SOCIAL JUNGLE

Since I have autism, ordinary social interactions are like traveling through a jungle. It is really tough for me to find my way sometimes.

Truth be known, one of my great desires is just to have closer relationships with neurotypicals (NTs are ordinary people.) and better friendships with both NTs and Aspergers people.

Just the fact that my communication skills can be so out-of-whack actually leads to mis-understandings and a lot of hurt and anger on both sides.

Bookworm (Dec.’19) adds, “Jesus understands. He will help me.”

AROUND THE FRAME

Jodi

Jodi (Jan.’20) adds, “I still have my house in Florida and am working on renting out the part of it that is a hair salon.”

***

Hi Fritzie,

It’s been awhile since I wrote. After discovering my cancer was back, I decided to have a bone marrow/stem cell treatment using my own cells.

I started the process in the spring of 2019. It was long, detailed and exhausting!

I could not have asked for a more dedicated, compassionate and efficient group of professionals and fellow patients who guided and supported my care. I am blessed that my son and his wife were with me through doctor’s appointments, scans, lab tests and chemo.

Two sisters came from the north and the west to stay with me when I returned home. Then a friend from the Northeast came. Now, fellow residents of the condo area where I live take turns bringing me supper and checking in on me. My church family has been a steady support through it all.

These folk are angels! As a result I have had a good response to my treatment. I am feeling stronger and am more active. I feel I can still cope with whatever happens in the future.

Mary

Mary (Aug.’19) adds, “I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and good energy whether sent across the miles or across the hall.”

***

Dear Fritzie,

I’ve started a gratitude book. I plan to find at least three things a day to be grateful for. Yesterday I was grousing because my bathroom needed to be cleaned. Then I remembered to be grateful that I have that big, beautiful bathroom!

  My project for the New Year is to make my office/piano room more attractive so that I actually want to spend time in it. Since the piano is black lacquer, I’m visualizing a black and white area rug. I also need some wall art. The furniture is what it is. There’s a free cornerfor a lounge/reading chair. And then there is cleaning out the files in that room ….

  I was watching “The Crown” on Netflix. One episode featured the Kennedy’s visit to Queen Elizabeth. In it, Jackie admits to the Queen that she “is her own best company.”  I relate to that, for better or worse. Maybe you feel the same.

  Love you,

Elaine

Elaine (Jan.’20) I’m grateful to have a friend like you. There’s just no one like you.”

***

Dear Frances,

Your January 2020 Ninepatch cover story about sorting old pictures with your cousin Julie and her husband resonated with me.  Last summer I went through a similar box of photographs and letters that had belonged to my mother.

L to R: 1960, my mother and father

I acquired it over twenty years ago, after she died.  I intended to pass it on to my sister, but she was homeless. I have not heard from her, or anything about her, for over ten years.  I don’t know if she is alive or dead.

        The memory box was an eyesore in my office, and I couldn’t bear to read the letters it contained.  I thought about destroying it, but consulted with my husband and friends, instead.  They encouraged me to compose a letter to my sister’s grown children, asking them if they would be interested in having their grandmother’s memory box.  Both of my nieces were eager to see it, but they live far apart from each other, and from me.

       I divided the contents of my mother’s memory box into three smaller boxes: one box for each niece, and one box for the two of them to share.  I shipped the boxes to them.  They were very excited to open them.  Without any prompting, each niece made a photo collage and shared it with me via email. 

       The story rests there.  

       Love,

       Carol

Carol (Jan.’20) adds, “I am content to have cleared away some clutter, and I am blessed.”

***

Hi Missy,

No books for Christmas this year. Our family has stopped gift exchanges. (Fritzie, if there is something Bob and I really want, we will go get it.)

You say you’ve been reading Pam Jenoff’s books which have a WWII background. I don’t like books about war but this newest book of Anne Perry’s, Death in Focus is excellent.  I think you will really like the new character, Ellen Standish. Looking forward to her next addition to the series.

  The weather here has been crazy.  All week this week it is in the 50 and even 60’s.  Glad for the sake of the homeless and also the ducks that come to dine in our back lot.  They are so funny.  They just chatter and give all kinds of grief.   

