I followed the WordPress Discovery Prompts for 30 days. The last prompt was the word grateful. Rather than writing something serious, I chose to make it light and goofy. For example, saying I’m grateful my name isn’t Sigmund. Sigmund isn’t a bad name, I’m just grateful it’s not mine. I should have taken more time and expressed serious gratitude for so many things, and people. I’m doing that now.
Grateful means one thing to me. Family. It isn’t possible to put everything family means in a post like this. Or a book. Or a series of books. People spend lifetimes putting together scrapbooks of black and white photos, then Polaroid color photos, then color photos developed by Kodak, then printed digital photos, and now they’re viewed on a tiny screen, thousands of them, stored in a little flat box not much bigger than a business card you carry in your pocket. Not only that, but you talk to people with your camera now, and you can watch TV, listen to the radio, and look up all kinds of things. The one great thing about it is that instead of your family photos being stuffed in large books on a shelf at home, you carry everything with you all the time.
I don’t know if we ever dreamed we would have eight (at this point) grandchildren, but we do. We have reached the point where getting everyone together in one place is difficult. They’re all so busy with their families and work. Life recycles. When we were younger we had to travel to see my family and my wife’s family. Now it’s happening again. We’re the ones who often travel to see everyone. We love it.
These guys are our closest buddies, just a few miles from where we live. The photo is a few years old. The one in the middle is now taller than I am, and I’m 6’3”. At least I used to be.
This is what always happens to me at some point or other. I didn’t find out until years later the little guy on the left was copying me. He’s not really sleeping!
The little one I’m holding just celebrated her 1st birthday. Our son’s family lives in the Chicago area where he is an adjunct professor of Philosophy.
This young man will carry on the tradition of model railroading. We passed the family Lionel trains to him.
The little man in my wife’s arms is the youngest of our grandchildren. He lives with his family in the Nashville area where his mom and dad are on staff at a great church.
This is so cute!!
We are so grateful for an amazing son-in-law, and three beautiful daughters-in-law. They are all incredible, talented people. We are so blessed they are all part of our family.
Stories don’t make it. Photos only try. Just one word.
My first layout was a learning experience, as I guess they all are. There was a lot of “what not to do.” I planned carefully, and even had trains running on sub-roadbed and track that was tacked temporarily. It was not until after the track was permanent that I realized some important mistakes.
The most costly mistake I made on my first layout was that my inclines were too steep. I created them by estimating the space I had and how quickly I wanted the train to return to ground level. That’s fine if you have a ton of space, but it will mean steep inclines, as it did for me, if your space is limited. My layout was a “L” shaped reverse dog bone design. I like watching trains going over and under each other. My steep inclines meant my engines could only pull a small handful of cars.
That layout was never completed because we moved. I completely dismantled it. The only parts I kept were the track, buildings, and trees.
My second layout was single-level. No climbing or descending. No hills or tunnels. No inclines to worry about. It was basically a switching layout with a full loop so I could run trains constantly, which I prefer.
When I dismantled that layout because we were moving again, it was a much easier task. Virtually everything was salvageable. Even though I glued and nailed the track down, it came up very easily. I kept all of the pieces.
The track has been through the mill. When I took the first layout apart, we moved to a house where there was no room for any railroading. All of my track was in a box in our barn. After a few years, I took it out. Most of it was covered with everything mice leave behind. I considered tossing it, but then I thought about how much nickel-silver track costs. I bought a couple of track cleaning blocks and started scrubbing. I’m still using that same track with no problems.
We moved to the house where we presently live. Hopefully, the last time we will move. My new layout is basic, no clever design schemes, just two mainlines for simultaneous train operation and some sidings. There is a long branch line that runs from one end of the layout to the other. The destination is Maple Valley. The train running the line will be a vintage model engine like “The General” and a few cars. Passengers will board the train at “Little Town” on the opposite end of the layout for the ride to Maple Valley.
My first big decision was whether or not to use Woodland Scenics risers. As you can see, I did, and I am so happy I chose to use the 2% incline/decline. A 2% incline means I need 16 feet of space for the track to be lifted four inches. In the middle of the photo, you can see where the incline and decline comes together with about two feet to spare. It’s just enough room for turnouts from both directions so I can choose to move trains to or from the longer outside mainline.
