Monday, April 06, 2020

4-5-2020 Monday-11:30am

Good morning!
The grackles returned before the snowstorm we had come in Wednesday.
 It is hard to tell but I also saw my first robin.
Both the grackles and the robin liked the suet.
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Mom turned the ringer off on her phone so she had to bring it down to the front desk and go right back home to her apartment.  Then Kathy (SIL) drove over, was handed the phone in the entryway, fixed the phone, handed it back, and the person on duty brought the phone back up to to Mom.  I hope they wiped it down, too.  Likely did as they are being very careful there.
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Mom and I had a nice long chat the next day.  Now that she's gotten used to the brief check-in every morning and food being delivered...she was back to being unhappy she can't see anybody.  I think the shelter-at-home is hardest on the social butterflies.  They do not do well alone and miss company of some kind.  It's a shame she never learned about computers.  But she's fine and her senior building is locked down tight.
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The snowstorm arrived later on Wednesday and lasted through till Friday morning.  It was suddenly winter again here so Rita's Critter Cafe became suddenly very popular once again--LOL!
They were here all day Thursday during the storm, too.  Partridges.. 
...grackles... 
...and a jackrabbit. 
I think I put out food three times, at least.  Maybe this will be our last brush with winter? 
The partridges are very serious diggers.  They seem to be smart enough to know that the snow quickly buries the seed and are determined to find it--LOL! 
Annie likes to watch them digging and kicking up snow, too. 
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In the morning I tossed some seed out and juncos arrived post haste. 
Of course a gang of noisy grackles arrived later on.
Yup--was winter white again for a while.
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Been melting down to a soupy mess right now.  
 
