Mama Remembered: The Washing

August 17, 2009


Another excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember:

When I was 16 we lived on a farm north of Chadwick, Missouri. 

Dad came home from buying groceries one day and told me the grocer’s wife had asked if Mom or I would like to do some washing for her.  He told her Mom wasn’t well, but he would ask me.  I said I would, and showed up at her house at 8 o’clock the next morning.  She took me to an empty room that had piles of dirty clothes all over it.  I neer saw so many dirty clothes in my life.  On a bench in the middle of the room stood a wash tub and wash board.  I washed clothes for two days.  I don’t know when I have ever been more tired.  At the end of the two days when I finished, she asked me if I wanted to put my pay on our grocery bill or did I want it in cash.  I told her I wanted the cash and she gave me $3.00. 

I probably should have put it on the bill, but I was just a kid and I had done an awful lot of washing for that $3.00.

Several things strike me about this story from Mama’s book.  One is that the amount of laundry may have looked especially huge to Mama because her family was poor, so they probably had very few clothes. 

This story also reminds me that Mama was never afraid of hard work, and apparently she was that way all her life.  But then, when you were as poor as her family was, I don’t think anyone in the family probably had the opportunity to be lazy — they all had to work hard just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

And finally it strikes me that this kind of childhood was wonderful preparation for her adult life.  Nothing life threw at Mama as an adult really rocked her, because of her hard-scrabble childhood.

May your Sunday be blessed …

August 16, 2009



… and may you recognize opportunities to bless the lives of others.

Babs and Bons: The Cheerleading Challenge

August 15, 2009


talk smack (v) To talk trash … casting doubt on a person’s ability.  Ex: Before the fight, the boxers were talking smack to each other.

   100_4953xx    This is Babs.  Doesn’t she look dignified?  Of course, she can be very dignified, but she also has a hilarious wit.  She is married to a doctor and is herself a dialysis nurse, so obviously there are many times in her life when she has to be dignified and serious — but, when she is with friends, her wit is what you see.  And sometimes, she can even talk a little smack (all in fun, of course)! 

100_4973xs   This is Karen, the most popular girl in our class.   She was and is fun and witty, was a cheerleader and was elected prom queen (the epitomy of popular when we were in high school).  One of her “claims to fame” was her cheerleading ability … and specifically her jump.  She was one of those especially agile cheerleaders who could jump high in the air and extend her legs straight out to both sides.  But, Karen could and would take that one step further.  She would jump high in the air, do a perfect splits in the air and then maintain that pose all the way to the floor, landing in perfect splits.  When I would see that jump coming during a game, I would watch the fans on the other side of the gymnasium, because it was fun to hear them gasp and see them obviously talking about it after she had done that spectacular jump.  

Now, let me just say there is much of being a freshman in high school that I have forgotten.  But, I do remember that many of us (including Babs, Bons and me) had hopes in the back of our minds that we could be cheerleaders.  Never mind how realistic our hopes were (or how little our talent) there were many of us who tried out for cheerleading.

And then there was a reality check for most of us.  Even though many tried out, few were chosen.  With Karen, I’m sure, at the top of that list.  And no one could have denied that Karen was a natural at it, so we were all still friends.

Well, at the reunion Saturday night, Babs told me that it was time for a “wrong to be righted” — she was the one who should have been a cheerleader instead of Karen.  So, she and Bons were going to challenge Karen to a face-off.  It took me a while to figure out why Babs needed Bons to do it with her.

  100_5006x   I caught a picture of Babs talking to Kathy, Keith’s wife, who was a cheerleader a couple years younger than us.  Maybe Babs is asking Kathy for some “insider” cheerleading tips!?

 100_5005x    It looks like our friend Sue may be reminding Babs of the words to an old favorite cheer, “Go, Fight, WIN!”

 100_5013s    Babs told me that when the time came for the challenge, I should make everyone stand waayyyy back because she would need as much room as possible to do her cheer.  And then I asked her how Bons figured into the challenge and Babs replied that she was going to do the actual cheer, but she had appointed Bons as her designated “jumper”.  See Babs pointing at Bons?  And I think it’s pretty obvious from the look in Bons’ eyes that she’s thinking, “Like that’s going to happen!”

