Sing, sing a song…

The big day. The big production. The Spring Concert. Lincoln School, fourth grade. We lived at the Prospect house. It was about a block from the school. Very close. It was convenient. 

We worked all year for this. It was a big deal. Everyone dressed up. We were expected to look nice. Girls usually wore dresses. Not this girl. My idea of dressing up was not jeans, so some weird dress pants and a sweater, usually a long-sleeved shirt with a sweater vest over it. Very classy and dressy looking. For me, it was. 

We practiced forever. Our music teacher was Mrs. Newman. She looked so young. Like she did her whole life. May she continue to rest in peace. Pretty sure it was her first teaching job. I can’t imagine being a music teacher. Maybe because I can’t imagine myself being able to learn music. I love it. I wish I could read it, or even know what a note is. I can’t. I don’t. I’m going to work on that this next year. I’m going to learn. 

I liked music class. Singing was fun. I remember one assignment we had to find a song with a certain count or beat or whatever it’s called. We had to bring in the 45 record, remember those? We had to show her and have the class listen to the song and find that beat or count or whatever. I brought in the 45 Lorelei by Styx. It’s a good song, but I don’t think I got the assignment quite right. It was a good song though. 

The reminder was yesterday. I was training one of my clients and the song Country Roads by John Denver came on the Spotify playlist. At the time I changed the song because I didn’t want to listen to it. It was such an old song after all. I told my client my fourth grade class had to sing that song at our spring concert. We laughed and talked about those concerts for a minute and then moved on. 

Fourth grade Peggie went right back to the concert. The concerts were held at Riggs High School in the gymnasium. Each class had a designated place on the bleachers. We were told not to be disruptive and to listen to Mrs. Newman. Of course we were and of course we didn’t. Fidgeting was going on big time. As much as being a kid is fun, there was a lot of nervous energy flowing around, anxiety if you will. We were all nervous. Well, maybe not everybody. I was. The gym was filled with parents and relatives and other spectators. The time was now. Singing time. Everything we learned time. Mrs. Newman time. 

I remember clearly we sang Country Roads by John Denver, and the song Sing, by The Carpenters. It was fun. I liked to sing. When our class performed Sing, we got fancy, some of the kids sang a different part of the song, while other kids sang another part of the song. Harmonies, perhaps? I told you I don’t know music. We sang the songs and I was devastated. I wanted it to be over. I wanted it to be done. I made a mistake singing Sing. I was embarrassed. Maybe nobody could tell. 

The next week in class, we got to listen to the recording of the concert. The click of the recorder playback button made me sweat. It seemed extra loud for some reason. The song started. Sing. The la, la, la, la, la part, is pretty prominent in that song. The recording kept playing and in that one part of the la, la, la, la, la part, plain as day, clear as a bell, there was an extra la. It was me. The extra la was me. I wanted to crawl under my desk. I wondered if anyone knew it was me? Obviously whoever was standing beside me during the concert had to have known. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. That mess up, that screw up, was recorded forever on that tape. Why me? 

Things happen, kids make mistakes. Fourth grade mistakes feel like the end of the world mistakes. I recovered. Life went on and school went on. Music went on, but I learned from my mistake. I learned a really important lesson. I learned to never sing out loud at concerts again. La. 

The Familiar

They came in a tube. They were green and smelled like pine trees. The kind of smell that made a person relax and unwind. The kind of smell that made a person forget. The kind of smell that made a person realize life was going to be okay. The stress melted away.

The smell was familiar. As soon as I opened the bottle of “Holiday Peace” essential oil, I felt myself back there. I could see myself back there. Back at the Euclid house. In the bathroom. The water was running in the tub. I put one in the water. One of the oil balls. It was kind of soft and a little squishy. I knew I wasn’t supposed to. They weren’t mine. They smelled so good. Always taking things that weren’t mine.

The heat of the water melted the rubbery sphere and released the oil. The blend of oils was amazing. The scent filled the bathroom with pine and fir and frankincense. I hated baths. I hated taking them. Taking a bath…sounds weird. Anyway, it wasn’t my favorite thing. I preferred showers. I never understood how someone could just sit in the tub forever, but I did it. Those oil-filled bath balls drew me in. I couldn’t help it.

