Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grandma Bushue

My Special Person, Grandma Bushue

“By golly, Cheri. That is the prettiest painting yet!” I remember sitting in her kitchen tiled with black and white-squared linoleum smelling of smoke painting a picture by numbers. Soon as my grandpa left, my favorite grandma would sneak out her secret cigarettes, flip on the exhaust on the stove, and lean right into it, so Grandpa wouldn’t smell the smoke. This is just one of the many stories I have about my grandma who is so special to me.

Every Thanksgiving, we would go to my grandma’s house as a child. I remember running inside to the sweet aromas of turkey, homemade noodles, and my favorite dessert, bread pudding. I would find my grandma at the kitchen counter winding the crank on the noodle machine. I loved to watch her mix the batter, form the dough, and then crank out the noodles. Those noodles tasted even better knowing how much work they took and how much pride Grandma took in them.

“By golly” was just one of the funny things Grandma says, and the whole family smiles when she says it. When I’m having a bad day, I just have to give my grandma a call, and she cheers me up immediately with her funny sayings and optimistic attitude. “How’s the weather out there?” “Oh, you know, I’m getting along.” “Well, it’s mighty cold out there, I reckon.” It makes me smile just thinking about these phrases.

My grandma would amaze me when she played her organ. She learned how to play all by herself and she never read sheet music. She played by ear which means she just listened to the notes. Then I would jump up on her wooden organ bench and try to play but I would have to use the piano book. My playing didn’t compare to Grandma’s, but I had fun trying to sound like her.

I have so many good memories that I couldn’t tell them all. Unfortunately she has lost most of her eyesight, so she cannot play the organ or do much cooking any more, but I still call her up to check in and see how she is doing. She turned 90 years old last year which sounds so old, but she is still the same to me. I cannot imagine my world with her not in it. I hope that I will be as special of a grandmother to my grandchildren one day, by golly!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Las Vegas Neighbors

Viva, Las Vegas! We have moved all over: Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toledo, Denver, back to Fort Wayne, and now Las Vegas. I've only been to Las Vegas once, on a trip with my family out west. I never have even thought of vacationing her let alone live here, but here we are. It is definitely an usual place to live. The first thing that appealed to me was all of the palm trees and green every where. I new it was a big vacation spot, but I didn't expect palm trees or green because it is a desert. The city must have a huge water bill! Not that there's a lot of green, but it seems like what little grass everyone has is considered precious and so most everyone takes good care of their small yards. There are many houses that don't even have grass. We have a small plot in our front yard, about 6 feet by 8 feet. Our backyard is complete with patio and rocks. I do love having a huge patio though and I really don't miss the huge backyard... yet.

Then their is the Strip. We've only been down there a few times since we moved here. I think most locals only go down to go to shows or some specific restaurant. It is a wild experience. So many different people wandering about with drink in hand, many different nationalities and languages spoken. You would never guess that we are in the middle of a recession.

Navigation is easy here. In Denver I always knew where I was if I could see the Rocky Mountains. In Las Vegas, The Strip is the focal point of the city. My favorite time to drive is night, due to the beautiful lights of Las Vegas. It truly is a sight to see at least once in your life. Our park is located high above the city and the view of The Strip is astonishing.

Now to our neighborhood....which I think is pretty normal for Las Vegas. I picked this neighborhood because it was had a cute park right down the street with a larger 55 acre park next to it. The neighborhood school is one of the best in Nevada, one of the worst education systems in the country. The houses start at about $200,000 and I've seen one sold for as high as $500,000. That to me is a pretty big range in one neighborhood or subdivision. Our street is just as diverse as the city. On one side of us is a Vietnamese family with 3 older boys and a grandmother living with them. They own a nail salon in Henderson and drive black Mercedes. They always wave to us, but we haven't become fast friends just yet. They like to have parties on their patio during the weekdays. I always smell the best aromas coming from their house in the morning while I'm up with the dogs.

On the other side is a young couple with a sweet one year old girl named Ava. Rachel, the mom, is from England, but has grown up here in Las Vegas, and her husband, Orlando, is from Vancouver, Canada. They both work for the schools, so we've seen them the most this summer. I love Rachel. She is very down-to-earth and always lets you where you stand with her.

Across the street is a beautiful ex-military man who must be around 49 because he just went to his 30th class reunion in Ohio and his wife (I think) Veronica. They both work in the casinos. Guy is a DJ and works at the best clubs in Vegas. While I'm getting ready for bed each night and taking the dogs out, he is leaving for work. When I get up with the dogs around 5 am, he is just getting home. I usually chat with him while he's washing his newer gray Mercedes.

Next to Guy lives another young one that I haven't met yet, but he too drives a Mercedes and can't be older than 30. He is single and works odd hours. I love to see the friends and females that he brings home. He has a beautiful home, but for some reason he is letting his grass die. One of his dates sarcastically chided, "Nice grass, honey!" Made me smile!