100_5028xz    While all of this was going on, if Karen was nervous that she was being challenged, she hid it well.  She did a good job of acting like she was having a great time, and wasn’t nervous at all.

100_5004xx   And then, just like when we were in school, there was a reality check.  I don’t know if it was something that Karen told her (maybe that she could still do her signature jump?) that made her drop the challenge, or if it was Bons’ laughing refusal to be the designated jumper, but Babs dropped it. (I suspect that was always the plan.)

This whole little Babs-created drama was a great sub-text to the reunion Saturday night.  I don’t think she ever really planned to do the challenge, but all of the conversation, speculation and laughs it generated were really fun.

Babs is a nurse at a location where kidney patients receive dialysis.  I’ve heard that people who have to do that regularly, not surprisingly, come to dread those visits.  But, if you had to have dialysis, wouldn’t it make it a little easier if you had a nurse like Babs?  Someone who always has a smile, a caring word and even a funny comment once in a while?

I’m sorry you didn’t get to do your cheerleading challenge, Babs, because I know it would have been memorable.  But, when you think about it, with your personality, I’m guessing you have been a wonderful cheerleader to all the patients you have taken care of over the years!  And, I’m also guessing, while some lifting and pushing might have been required, you probably weren’t ever required to do a jump!

The Reunion: Who invited all these “old people”?

August 14, 2009


… a memorable question from our classmate and reunion committee member, Jerry, when he walked into the last reunion!

Well, there’s just no getting around it, we do classify as “old people”.  But, that’s one of the nice things about a class reunion … when I look at these classmates (and sometimes their spouses!) I see the people they were when they were teenagers!

The two couples at our table:

100_4938    Lynn and his wife Barbara.  I didn’t know Lynn very well in high school and hadn’t talked to him since we were paired to process together at graduation.  He had been at some other reunions, but we just didn’t come face to face.  So, I was delighted we got to talk to him and Barb this time.

100_4940x    Ed and his wife Janelle.  I’ve seen Ed regularly over the years because we worked at the same company and also go to the same church.  But he and Janelle just married a couple years ago, so it was great to get to know her a little better. 

So, it was the six of us at a table, and the guys almost immediately found our that they share a love of history and that they had all read Steven Ambrose’ Lewis and Clark, so immediately they had a common interest to talk about, and it was interesting for Janelle, Barb and me too!

During the cocktail hour, I went around the room and took pictures.

100_4939x    I’ve known Terry since grade school.  Still a great guy,  who has lived for many years in Arizona.

100_4942   Barb, a committee member, and her husband Tom who still live here.  When Hubby was retiring as Sheriff, they thought he should run for mayor.  He wasn’t interested, but he appreciated that they were “fans”.

100_4943xx    This is Karen.  Her husband didn’t make it this time, but they have been faithful attendees at every reunion.  They now live in Vermont.  Karen was the “it” girl in our class … cheerleader, prom queen and all-around friend to everyone.  She was also funny as all get out.  And, as you can see, she’s still beautiful.

100_4951x    Barb, Me, Dixie, Cheryl, Kay.  We were all on the committee, except for Dixie who lives in Texas.

100_4953x    Babs, Jerry and Robyn.  Three truly funny friends yucking it up.  Jerry is the only man on the reunion committee — and the voice of reason.  When the talk gets sidetracked, he’s the one who smiles and says, let’s move on.  Bless him.  It’s not a job just any man could do, and still come out alive!  He’s also the one who made the “old people” comment.  A fun guy.

100_4954x   Sue and her husband Steve are regular attendees.  They live in Arizona.

100_4966x   Patty, Adele and Bob.  Patty was in our class only as a freshman, then moved to another school, but she and Adele (who lives in Oregon) have always stayed friends, so Patty came as Adele’s “date” since Adele’s  husband couldn’t make it this time.  And,Bob, who sat at their table, told us later how much fun he had, and I think you can see that on his face.

100_4955x    Candy and her husband John.  We don’t have a “chairman” of the reunion committee per se, but I guess Candy would be the one if we did.  We meet at her house and she always serves us wonderful appetizers.  She may be the single reason we continue to have reunions — her and her appetizers are the “glue” that hold the committee together!

