Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear Abby

Reading this morning's Dear Abby was quite a revelation for me. It was all about people who were told by one or two of their parents that they were never wanted. There were four answers to a previous letter which I do not remember having read. Wounded Heart, One Who Knows, Deeply Wounded and Wish I Never Knew were the names of the responders. I wish I had known that many people felt the way I did. When you are little you don't know that something is eating away at your feeling of security. I had problems with friendships in school, for if someone made overtures in my direction, I did not want to get along with a person who had such poor taste. Its like the joke about the man who did not want to join the club that was stupid enough to let him in.

Why did I never go to a counselor who could have saved me from feeling inferior all these years. And why does a nearly ninety year old person worry about cruel things told to her eighty years earlier? Someone who knows, tell me that.

The heat wave is abating and I just had to put on a white cotton sweater. I had breakfast with a good friend this morning. Then I went to the garage to have freon put into my air conditioning. And three pounds of air into a tire that made my car seem to turn to the right even when I wanted to go straight. And I filled up the gas tank. All preparations for going for a ride in the afternoon if the heat wave continued. I made the heat wave go else where.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


We live in the perfect part of the country. Weather-wise that is. It rains sometimes, but we need moisture. Occasionally we have a little snow flurry but it is usually enjoyable and brings back memories of times when snow was fun. And never do we get a heat wave. Until now. It is difficult knowing what to do to avoid the heat. Especially at my age. I can;t go down to the beach and sit with my feet in the water. The reason....... I can't get up again. And so we are in a record breaking heat wave here in Port Angeles. The temperature is record breaking and the length of the problem is also record breaking.

My getting along with this non 'air conditioning' is sitting in one place, working on a project that totally absorbs me. I am working on Christmas presents. And I am not knitting socks.

The reason for no blog is that I have run out of memories. Maybe when the weather gets normal, my brain will return to normal. I will try to be more reliable in the future.Thank you for the caring comments.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Bus Trip

A lunch trip to Lake Crescent was promised this Thursday. I think the bus has the capacity of eighteen passengers and I was number seventeen. One person had cancelled that morning. Which warned me to decide earlier and sign up if I really want to go. The weather could not have been more ideal. It was warm and sunny with no wind. The place was crowded with live in visitors. And as time passed more and more people arrived, some to eat their pic-nic lunches by the edge of the water, others to eat in the restaurant. One smart couple who were told there was a waiting period before they could be seated, ordered food to go and and the male part of the couple went out to secure a seat for two on a bench in the shade of a tree near the water. There were children galore playing in the water and It was a glorious day.

There were a few flies in the ointment. The waiting for us at the table for seventeen was endless. It is a great way to meet and get to know people you have never been in touch with before. The man sitting next to me had never been told by his mother that you have to keep your elbows close to your own ribs when you sit next to someone. His elbow was dangerously close to my plate. Then I found out that his mother died when he was four and that his father had brought up him and his four siblings. Then the poor college age student working for the summer had a difficult time with so many orders at one table. My bill was $16.44 and I handed him a twenty dollar bill and when I got my change, I got $16.44. I hope he came out OK at the end of the day. He seemed relieved when I gave him back $11.00. His tip was already figured in, in the ticket. I met a very nice woman named Virginia. She sat directly across from me, and at first I was hesitant to talk to her. She turned out to have a great sense of humor and a keen sense of what was going on.

Our bus driver, beloved by all, stopped by the soft ice cream place out near the Lake and ordered us all a dessert. It is a time consuming deal and I am sure delays him miserably, but he does it willingly and we all love it. He is great asset here, and if the powers were aware of how much we appreciate him, he would be written up in the sale's pitch for the place.

Some one asked me to enter my name to become a board member of the Friends of the Port Angeles Library. We need to get in touch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Margaret's pitcher

Many years ago, before we had our new library, we had a member of the Friends of the Library who had become a 'bearing wall' of the group. Once or twice a year we had a book sale out in the garage of the place which now is the County site of the workings of the place. The garage was there because of the tall trucks that used to deliver books to shut ins in the out-lying areas of avid readers. The name of this elderly woman was Margaret Coffey.

She once told me her age and I think at the time she was in her middle seventies. I wondered how she could work so hard at her age. She could lift heavy boxes of books and she could stand on her feet for hours, sorting books for a future sale. The garage was a cold drafty place and her feet were usually in high heeled shoes. She was great to work with, for no one could say he or she was tired as long as Margaret persevered.

One day Margaret called and asked Sam and me for lunch the following week end. I said Sorry, but we have two grand daughters here from Denver. She said bring them along. She lived on the family farm which was out in the direction of Joyce. Many years earlier the family home had burned down and Margaret lived in a trailer where the house had stood. There were many buildings remaining and many of her belongings could be found in what was once the barn.

