Monday, September 28, 2009

Back in Iowa

Here I am in Storm Lake, Iowa, again. Lots of issues to deal with this week. But the drive from Omaha to here was really nice. I didn't get behind any big trucks this time. And this farmer-girl's heart took delight in seeing all the haying and the harvesting going on. The corn that was so green and beautiful a few weeks ago now looks brown and nearly ready to harvest. Before starting the drive, my sister, Evie, and I had a 2 1/2 hour lunch at Panera's. It sure was good to have an uninterrupted sister 1:1. Wish we would have had more time. Also got to see Annette for a short while. I hope we can do this more often. Now I need to catch up on my work email that piled up over the day. I have a nice cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate to finish off the day....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

LeRoy - #4 out of 10

If he had not left us so recently, LeRoy would have been 68 years old today. In my sibling birthday blogs I try to recount memories from my childhood. It makes me very sad that I have very few memories of LeRoy while I was a child. He was 11 when I was born. And in his last year or two of high school he spent a lot of time "working out" (which means something different than it does today....he worked for other farmers). He was a senior when I was a first grader. After graduation he went to school, then moved out of state. I saw very little of him for many years. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I'm sorry I didn't get to know what a wonderful man he was until much later. However, there are a few enduring memories I want to share:

  • When Dad was at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, it was LeRoy who kept tabs on him. I remember the day he called Mom and told her she better get there quickly, as dad was doing very poorly. I felt fear like I had never felt before - but after Mom got there Dad started to improve; and eventually came home.
  • I heard someone at school call him "Ozzie". I guess that was his role in a school play. I called him Ozzie once (we were in the barn). He looked at me and said, "Don't call me that". You can be certain I never did again!
  • Speaking of his name, the family all pronounced his name with the emphasis on "Roy", contrary to the rest of the world.
  • He and a friend stopped by on their motorcycles as they were doing a big tour around the country. He gave me my very first motorcycle ride and it was so exciting!
  • He brought his first wife, Judy, home to meet us. She seemed so beautiful and elegant! I was in awe of such a gorgeous creature being in our home.
  • I remember some discussions about how he would love to farm. I suggested to mom that we turn the granary into a little house and they could live there (seriously). That idea didn't go over very well.
  • The room next to mine upstairs was always referred to "LeRoy's room"; it was assigned to him when the house was first built.
I could find no pictures of just me and LeRoy or just LeRoy earlier than his graduation from high school. But I like this one of my (then) four brothers taken in 1953. From left to right they are LeRoy, Don, David, Tom. He would have been 12 at the time. Looks like it must have been a Sunday, don't you think?
Happy Birthday, LeRoy! We miss you here on earth!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

David - #6 out of 10

September 24 - he would have been 63. Has he really been away for two years? Most of the time it doesn't hurt so much anymore. I remember the good things, the happy times. But sometimes without any warning it suddenly hits again, like a fist in the gut. The fact is, he is no longer on this earth. But today, his birthday, I want to remember good things:

  • He threw me the football and I kicked it back - an unexpectedly good kick. "Great kick", he said. I lived in the glow of that compliment for years

  • Building the fort in the trees

  • Pig-Latin

  • Braiding a long rope out of twine in the hayloft on rainy days

  • The Navy man - such a hunk. As a young teenager, I was so proud. And he gave me his sailor hat. I kept it until long after I was married. I wish I still had it.

  • He brought back exciting things from the Mediterranean area - necklace, scarves, bracelet, hand-clappers. I still have them all. I still wear the necklace.

  • I told him, "I think I will join the Navy after I graduate". He said, "No, you're not going to do that." "Why????", I asked. "The military is no place for nice girls", he said. I've always wondered about that.

  • Christmas of 1969 - he met me and my sister at Disneyland and we spent the day together going on the rides. Such a wonderful experience for me. I'm so glad I could share it with him.

  • He says, "Why do you color your eyebrows and eyelashes? Aren't you satisfied with the way God made you?" Well, to be truthful, I'm not.

