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Archive for the ‘midwest living’ Category

BUT SHE THINKS I’M A BOY!

 

Bobbe White for wtad.com/whitepages/8.01.17/

school daze
To a teacher, the month of August is like a month of Sunday nights. Suzy Duker

 

Goodbye July. Hello School. If there’s ever a memory trigger, going back to school is a powerful one. My vivid memory is first day of kindergarten at Madison School.  My outfit has quick recall. Imagine a red and white checked tablecloth. Picture it in gold and white, made into a dress. Over top of the dress was a tent, with ties on either side. In fashion terms, it’s called a pinafore apron. Think, “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie Style.” My bangs had been severely cut to five inches above my eyes. Before bed, Mom snapped on pink curlers on every side. This meant I slept on my face, because curlers and pillows never co-exist.  Bobby socks and saddle shoes completed the ensemble. Go ahead; say it, “Precious.”

Hand-in-hand, Mom trotted me up the school steps, then down the stairs. Something wasn’t right. The kindergarten I knew was upstairs. It was the morning class; the downstairs classroom was afternoon class. We were a morning type of family. This would never work. We scanned the class list outside the room. If a kindergartener can recognize two words, it’s his or her name. There it was:  “Robert Schecter.” Mom said, “Let’s go in.” I burst into a sob, “BUT SHE THINKS I’M A BOY!” I wouldn’t go. There’s a reason my nick-name through high school was “Stump.” Even for a five-year-old, I had strong legs. I locked my quads and poured weight into my heels. They held fast.  Mom couldn’t drag this bull-dog across the threshold. I resembled a Vietnam War protest sign, “HELL NO, I WON’T GO!” The teacher coaxed me, but saw the resistance through my tears. Mom finally said, “I’m afraid there’s been an irreparable mistake. Morning session was much more workable with our schedule.” “(AND YOU THINK I’M A BOY, YOU WITCH!)” I wanted to add. Mom explained the problem to Mr. McKinley. Everyone in the principal’s office stared at me, like I was a monster. I must’ve had a look of defiance, “Nobody puts Bobbe in the corner.” It worked out that I could be switched to Miss Kuhlo’s morning class. I knew she’d know I was a girl. And I schooled happily ever after.

Don’t think for a minute that this was the last time I was called a boy. In every college class roll call, the instructor scanned the room for a guy. I became used to it; even amused by it.  Tears bubbled up no longer, nor did I ever switch classes for mistaken gender. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you are until you are heard. Perhaps in all of that confusion was a great lesson, because I’ve done this my entire life. Who knew my first school lesson would be the most impressionable?

Get It, Girl

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

“When you know your why, you can endure anyhow.” John O’Leary

 

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Last Tuesday was a difficult day, one of many, because that’s life.  There was the day we had to take Dad’s keys away. That was a doozy. Or maybe when we moved Dad into the Veterans Home – without Mom. That one was the mother of all tough days.

After enough of these, we begin to understand that no matter how many tough days we have, their purpose is merely preparation for the next tough one. It reminds me of track hurdles. I attempted them once, but was never adept. Leg #1 cleared the hurdle, but then there’s that Leg #2. It’s like an educational program: “No Leg Left Behind.”  But the back leg just won’t rise up enough. I still can’t hurdle, even though the hurdles are now shorter. Pet gates at home are hurdles. They keep Lily White corralled. If I had a nickel for every time Leg #2 leveled the gate, I’d be retired on a beach in Fiji. The lesson: next time lift leg higher. It’s hard -sometimes very – because of  “it”. Yesterday “it” was a tough conversation with Mom. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow?

What’s that troubling issue in your world? Imagine you’re on a relay. The runner prepares to pass the baton to you. You must grab it and immediately hurdle. Without tripping. Not this time. Tuesday, I told myself, “Just get over it. No moving gates aside, like I can with Lily’s gates. I got over it. It wasn’t easy. Tough’s hard.