  Nice hearing from you.

Going to close now my friend.

   Patricia  

  Patricia (Dec.’19) adds,I found out my troublesome illness is auto-immune and never really goes away.  However, it will get better before it probably comes back and then go away again.  I hate it but at least I am aware what it is and can handle it – so far.”

***

Hi again,

 Busy days here but always time for a note! However, this one will be short as I have some planning to do before going out this afternoon, then again tonight. 

I may have mentioned before that we have a Friday Group of five and we meet at a nearby restaurant for a couple of hours on Friday afternoons. And I have a good friend who lives in the apartment above mine, and the two of us usually go out for a meal sometime over the weekend, and that will be happening this evening. 

But I do have a few things to take care of yet this morning, so I will bid adieu and get on with my day.  Wishing you a great weekend! 

Love from me!

Betsy

Betsy (Feb. ‘19) adds, “Drop a line if you have enough time and energy. I always enjoy mail from you!”

***

Hi Fritzie,

  Hope you are enjoying the warmer spaces in Florida!

 I checked with the folks at this retirement community I like which is located twenty minutes from my son’s home on the East Coast. They are projecting one of the cottages I have chosen should be ready by mid-year.  I am spending much time cleaning out my home, planning on putting it on the market this spring.  

Depending on the sequence of home sale and cottage availability, it could go smoothly or I may be homeless at some point!

I hope this finds you and your partner in good health.

Jim 

  Jim (May ‘19) adds, “Moving from a thirty-five hundred square foot home to a cottage of eleven hundred is challenging. This major transition in my life will be quite consuming.”

***

Hi Frances,

Talking about what is fun – one day during the holidays, three of us wore matching tights at our weekly pickleball games. One of the girls found them on sale. 

We wore them twice. Sort of fun.  (Our picture is below.)

Blessings to you and JK,

Dottie

L to R: Dottie and her friends holding their pickleball paddles.

Dottie (Jan.’20) adds, “Met a new group of girls including the two in the photo above two months ago.  Fun-loving. What a blessing!”

***

Hi Fritzie,

On November 2, 2019, my husband and I went again to the Marion (Ohio) Historical Society’s “Dinner with the Presidents.” It was our eighth year attending the event.

This year the speaking actors represented Presidents Garfield, T. Roosevelt, Harding, and Eisenhower. Others were only dressed as Presidents (and wives): George Washington, (and Martha), James Madison (and Dolley), Zachary Taylor (and Margaret), Andrew Johnson (and Elizabeth), Benjamin Harrison (and Caroline), Harry Truman (and Bess), Chester Arthur (and Mary his sister),and Ulysses Grant.

“Ulysses Grant” sat at our table and talked with us about his life and events of the Civil War. The full dinner foods were favorites of the various presidents. I liked the desserts. Roosevelt’s favorite Sagamore Hill Sand Tart cookies and Mamie’s fudge were tasty. The clove cake, a favorite of President T. Roosevelt, was delicious!

Blessings,

Kay

Kay (Jan.’20) adds, “My husband and I drove from Northern Indiana to Marion Ohio for the Saturday dinner event. On Sunday, we drove on to visit our daughter who lives in Ohio with her family.”

Dinner with the Presidents banner

***

Dear Frances,

When I went to the Senior Center for lunch and bingo, I heard others had been ill with a cold that made them feel tired. Seems there is always something going around – especially this time of year!

In your recent letter, you mentioned memories. I agree that memories are good. Around the winter holidays, I have lots of memories. (I think we all do.) It is nice to look back on the “good times.” Nowadays, I am making new memories!

In your letter you asked if I heard of helpful crystals or stones. Not sure. I have heard of “prayer stones.”

I liked the photo of your husband’s plaid shorts.

Love and Prayers,

JK in plaid

LindaSue

LindaSue (Jan.’20) adds, One of my friends says ‘If you wear plaid, you plan on having fun.’”

