Archives For Young Adulthood

I mentioned in my last post that we inherited precious patchwork quilts from our grandmothers. However, when we got married, my husband’s Grandma Fleagle made us two brand new quilts as wedding gifts. One was this rose pink and spring green bedspread pictured below, the other a classic Sunbonnet Sue pattern, predominantly turquoises and warm pinks.

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On the bed in our first apartment in Seattle

I was so honored to receive these quilts: they represented countless hours spent appliqueing and hand-piecing the tops, then quilting the layers, each tiny hand stitch a testament to her skill, creativity, and love for her family. We were by no means the sole beneficiaries of her craft – the woman could definitely church out the quilts! She lived in western Kansas and wasn’t able to travel to the wedding in Alton, Illinois, so she had my mother-in-law deliver them on her behalf.

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Grandma Fleagle  with my husband at his college graduation

Little did we know that Grandma Fleagle wouldn’t be with us only nine months later. We were in the process of moving from Seattle back to the Midwest when we got the news she had died, so we made some route adjustments so we could arrive in Friend, Kansas in time for the funeral.

Relatives gathered in the big old frame farmhouse, and the upstairs bedrooms filled up with folks staying overnight. The next day, the daughters were going through the mounds of sewing goods and quilting notions, wondering what to do with it all. My mother-in-law suggested that since they and their daughters all had sewing machines, and since I did a lot of sewing, I should receive the Singer. It was agreed, but then they took it a step further and actually boxed up everything else to ship to me, too! The only trouble was that there was no address to which it could be sent – we were still in the process of relocating!

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It was a couple of weeks after we landed in Des Moines, when several boxes were delivered to the tiny house we rented. I believe the contents of those boxes could have stocked half a small shop! There were multiple scissors and pins and needles and many thimbles. There were bobbins and tape measures and snaps and buttons. There was lace and rick-rack and seam binding and zippers. And mountains of spools of thread. Cigar boxes and fruitcake tins, filled with notions of all kinds, not to mention yard goods. There were even things I had to ask others to identify! (Tatting shuttles were new to me.) I guess a person wouldn’t want to get snowed in way out there on the high plains without adequate provisions.

Those supplies kept me stocked for a long, long time, and I appreciated being able to “shop” in my own sewing room. I was also hugely grateful to receive the sewing machine – I put that puppy to work for years and years to come. But as valuable as these things were to a cash-strapped newlywed, the absolute best find, hands down, tucked away among some hand-crocheted lace, was a tiny little volume entitled: Daily Texts with Verses of Hymns: Adapted for General Use and Suited for Every Year.

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Apparently Grandma Fleagle had a routine: a daily text at the ready, for meditating upon while stitching quietly. Written with a nib and ink on the inside back cover of the wee book is a gracefully penned inscription: “Presented to Ralph Fleagle by his great Aunt Anne Knox, March 24th, 1886”. *

It is the oldest thing in our house. And a treasure.

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  • [Ralph is my husband’s great uncle, brother to Jake Fleagle of the Fleagle Gang, who is listed directly above Pretty Boy Floyd in the Wikipedia article on Depression Era Gangsters. More on these nefarious characters to come. Warning: not for the faint of heart. Perhaps Ralph should have spent more time meditating on the tiny book.]

A Patchwork in Paradise

September 19, 2016 — 2 Comments

I was in paradise this past week. At least that’s what the website says:

“Little ol’ Hamilton, Missouri, has become a quilter’s paradise…”

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Hamilton, MO mural by muralist Kelly Poling

I’m not actually a quilter. But I was compelled to accompany three women who were planning a trek to said paradise, because…

These quilters were childhood friends! *

It’s fun hanging out with people who knew me when I was a gawky 13-year-old and liked me anyway. And even though I’ve not yet converted, I did get a sneak peek into the world of quilting and the community of its devotees. I even picked up a little jargon along the way: I learned the bakery case isn’t the only place you can find “jellyrolls” and “layer cakes”, heh heh. I had a blast popping in and out of the dozen quilt shops that lined both sides of Hamilton’s main street. Gazing at rows and rows of yard goods and admiring lovely quilts (displayed on virtually every blank wall — even elevators!) got me to thinking about…

The quilts I have inherited.

