Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


15 Comments

The stories she tells

I remember when grocery stores got carts, she says. Shopping was a lot more fun after that.

So what did you do before there were carts? I asked.

She looks puzzled, pauses, thinking back, then says she doesn’t know. Maybe, I suggested, the stores were smaller? Maybe there was a meat market and a vegetable market, maybe a bakery?

The suggestion of a bakery triggers more memories; there was a bakery just across the street and the man there saved day old bread for her mother.

“She made the best bread pudding,” she remembers. “Mom was a good cook.”

Cooking for a big family, day after day with very little money, must have been hard, we agreed. She says she used to hate having to cook daily herself, and she only had one husband and one son.

I never met my husband’s sister, she says, and she was coming to dinner. I didn’t know what to make so I bought a roast, a veal roast. Then I asked myself why I had done that. I didn’t know how to cook a veal roast. My husband told me just to cook it like any other roast, he liked my roast. So I did and it was the best thing I ever made. Roast veal and carrots and potatoes. It was so good. She never knew I didn’t know what I was doing.

We laughed.

She says it’s a lot easier now. She remembers when her dad and others cut ice out of the river, storing it in a shed covered with sawdust. It lasted until the middle of summer, in northern Minnesota, and was the only refrigeration they had.

She remembers riding the train from Minnesota to Detroit with her siblings and her mom, to join her dad in a town he had found work. She remembers being scared, and imagines her mom was too.

She remembers growing up in a large family who had very little money but had the only important thing that mattered; love. How they helped each other as they each grew and started families of their own, working in each others’ businesses, taking care of each others’ kids. Laughing together at the 4th of July picnics, gathering at Christmas, weddings, funerals.

The years flew by and now she’s ‘one hundred and one and a half’ as she likes to say. She’ll be one hundred and two in September. She doesn’t know where the time has gone. She doesn’t know how so many people she loves are gone.

But the memories and the stories remain — a century of memories stored in her mind.

Time has slowed for her now as she sits and waits for her next chapter. The days are long and fast, all at the same time. People visiting her are the highlight of her days.

She becomes animated as she talks about times long ago, she laughs and giggles and rolls her eyes. For a bit she forgets where she is, she forgets she’s over one hundred years old.

I ask her how old she feels.

She stops and thinks. Maybe in my eighties she replies. Yes…I was good in my eighties, and my head thinks I still am. It’s these darn legs that are over one hundred.

And then she laughs again and tells me another tale.


22 Comments

No adventure, but fun anyway

Katie here! As you can guess, mama took me camping this week! She was a bit silly in her scheduling as I had a grooming appointment the same day we started camping. So I was nice and pretty, my feet all sparkling white when we arrived at our campsite which had no grass and was entirely dirt.

What a pretty site! And all that shade!!

I was in heaven! All that nice cool dirt to lay in. My mama just sighed. But we got lots of shade which is important on these hot muggy summer days, and we couldn’t see any neighbors at all, so it was pretty perfect.

We had company every evening. One night mama’s friend brought her young dog Tonks to visit us. Tonks had never seen a campsite before but she loved it. We went on a walk and than sat around the campfire. Mama and her friend got to eat s’mores. Tonks wanted one. She wanted one a lot.

Hey! I want that!

Notice I was being good, but let me tell you, if she dropped that treat I’d have been on it! Too bad our mamas knew that we couldn’t have chocolate. Sigh. It’s not fair.

I think she’d like camping!

Tonks was cute, and she settled in after the treats were all done for a nice nap on her mom’s lap. I fell asleep on the ground near my mom. In the dirt. Sometimes a princess just needs to feel the earth, you know?

The next night Tonks’ mom brought out her big sister, Peep. Peep and I have gone on lots of walks together through the woods around here, and she’s visited me at my campground before too. I like her a lot, she’s a good friend; we pretty much ignore each other when we’re together and that works out just fine.

Isn’t she a happy girl? She’s always smiling.

She’s a pretty girl too, just like her baby sister.

On our third evening another friend brought Deuce to enjoy a walk and the campfire. He and I enjoyed a walk through the woods, and then we hung around the campfire while the moms talked.

A couple of friends enjoying the campfire.

Eventually Deuce napped in his very own chair. I personally think mama should bring a chair for me too. I’m the princess you know.

Zzzzzzz….

Anyway…all of us dogs had a very nice time at this campsite. I did spend a lot of time with just my mama, walking on trails and looking at stuff. I made her go on lots of walks.

Come on mama! You’re so slow!!

Lots and lots of walks. Pretty much every time she sat down to read. Cause it’s all about what I want, all the time. Naturally.

I had so much fun in my tent under the big white pines! I wanted to stay there forever!

