Archive | August 2020

The Clearing

Rain pounded on the shake shingle roof. I opened my eyes and yawned. Gray, early dawn light filtered grayly through a water streaked window next to the unfamiliar bed. A flash of lightning startled me. An angry growl of thunder answered a few seconds later. For a moment I wondered where I was. Then I remembered.

Yesterday afternoon I’d left my husband and children at home to drive five hours to Ellison Bay, almost to the tip of Door County in Wisconsin. I felt brave for doing something so out of my comfort zone. For the next five days I’d attend a writing class taught by a professional writer.

A loud roar of thunder seemed to enter Lake Michigan, rolled around at the bottom of Green Bay, then rumbled to the surface. I loved the beautiful, deep-in-the-earth sound. The window light now was grey, tinged with green. Day was dawning and vines growing outside my cabin framed the window, reflected their summer hues into the room. Continue reading

Amazing Hat Lady

I pulled one picture after another from the box and studied them. The old-fashioned clothing fascinated me, looking so stiff and uncomfortable. Finally, I came to the photo I sought. The ancient image showed a beautiful woman wearing an amazingly huge hat. She stood next to a man in a formal photographer studio, posed stiff and unsmiling. I exclaimed to myself, “Just look at that hat. It has to be at least a foot and half tall!”

A few years ago I inherited a large box of old pictures that were taken in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Some are of my relatives. Unfortunately, there are many I don’t have a clue who they are. When there were still people around who knew them, their names were never written on the photo’s backside. I love all of these images, even the ones I can’t identify.

Knowing the names of the people in a keepsake photo gives it more value. It also gives the pictured people an immortality that goes beyond just the one or two generations that knew them.

My family history project is slowly moving forward. Recently, a sister-in-law loaned a box of her family’s pictures to me. Just as in my family, many of the older pictures were not labeled.

Three 5 by 7 pictures especially piqued my curiosity. One showed two young couples. One of the women wore white, but had no veil. I showed it to my daughter Tammie and asked, “Do you think the girl in white is a bride?” The second picture showed two young couples. Holding that one up I wondered, “What do you think the special occasion is? Why did they have this picture taken?” The third photo showed a man and woman in a farmyard, surrounded by two black pigs and piglets. I observed, “This family must have been proud of their productive farm.” Continue reading

The W. M. Syndrome

Sister Chantal paced across the front of my seventh-grade classroom listing what assignments she wanted us to complete by the end of the school day. Her pretty young face, framed by her white wimple and black veil, looked thoughtful. Her black habit accentuated her thin body. Only the toes of her small black shoes showed below the hem. “Read the next story in your English book. It’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber. To test your reading comprehension, I will hand out a paper while you are reading. Answer the questions about the story to the best of your abilities.”

I loved reading. Opening my English book, I quickly began mentally absorbing the story. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was about an odd man who couldn’t function properly because he was always daydreaming. His ineptitude made me suffer second-hand embarrassment. I wanted to escape from the uncomfortable situations that resulted from his stupid behavior.

What made me truly hate “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was that I saw myself being like him. I daydreamed more than I thought I should. Did I act weird because of my daydreams? I shuddered and fervently hoped I didn’t.

Staring at the floor next to my desk, I pictured Sister Chantal announcing, “Kathy, I already know you have good reading comprehension, so you don’t have to do this assignment. I’ll have you hand out the test papers.”

Sighing, I went back to reading the story. Walter Mitty seemed crazy. Did that make me crazy, too? Continue reading

Lactose Intolerance

The meal looked beautiful. My guests were in for a treat. I’d prepared everything I love to eat. A salad with liberal amounts of feta cheese and walnuts would start the meal. Moistly tender chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and smothered in a mixture of mushroom soup and sour cream was next. Our desert to end this delectable meal was cheese cake with a graham cracker crust, covered with a generous scoop of glazed fresh blueberries and whipped cream.

My tummy rumbled. I glanced at the clock. Even though I hadn’t eaten since an early lunch, I wasn’t hungry. My tummy felt as though I’d just finished drinking a gallon of water.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Intermittently I’d felt sick for most of the past year. Did I have cancer? My imagination ran wild with other dreaded possibilities.

Frowning, I wondered why some days I felt fine and other days not. Last Friday morning I was very sick. By three in the afternoon I felt much better. Since I hadn’t eaten anything since my breakfast cereal, the rumble in my belly indicated hunger. My daughter was home for the weekend. She suggested, “Since you’re feeling better, what do you say we go out to eat?” Continue reading