100_4956x    Bons and her husband John.  They are realtors in Florida.  She is another classmate who adds alot of fun to any get-together!

100_4961x   Walt and his wife Sharon still live near-by.  He was one of the quiet guys in our class.  But, he did something at one of our reunions that I thought was so very thoughtful.  He brought a 1964 (the year we graduated) Kennedy coin in one of those little collector holders for each classmate who was there that year.  A really thoughtful gift to his classmates.

100_4985x    Chuck is a professor in Alabama.  He was in drama and speech with me in high school, and that is his field as an adult.  His dad, right up until he died a few years ago, ran a record store here that had every record you could think of — or, if they didn’t have it, they would find it for you!

100_4964x    The three amigos — Denny from North Carolina, Terry from Arizona and Paul from Florida.  Paul is another classmate who didn’t actually graduate with us because he moved to another school district, but these three have remained friends and used the reunion as a little mini-reunion of their own!

 100_4960x   Becky and Barb who are committee members.  Becky took over doing the little reunion yearbook last reunion.  A project that I had done for many years, along with Shirley who was also on the committee until she died.  And Becky does in two days what Shirley and I did over months — and cheaper.  This is one of those times I really miss Shirley because we would have such a good laugh over how much work we put into those little booklets — and then Becky comes on the committee and practically does it on her lunch hour!  I wish I could believe that’s just because technology has improved, but I’m afraid it’s that Becky is much more computer saavy than we were.  Humbling.  But, good for you, Becky!

100_4973xx   Jennifer (yes, that Jennifer), Cheryl and Karen

100_4968x    I had to put up this other photo of Jennifer, because I can just see the little girl giggle in this picture.  Still such a nice person and she has had such an interesting life.  I didn’t get to talk to her too much, but I do know that she  now co-owns an eco-friendly cemetary in upstate New York, and that there was one period in her life when she lived (I’ve been told for six years) in a teepee!

100_4970x    Kathy and her husband Gary.  She is a retired school teacher and an artist.  They live in Ohio.

100_4987x   Denny and his wife Suzan are still local.  He was one of the “cool” guys in our class, and a great fast dancer.  So, you can imagine how popular he was, but he was never stuck on himself.  Just a great guy. 

100_4988x   Keith and his wife Kathy.  They go to our church so we see them.  Kathy was a cheerleader, but she was a couple years behind us, just a “kid”.  BTW, this is the only picture I took that has Hubby in it, although inadvertent.  See him in the background on the right?  Just wanted you to know he was there too, even if his wife didn’t think to take a picture of him!

100_4995x    Kay and Jerry were both in the class, and many of us were surprised, to say the least, in high school when quiet Kay started dating “bad boy” Jerry. 

100_4996    But, they have had a wonderful marriage … and we’ve found out over the years that Kay can be a  “steel magnolia” when she needs to be and Jerry is really just a lovable teddy bear.

To my regular readers, thank you for putting up with a few posts that may not be of great interest to you.  But, the reason I did this is that, frankly, even with a couple of knowledgeable “helpers”, I haven’t been able to figure out how to put these pictures on my Facebook page.  So, I had to put them here so that my classmates could see them!

One last Reunion post tomorrow:  Babs and Bons:  The Cheerleading Challenge


The Reunion: Ol’ Time Rock n’ Roll!

August 13, 2009


Our 45th class reunion Saturday night was the best for me ever, and I have no idea why.  I was sick!  Wouldn’t you think that would have been reason enough to give this one a pass, or at least go but only have a so-so time?

Nope.  Sick and all, I had a great time.  And I know that part of the reason is that the DJ was spot on with the music, and once the group would get going on one of our old favorite “fast dances”, when that song would end, he would just go right into another one of our favorites, so he kept the momentum going.  A side note:  I think DJ’s are a very under-appreciated group.  They can make or break a party by not just the songs they choose, but how they mix them — just their timing and sense of what will keep that particular group on the dance floor.  This one was great at all of that!

100_4958x    Sue is a classmate who went to Alaska for college, married Kelly, also a teacher, and they still live there.  And they both have always loved to dance! (She’s cute, even with her eyes closed, isn’t she?)

