April 2011

April 27, 1973 was a rainy, rainy day in Elyria, Ohio. It was the Friday after Easter. We woke up to rain and it rained all day. All. Day. At 5 pm on that day, our wedding started and the reception was held immediately after.

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hysell

We were impossibly young and terribly naïve. My new husband had served is the United States Marine Corps for two years and we met shortly after his discharge. He had signed up for two years, a hard time, and Vietnam. He got the two years and hard time, but a Colonel who appreciated his typing skills, kept Dick stateside and working in the office.

We had no idea what was ahead of us, but who does? I was barely twenty and my newly minted husband was twenty-three. As most 20 somethings, we thought we knew everything.

I was a nursing student, my husband was working as a manager in a small grocery store and going to school on the GI Bill. We lived frugally, but managed to squeak by. We rented a duplex from our boss, assuring our employment if nothing else. I made all the curtains, our home was cozy.

We moved from there to a mobile home 14 x 65 feet with an expanded living room. Our first son was born there making him trailer trash. He was born 27 days early and didn’t have toenails yet. But we somehow all managed to make it through. He was 13 weeks old when I finished up my nursing program. He stayed with his Nana while I went south for two days to take (and pass) my licensing board. I was now an RN.

Dick switched jobs and began working for a welding supply company and I stayed home for the first year, babysitting my niece while my older sister taught fourth grade. For a while, I had two kids under a year old, but on completely different schedules. The next summer, I went to work while my sister babysat our son. We purchased our first house. Dick moved to a larger international welding supply company.

A few years later, our second son was born. Two kids are so much more than twice the work of one kid. But we had great neighbors and it all turned out to be a wonderful way to raise a couple kids. Dick was transferred across the state and so we all packed up and moved south. Another lucky break. Our new neighborhood was as wonderful as our first one. It was a wonderful place to raise a couple kids.

I switched from working Med/Surg to working ICU/CCU and from there moved to OR. Dick kept moving up the ranks and was manager of three different locations. All this eventually got on his last nerve and we opted to move back north and he would once again work in the national headquarters. We packed up and moved again.

We built a new home and finally could move in. We had one son in college and one son still at home. Four days after moving into our new home, Dick’s job vanished with a restructuring of the company. They found a new position for him inside the company, but it entailed lots and lots of traveling. He worked out of New York City one year and out of Boston another. He was home most weekends, but not always. Traveling around the country was irritating to us both.

I had quit my job as a nurse after working in a horrible hospital. I became a data entry person for a while and decided to go back to school to get a degree in computer crap. I got my second degree 25 years after the first. I began teaching, first high school kids and then eventually moved to grade school kids. Our younger son graduated from high school and moved around the country and became the quintessential boomerang baby. His brother had moved to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina after graduating from college.

Once again, we transferred with my husband’s job and ended up in South Carolina. Very convenient and definitely planned. By then both sons were in South Carolina and we were grandparents. Living closer to our only grandchild had allure.

Dick’s company sold off his portion of the business and within a year, he was out of a job. In just a few months, his old company hired him back with all seniority intact. He has since worked out of the house. We have four grandchildren now, two boys and two girls. Our children all live around Hilton Head Island, but our older son just recently moved off-island into his own newly built house.

When we moved to South Carolina, I did not go back to teaching or nursing, but worked at various small jobs. I’m now working part-time for a couple financial advisors. I’m the secretary and get to have fun at work. Dick is hoping to retire soon, some days even sooner.

Those fresh eyed kids grew up and got old. They had a life they never expected with good and bad things happening throughout the decades. We would never have guessed the adventures ahead back in 1973, but it’s been a fun trip overall.

My sweet, darling, patient, kind, funny, loving husband – it’s been worth it. I’m glad we got married, I’m glad we stayed married.

Your loving wife

The clock had the wrong time again. We had just put in a new battery less than a month ago. And yet … once again it was the wrong time.