  • My first trip to Phoenix. It was a business trip. I get off the plane and there is a limousine driver holding up a sign with my name. I say, "Thanks, but my brother is here to get me and I'll go with him." We had a wonderful afternoon before he dropped me off at my convention.

  • The trip to the Grand Canyon. We had many hours together in the car. I'm glad I didn't know at the time that it would be one of our last outings together.

The picture above was taken in 1954. David is on the left and Don is on the right. Don't they look like the most adorable little farmer boys?

I miss you David; I wish I could call you tonight and wish you a happy birthday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When It Rains....It Snows

This is going to be one busy, crazy week. When it rains, it pours - and, yes, it snowed in Denver last night. Not only in the mountains, but on the plains. Not enough to stay, but it's strange going from 80's one day to 50's the next. Love wearing the sweaters again, though.

This is also a week of many, many meetings at work and for the first time since I started I am feeling like I'm getting behind. And we have company all week. I'm saying all this to say - don't be surprised if I don't do much blogging this week. I've got lots in my head - but not much time to write it down. I'm going to send my mom an email, then get back to the company....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lost Has Been Found

Guess what! There is a Starbucks in Odessa, Texas. My boss, Pat, was with me in Odessa on Thursday and Friday and by Friday morning she said she really needed a good coffee. So she went on the hunt and found someone who knew where it was. We jumped in the car, drove to the very busy Starbucks, Pat jumped out of the car while I drove around the parking lot (no place to park), she jumped back in with our coffee / latte, we rushed to our meeting -- and got there just in time! Whew! But when I am in Odessa alone, I will probably still go to McDonald's for my latte. After all, I'm fussy about my tea; but coffee - not so much.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sylvia - #2 out of 10

I looked everywhere - I don't have pictures of my sister, Sylvia! Why would that be? I have quite a few pictures of all my other siblings. Could it be that the main picture-taker was Sylvia? Well, I cut her out of one of the few pictures I have and posted it here. This was taken in 1958.
What can I saw about Sylvia? She has been like a mother to me; she's been like an aunt, a caregiver, a confidante, an anchor, always there and always loving me. Sylvia was 15 when I was born; I was only 3 when she married. And from what I hear, I was very attached to her from the time I was brought into the house. There are many memories - here are a few:
  • Staying at her house many, many times
  • When I had an accident as a preschooler, she made it all better "It's happened to me before, too", she said
  • All the doll clothes she made for me for Christmas one year
  • The Santa Claus stockings with our names on them
  • Jigs
  • Telling me the good things about my brother, Tom, when I was so mad at him
  • Chuck
  • Big family dinners in her new house
  • Big family dinners in her old, very old, house
  • Mint Dazzler
  • Peace-maker
There are many more memories - all of them good. It's always been hard to buy a birthday card for Sylvia because all the "sister" ones talked about growing up together. And we didn't do that. As I mentioned, our relationship was very different from the typical sister relationships. But over the last several years (after I finally grew up), I have no doubt about who Sylvia is - she is my SISTER. And she still always believes in me, always encourages me, and always opens her home and her heart to me. I'm probably the only woman alive who has never had a conflict with one of her sisters. I cherish that. Happy Birthday, Sylvia! I love you!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LeRoy - A Few Years Ago

Every time I saw him over the last few years, his body had declined a little bit more than the time before. First it was a limp. Then it was a cane, a walker. At Mom's 90th birthday party, just three years ago, he was running around on his scooter, moving from scooter to chair by himself, laughing, and having a good time. Last April when I visited him, he drove his scooter around, but needed help moving to a chair or getting into and out of bed. Then he was bedridden. It is heartbreaking to watch the body deteriorate like that. That is why I love this picture. I'm not sure when it was taken, but Sonia has an engagement or wedding ring on so it had to be no more than 10 years ago. He looks so good in this picture. When I look at it, I can hear his voice. This is how I want to remember him - my beloved brother. I miss him so much.

