Monday, January 27, 2014

Still Shivering

I know everyone is sick of hearing about the weather, but, darn I could sure use some time on a tropical beach about now. Will I ever stop needing to add more layers to stay warm? 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Image: Melanie_Hughes via Flickr.
Do you have a lucky number?  Is there one certain number that seems to be more prevalent in your life or the history of your family?

There certainly is in mine.  That number is “seven.”  Here is how it plays out:

My material grandfather was the seventh son of a seventh son.  You are probably aware of the once widely held belief that the seventh son of a seventh son was endowed with notable talents and supernatural powers. This belief persisted through the Middle Ages into the late nineteenth century when my grandfather was born.  Well, I’m here to tell you the only special powers my grandfather had, according to the family stories I heard, was that of being a ladies man and mean as a stepped on snake. 

My mother and father were both one of seven children. 

My mother was the baby of her family so she was the seventh child of the seventh son of the seventh son.

My mother and father each had one sibling with seven children.

My mother had six children in seven years, and then five years later the seventh child was born (making him the seventh child of the seventh child of the seventh son of the seventh son).  That brother was the first of the last seven children to be born for a total of thirteen. 

I am the oldest child and my first sister is seven years younger then I am.

I have nine brothers and seven are married so I have seven sisters-in-law.

Oh, and did I mention that I was born on July 7th.  Or seven-seven.

So why isn’t seven my lucky number? 


Why is it that ……?

Why is it that ……?

  •  with all the area of a  freshly made king size bed to choose from -- the cat has to choose the one spot where you laid out the clean jeans you were going to put on after getting out of the shower.
  • hubby leaves for a weekend visit with his brother and after seeing him out the door it takes you 45 minutes to clean up the messes he left behind.  
  • after looking forward to having a weekend home alone for weeks.  The time comes and suddenly every person you know chooses that weekend to need your help with something. 
 Now I'm wishing I had gone to the BIL's with my hubby.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kranky Me

 When I setup this blog, I had several names in mind all of which were not available.  I was stumped, then suddenly “Kranky Granny”  just popped into my head.  No idea why.  But I have to admit that it's rapidly becoming the truth. 

Lately, it seems that no matter what I do or where I go something has to disrupt my peace of mind, wear on my nerves, make me wish I could give someone a good tongue lashing or a nice wallop upside their head.  I am certainly becoming a cranky old lady.  

Here are just a few of the things that made me cranky this week:
  • Why is it that almost every TV program I  watch has the background music so loud that I have trouble hearing the dialog? 
  • Don’t they train cashiers anymore? I don’t like having my items tossed willy-nilly in the sacks. Cold items should be together, chemicals not mixed with food, bottles stood right-side up and not lying on their side, clothes should be somewhat folded, bags should be weight balanced and able to stand upright.  Is that asking too much?  
  • Why must my phone always stop ringing the moment I finally get it fished out of my pocket or purse? 
  • Twice a year the city mails out notices with the rules for our weekly trash collection.  Why do I have to live near the one person who refuses to obey those rules and blocks my mailbox, every single day, with his rubbish?
  • Am I the only person who never gets the right order when using the drive-thru at my favorite fast food restaurant?  
Then perhaps I have no reason to complain.  At least, I didn't have a porcupine fall off a lamp-post onto my head like this poor Brazilian woman leaving her with 272 quills in her scalp.   

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sipping wine at the Grocery Store.

photo from the web, source unknown
For the last several days the St. Louis news programs have been full of stories about a new grocery store that just opened in one of the historic city neighborhoods. Newsworthy partly because it is the only grocery in that once blighted but up and coming area.  And, partly because it's a one of a kind concept store designed, financed and built by locals. They have even said this store will draw crowds of suburbanites back into the city to shop there. 

I think the most newsworthy fact about this store is their plan to use local farmers and vendors first and foremost. However, the news media keep emphasizing the 15 seat wine bar, the shopping carts with wine glass holders and the personal shoppers.  A customer can take a glass of wine along as they push their cart up and down the aisles or they can sit in the wine bar and have a glass of Chardonnay or a pilsner while a personal shopper fills their shopping list.  

I think the news programs have distorted the image of this innovative store by not emphasizing the locally grown fresh produce and other local products this store is seeking out.  That is what would draw me into the city. I believe in shopping locally when possible. If their prices are at least moderately competitive I would when near the city go out of my way to get fresh local items.  Instead, we get the idea that wine and beer drinkers can go relax and drink while a clerk collects their items.  

I would hate to think about a mom getting her groceries there and then driving to a school to pick up her kids after consuming two or three glasses of wine. If that mom had gone to a nice cafe or a pub with friends she would be more aware of the need to watch her drinking or have a driver.  With the environment of a grocery store and the time of day, that same mom could overdo without realizing it. How long will it be before these same news stations are reporting on the increase in the number of DUI's collected by patrons of this new grocery  store?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Decision to have the last Word

About three years ago when I first started having unexplained health issues I began seriously looking for answers. When a visit to my Internist did not seem to be going in the right direction I made the rounds of several specialists in different fields.  Those visits started me on the medical merry-go-round that I am still riding to this day.  It seemed that each doctor added some new ailment to my list of complaints along with at least one new pill to shallow. 

