In retirement, I have purchased way more sewing machines than I need. Too many need repairs – by my hubby. He trolls the Internet for hours looking for ways to solve mechanical problems. We may have white hair and hands with brown spots, but we still enjoy the challenge of fixing one more sewing machine, toy or appliance.
A couple years ago, I stood back and studied a sewing machine hubby had fixed. “It works, but it does not look very pretty with that yellowed plastic casing.”
He agreed. We did not have a solution until I stumbled across the Facebook page and video of one couple who restores older machines to sell. They proudly presented an older machine, “It looks great, and we guarantee it will work. It used to have deeply yellowed casing, but we have a way to revive the yellow.” They hinted at a secret restoration process that they use on the machines they sell.
“I wonder if I can find that technique,” I said typing in “clean yellowed plastic”.
No problem. “Look at all these videos on how to restore yellowed plastic,” I said, turning the computer screen to hubby. He knows the benefits of Youtube videos. He finds all sorts of solutions for repairing, building or fixing many household items and vehicles.
The secret ingredient was hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The stuff washes out blood stains and erases age stains on plastic and more.
We carefully followed the guidelines for using hydrogen peroxide to fade the yellowed machine. The process involves a closed, sealed plastic tent that doesn’t touch the machine as it rests on a platform for a steambath of hydrogen peroxide on a sunny day. The ultraviolet rays of the sun enhance the process.
Having discovered the magic of H2O2, I ventured to utilize the process on fabric. First I tried it on a Gunne Sax dress from the 1960s. The pale blue dress with ruffled bottom tier had hung in a closet for a long time after being worn once or twice. The edge that had once touched the ground was stained brown.
Washing did not remove the brown spots.
Magical H2O2 did.
I placed the dress on a hanger and hooked it up on a tree. In a couple hours, I could see fading, but with rainy weather expected, I transferred it to the shower where I sprayed it two or three times a day with hydrogen peroxide until the hem looked as blue as the rest of the dress. Better than bleach!
“I wonder how that will work on the cross stitch pieces from yard sales?” I mused. Hubby just nodded, “You can always try.”
I did. I washed the cigarette and dust stained pieces in Dawn dish soap, let it dry and then sprayed it with hydrogen peroxide. With a couple of treatments the pristine white aida cloth returned!
I just had to show it off to somebody. So I sent a picture of before and after to my son. “I think this would make a good illustration of being cleansed from sin,” I said. The first picture showed a group of men out in the woods hunting. They apparently walked through a brown smog. The after treatment picture revealed a lot more details of a clear crisp day in the woods in the original cross stitch. The hydrogen peroxide had cleansed it completely.
“Astounding,” I said.
I have since used it on badly stained, linen tablecloths and brown spotted fabric. So, even though we are old enough to have white hair, we can, and have, learned a few new tricks.

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Left or Right

Growing up is so hard to do. Yet, somehow we figure it all out: crawling, walking, talking, everything – including the difference between left and right.
As pre-schoolers, my big brother, younger sister and I studied the flexibility of right and left and the inflexibility of north and south.
Brother stood in the center of the room looking out the window. He held out his right hand and told our mother, “This is my right and that is left. North is out that window.”
He turned around in wonder, “Now this side of the room has my right hand and that side has my left. North is still out that window.”
Knowing left from right helps when the GPS directions say, “Turn left,” and we have no time to look at which direction the arrow points.
We must know our left and right in the DVD instructed exercise class. Moving fast enough can be challenging. After several years of listening to the same DVD, I often anticipate the next move. However new people struggle to keep up, especially when the lady says, “Two steps right, two left, one right, now two left and one right.”
More than one has simply stopped in frustration.
“Just just keep moving,” we urge them. “The point is to get exercise. It doesn’t matter if you get it right. Eventually you will sort it out.”
I know it took me at least ùthree years.
In a recent exercise class as we did the side step shuffle, I commented to my neighbor. “In marching band, I could not keep in step with the band. Band directors and marching judges frown on that.”
My exercise neighbor looked at her left hand and said, “I guess I was dyslexic. I could not remember left and right, so my mother put a ring on my left hand saying, ‘now you will always know that is left.’ I still would wear a ring, if my knuckles weren’t so swollen,” she sighed. I nodded. I assumed that by her retirement years, she had sorted out her left and right, I nodded sympathetically.
“When I started doing the DVD class, we had a designated leader. I was there to build up strength and agility after an accident. I needed to keep moving, it’s easier to get the exercise in with other people around.”
“After several months the class leader commented, ‘it’s nice when everyone does it together.’” I don’t know if she was glad that day because I got it right, or if she was a bit peeved that I still did not get it right.
That reminded me of our preschooler who did not put his shoes on the correct feet.
Usually we noticed when he did not have them on the right feet and had him correct it before we left the house, but life happens.
We took the family to a national park. After a long walk we stopped at a public fountain to rest and get a drink the water.
An older hiker waited and watched as our four-year-old stood on tip-toes to drink. The man chuckled and commented to his companion, “that kid has his shoes on the wrong feet.”
We all looked. Yep, he had done it again.
Sonny heard the man laugh at him. He looked. He sat down, took off his sneakers and put them on correctly. He never made that mistake again.
Good for him. I still get out of sync with the right and left foot shuffle in exercise class, but I never put my shoes on the wrong feet.

