Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas 2018 and May you have a Blessed and Happy 2019

And yeah, Wow! 2019 does mean we are only one year away from 2020
which sounds more like a vision test result and less like a year I ever even imagined

I'm going to start by saying that I sincerely hope that the old tale that things happen in threes, is correct, because I'm ready for the end of this current cycle of three Holiday seasons. For the third Thanksgiving/Christmas season in a row, Greg and I have lost one of our parents. His Mom died The day after election day in 2016 and Greg and I spent Thanksgiving with the Goode family in Newcastle, Wyoming having a memorial get together and laughing that this life long Democrat just didn't want to hang around for the next term of Republican presidents. Then after we bought train tickets to spend Christmas with Greg's Dad in 2017, he passed away unexpectedly of pneumonia on December 4thand our Christmas visit featured his celebration of Life service as well as a chance for Daisy to meet more Goode's and go out in the Black Hills in the snow to get her Christmas Tree with Uncle Harv and her Dad. Then this October, Mom, who was weakened already and wheelchair bound, but content in her assisted living center near Brett and Lance, developed Pneumonia herself and never recovered, so on November 4thwe lost her as well.

We traveled by car this time, only Greg and Daisy and I, meeting my brothers and nephew, nieces, sister-in-law and cousins aplenty. The family gathered in Cody, Wyoming and laid Mom to rest beside Dad, in the same Riverside Cemetery where her parents and several other family members are. So I'm officially an orphan at 55 and it's strange and sad. I don't like it. But there were some really sweet, happy moments in the celebration of Priscilla Slack Miller. We had a wonderful feast in the Cody Club, with the cousins and friends, laughter and conversation and food always being a part of every good moment with Mom. We even found that one of the murals there featured her uncle Clarence wearing her Dad's wooly chaps in a snowy landscape. With a four year old with us we did a lot of the very things Mom most enjoyed, hot tubs and Motels, waterpark, and the Oregon Zoo and Multnomah Falls. People ask how the trip home was, and it feels odd to say, but all three trips home for funerals have been good, happy, family filled visits. I just hope that the next time I get together with family, it isn't for a funeral.

Right after we got home, Greg joined the Crescent City Chorale for a two week tour of Italy, Germany and Poland, so Daisy and I left him at the Portland Airport and stopped at a waterpark in Springfield on our way home for Thanksgiving. That was a dud holiday, the power went out so we had no cooking, or water, or lights and ended up waiting for Emerson to get off work and eat Dinner at Denny's

It has been a year of both loss and births, so Mom will be missed, but the family has a new Granddaughter, Trinity Revae was born on August 3rdto Austin and Trisha, and joined our grandson Gavin who had just turned two in May. Trinity is beautiful, alert and has an adorable laugh and smile. Gavin is sturdy and strong willed and a real charmer. I don't see them as much as Daisy, and can tell you that living with one granddaughter is such a delight, I'd never known how wonderful being a grandmother could be before her. She is in preschool and is smart and kind and funny. This year she has done swimming lessons and soccer and a lot of art and playgrounds.

The extended family is growing too, so Daisy had a couple new cousins born this year and my niece has another due early next year. I guess that is good, if I don't watch too much news and get too fearful of the future this world holds for today's children. I reassure myself by remembering all the times that I heard my Grandmother, Grace laugh at the fears of parents when I was a child, in that good old days of the Vietnam era. She swore that parents are always convince that te world is a dangerous place and ending soon and that this is the worst time ever to have a child and that children themselves are much more horrid, but they have been saying all those things since Socrates at least and probably since cave men days.

I had a couple of long term sub jobs where I had a class of my own for months, and in June Greg finished 27 years teaching music and started teaching basic skills, GED prep skills, to inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison. I'm liking the fact that he no longer commutes to the next state to teach, as the prison is only 4 miles from our house, nor does he have to be out of town many weekends and evenings at various competitions and concerts. It isn't a job with summers off however, as the prison of course, runs year round.

Healthwise, I haven't been doing very well. And as of yet I've only been eliminating possibilities rather than finding answers. Negative tests and a lot of time between visits make it a slow process, but I'm moving slowly and stiffly and things happen like popping my achilles tendon and tearing my rotator cuff. It isn't Lupus but may be some form of Rheumatoid arthritis, but even more likely not, and may be IBM (the disease, not the big company) which is a type of muscular dystrophy.

