January 9. 1999
Before the new year's entries begin, I'll summarize 1998's major themes and events.
1) Most momentous was the birth of our first grandchild, Robert Brinkley, on June 21. Though we've only seen him in person once, we've kept in close touch with phone calls, pictures, and video tapes.
2) My trip to Ipswich to see Paul was one of the year's chief delights, a chance to see where he lives and works, and to be "taken care of" for a welcome change.
3) Peter's family came here for Easter. Mykaila was pregnant and not feeling too well, but we had a great time with Jonathan and the twins.
4) Mykaila and Brinkley came here in August, giving us a wonderful chance to get to know him, and to become closer to her.
5) During the first three months of the year I worked on renovating my new white kitchen. It is still a delight to walk in there, with the bright clean look.
6) My painting took a boost when I took a fall watercolor class at Stritch; I plan to continue that class and medium. My chief oil painting endeavor was the start of a series of a view out the front window, of which summer and fall are completed.
7) My music exploration continued with many new CD's, and a summer class in early religious music at Stritch. Still spend about an hour every night listening and studying music.
8) Reading continues to be one of my main joys: the New York Times in the morning, The New York Review of Books and its lengthy (and learned) articles, a little poetry every day which included Shakespeare's Sonnets, and usually a book or two of fiction going in the evenings and in bed before sleeping.
9) Our health continues to be good. Bob seems to be going along better than he has the previous couple of years, and my knees rarely keep me from doing anything and everything I want to. I stay at 125 pounds, give or take a few up or down.
10) Esther came for her usual Thanksgiving visit, which was the usual mixed blessing--mostly enjoyable. Her memory has slipped a little but so has Bob's and mine. We each have our vulnerable categories.
11) Our huge willow tree on the west side of the front yard blew over in a windstorm, creating much sorrow, commotion, and expense.
12) My volunteer work at St. Rose continued until school was out, and Bev Meyeroff moved. Haven't made any new connection yet. Other brief volunteer work at St. Eugene's was driving Judy Heiden to the doctor after foot surgery.
13) Began reading my old letters that Mother saved for me over the years, which had been stored for 20 years in the garage. What fun, particularly reading about Paul's and Peter’s development, as well as putting together the early story of our marriage. That will continue for awhile still, since I'm only on 1957 when Peter was a baby.
14) My UWM Guild's history discussion group continued, and I’m enjoying it more now that I know everyone better.
15) The gift of a VCR from Peter and Mykaila at Easter added another notch on our move into the electronic age. We watched many movies over weekends, mostly oldies, and several tapes from Peter's family--so we now have more of an idea of their home and family life.
Altogether a very good year. What will 1999 bring?
After the last entry of 1998, which went on so long, I decided to try to write in this journal oftener, and try to make it less a reporting of events. However, I don't want to make it a expose on my emotional or psychological state. May more description and less "just the facts.” Sometimes I get so long-winded it bores even me to reread it.
The new year started with a blizzard on the 2nd, the biggest one-day snowfall in 57 years for Milwaukee. It began with tiny little sparkles drifting on the breeze across the back yard. I watched them out the kitchen window, wondering if this rather magical beginning would turn into the much-predicted snowstorm. It did. That night when we went to bed we could hear the wind, and the next morning the wind and snow were already going strong. Through the day it gained momentum, until the wind and snow came from all sides, horizontally across the lawn. Our house seemed a cozy protection from which to marvel at all the fury outside.
Sunday morning it was over, leaving behind a white landscape with huge drifts in unlikely places. But our driveway and the street were cleared for cars, thanks to the efforts of our snowplow guy (Jared) and the Village trucks. We didn't think of going to Mass; in fact, many services were closed.
Coincidentally with the storm Bob and I had bad colds, another reason to stay inside. My eyes ached, my nose ran, and I generally felt so miserable I couldn't believe a mere cold could do this. But it was like the blizzard, soon over, just as Bob’s was. The next day life went on smoothly--as it almost always does despite Milwaukee's wintery ways.
The week seemed a long one, though. It was accompanied by very cold temperatures--below zero much of the time. I kept busy inside, doing oil painting, trying to figure out Ulysses, cutting a new bathroom rug from a carpet remnant, and making pots of soup. We did venture out for lunch at the North Shore Bistro on Wednesday – just to prove we weren't really housebound, I think.
I also kept busy outside, first removing the massive snow drifts from the brick walk, and on many days trying to keep up with the frequent small snows that came. The exercise is good, but got a little monotonous day after day.
A bright spot of the days was reading my letters to Mother, now up to 1956 and 1957, Peter's baby years. It bring back those halcyon days of our chubby baby boy, our new house, and Bob's joy with his new career at Catholic University. Mostly I delight in recalling Peter's growth from a slurping precocious baby to a precocious and extremely busy toddler. Paul continued to be a delight as well. We were all so busy getting on with our lives — and how happy we were.
Our good phone talks with Peter and Mykaila continue; Peter and I had an especially good one a few nights ago about music, art, education, and Brinkley. The neurologist's report on Brinkley seemed to clear him of any major problems, but there are still a couple of doctors to go. Brinkley seems to be hearing somewhat better, though I gather that things are not yet 100% well.
New Year's Resolutions: More of the same as last year — to be kinder in my judgments of others and to Bob, to take at least one trip (to Philadelphia?), to redo our bedroom walls and furnishings, and to count my blessings.