Why the Salesman Couldn’t Make the Sale….

Retired Ruth

It wasn’t the product.   The shiny vacuum cleaner fit neatly in a small box.  But when the salesman took all the pieces and parts out of the box and starting snapping, fitting, and twisting them together, it overwhelmed me.   I’ll never be able to put it together, I joked.

He flashed me a wide grin.  He was young.   Good-looking.  Well dressed.  And he knew his sales pitch well.   So well, in fact, that it slid through his lips at an alarming speed and I found myself asking again and again, “Would you repeat that?”  He could. He did.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I was outside cleaning the patio on a gorgeous autumn day, bemoaning the fact that I would soon be putting all the furniture and outdoor accessories away for the next season.  Almost out of no where, but actually from behind  a beat-up old…

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My Favorite Weed

Retired Ruth

I know what you’re thinking.   My favorite weed.  Me-a child of the 60’s.

Well nothing could be further from the truth.   Yes, I dressed like a hippie and listened to all that psychedelic music.  But weed?  Nope, never tried it.

My mother would have killed me.

The weed I have always been enchanted with, obsessed with, in love with is none other than the lowly milkweed. Asclepias.

As a child, I was fascinated by the milkweed pods.  Inside each pod were feathery seeds which floated on the wind when released.  I didn’t even care that the stems and outer parts of the milkweed was sticky and gooey and all that goo was hard to remove from my hands.  I just loved popping open the pods and releasing the fairy-like, wispy seeds into the air.   They were magical.   It was like blowing on a dandelion after it…

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It was Friday and class was unusually  small, probably because it was a beautiful fall day and some had taken off for the weekend. The water was a little cool, but we all adjusted after warming up with water walking and our aquacize exercises.  Maybe because it was a small group, our leader  led us into a circle and asked us each to  recall a high school memory as we exercised.

We remembered slumber parties and fun pranks played on each other.  Lots of memories of skipping school and sometimes getting caught. Some of the senior members of our group (we’re all seniors, actually) recalled not having a lot of school activities because of WWII and gas rationing.  Bob, who was in high school during the 40’s revealed he still had the scooter that he rode around town and it still runs!  We also learned that Bob was quite an athlete in his day and probably broke a few hearts.  

Many of us have been together in this class for several years. After we shared our memories, I don’t think I was alone in the feeling that we knew each other even better than we did before.  It was great exercise in sharing and listening to each other and led to a few other conversations about where we attended school and how we met our spouses.

I look forward to aquacize class.  One, because its great exercise for my aging body.  But it’s also the positive social interaction that I need.  We discuss local news, health issues, politics, and many class members meet outside of class.   Making new friends and renewing older friendships is great exercise for our minds and our souls.  aquacize

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0903161930b.jpgMy friend Deb and I knew that this could be our last visit with Pat.  On the way to her house we cried together and Deb prayed for the right words.  As we drove into the driveway, we somehow regained our composure.  Her husband, sister, and brother-in- law stood by, as they had for the last few weeks, months, and years.

We entered her room and received a big smile, just like every other visit.  But this time it was accompanied by tears.  We hugged. We cried. We sobbed.  We had been Lucy and Ethel  for her every other time.  But not this time.

We talked a bit about some favorite shared memories, how much we loved her and she loved us.  Deb told Pat that she wanted to come back as a cardinal…only one who couldn’t sing.  We giggled about that.  Then Deb asked Pat what she would come back as.  Without hesitation, she said, “A yellow finch bird.”  She pointed to a lovely picture directly across from her bed of a yellow finch.  Obviously she had given this some thought.  Deb and I both knew we would be ever vigilant for yellow finches from that moment on.

We talked a little more, held hands as tears rolled down our cheeks.  Finally Pat said, “I’m really tired now.”  We told her we would sit for awhile after she fell asleep, and if we were gone when she awoke.  we were gone physically but our love was with her forever.

She left us peacefully on a Tuesday morning.

 Just a few hours later, Deb took her mother to a doctor’s appointment that had been scheduled the day before.  Not her mother’s usual physician and not Deb’s either.   Hanging on the wall was a calendar.  Deb snapped a picture of it with her phone and immediately sent it to me in a text.



Rest in peace, Patty.  You loved and were loved by so many.  Your life was spent serving others and the Lord. We will all be watching for the yellow finch.











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The Rhythm of the Swing


I did a double-take this morning when I glanced out my kitchen window and saw a child swinging on our well-worn swing set.  I tiptoed into the family room to see if my 18 year old granddaughter was still sleeping. She often comes in late after work and sleeps on our couch.  She was still fast asleep and doesn’t usually head to the swing anymore so I went back to the window and  recognized the daughter of someone who uses our machine shop to work on projects.

