Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lemon drops

Grandmother : The elderly woman with the grand daughterOur 3 grandchildren and Flip are visiting us for about a week, and it is lovely to have them here. It has made me reminiscent of my Grandma Julia, with her small, rounded, black leather bag, with the handles you held in you hand, not over your shoulder! She was much older than I, and along with the handbag, she had strong lace-up black leather shoes. She usually wore mid-calf light-weight patterned dresses, and with her once blond hair, now totally snow white, it was cut short and trimmed to her face. On special occasions she would put on her little black hat, in which she would insert through her hair a hat-pin. I used to love watching her do that, wondering how she never stuck it into her head....

On special Sundays she would come to our house for the normal chicken or beef Sunday roast. We usually ate this at about 1:00 pm, after Dad had gone to pick her up and bring her to our house for the day.

Eventually when we had all eaten enough, and the adults had rested enough, and Joyce and I had finished washing and drying the dishes enough, Dad would say:

"Who's up for a family drive?"

I loved family drives, they meant that we would drive around town, to have a look at things, stop perhaps at one of my favourite parks, and maybe later on, even get an ice-cream!

It's strange, but I don't remember Joyce coming on these family excursions that often. In my memory, I had Grandma all to myself, and would eventually end on laying on the car-seat in the back seat, with my head on Grandma's lap, when I had seen enough of town.  I now was just waiting for my ice cream treat, from the local Dairy Queen!

I spent a lot of time then, talking to Grandma, who was a bit deaf, and I would have to yell a bit more than normal, but that was OK--I didn't mind.  I liked talking to her, a lot.  Maybe it was because she never ignored me, or talked over me, or thought I was 'just a child!'.  So I talked even more, without her interrupting me, while Mum and Dad sat in the front seat, listening to the local radio station and commenting on what changes had taken place in town, since the last drive... when I think about it now, Grandma probably couldn't hear or understand what I would say, and during the process, would open her small, rounded, black leather hand-bag, and search for another one of my favourite treats.

Brach's Lemon Drops - 9 ozShe would find the sugar coated lemon drop in her Brach's plastic
'candy' bag, and would drop a lemon drop in my mouth, for me to
suck on. I still can taste them today, a bit tart, but with a nice sugar
coating! (Now that I think about it all, she probably did that to stop
me from talking, but I bet it didn't work...once I was on a roll, it
was just - 'Look out!')
We would drive down towards the Mississippi river area, but just off on the side of the road, not far from the City's Burlington Hawkeye newspaper and practically across the road from a large food commercial grocery store, was my favourite Dairy Queen.  A small white building which had glass serving windows that delivered ice cream treats of any description--including my favourite - chocolate frosted in a cone!

But bu the time I got back into the car, I would be squirming and trying to get the ice-cream off my shorts and shirt, as I rubbed away with my hands at the mess, and then re-rubbing them again onto a cleaner area on my clothes.  Grandma sometimes would open her black hand bag again, and pull out an embroidered, lace-edged handkerchief, and would attempt to get the goo off my face.  Her handkerchiefs always had a faint fragrance of lavender and something else - something light scented and sweet.

We would eventually arrive to Grandma's house where we would help her out of the car, and Dad would help her get settled into her home.  I usually came with also, so that I could play with my favourite tortoise shell based turtle ornament, and the very small porcelain thimble that could fit the finger of a fairy!  When Grandma was all settled and probably breathing a sigh of relief to be escaping me, I would give her a big squeeze hug, trying hard not to hurt her too much, and a kiss on her cheek, and look forward to seeing her next time! 

My Grandma was a special person to me, and I was determined that I would soon be teaching her to sing and dance -- but that's another story!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sometimes it's hard to be positive...

The reason behind creating this blog was to write about positive experiences and even memories that have always made me smile, in a hope that it might make someone else smile for a while, and hopefully forget about any troubles that they may be going through.