***

Dear Fritzie,

You asked where I was living. Here and there for now. I have a little side job in Houston, Texas. It is a crashpad setting near aviation business and the airport. (In recent years, I was a stewardess and flew out of here.) I am in Florida now, with my dad, but am flying out to Texas in ten days. I will likely move out there soon.

I am looking forward to working some. Due to a long recovery after serious back surgery, I have had several years off.

In Houston, I have a boyfriend who works there. It is a reconnection and I am praying it goes well. It is nice to have a companion again. I would like to settle down, but am taking things slowly.

I still miss you and your dear friendship.

Love to you,

Jodi

Jodi (Jan.’20) adds, “I still have my house in Florida and am working on renting out the part of it that is a hair salon.”

***

Hi Fritzie,

It’s been awhile since I wrote. After discovering my cancer was back, I decided to have a bone marrow/stem cell treatment using my own cells.

I started the process in the spring of 2019. It was long, detailed and exhausting!

I could not have asked for a more dedicated, compassionate and efficient group of professionals and fellow patients who guided and supported my care. I am blessed that my son and his wife were with me through doctor’s appointments, scans, lab tests and chemo.

Two sisters came from the north and the west to stay with me when I returned home. Then a friend from the Northeast came. Now, fellow residents of the condo area where I live take turns bringing me supper and checking in on me. My church family has been a steady support through it all.

These folk are angels! As a result I have had a good response to my treatment. I am feeling stronger and am more active. I feel I can still cope with whatever happens in the future.

Mary

Mary (Aug.’19) adds, “I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and good energy whether sent across the miles or across the hall.”

***

Dear Fritzie,

I’ve started a gratitude book. I plan to find at least three things a day to be grateful for. Yesterday I was grousing because my bathroom needed to be cleaned. Then I remembered to be grateful that I have that big, beautiful bathroom!

  My project for the New Year is to make my office/piano room more attractive so that I actually want to spend time in it. Since the piano is black lacquer, I’m visualizing a black and white area rug. I also need some wall art. The furniture is what it is. There’s a free cornerfor a lounge/reading chair. And then there is cleaning out the files in that room ….

  I was watching “The Crown” on Netflix. One episode featured the Kennedy’s visit to Queen Elizabeth. In it, Jackie admits to the Queen that she “is her own best company.”  I relate to that, for better or worse. Maybe you feel the same.

  Love you,

Elaine

Elaine (Jan.’20) I’m grateful to have a friend like you. There’s just no one like you.”

***

Dear Frances,

Your January 2020 Ninepatch cover story about sorting old pictures with your cousin Julie and her husband resonated with me.  Last summer I went through a similar box of photographs and letters that had belonged to my mother.

L to R: 1960, my mother and father
L to R: 1960, my mother and father

I acquired it over twenty years ago, after she died.  I intended to pass it on to my sister, but she was homeless. I have not heard from her, or anything about her, for over ten years.  I don’t know if she is alive or dead.

        The memory box was an eyesore in my office, and I couldn’t bear to read the letters it contained.  I thought about destroying it, but consulted with my husband and friends, instead.  They encouraged me to compose a letter to my sister’s grown children, asking them if they would be interested in having their grandmother’s memory box.  Both of my nieces were eager to see it, but they live far apart from each other, and from me.

       I divided the contents of my mother’s memory box into three smaller boxes: one box for each niece, and one box for the two of them to share.  I shipped the boxes to them.  They were very excited to open them.  Without any prompting, each niece made a photo collage and shared it with me via email. 

       The story rests there.  

       Love,

       Carol

Carol (Jan.’20) adds, “I am content to have cleared away some clutter, and I am blessed.”

***

Hi Missy,

No books for Christmas this year. Our family has stopped gift exchanges. (Fritzie, if there is something Bob and I really want, we will go get it.)

You say you’ve been reading Pam Jenoff’s books which have a WWII background. I don’t like books about war but this newest book of Anne Perry’s, Death in Focus is excellent.  I think you will really like the new character, Ellen Standish. Looking forward to her next addition to the series.

  The weather here has been crazy.  All week this week it is in the 50 and even 60’s.  Glad for the sake of the homeless and also the ducks that come to dine in our back lot.  They are so funny.  They just chatter and give all kinds of grief.   

