Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Hurricane Earl is barrelling toward the US east coast. My heart goes out to those folks that are going about their lives today with such an awful threat in their near future. Waiting for a disaster to appear is nerve wracking to say the least. Unlike when a tornado forms, hurricane time involves days!
We packed up for evacuation twice while living near Savannah. I don't remember the names of those particular winds, but I will never forget the preparation for their arrival.
Days of warning and watching the weather news was surreal. Everyone knew that total devastation was possible while hoping that the global winds would send the hurricane in another direction. All experts declared that it was headed straight for our area.
I walked around the house asking myself, "what can I NOT live without" The answer to that question amazed me as I started taking family pictures off the walls and started wrapping up crystal and china. My car was loaded down quickly and I hadn't even started on clothes or necessities such as water and granola bars!
Honeybuns came home from work after stopping by the lumber yard with several sheets of plywood. He set up the table saw on the driveway and proceeded cutting protective boards to nail up to all the windows. That's what people on the coast do, you know!
That project took hours and hours. While he sawed, I saw many more items I just HAD to get into that car to carry NORTH AND EAST. We worked and perspired into the night.
The rain started coming...SIDEWAYS. That's called the "outer bands" of rain and a sure sign that the eye was getting closer by the hour. Police cars were slowly patrolling through the neighborhood warning those who were still home to "EVACUATE NOW, EVACUATE NOW!" Many had already boarded up and locked up and had been gone for days. Our college son in Texas called to tell us that he was watching the cloud hover near Savannah on the Internet and yelled into the phone, "get out now!" I assured him we were alright and we would call him when the winds had passed by.
It was late and we were exhausted when we looked at each other and said..."we can't do this." The windows were protected, the car was packed up and gassed up and we fell into the bed wiped out! Death by storm sounded like a relief of sorts.
The next morning we woke up to sunshine and dry land...ALIVE! The headlines of the local newspaper declared that the storm had "WINKED" and taken a turn north, missing our town. What a wonderful relief!
I write all that to publicly admit our stupidity. Hurricanes Katrina & Rita have since convinced everyone that "riding it out" is absolutely foolish and irresponsible! And often deadly.
We faced another hurricane after that one with a much wiser attitude that all experienced coastal dwellers embrace. It goes like this, "Put the kids and the dog in the car, drive away, and don't look back." That is SO WISE. Betting on the severity of a hurricane is ridiculous and thinking that staying will protect STUFF is equally stupid.
Spending a couple of days/nights at a motel NORTH AND EAST of the beach can be a pleasant spontaneous mini-vacation. Stuff is meaningless when compared to life.
Today I join my beach friends and say "GOODBYE, EARL" in true Dixie Chick fashion. We've got space if anybody needs a room for a few days.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I don't do cows..pigs..chickens....gardens....or home made bread! BUT, in this months Southern Living they featured articles about several farmers that had decided to open their homes, land and barns to the public. Yep, a Bed, Breakfast and Barn idea. City Slickers are actually paying to visit a working farm for a week or so at a time.
What a concept! Families are actually spending vacation days to get back to nature via these innovative farmers scattered throughout the South. Children and grown-ups alike can watch an egg plop right out of a chicken and then eat it for breakfast. They can feed the cows, slop the pigs and drive the tractor at their leisure. The article made it sound like a Normal Rockwell painting come to life.
After sharing this new concept with Honeybuns his eyes lit up! He proceeded to dream aloud! Since he still has part ownership to the family farm in central Illinois he decided that this new concept of vacationing city slicers was right up his corn row! It took about 1/2 hour for him to visualize a new farm house, bunk house, barn, herd, flock and bank account. To hear him tell it this new idea was sent from heaven above. He seemed to think that this would be a great "retirement" plan for the two of us...nevermind that retirement for him might be when he's 84! How does a senior citizen feed chickens from a wheel chair, or plant corn with a walker?
He continued by saying that the boys and their wives and children could participate, too. It could be a revival of the Waltons! Jamie and Nancy could teach the paying guests how to quilt or demonstrate how to put-up pickles! The grandchildren could milk the cows! We would involve the whole family, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and cousins. He would invite corporate friends to hunt deer and turkeys and charge them dearly for the right to do so. We could offer day trips to New Salem, IL to visit Abe Lincolns town or Hannibal, MO to learn about Mark Twain and Huck Finn. A trip to St. Louis for a Cardinals game would also be included in the buffet of choices.