There are other ways to help clear the hurdles. It’s whatever works for you. Here’s what I did. Tuesday I dressed for strength. My earrings were from Poland. Korey gave them to me on that trip. We toured Auschwitz I and II,  to understand history and the conditions in which my P.O.W. father was forced to live. And because that girl of mine/ours is one strong gem, conquering hurdle after hurdle. She inspires me. My necklace and ring are from Jeff. If he was a boxer, his robe would read, “THE ROCK”. Sometimes I’d like to throw rocks at him, but he just builds me a path with them. My bracelet is from Nick, given to me on his and Jenna’s wedding day. As a four pound preemie, we prayed he’d have strength to survive. Did he ever. Let’s call him, “ROCK II”. Mr. Strong & Steady, Jr. My skirt is from Jenna, who exhibited unbelievable strength on the premature death of her dad. She’s currently hurdling a new career like an Olympian and also being strong for Nick throughout Grandpa’s death. Love that girl, like our own. My hair is from my mom. Talk about a strength in the face of adversity. Whoa. Now, it’s my turn. Sure hope I got that gene. Finally, my shoes. I recently attended “Let’s Rise!” conference. Jeff Googled it and thought I’d find inspiration and rejuvenation. He was correct. I’d forgotten my shoes, so had to buy some. Wearing them reminds me of what I learned at “Rise”: with thought and preparation, we can do more than we thought.

It’s been tough before.  It’s tough today. It’ll get tough tomorrow. I need to get it done and behind me. After Tuesday, I’m not jubilant, but relieved and a bit stronger. I’m doing the right thing. I know that feeling.

No resting on laurels, Girl, get strong for the next tough opportunity.  At Hobby Lobby, I saw “Get it, Girl”, an 8”x 8” light-up, home accent in Barbie colors. I know! I called later. They held it for me.  At 90%, it probably won’t drop further…better grab it for $2.50.

What’s your “Get it, Girl?” What thing gives you strength?

Find it. Own it. Get it.

Hair Day Goes to the Dogs

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

Bobbe White

 

 

 

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Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or aestheticians schedule patients – I mean clients – that early. Let me tell you, my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or  schedule patients – I mean clients that early. Let me tell you that my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

In Memory: He Took My Can’t Away

written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES – 7/14/17

Bobbe White

Another piece was written yesterday, but I got busy and forgot to send the accompanying photo. I finally remembered, but it was after we’d gotten the call, Jeff’s dad had died. It didn’t seem fitting to post my typical, “Silly day or thought in the life of Bobbe” post. Instead, it’s preempted by a tribute to my father-in-law, Jim White.

It’s kind of unusual when the parents of the guy you start dating are already friends with your own parents. Our dads golfed together on men’s day; our moms teed it up together on Ladies’ day. They ate dinners together and occasionally traveled together. A few times the guys even fished together. For about twenty years, our parents were even neighbors. Our kids grew up assuming everyone’s grandparents were buds as they ran back and forth between homes. It was great skipping one of those horribly awkward “Meet the Fockers” events.

I had the privilege of working for Jim at State Street Bank for nearly twenty years, until he retired. Believe me when I say, “He played fair, but he never played favorites.” His decisions weren’t always popular, but they were respected. I haven’t met many people who didn’t like him, but I’ll bet they respected him. He didn’t manage. He coached. He rarely complimented the individual performance. He always recognized a good team effort. Rest never lasted very long; he’d raise the bar a notch for the next project.

The best lesson from Jim was a tough one at first. As we brainstormed ideas for State Street Bank’s 100th anniversary (1990), he kept suggesting an antique car show on. That was about the dumbest idea I’d heard yet. Me plan a car show? So it was set. We were sponsoring an antique car show, the centerpiece of our anniversary events. My anxiety kicked into gear. I felt paralyzed with fear of how to execute. I remember telling my co-worker and sister-in-law, Laurie, that I just can’t do this anniversary thing. Too much pressure. “Tell him you can’t do it.”

In my head, I knew it was unacceptable to not try. Jim grew up understanding you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard to learn. What I learned about antique cars and their events was throttling. (Oh, good pun!) Who knew car spaces were wider than our lot’s painted stripes? No door dings at our event! Who knew there was a difference between antiques and repurposed? Who knew this was a strong, thriving culture, drawing car enthusiasts from miles away? I learned that when you can’t do something, you get an expert’s help. You learn from them. It came off without a hitch (Ha-ha – another good pun, no?) I was one proud cookie, as the “Best of Show” trophy was awarded. Jim was right. The event was a gas. (A gas!! Queue: knee slap) People loved it. I loved it.

On the family front, Jim taught Jeff many life skills. This is mainly because if you got in trouble at home, your punishment was working with Dad. It usually involved early risings and long days. Suffice it to say that of all the six kids, Jeff is the one who learned woodworking, automotive, electrical, farming and metal polishing the best. Metal polishing? Yep, one time, punishment put Jeff inside the safe deposit vault, polishing hundreds of little doors made with brass hardware. I chuckle every time I escort a customer in or out with their safe box.