I know I had the clock when I moved here seven years ago. I’m not sure if I bought it in Elyria or in Maineville, but it was not a new clock. It was also not an expensive clock. It was probably a ten dollar clock and had lasted at least ten years, maybe more. There probably isn’t much more you can expect of a clock.

But it was obviously no longer going to be a faithful timekeeper which is pretty essential for a clock. I went to my paper supply drawer and wrote a note on a stick note paper saying I would buy a new clock on Friday. Dick was upstairs and I was leaving for work (it was later than I had expected – the whole clock without the right time thing there) but I wrote it on the wrong side of the note. Luckily Dick came downstairs just as I was putting the paper up on the clock anyway.

So Friday we went to buy a clock. I wanted another cheap clock because – well, because I’m cheap. We went to Wal-Mart because that is a really good place to get cheap stuff and it the closest store like that to where we live. We stopped at Lowe’s first because it is even closer, but they don’t carry wall clocks. So we got a cute little Better Homes & Gardens clock that had a wire cage with a pendulum in it. It fit perfectly.

We mounted the clock and the pendulum worked just fine. The clock never moved time, but the pendulum worked. Apparently the batteries were enough for the pendulum to keep swinging, but something was wrong with the timekeeping aspect of the clock. Again, this is really essential in a clock. We packaged the clock back up, but removed our two AA batteries first.

We returned the clock to Wal-Mart and then went on to Target. This is a much longer drive but there is no place closer since we live between here and there and not much is around here.

We looked around Target, found a $12.99  clock which is pretty much an upgrade from what we had. It even has a second hand! I mentioned that we should have brought a couple batteries with us, just to test the clock at the store since returning this one would be a real pain.

The first clock needed a Philips head screwdriver to remove it from the box while this one only had handy little flanged screw things holding it to the box. We would have been able to test it in the parking lot without bringing a toolbox with us, but we didn’t plan ahead.

We stopped at World Market and walked around there for a bit and then headed back home.

Now, the moment of truth. We put in a AA battery and hoped. The clock started ticking! Success.

What should have been just a quick trip to pick up a clock ended up being a whole day project. But we now have a kitchen clock that tells the time accurately. And really, who could ask for more from a clock.

PS I looked for pictures of either the clock I returned or the clock I bought. I couldn’t find any online. I’m too lazy to get out the camera, take a picture, load the picture on to my computer, edit it down to size, and post it here. Maybe some other day.

Our house has two bathrooms. Dick uses one and I use the other. I have the master bath. In that room there is a garden tub and an oversized shower.

I usually take showers. The grandkids have played in my tub more often than I have used the thing. They love playing on each visit and it gets them all ready for bed when they reach home.

The tub has a wrinkled look bottom but the inch or so from the curving sides is smooth. The sides themselves are also smooth.

View of my tub while standing on the corner.

Many times in the morning while I’m getting out of the shower, I notice a bug in the bathtub. Usually it is what we call a silverfish. I am unsure what the real name for the creature is. For all I know, it could really be called a silverfish. It certainly is silver.

I keep wondering where they come from. How do these things get in the tub about once a week or every ten days or so? There are no bugs crawling around on the surrounding walls, so where are they coming from? And there is never a slew of them, just one lone bug.

Yesterday, there was a spider in there. It was a rather large spider, but not huge. The body was maybe the size of a pea. It was a very dark spider.

All bugs cannot climb up the smooth sides. They go round and round inside the tub and keep trying in different spots to climb up the smooth straight up and down sides. They can’t manage it. They slide back down, move on, and try again. And again. And yet again. I usually am done in the bathroom by that time.

I don’t know how they get in there and I also have no idea where they go. There are no dead bugs or bug corpses lying forlorn in the tub. One silverfish managed to try to scale Mount Bathtub for two days – or else there were two new silverfish on two consecutive days. And then it was gone.

Today, there was no spider in the tub, alive or dead. I have no idea where they go and that is almost as disturbing as where they come from. I don’t know if they become meals on wheels for flying insects, but I don’t see any large flying insects in the house, so that seems not very likely.