Let's not forget the fact that I don't do cows, pigs, chickens, gardens or homemade bread! Minor details!! The "city slickers" would be doing all the work and paying us for the privilege!
I stepped into his dream for about 2 1/2 minutes. I would LOVE living on "Walton's Mountain," with everyone I love near by.... but lots of hard, hard work and tons of money would be needed to make it happen. Not to mention the cooperation of about 50 family members!
His bubble was popped with a strong dose of reality....
And I'm canceling my subscription to Southern Living!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The purpose of the trip was to give a group of women a "day away" from the house, the kids, the husband and all domestic and professional duties. What a great idea, right? Much planning had been accomplished by the church Women's Ministry Committee.
It was certain to be a roaring success.
Many ladies registered, babysitters and husbands were given their orders. The chartered bus loaded up for the "surprise destination" amidst speculation of where they were going for the day. They were promised that the trip would not be long and that the experience would be pleasant.
It was only a short distance between the church parking lot and their first stop. The bus pulled into the STRIP mall for the first treat of the day. The sign read: Massage Parlor! Yep, it was going to be the day for muscles to relax and pent up stress to be released. The women would return home ready to face anything!
The group filed into the lavishly decorated offices and were given instructions. They were to enter the individual treatment areas and wait for their therapists.
Anticipation was great! Some had never been to such an establishment and did not know what to expect.
One professional therapist entered her room to greet her client only to find the "church lady" sitting there patiently shivering... in her birthday suit. Yep, no clothes, not one stitch, completely naked! Stripping seemed to be the appropriate thing to do, this WAS a massage parlor. She had somehow missed the bus announcement that the purpose of the day was for each to receive a HAND MASSAGE!
Well, no harm done except maybe to that gals sense of dignity.
It's a reminder for me to "listen up", sometimes people giving instructions DO say something worth hearing.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
When I take a few moments to dream, I visualize us adding a front porch onto the house! Nevermind that it is not designed for such an addition and that it would probably cost a ka-billion dollars! I MISS front porches. (Honeybuns has pretty much promised that our next house will have one already installed!)
Younger folks probably do not understand the significance of such an outdoor room because most have never experienced it. Our boys certainly do not grasp it's importance. That's one childhood memory they will never pull out and examine.
My childhood home had one and we lived life on it, probably at the enjoyment of the neighbors. Free entertainment. It was pretty small and was furnished by an old green wooden swing and a couple of old 50's style iron lawn chairs. You know the kind, they're called "retro" now.
The porch was an important living space for that very small concrete house. As young girls my sister and I played house there, learned to sing old fun songs from Granny while swinging, styled and sometimes cut our hair, played our tiny record player and danced and most importantly practiced the art of conversation. In the summer it was too hot to remain indoors, no A/C, so evenings were spent looking at the stars from the front step. In the winter the sun on the concrete melted the snow quickly and it was a perfect napping place for various cats and dogs we owned. Lots of laughter, sharing news and ideas and much needed counseling occurred right out there in view of God and everyone. Friends, relatives and neighbors were very welcome and shared the space from time to time. When the uncles came it was a stage for their band, when I misbehaved it was a place to pout.
Statistics and developers have learned that the disappearance of the front porch has had a direct effect on the closeness of a community. We've all moved to the back patio. And BECAUSE the patio is on the backside of the house we've isolated ourselves from our neighbors. We're protected from prying eyes and we're staring at our 6 ft. board fences. We drive into the garage, put down the door and proceed to our private place. Evidently at one time that was considered a good thing.
Smart investors have for a while now started developing entire communities with houses built close to the front sidewalks and wide open front porches. People walking their dogs can wave and share a bit of news, children are seen and heard, & old people in their rocking chairs are included in the mix.
It's just too hard and expensive to renovate the houses that already exist without them.
But...I'm encouraged. We social creatures always find a way, don't we?
FACEBOOK! It's the new FRONTPORCH and I love it. FB is the new FP and is saving Honeybuns a ton of money. Technology, don't you just love it!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Sometimes I doubt my parenting skills, but it's a little too late to do anything about it, I suppose. What's done is done and there's no turning back!!
We just got a Skype call from Philip, he's in Brazil! He's working on an international financial deal that I cannot even begin to understand, but his main reason to call was to share pictures and the story of his latest adventure.
Yes, that is our youngest son, hanging by a skimpy harness from a glider. The guy with him is the owner of the business. The marketable service that business provides is the thrill of jumping off a mountain, sailing around at the whim of the wind for a few minutes and then landing upright on a beach. It is true, there are people lining up with their money in hand for that privilege.