My next question was how to attach the styrofoam risers to the extruded foam base. I chose undiluted white glue which I bought in a gallon jug. I pinned the riser where I wanted it and drew a line on either side of the riser with a black marker. I removed the pins and the riser. I brushed white glue on the foam base the length of the first riser. I then replaced the riser, pinned it in place, and weighted it down with anything I could find. I left it overnight to dry.
I have seen some videos where modelers put masking tape over the riser before installing the final roadbed. I started to do the same but removed it because I was afraid if the tape came loose the roadbed would be loose as well.
The next question was whether or not to use cork roadbed, and as you can see I chose the cork. I didn’t use it on my last shelf layout. I ballasted the track without cork and it turned out alright. I’m glad I chose to use cork this time as it looks more realistic to me.
I used undiluted white glue to attach the roadbed, using the same method I used with the foam risers. I first drew my track plan directly on the pink foam using exact radius templates for the curves, and a yard-stick for the mostly-straight areas. I lined the inside of the cork against the track line mark and made another mark on the outside of the cork, and also marked the end of the cork piece. I removed the cork and applied glue to the foam. I pinned the cork down with 1-1/2 inch “T-pins” on the bevel. Once I had both sides in place, I weighted the cork. I laid as much cork at one time as I had weights for. I then left it overnight.
I didn’t buy turnout foam, instead choosing to cut the cork to fit the turnouts. I might regret that, we’ll see.
My next task was making a curvy 4 inch riser to meet the ends of the two 2% inclines on either end of the layout. I chose to make my own rather than buy an additional package of risers from the hobby shop. It was a lot of work but I’m confident it will work fine. Since I took this photo, I have cut two tunnels through my homemade riser.
The riser is two pieces of 1-1/2 inch foam plus a 1 inch piece between. I drew the design on a large piece of paper, cut it out 2 inches wide. I placed my paper template on the foam and cut it with a razor utility knife. I then glued the three pieces of foam together with white glue, weighting them heavily.
When I was happy with the way the risers turned out, I glued them to the foam surface and pinned them in place. I weighted them and left it for a couple of days.
I have about ten or fifteen more feet of cork to apply, then I will be ready to start laying track. I have to decide where my blocks are going to be and plan my wiring lines accordingly.
Model railroading is a fantastic hobby. It is especially fun to take photos and videos as steps are taken so it’s easy to see how much progress is being made. I’m learning that slow and steady is best. Now that I’m retired, slow has taken on a whole new meaning.
Well, I’ve reached the end of the Discover Prompts provided by WordPress. They do this every April, but since I wasn’t blogging like a fiend in April, I started using the prompts thirty days ago. So, does that mean I have nothing else to write about because no one is giving me a topic? Oh, no, my friends. I have sooo much to expound upon in literary prose that I will keep busy for a very long time.
The final prompt is grateful. There are so many things for which to be grateful, it is not difficult to begin. It will actually be difficult to end. Just when I think I’ve exhausted the list, more thoughts arise. So, here goes.
I’m thankful to have a neck. If it weren’t for my neck, my head would be attached directly to my shoulders, making it very difficult to turn when someone calls my name. Obviously, I could turn my whole body around, which I would have to do if I didn’t have a neck, but then I might trip over something that was previously in front of me but is now behind me.
I’m thankful my name is not Sigmund. I have never liked the name Dale, but I dislike the name Sigmund even more. I would have grown up being called Sig, (no one would have ever called me Mund), and that would have been very annoying. I have been called all kinds of things, many of which can’t be listed here. But I would prefer being called Dork, or almost anything else to being called Sigmund.
I’m grateful for knees. Stick figures illustrate how important it is to have knees. We should all be thankful. If it weren’t for knees, our walking would be stilted. Falling would be particularly dangerous and landing on our faces would be more frequent.
I’m thankful for tortilla chips. They are the perfect snack when I want something but I don’t know what. Chocolate? No. Milk? No. Spaghetti? No. Egg Plant? No. Tortilla chips are the go-to every time I just need something to chew. Crunchy.
