Thursday, December 30, 2010

START YOUR ENGINES

Awww, Christmas memories, nothing like them!  Forget the chestnuts roasting by the open fire, Jack Frost nipping and Yuletide carols, the Braner family went to the track!!

Here we are lining up in the speed demon go-karts located at a great place called Andy B's Recreation Center in Tulsa.  Cute name right?  And since we have an Andy and his last name also begins with B we decided to  check out this place. It was fabulous and no disappointment!

For $5.00 each driver over 50 inches tall  and older than 9 years could round the track several times, darting in and out of traffic, squealing around corners and avoiding near misses. Shorter drivers had to ride shotgun with a taller person.

Looks simple enough and lots of fun,  right?
I was confident that I could participate in this event since all I had to do was turn left, turn left, turn left.  No great challenge there!

Gravity helped me get into that very low drivers seat and Mollie (age 3) was delighted to be my passenger.  After  fastening all the safety belts and a few directions from the owner of the place we shot out of the starting gate immediately as the shot sounded.

Mollie started laughing and squealing with delight.  Evidently she has a need FOR and enjoys SPEED!   It took about 2 minutes for both of us to realize that I had no idea what I was doing.  The accelerator and the brake were easier enough to master, but those sharp curves and fellow racers sent us bumping into walls and other cars immediately.  We bounced and laughed through lap #1.

Everyone was passing us at super sonic speeds as we putzed and crashed around the track.  We were a ridiculous sight.  At lap #2 she yelled out in her loudest three year old voice, "WE ARE TERRIBLE!"  Yes, we were!  But, no one had as much fun as we had that day.
We bumped around 8-10 more rounds pretending we were racing at the Indy 500! She loved every minute of it and I loved watching her laugh. There is nothing more precious on this earth than watching pure joy bubbling from a child.

As we slowed down and entered into the victory lap that signaled the end of our race we finally got control of ourselves and hugged tightly with the new knowledge of a shared experience.  Perhaps she was thrilled that she was still alive.  I PRAY she remembers that day well into adulthood!

Getting out of that low seat was another visual image but Honeybuns came to the rescue!  We gave that owner/operator a new Christmas vision as well as I struggled to my feet.

It truly is healthy to make "new" traditions!  Christmas Joy can be found in the most unsuspecting ways and sometimes in the oddest places.

Monday, December 27, 2010

BEST CHRISTMAS EVER


With fourteen people under one roof, a week long celebration planned, & dubious weather reports from CO the possibility of a Christmas disaster was looming.  HOWEVER, never one to underestimate the power of a Christmas miracle, this family forged ahead.

The weather cooperated, no flu bugs jumped on anyone, four blow-up beds were added to the decor and here it is the Monday after Christmas and I am one happy Grandma.  Andy, Jamie and their five very active kiddos drove 13 1/2 hours from Durango, CO....Philip, Nancy and their three drove 4 hours from Dallas.  I realize and am thankful for the sacrifices they made to  "come home" for Christmas this year. When all those children are grown their parents will then realize the feeling of "wholeness" that can only come from having all the chicks in the henhouse at the same time.   Having my grown children's feet under my kitchen table is a joy to behold.

It was the best celebration ever for me!  I have enough pictures and stories to keep this blog running for a long time, perhaps even a book is in the making!  We partied hardy.  Events included bowling, go-kart racing, a Jingle Bell band, much eating,  serious games of chicken foot, Christmas cookies, Nerf gun battles, gifts, Christmas light tour, and more eating! There was action every minute!                                   

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Interacting with the grandkids was so much fun.  I'll spend days listing the one-liners that I overheard.  The mental images of them playing are seared into my brain matter.

This picture reminds me of one not so pleasant incident.

Gabby, age 3, LOVES her froggie jammies.  They are fuzzy and footed and zippered, the kind every pre-schooler knows well.
At one point in the week we all heard her death scream coming from the guest bathroom.  She's a big girl, you know, and can "do it myself" when nature calls.  Hays was the first to reach the scene.  Gabby tearfully related her dismay.  She'd caught her little "outie" belly button in the zipper of  her froggie jammies!  Evidently sometimes the lessons of life must be experienced to fully grasp.
Gabby learned that  zippers can be dangerous!

The rest of us learned that sacrifices made to make family times happen are well worth the effort.  Memories are priceless!





Saturday, December 11, 2010

SECRETS

A few months ago I joined a local writers group here in Tulsa.  These very gifted men and women meet just once a month to share tips and tricks of the trade.  Their meetings are informative, educational and encouraging.   I try to  attend when I'm in town but don't make it every month.

A while back the President of the organization gave a talk on how to write devotionals for magazines that do that sort of thing. It was intriguing.  I left with a spiral bound notebook full of ideas.   As usual she also stressed the importance of perseverance.  It was common to submit many articles to magazines only to receive the dreaded rejection notice.  Rejection is reality for wanna-be writers.  It's part of the process and expected.

I came home that night, sat down at my computer and whipped out a devotion, taking all of ten minutes.  I'd followed my newly acquired instructions to the letter. 

I conjured up memories and wrote of the day many years ago when  my mother-in-law who is now deceased shared with me the "secrets" of her county wide famous angel food cake recipe.  It was a simple day packed with urgency for I was the only one in the family interested and we both knew that when she was gone the recipe would be lost. The many steps it took to achieve the perfect angel food cake was daunting.   Many times the family would discuss the futility of the process when you could buy a cake at Walmart and have it digested in the time it took to get through step 3 of the "made from scratch" variety.

It was a quiet poignant exercise.   Her secrets were entrusted to me as the next generation of grandmas that would eventually have the time to sift that flour seven times, not six, not eight, but SEVEN!  Such secrets MUST be shared eventually.

The Bible tells us that believers are "entrusted with the secret things of God" and that those important secrets MUST be shared from generation to generation.  That was the connection  devotional magazines are crazy about!

That's the story in a nutshell.

I clicked on all the right icons, submitted my devotional to a well known Christian publication and WAL - LA, this past week I got a message saying that my article had been accepted for publication. 

UNBELIEVABLE!  Where was the rejection letter?  First and only article?  What?  You've got to be kidding me!

I felt like I'd just reach GO without going all the way around the board.  I'd not spent enough sweat and tears or years to warrant this news.

Honeybuns was startled by my uncontrollable laughter!  How could this possibly be happening? It certainly wasn't my writing skills that brought about this "success."  I have none!

I think it was the message.  One generation sharing with another something important! 

There is much to share, to talk about, to gently instruct.   There is a need and an urgency.

Who could have predicted that a cake recipe shared on a quiet day would have produced this conversation years later?

I read recently of a kindergarten that was re-located to a nursing home.  The children's classes were held IN the facility and young and old alike all ate lunch together, did recess together, read together and made some inter-generational friendships.  Behavioral problems in the children all but disappeared. Loneliness often experienced in homes for the elderly was replaced with anticipation and conversation.

Young and old interacting, sharing laughter, stories, perhaps secrets. It's a win-win situation. What a great idea! 

Today I think I'll be on the lookout for some young friend that wants to bake a cake!  I have a secret recipe!  IF the conversation takes a spiritual bend perhaps I'll even share a couple of secrets God has whispered in my ear.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SUGAR AND GABBY

Making plans and following through with details are always necessary for any holiday celebration to occur.  Yet it is always the unexpected moments that are the most memorable!  This past Thanksgiving was such an occasion.