This is my tent. I share it with mama cause I’m nice like that.

But then one morning mama started moving around faster than normal (she’s pretty much a slug you know) and I asked her what was going on.

What are you DOING mama??

She said we had to pack up and leave! But I didn’t want to go! I decreed we were not leaving. I am the Princess!

I told you NO mama!

But she just kept packing up the car. I tried to stand my ground.

This is MY towel mama, and you’re not taking it!

I told her she could go but I wasn’t going with her. No siree. I was staying in my campsite. Mine. I was sure she’d relent and get my tent put back up.

But then it happened. She packed my blue towel too. And she started to walk away!

Hey mama! Don’t forget to pack me in the car too!

Well, I thought about it for about .00000005 seconds and decided that wherever mama is, well, that’s where I want to be too.

So we drove away and I was feeling sad, but then we got home and I remembered my house, and my daddy was waiting inside and I got all wiggle-butt again and did my happy dance. I guess after all there’s no place like home.

Hurry up mama, we’re HOME!!

But…hey mama! Where are we going next?

Let’s go mama!


12 Comments

WordPress Photo Challenge: Unusual

I was in Alabama over the 4th of July. We got to watch fireworks from a boat, out in the middle of a huge lake alongside hundreds of other boats. It was beautiful.

Patriotic evening on the water.

It’s unusual that I would share with you an imperfect image. But I kind of liked the way this one looked even though it wasn’t crisp. And, it’s the only shot I took of the fireworks, because I realized the boat was rocking too much to ever get a clear shot.

And that’s unusual too…me only taking one shot of anything!

Headed home the water was really rough, making the boat under my feet heave and roll. These are some of the other boats headed home along side of us…the green bow and white stern lights shifting in the waves as we all rocked and rolled.

At least we’re all going in the same direction.

Kind of makes me seasick even now, weeks later.

Having fun with it now.


10 Comments

Safety and Sideguards

James Mooney never saw the semi truck backing across the country road in front of him that dark September night in 1983. He hit the side of the trailer and slid under it and out the other side, dying instantly. His daughter, Jennifer Tierney, has worked tirelessly on safety issues in the trucking industry ever since.

Thirty-four years and counting.

Over the years Jennifer has worked on many issues, hours of service, minimum insurance, electronic logging devices, and more. None of these were directly related to her father’s death, but they were the issues that had a chance of getting implemented. So she worked, along with many other volunteers, for the benefit of us all.

And now she has the chance to see progress on the issue most dear to her heart – side guards for semi trucks.

For years she and other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers have been asking for them, for years we’ve been met with blank stares and promises to ‘look into it’ by agencies and Congressional staff alike. But each time we brought it up we introduced the idea and over the years there began to be some interest.

Meanwhile every year more people have died or been injured in similar crashes.

It’s a hard way to effect change, working through the halls of Washington. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make your point, and unfortunately that happened earlier this month. Four men, in two cars, slid under a jackknifed semi on a dark road this past July 5th. All four died at the scene.

The crash caught the attention of New York Senator Chuck Schumer. We were in his office just days before talking about these very issues. He has now come out and voiced what we’ve been saying for years, that trucks need side, rear, and possibly front guards. That regardless of whose fault the crash is, side guards can save lives, might have save these four men’s lives.

Our hearts go out to the families of these most recent victims. We want them to know we won’t forget their family members, that we will continue the fight to improve safety. We do it in their honor, and in honor of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who have died or been injured in underride crashes.

Thank you Senator Schumer for supporting our position. Now please help us move our bill requiring guards forward through Congress. We know it’s an uphill fight but we aren’t going to stop pushing.

All those lost and injured family members demand it of us.


22 Comments

How to peel a butternut squash

Basic ingredients.

Every week, before I head to the grocery store, I thumb through my vegan cookbooks, looking for something interesting to make. This week I thought I’d make a “Vegetable Stew with North African Spices” from a recipe in Forks Over Knives. I bought all the ingredients and then they sat in the fridge for almost the entire week. And do you know why?

Because one of the main ingredients was peeled and cubed butternut squash.

Let me tell you, I’ve peeled squash before and it’s no fun. The skin is tough, the shape is challenging and my vegetable peeler isn’t up to the task. So every day I’d think about making that stew and then I’d choose to do something else. Something that didn’t involve peeling a butternut.

None of these tools really worked well.

Today I finally decided to stop procrastinating and get it done. Plus I had no other food in the house.

It took a variety of knives as well as my vegetable peeler. It was hard. I stopped in the middle to go online to see if there was a better way. Two YouTube videos later I realized that there are no secrets. Except that you can buy this stuff already peeled and cut up. It costs a bit more the guy on the video said.

