Thursday, February 26, 2009

Think moving day was hot?

The comments on the 106° moving day, brought to mind the "hell" we barely survived in the summer of 1980. I couldn't figure how to describe it, so just to see what came up, I Googled "weather archives Wichita 1980" . The following article came up—and just about says it all! We had to take some extraordinary measures at the restaurant, as our lives were literally in jeopardy. Tomorrow I'll discuss what those measures were.   Hugs!


Sweltering heat took a long, unwelcome vacation in Kansas during the summer of 1980. The blistering heat arrived with a vengeance on June 24th when the mercury soared lika a fighter jet to 103 degrees. Afternoon high temperatures broke the 100-degree barrier each day for the rest of the month, culminating in a monthly high of 110 degrees on the 30th. The nighttime provided very little in the way of relief as lows in the mid to upper 70s were prevalent during that one-week span. Little did anyone realize that the atmosphere was just getting "warmed up". During July, the heat wave hit full throttle when high temperatures cleared the 100-degree hurdle a staggering 24 out of 31 days, including an eighteen day stretch from the 3rd to the 20th. The 4th was, quite literally, hotter than a firecracker, when another 110-degree reading was achieved. With heat that intense, some Kansans probably did their holiday barbecuing right on the pavement. The record heat reached a pinnacle on the 12th, when Wichitans baked in 112-degree temperatures. With nighttime temperatures in the lower 80s, air conditioners received the workouts of their life. It appeared that the heat wave was losing its grip, when a cold front crossing the region on July 21st caused temperatures to "nosedive" back into the mid 90s with overnight lows dropping to near 60 degrees. Not so, as temperatures shot right back up into the 105-110 degree range from the 21st to the 28th. The heat wave that wouldn't die was entering its third month. The record heat didn't break stride as August took the baton and raced to a high of 110 degrees on the 1st. In fact, 11 of the first 13 days of August would see triple-digit highs. It was on the 14th that "the sizzling Summer of 1980" began to ease its grip on Kansas, as temperatures settled back into more seasonal levels. However, it was too late, as 20 record high temperatures were set between June 24th and August 13th, all of which stand to this day. During the months of June and July, Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport only received 1.81 inches of rainfall, 0.47 inches of that was in July.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Another pause in "our" story to catch you up on my sleepless, painful night. Last night was the final straw! I'm going back (started this morning) on my estrogen! Last night I suffered from 22:00 until 09:00 this morning. Mel was back from his morning bus route before I ever got to bed! I'd taken 8 Neurontin by 05:00, and squirmed miserably until #8 finally took effect. 

I'll be honest with the endocrinologist when I see her in a couple more weeks, and I think this will probably mean that # 20 doctor will be another wash out. She does not get that estrogen could have any correlation with MS or my "shooters"! The doctors are each on their own page and my 19 years experience with myself has no bearing on what's in their lousy books—so I'm WRONG!

Forgive my rant! I wish 19 doctors would have to suffer a night like I had last night!   Hugs!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another move!

I was so ready to jump into Mel's quitting drinking that I neglected to relate another earlier big event. The year was 1976, it was August 6th, 106°, and we moved, again! The lease was up on our rental house, it had had flooding and mold problems, and we weren't about to renew the lease. We'd been eyeballing a house two doors down which was for sale, and we applied for a loan on it (with fingers crossed). We got the loan, and today was moving day. We had plenty of big, strong young guys lined up for the cost of a keg of beer, and a few pizzas. It was the toughest move of all!The two houses had a split rail fence between them, and with each item carried, one had to make the decision to go over, or around it. This was a big deal if you were carrying a hide-a-bed sofa, or a heavy dresser. Those had to go around, making the distance carrying them (in 106°) longer. What a grueling experience—we're fortunate we didn't lose any friends, or lives due to stroke over the ordeal! But the job finally got done, and with doors closed, AC on, the pool table assembled, the keg still heavy, and pizzas arrived—it was time for fun and games!

