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SPRING MUSINGS

Wtad.com/white pages/4.13.17
peeps                                                                                                                      by Bobbe White

Spring in the Midwest is a season of surprises and contradictions. Here are a few:

WEATHER                                                                                                                                              Like any season in the Midwest – we have about seventeen of them- everybody talks about the weather. My favorite comment, “I wish the weather would just make up its mind!” This is the Midwest. That’s what our weather does best: spring into summer, then spring back to winter. BoInG! BoInG! BoInG!

YARD                                                                                                                                                        I like mowing, because of the exercise. Plus, it’s great to see instant results from your efforts. However, thick, spring grass provides resistance. I pretend I’m a football player trying to push a sled and the coach is standing on it, for more resistance. Drive by our house every other day. I’ll be mowing after work; Jeff follows behind me to fertilize the yard. Okay, let me get this straight: I mow frequently. He fertilizes to make it grow more, so I’ll mow more frequently.  How does this make sense? But I don’t complain, because I like to mow.

MUSHROOMS: a Midwest phenomenon. Many people spend hours hunting for them. The environment must line up perfectly: moisture, temperature and timber. Add ticks, snakes and spiders. It’s the best. Preparation involves frying. We seldom fry food, but with mushrooms, we eat them faster than we can fry them. Those who don’t find them, buy them from other people who found them. How do you find a seller? Just listen to conversations on Monday mornings and the finders brag, “I found 13 pounds this weekend.” However, they’ll never reveal where they found them. I have “Mushrooms” in my phone contacts. I’ve paid up to$20.00/lb. I know. It’s crazy. But they’re crazy good! Sometimes, when we have them for dinner, we even add a main course.

EASTER MEMORIES                                                                                                                             As I write this post on Maundy Thursday, I remember when our daughter, Korey was the only Jewish student in St. Peter’s kindergarten. Mrs. Kuhl washed feet, while Mrs. Wavering distributed grape juice and crackers. Korey said, “THIS SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE PASSOVER.”  Mrs. Wavering agreed, because, actually, The Last Supper was Passover. Some years, like 2017, Passover and Easter overlap, which I think makes total sense. Other years the holidays can be a month apart. Why? It’s complicated, due to different calendars.

Because we’re an ecumenical family, we also had Easter baskets for the kids. On Saturday night, I lined up Peeps from the kids’ bedrooms, down the hall, like little soldiers, to their baskets. Those little devils were hard as rocks by morning. We figured it was a better use for them than actually eating them. One year, after Nick had rifled through his basket, he seemed a wee bit disappointed. Apparently, the bunny had forgotten to include a new tooth brush. Bad bunny!

Never discount how deeply engrained our seasonal habits or traditions are. Whether it’s mowing, mushroom or egg hunts. Now, go continue –or make- your memories. No Peeps, please!

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alzHACKer’s disease:  Helpful hacks for improving your communication efforts

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

                                                                                                                                                                You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.).  Percentages are expected to increase exponentially.  Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.

A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)

L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.

Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.

H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!

E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.

I nvest in a baby doll.  Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!

M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)

E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.

R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.

S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)

ONE ROSE, COMING UP!

WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES 21517

Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.

The Gift of a Lifetime…Literally

Written for wtad.com by Bobbe White 2/02/17

After his dad, Jim, died last year, Ted Johnson was cleaning out his father’s possessions, when he ran across an LP album. The record label was titled, “Irv Schecter: This is your life.” It was recorded in 1957, by H & H studios, 638 Maine St., Quincy IL. Irv (my dad) was 33 years old. Yours truly was almost two. Ted brought the LP to me at work, still in its original simple album cover, made of brown craft paper.

We have a turntable in our storage room; I had little confidence it still worked. Instead, I got the material transferred onto CD. When I popped the CD into the car player, my world stopped.

In the 1950’s, my parents, apparently, were in a social group, which occasionally, surprised someone with voices from his or her life. They picked Dad; the committee put Mom on task to contact each person, who could speak to Dad’s life from each stage. Friends and relatives were recorded when they called in, or their letter was read.

 

The LP sound quality was a bit scratchy, due to age. Still, it was easy to recognize familiar voices as the emcee played each piece to roast and toast him. Every person was introduced, in chronological order, from Dad’s past. Their names were withheld, so Dad had to identify them by voice.

1.    My paternal grandparents. Sadly, I couldn’t remember Grampy Sam Schecter’s voice.  He died when I was young. Grandma Schecter’s voice was a different story. Her Russian accent and voice tone rang loud and clear in my brain!

2.    Uncle Sid’s commanding voice sounded as if he was in the back seat of my car. He ended by saying, “By the way Irv, you still owe me $1.38…

3.    Next, was Aunt Pat, Dad’s sweet, sister, with a small shoe size (4.5!) and a big New York accent.

4.    Several childhood friends were followed by fraternity brothers, from The Ohio State University. More than one guy joked that dad owed him a bit of money.