  Nice hearing from you.

Going to close now my friend.

   Patricia  

  Patricia (Dec.’19) adds,I found out my troublesome illness is auto-immune and never really goes away.  However, it will get better before it probably comes back and then go away again.  I hate it but at least I am aware what it is and can handle it – so far.”

***

Hi again,

 Busy days here but always time for a note! However, this one will be short as I have some planning to do before going out this afternoon, then again tonight. 

I may have mentioned before that we have a Friday Group of five and we meet at a nearby restaurant for a couple of hours on Friday afternoons. And I have a good friend who lives in the apartment above mine, and the two of us usually go out for a meal sometime over the weekend, and that will be happening this evening. 

But I do have a few things to take care of yet this morning, so I will bid adieu and get on with my day.  Wishing you a great weekend! 

Love from me!

Betsy

Betsy (Feb. ‘19) adds, “Drop a line if you have enough time and energy. I always enjoy mail from you!”

***

Hi Fritzie,

  Hope you are enjoying the warmer spaces in Florida!

 I checked with the folks at this retirement community I like which is located twenty minutes from my son’s home on the East Coast. They are projecting one of the cottages I have chosen should be ready by mid-year.  I am spending much time cleaning out my home, planning on putting it on the market this spring.  

Depending on the sequence of home sale and cottage availability, it could go smoothly or I may be homeless at some point!

I hope this finds you and your partner in good health.

Jim 

  Jim (May ‘19) adds, “Moving from a thirty-five hundred square foot home to a cottage of eleven hundred is challenging. This major transition in my life will be quite consuming.”

***

DREAM THEMES

Editor’s Note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

When the media talks of examining one’s life for New Year’s Resolutions, I think about that and even make a few. Doing so encourages me to also look into my “inner life.” That’s more difficult.

As usual this year I see many strands of meaning. Some appear regularly like different colored beads in a necklace.

One theme of recent months tells me – once again – I am my mother’s daughter. When I was a little girl, I studied Mother and wanted to be just like her. She was smart and she was beautiful! She had red hair and pinkish skin. While she disliked her freckles, I thought them charming.

However, I could never look too much like her. I am a brownette with no freckles at all. But, I am like my mother in many other ways. One is the way we organize our kitchens. Another is wearing make-up. These last few years my lipstick color has been much like Mother’s once favorite, Revlon’s “Wild Strawberry.”

Mother: June 1967

Even the shape and color of spectacle frames are similar! (Compare photos above and below.)

Me: January 2020

Dreams remind me how I am like my mother in yet another way: we like to feed people.

On October 23, 2019, one part of my dream was, “Mother is trying to feed all the relatives … I end up (helping by) making corn pudding and anything else (in the refrigerator) plus beef tips. I feed who I can, Mother did the same.”

I like corn pudding and make it for Christmas and Easter meals. But, what relatives am I feeding in Florida?

On Oct. 28, 2019, my story of the night included, “Cheese spaghetti sauce. It will be a Xmas gift from an old couple (JK and me?) to their friends… The old couple has food and feeds kids …”

I can’t recall ever making a cheese spaghetti sauce. I always go for the red tomato kind, so what can this mean?

On Nov.5, 2019, part of my dream was, “Red beans – specialty of the house. What’s the sauce?” Red bean sauce? I make a cold red bean salad with sweet pickle relish, onion and mayo mixed in. Is there another recipe?

After that, my dreams turned to other themes for several weeks: houses I’m living in, construction, teaching, pets and, yes – even at my age – babies!

Then as suddenly as those food dreams disappeared, they returned on December 2, 2019. After dreaming of being part of a British family, I recorded: “KOBE bean. A British teen eats them. They are large and can be an entire meal.” KOBE? I had written it in all caps! What can that mean?

I reached for my smart phone and asked Google, “What is a kobe bean?” I searched quite a bit past Kobe Bryant the well-known basketball player who was also nicknamed “Kobe Bean.” Eventually, I discovered the word “kobe” is Hebrew. In that language it means, “Yahweh (God) may protect.”

