Archive | May 2023

Determining Intent

A warm blanket of sunshine covered the floor next to the stairway window. I padded over in my stocking feet to look out into the backyard. The sun-warmed floor felt good under my feet because the brick house where I live is always cool in the mornings, even on hot summer days. I was disgusted when I discovered my view of the lushly green backyard was marred by a huge, ugly smear of bird poo on the window glass.

Complaining to my daughter Tammie, I whined, “You should see the huge splotch of poop a bird dumped on the window glass. I can understand bird droppings found under their roosts, but this…this…” I sputtered, “This had to be intentionally done! It couldn’t have been easy to get it to fall so perfectly in the center of the glass and have it dribble in such a way as to make it look like the wing of a white moth.”

Laughing, Tammie questioned, “Are you telling me the bird dirtied your window glass on purpose?”

“Well, maybe it was an accident.” I grudgingly admitted. “I don’t think I have an angry bird in the backyard who’s carrying out a vendetta against me. After all, I keep my birdfeeders stocked with suet and black sunflower seeds all winter.”

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Naughty Fingers

New technologies challenge me. Until 2016 I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to use a smart phone. When I finally took the plunge, my daughter Niki set it up and trained me. Very carefully, she explained and demonstrated how to open the apps I wanted. She showed me how to use the calculator, flashlight, and camera. There was so much more to learn, like how to get back to the homepage, and how to recognize the sound the cell phone made when a text came in. My daughter also helped me pick out a notification sound for phone calls.

As my daughter was preparing to go home, I noticed the cell phone’s screen was black. Hoping to wake it up, I shook it. Niki took it out of my hands, again. After swiping up, a keypad appeared. She punched in the numbers we agreed would be my secret code. Suddenly, my phone was awake and interactive again. I nodded, happy that I knew what to do when I needed to use the device.

An hour later I decided to sit down and play with my new toy. I swiped up on the black screen and the keypad appeared. I typed in my secret code and waited, but nothing happened. The numbers just sat there like small numeral guards protecting Fort Knox. I fretted, “Why won’t it open for me? Did I somehow break the phone?”

Driving to my daughter’s house, I tearfully explained, “Niki, I think I broke it.” She took the cell phone from my hands and tapped in my code. It instantly opened for her. I stuttered, “But, but, if there isn’t anything wrong with the phone, why couldn’t I get it to open?”

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The Rowboat

I stepped out onto the back deck and realized I didn’t need a jacket. The sunny spring afternoon was warm despite there being a few drifts of leftover winter snow dotting the yard. Folding my jacket over my arm, I commented to my daughter, Tammie, “I’m bringing the coat with me. When the sun goes down, it’ll get chilly.”

Tammie, who was a few steps ahead of me, turned and asked, “Which car should we take? Yours or mine?”

I apologized, “I’m sorry, I should have filled my car’s gas tank when I was in town the other day. As it is right now, my car doesn’t have enough gas to get to Wausau and back. Let’s use your car tonight and mine for the rest of the weekend.”

Niki, my other daughter, had invited Tammie and me to join her at a cooking class put on by Grebe’s store in Wausau. We happily looked forward to attending without a stop for gas first. Without another thought, we got into Tammie’s 2016 Mazda.

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Something Blue

This is a vintage ‘Forget Me Not’ earring and brooch set made by Krementz. I wish they were in my jewelry box! I only have the posts that I wore on my wedding day. I’d bought them from Zweck’s Jewelry story in Marshfield.

I leaned forward to look closely at my reflection in the mirror. There were just a few more things for me to do to be ready. White wedding dress lace spilled from my lap to the bedroom’s wooden floorboards. Gazing down at the pretty design, I marveled, “I’m getting married today!” As the baby of my family, I’d watched all four of my big sisters get married. Finally, it was my turn to walk down that aisle.

Smiling, I picked up the earrings I’d wear on my special day and thought about the old Victorian wedding rhyme, “Brides should always wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” My jewelry was little ‘forget-me-not’ flower posts by Krementz. Gold petals painted blue surrounded a pearl standing in the place of a stamen for the blue in my trousseau.

Several things qualified for the borrowed item in my wedding. For instance, I couldn’t remember buying the Muguet Des Bois perfume by Coty. A small vial labeled with a spray of tiny white flowers enclosed the cherished scent of a pure, sweet little flower called ‘lily in the valley’. I dabbed some of the precious fragrance behind my ear lobes.

Earlier this morning, Mom had given me one of her old, lacy handkerchiefs for my ‘something old’ bridal goods. Everything else I wore for the day fit in the category of ‘something new’.

 Nervously glancing around, I wondered, “Am I ready? Have I done everything I planned to do?” The pink bedroom I was sitting in had been my sister Betty’s room. When Mom and my sister painted the room pink, the dressing table and mirror frame had been painted pink also. The stool I sat on was nothing more than a small oil can covered with a pale-pink gathered skirt to hide its common origins and topped with a soft cushion for comfort.

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My new friends were waiting for me near the elevator. Last night we had been shown an underground tunnel that led directly to the hospital without stepping outdoors. We giggled nervously as we walked through the spooky, dimly lit underground hallway. Having graduated from high school just a month earlier, we were all there for the same reason, to take a nursing assistant class. We hoped to be hired by the hospital when we finished the class.

Three days earlier, during the weekend, I moved into the former nurse’s dorm at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Wausau. I loved the room that I shared with another girl. The large, south-facing windows, beds on opposite sides of the room, two desks in the center and plenty of closet space provided all we needed for sleep and study. Two floors below on the main floor, was a large kitchen for residents to share and a large lobby gathering room. During the weekend, girls who had moved in before us showed how to get to our classes by using the underground hallway and an easily accessible flat roof top to use for sunbathing.

The nurses teaching the nursing assistant classes introduced their young and very inexperienced students to bed baths, bedpans, urinals, and normal hospital routines. Early in the program, we learned bedside care by taking fresh water to the patients and emptying foley catheter bags. Our teachers reinforced their frequent reminders to wash our hands by showing a film about how contamination spreads.

The film was an animated story showing a nurse visiting a patient to change his surgical dressings. Until the dressing change, the pictures were just in black and white. To show that the dressing was soiled with infectious drainage, one color was added: red. The nurse didn’t wash her hands after the change. When she poured a cup of water for the patient, the cup and water pitcher handle turned red where she had touched them to show they had become contaminated. The curtain pullcord turned red when she opened the curtains for the patient. She left a red handprint on the door when she left the room. As other workers came into the room to do things for the patient, they touched the same things the first nurse had touched and many other things. By the end of the film, everything in that patient’s room was covered in red smudges, showing how they had unwittingly spread contamination.

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