The Simple Life

“Life in the 50’s and beyond” is one of my taglines. I can’t help but compare what is happening during the pandemic to my childhood. No, there was no virus causing this much disruption around the world, but the way in which we are now living our lives easily compares to life in the 50’s.

Everything moved much slower back then. Cars didn’t go as fast and drivers certainly didn’t drive like they do nowadays. We lived in rural America, so we were naturally isolated and didn’t really know any other way.

We seldom went shopping and when we did, it was well thought out; lists were made knowing that it would be another several weeks or month before the next shopping trip. We didn’t need as much because we had food canned or frozen from our gardens and our moms cooked from scratch. As long as the kitchen was well stocked with staples, we were all set. Carry-out was not even a thing.

As far as finding things to pass the time, we had to be creative. Yes, there was radio and limited TV but everything was plugged in and there was no taking your entertainment with you. Even when transistor radios came along, you had limited stations available to listen to and you waited patiently for your favorite song to come on, sometimes for hours.

The pandemic has slowed most of us down. Not by choice, and some of us are kicking and screaming in protest. But I am finding I rather like it. I am getting things done around the house that I thought I never had time to complete. I am getting out some old recipes and cleaning out places that are past due for cleaning. I’m finding time to take a walk, and even looking forward to getting out of the house for some quiet time.

I don’t feel as rushed, I am planning trips to town for only necessary things and there just seems to be more time to do everything.

Yes I miss my family, my friends, and going out to eat every weekend. But for the most part, I am enjoying this little bit of downtime that some of us haven’t experienced for a long time.

I know everyone is not having the same experience as me. I am thankful for the health care providers and the necessary workers who keep everything going everyday in spite of the risks to their well being. For the sake of the world and everyone’s health, I hope this is over soon. I also hope that the world can learn something about slowing down and about being more prepared for whatever is next.

My Grandmother Ruth and me.
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The Bad, The Ugly, and the Good

Health issues can make life a real struggle. For almost 8 years my husband has been dealing with foot pain. He’s not diabetic, which is the first question that doctors ask. His foot pain story is unusual. It involves heel pain which has beeb excruciating, and a wound on his heel that appeared usually in the month of November and finally subsided in April. Year after year.

Of course, you always start looking for treatments with your primary care physician. He really didn’t have any answers except to send us to a podiatrist. We went to five or six different foot doctors, none of which really could give us and answers or any relief from the pain. We then went the nerve route because the pain he felt was similar to the pain you see in the TV ads for diabetic nerve pain. He also had tests to check circulation in his legs and feet. Next on the list was a neurologist who repeated some of the same tests he had already had with still no answers. Then we tried a wound clinic to get the heel wound to heal. Let me tell you this. All wound clinics are not created equal. In the midst of all these doctor appointments, we also were trying Pain Management. For two years, my husband went through a series of injections in his spine and other nerve locations. He had at least eight different injections.None worked. Each time we would return and they would want to try a different location to inject. It was futile. I won’t go into detail on the aggravations and frustrations with doctors throughout the process. I would have to write a book.

After none of these visits proved beneficial, we were considering going to the Cleveland Clinic to see what they could come up with. Then I had lunch with Pat, who told me about her husband’s podiatrist who was also head of a wound clinic (not the one we had already visited) We made an appointment.

From the very start, this appointment was different. Dr. Ward had numerous ideas as to what this condition was and why it was recurring. He said he had similar conditions that he had treated. He gave my husband an injection in the office and there was immediate, though temporary, relief. We were on the right track.

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We decorated the post surgery boot for Christmas!

 

My husband had surgery on December 23 and since then has had pain relief! He is not completely healed but the pain is so much improved. We are hopeful that this is the answer and that we can do the other foot as well. The surgery included restructuring his high arch, injecting a nerve to deaden the pain, and straightening his big toe to give him more stablilty. He’s been wearing an air boot for support and is transitioning out of the boot.

One of the first questions my husband asked was, “If you can give me a simple injection in your office that gives me immediate relief, why couldn’t Pain Management do the same thing?” Dr. Ward explained that he is a member of a group of physicians who for several years have been treating pain issues differently and using methods that differ from Pain Management Centers. And they have been successful. He has attempted to educate Pain Centers with the procedures they are using, but says they are not open to change. He then said that the best way to let others know about this is word of mouth.

