Friday, April 28, 2017

Not Yearning for the "Good Old Days!"

My dear reader probably thinks I am getting to be a cranky old lady. I’m not really mourning this subject as just stating facts. I am as guilty as anyone that these things have happened.

First, and I am not doing a bunch of research here, but with the advent of email, you knew the United States Postal Service was going to be in trouble before long. Third class mail keeps it afloat, I believe. I get so annoyed at those catalogs from places that I have shopped, almost every day. OK, maybe every other day. I have talked with bulk mail postal employees and they confirm this.

However, the biggest change is in brick and mortar stores. The big stores are closing all the time.  Best Buy and the home improvement stores seem to be doing fine, but we are ordering every other thing online! I am as bad as the next, or maybe I am worse! I buy nearly all my clothes (not shoes and undergarments) online. I buy gifts online. I download books from Amazon, so there goes the bookstore I once worked at!

We seriously do not need the Malls anymore. What makes them special is the “unique experience” of a day of shopping. But we don’t need them! We choose them.

Groceries are beginning to deliver. I still want to squeeze my tomatoes and peppers, but I can see that working for me when I can't drive anymore or very little.

What I personally find interesting is the “nail salon” business. What used to be reserved for the “stars” is now commonplace for everyone, even during a recession. Even men are having their nails done, which I support for good health reasons. If you work in a certain industry at a certain level (whether or not you are earning a comparative salary), certain things are expected in terms of dress and accessories. I love getting a mani/pedi too, but I am glad I don’t have to for work!

Sometime ago I wrote about disliking shopping, and I do want to reiterate that I DO like people, generally. However, I DON'T like shopping. Since I wrote that piece, I believe we have hatched a new kind of crazy people in the world that operate alongside the rest of us. I just don't want to be there.

We can all agree that we are watching life changing before our eyes. I’m not necessarily yearning for the “good old days.” I would rather shop online and have time for other things, like reading a book—on my Kindle app of course, or calling a friend, who may or may not be home. They're out shopping.

In shopping online, we have not lost a "connection," unless salespeople are important to you. Per se, they are not to me. I would rather free up the time to sit on the porch or at the pool with my husband or neighbors.

Friday, April 14, 2017

He's Been Gone Ten Years!

I just can’t believe it. It’s been ten years since my brother died.

He had deep thoughts.
I came into the house on a Sunday afternoon after my Bible study. My husband, never a speech maker, said, “Ben died. They found him in his apartment today.”

We use Sunday, April 15, 2007 as his official death date, although he hadn’t been talked to since Wednesday and it could have been any time between that. In fact, it was probably sooner than later. I won’t go into that.

Ben was a schizophrenic. He was also a diabetic. He had myopia, which got worse over the years. He hadn’t driven in years. He was 51 years old when he died.

I mourned the life he struggled with as much if not even more than his death. He was a darling little boy, but the vision was a problem since he was young. Unlike today, it was not diagnosed until he was already in school. Strike One. He was unable to pass first grade (because he was on the very young edge of the boundary, and today we would just hold him back). Strike Two. There were things physically he just wasn’t good at, things we held then and now in esteem. Strike three.

Mom and I were talking just the other day about how easily we might have lost him. He couldn't see properly and we were at the top of a cliff. He wanted to jump off the cliff and land on the green "pillows." Had he done that, and we lost him, we would never have understood why a child would do that. His reality was different because of what he could and could not see.

However, he was a genius in music. We had a ukulele which he picked up at four or five, and by seven it was obvious he needed more. My parents found a “junior guitar” for smaller hands. He played that for a long time, but I think he moved up to normal size around ten. (By then I didn’t mind playing the little one with my small hands).

Around eight, he also started playing my cousin’s four string banjo. Eventually, my parents purchased a used one for him, until they could see where that was going to go. He played the banjo, but he PLAYED the guitar. During this stage of life, it was mimicking what other musicians played. It wasn’t until he was in his early adulthood and following that he began writing and recording his singing.

Mind you, this was only for his own use; he wasn’t trying to sell it to anyone or make money with it. He was just that person that everyone sat around and sang with. Our two cousins were often involved also. Like just about everyone else in the world at the time, he had a “garage band” in our basement. I think that only worked because my father worked early evenings.

While music defined him, there were other things going on also. He graduated from high school in 1974. He matriculated, but never earned a degree. One can never point to one day and say “That’s the onset of his schizophrenia,” but he was unable to hold a job in his young adulthood. My Dad attempted to find him a place at the company he worked. Dad died when Ben was 22 for reference.

