Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Time Travel: ONEOF THESE DAYSBack in August it was a no-braine...

Back in August it was a no-braine...
: ONE OF THESE DAYS Back in August it was a no-brainer.  Three great-granddaughters, one grandson, one son – three generations of Cheshir...

Back in August it was a no-brainer.  Three great-granddaughters, one grandson, one son – three generations of Cheshire’s had received the Phoenix College A.A. diploma. 

I was the only hold-out.  A lot of credits showed on my transcript, dating from 1944 and the campus of Indiana University.  They continued strong at Phoenix College.  

Those were the days I burned that candle at both ends.  Work took maybe 50 or more hours a week – writing at a time when I was selling stories to small magazines filled the evening hours – and ah yes, maybe a few fun social kind of engagements.   So, I dropped out, with intentions of “one of these days.”  

My youngest great-grandkid walked out on Hoy Field at Phoenix College for her diploma last spring.  I was astonished.  Where had those 71 years gone to?!!  I knew I had to search once more for my assortment of credits and make it  four generations from P.C.
First I had to find Hannelly Center where credit and counselors are kept.   Back in 1967, when I had the honor of introducing Dr. Hannelly for the dedication of the new Student Center, this building had been the bright spot of the campus.  But now other buildings had grown around it.  After some legwork I acquired an Advisor, filled out the paperwork to enroll and once more became a student.  

A Nutrition course, that would fulfill the needed Science requirement, was available.  Online!  Hooray! The bonus would be the ease of taking it. I could study when it suited me, hot coffee at hand’s reach, no bother to dress or even comb my hair.  Teacher would not be asking for answers on a chapter I hadn’t read yet.  I intended to ace this Course with ease and an A plus. 

My first clue that the Science of Nutrition might not be as painless as I pictured came with the arrival of 900 loose leaf pages. Glancing through this scientific volume brought a small chill.  There were words . . . phosphorylation . . . gluconeogenesis . . . phytochemicals . . . were these English or Greek?  Chapters looked ferocious . . . Digestion, Absorption and Elimination . . . Ugh!  

I considered backing out but my sister and son had paid for the hours ($299.00) and the book ($143.50) and I couldn’t admit I wouldn’t even try it.

My easy planning began falling by the wayside.  I could study whenever I pleased and this began to be constantly.  Push the book away . . . I couldn’t remember, I couldn’t understand.  Time to take a break.  Then the lessons pulled me back.  Try once more.    Morning hot coffee would be at my side . . . . As well as afternoon cold coffee . . . and evening hot tea. 

I missed my classroom teacher.  No longer could I stay late and ask questions.  Luckily Christine was patient and worked me through answers when I couldn’t explain the questions. 

My short term memory had abandoned me and the page I had read ten minutes ago had become a blur.  Slowly, in spite of my reluctance, I began to decipher those foreign English words.  The pink hi-liter in my hand marked out reminder words as I read.  The green A on a pink sentence substituted for my lost memory. 

It was not pretty, it was not easy. I waded through each chapter, not looking ahead.  Every day had hours of deciphering:  Find the catabolic and anabolic reactions, which require ATP, glucagon, glycerol, losing or accepting an electron.   Through sheer drudgery I acquired an acceptable grade on each lesson.  

Luckily I didn’t know what waited ahead on the midterm and final test or I would have found a way to forfeit the $450 bucks, get the beriberi fever or something.  

Then the instructor emailed the procedure.  Two tests.  45 questions with 50 minutes.     25 questions with 30 minutes.  Click the “next” button and no return.  We could take the test anytime within three days but we were locked in to just over a minute per question. 

I gave it the best possible.  For 24 hours I crammed through lessons, arranged my color charts, organized the subject with colored words circled and underlined.  All preparations made.  Papers spread around me in order and reviewed.  A cup of hot coffee on my table.

I clicked my mouse and the 50 minute test was before me.  Get the worst over first.  And I panicked.  I knocked the mouse to the floor, grabbed my coffee to keep it from spilling.  Then counted to ten and focused.  It didn’t make any difference if I failed, I would know I tried. 