But then I developed RLS. Restless Leg Syndrome.  It is an inherited disease, passed down from my Father's side of the family. (I wonder if my Swedish Grandmother had this?  She always favoured her legs as if they were an issue--but being a private person, she wouldn't have talked about it - at least, not with me.)  But some of her daughters and my Dad eventually developed it, and now I discover that my sister, and possibly her daughters have it or or showing signs of this debilitating and frustrating ailment.  There is no cure. That's it!  There just isn't--

As a result of RLS, legs jump in the night during sleep, due to uncontrollable leg muscle spasms.  I woke Chris up so many times in the past two years it had been a crazy time.  I didn't develop this syndrome until about 2.5 -3 years ago....Stupid legs I call them!  Anyway, last year after some amount of research on my part, and gathering all of the positive feedback and results I could, I discovered an intensive vitamin program that really works.  My legs have stopped jumping and my interrupted sleep patterns were beginning to improve--Sometimes I was getting up to 5-6 straight sleep hours--something I hadn't had for a long time.

Then the foot spasms started to occur.  This happened about a month ago...I'm lucky to get even 1-2 hours sleep straight--I wake up with burning feet, and they jump up from my ankle!  I got up very early about 3 mornings ago, as my feet were jumping and convulsing all over the bed....As I walked down the stairs I noticed that the front part of my ankle area as it connected to my foot was so sore, and tender to touch.  Obviously the convulsing had taken its toll on them. 

It is not a nice syndrome.  I just never knew about it.  Nobody ever really talked about it!  Nobody in my family had ever prepared me for what I could be going through--so here I am..battling with it. 

I have talked with my doctor, checking to make sure that the vitamin program I have designed is healthy and not harmful to me, and he agreed that my intensive vitamin program was healthy and couldn't harm me, but that there was little he could do to assist me, other than offer the same medication as one would for Parkinson's Disease.  Which by the way, only disguises this ailment, and often makes the side-effects worse, once going off the drug..

So here I am - each night I hope and pray that I will sleep longer--even 3-4 hours straight would be an improvement.  As you could guess, this is taking it's toll on me.  I have to push myself during the day to find the energy to keep going, and going back to bed after my first intensive vitamin program which needs to be taken with food, (which consists of fruit containing the potassium I need), usually means that my sleep pattern takes me into mid-morning or mid-day, depending on what kind of night I have had. 

Good thing I no longer have to go to a full-time job--I couldn't do it!

But I will conquer this - I am determined--there is a chance that my 2 daughters could inherit this, and this is why I am doing so much research, and testing it on me.  I don't want them to go through what I am going through.  I want to give them a solution.  I will, I know I will.

I'm a fighter and a survivor, and I will find a workable solution. Then the sun will shine again inside me, and I will fight these nasty dragons back to where they came from!  Believe me...I will!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Apple Tree

When I was a little girl growing up, we had a tree in our backyard that had the greatest branches for climbing- I'm not sure what kind of tree it was--I guess as a kid I never noticed--maybe it was an apple tree?  But He - and yes the tree was a He - became one of my best friends! 
Picture of a good climbing tree
As my sister was 9 years older than I was, I hardly ever remember doing things with her when I was young--she was usually involved in being with her friends, which is fair enough- and even though I lived in a neighbourhood with a lot of kids - even they weren't always available to play- their parents were taking them on a holiday or they were going to the dentist or doctor or to visit their Grandmother - or they had to have a nap--I've already talked about the nap stuff - so sometimes, it was just Tree and Me!

Well, we had a lot of adventures together, and sometimes these adventures could go on all afternoon, until the kids in the neighbourhood came looking for me.  Sometimes they joined in and we built tents with old blankets and sheets on the lower branches, and planned an Indian uprising, or a pirates treasure hunt, but sometimes they just climbed up on the branches and sat in the tree with me. Some silly ones tried to be Cheetah from Tarzan and usually ended up falling off the branch they were swinging on, squealing like a monkey.  I don't remember any of us ever getting hurt on Tree.  I think he looked after us--me especially.

When I was about 7 or 8, my parents gave me a 2-wheeler bike for my birthday. It had been a bike previously owned by my sister, but Dad painted it red, and put on a new seat, and bell, and made it special just for me. (There is a story there too - about fire departments and smells--but that can be another day.....)  The only problem was it was a 26" bike and I wasn't.  I had never ridden a bike before, and this one was huge!  So, when Spring finally arrived, and the snow was gone, I would lean the bike against Tree, and Dad would hold onto the back of it, as I climbed Tree and sat on the bike.  I felt scared and wonderful at the same time--it took some time, but Dad helped me gain my balance, and we biked around the backyard, until he didn't have to hold onto the bike any longer, and it was just me!  One day I travelled out into my neighbourhood, and with Dad following, I only fell down once, scraped a knee, but let it bleed, and he helped me climb back on...eventually- I was a bike rider! A real bike rider!