After Dad died, Ben attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. He was one semester short of graduation, when he came home and joined the army. I don’t think he served two years; they wanted to do knee surgery on him and he wouldn’t let them (paranoia) so he received a medical discharge. That would be a Godsend later in life.

It wasn’t until he was 35 (maybe 7 years later) that he/we had a firm diagnosis of schizophrenia. NOW, it could be treated. He was hospitalized for a time in a VA hospital, and medicated and monitored by the VA hospital in his home city. I shudder to think what would have happened to him had he not had those benefits. He worked for the University Hospital which put him in the PERS retirement and benefits system. After several years, he got what I think of as medical retirement. While not large, he had an income, because he wasn’t functioning in the working environment.

He lived in a couple of apartments, and sixteen years later, his heart gave out. His antipsychotic drugs put weight on him, and I don’t think as a diabetic he was taking care of himself.

We will assume he died on a Sunday. The following Saturday we had a visitation-funeral and burial in the family plot. I have good memories of getting all the family together that day, as five weeks later was my son’s graduation from high school, and not everyone was able to attend.  The most precious moment for me was at the burial, the family sang “Long May You Run” recorded by Neil Young, who was one of Ben’s absolute favorites. “Long May You Run” is a long song, with several choruses. In the beginning, just us “old folks” were singing, but by the end of the song, all the younger relatives had joined in. It was a 70 degree Saturday in April and it was a beautiful day.

Ben is remembered for his music and his genius in composition. Although the illness was always there, and I can’t say it was in the background, it is not what he is remembered for.

He is still missed.

This is the last picture of the four of us, taken
at my daughter's wedding in 2005.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We Can't Do Spur-of-the-Moment Anymore!

Although there are many differences between today’s world and the one that I grew up in, one that comes to mind is that no one ever “drops in” on anyone anymore. That includes relatives. If I Iived closer to my mother, I could “drop in” on her, but I can’t drop in on my kids.

I think the main “causes” or “differences” is the business of everyone today. We have schedules, and they do not include marginal time for “Divine appointments,” as I used to think of them. I read somewhere where it’s not correct “etiquette” to drop in on folks. I think that is sad.

When I was young, the only reason someone would turn you away at the door is if someone was ill or they were in the middle of painting a room. Even if the person (my peer) wasn’t home, I was welcomed by whoever was home! I knew the parents and siblings of my friends. Not that we planned this, but different families ate at different times and many times I found myself pulling up a chair and eating supper with them. The same thing happened in our house, no one was turned away. Meals were not fancy.

We had several running gags at the dinner table and one of them was the entire family stopping, and “watching (the guest) eat.” This was reserved for boyfriends, if he wasn’t offended and could laugh with us, he passed muster. Even my husband had to pass muster.

My friends and I would get in a car of an evening and say, “who shall we visit tonight?” Then we were off trying to stir up some mischief in someone’s home, OR pick them up and go for pizza.

I wonder if girls were more likely to do this because we had slumber parties and in doing so, we DID get to know the families better. However, I must admit that there were plenty of guys who dropped in to our house! That’s a testimony to both of my parents, who made people of all ages feel welcome.

This is how I met my husband. I was 22 years old and my friend Debbie* and I were out running around. SHE suggested we visit another friend, who was Jerry’s neighbor. This is all recorded here in a previous blog here. We walked two apartments over and were introduced by our pal’s wife to Jerry. If we didn’t have the “nerve” to visit other people, I most likely would never have met my husband.

I know, we are all so busy today, even though I write this as a retired person who does have more time. Unless we are sick or painting a room, I would love having drop-in company! Living in a condominium does mean it could happen, although my next-door neighbor and I would text each other first. You SEE so much of how the others live that you aren’t surprised very often, so you just knock on a door (and hope no one is taking a nap!)

I guess I miss the informality of relationships, AND the interaction with family members, the way it used to be. I may have a handful of people I could drop in on, and vice versa of course. Debbie* is probably at the top of that list, even still.

It’s a shame that we are so scheduled that we can’t do anything spur-of-the-moment anymore. Those are some of the best memories I have.

As a society, we have lost something.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why I am Reformed

It is usually not my style to go into the specifics of what I believe. It’s obvious from my profile that I am a Christian. I surely hope that most of my friends recognize that in me, although I am far from perfect. In my checkbox on Facebook, I am Reformed.