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The Ugly

I understand that hospitals,  pain management centers, and physicians have their own set of procedures.  But when new ideas and methods come along,  I hope that others are open to at least discussing the new methods.   Pat gave me a message that certainly helped.  My objective in writing this article is the hope that someone who needs the information will see it.  And to encourage people to keep looking when you think you have tried the last possible solution. 

 

 

 

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A Christmas to remember

Retired Ruth

December 1957.

The Christmas that I received the least is the one I remember the most.

My parents were in their mid 30’s.  I was 7, my brother was 12.  We lived on a small farm which we farmed “on the half” with the farm owner. We had milk cows, a few hogs, chickens and eggs, and we grew corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and sugar beets.  My Mom worked alongside my Dad milking the cows and driving the tractor.  In addition she did all the mom chores…. gardening, housework, childcare, canning.   My Dad also worked third shift in a local sugar beet processing plant and I  remember Mom getting up early and going outside to start the chores.   Feeding, milking, cleaning out stalls.  She knew Dad would be tired when he got home and wanted to have things pretty well finished when he arrived home from work.

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Birthday Party Dress

“You shouldn’t put the dress on this early. You will get dirty before the party!”

Despite the well-intended advice, Mom zipped up the dress in the back. “This will probably not fit when school starts in the fall; you better wear it to Sunday School all summer! ”

I smoothed out the skirt and vowed to stay clean until my friends arrived. It was July 1959, the first birthday party I had ever had. A few classmates and girls from our neighborhood had been invited.

The dress had been handed down to me from my cousin Carol. It was blue cotton with a scoop neckline and tiny flower print all over the bodice and the skirt. A wide solid blue sash went around the waist and tied in the back with a bow. It really wasn’t all that fancy as far as dresses go but around the neckline was a row of diamonds…..really, they were just tiny rhinestones. They sparkled in the sunlight and I thought it was the most beautiful dress I had ever owned. I felt like a princess!

We played clothespin drop, tag, and circle games in the backyard. Hide and seek and then my favorite chocolate cake with caramel icing, ice cream squares and Hawaiian Punch. There were gfts but the only one I remember was a soft round bath sponge on a stick that came with tiny rose shaped soaps.

Everyone loved my dress, especially the diamonds. I’m sure I made a point of asking everyone. When school started in September, I was disappointed to find that I had outgrown my special dress.

As I recall that happy moment from my childhood, I can’t help but compare it with birthday parties today. No designer cakes, no clowns or entertainment, no fancy decorations. It was just a simple celebration but the impression it made on me was enough to last a lifetime.

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farmhouse style

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If you have to hang a sign in your house that says “Farmhouse”, then it probably really isn’t one.

I like the farmhouse style of decorating that is trendy now.  It makes me reminisce about the farmhouse style I grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.  For awhile my family lived in a house owned by the landlord of our farm, so there was little freedom to decorate the house or even make minor changes.  Why fix up someone else’s house since there wasn’t much extra money to spend anyway?

Despite this, Mom found ways to make the house a home.   I remember her down on her hands and knees sponge painting the cracked linoleum on the kitchen and back porch floor.  It was a definite improvement but a far cry from the wood floors and laminate floors that are used today.   The places in the floor that were hard to camouflage could easily be covered by a throw rug… usually a rag rug style.

The farmhouse sink, with the apron front, is all the rage now.  My first memories of a kitchen sink was a hand pump (like you see as garden decorations nowadays)  I was four years old when we finally got running water in rented home.    I’m sure Mom was delighted to finally have hot water that came from a faucet.

pump sink

I admire the “shabby chic”  projects that so many DIYers work so hard to achieve.  Let me tell you, it had no place in my childhood.  If a piece of furniture was chipped or distressed, you tried to cover that up or refinish it.  You certainly didn’t make it look that way on purpose!  In fact, painting furniture was a last resort… if you could not make it look good… you painted over it.  Reclaimed barn siding?  Not a thing at all.  It belonged outside… on the barn.  The same could be said for exposed beams.  Or sliding barn doors….Not in the house!