We had a delightful lunch and when we settled down with coffee and desert the children asked if they were allowed to go out to discover things. Margaret said they could, if they promised not to go into any of the buildings, for she did not know how safe they were. When the girls came back, they said, Grandma, come out and see what we saw. It was time for us to leave, so we said our Thank You. As we walked to our car, Kate said come and see what we found. It was some colorful old fashioned thing they had never seen before and they asked if they could ask Margaret if they might have it. I said, go and ask. Margaret came to investigate and at once said, Of course you may have it. It was some price given out at a county fair. My eyes spied a dirty pitcher lying on its side in the dirt on the floor. I asked if I might have that one. She said 'What on earth for?' I said It has such an unusual shape and I may use it in a painting. She said 'Take it.' And so we went home with our treasures.

The following Friends of the Library Board meeting was going to be held at Margaret's home. It was scheduled for one o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. We drove out there in two cars and when we got there, there was a note on the the door. It said 'please enter' We sat down and waited and after a few moments George Stratton, the head of the Library arrived. He sat down and said, Margaret died yesterday. Her daughter found her, sitting in her favorite chair. She was dead.

The discussion on the agenda had been, how can we help raise money for the bond issue. None of us wanted to remain. We were all too shocked and saddened by the news. So we scheduled another meeting and left. When we met later in the week I had a plan for raising money for the election. I would paint one painting each month named Margaret's Pitcher. It would be displayed in the North Light Gallery and people who saw it could bid on it and the highest bidder would get it. Many people who came across from Canada on the Ferry saw them and bid. I think only two remained in Port Angeles. Apparently enough money was raised that the names of my husband and me were put on the wall as donors. Unknown to us, until it was too late to remove them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A columnist

We had a columnist in our local newspaper, Helsingborgs Dagblad, who was a woman. My mother and this columnist were good friends. I can imagine a conversation between these two women, probably in the afternoon, having coffee at Hogvakten Konditory. The conversation went like this. Mother: I am not looking forward to this summer. Gertrud will be out of school in June and she is so difficult to live with. Friend: Oh maybe I can help you out. George (not his name) doesn't like that I live here in the south. Can we send her up to Dalarna to help him out with cleaning and washing and fixing his meals? Mother: What a wonderful idea.

This happened in 1938 and before I knew it I was ensconced in a taxi, with mother's friend. She was going to show me what had to be done and how it was going to be done. Nobody had asked me if I wanted to do this. Mother just informed me that I was going to do it. I was 18 and it was time for me to live elsewhere. It was a lucky break for me, but I did not know it at the time. Our news papers were full of stories about Greta Garbo traveling around Europe with a Symphony director from Philadelphia. They had just crossed into Sweden from Denmark that morning, according to Dagbladet. I crept into the corner of the taxi hoping I could fool my fellow citizens that it was Garbo lurching in the cab.

We reached our destination in the afternoon. Mother's friend quickly showed me the guest room where I was to sleep. And also were I was to spend the evenings, For husband didn't want to socialize with hired help. He was a professor and needed his quiet time. She introduced me to the kitchen and told me what George wanted for breakfast and dinner. She also introduced me to the vacuum cleaner and when George arrived home, after a very cool greeting, she introduced me to him, who did not seem thrilled to have a person foisted on him. And then she said Good bye and escaped in the taxi she had asked to wait and returned to Skane.

They lived in an apartment near the college or university. I met some people who were like a substitute family for me. The work was easy. I had not yet heard what I was going to get paid for this adventure. It could have gone on and on but I made a mistake. One day I decided I should probably make an effort to do more of a cleaning than just dusting around the edges. I took down pictures and rolled up rugs and worked really hard. That was the day his highness decided to come home for lunch. He was met by a room totally messed up. He could not tolerate such a shock and phoned his better half in the south. She hired the same taxi and came the next day to take me back to Skane.

It was a quiet trip back and when I saw we had a visit by my favorite Aunt I was happy I had not missed her. She had asked my sister if she would like to go to America. She said no, she had health issues. So she asked me, and I said YES, and within a couple of weeks I had reservations and a permanent visa and off I went, and all of you know the rest of the story.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

More faces

After my grandfather died, around 1930, an elderly woman moved into his house. It was such a cute little house and the garden was well kept when Grandfather lived there. Soon after she moved in it became evident that the garden was the least of her interests. We, his grand children, had been employed to see to it that there no weeds in his garden. One year there was a severe influx of some kind of worm in the Reseda that edged the walk way from the gate in his fence to his front door. We got a swedish penny for each worm we pulled out of the flowers. You may think this was slave labor, but we got so many pennies my mother insisted we had to save ten percent and then we could go to the Candy store. So how does this come in under the heading of More Faces? Sorry, this new face didn't care about the Reseda or anything in the garden.

We soon discovered that she was an alcoholic. At night, sometimes after midnight she would walk down the lane to our house. She had lost her way to her out-house and my mother would have to turn her around and steer her back up the lane. And sometime it was too late. She would relieve herself on the way home.

