Those 70ish girls…Learning Toddler Lingo

As we babysit our 20 month old grandson, we are trying to decipher his language. Just today I became “Gimme” adapted from Grammy and Ken has always been Poppa. So he’s Poppa and I am Gimme. His toddler talk is hilarious at times and we often can’t figure out what our grandson is saying let alone know what he means. He’s always friendly so he says, “Hiyo!” for hello. But what does “tied” and “eh ee hopper” and “daddy truck” mean? Then there’s “ride aye plane” and “tips” and “tack”. What is that kid saying? Huh!?

Did you say “trucks”?Don’t even get me started on names for his toy cars, trucks, airplanes and general toys. There are excavators, garbage trucks, tow trucks, police cars, cement trucks, and plows, loaders, and trains and more trains. He loves trains, “choo choo” and they have wheels, BIG wheels. But I wasn’t going to get started on that. Sorry.

A toddler likes to engage you immediately, and Ev is no exception. The minute you walk into a room or arrive home… get ready because the toddler has a story ready and he’s tearing into it, rearing to go and letting the words flow. Except a few words might be left out so you have to fill in the intended meaning here and there and uhhh, everywhere.

Toddler: Hiyo!!! Poppa daddy truck go. Tow truck go uh oh, scuse me, Tulu! (HINT: Tulu is the family’s big dog who is always nearby.)

Gimme: What did he say?

Poppa: I don’t know.

Toddler: Peet car! Eh hee hopper! Train, nither train ! Uh oh….

…. Toddler: (continues)Mama ooka yay yay!

Translated- Hello! Hey, Poppa, garbage trucks go. Here’s a tow truck. Excuse me, Tulu, may I get by? Police car. Helicopter! There’s a train and another train. Uh oh,Mama is at ukulele lessons. At daycare he told the caregivers about his toy garbage truck which he pronounces “daddy truck” and they kept telling Ev that his daddy did not have a truck. So our daughter explained one day to the daycare ladies that Ev calls garbage trucks “daddy trucks”! He knows his Dada doesn’t own a truck. He calls his father “Dada”. It’s so simple to make others understand. Oh, yeah, right.

And then there are the books, many many -maybe thousands! Part 2: Children’s books

The myriad of books and the toddler story about those will be coming soon. Now I need to rest up and rejuvenate myself for toddler time tomorrow. I’m exhausted after playing trucks all morning with two long walks pushing the red wagon and helping Poppa carry Ev most of the way, and laughing and changing diapers and laughing more at Ev and reading books not to mention cleaning up after him.

Pics of keeping up with a toddler –


Pushing the red wagon

Tow truck time and drinking water-

Water bottles are hilarious

Ninny is exhausted- let’s get some sleep.

Tulu needs a break, too. I am all for that.

Nightie night.

Those 70ish girls…On The Road Again and Again

Ninny joined us again on the road to Portland but first Ninny was seen here with a big scary friend.

Is that bear following me?

Beautiful Oregon skies above

A dusting of snow on the treetops

We finally made it to Portland after a couple stops. We saw this lovely artwork in Sutherlin at a coffee shop along the way.

Now we will be babysitting for a few days and eating lots of good food at my family’s house and at our hotel, so we better get some sleep because that 20 month old little guy will keep us hopping. Nighters to you all.

Those 70ish girls…Road Trip CA to OR by Lav

Left central California this morning and got to Grants Pass by dinner time, although we don’t have any dinner, yet. And President U. S. Grant was not born here nor is his tomb here but it’s a great town. We did drive over the Siskiyou Pass at about 4000 foot level through wind, snow and sleet. I was driving and my knuckles were white as we went through white fog, too. I finally pulled over and my husband drove. Phew.

Ninny was a trooper driving here.We brought all her stuff. Not sure if we brought more of her things or ours. I have pictures of the drive with snow covered mountains and green fields. We had sunshine, rain, snow, sleet and wind. Variety is the spice of life, but do they mean that with regard to the weather?

