Be Verrrry Careful What You Ask For!

January 30, 2009


My daughter called this evening and asked if I would do a guest post on her blog, Chased by Children, for her.  This is what I wrote:

Jenny’s Mom Rocks!!

Jennifer is out of town on business, so she called me, her lovely mother, and asked if I would do a guest post for her today. I said, yes, of course, but then she proceeded to tell me what I could and couldn’t write!!

That’s when I lovingly explained to her, in a motherly way, that now that she had given me the “key to the city, ” i.e., her password, I could type whatever I pleased!

So now, rather than attending the dinner meeting she was supposed to attend this evening in Indianapolis, she is probably off in a corner somewhere, biting her manicured nails, and wondering what I’m typing! Ha! I love it!

So, what shall we talk about, just between us, now that she isn’t here?

I know. I’ll tell you about her trip to Washington, D.C. when she was a freshman in high school. There were several lessons she learned on that trip, and none of them had to do with the history of our country or how our government works!

At the last minute before the trip, the friend she was supposed to go with couldn’t go, but Jen went anyway, with pretty much a bunch of strangers. Of course, she got to know most of them during the trip, and that’s a good thing, because she didn’t manage her money very well, and ran out a couple days before the end of the trip! So, one of her new friends loaned her some of her money (apparently that girl HAD made sure her money lasted the whole trip!) so that Jen would have money to eat on for the last couple days.

She took a camera, and we were looking forward to seeing what pictures she had taken, but she was either too busy to remember to take pictures, OR she only went on the tour of the street maintenance barn. Because the only pictures she brought back were of some street maintenance men and their truck. No monuments, no white house, no tomb of the unknown soldier … just a couple scruffy-looking guys with shovels, standing in front of their truck.

Unfortunately, I had bought her quite a few new shorts and shirts for this trip. Why “unfortunately,” you ask? Because she put alot of them in drawers in her hotel room and then forgot to look in one drawer when she was packing to come home, so she left a whole draw-full of her new clothes at the hotel! When I called to ask if they’d been found, the clerk said they would have just been dumped into a large “lost and found” bin, and I would have to describe any pieces of clothing that were left, in order to get them back. Wellll, they were new, so neither Jen nor I could describe ANY of them. Oh, but wait a minute, we were able to describe her bathing suit that was also in the drawer, so they did mail that to us. J.u.s.t t.h.a.t o.n.e t.h.i.n.g.

But, when she got home, she said she had had a great time. And, I had been a nervous wreck with my baby on that trip all by herself, so I was delighted she was home too … even minus any pictures of DC landmarks and most of her wardrobe, and owing money to some stranger from another school!

I couldn’t write a blog if I didn’t have interesting children who are perpetual fodder for my stories.

And, now, back to you Jen …

Love, Mom

Don’t bother to thank me, Jen.  I was happy to do it!  

Help me Here … Why Attend a Class Reunion?

January 30, 2009


I went to a committee meeting at Candy’s the other night.  We are having committee meetings every few months now in preparation for our 45th high school class reunion this coming  August.

There were six of us there, Barb, Becky, Candy, Cheryl, Kay and me (our only male committee member, Jerry,  was out of town — the one who is so good at reminding us we’re getting off track).  Barb, Becky and Cheryl are the relatively “new blood”  that is much needed for a committee that has been meeting every five years forever

The hotel is booked and the program and menu will be planned closer to the time.  But there are always two items that we have to work on now:  finding addresses and/or e-mails in order to contact classmates, and, once we’re in contact with them, convincing more of them to attend!

I am always amazed at the number of classmates who even still live in this area, but never attend the reunions.

I think there are probably three common reasons that people don’t attend:

1.  They hated high school and have absolutely no interest in being reminded of anything associated with it. (There’s not much we can do about this one.)

2.  If their friends from high school aren’t going to be there, they don’t think they will have a good time.

3.  They are afraid they won’t look as good or be as successful as the other attendees.

It’s the last two that I wish we could somehow convince them are non-issues.

