My First Book

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 30th, 2014 16 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I think I was 9 or 10 when I bought my very first book. I’d had lots of book when I was little. One of my favorites was a Golden book about a bear who tried to steal honey. He jumped in the lake to escape the bees but he left his nose out so that he could breath and ended up with a very swollen nose.

However, the first book I remember buying for myself with my very own money was Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two Cook Book. I got it and a beautiful fairy tale book at the book fair. It was my first book fair and it took me hours to pick out those books. The room was huge and there were so many choices. I had a hard time making up my mind what to buy! But, I think even at that age I had figured out that if I wanted to survive I had better learn to cook! When my mom and Dad would fight, she wouldn’t cook. That was often! Later when they divorced, she gave up cooking completely. I think the fairy tale book was so I could escape reality!

I don’t know what became of the fairy tale book but I used that Dinner for Two Cook Book for years. My favorite recipe in it was for shrimp curry! I also don’t remember when that cookbook went missing. I do remember telling Jenna about the book and that it had been my favorite. Being the awesome child that she is she went out and found me a copy of it at one of the used bookstores she frequents. I was so touched but it is typically Jenna!

Collage of the 2 Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cook Book

In 1998, my sister passed away from complications due to Lupus. We had not been friends for a very long time by then, in fact, we seldom spoke. A few weeks after her death her partner brought me a box of her things that he thought I would like to have. One of the things in that box was my Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two Cook Book. Notes and recipes that I found in my cookbook I was flipping through my original copy this morning noticing how much more well used it was, complete with lots of stains on page 165. There tucked between pages 164 and 165 was a post it note with my sister’s writing on it and a couple of other items she had clipped from magazines. I had been surprised that she had the book but even more surprised to find she had used it. She was a much better cook than I will ever be. She liked to take on complicated and spicy recipes.

2 copies of Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cook Book

1958 – First Editions

Now I have two copies of the book to cherish.

Going Home

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 24th, 2014 26 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

It all started when I found out that the USARSA National Championships (skating) would take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I decided to go. It was early in 1970 and I was twenty with a full time job working at the telephone company and living with my best friend. I could buy my own ticket and she couldn’t stop me. I wasn’t going to compete; I was going so that I could see my Dad and the rest of my family. My excuse for going was to support my teammates but mostly – I was going to see my Dad.

It had been 8 years. For all those years, my mother had nothing but bad things to say about my Dad. It was easier when I was younger, you are supposed to believe everything your mother tells you but as I got older, I just didn’t remember him being the evil person she portrayed him to be and I wanted to go back and see for myself. Telling her took all the courage I could muster. She was sure he wouldn’t want to see me. He didn’t know yet that I was coming. She demanded I call him right then, from her apartment. She believed her own lies and she was just certain he wouldn’t want to see me and she could say, “I told you so”.

I called on a Sunday afternoon and remember telling who ever answered the phone that I wanted to speak to Glen, “to tell him that it was Kathy, his daughter”. We both cried on the phone and he told me he had a new wife and two kids! He would hear nothing of me staying at the motel; they would pick me up at the airport.

I didn’t think the day would ever come. I took the red-eye out of Los Angeles and arrived at 6 AM Detroit time. I had told him when my plane would arrive but somehow forgot to tell him which airlines and of course, there were two planes arriving from LAX at about the same time. Daddy told me later that he had a friend from the State Police try and check manifests but since I had flown student stand by I wasn’t on it!

He picked the wrong terminal. I remember getting off the plane and he wasn’t there. I wandered through the terminals to the ticket counters and sat down at a pay phone to try to call him. There was no answer. I turned and looked up and there he stood with his back to me. I will never forget that moment. I would have known him anywhere from his ears! Daddy had big ears! He had come! For a few moments there, I let her put doubt in my mind but she was wrong.

We walked to the escalator and he introduced me to his new wife and my new sister and brother. There was immediate warmth and excitement. Mom Number 2, as I think I will call her welcomed me into her home and her heart. She is the kind of Mom I had always wanted and never had. I gained a little brother, something I’d never had either. John was 8 and a typical little boy. Sandy was 12 and from the moment the two of us met, we bonded. We had so much fun together and still do. This was going to be the kind of family I had never had. It is probably the best gift my Dad ever gave me – and still is. Buying that plane ticket to Michigan was certainly one of the smartest things I ever did. It was a wonderful vacation filled with family, food and lots of stories. Aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit and we went to see them.

Remember when we were younger and had to sit through slide shows of someone’s vacation? Well, you get to sit through a slide show, I think it is the easiest way to share it all. It was wonderful!