I’m grateful for doorknobs. I’ve have been locked out of the house, by my own doing, and getting back into the house would be far more difficult if there were no doorknobs.
I’m grateful for paint stir sticks. When I forget to have paint stirred at the store, I have to mix it myself. I would have to use my hand if there were no stir sticks. I take so many things for granted, it’s good to remind myself about all the things I am grateful for.
I’m grate for toothbrush handles. If it weren’t for the handles, I would have to hold the bristles between my fingers. It would be so much more tedious to brush my teeth without a toothbrush handle.
I’m grateful for spoons. I do occasionally eat ice cream with a fork if I’m eating it right out of the carton. My wife prefers that I not do this, but when she’s not around, she doesn’t know. I get our ice cream at night when we’re watching our new Netflix or Amazon Prime series, so she doesn’t see the little fork marks in the ice cream. Ice cream inevitably melts as you’re eating it. So eating it with a fork would be difficult. It would also be hard to put a bite of ice cream in your mouth and take it out while smoothing the top, like everyone does, with a fork. I’m grateful ice cream is the only food we put into our mouths and then take it out.
I’m grateful for plastic milk bottles. Drinking out of a carton with the triangle opening at the top is difficult. Most often the milk pours out the sides and runs down my cheeks and onto my shirt. Drinking out of a plastic milk bottle is much easier. Not that I actually do that anymore.
I’m grateful for toast and frosted mini-wheats. One piece of toast and about ten frosted mini-wheats with a cup of hot tea is an incredible snack late at night while we’re watching TV. Of course I have to give at least one to Maggie as she loves mini-wheats. I usually take out a few extra to share because I’m not will to have less than ten. I try to chew them quietly. They can be noisy if I’m not careful.
Extension cords deserve more gratitude. If it weren’t for extension cords, our walls would be far more crowded with things that have to be plugged in. All of our furniture would have to be the height that anything electric placed on top would have a cord long enough to reach the plug. Electric items would have to take turns because there probably wouldn’t be enough wall plugs for everything.
I’m grateful for radio stations. When I’m turning the dial on the radio trying to find something to listen to, its gratifying to hear plenty of choices vying for attention before I finally decide to listen to Pandora.
I’m definitely grateful for bubble wrap. The joy of sitting and popping the bubbles in bubble wrap is hard to beat.
I’m grateful my childhood dentist was wrong. He said I wouldn’t have any teeth by the time I was sixty. I’m way over sixty and I still have my own teeth. Most of them have been repaired, capped, crowned, drilled, filled, ground and polished, but they’re mine and I’m proud to have them.
I believe that age is in direct correlation to the length of your lists. If you are young, your list, if you have one at all, is very small. If you are middle-age, if you use lists, you don’t tell anyone. If you’re our age, your lists are long and detailed. In fact, you have lists to tell you what lists you have. Your lists have categories so you can quickly find your list.
The detail on your list is also quite telling. Almost everyone writes a list when it’s time to go to the store. When you start writing lists to remind yourself of what to do during the day, that can be very helpful and is a descriptor of a person who is well organized. If your lists are telling you how to do things you have been doing for years, that is something different all together.
Writing a list of all the things to remember when you are getting ready to travel is a good idea. Travel is stressful. The older you are the more stressful it is. At some point, it becomes much easier to stay home. At home you know exactly where everything is and no lists are necessary. When it’s time to pack a suitcase, you have to make a list of everything in the suitcase so you don’t have to unpack it before you leave because you can’t remember what you put in it. It is also important to make a list of your suitcases and they should be numbered as well.
There may also be a time when you stop trusting that you really did what you checked off. Did I really do that? I don’t remember closing the garage door, but I checked it off the list. What if I checked it off thinking I would close the door next, but forgot. Now you are doubting your list. That’s a real problem.
Here are some simple things to help you with your lists.
1. Color-code your lists. Red – very important. Yellow – important but not critical. Green – it’s on the list but it won’t matter if you forget it.
2. Use sticky notes. Sticky notes are God’s gift to the elderly. Sticky notes are another direct correlation to age. If your kitchen looks like you are trying to wallpaper it with sticky notes, you are definitely in your middle 70s. If your bathroom is completely papered with sticky notes, you are at least 84.