In 1970, my dad reconnected with a cousin he hadn’t seen in years at his dad’s funeral. In the course of their conversation, the cousin learned my dad didn’t have any keepsakes that had belonged to his mother (a fire had ravaged their family home not many years before my dad left home). His cousin happened to have a few sentimental items that were my grandmother’s and he offered to ship them to my dad, along with three quilt tops.she had pieced and sewn together by hand.

Shortly after I got married, Dad gave me one of them — a twin bed size quilt top. I purchased some batting and some fabric for the backing and began hand-stitching the layers together. The project occupied me for months through the fall and winter. Over the years, that quilt has been alternately placed on top of our bed, hung on the wall, and displayed across a quilt rack. Right now, it’s in the cedar chest along with a pink, blue, and white baby quilt given to my mother-in-law by her mother when my husband was born. It’s twin bed size too. Along with those two quilts, I treasure a third: another one made by my husband’s grandma, this one, double bed size.

“This fabric was from a housedress Mom wore,” Dad pointed out nostalgically as he bequeathed his mother’s quilt top to me. “And this one was from a dress she wore to church.” He lovingly identified the ginghams and calicos, the stripes and florals used in the honeycomb pattern of the quilt.

“Oh, look! Here’s the fabric she made my pajamas from!” he exclaimed. He recognized fabric scraps from garments worn by his entire family.

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Quilt top from my grandma (on top) and quilts from my husband’s grandma (middle and bottom)

I noticed that some of the quilt’s pieces had to be patched together just to make a three-inch hexagon. This quilt wasn’t the product of a hobbyist’s whim, fashioned from yard goods bought from color-coordinated bolts of fabric at the mercantile. No, this gem had been pieced together from scraps — snippets of fabric the family couldn’t afford to toss out, set aside to be repurposed as functional household items for the winter.

The second quilt my husband inherited is also fashioned from myriad small pieces of random prints. I love that the lively patterns and bright colors of all its snippets triumphantly defy the starkness of the times. When I look at it I see a hard-strapped farm wife managing meager household resources, capable of producing splashes of happiness and creating touches of beauty that could overlay the gray backdrop of a Great Depression.

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As I strolled in and out of the various quilt shops in Hamilton, ooh-ing and aah-ing at endless yards of splendid fabrics (some of them over $20 a yard!), I was struck by the contrast between what quilting was during our grandmothers’ day and what it has become. Circumstances aren’t nearly so demanding nowadays. Necessity doesn’t drive me to harvest small scraps of fabric just so I can piece together blanket tops (as if I even sewed most of my family’s garments!). Instead, at the end of my browsing in those quilt shops the other day, I bought a small stack of brand new pre-cut fabric squares — enough for a coverlet. Even though they’re not salvaged bits of cotton, I do plan to piece them together with a similar randomness to the pattern as in the cherished heirlooms.

And as I do, I will think of our grandmothers — reflecting on their hard-scrabble lives and being grateful for the legacy of these strong, resilient, and resourceful women in our lives.

And who knows, I might get hooked.

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My squares of purples and greens

__________

 

I think Americans are conflicted. About 18-wheelers, in particular.

Folks get frustrated, annoyed, and downright angry that they have to share the crowded roadways with these behemoths. They wish they could somehow ban them from the roads. And yet…

We want, and even expect, that our every creature comfort be stocked and ready to go, 24/7. We’ve been grown attached to, and even dependent upon, all this stuff that gets transported from its point of origin by truck.

Methinks there’ssome dissonance here.

I know there are rude truck drivers. And some drive dangerously. But I like to remind myself whenever I get frustrated by a trucker (who, let’s say, decides to pass another truck and ties up both lanes of the interstate for several miles) that they’re just making a living while performing a demanding job that ultimately brings my stuff where I want it to be, and he likely just wants to get home in time for his kid’s birthday party.

And yeah, I’m biased.

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My dad drove a truck from 1970 until he retired, all across the interstates of America from the East Coast to the Rockies, and from the northernmost states down to the Gulf. He logged some serious miles, wore out a bunch of Rand McNally road atlases (pre-GPS), and slammed down enough coffee to fill a lake, I’m sure.

His excellent safety record would occasionally be marred by making split-second decisions like jack-knifing a rig rather than plow into a VW Beetle that pulled in front of him and then stopped on a dime. Another time, he had a right front tire blow out when he was carrying air compressors. He was unable to maintain control of the vehicle, and it veered off the roadway and into a field. He later said, “When it rolled, compressors came shooting out of the top of that trailer like bowling balls out of a paper bag!” The cab came to rest upside down, with him dangling from his seatbelt. He made another unpleasant decision – to unlatch the buckle, meaning he would land on his head. He considered himself blessed to have walked away from that incident without harm to himself or any other motorists. Nevertheless, his safety record got dinged again.