You can click the pictures to go to larger view.

Amara’s Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 17th, 2014 14 Replies

Last night when Amara came over she asked if I had seen the YouTube video of Bill Gates doing the ALS challenge. I had seen lots of them on the news but I hadn’t seen this one so we immediately headed for my computer! It was then she decided that she would be doing it this morning and that she would challenge her Aunt Sandy, her best friend Sophia and Katy Perry!

I’m challenging some of my other Grandma friends to have their grandchildren take the challenge!

My Worst Year Ever

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 15th, 2014 22 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

Before my parents finally got divorced, my mother would always threaten my Dad that she would divorce him and take us girls to California. She finally sold the farm and she packed the backseat and trunk with everything we would take. She had hired a company to come in and handle auctioning off everything else. My sister and I sat in the front seat and our dog Pete sat in the back on top of the suitcases. It took us 5 days to drive cross-country and we arrived in California on Admissions Day, September 9, 1963. All of the flags were flying and my mother said it was to welcome us. I was completely overwhelmed by the freeways and the palm trees. School would start in a week and the worst year of my life would begin.

8th grade really was the worst. We were staying with my aunt, uncle and two cousins. They had a beautiful home “south of the boulevard”. They had a swimming pool. Anyway, anyone who has ever lived in the San Fernando Valley will tell you that “south of the boulevard” is where all of the really wealthy people live! My mom enrolled us in the local Catholic school. My sister got lucky — there were no openings in the 7th grade. I didn’t get so lucky. I was entering a class with very wealthy kids who had gone to school together for the last 7 years and I was a little country bumpkin, completely out of place. Even the nuns were very snobbish and made it abundantly clear that I did not belong at their school!

The new school wasn’t the only thing that made it the worst year. I missed all of my friends and my skating buddies. Most of all I missed my Dad and all of my relatives. Before we moved my mother made sure I didn’t get to see them anymore than was required by the court. Being 2500 miles away, I wouldn’t see any of them again until I turned 20 – eight long years later! That will be next week’s story! Meanwhile back to 8th grade…

I will never forget the first time Sister embarrassed me in front of the class. It must have been the very first week. We were going to go to Mass and I had made the terrible mistake of putting a scarf on my head. All of the other girls in the class were carefully bobby pinning their lace doilies to the tops of their heads. Sister asked me if, I was planning to wear that disgusting rag into God’s house? I may have had tears as I nodded yes. In my old church, we had been discouraged from wearing doilies, as they didn’t really cover our head. My old Mother Superior had said doilies were for furniture! I wanted to go home.

Sometime that first month I made a complete fool out of myself by admitting that I was a Girl Scout, worse yet I was proud of it. The school didn’t even have a troop so I had joined the one at my sister’s school. It would have been OK but I made the mistake of wearing my Girl Scout uniform to school on the day of our first meeting just as I had done at my old school. I got in so much trouble but the worst part was the other students laughing. I wanted to go home.

Then there was that first chilly day when I wore my team skating jacket to school. I was sent to Mother Superior’s office. I was not to wear my team jacket or anything with a logo embroidered on the back! It was 1963 but you would have thought I was wearing gang colors! I wanted to go home.

Then came Confirmation. In the Los Angeles diocese, students received their Confirmation in the 8th grade. At my old church Confirmation was only done every 4 years – and so I had been Confirmed in 4th grade! Once again, I was an outsider. I had to sit in the back of the church, as they would practice for the ceremony. I wanted to go home.

I will admit that I may have gloated just a little because as part of their ceremony they had to promise not to drink alcohol until they were 21. I made no such vow!

One of the worst things the nuns did to me at that school was to ridicule my name! I was born Kathryn Sue. Well, neither of those is a saints’ name and so could not possibly be put on my 8th grade diploma. My diploma reads Catherine Susan. By then I had stopped crying every night and knew I couldn’t go home. Now all I wanted was out of that school!

Kc on Valentine's Day 1964 holding the box of candy Uncle Walt gave me

My Uncle Walt bought me candy on Valentine’s Day to cheer me up.

9th grade was so much better! I went to a Catholic high school with students from at least five other Catholic elementary schools. It was 7.5 miles away and I would have to take three public buses to get there. No one from my 8th grade would be going to school there! No one knew me or that I had once been a country bumpkin. With students from so many schools, everyone was new! It was nice to finally fit in.

Vacation with Daddy

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 8th, 2014 25 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I don’t think our family ever went on a vacation together. I knew many other families that did. I think there are photos somewhere of us as very little girls at a cabin up north but I’m not sure if it is from a vacation or just a hunting trip!