I watched her for a few minutes swinging rhythmically back and forth, and a thousand images filled my head.  When my oldest daughter was about two years old, my Mom and Dad purchased two metal swing sets.  One for my daughter and one for my niece who was just five months younger.  The swing sets were bright orange with two bright flat yellow plastic seats, a two person teeter-totter swing, and a metal slide.  I can still see Mom and Dad in their garage, unpacking two boxes full of swing set parts and nuts and bolts and pieces and parts.  When the frames were assembled, Mom and Dad, hauled them in the back of their pickup truck to each of their houses and set them up, adding the swings, and slide after it was delivered.

From  there the images changed to endless hours swinging toddlers until they fell asleep and could be carefully carried inside for a nap.  Later, when the toddlers grew they were able to swing themselves and learned to “pump” to get going and keep momentum.  Still there was always that cry, “push me! higher!”  When my son was born, one of the yellow swings was replaced with a bright blue baby swing….and the endless hours began again, this time with an older sister who could help  push.

By the time my third child arrived, the swing set was in risky condition.  One of the frames had bent and cracked and started to rust.  The paint was chipped and spots of rust had appeared.   We used it for awhile with a new baby swing but eventually it needed to be replaced with a wooden set that had a blue bucket type swing and a set of rings and an metal trapeze.  My third and youngest child spent more hours on the swing than  either of the older children.  I think it was a soothing place for them.  Before I knew it there were grandchildren swinging, another baby swing was brought in to replace the trapeze and we were back to the beginning again.

Fuzzier images then appeared going back at least 50 years.  A wooden swing hanging from a tree branch was a pleasant past time for me.  There was something special about a tree swing.  Not only did you get the back and forth movement, but you got a swaying and up and down movement from the tree branch.  And sometimes a creaking sound as the rope rubbed against the limb of the tree.  Tire swings came and went as well.  Its hard to picture our yard without some kind of a swing.

There is something soothing about a swing, whether you are the swinger or the swingee.  It can rock the baby to sleep, soothe the fussy toddler, and chase away boredom for an older child.  It can be a place of imaginary adventures when  a friend comes over to play.

For Christmas a couple of years ago I received a wooden swing with frame from my daughter.  I couldnt wait to set it up on the patio and enjoyed the familiar motion.  This summer we moved it out to the pond under a large shade tree.  A perfect place to  sit and swing and soothe and relax.







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Take me Back

chevy 1950

Take me back to growing up on the farm

Where chores were part of daily life and freedom to roam and play was the norm.

When Sunday School was never missed and going to school was an adventure.

When junior high awkwardness and “fitting in” was everything, and high school  cockiness, maturity and confidence followed.

Let me return to my college dorm, my first taste of freedom, where the biggest worries were matching bedspreads and cramming for exams, or whether I had enough cash for chili and grilled cheese at the Union.

Take me back to my wedding day, where after 4 long years we could finally be together,  to the early years  where grocery bills were twenty dollars a week, and friends came to visit with cheap wine and folding chairs.

Take me back to my first job which became a thirty-four year career and where (almost) every moment was enjoyable and fulfilling.

Take me back to my first pregnancy, followed by a lost little one, followed by two more ending happily. Let me return to watch them grow. Feeling joyful, fearful, guilty, unsure about parenting, realizing my attempts were well-meaning but not perfect.

Take me back to those simpler times

Times which rushed by too quickly

let me return to  knowing that I need to enjoy each simple moment as it happens.

Take me back.


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Three Thoughts

In a very late response to the challenge posed by Margo at https://theothersideof55.wordpress.com/ I’m posting my answers (three for each question) to this meme:

Three names I answer to:

  1. Ruth
  2. Grandma
  3. Mrs. Crates

Three places I’ve called home:

  1. Vanlue Ohio
  2. Forest Ohio
  3. Kenton Ohio (all 3 places within a 40 mile radius)

Three places I’ve worked:

  1. growing up on our family farm
  2. Kenton City Schools
  3. Crates Excavating (our family business)

Three things I love to watch:

  1. My granddaughters and grandson
  2. the view from my kitchen window
  3. my friends spending time with me

Three things I love to eat:

  1. Pizza
  2. Hot soup on a cold day
  3. Bread

Three things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Trip to visit my youngest child
  2. Granddaughter’s graduation
  3. every day


Three fond memories:

  1. my mother cooking for holiday meals
  2. meeting my husband
  3. births of my children and grandchildren

Three bloggers I follow who might like to play along too:

  1. Marilyn at https://babyjill7.wordpress.com/
  2. ksbeth at https://ididnthavemyglasseson.com/
  3. https://grandmalin.wordpress.com/ at breathing space
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