I got to ride with him once. I was home from college during summer break and he was making a run somewhere out east. I had been hankering to see my cousins and since his route would take him right through Indianapolis, he suggested he drop me off after the first leg of the trip, then about a day and a half later, he’d pick me up. Sounded like a winner to me.

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[Me and Dad in Indianapolis, about to head back home (with  my brother); cousins on the right.]

Well let me tell you right here and now, the right seat in the cab – at least back in the day – will jiggle your liver loose. Meanwhile, the driver’s hydraulic seat floats blissfully down the highway. And the noise. So much noise. I discovered a new kind of violence that could be perpetrated on the hair cells of one’s inner ears. However, despite these discomforts, there was a major compensation.

Truck stops.

I can’t remember ever having a more delicious breakfast than the one I ate with Dad at about 1:30 a.m. (somewhere in Illinois – I was pretty groggy when we stopped). I think we ordered eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and the best chipped beef gravy on toast ever – and washed it all down with the quintessential brew, no cream. As I gushed about how wonderful it all tasted, he informed me it was actually pretty typical, because truck stops that don’t dish up good food, don’t stay in business. Made sense.

But as good as the meal was, the conversation at that truck stop was much, much better. The satiating of our taste buds, the unusual hour for communing, just the two of us travelling together… it all converged to create a powerful bonding moment between us. That trip was both memorable and sweet. (My jostled innards settled down eventually, too.)

Quite a few years later, after Dad had retired, I was visiting at my parents’ with my two little ones in tow. As I gathered our stuff and headed for our van, Dad asked me if I wouldn’t rather just spend the night, since it had gotten so late.

“Dad, it’s only 10:30 – I’ll be home well before 1:00 in the morning. You know what a night owl I am. I rarely get sleepy driving at night.”

“Are you sure? What if you have car trouble and some sicko comes along? A lot of bad stuff goes on out there, you know. Why don’t you just sleep here.”

Dad. What makes you think the first person I’d encounter would be a slasher and not some family man driving a truck?”

Heh heh, I had gotten him where he lived, as they say.

“Besides, whoever comes at me has to get past my Protector first! And if He lets them through, then the next thing I’ll know I’ll be on the Other Side. And I’m okay with that!”

“Doesn’t sound like I can talk you into staying.” Parents are often unsatisfied with their adult children’s decisions.

“I’ll be okay. Really.”

“All right. But call me when you get home, okay?” (Pre-Nokia.)

As expected, the van didn’t even hiccup, so I would neither be able to confirm nor deny the presence of slashers trolling I-70 that night. The promised phone call was brief.

About six months later, my parents came over for a jazz concert in which my two older kids were playing. As we piled into two vehicles to come back to the house, the guys were in the car ahead, and Mom and I took the van, with the two little ones in the back seat.

I meant to stop at the gas station earlier that afternoon. Really, I did. But they were temporarily closed to install new underground tanks. (Note to self: stop for gas at another station further down the road, after your next errand.) As fate, and my attention deficit, would have it, I never actually made it to the gas station that day. It became an issue on the way home from the concert that night, about a mile and a half from our house.

When the van sputtered I knew immediately I was toast. It came to rest within a couple hundred yards of the exit ramp we would have taken. I was glad I had on flats, since I’d be walking to the convenience store, less than a mile away. I put on my flashers and opened the side door of the van so I could let the kids out of their car seats. Grandma would watch them.

It was dusk, but the lights that pulled up behind us nearly blinded me.

“Need some help?” he asked as he approached.

[Now, lest you think I’m making this up, I promise that what I am about to share is indeed truth.]

This Good Samaritan got out of a truck.

That’s right. He pulled his semi onto the shoulder to see if a woman in a minivan needed help.

I said I’d be fine, since there was a phone just a little ways down the road, on that exit ahead. He offered to make the call for me.

“But you’d have to get off the highway to get to a phone (and get behind schedule). You don’t need to do that. Really, I’ll be fine. My mom’s right here with the kids.”

“No, let me do it,” he insisted.

So I handed him a slip of paper with our phone number, thanked him profusely, and he drove off. About ten minutes later, my husband showed up with some gas. Crisis completely averted.