Over my lifetime, I have attended several denominations. I was raised United Presbyterian. When I lived in Columbus, I attended a United Methodist Church. When I came home, I returned to my Presbyterian Church and was eventually married there. During my young adult years (literally 1983), the Presbyterian Church in the United States united with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and became the Presbyterian Church (USA). While this denomination still believed as I do in DOCTRINE, it became more liberal in practice and I decided to move on. That was a tough decision.

I attended a small church up the street. It was a Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). They were lovely people and took me in and became wonderful friends. However, after three years, I discovered we were not on the same page AT ALL. Now, if I weren’t planning a family, I could have agreed to disagree and have been fine. But how do you tell your children, well I (we?) believe this, but we don’t believe that. You don’t.

In 1982, I was invited to the baptism of a friend. It was in a Southern Baptist Church. I spent the next 11 years at this church and both my children were born while I attended there. When my daughter was 8 and son was 3, we decided to attend another Baptist church where some friends were attending. It was smaller and more like family. To be honest, I felt like I was re-creating that feeling of the church in which I was raised at their ages. It was a very special season of life. I was also employed there for two years.

Changes occur and I am not one to church hop, but when my son asks to visit other churches, we tried some. Then when he entered college, he was going to work every Sunday, so I went back to the Southern Baptist Church. Mainly, I went back for the choir. My kids were out of school and now it was time for me.

While I still have a relationship with that church, and I worked there for ten years from 1986 until 1997 in their Preschool, I decided to come back to the smaller church. Why? Family. I attend alone and may be alone someday and this church will gather round me for my spiritual and physical needs.

These are all denominations, but no denomination defines me. I am Reformed. There is no “Reformed” Church within 25 miles and I simply am not driving that far at this stage of my life.

What does that mean? Put simply, it means that I follow the teachings of the Reformers and those that have followed them. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrich Zwingli, John Knox, and their students.  Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. His intent was to start a dialog with other theologians. Luther wanted to change the Roman Church from within. His main disagreement was about the sale of indulgences, intended to "buy" loved ones out of Purgatory and to Heaven.
Well, in a nutshell, it didn’t work that way and he was excommunicated from the Roman Church in 1520.

Many denominations came from the Reformers. Luther did NOT want his followers to call themselves Lutherans, but they did. There were others as the Reformation grew and spread.

When we think of the Reformers, we think of the Five Solas.
Sola Scriptura—by Scripture alone.
Sola Fide—by Faith alone
Sola Gratia—by Grace alone.
Solo Christo—in Christ alone.
Solo Deo Gloria—Glory to God alone.

These are a foundation set of Biblical principles held by theologians and laypersons to be central to the Doctrine of Salvation by (Reformed) Protestants.

Me and 8500 of my new friends.
The speaker is John Piper
I had the extreme pleasure of attending a conference of The Gospel Coalition, which they have every two years. The theme this year was naturally, the Reformation. I heard 9 speakers in plenary sessions and three more (well, one overlapped) in workshops. The music in keeping with the theme was hymns of the faith. With churches doing more contemporary music these days, I never realized how much I missed these old hymns. With 8500 of us singing, it felt like we were knocking on Heaven’s door.

I didn’t know that Martin Luther wrote, among other hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is known as the Reformation Hymn. It sounded awesome with 8500 voices singing a cappella.

This conference sends you home with enough books to keep you reading for two years. I was amazed! I did buy a couple of others.

I don’t know what the theme will be in two years, but I am looking forward to doing this again. I hope it's close enough to drive.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Food By The Decades

Mom and I were talking the other day about how foods have changed over, well, her lifetime, from what we can remember. We brain-stormed a little, she got on the iPad and did some research, and when I got home, I continued to look up some articles. I am going to offer fair warning: all of this got very jumbled and I don’t think I could footnote if my life depended on it, but there were general thoughts on what was a new thing each decade.

That, along with “what the Klines' ate, or what the Netts' ate, or what the Derges' ate” became an interesting discussion. I haven’t written from “notes” since I was in college, 43-46 years ago, so my challenge is in organizing all this information about—food!


Mom was born in 1931 and there isn’t much to remember from the 30s and the Depression anyway. Her family did not starve, but if I knew my grandmother, it was simple fare. In 1942 my grandfather began working at the newspaper, and he worked second shift. That kind of household, with schoolchildren in it, is just different. Period.