This is beyond my comprehension. I run or jog ONLY if there is someone chasing me with a knife. I view NY from the Empire State Building ONLY because of peer pressure.
I ride the high rides at Disney World ONLY to please a grandchild. There is NO way I would jump off a cliff, in a foreign country with just a tiny rope and a web strap as my security.
My sons are made of different genes.
The (crazy) owner of the glider instructed Philip to strap in, hang on and run AS FAST AS YOU CAN RUN off the wooden bridge. OFF THE BRIDGE! INTO THIN AIR!
And he did it!
Evidently the sight was glorious and a memory was made!
My parental instincts urge me to "ground him", "take away his car keys", or "make him vacuum the house for a month!" BUT, how do you tell a grown son that he'd just made a very dangerous decision?
I am truly in the position of giving advice only when asked! And he didn't ask!
That's why we heard about this AFTER the fact!
He had the time of his life!
Maybe we didn't fail after all! Maybe we succeeded! I am so PROUD of him for being brave and experiencing life without fear!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Curiosity won! Because I love a good puzzle or a "whodunit" book, movie or TV show it had to happen eventually. I confess, I signed up for Ancestry.com. Yep, that website that I suspected to be a scam took my money, my time, and my mental thought processes for days.
And wow, it's been an interesting puzzle.
It starts out simple enough. You add your own name and the name of known ancestors to the family tree. As the limbs branch out more names are added. There are official documents, faced pictures from an unknown relatives closet, ship manifests, U.S. census results, land purchases, and cemetery records. Oh, my. It IS a little overwhelming, but the dates and places coincide with family lore and it seems plausible.
So far I've learned that my precious grandmother had a sister that died of scarlet fever at age 15. She never mentioned her. Another baby sister lived only three months. Grandpa had a famous relative named Hezekiah South Alexander who actually has a statue of himself planted somewhere in Charleston, SC. Who knew? I doubt Grandpa knew. Hezekiahs ancestors hailed from Scotland where a castle is still located. King Robert Stewart III reigned from that grassy knoll, there are pictures! That tree also includes limbs described as illiterate, divorced, and a murderer or two. There's some in every family, right?
Dad's side of the family is just as diverse. Grandpa Thompson actually crossed the ocean and was processed at Ellis Island. He had to declare his final destination in his new land. That branch ended up in the UP of Michigan. He went there because a friend from his home town in Finland thought it was the place for Finnish people to be. Grandpa's name was NOT Thompson at that time. He changed it AFTER settling in Michigan because his Finnish name was nearly impossible to pronounce. (I reveal that name to close blood relatives only!)
Click after click placed me farther and farther back in time. The farther back the branches reached the more far fetched the stories. Who kept records in the 1200's?
Did those old folks realize that one day far into the future there would be an Ancestry.com interested in all those details?
I think that at last click I'd reached 70 BC with a guy named Titus that lived in Rome. He showed up hours after King Arthur! KING ARTHUR? Are you kidding me?
Well, the moral of the story is that all interested folks WILL eventually click themselves to the same part of this planet. Sooner or later we'll all be reading about life in the garden with Great, great, great, etc. ADAM....and Great, great, great, etc. EVE.
Now that I've come to that conclusion, I think I'm done. I don't want stacks of documents, pictures, forms, ships manifests and US Census reports taking up room in my office closet. The information I've found is absolutely useless, of no value whatsoever. Who cares if my ancestor was a King, a prophet, or a pauper? No body in this household.
Evidently Ancestry.com is a recreational sport. It's a time-sucker for a hot, muggy, August day in OK.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The pilot was making his final approach to the runway at Little Rock when our 10 year old son popped his head up three rows in front of me. He turned and our eyes met and he shouted for all to hear, "MOM, He's puttin' it in the river!" Seconds later we all felt the thrust of the engines as the plane lifted toward the sun rather than downward toward the tarmac. The pilot came on the loudspeaker to let us know of the change in plans, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to circle around and make another approach, there is traffic on the runway." There was NO traffic on the runway, he actually WAS "puttin' it in the river."
Airplanes are a thrill a minute! I'd much rather spend travel time on one than in a car/truck/train/bicycle/or boat! Well, maybe not boat. I love boats, too.
Most rides through the sky are pretty mundane, but every once in a while a memory is made. And since we've spent our entire "career" in the business we've got lots of those.