We begged to use them. She always said no. Always. I think they were expensive. Maybe that was why. As I look back now I could see why she was selfish with them. I could see why she hoarded them. I could understand a little bit. I could. 

When I opened the bottle of essential oil, it was as if I could see the memories flooding out of it, like it was a waft of smoke curling up out of the bottle. I could feel the memories as if they were yesterday. The smells, the sounds, the house, the tub, all of it was there. The smell was vintage. The smell was almost a cold smell. It’s hard to explain, but I can smell a chill. It’s strange. It must be the pine smell and cold air smell combined. I love it.

There may have been others scents, but I always remember the green, the pine, the smell, the feeling, the familiar.

The pretty people

I’ve known him for a long time so I know the comment was not meant in any way offensive. I never took it that way either. I actually thought it was pretty funny. It was ironic because I get that all the time. When I am with my husband or with Tayler, I get it all the time. Now, I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I also don’t think I’m one of the pretty people. I’m just me. What you see is what you get. My husband and daughter, on the other hand, are pretty people. They get stared at ALL.THE.TIME. 

When John and I met it was unreal how his looks affected people. I always wondered what people were looking at. I would even comment to him about it. He was oblivious. We would be in line at a checkout counter at any store, just pick one, any store, it doesn’t matter, it was the same whichever store we went to. The checkout person could barely talk. They would stutter and stare and could hardly do their job. It didn’t matter the age either. High school to blue hairs. He got it all. 

From the time Tayler was born, hands down the number one comment was how beautiful her eyes were. Very true. They were. They still are. She is finding that out every day at college. People don’t just glance at her, they downright stare. It gets uncomfortable. It gets kind of weird. She said she just stares back. It’s hard to know what to do. They comment on her eyes all the time. We have standing jokes at our house about her eyes.  

Thank God neither she nor John is conceited. They both have the warmest hearts and would do anything for anyone. I love that about them. This post is not in any way meant to offend anyone or make it look like John and Tayler are egomaniacs. It’s just the way it is. They can’t help how they look. Don’t hate them because they are beautiful (LOL). 

So, back to the beginning of my story. We are meeting with the photographer for Tayler’s senior pics. We are sitting at the table with him discussing the places we want to go and kind of hammering out ideas. He told Tayler that she was absolutely gorgeous and her eyes were amazing. Yep, I’ve heard that before. Next up he told John what a good looking man he was too. Yep, I’ve heard that too. And from a lot of men as well. John doesn’t discriminate. Both men and women love him. I was sitting there, soaking it all in. Waiting…nothing. Okay. We were getting ready to head out the door and I was walking out first. All of a sudden the photographer told me how great my shoes were. Yep. That’s what I got. He said, “Nice shoes.” They were green. Green shoes. Converse shoes. One of my favorite pairs of shoes. I’ll take it. 

In this world of everyone being offended by something. I was perfectly fine with my nice shoes comment. I’ll let the pretty people take all the compliments and get all the attention. I’ll let them feel uncomfortable and not know how to respond to the many, many stares and comments. I’ll let them learn to handle their beauty. Me, well, I have nice fucking shoes and I won’t apologize. 

…and then there were none

My uncle died this week, September 14th. His name was Bob. He was in the middle. He was the 4th oldest of seven, three above and three below. He was my dad’s brother. My dad was the baby. They were 15 years apart. 

Uncle Bob had that cool calm demeanor. Even if things were stressful or chaotic you would never know it. I can hear his voice, the way he said my name. The way he delivered anything he said. He had kind of drawl to his voice. The words were formed slowly and were delivered with precision and velvet smoothness. 

At the visitation on Tuesday (September 18th) there was a slide show of many, many pictures of  him and family. He had a great family. Brenda and Susan (the city cousins) were his daughters. Every single picture of him with those girls absolutely oozed love. You could see it. You could almost feel it. He and his wife, Sandy (passed away in 2015), absolutely adored those girls. They could not have kids of their own and they opened their hearts and home to these girls. You never would have known they were not born to them. There was one particular picture where he and Susan were sitting at a table and the way they were looking at each other brought tears to my eyes. It’s a dad and daughter love for sure. I see it with John and Tayler all the time. 