There was rationing during the war, but Mom remembers chili and soups, lamb, and gravy (actually my great-grandmother would bring that over), fried pork chops and fried chicken, peas and corn, Jello© with vegetables such as carrots in them (no salads as we know them). There was a refrigerator, but NOT a freezer, so foods were fresh, not thawed. For desserts, she remembers gingerbread with lemon sauce, and cakes and pies.

At school, the elementary kids packed, but the high school had a cafeteria, and a restaurant nearby, where the kids would go.


My mother was married in 1950 and much of what we had was what my father wanted. He did not work shift work, so I don’t remember a time when we didn’t all sit down together, chaotic as it may have been. My father liked beef and potatoes, but Mom fried chicken also. She made the only liver and onions that I would/will ever eat. She also made a hash from leftover beef and potatoes and usually some onions. We still ate the corn and peas and Jello© and we did have a small freezer over the refrigerator. I’d say that we had a dessert three times a week. Macaroni and cheese was a side dish, and we did use Kraft© boxes. Mom made a hamburger pie which essentially predated Hamburger Helper©, made with her own ingredients. She also made potato pancakes with left-over mashed potatoes.

We had full breakfasts, with eggs, pancakes, bacon, and cereal. Maybe we as children did not eat them all at once, but we did not take off to school with a Poptart©. We snacked in the evening on old-fashioned made popcorn (before microwave!) and soda.

Outside of the Kline household, in 1950 Betty Crocker’s© Picture Cook Book was a best seller. In 1951 Duncan Hines© introduced a cake mix. Some women went “Yay!” while others stood by their old standbys, with their noses in the air re: box cake mixes. In 1952, Saran Wrap© came out and we wrapped our leftovers in something other than aluminum foil.  Lipton© introduced onion soup mix and life and meat loaf was never the same. Also in 1952, the first sugar-free (diet) soft drink was marketed. 1953 brought us Eggo© and Cheez Whiz©. This was the year I was born. I guess I couldn’t come into a world without Cheez Whiz©!!

The first frozen TV dinners came out in 1954. My mother notes that TV was telling us increasingly what we should be doing, how we should be acting, and this went way beyond food. Per my notes, Burger King© came out in 1954 and McDonalds© in 1955. I thought McDonalds© was first, but what do I remember? (Jerry had a relative that said McDonald’s would never succeed!)

About this same time, Tappan© marketed the first microwave, and the electric can opener was born. In 1957 sushi bars immigrated to America, and Pam© cooking spray was patented. For the first time margarine outsold butter, and Sweet’n’Low© appeared on the restaurant tables.

To end the decade, Haagen Dazs© improved our lot. Recipes that changed the landscape were (Kraft©) Clam Dip, Lipton© California dip that appeared after the onion dip. Campbells© soups created the casserole—tuna noodle being among the first if not the first. Baked Alaska was created by a chef in New York City. It was considered elegant. Chicken Tetrazzini, named after Italian singer Luisa Tetrazzini, made it possible for aspiring gourmets to make easily and impress their company.


It’s safe to say that the Sixties changed our lives in many ways! Fast food was taking off and we were Lovin’ It.© Kentucky Fried Chicken© became my grandmother’s dinner of choice for company, especially if they just dropped in. Usually my Dad was the messenger. In our hometown, a pizza chain changed our world. However, we couldn’t always afford it, so we made those Chef Boyardee© pizzas at home, especially as young people gathered. In our home, we squeezed cheese on Ritz© crackers; sloppy joes, homemade spaghetti sauce (my Mom says spices came later), and little pizzas as a snack. We had pot pies, but we may have had them in the 50s, we are not too sure. To this day, I must have them with rice!

Outside our household, meatballs with grape jelly, chicken a la King, fondue, stuffed crescent rolls as in “pigs in a blanket” (we did do that with hotdogs, but not rolled up asparagus), Beef Bourguignon© as Julia Child premiered in 1963, shrimp cocktail, and the infamous tunnel of fudge bundt cake.

THE SEVENTIES—when I set up housekeeping.

Convenience food became even more popular as more women were working. While I did learn to make a mean homemade spaghetti sauce, I was using just as much Hamburger Helper and Hungry Jack© mashed potatoes. I never looked back.  Quiche came to the scene, but I didn’t learn to make mine for at least ten more years, cheese balls and cheese logs, stuffed vegetables (peppers), crepes, ranch dressing everywhere and pineapple chicken. Carrot cake rose in popularity, another one of my favorites, and we were seeing salad bars for the first time. In our town, it was Ponderosa Steak House©. I don't have a source for this, but I believe that the 70s were the beginning of crock pot cooking.


