Throwback Thursday

Two In One Day: Post #2 - Thinking and Writing on Thursday

Today . . . I am doing something unheard of.  

Today . . . I am posting TWICE.  (Please be sure to check my other post today by clicking here.)

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Remember the time . . . 

so bored one Friday night in the spring of 1979 . . . 

Jennifer and I thought it would be great fun to dress like gangsters and go out on the town?

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Maybe pick up some toy machine guns and go see if we could storm our way into a movie?

Maybe try to convince the sales clerk to give us free nail polish at the drug store?

Maybe talk some bartenders into free drinks?

We could even smoke some Cherry Swisher Sweets for color.

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Shoot, our boyfriends are out of town.

Let's raise some hell.

Thelma and Louise . . . before Thelma and Louise. . . were Thelma and Louise.

(Oh. My. God.  What were we thinking????  And can you imagine if we tried to do this NOW????  In today's world????)

(We had a great time, though.)

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Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday. Click here to read other posts on today's topic, or click here to sign up to receive weekly prompts.


Think Write Thursday: Hitting the Jackpot (An Abandoned Building Tale)

Once upon a time . . .  in the summer of 1998 . . . a family sold their first house and moved not too far up the road to a new, bigger-and-nicer house.  

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The move was particularly brutal.  It was a very hot summer -- and the old house didn't have air conditioning.  The family, along with a few stalwart friends, moved to their new house slowly . . . carload by carload; trailer-ful by trailer-ful.

Patience was thin.

Tempers flared.

It was hot.  And tedious.  And although the children were old enough to help in five minute bursts, they were still young enough to be very much underfoot.  And bored.  And loud about being bored.

(In other words, fun for the whole family!)

Anyway . . . one afternoon, when all the stuff had been moved out of the old house, and the father had gone back to his job, the tired mother dragged the children back to the old house to do some cleaning and to make sure the family hadn't left anything behind.  

The mother had one task in particular:  Clean out the refrigerator.  Not the food -- because it had already been transported down the road to the new refrigerator.  She just needed to give the now-empty interior a good wipe-down.

When they arrived at the old house, the children were distraught.  Because it no longer looked like their old house.  It was . . .

Old

and

Abandoned.

The children were Not Happy.  They did not want to play with the toys they had brought with them.  They did not want to read their books, either.  They did not want to play in their old backyard.  They just wanted to wear the mother down and get on her very last nerve.  The mother?  Oh, she was focused.  She just wanted to accomplish her tasks and Get. Out.

It's creepy in here, said the children.

We don't like it anymore, said the children.

There's nothing to doooooooo, whined the children.

We're hot, complained the children.

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(The adorable children, posing in front of their "growth chart" on the wall in the back stairway on the very day of the fridge clean-up.)

The mother tried her best to ignore her whining children, and - despite her extreme exhaustion and general ill-temper - dove into her task.  After scrubbing the interior of the refrigerator to a Like-New-Shine, she moved on to the freezer compartment on top of the refrigerator.  

SURPRISE!

The entire freezer FULL of ice cubes dumped out onto the floor, covering the mother's feet and causing her to jump back in amazement!!!

It was just like hitting the JACKPOT!

With ice.

Apparently, when the father had emptied the freezer of its contents the day before, he forgot to place the ice cube "bucket" under the automatic ice cube maker arm.  And the ice maker just kept making . . . and making . . . and making those cubes. 

Until the entire freezer compartment was filled with ice cubes.

 And the kids?  Well.  Now they had something to do!

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Read more Think Write Thursday stories here -- and join the fun by signing up to receive the weekly prompts here.

 

 


Boxes of History

I have a new project . . . and it's a Biggie!  

For the past couple of weeks, I've been helping my dad clear through closets.  In the process, we've discovered boxes and boxes of old photos and papers and stacks of photo albums.  

They're now pretty much stacked and piled up on my dining room table.

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I spent a few hours over the weekend sifting and sorting.  (And, really, I've only made a tiny dent in the pile. . .  There is much more sorting to do!)