3. Put shopping lists in your refrigerator. You don’t go a single day without opening your fridge, so if your food related lists are in the fridge, you will be sure to buy the food you actually need.
4. Do not, under any circumstances, put sticky notes on the windshield of your car. You will be reading them or trying to write on them as you’re driving and that’s never a good idea.
5. Your underwear drawer is another great place to keep lists, for obvious reasons.
6. Placing sticky notes on the toilet paper holder is not advisable. That prickly feeling might be a sticky note.
7. Be kind to your lists and they will be kind to you. If you forget something, it is not the list’s fault. You are the one who forgot to check it.
So many unanticipated things can happen if you do not use lists. Everyone knows you should not go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You should also not go anywhere without a list.
Maps are to travel as lists are to living. Lists provide considerable protection from making unwise choices. For example, you go to the store without a list, intending to buy a cantaloupe, some strawberries, and a gallon of milk. Instead you come home with a new circular saw because you started thinking about a project on the way to the store and completely forgot you were going for groceries and ended up at Home Depot. Not a good idea.
If digestion is becoming a problem, you will want to make a list of the items you shouldn’t eat. Depending on the effects of eating the things you shouldn’t, you might want to allow your spouse access to your list as well. For example, if baloney affects you badly, put it on the list. If cheese becomes an effective means of stopping all forward progress, put it on the list.
There are many reasons lists are important for happy living. As your years begin to accumulate, you realize lists exist for very good reasons. One thing I don’t think I’ll ever have to put on any list is, “drink coffee.”
Today while I was trying to gather some thoughts about the discovery prompt, I learned the Latin root of the word focus is hearth. We hear all kinds of things about the need for focus and how difficult it is with the current craziness. Everything has been turned upside down.
Before the days of central heat and air when homes were heated by a fireplace, the hearth was the center of activity. The family gathered at the hearth not just to keep warm, but for cooking, conversation, telling stories, singing, and reading. The hearth was the focus of the family.
I remember a scene in “Scrooge,” starring George C. Scott, when Bob Cratchet arrives at home after the family has lost Tiny Tim. When her husband walks through the front door, Mrs. Cratchet says, “Come and sit by the fire and have a warm ‘the Lord bless you.’” The entire family was gathered at the hearth as they comforted each other in their time of loss.
In my lifetime I don’t remember a time when society has been more splintered than now. Trust is fractured. Many do not know who or what to believe, and social media has taken the supreme role in the notion “if it’s on the internet, it must be true.” There has never been a time when the hearth has been needed more.
The root of hearth is heart. The heart represents the center, the source of life, the safe place where confidence, strength, and trust can be restored. We need to find the family hearth again.
It’s difficult to turn away from the constant noise around us, but we must if we are to find a way through the chaos. We may not have a literal hearth in our home, but every person, every family has a heart. The hearth, the focus, the heart of the family, the heart of every individual is where hope can be renewed.
The hearth draws us back to the foundational things that cannot be shaken. It’s the familiar, the memorable, the reminder of those who have always been with us.
The hearth calls us from the busy-ness of life to sit for a while. Stop long enough to breath deeply and slowly. Make yourself rest so your mind can catch up with your heart that is way ahead of the racket around you.
If you want to learn how to focus in a terribly noisy world, listen to your hearth. It’s a place of warmth and comfort always ready and waiting.
My earliest introduction to team sports was Little League Baseball in fourth grade. I didn’t own a baseball glove until our next door neighbor gave me one. He was a lefty, too.
He was a fantastic baseball player. He had seven no-hitters in high school, won championships in college, and went on to play professional baseball in the Milwaukee Brewers system. He hurt his arm and had to quit playing. He has a very successful coaching career and was elected to the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame. I’m very proud to have played street baseball with him, but hitting a tennis ball in the street was the limit of my ability.
I really loved the game, that wasn’t the problem at all. I just couldn’t play it. I really liked the uniform, wearing cleats, and being on the team. I didn’t like batting, didn’t want to try bunting, and was not good at catching the ball. The coach discovered my talents early and put me in right field where no one ever hit the ball.