They never cleared the path back here so not many people out walking.  
I went out this morning and swept away a ton of rabbit poop off my patio before I put a little seed out.
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Leah came up with a wonderful idea--that we have Craft Nites again with video calls!!  We haven't actually been doing crafts this year so far, anyways.  Mostly been having gab fests and Leah was bringing me food I could nuke.  So--we had our first Craft Nite again on Thursday night!!  (Lots of talk about how to get groceries eventually and face masks.)
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Then on Saturday I had a virtual Gramma Day with Ian while Liam took a nap...just Ian and I.  We decided to start this longer book I had here.
I read him the first one (The Moomins and The Great Flood) quite a long time ago and sent it home with him.  This is the second book in the series.  So we will have lots of reading we can do on Saturday afternoons on Gramma Days for a while.  :)
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Note: as soon as Liam woke up from his nap Ian wanted to say goodbye...immediately.  I don't think he wanted to share his alone time with Gramma.  ;)
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That night I planned to read bedtime stories to both the boys from Frog and Toad but Liam is not ready for sitting and listening like that yet.  He got very noisy and wasn't paying any attention so I asked Daddy to take him away.  I read to Ian and he enjoyed it.  So bedtime stories might not work--with Liam, anyways.  But it was very nice!
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The idea is to try to make things more "normal" again.  Ian does have "school" every afternoon as Liam naps.  He enjoys it and has Mama all to himself for a couple hours.  Now Leah and I will have Craft Nites and I will have Gramma Days with Ian.  We can do video chats other times, too, of course (like Ian sent me something he made and wants a video call when I get it), but we will have more of our old schedule.  :)
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Myself--I have had noticeably less spoons and I wondered why.  Well, I no longer have Caroline coming to clean every two weeks, for one--so I am doing more dusting and vacuuming and such.  (My bathroom and floors will just have to wait.)  
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Then--I no longer have Leah spoiling me by bringing over pre-made foods for me every week that I only had to pop in the microwave.  Since I got so bad in June I haven't been doing all my cooking until now.  
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So, those are two reasons I have less "extra" spoons.  That is why I had been falling behind on my letter writing, not getting to my calligraphy lessons, and--once again--didn't get to the Friday question blog.  Aha!
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Things have changed big time in the world.  That brings up the third (likely biggest) factor that I wasn't thinking about--stress.  Stress runs amok throughout my fibro/arthritic body.  Just a fact...that I seem to have forgotten--LOL!  It effects my sleep, my pain level, my IBS--you name it.  Apparently this whole virus threat and upheaval has been bothering more than I thought it was.  
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So, for now I am giving myself a break on the calligraphy lessons and the Friday blog.  If I can get to them, I will.  But if not--no big deal if they are random.  
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  The new project I want to be working on with any spare spoons is sewing a few face masks for us.  I've been researching patterns online and information.  Before tomorrow night's Craft Nite I plan to dig through my sewing supplies to see what I have that I can use so I can show Leah and get her opinion...which is what we would have been doing had we been able to actually get together.  :)
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I still make this Monday "newsletter" blog my top priority so that I can let people know I am okay.  But my main other spoon use will be going towards Craft Nites, Gramma Days, video calls, cooking, cleaning, and this sewing project.  If I have anything left over it will go to calligraphy practice or a random Friday life questions blog post.  
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I plan to watch less news.  I have been cutting back, but I want to be informed, too--a delicate balance.  Basically when I am exhausted and feel cruddy (a lot of days, sadly)--turn on a good series or movie and not open the laptop--LOL!  That's the plan!  :)
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Anyways, I am so grateful this all didn't happen last year!!  I would have had a difficult time on my own, to be honest.  At least I am doing okay now and can manage to do everything for myself.  Another silver lining!  I can't imagine what this would have been like if it was back when I could hardly walk!  Neither Dagan or Leah could have come to stay with me.  Dagan has to work from home and goes to the offices occasionally.  Leah has two little boys to take care of.  I probably would have ended up in rehab--and could well get infected there...can't imagine it.
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If I do get the virus now I will be on my own, but I am able to function these days so would likely be okay in the long run.  If I did have trouble breathing then I'd call 911.  
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Dagan is high risk with his heart.  Leah has had asthma since she was a child--even if it is better recently.  They are both high risk as far as I'm concerned.  I worry about them.  Leah says she worries about me.
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The saddest thing to me about this very contagious disease is that people are alone.  You can't be with loved ones when they are sick...or even when they are dying.  People can't even go to funerals.  It is such an isolating disease in so many more ways than just having to spend time at home.  
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I wish no one had to get this.  I wish the people who aren't taking this seriously would do so.  We're all in this together--separately.  There are so many heroes--besides the nurses, doctors, nursing assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy clerks...there are all the grocery store workers, people filling online orders, postal workers, delivery people, sanitary workers, police, firemen, the people who keep the electricity, water, heat, traffic lights, food banks, and so many endless jobs that keep society going.  The people who keep the internet working.  Those who entertain us with Netflix, Prime, etc, and keep us informed on TV and all the many news programs.  I think about the maintenance men for our building who will still come into your home and repair the faucet or washer if you need it--from 6 ft away.  All the people who clean off everything--over and over again.  There are so many heroes!!   I feel humbled to be able to just be at home--safe and warm.  Bless them all!!
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Strange times.  
For good and for bad. 
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May you all stay safe and well!!
Chat again next Monday.  :)
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Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying "I'll try again tomorrow."
Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, March 30, 2020

3-30-2020 Monday- 12:15pm

 Good afternoon!
Besides watching out the patio door...well, we all know what Annie's favorite activity is during our isolation--LOL!  
The only thing she has noticed is there's no dreaded company coming over so she has to run hide under the bed.  Annie loves isolation!  Definitely a silver lining for Annie Girl.  ;) 
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My diffuser/mister arrived! 
 
