Guest Post: Reflections 

By Jennifer Sanchez

I found myself yearning to spend a few days in Nebraska this summer. Last summer at a family reunion I got to know some cousins that I barely knew growing up because of our age difference. I was missing them! I asked Beckie in May if she would have a desire to travel there with me over the Labor Day weekend and she was game. Coincidentally, that was also the weekend of her 50th year high school class reunion. 

Our road trip that Friday was fun and we enjoyed driving past field upon field of corn. We both found those rolling fields beautiful and wondered why we didn’t see that beauty when we were growing up.

Friday evening the first reunion event was held at the Columbus horse race track. Memories flooded. Dad took us  there most every year to watch a few races and always let us pick a horse to win.

Beckie had never attended a class reunion and it was fun watching the reactions of her classmates when they would spot her and begin to catch  up.  I’m younger than Beckie but was familiar with many of their names and enjoyed visiting with them too.

The classmates were identified by lanyards bearing their 1967 yearbook photo.

Saturday morning we took off with two cousins for Cedar Rapids, a small town approximately 40 miles from Columbus, where our mom spent her formative years. Our goal was to get some family history and childhood stories from our oldest living cousin. Mary is one of the people our Mom loved most in this world. We asked questions and Mary told stories in a very Micek fashion. Which means we laughed the entire time we were visiting with her. 

Mary (above) is the eldest of our cousins. Her age belies her joie de vivre. Below are the researchers (and cousins): Rhonda, Bec, Jen, Mary, and Bill.

Saturday afternoon we were back at reunion activities. We met at Scotus Catholic High school for a tour of the building and then attended mass in the school chapel. This was my favorite activity of the weekend . I hadn’t been in that building since I completed my freshman year of high school. I left a piece of my heart there when we moved to Leadville the summer of 1973. 

Notice that there are stations of the cross above the lockers. These were donated to the school upon closing of the convent.

Saturday evening we met several cousins for dinner and talked non-stop trying to piece together family history. Several of us discovered at the reunion that we share an interest in researching Micek family history and background. We had fun sharing individual experiences with our aunts and uncles. Moms family was large. We had 11 aunts and uncles who lived to adulthood from her side. At dinner we ranged in age from 59 to 72, so we brought different perspectives and memories. Again we laughed a lot and several conversations clarified some questions and mysteries. However, more mysteries were revealed.

This was one of the houses in which our mother grew up. In fact, the girls in front of the house are my mother (the littlest one in the front) and some of her sisters.

Sunday morning we met one of our cousins visiting from Minnesota at the cemetery. We talked as we walked and pieced together more info, as looking at dates of births and passings can reveal answers just by the timeline. This cousin had moved to Minnesota when she and Beckie had completed first grade. That one-on-one time with Rhonda gave us such an understanding of her family whom we didn’t know well. Her father was the next one in birth order to our mom, who was the youngest. We shared many stories with her in regard to growing up amidst her very large family. 

Sunday early afternoon Beckie and I attended the final event of the reunion weekend, a picnic at a park. Final reminiscing stories from high school and growing up in Columbus. Old friends made plans and commitments to stay in touch. 

As I quickly approach turning 60 years old, I enjoy more than ever recalling and experiencing memories from childhood. I am interested to understand the generations of my family that came before me.  That weekend spending time with family, watching Beckie catch up with old friends, and gathering more knowledge about the family from which my mom came was good for my soul. 

Saturday Smile: Back to School in Vermont

Our two grandsons in Vermont get a later start to school, where classes don’t begin until after Labor Day. They go later into the spring as well. But it’s Vermont, which has a mind of its own, and the weather to match the schedule.

Joseph entered third grade and Micah begins his elementary school career as a kindergartener…..

Those two smiles make me smile.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Book Whimsy: The Girl From the Savoy

Having spent the past couple of years slogging my way through World War II historical novels, I have become somewhat addicted to stories that take place in a much more hopeful era – the Roaring Twenties. True, there were those poor souls returning from fighting in the horrific First World War, but in the 1920s, people were optimistic that things would be better and that they would be able to find alcohol even in the midst of temperance.