Some new things and remade old things made their debut. Spinach dip in a bowl (or Hawaiian bread, whatever you used) was always a favorite. We saw more pasta salads, and Totinos’ Pizza Rolls©. (I have some in my freezer now, don’t judge). Vegetable and fruit trays, while not new, were purchased more as a last-minute need for a party or picnic. Those Chef Boyardee© pizza mixes improved and I can really make a nice pizza with them.


Salads with cranberries, pecans, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette were something new. I’ll take bleu cheese though. HOT POCKETS! Lunchables, as I sent children to Preschool and eventually school. Chinese chicken salad with mandarin oranges, pizza bagels, chicken Caesar salad, Dunkeroos©, Teddy Grahams©, and Slimfast©, for after we ate all this stuff.

THE 2000s

This was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we were eating healthier with No Carb/Atkins© diets, watermelon and feta salads, on the other hand, after 911, we sought comfort foods. Meatloafs, chicken pot pie, HOMEMADE macaroni and cheese, pizza and all things comforting. I will insert that MY favorite meal is meatloaf with creamed potatoes and peas. Well, I get my vegetables.

We said goodbye to Supersizing©, and became a Coffee Nation (someone save me!) We began to eat locally and sustainably, and formed recession recipes, which is different to each person. In about 2010, we began to see food trucks. They were there all along, but they really took off in 2010!

What we see here is a morphing of foods, a return to former foods of old, and creating new healthy choices. And ALWAYS, there is a recipe that is a favorite at a family reunion that goes way back and sometimes we don’t even KNOW the origin. Those foods are important too.

We have more information than we ever have had in the past, and those of us “of a certain age” have seen the villainy of a food come and go. I think of eggs. They were good for you, then they were bad for you, now they are good for you. Most of us cannot get to the healthiest eggs, so we do the best we can.

The only thing that is constant is change.

Please add comments. I know I haven’t thought of everything.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Longing For a Sister (While loving my brother to death!)

I call my little granddaughters Elsa
and Ana. I'm so glad they have each other.
Both of my parents-in-law were only children. My father-in-law was not supposed to have been “attempted” because his mother had given birth to a girl, who was not stillborn, but I believe only lived a few hours. The doctors advised against another pregnancy, but who listens to doctors?

I’m not researching this, but my memory tells me that she (Ruth) was born in 1916. Perhaps it was late in the year, because I don’t think they were three years apart. Donald was born February 15, 1919. He would be 98 today.

My mother-in-law does not have a similar story, but her parents didn’t have any more children. I don’t know why.

What I do remember her telling me, was that she wished she had a sibling in older age. She didn’t “speak” for her husband, but I had the impression that siblings on both sides would have been welcome. They loved their four children, their eleven grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. They loved them, but they were not their peers.

The point of this is the desire for familial companionship in our elder years. I wouldn’t take a bazillion dollars for my baby brother, and I do speak plainly to him with matters of health; but I sometimes wish I had a sister, who thought like a woman.

I have a wonderful cousin who is 13 months younger than I am. We were raised together. Our grandmother bought us matching clothes. We were as close as could be, as our mothers were sisters. I know I can call her just about any time, and that could be happening more often as we age, but she has four children and seven grandchildren, a husband and the two of them are still working! Life is full.

My three sisters-in-law are fabulous people; but if you paid attention to those numbers earlier in the blog, you can picture the sized families they have! My one sister-in-law married a man with two sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren that are not counted in the above numbers because my In-Laws didn’t know them. This alone shows that they are extremely busy with their families. We women are all retired, except the one who works in her son’s office one day a week.

I text the sister closest to my age quite a bit. You never know what she’s doing, coming, going or whatever, so she can return as she is able. She and I became what I call “fast friends” in our youth. I can only say that about three people in my life. I can talk to her just about anything.

My husband’s older sister is eleven years my senior, so the “chum” part isn’t there, but she’s a nurse and sometimes I need to call her. We eventually get off subject and by the time we’ve run through what all her kids and what all my kids are doing, it’s easily an hour. She’s usually home and settled in the evenings, so that is her best time.

My brother-in-law's wife and I are not as close, but there is a logical reason for that--she is one of eight children, only six survive today. She has A LOT going on with her aged mother, and her own three daughters and four grandchildren (and two step-grandchildren). We get along fine, but it's seldom. This past year her husband had a very serious medical situation, but I got the details second-hand through my husband. MANY prayers were said!

All of this is great, and I am thankful for them, but there is something missing.