Whenever I entered the White house, Jim would greet you, “And what did you accomplish today Bobbe?” I would try to recite every task and he would answer, “Okay.” My accomplishments never seemed adequate. He always said, “Okay.” I began to wonder if I told him that I’d cleaned the Taj Mahal, swam the English Channel and climbed Mt. Everest, his answer would still be, “Okay.” It angered me because I always felt like I’d disappointed him. His son, Jeff, had married a star slacker. One day, I walked in behind my brother-in-law. Jim asked Kent, “What did you accomplish today?” Kent said, “Not a damn thing, Jim.” He answered, “Okay.” What? Okay? Hmmmm…”Okay” is simply his answer. His reply. His conversation starter. He wasn’t measuring. I felt like a dummy.

Until that day, when it wasn’t obvious to me that Jim was simply responding with a word, not a judgment. Oddly enough, that question remains in my head, to make sure I accomplish something every day. And even when you don’t accomplish anything, it can still be okay. (But probably not very often.) We’ll miss you Mr. White, Jim, Dad, Grandpa, and Great-grandpa. Thanks for teaching us we can, even when we can’t. Best lesson ever. Rest well. Hit ’em straight. Hook a monster. Take that bird. Give Keith a hug for us.  James E. White (5.5.28 – 7.13.17)

 

 

To Nag, or Not To Nag?

wtad.com/white pages/6.22.17

Bobbe White

Define nag: noun 1. annoy or irritate (a person) with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging. 2. horse especially : one that is old or in worn-out condition.

Nag comes from Middle English nagge; akin to Dutch negge small horse. First known use: 15th century.

In other words, women have been nagging their husbands to do things around the house since 1417. It’s nothing new. It rarely works. This post is about getting things done without acting like a small worn-out irritating horse.

Jeff made me a beautiful seven-foot trophy case in 1973. It has a little engraved brass plate that reads, “Bobbe Schecter – 1973 – JWW.” I had been at college, while Jeff took a semester off to work and build things. He built the case for my childhood swimming awards. There may have been a few water polo trophies, as well, but not because I was any good. I could out-sprint most girls to the center of the pool to swat the ball back to my teammates. That was about it for me. I was afraid to catch that hard polo ball (jammed fingers) and threw like a weak kitten. I digress.

cabinet

The trophy case lived in my parents’ basement for twenty years. I mentioned it occasionally, “Why can’t it live at our house?” I can’t recall the answer. It then moved to my parents’ next home for twenty years. Are you seeing a pattern here? When they had movers anyway, why didn’t we move it to my house? I guess it was easier not to move it. I asked a few (hundred) more times to move it. In 2013, my parents moved to assisted living. Finally, happily, the case moved to our basement. It was placed on its side. The ceilings weren’t high enough to stand the damn thing upright. There it slumbered like a beached whale for four more years.

Last month, we gathered Korey’s things for her move to D.C. To help Jeff (and me), two guys from work agreed to carry a heavy table upstairs and out to the garage for loading. “While you’re at it, bring that stupid trophy case upstairs too.” Ha!  They did it! “Set it up in the corner.” Up, up, up it went like a flag on Iwo Jima. Our carpeting, it seems, was too deep of a pile. The case was top-heavy and it lurched forward.  Down went Shamu, to the floor, to rest in the middle of the room, as it had downstairs. Terrific. I paid the guys with two six-packs of good beer.

Last weekend, Nick and Jenna came home for Father’s Day and my birthday. Jenna asked, “What are your birthday dreams?” Nick analyzed the trophy case’s tipping point and sent us to Home Depot for shims. And we shimmied that whale right into the corner, where I hope it lives for at least twenty more years.

First Class Flying: Is it all that?

Wtad.com /white pages/ 5/18/17

Bobbe White

plane people

Upgrades in my life? About two. It wasn’t horrible. Especially the time when Woody Harrelson sat behind us.  However, first class fare can be quite costly.  Google it sometime. For what, exactly, are they REALLY paying up there?

PRE-BOARDING: that’s nice and all, but they look so unhappy when the rest of us slubs parade down the aisle to economy class. Maybe it’s that I just cracked a guy’s head with my overhead bag. Oopsies! Maybe first classers would be happier boarding last, so they don’t have to look at us. Maybe it’s the…

FREE BOOZE: Personally,  Johnnie Walker scotch doesn’t appeal at 5:55 a.m., which is when I usually depart. The only thing I want straight up, at that hour, is coffee. Besides, the air is bone dry in every section and alcohol just exacerbates dehydration. My skin’s already fossil-like, who needs it?

