Monday, July 23, 2018
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White Water Rafting close to Jaco Beach Costa Rica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) My Mom got serious about being adventurous when she turned 70. A friend, who could not use a ticket to go parasailing off a beach in Mexico, offered Mom the ticket. She took it. There was a ticket for Dad, too, but he declined. Mom mocked him, “They don’t kill tourists.” And, we have a photo of her, carefree, floating through the clear blue sky over the water off Mexico. Dad, telling on himself, shamefacedly told friends back home about the adventure, and never let Mom go off on adventures alone again. She went... (Read More ...)

They read like the 1930s relics they are. They are tiny little booklets, tasseled and corded so women could tie them to their wrists, with numbered lines so dance partners could sign up for the dances they wanted when they asked permission to sign a girl’s dance card.  Photo of a dance card from a June 26, 1899 dance hosted by the Sphinx Senior Society at Dartmouth College (Photo credit: Wikipedia) These are from my Mother’s college scrapbook. None had the numbered lines filled in. All were reserved for and signed by her date of the evening. Fifth Annual University of Michigan Union Formal Friday,... (Read More ...)

It was the first time I was going to meet my boyfriend’s extended family. Vintage Saks Fifth Avenue Powder Compact, H. Liebes, Portland Oregon (Photo credit: France1978) We had been dating 11 months, together at Michigan State for the first four, then from a distance. I’d met his parents and sisters nine months before. I’d decided to transfer schools to be near where he’d gotten a job after graduation, Washington, DC. But, this was between the end of fall quarter and the beginning of second semester, so I was still staying with my parents in Macon, Georgia, where they’d moved from Texas... (Read More ...)

My father was adamant about not getting our live Christmas tree until the weekend before Christmas. Christmas tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia) As an adult, I can understand the fear of dried pine needles and fire. But, as a kid, most of my friends had theirs weeks before Christmas. My Dad grew up in Schenectady, New York. My Mom grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Until I was 11, I grew up in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. We understood live trees. The only time this ritual changed was if the timing just wasn’t right. Say, Christmas fell on a Saturday or Sunday or even Monday. If we waited until the weekend... (Read More ...)

My mother, born April 14, 1917, came of age during the Great Depression, raised by a single Mom of two kids. Colorful bars of soap on white towel (Photo credit: Horia Varlan) She was 12 when the Stock Market Crash hit, starting with “Black Tuesday” on October 24, 1929. My grandmother, Geraldine Stuart Notley, a graduate of the University of Kansas, had a good job as Principal of the in-hospital school for children at the University of Michigan’s medical center when they had prolonged stays that required schooling in the hospital so they wouldn’t fall too far behind. And, as my mother pointed... (Read More ...)

My Mom had had a stroke three months before. Bathroom remodel – tub (Photo credit: lavenderstreak) After six weeks in the hospital and six weeks in a rehabilitation hospital/nursing home, she had come to live with us. My husband joked that he got his mother-in-law for Valentine’s Day. Yet, he was the one who had noticed, when we were looking for a new house the year before, that the one we ultimately chose had a mother-in-law suite. “We have three parents in their eighties,” he told me. “It is likely one of them will come to live with us.” As it happened, both my in-laws stayed... (Read More ...)

Diagram of where to put smoke alarms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I told my father that we had been burned out of our apartment by a fire next door. It was the 1970s. When the fire in my apartment building started in our next door neighbor’s apartment, there were no smoke alarms yet. A downstairs neighbor, who couldn’t sleep, noticed the smoke coming out of our next door neighbor’s door and, fearing we wouldn’t hear her bang on our front door in the middle of the night, called us to alert us to get out. Firemen, from a fire station less than a block away, banged on every door... (Read More ...)

My mother was the older child, the only daughter of a single Mom. Group portrait of students around snow-covered school building–the children are standing on the roof, on snow banks, and in snow troughs. Valdez, Alaska. Circa 1910 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) She and my Dad married in the garden of the Women’s League at the University of Michigan, where they’d met. My Mom, Elizabeth Frederick, neé Notley, born in 1917, known all her life as Betty, had signed up to be a dance teacher, as a Sophomore, to meet guys. My Dad, Raymond Frederick, Junior, born in 1918, known as Ray after he left... (Read More ...)

It’s actually not a teapot. It’s a coffee pot. Mary Cassatt’s painting of two ladies drinking tea in a room with red-blue striped wallpapers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It’s part of a silver tea service my mother gave me when she was downsizing from a house to an apartment. She gave me her dining room cabinet and everything in it. The silver tea service includes a pot for serving tea, one for coffee, silver sugar and creamer and a silver tray to hold them all. At one time, when she won a trip to Mexico City, she found a perfectly beautiful, contemporary tea service that I thought she... (Read More ...)

In Iowa, where I lived in elementary school, we had Bluebirds and Campfire Girls instead of Brownies and Girl Scouts. Camp Fire Stamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Camp Fire Girls, now Camp Fire, was founded on March 17, 1912, by Dr. Luther Gulick and his wife, Charlotte, on Sebago Lake, Maine. It began in 1910, after girls in Thatford, Vermont watched preparations for the Boy Scouts’ 150th anniversary and were promised by the organizer that there would be a national organization for them as well. The Gulicks took up the challenge. They had opened Camp WoHeLo for girls on Lake Sebago in 1907. In... (Read More ...)