Perhaps they take a trip down the drain. That seems plausible. I’ve wondered if they arrive up out of the drain, but that seems as impossible as climbing up the side of the tub. Isn’t the pipe smooth?

I have no idea what to do about this whole issue other than to keep wondering how it takes place. I suppose I could close the drain and see if any more bugs appear, but the only way for them to escape at all is via the drain and if I cut that off, I’m going to be cleaning dead bugs out of the tub.

Life is just full of curiosities.

Yesterday was a good day. At work, my job was to go shopping. I threw the top back on the Miata and drove off to the store, spent someone else’s money, and got paid to do it.

After work, Dick and I met with our financial advisor and learned that barring some catastrophic event, we should never have to eat cat food for dinner. We seem to have been doing something right for these past few decades and might be able to retire without undue hardship.

We left there and went out to eat and had an absolutely lovely meal. We ate outdoors and the weather was perfect. The temperature was neither too hot nor too cold. There was a light breeze but not enough to cool the food off. The humidity was perfect. There were no bugs bugging us. Just perfect.

Side story: How do two guys in Italy who don’t speak English manage to end up in Summerville, South Carolina to open a restaurant? I understand how one might end up in New York City or some other large city in the US. But how do you manage to end up in Summerville? It isn’t like Charleston Airport is some vast place where planes from around the globe land. Well, it is, but only on the Air Force side, the civilian side isn’t huge at all. I’m glad they got here. The food was great. I just don’t understand how it happens.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled blog.

We got home and piddled around the house for a while and then went for a nice evening walk. We managed to take a walk down to the water fountain and made it back home before it was dark. It was dusk and we noticed one of the spotlights in front of the house was burnt out and there was a spare in the garage. Everything was going perfectly.

We got back to the house and I listened to two lectures or one hour of the history of World War II. I was crocheting while listening and I might need to remind myself not to ever get thread with a metallic twist to it. While it is very pretty and the product is turning out nicely, the metallic thread is itchy, scratchy, and uncomfortable. I need to see if I still have some surgical gloves to protect my hand from the constant scraping of the thread across my finger.

But even with this annoyance, I was still having a great day. I was too tired to listen to another thirty minute lecture but not tired enough for bed. So I decided to play a computer game. It is a game that needs a mouse and can only be played using a mouse.

Right in the middle of my round, the mouse died. I knew it was sick, the battery light had been flashing red at me for a while. But I never change the battery until it all the way dies. Dick had used the last AA battery and been kind enough to buy some new ones. So I had a package of 16 AA Energizer batteries. I just needed one for the mouse.

And this is when my day fell apart.

There was a small perforated place to get through the cardboard. It was tightly sealed, but you could see that it was perforated if only I had steel nails. I don’t. I have paper thin nails, but I have determination. I got the perforated part opened. Then a small bit of cardboard tore off. I worked for three to four minutes tearing off small bits of cardboard until I finally had the plastic casing free of the massive amounts of cardboard. I then spent another minute or two trying to open the plastic casing. Before I sliced my hands to shreds, I decided to admit to my husband that I’m a complete idiot and don’t know how to open a package of batteries.

I took the package to him and asked if he knew how to get into it. He looked at me like I was some sort of dunce and took the package from me. He tried to open it at the spot that looked like it should open. But it was a horrible ruse and didn’t budge for him, either. I didn’t feel quite as stupid anymore. Dick spend a minute or two trying to open the package, and then rather than tearing his hands to shreds on the thing when it finally split, he went to the kitchen and got out a pair of scissors.

I want to know what sadist made the packaging for these batteries. I want to know if there is some magic trick to opening the package, and if there is – why in the hell did you do that? Why make a package that is this much work to get into? Does Eveready believe they can piss off their clients and still have them buy more of their stuff? Did they not think Ray-O-Vac or any other battery manufacturer would exist? This was just enough to put a smudge on my day.

Luckily, we were so full at the Italian restaurant, we couldn’t eat dessert. But we ordered a cannoli to go and Dick suggested we now treat ourselves to a prize for having conquered the indomitable and unconquerable batteries. We ate the connoli. I felt better once again.