I knew nothing about strategies, where to throw the ball if it actually did come my way, or when to run. I knew what a walk was, and that became my goal in every game. Don’t get hit by the ball, and wait until the umpire says, “Take your base.” Most of the time he said, “You’re out.”
I was happy when my first season of Little League was over. I didn’t play the next year.
In the off season I told my dad I wanted to be a pitcher. He borrowed a catcher’s mit and a plywood home plate from the neighbor. Soon I was winding up, throwing as hard as I could, and actually hitting the mit. Sometimes. I improved with a lot of practice and I was sure I could pitch like our next door neighbor.
When baseball season arrived after sixth grade, I went to the tryouts. I told the coaches I was a pitcher and I was soon showing them what I could do. A boy trying out as a catcher said, “Hey! Don’t throw so hard! This is just a tryout!” I threw harder.
I pitched my first game on my birthday. We won 6-0. I actually hit the ball that day but the second baseman caught it. Out, as usual. I was so proud of my pitching performance I hung around at the baseball fields all day. When I went back to the concession stand later in the day the lady said, “Are you still here?”
My second venture into team sports was in eighth grade. I was tall, so obviously I was a basketball player. I wasn’t concerned about understanding the game, which I didn’t, I just knew I had to throw the ball through the hoop. Which never happened.
I was part of the 30 second squad. The coach put me in the game the last thirty seconds as long as we were ahead by forty points. It was a great season. I still have my 8th grade basketball photo.
Another foray into team sports was football in 9th grade. This story is not as long as my baseball adventures. I discovered the crab crawl, and got hit by a giant when I stood straight up with the ball and I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I was a two-day football star.
After 10th grade I decided to try baseball again. I didn’t understand the game any better than I did years before, even though I had played church-league softball for a few years. I was really no better in softball, and that should have been a sign.
I hit some of my best foul balls that summer. I never saw where they went but I knew by the reaction of the crowd I had hit them a long way. If I had been able to actually stay in the batter’s box until the ball came, I might have been able to get a hit.
I remember people yelling, “Watch the ball hit the bat!” I watched but the ball never hit the bat. I couldn’t understand it. I heard the other day that kids now have their own bats that cost two or three hundred dollars. Two or three hundred!! A bat that costs that much should come with hits attached! The only bats I ever saw came with the coach in a big green canvass bag. Some were long, some were short. None of them got hits for me.
The sports gene missed me completely. I wish someone would have taken me aside and said, “Listen. You really stink at this, so maybe you should try something else.”
Oh well, it didn’t hurt me. In fact, when I think about all the time I haven’t wasted going to pitching tryouts, I really have saved a great amount of time and grief. I still love watching baseball. I watch the pitchers carefully, and somewhere, way down inside, I still hear this voice that says, “I could do that.”
When I was very young I scooted as far forward in the bathtub as I could then quickly pushed back. All the water rushed to the other end of the tub and got really deep. It scared me.
This is Discover Prompts Day 26. The key term is hidden. I have kept my secret hidden all these years. It is going to be a freeing experience to finally release my dam fear and let it all out.
I don’t know how many experiences I have missed because of my dam fear. I vividly recall a fishing trip with a friend and my dam fear just kept coming up. Even now as I think about it I’m beginning to feel shaky. The memory is clear.
I don’t know why I’ve kept my dam fear hidden for so long. I guess I was afraid if I let anyone know about my dam fear they would laugh at me. I had terrible anxiety about being laughed at because of my dam fear.
I’m old enough to understand experience makes a person stronger and wiser. How long have I known that, and still my dam fear stands in the way. Well, today is the day. No more dam fear.
I picture the source of my dam fear in my mind, looming large like a giant, hungry, roaring, snarling lion. It’s staring at me, but I’m staring right back. I’m the one who’s roaring now. “No more dam fear!!”
I’m going to test myself and see if my dam fear is really gone. Here it is. Wait for it. Don’t close your eyes. Go ahead and look. You can do it!
Yes!! Yes!! I did it! I’m free! I can stare at this photo and I don’t feel any dam fear! Oh, that’s so great! I don’t know what took me so long! I just had to face my dam fear and tell it to be gone. Wow! I wish I had told my dam fear to get lost a long time ago!