There were pictures of him with dad and his other brothers and sisters. There were some pictures of dad I had never seen before. The memory of his funeral came flooding back and I felt so bad for Brenda and Susan because I knew what it felt like. I had lived it. I think the hardest part was watching Brenda’s daughter, and Susan’s two boys. Losing their grandpa was hitting them hard. Grandparents are the best and it is so hard to lose them. It was hard to witness. I wish them strength and peace. 

Uncle Bob beat the genes. He beat the Friman genes. They weren’t good. There was a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure. My grandpa, Roy, died at the age of 62. World War I Veteran. I believe the cause of death was hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Dad was 18 at the time. That would have been hard, losing your dad when you were only 18. Uncle Bob would have been about a month shy of his 33rd birthday. That is still very young to lose a parent. Grandma died about 20 years later. 

There were two girls and five boys. Muriel was the oldest. They called her Sis. I remember her from when I was little. I can only remember a few times though. She lived in Oregon and we didn’t see her that often. Dad died on June 3, 2000. When Muriel found out he died, she said she could go now. She died on June 15, 2000. She was 79 years old. 

Everett was the next oldest. I remember being around him only a handful of times as well. He lived in Iowa. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Corie, I received a phone call, telling me that he had died. He was 64 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Next in the lineup was Duane. Duane lived in Sioux Falls. We didn’t see him often either. I can remember being around him when I was young. They all had that wicked sense of humor and a common look about them. Duane died in 1981. He was 58 years old. Heart attack. 

Uncle Bob is up next. Right smack in the middle of them all. Maybe that was his ticket to better health. Just kidding. I know Uncle Bob’s lifestyle contributed to his long life. He ate well and he exercised. He jogged all the time and he was an avid golfer. In fact he golfed in early August of this year with Susan. Very impressive. Uncle Bob was 93 years old at the time of his death. He hit the jackpot. He lived a very good life. He was a good guy and he was a great uncle to us. He was done. His body was tired. He went to be with Aunt Sandy and the rest of his family. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Uncle Don came next. I think next to Uncle Bob, we saw Uncle Don the most. I believe he and Dad were the closest of friends. He was at our house a lot and we visited a few times when he lived in Kansas. Uncle Don always reminded me of the actor, Ed Harris. He looked like him. The wicked sense of humor was strong with this guy. He was so funny and loved life. He lived it. Uncle Don died on July 1, 2000. He was 66 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy.

Aunt Shirley was next. She lived in California, Santa Barbara. When I was in high school I thought about moving out and living with her and establishing residency and then going to school out there. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had. Decisions made are so interesting. Life decisions are so interesting. Shirley died January 3, 1992. Cancer of the bronchial tubes. 

Next up, the baby of the bunch. My dad, Gary. The crazy, funny, life loving dad. I miss him every single day. He couldn’t escape the Friman genes. He had quadruple bypass surgery when he was 48 years old. That bought him 12 more years. He died June 3, 2000. He was 60 years old. Heart attack. 

Here we have the birth order and the death order. 2000 was a very sad year. 

Name                    Year of Birth               Name                 Year of Death

Muriel                         1920                     Duane                      1981                                  

Everett                        1921                     Everett                     1986                          

Duane                         1923                     Shirley                     1992

Bob                             1925                     Gary (Dad)               2000

Don                             1933                     Muriel                      2000

Shirley                         1935                     Don                         2000

Gary                            1940                     Bob                         2018

…and then there were none. May they all rest in peace. 

Night Visions

A few months ago I had a hard time sleeping. Sleep would just not come to me. I don’t know what was different. Nothing it seemed. It was making me anxious and annoyed and frankly, pretty damn tired in the mornings. I hated it. I didn’t know what to do to try and make it better.

One night when I couldn’t sleep and was tossing and turning and turning and tossing some more, something compelled me to pick up my phone, head into my Notes App and just write. I wrote some pretty interesting things. They are interesting to me anyway. I shared some. In looking back at the notes there was a period from October, 2017, and ending in April, 2018, where I wrote. I have not felt compelled since then to write poems. I don’t know why. In fact there was a big span from the last one on January 24th, until the April one. I don’t know why that is either. Timing is interesting and strange all at the same time. There was also a section in my Notes App where had hand-written notes and drew faces with my finger. Those were around the same time as the poems. I cannot draw. Just putting that out there, but the faces I tried to draw were super interesting to me. The expressions, or non-expressions on the faces, were just strange.

