an adult son who lived in what had been a garage and then her quilt  studio, under the guise of helping her, but how much help is a 50+ year old dependent unemployed. That is another tragic tale, his alcoholism, rehabilitation and  continued slip back into addiction and Sandy's enabling of the situation.  
Sandy 2010

In better days, Sandy had a bit of latent Phyllis Diller in her, the same coarse laughter, a consistent positive trait diffusing a remark with humor sometimes to the point of the macabre, Sandy enjoyed my writing and nagged me beyond belief to publish, it was her way to encourage, to nag.  She especially was fond on my blog and one reason why I started writing here. She scolded me for not keeping it up but I have substituted physical activity. 

I knew the time was coming but not when.  Her last bout with pneumonia would hospitalize her and then send her to the nursing home. This time like her other  SNF times I was sure she would not get out.  But she would prove me wrong, she would eventually return to her home and her isolation, if only briefly.  As she refused to eat she weighed only 86 pounds when she died, significantly less than her 130's pounds in her prime.  She refused therapy.  She  went back  again to smoking heavily on her porch.    I close with one last picture of Sandy from 2010, far better days in her life on this earth.  

Goodbye 'old friend, see you someday on the flip side.Later, much later, who knows?.