Our route from Jonesville, Michigan through Ontario, Canada and back to Jonesville.

A vacation with my Dad was one of the things I got out of the divorce. Judy never went to Dad’s on the weekend and she certainly wasn’t going to go with Dad on vacation, so it was just the two of us and we were going to Canada! I was eleven years old and to this day, it is the only time I have ever been out of the United States.

We took Daddy’s station wagon and lots of camping gear and we were going to sleep in the back of the car. It was the most wonderful adventure of my life!

Our trip started by driving from Jonesville to Detroit to go through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel into Ontario. We would drive north through Canada and cross back into Michigan and down through the center of the state, over one thousand miles. The Detroit-Windsor tunnel was such a disappointment! I expected it to be a glass tunnel through the river much as the Shark Encounter at Sea World is now. It was nothing like that. It was just a tunnel with bright lights and it was very short!

Kc at 11 standing on the rocks next to the highway in Canada

The rest of the trip was spectacular. We drove along some highway that had been blasted out of rocks. We both got out and took turns climbing up the rocks for a photo. I’m better with a camera now than I was back then but I love these photos. I have no idea where in Canada this is but it was very impressive, especially to an eleven year old. I’d never seen anything like this in Michigan.

Daddy standing on the rocks next to the highway in Canada

That night we stopped at some campground and fished from a big rock alongside the lake. It was breathtaking sitting perched on those huge boulders. I don’t think we caught anything but Daddy had filled a little cooler with food and we had a small cook stove with us. I’m pretty sure dinner was hot dogs.

The Canadian lake where we fished.

Sleeping in the back of the station wagon was fun! I had never slept in a real sleeping bag before. Daddy got some towels wet and hung them over the windows so we could roll them down and still keep out most of the mosquitos. I woke to noises coming from the trashcans and so of course, I woke up Daddy. He explained it was just raccoons stealing scraps out of the trash. I was convinced they were trapped. I was not going to go back to sleep (or shut up) until he got out and tipped each trash can over for me. He up righted all of them in the morning before we left.

St. Peter's Cathedral in Ontario, Canada

One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing the St. Peter’s Cathedral. Daddy wasn’t Catholic but he went out of the way so we could stop and see it. I’d never seen such a beautiful church or one so big but the best part for me was the pipe organ inside. I was learning to play the piano back then and I thought it was the most beautiful organ ever.

Statue of the Virgin Mary in front of St. Peter's Cathedral in Canada

One of the disappointments of the trip was the hitchhiker. Living in such a small town, I had never even seen one before and I begged my Dad to pick one up. When he finally did, I was so let down that he was just another person. I expected him to be some kind of alien being or something! He was boring!

Kc at 11 standing next to a pine tree in a Canadian park.

Now, one of the funniest things to happen on the trip was the worm disaster! Daddy had gotten a box of live worms for us to fish with and was keeping them in the cooler with our food. I’m not sure I was aware of this arrangement in the beginning but on the last day when I opened the cooler and the worms were in the bottom swimming around in the water that had melted – well I was not eating anything that was in that cooler. End of discussion!

This was an amazing vacation filled with lots of other first. I had never been on a ferry and I couldn’t believe how huge the Mackinaw Bridge was. Unfortunately, it was the only vacation I would ever get to take with my Dad. It was about a year later that my mother moved us to California but that is next week’s story.

It was the vacation of a lifetime!

Put a sock in it

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 6th, 2014 21 Replies

One day Amara was going on and on about Minecraft to the point I thought my head was going to explode! Grampy and I both make an effort to listen to her talk about Minecraft and My Little Pony and to show an interest but there are those times you just can’t listen to one more word of it. It was one of those times. I finally just turned to her and said, “Amara, put a sock in it.” She had never heard that saying before and she thought it was hysterical.

So of course, she kept up the babbling about Minecraft, all the time grinning away. She just loves to poke and be mischievous. She really wanted me to put a sock in her mouth! Of course, I would never do that but I would go get her one and double dare her to do it herself. Amara cannot resist a challenge!

Amara and a clean sock
Amara putting a sock in her mouth
Amara with the sock in her mouth
Amara preteending to choke from the sock in her mouth
Amara being dramatic as she pretends to choke from the sock she stuffed in her mouth

Last weekend Amara and the girls were out front playing in the water. There was much screaming by one of the little girls. I told her I was going to put a sock in it if she didn’t quit. Amara piped right up, “Yeah, Grandma. Go get one of Grampy’s smelly exercise socks!”

Mischievous