Walk a Mile in My Shoes / Everyone has a Story

Having worked in medicine for 50 years, I have had many opportunities to listen to patient’s stories concerning their health, family, friends, the town, the State and the Federal government. Some have a lot of incite and some not so much, but we listen and many times I am so taken back by what I am hearing. Some of the stories are just horror stories, others are sweet, loving things that have happened to them, but later you realize that for the most part almost every story helped form this person. I must say that some-times you say to yourself, ‘how did they get this far?’. Where I am trying to head is to not form a judgement on a person from how they act or talk or what you hear about them. We have no idea that the lady who cut in line with not a glance or apology, has just got-ten a report of a serious health problem or the rude person who cuts you off and steals your parking space has just been laid off from their job. There are a million reasons why people do or say what they do, rough day, rough morning, bad report card, forgot your wallet, left late, break down and on and on and on.

I have been talking about the negative but you do run into some positive people. The negative occasions you remember, and these are where I would like you to give them a break. I was reminded of this when a group got together recently and while passing through a certain village, remembered the time they were having lunch and this “mad woman” came in the establishment ‘spitting fire’, obviously something they had never seen before or since. I would gather they would not want to see this again! I would have loved to have been there, to hear all the reasons they could give, why this poor distressed woman finally seemed to be on the edge or maybe a little over.

She had lived this event for weeks, made meals, and chased grandchildren and was left behind because someone else was late and she had to ‘fix it’ and then catch up in an area she wasn’t familiar with and maybe, just maybe she had the wrong instructions, but don’t think she hasn’t thought a million times if ‘he’ said it, she must be wrong. So, if you were there, cut her a break and forget it. Remember the other times when she is the only woman to show up and smiles and acts like she is enjoying herself. If you weren’t there, let that little lady cut in front and just smile and realize she probably must get that milk home to her loving children. Of course I am also open to the fact, the little lady can spot a sucker when she sees one!

In closing
, if I were that ‘witchy’ woman which I want you to know for sure that I’m not or wasn’t, of course I wasn’t even there, was I? If I was, you’d remember, wouldn’t you? Oh! Just walk a mile in my shoes!!

Special Days

By the time this goes to print, Mother’s Day will have passed and Memorial Day and Father’s Day will be on the horizon. Let me say, before I really get going, that I probably have written about the subject before and hopefully you are a bit like me and can’t remember and to those who can, just use it as a reminder, if you remember and have followed my past suggestions, a giant kudos to you!

I have wondered for years why we make such a big deal about what I consider very important certain subjects one day a year. Take Mother’s Day, which has just passed, many people took some time and took Mom out to eat, gave her candy, flowers, jewelry, cards and I’m sure the list would include a huge assortment of things, some of which would have been more appreciated on – well, let’s say a Wednesday. Those things are vacuums, brooms, new dust cloths, ice scraper or maybe a gift certificate to the car wash. Nothing says I love and appreciate you like a gift certificate to the local car wash! Don’t get me wrong, remember I am writing from my prospective and I realize there are women out there that tools would be at the top of their list, I’m just not one of them. Another thing about these days, like Mother’s Day, that I think of is why are those mothers running around and waiting on me. It does create some guilt in me, even though I have worked in a profession which required working on holidays and I certainly didn’t want any (well I won’t say any) one to feel guilty, I was away from my family and hopefully helping them out.

This can apply to all our “special days” such as Father’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veterans Day, Easter, Christmas, Labor Day, and President’s Day (combo of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, for those of you who didn’t know or have forgotten). Some of these days have become just another day off from work with no mail and no banking and no thought to why it is a special day. And of course, some always fall on a Sunday. When I was in grade school (yes, many moons ago) onMemorial Day we marched to the cemetery, sang songs like America, Battle Hyman of the Republic and read a list of veteran’s names ending in a 6th grader (who had been chosen with great honor) to recite the Gettysburg Address. Yes, I said recited from memory. There wasn’t a child in that school that didn’t want that privilege and honor. I am not saying not to have any of these ‘special days’ but I bet mothers, fathers, veterans, workers would really appreciate a little more recognition, hand shake or a smile and a kind word all throughout the year and not just on ‘their day’. And let’s not forget those who don’t get a day, kind and helpful neighbors, door openers, people who let you go first, those who are there if you fall, those who give when something bad or sad happens to you, those who give you a hug when it is most needed, people who push your car when it is stuck or stops running and I remember once trying to fit a dresser into a way too small car (at the entrance of University Mall) where there was an abundance of onlookers) the Salvation Army bell ringer stashed her buck-et in the front seat and spent time and a lot of muscle trying to thread this needle – to no avail, then, a woman from a Fence Company in Orleans, ran back to her truck and produced enough rope to tie the dresser to the trunk, success – looks great in my house!