If you met her during the day, in one of the shops, she was a good looking woman, with good clothes and a happy outlook on life. She was the first person I had met who drank too much. Except for the drunks you'd see on the ferry between Helsingborg, Sweden and Helsinor Denmark. Mostly Swedes took advantage of the drinks you could buy. Twenty minutes on the way over and twenty minutes on the way back. Looking back now, it seems the drinks must have been expensive, what with having to buy two ferry rides.

Farmor, meaning our paternal grandmother, had a lovely face. She was very wrinkled but she had the happiest face. Her eyes sparkled. She had a hunch back which was probably caused by lack of calcium when she carried her eight children. They were very poor at some times in their marriage. Grandmother was a perfect grandmother who would pick us up (one at a time ) and spend a forenoon reading to us. She would also let us play with the skin on her hands. We would lightly pinch her skin, and when we let go, the skin would stand up all by itself. We learned how to count that way. We would begin counting when we first pinched and when her hand was flat again we stopped. Such sport !!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Swedish older people

When we had a festive dinner when I was growing up, festive because of company or someone's birthday, we always served a drink with the meal. It was called Dricka. That word also means 'to drink'. It was non alcoholic and it looked like beer. It was delicious. We had to walk from one end of our village to the other. The place had large wooden gates and it was almost impossible to open them if you were under ten years old. The buildings inside the gate were old and arranged the way farms were arranged in the olden days. To the right was the family building, opposite was the building for the animals, horses and cows and such and between these was the barn here hay and equipment was kept. Then the farmer owned ground outside of the village for grazing. There were several of these old farms inside the village and the reason for the heavy gates was protection from the Danes when the Swedes and the Danes decided to have WAR.

The woman who owned this farm and who lived on the income from the Dricka never changed in the years when I had to go to buy her wares. She was dressed in boots and men's work pants and a long apron which was more stained as the years went on.She had arranged to sell her dricka in the building across from he home. We had to bring a pail to carry it home. She had a counter and she would put her hands on the counter (they were as red as beets ),bend over slightly and say "What will it be today?" I don't know what else she sold but probably something that had become alcoholic. Her nose was always running and she had no tissue and she did not use her hand but her tongue was busy. I don't know what her name was but we called her Froken something.

The teacher in the last two years of standard education paid for by the government lived next door to this dricka person. There was no space between the teacher's house and the farm and the other side of the farm had a house up tight next door. I don't remember who lived there but it must have been difficult to live so close to the fly inspiring place so close by.

If you continued in the direction you were going, only a few more houses, and where the road bent, there was Niagara Cafe and a few feet from that you could bend over a wall and see Niagara Falls. I would always sneak over and try to see how much water was passing over the falls as high as about two bricks on top of each other. In summer time sometimes you could not see the trickle. And then I would return and do my errand.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wonderful faces

Our bus left at 11.30 for our lunch tour to Blackberry Cafe in Joyce. There were fourteen of us going for this new adventure. And our driver whom you have heard about before, an absolute saint, with an invisible tiara. The average age, not counting our driver, was probably around 87. It was fun observing this group. Two of them were men.

There were two women who have been on every bus tour I've been involved in. They are not related, but this is probably a strong friendship which probably began after arriving here. At least five times I have heard one of them tell the other that she had a truck before she moved, but she sold it for she knew she would not need it here in the west. Her friend is about the same age came here from Florida where she also was involved in a farm.

The smallest woman there is a representative of God's. The first time I rode the bus, she tried to introduce me to her God. I must have been dismissive for she has never brought up the subject with me again. But I heard her tell that one of the people who died last week had refused to listen to her talking about God and now she feels so sorry for her for now it is too late. She actually grew up in Joyce, a tiny little community that doesn't have even one traffic light.

And one of the people weighs maybe less than the afore mentioned one, for she is soo thin. I knew her before moving here. Sam and I used to play bridge with her and her husband. She is so elegant and so proper, she looks as if she could go to tea with the queen any moment. Her husband was involved with logging and was a tall man and could have been a logger in a play.

One of the women, one who has a beautoful face and beautiful white hair is a walker. I think her group is called Klehanne. She seems very vital.

Then there was one woman that I have never been close to. The reason is that she is always sitting on a piano stool and she plays and plays. It is said that she doesn't know how to read music but she knows every tune that was ever popular. She can go on for hours. She is 94 or 97.

One of the men looked as if he had just stepped off the tractor, washed his hands, and ready for lunch. He wore a checkered flannel shirt and braces. The two men sat together and were totally different from each other. They sat across from Keith, the driver and could carry on a masculine discussion. Keith was meanwhile playing nanny to our piano player.

The two women sitting on either side of me are younger and seem very nice. I suggested to one of them that we share a bacon burger and luckily she was elated. It was the worst hamburger I have ever tasted. The bacon as underdone, the beef was either absent or so thin that you could not see it. And they must have cooked them an hour before we got there. They were cold.

Then we visited a couple of beautiful beaches on our way home. I heard one voice from the back of the bus saying: This is better than staring at four walls. That remark made me sad. There is much to do here and nobody should stare at four walls.
Next blog will be about some people this same age I remember from growing up in Sweden.