Regarding number two:  Hello?  It’s been forty-five years!  Who the heck remembers everyone they were friends with in high school?  At this point, you are getting together with people who have common memories of your teenage years.  There is something so fun about sharing memories of a favorite teacher or a memorable hang-out, even with someone who you didn’t know very well then.  (And, since most of us have really bad memories by now, we’ll be able to compare the same memories at our next reunion in five years, and neither one of us will remember, so it will be like a new conversation! 🙂

And, number three.  At 63 years old — we are all waaaayyyy past caring about that “looks” and “career” stuff.  Yes, there are some who are more “well-preserved” than others, but there are many more of us who  just look like what we are … people in their sixties!  And, you know, at this age, everyone is friendly and glad to see everyone else, and there’s hardly any talk about “careers” because most of us don’t have one any more!  So, if  you smile and look like you’d like to have a conversation, someone will feel “invited” by that smile, and strike up a conversation with you.  I’d bet on it. 

So, now dear readers, here’s my request of you.  Becky, one of the “rookies” who has really taken to this reunion stuff, suggested that in our initial mailing, we have a fun list of “Top Five Reasons You Should Attend the Reunion.”  I think that’s a great idea and I know there must be some terribly clever things we could put on that list, I just can’t think of them.

So, how about helping me look “brilliant” to my fellow committee members for our next meeting, by giving me any ideas you have for reasons we could put on that list?

I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas you might have.

The Reluctant Poetry Reader

January 29, 2009


I told you yesterday about being a freshman and going to see Mr. May, the high school speech coach, to ask about joining the speech team.  I felt I had much to offer as a humorous speaker, because I was just (self-analysis here) a very funny kid.  But then I was blindsided by Mr. May’s smooth-talking ways and before I knew it, I was walking out of his room as a member of the speech team all right . . . but as a poetry reader!

I do have to say, that Mr. May may have “tricked” Karen and me  into being his Poetry Reading team, but he didn’t just abandon us after that.  He sat down with us and talked to us about a plan for what poems we would use.

In Karen’s case, he took one look at her big, innocent eyes, little girl voice and sweet demeanor and suggested that she recite A A Milne’s children’s poem, Vespers.   (Milne created Winnie-the-Pooh.)

But when it came to me, despite my assertion that all of my bones were funny bones, to him, I apparently looked serious (maybe depressed or, worse yet, depressing!) because he came up with a plan for me to recite poems that talked about alienation.  It’s hard to think of a subject he could have picked that could have been any further from funny than that.  So, the poems I recited were deep, solemn poems like Robert Frost’s An Old Man’s Winter Night, which ends: 

The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man — one man — can’t keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It’s thus he does it of a winter night.

I can’t remember enough about two other poems I recited to look them up, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they were about people being alone or alienated from other people too.

And then he had me end my recitation on a “happier” note of reconciliation with a poem by Edwin Marcum:


He drew a circle that shut me out . . .

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout

Ahh, but love and I had the wit to win . . .

We drew a circle that took him in.  

Okay, there you have it.  Karen and I go in and asked to be funny.  We are diverted by a devious old guy down a path we had never anticipated — poetry reading!  And  then he gives Karen a sweet poem about a little kid’s bedtime to recite, but he gives me dark, brooding poems.  Karen was okay with all this.  Me, not so much.

But you know, something “funny” did happen.  Somewhere along the way, after I’d practiced those poems for a while, and really “got’ their meaning, I was okay with the poems he had picked for me.  They kind of spoke to me.  Huh, almost sounds like he knew me better than I did.  I hate it when that happens.

I learned alot from competing in speech meets in Poetry Reading, some of it about myself.  One thing I learned was that I actually like poetry!    Go figure.

Thank you, Mr. May.

But, I Want to be Funny!

January 28, 2009


When I began my freshman year in high school, and was deciding which clubs I wanted to join (being a social kid, I was excited to join stuff!) the two clubs that interested me most were (1) Masque and Gavel, which was the drama club, and (2) the speech club, that was part of a national organization called the National Forensic League.

