Sunday night’s #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee together, today, we might have a lot to talk about.  First of all, the first flower has appeared in my new  wildflower garden. I came upon it when I first brought the puppies outside, this morning. The Scampers went to the groomers for the first time in two months, this past Friday, and they look like totally different dogs!

The past week was eventful. On Monday morning, we attended the Memorial Day services in my home town. This is the first year that my father has not been there, has far as I can remember, since he first took the job (1957, I think,) caring for the cemetery grounds. We were back there on Tuesday for our dental appointments. The middle of the week was a blur. I don’t recall what was happening, but on Friday the puppies had their appointment, and I have only one appointment to keep for the coming week, due to some rescheduling.

I’ve received two of the items I bid on and won in the Con-or-Bust fund-raiser auction. I got a signed, four-volume set of Sherwood Smith’s Inda novels, a series that I totally love! I also bid on a limited edition hardcover of Gold, Isaac Asimov’s final short stories and essays. Both my husband and I grew up reading Asimov’s books.

The wind has been blowing around a lot of the fine-grained dirt that we received when the yard was resloped, a couple of years ago. I have a fresh coat of it on all of the surfaces every few days. Today, I took a watering can around and wet down the bare/barren dirt. Going to look into buying, if they still make such things, pre-seeded garden strips. Figuring to put down another layer of coffee grounds to hold moisture, put the strips on top, and then a coat of dirt to keep damp until something grows.

I would invite you into the back yard, where the cotoneaster bushes make a nice sunshade, and we could have coffee in water-cooled shade. (I’ve been running the lawn sprinkler over the wildflower garden in the back yard and the patch where we took out one of the bushes and put down grass seed, which is finally growing!)

I have been spending much time in the back yard, both resting my eyes (avoiding the computer) and keeping tabs on the Scampers. I think I’ve finally gotten them to associate the words “rabbit” and “bunny rabbit” with the rabbits that they chase and bark at, each day. Enthusiastic wagging of puppies’ tails, now, at the words. Such fun!

I also have been resting in response to current events. I believe it is a good thing that my parents did not live any longer. They followed world news reporting quite closely and had definite opinions on current events. While I do have opinions, I cannot afford the frequent adrenalin responses. On a happy note! The funeral home (for which my father worked in a part-time position in addition to selling tomb stones and serving as cemetery sexton) is printing off copies of all of the photo montages they put together for the parents’ memorial/funeral gatherings. Not a lot of wall space…but there are seven of them, and I can rotate through them in a week. I’m thinking about doing some writing about growing up in the family, and I believe I would enjoy having the pictures close at hand. We found an awful lot of old photographs, including WW II, their wedding, and separately when they were stationed overseas (Army and Navy).

The puppies seem to want to go outside, again, and so I must close this. Don’t forget to stop by Emily’s blog (Nerd in the Brain); she hosts the event, and there will be links to other folks’ Weekend Coffee Share posts for this weekend.

Best wishes for the week to come!


Sunday Afternoon’s #WeekendCoffeeShare

If We Were Having Coffee this morning, I would be late! I enjoyed a nice sleep-in until 0830, Al’s having gotten up sometime earlier, I think, to let the Scampers outside (usually sometime between six o’clock and seven-thirty). I now am writing my WeekendCoffeeShare post instead of eating my already late lunch. That being said, I do currently have hot water for tea or coffee, bottled water, milk, and a couple cold, left-over cans of Barq root beer. There’s also cheese. (Al ate all the rest of the doughnut holes last night. Not on my diet!)

The week’s been busier than I’d thought it would be. The joists are now up on Al’s workshop; a cousin and his crew, unable to get over here last Monday, did make it on Tuesday to put the boards on the roof. Al’s decided to do the rest of the roof himself. Hopefully the tar paper will go on easier when there’s no driving sun or wind gusts. This next try will most likely be on Tuesday, allowing for Monday afternoon/evening rain.

my husband's workshop project, himself on the roof, ladder leaning against the unfinished building

I would tell you that I got to do some lifting and carrying and holding boards in place while he nailed them down. I enjoy being able to help, even a little, with his project Getting quite excited about this, as he will have many, many happy months spent finishing the building inside and out.