One day my husband and I were sitting in the exam room of a young Indian pulmonologist waiting for the results of tests done the week before.  Truthfully, we were not prepared for what followed.  This young doctor had certainly not had time to hone his bedside manner because, he stepped inside the room, shut the door and turned to look in my direction and bluntly said the words that will be forever etched in my memory, and I quote verbatim "Your test proved exactly what I expected.  You have Pulmonary Fibrosis.  You will be on oxygen within a year and dead in five."

The very next week after having surgery to remove a lump from my neck another doctor used that same cold detached delivery to inform me that the biopsy revealed my tumor was malignant and I was being referred to an Oncologist. 

I am not writing this to enlist sympathy.  I am simply stating what happened, because, these events were the catalyst to my deciding to write.  I felt I could not wait to find out if that lung doctor's prediction of my life expectancy was  correct. I just knew I had to have my final say.

Could I actually write a book and finish it in less than five years?  I still do not have the answer to that question.  I have tried to spend a few minutes of each day working on this book of mine.  During fourteen months of chemo and radiation treatments I couldn't even get my mind around writing a simple sentence or short post for my blog much less anything more.  Once my treatments ended I tried to return to blogging thinking then surely the book would start to take shape. That didn't happen.  Then I was told the cancer had returned and another year went by with no blogging and little progress on the book.  

I recently decided I had to start blogging so that I could get my brain back in gear and the book on track.  That is when I started this new blog.  I wanted to do something anonymous so that I would not have to answer to friends and family or worry about disappointing anyone.  Yesterday, I realized I could possibly use this venue as a way of getting feedback that would help to further my efforts. 

The book I'm trying to write is not a work of fiction.  It is my life story told as I remember living it. I felt that I had to set my life story to paper for no other reason than to have my voice heard by the members of my family, assuming they bother to read it.  I have always felt like an outsider in my family.  I have even written on my blog about my feelings of being invisible unless someone needs my help with something.  

It may be a bad move but I intend to leave a copy of my book to each family member in my will.  The chips will have to fall as they will but I will have the satisfaction of saying my peace.  There are some among my family members who will swear on the Bible that some of the events I write about never happened.  A few will tell you I can’t help but exaggerate or embellish and everything I say should be taken with a dozen grains of salt.  However, there are some of my siblings closer to me in age, who would I'm sure, willingly add their stories to mine and even I would be shocked by how much of our shared lives I was completely unaware of, or perhaps still simply refuse to remember. 

I thought I had done a decent job of burying most of my past life, and my unpleasant dreams until I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.  Then, all my demons returned.  Undoubtedly caused by the emotional strain the cancer treatments put on both my body and my marriage.  I hope by writing this book I will, once and for all, merge the events of my dreams into the Swiss cheese holes in my conscious memory; thereby banishing the fitful and sometimes nightmarish dreams that still haunt my sleep.

I plan to share bits and pieces from this book here but, I am a coward where conflict is concerned so I will give my real life characters fictitious names occasionally.  It is the only way I can be assured the feelings of the person I have written about will be protected and that I will not find myself in a courtroom or banished from all future family functions.    Any resemblance the names I have chosen for my characters have to any living person is purely by chance.  I assure you I have no memory of ever having met anyone that shares these names.

Now for my first installment.       

At the time of my birth my father was among the many returning WWII veterans who were lost in a sea of men looking for work.  My father’s chauvinism kept my mother from looking for work. She has not worked outside our family since marrying my father.  Lack of work forced us to live with my father’s sister Cecelia and her family in an old dilapidated farmhouse in rural St. Clair County, in Illinois. 

During WWII my father served as a Navy cook on troop ships and had one of the most popular pin-up posters of the time hanging in his galley.   He said that poster is what got him through the war in one piece, so he named me after, the actress in that poster.  A Google check of the top one hundred most popular names of 1946 has my name listed as number fifty-nine. I find that hard to believe.  I never met anyone else with my name until I had been in the workforce of a large retail chain for several years and a customer came through my checkout lane.  Since, then I have only met about eighteen others and all but two were much older than me, one was a small child who was named for her mother’s favorite aunt.  Truthfully, I have never liked my name.  It somehow does not fit how I see myself.  I have always wished that my father had chosen something less glamorous and since a very young age have thought of myself as “Betty.”     

Knight, was our surname. We will get into my ancestry and family history a little later.  I have been married twice.  My first marriage was to the brother of my father’s sister’s husband.  To simplify, that, I married the brother of one of my Uncles by marriage.  He was an insecure, introverted, illiterate factory worker and the first man to show any interest in me.

I gladly accepted his proposal of marriage, seeing it as my only available option for escaping the home of my birth.  Despite all the flack I received from my parents over this decision I would not be dissuaded.  It took almost a year before I realized I had actually gone from the frying pan into the fire.  But, even that was better than admitting my mistake and returning to my parent’s house to become the Cinderella drudge they had been grooming me to be.  That first marriage lasted until my husband’s death after thirty-seven years of marriage. 

Three years later I met a retired naval officer on Yahoo Personals. Our courtship was mostly online or by phone and the proposal happened quickly after our first face to face meeting.  Within four months of our first contact I quit my job and flew to California from my home in Missouri.  We married in Nevada as we made the trip across the country with his lifetime of belongings packed from floor to roof in the back of a Toyota Yaris.  We settled into a small townhouse in a small rural town located in the heart of the Missouri wine country. These last few years with my sailor have been the best and most rewarding of my life.  It is thanks to him that I found the strength to put this story on paper.