Things Fall Apart: An Appliance Break-up Tale

You love them. You depend on them. Your relationships last for years of mutual aid. And then – they prove unreliable, they break down, they make you break down…

I speak, of course, of appliances.

When we bought our current house, the previous owners were SO AWESOME that the original 13 year old appliances still worked like new. Of course a couple years with us and they started to act their age.

The stove: We substituted a gas range right away. T’was a festive day with a gas person, an electrical person, a stove person… it is still working great!

The microwave: working great!

The refrigerator: the old ones buzzes like a bee but I haven’t found any honey, only some other stickiness. Ordered a new one in August, hopefully will get it for my Valentine’s present!

Deep freezer: Works great! (Unless left opened then you lose your broccoli, all your meat, your icecream cake… hypothetically of course…)

The dishwasher: hold onto your hats. The control panel went out in the summer – our Boschtician declared it terminal. We couldn’t get another dishwasher until April. We ordered it and tried to fix the old one but it wouldn’t work. My amazing parents brought a simple dishwasher with only one button – it only lasted a week. The warrant people checked it out in late December and ordered the part. They showed up again on 1/13.

Guy: did the part arrive?

Me: uh no…

Guy (checks phone): it’s on back order see you in two weeks!🤷‍♀️

So we have one broken one in our house and one on order that they tell me may never come. Ahhh the sorrow of unattainable love doesn’t hold a candle to black Bosch dishwashers.

Washing machine: dead. For months it sounded like an airplane taking off. Our Boschtician sadly declared it also terminal. Something about bearings. I ordered new washer/dryer. PLOT TWIST they don’t make them the size that fits under the shelf anymore so we have to take out the shelf. The washer died a week before delivery so I am driving to my parents townhouse to wash clothes.

I am so thankful for their washing machine. Otherwise I would be beating the laundry and my head against a rock.

Dryer: let’s end on a high note. Works great and another one is coming!

I am SO THANKFUL for appliances, for repair people, for my amazing parents, that we can afford to fix and replace what we need to. I do wonder if my terrible luck at games has somehow seeped out into the world of appliances.

In closing I wish you… an appliance happily ever after!

Married to a King

I always think of Chris’s Granny, Gail King, at Christmas time. She loved snow – loved watching it fall and the way it made the world beautiful. She and Papa as we call Chris’s grandpa had a difference of opinion on snow… he wanted to be in Florida before the first flakes flew! Also her birthday was just a few days after Christmas so during our visits we celebrated both, separately of course.

When I met Granny, I knew I had met a kindred spirit. She welcomed me warmly into the family. She was the story-keeper, regaling me with tales of Chris’s childhood. She had a rich story herself -the blue-eyed baby of a large unruly family, she was swept off her feet in her teens by debonair Charles King. Together they built a life and raised their daughter Becky (Chris’s mom) and son Bobby, who died too young in his 40’s of cancer. Granny herself suffered two decades of poor health. Thanks to the pandemic, we know the wide range of ill effects COVID can cause… Granny likely caught some kind of nasty virus in her 50’s that messed with her pancreas and her heart. She also un-lucked into leukemia. Despite a life dictated by rest, pills, shots, doctors’ appointments, and negotiating with insurance and pharmaceutical companies, Granny was a ray of light to those who knew her. She had a couple close, dear best friends. In fact two of her friends made the trek all the way to Colorado for our wedding, providing support and company for Granny at a time when she was very unwell.

A visit with Granny and Papa at the beach several years ago

Until she passed away in 2016 Granny always wanted to show me a journal she’d written about an RV caravan journey out West that she and Papa took with some friends. That trip was definitely a highlight of her life! The journal finally resurfaced when Papa moved to a new house. Reading it, I feel close to her again – delighted by her discovery of the Western landscapes and riveted by the challenges they faced including mechanical failures, intrapersonal tension, and getting the warfarin checks and medication deliveries they needed.

I am so glad she got to meet her first great-grandchildren Savannah and Bobby (the son of her grand-daughter Sam). I believe in heaven she is delighted to see that Chris and I had a red-haired little boy just like she did – we often talked about how much we loved redheads. Now Sam has a red headed little girl named for Granny and I know she is delighted!