I had told Ian all about what I was going to order and how it would change colors when we had on our last actual visit...so this is how we share these days.  :)
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It has been warming up!  We hit 50 degrees already one day and supposed to today and tomorrow, too.  
The snowbanks are shrinking.
I had this crack last spring in this side planter.  It might be a bit longer now...
...and do you see the new hole down in the drain pan?
These were not expensive but I was hoping they would last longer before starting to fall apart.  I am ordering some duct tape to try to patch them up for this year...maybe two years?  (Always the optimist.)
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This year I am on my own for the patio so I decided to order seeds and peat pots and even some gardening tools.  Marigolds and coleus have grown well for me here so I'm just going to plant a bunch of those and hope fo the best.  I'll make the top of my curio cabinet in the bedroom into a nursery because it's right under the window and gets good morning sun.  (Annie will not like that as she does perch there on occasion.)  I'll manage.  Baby steps.  Like I've said...it's surprising what you can manage to get done 10-15 minutes at a time.  ;)
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I am determined to have some flowers and to get one chair and the little tables out there so I'll be able to sit out on the patio this summer.  I'll probably be out there reading more this year than I ever have--LOL!  An isolation bonus, I guess.  A silver lining.
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Speaking of...another silver lining is now that we are doing video calls Liam is getting used to me more.  He smiles at me, calls me Gramma, and even talks to me once in a while.  Video Gramma works really well for a shy boy--LOL!
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On my birthday Saturday McFamily called for a video chat and there they were around the keyboard piano.  Leah played and they sang Happy Birthday to me.  Then I had a visit with Ian and Liam for quite a while.  Read a couple stories before bed and this time Liam stayed and listened on Mama's lap.  There are many, many short stories in the Frog and Toad Book. 
Frog is more the optimist and Toad is a kind of grumpy pessimist--LOL!
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I talked to my mom last week and she sounded much happier.  Someone is checking on her every morning.  They can take her temperature or blood pressure, things like that to make sure she's staying healthy.  They bring her up a meal every day around 4:30pm she told me and my brother said they will have someone to help her shower once a week.  
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Another huge silver lining to this pandemic...Mom thinks they are doing all this just because they are on lockdown at her senior building because of the virus.  She doesn't know she's paying for the added help and nobody is going to tell her (or she'd refuse the help!).  She loves the place even more now...and we can all relax knowing she is being checked on, fed, and taken care of--since they won't even let my brother or sister-in-law into the building.  Perfect!!  :) :)
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Oh, and I misread the email from my brother.  Mom didn't have pneumonia.  They thought she did but ruled it out.  That's when they found the mass in her lung was the breathing issue and how she got sent home with oxygen so quickly.  She wants nothing done and says she is fine with her oxygen.  She doesn't sound winded or out of breath using it when I call, so she's doing well.  Says she feels fine.  I'm so glad she has people coming and going.  She doesn't do well with isolation.  Even those few interactions every day have lifted her spirits.  :)
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Okay--this is probably only funny to me, but I caught Annie with her tongue out.  Hard to see, but you can click to biggen.  Shy Annie would be embarrassed if she knew I posted this--LOL!
Annie Girl is totally stocked up for a few months.  She has a bin full of her dry food.
 This bin holds one of the really big bags!
She's got cases of canned foods...and just today the two bags of #40 kitty litter arrived--whew!  I'd be lost without my little cart!
You can see the canned food stacked behind the boxes of kitty litter.  The first big bin has bird seed in it and the far bin has kitty litter.  The birds and rabbits are eating less and less so I shouldn't need to try to bring in a #40 bag of seed from the garage.  I think I have enough left in the bin.  I don't feed them in the summer--just put water out.
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And what kind of puttery things am I doing during isolation?  Well, when I saw the front of the frig again taking the diffuser pics I decided to clean up the assorted things I slap on the front.
Saved some pics I want to keep looking at (can't possibly put them all away) and have my birthday cards up there now, too, for a while.
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I don't know about you but this self-isolation has thrown me off, too.  Despite the fact I am used to being alone most of the time everything still seems out of whack.  I have spent far too much time down the news rabbit hole, keep forgetting what day it is, and totally spaced on my calligraphy lesson last week.  I missed the week before that because I was sick as a dog...but I haven't even got an excuse this week.  Just plain "off" and trying to get back into a routine.  The only things I did get done were my two blog posts last week...and things like laundry, cooking and such.  I was so far behind on letters and cards that I had a stack of 14 on Friday!  So I spent the weekend trying to catch up--finally.  You will hear back from me, my faithful correspondents.  I have eight left and should get to them all this week.  :)
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Has anyone else gotten emails, cards, letters or phone calls from people they haven't heard from for a long time?  Another silver lining!!  I have made some myself.  Now, that's a joy!  (Sorry--I haven't gotten back to all the emails, either--so much slower than I used to be--LOL!)  I love that people are reaching out to connect more.  That is definitely a very positive thing.
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McFamily's at home.  Dagan still has to go to work maybe once a week so he goes after hours with his disinfectant.  Everyone is doing okay so far.  That's a blessing.
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Here are some examples of isolation at their house with two little boys.  Might only be of interest to Gramma--LOL!  :)
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McFamily Isolation Games #1
I have no clue what that contraption is or how cars or whatever zoom all about on their own.  I was as fascinated as Blink!


McFamily Isolation Games #2
Racing in their bedroom.  I was an older sister so I know we can be a tad bossy and have a need to shine.  I remember being jealous of Blaine when he arrived on the scene when I was almost three--LOL!