A curious thing happened though. Once I could write no more, the sleeplessness went away. The anxiety went away. The annoyance went away. The tiredness went away. Whatever made me write those notes, also took away the anxiousness and the sleeplessness. I’m not sure what it was, but I am glad I listened. I am glad I wrote. I am glad I cleared the negative energy.

My whole outlook changed. My demeanor changed. I changed. 

While re-reading these poems, they seem really dark. I promise I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I do find the last one from April 8th pretty interesting. I know I have talked about intuition and “bad feelings” previously, and I think that poem on that day, was a sign. It was a sign about Mike. I was anxious and having that bad feeling that just hangs on for a while and then I usually find out a few days later that something bad happened. And something bad did happen a few days after that. Mike died. 

Anyway, here are the poems that I wrote and the pictures I drew. Don’t judge too harshly.

October 28, 2017

The dead of night

Shadows dance in the light

I feel lonely and sad

Feelings I hate and fight

My face is dark

The stars and sky are bright

Why is it so hard to feel alright

_____________________________________

December 26, 2018

I don’t know what to think or do

The guilt is hard

The guilt is true

How I wish things could have been different

For you, and you, and you

_____________________________________________

January 2, 2018

My mind needs to quiet down

So many thoughts running around

So many words

So many sounds

I hear the pound

The anxiety is loud

It creeps and creeps

So I can’t sleep

________________________________

January 8, 2018

I feel anxious

I don’t know why

My gut is trying to tell me

Something

Pertinent

Not a lie

I’m trying to listen

I can’t figure it out

Maybe tomorrow

It will simplify

_____________________________________

January 9, 2018

I just got a shiver of despair

A feeling of overwhelming sadness

My eyes filled with tears

My jaw got that tightness

What

Why

What does it mean

Undisclosed fears

Buried in my soul

The tears ran down my face

Releasing the control

____________________________________

January 10, 2018

This morning my mind feels clear

The fogginess is gone

Images are sharp

Images are near

I like how this feels

It is satisfying and good

I hope it stays glassy and light

And won’t get dark and murky

I want it to be right

_________________________________-

January 18, 2018

Anxiety leave me alone

I don’t like you

Get of here

Go home

You always come at night

When I’m too tired to fight

I try

I try to throw you out

But you stick around

You give me grief

You’re sneaky and sly

A good thought thief

____________________________________

January 24, 2018

HI

You’re back I see

What to you want this time

Why can’t you leave me be

I thought you left

I thought you were gone

I relaxed

And now you’re strong

__________________________________

April 8, 2018

Sleep eludes me

Stress envelopes me

Why here

Why now

I thought I had you beat

I thought you took retreat

________________________________

(two days later Mike died)

________________________________

 

 

 

The slow walk home…

We lived in the Euclid house. The elementary school was Lincoln. It was on Prospect Street. The school was about five blocks from home, almost all uphill. Up Central, up to the fountain on Broadway, and the weird connection of streets to the fountain, up to Oak, up to Euclid, up to home. That was my route. Every day. To school and back home.

That five blocks felt like a million. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. Why didn’t I just do it at school? Why didn’t I? My hands were full of stuff. I don’t know what stuff, but stuff. We didn’t have backpacks then, so whatever we brought home from school, we had to carry. As in our hands and arms, or in a brown paper grocery bag. More than likely it was books. I loved to read.

It was chilly out. I was wearing a hat. One of those odd, fuzzy ones that had long strings and pom poms on the ends of the strings. What the hell? Who would have made something like that, and why would I have worn it? That is totally not me. Not my style. Not my style even then. It must have been a hand-me-down. Had to be.

I think it was second grade. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Eklund’s class.

Maybe I was talking and messing around and had to hurry to get home. But why didn’t I just do it at school? Why didn’t I?

I left the school and was on my way home. Up the hill from Klein’s house. I crossed over to the other side, the top of the hill before taking a right up to the fountain, Broadway. I couldn’t stand it. It was getting painful. It was hard to even walk. I was struggling. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry.

I stood there. I stood there for what felt like forever. In reality, it was maybe about 30 seconds, to a minute at most. There were kids still around. What could I do? There was no place to go. There was nothing I could do.