Questions appeared in three categories.  If I had a recollection of the answer, I clicked and moved on.  If the words brought a total blank, I clicked a guess and went to the next one.  When it might be one of these green or red or blue circles on my study sheets, I allowed 30 seconds to find it.  Sometimes this worked. 

The 50 minutes flew by.  I arrived at the last question without realizing it.  Only 32 minutes showed on my clock.  I wanted to cry, I wanted those lost 18 minutes back. 
I didn’t take a break which turned out to be another mistake.  But I had to get it over with.  Do the 35 minute test now instead of dragging it out.   My state of concentration had exhausted me.  I knew the answers were there but they would not show up.

Yep, I flunked both of them.  My grade average showed a good possibility that I would flunk this course, my goal would be finished.  There would not be another try now, I had put too much into this one.

The lessons did not get easier, at least to my way of thinking.  We delved into the Diet Review, that little Exercise whereby we kept track of every miniscule of food we ate or drank.  A know-it-all program then spit out scary details about the good and bad in our individual nutrition.  Our assignment would be to further analyze the results and hopefully improve our diet. 

In my years of putting meals on the table my family put up with burned potatoes and store bought cookies. I considered it reasonably healthy.  However, this program did not agree.  When I tried to justify my methods on a lesson, the computer came close to putting me out of business.  

I wouldn’t accept it; I had gone too far to give up now.   I wrote a pleading letter to teacher with my reasons for the answers.  She understood and gave me points where the computer program wouldn’t.

The home stretch began.  Nutrition for pregnant women, for babies and then for senior citizens.  I had a few opinions on this old age stuff but I made my keyboard give text book answers instead of mine and I made it through.

Now came the last hurdle.  The speed tests were ahead.  Another challenge of a question per minute, click or pass, hit the answer or guess.  I set aside 24 hours to give this full attention.  When I finished it, and looked at the computer-given grades, I poured a small glass of wine cooler – a mixture of white zinfandel and orange Gatorade (durned good).  Then, with no attempt to rhyme, just tell the news, I typed the following to family

My wrist is taped with Ace bandage
Back is aching
Head is aching
Eyesight is a Fuzzy Blurry
Papers with red, blue and green colors
Spread in a semi-circle on chairs around me.
Teacup sits perilously on left edge of stand,
Timer sits threateningly on right edge.

And here are the results: 
Final test scores
Low C (on 45 questions in 50 minutes) 73%.  Class average 76%
Low B on (30 questions in 35 minutes), 83%.  Class average 81%

Hooray!  After 71 years I am going to graduate!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


When involved with a family – there is never a day goes by – when one wonders, “Am I doing this right?”  “Is my decision a mistake?”  Should I have talked to the kid or whacked him one?”  

The years fly by.  Somehow or another we managed to cheerfully survive the various crises, coming out on top with good health, happy expectations and love.  Nice.
The next couple of generations came along with the same questions and the same results.

This year those chickens have come home to roost.   

Through one of those happenstance quirks of fate, I am now enrolled in The Science of Nutrition, online at Phoenix College.  If I make it through this, the three credits earned will qualify me for an Associate of Arts degree.  When I wear the cap and gown down the aisle, it will mean four generations of our Phoenix Cheshire clan will have marched down that aisle.

It taint easy.  This 88 year old mind does not do a good job of remembering.  I struggle to answer questions and when at the wits’ end, I holler for help.  This last week I have been able to put the test to rest and sleep at night after emails to and from my Talia and my Fred.  Here are the time lines:  71 years from start to graduate, 22 years for production of Talia and 70 years of appreciation for my kid.  Time does fly.

The summer of 2015 has been unbelievable sunshine.  Three weeks in Texas with a great variety of fun with special sister Nancy.  Buford had the job of taking care of the “Lewis girls”.  Then Yellowstone and turning 88. 

