Monday, November 24, 2008

HodgePodge, Treats and Happy Thanksgiving!

Things are hoppin' but they are all fun things. The pink marble tile for my new bathroom is being installed (by my brother) and it looks mahvelous! Our son found it for us, 12 x 12 tiles for 50 cents a tile! Wow! He's the sultan of deal-finders! I'll tell more about the bathroom later, with pictures, I promise!

I got not one, but TWO awards from Sparky!!! They are above and below:

Aren't they cool? I am honored...

Kathy at Destination Sanctification and I, did a swap for our birthdays. Hers was November 1st, so I got her package to her right before. Mine is November 30th and my package came today! WOW, what a lot of lovely, darling, pretty smelling things! Soon I'll do a post just about the swap! (I'm starting to get a backlog - I still have to do our Sea World trip and the hymn meme! Soon, I promise!).

Well, I will of course be busy all this week, cooking, cleaning... and sealing marble tile, of course! So a very, very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, enjoy your feasting and family and remember to Count Your Many Blessings. (There, Ruth, I worked a hymn in!) I don't know about you but I have soooo many to count! ( To all of you who live in places that don't officially celebrate Thanksgiving, don't feel left out. Just roast a turkey, invite your family over, and take a day to celebrate all the amazing blessings God showers you with all the year long. A day to say Thanks to Him for everything, and to really hold your family close to your heart - it's not just an American or Canadian thing when you think of it that way!)

(Update: I just got the Superior Scribbler award again, from Bob at Rhymes With Plague, a fun, informative blog I think you would like very much. I am thinking that Sparky and Bob must have seen my handwriting at some point, let alone my prolific doodling! Thanks, guys!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Ugly Daughter

(I hope you enjoy this true story about a good friend and I the summer we were 12 years old...)