Well, I guess I should let that be a lesson to me. My dam fear wasn’t as bad as I thought. I just had to face it, take control, and decide to be free from my hidden dam fear.
In case you’re wondering, dams really do scare me. But don’t tell anyone. It’s a hidden secret.
When I think about the word magic, there is only one person, and one place that comes to mind. The place is Mackinac Island. The person is the girl I have been walking beside nearly fifty years.
On our third date, I asked a beautiful girl to go with me to Mackinac Island for a church-sponsored conference attended by hundreds of youth from across Michigan. We were already together for three months before the special time arrived. The magic of that Memorial Weekend in 1971 changed the course of our lives forever.
We spent the day enjoying the sights of the Island, visiting shops, eating fudge, and riding bikes. The weather was heaven-sent with a perfect temperature, clear blue sky, and bright sunshine.
We decided to carve our initials in a tree to attach our hearts to each other and to Mackinac Island forever. We went into one of the shops and bought this souvenir knife. We rode a short distance out of town, climbed some steps, and carved our initials in a tree. As I was cutting, the blade closed on the tip of my finger cutting it. The scar remains to this day. We were surprised to discover we both had scars on our index finger in the same spot.
That evening we enjoyed a formal banquet at The Grand Hotel. During dinner we stared at each other as if in a trance. I know how corny that sounds, but it’s true. The magic is real. One of my friends said, “Would you guys stop that?!”
Late into the night under a beautiful starry sky, we stood in the garden of The Grand, wanting the moment to last forever. We have never forgotten those magic days on Mackinac Island. The imprint of the Island on our hearts is indelible.
The weekend was over much too soon. As always, Mackinac Island was difficult to leave.
I told this lovely girl I was going to ask her to marry me before we had been dating for a month. She changed my life forever.
We have returned to Mackinac Island more times than I can count. I tried to find the tree that held our initials, but couldn’t. I’m sure our initials were high above what I could see.
The magic of Mackinac Island is real. It’s no wonder so many couples begin their engagement on Mackinac and return for their wedding celebration. Those same couples will return again and again, and eventually bring their children and grandchildren to experience the magic of Mackinac Island. Just like we do.
In over forty-five years, we have owned several wonderful golden retrievers. I don’t know how a golden could be anything but wonderful. Copper was our first.
Lady, the princess, was our second golden. We raised her from a pup, she helped us raise our triplet sons, had a litter of twelve puppies, and left us all too soon.
Cody was a wonder dog. He was already a year old when he joined our family. We purchased him from a couple who raised retrievers and he was the last of their most recent litter. He was terribly shy and wasn’t sure he wanted to go with us.
When we arrived at home, I let him in the house and he immediately ran into the living room and went behind the big console TV in the corner. All we could see was his head and his big eyes watching our every move. Our daughter came down the stairs, saw him and said, “Is that real?!”
I was the pastor of a small church at the time and we were preparing to build a new facility. Since we sold our old building, my office was in our kitchen. I had a very thick file on a shelf with all of the contracts, invoices, and everything else. We blocked Cody in the kitchen overnight and when I opened the door in the morning, the floor was covered with small shreds of paper. Cody mangled my construction file. I laughed and kept the secret between me and Cody.
Cody was absolutely wonderful. He wanted only to be a companion. He was gentle, quiet, big, squishy, lovable and kind. Everyone was a friend.
I think Cody might have had weak eyes because he was afraid of anything new, like a paper plate lying on the floor. He backed away from it like it was threat.
Cody loved riding in the car and he loved going on vacation. One of our favorite places to spend a week was Houghton Lake, Michigan. The resort we returned to every year was a perfect match of relaxation, swimming, fishing, and boating. There were six small cabins. In the years we vacationed there, we used all but two of them.
There was an old wooden dock with enough rowboats for each of the guests to use. Cody loved swimming, but he especially loved chasing the ducks that were always nearby. He chased them and the ducks let him get just close enough so he didn’t lose interest. They flew back behind Cody and he turned around and started the chase all over again. He played with the ducks until he was too tired.