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Jacob Weibe climbs the mountain

Through four decades of beginning new churches in central Mexico, Jacob Weibe has put up several “roof only” churches. Walls cost too much for most congregations. This summer the Huichol people, one of the poorest native groups, made and laid clay blocks for their first church on the side of a steep mountain. Jacob, 71, and others traveled there to assess how to finish the church with a metal roof.
After the trip, Jacob said, “I can not do what I used to do.” His wife Linda gave the following report of his trip of “steady plodding” – of placing one foot in front of the other to just keep moving.
It all began near midnight when two “old” men, Jacob and a Mennonite brother in Christ, boarded a bus to make the eight-hour trip to Tepic where others joined them. Together they endured an excruciating five-hour bump-your-head-every-couple-of-seconds
truck ride over uneven terrain. That ended with a hasty river crossing into a cartel-controlled territory.
The final leg of the journey was the clincher. They had to climb the mountain to the Huichol community. After two hours of walking, climbing, huffing and puffing up a steep ascent, the guides provided donkeys.
Donkeys are the ideal transport for managing the switchback, hairpin curves on those mountain trails. The problem for the rider occurs when the animal is too large to make the turn and needs to hop onto a small boulder with nothing but a drop-off on the other side of the small boulder. The donkey swivels and proceeds up the steep incline. Praise the Lord for sure-footed beasts of labor! They made it to the top.
A crowd of welcoming Huichol people met them and proudly showed off the church they had built with homemade bricks. The visiting welders had come to help plan the roof structure. Measurements were taken, materials discussed, and plans laid out for a future work crew.
Work done, the real party began. The spiritually hungry Huichols sat down and listened to four lengthy sermons about the God they would worship in the new church.
Finally, as dusk set in, the visitors headed down the mountain but without donkeys. Exhaustion set in as they crept along the winding path down. Jacob questioned whether his strength to make it down the mountain. The guide swept rocks off the trail for him
Every time they rested, Jacob protested the man’s extra work, “I’m fine. I can do it.” When the group reached the river, a cartel watchmen stopped them. Jacob was sweating profusely. He knew they saw two white guys in a crowd of Mexicans and native Indians. He happened to be carrying the funds for all the roofing material. Praise the Lord for the camouflage of darkness – or whatever hid them, the cartel guard let them pass.
The pedestrian caravan reached their overnight stop at 11:30 p.m. The lady of the house got out of bed and fried fish for her guests. Tents went up. Sleeping bags were pulled out. Quickly the weary travelers slept, only to be awakened at 4:30 a.m. to begin the grueling truck ride back to Tepic. The driver didn’t understand the fine points of brake usage on the steep descent.
When they saw the lights of Tepic, the travelers sighed in relief. Most were home. The two “older” men snagged a bus to Durango. Eleven hours later, they arrived home exhausted and yet so encouraged that they already are planning the itinerary for their return trip.
Linda closed asking for prayer for the Huichol men to find a way to get the steel and the aluminum roofing sheets up that steep trail. Some insist that if necessary they will carry the metal roofing up the mountain. These believers will not let the matter of a little five hour climb deter them from joining together under one roof to worship.