I’m old. I freely admit that I am old. I am eternally grateful that I am old because if I had to be young right now, I would hate it.

This past weekend we were at the outlet mall because we had to be somewhere and that seemed as good a place as any. While there, a woman passed us by and her appearance was noticeable, but probably not in the way she was hoping for. She had blond hair with neon pink highlights. Her outfit coordinated with her hair I guess. It was an outfit appropriate for a twentysomething person just like the hair. On closer inspection, the gray roots were about two inches long before the blond started and there were only half inch roots on the pink. That was amazing in itself. But she had to be in her forties and was still trying to be a teenager, which was just plain sad.

I hope I did not embarrass my teenage children by dressing and being so inappropriate. If I did, I’m so sorry. If I didn’t, you can thank me now.

One of the reasons I let me gray hair grow out is because of the double-takes I got. People would be walking behind me with my long dark hair and size six to eight still curvy body. They would pass, look at my face and cringe. I was expected to be  younger and as I mentioned in that first paragraph, I’m old. I decided it was easier on my ego to clue people into my age before they looked and were shocked. Now I get looks like “not bad for an old bat” which is much better than “dear God, it’s an old bat” looks.

Using this same line of thought … one of my Facebook friends mentioned yesterday she was going to get some more tattoos. One on her neck for sure and another on her ears. She is one of those cute twentysomethings right now. However, if all goes well, she is one day going to be my age. It won’t be so cute then, especially the ear things.

I don’t understand tattoos and think that calling it “body art” is just silly. They are tattoos. People line up for plastic surgery so they call all have the same nose or lips, they get face lifts to appear younger, and then they slap ink on for an “individual” statement.

Having worked in OR for years, I’ve seen tattoos that have been in place for decades. They don’t look the same as when they were first new. The skin doesn’t look the same as when it was new, either, which makes both the ink and the canvas less than it once was.

People who change their hair style every year or so, their clothes every day, and their ideologies a few times in the course of a long life somehow thing that the cute tattoo they get today will be appropriate in the decades to come. Tattoos are forever unless you want to spend a lot more money than you spent in the first place to get rid of them.

Both of my sons are inked. Craig’s first tat was some Chinese or Japanese symbol. He asked me if I wanted to know what it meant and I told him I already knew. It meant “I am an idiot.” Joe was smart enough to stop at one tattoo, but Craig has at least three.

I don’t understand how tats can be “individual” if everyone that is cool is supposed to spend the money to mar their bodies. I would have to say that it is probably people my age making it so popular. There is nothing like rebelling against the establishment.

But really, young people, I just think you are creating problems for yourselves later in life. Look at the 50 year olds today who are sporting ink in obvious places. I think they look like idiots myself. Perhaps we are going to replay the Dr. Seuss book of the Stars on Thars where the cool kids want tats, the old people who want to be cool get tats, the young kids refuse to get tats cuz too many old farts are getting tats and no one can tell if a tat is a symbol of coolness or stupidity.

Whatever they are, they look a lot less trendy on old farts.

I performed a computer upgrade yesterday. It wasn’t anything I had to do for my computer, it was something I wanted to do for myself.

I wrote for Examiner.com for over a year. When I started, they had a ridiculously low pay per view, but what the heck. I had this stuff written and just sitting on my computer, I might as well publish the thing and get a few bucks for it, I thought. So I did.

Then they started messing with my payscale. They added far more ads and dropped what they paid me. I stopped writing. Unlike anywhere else in the known world, Examiner.com will not pay residuals to anyone not currently publishing. This would be like not paying Charlie Sheen for the constant replays of Two and a Half Men just cuz he has been chastised and removed from Hollywood and possibly California.

Because I’m still getting hundreds of hits per day, I thought they should pay me, but if I didn’t publish, they didn’t think they should. So, I met them three-quarters of the way. I started putting up a list of my old articles once a week. Each Sunday, I would link to the next seven articles and since that was publishing, they paid me. Cool.

