December 1956. My older sister Melody age 5, dressed in a pink bathrobe and a pink towel on her head, carried a baby doll wrapped in swaddling clothes (a cream colored doll blanket).

She lead the way from Nazareth (our bedroom) through the mountains (the kitchen) to Bethlehem (the living room) to the manger (a pillow on the floor covered with a wool doll blanket the color of straw).  I was 3, trailing behind her, reverently carrying my favorite doll blanket edged with a pink border and embroidered with the outline of a dog playing with a pink ball beside a pink flower.

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November 25, 1965

By the time I woke up on Thanksgiving Day my mother had been in the kitchen since the crack of dawn, fussing over the Butterball Turkey for its 12:00 debut on our dining room table.

My Dad had just returned from picking up Grandma Schilthelm. Grandpa was in northern Wisconsin hunting with my uncles. My older sister Melody (14) was sitting at her vanity table trying to style her hair after substituting frozen orange juice cans for hair curlers. My contagious sister Julie (6), her neck swollen with the mumps, was on the sofa watching a Thanksgiving Day Parade. I was 12, hiding out in my bedroom, wrestling with a big secret.

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The October air was crisp when I opened the front door, grabbed the Amazon box from the porch and brought it inside.

“Get this!” I said to Ron. “This package is addressed to me at the office, but the address is crossed out. Our home address is scribbled on the box in black ink. Why would I get a package at the office? I retired from the Association three months ago.”

“Did you order something and accidentally ship it there? Ron asked.

“I haven’t ordered anything and I never shipped personal items to the office. That address isn’t linked to our account.

Ron pulled out his pocket knife. “Well let’s get this baby opened. Maybe it’s a belated retirement gift from one of your members.”

I pulled back the box flaps and peered inside. “What the hell?”

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Nine years ago we bought a bigger house. Ron said the walls were white.  I said they were cream.

“Cream is just another way to say white, ” he claimed.

I held a sheet of white copy paper to the wall to show him the subtle difference. He smiled. “White. Cream. Whatever you want to call it, Gaye, the walls are still boring.”

He was absolutely right. We needed to paint.

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If you haven’t been refrigerator shopping lately, don’t leave home without your sense of humor!

Our twenty year old top freezer refrigerator started making a strange intermittent sound. Have you ever heard the squeak a dog can make at the end of a big yawn? It sounds like that.

Being the proactive person that I am, I dragged Ron to appliance stores to research our options before we were caught in the cold (or would that be hot) without a fridge. . . . Continue reading

Throughout the month of December the stress of the Christmas holiday hangs over my head like a tinseled guillotine.

Every bell ringing volunteer who brightly greets me at the grocery store reminds me that I haven’t bought presents, haven’t put up the tree, haven’t scheduled a family Christmas get together. A couple of weeks ago when I went to the grocery store I completely avoided eye contact with the bell ringer.  I was not in the Christmas spirit at all.

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‘Twas the night before open house
at the minister’s abode.
The house needed updates.
Church members were told.

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I’ve met a few women whose main ambition in life was to marry a man of the cloth. I was not one of them. My goal was to meet a music major in college, which I did, but right before his graduation and our wedding he decided to become a minister. Nooooo!

If that wasn’t bad enough, I was a Lutheran – he was a Methodist. A Methodist!!!! My first and only experience with “them” had been traumatic!

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I’ve had my share of summer vacations. I’ve even written about them, but there’s one that stands out among all the rest – the time my husband was spotted allegedly throwing drugs off the Clay’s Ferry Bridge over the Kentucky River.

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When I was married to a minister I wrote humorous stories about being a minister’s wife and what it was really like to live in the church parsonage; the house owned and controlled by the church. I regularly dreamed and wrote about moving into a house that met “my” needs.

I wanted simple things: a shower, bigger closets, central air.  Each parsonage had something on my list, but with every gain there was a loss: get a shower, lose a garage; get a closet, lose the second bathroom. I became obsessed with my plight.  I was up against a parsonage Goliath, with an empty slingshot and not even a lipstick in my pocket to hurl.

Then the nightmares began! . . . Continue reading