McFamily Isolation Games #3a
Kind of like a kitchen island track and field obstacle course.  Version one.  I love how Liam watches his older brother to figure out how to do things.
McFamily Isolation Games #3b
 They had troubles with those foam tube thingies falling over when they were zig-zagging their way through them.

McFamily Isolation Games #3c
Came up with the idea of laying them down flat and jumping over them.  I love how Liam got better jumping as he went.

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Anyways--yes--there is distressing news every day and I do think we are in it for the long haul...but there are those silver linings.  I choose to try to focus on those.  (Even if it is a challenge some days because so much of it breaks my heart...and there are people I'd like to smack upside the head!!)  We've been in self-isolation since March 12.  I am determined this week to not just fall down the news rabbit hole and then escape into movies and shows...but to get back to more projects, my calligraphy lessons, and continue to get caught up writing letters (even if we do talk about the virus--lol!).  It's Monday.  A new week.  A clean slate.  Another day.  And we're supposed to get up to 54 degrees!!  Whoohoo!!
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Okay--this took a lot longer than usual.  YouTube was acting up and so was blogger.  I lost videos I posted twice.  They are all in there now--I will cross my fingers and we'll see what gets published, eh?
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Stay safe everyone.  Stay at home if you are able.  Be extra careful if you have to be out.  I am so grateful for the heroes out there keeping everything going--healing the sick, bringing us mail, picking up trash, putting out fires, keeping us safe, delivering goods and food!!  And I am so very grateful for the internet!!  Look for those silver linings!  Have you found any?  Love to have you share.  :)  :)
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"There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathlessly beautiful."
Howard Thurman

Friday, March 27, 2020

#21 Life questions

My! I do get rambly and jump around with all the memories.  That is not likely to change--hehe!  I hope Ian and Liam might enjoy reading these one day.  ;) 

21. Did your grandparents live close by?  If so, describe how they were involved in your life.  If they lived far away share some of the memories of visiting them or of them traveling to visit you.

My dad's parents moved to Colorado when I was little.  We used to go visit them over Christmas.  I remember Grandpa's cuckoo clock.  They had a brick house with a big brick porch, fenced in backyard on a corner lot that was very private with lots of bushes around it, an apartment in the basement with a kitchen but nobody lived there, they had sidewalks and there was a park a couple blocks away I could walk to.  One Christmas there was when I got my Tiny Tears doll and Dad would tease me and appropriately sing "all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth".  Us kids mostly were off staying out of sight and hearing at their house, so I don't remember a lot about Grandma and Grandpa.  My dad looked a lot like Grandpa.  Grandma was the typical barrel shaped older woman in a housedress and apron and she was the boss of the house.

My dad's younger brother and his family lived in Denver.  (Likely why they moved there for quite a few years because he was Grandma's favorite.)  When we would drive there to visit (from Minnesota) that was the only time we got to see our cousins Jimmy and Bobby (both gone now).  Therefore, we kids spent a lot of time together.  Jimmy was a little older than I was and Bobby was my age (but I always thought he was younger because of how he acted--LOL!).

Jimmy was the good son and Bobby was the bad one.  Jimmy died very young (mountain climbing accident maybe?) and Bobby retired from the Navy and worked on a ferry after that before he died of cancer.  Bobby and I always had a bit of a bond...well, for our family--LOL!  He even came to visit me when Dagan was a baby and he came to Grandma's 100th birthday where we gabbed about old times and laughed a lot...even though we were only around each other on Christmases until Grandma and Grandpa moved back to Minnesota...I think around the time I had reached junior high, but I'm not positive.

I remember when I was ten and had my appendix out before we left for Christmas in Denver that I had to be careful, no roughhousing--but I didn't feel like it anyways.  Was a long scar down my entire stomach because it had been emergency surgery.  I remember the stitches itching so badly--and then going to a strange doctor in Denver.  It hurt really bad and bled when he pulled the stitches out one by one by one.  Made me get tears and make noises--I didn't cry!  The doctor was really nice and apologized for hurting me...but I told him he couldn't help it.  I remember he told Mom and Dad that they should have had the stitches out at least a week ago.  Mom said she just forgot with the holidays and all.  

Once in a while you see your parents through someone else's eyes.