About a month ago, when I went to sign in, there was a notice. If I clicked to enter, I was agreeing to a new “contract” that said they would pay me based on a new metric. Instead of a metric of so much money for each page view which any idiot with a calculator or anyone over the age of 50 with a pencil and paper could figure out, they had a new idea. They would base their pay on this metric that included how often you published, how many subscribers you had, how much advertising you did, how much traffic you drove, and your page hits. In other words, they weren’t going to pay me.

I post my Little Bits of History on WordPress and don’t expect to be paid. I suppose I could put some ads on my site and generate some cash, but it isn’t like I’m starving here and worried about where my next meal is coming from. I just want people to be as amazed about history as I am. I have loved these little stories.

I believe what Examiner.com is doing is wrong. I cannot delete my articles from there because they won’t let me. I suppose I could republish them at my own website but that seems just petty. Besides, I already have most of volume four written and I don’t need them.

So, yesterday – I spent the entire day going through 366 essays and linking them at my WordPress blog. I have topics listed by date for each month and now each of these has the Examiner.com thing listed, too. I really hate driving traffic there, but I’m unsure what else to do. I don’t want to lose an entire year’s essays. There were some really cool stories in there. But I hate telling people to go to Examiner.com at all.

I do have all my work in one place now. I suppose when they revamp their servers again, I will lose all my links again. I think at that point I will have to consider reposting the essays where I have some control over them.

I was speaking with another writer from RGQ the other day. And by that I mean we were exchanging emails, not that we were actually talking, perish the thought.

We were discussing the difficulty of finding something to write about. It is a challenge. Physically writing something isn’t at all difficult. Coming up with a topic is where the problem lies.

Writer’s block is a worldwide phenomenon, at least according to my world encompassing writing forum denizens. Staring at a blank screen, or a blank sheet of paper for those who actually write instead of type, is where the problem starts.

The blankness seems to suck every available thought molecule from the brain and splatter those tiny fragments everywhere. So one has to collect one’s thoughts before even starting with the actual doing part of authorship.

Ideas are not quite as easy to come by. Oh, we writers pretend they are. And when in the right mood, this writer can (and even – has) written about nearly anything.

I could be writing about my new dual screen setup here at my big computer. I could go on for quite some time about this since I really like the way it works and how easy it has made researching while writing. But who would care besides me?

I could write about what I had for breakfast. I had a packet of Back to Nature Wild Blueberry Walnut Granola with Flax Seed and I added some dried cranberries to it. I have to remember not to buy anything with blueberries in it because the chemical globs of dark bluish purple stuff that is supposed to represent a blueberry is just nasty. Not horrible, but I got used to having real dried fruit in my granola and the chemical stew isn’t nearly so good. But again, who would care besides me?

I could write about waking up at the crack of middle of the night. I made a wonderful cup of coffee and waited for dawn to break so I could go out and walk. I finally got dressed for my walk and then let the dog out. It was freaking cold out there. I let the dog back in and simply went off and took a shower. I will have to walk later. Scintillating story, isn’t it?

I could write about tags in clothing. Admittedly, much of the apparel I purchase is of a cheap nature. Many clothing manufacturers have taken to stamping their labels in the backs of the clothes. Good plan. The rest use the crappiest material to print their label and then sew these highly irritating and itchy items into the necks of the garments. I spend an inordinate amount of time cutting labels out of clothes and sometimes it doesn’t work. They don’t actually cut out without ruining the material. Then I have to cover it up with a Band-Aid or I can’t stand wearing the thing.  I base my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch. Again, spellbinding story, right?

I could tell the world how I make salads into a plastic bag because I’m too lazy to bring a plastic container back home after work. If you try this, put the lettuce in the bag last. I have my paper plates at work and put my salad on to my plate and have a wonderful lunch and have nothing to bring back home. Clever, isn’t it?

Most of the things I could write about are simple snippets and not enough for a blog. Which is really sad because I need something to post on my blog.


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