I was immediately charmed by the name of the drama club.  “Masque and Gavel” sounded so . . . sophisticated . . . to my 14 year old ear.  I could envision telling people I was a member of Masque and Gavel and it raising their opinion of my gawky, immature self . . . Obviously, this is a very sophisticated 14 year old, I imagined they would think. 

On the other hand, the name of the speech club was not quite as charming

For one thing, National Forensic League!?  Didn’t that have something to do with dead bodies?  Somehow (and there definitely weren’t any TV shows like CSI then) that word put me in mind of murder investigations.  But, here are two definitions from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary that clear that up:

forensic medicine: a science that deals with the relation and application of medical facts to legal problems.  (This must be the reason it made me think of dead bodies, as in medical witnesses at murder trials on Perry Mason.)

forensic:  an argumentative exercise; the art or study of argumentative discourse.  (If I’d even read this definition I probably wouldn’t have joined, because I definitely wasn’t interested in “argumentative discourse” . . . I wanted to be funny!)

Apparently this group had started as a debating society and then evolved into a more general speech society.

And, secondly.  Because  no one went around routinely saying, “Yes, I belong to the National Forensic League.”, for the rest of my high school career, I belonged to the NFL, which came up in conversation occasionally.  “Ha, ha.  No, I’ve never thought about the initials being the same as the football league.  Glad you pointed that out.” (You, and ten million others.)

So one day after school early in our freshman year,  my friend Karen and I went to see Mr. May, the infamously surly speech and drama coach, to ask what we had to do to join the speech team.  (We tried out for the drama club too, but just as its name sounded, its membership was very exclusive.  Very few freshmen passed the try-out and were invited to join.  We were no exception.  We didn’t get “invited” until our sophomore year.)

Let me just say here that by the end of high scool Mr. May had become my all-time favorite teacher/coach.  He was tough, but even a teenager can tell when a teacher not only knows his stuff, but holds students to a high standard  because he really cares whether they succeed.

But when Karen and I walked into his classroom as green freshmen, we were scared to death because he was  a very grumpy-looking older man, who spoke very concisely, and looked over the top of his glasses at everyone else as if  he expected you to do the same!  And, we had heard about how ruthless he could be in his criticism if you made a mistake.

Because of all this, we were soooo nervous to actually talk to this teacher whom we had heard such “horror stories” about, that we were at our worst — we giggled and constantly shifted from one foot to the other, and tightened the scarves tied around our pony tails and pulled up our socks, while alternately stammering and babbling, all while on the verge of tears.  Charming.  But, this is a man who had dealt with many giggly, nervous teenage girls before us, so apparently he was able to look past all that and see that we might actually be able to do public speaking!  Bless his heart.

When we finally calmed down enough to let him speak, he asked us which of the categories we wanted to participate in.  And we answered immediately . . . we wanted to compete in Humor . . . we wanted to be funny!  And, apparently we were funny, because he immediately guffawed (his version of a laugh).  He told us that almost everyone wanted to do Humor; he had plenty of members to compete in that category, so he really didn’t have a place for us.  We were dejected.  No room for us to be funny.  So sad.  But, as we hung our heads and started to leave the room, he called after us, “Of course, we have other categories where we need people. Maybe you could do one of those.”  Well, we really wanted to be funny, but we really did think it would be fun to join the speech team too.  So, we returned to his desk ready to listen to what other fun categories might need us.

Now, I don’t know if Mr. May was a fisherman in his off time, but I’m telling you he was a fisherman at heart, because he reeled in two teenage girls like you would big mouth bass (pun intended) for a category that he had alot of trouble filling — Poetry Reading!    Yuck.  I didn’t know much about poetry, but Poetry Reading sounded dry as dirt! 

Maybe Mr. May had been a basketball player too, because he was also very good at the “full court press.”  Now that he had dangled membership in a”fun” organization like NFL in front of us, only requiring that we recite a few poems, and we hadn’t run screaming from the room, he pressed his advantage, and added an additional enticement — it was an easy category to win ribbons in, because there weren’t nearly as many competitors as in the more popular categories, like Humor.  And, when we still waivered, he threw in the final big, juicy piece of “bait” — being a member of the NFL would definitely help us get into Masque and Gavel when we tried out next year!