I stood there. I stood there and widened my feet. Everything hurt. I just couldn’t do it anymore, but still I tried not to. Time was up. My body was not cooperating. It was done. There was nothing else I could do to stop it. So, it happened. I wet my pants. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I couldn’t. I watched the pee run down the sidewalk. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. I felt ashamed. I felt better. I felt way better. The pain was gone. Why didn’t I go at school? Why didn’t I?

I wondered if I was going to get in trouble. I couldn’t help it though. It was an accident. There was nothing I could do. Except there was. I could have been more responsible and gone before I started the five block trek home. But I didn’t.

The walk home seemed like forever with wet pants and embarrassment. As much embarrassment as a second grader can have. The memory is strong. The embarrassment is deep.

Listening for the significance

I’m sitting here alone. The noise is the wind and a cardboard box unfolding ever so slowly. I’m not playing any music. I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone listening. I have so many things to do, yet I sit here in my silence. The silence of doing nothing. The silence of sounds.

Outside, the wind is howling. I wonder how bad the roads are going to be on the ten mile drive home. I wonder. I dismiss it. I keep listening.

The sound of the mechanical pencil on the paper is an interesting sound. I like it. It reminds me of ice skaters when the blades make that similar kind of noise. It’s hard to describe. It’s beautiful.

Listening. The quieter it gets, the louder I hear things in my head. The thoughts. The ideas. The words. The pictures. I see and hear.

I keep listening. The furnace has kicked in and drowned out the silence. I want it to stop. It didn’t drown out the noise of the wind. It is still howling. I continue to listen.

Winter. The roads are icy and slippery. I dread the drive. It takes so much longer. I just want to be home. We still have to go to parent teacher conferences. The last parent teacher conference we will ever go to. She a senior. We are done.

The cardboard box is still making noise and the wind is still howling. I always wonder. I wonder about the significance of things and what they mean. When I slow down and listen, I begin to hear. I begin to feel. I find the significance.

 

The Sooper Dooper Chronicles, chapter one

Her name was Jessie Hall. She was one of the “night managers.” One of the Saturday and Sunday managers too. She was an older lady with gray hair and glasses. She had eye problems. A lot. She also had other health ailments and she was always worried about her weight. Her health didn’t stop her though. It didn’t stop her from teaching us things. Life things. How to be a decent human things. She loved us kids. She loved her work kids.

We lived in the Prospect house. It was up the alley from the store I worked at all through high school. Sooper Dooper. They had a jingle. It’s catchy. Sooper Dooper Market, have a Sooper Dooper day. It’s stuck in my head now. Probably not yours, unless you had heard it on the radio when you were younger.

Sooper Dooper was a crappy old building with lots of character. The characters were rats. In the basement. Creepy. It’s the building that is right next door to the Zesto. Notice how I didn’t say Zestos. There is no S on the end. It’s Zesto. If you grew up in Pierre, you know this.

Jessie was a good night boss. She scared the crap out of us and didn’t let us get away with anything. At the same time, she showed us respect. I love when adults can do that with high school kids who probably have no idea what they want to do in life. Jessie listened to us. She let us talk. She let us be. Jessie was the type of person who could spot a bullshitter a mile away. She didn’t take crap from anyone. If you showed her you were a good worker and were honest and trustworthy, you were on her list. Her life list. She would do anything for you. She was not lazy. She was an extremely hard worker and expected others to be the same.

There was an office at the store, back near the butcher area. She usually stayed back there unless we needed something. There was an intercom, so we could be lazy asses and not have to walk all the way back there if we needed money for our tills, or if we needed her to come up front and approve a check or something.

I met a lot of friends there and worked with a lot of amazing people. One friend, Chet, is one of my all time favorite people. We were super close and we got a long really well. Still do. Another friend was Angela. She and I, and I’m sure Chet too, usually had to work the dreaded 3-10 shift on Sunday. That was the worst shift ever. If you were the lucky checker that night, you got the 3-9 shift. Still rotten, but getting to leave at 9 was like heaven. Sundays were the least busy times at the store. Boring as boring can get. You know what happens when people get bored? When kids get bored? They start to do goofy things. One Sunday, Angela and I were checking and we bored beyond belief. We found some basket/pot things and wore them on our heads like hats. We told everyone we were pot heads. We thought we were super clever. I’m sure nobody else did. Hey, it passed the time.