The picture above was taken many years later, but shows pool table and rec. room. Background (hands on head) is youngest—Doug. Middle are Arno & Mel—foreground is Doug's friend and a close neighbor.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bye Bye

The fact that Mel didn't like the drunken bum either gave us both a new way to view the problem. This was my first true understanding of the saying I'd heard repeatedly—"I am powerless to alcohol". He had zero control over the bastard! However, that's not quite true—preventing the drunk taking over was as easy as not taking the first drink.  Without booze, he was the guy we both liked.  

The fact that we'd separated the drunk from the great guy also allowed Mel to save face. He didn't have to wallow in remorse, or apologize for having hurt so many—it wasn't Mel that had done those hurtful things—it was the drunk! 

Mel did attend an AA meeting at my insistence, but said that it was not the program for him—that he'd do it himself. He did talk with one man at the AA meeting who gave Mel his phone number and offered to sponsor him. I told Mel that he was the only one that could do it, and to follow his conscience. 

A couple of "dry" days later, Mel confessed that he'd called the sponsor saying that he really wanted a drink. The wise sponsor told him to go out and drink, then,—you know how that will turn out! Mel also told me, that day, that he craved sugar. I'm certain that you could see the light bulb over my head! Of course you crave sugar—you've been "drinking"  the equivalent of cups of sugar every day, and you are having carbohydrate withdrawal! "Get in the car!", I ordered. We went to a candy store, and I told him to stock up on everything that appealed. He protested at the expense. "Verses drinking?", I reminded him. "But, I'll break out!". he worried. I love sober broken out! 

The candy eased the cravings, and we were already over the hump! Mel ate about a pound of chocolate every day! But, he was able to gradually wean off of it. And we had the guy we both liked! In October we'll celebrate 30 years of his glorious sobriety! Bye bye drunken bastard! We don't miss you at all!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


One of the most major events of our time together occurred almost exactly one year after we had opened the restaurant. We had settled into a regular routine of getting up at about 04:30 to have the restaurant opened by 06:00. We each had our duties, and were quite efficient at them. 

On October 20th 1979, the bedside alarm went off—but Mel was not in bed with me! He had not been home at all. I dressed, and went out to check if the car was there. It was! It was in the driveway, with Mel passed out in the driver's seat! Thank-you Lord for getting him home, and I pray he didn't cause anyone else an accident! I roused him only as far as his getting to the bed—but he wouldn't be opening the restaurant this morning. 

I drove to the restaurant, and began doing double duty. We had a waitress opening with us, and she came in shortly after I did, and was a huge help in getting three jobs done by the two of us. Neither of us was experienced at cooking, but we got the place opened, and muddled through getting the orders taken, prepared, and delivered. Most of the customers were regulars, and knew us well. They were understanding of our inferior (to Mel) speed and perfection. 

We had a very busy lunch every day, and had a lot to do to prepare for it, while doing our other jobs.  We were a bit frantic as to how we were going to manage lunch with out "superman", when he came through the door. But instead of offering an apology, or any appreciation of what we'd accomplished, he was angry and critical. He did a lot of yelling, cursing, and wound up calling me a filthy, vile name. That was my final straw, and I went to the office, took $250 from the cash-on-hand, and left a note saying "This (repeating his vile name) took $250—you'll find the car at the bus station."

I went home, called the bus station to find out when the next bus left for Hutchinson — that was where Arno was now living and working. I figured he'd put me up until Mel and I got the separation settled. I packed a bag, and was just about gone when Mel caught up with me. (He'd shut down the restaurant, and left the clean-up to the employees) 

We calmly sat down to discuss our options. My demands were very limited, and I was calling the shots. I told him that he was two persons. He was my loving, wonderful husband; and he was a drunken bastard! I love my Mel to pieces, but I can't stand the drunk. Up until today, it had been worth putting up with the drunk in order to have my great guy; but that was no longer true—I'd attended Al-anon meetings off and on for years, and knew that alcoholism was a continuing and growing problem, and would never get any better—I hated the drunk, and would not live with him any longer. His surprising-to-me response? "You know what? I don't like him either!"


Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Restaurant

The next major event in our lives was the purchase of a restaurant. "Major" is an understatement! It was a dream come true, and a nightmare! We knew it would be hard work, and that there would be tough times, but we never even imagined some of the snafus that confronted us. We both knew restaurants pretty well, but lease laws, federal and state regulations, septic woes, water-well woes, burglaries, water heater failures, equipment failures, and $1,100 electric bills were among many of the unforeseen barriers we had to surmount. Color us surprised at what we'd gotten ourselves into. 

But somehow we managed to keep our heads above water, and built quite a clientele.When we started there, the place had been closed by the health department—it was FILTHY!!! In places, we literally "cleaned" with a hammer and chisel! It had been a truck stop, open 24 hours, with no management. After cleaning, making menus, & supplying, we opened the doors to very skeptical customers. They waited, watching to see what scurried across the floor or up the walls before they got brave enough to order something. 

After we got established, and found some decent help, Mel did all the food prep and daytime cooking, I did the baking. I was called "The Pie Lady". Mel made "his" outstanding soups, sauces, Mexican food, etc. Together we put out "to die for" biscuits & gravy. After a few years, we began to hear of referrals from all around the US. Truckers, or passers through would tell friends to be sure to stop at Brito's if they were in the area. It was a long journey from those first hesitant customers.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Janie & Hank!

Today is CA sis & hubby's 49th wedding anniversary! Congratulations to you! And wishes for many more love-filled years.  Hugs!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Christmas was a tough time for me. Trying to figure out what to get the kids was driving me crazy—they were all so afraid that one might get more than another, and thus was a "favored" child! Sheesh! I finally decided to confront them with my feelings, and see how they felt about my dilemma. I called them together, and told them that I had come up with three possible solutions: 1) give them each a check for the same amount; 2) buy identical gifts; or 3) buy each of them what I thought he/she would like the most even if I spent different amounts. I asked their choice, or if they had a better idea. They unanimously chose #3. So I was off the hook. I also told them that there would be times when one of them might need more attention than the others, but the amount of attention given was no measurement of love. I explained that one cannot compare love between individuals. We had quite a discussion on feelings for friends, parents, grandparents, and other family. I could see that they were beginning to grasp the idea.Things improved greatly after our "talk". 

I still had some delicate times with René. She had a fear of doctors which was profound. I surmised that it was association with losing her mom, and took her to a few sessions with a psychologist. I think it helped a little, but the sessions were beyond our budget, and the improvement was not that apparent—but he did give her some tools to help her face issues later in life. Another problem between us was that she had a very low tolerance for pain. My pain tolerance level has always been very high, (too high—I don't feel anything soon enough to get early aid) and, I had to learn to give sympathy for what was a really big thing to her even though I'd have shrugged off the same thing had it happened to me. An example was the first time she came crying holding one hand with the other, "Look, she sobbed." I expected to see a gaping wound, but honestly didn't see anything more than a tiny red spot. She was obviously in real pain, and I began to understand that she had a very sensitive, and keen system. All of her senses were/are much sharper than normal. If she hears, smells, or tastes something—believe her! It will eventually prove that she's right.

The picture is another shot of the cow pond. It is Mel (cut off his head to be sure I got a great shot of the fish—lol) with a stringer of beauties caught about ¼ mile from our front door!  


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My First Ice Storm

The kids were all much happier with the Kansas school, and they each found friends in our neighborhood. I didn't have to worry, back then, (or in our tiny community) about abductions or the like—so the kids were free to visit, or bring friends home (with permission) and the stability of our home environment began to show in their behavior.  The two who were 8 weeks apart, were in different grades. The older (Curtis) was born in early Sept., and René was born in late Oct. so wasn't old enough to get into the same class. That was really fortunate, and helped with their rivalry. But the battles for the security of attention continued, as did the drinking problem.