The Girl from The Savoy, a novel written by the prolific author Hazel Gaynor, tells the story of one young woman who was darkly impacted by World War I, but faces the future with great hope and spirit.

Dolly Lane, a talented dancer, has always dreamed of being in show business. Her dream conflicted with her love for hometown boyfriend Teddy, who is a victim of World War I. Through the help of a friend, Dolly gets a job as a housekeeper at London’s famed Savoy Hotel, where she hopes to become recognized by some of the famous show business people who live there.

She has a chance encounter with a young businessman as she rushes to work on the first day, and can’t begin to imagine how that encounter will impact her life. It isn’t long before Dolly answers an unusual ad to be a muse to a young songwriter. Through this position, she meets and becomes friends with well-known actress Loretta May, who will change Dolly’s life. But Loretta has her own sad secret. Wars have a way of affecting everyone in some way or the other.

Though Dolly is the star of the show, the novel is told in three separate voices. The author does a great job of keeping the voices unique but consistent, thereby eliminating confusion. It isn’t long before Dolly faces some difficult choices which will pave the way for the rest of her life.

The author is recognized as a romance writer, but the novel is not sappy-sweet and the characters are likeable. I love the descriptions of The Savoy Hotel, almost feeling its elegance. The ending is satisfying if somewhat predictable.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Bee Update
Dagny and Maggie Faith stopped by on Monday to visit their Zierk cousins (who Bill and I were watching for a couple of days). I pinned her down to get an update on the bees. She admitted that she and her father had not checked for a while, but she seemed entirely unconcerned about the queen bee. In her mind, things are fine and honey will be available soon. Being a bit more skeptical, I would feel better if she had actually SEEN the queen, but then I’m not a beekeeper and never will be. I am, however, a honey-eater, and eagerly await D’s Bees Honey.

Climb Every Mountain
I’m going to give you a heads-up on something that will be happening on Sunday. Eleven-year-old Dagny, who has been taking climbing lessons for quite a while, is going to be undertaking her first outdoor technical climb. A friend will guide her on the third Flatiron Mountain in Boulder. The climb will involve quite a bit of elevation and some rappelling. More pertinent to me, it will involve a one-hour hike to even get to the base of the mountain. Bill and I – along with much of Dagny’s kin – will be there to cheer her on. That is, presuming I can make it up to the base of the Flatiron. Fingers crossed. Allen plans to climb as well. Bill and I plan to eat a picnic lunch and hold our collective breath. I will get back to you about the whole adventure.

Back to Normal
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had been watching Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole for the past couple of days while their parents are out of town. I dropped them off at school yesterday with a kiss and an I-Love-You, dropped off the suitcases and car seats at their Nana Carol’s and Papa David’s house, where they spent yesterday afternoon and night. As for me, I spent the afternoon sitting in my La-Z-Boy watching the most mindless television imaginable. I’m not apologizing either! But here are a few photos of our adventures…..

Kaiya and Cole made fluffy slime on Monday. Shaving cream makes it fluffy. While the whole slime thing is kind of lost on me, they love it.

Monday afternoon, the kids and I went to Willow Creek Park and played on the play ground a bit. Well, they did. I watched. We then walked a bit to nearby Willow Creek, where Cole threw in about 5 lbs of sand a handful at a time. Kaiya and Mylee preferred racing leaves down the waterfall.

Cole and his Play Doh. What more can I say?


Three in the Air

Every so often Court will lament about the difficulties associated with child rearing.  I have absolutely no time left for myself, he will say.

I oh-so-helpfully respond, you and every other working parent with small kids. I might – just maybe – remind him that no one made him have three kids. I remember the exact spot where I explained the facts of life to him (as he rolled his eyes, clearly wondering how I could possibly think he didn’t already know). The stork didn’t bring them those three wonderful children.