Driving north on I-5

Our stuff and Ninny’s-

We left sunny California for this. Drove halfway today and we shall see what tomorrow brings as we head north to Portland. Road trips are fun. Ninny seems to have settled in at our motel. Oops. Ninny needs to eat dinner so gotta go. I wonder what they have to offer in the lobby’s vending machine?

They grow rice in California here and store it in those large containers. Night night.

You Can’t Fire Me Cause I Quit, Kinda by Lav

Upstairs at the Midnight Star, eating dinner, sometime around dinner time, about 25 years ago, long time ago, listening to cousin Mary, MG, but she wasn’t MG back then.

The Midnight Star was a restaurant in Deadwood owned by Kevin Costner

She was talking about leaving her Big Job and how she planned the whole thing. She meticulously thought it all out. She was even a genius back then. How did she do it? How did she decide to leave her high-paying, stress filled, upper level job? It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t simply to walk out, slam the door and give no notice to her supervisor. No, she would invite people who worked there, known as fellow employees, to a big party and she even sent out fancy invitations. She ordered a humongous cake with frosted writing: Happy Retirement, Mary! There would be decorations, lots of them, refreshments to go along with the cake, all done in coordinating pastel colors, and gifts and cards galore with best wishes and sentimental remarks written inside each one. It would be fantastic. It was fantastic.

As Mary spoke, telling me the story long long ago, I kinda spaced out, as I often do, so I cannot recall the exact story of Mary throwing her own going away party, but she loved telling me about it and I remember how she laughed and slapped her knee. It was a memorable memory in her mind, if there is such a thing. And for her it was a wonderful way to quit her job. She will have to share it with you because it was a good one.

We have all been on jobs that we have liked and also hated. I tried selling magazines over the phone in high school because a friend got me interested in making a little money to help buy clothes and shoes and babysitting wasn’t much fun. I lasted about a week. Being a human recording was a bore, plus I am not a good salesperson.

“Oh, you don’t need any magazines and you are sick of people trying to sell you crap? Sure, I understand completely. I would not buy these magazines either. Thank you, sir and have a great evening.”

In college I loved my job working at a big department store and getting discounts on clothes. A couple of my friends worked there also and we had a blast walking around asking if people needed help then letting the older sales ladies ring up customers purchases. This wasn’t really selling anything, and besides, we could see the newest stuff coming in the back where our manager worked. We were the first ones to look over the clothing lines just being unwrapped. It felt new and privileged to set aside what we wanted to buy all with a discount.

Then I had to leave that job to get married and go on two honeymoons. I also had a job as a teacher’s aide now but didn’t work summers. They kept my job open for me and my mom made sure that we returned from our honeymoons and went back to work and college. She could be persuasive, thank goodness, because she was right and knew it was time to grow up and be an adult.

Me with one of my students

Thanks to a good education, lots of training and working with fabulous people over the years, I have been super lucky. I haven’t gotten fired nor layed off from jobs, but I have probably come pretty close. When I was doing my student teaching at a public school in 6th grade, my master teacher set me straight a couple times for saying off the cuff dumb things, and when I scheduled a police officer to come talk to kids before starting a unit on juvenile delinquency and didn’t clear it with the principal, they probably wanted to fire me except I wasn’t getting paid and this job was required to get my teaching credential. All of a sudden this uniformed police officer shows up in my class! Everyone on campus was in shock. My college professor who observed me, saved me and tried to warn me to get permission next time, or I might be dropped from the college teacher education program.

The only thing that keeps us going in some jobs, is the money. However, in my best job ever…teaching kids…it was the kids and some talented and fun loving colleagues who kept me going for 34 years. and in another volunteer job recently at the SPCA, even though I have made a lot of mistakes, the beautiful loving dogs kept me going and they can’t really fire me because it’s volunteering nor can I say, “You can’t fire me, cause I quit!”