Now, the humor in this scenario wasn’t lost on me or Dad.

We would smile about that one for years to come.

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[Dad, beside second cab.]

21-1My youngest recently turned 21, which got me to reminiscing about what I was up to when I was that age:

  • I lived in Des Moines.
  • My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary a couple months earlier.
  • I worked as a typist in an insurance company claims department — you know, Des Moines.
  • We were in the Hand-Me-Down-Mix-n-Match Era. (Translation: the furnishings of our little duplex on 62nd Street were s-p-a-r-s-e.)
  • I had fully recovered from the bloody nose and busted lip I got shortly before that Big Birthday. [Don’t ask.*]

But these factoids do not reveal those things I aspired to, things I dreamed of, things I wanted to be. Let’s time travel to that day long ago and visit the yearnings of my barely (but official) adult heart:

 

1. I wanted to live on a few acres and raise chickens, maybe a goat, grow a big garden, and tend an orchard and bee hives. 

Yes, I actually told people I wanted to do thisI blame this short-lived earth-woman-greener-than-Kermit-the-Frog-country-lifestyle fantasy on those wonderful visits to the farm as a teen, as well as the mystique associated with beekeeping (my uncle tended quite a few hives and my dad dabbled). But the reality is: I am a city kid, born and bred. I’m betting that if I were actually in charge of said mini farm, the plants would likely die or yield precious little, having been molested by pests, overcome by frost, or some other calamity, and the animals would probably only stick around for a couple of days before wandering off in search of a for-real farmer. The bees would probably buzz off, too.

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Lambs Quarters

But lately I hear more and more about slow food and heirloom seeds and ethical eating and all, and I think I really should have a hand in producing at least a tiny portion of what ends up on our dinner table. So last year I planted some perennial herbs in a little bed out back. I added a few tomato plants and then transplanted some lambs quarters (a volunteer green that is quite yummy sauteed or steamed and added to dishes — you know, weeds just might be my forté). It’s not much, but all the fussing over bugs and watering and keeping it weeded helps me tip my hat to and cosmically connect with the folks who labor to produce all the delicious local organic foods I enjoy.

May they carry on in perpetuity.

 

2. I wanted to see Europe. More specifically, France. 

I bandied this about as well. At 21, my French was still somewhat fluent and I longed to see the places that my years of education in things Français had brought to life: I’d tour champagne country, drink in the beauty of magnificent jardins, get lost in the chateaux, nibble on some bistro chèvre and crèpes and chocolat, and, of course, hit the biggies: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee and Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, Versailles.

Unfortunately, during those early years, setting aside funds for travel abroad was beyond our reach. We were in the mode of parceling out our modest wages on practical things, like chairs to sit on and lamps to read by, and spanking down those college bills. In the meantime, something else began to gradually overtake my European yearning.

states_imgmapAs we rewarded and entertained our frugal little selves with a weekend road trip here, or a little educational excursion there, before we knew it, we got hooked on seeing the good old U.S. of A. We’ve now seen 48 of the 50 states, dozens of national parks, and what seems like countless historic points of interest and natural wonders (plus several forays into both Canada and Mexico), I like to think we are destined to hit the Final Two before we croak. They are — drumroll — Montana (I know, why didn’t we bop on over when we were in either Idaho or Wyoming?!) and Alaska. It’d be simple enough to accomplish this in one colossal expedition — the Quintessential Dyer Road Trip.

 

3. I wanted to be a women’s counselor. I didn’t tell a soul about this one, though. At 21, I didn’t imagine I had enough life experience or training to be giving no kind of advice or guidance to others. After all, I had a big enough challenge just navigating my own obstacle course. Yet, deep down in my heart of hearts, I really wanted to help people along their way. Women, in particular.

I had seen this book laying on my husband’s desk; while he was travelling overnight for work, I read it: How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, by Alan Laiken. The author touted many of the classic principles of time management and life coaching. The part that stuck with me, though, was what he said about writing down your goals. He didn’t let you off with writing just one set of goals, no — he said a person needed six-month goals, three-to-five-year goals, and lifetime goals. So I wrote. And then I stuck the little piece of chartreuse paper in a private journal.

I would pull the list out periodically and it would jump off the page: Become a women’s counselor. Mr. Laiken had said that if you didn’t devote at least ten minutes a day doing something that helped you progress toward your lifetime goal, then you weren’t “owning” it. I was working in an administrative support capacity and later became a full-time mom — no counselor training in the offing. Long stretches of time would pass between reviews of the short list on the chartreuse paper. Every time I got it out, I felt less and less justified in even yearning to do this. What was I thinking? Unless I am willing to make sacrifices and get the necessary education, I should just give it up.