Philip knew that flight was on a crash course because we'd landed in Little Rock hundreds of times. The view coming down was always the same. We knew every rooftop, pond, pool, and blade of grass that preceded landing. Crossing the Arkansas river was the last landmark before touchdown. I'm thinking that we had a pilot "in training" on that particular day.
So far in our log of flight memories there have been other near misses, mechanical failures, crying babies, crying seat mates, leg cramps, drunks, spilled drinks and tossed cookies. (literally)
BUT....the fun and convenience outweighs the bad.
There WAS the time I shared fried chicken with a drop dead gorgeous young banker executive from Denver. When it came time for a napkin, he insisted that I wipe my chicken fingers on his blue jeans. What a gentleman! If that flight had lasted longer I would have had to put him on my Christmas card list.
Then there was the time I sat next to Ray Stedman, famous Bible scholar, teacher and author. What a wise and lovely man.
Playing gin with Honeybuns on the flight to Hawaii was fabulous, and sleeping on his shoulder as we flew over the Atlantic to Israel must be mentioned.
Once while traveling with my dog I made 8 new friends and learned of their own puppies brilliant characteristics on the leg from Little Rock to Savannah, GA. Honeybuns was shocked as I introduced him to all of them as we de-planed. There was the guy that owned the lab, the lady that raised poodles, the elderly woman that loved her collie and on it went. If you want attention, just take a dog on an airplane. Size matters, the carrier must fit UNDER the seat and it'll cost you dearly!
And short-term flight friendships are very interesting. I'm amazed at what is revealed and openly discussed with complete strangers that just happen to be seated next to each other on an airplane. The depth of those conversations occur quickly and are intense. Do I have a sign on my forehead that reads, "you can tell me anything and I'll listen?" Evidently there is safety in knowing that you'll never see me again and it is therapeutic to "unload." People are VERY interesting.
I knit on airplanes, too. It is amazing that those long #15 inch metal needles are allowed onboard. I'm always ready to surrender them but no one ever questions this granny. There is no doubt that they could be qualified as a weapon in the right hands. Evidently my hands look safe!
The joy of the journey is as thrilling as arriving at your destination (on time and quickly.)
I think I'll go pack! There's another memory out there in the making!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I was taking my young granddaughters to the public restroom at a favorite restaurant this past weekend. The conversation went like this:
Me, "Girls, be sure and lock the door behind you so you won't be surprised by someone coming in."
Gracie, "BeBe, once Mommy forgot to lock the door and she got sawed."
Gracie, "YES, a lady opened the door and saw her."
Me, "Gracie, you've lost BOTH of your front teeth! Did the tooth fairy visit you?"
Gracie, "YES, I got $10.00 for the first one that came out and $5.00 for the other one."
Me, "Why did you get $10.00 for one and only $5.00 for the other one?"
Gracie, sadly...."I didn't brush the second one so good."
Gracie, "BeBe, I think we'll need FIVE boxes of candles for YOUR birthday cake."
Me, "not quite!"
Monday, August 9, 2010
Farewell! It was a great party thrown to honor a Japanese colleague that is heading HOME to Japan.
Last Friday night at a hotel ballroom in Dallas speeches were given, cards were signed, gifts were offered and exotic food was consumed. It was a "retirement" party for an aviation co-hort. Noel T. has been in the US for 15 years and now the parent company is re-locating him back to the land of the rising sun. The atmosphere was elegant and gracious but could not begin to match the eloquence of the guest of honor as he spoke. With his warm smile and happy eyes, in his soft voice he reminded his many long-time friends why he'd been so successful in his adopted country.
For years now he has been the inspiration behind his team which led his company to receive highest honors given in the industry. His simple philosophy brought laughter to the room, "if you lose power, your airplane will fall out of the sky."
And, "there are people depending upon that plane staying IN the sky."
As we Americans would say, "well, duh!!"
He went on to explain how that very simple philosophy would carry him through the next phase of life. He's planning to be very busy and no doubt very successful in his golden years. Now, his vision and his power is focused on "giving back to the community." His neighbors in Japan will be blessed. I think he's been "giving to the community" all his life. The respect and unity of his company's employees attested to that fact. He is much adored.
As this elder philosopher leaves us, his new younger replacement is moving to town. He too is gracious and in his elementary English introduced his kimono glad wife. She doesn't speak a word of English. They're leaving everything familiar and entering into the Dallas treadmill of life.
