Monday, May 21, 2018

More Excitement Than You Can Shake a Stick At!

Hello Everyone. Thank you all for your kind comments, emails, etc. I appreciate all the love you've sent my way. You guys are the best!
I know you're wondering about the construction cones. We had new sidewalks installed, much to my delight. Now I no longer need to risk breaking a hip when my heel catches in the broken walkway. It was messy, noisy, and made for a long week but in the end we have beautiful new walks and I couldn't be happier. The workmen were so nice they made sure to keep my garden covered with tarps and even moved their trucks so I could unload the shopping without having to park far away and drag it home. I wish the landscapers were that attentive. Speaking of the garden...
The plants have nearly doubled in size since I shot that.
 We had a few sunny days between the freezing cold rain, and I took full advantage digging out the brightest pieces of vintage I own.
 I mean, if you're going to wear 60's/70's vintage might as well go for the wildest examples.
I can't remember which thrift store I rescued this from, but it was about a dollar due to a stain on the side of the skirt. Given the wild print, it is impossible to see unless you are looking for it. The hem came down (oops) but I can fix that. I don't mind vintage with a few flaws, particularly at that price.
Bought this shirt in Wisconsin ("America's Dairyland"). It brings me a great deal of joy.
 This shirt with rudely gesturing squirrels also brings me joy.
Gesturing, like so.
Would you look at what I found at Hand-Me-Ups in pristine, unused condition with all the original instructions still tucked inside the thermoses? There's even a plastic container to hold sandwiches, etc. Now we just need some proper picnic weather.
 Have you ever peered up a buffalo's arse? Very interesting!
These were taken at Standing Bear Lake in Omaha. 
This tree with the shelf fungus is marked for removal due to emerald ash borer infestation. Unfortunately, we are seeing quite a bit of this, and it is still the early days of the borer being in Nebraska. We have so many ash trees in our parks that in a few year's time the landscape will look dramatically different without them. 

Danny took me to Iowa for Mother's Day to watch baseball. We stopped at the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter (That's why they called him the "Heater from Van Meter") but it was closed. The hours said it was open but you can't believe everything you read as it was definitely closed. We took some photos outside instead.

We arrived in Des Moines too early to check into our hotel, so we stopped by the Science Museum. 
It was more amusement park than museum, and you'd have to work pretty damn hard to learn anything on your visit. It was like a nursery with children running and screaming everywhere. The exhibits were all interactive, but lacking in explainations, etc. Good enough place to kill an hour, but on the expensive side for an unscientific science museum. 
$20.00  admission to play with Leggo?! I think you can probably guess which one Danny made😁.
We were in Des Moines to see the Cub's AAA team the Iowa Cubs play at Principal Park. It was freezing, raining, and we both came home with severe food poisioning (I'll spare you the details of that) but it was all worth it because after the game Danny got one of the players he likes to sign a ball for him. 
They need to update the mural...this guy isn't playing for the Cubs anymore. I'm wearing two pair of trousers, two shirts, a hoodie, and a ski jacket...and I was still cold. This has been the strangest spring.
In-between the downpours. 
...and during a downpour.
We were behind the netting just to the right of home plate, but balls still managed to go over. I spent a good part of the evening ducking. Having had the experience of being hit in the face with a baseball, I'd rather not do it again. Besides, I'm rather fond of these specs and I wouldn't want them to meet the fate of the last pair that came in contact with a ball.

We took advantage of the hotel pool (heated!) and I tried out the swimsuit I bought in the sales two winters ago but never wore. I love it. For once I have a suit I can swim in without fear of my boobs falling out. Wish I'd tried it sooner-I'd have bought a spare. Everlast make such good gear-they aren't paying me to say that. I've gone through my share of leggings, hoodies, and shorts but the Everlast stand up through washings and wear. Name says it all. Good stuff. Not too expensive either.

 It was all fun and games until I woke up feeling like I was being disembowled. Yeah, I won't elaborate.
 But it was Mother's Day, so I dressed up anyway for the ride home.

We spent a good bit of the ride home in gas stations and rest stops. We also hit severe weather, so it was a bit of a challenging drive. Before leaving, the toilet in our hotel room started (literally) steaming. No, no, not a metaphor-it was broken, and there was boiling water rising from the bowl. Wish I'd realised that before sitting down! Add a burned bum to the memories of my visit to Des Moines. A week later, We're both still recovering from whatever bug we were sickened by, but it got me thinking that it turned out to be a very New Age spa weekend without trying. Got a bowel cleansing and my privates steamed for the effort. I feel like Gweneth Paltrow. It used to be you had to travel in the developing world for this sort of entertainment, now you can just spend a weekend in Iowa for the same experience. I've had dysentery-until last week I would have said nothing could ever be quite as horrible. My biggest fear is that as soon as the food poisioning started to lift the second wave was either some sort of ecoli from the poo(l) or norovirus from the museum full of kids reaching the end of the incubation period. Thanks, Iowa!
Okay, enough of that! Here's a sneak peek at the dress I bought a few months ago for this year's State Fair at the end of August. I couldn't resist trying it out, but now I'm wondering if I should wear it to the Wayne Chicken Show in July, and buy something new for the fair? 
I haven't even started thinking about my hat yet! 
Next time I'll get caught up with some of the interesting things I wore in  April, and what I will be canning/bottling for the fair this year ( strawberry jam, possibly pickled green tomatoes). I hope spring is treating you well. Don't eat at the ballpark, kids. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Done. Full Stop.