I hung onto the piece of paper for twenty years before I finally admitted, Who are you kidding, Linda. You haven’t been on track to accomplish this and you’re not going to get on track. I tossed it in the waste basket. I felt less burdened, but a little sad at the same time.

I continued raising kids and being a wife and doing the kinds things middle age women typically do. And all the while, I rarely thought about my original hankering. I was busy learning new skills, venturing into new territory professionally, cultivating a network of friends in a new community, and finding satisfaction in it all. Then one day, one of these new friends made a pointed statement about how the things I had said really helped her see beyond an impasse. In reply I said something about always having wanted to help people.

And that’s when it hit me.

I had found my way to the fulfilling of my heart’s desire after all, without even realizing it. I looked around in my life and saw all the ways I was actually doing it — I just hadn’t hung out a shingle. In fact, it’s not really my style to help others in a for-pay context. I learned early on that I didn’t enjoy sewing when I was paid to do it — those jobs always seemed like such a chore — I much preferred to do it “for love”. Likewise, I would much prefer to “help” for the sake of friendship and love, not profit. I had become more confident now that I had more ample life experience, had accumulated a significant body of knowledge, and variety of skill sets. I realized that in the course of just living my life, I had found frequent opportunities to use my gifts to provide a leg up” for others.

My dream came true: I became a helper of women.

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* Okay, since you went ahead and asked anyway: I was in an auto accident. And I’m here to tell you it’s very difficult to claim it’s the other guy’s fault when you hit a parked vehicle. And I wasn’t even texting! 

But forever after, I religiously placed my purse on the back seat so as not to tempt me to take my eyes off the road to rummage through it looking for, lets say, some stupid nail clippers. And yes, it was acutely embarrassing.

 

Okay, so here’s what I didn’t tell you about the engagement ring last time (Box Office Blues):

Shopping for the ring was a genu-ine adventure.

When my husband moved to Seattle, he got acquainted with a college friend’s dad who purchased cosmetics and jewelry for a large drug store chain in the Northwest. When he learned that Art was about to pop the big question and was in the market for a ring, he wrote down the name of one of his wholesale connections, along with the phone number and address of his business. Apparently, this man could hook you up.

I flew up for semester break and learned we’d be buying rings from this guy downtown who was supposed to be giving us a really good deal. Okay, I thought, whatever works. We found the correct block, parked, and fed the meter. The address we were looking for was in the middle of the block, but it was just a door. We walked in and proceeded down a slightly dim, narrow hallway.

This is sorta weird. So, where’s the jewelry showroom?  

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I imagined we were going to a Zale’s or something. Shows you how much I understood about “wholesale”. We spotted the door with the jeweler’s name on it. A short, bespectacled man with a slight paunch and thinning hair answered the door.

“Hello. My name is Art, and this is Linda, my fiancée. Bob said you might be able to help us — we’re looking to buy wedding rings.”

“Oh, right! Come on in.” We entered the smallish office. Not a piece of jewelry anywhere in sight.

“Give me a minute to wrap up some paperwork and I’ll be right with you.” Before long, he grabbed some keys and headed for the door.

“Come with me.”

He led us back out into the hallway, locking the office door behind him. We followed him on down the hall to a freight elevator. The three of us rode it to another floor — another new experience for me. Then down another hallway to a nondescript door. He unlocked it. The room was filled with safes, one of which he opened, then lifted out several large oblong trays. He stacked them on a counter, and placed one directly in front of us, removing  the lid.

I tried hard not to gasp audibly. Inside that tray were more diamonds and gold than I’d ever seen in one place in my entire life! This explains why all the keys and safes! l stood there, just staring like a fool at q dazzling array of brilliant and fiery gems, exquisitely highlighted by the black velvet inside the tray.

“See anything you like?”

Ha! He’s kidding, right? They’re ALL gorgeous! 

Our host must have noticed my head spinning. He helped out by selecting several individual rings, placing them on the lid of the tray. Then he handed me one. I gingerly took it from him.

“Wow, that’s nice,” I murmured, as I held the diamond solitaire up to my hand. He repeated this gesture several more times, and as I put each one to my finger, it scored a perfect 10. Realizing we would be there quite a while at this rate, my husband thought of a way to narrow the search.