100_5028    And Kelly is very good about dancing with lots of the women who love to dance, starting, of course with Sue, but then …

100_4979x    … with Kay 

100_5019x    … with Jennifer

 100_4991x   … with Kathy

100_5001x   And when Sue dances sometimes it’s hard to tell who she is dancing with.  She just dances!

100_5003x   And Sue and Kelly weren’t the only ones who were feeling the beat!

100_4999x    See Adele (from Portland, OR) in the pink?

100_5015x   At some point she changed into very practical footwear so that she could dance all night! (This was taken as she participated in a very fast congo line — running shoes were very appropriate!)

100_5028xx   Bob, facing the camera, had never been to a reunion before, partially because he is a Professor at a university in Saipan!   But, he said he had a great time!  It’s always fun to see someone new attend and watch them  enjoy reconnecting with old friends!

 ol time rock n roll   Yes, that’s me all the way to the right.  Sometimes when the dancing really got going, I almost forgot that I was sick!

dancing with denny   Denny was one of the few guys in our high school class who really enjoyed dancing the fast dances.  And he was always very good about dancing with alot of different girls (even those of us who were going steady with non-fast- dancing boyfriends) so dancing with him is one of my favorite memories.  And I got to dance one with him this time!  Suzan probably had hand sanitizer waiting for him after he danced with “Typhoid Sandy”!  btw, the outfit looked alot better before I took off my shoes and my jacket, but it was HOT in there!

What a fun time.

100_5030x    I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the room as we left.  This is the first time ever that I have stayed until the end of a reunion!

Tomorrow:  Pictures of classmates, when they weren’t dancing!

Dr. “Jingles”

August 12, 2009


As I mentioned yesterday, I went to Redi-Care on Saturday morning in hopes they could cure my really congested self by Saturday night so that I wouldn’t miss my class reunion.

Well, besides slightly unrealistic expectations for an instant cure, there apparently was a bigger flaw in my thinking that I could walk in a door and see a doctor I had never seen before, and get excellent medical care.

A classmate and friend in Indy who is a nurse and her husband is a doctor, e-mailed me this morning and said they were both appalled when I said that the doctor had told me I had a virus so he was prescribing a z-pack of antibiotics.  She said a virus isn’t treated with antibiotics!

I should’a known.  Here’s what I wrote back to her:

You know, you should be verrrry careful when the doctor at Redi-Care, as soon as he walks into the room reminds you of someone from your childhood, and you later realize he was a dead ringer (I suppose that’s unfortunate terminology to use for a doc) for Andy whatshisname who played Jingles, the side-kick to Wild Bill Hickock on TV.  He really did look exactly like what I remembered the actor looking like. But, he also SOUNDED like him!  Remember?  He had a soft raspy voice and kind of a self-conscious little giggle? Exactly the same.

So, you’re telling me that when “Jingles” prescribed a z-pack for a virus, I should have run screaming from the room?

Hmmm. I can never remember which it is — flu or virus — that they prescribe z-packs for, so I just ASSUMED he knew what he was doing.  But now I remember why I go to my family doctor if at all possible, instead of Redi-Care!

Guy and Andy     Wild Bill and his faithful side-kick, Jingles (Guy Madison and Andy Devine)

 I will never forget this 50’s TV show, I loved it.  Guy Madison was my first ever movie star crush and even now, at over 60 years old, I can still see why I had that crush.  There’s just no getting around it — the man was a “looker”!

Dr. “Jingles” was nice, but I’ll be going back to my very competent, very young family doctor from now on.

However, I do have to admit that if the doc at Redi-Care had looked like Wild Bill, I’d be going back every week, no matter what he prescribed!

Act in haste, repent at your leisure …

August 11, 2009


Haste makes waste

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure


A stitch in time, saves nine (although this one probably isn’t true in my case.  An inexperienced seamstress like me is better off going ahead and putting in the other nine stitches right away, because the “preventative” one usually doesn’t hold!)  But, I digress …

I am sick, sick, sick, both physically and emotionally.

The physical sick almost kept me from attending my 45th class reunion Saturday night.  But I was determined not to miss it, so I went to Redi-Med that morning and had the doctor confirm that I didn’t have Swine Flu (I would not want to be remembered at the 50th reunion as the classmate who endangered the lives of everyone at the 45th!).  So after he diagnosed it as a virus and prescribed a Z-pack, I went to the reunion, but sounded like Suzanne Pleshette or Boris Karloff, take your pick, avoided hugging and just generally breathing on people, and had a wonderful time.

