Throwback Thursday

Perspective from a Shoebox

Tom has been going through shoeboxes of photos and clippings and . . . stuff . . . that he's been carting around and storing in closets ever since we've been together.

I can't believe some of the stuff he has squirreled away in his shoeboxes!  Amazing things.  Newspaper clippings from high school races.  Race programs.  School papers.  Every single issue of his high school newspaper!  Certificates.  Ribbons.  Prizes and awards.  Things printed with that purple ink of ditto machines.

Seriously.  The stuff time capsules are made of.  

He's sorting through things and tossing most of it.  But, along the way, we're enjoying all these treasures from the past.

Back when he looked like this . . . 

Scan 2 7


Let's go back to the time of this photo.


Tom was a senior in high school.  A runner - cross country and track.  Also a good student with a great sense of humor and a penchant for satire.

We found this paper (among many) in one of his boxes . . . brittle now, and faded by years of storage.


He can't exactly remember why he wrote this particular paper.  Maybe a class assignment?  Maybe a submission for the school paper?  Maybe just inspired by . . . current events of the day.  Whatever the reason, though, it's fun to read -- and especially because while it was written in 1975, it resonates today.  (In a way I'm sure 1975-Tom would never imagined.)

I thought you all  might enjoy reading it, too, so here it is -- Tom's unnamed article from 1975:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth, the United States of America, Washington D.C., baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolets.  The government was without form and void, and the spirit of '76 was moving over the face of the land.  And God said, "Let there be government."  And from the anarchy rose a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.  And God separated the executive branch from the judicial branch and the legistlative branch, and the house from the senate, and all of that he separated from the church.  And God saw that it was good.

And the Lord said, "Let the govenment put forth a constitution yielding laws and amendments according to their own kind.  And let there be taxes, a budget, and the C.I.A."  And it was so.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures."  And God made the birds and the beasts and the fishes of the seas, and bugs, and the common American.  After all, somebody had to pay the taxes.

And finally the Lord made politicians, Republican and Democrat he made them, good, bad, and ugly he made them.  With gleaming white teeth, receding hairlines, and non-tiring tongues he made them.  And God blessed them saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill and subdue the government."

And God gave the politicians dominion over the birds and the beasts and the fish of the sea and the bugs and the common American.  The Lord also gave him executive privilege and tax shelters.  And after hearing the campaign speeches, the Lord voted that it was all good.

And on the next day, seeing it was the 4th of July, the Lord rested and had a barbecue and afterwards shot fireworks.  And the Lord blessed that day saying, "Thou shalt not campaign on the Sabbath day."

And things went just dandy for almost 200 years excpet for a few wars, assassinations, riots, depressions, etc. nothing too unusual.

Now the president was more subtle than any other politician.  And he said to the other republicans, "Did the Lord say that we should not bug the other party's campaign meetings lest we die?"  And they said, "Yes, mister president."  And the president said, "Pardon me, but I beg to differ.  We will not die, but get me re-elected."  

And so the republicans bugged the other party's campaign meetings, and they won the election.  But then someone blew the whistle and told the Lord.  And the Lord made the president resign and banished him to some dreaded place in California.  And he cursed the politicians saying, "Graft and corruption shall fill your lives, and the people will trust you no more."

                                                                                                Tom Mulhern, 1975


We laughed when we read it -- this reminder that the more things change, the more things stay the same.  (And now . . . back to the shoeboxes!)


Reelin' in the Years

This week's Think Write Thursday needs a bit of a soundtrack, I'm thinking.  (Click here for a song.)

Scan 1

Dear 5-year-old Kym:

It's 1964.  There's a lot going on out there!  You're growing up amidst turmoil and change.  Don't be afraid.  Play and have fun . . . but keep your eyes open.  Pay attention.  And, remember -- it's okay to color outside the lines and make stray pencil marks once in awhile!

Scan 2 5

Dear 16-year-old Kym:

It's 1975.  You're driving now.  Becoming competent.  Standing up for yourself.  Beginning to understand that there are dots to connect.  Quit worrying about what "everyone else" is doing.  (It won't matter in a year or two.)  (Really.)  Try not to be so boy-crazy.  (You're wasting your energy.)  (They really are kind of jerks right now.)  And - for crying out loud - be careful out there.  (You make your future-self nervous.)  (You might also ditch that center part.)  (Just sayin.)

Dear 21-year-old Kym:

Scan 2 4

Dear 21-year-old Kym:

It's 1980.  You're completing your student teaching . . . nearly ready to graduate.  But what's that you say?  You think you made the wrong choice?  Maybe this teaching gig isn't for you?  Oh, Kym.  Don't despair.  You're only 21.  You're not supposed to have all the answers.  Even though you feel like you're all grown up and ready to make your way in the world, let me tell you . . . change is part of the game!  And you won't even believe the places you'll go.  (Trust me . . . I know.)  So hang in there.  Listen to your heart.  Things will work out.


Dear 58-year-old Kym:

As Gretchen Rubin says, "the days are long but the years are short."  And now, well . . . you know that's true, for sure.  So grab life by the horns and hang on.  Enjoy every moment -- and keep reelin' in the years!


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To see what other bloggers have to say, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


May the Fourth . . . Be With You

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . 

Two people got engaged.  The mother-of-the-bride hung their engagement photo in the hall of her comfortable and welcoming home.  And there it remained.

Scan 3

The years passed, and the couple had children of their own.  A daughter and a son.  And when the daughter reached the age of about 7, the couple shared the original Star Wars movie with her (because she was a big fan of swords and complicated sword play from an early age and the couple figured she might like light sabers as well) (they were right).  

One night, the little daughter was having a sleep-over at her grandmother's house.  Lo and behold, she spied the engagement picture hanging on the wall.  For the first time ever, she took a long, serious look at the photo.

There was Mommy.  She could see that right away.

But the dude?  Who was that?  Because . . . well . . . Daddy had short hair.  And it was darker.  And he wore glasses, too!

Was it?????

Could it possibly be?????

The daughter called out to her grandmother in an excited voice.  "Nanny!!!!  Nanny!!!!  Did Mommy marry Luke Skywalker?????"

May the Fourth . . . be with you! 


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  See what everyone else has to say about May the Fourth and Star Wars here.  And sign up to receive future prompts here.


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.)


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?


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.


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.)


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.  


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 . . .




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.


(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.  


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!


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.


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!


Yet . . . there he is.

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


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!)


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.

FullSizeRender 89 (1)

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.*

Scan 7

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.

FullSizeRender 90

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.


Thanks, "Gerg!"


* (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).


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.)


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.

FullSizeRender 51

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.

FullSizeRender 49 copy

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.)

Scan (1)

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.)

FullSizeRender 48 copy

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.

FullSizeRender 52

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.

FullSizeRender 50 copy

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.