I wish I were back at the Midnight Star many decades ago, and could relive the time MG told me her hilarious story, so I could get it straight in my mind. As my son said when he was little, “Mom, I can’t rememorize it.” I hope you all have some funny stories about jobs you’ve had. Now being 70ish, we won’t be having many more.

Ken taught 3-8th, and I taught k-2nd grades in Pacific Valley School south of Big Sur, CA. We’re helping students in this picture.

Those 70ish girls…Over the Hill but not out of site

Over the Hill But Not Out of Sight by Val

I’m sure you have noticed how we senior people of advanced age and just plain old, use certain phrases or words that are sounding out of date. We might say, “That’s a horse of a different color.” Now really, aren’t horses usually different colors so what the heck does that saying mean? Have you heard that one? Not recently, I bet.

I heard a gal today say, “March came in like a lion so it will go out like a lamb.” What’s with all these animals getting dragged into old folk’s language? And was she talking about the weather or that a lion and a lamb somehow managed to get inside her house? Heaven forbid.

My Mom used to say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I am guessing that she meant, if you’re trying to get fancy, it won’t work if you’re not rich and a pig’s ear won’t help you, although I haven’t had a chance to get hold of a sow’s ear recently.

We aging people also use words not heard since the 1960’s and even as far back as the 1950’s like “groovy, far out, cool cat, too much”. You can probably think of a few words on your own which have inconveniently stuck in your declining memory.

Cool cat!

This is MG, and I see where you’re coming from, Cuz. I mean, I can dig it! Kip still says rats, and I say crap. My kids called everything sweeet! One word from back then that I still hear and don’t like is, “Duh!”

Can you dig it?

Looking back to my youth, words like hip, rad and geek, come to mind. Do you get my drift? I don’t think kids go steady anymore, and you still can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.

Good idea, Cuz. This has been a real gas!

MG in 1965…flip hairdo
Early 70s? Aunt Helen with daughters Sue and Trice. Val with Mom, Ella

Those 70 ish girls… Waiting By The Phone

By Valerie Halla

In high school a bunch of us were asked to try on clothes at our friend’s mom’s clothing shop…boutique is a fancier term for it. We were going to model clothing to help sell more clothes for her…promote is a nicer word for “sell”. I chose a cute sporty pair of pants with a tight fitting jacket to model and the rest was history…meaning my one chance at modeling was history…ancient history. It was fun walking across our high school gym floor and pausing here and there, as the boutique owner mom spoke about my outfit on the microphone to about 500 teenagers sitting in the bleachers. The mom said she liked my walk and commented to everyone about how I strutted around with energy and panache. I was thinking, this is fun and I don’t even have to buy the clothes.

That was the extent of my modeling days. I still love clothes, dream of a job where all you do is dress up and walk with panache, but models have to be thin and no amount of panache can make me give up eating. I wear sunglasses a lot, even indoors. That’s because Hollywood movie stars wear sunglasses a lot. That’s another job…career sounds better…which left me sitting by the phone. I love movies and celebrities and watch the Oscars. I forgot to get an agent, but I still applied for jobs as extras, movie theater ushers, popcorn venders and the person who claps the clappers before scenes. The phone never rang, except for prank calls and aggressive sales people, and recordings of sales people.

My careers as a model and movie star went south, way south. It was fun to dream about being a star…celebrity, a better word, covers more options. I’m happy at this stage of my life though and when the phone rings, I’m happy to hear from one of my three loving children, husband or from a wonderful relative or friend. I gave up waiting by the phone, however, I still love wearing my Ray Bans a lot. Makes me feel nice….um, I mean cool…a way cooler word.

You do it!
No, you do it!