Another time we were all working together. Another Sunday, I’m sure. Jessie was managing. We were having fun. Maybe a little too much fun. We were laughing and must have been pretty loud. Pretty soon, we could hear her coming up to the front. She yelled at us and told us to get to work. She told Chet to go face shelves. If you’ve ever worked at a store, that is the most boring, mundane job EVER in the history of stores. It absolutely sucks. After she got done chewing us out, she started walking back to the office. Chet followed behind. No big deal. Except as Chet followed behind he decided to walk like a monkey. He was swinging his arms and his legs were low to the ground, following behind her. I was dying laughing. I couldn’t stop, until Jessie turned around. She turned around and caught Chet making fun of her. Holy crap! I can still see her face. There might have even been steam coming out of her ears. And then she said it. The thing she said to us every time she got mad at us. The dreaded phrase. The dreaded Jessie phrase. Nobody wanted to hear this phrase from Jessie. She looked Chet right in the eye and said, “God’s gonna punish you.” Whenever she said this, we never knew whether we should laugh or cry. It was disturbing. Sometimes you could tell she was kidding. This time she was not kidding. I’m pretty sure Chet was on her other list. You know the “other” list. The shit list. I’m sure it wasn’t for very long though. Like I said she loved her work kids and we loved her. I miss Jessie. Rest In Peace.

Jessie Wooledge Hall was born June 6, 1917, at Gann Valley,South Dakota, to Lucy Yakey Wooledge and Robert Leroy Wooledge, who farmed in the area. Jessie attended grade school and high school at Gann Valley.
On November 8, 1933, Jessie married Jens Melvin Hall of Gann Valley. They farmed until the impact of the Depression made it impossible for them to continue. In the fall of 1941, the family moved to Pierre where Melvin took employment with Wegner Auto. During this time, Jessie worked for a number of local businesses that included J.C. Penney, Roth Dry Cleaners, Sooper Dooper, Anderson Clothing, as well as state government.

In 1992, Jessie relocated to Sheridan, Wyoming, to reside with her youngest daughter. While there, she took care of elderly in their
homes. Due to ill health she returned to Pierre in 1996 and resided
for a time at Midtown Apartments. In February 1998, she entered
the Beverly Nursing Center due to complications of diabetes.

Jessie was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church of Pierre where she served on the vestry. Her love for her children and grandchildren was expressed in many ways. She was an avid reader, great cook and counselor to her family. St. Mary’s Hospital honored her for her generosity in donating blood for which she was genuinely proud. Her generous spirit and assistance to others less fortunate were many.

Jessie, 83 of Pierre, died Wednesday, October 4, 2000,Mary house Sub-Acute Center, Pierre, SD.

Jessie is survived by five daughters, Margaret Schlichenmayer and husband Eugene of Pierre, Jeanne Lincoln and husband Ron of Aliso Viejo, California, Jeannette Pfeiffer and husband Vern of Pierre, Muriel Jarman and husband Earnest of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Mary Lehnert of Sheridan, Wyoming; and one son David Hall and wife Patricia of Casper, Wyoming. Also surviving are 12 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren and special friend, Cindy Reed.

Preceding her in death were her husband in 1966, mother and father, three infant children, a brother, Winfield Forrest (Bill) Wooledge and a son-in-law, James Lehnert.

Memorials may be directed to Trinity Episcopal Church in
memory of her and her love of the Lord.

Ken and Egghead

When we lived in the Euclid house, about half a block away in the now empty lot of Sara’s Dance Studio, there was a small store called The Cottage. That’s where my sister, Wendy, stuck her tongue to the street pole one winter. That’s where I got caught stealing. That’s where we got caught lying.

We used to collect empty pop bottles. At that time you had to pay a deposit for the bottles when you bought pop. We would take them in and get money for them. I can’t even remember how much it was per bottle. Maybe a nickel. Maybe not. I can’t remember. You would just add the ones you had to the pile out back and then tell Ken or Egghead how many you had.

Ken and Egghead ran the store. I don’t know if they owned it. How would a kid know this? Exactly. Ken and Egghead seemed old. I don’t think they were, but as a kid everyone over 25 seems old. Ken had dark hair and glasses and wore plaid shirts. Egghead was taller. He was bald and had an oval shaped face. He had glasses too. He wore solid colored shirts and one of those white store aprons. Egghead was not his real name. That’s what we called him. No disrespect at all. He just looked like his name should be Egghead. So it was, to us. Ken was nicer, although I’m sure they both hated it every time we came in. They watched us like hawks. I wonder why? Remember the Been Caught Stealing story?