When Grandma and Grandpa Johnson moved back to Minnesota we had all our Thanksgivings nd Christmases there...driving to Cokato and back the same day.  Was another brick house with an enclosed porch (love houses with enclosed porches to this day) that had a metal  glider rocker loveseat.  I bought a glider rocker metal chair for my porch I had in my last apartment...just because I remember hours and hours reading in the glider on their porch in Cokato.  

My Mom's parents...well, Grandpa died when I was five, as I previously talked about and Grandma lived with my one aunt and uncle--mom's younger sister.  We saw Grandma Ring often because they lived in a nearby suburb of Minneapolis.  Grandma babysat us kids, too, sometimes...but--truth--mostly Mom had her over for her freedom and to iron.  Remember when almost everything you wore needed to be ironed?  Well, when the old purple couches in the basement were both piled high with clean clothes...Grandma might suddenly come over for a visit for a couple of days.  Mom would disappear all day to shop or visit or whatever.

I asked Grandma if it didn't bother her that Mom expected her to come babysit and do all the ironing like that.  "Oh no.  I love to iron."  Grandma would be downstairs humming and ironing for hours and hours...while us kids ran wild all over the neighborhood.  She didn't actually watch us anymore than Mom did--LOL!

[Note: When I was about 10 or 11 years old I asked Grandma to teach me how to iron so I could pull out my own clean clothes and iron them myself.  I felt guilty having Grandma iron my clothes for me...whether she liked to iron or not.]

Grandma loved babies and Dagan was her first great grandchild.  I had sent her a little red sweetheart rose in a small vase from Dagan for Valentines Day when he was 3 1/2 months old.  He ended up in the hospital five days later--and they told us he was dying and there was nothing they could do for him...that long story.  The little rose at home in the vase was forgotten.  The water had dried up, the rose and leaves had fallen off--but one day after coming home from visiting us at Children's Hospital my aunt discovered new leaves were sprouting out from that stem leaning in the tiny, tall, white vase!  My aunt didn't tell me about this for years because they wondered if it was a sign that maybe Dagan would live after all.  It really freaked out my aunt.  She called around to nurseries and the University of Minnesota's horticulture department trying to find out if it was normal for a cut stem with no water that had lost its flower and leaves to send out new leaves.  No, they said--can't happen.  (A couple places thought she was playing a prank.)  

Obviously, you know that Dagan lived.  A while after he came home with me and was doing okay...those new leaves dried up and fell off.  Then they were too scared to tell me about it because they wondered if that was a sign, too--or maybe she shouldn't have tried to water it--LOL!  But Dagan's been patched up and kick-started several times...and he's still here...long after Grandma and my aunt and uncle are all gone.  If any spirit of someone who's passed watches over Dagan it would be Grandma Ring.  She, herself, was lost without children to watch over...even if she did it poorly you knew she genuinely loved you.

The End.