I guess what I am saying that once a year isn’t enough. Make a pledge to try and do something no matter how small each day. A kind word goes a long way and I bet if you get in the habit of doing this that if by chance a special day gets here and gone without you – you will be forgiven!

Nostalgia

Probably because I just celebrated (I use that word loosely) my 69th birthday, I got to thinking about the past and what my children and grandchildren have and are missing out on.

Last Tuesday, while sitting with fellow ‘hookers’ (rug) and watching the snow come down, my thoughts ran to cardboard. I’m sure you are saying the same as a couple of the ‘younger hookers’ in the room (they are in the late 50’s) “cardboard”? At the time I didn’t realize I had said the word out loud. It certainly wasn’t a subject that had come up before and believe me we cover a lot of subjects! Yes, cardboard. Haven’t you ever gone looking for or in off seasons kept your eye out for the perfect piece of cardboard for sliding on the snow. Cardboard works in just about every snow condition when Flexible Flyers and Toboggans don’t. Cardboard can carry one or more persons depending, of course, on the size and sturdiness of the cardboard piece. Blaze a trail and off you go, snow spraying your joyful face and maybe a little fear in your heart if the trail is a steep one. Then, at the bottom, you pick up your cardboard and truck to the top and do it all over again. So, as you can see, cardboard could be the perfect sled, light, so portable, works in almost all snow conditions and when it wore out or got left behind or forbid, stolen, just find another piece. I spent the first 6 grades in a one room schoolhouse and our teacher, Mrs. White, let us use our ‘art class’ personalizing our piece. And I might add, we were ‘green’ before we knew we should be. Cardboard left to the elements of snow and rain disintegrates and returns to the earth! How great is that?

On our way to the movies Wednesday, looking out at what could be great sliding hills, the moon shone on what looked to me to be Nirvana- crust. This makes for a perfect sliding experience.

My sliding days are over (at least the sliding that is fun) but I look back and remember what fun we had and if you used cardboard, no expense. Because of these memories, I never look at cardboard without evaluating it for its ‘higher purpose’.

Appreciation Day

What made me think of writing on this subject was a headline on Facebook that asked, “How many women say thank you to a person who has held a door opened for you?”

My answer would have been, I hope at least 99.9% do but alas, that isn’t the case. I think I have touched on this before but here I go again. So much of our lives have a lot of people ‘behind the scenes’ making things happen for us. Most of us do not eat, drink, read, clothe ourselves with any direct effort on our part, someone or some ones do it for us. Yes, we work to get money and then depend that stores will be there for what we need or want without a thought to others who have put hours into making, growing, transporting, unloading and setting it up in places for us to see and buy.

This is true with so much of our lives, the newspaper deliverer, the library, the car wash, the bank, the movie theater and the list could go on and on. There is someone behind the scenes in everything that hopefully makes our lives easier and in many cases more fun. I also am sure that you, the readers, fit into that chain at some point.

This brings me to the VAE, VAAS or 501-c3. I haven’t gotten just what we are straight yet but what I would like to say is a big THANK YOU to those who understood and spent many an hour getting the paperwork needed to accomplish such. What I do know is that working with government (State or Federal) can be a daunting task and so appreciate those who took this on and worked until all the I’s dotted and t’s crossed.

Next, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Gary (Fiske) who spends his time (a lot more than he would admit to) putting together our organization’s monthly newsletter. And to all those who contribute to it, with articles, ads, jokes and also to the proof reader, Edi. Thank you all for the work with the result being a top notch publication.

Can’t write about appreciation without mentioning Bob (Chase) and Duane (Leach) and their work and dedication to the Stowe Show. I know a lot of you put in endless hours helping under their leadership, THANK YOU ALL!

One person who has held an important position in the VAE and has done an outstanding job for years is Dick Wheatley. I am sure I am speaking for us all, THANK YOU for all your years of service. Certain jobs require someone with certain knowledge, integrity and trustworthiness and you cer-tainly meet and exceeded those requirements of the job. We can’t THANK YOU enough.