The finale came with a cousin re-union:  Texas Kathy and Joanna  joined their Arizona family, Fred, Alice, Chris, Adriana, Terra with Clifton, Talia with Brian and my ‘I love you grandma’ Tia. 

After a week of feeling uggy and wondering if I could do it, this morning I submitted the quiz and report for Chapter Three.  I am learning about such strange animals as what happy bacteria do in the Gut Flora; where to avoid Gluten in the Celiac Disease; Probiotics (adding healthy bacteria), and Prebiotics (how to feed good bacteria).  I expect a 100 grade.  I expected that on the last test and was 20% wrong.  If you are interested, I’ll let you know.

This Blog is because I am so happy and so relieved to have Chapter Three on the way to teacher.  There are 12 more lessons to go, ending up December 9 and the chapter headings sound much more fearsome.  I’m looking forward to more help.

Family, I love you.                         
Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire         September 16, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Time Travel: a WEEK FULL of a HAPPYBIRTHDAYGolly, butit’s g...

Time Travel:

Golly, butit’s g...
: a WEEK FULL of a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Golly, but it’s great, To be Eighty-eight There was a time -- at 39 Forty was considered t...


Golly, but it’s great, To be Eighty-eight

There was a time -- at 39
Forty was considered the end of the line

Then Forty came around, -- new Life to be found

It began this way.  Sister Nancy and Buford planned a trip to Yellowstone in August, driving in their Minnie Winnie, their 16 foot green Winnebago trailer.

I commented, “Ah, yes, Yellowstone, that has always been on my Bucket List.  Ed and I talked about it, but the time was too late for us to go.”

Nancy, in her usual jump-in ready-for-adventure manner said, “Come join us.  Minnie Winnie has plenty of room for three.”  

Without thinking I took the idea.  “Sure, I can fly up and join you for a few nights.  I would absolutely love it.”

Whoops, I’m 87, high on dreaming and low on air.  But they wouldn’t let me back out.  Every objection I came up with, they had an answer. 
We made it easy on me.  Wheelchair for airport check-ins, changing in Salt Lake, check bag instead of dragging it.  Pack double places on pills. 

Going on the theory that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, I did a lot of worrying.  Altitude would get to me, I needed my naps.  And then the unmentionable problems that only come with age.
I was armed with two types of photography:  a point-and-shoot Canon that I hadn’t used recently and a “smart phone” that I didn’t understand.

The connection in Salt Lake is 45 minutes which should be plenty of time for Delta to Delta.  Only I was going from a larger plane to a smaller plane . . . from one end of the terminal to another.  First obstacle already . . . Worry, worry, the wheelchair wasn’t waiting.  I couldn’t miss the flight. 

 Their RV park was an hour away from the airport, I had to make it.   I asked for help and began a fast, fast walk, breathing hard for air.  Finally the chair came toward me and I quickly sat myself down.

We arrived as the plane was boarding.   I was unloaded at the gate and given a new seat assignment.  Whoops, did I have to ride on the wings?!  Nope, seat assignment 1B, right at the front.  Did they reassign because I was late, because I am old or because I wore my long-ago America West cap?  Never mind, take it and enjoy.  First class leg room, first class meal and first class Bailey’s in my coffee.  One worry that turned into a pleasure.

OK so far.  Cody is a small neat airport and I was met right at the airplane and my bag arrived with me.  Clouds and rain also arrived with me.  However, my big pillow waited in the back seat of the car so I could take my usual afternoon nap and I forgot to worry about altitude sickness. I was starving, we stopped at Granny’s for a full meal and I forgot to worry about upset stomach.  Golly, I was really here, breathing all the wonderful fresh air into my eager lungs. 

Yakety, yak, we all talked at once about possibilities for tomorrow.  Then came three games of Mexican train dominoes, continuing a competition started at our last visit.  

Time for bed.  Anyone who has lived in a small trailer knows how the kitchen table is transformed into a comfortable sleeping spot.  My three pillows appeared, just as I had ordered. I didn’t stay awake to worry any more on this day.