Next to Rachel and Orlando lives our local drug dealer. I guess (as the gossip goes) after he got out of jail, he moved in with him mom and step-father. Eventually his new-born son and girlfriend moved in and out went the parents. Can you imagine parents leaving their own house? His 5 chihuahuas are always barking and get out on a regular basis until my dogs scare them back home. He has been very nice to us always saying hello. He must not be a very good drug dealer because he only drives a beat up old Chevy.

Next to him is a German man who only John has met with a Hummer.

Across the street from our German neighbor is a single mom with a 5th grade son. She has the same model house as us. She is a realtor which is good to know and always has lots of advice for us.

There are two families from Chicago next to her who are very friendly, but my other favorite neighbor is the last house on the street. I think they must own a monster truck business. They also have monster dogs, at least one german shepard and one monster rottweiler. Needless to say, the neighborhood isn't very happy about this family. I haven't met them yet, but there are monster trucks parked all over the street mostly at night. I only know someone lives there because the dogs bark when we walk by. It looks like they are going to jump over the fence, but the Rottwieler is so fat that I know this will never happen. I'm impressed he can move to the gate at all. Their grass is about a foot long and pretty dead with soggy old newspapers scattered along the driveway and what used-to-be gardens. Sounds like a house you'd see in the inner city except this house probably costs over $4 or $5 hundred thousand dollars.

Lastly are my favorite neighbors and first friends. Melanie and John are from England with 3 beautiful children, Henry, Oliver, and Annabelle (my favorite little 3 year old with the sweetest english accent who loves to be naked). John owns a helicopter company that does trips to the Grand Canyon. One day he took his boys to work and they spent the day catching tadpoles at the Grand Canyon. Quite the life! Melanie is working part time for a company that arranges dinner parties by plane. I'll have to get more details on this now that I really think about this, I don't really understand how this works. She mentioned a table on a platform that is suspended in the air by a plane. Sounds loud to me! This is Vegas though.

Basically, these are my thoughts on Vegas. It's all very interesting to me coming from the midwest. Lots of unusual people and place! Can't say that we are bored yet!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook Fanatic

Jefferson Middle School Patriots...not my favorite part of my youth. I had just moved to Fort Wayne and was starting the 6th grade. I had made a few friends but nothing like the clan of friends I had in Muncie. Middle school is already an awkward age as it is. Your body so irregular along with an odd maturity level. I was definitely immature for middle school. Maybe it was being the oldest or living in a small town, but I was an odd ball at my new school.

I remember my block class with Mr. Cress and other odd ball 6th graders. I swear our block had the oddest crew, so naturally I fit in: Greg Johnson, Dustin Austin, Scott Bradtmiller, Terry Granning, Heather Herron, Jimmy Sterling, Jennifer Augustyn, Jenny Potter, Colleen Van-something, Emily Clausen, Heather Chambers, Stacey Barbknecht, sorry if I forgot anyone else. It reminds me of your freshman year of college in the dorms, somehow being bonded with one another even now. Your first real change in puberty and existence. The only thing I remember about his class is writing plays and acting them out. Scott and Greg always wrote rap songs and totally cracked us up.

Jennifer Augustyn talked me into joining the reserve cheerleading team which is wear I met Karen Cross. We were inseparable. We cheered at games together, practiced together, ate lunch together, and went roller skating together. She was really smart and so funny. We were passionate about cheerleading and tried out for the Varsity team . Neither of us made it that year and we wallowed in our disappointment together. We still had the reserve squad though. We cheered, we laughed, we were fast friends....odd balls united. Determined we tried out for the Varsity squad again and this time Karen made it, but I didn't. I was more than disappointed, I was absolutely heart broken. I'd never wanted anything more.

Instead of being happy for my best friend, I went straight to the coach and made her show me the scores. Karen's scores were higher. I put on my game-face and tried to be happy for my friend, but jealousy got the better of me and eventually I couldn't handle her success and my failure.

In high school, I finally made the cheer squad and Karen ended up being on the pom pom squad, another rivalry. There was always that animosity on my part although I finally had my dream role on the cheer team, but obviously I still didn't have a handle on the maturity part yet.

I saw her at our 10 year reunion and still didn't have the courage to talk to her. I remember thinking how good she looked, successful, still pretty and funny. She was the one person that night that I wished I would have talked to.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine sent me her obituary. I stared at it in disbelief for the longest time. Tears running down my face I read and reread to make sure that I was reading the page correctly. Karen had passed away in her sleep of heart problems....alone. I'll never forget that feeling of remorse. Remorse for my immaturity. Remorse for my ego. Remorse that she had passed away without me telling her how much I appreciated her during those tough times of middle school.

Finally I get to the awesomeness of Facebook. It is a chance to see old school comrads who have matured and come into their own having families of their own. I now can appreciate everyone's successes. I love hearing how everyone is doing, spending their time, and the common ground we all share at this age. I also can now repair any lost or damaged friendships from the past and know that I have made my peace. Thank you founders of Facebook for the connections and peace-of-a-finally-maturing-mind! Thank you Karen for your friendship and I'll never forget you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Posts to come

Aunt mable
snipe hunting

Me Love Cookies

"C is for cookie. It's good enough for me. Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C." I still love that song, still sing it every time I get a cookie, and Cookie Monster is still my favorite Sesame Street character. But it's not the chocolate chip cookie that is my favorite, it's the moist, chocolately no-bake cookie. Not many people would say this is their favorite cookie. My love of the no-bake started in middle school.