Anyway, this aging time of life isn't for whimps, but I guess it's undeniable when you are a grandmother, with no parents of your own left above the surface of this beautiful planet.

I'm still writing my books and doodling in my free time and most of all helping raise a wonderful girl who adds so much joy to my life, but really misses her own Mom and doesn't understand that, but then neither do we. If you are one who prays, as I am. Pray for the children and this wonderful, troubled world and every now and then, remember us.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and

“God Bless us, everyone!”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Priscilla June Slack Miller. Goodnight Mom.

She was born on June 30, 1939, Priscilla June Slack; daughter of one of the three sons (Lawrence Slack) born to Francis Slack, a stage driver who worked for Buffalo Bill Cody, and his Wife, Emma Belle Lafferty Slack. Priscilla told stories of how she grew up riding a white cow and creating Jackalopes and running on the bank of the Greybull River in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Her parents ran Slack Salvage, in Cody for many years. She had four male cousins who were more like brothers to her, their Dad (Clarence Slack) was another of the three sons raised up along Trout Creek above Cody, Wyoming in the 1890’s before the families moved to Meeteetse in 1902. Their Mom, Clara and her Mom, Grace Beightol were sisters from Illinois who came out to Wyoming because of an ad in a Chicago Newspaper looking for someone who could love both a Wyoming winter and a Wyoming cattleman. 

When she was eleven she moved to Cody, and spent most of her life there. She went to college in Powell and in Laramie. In 1960 she got married To an Army Veteran from Pittsburgh, PA named Paul Miller. He worked and she taught second grade in Cheyenne, Wyoming but when they had children they moved back to Cody and raised their daughter and two sons there where they could be close to her parents and cousins. Along with Paul, she spent a lot of time exploring the area around Yellowstone and the Beartooths. They loved the rugged beauty of the Park and surrounding mountains. Whenever they could get a few weeks off, they loved to travel, usually to places where they had family and friends, so often it was to Pittsburgh, PA or Anaheim, CA both places where Paul’s large family lived, or to Illinois to visit her Mother’s extended family. 

She was a Philanthropist, Priscilla Miller. Most often the name attached to the descriptive word "Philanthropist"will be found for a prominent family or well known wealthy individual. Priscilla Miller learned from her parents, Lawrence and Grace the true meaning of philanthropy. I call it being "other oriented" and putting others welfare above your own. Priscilla very quietly gave far more to community, family, friends and strangers than she ever kept for herself. It is very important to me that her community remember her for those silent acts of kindness and generosity beyond description.

She was a nurse who nursed so many people through sickness, although she never received training as a nurse, she was one by nature and compassion. She cared for friends, uncles, parents and her husband through cancer and other difficult times, and though it was brutally hard at times, she did it out of love. After Paul died of esophageal cancer in Feb. of 1997, she and her youngest son, Lance - traveled to California to visit grandkids, and to Guatemala on a mission to help build cinderblock homes. She took Lance to Washington DC to visit her son, Brett and his family and she reached out to friends and kept both herself and Lance active in the church, the senior center and in the community. 

As she grew older and health issues slowed her down, she and Lance moved to Middleburg, VA where they could be close to Brett and his family. She had many good times there even as her health continued to decline. Right to the end she could enjoy a good meal or a visit from friends with a welcoming smile. She is survived by her daughter, Dixie (Greg Goode) and Her son, Brett (Emily Richter Miller) Her son, Lance and Five Grandchildren; Austin Goode, Lacy Miller, Emerson Goode, Luke Miller and Elise Miller, as well as two Step- Grandchildren, Caitlin Tabachka and Patrick Tabachka. She also leaves behind four Great-Grandchildren, Daisy Goode, Gavin Goode-Pitt, Trinity Goode-Pitt and Lincoln Tabachka. She is also survived by three of her close cousins, Roger Slack (Louise), James Slack and Donald Slack (Marion) and by the wife of her cousin Terry who preceded her in death (Patty), as well as by many well-loved cousins, nieces and nephews.