Granny loved her husband Charles and he took such good and tender care of her during her years of illness and her last few months. I see much of him in Chris – fantastic cooking abilities, the same keen mind, and the ability to see things in 3D. Papa could visualize engines and cars, Chris could do that with molecules and chemistry. Deeply loyal, Papa built strong relationships with the people he worked with.

Papa didn’t take it easy after he retired; he took care of Granny and kept their land well-tended. He and Granny invested so much in Chris, taking him fishing at the bay, having him over often. Papa stayed active in the Masosn and drove Granny down to Florida each fall, and he still goes down today despite whatever health challenges life throws at him. His new friend Norma has become dear to our family and kids.

On a visit with Big Papa on a pond near his new house

I have to mention Granny’s sister Fay who has become a bonus grandma. She moved to France in her 20’a and built a life and family there; we have visited her several times there and have seen her in Virginia as well. We hope to continue seeing and hosting their family far into the future (once the pandemic is over!) My life has been so much richer for the family I have married into.

With Aunt Fay Thanksgiving 2019. I think the kids needed a nap 🙂

I am so thankful for Granny and Papa King, for their long and fruitful marriage and the way they soaked love into my husband. I see so much of them in him. I will always miss Granny and am thankful for all the time we get to see Papa.

The Blessings of Boswells

I won’t lie, I am a fan of my married last name. Easy to spell! For someone who had always been a B (Bugosh), I was excited not to go down in the alphabet. And I think it has an elegant ring to it!

Of course you should never marry someone for their last name! However one of the many joys of my marriage has been gaining another family. I am so thankful for Chris’s dad and partner James. And I am very thankful for his grandparents, Albert and Joyce.

They married young and have stayed married over 55 years – through 4 kids, ups, downs, health problems, fun vacations, family tragedies, rowdy grandkids, and now the pandemic. A marriage like that takes work, dedication… and fun and laughter too!

The Virginia Boswells, Halloween ‘66!
The Minnesota Boswells, Halloween 2020

Chris’s grandpa has a great sense of humor and excellent taste in stories; he is an expert on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! Chris gets his culinary talents from both sides, but Big Pop as we call him always makes us delicious meals. Lasagna and spaghetti with ribs and sausage are some of the highlights – always with carefully tended garlic bread and a delicious salad. He has acquired quite a collection of eagle decor and VW buses (thus far only the miniature variety). Noah LOVES to play with his collection.

Gma has amazing mom-sense; she still helps with her great-grand babies! She is so patient. One of my kids broke a unique snow globe and she was so kind about it – comforted the child and got the vacuum. She has a plethora of hummingbird trinkets and pictures, and keeps the birds in her garden happy with beautiful flowers and decor.

Boswells in the beautiful Backyard

For many years they hosted the family for Thanksgivings and Christmases. Even when we couldn’t make it due to training and jobs, they always made us feel included.

Pop and Gma make a fantastic applesauce cake – rich, sweet, packed with walnuts, and a little spicy. They make one for the grandkids every year and even though we aren’t local we get one too. This year they gave it to us when we were visiting in October. We ate about half of it during the rest of our time in Virginia – the perfect snack (what kid doesn’t want cake for snack?) and I liked to think it was healthy! When it came time to leave, I packed it home in my backpack and ate it from the counter in Minnesota, a delicious reminder across the country of the loving family I married into.

While this isn’t THE cake – we ate it too quickly to take pictures – this is a good representation!

Proud to be a Bugosh

There are not very many Bugoshes in the United States. If you are one, you may have been nicknamed “Boog” at some point. Your last name has probably been pronounced Bug-osh (my family says it with a long u). You may have been asked if you have an Osh Kosh B’gosh connection (we do not!) You probably are part Slovak since most of us hail from a small village in what is now Slovakia. You may have a coal-mining heritage.

I think of my Grandpa Bugosh every time I look at my son, who shares his name and his red hair (albeit a slightly different shade). My grandpa impressed my grandma on the football fields before she met him and then won her heart with his good listening. He is thoughtful, kind and caring and remains calm and patient despite going through some terrible times – medical challenges and medical errors leading to almost 30 years with limited mobility. When coronavirus permits, he continues to play games, enjoy socializing and watch the golf players behind their condo make a hash of things.

