Saturday, October 30, 2010


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


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 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


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


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 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!  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


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



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


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!!

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)
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.