"And this is my ugly daughter," announced Mrs. Hamilton with the calmness born of repetition, as she pulled her 12 year old forward.
I'd gone with my mother to the modest ranch-style house next door to meet the new neighbors from Georgia. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton met us at the door and it was evident at first glance that, from the scuffed toes of his dusty work boots to the roots of her dyed hair, they were complete opposites. After introducing himself as Claude and inviting us in, taciturn Mr. Hamilton returned to his comfy little "den" in the Florida room. Although he didn't say much, kindness was evident on his plain countenance. Mrs. Hamilton led us on the grand tour of her new home, laying newspaper down before us as if it were her coat over a mud puddle; or in this case, under a mud puddle, since it was her carpet she was trying to protect. As we stopped near the tiny formal dining room overlooking a living room with plastic covering the sofa, three young southern belles appeared from the back bedrooms. Mrs. Hamilton introduced her oldest daughter, Ginger, who displayed the tartness of lemonade in her witty speech. Next came shy little Melanie, sweet and refreshing as a tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day. When she came to her middle daughter, the pride left her face. I looked curiously at the one who was my age, the one who'd been introduced in such an awfully matter-of-fact way.
Bonnie Claudette looked me straight in the eye and I was startled to see the mischief and intelligence dancing there.
"Take me as I am," she seemed to say, "and let's see where it takes us." That was one of the best bargains I ever made. Bonnie's features may not have added up to traditional Southern beauty, but her personality, imagination and sense of fun made her a peach of a friend.
Her name told the story, really. She was optimistically named Bonnie, which means beauty. But her middle name, Claudette, after the father she favored, was more descriptive of her outward appearance. Bonnie had six toes on each of her completely flat feet. She wasn't skinny, exactly, but she had more angles than curves. Her mousy brown hair frizzed uncontrollably out of its overworked barrette. She had rather bad skin, possibly because she wore a thick hedge of makeup to hide behind. Her large, brown eyes might have been her one beauty had she not had the misfortune of being born severely cross-eyed. By the time I met her, many surgeries had corrected this, but the ugly glasses she wore had lenses as thick as the proverbial coke bottle, creating a weird aquarium effect as if her eyes floated behind them. But Bonnie also means fine, good, robust. These things, I came to discover, described her perfectly.
Perhaps because she had known such casual cruelty from her own mother, Bonnie was very kind to others. She laughed a lot and had many friends. We'd have sleep-overs at her house and she was the perfect hostess. We stayed up late to watch really old horror movies, laughing ourselves silly over the goofy special effects. Our favorite was the Frankenstein hand, scrabbling across the floor while its intended victims stood patiently, screaming hysterically at their fate. "Stomp on it!" we'd yell at the screen. "Run out and close the door!" Giving up on them, we went to the bedroom to hold a beauty pageant, using Bonnie's bed as the runway. We shared our secrets, and then she would whisper, "Watch this," and yank open her bedroom door, causing her eavesdropping mother to fall against her. We laughed together later about the lame excuses her mother gave, but she never allowed bitterness to take root.
Bonnie loved to bake cakes as much as I enjoyed making cookies, so we decided to open a bakery when we grew up. But her real passion was boiled peanuts in a can. She craved them, and I know it was greatly to my credit, in her eyes, that I developed a love for them too. We walked to the little corner store, gathering bottles along the way to redeem for change. We worked hard at this, patiently searching out bottles that had been missed by the other, less ambitious children. Often full of muddy water, we poured out what we could and left the caked-on stuff for the poor, beleaguered store personnel to deal with. When we had enough, usually about 75 cents worth, we could buy a can of boiled peanuts! Clutching our prize with delighted anticipation, we hurried home to the can opener. Eagerly cutting open the can, we reached deep into the slimy interior with our fingers, pulling out soft peanuts that had been boiled in the shell and left in this preservative for brave, southern enthusiasts like us. We ate them with relish, sometimes finding triple nuts that were our version of four-leaf clovers. To our future bakery, we mentally attached a lean-to full of cans of boiled peanuts for our personal sustenance. You can take Bonnie from Georgia, but you can't take Georgia from Bonnie, and this relic from her upbringing was one she relished.
Her imagination made our friendship rich within a secret world all our own. When we played tennis in the road, we weren't two awkward pre-teens. Oh, no, we were Chrissy Everett and the identical twin, Missy, that we invented for her. Our feet were so tough that the hot road sizzled to no avail, and so bad at tennis that we spent most of our time chasing balls in the ditch anyway. The sharp sting of really dry sand spurs only hurt for a moment before we licked our fingers and pulled them out.
When the sun got too hot, we went in and wrote mysteries together. We allowed Chrissy and Missy to be our heroines, but evidently they were better at tennis, because after a few pages we left them to their frightening fate. We were sidetracked by a club we were forming. This was serious business, requiring an initiation, secret code and clubhouse. We decided it would be easier to agree on everything if we were the only ones in the club, voted on it, and it passed unanimously. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon coming up with a two-part poem that was our secret password. We tried it out the very next day. I went to her house, knocked, and was met by her mother. This dampened my enthusiasm briefly, especially when she informed me that, "Bonnie can't play."