I’d share with you that I have had fun taking flower photos during the breaks. I have, however, been more tired than I’m happy with and am taking more frequent naps during the day. I have ordered an extra reading copy of Coming Up for Light and Air: Poems by Barbara Crow, so that I will be able to find it when I need it. I do not, of course, know details—no personal information. The poet and her husband lost a child, and among her poems I feel avoidance, recognition and resolution, and an acceptance of grief as life goes on. I am finding that reading through these poems helps me to process my own grief over the loss of my sister and my parents. And, this morning, strangely enough, the loss of two siblings in their first days of life, whom I never got to meet in this lifetime.

Of contemporary poets, there are two whose volumes I keep close at hand with one or two extra copies: Barbara’s Coming Up for Light and Air and Samih al-Qasim’s Sadder than Water. At times, they are too real, but that is good. I do not wish to step out of reality, but to embrace it in all of its aspects. This is difficult, because I am cut too deeply by it and bleed too much.

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present

I’ve a long-standing love–hate relationship with those lines from “Burnt Norton”.

Tomorrow, I have my next meeting with the grief counselor. I’m coming up on six months since my mother died and two and a half months since Father died. The poems that I wrote concerning them, the last day of April, the poetry-writing month, do so characterize the differences in our individual relationships.

I have signed up for the message boards at the American Diabetes Association web site and also a two-year (12-month) subscription to their magazine, which comes with a digital edition. I still have to make an introductory post, this weekend.

This week’s indulgence: On Monday, I ordered (and yesterday received by USPS) a set of “blessings” tokens based on Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series. They often lend an unexpected angle of perception on events and…add a filter, perhaps, to provide a range of helpful perspectives. Another writing prompt, if you will! I write my life! I had been using paper tiles, but finding them useful generally, I decided to go with a more durable set. They will not wear out or lose their print so fast as paper.

Thank you for visiting, once again! I’ve enjoyed your company. Looking forward to reading your #WeekendCoffeeShare post and meeting with you soon.

Best wishes,

Please stop by Emily’s Nerd in the Brain blog to read her post. There you also will find the InLinkz button with links to other #WeekendCoffeeShare participants.

Snowy Sunday | #WeekendCoffeeShare

Cotoneaster branches in the mid-morning sunlight
Snowy Sunday Morning

It’s just about time for afternoon tea, here. I’m happy that you’ve stopped in for a visit. The puppies will be waking from their nap, soon, and then things will be lively, again.

The week has been disjointed, here, as I have met with the dietitian and tried to implement the suggestions for variety, but failed miserably. My body does not like carbohydrates, and so I must cut most of them out of my diet, again. My weight loss has stabilized, now, however, within the “overweight” range, rather than “obese”, and I expect the pounds to continue dropping off, since I am maintaining the 1400-calorie diet. Just rearranging menu items a bit.

Yesterday, we took advantage of a local sale to buy (finally) replacement flooring for our kitchen. The previous tiles have been cracking and chipping off in pieces for the last few years. Since my husband has been planning (although the sudden, prolonged cold and snow will set back his timetable) to start work on the spring construction and carpentry in building his workshop in the back yard on March 1, if I don’t get the kitchen flooring installed before that project starts, it will be another twelve months or more before it’s done.

On Thursday, we made a run out to the town where the family home is, to pick up some more items that will allow my brother who is buying the house from Father to begin needed repairs and renovations, so that he and his wife can move in, once the purchase has been completed.

I must tell you that I am so pleased by the way the siblings are working together, accommodating one another’s needs and wishes regarding property to be discarded or divided. Great troupers, one and all.

After having given away my Great Books of the Western World, purchased in the late 70s, to the family of a son of one of my brothers, I have ended up with my parents’ well-worn set, purchased in 1960 or earlier, I think, since the first volume of the yearbook, Great Ideas Today, was published in 1961. My parents continued to buy the yearbooks into the mid- to late 1970s, which is when I bought my own set, and also bought the yearbooks as long as they were published. I believe the series ended in 1999 or 2000. And so I now have the complete and total set (although one volume of Shakespeare was almost totally worn out over the years) of Great Books, Great Ideas Today, and the 10 accompanying study guides, which my parents bought, but I borrowed singly as requested, once they were no longer in regular use. I am glad. I had begun to regret having given up the set, once it was housed elsewhere. Now, I have the books in which I originally had made notes while reading. So, just as well!