Thankfully a digital camera recorded the event!

Gabby is feeding two WILD deer right out of her hands.

Gabby's other grandpa,  Pops White,  lives in Branson, MO  and loves all things wild and woolly. The area is populated with many deer and sometimes baby fawns need a little extra help to survive.   When such an orphan is discovered Pops cares for it, feeds it,  and babies it as most folks do their first born  biological child.  He names these beautiful creatures, each one is called "Sugar." They are never caged, never restricted and free to come and go as they are able to walk and fiend for themselves.

As time passes every "Sugar" grows up and he happily watches them leave his protective eye and  they trot off in search of their kinfolk. Each one a success story!

BUT that is not the end of the tale.  The grown-up "Sugars" find their way "home" again and again.  At supper time Pops carries a small container of food into the woods nearby and gently calls.  Soon, Sugar  and her family and friends appear.  Let's call him the deer whisperer!

Slowly and very trustingly those beautiful creatures greet their benefactor and are soon eating out of his hand.

This year we watched from about twenty feet away as Pops coaxed Gabby to follow him. She tiptoed quietly behind him  and stood stone still.  Because they trusted him, they trusted her also.

Three precious little ones are trusting............ and thriving on love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

THE GREATEST GIFT

This needs to go into the Guiness Book of World Records. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I have ONE, only ONE Christmas gift left to purchase. (It's for Honeybuns and he has yet to give me any hints!)

 SO, I'm pitching the ten catalogs a day that arrive in my mailbox, trying to stay out of the stores and refuse to go surfing online! After the wrapping is all done I'll be ready to savor and calmly enjoy  the remaining days until Christmas! Anything that is purchased or made now is for the sheer recreation of the process!

I LOVE buying gifts for the kids and grandkids.  I spend a lot of time thinking of just the right thing, something that I'm just sure they would enjoy.  (It doesn't always work out that way, but I try!)

Today I'm thinking that I've been a little lax on the greatest gift I could give them.  During these days as they live through economic struggles, relationship challenges and our unkind, selfish culture I want to spend time in prayer.  I am SO thankful for the four big KIDS (Andy and Jamie, Philip and Nancy) and eight little KIDS (Hays, Maggie, Dax, Tiki, Gabby, Gracie, Mollie and Thompson) and  desperately want the best for them. Sounds "motherly" doesn't it???

My "how to pray for your children" list is mine alone and I may have already posted this in days gone by, but I'm whipping it out again for my own benefit.

Here's how it goes:  (usually about 4 a.m.  when I'm wide awake and have God to myself)

1. Protection - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
2. Holiness, rather than happiness.
3. Godly character rather than earthly comfort.
4. A desire for the smile of God rather than the approval of men.
5. A genuine desire to put others first above self.
6. An appreciation for every person they meet regardless of differences.
7. That their marriage would be an exhibition of divine blessing.
8. Business success that brings glory to God.
9. Relationships that challenge them to a godly lifestyle.
10. Wisdom, patience and sacrificial love for their children.
11.Participation in some type of ministry that forces them to pray and then experience God's answers.
12. Viewing their spouse as God's gift to them.
13. Dependence upon their spouse as #1 counselor rather than family or friends.
14. Honesty in everything said and done.
15. Generosity of forgiveness.
16. A determination to refuse to respond to criticism.
17. Kindness
18. Joyful abandonment and trust in the Sovereignty of God.

Now that I look at that, I may need to give this list to them to PRAY FOR ME.  I need every one of those characteristics developed in ME!  Yes, it's ME that's "standing in the need of prayer."

Well, what a revelation!!  I think I'll wrap myself in the gift of God's GRACE and today be very thankful for HIM, the GREATEST GIVER of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   AMEN!

Monday, November 22, 2010

LET'S GO FLY A KITE!

It seems like such a simple thing.  But it takes just the RIGHT amount of wind to get a kite UP and AWAY.

And this seems like such a normal picture of a pleasant Sunday afternoon.  But pictures rarely tell the whole story.

We see a grandpa and three grandchildren, right?  No big deal!  Scenes like this occur all over America every day!

Look closer.  Honeybuns is giving kite instruction to three little ones and the wind is doing the rest.

The little boy hugging his "Papa" is Tiki and while Tiki and his siblings were visiting this past weekend we celebrated his one year anniversary with us.  Just one year ago he arrived in the United States having boarded an  airplane for the first time in his little life.
That airplane ride took him from his native Rwanda and his known home (an orphanage of many children and a few nuns)  to his new environment of a mommy, a daddy, two sisters and two brothers.  He spoke French with just a few English words and a great big smile to get him through the challenges of communicating.

Adopting an older child presents a different set of adjustments than adopting a baby but I'm writing to declare that TIKI is doing just FINE! 

He speaks fluent English,  knows slang, fights with his siblings,  and plays hard like every six year old should play. He loves books, knows his ABC's, can count, cries when he falls,  prefers milk to juice and knows when his brothers are giving him the short end of the stick.  He is delightful and we love him!

He tells a few stories of life B.A. (before America) and remembers some special friends.  He's requested that his friends be adopted soon, too.  He misses them.  But I'm pretty sure he would  never trade his new life here with his old life there.

Every child needs a family, and every family that can possibly open their arms and hearts needs a Tiki.  Is it really so hard to make room for just one more?   Just one more little guy or girl that grows, smiles, dreams, hugs, and prays.

He's still learning, but then again so are the rest of us.  

At our Thanksgiving feast he raised the question, "What's stuffing?"  Answer, "this dish, right here, want some?"
His question, "Do you put it in a teddy bear?"

And he LOVES kites.  Kites  are free to be carried by the wind, just like little orphan boys that are freed from their circumstances and  carried by love.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS VERY DISTURBING!

It's been a week now since my good friend and I went to an all day seminar in downtown Tulsa on Human Trafficking!  Now, how did an innocent little granny like me get involved in such a thing, you ask?  Well, I'm not sure.  Perhaps it was a suggestion from an older  wiser friend who whispered,  "you need to know about Human Trafficking."

The attendees included ICE agents, FBI folks, policemen, DHS workers and a scattering of other officials.  My friend and I were probably the only Granny's there. When asked what agency we represented we wrote "interested citizen."   The purpose was to inform these highly trained public servants of a new national phenomena. Our purpose was simply to discover the meaning of the words!
It was information overload!  The statistics shot out through the room like bullets.

We learned that OK is #1 in child abuse, #2 in teen pregnancy, #3 in divorce and #4 in women murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. The Interstate system through the middle of the country has created a crossroad of illegal interstate people moving.

The geography of  OK, AR, and KN is now defined as the epicenter of the action.

There is foreign national labor trafficking, foreign national sex trafficking  (700K a year) and U.S. citizen sex trafficking.  In the US we have domestic servitude, commercial sex, and child sex all going on under the radar.  At truck stops in OK thousands of young women are exchanged and transported from state to state.  If there are 50 trucks in a lot, 46 will be involved in some way!

 We've taught our children "stranger danger" but not "relationship danger."  95% of violations will occur with people children already KNOW!