"May I please talk to her just for a moment?" I begged, and she relented slightly. Leaving me outside in the carport, I heard her admonishing Bonnie to hurry and get back to her work. Soon Bonnie appeared. Self-consciously aware of her mother listening nearby, I quoted my half of our password poem. Bonnie, eyes dancing with mischief, quoted her part flawlessly. A look of triumph passing between us, I left to work on an invisible lemon-juice letter and Bonnie went back to her chores.
"Look, all we have to do is hold it over a candle," I explained the next afternoon, showing Bonnie her invisible letter. We got the candle from my new wax sealing kit and tried it out, amazed as the letters began appearing on the page. Then we each chose a seal for important club documents, a butterfly for her and the initial "T" for me. That important task taken care of, we began our search for a clubhouse. Luckily it was a Saturday, so we could give our full attention to this matter.
Bonnie's sense of fun was always ready to bubble to the surface, so her idea to use my step-dad's old john-boat as our clubhouse ended up being an hilarious adventure. In many ways, it was perfect. It rested in a shady corner of our yard, had two seats, and we were allowed to use it. The only flaw in its design was a multitude of hiding places for seedy characters like roaches. In fact, it had apparently been appropriated for a roach motel. Unbeknownst to us, they were all sleeping off a night of revelry that very moment. We climbed in and got settled for a meeting, and a few sentries came out to investigate.
"EEEEWWWWW!" we screeched, jumping up. This rocked the boat, so to speak, and a few more alarmed inhabitants came running out in their nightclothes. Well, we weren't going to stand for this! This was our clubhouse and they would simply have to go.
Impulsively breaking off small branches from a pine tree, we began swatting at the roaches. They ran out of the boat; we were winning! Except they kept coming. How many could there be, after all? If we could hurry the process, we could get back to our meeting. So Bonnie climbed up on the back seat and began jumping up and down. This drove the interlopers out and I beat them enthusiastically with my switch. Unfortunately, this caused them to flow over the side of the boat in a fleeing stream, eliciting screams from me and wild laughter from Bonnie. Grossed out, but determined to prevail, we switched places and continued our assault. But there is a reason why roaches survive and we discovered it that afternoon. They multiply and divide, and then they conquer. Our jumping legs and flailing arms could not hold up long enough to defeat them all, and we finally fell in an exhausted heap -- far away from the boat -- at which time they all filed back in and resumed their naps.
But the very next afternoon something wonderful happened! Bonnie's dad, whom we both much preferred, decided to go visit his side of the family on their modest farm, and he invited us to go along! This was too wonderful to be true! First of all, he was taking his truck, which meant we could ride in the back with the wind beating us into a disheveled mess, but even better than that was -- chickens! We had for some time been enamored with the idea of ink jars and quill pens, and had actually gone so far as to purchase tiny bottles of ink with our allowances. But quill pens seemed to be in rather short supply and most birds had the good sense to stay far away from us. This would be our big chance and we didn't intend to blow it. We arrived at the farm, pushed our wildly misplaced hair out of our wind-chapped faces, and got down to business. The grownups were busy, so we wheedled Bonnie's cousin into letting us attempt to get chicken quills, fresh from the factory! A good-natured boy, evidently much amused by us and ready for some fun, he quickly agreed and led us to the chicken pen.
The chickens were out pecking and strutting and doing their little chicken things. The element of surprise was on our side. They didn't act overly alarmed when we stepped into the pen, just "ba-awk"ing a greeting and then ignoring us. We each picked the chicken whose feathers we found the most beautiful and began sneaking up on our prey. This was going to be easy, we thought elatedly, reaching for the business ends of our chosen chickens. Just as we grabbed the tip of a feather, each of our targets hopped indignantly forward, looking as if they'd been goosed. Moving a little more quickly, we tried again, but this time each chicken exploded into movement, eluding us again. We looked at each other questioningly, as Bonnie's cousin chuckled delightedly and called his little sister to watch. Lips tightening in determination, we began running, our quill pens managing to stay just out of reach on the backs of their owners. Round and round we ran, chickens squawking, cousins holding their stomachs while rolling with laughter, and indulgent adults gathering to monitor the situation. They suggested we periodically switch targets, so as not to run the chickens to death. At this point, we were willing to settle for any quill at all, so we agreed, causing us to lurch and spin as we tried to grab any chicken in sight. Eventually our strategy paid off, as an unsuspecting chicken, lulled in to a false sense of security because we were chasing a different bird, allowed himself to stray into the path of our grasping hands. Flush with victory (and running), we climbed wearily, but triumphantly back in the truck, quill pens in hand. Those became our official club pens, used for writing notes, letters and creative stories. There was plenty of time for thought since we had to dip them in the ink every other letter or so.
Bonnie and I had so much fun together that I could never remember that she was considered ugly. It was rather fitting that her glasses magnified her eyes, luminous with kindness, intelligence and fun. I've heard that beauty is only skin deep, but under a thin veneer of weak flesh, Bonnie's beauty lay like a vein of gold, solid to the core.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Our Middle Son!