My grandma Arlene and I share our birthday month, our initials, our love for reading and writing, a fondness for leopard print, and much more. She is sensitive yet strong and has made tough but good choices, whether that meant riding the streetcars to work downtown, breaking off an engagement she realized was wrong, or moving South far from family and nearer to bugs to be with her military husband. She had a beautiful life with school district jobs she enjoyed, two loving sons, and a marriage that has lasted 68 years so far through ups and downs. I have many fond memories of dress shopping, solo visits to their old home in Ohio, watching Phantom of the Opera, and making up stories together. I am so glad they made the tough choice many years ago to leave a lifetime of memories in Ohio to move to Colorado because it means I can see them much more frequently. However much like her I find myself raising my family in a verdant Midwestern city with long winters and beautiful summers.

With my Bugosh grandparents a few Christmases ago
The Bugosh Redheads

I am very thankful to be a “Bugosh” and kept it as my middle name after my marriage. I am so blessed to have parents and grandparents that invested in me. I would love to hear below about your awesome grandparents below!

Decorate your Igloo: Gratitude for My Bloom Grandparents in the Time of COVID

From the time my mother’s mom “Granny” heard my birthing cry to present texts with my grandparents-in-law and long phone calls with my dad’s parents, grandparents have been an integral part of my life. Chris and I were blessed enough to have 8 living grandparents when we married and 6 now, and I am so thankful for each of them.

My mom’s mom always known to me as Granny is an amazing lady who raised 4 kids in the turbulent 1960’s. As a proud octogenarian, she still makes time for all of her kids and grandkids and drives out to visit. I often feel like I’ve come full circle because I live in Minnesota, where she and my grandpa lived before they started their Colorado life. I have fond Minnesota visit memories from when I was a kid; I remember sliding down the stairs of her family’s former house and reveling in the green, green world of the family farm. I saw her treat her mother-in-law like her own mom. She has always enthusiastically and non judgmentally embraced new family members and potential family members. Spiritually, she inspires me with her love and faithfulness. She does devotions and journals every day and as I believe my mom says, she has God’s ear. I love spending time with her kindness and wisdom.

When I was little, my mom’s dad Grandpa Bunny would take me to the kitchen in the morning to prepare breakfast in bed for Granny: coffee, sausage, cinnamon raisin toast. We would watch the rising sun together over the foothills of Colorado. My granny recently texted me this picture so now you can experience it too.

Sunrise in the Colorado foothills

Grandpa Bunny would regale me with stories about geologic quests for gold and diamonds. One of his stories has come back to me lately. Once he was caught up in the mountains of Colorado in a blizzard and he had to build an igloo. He said that the biggest danger was not the cold or the wind – it was panic. If he panicked, he might have set out to try to make it back and died of hypothermia or contracted frostbite as happened to some of his friends. But he settled in and focused on what he could control – building the most perfect igloo he could. When he was done, he said he chose to keep working on it. He made each brick perfectly square. He kept the entrance cleared. He said he might even decorate the igloo.

Grandpa Bunny on a non-blizzard expedition with his burro Joe

I’ve never understood that story until the current blizzard of Coronavirus, financial change, and social isolation. However after a month in I do feel like I am in an igloo and the storm outside isn’t going away as fast as I would like. (In fact we are having a white Easter tomorrow!). My “igloo” is comfortable but I share it with two small needy beings so that changes the dynamic. The things I formerly relied on – work, daycare, other childcare options, the gym, restaurants, hair cuts, donuts – have largely gone away. I am left facing myself and my flaws.

I can’t control any of what is outside. What I can control is how I spend my time, decorating my igloo literally and figuratively, praying and spending time with these people I love, making lots of chalk and water color art, and taking it one Zoom meeting, one worksheet, one igloo brick at a time.

Thank you God for the gift of these amazing grandparents! And my other grandparents and grandparents in law that I will write about next time. Share your “grandparentudes” below!