I doubt my dream was about a basketball player! More likely, it carried the Hebrew meaning: God’s protection is complete.

Looking back at my food dreams, I realized I had been considering them literally. Dreams are commonly more representative of other matters. Perhaps there is another perspective.

There is also a spiritual aspect to food. For example, taking communion at church is often considered a “holy meal.” Maybe my dreams are showing me that Mother and I shared or could share some kind of holiness.

I pondered the idea. My mother avoided deep religious or Bible talk. On the other hand, she befriended several older ladies and often helped her younger sister, in one way or another.

She also took time to listen and talk seriously with at least one girlfriend who stopped to visit while I was away at college. I recall Mother also told me about a brother of a classmate who rode his bicycle nearly ten miles to drop in and talk. There may have been others….

I pondered the dream message of “spiritual food.” Mother and I want to give sustenance to our family and various friends. This “food” could be listening as well as inviting people together to share a meal and talk to each other. I liked that idea. Since I believe my Higher Power can speak to me through dreams, I am encouraged.

In editing and publishing Ninepatch I do listen to others and give them a “voice” to be heard. (Newsletter readers also participate!) Maybe different foods are the various types of material being heard and shared. But a KOBE bean is the best kind – a (spiritual) “complete meal.”

I am surely blessed when I listen and share with others. May you share my experience!

Frances Fritzie

FROM OUR FACEBOOK NINEPATCH PAGE TOPICS:

Malaina (Dec.’19) commented on this question from December ‘19 week Four. When I need to go somewhere to think, I most often …”

“…Pull on my walking/hiking boots and head out to the lane cutting thru my friend’s pasture. Our driveway leads right to her property and the lane cuts over a small rise. Walking ‘airs out’ problems as I watch for critters, look for critter tracks and look at the clouds.

I can get up to a mile and a half to a two-mile walk and stay out for a couple hours or more. It’s a relaxing down time and quite refreshing.

The old lane used to be a road used by locals a hundred fifty or more years ago. Part of the old lane can be seen in the bit of woods behind my chicken coop and in the yard where it used to meet the now modern road.

My daughter and I walked down part of the old lane a couple of years ago but “lost “ it in woods more than a mile from our house. (I plan to drag my daughter on another walk to find it again.)

Now the old road is mostly a deserted farm lane.

I love old roads/lanes.

If roads could talk …”

**

DVL (See FABRICS) commented on December ‘19, week three: “The best way to eat spaghetti is…”

He says, “Here’s how I eat spaghetti. First, I wear an appropriate color shirt: beige for alfredo sauce and red or orange depending on the color of the marinara sauce. Although I have no Italian ancestors, I start out doing my best imitation of a proper Italian gentleman. I set my spoon backward in my left hand, twirl spaghetti with a fork in the right hand.

Halfway through this process, the spaghetti is getting lukewarm. This process is not cutting it. Cold pasta salad is great, but not half-cold spaghetti!

I drop the spoon, pick up a knife and cut the pasta into pieces then scarf up the rest while it is still warm.

Last, I apply Stain Stick to shirt and throw it in the washer!”

**

The following folks also commented on how they eat spaghetti!

Liz/Moascar (See her letter) says, “Cold and twirled.”

**

Georgene (Nov.’19) says, “With lots and lots of meat sauce, cut with fork for each bite.”

**

Gail (See her letter.) adds, “Cut up with a knife and fork, crossways.”

**

Tennessee (Aug.’19) says, “With my fingers.”

**

Linda Rosenthal (See her letter.) says, “The question of how you eat spaghetti is an upsetting trigger. A long time ago, a different, weaker, younger me was shamed by a boyfriend for stabbing my fork into a tangled pile of spaghetti and twirling freely before eating it. He insisted you must twirl it neatly with a spoon before eating it. I felt like an idiot. (Not good) Glad things didn’t go far with him. (Hugs to my younger self.)”

*

WEEKLY FACEBOOK TOPICS FOR JANUARY 2020

When you go to Face-book to find us, the best way is to search “Ninepatch group.” It is a “closed” group., but joining is easy: just ask!

