2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 290 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Just returned to Alaska after a trip to Wisconsin where I held a reading and signing for my book, Between Two Poles . It was a successful signing and I feel validated after offering 30 books for sale and selling 26. Doing the signing in my home town multiplied my thankfulness. Because of a dear classmate from my high school days, I was reunited with her as well as two other classmates I hung with during those turbulent high school years. A great treat indeed!!

I would have cherished an appearance from one of my ex-husbands family. Anyone, from any position on the family tree, but that didn’t happen. I was hoping my book would show them I wasn’t out to demolish anyone’s existence, but to record the life of a woman, an Alaskan woman, and her struggle to gain equality in her marriage. The story I told provided them access to the life of a relatives. Access one would never have received in a brief visit home when a meeting was meant to impress those hungering for a few minutes with one of their own, someone who broke the reins of confinement and traveled to the the intriguing, adventurous life as an Alaskan resident.

I had the opportunity to be present during the distribution of my sister, Esther’s ashes while home. I had missed her funeral and was grateful to be present for the event. Although our dwelling on the property left a lot to be desired, she had fond memories of it. Now she has returned. She joined our sister Alice, who also wanted to rest there.

I will miss Esther. She had resided in a nursing home for quite some time. Each time Bonnie, our baby sister, would make certain we had the opportunity to spend time together. Those visits included lunches, dinners, and visits at Bonnie’s house. As young children we had always been referred to as ‘the three little girls’. Those brief but warm moments together as adults, made possible our own reunion. A reunion no one else was allowed to be privy to. Other’s may have been present in the room, but the moment was ours.

Until later, stay safe!

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New Year Greetings

To all those who have been reading my blog:
This post will be the last on this blog site. It was my initial entry into using the digital world in this form and although it has been exciting, it was a learning experience, frustrating at times. When I rejoin the posting world my posts will center on my writing career. I am working on a web page as I write this because I have published my first book, a memoir, Between Two Poles available on Amazon.com. Now it is up to me to make certain I make it available to the readers. This will require effort and time. To those, nearly 700 of you, who read my posts, Thank you. My strongest one day reading totaled nearly 70. I can tell you, that was a welcomed surprise.
May you have a good new year.

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Shirley

Being one of the younger members of the family, I was emotionally estranged from most of my older siblings. Three years as a marine, followed by two years preoccupation with a struggle to make it through teachers college, broadened that estrangement to include some of the younger family members. After marrying and moving to Alaska, the distance and lack of communication further decreased that list. Although sibling nearness or dearness is related to the birthing order it doesn’t tell the full story. Dearness comes from the emotional, material, and physical support provided by some of my siblings that created an unbreakable bond. A bond that, for me at least, has survived the bruising and denting that change and growth has caused. Because of the assistance and nurturing from Ruth, my godmother and mentor, and from Joan, my safe-keeper and proxy parent, I have become the person I am. Esther exposed my mind and heart to what it means to be human. I considered Bonnie my only friend through most of my childhood, and as a teenager most of the good-times I experienced depended on inclusion in her plans. As an adult I came to envy the love and happiness she shared with her husband. Since the death of our parents, these four sisters represent home.

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Bonnie

As author of this blog, I have chosen to skip over my birth which came after David. Instead I will write about Bonnie, the last girl baby, the end of the birthing line. She’s been heard to boasts, “the folks stopped reproducing after I was born because they had finally created perfection.” In reality, Ma had difficulty delivering and was taken to the hospital where Bonnie was delivered by cesarean section. After the delivery the doctor performed a surgical procedure making further pregnancies impossible. Ma believed her god penalized her for that surgery. I think I understand how her ability to procreate destroyed her feeling of self-worth. Bonnie was the youngest of ‘the three little’. She stuck it out at home longer than I. While still at home, she was thirteen years old at the time, she saw the love of her life roll by on a pair of roller skates. She was permanently love-struck. Any local boy thereafter, who may have shown interest in her attractive, bubbly personality, was simply out of luck.  –Burns, in the poem O, Saw Ye Bonnie Lesley, writes ‘To see her is to love her, And love but her forever, For Nature made her what she is, And ne’er made sic anither!  That verse described Bonnie and Lester’s love and commitment to each other. The Romeo/Juliet romance they shared was in my opinion, one of true happiness and sharing. C.L. Banks, My Aim, describes her inspiring adjustment to widowhood after Lester’s death, better than I ever could: I live for those who love me, for those who know me true; for the heaven that smiles above me, and awaits my spirit too.

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David

David was the last son born to my parents. As a child reared in wretched poverty I had never been able to reconcile that poverty with a professional photograph of David; blond, shoulder length, curly hair encircling an angelic face. After studying my parent’s wedding picture I believe I have found the answer. David could be my father’s twin. Even as young lads they both had a sleepy eyed look. As the last male child David became the seventh son. In mythology the number seven is considered a lucky number and that fact has been connected to the seventh son. However, the seventh son MUST also be the seventh son of the seventh son with NO daughters barging their way into the lineage to make the myth applicable.Therefore I have decided the suggestion of favoritism, expressed by that photo, had nothing to do with the seventh son myth, but was based on his striking similarity to Pa. David was the first male child offered the opportunity to attend high school. However,in our family pursuit of a high school diploma was viewed more as an inconvenience than an essential of life. It wasn’t really encouraged and was sometimes eyed with envy. Therefore he, like I and the last girl baby to be born of my parents, abandoned the effort. Although I shared living quarters with his wife and children while I was in college,in my ‘drop in, drop out’ housing arrangements while he was away in service, David and I never developed a robust relationship. Being raised together, or sharing a school bus or the rigors of military life, at Camp Lejeune as fellow Marines for a few months, did nothing to enhance our relationship.

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Esther

When Joan was married, I, and my sisters, Esther and Bonnie were left in charge of the household and the care of our invalid mother. Esther was twelve, I was ten, and Bonnie was eight. Family referred to us as ‘the three little girls’. We were little. Nothing more than children, completely unprepared for the task placed upon us. During the week we would rise in the morning, make breakfast, and prepare Ma for our absence before leaving for school. Pa would care for Ma and often begin the dinner meal that could require hours at the mercy of a wood burning kitchen stove. In the evening we would heat water for the washing of the breakfast and lunch dishes, finish and serve dinner, do another set of dishes, our homework, and prepare Ma for bed. During the weekend we would do the laundry with a wringer washer, clean house and bake the weekly supply of bread. Laundry and dishes often included carrying the water from the barn well. Down time was provided through the reading of a library book, Pa teaching us to dance, or baking a batch of cookies, a cake or homemade candy.  All was accompanied by the singing of the songs highlighted on the saturday night radio program, ‘The Grand Ole Oprey’ or hours of polka music. When Esther was passed out of elementary school at age 16 she cared for Ma and tended the home until Bonnie and I returned from school. When ownership of the farm was shifted from Bill to other male siblings, it included the transfer of Ma’s care, as well as the responsibility of housing anyone yet remaining ‘out home’. Ma’s care and the housing of family members usually meant Esther. When I think of Esther, the image of a wounded bird comes to mind. Unable to spread its’ wings and fly safely about on it’s own, it becomes dependent upon the flock. A flock, that in our case, in that era, was less knowledgeable of individual needs than it would be today. A flock that, not through meanness, but in simple acceptance of realignment of family needs made the decision it thought best. However, one day whether by design of the gods, or by design of relatives, Esther met someone who loved and cared for her. Because of that respectful union she lived a decent and safe life for a large period of her life.

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