"" Writer's Wanderings: September 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

Books For The Road - Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

What piques your interest when choosing a book to read? I can be very lazy in my choices, going back to authors I am familiar with or a genre I enjoy more than others. That doesn't expand my horizons, so to speak. So once in a while I go to the library website and click on the book club choices or the staff choices to see what else might look good. This time what caught my attention was the description of a book by Jennifer Egan titled Manhattan Beach. Actually the word "diving" jumped out at me. My husband and I are scuba divers so I was intrigued by a historical that included divers in a Naval shipyard and even more so when it was a female diver.

Here's the description:
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

The book did not disappoint and the description of her becoming a diver was fascinating. In the acknowledgements, Egan went so far as to don one of the diving dresses that were used back then to see what it felt like.

The story line is captivating and will hold your interest as well. Just be aware that if you have a severe objection to the F-word, there will be a few places you'll find it. After all, we're reading about a Naval shipyard and merchant ships. It is not overused though and is used sparingly with the appropriate characters.

A good book for the road or just to curl up with next to the fireplace now that fall is here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Saving On Food As You Travel

Our next trip will be a cruise so most of our eating will be done on our cruise ship. It drives Bob crazy to think that we've paid for a meal and won't be there to eat it. Unless it's an all day excursion we're on, we'll be back to the ship for lunch and dinner (breakfast is always a given).

When you are traveling by land though and on your own, there are some ways you can save on your meals starting with staying in a hotel or B&B that provides a breakfast. You might even pick up an extra apple or banana to take with you for a snack later to stave off hunger so you can make good choices for lunch.

Small plate on wine excursion
Lunch is one meal that can cut into your budget if you're not careful. Unless you'd rather eat a bigger meal midday and a smaller meal in the evening, you want to find something that will satisfy and yet not empty your wallet. One of the things we have found is that grocery stores are a great source of sandwiches and fruits or snacks for lunch--no matter what country you are in. If not a grocery store, look for a bakery. Many even have a place to eat in and better prices than the restaurants. And then there's the local farmers markets. You might find some vendors there supplying lunch at a good price.

Always check with the hotel or your B&B host for suggestions for dinner. Often they will have some connection to a few places and will offer you a discount. Even though B&Bs may not offer a discount to a restaurant, they are often the best source for finding those out of the way places that are excellent and where the locals eat. You'll be sure to sample the more local dishes that way.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The REAL ID Deal

It won't be long and I will have to renew my driver's license. Ohio has been scrambling to get new licenses to people to comply with the REAL ID Act that goes into effect October 1, 2020. If you do not have a state identification card that is compliant with the new rules, you will need a passport for domestic flights as well as international.

Our state offers two different licenses. One is compliant and one is standard. The compliant license does, as its name suggests, comply with the REAL ID Act and can be used at TSA security check points to fly domestically. The standard license would require you to also have a passport to make it through security. There are a few other acceptable identification cards that will work as well and you can find those listed here at the TSA website.

I'm guessing there is a different charge for the compliant license. There is certainly a few more hoops to jump through when applying for it at Ohio's DMV and I would assume the same in other states. You need to prove legal name, date of birth, presence in the USA, social security number and proof of residency in the state. The first three can be done with a passport or a birth certificate. If you don't have your social security card you can use a W-2 or income tax statements. For residency proof you need your current drivers license if you have one and another document such as a utility bill, property tax bill, etc. (for a complete list of approved documents go to the  Ohio BMV website and click on the compliant license document list or visit the BMV site for your state).

If you are using a document with your maiden name or a name other than what your license will have, you may have to prove your married name or if you were divorced and changed your name, you may be asked to produce some proof of that. Again, that information is listed at the BMV site.

I'm sure there are good reasons for all these changes but sometimes it feels like traveling just gets a little more complicated with each change that is supposed to make us all safer. Here's hoping it all works.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Thailand's Monk Bowls

Usually there is not much on television on Saturday mornings other than cartoons but even those run out quickly and then begin the info-mercials. I hate those! In surfing one Saturday for something to watch while I did my therapy exercises for my knee, I happened onto a program that is very interesting. It's called The Voyager and the young man who is the traveler/journaler, Josh Garcia, has a nice easy going personality that suits my travel tastes.

Although he's young, he's not into reporting on extreme travel and exotic places that are unreachable for many of us. In fact, he travels by cruise ship and then visits some unique places in port. Just last Saturday he visited Bangkok, Thailand. I was fascinated by the things he found there. It was a lot nicer than the Bangkok we saw but then we were there only a few hours in the evening to explore and spend the night before flying home at the end of a cruise.