Monday, March 23, 2020

3-23-2020 Monday 3:45pm

Good afternoon
Been a really quiet week.  No.  Not due to self-isolating (I do that 95% of the time so it's actually always quiet here) but due to having food poisoning for almost three days--LOL!  Silly me.  I had some deli meat that was a couple weeks old and the turkey had been on the slimy side to begin with.  I thought if I used it in something I heated up that it would be fine.  Since I have IBS issues to begin with, as you know, so I didn't put two and two together on the first day and kept eating the concoction for two more meals.  Don't want to waste food, right?  Duh!
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Let's just say I got a lot of reading done in my bathroom book.  ;)
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons...which is such a good book.  I love Laura Landvik--but I have put off reading this book for years...   
...because it was one of the last books my dear friend, Ruby, lent to me before she died.  We loved the vivid descriptions of her quirky characters and would discuss the books at length after I finished reading them...and commiserate...and laugh and laugh.
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I met her when we lived in Wisconsin and we kept in touch after Dagan and I moved away.  We'd still make visits to see each other and she never arrived or I never left without books.  Ruby never met a bookstore she didn't love.  ;)
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Ruby shared so many books with me over the years and was the one who got me on to murder mysteries and detective novels.  And yet she had a hard time watching Dexter...not because of the gore...because she was so worried about "our Dexter" it was just too stressful for her--ROFL!  Ruby had such a huge heart.  Our favorite TV show to chat about and giggle over was Big Bang Theory.  I can't watch a repeat without thinking of her.  She never got to see what happened to those crazy nerds.
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  I still miss her.
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Anyways, I digress.  With stomach cramps and the whole nine yards---I lost a few days as far as anything creative or constructive goes--LOL!  I've just been playing catch up since then on dishes and laundry and such.  Never got to a calligraphy class--so there's still time to vote on which calligraphy style class I will do next.  So far it's Amy in the lead with 5, Flourish has 2, and Kaitlin has 1 vote.  You have till Wednesday morning to leave your pick in a comment or an email.  :)
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We had a dusting of snow.  
Twice, actually.
Normally I see the partridges in pairs like this since it has been above zero (evidently find-a-spouse temps up here).  No more huge coveys.  This is what I see nowadays.  Pairs.
But as soon as they saw snowflakes!
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They sometimes start squawking out there in the pre-dawn.  Annie finds their racing about quite interesting.
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I rarely see the jackrabbits (snowshoe hares) in the daylight any longer.  Mother Nature confusing the the critters with a little bit of snow and cold-cold...well, I had one show up for an afternoon snack.
It posed so nicely for me.
Barely moved while it sat and chewed.
Stared right back at me...quite confident in its ability to dash off at a moments notice.
They are quite beautiful...and turning darker every day.
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Well, folks...as life rapidly changes around us...stay safe!  Stay at home and keep your distance, if you can.  Wash, disinfect...check on each other...stay in touch.  We are blessed to have phones and the internet at this time...and letters will never go out of style in my book!  
Be kind.
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I'd love to know what you are binge-watching or reading or creating or whatever you are doing to pass the time.  Oh, and you can still vote on last week's calligraphy question till Wednesday morning.  (You know one thing I'll be doing this week--LOL!)  Till next time...virtual smiles and hugs!  
:) :)
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"Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle."
Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, March 20, 2020

#20 Life questions

Late today!  Forgot it was Friday, to be honest--LOL!  Life has been off kilter lately, to say the least.

20.  Share some memories of your grandparents.

On my mother's side (three kids--girl, boy, girl-mom was the oldest): 
Grandpa Fred died when I was about five and I have mentioned about him being sick with dropsy and going to his funeral.  I remember he was confined to his bedroom at the end.  I would sneak upstairs and stand in the doorway.  Grandpa was usually sitting in his chair by the window.  He used to wave me in to come sit on his lap.  We'd be very quiet because Grandma or my mom would yell at us and drag me out--while warning both of us that I shouldn't bother him or sit on his lap...but...but...he always was so glad to see me and so nice to me.  I'd sit quietly and he'd talk to me like he really liked me and smiled like he enjoyed my company.  I couldn't stay away when we went to visit them.

Grandma Hazel lived long after Grandpa died.  He had been in his 70s but she was only in her 50s.  Her youngest daughter and husband took her in.  Grandma loved taking care of kids and doing things like ironing so she was glad to be there and watch their three kids while they both worked.  I especially remember her famous chicken and noodles.  She boiled the chicken parts and made the noodles from scratch.  I remember the noodles loosely spread over clean dishcloths all over the kitchen counters while they dried.  The delicious chicken and noodle concoction was ladled over homemade mashed potatoes.  As she got older the sauce got thicker and tasted too much of flour, but we didn't care.

She had raised her own three kids and helped raise my aunt and uncles three kids.  After their kids grew up and left home Grandma was kind of at a loss.  She refused to go to the senior center with "those old people".  Grandma preferred the company of children, I think.  When Dagan was little I used to go and pick her up to stay with Dagan and I for several days at a time to take her off my aunts hands for a while (she got to be a complainer and fretter when she had nothing better to do than read romance novels, watch TV, and keep an eye on the neighbors).  She was fine me and with a little one to hold or watch...so Dagan spent time with her, too, as I had when I was young (she used to come and take care of us three kids sometimes, too).  

On my fathers side (two boys-my dad was the oldest):
Grandpa Eric worked his way over to Canada from Sweden on a ship when he was a young man.  (We found out many decades later that he unknowingly left a pregnant girlfriend back in Sweden--who married someone else so we have never been able to track that particular line in the family.)  Grandpa was a lumberjack in Canada for a time and at some point moved to Minnesota, met Grandma, and she married him despite her family's objections--LOL!  I have never been really sure what it was Grandpa did for a living, to be honest.  I know they moved from Minnesota to Colorado and back to Minnesota.  I remember being told Grandpa raised rabbits he sold for food at one time and raised strawberries, too--but he couldn't have made much money doing that.  Kind of a mystery to me.  