A Year of Gratitudes

This year, I have struggled to develop a theme for my blog. We are already 3 months into the year and several weeks into Lent and I haven’t written a word for my blog! Now we are plunged into a new post-pandemic world and a reality that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

I am nurse, wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, in-law, writer, certified Zumba instructor, Jesus follower, Bible study leader, flute player, handball ringer, poet, storyteller, voracious reader, proud introvert, party-lover, homebody and world traveler. But one thing unites these diverse roles and interests that God has given me – gratitude. I am thankful for them! I am thankful for the people I have met through them. I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue them. I am thankful for the chances to serve and worship in these many different ways.

Most of those roles I described have changed dramatically in the past five days. School, church, and gym closed, trips cancelled, plans changed. Nonetheless I am thankful – thankful for the technology and creativity that allow us to connect and enjoy our interests in new ways.

What does gratitude mean? The technical definition from is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Gratitude is a healthy practice, increasing resilience, self-esteem, sleep, and empathy, and reducing heart disease, depression, loneliness, pain, and resentment.

Does that sound like a good idea to anyone right now in this time of anxiety and isolation?

Gratitude is a spiritual practice reminding us of our place in the world and God’s generous gifts to us. Look at King David. “Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee; thou art my God, I will extol thee.” (Psalm 118: 28). “I give thanks to thee, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify thy name forever.” (Psalm 86:12). “I will give thanks to thee, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to thee among the nations.” (Psalm 108:3).

Look at Paul’s letters. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3). “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (Romans 1:8).”I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” (Philemon 1:4).

Do you save your gratitude for Thanksgiving? Do you wait to express appreciation until the end of the event, the end of the year, until a going-away party? What if we have proactive gratitude? What if we appreciate that we have water in the glass, whether it is half full or half empty? What if we say thank you now, to those before us?

Each moment of gratitude is a pearl. Don’t let them slip away! Store them for later in a journal or a jar, give them to your friends and families and coworkers with spoken words or notes, and reflect on and savor them. Gratitude helps us see what we already have.

What “pearls” do you already own?

In her book Traveling Mercies, Annie Lamott says “Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’” I look forward to saying and praying a lot of thank yous this year… and I hope you’ll join me.

Share a pearl of gratitude below!

Wrapping up the Year of Scarves

Well despite my best efforts I didn’t wear that many scarves this summer. The warm season in Minnesota is such a short precious time that I just enjoyed not having to bundle. Now we are in full bundle mode again!

First of all, I want to acknowledge that this hasn’t been the easiest year for some of my favorite people. Several dear friends and family members have faced challenging cancer journeys. They have put on scarves of courage as they face challenge, pain, and loss. My love and prayers are with you and I wish I could knit you all a scarf to show you how much I love you.

I do have a few last scarves to share… first I want to show you a delightful from my friend Sami , an infinity scarf the copper color of fall leaves. I believe the technical color was “kombucha” which I also love! It matches my son nicely 😀

Here are myself and Sami and 3/5 of the littles!

Even at Halloween in Minnesota, we know “Winter is Coming.” I used a few scarves to spice up my costume…

Here’s our fantasy-tastic family with a Savanicorn, Jon Snow, Danaerys mother of dragons, and the cutest little dragon ever. I am wearing the white pashmina I wore at my wedding – very versatile! And I needed it, we had another brrrrr Halloween this year.

Last but not least, we visited family in Virginia at Thanksgiving…. and got to see family from France! Chris’s great aunt Fay flew in for a delightful reunion.

She brought us some lovely goodies from France, including a lovely ruffled pink scarf por moi!

I have really enjoyed wearing all the scarves this year. Scarves ARE love, whether knit or bought on Amazon or brought from far away. As we approach Christmas and New Years, I have wrapped myself in a scarf of hope and friendship, and am praying for all my friends and family as we continue on the new adventure of 2020.

Scarves and books

In a recent post, I talked about my bookscarf – the beautiful scarf my thoughtful husband got for me with the word of Lucy Maude Montgomery prompted upon it. So in this post, I am talking about scarf books. Or rather, knitting books.