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Us against Them

“Why must it always be us against them, neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Why must it always be us against them?” those lines from a song written years ago by the late Robert Hancock of El Dorado echo through my brain lately.
Perhaps, it began as I read about Saul in the Bible going from city to city, searching for believers in The Way. He did not like Them. With the permission of Jewish leaders he arrested Them. He stood by and watched one, Stephen, stoned to death for speaking his belief to a crowd. Us against Them, and according to Saul, “We won!”
Of course, if you know the Bible, you also know that God grabbed Saul’s attention, and Saul became Paul – the top man and writer for The Way. Saul/Paul became part of Them and was one of the first that the Roman government arrested in their Us against Them campaign. Around 300 A.D. the Roman emperor declared he preferred Them and their way over his way. He made all of his nation part of Them.
If only that had sufficed, It dd not. The new Roman way established their own US for the right way of worship. Centuries of religious wars of Us against Them followed.
Some left the country of their birth in order to worship, live and believe their way. In American history the immigrants are known as the Pilgrims and Puritans (P&P). In England and Europe, the P & P represented Them. In the new world, P&P became Us. Any newcomers who did not conform emerged became the new Them. Punishments for wearing the wrong clothes, saying prayers at the wrong time or even talking at the wrong time lead to the wilderness exile of Them.
In recent years, the lines have been drawn almost as fiercely between political parties. If you do not think, do or speak as We do, you are part of Them and scorned. Part of the Us vs. Them in the political parties reminds me of the Dr.. Seuss book “The Sneetches”
The short story opens, “Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars. Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.”
It mattered. If you did not have a star, you could not join in the fun at the exclusive spots set aside for just the Sneetches with stars. One day Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives. He sees the plight of the non-starred Sneetches. He provides access to a machine to put stars on Them. Suddenly no one can tell the Us from the Them.
Sort of like looking back through the history of our two major parties and seeing the top leaders flip from one side to the other to conform to the acceptable viewpoints of the moment. Today your idea excludes you from the favorite beaches. Tomorrow, put on a star and you are on top again.
Getting the star did not work. Shocked at the idea of including the former starless Sneetches, those with stars have their stars removed. Stars became passe’. Frustrated, the newly starred Sneetches enter the star remover. All too soon, according to Dr. Seuss the Sneetches race back and forth to McBean’s two machines putting on and taking off stars until they have spent all their money. McBean chuckles, counts his riches, folds up his machines and drives away declaring, “They will never learn.”
McBean was wrong. That day the Sneetches decided that Sneetches are Sneetches. And any kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches with or without stars became friends.
Too bad the Sneetches in America have not learned this.. It is wearisome to hear another version of Us against Them when they all need to determine to work together on issues. Those issues need to be addressed before the McBeans of this world drive away with overflowing bank accounts saying, “they’ll never learn.”