Grandpa had a silly sense of humor kind of like my dad's.  He smoked cigars and a pipe.  (I love the smell to this day.)  Was an ardent follower of the Jack LaLanne Show and had this set of coils with handles that he used to spread wide across his chest to impress us kids.  He could do squats and handstands and walked every day to the post office in town.  But after he turned 80 people began to talk about him in the small town...and he quit the daily walking and even quit the exercising at home after while.  What a shame.  As a child that taught me not to listen to other people's opinions and follow what you feel is right for you.

In his late 80s he got diagnosed with a slow growing bone cancer...was around the same time my folks were planning a 40th anniversary trip to Europe and wanted to try and track down relatives in Sweden.  That is when Dad found out about the long ago pregnant girlfriend.  Grandpa was absolutely terrified that Grandma would find out about it and divorce him.  (She would have.)  So between hearing "cancer", being in the hospital in the first place (where people went to die), and Grandma possibly finding out his secret...he decided that was that.  He was ready to go--period.  Never left the hospital.  Quit eating and was dead in a couple of weeks.  You can't reason with a Swede who's got their mind made up.

Grandma Anna crocheted doilies...they were everywhere.  She had this big plastic doll in her bedroom with a pink crocheted dress and bonnet and white plastic shoes that I used to stare at but was not allowed to touch.  (I ended up with her when she died.)  She had a big pedal sewing machine in her bedroom, too, that I was always fascinated by.  

Grandma was a stern rather distant kind of grandmother.  (Very different from my mom's mom who loved kids and had no backbone when it came to discipline--LOL!)  She was a great believer in "children must be seen but not heard".  When we went to visit us kids were supposed to be very quiet and keep ourselves busy...all day.

In the evening after dinner Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, and Dad would often play cards at the dining room table.  Their tiny black and white TV didn't work well and they didn't like it on. (Wrestling was the only thing I remember them watching while we were there--LOL!)  So we had to read or write or draw or play something really quietly like a board game.  Or puzzles!  Grandpa had puzzle games...like this square piece of wood with an X of holes filled with nails where you had to jump them and remove the one you jumped to try to end up with one nail right in the center...if I am even remembering that correctly after over 60 years.  There were metal puzzles you had to try and work the pieces apart and solid wooden shapes with a million pieces you had to put back together to make the shape again.  This was long before the rubik's cube--which I was never able to solve.  I knew exactly where my dad got his love of puzzles.  ;)  He had lots of them, too.

Grandma was proud of her cooking and didn't let my mom help.  When I got old enough for Grandma to approve I could help with dishes after our holiday meals.  She worked seasonally at the Green Giant factory in town where they canned corn.  Cokato had a corn festival us kids LOVED to go to in the fall.  We could get all the butter dipped corn on the cob we could eat for free.

She was an unforgiving soul.  I mentioned about her not accepting a divorced spouse as part of the family any longer.  Well, I remember her sitting next to my other Grandma at my folks house for some gathering or another and she noticed Grandma Hazel's charm bracelet where all her grandchildren and great grandchildren's names clinked around her wrist.  My aunt's daughter had married a guy that had been divorced and had two children by his first marriage--and Grandma Anna saw their names on her wrist.  I heard her ask--"why do you have them on there?  They are not your family."  Grandma Hazel looked baffled at first...but mumbled, "they are still family to me".  (They are still married to this day, BTW.)

Grandma lived to be 104.  She had lived alone in their house until she was in her 90s, but by the time I saw her at her 100th birthday party she had pretty much already lost short and long term memory.  Didn't remember being married or having two boys...just that she was going to have cake and ice cream.  Once she did--she wanted to go back to her room...even though the guests were all still there.  I'm sure she didn't recognize anybody anyways.  In her decline, the woman who I never heard swear could swear like a sailor at the nurses.  I was one of the people helping her back to her room in her wheelchair.  A nurse had to come to help her to the bathroom and I just remember her whining--"why can't I just die?"

No one ever told Grandma about Grandpa's pregnant girlfriend.  Heaven knows, she might have remembered that--LOL!  ;)

The end.