I am sitting here with the VAE 2015 ROSTER and realize there are many who do a lot in many ways. I purposely didn’t mention all the names or positions that I could have but thought if I tried to I would leave someone out and that wouldn’t be and isn’t my intention. You are all very important to making the VAE what it is today and hope-fully with your help will it only get better in the years to come and we will be able to hand this over to those who come after us and they can build on the excellent work done by you all. THANK YOU ALL and keep up the good work.

Goodbye 2015

happy new year 2016If you are reading this, then Christmas is over and thoughts of putting this season away and what 2016 will bring are on your mind. Did I get what I wanted for Christmas? First, I don’t know because I wrote this 2 weeks before Christmas and second, I really didn’t ask for anything special but I’m sure I got something. We always say, ‘don’t get me anything’ but somehow can’t seem to honor the request. Just doesn’t seem right not to open something, no matter how small or silly. One of my favorites has always been dried pineapple, so one year I went to the natural food store and bought enough of it to fill my stocking! Probably at least 10 bags and maybe more, we all got a good laugh out of it, so it was sooo worth it! I forgot to tell you that some years Santa has been too busy to fill my stocking so I do it myself, which really isn’t so bad as I get exactly what I want and like and not what Santa is sure I’ll enjoy!

I think Christmas used to be better, I mean…. more fun and certainly more anticipated. Oh sure, I know what you are all saying, ‘you can tell Nancy is getting old, she is talking about the “good old days” – all true! When I say better, I know being young is certainly a big part of it all but Christmas in the years before we had all that we needed or wanted, it made (in my opinion) the whole season something to really enjoy. This was a time to get what you needed, socks, pjs, new boots, coat and in our house, a new game for the whole family. Not to say we didn’t get something we wanted, we did, but not to the fever pitch of today!

I have received, over the years, the typical, the unusual, useful, not so useful, what someone else wants, and the practical – like a snow shovel from my father-in-law – have to say never used the damn thing! Of course, telling him it was exactly the perfect gift! Don’t you just hate the way people gift? Kitchen stuff to the merry housewife and manly stuff to the man of the house, with the exception of my shovel, of course, but I think that was on sale and my 2 sisters-in-law got one too!! The last few years I have tried to convince the gift givers to give only edible things. It is not that I don’t appreciate the things but have long ago run out of places to put them.

Mother’s Day

By the time you read this, Mother’s Day will be over by at least a month. I have to tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. It is considered the third largest holiday for card exchange with, of course, Christmas being the first and Valentine’s Day second. The giant card company, Hallmark, estimates they sell 133 million cards. Mother’s Day comes in second in the gift giving holidays and it also, is the year’s most popular holiday for dining out.

First some history on this( in most cases ) revered holiday called Mother’s Day (note it is not Mothers’ Day). It was always intended to be in the singular, “it wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known-your mother- as a son or daughter.” It was brought about largely by a woman named Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) when her mother died in 1905, she was inspired to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. The idea caught on and President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation on May 9, 1914 stating Mother’s Day is “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Then what? You guessed it, in a very short time it was recognized as a gold mine for commercialism! And, it was almost immediately a big business of selling cards, candy, flowers and it disturbed Jarvis so much that she spent her life and her substantial inheritance trying to return the holiday to the reverence of a person’s mother which was her original intention. Her story and all she did to try and reform Mother’s Day until at least 1940, is extremely interesting and very courageous for a woman from 1910-1940 but unfortunately she was not able to turn the tide and she died in 1948, penniless and in the Philadelphia Sanitarium.

Now, my feelings about the day we set aside for ‘our mother’. I guess I would first say if Mother’s Day is the only day you recognize her (I hope) for her devotion to you, part of me says ‘don’t bother’. It is kind of like those that only go to church on Christmas or Easter and aren’t observant the rest of the year ‘don’t bother’! But wait!! I am also the ‘queen of eternal hope’. Maybe, just maybe, if you do it once a year, maybe something will prick that heart of yours and it may become something you start doing twice or three times – which if you aren’t careful, it may just become part of your routine and you one day say ‘ wow, I love this’. (Believe me your mother and God will love it, too!) I have to admit I loved the flowers I received but was a bit disappointed when I read in the paper among the ads for where to eat and what to buy or what to do with your mother on ‘her day’, an ad to play a free round of golf with your mother (this was at the Club where my son is the Pro) I didn’t get a call with a tee time! (I’m pondering that one!) I’ll finish by saying a huge thank you to all you mothers that serve us on Mother’s Day in so many ways. It may be in a restaurant, store, gas station, hospital or a hundred other places we may need to be on this day and all year.