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defining break

“I have never seen so many dishes broken,” hubby commented.
“It’s inevitable. We only use glass plates and cups,” I replied. Also, it depends on how you define ‘breaking.” English has more than 40 ways to use breaking or break. For example, breaking even, breaking a relationship, breaking the law, breaking a fast and breaking news.
The repetition of “breaking news” diminishes its import. I heard that phrase used every day last week regarding the same news. Surely even the talking heads wearied of announcing, “Breaking news, former president Donald Trump and others will turn themselves in on Thursday.” On Thursday the ‘breaking news’ informed us that former president Donald Trump was turning himself in following his indictment. On Friday the breaking news said it had happened.
I only break a dish once. The talking heads announced the same breaking news ad nauseum. With all the days preceding the event and then the day of the event, it hardly qualified as “an unheard of event happening right now.” That is why I prefer to read the news rather than listen to it. By the time the news goes to press, the reporter has gatherd a myriad of details that most daily broadcasts skip.
But, hey, I’ll give the talking heads a break. They only have a few seconds to get listener’s attention as they break bread each morning, or, as it’s more commonly said, “as you eat breakfast.”
Did you know that the word ‘breakfast’ comes from ‘breaking’ your overnight fast? Folks awake, stretch and amble to the kitchen looking for food to break their fast. Over time, the phrase shortened to ‘breakfast’. Any food eaten after a long time of not eating is breaking a fast or more simply stated as ‘breakfast.’ To some folks breakfast is the first meal of the day eaten shortly after arising.
Technically it doesn’t matter what time you wake up, or when you first eat each day, that first meal is breakfast.
Not everyone agrees with me, especially not the woman considering joining the popular ‘Intermittent Fasting’ (IF) method for weight. Basically, IF incorporates the fact that most folks do not eat during the seven to ten hours of every 24 that they sleep each day. With IF the individual chooses to not eat anything after say 6 or 8 o’clock at night and then pushes back breakfast an hour or more. Or as one person simplified it, “skip breakfast.”
“Skip breakfast! That is a big fat no,’ responded the seeker on the IF facebook page.
I love the irony of the phrase “a big FAT NO.” That woman likes her granola, yogurt, bacon, eggs and pancakes too much to eliminate that meal.
I responded, “breakfast is simply the first meal of the day. It is breaking your overnight fast. Some break at 7, some at 10 or 12.”
She responded, “I am aware of that. It specifically says ‘skip breakfast’ which means no matter what time of day, skip that first meal. Which is horrible for your system.”
I resisted answering. “Literally, there is no way you can skip your first meal of the day.” Maybe I should have said, “So do not join the hobbits in their first breakfast and join them a few hours later for the hobbit’s second breakfast.”
I did not, however, said anymore. My sixth grade teacher said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” I decided it was not my duty to break this person into a new concept.
Now, unfortunately, I just broke another glass (really!) so I must l break off this discussion leaving you, dear reader to break from the newspaper and break out a dictionary to find other definitions.

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Time to grow up

“It’s all part of a parent’s growing up” my mom said the first year none of her five children could make it home for Christmas. Many parents will grow up this month as their children leave for college, a new job or military training.
I was reminded of this when I heard of a family’s distress prior to their child flying away for a year. They worried, “It’s such a big airport for the long layover. Should I fly that far to make sure the right gate is found for the connecting flight?”
I listened and wondered, “Why is this a problem? They graduated from high school.”
Sounds harsh? But then, my parents’ expected and trained their five children to manage ordinary events. When we moved to Utah our ages ranged from junior high to senior high. We arrived with the previous school’s first set of report cards.
We lived in Beryl, Utah, but the school bus took us an hour away to the large high school in Cedar City. That first day, report cards in hand, three high schoolers and two junior high students entered the administration offices to enroll. No parents hovered in the background answering questions or dictated which classes we took.
After filling in any mandatory course work, we chose electives and left for class. We reported back to our parents that night at supper. We faced the same thing the first semester of college. At 18 we boarded a bus, climbed in a car or took a plane to college. We stood in long lines with a list of classes that our advisors suggested we needed for our major. No parents accompanied us or visited our far flung campuses.
About six to eight weeks into the first semester, I returned to my advisor feeling out of sorts. He said, “Yep, about this time, most students begin to get homesick.”
I felt like he said, “yes, you feel homesick, but you will be okay.”
I could not call home every day. Not in that era of expensive long distance phone calls metered by the minute. We could write letters and wait days for a response.
For my mom, her growing up came when she looked around in the evening and realized I was not slouched across a chair reading a book. She wrote her mother, “I did not realize how much I would miss her until she was no longer there reading every night.”
We survived. Mom, me, and in their turn, each of my siblings.
Mom and Dad began preparing us for this departure early in life by sending us off to camp for a week. “Go. Have a good time, we will pick you up in six days.” No mail, no phone call.
When my first grandchild went to camp, misery and homesickness hit hard frequently those first four years. The camp leaders allowed him to call home.
His mom listened and murmured kind responses. She would not go get him, no matter how miserable he felt those four nights at camp. He learned to stay and have fun anyway.
The parental attitude makes a difference. One college freshman that I knew casually drove three hours home every weekend their first semester. Each visit home lasted longer and longer. Each time mom and child cried hard and long when the time came to leave. They did not enroll for their second semester.
Mom, Dad: Give the gift of independence. Swallow your tears and fears and put on an encouraging smile until after they leave. I know it’s hard. When the kids have gone, the empty nest begins to echo. Take a deep breath. If you did your job bringing them up to be independent adults, they will be okay, and so will you.