One day we thought we would go to the store and get some money for pop bottles. We needed some money for candy. Our life was candy.

We, and when I say we, it was the sister who was my partner in crime. The sister named Sherry. Remember the cigarette story? Remember the burning bed story? Yeah, that sister.

We went to the store and went inside. The store was old, but cool. It was dark and shadow-y. It was musty smelling and the floor was made of hardwood and it creaked when you walked. I wonder if Egghead was a butcher? Those white aprons were the kind that butchers usually wore. Weird. Anyway, I don’t remember if they sold meat there. We were always focused on the candy and the comic books. I was never into comic books, but they had a great selection of comic books. They also had a great selection of candy. I paid attention to that. Twizzlers and sixlets were my jam.

We told Ken and Egghead that we wanted money for the pop bottles we had collected. We told them how many we had and that we wanted money for them to buy candy. Nothing different than any other time we turned in pop bottles. Except this time, one of them walked back to check. What??? They never did that before. Uh oh. They were on to us. This was not going to go well.

It just so happened that all the pop bottles had been picked up by the bottling company and there were none, zilch, zero pop bottles out back on the landing. We were doomed. We didn’t know what to do. What the heck were we supposed to say now? Ummmm, oh. Sorry?

They chewed us up one side and down the other. They both seemed super tall. I consulted with Sherry, because I couldn’t remember what exactly happened next. She thinks they made us call our mom and tell her what happened. That makes complete sense, because why would they just let us go? We both can’t remember what happened when we got home. I’m sure we walked that half block home as slowly as we possibly could. But, hey, we’re still here to tell the story!

We didn’t try that prank on Ken and Egghead again and I’m sure they watched us even closer after that incident. Crime doesn’t pay people!

Top Blog Posts of 2017

I wrote a lot in 2017. Maybe not a lot for some people, but for me, it was a lot. I really stayed on top of getting a blog post out every week. I had a lot of good feedback from people about my writing. I so appreciate that. For real. I love to write and have been making sure to write something every day.

With this post I am up to 67 blog posts for the year. I went through all the stats from my site and wanted to share with you the top blog posts of 2017. I am listing the top 5 from the readers and also my favorite top 5 of 2017. I thank you so much for supporting my writing and taking the time to read my posts. It really means a lot to me.

I am going to list the top 5 blog posts and the links and then I am going to list my top 5 favorite posts for the year. Keep in mind that a few of the top 5 are my favorites, but I want to give you a chance to check out others.

I hope you continue to follow me into 2018. If you want to make sure to be notified when I publish a post you can go to my website and there is a place on the right side where you can subscribe to my blog posts.

And…here we go.

Top 5 – from you, the readers:

1. Mr Ellwanger – Hands down, the most popular post of 2017! Mr. Ellwanger was my gymnastics coach. Sometimes people don’t know the impact they have on others. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/08/29/mr-ellwanger/

2. Ryan and Sam Got Married – Ryan is our nephew and this is the day of their wedding. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/06/03/ryan-and-sam-got-married-today-and-my-deceased-mother-in-law-was-there/

3. When God Closes A Door – this is about a friend who died of cancer. Such a sad time. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/08/02/when-god-closes-a-door-he-opens-a-window/

4. A Love Story – My and John’s beginning. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/08/31/a-love-story/

5. I Saw A Lot of Life Today – a visit to the cemetery. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/06/02/i-saw-a-lot-of-life-today/

My Top 5:

1. His Name Was Gary – this is about my Dad. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/04/20/his-name-was-gary/

2.  My First Best Friend – this is about my friend, Mary. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/08/19/my-first-best-friend/

3.  Life is Fragile – about the kids at my dad’s funeral – http://peggielarsen.com/2017/11/29/life-is-fragile-live-accordingly/

4.  Ran Into An Old Friend – running into a friend I hadn’t seen in forever. http://peggielarsen.com/2017/05/12/ran-into-an-old-friend-at-the-new-coffee-place/

5.  Are You Afraid To Live – about facing your fears.  http://peggielarsen.com/2017/06/15/are-you-afraid-to-live/

Thanks so much for reading. You have no idea how much I appreciate it, and you!