5.    Dr. Ben Kimmelman, a dentist from California was the heart stopper. Ben was a fellow P.O.W. in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge. The miracle that these two buddies survived was not lost on the audience.

Dad’s comments, interjections and craughter (crying from laughter) were something to experience again. I envisioned him being a good sport, as he threw his head back in full-out laughter, as if to say, “You got me GOOD!” And they had.

Here I was driving around town with a car full of memories. What a gift. Ted’s trash. My treasure. The mystery of why Jim would’ve even had the LP is puzzling. The fact that Ted could have easily tossed it out –but didn’t – is another puzzle. First, our fathers were definitely acquaintenances, as most Quincy businessmen were and are. But other than that commonality, the only other connection that I know of is the fact that both were residents at the Veteran’s Home on the same floor, until Jim passed away recently.

Remember this simple gesture when weeding out your own homes or those homes of others. You may give someone the gift of a lifetime…literally.

Thanks Ted. I’ll never forget this.

 

ICE, TRIPLE LUTZ and TUTUs

WTAD.COM- WHITE PAGES-1/19/17

Bobbe White

Friday 1/13/17, before multiple inches of ice rained on our world, thousands of residents created the grocery stores’ version of Black Friday. The entire Midwest vicinity would be eating mountains of French toast for days, with their apocalyptic purchases: bread, milk and eggs. Oh, and beer. The store lines replaced the ice threat in the headlines. I wasn’t worried. We’d be fine. We had enough dog food, Oreos and Jack (Daniels) to last a month. There was Halloween candy, somewhere in the freezer.

I pretended we were iced in for two days and never left the house. It was pretty slick as our dogs slid across the deck. Lily White, the black Lab, performed a triple Lutz, landing on all four paws.  Molly White, Lily’s niece, struggled, but only from inexperience.

Being iced in was a perfect scenario. Saturday was day 14 of the Minimalist Game. In follow up to last week’s post, this meant I vowed to pitch, sell, donate or re-gift 14 household clutter items on Saturday, 15 on Sunday and so forth. The details of what was trashed would bore you, but I’m proud to say that I finally pitched my daughter’s 1995 gingerbread house from St. Peter’s kindergarten class. It wasn’t until one of my friends texted me: “THROW IT AWAY! IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T LOVE HER!” It sounds ridiculous, but after getting permission, it was easy. Now, what about those tubs of toys and baby clothes living in the storage room? Why do we keep the tutus?  Stained bibs? Baby sized rubber boots? The rootin’ tootin’ cowboy chaps? Do we fear the memories will get tossed out with the tangibles? At least we’ve got plenty of pictures and videos to assist our memories. Just think of the money savings on film and developing costs, now that we take smart phone pictures.  If we don’t have to buy or develop film, we must be saving hundreds of dollars, aren’t we?  It’s doubtful. Smart phones can cost hundreds of dollars. It’s simple:  we’ll never win the spending game, until we stop wasting money. Here’s how the inner fight plays out in me:

$50 gift card…cool!

Let’s go shopping!

Oh, rose gold bracelet I’ve wanted FOREVER!

Hmmmm, it’s $284.00.

But I can apply the $50 card…

I shouldn’t get it.

I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I really, REALLY want it!

I’m getting it, so there.

It’s an investment in gold.

(Inner eye roll, saying, “Nice try.”)

Defiance of inner eye roll.

I got it!

Exhilaration!

Later…

Buyer’s remorse:

What was I thinking?

Ugh. I didn’t mean to spend more money than the card value.

That’s the devil in the gift card. I always go over.

Shouldn’t have bought it.

Inner voice: told you not too.

But I wanted it.

So, what else is new?

I’m mad at myself.

That was stupid.

I’m stupid.
Don’t even like rose gold.

Then do you know what happened?

I woke up.

Yes I did!

It was a dream?

It was a dream!

IT WAS A DREAM!

Ahhh, relief.

The end.

Happy restraining!

 

Just Say “THROW” (it away!)

The White Pages, by Bobbe White                                                                                                              written for wtad.com  1/12/17

Just Say, “Throw!”

Have you heard of The Minimalist Game? The game is designed to help those of us with organized hoarding habits, to unburden our homes of extra stuff. It exhausts me to think about it, but I’m playing and found a friend on Facebook, Marianne Schmitt, who has joined me, so that we can be accountability buddies during the festivities. First, I watched the documentary, The Minimalists, as recommended by my daughter. Then, I found their website, with regular podcasts, books and blogs, oh my! All designed to help People Like Us (PLU) who have a tendency to keep and heap. Here’s how the game is played for a month. I started 1/1/17, but you can start whenever you like. On day 1, you get rid of one item you don’t need, wear or want. On day 2, two things. I’m on day 12, because it’s the 12th, obviously, and that’s right, I must shed 12 things. So far, I’ve been a good player and student of the game, but, it’s going to get harder. Today I threw out two broken baby gates, a gallon of Elmer’s glue, four books and five flip flops. This is kind of like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” in reverse and with giving, not getting one thing from your true love. To the giver, whatever you pitch should have no value to him or her anymore.