I'm finding so many surprises.

For example, I never knew my dad played the piano!

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Yet . . . there he is.

And my great grandfather - back in 1913 - bought the first power plow in the county for his farm.

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I'm thinking I could get lost in these boxes for quite some time.

 


A Tale of Two Bags

(Today's post is brought to you by guest-blogger, Tom.  Just a bit of background for you before reading on.  Tom believes in using things until they wear out.  And sometimes longer.  He drives his cars for at least 10 years.  He still wears shorts I remember buying when my kids were kids.  He rarely buys new stuff -- because he can still use the old stuff.  So, with that bit of background . . . Hit it, Tom!)

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It was the best of bags; it was the worst of bags.  My poor, beloved gym bag was worn to shreds and with no obvious replacement.  (Kym:  Ahem.  This was only because he refused to look for a replacement.)  Gaping holdes, shredded duct tape from earlier repairs.

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The end was near.  

(Kym: Maybe several exits past "near.")

But, a solution appeared based on the history of the bag.

Dial back to summer 1988.*

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A group of young scientists looking for an interesting technical meeting that was also in a cool location.  What could be better than ISCH 6 (6th international symposium on homogeneous catalysis, in case you're wondering) in Vancouver, British Columbia?  Pre-kids, Kym and I piggybacked on a week-long driving tour of western Canada -- beginning in Calgary, stopping in Vancouver and ending in Seattle -- and then I went to meet my colleagues back in Vancouver for the meeting.

While the venue was excellent, the meeting turned out to be a dud, at least in terms of the type of things we were interested in.  In truth, my colleagues and I spent an embarrassingly large amount of time in the student union playing bubble hockey and quaffing Rickard's Red Ale instead of attending dull lectures.  (Kym:  Ah.  The exciting life of a Scientist.)

We received the bags as part of the meeting swag.  And although I didn't use it extensively for some time, I found it to be the perfect size for my trips to the gym.  So it was used off and on for the first 18 years -- and then heavily (maybe 5 times a week) for the next ten years, with obvious and predictable wear and tear.

As I was contemplating getting rid of my beloved bag (perhaps burning it in a private ceremony), I had the thought to contact one of my friends who'd also attend the BC Boondoggle in the off-chance that he (let's call him "Gerg"; not his real name) might still have his bag.

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Indeed, he did -- and was willing to trade it for some of my home-brewed beer.  "Gerg" apparently never used his bag, and it is in Mint Condition.  (Kym:  I cannot believe he still had his unused bag . . . let alone knew where to find it!)

This 28-year-old bag will hopefully get me through another 10 years (or more) of gym use.

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Thanks, "Gerg!"

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* (Oh. My. God.  1988 hair.)

 


A Little Throwback Thursday with Some Jumping Up and Down, Too

First, the throwback part.  Let's check out this page from my high school yearbook. . .

Yearbook 1977

See that picture up there?  The one of the girl diving into the pool for the start of a swim race?  Yeah.  That's me.  1977.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a Swimmer.  I took my first swim lessons at age 5, and was pretty much at ease in the pool from that moment on.  Some of my best childhood memories involve swim friends, swim team, and swim meets.

I gotta tell you, though.  Swimming - for regular exercise - is a bit of a hassle.  First, you need to have access to a pool.  Then, there's always a lot of "getting ready" time (before and after a swim).  And, well . . . there's also the matter of those pesky, telltale "goggle marks" on your face (which seem to get worse the older my skin gets).

Anyway.

When I had to stop running and dancing last year, I decided I might as well deal with the hassles and get back to swimming.  

It's been a great decision all around.  I love it.  I'm good at it.  And it's very good exercise, all around.  I generally swim 4 times a week -- with a goal of swimming 10,000 yards per week (just over 5 1/2 miles). (It's still a hassle, though.)

Here's my pool.  (Just imagine it with people in it.)  (Sometimes too many people.)  (Just sayin.)