One of the more fascinating things for me was his visit to where monk bowls were made--the real monk bowls. I had never heard of them before. They are bowls that are made for the Buddhist monks to use to ask for alms and food from those they meet on the street. It is the only way they survive since there is no funding through their temples that provides for them.

There was a time when all the bowls were made by hand but now the majority of them are manufactured in factories in other parts of Asia. One community though still makes them as before. The community is called Ban Baat and is in Bangkok. This is where Garcia went.

The video showed the process which is labor intensive and if you go to The Voyager website you can view it. Or if you'd like to read about it this site has pictures and a little history.

Garcia has piqued my curiosity. Maybe we need to explore Thailand a bit more.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - On This Day

US President was Lyndon B Johnson

Harper Valley PTA was a popular song

Oliver! was most viewed movie

The Case Against Congress by Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson was a bestselling book

Fantastic Voyage was a popular TV program and the police drama Adam 12 debuted

The Cleveland Indians beat the California Angels 2-3 at the Cleveland Stadium with 3,945 in attendance

Woody Hayes would coach a championship OSU football team but the first game wouldn't be until 9/28 (Bob didn't miss a game.)

The Big Mac was on the menu - two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed
bun.Only 49 cents!

And there was a war in Viet Nam

While all of the above may have been important, our life changing event was becoming Mr. and Mrs. Robert Robbins.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - Precious Memories

There are just a few more pictures from our wedding album from September 21, 1968, that are great captures of family and friends that I love. The first is from just after the ceremony as our parents came out and we began to form our reception line in the church hallway. That's Mom in the blue dress kissing me and Bob is extending his hand to my father who looks like he's about to grab him with both hands.

The one that stands out there though is my brother. He was sixteen at the time and I can't explain the look that he seems to be giving Bob. Is it You'd-Better-Take-Care-Of-My-Sister? Or Am-I-Really-Gaining-A-Brother? Strange as it may seem I think I've seen that look more than once through the years but now it's more a Is-He-Kidding? look. After all to know Bob is to know there's a strange sense of humor sometimes.

Reception line all set up, the photographer caught another great picture. On one end of the line my new father-in-law is wiping his eyes and blowing his nose. On the other end is my maid of honor wiping tears. And there in the middle is that famous Bob grin. White hair (and a little less) today but that grin still holds true.

And I end The wedding pictures with the one of the bridal party dancing. There in the background is Bob's twin dancing with my maid of honor. I have no idea what prompted that expression on his face. I've seen that expression a few times over the years. I still can't explain it.

We had only three days for a honeymoon and had chosen Lake Hope in the Hocking Hills in southern Ohio as our destination. Close enough to get home quickly and cheap enough to fit into our budget. We had a little cabin on the park grounds near the lodge. What we didn't count on was that there would be a convention of park rangers there as well. We stood out and learned we were dubbed the honeymooners.

It was a lovely three days in the fall. I mention fall because that's what the acorns were doing--falling. Behind our cabin was a propane tank that was used to heat the cabin in winter. With the window open we could hear an acorn smack against each leaf as it fell and then ping as it hit the propane tank. It was almost rhythmic. We'd hear the sound of the leaves and wait for the ping. I collected one of the acorns and later preserved it in plastic. It's the only souvenir we have.

This acorn is 50 years old and while it never grew into a mighty oak tree, you might say it was the beginning of a strong and sturdy marriage.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - Fun Wedding Memories

There are a few memories from our wedding day that stand out. One is forgetting the cake knife at home. Now my memory is that my brother who had just gotten his driver's license went home to get it but Bob seems to think he drove back home to get it. Maybe they went together.

In addition to making the wedding dress and a brides maid dress and veils and, oh yes, the garter, there were also car decorations to make. Mom had seen or heard about decorating the wedding car with pom poms made of nylon netting. I'm not sure who all was involved in the making of them. I don't recall making a lot so Mom must have done most of them. Maybe she had a friend help out too. I do know that all of those nylon pom poms were saved and used for years as scrubbers for washing dishes.

For some reason the photographer had not gotten a picture of us with Pastor Fish at the church so we arranged to have one taken at the reception. The photographer, as my mother says, had already made several trips to the bar so he might not have been thinking straight by that time. He took us back to the bar area and posed us there against a wall. It wasn't until we looked at the proofs that we realized there was a picture of a bawdy bar maid right behind the Bob's head. I wanted to have it erased from the picture. (Today we would photo shop it.) Bob held his ground. He thought it was funny and insisted it be kept in. My mother would do anything for him. I lost the battle.