Another thing about PLU: this is not an easy game, as it moves into double-digit-getting-rid-of-crap-days. However, I keep surprising myself that there actually IS that much worthless stuff in this house! Sad, but true. If I must say so myself, it’s a little bit exhilarating and very satisfying.

One more point of the game that makes it challenging: PLU find it hard to purge anything, no matter how worthless it is. There are two main reasons for this:  (1) we’ve developed a bond over the years with our stuff and (2) the four toxic words of garbage giving: “I might need it!” No you won’t.

If it were nicer weather, I’d put all this stuff outside for a free garage sale. But it’s winter, so for now, I will find homes for some of the items, and the rest will be in my car for a daily drop at the Salvation Army. It’s the best service ever! You pull in and double doors

automatically open, a volunteer comes out with a grocery cart and happily hauls your hoards of stuff away.  Just. Like. That. It’s a lot like the dry cleaners, except you don’t have to go back to pick up your order. You’d better not!  If you follow the rules and I did the math right, after 31 days, you’ll have trashed 487 items! Happy purging, my minimalists!   (theminimalists.com)

Exhibit A:  contents from one (1!) closet
stuff

 

 

 

For more information, check out the minimalists.com.

DON’T TOUCH THAT SEEK OR SCAN!

Don’t Touch That Seek or Scan!

Written by Bobbe White for WTAD.COM

Christmas Holiday isn’t everyone’s favorite –or happiest- time of the year, but there’s something remarkably intriguing about the music, which accompanies the season.

In the olden days –eight years ago- before Sirius, we used to dial in our favorite radio stations in our cars and homes. I think there’s still a dial, but it needs some WD40, seeing as nobody knows where it is. During Christmas we get to tap into Christmas past and feel the familiar emotion of those tunes. Some songs ALWAYS anchor memories, for example: sitting on my daughter’s bed, unpacking stuff in her sorority house, circa 2008, listening to “Game, Game, Game”, from Mamma Mia. I don’t know why exactly, but it does and always will.

The same thing happens with certain holiday songs. We’re magically transported back to a time, when the song hits a chord in our heads –or hearts-even if you or your family didn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe your family –like ours- celebrated a secular Christmas. We were Jewish, but when you’re retail merchants, like my parents were, you still doll up the displays and the Musk (Google it) drums the Little Drummer Boy for weeks. And we can’t help but hum or sing along, regardless of our beliefs. Songs of the season tether our heads to our hearts.

Irving Berlin’s, “White Christmas” premiered on radio at Christmastime, in 1941, just 18 days after Pearl Harbor.  It was only when Armed Forces Radio began to play the song overseas, for American troops that images of the kind of Christmases back home became more memorable. 1942 was the first winter that American troops spent overseas. “White Christmas”, among other carols, spoke to the nostalgia and homesickness of Christmases past, as they longed for a return to home in particular; hope in general. Back home, sweethearts, wives, parents and families were trying to have a semi-normal holiday with hope, too.  It is said that the camaraderie and hopefulness of our troop’s enthusiasm, even in this dark period of history, propelled White Christmas to be a hit, and today it is still the most played Christmas song ever. It’s the glue that connects the past to the present, and the old to the young. Amazing. Never mind it only has 54 words; it both takes us back to a place – and propels us ahead with positive expectation. Never mind Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. How many cool Christmases do you think he celebrated there? Uh, not many. But it works and it plays and we leave our radios on the station for the first time all year, every year, without surfing for something else. Each Christmas song celebrates a meaningful theme:

-One Horse Open Sleigh: friends and family gather together.

-It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: regardless of belief, tell me you don’t feel the endorphins swimming when you see beautiful displays of lights around the city. Add snow and WHOA!

-Santa Claus is Coming to Town: kids believe that magically, somehow their wishes will be delivered. (Oh boy, the pressure is on the parents, ugh….)

-Feliz Navidad: even if you’re not Hispanic, you know what this means, and you know every word.  That’s integration and acceptance of the world differences, before it was even a top issue. Jose Feliciano. Haven’t thought of that name forever.  How do I still know this?

-Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Christmas Song. You don’t remember it? I’ll give you two hints:  hula hoop.

Jubilee. The art of celebration. A hopeful look to the future. An appreciation for the past. Songs let us possess these things forever.

This month, drive around your city, town or the countryside some night close to Christmas, find a Christmas station and I dare you to tell me you don’t feel a little something resembling hope and good will towards men, women and children everywhere.  Double-dog dare ya. It works, like magic!