Hmmm. We liked the idea of being ribbon winners, and we did like the idea of competing against other schools in speech meets, and we reallllly wanted to become members of the “elite” Masque and Gavel next year.  So, maybe we would give this poetry reading a try. 

Congratulations, Mr. May.  Mission accomplished.  You had two “volunteers” for your poetry reading team (btw, we soon found out we were the only members of the poetry reading team).

Tomorrow:  The Reluctant Poetry Reader

The Untimate Carry-In!

January 27, 2009


Whenever Sis and my Brother-In-Law (BIL) come to visit us, they always want to eat at Ziffles, a rib place not too far from us, at least one time.  They swear they have never had ribs as good as those anywhere else.  In fact, we joke that they actually come here to “visit” Ziffles and just stop in to see us while they’re in the area!

 So, when we went to visit them last year, we had a great idea!  We ordered four rib dinners from Ziffles and then hauled them to Georgia in a cooler, so that the four of us could enjoy Ziffles’ ribs down there.  Marsha, one of Ziffles’ owners, told us exactly how to transport it all and how to complete the meal once we got there.  She even gave us partially cooked french fries to finish off in the oven and a little container of the “secret” mix of spices that they sprinkle on them to make them wonderful too. 

And when we got ready to eat our “long haul” ribs, as a last Ziffles’ touch, we put a roll of paper towels in the middle of  the table just like they do!  The ribs were wonderful, as always, and didn’t seem to suffer from the trip at all.

So, when we talked to Sis and BIL about visiting them again at the beginning of this year, they asked if it was possible for us to arrange for Ziffles to ship them enough ribs for 25 people, so that while we were there, they could have a family dinner so that all their children and grandchildren (who were available) could experience the Ziffles they had heard so much about.  Well, as it turned out, the easiest way to get that many ribs (14 slabs!) down there was for us to just bring them with us in two coolers.  It made it easier that we just had to bring the ribs — their daughters said they would make potato salad and slaw and french bread to go with them.  Perfect!  

So, here are the pictures of the Georgia Ziffles experience.

p100022212   Two of Ziffles’ biggest fans.  The t-shirts were a gift from the owners last year when Sis and BIL were here and, of course, we ate at Ziffles.

p10002251   We decided we needed a sign at the dinner so that there would be no confusion about what was on the menu!

p1000224   Because we decided at the last minute that we needed a sign, it’s definitely nothing fancy.  And, when we decided it needed something to jazz  it up a little bit, a pig drawing seemed appropriate.  But how the heck do you draw a “cute” pig?

p10002222  . . . then I realized there was a pig drawing on the t-shirts!  And, thankfully, a simple line drawing that wasn’t too hard to duplicate.

 p1000239  It may have been a little bit of a mistake to try to warm 14 slabs of ribs all in the apartment oven at the same time.  We left them in there a lonnnnng time on, apparently, too low heat, and they still weren’t as hot as they could have been when we ate.  But, luckily, they’re so good, that they were still great!

p10002401   Ziffles made sure we had plenty of sauce.  Those are the big styrofoam cups. 

p10002341   Of course, we had lots of rolls of paper towels on the tables.  Very handy when eating delicious but messy ribs, but also, again, a tribute to the Ziffles tradition.

