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Mr. B

My client every other Monday is Mr. B…recently celebrated his 89th birthday, widower for several years now and one of his daughters and her cocker spaniel Freddy are presently living with him.

My work day there starts with a cup of coffee and a chat that lasts almost an hour.  I hear stories about his deceased wife, his children’s and grandchildren’s activities and accomplishments, the neighborhood, and the past.

Two weeks ago he went on his annual trip to the beach in NJ…a tradition that started more than 50 years ago…they would always go down a few times during the year but always on that particular week and the same motel.  The friends they made on that particular week had continued coming as well and it was a reunion of sorts every year.  They would keep in touch during the year and spend their “happy hour” out on the motel’s porch together.

The motel has been owned by the same family all this time.  The husband passed away years ago but his widow and daughters still run the motel with the grandchildren working there as well.  Every year the owner(now in her 80s) says to him, “Hope we’ll see you next year” and he replies, “as long as I can, I will be coming down”.

All of Mr. B’s children made it down there this time…no spouses or children allowed.  The siblings were grateful to just be siblings for a week and be all together again.  Days were spent doing what they felt like doing and dinners were eaten out together.  What remains of the week are happy photographs of them all.

Mr. B brings home boxes of fudge and it was chocolate peanut butter this year…with the exception of the little girl next door…his 4 year old friend who comes and sits on the porch with him and Freddy…she got vanilla marshmallow.  His neighbors on each side got fudge, the lady down the street(her husband used to be his best friend), the mail lady and lucky me, I got some as well 🙂  Even though I don’t eat much sugar these days, I will eat the fudge…in small doses.

Mr. B often says he’d like to go down in the Spring for a few days next year….and I hope he does…I hope he does.

til next time…Eva

 

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A Butterfly Tale

I wait all winter and spring for my butterfly bushes to bloom once again(Buddlea).  Their fragrant purple lilac-type blooms delight the senses as well as attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other interesting flying bugs to my backyard,  The blooming lasts until frost and my pets and I enjoy the luscious scent surrounding us when we are sitting outside after dinner.

I love butterflies and over the years there have been some interesting types visiting my butterfly bushes…some not common to the area, just passing through.  My daughter’s name even means butterfly.

The summer before my daughter was entering 8th grade, one of her requirements for that year was Biology.  A letter came the month before school informing her that one of the projects due for the first day of school was a bug collection.  Directions for catching/killing the bugs, the list of required/alternative bugs, and the correct method of mounting them.

She and I were both horrified at the thought and I approached the teacher with the suggestion that my daughter could take photographs or draw the bugs instead…a catch and release type scenario.  My request was denied.

As we looked through the list, one was a butterfly.  I told her no way was she getting one of our butterflies. We did the process together( I am very grateful I didn’t have to do this when I had Biology…and don’t get me started on dissections of anything…).

We drove to various areas outside for the different bugs and she did the research to determine what type they were.  A week before school, she had all of the types except the butterfly.  It was stated on the requirements that if one species was missing, 50% of the grade was immediately taken off.  It boiled down to the heartbreaking fact that for a grade, she needed a butterfly.  I told her I’d drive her somewhere because it wasn’t going to be one of ours…and that I didn’t want to see her catch it.

Parents’ night at the school was the 3rd week of classes.  I always attended them(funny thing is that they always seemed to be on Tuesday nights…my husband’s choir practice nights(he’s the choir master) and he never attended them with me.)  When I stepped into the Biology classroom, the whole back of the room was covered with the students’ bug collections.  The teacher proceeded to say that the bug collections would not be returned to the students because in the past she had instances when new students “reused” old collections.

I unfortunately had promised my daughter I wouldn’t make any comments to this teacher.  My thoughts are that this is a barbaric practice.  This is just one local class.  She had 70 students.  So multiply that by the amount of schools doing this and you could really deplete one species for the sake of “a bug collection”.

After her presentation ended, all of the parents went up…she looked at my name tag, “oh yes,” she stated with a small sneer, “you were the parent who inquired if your daughter could take photographs or draw them instead.”

It was not my daughter’s favorite class that year(she was an English/Art kind of student.