The red flags that officers are looking for are: single parent homes, education level, and FAITH-BASED families.  Evidently Christians do not do a good job preparing their children to be "street smart," putting more emphasis on being kind, turning the other cheek, loyalty, and giving people the benefit of the doubt when judging character.  The Bible Belt is a  prime recruitment area for unsuspecting teenage girls. Usually all it takes is a fuss with mom before daughter lands in the clutches of a predator.

When pictures are sold online it becomes a trafficking offense. 20% of Internet porn is child porn.  99% of viewers are men, 91% are white. 

What to look for?  Derogatory tattoos, gang tattoos, (pimps like to brand their new property) difficulties with school friends, runaways or throwaways,  girls living with  boyfriends, cutting, burning, depression, mood swings, failing grades at school, aggressive survival skills, masters of manipulation.

There is even an "underground railroad" in place to provide safe harbors in order for girls to escape.

Two young women told their horrific true stories of how they were seduced into a way of life they never knew even existed. Their escape took YEARS!

There is SO much more.  Our culture is "sexed" to death and being a child in the US is a dangerous place to be.

Sounds like a foreign country, doesn't it?  It  all adds up to modern slavery.  And history will one day ask the question again, "where was the church when this was happening right under her eyes."
We've come a long way baby! And our babies are the victims.    I had to come home, jump in the bed, cover up my head and wait for morning!

There are several opportunities to become involved in this tragedy. We're investigating.  Many social service and religious agencies around the state are jumping into the fray to help is some way. Once informed it's  impossible to return to ignorance.

This is just chapter one of a long book! There is more to come as we get involved. 

I'm wondering if we have the emotional strength.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PARKING LOT INCIDENT

It was a cartoon moment!  An older woman had driven her small gray car off a curb trying to get out of a parking lot in downtown Houston.  Evidently she thought she was driving right out the exit ramp onto the busy street. 

She was stuck!  The front end of the car was in the street, the back end was in the parking lot and the middle end was hung on the curb,  looking very much like a teeter-totter on a playground.

Two muscular parking lot attendants were giving her directions. They had on their game faces, determined not to even grin. On the count of THREE she was to put it in reverse and "gun it." They would both lift the front end with all their might at the same time and hopefully push the thing back into the parking lot.

At about FIVE she let her rip.  The back tires squealed and smoked billowed.  The car went NOWHERE!  What were they thinking?
Did they truly believe they could LIFT the engine portion of a car?  Would that be about 1000 lbs.?  If the plan HAD worked she would have found herself in San Antonio by the TEN count!

My friend and I stood there in disbelief watching the whole scenario.  Another fellow stood with us, laughing out loud at the whole idea of his friends trying to LIFT that car up over the curb.

That poor woman was embarrassed beyond belief.   We walked away when we couldn't stand to watch it anymore.  They must've called a wrecker because when we returned a few hours later she was gone.   I can't imagine that poor woman trying to explain that bill to her husband!!!

I've never been so thankful I was NOT in the driver's seat!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

P-I-E-C-E-S

This past week I attended the Houston International Quilt Festival. Sounds about as exciting as watching grass grow, doesn't it?  Honeybuns would rather have his fingernails pulled out one at a time than have to attend such a gathering.  He's never been or does he plan to go! One friend suggested that a root canal would be more fun!

Given the title, it IS hard to imagine that a convention all about quilts and the industry behind such an "old lady" hobby could hold any one's attention.

Tens of thousands of women and a few good men converged on Houston this past week and made their way to the downtown convention center.  Hotels were filled and restaurant owners were thrilled at the revenue they brought to town. Airport lines were long and many languages were heard as quilt fans from around the globe
struggled through security checkpoints and taxi stands.

What IS the fascination behind this billion dollar industry?  The product certainly is NOT the utilitarian blanket that warmed the pioneers during THEIR trek across the country.  Now quilting is an art form like none other.

It always takes my sweet friend and I two days to see it all!  Half of the convention center is filled with vendors selling fabric, rulers, thread, books, patterns, needles, quilting machines that cost more than our first house, and all the paraphernalia that goes with sewing. 

Some people spend the entire week at the festival taking classes from famous author-quilters or TV-personality quilters.  Lectures are held and chairs are filled with spell bound quilting students.

One section of the convention center is reserved for "pain relief."  There are  special chairs, lights, shoes, and  lotions and potions for sale to help comfort the various strains and cramps that are evidently occupational  health hazards of hours spent cutting and piecing.  The awkward looking shoes help relieve the pain of hoofin' it to all those hundreds of quilt stores scattered across America.

In the other half of that huge building quilts from all over the world are displayed in a museum-like atmosphere.  They are hung against a curtained backdrop that enhances  color and texture.  A few are designated as "winners" with the thousands of dollars in prize money posted.  The blankets and wall hangings are categorized by how they were made, either by hand or machine,  by theme, embellishment or style.

Yes, these pictures I've posted are QUILTS.  Tiny pieces of different colors and shades of fabric were cut and arranged until these faces emerged.  These were NOT winners. Not one was judged "best of show."  There were hundreds like these that simply defied the imagination.  I wonder if the people that made these are still considered sane.

The Japanese quilts are made of even tinier pieces.  Perhaps those lovely small oriental hands were made for such tedious work.

Today's quilts are fascinating and they are ART.   The suppliers for these "artists" are smiling all the way to the bank!  Our quilting ancestors must be  rolling over in their graves at the insanity of buying a beautiful piece of cloth, tearing it into tiny pieces just for the thrill of sewing it all  back together again!  Quilting has come a long way, baby!

And next year I'll travel a long way to be amazed once again!



              

Monday, November 1, 2010

HALLOWEEN FEARS

Halloween 2010 is now history! 

It was a parade of gigantic proportions up and down the front sidewalk.  Well, maybe not gigantic.  In fact the numbers were down about 50% this year, perhaps because the day fell on a Sunday night and most little goblins had to be in bed by 9 p.m. We were ready for about 200, the average number of masked visitors.

Our neighborhood is perfect for such shenanigans.  There is no entrance gate, houses are relatively close together, and safety isn't as issue.  So it's possible to walk the streets and  quickly load up with enough candy to cause a sugar high and a tummy ache simultaneously.

The first two little boys arrived at 5 p.m.  They simply couldn't wait until dark and where is that rule written down anyway.  I heard them giggling as they walked toward the front door before they rang the bell.

Following them were princesses, fairies, Minnie Mouse, cheerleaders, actions figures, happy witches, Spiderman, bumble bees, monsters and teen-agers that admitted they had no costume but still craved the sweet stuff.  One boy brought his dog along, complete with a tiny black cape.  So cute!

Golf carts, wagons, and strollers snaked through the streets and parents watched as tiny legs timidly passed jack-o-lanterns and skeletons to get to the doorbells.  Pillow cases, plastic pumpkins and fancy totes were filled to overflowing.

We oohed and ahhhed at every costume and  "thank-yous" filled the air.  Parents cameras flashed and the event was recorded for the ages. Fun memories were made.

 Evidently everybody around here was prepared with treats because  no tricks were delivered.

The evil pagan holiday has evolved into a children's parade!

It's reported that terrible things occur on Halloween  each year and I don't doubt that for a minute.  Terrible things occur all the time in this wicked world. The  detailed history of this devil's holiday is surely the cause of  much insomnia, worry and heart palpatations!