They seemed excited about their new assignment and ready to tackle American culture. Evidently their eyes are wide open to the challenges ahead.
I can't imagine entering the work force in a country that doesn't speak my language or where I must look up to everyone taller than me to even try to communicate. How about getting a drivers license at the DMV? Buying a house? Learning to read labels at the super-center? Missing family that is a world away? Navigating an iphone?
Shopping in the materialist capital of the universe? Understanding slang? TV commercials? Making an appointment with a dentist? Oh, my!
I'm afraid I would "lose power" quickly and fail the people depending upon me.
These lovely people are brave pioneers. I wish them well! WELCOME.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Have you heard of this concept? I tried it, ONCE! The plan is to buy, prepare, cook and freeze enough food in ONE day that will last the family a whole month. There would be entrees to thaw out and enjoy for every day of the 30.
I bought the book, read it through, made the grocery list and headed for the supermarket. It took two buggy's to carry my supplies to the check-out. Evidently the store manager thought it strange also because he needed to investigate me and my credit rating before allowing me out of the store. (He was sure I was feeding an underground militia and therefore homeland security was involved!) I've never hauled so many groceries to my car, ever! It was an awesome sight!
Cook-day arrived and there was excitement in the air. The boys had never seen such action in the kitchen. The pans and pots were lined up, the book opened to "step 1" and all that food, exotic spices and plastic freezer bags were ready.
I sliced, diced, and boiled all day long.
After about 8 hours of mimicking Julia Childs I was getting weary of the whole mess. And it WAS a mess. That kitchen looked like something you might see in a back alley of a third world country. The health department would never have allowed me to stay open for business had they held an inspection. However, I was still hopeful that the plan would eventually save time, energy and effort and so I carried on. After a death defying, near-miss, potential third-degree burns accident involving draining a huge pot of spaghetti noodles I hung up my apron. The neat little freezer bags of future meals were lined up on the counter, stacked in the freezer and the family headed for the car. I was exhausted. It was time to go OUT for dinner.
As the month wore on I struggled each morning to remember to take the frozen entrees out of the ice to thaw. The Once-A-Month dinners were always a surprise and the boys were patient. Some entrees were tastier than others but all were eatable! And contrary to my understanding of the "no cooking for a whole month", I still had to plan and make salads, vegetable side dishes and the occasional dessert. What a revelation and disappointment! Shopping, looking for recipes and cooking were STILL a part of my schedule!
Everyone remembers the "ham delight" course! That was the night the guys stared in silence at the horrible sight on their dinner plates. The atmosphere was tense. They couldn't face another "once-a-month" meal and yet were afraid to say anything to hurt my feelings. It was a foot race to the car after I'd declared, "let's go to Wendy's"
That was pretty much the end of the experiment. Once-A-Month cooking is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I don't know of ANYONE that has tried it twice!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
This is a picture of a recent mass Muslim wedding, 450 grooms with their young brides posing in Gaza. Mohammad himself was married to several women at one time, one of which was nine years old. I have no words for this! Follow the leader, I suppose.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
It's AUGUST in Oklahoma! That translates into a "severe weather warning" as the temperatures soar above the 100 degree mark on the thermometer on my patio. The streets outside my house are deserted as even the children are sequestered into their air-conditioned houses. There are no bicycle races up and down the street today. There is no laughter heard outside. Dogs aren't being walked and no physical fitness runners are racing by my window. Neighbors aren't pulling weeds from their flower gardens or visiting with their friends across the yard. The scene is something out of a sci-fi movie.
It's a lonely picture. Where DID all the people go??
How DID those pioneer folks stand the heat?
Yep, AUGUST in Oklahoma makes me long for ALASKA! That state has to be the most beautiful in the nation. I'm daydreaming about those glaciers dropping huge walls of ice into the sea. I'm wondering if the sled dogs are still happily pulling tourist around on the top of the ice. Are the salmon being grilled on the outdoor pitts?
I remember being wrapped up in a huge woolly blanket leaning on the balcony rail of the cruise ship watching the seal pups playing chase in the water. Whales blew water out their spout on the horizon. Huge black bears caught fish along the water bank. The farther north we went the colder it got! It was wonderful!
The picturesque towns of Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau are calling my name.
Those towns were alive with activity and excitement. The locals welcomed the cruise ships into their harbors.
It was COLD that August in Alaska a few years ago. It was the summer dream vacation.
Yep, it's time to pull out the scrapbook of ALASKA!
I wonder what those natives do and where they go in the WINTER!!!