Ahh, Jefferson Middle School...things I remember most are not making the varsity cheerleading squad, kissing Greg Winkler, and no-bake cookies. Everyone had to take one session of home economics. I kind of liked the class. We learned how to use a sewing machine and made stuffed animals and sweatshirts. Both of mine were pink, so girly. Then we learned to cook, and this is where I first learned how to make the scrumptious no-bake cookie.

After I learned to make them, I remember running home after school and whipping up a batch with my sister, Lisa. We used to stick them in the freezer to make them cool quicker. Then we'd eat the whole batch in one sitting. I don't think we ever got sick of them, although I don't remember making them as much in high school or even as an adult.

Why do you think adults make more chocolate chip, peanut butter, or even the tasty snickerdoodle over the no-bake? Why isn't the no-bake one of everyone's favorite Christmas cookie? Why is it that the no-bake is rarely found at the grocery store? When I do find a package of no-bakes at the store, I buy them immediately. One time driving home from my mom's house in North Carolina to Indiana (15 hour drive), I did eat an entire package of no-bake cookies by myself. I tried to get the boys to eat one (you know to help me out a bit), but they weren't interested at all. Thank goodness for me!

Yesterday I found them at our local Walmart (I think that's where I found them in North Carolina as well). I am trying my hardest not to eat the whole package at once. I am trying to eat them slowly this time while savoring each bite and remembering my sister and I cooking in the kitchen and eating massive amounts of the no-bake cookie! When I finish this pack, maybe I'll actually make up a batch of my own!

No-Bake Cookies
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large saucepan combine, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup butter, and boil for 1 minute.
Take off heat and add peanut butter, quick cooking oats, cocoa, vanilla.
Stir well. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper Let sit one hour.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Not the Turtle Story Again!

I was meant to write about this memory today. Yesterday at the pet store we watched a painted turtle in a glass case swim, dive, and sunbathe. Dudley was fascinated. I think he would have stayed all day. The boys liked watching the snakes and lizards more. They are tired with my fascination of turtles.

Then during our reading time just before bed, Jack's Ranger Rick article was about the box turtle. I then knew I had to write about my adventures with turtles. My husband, John, has heard these stories so many times, he cringes when I see a turtle because he knows the story is about to come up again. So here it goes!

After my parents divorced when I was little, my dad moved to Illinois. We didn't see him that often except Thanksgiving and summer vacations. He would drive the 5 hour drive from Rockford to pick us up in Fort Wayne and it always seemed that he would find a lone turtle on the highway, pick it up, and surprise us with one.

Of course the first thing we would ask when he arrived is, "Where's the turtle?" Most times he would produce one, but the most memorable turtle came up missing... atleast for awhile. My dad told us this animated story of how he saw one and stopped to pick it up. He placed it on the floor of the backseat of his stationwagon, but when he got to our house it was no where to be found. Before leaving our house, we searched that car inside and out. I think my dad even looked under the hood. Lisa, my sister, and I even looked under the bottom of the car. No turtle! How odd!

We soon forgot about the turtle until months later. We were driving somewhere probably to a family restaurant for patty melts and vanilla cokes. That was our usual. My sister gave out the shrillest scream ever and jumped so high she nearly bumped her head on the top of the undestructable wagon. Next thing I know I looked down to find the lost turtle climbing out of driver's seat to the well of the back seat. Had he been there all along? What had he eaten? Who knows? But Rosie, what we ended up naming him for a reason that I can't remember now and who turned out to be a boy, spent the rest of the summer with us at dad's.

He was only one of numerous turtles dad brought to us. So now every time I see a turtle on the side of the road, my husband and kids get to hear the story of Rosie. One of these days, I'll stop myself to bring home a turtle for the boys.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bugs Bugs Bugs!

Thank goodness for Pest Control! We have bugs! I don't mean one or two bugs. I mean lots of them. My new park friends say that this is normal at this time of year, but I really don't like these big, brown, crunchy things. Most of the time they are dead when I see them laying on their backs looking like tree bark with legs. However, the other night after I was getting out of the shower, I heard a click click click sound and looked down and this atleast 2 inch brown beetles with antennae was quickly skittering across my bathroom floor. Of course I screamed for John. He came running up as if the world was about to end and then gave me a look like settle down you Drama Queen.

So I called pest control. My hero came out yesterday and sprayed. He warned me that the next day which is today that I'd see some dead cockroaches. He was right. I had forgotten at first, but they were. I counted at least 13 today. Maybe that will be it. Maybe they are all gone. No more roaches for me. My hero said, "It could be worse. You could have scorpions!" Maybe roaches aren't so bad after all.