White, white, white and neutrals are what farmhouse styles call for today.  White was to be avoided on the farm when I was growing up.  Plain and simple, it showed the dirt!

Despite the differences in style over the years I enjoy looking through Instagram and seeing the “farmhouse” styles that younger families are using in their homes. They are clean looking and cozy and full of vintage looking accessories that take me back.  It really doesnt matter if you step outside your front door into Suburbia or into the Back 40…you can appreciate your farmhouse!

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Valentine’s Day 1957

The wooden classroom floors were scuffed and worn from first graders hard-soled shoes skipping, jumping, occasionally walking, and dragging mud and snow in from outside. By the time it was my turn to be a first grader in the old brick building, the floors creaked with each step.

Teacher's Triple Trouble

Wooden desks, attached in four rows were bolted to the floor and eliminated any rearranging of the room.  Flip top desks and flip up seats added to the familiar noises of the creaking wooden floors.   Inkwell holes were in the right corner of each desktop (sorry left handers… you lose again.  There were six or seven seats in each row as I remember.  Each seat was assigned on the first day of school and adjusted throughout the year by the teacher.

First grade was full of “firsts”.  First packed lunch, first bus ride, first recess, first friends that were not my cousins, first Christmas gift exchange, first skinned knees on the playground.  I remember the first Valentine’s Day exchange.  I liked it better than Christmas.  Everyone decorated a shoe box, or a paper bag with red hearts, doilies, crepe paper or aluminum foil… there were no elaborate designs like you see today, but good homespun boxes with your name clearly on the box and with a slot for valentines to slip into.

My teacher, Mrs. Gassman, wrote everyone’s name on the chalkboard and we copied the names on yellow tablet paper with our fat primary pencils, along with the location of our seat.  Shirley   Row 2.  Seat 5.   Everyone must bring a valentine for each student.VALENTINE 2

Finally the big day arrived.  One row at a time, we distributed our valentines into our classmates boxes.  Mrs. Gassman was pretty crafty.  She made Valentines Day into a reading, writing, and sorting lesson like no other.  After every card was passed out (including a special one for the teacher)  we opened our boxes and tore  open the tiny envelopes.  Most of the valentines were simple messages, some were home made, and one or two had a lollipop attached.  It was simple but it was fun.  I treasured my Valentine’s, keeping the box and looking at them over and over throughout the school year.  At some point, my mom probably made me throw them out but they were special and even the simplest little message meant a lot to me.VALENTINE

I’m sure there were cookies or cupcakes and Kool-Aid afterwards, but the tiny Valentine cards were enough for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Adventures of Ralph, The Presidential Dog (Part 2)

Retired Ruth

Ralph as a pup....Ralph as a pup….

One summer, we decided to go away for the weekend.  We were heading to Lake Erie and Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park.  Ralph knew his way in and out of most of the barns on the property.  So we left plenty of dog food and water for him and headed off  with the kids.   When we returned home, Ralph was nowhere to be found.  That was unusual because he was usually our greeting party.  We all thought the worst.  He might have gotten hit by a car or a truck.   We searched the ditches along the road, we searched all the barns, checked with neighbors to see if they had seen him.  There was no sign of him anywhere.   The kids were heartbroken.  So was I.   But we were tired, so I got everyone into bed.   The next morning, we hoped to wake up with Ralph waiting outside…

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A chicken wing

FlorenceChristmas Dinner. Meet the parents. After three years of dating it was finally happening.  I carefully chose a white angora sweater and a blue plaid Bobbi Brooks skirt; it was 1970 and people still dressed up for holiday dinners.  I was nervous.  Not only was I meeting the parents, but three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and a niece and nephew.

Roger’s Mom, Florence, made everything for dinner from scratch; fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, pies, and yeast rolls.  I had no idea if others helped  but I doubted it.  Florence looked like she was in charge.  I offered to help and was told to scrape the bowl of the Sunbeam mixer filled with potatoes.  I then watched Florence heat milk and butter and slowly add it to the potatoes to make them creamy.  The rest of the family steered clear of the kitchen and soon Florence shooed me out as well.