One more bit of information, last year the average spent was $168.94/per mother, this year $162.94 – wonder where I fell short! Better watch it, Father’s Day is traditionally a “fewer gift giving day” but that could change!

Old vs. New

old vs new carsFrom time to time some of my friends and I discuss young people and talk about things that they will never have or never do or just what is different from our generation to theirs’. I am reminded that that is what ‘old’ people do and have done for centuries. I guess I would use the word, ‘matured’ rather than old.

I will start with the ‘book’. There is something about reading a book and having the actual book in your hands. I love to read and have at least one book going all the time. I also have a ‘Nook’ tablet and have several books on that which I have read but it just isn’t quite the same. I can’t really tell you why, it just isn’t. My guess is there are children born today that will never read a book, in book form. They will read books from a Nook, IPad, PC and some will even go to the library and find that all the material has been converted to digital.

Map reading is becoming a lost art also. With the advent of GPS systems, you can throw your maps away. I remember when you traveled you looked forward to collecting maps and all gas stations gave them away. I know some of you collect maps but not for navigation anymore. I guess it is kind of like the compass; there aren’t a lot of people that would know how to use it if they had one. Most cars come with GPS as standard equipment now and if not, your cell phone will have one.

Email has become the letter/note/thank you that used to come in the mail. This type of communication was looked forward to and still is for me. I love getting a nice let-ter/note in the mail. Some people blame the price of stamps, their time (or lack of), but most just never learned to write a letter. I’ll have to ask my grandchildren if let-ter writing is still taught in schools. I will say that I do check my emails and am glad to have one or two in my ‘inbox’ but again, it’s not the same as holding a letter that someone took the time to write and put a ‘forever’ stamp on and mailed and when it was received I knew that it was meant for me and not everyone in your ‘contact’ list.

I could go on and on about the changes in the world from generation to generation. It comes down to, if you never had it – how can you miss it. I’m sure that those of us who never had to walk in the dark at 20 degrees below zero to the outhouse- have ever missed it! And realize that those who traveled West in a covered wagon, never missed the GPS but I bet if given the chance – would have loved it!

This younger generation will not miss some of the things that I have held ‘near and dear’ but I will continue to miss it for them.

Goodbye to one of my Heroes

We have recently said goodbye to one of my heroes in the “car world”, Tom Magliozzi. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t know who this is but if you don’t, he is the “Click” or the “Clack” (I don’t believe it was ever decided which was which) of the Tappet Brothers from NPR’s “Car Talk”. He and his brother Ray could turn any car, situation or person into something to laugh at, nothing and no one spared. Believe me sometimes Tom’s laugh, just listening to it and not even hearing what had been said would make me break into a huge laugh. It must be said that one of the chief things he laughed at was himself and of course, his brother. I don’t know but think that antique cars weren’t the passion for him as they are to several people I know but he seemed to love cars in general, different makes which there were a few he seemed to like better than others. Have to say that he did beat on a certain make of cars and on his ex and present wife. (I don’t know if he had an ex or not). There are very few things that you come away feeling good every time but “Car Talk” was certainly one of the things that did it for me. When VPR stops airing the reruns and quiets Tom’s laugh forever, will be a sad day for all of us who love to laugh. The lesson I take from him is laugh as often as possible and realize most things shouldn’t be taken so seriously and in the ‘scheme of things’ most things deserve a good old fashion belly laugh. RIP dear friend.

Ask for Help?

My mother raised four children in a single parent home and to my knowledge, never asked for help. She raised our food, canned and froze everything for the winter, baked bread (you can imagine 4 children when they were given the “treat” of Wonder Bread) of course now realize what a “treat” we were having every day with her homemade bread, tapped 4 maples and boiled the sap on the stove, she made stuffed toys, clothes and she could cut anything that needed to be cut with a big meat saw. I didn’t mention that she was a full time secretary in a department store at this time. We lived in a small town in southern Vermont and for 13 years of my life, we lived in a house on my grandparents’ farm. Being from a small town and living on the farm was a definite help to both my mother and us but again at the time we probably weren’t convinced of it. With saying all this, the outcome was 4 adults growing up and realizing that we had to take care of ourselves and we weren’t to run for help every time things got rough, though I think sometimes she went too far with the lesson. All my siblings and me are always ready to help but go to great lengths not to ask for help.