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Table manners

My parents insisted we try new foods and eat whatever foods graced the table at home or away as company. The absolute test came a few months after we moved to Utah and a neighbor invited us to supper. That evening we girls freshened up. My brothers slicked back their hair. Then we all put on our best clothes.
It’s a good thing we also put on our best manners because our hostess had no clue that we did not drink tea in any form: not sweet, unsweetened, hot or cold. As former dairy farmers we always drank milk at every meal.
Then we moved to Utah, where farmers raised sugar beets and cattle for the butcher. Our hostess welcomed us with a smile and pointed us to the table with its linen cloth, fine china, silver and tall glasses of iced tea. We had never tasted iced tea.
No one said, “I don’t like tea.” We all washed down our food with tea. Before we could think to ask for water, our hostess grabbed the pitcher of iced tea and topped off our glasses.
We politely said, ‘Thank you,” and drank more tea. I can still feel my silent sigh of resignation when that pitcher headed toward my glass. It was a new to me beverage, with a flavor that did not particularly appeal to me at the time. I have since learned to drink tea.
Our introduction to new foods did not stop with tea. Our move west continued the next year to Arizona where the school cafeterias set one day a week aside to serve Mexican food. This happened in the 1960s, long before the proliferation of Mexican restaurants and Taco Tuesday. Most southwestern families liked spicy enchiladas and tacos. The food at our teen church party included a large casserole dish filled with enchiladas. I love the stuff now, but that first year my tongue was not happy. I usually chose to skip lunch or bring something else on Mexican food days.
Eating new foods in new environments challenges manners and taste buds, but to be polite we should try. I watched a visiting missionary take the smallest “No thank you” serving of one dish at my house. I had actually prepared a variety of foods so she could choose whatever she wanted. She chose to follow the rules for polite eating and tried a bit of everything.
With our marriage my husband and I merged food cultures. He grew up with Amish-Mennonite Garden fresh vegetables sweetened with sugar as the side to meat, potatoes and gravy. His father really liked his gravy. He did not like new foods or spicy foods. So, when my husband, as a teenager, brought home that new teen food ‘pizza’, his father took a bite and shook his head. He fixed it with a big dollop of gravy. My husband still laughs when he recalls, “Dad put gravy on his ice cream.”
I did not know all that when we asked his parents to eat supper with us the first time. I should have asked. Instead, I pulled out one of my new recipe books and decided to try curried beef over rice. It sounded interesting, cross-cultural and fun.
Being the polite guest that he was, Mr. Hersberger sat at my table and ate curried beef without one word of complaint. He did not ask for seconds or gravy. He and Mrs. Hershberger chatted pleasantly and left.
My husband closed the door behind them and said, “I can’t believe my dad ate that food without a word. He does not like spicy food.”
I learned more recipes for vegetables. My husband learned to eat my version of Mexican food. My tortillas never looked anything like those from the store, but we ate enchilada casserole anyway as well as the homemade pizza. But I have never, not once to this day, served cold unsweetened tea at my table.

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difficult decision for dementia