The most frightening  element of Halloween 2010  I face is the left-over candy, which will no doubt find it's way to my waistline!!  EGADS, how scary is that!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

WHERE THERE'S A WILL, THERE'S A WAY


We  spotted this along the highway  as we drove through the city of Coweta, OK.  today.
Look closely.  The gate is padlocked, but the chain link  body of the gate is torn away. What was once secure is now vulnerable. It seems like something mighty important was on the other side of this now useless barrier. Perhaps a desire for freedom caused the "breakthrough."

This would make a great contest.  Think up a caption for this picture!  What does this picture describe or represent to you?  There are no prizes, deadlines, or application fees for this brain teaser.  No announcement of a winner, no cash purse, picture in the local paper, or  publicity involved.

Just post your ideas in the box below.

These are some off- the-cuff titles:
The Arizona Border
 A Delusional Parent of a Teenager
 My 401K is Safe
Free at Last
The Hulk was Here!
In or Out?
You're Not About to Leave Me
Homeland Security

What do you see?

I can't get enough of this picture.  There is an unwritten story here that sparks my imagination!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FASHION SENSE?

Shopping for clothes is a nightmare!  I can't decide if my look  this fall is going to be frumpy, foreign or foolish!

Frumpy is the most comfortable, foreign the most expensive and foolish the quirkiest and of lower quality.

Have you noticed how some women are  simply born with a sense of style?
If I had my way we would all wear  simple knit pants WITH elastic waistbands, loose fitting golf shirts and those platform tennis shoes that are supposed to make your legs shapely by simply walking.   I try hard but simply can't get into the whole fashion debate.

Worrying over the correct shoe, color of sweater, or length of skirt seems to be such a waste of time. There are so many other things to do, to see, and to learn.  Does it really matter if my pants are 10 years old and have a nail polish stain at the knee? 

Evidently this personality flaw has everything to do with that....my personality.  I truly don't notice  I'm not quite "with it" until I go out in public and begin to notice those "looks" by my friends that suggest I should have given a little more thought to my appearance.
In the South they whispered to each other, "bless her heart," emphazing the "bless!" 
I am fashion challenged and the dilemma has  plagued me since childhood.  If I asked Granny if I looked o.k. she would wave her hand and say, "never be noticed on a galloping horse!"

My favorite  fashion memory is of the time I jumped in my Texas neighbors car to go to the gym  and she simply stared.  She asked me, "Have you looked in the mirror?"  No, I hadn't taken the time! We then drove off together.

My Dr. said the SAME THING when I appeared in his examination room last winter when  I had the flu.  Later that day the pharmacist gave me the "you've got to be kidding me, look" to which I replied...."I know, I know, don't bother saying anything!"

If anyone tells you that you can dress anyway you please, don't believe it for a minute.  There are lots of folks with two working eyeballs that will let you know you're not quite put together!  My Chicago bag lady style just isn't appreciated!

Once in a great while I do make an effort and hit the malls with every intention of BUYING!  After hours of trying on and taking off I usually give up and bring home a new pair of earrings or underwear.  I  just can't embrace those polyester printed tops that are left overs from the 70's.   Has anyone told the younger folks that we older folks have already seen those, worn those and rejected those?

And how about those 4 inch heel strappy sandals that look good on NO ONE?  The podiatrists LOVE those!

I think fur is going to be popular this winter, but who wants to spend  an exorbitant amount money to look like an extinct mammoth?

Sometimes I  fear for my life when I go out dressed in my "African animal print" hoodie.  Hunting season is marked on my calendar.  Accidents happen, you know.

Most of the etime I end my shopping trips at Talbot's and Chico's which I'm finding are pretty safe.  The sales people there assure me their style is classic.

Yes, maybe I'll consider CLASSIC or ECCENTRIC!   But then again, I might just stick with GALLOPING!  It seems to fit my lifestyle.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

MARRIED THIRTY-NINE YEARS AS OF TODAY

Thirty-nine years ago today I had NO idea what the future might hold.  We were VERY young, only 20, and making a commitment that would last a lifetime.  I understood the lifetime part, d-i-v-o-r-c-e was never going to be an option.  I could never have imagined  these thirty-nine years would contain so much love, adventure, and growth.

Today is a day to reflect, I suppose.

The little Methodist church in my home town was the perfect setting on that Friday night. Friday night was chosen because the honeymoon had to be worked in over a three day Veterans Holiday weekend.  There was no time or money to invest in anything on a grander scale. To say that we have come a long way baby is an understatement!!

At the time I was perfectly content to live in the mid-west surrounded by family and the familiar.  I expected to be there forever. Why would anyone want to leave comfortable?

Comfortable lasted only a few years before we were thrust into a lifetime of adventure and uncertainty.  We've shared eleven houses, eleven cities, umpteen automobiles, lawn mowers, and furniture styles. That's just  the STUFF!  We've met and befriended hundreds of sweet people of all races, sizes and ethic backgrounds.  (My Christmas Card list is corporate size!)   We were given two fabulous sons that brought incredible joy, baseball games, boy scout camp-outs, cars, girl-friends, car wrecks, illnesses, basketball tournaments, college fraternities, graduations and weddings into our lives.  Those sons brought two wonderful daughters-in-law into our hearts.  Our girls fresh young spirits bring  delight to our lives.

We've traveled the world, stared down a moose in Alaska, negotiated with a Bedouin in Petra, snorkeled in Hawaii,  and climbed to the top of Masada in Israel.

We've attended weddings of loved ones and funerals of others. We've taught the Bible in several churches and para-church organizations and led corporations in good and bad economic times.

The icing on the wedding cake is now GRANDCHILDREN, eight at the moment and another expected  next spring!  No one could have prepared us for the world-stopping, heart-pounding love we would experience for those little ones! (Maggie, age nine, now pulls my wedding dress out of the cedar chest and parades around in it. It's a little long, but FITS otherwise!)

We are NOT the same people pictured in the wedding album.  We've learned much and grown up.

We've learned  "the best things in life aren't things"  and God's Word and people are the only things of eternal value.

We've learned there is room in the human heart for new friends all the time and no one need be crowded out.

We've learned we can best experience God's grace and share His glory married to each other rather than not.

We've learned the brevity of life and the promise of eternity. 

We've learned the beauty of practicing "instant forgiveness," holding back harmful words and the discipline of solitude.

We've learned to honor others by being on time and not wasting theirs, to listen long for the things that are not being said.

We've learned to take God very seriously but not ourselves.

We've learned to live the motto: Be flexible or be miserable!

We've learned the satisfaction of giving ourselves away for the good of others and that contentment is learned.

We've learned the necessity of offering grace to people that don't see things as we see them and the joy of  celebrating our differences.

We've learned that nothing is more important than surrendering control of our lives to the ONE that gives life and breath and numbers our days.

Thirty-nine and counting! We've got MUCH more to learn and MUCH more to enjoy.  I'm looking into the future, preparing a bucket list and planning on squeezing value from every moment.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

BLACK BELT



The door of the  shiny red corvette swung open and the driver fell out right in front of me.  He was holding his left arm  high in the air which held the scariest Halloween mask I'd ever seen.  His  black eyes met mine as I screamed.  His greasy hair, beard and dirty ball cap were almost as frightening as the mask. 

I'd parked my car behind the sports car in the driveway of a family holding a garage sale with the thought of only staying a minute or two.  My  garage-sale friend  that was along for this Saturday morning outing was already walking toward the house when she heard me scream. We both faced the strange character.