“How much is that one?”

The man turned over a tiny tag on the ring to get a look, then quoted a price that reflected his 50% wholesale discount, which was still about twice as much as we could afford. We spelled out our price range, and he went for a different tray. (This is hard to believe now, but my husband’s starting training salary in 1969 was a whopping $500 a month.)

Again, he lifted the lid, revealing more stunning rings — more modest*, but dazzling in their own right. We’re talking diamonds here. I continued with the selection process until he handed me one that especially caught my fancy.

Oooo, I really like that one.” My sweetheart agreed.

“It does have a lot of fire,” the man pointed out. Indeed, it did. We then asked him his opinion regarding the ring’s design. What he said in reply has since become a favorite and oft-used line in our family:

“If you like it, it’s niiice.”

Sold to the young, mildly impoverished suitor from Kent! He lifted the matching wedding band from the tray, replaced the lid, and returned all the trays to the safe. Back down in his office, he boxed the rings and wrote up the ticket. Having completed the transaction, we thanked the helpful wholesale merchant and waltzed out of his establishment and back out into the fresh air. Did we really just get my rings?!!

[Insert Bond movie here.]

A few days later, I would find myself back in my dorm in southern California — in bed with the flu, in fact. My appetite was gone, but attentive roommates insisted on keeping me supplied with fresh hand-squeezed orange juice and grapefruits from the dining hall. Another friend brought fresh-squeezed tomato juice. (This was, after all, southern Cal, and the food at our school was exceptionally high quality.) I consumed all offerings, hoping to stay hydrated. I had just slid back into bed after downing some o.j. when, about ten minutes later, I started to feel tingly.

Hmmm. That’s strange…

Moments later, the tingling morphed into itching. I mean, serious itching. And I felt flushed. I headed for the medicine cabinet mirror. The visage staring back at me was horrifying: my face was covered with welts! I glanced down — my arms were covered, too. I lifted my pajama top — Aack!! they were even on my tummy. The welts grew larger and larger as I watched. I stumbled down the hall in search of someone — anyone! — to help me.

I spotted a girl at her desk. She took one look and emphatically declared, “I’m calling the infirmary right now! You go lay back down!” I did. But lying there alone, my thoughts spun out of control. What dreadful disease had I caught in Seattle? How serious will it be? A couple minutes later, she came to my room.

“The nurse said it sounds like hives.”

Never heard of them. Can’t be good…

“She doesn’t think they’re serious and they’ll probably clear up in a little while, but meanwhile, we’re supposed to get you into a warm bath and dump some baking soda in it.”

The bath solution immediately soothed the itching. I relaxed in the therapeutic waters for about fifteen minutes, at which point the hives had nearly disappeared. So I got out of the tub, wrapped my robe around me, and headed back to bed. The last thing I remember seeing was a girl sitting cross-legged on the floor, visiting with one of my roommates.

When I came to, I was staring up into a cluster of faces. Apparently, I had gotten out of the tub too quickly, so the blood rushed from my head. Naturally, when I fainted, everyone came running. And now all of them were hovering over me, peering at my now hive-less face.

“Are you okay?!”

It took a moment to get oriented. They quickly filled me in on the sequence of events and why I was flat on my back in the hallway. I made a move to get back up, but the visiting girl stopped me.

“I think you need to stay here a little longer. We don’t need you fainting again.” I obediently put my head back down.

“What’s this?” she asked, holding up my newly ring-clad hand.

A roommate gave her the scoop. “She flew up to Seattle and got engaged over the break.”

“So, that’s it!” Moving her head closer to mine, she quipped, “You’re allergic to this ring! I think you should give it to me — I’ll hang onto it for you, heh heh.” Everyone thought this was just a riot. Unfortunately, I was too woozy to join in the hilarity. Laughter trailed down the hall as two of the girls escorted me back to bed.

I recall the incident being retold often that semester and every time feeling silly for having created such a commotion in our dorm by overdosing on vitamin C and triggering an allergic reaction.

And just for the record: I was really glad it was the citrus, and not the ring.

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From our wedding album, 6-11-72.

[* A couple of years ago, a student worker in our office asked me, “You got married young, didn’t you?” I told her yes, as a matter of fact, I did. “I knew it,” she replied. “I guess based on the size of the diamond — young couples are usually pretty broke.” Nailed it, she did.]