McDonald's Comes Through For Me

I'm certainly not a big fan of McDonald's. And I have gone there much more than I like because it is usually the first choice of the grandkids. But I have to admit they do some things right. For example, here in Odessa, Texas, there are no Starbucks. When I really, really need a latte (like I did a few minutes ago), I can go to McDonald's and get a non-fat, sugar-free Vanilla latte - and for less $$ than at Starbucks. And it's really pretty good. And McDonald's comes through for me at the airports. They are in most of the airports and when I'm hungry, I can get some mostly-healthy food like a fruit and yogurt parfait (for $1), apple dippers, salad, apples and walnuts, and best of all - Dasani bottled water.

Now that I have my latte, I'm set for a couple more hours of work. Better get busy.....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Viola - Mother of 10

Yesterday, September 13, my mother turned 93 years old. I spoke with her the day before her birthday and she was very upbeat and very sharp. What a gift it is to live as long as I have and still have a mother who is mentally clear! While I was talking with her she mentioned a dream she had the night before. It was about Oscar. I asked what he looked like in the dream and she couldn't say for sure - just that he was strong and active. It made me think of the picture I posted here. This was taken in 1954, when I was just a toddler. They were probably 37 and 47 at the time. My goodness! I have a daughter who is 37! It is hard to reconcile the woman I see in this picture with the woman I see sitting in her chair in the nursing home. So many years have passed. The body has failed. But the real "Viola" is still the same person. That is what I try to keep focused on. I think too often we treat people according to what we "see" rather than who they really are. Who is mom? Sure, she is the mother of ten children, she is a grandmother of many, she was a hard-working farm wife for decades. She is a woman who marks her own destiny over and over. But sometimes I feel like I really don't know who she is as a person unto herself. If her "functions" were stripped away, who would I find? I hope I have time to find out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Tide's Inn

I'm at a beautiful resort right on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. My view out the window of my room is gorgeous. There are some perks to business travel. It is rather humid, but not hot, so it is bearable. One presentation out of the way - two to go. I'm getting to know a lot of other people in the company. So far, so good, but I'll be glad to be home Sunday late afternoon!

Monday, September 7, 2009

An Unexpected Blessing

Tuesday, September 8, my baby girl is having a birthday. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was sitting in the doctor's office and he told me I was pregnant - again. With a 6-month old, a 4-year old, and living below the poverty level, I was overwhelmed. How would I ever cope? As my eyes filled with tears, the doctor took my hand and said, with such assurance, "you will do just fine and this child will be a big blessing to you". How right he was! I did just fine and I cannot imagine life without my Sonia. I've always felt she was my special blessing from God. She was, and still is, my "Sonny Rae". Sonia has always been very compassionate towards those less fortunate, especially the "underdog". I remember the boy who took after her with sticks on her way home from school. When I was feeling frustration and anger at the boy, a few days later Sonia wanted to make him a special birthday card. I learned a lesson on forgiveness that day! Sonia was also my most artistic child. She made beautiful things and she was able to move in beautiful ways. I will always regret that I did not find a way to provide her with more opportunities to develop her talents. Oh, there are so many memories - her unusual birth, singing "Into My Heart" and really meaning it, breaking her leg while jumping off the diving board, chicken pox, napping together on the big orange couch, cheerleading, the day her teacher took her favorite ring away from her and threw it away (That still makes me mad), her just-right gifts, the beautiful bride, the new mom. My heart yearns to have you close, my girl. I want us to be best friends day in and day out - not just over the telephone. I miss you so much and love you so much. Happy, happy birthday. May this year be the best you've had, full of happiness, good health, and love. And for what it's worth, I pray for you every day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Miracle