Then all our relatives started arriving. 

p10002481   Susan is Sis and BIL’s oldest, and just five years younger than me.  So, she was more my contemporary than my actual siblings were.  (It’s funny like that for late life babies like me — you’re sort of between generations.)  Susan is raising two of her grandchildren.  Good little kids who know they are loved.

p1000241    Niece Judy is next in line.  Here she is with her husband DJ, son Sam and Sam’s girlfriend.  DJ is retired as a Sergeant Major in the Army Rangers, and Sam attends a military college and will be a commissioned officer in the Army when he graduates.

p10002601  Carol is the third of Sis and BIL’s children.  She was 9 years old when Hubby and I married, and for some reason, she suddenly became verrrrry attached to me the day before the wedding.  Unfortunately, that translated into her sobbing long and loud all through the ceremony.  Mama was sitting right in front of her and worried that people would think it was her sobbing!  Carol is also the one who, during that same visit, because our house was so crowded and only had one bathroom, went next door and asked to use the bathroom!  She was one funny little kid.

 p10002421  Nephew Mark is the fourth sibling.  He races cars all over the southeastern US.  I wish I could tell you what kind, but I only know “fast.”

p1000279   This is Mark’s wife Sheila and daughter Becky.  Becky races too (she’s only 11!) and won her first trophy not too long ago.  I think know Mark is more excited about Becky racing than he has ever been about his own racing (and he’s had his own share of wins).  I have seen a picture of Becky in her race car all dressed in her fire-retardant suit and helmet — verrrry impressive.  By the way, Sheila is Becky’s Girl Scout leader, and this room is where their troop meets.  Becky is a beloved only child, in case you couldn’t tell.

p1000272   Terry is the baby of the family.  Here she is with her daughter,  Beth.

p10002361   Carol’s husband, Al and Teri’s husband, Roy.

p1000256  This is Carol and Al’s son, Michael with his wife.  He is a Marine Staff Sergeant and left just a few days after this for his third tour of duty in Iraq.  His brother Mark is in the Army and is currently serving overseas too.  It’s pretty apparent that Sis and BIL’s family don’t just give lip service to “love of God and country” — they live it.

p1000237   Some had a pre-dinner “cocktail” in the living room of the apartment.

When we put the butcher paper on the tables, one of my nieces suggested that we break out some markers and crayons so that everyone could doodle while waiting for the food to be served.  That turned out to be a great idea.  This is a fun group, so why would I be surprised that they would take an idea like that and run with it!




p1000245  I don’t know who this was, but I notice what looks suspiciously like three puncture wounds in the back of the hand, like maybe from a fork?  I’m guessing they may have made the mistake of getting between BIL and his ribs!


p1000247   I noticed, each time I happened by, Roy’s art got progressively more interesting.  It started out with just a car . . .

p10002501   And then, there was a squirrel playing in the street, oblivious to the oncoming car.  Oh no, look out, dumb little squirrel!

   p10002712   And, finally. Thank goodness, it appears the squirrel may have narrowly escaped being hit by the speeding car.  By the end of the meal, I see the car now has a sponsor, but apparently the driver has indulged in too many free samples!  So, this ended as a cautionary tale with two messages — don’t play in the street and don’t drive drunk! 

p1000262   Beth, waiting patiently.

Then we said the Common Table Prayer, and the food line started.

p1000255   We made a mistake letting BIL serve himself first .  He apparently was under the impression that the ribs were all for him, and the rest of us were going to eat just potato salad and slaw!   Needless to say, we corrected that impression right away, and put the pans of ribs back on the serving table.  (In truth, he and Sis are very light eaters, but we thought this would make a great picture to give to the owners of Ziffles because he is such a huge fan of their ribs.)

p1000260  They may be nice people, but  it’s hard to predict how ugly this scene might have gotten if BIL hadn’t shared those ribs!

p1000264  Ahhh.  Finally.  I got a quick picture of Hubby’s plate before  he “dug in.”.

p10002741   Unfortunately, the “works of art’ suffered from also being the tablecloth!


p10002761  This turtle appears to be eating his “salad” before he starts on the little morsel of rib someone has left for him.

p1000269   Teri, Lexi and “the arm” played an after-dinner game of tic-tac-toe.  (I see Hubby in the background, I believe going back for seconds — or was that thirds?

A fun group of my relatives.  I only wish we lived closer — these are people I would love to have living next door!

May God bless you too with relatives who you not only love but also enjoy being around.

What Does He See Reflected in Us?

January 25, 2009

An interesting story from the internet to ponder. 