I let him know that he'd scared me nearly half to death and with a nervous laugh brushed the whole incident off as somebody having early Halloween fun. A joke, right?

As we walked by his car we noticed a life sized rubber mannequin of satan himself, complete with horns and snarly grin, seated in the passenger seat of the convertible.  The man shouted something vulgar, laughed and started to follow us. 

He positioned himself  at my left elbow and proceeded to whisper in my ear.  As I walked, he walked and stayed close. My friend took off trying to put distance between herself and the stranger.

I can't repeat the things he was saying.  He had a continuous stream of words that I never knew existed or that could be tied together in a sentence.  I tried not to look into his face and kept walking.  There were a few other folks arriving at the outdoor sale but he didn't seem to notice or want to talk to them.   We seemed to be velcroed together.

Finally I broke free, got my friends attention and we made a beeline back to my big red truck.  Whew, that was weird!

I really don't know what to think of that situation.  And I'm not sure I was prepared for action had he actually touched me.
Perhaps a course in self-defense is not a such a crazy idea after all!  There's a black belt in my future because it's a wild and woolly world out there!

I suppose that is the attraction of a garage sale. You just never know what you'll find!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

YOUNG BRILLIANT MINDS


Young brilliant minds from across America were gathered in the room.  It was an invitation-only event, a  "think tank" organized to gather ideas and solutions for the nations and the worlds problems.

It was an experiment!

The young men and women were divided into their areas of knowledge.  Huge round white tablecloth covered tables were scattered throughout the conference room.   A tall silver pole in the center of each table held  a hand-written sign identifying each challenge America faces.  Tables were designated for taxes, health-care, education, terrorism, social-security, and more. Chairs were filled, yellow legal pads, #2 lead pencils, and water glasses were set before the participants and they began to realize their task.

The trepidation could be seen on each face.  Their eyes were clear and their demeanor was reserved as each one tried to relax. Casual introductions  brought a buzz to the room.

They got down to business.  A facilitator at each table handed out the charts, numbers, laws, history and projections.  Each problem they were to "solve" was explained. The conversations quickly turned serious.

Men rolled up their sleeves and the women put on their glasses.  Ideas began to fly around the room.  Hours passed.

With no hidden agendas, no personality conflicts and no pecking order, solutions began to take shape. Creative, imaginative and do-able ideas were woven together. The impossible problems were  whittled  down to simple steps of action.  How exciting! Could it be that plain?

Highlights of the day were recorded and I watched the entire process. 

The video revealed how the atmosphere  in the room gradually changed from intense concern to almost giddy celebration.

Hope turned to success as each tables spokesperson shared with the whole group their brand new solutions. Smiles and cheers filled the room.  No government agency, politician, businessman, bureaucrat or university President had ever considered the concepts birthed on that day.

What a refreshing glimmer of the future!

Those young people have the answers!!  Is anybody listening?

In observing my generation and those above me, I've come to a disturbing conclusion.  Because we have lived long and experienced the joys, hardships and nuances of life that only time can provide we sometimes think we possess exceptional insight!  There is a temptation among the aging that leads to a narrowness of mind.  WE  can easily fall into the trap of thinking that only those above the age of 50, 60, or 75 have any wisdom at all  and those young  "whippersnappers " have nothing of value to add to society.

Nothing could  uglier or further from the truth!

I want us to LISTEN to bright young folks and encourage them to think big thoughts.  I want politicians to get out of the way and allow their fresh ideas to bring positive solutions to our country.  I want to see a marriage of elderly experience and youthful enthusiasm. We need each other!  I want us to help them implement good ideas and never dampen  young spirits with "we've never done it that way before" or "it can't be done" attitudes.

The  important institutions of our society are crumbling, but I'm so encouraged!  There are some young lives ready, willing and able to build them back up again!

Maybe the challenges America faces aren't so hard after all,  maybe our own hardheadedness is the problem. 

Maybe I'll ask one of those brilliant young minds why I have these deep thoughts at 3 a.m.

Monday, October 11, 2010

COMPOSTING??

Composting!  Well, now there's a word I thought I'd never use!  The pictures that word brings to my mind are not at all interesting or pleasant.  I remember seeing some composting equipment in a magazine a few years back  and the directions  involved HARD work. Then there is that barrel thing that you're supposed to roll around every 4 hours or something like that in order to MIX up all that wonderful garbage you've placed in the thing.   Let's not even mention the earthworms, the chemicals you must  add, the smell and the ugliness of the whole operation!  After 10 years or so, about a  a gallon of rich black dirt that will grow anything from a dead stick is supposed to be the reward.

Nope, not for me!

That was before  we decided to raise our own tomatoes. That was three springs ago and each year has brought more and more frustration. Nothing like a home-grown tomato, right?  Those you get at the grocery store should be outlawed, at least for false advertising anyway. I know for a fact that those circular red hard things they sell as tomatoes are really stray billiard balls. 

Honeybuns dug up as section of beautiful grass sod and declared that barren land as the new tomato patch. We've planted green very healthy plants that ALREADY had little tomatoes on them.  We've watered, fertilized, purchased and set up those little tomato cages to hold the bounty that we were positive would come forth!

We've not been successful  farmers once, not once in three years. There were bugs, diseases, leaf wilt, cut-worms, too much heat, too much water, you name it and it has attacked our garden.

Never let it be said that a challenge brings fear to this house!!  We're going to raise a decent tomato if it takes 10 years, $30,000 and our very lives!!

Step one: go back to the basics, the soil!

Hence the word compost has entered into our vocabulary and our world.

We have a plan!  It involves gathering the food scraps, egg shells, left over cereal, bones, coffee grounds, etc....stuff that appears in the kitchen throughout the day and burying it all in the tomato garden.  The "garden" consists of  4 railroad ties holding back the grass on a plot of dirt about 2 ft. x 8 ft.  Can you see it?  You think the "green" compost people would approve of this plan?

We keep the shovel handy and when a bowl of "compost" is ready one of us hauls it out to the "farm" (the above mentioned plot) and digs a hole.  This is surely how the Indians did it right?  (I'm always on the look out for fish heads for this project!)

We've been doing this for a few weeks now and we are seeing an increase of interest in our little garden.

Yep, we bury the eggshells and coffee grounds and the next day something has dug them up.  A big hole appears and our "compost" is scattered in the immaculately trimmed grass.  A racoon, an armadillo, a fox, a dog, a cat, a mouse, a python, an army of ants???  What could it be?

(Our neighborhood is not actually in the country, but close.  Most varmints that live and play here are of the two legged species and drive around in their golf-carts.  We simply cannot imagine them being interested in egg shells!)

Step two:  identify  and eliminate the compost thieves!  Now I have visions of Jerry Lewis planting explosives,  Honeybuns running a garden hose down the hole, or rigging up a trip wire that would set off bells and whistles.  Security cameras are an option.
We're pricing them.

How can it be that such a simple desire has turned into such an expensive fiasco?

Step three: leave "Green Acres" to the critters and learn to be content with lettuce, mayo and a pickle.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

OCTOBER ROADTRIP

We had dinner with Rachel, never mind the fact that she died in 1869 at the age of 27.  Her darkened ancient tombstone was the sight of the late evening picnic.   The scene was tranquil (to say the least), the mosquitoes were few, the food from the cooler was tasty, and the company was delightful.