It wasn't much - but it sure was appreciated! Wednesday night. Hotel in Texas. 4 hours sleep the night before. A cough that wouldn't quit. A voice that was gone. A very early morning flight. Then a thought - "He anoints my head with oil". The thought of soothing oil on my miserable throat sounded really good. "Lord, you can do it. Won't you please??" Next thing I knew the alarm was going off. I didn't try my voice out until I was checking out at 5:30. It worked! It sounded normal! And I barely coughed all day. Yup, it sure was appreciated.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It's good to be home! Some trips go really great and others are stressful from beginning to end. This past week was one that was very draining. Every meeting was intense and emotionally tough. And I ended up with throat trouble that led to being barely able to talk. So it was continually physically draining as well. Even getting home was tough - cancelled flights, tight connections, bad seats. After a good night's sleep last night, I feel much better and I can talk again. I put in a short day at the office and got lots accomplished. In the morning I get my hair done, then I'm getting a pedicure. By Tuesday I'll be all recuperated - and ready to head to Virginia for six days. But you know, in the midst of all this, I still really, really love what I do. I made a lot of progress on some very huge problems -- and that is very fulfilling. I treated myself by investing in the new noise-cancelling headphone set from Bose. Life just got a lot quieter!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bob - #10 out of 10

Robert Jon, formerly known as Bobby, and now known as Bob – when you think about it, this is one guy that is really lucky to be here. How many parents, after all, have ten children? And how many are still pro-creating in their forties and fifties?

Before Bob, we had 5 boys and 4 girls in our family. A wee bit unbalanced. I had reconciled myself to being in the minority. But the promised advent of another baby gave me great hope that we would balance out at 5 and 5. Maybe that is why I did not like Bob when he was first born. I really wanted a sister in the house with me; instead it was yet another boy. I was so upset that I would have nothing to do with him for many months. (Not that I ever hold a grudge, or anything like that – haha). Most of the family knows the story of how things changed. There were several of us siblings in a circle and they put Bob in the middle. He was just starting to walk. And wouldn’t you know, Bob turned around, walked towards me and fell right into my arms. It melted my heart. Since that moment I’ve really liked my brother Bob. Some favorite memories of Bob:

  • As a toddler and young boy, he was so cuddly and mild mannered
  • Playing in the dirt in the "trees"
  • Going fishing
  • How he stepped up and looked out for mom after dad died; he was only 13
  • Staying at his house when I moved to Colorado
  • His strong commitment to his own children after his divorce

The picture was taken in 1966. He so graciously posed for me many times as I was attempting to learn a little photography. This is one of my favorites.

Happy birthday, Bob! I love you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Carino's Times Two

Ever eaten at Carino's, formerly known as Johnny Carino's? It's pretty good Italian food. And they have a couple really good salads. I like Carino's. Today I took one of my clinic managers to lunch at Carino's. Great food and great time. Tonight I took the Medical Director to dinner - to Carino's. His choice. Good food and, uhh, "interesting" conversation, to say the least. And I think I've had enough of Carino's for a little while.

Getting out of Texas

Here I am in Odessa, Texas, again. Midland/Odessa is a very nice city out in the middle of nowhere. Too bad it is so hard to get to. I have to take United from Denver to Dallas, then take American from Dallas to Odessa. Coordinating the departure and arrival times is quite a challenge when using two different airlines. Well, I finally got caught. I made it here okay on Monday, even with an hour and a half delay leaving Denver. There was a 3 hour layover in Dallas anyway. But today I checked my AA ticket to see what time I was leaving on Thursday. It said that I leave Odessa at 11:20 a.m. Now I knew that I was getting to Denver at 1:00 p.m. Suddenly I got a funny feeling - how can this be, with a layover in Dallas??? Well, I discovered that I land in Dallas at 12:30 - and I leave Dallas for Denver at 12:01. Impossible! How could I do that? Well, changing my United flight to later would cost more than $900. And changing to an earlier flight from Odessa would be over $300. But there is another option. I bought a one-way ticket from Odessa to Dallas, leaving at 7:15 a.m. for $130. A new flight is cheaper than the $150 flight change fee! I'm glad I caught the mistake earlier than the night before I leave - which is when I usually check. I'm sure I'll be much more careful in the future!