Life Through My Windows · Personal · Tea Time · Writing

Shuffling life

I have been sorting through my digital and paper files, this spring, as part of our plan to evaluate, sort, and organize/toss what has been accumulating since my health hit a bad spot and I had to put aside my freelance writing, editing, and photo art activities.

I have started typing the poems from the mid-fifties through the end of the nineties that I want to keep. Basically, so that they will be available for me to read and possibly also for friends and family to choose from as keepsakes.  In case I become incapacitated or die before I can go back to make up a chapbook or two of my favorites to give to extended family in remembrance.  Many of the poems that I love the most are not those that have been published or reprinted. I want to read and remember and put safely aside the poems that have so much meaning to me. Those that I want to keep close to hand.

So many people…so much love…so many now gone. I want to remember.

family · Good Morning · Life Through My Windows · Nattering · Personal · Writing

In the Company of Women: An Article

This article 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 Moondance.org, Loretta Kemsley, Editor. I was on the staff for a number of years.

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

Coffee Break · family · Good Morning · Nattering · Personal · Writing

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 Moondance.org, Loretta Kemsley, Editor. I was on the staff for a number of years.

Coffee Break · Good Evening · Nattering

Today

This evening I have gone through several large cups of cold-brewed Toddy coffee. I’ve switched now to watered cranberry juice. We picked up some stuff at the butcher’s shop, yesterday; I cooked beef arm roast in the Crock Pot with two cans of diced tomatoes and pork tenderloin with olive oil in the oven. Lovely sandwiches! I also have a yellow onion and a couple of pounds of beef liver in the freezer.

Blue Wild Flax Flower
Flax Flower

Al has gotten a permit for his hobby building in the back yard, and so the concrete slab is being installed on Thursday/Friday. Tonight I gathered what seeds were ready to drop from the wild flax plants and stored them in an envelope. The thought is that while I will be losing my garden plot in front of the gazebo, Al will be turning up a 4’x10′ plot of land for me further to the south and west of the back yard, and I can plant the flax seeds for spring. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more trouble weeding in the square plot of 8’x8′. At 4 feet across, I should be able to reach to the middle of the garden from either side along the length of it.

I do not know if I will have time in the morning to take anymore photographs from the current wildflower garden before the plot is trampled. Al has conduit and a hollow metal post in the middle of my garden (satellite base from when we were loading weather satellite feed to a computer in our living room, many years ago). The folks who are supplying the concrete are also to remove the post for us. I can remember our spray painting the post a bright orange in the hope that I would not, by accident, walk into it.

We had no outside engagements, today, except for banking and bill paying. I was surprised to find that I still had two-thirds off my spending money left over from last month. I stopped at Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card for ebook purchases through October.

The Scampers posed for pictures, today, and I had lots of opportunities to cuddle and play with them. The next few days, I will have even more, as I will have to keep them inside while the fence is down and the workmen and heavy equipment are going about their tasks. I also will have limited access to my exercise bike until the concrete work is finished.

The Scampers have spotted the resident younger rabbit in the yard numerous times, now. The addition of the extra fence (to keep Scampers out of the construction zone) has cut said rabbit off from the gate under which he usually escapes. Rabbit escapes more often beneath the gazebo, these days, than through the fence into a dog-free yard. Scampers ring the doorbell to get out much more often than need be, between futile rabbit chasing and trapping and eating crickets and grasshoppers. I wonder if we could attach little balloons to their harnesses and train them to catch mosquitoes. Nah! Not!

Resident Rabbit
Resident Rabbit

I am going to bed early, tonight. Best wishes for your night and the return of the sun.

Lizl