When my girlfriend of 24 years and I take a road trip, we always try to find at least ONE cemetery where we can spread out a colorful quilt, eat sandwiches and fruit, while making up a story about the "folks" with whom we are sharing land!

Only once we were surprised by a tarantella! But that hasn't frightened us away from this traditional picnic dinner "on the road."

We were on our way from Tulsa, OK to Topeka, KN for my 3 day speaking engagement when we happened upon this roadside final resting place.  It was dinnertime so the timing was perfect.

Traveling with a girlfriend is one of life's sweet blessings.  There are usually no schedules to keep, no need to "get there" at a "quicker than last time" pace, and no hesitancy to STOP the car if something looks interesting in order to take a closer look. Totally GIRL things!!

This trip was no different. We made some great memories, laughed until our sides ached, solved all the worlds problems, bragged about our children and grandchildren, compared diets, shopped the antique markets, flea-markets and garage-sale markets, ate at odd times, talked into the night, and slept until the sun shone into our eyes.  And let's not forget all the therapy that is accomplished when two friends get together to talk about all types of emotions, fears, futures, families and fallacies. Priceless!

We stayed at a hotel that has been listed on the National Historic Registry, which translates as thin walls, creaky floors, and a floor plan maze that a mouse would find difficult.  There were odd noises all night long and a garbage man making his rounds at 5:30 a.m.  No husband would tolerate such an abode.  Our suite had two bedrooms, a living room and a balcony. The view from that balcony was of a parking lot and the city skyline which included the rounded dome of the capital building.  It was perfect!  By the time we left we could actually find our room without help from the hotel staff.

Memories were also made between meetings as we checked out the local fare, it's people, parks, restaurants and shops.

We witnessed a funeral processional down the streets of a  nearby small town, complete with a tuba band followed by about 500 mourners all dressed in black.  A local bar owner had unexpectedly died and this was his customers way of honoring him.  We felt like we had been transplanted to "New AAwlins."  

We ate dinner in a renovated bank and watched a "Zombie Walk" take over the sidewalks of that same town.  Men, women, children and grandparents were all dressed up as  something right out of a late night b-grade movie.  Each one  tried to be the scariest zombie of all. Fake blood and rubber axes were prevalent. Local merchants stood at the doorways of their businesses and smiled as they watched the zombies meander by. It's amazing what folks think up to do this time of year for a good time.  The whole thing was fascinating.

We discovered a working player piano (Old Susannah!) in the dust of an antique warehouse. It was  strategically located right behind the THREE beautifully restored horse and buggy HEARSES.  One such  black buggy was complete with a  black velvet covered coffin.  Oh, my.....I expected to see Ebenezer Scrooge coming around the corner any minute.

Cemeteries, funeral parade, zombies, horse and buggy hearses.....we've got a theme going here.  Without even trying or putting any thought into it, it seems we were witnessing Halloween early!  We just fell into it!

Halloween as a child was one of my favorite times of the year. The air was crisp and filled with  the smell of wood burning  and pumpkins with funny faces were lined up on porches.  My costume was usually put together the evening of Halloween, right before trick or treating and consisted of something we pulled out of the closet.  There was never any thought or preparation given.  It was dress up time for all kids and so fun.   The reward was a sack full of candy!!

Today's Halloween celebrations evidently begin EARLY!   All kinds of spooks, goblins, pumpkins, spiders and witches hats have been in the stores for several weeks now. Even zombies make an early appearance.

It's  truly the make-believe time of year.

Maybe that's the beauty of a girlfriend weekend.  We make believe for a short period of time that we are foot loose and fancy free.  And in the process make some very REAL and lasting memories.

I wonder if  Rachel celebrated Halloween in 1869?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TODAYS TEENAGERS

CODE YELLOW!  CODE YELLOW!  

I know what Code Blue means having worked in a hospital environment a few years back, but yellow?  I was checking out at a local dept. store this afternoon with the alert went out over the PA system.  The clerk that was taking my money explained,  "it means there is a child lost."  Oh, my. 

The mother was in shock as she explained.  "Her name is Rachel, she has long brown hair and she's two."  Every eye in the place started looking down and around, over and under.  Store managers rushed to doors that led outside.  Another calmed the mother, "there are people in place at every exit, she will not leave this building."

CODE YELLOW!  Those are heart stopping words.

Who hasn't lost a child in a store at one time or another? It's so easy!  They are so quick!  And a mom with only two eyes and NONE of them in the back of her head is severely limited.

Philip got away from me a few times.  One particular time, at age 3,  he took off and I thought I followed him to the men's restroom. Angrily, I pulled that door open and shouted,  "Philip, you come out of there this minute."  The guy "standing" with his back to me, simply stated, "lady,  there's no one in here by THAT name!"

I found him a few minutes later, hiding in the "circle rack" in the middle of the store.  It was a fun game for him, one that he repeated several times after that episode, I was never amused.

Today was a reminder.  Precious little ones can disappear in a micro-second.  Everyone in that store stopped, time stopped, as the powers that be searched for Rachel.  After an eternity of 10 minutes, an elderly grandma looking woman came walking toward the distraught mom with Rachel by the hand.

The "audience" had grown, all of us wondering what would happen next.  Mom picked her up and held her extra close as Rachel smiled a wide grin.  She was not at all afraid or frightened.  She knew where she was all along! It was a happy ending and life resumed for the rest of us.

It DOES take a village to keep an eye on children.  It's good for moms to unite, to be very aware of where those little buggers are at all times, probably more so when they get to be teens than when they are two! 

Two year olds wander off by accident, teen-agers wander away intentionally.  Both have to be reeled back into the fold.

Having spent today with Andy, watching him speak to the teenagers of Enid, OK. I am SO aware that we are watching a generation of young people wandering away intentionally.  Andy describes today's teen culture as a "cess pool"  Morals are not what they used to be! Pressure to be grown up, savvy, popular, and yes,  rebellious,  is staggering.  And the decisions they are contemplating now WILL affect how they view themselves and their world when they are forty. They don't believe that, but it is proven to be true.

I want to shout, " PARENTS... CODE YELLOW....CODE YELLOW!"  Little big ones are confused and need a responsible adult to help them find their way home.  It's time for us parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, coaches, teachers, pastors and employers to  take our eyes off ourselves and step up to the plate and hunt them down.  They're so worth it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

SMELLS OF FALL

Fall is in the air. It's in the house, no more open windows at night.  It's in my closet, summer clothes are pushed to the far end of the rod. It's in the KITCHEN!!  And there are some wonderful aromas associated with autumn.

The best smell around these days has to be cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin.  AND PUMPKIN PIE!

You just cannot eat pumpkin pie in the spring or summer.  It doesn't fit! It's probably banned by the Food and Drug Administration, actually.

My pumpkin pie recipe is a family legacy. It was developed by Granny and her sister Rena (lovingly pronounced Reenie).  Aunt Reenie owned a restaurant along the Illinois river that was FAMOUS for pie. Pies of all kinds were displayed, purchased and eaten before noon every day she was open.  She got up way before daylight to make them fresh and farmers from all around made the trip into town to sample and sometimes take a whole one home. 