While not so funny at the time, the best memory that night came after we left the reception. Here we were escaping from my cousin (or so we thought) and we rushed home so that we could change clothes and make our final getaway. The problem was that the house was locked up tighter than a drum and my parents were not in the habit of leaving a hidden key.

My parents had a small poodle and she was barking her fool head off as Bob ran around the house trying to figure out how we could get in. We knew if we went back to the reception, my cousin would catch on to our leaving. He found my bedroom window was open. The problem was that it was about six or seven feet above the ground.

Somehow Bob managed to hoist himself up, tuxedo and all, into and over the window sill and fight off a poodle who was barking at the intruder until she recognized him and then kept getting in the way as she was so excited to see someone she recognized. Eventually he made it in and went around to open the door for me.

We changed quickly and left leaving Suzy, the poodle, wondering what was going on.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - Dancing With Dad

When my mother hired the DJ for our reception I'm not sure she knew exactly what he was going to do. Thankfully he didn't try anything way out of order and he stuck pretty much to a traditional kind of agenda. When he called for the bridal party to gather on the dance floor, I don't think any of us knew exactly what he was going to do--least of all my father.

My dad was a great outdoors man. He loved to fish and hunt. Some of the favorite stories my mother told about their dating days were about her having to learn how to bait a hook with a worm as my dad threatened to put it down her back if she didn't put it on the hook. She learned to bait a hook and catch a fish but it took her seven years to finally catch my dad. When she did, the story goes that he used her wedding veil to make a minnow net to catch minnows for bait. Now, never once in all that dating time did Mom ever mention his taking her dancing. And in all the time that I lived at home, there was never any dancing that I saw.

All of that leads to one of my favorite memories of our reception. Bob and I did our bridal couple dance and then the DJ told my mom and dad that they needed to break into the dance and partner with us. My dad walked up to me and I put my hands on him in dance position. He looked at me with a crooked smile and said, "What do I do?"

"Just move your feet," I said and he did. It was a special moment. I'd grown up learning to fish and had special memories of ice fishing with him as well as fishing from his boat and the shore. But this was different. He did something for me that was way out of his comfort zone. I look at the picture and  his smile and I can't help but think he had fun doing it for me.

Truly it was a special moment.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - The Reception

September 21, 1968, was a hot day. At least we remember it being hot. Apparently the temperature was only 81 but maybe it was humid as well. All I know is our house didn't have A/C yet and we spent the afternoon there, mostly with out-of-town guests in the backyard. The reception was not to start until around 6 I believe. With all my layers of lace and long sleeves, I was melting. I ended up taking a shower before it was time to leave for the reception.

Our reception was held at a place called Rockside Gardens which was right next to the VFW hall in Independence. Rockside Gardens is no longer there but I think the VFW hall still stands. The caterer had managed to double book. By that I mean they were not only doing our buffet but they were providing a BBQ event for the VFW as well. My mother was fuming when our dinner was delayed.

Again, I cannot remember what we had for dinner. I'm sure I was nervous enough not to eat very much anyway. I was never a very good scrapbook keeper so much of what I should have recorded I didn't.

Once dinner was done, the reception went into full swing. We opened gifts at my insistence. I figured if people took the time to pick them out and bring them they should see us open them. The DJ pretty much led us through all the formalities like the cake cutting (neither of us were cake smashers when we fed each other), the first dance, the bridal party dance, and a toast that we did do with glasses that amazingly enough have survived the 50 years.

Of course there was the tossing of the bouquet and the ever popular search for the garter as well as tossing it to the single guys. Yes, I made the garter as well.

We did not stay to the end of the reception. I look back now and think it was kind of rude but there were two things that made us leave early. The first was that we only had three days to honeymoon before we had to start classes again at OSU. The second and more important at the time was that my cousin who was a great prankster had vowed that she would find out where we were spending the night and make a visit. At the time I had no doubt that she would do it although now I think it was all bluster and talk.

We quietly said goodbye to our parents who knew we would leave early and were sworn to secrecy about it as well as our destination. The photographer almost missed the opportunity to get a picture as we left. He wasn't prepared for the quick departure. It all ended well. No one tailed us from the reception.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years -- I Do, I Do

There are wedding vows and then there are wedding vows. We had no desire to be original or creative. I guess you might say we were traditionalists then and probably still are. Love, honor and obey works for both of us and we are in it for a lifetime.