SEATS/SPACE: there’s more leg room, but if you know how to pick, there are some economy seats offering leg room, too. Reclining is a matter of degrees, unless you’re on a fancy, schmancy international flight where the seats flip into canopy beds.

AMENITIES: blankets, pillows and socks, oh my! I do kind of miss blankies in the back…

LAVATORY: Technically, fewer people = less waiting. Just remember Murphy ’s Law of bathrooms: the worse you have to go, the longer the wait will be.

FOOD: Some say it’s improving, but from any food I’ve ever eaten up there, it’s more institutional, than gourmet. Cinnabun tastes and smells better, by far. That’s why so many carry-on food.

DE-PLANING: Obviously, deplaning is like accounting 101: FIFO (First in, first out), but I ask you, don’t we REALLY get there all at the same time? Exactly.

SAFETY/SECURITY/SURVIVAL: Again, the law of averages would dictate that the fewer the wingnuts in a given area, the less chance of a meltdown. Sorry, that boat doesn’t carry much water for me. As for a crash, they call it, “Nosedive,” for a reason.  ‘Nuf said. We slubs in the waaaaay back might be the last in the big splash.

PEOPLE are people, regardless of class. Some in first class have no class. You know what I’m talking about. Both flight attendants and passengers can be polite, rude, noisy, quiet, helpful, bitchy, loud, smelly or sad. Everyone has a story. My dad always said, “You don’t know what you don’t know. You may never know what you don’t know. And you may not want to know what you don’t know.”  Passengers are a microcosm of the world. As Abercrombie & Fitch advertised once:  “We’re all just passengers flying around and there’s no room for extra baggage.” It’s a lot like life down here, right? People sitting or standing next to you, in every arena, struggle for one reason or another: financially, physically or emotionally.  Sometimes, you can utter three words to make peace with your neighbor, “WHAT A DAY!” It might start a brief –or longer- conversation. Flying at any level in the atmosphere can be trying. Or exhilarating. “WHAT A DAY!”  are three possible words to blurt when you enter your 42D. That’d be my seat number, not my bra size. “WHAT A DAY!” It’s open to interpretation. It can be positive or negative. A door opener. An Ice breaker. Give it a go. Now, go have a nice flight in any cabin of the world or airplane. It’s time for take-off.

airplane food.

A Perfectly Normal Evening

Wtad.com/White Pages/5.05.17

Bobbe White

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After work, I walked the dog, mowed the yard and put out the garbage. Friday is a big day in our ‘hood. It is garbage day and it can’t come soon enough. Meet Murphy’s Law of Garbage: the day on which you have the most garbage bags is in opposite correlation to the number of garbage stickers you own. For my non-Quincy IL readers, we have two garbage collection options: (1) buy a garbage container from the city at a one-time fee, until your garbage container gets stolen, or (2) pay 75 cents a sticker for regular bags of garbage (i.e. kitchen size), or two stickers for a larger, yard size bag. Stickers can be purchased at groceries for $7.50/sheet of ten; I usually buy two sheets. That seems like sooooooo many stickers. Until I need one. Or two. Or six, like I did tonight. At 8:15 p.m., when I’d planned on relaxing for the evening, I loaded Lily White, the black Lab, into the car and told her that since she’d been home all day, we’d go get the stickers, some coffee pods for my Keurig, bananas, shower gel, cereal and dog bones.

It was a record time grocery run, seeing as my hands smelled of gasoline, from refilling the mower, and Lily barked the ENTIRE time I shopped, because the checkout guy could hear her. She thinks I’m never coming back, but I always do, because the garbage must go!

After unpacking the groceries, I checked my Fitbit app. Mowing had pushed my total over 15,800 today! After seeing that number, I was really tired and finally sat down with a nice glass of wine as Lily chewed her bone. Then a bell rang in my head: Where’s the coffee? And the stickers? I searched the kitchen, my purse and the empty grocery bags. Hopefully, the coffee’s with the stickers in the car. The good news: I found the stickers. The bad news was really bad: no coffee. That’s what I get for shopping with a mental list. No worries. In the morning, I will simply have to fill a reusable K-cup sized container with regular coffee grounds found in the pantry. It will suffice, until I realize the coffee I have is technically espresso. You can almost feel the buzz. And if THAT’s not a great way to kick off a Friday, there isn’t one.

So much for first-world problems. Happy weekending!