So yes I was physically sick, but I’m getting over that.  And in a week it will be forgotten.

But the other sick will last much longer.

100_4929   This is the Panasonic Lumix Hubby bought me for Christmas so that I could carry it in my purse.  I have loved this camera and have enjoyed having it with me at all times (in one of its two Vera Bradley tech bags that fit it perfectly).  Many, many times I have gotten it out and taken a picture of something that was fleeting, when there certainly wouldn’t have been time to go home to get a camera!

 100_4931   But now … see how the shutter looks funny?  And can you see the damage to the upper right edge of the lens in this picture?

All of those sayings that I began this post with … are true!  I hurried and was careless and the result is that I damaged my camera beyond reasonable repair.  And that is the “sick” that the antibiotics won’t cure and that will be with me for a while.

Here’s my “teachable moment” as the president would say. 

Thursday I took Mimi to the zoo.

 P1030649(1)    As we were leaving, because I have learned to look for “linking” photos that I can use to create a story line in a post, I got out my camera and took one last shot (not even a great one, as it turns out!) of Mimi getting into the car as we were leaving the zoo.  And then, because I was in a rush and a little distracted getting her into her car seat and buckled up, I did something I have rarely done — I just put the “naked” camera on the front seat instead of returning it immediately to its little protective bag and then into my purse.

When we drove into the garage at home, I gathered up my purse, the mail I had retrieved from the mail box across the street on the way past and my camera, and Mimi and I started to walk into the house.  But then she said something to me that I didn’t hear and I turned around to ask her what she said.  When I turned, the things in my hands shifted and the camera fell out of my hands and landed on the concrete garage floor.  I picked it up quickly and was relieved that it didn’t appear to be hurt (a classic case of denial) — I hadn’t seen how it landed, so I was hoping a corner had taken the brunt of the fall.

I hurried into the house, put all the things I was carrying down, and turned the camera on to make sure it was all right.  When I turned it on, the lens would try to open over and over, but would never fully expand.  Hubby came into the room and I told him my awful news.  He looked at it closely and show me where the edge of the lens had apparently hit the concrete and bent.

I immediately called Sunny Schick, the oldest and best known photo shop in town.  The owner, in a very nice way, told me several things I really didn’t want to hear.  First of all, being dropped is, by far, the number one cause of camera damage (sure, rub it in).  And, number two, the lens is, by far, the most expensive part of the camera — so, it is most of the value of the camera.  Meaning, when you damage the lens, you would probably spend almost as much to repair it as what it would cost to buy a new camera.  He said that I could bring it in, if I wanted to, and for $16 they would send it to the factory and get an estimate of how much it would cost to repair it.  I will probably do that, but he didn’t give me much hope.

So, I am heartsick about the loss of my beloved camera.  And the worst is — I have no one to blame but myself.  I was careless with something I loved and I paid the price.

Truly, “Act in haste, repent at your leisure.”  And a lesson learned, I hope.  But wouldn’t you think by this time in my life, I would have already learned all these lessons?!

Rats.  I just thought of another old saying.  I hope it’s not true!  “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.”

You know, now that I think about it, that just may be one of the sayings that isn’t true.  Because if it were true, I wouldn’t have learned to write a blog two years ago and then how to put pictures on that blog.  I remember those were both hard for me to learn, but I did it!  So, I think this old “dog” may still have a couple of “new tricks” up her sleeve! 

I hope so.  I hope I can remember this experience, and think next time before being careless with something I love.

And, maybe reading my sad little story will help you remember this lesson too.  I would like that.

When Hubby whispers in my ear …

August 10, 2009


… sometimes he makes me laugh!

At my 45th class reunion Saturday night, Hubby and I were dancing a slow dance.

He said, “Have you noticed that this dance floor feels soft?”

I said, “Now that you mention it, it does feel sort of rubbery.”

He whispered, “It’s probably a special orthopedic one they use for old people.”

100_4991   The “old people’s” dance floor?  (We’re not in the picture.)

Hubby makes me laugh and I love him for it.