Many of my wonderful friends live in my town and attended the school my children went to, and they have their friendships and “gangs.” They are all still close and they are there for each other, but I’m not a part of that.

I have truly loyal and friends that are like family, but most of them have left the area. I don’t have that “gang” that gets together regularly. I have a high school classmates luncheon every month, and we are very inclusive, which includes men, so it’s not like best buds. It’s great people going through life together, and I am thankful for this group.

I have one friend that I could call anytime, but even so, as much as we care about each other, she has 7 grandchildren, and she spends much time with the elderly widows of her family. A nurse, she’s another to call if I need advice that I haven’t found on the Internet and she has taken care of me with every surgery that involves changing of dressings that I can’t reach. I really WISH that we could go on a girl’s trip, but I don’t see it happening. Maybe one of these days.

I am grateful for the many relationships in my life, church, family (both, after 39 years it’s all the same), but I do wish I had a sister, that person that I could call anytime, anyplace, regardless of what else is going on in her life. And vice-versa.

It just doesn’t always work with a spouse.

Friday, February 10, 2017

My Sixth Anniversary!

I knew it was about time to check, and yes, yesterday was the 6th "anniversary" of my first post on this blog. Since I have previously discussed how writing this blog has changed me, I won't rehash all of that.

At this stage of my life, there isn't much "change," for which I am very thankful. Occasions come up like the Induction of our HS basketball team into an "Athletic Hall of Fame" and I want to write something for posterity.

I've been writing family stories for the next generation to be able to read---sometime. There will be sometime in the future that we think of another story worth keeping. I don't write about my husband's family generally, except to compare it to mine.

ALL blogs are pre-approved before publication if they involve another person (s). I don't write about my grandchildren unless their parents approve it.

At this 6th anniversary, it is winter and life is fairly stagnant. We are dealing with some health issues, which means doctors' appointments, but otherwise, not much new. However, I am always aware that something will happen that just BEGS an entry.

Grandchildren are always at the top of the list; it's Chorale Season and we are singing Brahms's Requiem in German. There are church activities, and we each have lunch with a group of friends once a month (separately). We also have dinner with the Homeowner's Association once a month (together). We have other friends that we see separately and we have friends that we see together. Jerry continues to volunteer at the hospital. I attempt to see my mother once a week. I continue my activity with the Medway Historical Society.

So we are in a "Life Goes On" period. This year is our 40th wedding anniversary and we are going out west to see Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and Teton National Parks, and visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We are also going to Salt Lake City and hope to see some old friends there. This is with a tour so we aren't driving and parking and arguing about where to eat!

Some of my previous topics are ongoing: decluttering, weight and health issues, and I am not going to "report" all the time. Suffice to say, it continues. I will continue the Derges' Digest as our Christmas Letter.

Some of the topics have been requested, such as settling estates. Others are guest blogs, which I always consider!

So, life indeed goes on. If any reader has a subject they would like me to take a look at, I would consider that. I don't write about politics, and religion would be sparse, so those are not subjects that I would tackle for another person. But I will teach you how to set up a blog!

I'll just close by saying how thankful I am for my family and my friends, and the ability and time to be involved with these other activities. Life without big events is OK too.

P.S. There will be something coming with our trip later.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Thrift Simplified: Just Buy Less!

I haven’t been particularly thrifty this year as in “looking for the best deal,” and I haven’t had one of those “no-spend” months, or years, or anything. This is where I’m at: I just don’t buy as much anymore!

It’s as simple as that!

As I have spent the last two to three years in a major purge, moving into a condominium and finding good homes for many of the things my children do not want and there is no point in keeping them. Those things are things that I don’t need in a banker’s box in the garage and could be used by the historical society, or the Women’s Center that gives out baby (and small children) clothes.

The things that I keep are the things that I love. I want to look at them. They bless me in some way. This morning I was looking at the seven belts that I have and I know there’s a purge coming there; but one of them will NEVER fit this body again. It was made by my father, and it’s not going anywhere!

The long and short of this is I just BUY LESS!
  • We don’t need as much food. Period.
  • When I get rid of clothes, I don’t replace them, unless I have a need.
  • I don’t buy books.
  • I DO pay $8.00 a month for Netflix, but I don’t go to movies. Well, I never did much anyway.
  • At Christmas, I reorganized my spending, and although it didn’t come to less overall, I bought less.
  • I’ve gone out to eat less.
On the other hand, I did treat myself to some things. Because I oversee the Class Reunion, I got myself a room at the hotel. I did find a roommate; but had she not shown interest, I wouldn’t have cared at all. I was worth the reduced stress. Besides, it’s only every five years, and I did NOT buy any new garments.