Her pie crust recipe made enough of that flaky treat for FIVE pies. FIVE!  Who needs to make five pies at one time?  ONLY those folks that own a restaurant or have 19 kids and counting, like the Dudleys or the Doodleys or whatever their name is.

I inherited the recipe and pull it out every year about this time. 

Here it is, read it carefully.  I wrote it, just as she spoke it and you've got to THINK.  By the way, she didn't use measuring terms, we had to figure those out as she spoke....example: "add some sugar" turned into 2/3 cup.  I've since learned that the really good cooks do NOT measure anything.  They've done it so many times they can tell by looking or feeling what is the correct amount.  When tested they are 100% accurate.   I'm still measuring!!

GRANNY'S PUMPKIN PIE
2 eggs ( per pie)  Beat eggs with a wire whisk.
add 2/3 cup of sugar (per pie)
add 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (per pie)
add 1/2 t. cinnamon (per pie)
MIX WELL
Add  pumpkin (1 small can makes 2 pies, so just add 1 can)  
    (ONE can for TWO pies?  This must have been an economic decision)
sprinkle of salt
dash of nutmeg
Add 1 1/3 cup of milk (per pie)
Mix all that up real good.

Line TWO pie pans with pie crust, make the edges pretty,  and pour half of mixture into each pan.
Bake at preheated oven 400, for 45 - 50 minutes.  It's done when the middle of the pie doesn't jiggle.

(Crust:  Pillsbury prepared pie crust, found in the dairy dept. of your grocery store. You really didn't think I'd make that homemade recipe that makes FIVE pies, did you?)

Did you read carefully?  Every time it says per pie you double that ingredient!   Isn't that funny? 

Granny explained that this pie should be called a "Pumpkin Chiffon Pie" since it's not as heavy as the one that is listed on the label of the pumpkin can.  That's the "per pie" part I'm sure.

It's fabulous.  The house, the neighborhood and the cook all smell delicious. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DEATH IN THE GARDEN

It's happened again, the WEEDWHACKER has done it's dastardly deed! Over the years I've lost countless precious plants to it's whirling plastic string.

This weekend it was the line of lilies planted and lovingly cared for along the back fence. Those lilies were the old fashioned kind, they grew to be about 36 inches tall with wild and lovely orange blooms. They were supposed to spread until they cover huge patches of my flower garden along the fence. I'd searched for months before finding that particular lily. Seems like just yesterday I was admiring them!

It couldn't have been yesterday, however, because Sat. they met their maker via the WEEDWHACKER!!!

I'm still grieving over the "pencil gourd" plants that were unmercifully struck down in their prime years ago. That was a case of ordering special seeds, planting and guarding the spindly little plants, waiting, waiting for those very artistic shaped decorative squash to appear.

I remember the day. It was an early Saturday morning when I heard the WEEDWHACKER fire up but I procrastinated a few minutes too long before I ran out to the garden, my nightgown flapping in the breeze. My plan was to physically stand before my tiny plants, arms outstretched shouting, NO, NO, NO at the top of my lungs in order to be heard over the roar of the motor. It was too late! They were gone, the ground was bare. It was as if they'd never existed.

There is something absolutely mesmerizing about electric ANYTHINGS in the hands of the male of our species. I believe it has everything to do with the Va-Room sound. Think about it, there's the chain saw, the electric drill, the router, the hedge trimmer, the power washer, the air thingy, cars of all shapes and models, the WEEDWHACKER and of course the "Binford 2000" (our name for the riding lawn mower that's bigger than our lawn!)

When the motor fires up, the brain molecules shut down. Any and everything in the path of a man with a motor in his hand is at risk.

I truly believe little boys are observed in the hospital nursery with their red little fingers pointing to the sky while testing their new-found voices. In their baby cry, if you listen closely you'll hear "va-room, va-room." Stats prove that this phenomenon is NOT present in baby girls.

What's his defense, when Honeybuns is confronted with plant murder, you ask??

He shrugs his shoulders, looks me straight in the eye and calmly replies, "it'll grow back."

I'm wondering if he would be so calm if I happen to accidentally whack off a couple of his body parts. I could defend myself, "it'll grow back."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PHANTOM


My all time favorite musical is PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! I never tire of it and it never fails to transport me to another place mentally and emotionally. When I saw it on Broadway a few years ago I was drenched in my own perspiration at the final curtain call. I get so involved I am physically affected.

Last night the Tulsa Symphony presented the Phantom's Leading Ladies, the three Broadway stars that played Christine Daae for 19 years! They were fabulous!

The Tulsa Symphony is a treat! Terri Bibb, Karen Culliver, and Mary D'Arcy were off the charts good! They sang several Broadway numbers but nearly brought down the house with their medley of songs from Phantom!

I have seen the play 5 times, the movie twice and own the CD to play that music in my car. Long road trips and icy highways are the perfect time to belt out "Think of Me", or "Music of the Night". When I'm driving alone no one knows that my high g sounds more like the "cat's tail caught under the rocking chair" than Christine Daae's perfect pitch.

Those gals hit every note, every time! How do they do that? The clarity and purity of such fine voices bring tears to my eyes. Good music always does that!

Honeybuns enjoyed the performance also, BUT, his favorite songs these days have something to do with "she thinks my tractor is sexy" and "lookin' too good not to go somewhere." Country Western songs usually deal with spilling beer, final divorce or
some body's dog died. I can't get into that at all.

Just give me a psychopathic killer living in an underground sewer stalking a beauty in an opera house any day.

It's all a matter of taste, I suppose.

But today I'm practicing that high g, and PRETENDING that I hit it every time.

This kind of thing happens when I see the Radio City Music Hall's ROCKETTS too. I point my toes and attempt to kick above my head. My fantasies last until the excitement wears off, Honeybuns complains, or I incur severe injury, whichever comes first.

"Think of Me"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WEARING AN APRON


I LOVE aprons. They come in lots of styles and colors, ruffles and pleats, some with pockets, some without. Some are just for lookin' pretty and others are strictly utilitarian. (The folks on the food channel like the utilitarian kind!)

It's fashionable today to collect "retro" aprons, the older the better. Flea markets and antique stores decorate with them. And in the past few years the fabric stores have stocked patterns so we can make them ourselves. The fabrics are fabulous and so much fun.

Aprons mean different things to different people.

My grandmother wore one everyday! She wasn't dressed until her apron was covering her dress. Her favorite style was the ALL-OVER kind that covered everything but the arms. They were washed, starched and ironed and were very colorful! They NEVER matched the dress she was wearing, they weren't supposed to.

It seems they were always made of a tiny-print-cotton fabric with brightly colored seam tape covering the edges and the long sashes that tied in the back. There were no buttons and velcro wasn't invented yet.

They served SO many purposes....and I remember them all.

Granny wiped her hands on her apron and also used it to wipe my tears. She scooped up apples in that printed cloth and carried them to the house. Her great-grandsons hid behind her apron playing hide-n-seek all the while she was stirring gravy at the stove. She never hesitated wiping a child's nose on the lower edge or pinning a wild flower at the shoulder.

She'd fan herself and us with her apron while we were swinging together on the front porch swing, usually while singing some ancient hymn. An apron could be an emergency tourniquet or a wash cloth if needed out at the water pump. She wore her apron all day long, sunup to sundown.

Oh, yes, and it did protect her from the splatters from the cooking stove.