Dad walked me down the aisle although I don't remember much about the walk. I don't recall being nervous but I do remember keeping my eyes on Bob and his grin. My dad said his line when asked and carefully stepped back to sit with my mother.

Our ceremony was officiated by two pastors, the pastor of the church who had allowed us to hold the ceremony in their sanctuary and the pastor of Bob's church where we were attending while going to school. Pastor Fish had done our premarital counseling and I do remember that. His talk about the love triangle sticks with me to this day. Think of an isosceles triangle with God at the top and each of us at the bottom angles. As long as we were both striving to get closer to God, we would move up the triangle and get closer to each other as well. Good lesson.

We began our vows. The "I dos" were easy. Just answer the question but the repeat-after-me part gave Bob a little scare. I spaced out for a moment. Somewhere in the middle of the promising, I suddenly realized that this was it. I was getting married. I wasn't frightened. I just paused to relish the moment. When I repeated the words that I needed to, there was a collective sigh of relief I'm sure but I didn't notice. I was just happy. I was marrying the man I loved.

On our silver anniversary we repeated our vows but we decided that if they've held up for fifty years, we're still good to go. No need to repeat them. We've got them down.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - Oh, The Flowers

It's been 50 years but I do remember that Mom had found someone who was working out of her home to do the flowers for the wedding. When I look at the flowers in the sanctuary pictures, I cringe. Maybe that was part of what made me want to become a florist. (I had my own shop for six years.)

The wedding baskets were not much different from funeral baskets--full of white gladiolas. At the time I didn't really notice. I was in love, in love with Bob and getting married and beginning a life I'd always dreamed of.

I do remember the bouquets though. The florist did a nice job with them. They fit the fall theme well. She had designed my bouquet so that I could remove a going away corsage from the enter before I tossed the rest of it to the waiting crowd of single women. When I was a florist, we always made a throw away bokay so that the bride could preserve her own bouquet if she so desired. And I never used white glads in funeral baskets for a wedding.

I love the picture of me tossing the bouquet. Mouth wide open. I think it was my cousin who caught it. It looks like it sails through the hands of my maid of honor.

One good thing about the flowers was that the boutonnieres made it easier for people to distinguish between Bob and his brother--that's if they paid attention to the fact that Bob's was a white rose not a carnation.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - Don't Forget The Cake

Some things are a little fuzzy after 50 years and getting the cake is one of them. I can't remember if Mom found someone who was working out of her home or if we actually went to a bakery. I kind of think it was a bakery. I do remember looking through lots of pictures of wedding cakes.

Unlike the present-day wedding planners, we didn't get to taste a lot of cakes. It was going to be white cake, standard buttercream icing but there was going to be a special element. It seemed to me that having a fountain in the cake was something new or a wedding fad of sorts. It didn't take much for the baker to talk my mother and me into it.

As I look at the picture now, I realize there were bridesmaids and groomsmen on the cake and a few swans. All I have left is the cake topper and one swan so I must have given the bridesmaids the other swans and figures.

I am amazed that the cake topper held up as well as it did for 50 years. The skirting is a bit yellowed and the flowers a little squished but the bride and groom still look fresh. For the  anniversary celebration train dinner, we got a two layer cake so that we could use the cake topper. To make it a bit more appropriate for the 50th, I took off the old rose leaves and replaced them with gold leaves. The two white bells looked a bit speckled with some black spots so I replaced them with new gold bells.

While Bob kept insisting I should make the groom's hair white to match his, I refused. After all we are still young at heart and in that we match the lovely couple on the top of the cake.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - The Bridesmaid Dresses

Choosing the colors for our wedding wasn't hard. I wanted to go with something that was autumn and popular colors back in 1968 were burnt orange and deep olive green. Several of my bridesmaids could sew so we found a pattern and the materials we needed and I delivered the goods to the girls who could sew and set about sewing for the one who couldn't thread a needle.

Yes, in addition to making my own gown I was now making a bridesmaid dress and to be sure that all the headpieces would be the same, I made those as well. As I look back, I shake my head. How in the world did I get it all done?

A penny in the shoe for luck.
Amazingly the dresses all came out pretty much the same even though there were multiple seamstresses. My maid of honor was designated by a little different color in her dress.