This brings me to this summer when Gary and I went on a 7000 mile trip to Montana to pick up 2 of our grandchildren and bring them to Vermont. On our 10 day trip from Montana, we went to Iowa (car auction with Vin Cassidy), visited every place President Lincoln lived except Washington, to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and to the largest insane asylum in the world (late 19th century). Arriving home, we picked up our other 2 grandchildren in Waterbury and headed for camp. In all we entertained the children for about 2 weeks when their parents came for 10 days and then took them home. Have to admit mixed with sadness of seeing them go was a bit of glad-ness at seeing them go! Gary and I agree we have never been so tired in our lives (that we can remember). It wasn’t that hard raising our 2 boys! Guess I forget that we were about 40 years younger!

Now “the rest of the story” and the point of my rambling. Last month I received an email from Gary Fiske telling me that it was my turn to write for Wheel Tracks (thank you for reminding me, Gary, I would never remember on my own) also saying that if I wasn’t up to it that maybe Mary Noble would trade months. Though it went against the grain to ask, I did. Mary graciously agreed to write the arti-cle in my place and did a fine job of it! She helped me out, for which I will forever be grateful, while entertaining her grandchildren, gardening (on a scale that would put the Green Giant to shame) and raising pigs. Lesson: Always go to a busy person if you need help. I have to tell you it really didn’t hurt at all asking for help but please, don’t turn and run when you see me coming because I’m probably not looking for help.

Postscript: I wrote my article before the Stowe Car Show and want to tell you about a couple of things that happened there. The first was Sunday morning about 7 AM when I pulled into the entrance for “Antique Cars only” and two gentlemen came to my window to ask what I was up to. I explained that I needed to drop off our young friend, Ryan and meet up with Gary for a few words and I assured them I would come out this entrance to prove I wasn’t sneaking in. They looked a bit skeptical but helped me out by letting me in (I did go out that way and thanked them).

Next, I had another favor to ask (imagine needing ‘help’ twice in less than an hour!) well, Lloyd Harvey stepped up to the plate and helped me out. Thank you Lloyd (and Steve for looking at Lloyd ‘like help the woman’) I think I see a pattern forming so if you see me coming – maybe you should RUN!

Living Easy

vermont ice stormA couple of weeks ago we had an ice storm that knocked the electricity off at our place for 30 hours. While lying under a thick quilt, double shirts, socks and a wool hat on my head, it brought thoughts of our forefathers and mothers who went through the whole winter without electricity and of course, no central heat, electric blankets, heaters, lights, indoor plumbing, electric stoves, dryers – get the picture? I barely survived 30 hours and the temp outside wasn’t that bad. The house temp got to 50 but the worst part was no hot tea or coffee on demand. To top off the insult, it was almost Christmas! I was brought up with no dryer, no central heat but did have a good heat source, hot water and a great radio. What I am getting at is that I have become so “soft” in such a short time. How did they do it? Get up in the freezing cold, start a fire (not turn up the thermostat), bundle up and run to the well or river – break the ice on top and get a bucket of water. The first water hauled maybe wasn’t for you but for the animals. After chores, then you get some breakfast which might be plentiful or not depending on what you did to put up provisions in the fall. I’m sure there was-n’t any fresh fruit or great coffee. I have been trying to think of something that you cannot get year round now. Sure you may have to pay more for something ‘out of season’ but you can have it if you are willing to pay the price. Fifty years ago we were eating only what was in season at the time. We all have grandparents who had never had a banana when they were children. It boggles the mind! Now having ram-bled on about my hardships, I want to talk about all the people that make our lives so comfortable. Behind every convenience that fills most of our houses, there are many bright, hardworking people. Just think about what and who is behind getting that banana on the table and that is just one tiny thing that makes life (or Gary’s cereal) better. Right now my hat goes off to all the men and women who worked hours and hours in freezing rain and snow and cold to get my electricity back on. Some of them traveled from miles away to help the Vermont crew in our hour of need. Also, thanks to those who came to cut downed trees, branches and clear roads, lines for the electrical workers. I would add that these jobs were done in what were very dangerous situations and done round the clock and some gave up their Christmas with their families to see to it that we had a bright, warm Christmas with our families. So I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all those behind the scene that make life ‘living easy’ for me.