Three wives all reached the same decision to put their husbands in a nursing home for dementia, though their motivations were varied. Firm medical advice, stress and justified fear all forced them to make the most difficult decisions of their marriages. They had each anticipated retirement years with their husbands and certainly expected physical changes with increasing years. However, none planned the interruption of their Golden Years by dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
The former nurse wearied of her husband’s repetition of the same questions every day. She wrote all the answers down and left the paper on a table. “The answer is right there.” she said tapping the table to remind him. He read, was satisfied and asked again too soon thereafter.
When she visited friends, she left him prepared meals. He ate a meal; forgot he had eaten it and ate another. Having sitters stay when she left barely helped. Her sister visited, assessed the situation and insisted, “He needs to be in residential care. We will find one this week.”
Sister’s insistence turned the page for this wife. Her marriage vows said “for better or worse.” She accepted the worst and drove to the home daily to sit at his table to make sure he ate.
For the former engineer, the first signs of his mental decline slowly invaded their Golden Years. He did less, and she did more as his caretaker. She did not run. She meant her vows of “‘til death do us part.” However, as his restlessness, forgetfulness and lack of awareness increased, his wife visited the doctor more frequently with her own list of inexplicable symptoms. As the doctor sorted through her test results, she read “In about 60% of the cases, caretakers die before their chronically ill loved one.”
For sure, the wear of supervising and protecting one man 24 hours a day, seven days a week left her no time to rest and recuperate. She found a nursing home and began her own daily routine of visiting daily at mealtime to feed her soulmate. That left her afternoons and evenings to rest and complete routine tasks without multiple interruptions.
Up on a hill overlooking fields and trees, the local school’s maintenance man built a wonderful ranch home for his wife, a seamstress. From her quiet spot in the hills, she enjoyed looking over the deep valley as she sewed. To visitors she proudly displayed the wooden bowls he made and his collection of guns.
The signs of his mental decline included him asking, “How do I get there?” when he needed to visit his favorite shop.
She knew he loved the independence his car gave him, so she gathered and hid every key to every vehicle on the property. He could sit in the car; he could not drive. The day he grabbed a rifle and handful of bullets when it was not hunting season, she removed all the bullets from the house. She left her knives in the kitchen until the day his confused mind went into a rage, and he grabbed a big knife to attack her.
“You see this notch on the bottom of this bowl?” she asked visitors. “That’s the only thing that saved me.
“That was the day he went into a special unit for violent residents at the nursing home,” she said shaking her head. Her practical soul could not comprehend the changes their last few years together had seen. Visits to the unit felt strange as he forgot her and cheerfully sat with female residents. She did not like the changes, but the fear of another attack continually reminded her to stay firm in her resolve.
As hundreds of others have done, these three women made the best, if most difficult, decision for their loved one’s health. Each remained faithful and visited often. However, for the sake of their own sanity, health and safety, they accepted the necessity of the decisions they made for their loved one.

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Reunion after 64 years

At every reunion of the Jefferson class of 1959, folks puzzled over Wayne Hostetler. “We haven’t seen anything of him since graduation. I heard he went to Colorado.” Only speculations kept his memory alive among the remaining nine members of the original 29.
Not only had the 29 alumni spent 12 school years together, but most also attended a two week summer Vacation Bible School together in their summer vacations. The community pastors joined forces, borrowed the Jefferson public school and provided two weeks of Bible lessons every summer to students who attended school in the building.
After graduation, women alumni met for lunch every month or so. Hubby kept tabs on the remaining members through Lois Scott. Many trips back home to Indiana included touching base with Lois and her husband Bill. Between reunions and chance meetings, that sufficed until this summer when Bill Swihart called. “I was at a concert in Goshen (Indiana). During intermission, the MC said, ‘now everyone stand up, turn around and greet the folks around you.’”
Swihart turned around. The man behind him said, “Hi, Bill.”
Bill looked at the stranger and asked, “And who are you?”
“I’m Wayne Hostetler. We graduated together.”
Bill’s mouth dropped. “I have got to get your number to give to Marion,” Swihart said. They had much to say after missing 64 years of their lives.’
Swihart called Hubby, told him about their chance meeting and passed along Hostetler’s number.
Wasting no time, Hubby immediately called Wayne. They talked for an hour and a half. Wayne had gone first to California to do his Mennonite Service. (As conscientious objectors to war, during the era of the draft, Mennonite men served in the workers’ program providing health care, education, agriculture and social services.) While in California, Hostetler took a few college classes, decided to stay after his service time ended and earned a degree in education.
“I was a phys-ed and history teacher in elementary school,” he told Hubby. Later, he moved to Colorado and opened a restaurant. After retirement he and his wife began living six months in Florida and six months in Indiana near his sister.
The phone conversation did not begin to cover sixty years. Hubby wanted to see him and their classmate Jim Larimer who was confined to home for health reasons. His family said he did not have the strength to visit in person. So Hubby talked with him on the phone.
Hubby wanted to see everyone left from the old gang. “When can we get up to Indiana again?” he asked, looking at the calendar. “We already have a dozen boxes of Bibles and books to take to Love Packages in Illinois,” he said.
Within days Lois called, “Jim Larimar died. I expect the funeral will be toward the end of the week.”
Mentally, hubby began packing his bags to go to the funeral home and to meet classmates, including Wayne Hostetttler.
With his mind focused on seeing former classmates and with everyone now in their 80s, the clock ticks loudly for the class of 1959. A couple others from that class passed this last year. The women who usually organized the reunion 15 years ago said, “We just cannot do this anymore. It is just too much work.” One classmate did not recognize Hubby when he visited this spring, and another probably won’t recognize him in a couple years.
Knowing it may be their last reunion, he visited with Larimer’s widow. The next day he had a two hour breakfast with the seven class members who could gather for breakfast and catch up with each other including the long-elusive Hostetler.