This Saturday, November 15, 1982 marks the day this little dimpled charmer joined our family. Full of mischief, impulsive and curious, he filled our home with laughter. He used to make his own toys out of paper and sticks, and now,twenty six years later, he is a skilled craftsman. Happy Birthday, Honey, we love you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On a Lighter Note...

(Okay, time for another story I've written for you. This one is fiction, based on the old childhood classic "Three Billy Goats Gruff." Enjoy!)

Three Tough Chicks From the ‘Hood

Mrs. Beasley pulled her shawl more tightly around her shoulders as she entered Detention Room 1-A. “Robert didn’t even want me to teach the literature course,” she chuckled to herself, thinking of her overprotective son.
“Mom,” he’d lectured, “once you cross that bridge, you’re entering a different world. I’ve heard that school isn’t even safe! It may be a girl’s school, but they have some real tough chicks over in that neighborhood.” She’d laughed at him, thinking she was a tough old biddy herself! Wouldn’t he have a fit when he found out she was substituting in Detention! Mrs. Beasley wrote on the chalkboard, tacked some things on the wall, and sat patiently waiting for the students to arrive.
Just then the door creaked dramatically as it was eased slowly open, finally revealing the timid eyes of a teen-age girl peeking around it. She took in the frail woman at the desk, and seeing Mrs. Beasley gazing back at her with interest, she quickly averted her eyes and scuttled past the desk as if afraid she’d be squashed like a bug if she went too slowly. Choosing the farthest seat from the front, she sat down quickly and looked at her lap.
Mrs. Beasley quietly observed her sole student, slumped down as if to make herself smaller. Her paperwork said the girl was in detention because she would not participate in class. The girl’s hair was looped and swirled elaborately around her small head. Her makeup was applied flawlessly and a bit dramatically. A series of increasingly larger earrings cascaded down each ear. Her animal-print blouse began with criss-crossing straps, became form-fitting in the bust and ended with a fluttery scarf-like point over dressy black slacks. Her feet were enthroned on 3” platform heels with gold cords affixing them to her ankles. As Mrs. Beasley took in the full picture, the girl seemed to shrink from her gaze.
“Well, shall we begin our assignment?” Mrs. Beasley asked softly, but the girl jumped as if she’d shouted.
“No,” she quavered, a small note of panic in her voice. “Please, let’s wait for the others. My cousin will be here soon.”
“All right, I suppose we can wait. I only hope your cousin is as stylish as you are, dear,” Mrs. Beasley commented casually. A strange look composed of pleasure and suspicion struggled across the girl’s features. She sat up a little straighter, placed her hands carefully on her lap, and studied an old playbill of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” featuring a fashionable actress in elaborate costume, with frank interest. Mrs. Beasley quietly waited.
Suddenly the door banged open and a screaming young lady flew, laughing, into the room. Before the door could slam shut behind her, an eraser zoomed across the room, smacking the window on the far wall, a cloud of chalk dust hanging suspended above it in
the vibrating air. A young face, eyes crossed and tongue out, appeared briefly in the small window set in the door, causing the girl to laugh even harder. Suddenly aware of Mrs. Beasley observing her, the girl said, “Oops, hello!” and with a wave of her hand to her shy cousin, she flopped into a seat in the front. “I suppose we have to sit and be quiet for an hour,” she spoke flippantly to Mrs. Beasley, mischief dancing in her merry eyes.
“Oh, no, not at all,” Mrs. Beasley replied, nodding toward the chalkboard.
“Oh, no way!” the girl shrieked, noting the slogan there. ‘She who does not work, neither shall she leave,’ was emblazoned in Spencerian penmanship. “You mean we got to work? In detention?” as if detention were strictly a leisurely activity.
Mrs. Beasley smiled at the girl’s incredulous look. Indeed, you couldn’t not smile at this pixie, and Mrs. Beasley could plainly see how the girl must have disrupted the class, resulting in her detention. “Well, we better get started!” she began, but the second girl was shaking her head no before she even finished speaking.
“No, we got to wait for my friend. Can’t start without her,” she insisted.
“Okay,” Mrs. Beasley acquiesced. “ I only hope she has the delicious sense of fun you bring to the class.” The girl’s eyes widened in disbelief. She sat quietly contemplating this for a full five minutes, when the door opened, revealing a tall girl with a commanding presence. She stood calmly surveying the room. She absorbed the atmosphere for a moment, taking in the frail, quiet substitute, the timid, lovely girl in the back and the merry, exuberant girl in front. She read the chalkboard, glanced at the playbill, and spent a few moments on a poster of Sally Field in “Norma Rae.” She even noticed the eraser thrown to the ground. After she’d satisfied herself with looking, she sauntered into the room, the unmistakable challenge of authority in her eyes that had landed her in detention in the first place. She chose a chair in the exact middle of the room, and instantly the other two girls joined her, one on each side. In a clear, commanding voice, she stated, “I’m here. We can start now.”
“Ahhh,” breathed Mrs. Beasley slowly, with evident satisfaction in her tone. “A natural leader. How wonderful!”
The girl looked questioningly at Mrs. Beasley to see if she was being made fun of, but Mrs. Beasley beamed back at her with such delight that she relaxed. “What would you like us to do?’’ she asked.
That afternoon, walking back over the bridge to her apartment building, Mrs. Beasley smiled at the memory of the three girls’ enthusiasm as they read the parts in the play she’d brought with her. “How funny to see the looks on their faces when they found out I was the actress on the playbill!” she reminisced joyfully. “Now, when I have them in literature next term, they’ll set the tone for the whole class.”
Mrs. Beasley had a rollicking good time teaching literature at that school, and those three girls became her best students. The other teachers, who sat and glared for an hour at the silent kids in Detention, could never figure out what magic enabled her to manage those three tough chicks from that ‘hood!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Obama