You are probably wondering by now why I feel that strongly about butterflies…well, here’s the tale. ..  My dear father had passed away and it was the day of his funeral.  I had pulled my mother’s chair close to the front doorway…a lovely morning in early August.  She was in her chair, my daughter was sitting in front of her on the door stoop and I was standing by my mother. All of us were looking outside at the flowering plants and birds.

Suddenly appeared a large monarch butterfly.  It first rested on my mother’s cheek then landed on my daughter’s hand and lastly landed on my shoulder before flying out the door and into the distance.

We three were stunned for a moment and then tearful smiles and a whispered, “did you see that!”  My father used to kiss my mother on the cheek, always kissed my daughter’s hand and always put his strong hand on my shoulder.

My father had come that morning as a butterfly to give us all much needed comfort and peace.

A butterfly.

til next time…Eva

 

Language Perils

My husband has an interest in maps and languages.  One of his absolute favorite things to do is sit with an atlas…doesn’t matter from where…and study it.  He will buy a map from a city and that will entertain him for hours.  Another love of his is learning a new language.  He will start his new language just before winter starts and all winter long, every night, he will spend hours on the computer learning his new language.

It begins with watching the free You-Tube videos.  Then he starts purchasing the CDs for the language.  Then a dictionary.  Then starts making flash cards.  Then childrens’ books in that language.  So on, so on and so on.

He’s a pianist and when he concentrates on a particular composer, he plays all of the music from that composer.  If they speak/spoke a different language, then he feels the need to read their words in the native language.  Admirable.  As  long as you don’t have to live with the said person learning language!

He started off with Dutch years ago when we were first married.  Every time he didn’t know what to do with himself, he’d get the Dutch information out.  This went on for years.  I was kind of relieved when he did the same with Spanish…thinking…good, this is useful, they are always saying how good it is to know Spanish.  That didn’t last long.

Last winter it was French.  I have tried French several times and never succeeded.  He was quite pleased with himself in accomplishing something I could not.  He was making flash cards of various words and placing them on our appliances and furniture.  Ok, I could deal with that.

Forward to this past winter.  Out of the blue, he decided that Norwegian would be a good language to learn.  He started off with You-Tube free videos.  The woman he was learning from wasn’t even Norwegian…so it was Norwegian with a NY accent.  I dealt with his proud pronunciations for a month.  Fast forward to last night…he has now been learning Norwegian since October.  9 months.

Every night after dinner, my husband gets my computer for a few hours before he goes to bed(he’s an early one…in bed by 9).  It had been a tough week workwise for me and I had made myself a cup of coffee and settled in my chair.  Kitty was on my lap and Zowie in her cage nearby.  We all were dozing a bit(pets and I).  All of the sudden, I hear a mumbling coming from my husband’s part of the living room.  He is wearing earphones and mumbling quite loudly in Norwegian.

Kitty started shifting around on my lap.  Zowie started getting agitated.  First she flapped her wings. Her next show of displeasure was rattling her string of bells.  And lastly, when nothing stopped the mumbling, she climbed down to her bottom perch where she could reach her door and started lifting that and slamming it…over and over again.  Between that and the mumbling, the minor headache I have basically had all week blew into a major one.

I had to calm Zowie down so I went over to her cage and petted her while soothingly talking to her.  Thankfully it was soon 9 and hubby stopped being on the computer.  “You were kind of vocal tonight…”  “Oh, was I?  I was listening to a Norwegian song and reading the lyrics…”

He went to bed.  Peace reigned once again.  You know, I always wanted to get back to Norway again…I had been there with my parents once and it was breathtakingly beautiful.  But between Disney’s Frozen cruises and my husband learning Norwegian, I think I am foregoing it for a while…

til next time…Eva

Transitions

013a   This has been a month of transitions.  Once Labor Day has passed, I always know that I soon won’t have my summer clients.  Others are surprises.

“Aunt Frances” is moving to an assisted living facility in a neighboring town close to her church. Not really her choice but when 2 of  her “children” (her children are 79, 76, and 74)  are moving to retirement communities in Florida  and leaving shortly,  and her one son needing surgery and a long term rehabilitation, she had two choices…she could either come along and live with one of them or move to an assisted living facility. She chose the assisted living facility…and had two weeks to get used to the idea and to drastically downsize.

I had been going there weekly and have gradually seen her having her good days and her not so good days.  She relied on her one son weekly to take her on her errands and her pastor/pastor’s husband picking her up for various church activities…suddenly the son has to have his surgery and the pastor retired and is moving to Florida as well.