Those 70ish girls…Lackluster and Tired

Lackluster and Tired by Valerie Halla

My dear cousin and I were completely on the same page. We were texting one another. We were tired, unmotivated, lethargic, lackluster, listless, not to mention slammed, overwhelmed, and down in the doldrums. We were both having a case of the post reunion blues. That was part of it. I felt exactly as she did at the same period in time. We were both feeling kinda depressed with no reunions, parties, hotel continental breakfast buffets nor casinos to attend. No lipstick colors to choose. No outfits to coordinate or boots to wear There was nothing to really look forward to, except maybe a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy or secondhand clothing store. No free Krispy Kreme Donuts, high calorie salt-loaded snacks downstairs in the lobby, no cold drinks that resembled water but were sorta juice, sorta sugary, zero this, zero that, zero flavor. All for only 12 bucks.

Son, Matt looking a little lackluster a few decades ago.

Yes, we were down, down on the ground, as the Beatles once sang.

Mary was hoping to snap out of it soon. She was living the carefree life on the road, queen of RVing. Things were a bit challenging lately. Life happens, I was back working and saving my money for the next reunion, where ever and when ever the next one popped up. We had to be ready. I was trying to think positively. Maybe one of our relatives would invite us to their in-laws reunion. We could meet a lot of interesting people and just tag along, like that movie The Wedding Crashers, only we would be the Reunion Crashers. That might help us snap out of this sad sack situation. We would have something to look forward to. Our tour guide and driver, Billy, might call us any day to inform us of another gathering. He could find them pretty easily. He had connections. He could sniff them out. That would be exciting. Yeah, we could be packed in no time. Mary even had the perfectly darling red bag for travel, and had practiced a special technique of rolling her clothing which served two purposes: It kept the clothing from wrinkling and it saved space in your bag. She could be ready on the spot. She also bought stuff she didn’t really need and left it at the hotel for someone else to find and use! Genius idea. But that’s another story.

Here’s that same picture, again!
Grandson, Everett watching out for a reunion.

I think I’m feeling a bit better now, but my lackluster feelings are just under the surface. Maybe I’ll go to the gym tomorrow or stop and have a donut, a chocolate cream filled one. I can’t decide. Maybe I will stay home and practice packing. It’s serious ha.

Next time, I will tell you about my roommate on these excursions. She’s kinda sneaky, and gets up often in the middle of the night to seek leftover soda, food, Krispy Kreme Donuts, (the calories don’t count if you eat them in the dark while others are sleeping), or run off with the car to a casino or hang out at the Buffalo with old classmates til 2:00 in the morning. You meet such interesting and crazy people at these fun events, and some are even your relatives.

Those donuts are spoken for…(Marilyn Penticoff and Allen Elwell at the Gathering.)
…And then I said…(Morris Haugland with sister Essie Haugland Moser at the Gathering.)

Those 70ish girls…With it

When we first arrived at the Gathering and were looking for the right entrance, I heard my cousin, Val, say to no one in particular, “Oh, there’s the Arizona flag. This must be the right place.”

With Bobby Brost 2 gatherings ago.

Val was walking next to Gus behind my brother, Billy, and me. I had listened to her talk to herself all the way from the car, which we had parked quite a ways down the street. “Mary drives safely,” she said. “She puts her hands at 2 and 10 on the steering wheel.”

“Have you ever really listened to Valerie?” I asked Billy. “She’s really funny.”

Our Moms and Gus several years ago.

We had passed the door to the room where the Gathering was taking place and were backtracking when I realized we had left the cheesecake that Valerie and I had gone all the way to Walmart that morning to purchase, in the car. We’d worried all morning if we had done the right thing by leaving it in the car while we got ready. “Will it be too warm? Does cheesecake melt?” I finally walked outside and determined the car temp would be cool enough. “That’s good, Val said. ” We would have had to tip it sideways if we put it in the little refrigerator, and that might mess it up if it fell out when we opened the door. Would we be going to the Gathering if we weren’t still with it?” She asked as she laid down on the bed.

I thought that was an interesting question. Who would say, “You girls can’t go. You’re no longer with it!” Someone other than us would have to make the decision if we were with it enough. That’s a daunting thought for sure.