The snow has fallen, but is melting off somewhat. My puppies are beginning to stir, and so I must close this. I hope that your week is filled with satisfying activities and welcome surprises!


This week’s WeekendCoffeeShare Linkup and Post from our host can be found here: NerdInTheBrain’s blog. Enjoy!

P.S. Earlier this (Sunday) evening, my brother who lives in our home town called to let me know that our father, Roy, had just died, and he asked me to call siblings to let them know. The brother who is the executor is, of course, the one who has not been reachable. Talked or IM’ed with everyone else. Three and a half months, approximately, since Mom’s death. Dad had said only, when we were there on Thursday, that he was tired. But he’d been detached since Mom died.


Weekend Coffee Share: Time Out

If we were having coffee together, this Noon, I wouldn’t be very talkative.  There’s still orange juice to offer you, tea-bag tea, or coffee brewed from cold concentrate. I have persuaded the puppies that this is their nap time, hopefully pushing off their Noon meal an hour or so.

I still am adjusting to Mother’s being dead, and so it seems odd to be making plans for her memorial gathering, which is a few weeks away. We will be celebrating Mother’s life on one day near the beginning of December, and the next morning, having a party for Father, who turns 100 on the twelfth. The East and West Coast contingents have now checked in, and it sounds as though more siblings will make it to the gatherings than Tim and I had thought.

If you were here, I would share with you some of the major events of the week. Tim, the sibling next in age to me, drove up from the Twin Cities on Wednesday to visit with my father. That evening, he met us at our usual restaurant for an early dinner. He’d visited the funeral home in our home town and also visited with our father. He and I and Al had a wonderful time visiting about the past, and about Mother and Father’s strong influence on our lives, as well as ongoing concerns and responsibilities.

Tim and I divvied up chores and now I must figure out who to ask for photographs that include my mother. Both Mother and Father have opted not to have religious services in conjunction with or in addition to their burial services or interments. It most likely has (in Mother’s case, definitely has) to do with the decision of “their” church in the home town recently leaving the ELCA over the issue of gay marriage/gay clergy.

I would want to share with you the pride we feel when Tim and I think about our parents and the influence they had on our early years. Tim wrote a nice tribute on his Facebook page, with the security set to Public.

Before Thursday ended, Tim and I confirmed our choices of hymn (if we can find an accompanist among a family prone to choose instruments other than the piano), scripture and poem for the memorial program. I’d like to share those with you, since few of you will be at the interment or memorial gathering.

The hymn, of course, for my mother, who spent her Navy years on Maui, working with the naval bases there, is “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” (The Navy Hymn). The scripture is Romans 8:38-39 (NIV), and I’m copying the poem below, because it is one of mine, which I wrote for my parents in either 1986 or 1987, as a Christmas present.

“Born of Love”

You taught me how to stand apart,
to understand and be myself.
You gave me the courage to walk alone
when none would join me.
You showed me how to look through words
into the worlds that others live in.

You taught me how to listen
with my heart and dare to make
no judgments
but those born of love.

Copyright © 25 Dec. 1987, by Elizabeth (Wicker) Bennefeld.

I would invite you to visit our host, Diana, at Part Time Monster Blog and look on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere for the weekendcoffeeshare tag.

It was nice to have this chance to take time out to visit. Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes for your week!

P.S. The featured image for this post is of my mother Rhoda, me, and my dad Roy.

1947: Rhoda, Elizabeth and Roy

Memories of Mother | In the Company of Women

My mother, Rhoda Elleen Berry Wicker, died in the early evening, two days ago. It was two months after she went from home to emergency department by ambulance, after a fall, and then from hospital to nursing home, under the care of Hospice. I had the medical power of attorney, and Mother was not happy when my sister-in-law called me for the EMTs, to give them permission to transport her 25 miles to the nearest ER/hospital here in Fargo, where Al and I live. Not too much later, she no longer recognized me, but thought that I was her sister Alberta.