She will be interred at Riverside Cemetery in Cody, Wyoming as she wished, joining her husband and Parents and many family and friends within view of Heart Mountain.  

I'm really going to miss you. Goodnight Mom. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

My July

 July is my favorite month every year. Maybe because my birthday is in July. Definitely because my school isn't in session in July.  The old June, July and august summer has seen school encroaching well into mid June and starting again Mid August but my July is still family time, outdoor time, ME time.

 This year my husband started a new job, and so did both of my adult sons.  My granddaughter and I have had the long summer weekdays to explore together, taking her to swimming lessons and the beach, to soccer and the local aquarium and the almost local zoo. it hasn't been too smoke filled or too foggy unlike some summers and the home area is cool but just up the river it is hot and swimmable

 imagination rules at four so we have been Maleficent and her daughter Mal, or a Doctor and Patient, or a wide variety of monsters and princesses and super heroes

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Great Uncle Carl Beightol

Even though he was missing since dying in a POW camp in 1942, my great uncle Carl does have a headstone in the Brookville Illinois Methodist Cemetery near his mother and father, Della McPherson Beightol and William Beightol.  Carl is on the memorial of the pacific in Manila in the Philippines. He has never been forgotten and although I was born 21 years after he died his memory has been there in pictures on the wall and in family stories and a sadness in my great grandmother who lived to be 98 and was very much a part of my childhood. I totally remember Grandma Della telling me she still stood out on the front porch and thought she saw him walking down the gravel driveway coming home. I think he should be returned to where she is but I don’t think I should get the final vote which ultimately I believe should go to the surviving children of his siblings, my mom and her cousins.

My Brother got a call, after all these years, Great Grandma Della’s prayers have been answered and the Army thinks it has located Grace and Clara’s brother Carl. He told them to call me with their offer of a funeral so a lady with the Army called me and is looking for DNA confirmation as the inmates of the POW camp had to be buried in large groups and some had their dog tags placed in their mouths but most didn’t. She wanted a female relative in direct female to female lineage to Carl's Mother, and a Male relative in direct male to male descent from his Father.

Once, while digging into old cartons of family pictures,  I posted a picture of Carl on facebook, I mentioned that my Great Grandma had told me she had been visited in the late forties by a soldier who had survived the Death march, and told her that the last time he saw Carl, he was too exhausted to keep walking and had slumped against a tree. He said he had seen a Japanese soldier coming up behind Carl, but then had to look away and keep trudging on. I had mistakenly taken that to mean that Carl was missing from during the actual march but I was wrong and My Mom's cousin, Donald Slack commented this "Carl came to Wyoming to be a cowboy but, after riding his horse into the Silver Dollar Bar in Cody, the Sheriff gave him the alternatives of going to jail or joining the army. He joined the army and died in the Bataan Death March in 1942... my middle name Carl is in his honor.
Dixie, actually, he survived the march but died of dysentery in the Cabanatuan POW camp not long after. We have a copy of a letter from his sergeant sent to "William Beightol" in 1974 saying that he had held Carl in in arms when he died, June 1942. Marion and I visited the site of the POW camp in 1972 and also saw Carl's name on the Memorial of the Pacific War in Manila."

So anyway, maybe Carl is finally coming home.  The idea brings tears to my eyes. I wish his parents could have seen this.  You'd think 76 years after his death that it would no longer matter, but when kids are separated from their family and answers fail to come it created a void that all the time between then and now has never filled.  There is a lesson there still valid today.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Zoo Day in Eureka, CA