Suburban library in the pouring rain. It turned to snow shortly after.
Our last day in Illinois the rain was pouring down, alternating with snow and sleet. The second baseball game we'd bought tickets for was cancelled (they should have called off the first one as well-I have never seen baseball played in those conditions) but since we were all attired in waterproof clothing anyway, we decided to drive out to the cemetery to see the family.

I wouldn't describe either of my parents as responsible individuals, but the one thing they did plan ahead for was buying burial plots. They might not have known where they'd be living in their day to day lives, but at least they knew where they were headed at the end. In this case, w a a a a y the hell out in the western suburbs, which in the 60's must have seemed like the other side of the world. They paid the plots off in installments over the years.

Being a newer cemetery, all the headstones are flat to the ground, which makes mowing and upkeep easier. It does not, however make it easier to locate graves, particularly in a downpour. Mr. ETB found Mum after a few minutes, when wiping away the pooling water, realised her headstone had been vandalised.

There aren't too many things that shock me anymore, but defacing a grave always will. I pulled myself together, and then realised there wasn't a headstone for my father either. That was less shocking as he'd died ten years ago and as I already hadn't spoken to him in years (and in fact hadn't known he died until I did a random Google search several years after the fact) and didn't really expect my sister to bother with an expensive headstone for someone who treated her so horribly.

My dad was an awful person. I don't think I'm disclosing any family secret here that everyone didn't already know, but I stress it because from the outside it might sound unreasonably harsh to cut off contact so completely with your family. I put up with his bullshit for close to forty years until I couldn't anymore. It took lawyers, cease and desist letters, more lawyers, more cease and desist letters, until finally he gave up and got someone to help him stalk and threaten me on the internet instead. Then, there were more lawyers, letters, etc. Rinse and repeat.

I don't know what my sister's relationship with him was like, but I have a feeling when he died, he didn't leave her anything but bills. He played the part of a "big shot" and had been alternately very wealthy and penniless at various stages of his business career. That would be fine had he not been such an awful person but...well, he was an awful person that managed to alienate nearly everyone. He thought he could buy people's loyalty and when that failed go straight for threats and demands. Rinse and repeat.

Since I needed to replace my mother's headstone, I figured I'd just get a larger one with both their names on it. That's commonly done with family graves. I went up to the cemetery office to see about getting it replaced. I gave the man their names. Clickty click tappty tap on the keyboard and he's looking pale.
"I have your mother's grave and your father is listed as the owner of the adjoining grave but...he's not buried in it."

"He's not?" I must have looked mad. Soaking wet, wearing two pair of trousers to improvise outdoor gear for the unexpected cold, my nose bright red from the wind. "Well then where is he?" I asked which in hindsight seems like a terribly stupid question.

I have no idea if my sister had him cremated, which would be awful because that's as close to heresy as it gets for our religion, or perhaps she had him buried somewhere else which seems unlikely as this grave was paid for. I suppose a worst case scenario would be that no one ever claimed his body and he ended up in an unmarked pauper's grave. I mean, there's no one left to call and ask after all these years except my former brother in law who has probably put up with more from this bloody family than any human being deserves. What am I supposed to do, call and ask, "Oh by the way, where did you guys dump dad?" After ten years, does it even matter?

At this point the only thing I can do is go ahead with both their names on the headstone anyway. I didn't like the man, but it seems harmless enough to at least acknowledge that he lived and died. I was about to say, "Because he was still someone's precious baby once" but then I remembered that my grandmother never really liked him either. He was a tough person to like, and he thrived on hurting others, so it isn't at all surprising that in the end, no one thought it was worth the bother to give him a proper burial. You can't go through life terrorising people and expect them to show you basic respect in the end. I would have buried him if I'd even known he died, but I completely understand why my sister wouldn't.

I've been home from the trip for a few weeks now, and after I had a chance to absorb everything, I'm finding it was a more positive experience than it felt like standing in the pouring rain a few Sundays ago. I'm done with it. All of it. Chicago, my family, the stress, done. Everyone's dead, and while I admit it is a little strange to realise you're the "last one standing" as the saying goes, I'm not particularly sad about it.

I had a terrible start in life, but now in my 50's I honestly do feel like I've had a great life anyway. Do I wish my family could have been different? Of course. Is there a lesson here? I dunno, "Don't be a bully and an asshole" is probably a good start but beyond that?

Regular vintage posting should resume shortly.