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One day, last summer, I noticed an adult woman taking a beginning swim lesson in the adjoining pool (a separate poolnot pictured above).  I noticed her, particularly, because you just don't see that many adults learning to swim. She was nervous and hesitant -- but absolutely determined!

Now, swimming is not an easy sport to pick up as an adult.  It takes a lot of coordination to get the pulling and the kicking and breathing (especially the breathing) all working together to propel a person - efficiently - through water.  (After all, humans . . . were meant for land -- not water!)  I am always impressed with - and really in awe of - adults who decide to take on learning-to-swim.  I always try to be as encouraging as I can be when I see a new swimmer.  (I was also a cheerleader in high school. . . )

So I became Miriam's (that's the new swimmer's name) cheerleader.  I tell her how well she's doing and explain that - yes - the breathing is the hardest part.  She tells me I make it look so easy.  I tell her I've been swimming since I was five.  She tells me that she watches me swim to try to figure out the mechanics of breathing.  I tell her she's doing great and that I can see improvement every week.  

It's like that.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Miriam in the lane next to me.  She told me she had "graduated" from her swim lessons, and was now on her own.  She was practicing in the lap pool, now -- and she told me her goal was to swim one length of the pool without stopping.

She was close.  But she always stood up a few yards before she got to the end of the pool.

I encouraged her.  You're so close, Miriam!  Four more arm strokes and you'll be there!

She took off. 

I watched.

And . . . she made it!  One length; no stopping!

When she grabbed the wall and stood up at the other end of the pool, she turned and looked at me.  I just jumped up and down with my arms in the air.  And so did Miriam.  

It was like she'd just won an Olympic medal!

I swam down to meet her.  You did it! I knew you could!

She was beaming -- just beaming.  Now . . . she told me . . . my goal is TWO lengths without stopping!

I have no doubt! 

 

 

 


Throwback: A Tale of Two Afghans

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  A tale of two afghans -- made of much love and Red Heart Acrylic yarn.

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When I went back to college for my junior year, I had a really hard time of things.  My new boyfriend (that would be Tom) and I went to different schools -- and I missed him terribly.  My old college distractions suddenly seemed empty and shallow.  So I decided to crochet an afghan for my boyfriend's birthday in December.

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It was 1979.  Knitting shops with nice yarn . . . just didn't exist yet.  The best I could do was Red Heart acrylic yarn from the drug store (in late-70s-groovy-earth-tones).  I picked up a few random skeins and just . . . started crocheting.

No pattern.  No swatching.  No plan.  I just chained a bunch of stitches (enough, I hoped, to cover Tom's bed) and started in, changing colors whenever I felt like it.  I worked on that blanket every chance I got for the whole semester.  (Here's a photo of me, busy with the afghan, somewhere in the middle.  Yeah.  It got a whole lot bigger.)

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I finished it in time for Tom's birthday.  But - my god - it was big enough to cover a king-size bed.  He loved it.  And we have it still -- in all its huge, acrylic glory.  (It is Very Heavy.)

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Shortly after I finished Tom's afghan . . . I made the second one for my parents.  Although I don't remember all the particulars, I am certain I started off with yarn leftover from Tom's.

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Again, no pattern -- and very little advance planning.  This time around, I just made a bunch of granny squares.  (I think I learned an important lesson about portability from my experience with Tom's afghan.)  Same colors, pretty much.

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This past weekend as I was helping my Mom clear out her closet, we came across the afghan - stored high up on a shelf.  She and my Dad had used it for years.  I remember my kids taking naps curled up in it.  It lived a good, long life in my Mom and Dad's living room.  When I pulled it down, we got a little lost in the nostalgia of it all.  My Mom was hestitant to let it go -- but decided to give it back to me.  It's in my family room now, and I think I'll take it up north to our cottage in the spring where it will continue to get plenty of use (and better match the color scheme and cast-off-decor "theme").

Reunited.  Two afghans made of love -- and Red Heart.


A Thanksgiving Throwback

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Tom and I started dating during the summer of 1979 . . . when we were both home for summer break.  I was between my sophomore and junior years at the University of Wyoming; he was heading into his senior year at Boise State University.