As time does, I got older and maybe a bit more grown up, I might have been about 10 years old by then,  Tree and I would read a book - My favourite was Alice in Wonderland, and Tree would love it when I read out loud. I think He loved the voices that all of the characters had- and I loved reading to him.

I had made a lot of other friends by then, but I always took the time to remember Tree. I liked how He always listened, and I told him a lot of secrets and we worried together over problems, but no matter what  - He was always there!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Witch in the Fireplace

OK...I am writing this story for Madison, my youngest daughter.  It doesn't paint a very nice picture of me, but in my defense, I blame it on the excess stress that I was going through with my husband and his cancer and my demanding hours at work at the time...still...that's not a good excuse.  But in reality, let's face it, at times my very active imagination can go too far and make me think and tell crazy stories.

The problem was that I was Maddie's story teller.  She loved them. So when I would get home at night from work and this little 4 - 5 year old had been bathed and fed, I would sit with her on the couch in the living room, and while she sat extremely close to me, rubbing my hair between her fingers (She loved my hair--it was sort of her security blanket), I would make up stories for her.  It was during this time that I discovered the Witch in the Fireplace!

Remember now, that I am telling you that I was probably...well almost certainly.. cruel.  It's not that I wanted to hurt her, I loved her!  I mean I was right there with her...but so was the Witch!

We had a red brick fireplace in our living room, and the couch that Maddie and I would sit on while watching TV, faced the fireplace.  Suddenly one night, during my story telling time, the Witch made her appearance in my imagination, and this is what happened:

In a very Witchy voice, the Witch suddenly screeched out in her high pitched somewhat piercing Witchy voice - "Hello there my Sweety!  I have just taken your Mother to my secret place in the Fireplace, and the only way you will ever see her again is if you kiss me on my Witchy cheek!"  Then with a wicked Witch like laugh her screech would rumble around the room!  Maddie just stopped holding my hair and stared at me. 

It never occurred to me at the time that she would believe that her Mother really was gone, and she was sitting next to the Witch who took her!  She was so scared, but that didn't stop that evil Witch who was now having fun.  "Come on Madison, give us a little kiss --show Witchy how brave you are!"  and then that same evil Witchy laugh would ring out again! 

By this stage Maddie's lower lip was starting to quiver, and she cried out very urgently:  "I want my Mummy!  Where is she?  Why did you take her?"  (Now mind you I was sitting directly next to Maddie, and I should have been ashamed of doing this to her--but all of my story telling over the years in all of my character's voices, had her convinced that at the moment the thing sitting next to her was a Witch!)

"C'mon deary, time is disappearing, and if you don't kiss me soon--you will never see your Mummy again!" With that another Witchy laugh would ring out.....

Keeping the Witchy voice going, that evil Witch would urge Maddie to kiss her, and that only the magic and love of that kiss would bring her Mummy back from the Witch's hold within the fireplace!

So, looking at the Witch, with by now a couple of tears beginning to brim in her eyes, she leaned over and very quickly kissed the cheek of the Witch sitting next to her!

"Oh, no Madison! You did it!  This ol' Witchy never thought you could be so brave---Oh no!"

And with that the Witch's squeaky, high pitched voice was replaced by her Mummy's yelling out:

"Maddie!  You did it!  You kissed that horrible creatures' cheek--you are so brave--thank you for loving me so much!  It was so scary in there---I just never want to go back!  I love you so much and missed you--I thought I would be in there forever!"

After that we kissed and hugged, and I held her for a long time.

(I know, I know!  I was a horrible person!  But her imagination kept urging me on---it was as crazy as mine!)

So--years later we talked about it, and I had to agree, my Witchy story was as cruel as my sister's Boogeyman story had been to me - but at the time it was so much fun!  I know - take me away!  Examine my crazy brain at the time.  But it happened....history repeating itself...Oh, God! I hope not!!