Week of Jan.6:” A weakness can be good when it…”

Week of Jan.13: “My favorite book read as a child was…”

Week of Jan.20: “What are you hoping for right now?”

Week of Jan. 27: “The darkest room in my house is…”

OUR MONTHLY QUESTION

To start us off in this new year,Chantal (Dec.’19) com-mented on the topic, “If sunset had to be at the same time all year, what time would you want the sun to set?”

She said, “I’ve given a bit of thought about what time I’d like sunset to be all year ‘round. My definitive answer is 10:00 p.m. I love summer days in the North when it almost stays light ‘til ten at night!

I know a lot of people have a problem with Daylight Savings time but, I crave sunlight in general. I’m pretty certain that sunset at 10:00 p.m. would be wonderful for me.”

**

Our monthly question“ The smallest gift I ever received was…” will continue and a new

one will join it, “Why on earth do I ——–?” (Fill in the blank and explain possible reasons.)

DONTCHA’ KNOW?

While it’s what’s inside your brain

And wants to get out that counts,

What, where, when, how

And with whom you share –

Can be more important,

Dontcha’ know?

Simon Stargazer III

(Dec.’19) adds, “I learned two important things at an early age. Most importantly is to put my mouth in neutral long enough to take a second look at what my brain was screaming at me to share indiscriminately. It took a lot of years to learn that one effectively.

The second important thing I had to learn was that I just wasn’t the only important person in the room. That took a while too.

Perhaps the most important thing my dad told me (from time to time, with appro-priate emphasis) was something like this, ‘Son, it’s a good idea to keep your mouth closed, more often than not because some of the folks around you might just be a wondering what kind of a fool you are, and if you open your mouth too quick, you might remove any doubt they have about the answer.’

I still have to bring my attention to that one more often than I like.”

LIFE IS…

Wish for all of us—
Save questions for later
You already have the
Answers
To life— 
You can’t change
What already is—

Gayle Bluebird (Dec.’19) adds, “We are always looking for answers, to what happen-ed before to what happens next.  We cannot change things but life moves us along and we have to accept what is and what was.

AT THE MOVIES

I went with seven others from my church and saw “Wonderful Day in the Neigh-borhood” with Tom Hanks. I highly recommend the movie. Tom Hanks did a superb job.  (The movie was better than I expected.)

Recently, I also saw “Harriet Tubman.” It was great as well but difficult to watch at times.  An amazing woman!

Dottie (Dec’19) adds, “Before seeing Tom Hanks, we also ate lunch together which was fun.”

AN INTERESTNG BOOK

I recently finished reading such an interesting book called The Rosie Project. It’s by Graeme Simsion. The story’s narrator has some kind of disorder. The book is hilarious.

At first, I thought the disorder was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but later thought it had a sprinkling of other disorders such as some aspects of Asperger’s.

The main character is Don who is a professor of genetics. He organizes his life practically to the minute. He wants to find a wife so he goes about designing “The Wife Project,” complete with a questionnaire so he can filter out the unsuitable-for-marriage women.

He has zerosocial skills but works hard at learning these skills through real-time obser-vation and by watching romantic movies. He is friends with a married couple, and they help him understand what is and isn’t appropriate. 

Don meets a beautiful woman named Rosie who in many ways is his opposite. While he is attracted to her, he also deems her unsuitable for marriage. In this touching (and again, hilarious) novel, Don learns that love isn’t something that can be easily defined.

Elaine (Dec.’19) adds,

“I adored this book. I thought of Frances’ son David and my OCD grandson throughout.”

RECOMMENDATIONS

I read a great deal. Editor Frances asked me for a list of books I could recommend. I chose three.

Heaven Is Real by Todd Burpo. This is the story of the author’s three-year-old son who died and went to heaven, then returned to describe it to his parents.

One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne. Here is the story of how the good deeds of a recently deceased man continue to affect his family and friends.

The Man Who Forgot His Wife by John O’Farrell. The man has a severe episode of complete amnesia, but slowly recovers.

June Poucher (Dec.’19) adds, “I chose these books be-cause of the subject matter. I avoid murder and other violence.”