We headed back to our respective colleges in the fall -- but our relationship held through the distance.  We managed to visit back and forth about once a month (usually traveling by Amtrak), and our phone bills were pretty high.  We also wrote letters.  (Lots and lots of letters!)

At Thanksgiving, I decided to drive up to Boise (a 17 hour trip) to be with Tom.  (I found a couple of other UW students who wanted to go to Idaho Falls, so they helped pay for gas and shared the driving.)  It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family -- and the first time Tom and I would celebrate the holiday together.  

We took these pictures of each other before our dinner that day.

Tom at TG 1979
Tom at TG 1979

And what do we remember most about that glorious meal now . . . 36 years later?

  • Tom recalls that we didn't thaw the turkey (about a 9-pounder) in time -- and ended up leaving it out on the counter all night.  (And we lived to tell the tale!)
  • I remember that our attempt at gravy failed miserably -- and, in fact, settled into a horrific 3-layer conglomeration that was not edible at all.
  • We both remember that we'd eaten big chunks of pie (probably for breakfast), but hid that fact in the photos with a clever placement of the wine bottle.  (Remember that Almaden wine???)
  • I also remember that my Mom wasn't terribly keen about my driving that far - or my not being home for the holiday.  In the end, though (because she really liked Tom), she gave me her blessing -- and sent us the centerpiece for our table.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving -- and such fun to remember that holiday way back then!


Throwback Thursday: Good Chemistry

Last weekend, Tom and I quietly acknowledged a very special anniversary.

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January 3 marked 30 years since the defense of Tom's PhD dissertation.  

That's his published dissertation, there on our bookshelves, between Principles and Applications of Organotransition Metal Chemistry and Advanced Organic Chemistry.

Tom's Dissertation Cover Page - Jan 7, 2015, 12-10 PM

On the one hand, it's so . . . unfathomable . . . to me that so much time has passed.  (Because I remember that time of our lives so vividly.)  But, on the other hand, it's not so unbelieveable after all.  (Because so much has happened since then.)

I actually didn't take any photos of Tom on that incredible, pinnacle of a day.  (And I did a lot of photo-documenting even then.  I just didn't do it very well . . . with my little Instamatic.)  But here are some throwback shots from that time in our lives.

Here's a (really bad) shot of Tom and one of his fellow students (now a chemistry professor himself) in the lab.

Tom in lab

Grad school . . . four-and-a-half years went by in a blur (although it was often a total slog) . . . coursework, TA-ing, cumulative exams, the dreaded "orals", hours-upon-hours (upon hours) in the lab.

Finally, when his boss agreed that he was "ready," the writing-up began in earnest.

Hard at work

They gave Tom an unused office in the chemistry building for him to use while writing up.  When looking back at this photo of Tom, hard at work, in "Thesis Headquarters" (as we called it), the first thing to notice . . . no computer!

Right.  Back in late 1984, PCs were not in general use yet.  No one we knew had one -- not even the university professors.  

Tom wrote his dissertation by hand on legal pads.

And his loving wife quit her day job to type it up -- on a word processor (really just a standard electric typewriter with a baby screen and a bit of memory)!

(And we're still married!)

(I also drew all the chemical structures in the dissertation - and there were MANY! - using stencils and drafting tools.  And lots of white out.  This was before any of the computer drawing programs were available.)  (Stone age, I'm telling you.) (And you can see that the typing was no picnic either.)

 

Drawings - Jan 8, 2015, 8-05 AM(I can't begin to explain how much work this all was.  Not only the intellectual work of doing the research and writing the dissertation . . . but also the emotional work of believing in yourself and pushing through.)

We "staged" this picture when Tom found this description of "the prototypical grad student" in CSU's student newspaper one day while he was writing up.

Prototypical grad student

(And he did subsist on caffeine and alcohol.  And a lot of pizza, as I recall.)

So.  Here we are, 30 years later.

Congratulations to my Palladium Mediated Mad Scientist.  WELL DONE!