Breakfast Drama

August 5, 2009


About a month ago, I tried a recipe for breakfast cups.  They are really just a very small sausage and cheese quiche.  I really liked their flavor and thought they would be a great breakfast food to have in the freezer whenever needed.

The recipe told me to bake them in metal muffin cup liners.  It also told me that it would work beautifully to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them for later use.  I followed the instructions. 

So, when I was trying to think what to give the girls for breakfast this morning, I remembered the quiche cups in the freezer and decided to try one myself before they got up and I made the offer to them.

P1030467(1)    Do you see a problem?

They are frozen hard as a rock, they are encased in aluminum foil and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the aluminum cup to let go of the egg filling.  It just wanted to come off in tiny little pieces!  So, there was no way I could microwave it in the metal wrapping! 

Having to put some of these in the refrigerator and let them thaw a day or so before eating them seems to be my only option.  But, that sort of defeats the purpose of having them in the freezer as a “quick” breakfast item.  Not a recipe I’ll make again.

Soooo, now what was I going to give the girls for breakfast?

Hubby offered to go to the grocery and get cinnamon rolls and donuts — you know, healthy stuff.  But, after he left I decided to make a fruit combo to have with the sweets to make the meal a little healthier.  I’d make it out of a mixture of canned and fresh fruit, like I had many times before.

Unfortunately, n.o  f.r.e.s.h  f.r.u.i.t !!  The strawberries that I got really cheap, are too far past only a couple days later (big surprise!).  Bananas are gone.

Okay.  Canned fruit it is — peach slices, pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges will work.  Rats!  No mandarin oranges.  But, I DO have some diced pears.  I combined the peaches, pineapple and pears. 

Can you say c.o.l.o.r.l.e.s.s ??  But, I just could not think of another fruit to add that would give it color. 

Wait a minute!  Stop the presses!  Canned sugar-free cherry pie filling to the rescue!!  I mixed the cherry pie filling I always keep on hand (for a favorite dessert) into my bland fruit bowl and it worked — it gave the combination some color and while cherries aren’t a normal addition to my fruit bowls, it tasted good — ‘interesting” but good.

P1030473    The fruit-version of “stone soup” — kind of made from nothing.  But they liked it, and that’s what is important.

We love having our grandchildren here but probably the most stressful part of their visit is planning meals.  I’m not used to planning meals for more than two people any more, and definitely not used to planning meals for childrens’ tastes.

If they didn’t like the fruit, they didn’t tell me.  They’re considerate like that.  And, of course, Papa’s contribution to the meal — the donuts — were a big hit!

Flying PB and J

August 4, 2009


For many of the years that Hubby and I flew on airlines, meals were a given.  Then they started being “iffy”.  While they hadn’t yet admitted that they were systematically eliminating meals from flights, it seemed that airlines would “conveniently” schedule flights between meal times so that they could justify just  giving passengers snacks.

Along with all the other flyers we grumbled, but what could you do?  What you did was that you bought your meal in whatever airport you happened to be laying over in at meal time.

But then, one memorable time, our meal time lay-over was in the Atlanta airport, which was in a major renovation.  The time between our flights was fairly short, so we would just grab something quick to eat along the concourses between the gates. 

Ha!  That’s what we thought!  Not one place was open that sold not only meals but not even a candy bar!  We had to get on our next flight without having eaten anything.  Where, of course, we were served just peanuts and soft drinks.

When we got home, I promised myself  I would guard against that happening again if at all possible.

So, from then on, on our way home, I would always make sure I had a couple of candy bars in my purse.  And, when leaving on a trip from home, I always put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my purse or carry-on.

And, as frequently happens, once I had prepared for it, we were never in a totally-without-food situation again.  Sometimes just being prepared for something seems to ward off the actual occurrence, don’t you think?  So, I like to think of all those wasted PB&J sandwiches as valuable preventative measures.

But, one thing I learned from this strategy is how fragile a PB&J sandwich is!  By the time I would throw it away in the wastepaper basket in our hotel room, it was an ugly brown and purple mass of dough, that I’m sure grossed out any maid who happened to see it when emptying the trash!

I sincerely believe that alot of peace of mind comes from having a Plan B … and, in this case, Plan B was a PB&J sandwich!