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Sharing the sciatic experience

Hubby and I like to share experiences: traveling, ethnic meals, audiobooks, and hobbies.
We didn’t exactly share sciatic nerve pain (SNP), we just both have had episodes.
I began with nagging pain after years of typing at work. I tried stretching and shaking off that chronic, annoying leg pain. At a fast food joint, a traveling chiropractor observed my dance and said, “I don’t practice here, but you have a compressed vertebrae and need to see a chiropractor.”
Tried it. Was not impressed.
I discovered the walking app on my phone. I decided to walk 10,000 steps every day for a month. Sometimes I walked circles through my house at 11 p.m. to reach the goal. Sometimes I walked circles around the empty receiving area at work. The pain disappeared.
My walking breaks caught the attention of a supervisor who approached me with a questioning look.
I simply said, “My back aches. My leg hurts. Walking helps.”
Hubby had no clue about SNP until it hit. He found relief at the chiropractor. At its worst, he went to the medical clinic. He received a prescription for the pain. He took one dose, said it did not work and insisted he go to the Emergency Room.
I drove him there. He leaned heavily on a cane walking in and painfully crawled onto the exam table. They asked, “Have you tried any pain medication?”
“Yes, but nothing touches my pain,” he grimaced. The doctor left and returned with a hypodermic. Hubby moaned. He hates shots. The doctor plunged it into him anyway as he sat there bending over in pain. “Nothing touches my … oh!” I saw every muscle in his body immediately relax.
He practically skipped out. I carried the cane to our van.
SNP didn’t bother me again until three or four years ago after hip surgery. It hit fiercely with excruciating pain down the leg below the new hip. X-rays blamed it on injured vertebrae not the surgery.
I tried to tough it out by walking and resting. Nothing worked. I cried “uncle” the day I took baby steps down the hall to the kitchen clinging to the wall. I collapsed at the counter ready to eat. I just needed a fork from the drawer four steps away. I looked at my food. I looked at the drawer. I decided I would rather eat with my fingers than walk four steps. The doctor prescribed 30 days of steroids.
They worked!
And I worked. I was so ramped up in the middle of the night I sewed. I cleaned. I sorted. I cooked. I did not sleep. I ate and ruined the perfect diet I had followed for two years.
So we shared the common experience of excruciating SNP.
He found herbal drops that he took for years and proclaimed they were a cure.
A couple months ago, I entered another SNP episode. I walked, I took over the counter painkillers. I added his herbal drops to my regimen. The only thing that eased the pain was sitting on the old fashioned hard bench that came with my grandmother’s sewing machine. Walking helped a lot. Sewing for at least 15 minutes erased the pain every time. The down side came when I stood up and my stiff arthritic joints protested the first few steps. I received a couple prescriptions to “take as needed” that also helped.
I mentioned “the cure” to other seamstresses. They shook their heads. Similar benches hurt their backs. Well, whatever suits.
The right chair, posture and time and I am good to go anywhere except to a cushy lounge chair or welcoming bed. Laying down requires three or four pillows to prop my back and legs. After two hours of sleep I am awake, ready to walk circles and sew in the middle of the night.
It’s not all bad. I have completed several sewing projects, registered 7,000 to 10,000 steps every day and again shared a common experience with my husband.

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