Malachi 3:3:  “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

A bible study group were discussing this verse and what it said about the character and nature of God.  So one of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next meeting.

 That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

 As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

 The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse, “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She asked the silversmith if he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire.  If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

May your Sunday be blessed.

Georgia Sky

January 24, 2009


You probably know if you have read here very long that I love, love, love looking at the sky.  Well, on the morning we left Georgia recently, a really powerful storm came up and the sky gave us quite a “show.”    So here are some photos from a “member of the audience” on that January morning.














If your budget’s tight these days, and you’re looking for free entertainment for your children, with maybe a discussion about weather, as well as a perfect opportunity to  talk about God’s presence all around us thrown in, I have a suggestion for a place to look . . . up!

Caught in a January Breeze

January 22, 2009


One afternoon while we were in Tulsa, Nikki and I were home alone, and I had an idea.  A few months ago I had seen Miz Booshay at Quiet Life (photographer par excellance) do some beautiful photos of her daughter with her hair blowing.  And she said she had created the look with a fan!  Soooo, I suggested to Nikki that she wash her hair (I assumed there needed to be moisture in the hair, so that just the dry strands would “float”) and I would take some pictures while I helped her dry it  — with a blow dryer! (since we didn’t have access to a fan, in January).  Hmmm.  Well, let me just say, easier said than done.  But we had the best time trying it, so I’m going to show you some of the results, which I think are beautiful (because I think Nikki’s beautiful) but let me just assure  Miz Booshay that she shouldn’t lose any sleep worrying about me becoming competition in the photos- of-blowing-hair department!

100_4829d   Exhibit A:  The Victim.  I mean, the Subject.  Hair damp and ready for whatever the heck it is that Nana’s planning to do.

100_4821f   I think this one gives the impression that she is on the verge of being sucked up into a giant overhead vacuum cleaner, with her hair leading the way.

100_4830g   I suggested she try a serious look for this one.  But, when I look at this picture I hardly recognize her.  She is a happy girl who smiles most of the time, so this isn’t a look we see often.  But, I was getting a little more cooperation from her  hair.  Wish I could say that was intentional, but it was purely accidental. 

100_4825s   Hellllo!  Earth to Nana! I’m o.v.e.r  h.e.r.e ! !

100_4823g    Don’t tell Nikki, but these half shots aren’t accidental.  I kind of like them, especially this one.

100_4822g   And, finally.  No blow dryer.  No certain expressions suggested by Nana.  Just a pretty young girl with a lovely smile.

Thank you, Nikki, for being such a good sport.  This was a fun way to spend an afternoon with you.  I love you.

What Are You Scattering?

January 22, 2009


Not what you gather, but what you scatter, will tell how you lived your life. 

Author Unknown

A Few Degrees of Adjustment Now . . .

January 21, 2009


. . . can make a huge difference later!

Many years ago, the head of the department I worked in was talking to us about major long-term changes that we needed to make, and, frankly, the plan he explained sounded pretty overwhelming.  But, he gave us an explanation for change that I have always remembered and that made the changes he wanted seem less intimidating.

He was a retired Captain in the Navy, so he naturally used a ship as his example. 

He told us to envision a ship way out in the ocean that wants to change its destination from one far-away port  to another.  Even though the distance between the two ports themselves is thousands of miles, because the  destinations are both so far away from the ship, the Captain doesn’t have to immediately order a hard turn in the direction of the new port.  He only has to order that their course be altered by a few degrees.    A small adjustment now that will ultimately change the destination  by thousands of miles!

I thought that was such a great mental picture to explain how small changes in the way things are done now can make huge differences in the long term.  And, it comes to mind when I am looking at a “huge” goal in my life, like weight loss or organization.  If I change a few things about my eating habits today, I can achieve that 20 lb. weight loss.  If I just pay a little more attention to keeping our household paperwork organized during the year, it will make a huge difference in how easy tax preparation is in April.

May God help each of us to see small changes that we can make today that will result in significant, God-pleasing changes in who we are in the future.