Tag Archives: Cathy Reineke

Water Bob ©

A Water Skiing Story by Cathy Reineke

My younger brother, Bob, can do anything.  Only 18 months separates an uncoordinated, difficult- to-balance-on-one-foot, scared-of-heights woman from the perfect hand-eye coordinated, scared-of-nothing brother I always envy.

waterAt sixteen, as a gawky teen, I determined I would beat him by water skiing on one ski before he did.  I spent one summer dragging myself through all types of conniptions and contorted efforts while my father faithfully and patiently flung me the towrope for yet another try.

The next summer, I still had not mastered the art of slalom skiing.  My good friend, Steve, lived next to us at the lake and his parents had the faster boat.  My brother, knowing absolutely no fear of striking the water face first, declared his intention to be on that one ski behind Steve’s boat by the end of this inaugural ride of the summer season.

In my usually doubting sister style, I scoffed at him.  It was my duty as his older sister to tell him what he could not accomplish.  Bob sat on the dock and reached up to grab the towrope I threw to him.  In defiance of my stated limitation, he threw aside the second ski and put his right foot into the slalom ski while dangling his left foot in the water.

I turned to my friend driving the boat and said, “Look at this.  He’s going face plant.”  My laughter disguised my underlying uneasiness that maybe, just maybe, he would somehow achieve that mastery of the slalom ski.

“Hit it” I yelled and felt the full throttle of the motor as we tore away from the dock.  I watched in expectation. My brother stood up and began a wild wobble on top of that one ski.  Over the course of 100 yards, I keep letting out whoops and saying to my friend, “Oh, he’s almost down.  Oh he’s back up again.”

waterAnd then I saw the look of determination come across Bob’s face.  I had seen it many times.  At five years old, he climbed on my new bike and sailed down the driveway before I had learned to ride it myself.  He bombed straight down steep headwalls of ski slopes and shushed straight up in front of my mother and grandmother with the devil’s grin just to watch them back up as they doubted he could stop in time.

This was no different.  He grabbed the rope with a fierce pull, stood upon the ski, positioned his foot solidly into the back stirrup, and then, without effort, he cut back across the wake.  He came way out to the side, and there again was that devilish grin.  Then he fell back, and jumped the wake across to the other side.  All the while, the impish smile on his face grew.

Is a daredevil born or bred?  We came from the same gene pool. I never did learn to slalom ski.

My brother turned 60 this year.  Each day I thank him for teaching me that when I tell him he can’t do something, he has another opportunity to prove me wrong!

photos courtesy  sheetbrains & toofarnorth

Small Sacrifice ©

Sacrifice through a child’s eye by Cathy Reineke

sacrificeIn a spurt of independence, my seventy-year-old grandmother bought a ticket and boarded a train to see her sister for two weeks.  My stubborn German grandfather stood on the tracks, arms clasped behind his back.  He squinted as the train left the station and disappeared out of site.  He turned to my mother with disbelief in his voice and remarked, “She went.  She really went.”  My mother sighed and retorted, “And you should have gone with her.”

My grandmother agreed to go if my mother would fix my grandfather dinner.  He never learned to cook.  My mother promised he would not starve but left him to solve getting his own breakfast and lunch.  He mostly likely walked to the local dive ordering his greasy brains and eggs as he sat with all his old railroad cronies.

Each night my mother and I drove to visit him, a plateful of hot food wrapped in tinfoil carefully balanced on my eight year old lap.

On the third evening of this dinner- delivery journey, my mom asked my grandfather how things were going.  “What are you eating for breakfast?” she inquired.

“You know, I’ve been eating this new breakfast cereal I found.  It is really different.  But I have acquired quite a taste for it.  I just pour some milk on it but it’s quite crunchy”

My mother’s curiosity rose.  How could a seventy-year-old man think that Cheerios or Corn Flakes could be “really different?”

sacrifice“What is the name of the cereal, Dad?” she responded.

“I am not sure” he exclaimed as he rose from his rocker and headed toward the kitchen.  He rummaged in the cupboard and soon returned.  “It’s called Malto Meal”, he answered proudly holding up the box.

Immediately, I began to protest.  “Mom, Grandpa’s eating . . . ”

My mother quickly turned to shush me with her mom-stare.  She turned back to her dad and smiled.  “ Well, I am glad you are taking care of yourself, Dad.”  With that, she gave him a hug and directed me quickly out the door to the car.

As she started the car, I found my voice again.  “Mom, why is grandpa eating that cereal raw?”, I proclaimed with indignation.  I knew the cereal needed cooking as my father prepared it for us children each morning before school.

“He’s just making a few small sacrifices so grandma can enjoy a few weeks of freedom” my mother answered.  “Cathy, your grandmother has never been on her own vacation before so her time away is very special.  If we tell her about grandpa, she will never allow herself such a vacation in the future.  Grandpa has always been so helpless.  We just don’t want grandma to know how helpless.”

With that, my mother drove away from the curb silently laughing and shaking her head.

We did keep grandpa’s sacrifice a secret from grandma.  She never again took an independent vacation but we often heard reminiscences from her wonderful sojourn.