Today I wear aprons, make them, give them away and hang mine on a hook in my back hallway as decoration. They are colorful and fun. When I tie one on I'm headed to the kitchen for some serious cooking. It's true that if you LOOK the part you perform better!! (I think this works for golfing, snow skiing, and cycling across France, as well.) There is MUCH anticipation that something good is going to happen in the kitchen if I'm dressed for action.

Maybe that's what an apron symbolizes....ANTICIPATION AND PREPARATION for whatever comes my way. If I'm wearing an apron I'm "armed" and ready for anything that should happen. I'm absolutely positive that's what Granny would say, don't you think?

Monday, September 20, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYS


Twelve years ago tonight we got a life-changing phone call. It was about 10:30 p.m. and we were living in Savannah, GA.

Prior to this night I had vowed privately and publicly that I would NOT become one of "those" obnoxious people that were obsessed with grandchildren. THOSE people carry pictures with them ALL the time, whip them out at appropriate AND inappropriate times and BORE everyone with stories of their incredible grandchildren.
Who wants to be known as one of THOSE people?????

That was all before ANDREW HAYS BRANER came into the world. He was born in Springfield, MO and we were hundreds of miles away. We knew he would be born soon and were very excited, but NOTHING prepared me for the moment of that call.

I answered the phone to hear, "Mom, he's here!" I couldn't speak! A very strange sensation started at the top of my head and proceeded to my toes. It was an actual PHYSICAL transformation!! I'd become a "silly goose grandma", and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. HAYS was born! My previous state of being was gone, I was a brand new GRANDMOTHER, complete with a NEW name, BEBE!

We immediately made plans to jump in the car and drive! The GRANDFATHER stated that we would set out the next morning. How could I possibly wait, and why? No one slept that night!

We arrived in MO and went straight to the hospital...and there HE was! Beautiful, wonderful, and fabulous. There were no words to describe our love for him. He became the center of our universe, the subject of every thought and the topic of every conversation with friends that would listen.

Since that day he's proven to be all we ever prayed for or imagined. He's perfect in every way, he can do no wrong, and if he wanted the moon I'd try my very hardest to obtain it for him. He's funny and sweet, adventurous and kind. He's brilliant and analytical. His great-grandfather Pappy described him as one with "strength of purpose." He gives his siblings fits sometimes and challenges his parents whom he adores! We've made some wonderful memories together. He is a delight!

He's TWELVE today and he's growing into a fine, fine young man. We can hardly wait to see what he will tackle next and we continue to look forward to loving him, encouraging him, learning from him and sharing him with the world.

I doubt that he will ever know how much we love him.

Perhaps....... some day in the far distant future he will also get such a phone call and at that moment grasp the definition and transformation of unconditional love.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYS! We love you to the moon and back! BeBe and Papa

Saturday, September 18, 2010

IT'S A STREET PARTY!


Talk about sensory overload! Today a nearby neighborhood held its annual "GARAGE SALE". If an item was not out for sale today, it simply isn't needed to function in this world. The streets were lined with cars bumper to bumper. No need for the mailman to drive through there today...impossible! People came from miles around to shop this very popular yearly event. We'd seen it advertised so much we decided to check it out.

This particular sale must be categorized as a "festival" of sorts. Along with miles of "sellers and sellees" haggling over prices, there were kids selling candy and dads grilling turkey legs. Boys pulling ice chests up and down the streets hawked bottled water, lemonade and Mountain Dew. Babies were sharing their stroller seats with all kinds of knick knacks, plastic flowers and almost new toys. People were friendly and they were of all nationalities and ethnic groups. The sights and sounds reminded me of a county fair.

We strolled by the usual tables stacked with pre-land fill items and started noticing the big ticket articles. I've never seen a Corvette parked at a garage sale before! It was all shined up with a sticker on the windshield. Young men gathered around drooling!

There were boats, wave runners, washer and driers, 4-wheelers, golf carts, furniture of all shapes and sizes, outdoor grills and cookers, libraries of books, and stacks of tires of all sizes! There were blow-up swimming pools, snow skiis, skateboards and skates. Who knew?

We've decided that it's a sign of the times. There were even a few houses in that area with front yard grass grown up mid-calf and "For Sale by Owner" signs pounded into the dry soil.

Evidently people are trying to make a little cash by getting rid of everything but the necessities of life.

Maybe some are shedding things that they've now discovered they couldn't afford in the first place.

Maybe the "fun money" is now spent having fun at the grocery store instead of putting gas in a boat or 4-wheeler or Corvette.

Maybe folks are discovering that the more stuff the more time/money/effort it takes to care for it. And who wants to spend their life like that?

Maybe the definition of contentment has changed and the purchases needed for "status" have lost their lustre.

Recycling, that's what it is!!

I'm pretty sure that "garage sales" are uniquely American. Good old Yankee ingenuity.

And a really good excuse for a free street party!

Maybe we'll go back over there tonight for the live entertainment!

Some things just make you want to stand up, put your hand over your heart and sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FOREIGN LANGUAGES


Learning a foreign language is a task NOT intended for those with a short attention span or anyone over the age of 2. I'm thinking my brain is too old for such a task.

When Honeybuns decided to go to work with for a foreign company I had every intention of learning Japanese. How hard could it be? After all, we would have many opportunities to interact with those folks and travel to that wonderful and mysterious country. It would be VERY helpful to be able to understand their language.

The Rosetta Stone box arrived in the mail and I KNEW it wouldn't be long before I'd be fluent. The promises of success were ringing in my ears. After all, this program was the same one used by the CIA, University Students all over the land and those brave souls that enter into the mission field in far flung places.

I opened it, installed in on my computer and started my education! Oh, my.....what a rude awakening.

The concept sounded perfect! However, unlike my preconceived ideas, translating one word to another is NOT the plan. The student MUST become an infant all over again, looking at pictures and sounding out the strange words, forgetting what that picture actually means in our native tongue, English. It must be one of those right-brain vs. left-brain battles. It is very difficult and requires hours of repetition.

After a few words are mastered the next LEVEL of study is presented. More words, more sounds, more words, more sounds.

THEN...a pronunciation test is given. I had to speak INTO my computer screen and Rosetta Stone presented a ragged graft of my ACCENT! ACCENT? I don't have an accent.
Evidently I do, I failed THAT test! No explanation is given but it became obvious that I would not proceed. Yep, I was shut down! That accent thing must be conquered or the whole dream of speaking Japanese is history.

The only word I mastered was NEKO. There is rarely an opportunity for me to work the Japanese word for CAT into a conversation. The end.

The Rosetta Stone is back in the box and gathering dust on the bookshelf.

Next plan? Befriend a Japanese person and learn via osmosis!

My friend is lovely, and she's struggling with English. She carries a small computer in her purse that helps her communicate with me. We have a good time, laughing, shopping, eating out. We smile and bow alot and shake our heads when we realize that the other one has NO clue as to what has been said. We've traveled together, attended many functions together, been introduced together at business meetings and hosted company events successfully. Understanding each other's language is highly overrated!

I'm learning NO Japanese from her. BUT...I'm teaching her slang! So far she's fluent in several phrases. "Money down a rat-hole" and "trophy-wife" are her favorites. Her accent gives a whole new dimension to English slang. Accents! They're SO colorful!

We're still working on Y'ALL.....singular and "ALL Y'ALL"...plural.