Billy and Valerie when they were a little more “with it”

I had the best time with Billy, Gus, and Val. Though I don’t look like it, I’m the youngest of the four of us. Some days I’m with it and some days I’m without it. I hope the decision maker catches Val and me on a good day because we would sure like to go to the Gathering again next year.

That is a daunting question, Cuz MG. Maybe we should nominate someone to officially decide if we are “with it“ enough to attend next year’s Mesa Gathering. We have a lawyer cousin who could draw up the legal papers and delegate psychological healthcare providers to determine if we are able to go in 2024. Or we could both vouch for each other. After all, wasn’t that pretty smart that I identified the Arizona flag flying over our hotel? And I had pretty good spatial thinking predicting that our Walmart cheesecake wouldn’t fit in the hotel room mini fridge. I also observed your outstanding driving skills.

You were pretty much ahead of Bill, Gus and I during our treks to the casino, restaurants and the Gathering clubhouse, walking briskly along to get to the doors before us. I remember your head above the others bouncing along a few feet in front of us as you raced to check out that Mexican restaurant the night after the Gathering. You were energetic and fast! Of course we had a great sugar rush from all the desserts and cheesecake we had eaten that afternoon; we were full of energy, not to mention, we hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep, which you admitted made you silly. And Bill was the lucky recipient of the remaining Krispy Kreme donuts as we left the Mesa party. Surely we could eat a couple more donuts in the morning. MG and I secured the box of donuts in our room. Mary ate one later mentioning how worth it those calories were.

In the lobby the next morning at breakfast, Mary returned from her 5:00 am drive and thankfully avoided a Silver Alert driving back to the hotel. I sat in the lobby sampling the hotel continental layout but those donuts kept creeping into my feeble thoughts. Still I was with it enough to text Bill back when he asked what we were doing. Mary brought the donuts down to the lobby after she got back and chatted with me about her trip to the casino. The large cardboard Krispy Kreme donut box sat beside us as we had tea and coffee. When Gus came down, he asked a gentleman trying to enjoy his breakfast alone at the table next to us if the man would mind if Gus set the donut box on his table. The man didn’t mind. “Thanks, sir.” The man was officially on donut patrol. So we filled out a bday card for our sweet cousin in South Dakota and chatted. Next Bill came down and MG said, “I thought you would’ve looked better for all the time it took you to get ready.” Bill kinda ignored her asking me, “Did my sister just put me down?” Then Bill noticed the donuts. Mary turned around to the donut patrol man and said, “Sir, you’re in charge of our donuts. They were free. Would you like one?”

“No thanks, “ Sir replied, “How’d you get them for free?” He looked curious.

Bill explained that we were at a reunion and they were left over. “We didn’t find them by the side of the road or steal them or anything like that!” Sir didn’t want one.

I was beginning to feel less with it and spaced out. (Mary mentioned that she, too, often got distracted though she will probably deny saying that.) . I recall Mary mentioning that Gus wanted his jackknife from the car and Jesus is Calling in the car. Mary said, “Yeah, I will go get it and Jesus is calling.”

Shocked, Val, who had been distracted, said, “Wait. What? Jesus is calling? Huh? I didn’t know you were that close, Gus.”

After a quick laugh and a joke Mary told, after a couple funny videos Gus shared, Bill reached over and got a donut. We all left to get packed up and ready for the drive to the airport. The donuts went back up to the room. When Mary and I packed up, we each took a chocolate frosted donut in a plastic bag and crammed them into our purses. I left a note atop the box for the hotel maid, “Free Donuts. They’re still good. Enjoy.”

Hours later, my crème filled, chocolate-frosted smashed donut tasted like nourishment from sweetness heaven, as I sat down to indulge and wait for my flight. The trip had been a blast, a great success, and we four would all happily remember it, and take the memories with us, as well as a few extra calories.