Cody loved riding in the boat. He didn’t hesitate to jump in and the sound of the motor didn’t bother him at all. He was the perfect fishing dog. Each year we rented a pontoon boat for a day so the whole family could be out on the water together. Cody loved it.
Cody loved our little Shih Tzu, Heidi. The two dogs were pals for life. Heidi was tiny compared to Cody and he was very careful with her.
Cody was showing his age with white hair around his eyes and face. We began to see indications of something that wasn’t quite right. Cody was slowing down and we saw him stumble a few times. As the days passed, Cody’s condition grew worse. The doctor diagnosed him with diabetes and he did our best to treat him.
Cody started having severe seizures and we knew we were nearing the end of this gentle wonder-dog’s life.
I held Cody in my arms and tears streamed down our cheeks as he slipped away from us. Always gentle, always kind, loving until his last breath.
Cody is forever a part of our family. We still laugh about him, and we have an hour-long home movie called, “Cody Goes to Houghton Lake.”
Our love of golden retrievers has carried over to our kids. This is Lucy, our granddog. She’s a big, strong, lovable, happy retriever with a huge voice. Now she has a two-year-old girl and a six-month-old boy to help raise. She’s doing a good job.
Whenever I see Lucy, I think of Cody the wonder dog.
It really is a wonder we survived our childhood. There were all kinds of home remedies we were subjected to. From “Lucy’s Juice” to sweet nitre, I don’t know how we made it.
When we were kids, there was a bottle of “Sweet Nitre” in the back of the fridge. It was always there, like a skeleton in the closet or a ghost in the attic. If we ever said we were ill, or if anyone had a fever, it was time to take sweet nitre. My dad was the one who came up with it, I am certain he was forced to drink it when he was a kid. Why else would he make us drink it?
Sweet nitre was not sweet. It tasted like a mixture of cow urine and cat poop. I’ve never tasted either one, but I’m convinced both were in the bottle of sweet nitre. It was never my mom who served it to us. Always my dad. It was the magic vomit potion. Moments after drinking it we were in the bathroom (if we made it) throwing up everything we ate since the week before. I am certain the reason we were vomiting was that the potion was toxic. Even our little bodies knew better than to keep it inside. I looked up sweet nitre several years ago, and it had a warning in big letters saying it should never be taken internally as it was POISON. How are we still here?
Another great thing we did was eat Vicks VapoRub. Yes. I said eat Vicks VapoRub. If we had a sore throat, my dad, yes, him again, put a big gob of Vicks on his finger and made us eat it. “Just hold it in your mouth and let it go down your throat slowly” he said. Ughhhh!!
My dad’s mother was the queen of all remedies. Her term for anything medicinal (whether it was homemade or not) was “lickdob.” “Put some lickdob on it” she said. Whatever it was. Sliver? Lickdob. Flu? Lickdob. Hungry? Lickdob. Tired? Lickdob. We had to be careful because some of her lickdob was nasty.
While I was in college I worked with a professor building houses during a summer. I fell and cut my leg and it became infected. I spent a few days in the hospital with blood poisoning. When I spoke to my grandmother she told me I should have put a beet poultice on it. I thought, “You can eat the beet poultice. If this happens again I’m going back to the hospital!” No, I didn’t say it out loud.
One time when our triplet sons were sick, my aunt and grandma were going to apply some “Lucy’s Juice.” Lucy was my grandmother’s sister. She made an elixir with turpentine, kerosine, Vicks, and couple other things I can’t remember. Luckily, we found out about it and said, “No way!!”
I know home remedies have been around for generations. Elixirs of all kinds people swear by. I just swear at them instead of by them. No thanks.
The lake is a wonderful elixir that doesn’t require me to swallow anything. Listening to the water lap the shore on a calm day is magical.
A favorite of ours is finding sea glass, or beach glass. We have found some amazing treasures. Some pieces have clearly been in the water for decades. My wife recently found an intact pop bottle from 1963.
Coffee is my go-to elixir every day of every week. All day. Coffee smells wonderful, tastes amazing, and brightens my mood, without fail. A mocha, on the other hand is like heaven with a cherry on top. Love it!
The best, surest, always available, never ending elixir is family.
Family with coffee? Oh, man. Now it’s getting dangerous.