One of the things I have done less of is use savings apps. They are getting to be so plentiful these days and I know the next generation uses them all the time, but it means signing up for, and giving my information to more people than I am comfortable with. Also, you must BUY to SAVE! (I remember my Mother-In-Law telling me that). And, I am NOT BUYING!

I am leisurely talking about selling some big-ticket items that I don’t use. This might involve paying someone who uses e-Bay. I am not in a hurry.

In a very calculated and planned way, I did buy a new laptop and a wireless printer. The other, while perfectly fine, is 11 years old, and lasted through three computers. I also planned to buy an iPad mini and I LOVE it. They offered me $65 for the old one and I said “No, the kids will watch it.” (They are not touching my new one!) These are items that I use every single day in one way or the other. I can never go back to handwriting anyway, the arthritis in my thumbs is so bad.

I do try to find homes for things, but if not, I will donate to Salvation Army. I never plan this, but somehow, when we’re doing taxes, it helps there too.

So I guess my mantra will be BUY LESS and plan big purchases.

Friday, January 27, 2017

This is NOT us!

As a postscript to the entry I wrote on “You Can Go Back Again,” I started thinking about a subject that has bothered me for some time. I try not to talk about it all the time, but I have health issues. I do NOT talk about my cancer unless someone has specifically brought up BREAST cancer. I want to give them empathy, comfort, and hope.

Several years (decades) ago, I had determined I was not going to be that person. But here we were at the post-game gathering, talking about knee-replacements, as if it were a passage of life—like puberty. I’ve always felt in my inner person that “if I would just lose so many pounds,” that my problems would be less.

Here I was with folks who, while they are not the skinny little kids that we all were before the onset of real adulthood, are NOT heavy! And, they still have the same problems!

On the way home, I began thinking about what these conversations would have been like 50 years ago, of my grandparents and their peers, because many of our parents have had the types of orthopedic surgeries that are available to us today.

Grandma and Grandpa undoubtedly had arthritis. One of my grandparents died of a brain tumor at age 61. Thin in stature, I don’t think he had any other problems during his lifetime. The other three, however, “slowed down” considerably.

So, what happened to life? I do remember my widowed grandmother taking trips in her 60s. I think that slowed down in her 70s, but she was always upbeat about life in general. There was never “I can’t do that anymore,” just a quiet acceptance of whatever, as we would say irreverently today. When we went through her things upon her death, there was a sweater that I had bought her and it had never been worn. Only then did I realize that she was unable to slip it over her shoulders. But she wore her jewelry until the end. I already have “easy-clasps” on my jewelry!

My father’s parents didn’t travel much, and that involved visiting relatives, such as their son in Florida. My grandmother was heavy, diabetic, and I am built quite a bit like her. She lived to be almost 73 (massive heart attack, but she cooked with LARD, for Pete’s sake), and until her death, she worked in the flower beds, walked up and down basement stairs to do laundry (as a widow, that might not have been as much) and had one bathroom—on the second floor. How she must have struggled with those narrow stairwells, but I never heard one word of complaint. There might have been a couple of grunts.

Her husband, who lived to be 79, was small in stature and I never heard any complaint from him about anything physically. However, he did slow down. In his later years, he took up the hobby of paint-by-numbers and thoroughly enjoyed that (while my grandmother cooked, cleaned, and did laundry). He also loved to play cards with us kids. It was always the easy games, I learned Euchre from my parents and Spades in college. But Grandpa and I and my brother played and talked and played and talked.

Grandma was on insulin, but neither took any other statins, BP meds, or any of the things many of us take today regularly. Might they have lived longer had they taken them? Grandma still cooked the old way and that was fattening, but he never had trouble with it and she maintained a steady 230-250 all the years I knew her. She didn’t know anything else. Exercise? He walked everywhere in town, although he did own a car, and she was working in the yard. She put up her garden every year. My knees hurt writing those sentences. They were not sedentary.

So I sit here today on a COLD morning, thankful that I don’t have to go anywhere until later, and I am still having trouble with the knees. However, they have been followed by a knew thing, which has plagued me three other “spells” in my life. Plantar fasciitis. Gotta love it. I have insoles, I but probably need new ones as it’s been ten years.