This sweet and lovely book, “Extra Yarn,” talks about Annabelle and her magical box of colorful yarn. She manages to to knit scarves for everyone in town, including all the animals, and all the buildings. Spoiler alert: an evil archduke steals her box, but finds all it contains is a pair of knitting needles. And of course the box finds its way back to her. In Annabelle’s hands, this is the in-Pandora’s box, a box of goodness helping humanity one stitch at a time. And I love this picture – everyone connected to each other by yarn.

Because yarn is love!

This little phonics book starts with Nan the mouse, alone and knitting in her store until she takes pity on some chilly insects and knits them underpants. Soon she gains a lucrative second career in undergarments for various bugs.

We all have our gifts to share and these books celebrate how precious those gifts can be to both ourselves and others, and how they can transform a community.

Whatever we make – scarves, hat, art, donations, stories – is our gift. It may not go very far. It may be imperfect, scraggly, tiny. With practice, it will get better. Like underpants for ants, it may seem silly. Like a sweater for a house, it may seem unnecessary. But never underestimate the power of a gift.

Wearing the Green

St. Patrick’s Day is here and it’s time to wear green… scarves, that is! Get ready because I have a lot of green scarves. Although I don’t know of any Irish ancestry on either side, I have green eyes, a May birthday (emeralds!), was married at Emerald Valley Ranch, have a strawberry blond child, and can’t wait to visit the Emerald Isle, so I feel fully entitled to wear green on 3/17 or any day.

My mother just sent me this delightful book called “How to Tie a Scarf: 33 Styles” and I decided to experiment a bit. Here is the book and the Copenhagen style with my “rain forest tapestry” scarf:

I got this next scarf in Wabasha, a little town on the Mississippi River, at a church’s Christmas bazaar. I believe it was $8.00 – I just couldn’t pass it up! I love the ombré-green patches and generous fringe.

And now for a literary interlude – a “linterlude?” One of my very favorite authors of all time is Lucy Maude Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and also one of my favorite books, the beautiful romance The Blue Castle. My thoughtful husband bought me this scarf, which has a passage from Anne of Green Gables written on it. Incidentally, Anne and her red hair would look amazing in it.

My new scarf book encourages wearing scarves all year, changing style depending on the weather. Here is a light infinity scarf with some pleasant shading paired with a SLEEVELESS (!!!) shirt. My arms almost fell off from the chill, but I survived thanks to my insulated neck. I believe I got the scarf from a friend who was purging her closet.

My love for scarves has rubbed off; as you can see below, my daughter wears her new St. Patty’s scarf everywhere. Here we are for the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at church, where we enjoyed coddle, Irish soda bread and home-brewed root beer. Here’s to green beer, cabbage, family, and friends – Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I’ve Got the Blues(carves)

If you’re reading this from almost anywhere else in the country you may be wondering – “Why are you still talking about scarves?” Because it’s still winter here, friends! At Bible study, we were talking about the winter blues… we are ready for it to be done already. If you have Season Affective Disorder, this has been a particularly challenging year.

At least it is getting warmer! Personally I prefer about 20 and above. This is a picture from when it was colder than that and I wore my “serious coat.” Full-length, Lands End… a bit like wearing a sleeping bag. The perfect time to wear my “shades of blue” scarf, another recycle from a friend. I love the delicate texture and the playful pom poms on the end . And as you can see, I have a little scarf buddy, wearing a scarf my grandma gave me.

We are in the liturgical season of Lent and I gave up Facebook. For the first few days I kept scrolling through my screen, looking for that familiar blue app. It is amazing how much time I spent on Facebook! Certainly I miss the connectedness with far-away friends, but I am enjoying the ability to be more present.

Back to scarves… I can’t remember where I got this giant comfortable scarf but I love it. It is perfect for wearing into work with my scrubs on a cold day.

Blue is everywhere at work. In fact, there is a particular shade we call “Mayo blue” used for signs and posters. When I worked in the hospital I wore baby scrubs; now in outpatient I wear royal blue. Blue is a great scrub color since it is fairly gender-neutral and most people look good in it. (Some would day everyone looks equally bad in it but I disagree.)

Today I am thankful for another blue – blue skies. I got to wear my “spring coat” today. The snow softens to slush on the roads. The days lengthen and the sun is warm. Yesterday we went cross country skiing for the first time this year and nobody felt cold.

Pastel spring peeps

quietly from a snow-laced