I am also sure my grandmother cooked the rest of the Malto Meal for my grandfather’s breakfast in the days after her return.  He happily consumed the cereal, totally oblivious to its metamorphosis.

photos by chatchavan & shinazy

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Dock On The Bay ©

Dock memories by Cathy Reineke

dockThe dock was born one weekend in May, in Montana, when I was fourteen.  My father bought lakeshore frontage.  Only the two of us went up for that long weekend to build the dock.  The lake was at low pool (down 15 feet).  We had a short envelope of time to build our dock.

My father believed a daughter was as likely as a son to be a builder and taught me to wield a mean hammer.  First we dug holes for barrels, sunk them into the ground, and then placed poles into the barrels and filled them with cement.  After the cement set, we put up stringers between the poles and placed in the cross braces.  Finally, top planks went on and voila, we had the dock. 

I sat on that dock over many summers.  On fuzzy nights of too much beer, a few special friends discovered my secret as they lay in the dark at the end of the dock.  “This is a special place,” they’d say with voices full of quiet awe.

The dock formed a sturdy platform to launch ourselves into the water.   Mother grew her powerful petunias in big black witches caldrons placed at each post on the dock announcing that summer had truly arrived.  Each summer upon my return, the dock creaked its welcome to the chaise lounge placed at the end of the dock.  Sun was best there.   A quick step off the dock into the water always cooled my sun-scalded skin. 

On a wintry day, my boyfriend joined me there for the first time.  He found my heart when he stood on the dock and remarked, “I cannot believe anyone could have grown up with all of this.”

dockYears passed and I moved away.  Mother sold the cabin when she could no longer cope with the isolation and stillness after my father was gone.  A lovely couple staked their claim.  The dock filled with rambunctious children, gaggles of life jackets, and boats tied to its sturdy deck.  New voices echoed out over the bay. 

After many years away, I came back to visit friends.  I decided to drive by the lake place.  I found my way through the maze of dirt roads.  There upon my dock, stood the couple who had bought the place from mother many years before. 

Pictures of tanned young girls in new swimsuits returned to me.  Mom came down to the dock with her incredibly delicious tuna fish sandwiches.  Dad instructed me to “Put that level to the post and make sure it is straight up”, as he placed cement into the barrel.  And there I stood that last day, packing mother’s belongings into my car, turning my back to the dock, not watching our time end.  

I climbed out of my car and walked toward the couple on the dock who turned to look at me.  “Are you lost?” the husband asked.  “No” I said as I walked onto the dock.  I smiled and extended my hand as I introduced myself feeling that familiar slight give of my dock under the weight of my feet.

“I know exactly where I am”. 

 photos by cincooldesigns and jurvetson

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Draggin’ Blankets ©

Cathy Reineke’s memories about her blankets

blanketsMy grandmother introduced us three kids to draggin’ blankets at an early age.

During the depression, she saved everything so mine was a mishmash of new polyester fabric.  Multitudes of clashing colors and textures zigged and zagged through its patchwork footprint.  The underside was a soft thick flannel that felt so good next to my face.

The term “draggin’ blankets: originated from my brother’s vocal insistence that these blankets had a sole purpose of being drug behind us whenever we journeyed out on adventures with our parents.

My draggin’ blanket wrapped around me and kept me safe and warm in many different venues.  It warmed me for all my naps.  I drug it in front of our old black and white TV to watch “The Wonderful World Of Disney” on Sunday nights.  But its most prized purpose was to take it to the drive-in on summer nights.

I was raised in Montana. Dusk came late in drive-in season.  My parents sat in the front seat of the old green Plymouth wagon and each of us kids were stretched out in the back with the rear seat folded down.  Underneath us, our draggin’ blankets outlined each kid’s space (not to be encroached upon).  It also provided an easy way for my father to scoop us up out of the back of the car upon our return home.  At that early age, we always fell fast asleep early in any movie giving our parents the bit of respite they enjoyed after a day of raising rambunctious and often squabbling children.

My draggin’ blanket has long since been discarded.  By the time it left my side in my late teens, it was in tatters, its flannel lining threadbare. Upon visiting my older brother last year, I saw he still had his draggin’ blanket some 50 years later slung over the back of a chair in his living room.  His dogs love it curling up on it for their naps after each one has jockeyed to own it for the evening.  He was 5 years older than me when he received his blanket from my grandmother.  Thus, his blanket did not suffer the wear we younger siblings inflicted upon ours.

blanetsRemembering the wonder, comfort and ownership of my draggin’ blanket, I have carried on my grandmother’s tradition. When a child is born into our family I make a draggin’ blanket for the new arrival.  Mine are made of durable and colorful fleece in the shape of turtles, caterpillars, and dinosaurs.

These blankets will last many years due to their sturdy construction. I hope some may even adorn dorm beds and be a conversation piece when friends stay overnight.  I include a letter with each new blanket telling the new arrival the blanket is warmth, love, and comfort for their lives ahead.

The oldest recipient of one of my draggin’ blankets is now six years old.  The other day, I received a picture of “Jack” from his father.  Jack is all curled up in his bed wrapped in his dinosaur blanket deep in slumber.  It is early morning and he had slept with it as his only blanket just as he has done every night for the past three years.

My grandmother is smiling somewhere knowing the next generation is carrying on her draggin’ blanket tradition.

 photos by chimothy and heidielliott

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