I have been seeing Vampire Penguin, Eureka on my Facebook feed for quite some time, and it made me think of how often my friend from down near New Orleans mentions snowcones with condensed milk on them, but I’ve never seen anything like that here. My grandma used to give me a spoon of condensed milk, so it’s always been a treat associated with being loved, but since this dessert shop is 90 miles away it took me awhile to get there. I finally told my family, I wanted the Eureka Zoo and Vampire Penguin for my birthday. The snowy (not crushed ice) desserts were perfect, the price kept it from being something you’d drop in for on a daily basis. With four snows, all smalls, one smoothie, one cookie and a bottled Sprite we were at $40. The few things I think could improve the experience would be the addition of a mini or child sized for maybe three dollars. Also it would pair so well with a hot coffee or hot tea to prevent brain freeze and there were no hot drinks.
 I love Otters, and the Zoo has a fun set up where the otters crawl and up on rocks and swim next to a crawl through tunnel large enough my four year old granddaughter could walk through it. The Zoo has changed so much since I took my sons there 20 years ago. and we went regularly for a few years, I felt like I knew the place, but There were only a few corners I recognized. Gone are the Chimps and the Golden Lion Tamarin, the Crowned cranes and Roosevelt Elk. Added in is a barnyard with a petting zoo. Bush Dogs were there where black bear had been. There were no sign of the prairie dog colony or the wallabies but there was a lot of hands on ecological areas where kids could build with logs and pump with a hand water pump and touch skulls and footprints of local critters.

 And still, next to the zoo, the Sequoia Park is an amazing place for kids to run and climb and families to picnic and relax.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Thoughts of approaching summer 2018

On this Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, spring is definitely giving way to summer. I sit reading a book in my shady living room, with the doors and windows open and the sound of my husband chopping kindling fills the air, even though it has been too warm to use the woodstove much lately. We use more kindling on these days with only a brief fire to take the chill off the morning, than on the bitter cold days when we never let the fire go out.

Life has been fairly consistent for us for a couple decades, and the changes of aging have been slow enough to mostly ignore. Our children grew up but grandchildren appeared to fill our rooms once more with a jumble of toys and our laps with snuggly

In three weeks my husband stops being a music teacher, after 29 years. But he goes year round teaching at the big prison down the road. GED prep classes instead of music. Sadly working in a prison he will get paid a lot more and be a lot more secure that working with children in a public school. It reminds me of the medical insurance willing to pay to treat diseases but not for the much smaller preventative care.

Speaking of medical care, I am still trying to get a diagnosis on the degenerative issues I have been having health wise. It seems to be hard to get an answer but the loss of simple little abilities continues. So my goal for summer is to keep moving, develop enough coping strategies to regain some flexibility and strength while also keeping up on Dr visits. I also want to de clutter the house, turning what was once a playroom but became storage as my kids grew up and moved out, back into a playroom for my three grandchildren and their cousins. And the last big goal is to become more active as a writer again, not just writing on Facebook but finishing my eighth book and getting back into the marketing of the ones I have already published.

But when Fall rolls around, the only goal I will feel like a failure for not achieving is the goal to be there for my boys turned men, and their children. Grandma time is more important than everything else

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Post Winter Post

 I know winter isn't over yet, but in the frosty mornings and the dark evenings, I still feel the faint hint that spring is on her way.  I've been cold and dark physically too, avoiding, for years, the fact that my aches and pains are bigger than just the simple aging process I have been blaming it on.  Then a couple things happened that pried my blinders off.
 My good friend is ten years older than me, and has been taking care of aging parents, so as I struggled to get up from my seat, she automatically offered me a hand up. I realized, she doesn't limp and moan like I do, even when I'm trying to insist I'm fine.

Then I was loving Black Panther, for its gorgeousness, at the local theater, when people began discussing the release of A wrinkle In Time, and my first thought was that "I have to live to see this movie!" and I wasn't being at all ironic. Somehow my brain had accepted that I am dying.
 So I made the dreaded Dr. appointment, and things are scary, but not as scary as dying.  My blood pressure on a normal day reads about 168/102.  My ANA blood test was positive which could mean Lupus or Lyme disease or be a false positive and I won't know until I follow trough at the Rheumatologist, I have to drive 127 miles to see, and wait until April 26th.  But all the symptoms point to some type of Rheumatoid arthritis. Things like the pain of pressure in my wrists from turning a steering wheel or spreading peanut butter on toast.  Things like loss of the ability to get out of the bathtub or to put on my own shoes.  Simple things are impossible on some days and cutting my toenails might mean I nerd to sleep for 12 hours to recover from the exertion.

 but life doesn't suck.  I had a good day driving through beautiful trees to go with my husband and daughter on a shopping/dentist trip, and I didn't feel too horrible by the end of it.  Now it is pouring hail on my house and Im loving the snuggled in feeling by the fireplace.

 there will be better days.  Spring is in the air.