The temperature started dropping early that year, and we all needed more than CA clothing. So it was off to Sears! We needed sweaters, jackets, coats, scarves, gloves, hats, blankets—the works. 

I went to work part time at the Hilton, too, (waitress) and got the lesson of a lifetime one day, while we were so new to conditions in Kansas. The temperature dropped suddenly while we were at work, and an ice storm moved through, leaving the roads covered with about ½ inch of black ice. We (Mel & I) had 7 miles of this to drive home on! It took over an hour. I was astonished at the ice rink the city had become! I never knew such things occurred! I absorbed how Mel maneuvered—it was so impressive! I've never seen conditions quite so terrible since, and I hope I never do, but I'll always be grateful that I had such a skilled teacher. The yo-yo bad drivers provided as good a lesson—I learned a lot of what not to do! The ditches were lined with vehicles, I witnessed cars stopped with the rear wheels continuing to rotate, people zipping through a 4 way stop, etc etc.  I learned about ice scrapers, and having doors frozen closed. 

The picture above shows Curtis at the frozen cow pasture pond. I've always loved the picture—one of a thousand words! More soon! Hugs!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First days in Wichita

Now, back to Wichita 1975. I've dug up a few old photos for the next few blogs—the one above is my mother, with the three kids in front of the rental home shortly after settling there. Telling you about the cattle, & farm pond, brought back some vivid memories, and one pretty good laugh. The laugh came at some wee hour in the morning, when the urge to pee hit, right after moving in.  Remember that we'd lived in 3 states, and 4 different houses in the last 6 months. I was lying in a very black room trying to remember where I was, and where the bathroom was. I could see nothing, and would have to wall-walk—but needed to figure out what direction to head out. In this confused fog, I heard, "Moooooo!".  Now, when we rented the house I knew that it faced a vast open field, but I did not know then, nor at this  particular moment that the large vacant space was a cow pasture! So here I was, with yellow eyes, in a mysterious black room wondering...moo? moo? Where am I?

We did some exploring within the next few days, and found, close to our house, a wooden "A" frame like a small ladder with steps on both sides which provided a way to get over the barbed wire fence and into the cow pasture. We discovered the pond, (watering hole for the cattle) and got the owner's permission to fish (yes it contained fish!) there! Remember, too, that Mel was the only one of us to have experienced 4 seasons, and we all were oblivious to the weather that living in the mid-west could dole out. (We're in Kansas, Toto!) We had lots to learn about cold, snow, tornadoes, thunderstorms, "watches" "warnings" sirens, etc.. I'd never even seen an ice scraper, and couldn't figure out why we were the only ones with plastic garbage cans. (I'd packed in them) The dawn came crashing home when I went out one bitter day to add to the trash can and found a large pile of trash surrounded by splintered plastic! Our "cans" had shattered! Aha! That's why! Lots to learn!


A Truck Load Of Love To You!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Sister left, this morning. The sad news is that she's going back to hubby! I won't say much more than that. 

I'll need a few more days to get back into my "normal" rhythm, but I'm working on getting back to "our story". 

Huge hugs around!

Friday, February 6, 2009


Finally the money arrived, and we found a rental house in Albuquerque. The moving van brought our stuff, and I had everything unpacked and set up in no time at all (I'd done a marvelous job of packing *patting self on back*)
Mel went to work at the Hilton Inn in Albuquerque. He was a line cook, there, but soon took the place of 3 cooks. I found a part time waitress job, and things were okay, but not good. The kids were unhappy with the NM schools, and there was lots of rivalry. They all got chicken pox, too and that wasn't fun! I'm not saying that it was all bad, we had fun times, but generally, things were lacking.