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:1-3

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you, for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants, of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." Romans 13:1-7

The election is over and our new President has been chosen. He's not the gentleman I wanted because of deep fundamental differences that are of concern to me. But there was a huge voter turnout, 83.6% in our county alone, and I respect the results, the position, and the man. President-Elect Obama has earned my support, both by the majority vote and also by his own very inspiring acceptance speech. He has a calm demeanor that I think will be reassuring in these hard times. John McCain's concession speech was also extraordinarily gracious, giving me hope that he will continue to do the good work he has traditionally done in the Senate. Both he and President-Elect Obama set a tone of civility and respect for others that will be very refreshing if it catches on in Washington.

President-Elect Obama has a great deal to contend with and will need our sincere prayers for his safety, guidance and wisdom, as well as our patience as he learns how to lead such a diverse yet united country. For the next four years, as far as I can without disobeying God, President-Elect Obama has my support.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


It's hard to find time to post when I'm busy, but at least I'm doing interesting things to post about... eventually! This is just a catch up post to tell you some of the things we've been up to.

I've gotten in some good drum sessions since I was inspired by the Percussion Summit. It's a lot of fun, and a bit of an outlet to jam on my snare drum, all by myself in my kitchen. None of the neighbors have complained so far. Some one asked me what I wore - hubby won't let me post pics of myself, but here are the clothes, anyway, some of which I bought on our pre-percussion shopping trip! I wore the gold sandals that I already had, with the coral tunic blouse, below, and a navy "skinny skirt," which you can just see in the photo with the red blouse, which of course I couldn't resist getting.

I have been presented with two new awards! I love awards. They make me feel special, which is always a nice feeling.

The first one is from Merle, and I am very honored to receive the Million Dollar Friend award from such a sweet lady!

The one above is from a new friend, Sparky, who has a fun blog that I "wuv" too!

There were some rules, which I am going to shamelessly and blatantly break, with apologies to the above ladies. On the other hand, what I really want to do is pass them on in reverse, to Merle and Sparky! Merle, "I Wuv Your Blog!" and Sparky, you are my new "Million Dollar Friend!"

A few weekends ago, we had a 3-day weekend in which we were supposed to patch, paint, garden, do laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning, deliver birthday presents to a niece and a nephew, and a million other things we thought we could squeeze in. So when my hubby woke me Friday morning, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. But he surprised me by saying, "Let's go to Sea World instead!" Well of course I said "Great!!!" We'd gone there for our honeymoon 30 years ago and had hoped to go back in honor of our 30th anniversary, so that's what we did, and we had a marvelous time! I'll tell all about it next post. Right after I get caught up on patching, painting, laundry and groceries, gardening, birthdays...
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