Soon we all gathered in the dining room and everything was on the table.  Pass to the left or to the right?  I watched to see what everyone else was doing.  I was seated next to Roger’s dad, Henry.  I passed each dish to my future father-in-law.  The platter of chicken started with me.  I wish I had gotten this one last.  I didn’t want to seem greedy and take the best piece of chicken.  I carefully searched through the heaping pile of chicken and pulled out a wing.   My father in law was watching me the entire time. I placed the wing on my plate and handed the platter to him.

He pounded his fist on the table and said, “Dorma,  you’ve got some competition… she took your favorite piece!”  My heart sank, dreading to look at Dorma who seemed a little forbidding anyway.  Then the whole table burst into laughter.   Evidently it was a joke.  Because seriously…. how many people really want the wing?

The rest of the day was kind of a blur. Presents were opened, brothers fell asleep on the floor, the women helped clean up.  There was a loudness to this family that was nothing like my own soft spoken family.  Lots of shouting, a few arguments, and a lot of laughter.  Conversations centered on neighbors, friends, and some local gossip.  Roger’s little brother, still in high school, got the biggest laugh after a particularly long conversation about a local scandal.

“I wonder who’s sitting around the table talking about us?”

 

 

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Surpise!

Everyone else was looking at the moon that night.  A celestial event, which made the whole thing even easier to pull off.

She quietly removed the lace curtain from the rod, twisted it,  and tiptoed across the room to the sleeper in the twin bed.  Just enough space between his neck and the mattress for her to slip the cloth underneath and wait for the right moment.

The seconds ticked off slowly and at the exact same time the fireworks were to begin, she yelled, “Surprise!” and tightened it with all her strength. She wanted him to see her face.

FF

photo credit to Gah Learner

A 100 word story inspired weekly by a photo prompt and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields.  Click the link to read other stories.

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Almost the Last minute.

Yesterday we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary.  In honor of that occasion, a few stories from the past came to mind that I probably should share.  Here is the first one.

It was late July 1971.    I would graduate with my B.S. in Education in a couple of weeks.    I had landed my first teaching job and would start teaching August 28.  Roger had been farming the home farm for several years and had a part time job at a local factory.  Our wedding would take place on August 14.    Things looked good except for one minor detail… we did not have a place to live.

I’m pretty sure Roger thought we would move in with his parents at the farm.  They had purchased a house in town and we were to move into the farmhouse after we married.  But his parents did not get possession of their new home until October 1.

In fact, my mother-in-law-to-be said to me,  “You could move in with us.  It will just be for six weeks. But I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”  Her words were not as ominous as the look she gave me after speaking them.

She and I immediately went searching for an apartment.  Something close by, that would give us a short term lease.  Luckily, we found an upstairs apartment on W. Franklin Street which was available and the landlords were willing to let us sign a lease until October 1.  It had a kitchen, bath, living room and bedroom.  Perfect for a short term arrangement.  We didn’t have any furniture yet anyway.

A week before the wedding we went shopping at Rexins Furniture and Appliance store, bought a Harvest Gold side-by-side refrigerator and matching stove, and a lime green recliner.  (What was I thinking!!  Roger was color blind so he had no clue.)    Roger’s oldest brother and his wife sold us their hand-me-down couch and chair for twenty bucks.  I had refinished an old bed and dresser which my parents started out with in 1945.  An old wooden table and two chairs were hauled out of Roger’s parents basement to use in the kitchen and we were set.    Oh, of course we had a TV set.  The old Admiral TV I had hauled back and forth to college with me for a couple of years.  It was bulky and big and black-and-white and it took up the entire front seat of the 1963 Chevy Bel Air my parents had given me.

Somehow things fell into place.  We got married on a hot, August day,  took a two day honeymoon, and moved into the apartment. I graduated with my degree, and the first day of school found me ready to teach.  I honestly don’t know how we pulled it off.  But we did.

I should have been a little more aware of how things happened during that crazy summer.

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source: unknown

“The Last Minute” became a recurring theme throughout my life.  Wait until I tell you about moving out of the apartment and into the farmhouse….

 

 

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