Sunshine the next morning.  I had packed shorts to wear and then came the warning:  “You better bring jeans, it’s chilly up here."  This turned out to be the best advice of the whole trip and I lived in my baggy pedal pushers.  Take the worry of clothes off of my list. 

Yellowstone Park is 30 minutes away from the RV park.  After an excellent breakfast from our RV park kitchen, I curled up in the back seat for my morning nap. “Wake me up when bears are growling in the window.”  

 Instead I was awakened to view the great wide expanse of Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake in the park. About that time I learned and was delighted with the frequent roadside cozy toilets.     
I couldn’t go back to sleep.  Would the higher elevation make me sick?  We arrived at the Continental Divide.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here I am at 8,391 feet and feeling fine. I was still astonished when we crossed the 45th Parallel.  

We came to the Upper Geyser Basin. The park attendant told us:  “45 minutes until time for “Old Faithful” to blow.”  There must have been a thousand people waiting in the area already.  We had a choice.  We could mingle in the increasing crowd in hopes of maybe getting a picture of the top half of Old Faithful.  Or we could head for lunch.  
We decided to enjoy BisonBurgers with huckleberry lemonade in a very comfortable Lodge. 

 Later I would aim the camera at a few pretty geyser streams I could see in the distance.  

The afternoon showed us the Upper Water Falls in the Grand Canyon, IMHO, the second most enjoyable stop of all. 

This day was so good and that meant the next day would be trouble.  After another filling breakfast, we could see the dark clouds bringing rain in our direction.  Despite the omens we started driving on the Chief Joseph Scenic Biway.  Again my worry paid off.  As we traveled higher, the dark clouds disappeared and the sun began to keep us company.  At Dead Indian Pass (8000 ft. elevation), we had beautiful views of the switchbacks which outlined the escape route of the Indians during the 1877 Nez Perce War.   

Could we really have discussed not taking this long route into Montana and back by the Lower Water Falls?  We covered it all.  When we looked over the photos, Nancy had great shots of bison and an elk of some kind with large horns.  I managed to get a chipmunk, a badger and a blob.

And Bison, herds of Bison, grazing in fields.  “Look, look to your right,” Nancy yelled as she aimed her camera.  A big happy Bison was taking a nap right by the side of the road.  I missed it but still had far away blobs of pictures. 

In the evening our fighting dominoes games continued.   I am not going to mention who led or lost in the battle because I don’t want to embarrass anyone.

I thought we had run out of places to see.  Then we discovered the attractions of Cody.  The riders on the Buffalo Bill Trolley Tours sang Happy Birthday to me.  In the evening an out-of-this world buffet dinner with prime rib at the historic Irma Hotel with the cherry wood bar from Queen Victoria to Bill Cody.  Also a candle in Boston Cream pie.    Then a fun Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue. 

On Sunday we visited the friendly Methodist Church.  Old Trail Town gave us lots of speculation about living in those days.  After dinner we enjoyed the variety of the Cody Rodeo.

There were constant stops for photos with Nancy getting great ones and my camera getting great blobs.  We included the tour of the Buffalo Bill Dam.   We enjoyed the Candy Store with tasty fudge and the Indian souvenir stores and Peter’s Sandwiches and the wonderful meal at Proud Cut.  Actually, all meals were wonderful.  We were unanimous that whichever place we were eating was the best. 
I don’t know what happened to those five days.  Suddenly the time had come to depart.  And again there were worries and compensations.  In Salt Lake we sat on the runway with wind blowing ferociously.  We waited what-seemed-like 30 minutes and I wished we would forget about taking off.  After we were in the air, I asked the flight attendant for coffee. 

 Then I inquired:  “Do you have Baileys?”  She did.  And gave it to me on the house with a Happy Birthday.  Passengers leaving the plane again gave me smiles and Happy Birthday.