Like all bridesmaid dresses, I'm sure they were never worn again.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years -- Remembering The Dress

Once the wedding date was set, my mother went about securing a church that would welcome Bob's pastor who had agreed to marry us and then of course the venue for the reception. I was still at school in Columbus so she did the majority of work and checked in with me when she found the places. A lot of work for her but I think she enjoyed it.

Then there was the challenge of finding a dress. It seems to me we went out twice looking for one. Once in Columbus and once nearer home. Back in the day, I was quite a seamstress. I had made my prom dress and my graduation dress for high school and lots of other clothes including a suit for homecoming at OSU. Back then we actually got dressed up for homecoming football games. When we found the dress that I liked, we both got very quiet. Mom understood my creative bent. "You think you can make it?" she asked.

I twirled around then began to examine how it was put together. "Maybe," I said.

We told the attendant we would think about the dress and left. Later, putting our heads together, Mom offered to buy a dress form for me and we planned to price out the lace and taffeta or satin we would need. The more we looked at materials, the more excited I got. The only problem--I was going to spend a good part of the summer at school because I needed a couple more courses to complete so I could graduate at the same time Bob would finish his Master's Degree.

Now this is where I have to say my mother really toughed it out. She had to have worried over whether I would get the dress done. And of course I was notorious for waiting for the last minute to finish my projects. For High School graduation I came home from graduation practice in the morning and had my dress made in the afternoon by the time we left for the ceremony. This was a lot bigger project though.

Once home from school that summer, I plunged in and began my dress. I took the pattern I'd used for my prom dress and used that as the basis for the wedding gown. I had to enlarge the skirt to make it full for a hoop. (Cinderella style was popular back then.) I used another pattern to form the long sleeves. There was a lot of hand sewing once the basic dress was made.

The back of the dress is a cascade of layers of puffy lace. Each row was hand sewn. With the dress form, I could just sit and sew each layer and see it all come together. Sewing the little pearls on the front took a lot of time and the long veil for church was another challenge. But by the time September arrived, the dress was finished.

The dress has been in a box for 50 years and I decided to take it out to display for the kids and grandkids. After all, it's never going to see the light of day again and I figured it would probably fall apart. To my surprise, except for some wear and tear from our wedding day, the dress held up quite well. Since the hoop slip was borrowed, I didn't have one to put under it but it displayed quite well on the dress form I borrowed from a friend.

Someday I hope my beautiful granddaughters will find someone to share a lifetime with and my handsome grandsons will be the perfect mates who will honor and love their brides.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years - How It Began

Back then, in the early 60s, Put In Bay had old antique cars that they used as taxi service. The taxi stand was right in front of the Round House, the middle of the main street of the town. And right next to the Round House was a little enclosed area of the front porch that housed Mrs. Ohlamacher's Pizza place--my first summer job.

It was actually the second year I'd worked the pizza place and early in the summer I began to notice that the taxi drivers were beginning their summers as well. It was unusual for drivers to work more than one year. You really had to hustle and it wasn't always a pleasant job in those late night hours with overindulgent drinkers from the bars. Suddenly I noticed a familiar face. It was a driver from the year before.

Now that would have been curious enough as I watched him drive a white convertible taxi past the pizza place. The next thing I knew, he was driving a red Cadillac convertible in the other direction past me and now he was wearing a hat. This continued for a while until suddenly the two cars crossed slowly in front of me and I realized I was seeing double! Dick had returned and he had a twin brother, Bob!

One of my most vivid memories of that summer is Bob walking down the street from his boss's shop with a big wad of cotton candy on a stick. I smiled and thought he had cute knees (he still does).

Our first date was the free open house at the Ohio State University Lab on Gibraltor Island in the bay. We explored lots of stuff in jars. Little did I know then how big OSU would loom in my future.

Gibraltor Island-OSU lab
As the summer progressed so did our interest in each other. Lots of rides home after work and just rides around the island for fun. Bob's favorite memory is the night he walked me to my door and was about to kiss me good night (for the first time, if I remember correctly). Don't know what made my mother open the door but when she saw the two of us there she got embarrassed and called out, "Oh, it's you two. Well go to it!" Then she closed the door.

He reminded her often that she'd told him to "go to it".

When summer ended neither of us had any idea that our relationship would continue. We began writing every day and visited several times over that year--my first at Kent State. When the year ended, and it seemed that this was getting serious I petitioned my dad to let me transfer to OSU so I could get to know this guy better since it seemed that it was going to be serious.

I guess you could say the rest is history. Wow, that makes me feel really old. By Christmas of '67 we were engaged and when Bob's job commitment gave us an income, we planned our wedding for September.

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