Really.

Back to work for me. I’m struggling with the bottom half of the squash, peeling off chunks of skin when suddenly the whole thing squirted out of my hands and flew across the kitchen slamming into the floor over by the fridge. Katie looked at me, frozen in place and then started toward the potential snack.

I screamed “NO!,” and racing around the wastebasket, I beat her to it. There were seeds splattered everywhere. She hovered near as I scrambled to pick them all up. I didn’t want her to ingest the sharp seeds and she’s a good girl, especially when her mama’s screaming at her, so she held her ground and I got it all cleaned up. Don’t tell anyone, but I rinsed that squash off and kept on going.

I wasn’t about to start over.

Finally I got the squash peeled and began to slice it up. Thirty minutes had passed. I was hungry and the sliced squash looked a lot like cheese. I wished it was.

Cheese…right? No? Rats.

After the hard work of peeling squash the rest of the recipe came together easily. Chopped onion, celery, carrot to start.

Looks like the beginning of every soup I’ve ever made.

Add the spices – paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon. Grate the ginger, mince the garlic. Peel a potato and a turnip, chop those up. Pour in some vegetable stock and at the end add a little mint.

Pretty except for those floating turnip pieces.

I was worried as it simmered. It didn’t really look like a stew, it resembled soup at best, with slices of turnip floating on the top. I don’t even like turnips. I had nothing else prepared for dinner, so it was this….or go get a sandwich from Subway.

Did we?

I held out hope.

And guess what? I liked the flavor even though I didn’t put in the pinch of saffron because I couldn’t find it in my spice drawer. I know I bought some because I remember how expensive it was! Eventually I looked online to see if there was a substitute but couldn’t discern anything about it other than it had a ‘subtle flavor.’ I figured maybe if it was subtle no one would miss it and I was right.

Yummy!

But who knows, maybe it would be amazing with saffron.

In the end it was OK, just like it was, but I kept thinking that the flavors would really compliment beef stew meat. And once I mentioned that, my husband enthusiastically agreed. What to do. Should I stay true to the vegan recipe? Or supplement it with…gasp….beef?

All I can say for sure is that I will never, ever, peel another butternut squash. Next time I’m buying that stuff already cubed. No contest. As for the beef…well…what would you have done?

Sorry, my vegan friends.


17 Comments

Hilltop summer afternoon

Katie here.

Pretty flowers mama. Now can I have a treat?

I don’t suppose it actually qualifies as an adventure, but after spending weeks and weeks doing nothing at all I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes even a Princess can’t be picky.

You’ve all seen mama’s fun with her family, and I liked it a whole bunch when my Uncle and Aunt came to visit me. But I didn’t get to go on any adventures and then she went away for ten whole days! That’s about 70,000 days in dog years!

So you can see why I’ve been bugging mama to take me somewhere now that she’s back home. Somewhere mama! She keeps promising but nothing ever happens. Why I even had to raise my voice today to get her attention! And trust me, a sheltie-girl like me knows exactly how to do that!

This is not the way to treat a Princess!

But I guess it’s true that the squeaky dog gets the grease! (And I’d like mine to be bacon please mama!) After barking at her for hours she finally took me to a park today! And I even got to ride in dad’s truck! Mama says not to get excited about that, I only got to ride in the truck because our car is broken.

Whatever mama.

So we went to a park not too far away and I sat under a picnic table for awhile, just sniffing the park air. It’s definitely different and better than my own backyard air. Lots and lots of interesting things to smell at the park!

You done reading yet mama?

Then mama got done reading and said we were going to walk up this big mountain! Really mama? Remember I’m ten and a half, a senior doggie you know!

Hey mama! Running down this hill is fun!

But it was OK. We stopped along the way and mama took pictures of me in the pretty flowers.

And once we got to the top there was a lovely breeze blowing and I got to run around off leash! Mama says that’s because we could see where all the other people and doggies were from up there and we had the mountaintop all to ourselves. (OK, it’s not really a mountain, it’s just a sledding hill, but it’s huge compared to me!)

You called?

Mama took lots of pictures of me up there and on the back of the hill when we walked down the other side. We even sat in the grass together and just chilled out. I acted like a puppy, all excited to spend time with her, just her and me.

I’m just going to walk over here, OK mama?

Now I’m doubly excited because I got her to set up the tent in the backyard! I supervised while she put it up and made sure she put in my favorite pillows just for me. It’s going to be a beautiful night and I’m going to spend it hanging out with my mama. I can hardly wait for it to get dark outside.

This is my tent. I let mama share it though.

Gee, now that I think about it, I guess I don’t have so much to complain about after all.

It was a good day mama!