A former boss (Innkeeper) of Mel had opened a new Hilton Inn in Wichita, and recognized Mel's name on the payroll. He contacted Mel, and flew him to Wichita offering him a position as head chef.  Mel accepted, and went to his Albuquerque boss to give notice. Albuquerque boss beat the offered Wichita pay to keep him. Wichita offered more, then Albuquerque trumped Wichita, again. Wichita offered still more and Albuquerque folded. Wichita won, and it was pack-up time again! *sigh* It was at this time that "X" filed for custody and we married.

I'm going to double back to CA, again. Mel called me one evening saying that he was bring his "grandson" home. I replied jokingly, "I think you forgot to tell me something!" Grandson turned out to be an old friend (old as in known long time—he was only 22 years old—9 years my junior) He (name Arno—yes I spelled it right) had worked with René's mom, and the age difference was enough that Arno fondly started calling her grandma. Of course grandma's hubby was grandpa! And I, as grandpa's proposed, became grandma, too! Arno took a job with "grandpa" in CA, and moved in with us there. He was a great help to me, and the kids were mesmerized with him. Arno had a masters degree, and was a brilliant kid.  He enjoyed cooking, and he and Mel made a great chef/sous chef team.

Back to NM. I was facing another move (this time the Hilton paid the movers to do the job!) and had my hands full with the kids, and without Mel.  Mel needed a sous chef in Wichita, and called Arno who was still in CA. Arno came running, and relieved me in NM while I drove to Wichita to house hunt. 

I found a nice rental home with full finished basement. It was in a very rural area of Wichita—7 miles from the Hilton Inn, across a narrow street from a huge cow pasture, with a farm pond. An elementary school (all 3 were still elementary) was just under a mile away, but the kids would be bussed (no sidewalks or traffic control). It was a very small school, and looked ideal for the kids. We moved in in late August just in time to register the kids for the new school year. With Arno, we were a family of six, embarking on a new life.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

We're Off!

Mel went to NM before the rest of us. He was lining up a new job, etc.. I got the exciting job of packing up a house full to be transported in another month when we'd found a place to send it (and received the money from the house sale). And, of loading, packing, and transporting myself, 3 kids, two dogs and enough of our belongings to last a month into a Gremlin (see picture—but mine was light green), and drive 1100 miles (18 hours). I think Mel had the easier end of that scenario! But I was young, and didn't have, "I can't" in my vocabulary. 

I thought that I was ingenious in loading the Gremlin. The back seat folded forward leaving enough room for two kids to lie down in the space between the bucket seats and the rear hatchback door. The third kid sat beside me, and they rotated. The dogs (both small) went wherever they were most comfortable—usually in my lap or at my feet. *sigh* As padding for the kids in back, I'd lined the floor with our clothing, and put bedrolls on top. With pillows, and driving at night they were sleeping much of the trip, and surprisingly comfortable. (easy for me to say)

We took off after school on Valentine's Day, Friday. Monday was a holiday—president's day, and I figured the extra day would be useful to acclimating, and give the kids a brief break before starting a new school. What I forgot to calculate was that I'd hit outbound L.A. traffic at rush hour on a 3 day week-end! We crawled along the freeway until I spied a place to eat. We lingered at the restaurant until traffic thinned enough to resume our journey. I drove for hours in very strong winds. It was really tough to keep the car under control. My mind was spinning with the enormity of leaving the only place I'd ever lived, and heading into a total unknown. That and the difficulty of fighting the wind had me so occupied that I failed to see the cop until the lights and siren came on! I was within a very few miles of the AZ border. So, my parting gift from CA was a speeding ticket! 

We finally arrived at Mel's parent's house, and lived there for a month! Ten of us in a 3 bedroom house! The kids got the pleasant surprise of snow the next day, and had a blast playing in it. They were still enjoying the snow on Monday, when a gentleman approached me wondering why the kids were not in school. It was a truant officer—and it was not a school holiday in NM! Busted! So, it was off to register and enroll the kids! When I got back to the house, another gentleman approached—animal control! Busted for leash law! Sheesh! What a welcoming committee!