Her one big concern was her cat “Lady”.  When I went there two weeks ago, she asked and generally assumed I would take her cat “Lady”.  With Kitty the way he is now…very aggressive, I knew it would not be a good idea to bring her home with me…so I had to say no.  In the size of her family, there wasn’t one person who would take Lady.  My neighbor finally found a home for Lady and took her there yesterday…the family had said the other alternative was taking Lady back to the pound(trust me, I had sleepless nights on this one).

My neighbor has been very upset about her aunt moving to the assisted living…but I have been telling her the positives…that Aunt Frances won’t have to cook her own meals, she will have a decent shower (her water hadn’t been working properly), she won’t have to worry about if anything goes wrong and she has to call someone to come and fix it and that she will have people to talk to(she was alone most of the time).

In  her 101 years she has had many transitions in her life…from being in a childrens’ home during the Depression because her mother had died and her father couldn’t take care of the children, WW2, her husband dying young and she having to take care of their 3 children on her own, managing both a job and the farm, moving from the farm to the trailer, and now moving again.

I learned through Aunt Frances these past two weeks is that “Stuff” isn’t important. She is taking as many pictures as she is able to.  The basics in her furniture because she will only have one room.  Her bedroom suite she has had for 80 years is being left behind.  She wants her sewing machine and her knitting/crochet needles along.  The only knick knacks coming along are the items her husband had bought for her.

She moves Tuesday.  She’s been my “Tuesday person” for quite a while now and I am going to be at loose ends as well…

Stay well “Aunt Frances” and hoping you will find joy in your new living quarters…I will miss my Tuesdays with you.

til next time…Eva

The Rules have changed….

photo by Eva 2015

photo by Eva 2015

Having been in the bridal consulting business for years and lately making florals in my Etsy shop gearing for weddings, I thought I pretty much was in the loop of bridal protocol…  well, apparently not.  This summer I have realized that while I was not looking, the rules have changed.

When you have a 20-something daughter, you start to see the engagements, weddings and soon babies coming along.  This past summer my daughter was in one wedding(of her room mate from college), attended an engagement, and attended an old friend’s wedding.  I also have heard of two weddings friends of mine attended and in a very short time, the rules have changed…

Ok, Engagements.  I personally always believed  getting engaged was an extremely private matter.  I remember when my husband proposed to me, we actually didn’t tell anyone for weeks…wanting to keep that sweet time very private and to ourselves.  I hadn’t gotten a ring yet because he wanted me to choose what I wanted.  The day we went out ring shopping and had our photographs taken is a special day I will always remember.

Now…the groom wants certain people there to witness the event.  My daughter just went to one last night in a theme park…my question to her was, “what if the girl says no?”  The public is notified immediately.  I often wonder if this doesn’t backfire sometimes…

Weddings…I was always under the impression that if I am invited to a wedding, then I am really wanted there.  I know, call me naïve in many cases…(now I am well aware of many weddings where the parents have business associates invited, that has always been the case…I still don’t understand that, but that’s another story…).  My two friends were both invited to weddings this summer…both of them told me that the gift amount depends on where the wedding reception is going to be held…and both of these women actually went online to see what an average meal at that venue would be…and based their wedding present on that.  I then asked, “well, what if you don’t have the money for a present of that amount?”  Both of their answers were, “well, then you don’t go.”

Being creative, I have always made my presents for the couple and I have always been thrilled to have been invited.  Many times I have just gone to the wedding and not the reception(especially those days when I was single…I just didn’t want to be at the reception solo.)

The sheer range of weddings boggles the mind sometimes.  The one wedding my friend attended this summer in a very posh venue spent more on their flowers than many weddings have as a budget. This wedding was planned for two years . Went to Europe for their honeymoon.    A wedding my daughter went to of an old school friend…they got engaged on Valentines’ Day(in a raging snowstorm) and got married 4 months later.  Married at the church and had reception in church hall…all food made by the guests potluck.  The groom picked the flowers for the bride’s bouquet and his boutonniere.  Went camping for the honeymoon.  Both couples seem very happy.  I wish them all well and hope their marriages will last.

I know the rules will change again…and I will be waiting…

til next time…Eva