When she died, it had been some time since I had visited her room and found her awake, although I know she had interacted with staff throughout the past week. There was no marked decline noted by staff; she slipped away, just quit breathing. And nobody would have noticed right away, had there not been staff caring for the other resident of that room.

I have written poems about and inspired by both of my parents, over the years, and may blog them and thoughts that emerge as I do so, as I remember. In the meanwhile, I have included below an article, “In the Company of Women”. The publication history is at the bottom of this blog entry.

Rhoda Elleen Berry, holding her 2005 Christmas present from me and Al
Fantastical Nightbird by Liz Danforth – Gift to Mother
“In the Company of Women”
by Elizabeth Wicker Bennefeld

Published in 1999, and previously*

I was not often in the company of women during my early years. Growing up in a small town, I found only a few who shared my passion for war novels, the inner workings of prop jets, archaeological expeditions at the farthest corners of the world, and books of all sorts. It never occurred to me to fit the narrow mold my home community had laid out for women of that era. I had no interest in bearing and raising children, teaching home economics, or becoming a secretary or a nurse–the acceptable options.

While at college, I plunged into one subject after another—chemistry and math, psychology, German, economics and computer programming—finally ending up with a degree in English and Philosophy. Then, determined to spend my life learning everything there was to know about everything, I secured a position in computer operations and settled down to read whatever I wanted, and to write my poems and short stories to please myself. I had not realized how much the women of my day were oppressed by boundaries and barriers. I was absorbed in my own thoughts, with goals that made such things irrelevant. The few friends I had were men. For the most part, I was an outsider and content to be so.

In my later years, as the pace of life slows, I find myself more in the company of women—women who are no longer confined by earlier expectations or demands that life begin and end with parenthood and family. Women are making up for lost time with a vengeance. In their fifties and sixties, they are finishing master’s and doctoral programs and setting out on new careers. These are women who are taking control of their lives in ways that were unthinkable forty years ago. It is now the women in my life who are breaking new ground, trying new things, pursuing a lifetime of interests with no thoughts of barriers or limits.

In 1996, my mother, who had a degree in business administration, then abandoned a career, following discharge from the Navy, to bear nine children and raise the seven who lived, inquired about computers. Rhoda Elleen had never run one, and had only looked at mine from a distance. So, my husband and I built a computer for my 77-year-old mother out of pieces and spare parts gathered from various family members. In the meantime, Rhoda had decided to call the telephone company to have a dedicated computer line installed.

After a couple one-hour training sessions and a few frantic phone calls, Rhoda was out surfing the web and corresponding with people from all over the world, particularly about quilting, which is her passion. She paid her America Online subscription two years in advance.

She encouraged her children to get their own computers and helped them learn more about how to use them. During the next three years, my mother added a fancy color printer, a scanner, and a sound card to her computer, as well as doubling the disk space and memory.  She got out into the usenet  and was a regular participant in the newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.quilting. When I signed up to be a beta tester for WorldNet’s web pages feature, Rhoda announced, “I need something new to learn. Is HTML something I could learn to do?” I do believe she actually bought an HTML how-to book!

It seems that this woman whose company I enjoy with increasing frequency wants to spend some of her time, now that she is older, putting together a web site on quilting and teaching the younger people how to quilt, because, while she still loves quilting, learning HTML programming and putting up a web site on the same would be less strenuous. She is also transferring the old family photos to digital format, while one of my sisters edits the book that Rhoda wrote about our ancestors from their arrival in America to 1900.

I am reminded that my mother’s mother, Florence Elizabeth, died at age 84, still employed as an undercover store detective at Younkers Department Store in Des Moines, Iowa, and really enjoying it. On one of my web pages, I have a photo of Florence taking part in a ballroom dancing competition, an activity she picked up in later life.

These women represent my heritage. I’m in very good company.

* * *

In 2000 Mother received a Worldnet Recognition Award, and in 2010, when Worldnet discontinued its webhosting service, Mother asked me to move her site to WordPress: Rhoda’s Web Site

*This piece was originally written for and published as part of a WOW (Women of Worldnet) project; it was republished in 1999 in the Inspirations section of the ezine, Loretta Kemsley, Editor. I was on the staff for a number of years.