Billy chatting with Ken Poppe. Mick Penticoff and Jim Arnieri (Patti Dykstra Arnieri’s husband. are in the Background

Those 70ish girls…Ruth and Edith..Gathering reminiscing

By Lav and MG

Many, many years ago, Ruth came from Sweden to our little town of Murdo to marry Carl Nyquist. Maybe Ruth’s maiden name was Carlson as that was her spinster sister, Edith’s last name. Ruth brought Edith with her. They were very close sisters.

Lav and I might not get all the details of this story correct, but we’ll do our best.

Anyway, Carl owned a farm North of Murdo where he and Ruth settled into married life and raised their only child, Mildred, who we always knew as Sugar. Sugar went to school with and was great friends with Lav’s mom, Ella, and my mom, Loretta.

The Nyquists eventually moved to a little house in Murdo. It was white with red trim. Edith always wore red rimmed glasses. Probably just a coincidence. There are many funny stories about Edith and Ruth who referred to herself as Zee (meaning I or me in her delightful Swedish accent.)

We all loved the Nyquists, but we confess that we got a real kick out of their accents and often told stories about funny things they said or did. Billy recently recounted a story about Ruth and sister Edith from long ago when he worked at Sandersons General Store with another young man. Billy and Roy Hauck were in the back of the store restocking and didn’t see the sisters walk through the big front door. They suddenly looked up to see them saunter in, purses on their arms, dressed up for a “town trip”. Roy looked over at Bill and said, “Get ready for another harrowing experience.”

At the Mesa Gathering Patti Dykstra Arnieri told another story from when her parents and Nyquists attended a movie back in the day. Ruth and Carl were sitting behind Patti’s parents at the movie in Draper. Evidently the bad guy was doing something. Ruth said, “Oh, you tink he get avay vit it Cahl?” Carl replied, “Nooo, he von’t get avay vit it.”

Once, when Sugar was in town, Mom invited the 3 ladies to lunch. Mom had just learned how to make tacos which were kind of a new thing to Murdo. I think Pierre may have had a Taco John’s by then. When Mom excitedly announced she had made tacos, Ruth announced, “Zee don’t like Taaacos.”

This story was contributed by Gus. Sugar told him about her mother turning on the gas stove before walking across the room to get a match. By the time she got back to the stove and lit it, the flame was high with a loud, “POOF!” Ruth looked at the rather horrified Sugar and said, “It do dat!”

My Mom, Ella told a story of their sweet Murdo friend nicknamed Sugar, Mildred Nyquist, standing up to Loretta during WWII when a Murdo group had an apartment together in California. Billy was just a baby when his Dad was away in the Army overseas. Loretta, a new mother, couldn’t keep up with all the cloth diapers. She got behind and the smell of dirty and wet diapers was getting overpowering.  Sugar was a calm gal, but she stood up to Loretta and wasn’t going to mince words. She let Loretta have it, telling her in no uncertain terms, she had better take care of all the cloth diapers, do laundry and get to work. Loretta was seething. She had a new baby, plus  she was recovering from a cesarean operation. Her frustration boiled over, and she had an immediate response for Sugar’s complaint. When Sugar was away at work, Loretta took an especially stinky cloth diaper and put it under Sugar’s pillow on her bed covering up the pillow with the blanket and bedspread, returning the bed as though nothing had been disturbed. I never heard the end result. However, I think Sugar was the one boiling mad after that trick and probably let Loretta know what she thought quickly returning the nasty diaper to her. The Sanderson girls were strong, lifelong friends with Sugar until her passing.

Loretta Sanderson and Sugar Nyquist before the diaper incident.
Sugar Nyquist and George Parker on their wedding day.
George and Sugar 50 years later. Sugar had her mother, Ruth’s pretty skin.
Sisters Elna Miller, Ella Lecky, Loretta Gustafson, and their friend, Sugar Parker
Sugar with Billy and Liz Francis
Sugar with her big kitty