Yes, the entire week had been a constant reminder that the fun time begins at 88.  I gotta remember this one because surely there couldn’t be a birthday this good when I reach 89.  Or could it?

Thank you so much Nancy and Buford.  
Every day was a gift and a blessing.  

Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire

Monday, July 27, 2015

Time Travel: THREE WEEKS, 21 DAYS

Time Travel: THREE WEEKS, 21 DAYS:       Three weeks, 21 days . Amazing!  Nothing went wrong in this long period of time.  Well, my cell phone didn’t want to send...



   Three weeks, 21 days.

Amazing!  Nothing went wrong in this long period of time.  Well, my cell phone didn’t want to send pictures or text, but I could live with that.  A TV never blared in my presence which was a plus.  No re-runs, no news.

It can’t be called a vacation when I no longer work.  I’ll name it as a ‘get-away” from my current life which is happily settled in an apartment I like and friends around me.  This trip is a get-away to a different wonderful 21 days. 

Sister Nan made up a calendar with the plan for each day.  Then I added in red the special happenings.  
We started with bright sparkly fireworks!  Well, maybe they weren’t meant just for me.  It happened to be Fourth of July.  Six of us happened to be maneuvering a pontoon boat on a river close to a park where celebrations were happening.   Don’t be worried by the photo.  The beer in my hand is real.  But the captain only let me take the steering wheel with miles of water around us. 
There comes a time it life when “what goes around, comes around,” and it certainly has come back to me in pi square quantities.  In my teen age years I did considerable babysitting for a cute little girl 13 years younger than me.  Now that cute kid takes care of older sister with class and style.  Eyes & glasses checked; teeth cleaned and given a good report; dentures adjusted; a haircut with the little snips that shape it; a first-class pedicure and then to top it off, an hour’s massage that soothed every muscle.   I looked the best possible for a party which Nan considers small with only 33 people. 
To work off the extra delicious calories we put in enjoyable long walks in the near-by park. 
Yep, pay back was here.  Except when it came to Mexican train dominoes. We battled every evening, keeping score in red on my calendar.  They wouldn’t let me win and I had to fight hard until the last day.  Score right now is the monster and the old lady tied with 13, cutie-pie catching up with an 11.   
We drove to Galveston in their Minnie Winnie – a pretty green 16 foot Winnebago trailer – and settled down on a beach RV park.  This gave me a chance to catch up on deep breathing with delicious sea air.    Old ladies get privileges.  They had fixed a curtain (mailed from brother Bill) so I had my own space and I was allowed to sleep an extra hour in the morning.  

In addition to play-acting joists and slapping the waves in the warm Gulf waters, we gave a day to the Moody Gardens.  Every pre-kindergarten school in the area visited that day.  However, we had more fun than the kids watching the fish and the turtles and the snails.  Then came the rain forest (they keep it as hot as Phoenix) with monkeys and pretty birds and water dragons. 

More good eating.   The two Lewis girls relaxed after their tour around the Gardens with a fancy named coconut berry drink that had fifty percent ice.  No worry, someone else did the driving and he watched out for us. 

Off to Nan ’s family.  Her four year old granddaughter doesn’t just read books, she writes them.  I now know all about the tree frogs and their activities.  Food in that household is of the healthy tasty kind.  One menu included white chili that tasted like a favorite very good bean soup to me. 

We enjoyed another daughter’s lake house,  spotting grazing deer and driving through green forest on the tree farm.  One evening musical granddaughter gave a special cello concert, just for me.  The height of enjoyment is reclining on a soft couch with Bach surrounding me.
We constantly ate.  Chinese, Mexican, fish and hamburgers.   Another special treat: being driven around in a 1931, looking like brand new, Ford town car. 

Everywhere I was given a welcome with so much warmth and love.  They shared their homes and lives as though I belonged there every day.  Plans were made with activities I would enjoy.  Care was taken to make my trip one that would go into my memory books as a very special one. Thank you.  I am a very happy-to-have-you old lady. 

Looking forward next year to returning again to my room, my “light” room.