To be continued.....   Hugs!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Back to "our" story

First, a comment on the ice situation. It's improving, but temps are declining, again. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous—so we're hanging on. We lost power again for about 15 minutes today, but we're back now. Also, I had a much better night last night on Neurontin, again. Fingers crossed that it continues. And finally *deep sigh* enabler sis has left her hubby, again. A slightly skeptical, and cautiously optimistic, "YAY!" She is coming here, again, I'll try to keep you apprised.   

Now, back to the story of Mel & me getting together, and some of our obstacles: 

To continue (part 3) with some of the tales of the uniting of me and my 2 boys (traumatized by a nasty divorce), and Mel and René (traumatized by the loss of her mother), I'll begin in So. CA where I was born and had lived my whole life. This was early 1975, and I had turned 31 in December. Mel would turn 35 in July. The kids were 10, (boy) 10 (girl), and 7(boy). I was also traumatized by the divorce (my ex had been a terrible emotional abuser), and Mel was also traumatized by the sudden death of his wife. Mel was a (in my ex's term) "f-ing Mexican", and he drank excessively. I was financially strapped, (ex played dirty and "got" me good—he got the gold mine I got the shaft) and struggling to care for kids, work, keep house and pay bills on a crappy income. I'd had to give up my good paying bartender job and go back to waitressing, because in those days, a woman was looked down on for doing a "man's" job. (actually, it had been illegal for a female to tend bar in CA, unless she was the owner, until 1973!)

René was further unsettled by the facts that she had lived in Seattle when her mom died, and she'd lived with her half-brother there while Mel made arrangements to bring her down to CA. So, to be introduced to a stranger (me) who'd be her primary care giver in a strange state, in new schools was really tough.

When my ex got wind of the fact that I'd be going to NM with Mel, he filled the boys with scary thoughts of our going to old Mexico to live in a shanty, yada yada. Isn't this a great way to start a relationship? Yes, Di, René hated me, the boys were very skeptical of Mel, and the kids were all vying for acceptance and security in that way which children have of bringing out the very opposite effect. As in misbehaving in order to get attention. It was a slow process of gaining confidence, and showing stability in our personal relationships, if not in a permanent home and school. 

More to follow.....     Hugs

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I had another poor night, dang it! I'm about ready to go back on my estrogen, but I'm going to hang in there until the ordered estriol arrives. I know it'll be another week or so of discomfort—but I'll try to grin and bear it. It's sure a puzzle as to why this occurs at night—I guess because I don't try to get horizontal during the day. But, why do they mysteriously quit at 05:00? Sounds like colic, huh? I've already connected colic as being neurological—another story. I'd had shooters earlier in the evening (excitement over the game, I think) but, they wouldn't settle down even with the new medication, Lyrica. And, I can't mix the two, so I think I'll go back to the old stand by, Neurontin.

We didn't get enough thawing by Sunday afternoon for Mel to get the bus out. So, he spent 4 hours hacking and chipping away at the melting mess. It was do or die, because the slope of our yard causes the melt to cross the driveway where it re-freezes, and continues to build instead of getting better. He finally was able to drive the bus to the top of our driveway. And, with 4 extension cords, get it plugged in for the night. He thought he had it snaked for school this morning, but hadn't contemplated the walk up the drive to start the bus in the dark—talk about a slippery slope!! It took about 5 minutes, with some innovative tools, but he made it. 

The picture above shows him heading back to the bus for the afternoon route. You have to look closely to see the bus, and can barely make him out. But gives you a good idea of the slope, the distance, and why we've been frozen inside the house for 3 weeks before.  He'll keep the bus parked in a neighbor's yard until we are fully thawed.