But every so often he gets even by leaving all three with me as he and his wife drive away for a few days alone. He did that very thing this week. Was that squealing tires I heard?

The two of them took a quick trip to Boston – he for business, she for a chance to sleep past 6 a.m. Oh, and a chance to see Faneuil Hall. His dad and stepmother are sharing child care duties with me. How bad could it be?

We both received an email with instructions that could rival General Eisenhower’s plans for D-Day. Our first warning was the title of the email: Instructions for Keeping Our Kids Alive. They apparently had low expectations.

I read through the instructions and broke out in a slight sweat. But on Monday morning, when I took possession of the kids, reality began to set in. Reality slapped me in the face when I started looking at the specific instructions for Tuesday.

Mylee has gym on Tuesday. Make sure she wears sneakers and appropriate clothes. (One plate in the air.) They all must take a bath or shower Monday night, and make sure to comb out Mylee’s hair or it will be a tangled mess Tuesday morning. Because, remember this…..

Oh, and make sure Kaiya takes her medication. (Two plates in the air.) Final bombshell: Tuesday is picture day for Cole so dress him in his dress clothes, spike his hair, and make sure his face is clean when you drop him off. If you can catch him was implied. (Three plates in the air.)…..

Oh, and Tuesday it’s his turn for snack. It’s got to be something healthy. I guess little powdered donuts don’t count. (CRASH.)

And that was just Tuesday. Today looked a bit easier (no hair spiking for photos). And once I drop all 3 kids at school, the baton is exchanged. And I start drinking Bloody Marys like THEY are health food. ( Tomato juice, you know.) Nana Carol and Papa David start the juggling.

I assure you, it doesn’t kill me – at least not quite – to watch these grands for a couple of days. I love that I can give our kids a break and some special time together. But it never fails to amaze me just how simple they all make it look, when it really isn’t.

I’m pretty sure tonight I will be in bed before they are.

This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.

A Face for Radio

As you read this blog post, you will find that its content has very little to do with its title. But I’ve always thought that phrase was a funny description of someone who has a very good speaking voice but is maybe not willing to wear cocktail dresses to report the news.

We were very short-handed at church Sunday. Bill and I went to 9 o’clock Mass, and there was one priest, one altar server, no deacons, one lector, a cantor, an organist and truly just a handful of people in the congregation. It is my sincere hope that there was slim attendance because of Labor Day weekend, and not because even more people aren’t going to church. It’s already bad enough without more people abandoning ship.

Anyway, our lector was a man who frequently does the readings at this Mass, and I’m always very happy when he is the lector. He has what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful speaking voices I’ve ever heard. He speaks loudly, but not obnoxiously. He speaks slowly and e-nun-ci-ates every single syllable of every single word, making him easy to understand. He reads as though he is speaking the Word of God, which of course he is. He puts feeling into his readings.

He also always – ALWAYS – wears a coat and tie, with a handkerchief in his pocket, making him look quite dapper. I like that because almost no one dresses up for church any more. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, clearly if you are visiting Jesus in his own house, it would seem as though you should wear your very best. Having said that, I’m in favor of doing anything to make attendance more plentiful – including not worrying about how people are dressed. Because, see above. Low attendance.

So there you have it: the connection to the title. The man sounds as though he worked in radio broadcasting when he was younger. His face, by the way, is perfectly handsome, so the bottom line is no real connection to the title.

But when he stepped to the microphone, here’s the first Words of God that he spoke:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.

Wow. His words echoed through the church. Strong words from the Prophet Jeremiah. I sat up a bit straighter, not just from the power of the words, but from the power of our reader’s voice. He went on….

All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Say, I thought to myself, I’m pretty sure that’s what I do all the time. I’m pretty sure I don’t speak out about what I full-well know is right and what’s wrong, on what is God’s will and on what I know we do that makes God sad. And why not? Because it might make me an object of laughter.

Jesus told his disciples (and us): Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

What Jesus DIDN’T say was whoever wishes to come after me must take us his cross but only if it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.