It’s always something! I guess I should be thankful for the things we have to help the situations and just accept the other things that can’t be helped.
I still feel old.

The Kline men were slight of build.
Grandma's in her mid-30's here.
I don't know when she was diagnosed
with Diabetes, but you can see she's
beginning to put on weight.

Grandpa was diagnosed with
brain cancer and didn't see his
62nd birthday. The twinkle is not
in his eyes here. I wonder how
close this was to his death.
Grandma, though, always had a

Friday, January 20, 2017

You Can Go Back Again!

When I was a junior in high school, our varsity basketball team went to the Regional Final game, further than any other basketball team from our school had ever gone in tournament. We were one game away from the “Final Four” of our state, and we did lose to the eventual state champions, Chaminade High School.

It truly was the Cinderella story of a small-town team—with a regular season ending record of 11-7—bulldozing its way through the District Tournament, and upsetting the first game of the Regional Tournament against Cincinnati Moeller. Newspapers titled their articles “Fairborn Who?” The entire town had decorated storefronts. I don’t have a picture of it and I don’t know if anyone had the mind to capture it, but as we went under one of the crossings in Cincinnati, there was a big banner, “Go Fairborn.” It was a great feeling to see that sign!

Many people have said that that tournament experience was the highlight of their high school years. It was a bandwagon! Basketball went from what you just did on Friday nights to a major event! Other students and their parents, people whose kids had graduated, merchants; we packed out Hobart Arena in Troy, Ohio. We had five games to play at Hobart and I remember I was sick on the night of game #3 and listened to it on the radio. I knew a little something about basketball, and I could just visualize the plays that I had seen many times before.

I’m not going into the scores of each game or our opponents, although someone did save every article and they are truly exciting to read for those of us who were there, or those of us who have lived their lives involved with sports.

So 46 years later, this team is selected to be honored in the Fairborn City Schools Athletic Hall of Fame! Of the 11 young men carried on that team, 7 returned. One is MIA, two couldn’t come and one is deceased. There is a great article about him here. In addition, there were a bunch of us, some cheerleaders, some in other capacities in athletics, or not, who came to witness this.

There was a catered dinner before the evening’s basketball game, and I chose not to attend that as I am not a relative or “close” enough friend and I knew space was of a concern. I caught up with the gang as we met up in the auxiliary gym and it really was like old home week. Even though we’ve—uh—changed in many ways, I certainly didn’t have a bit of a problem recognizing anyone. It was a festive atmosphere.

Those of us “others,” went into the gym and sat where we would have as students. We really didn’t push anyone out of the way. The student population has declined to the point where there just aren’t as many students at a basketball game. (To be fair, this was not a league game.) I think kids have other things to do on Friday and Saturday nights these days. That may or may not be good.

The inductees were introduced one by one to rousing applause! This was the same floor (it’s been resurfaced) they played on all those many years ago, and it was surreal. Two managers also joined them, and I must say, they all turned out well! Of the nine gentlemen who were there, six still live in the area, one the next state over and two had to travel a bit. It was worth it. The coach passed away several years ago, but two of his children joined the group.

We were born at the height of the Baby Boom and even during the years leading up to this Championship year, the Fieldhouse was packed to the rafters at every game! This night, while certainly not empty, there was plenty of room to choose to sit. It was very different. There was definitely an “Izzone” or whatever you wanted to call the student section, but it was so much smaller.

It was a competitive game. We left at halftime to go to a restaurant, but I wouldn’t have minded staying. The visiting team has been a nemesis to the Derge family for 15 years of playing and coaching, but it’s a fine school system. As it turns out, Fairborn won on a buzzer-beater.

You can’t talk much at a basketball game and you’re not supposed to, so we went to a sports restaurant to continue our conversations.

What connects you after all these years?

·         Kids and grandkids

·         Retirement plans

·         Health issues (ugh, we are NOT those people?)

·         Old funny and ornery stories.

·         Old cars we owned. (This was not me!)

·         Remembering those no longer with us.

The hair, if it’s there at all, is grayer, there’s a little bit more of most of us to love, but we are still US. We have all lived 45-46 years since, but we are still US.

We are there to love each other in a different way. We have embraced our mortality. We still enjoy each other the best way we can.

Many people from afar wished they could have come.  It was different from a class reunion in that we were really all on our own and made our own entertainment.  We’ll probably never have an occasion like this again, but it was so nice to remember a major highlight of high school!

We still felt like teenagers again! Inside.
An ad in the local newspaper.                              District Champs. Photo Credit: My mom.