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Girls Night Out

Tonight as we were heading home from a Mexican dinner, we made a little stop at a Southern favorite for a little sugary treat.  If you guessed we had a milkshake at our local Dwarf House, you were wrong.  It’s Sunday and they are closed!  Instead we made a Krispy Kreme HOT doughnut run.  Yep! Nothing better than a HOT one. Our KK store is fairly new and has a big HOT light right out in front of the store.  I also have a HOT app on my smartphone because you never know when you will need a HOT one!

While I was driving home, I thought about my son and what a great father he is.  He and his wife are fine Christians and they have four children-2 boys and 2 girls who are being raised in an awesome Christian home.  I have loved watching the things that they have done with their children.  And that is what I am going to reflect upon tonight. One of those special things…..

When my oldest granddaughter reached the “age” when she could have spend the night company, she enjoyed having a sleep over with two or three of her favorite friends.  The youngest granddaughter loved this activity, too, because she was able to join in on the party.  The first time this happened, the girls were still awake as the hour approached midnight.  So my son loaded them up in the family van in their jammies and with his wife and their two sons, rolled down the road to the Krispy Kreme in their town.  Their KK is open 24 hours a day and has a counter where you can eat Hot ones as you watch more HOT ones spin by behind the glass wall.   Just image four little girls in their jammies and two little boys in theirs sitting on stools at midnight eating Hot ones and drinking chocolate milk! Needless to say, this event became a standard at all future Girls Night Out as well as Boys Night Out. My son became the KK king!

Who’s up for a little trip to KK right now?



Getting Older

Tonight is Saturday and I bet most people are glued to the television watching some big college football game.  I actually entertained myself tonight by giving my  doodle a bath in my new walk-in shower.  If you don’t have one, I am here to say it is an amazing invention.  Mine smacks of handicappedness (Is that a word?) because I have a regular shower head and a handicapped one.  The handicapped one is for my doodle.  It makes the whole activity so much easier!

While I was in the midst of sitting on my little stool in the shower bathing Ozzie, I thought about all the things that no one ever told me about getting older.  I am hitting the big 68 in January.  I have learned a LOT about getting older as the years go by and generally it was through self-discovery.  Sometimes my swim buddies who are also in their 60’s share a tidbit or two with me.  It can be a very freeing time! So-wine glass in hand-here with go with a few things I have learned about getting older that I think is worth sharing.

When you were a little girl, did you ever see a woman with this HUGE black hair sticking out of her nose or chin? For me, it was a lunchroom lady at my school.  What is it with that black hair?  Why doesn’t she pluck it out? Well, warning number one is that one day you will wake up with a HUGE black hair sticking out of your chin or under you chin and you will not notice it.  This is probably due to the fact that you are not wearing your glasses and you can’t see it.  Or it is in the shadow of your chin.  When it becomes two or three inches long, you will see it and be horrified.  Why did NO ONE tell me about that hair? Because it has roots all the way to your toes, it will hurt like anything if you pluck it out.  Shaving it off is easier!  Trust me.  And you need to be aware that it will sneak to another part of your face or neck or chin and pop out there.  You will also need to know that it grows like crazy-maybe three inches overnight.  If you don’t find it at the three inch stage, it can grow long enough to be curled with your curling iron!

Warning number two, is almost an opposite kind of thing.  You will go from shaving your legs every single day to having no hair to shave at all.  Yep! That is right.  You will quit shaving your legs and underarms because there is nothing there to shave off.  In the winter, I can go sometimes 2-3 months.  In the summer, I try to remember to shave once a month.  Or not.  No shaving is kind  of a nice perk! And while we are on the hair thing, let’s not forget that bikini area.  Not much going on there either.  No waxing/shaving is needed when no hair is growing! Yippee!

Warning number three is an awkward kind of thing.  Years ago I saw a book in a book store that was titled something like “Everybody Farts”. In actual life, individuals do that activity about 14 times a day.  Well as hard as it is to say, this activity actually increases as you get older and sometimes they just “sneak” out. Like when you are in public and with a friend or during the silent prayer at the end of Bible study. All you can hope for is that it escapes quietly! What is going on with that embarrassing accident? Well, it happens and you just have to deal with it.  Maybe the room noise will cover this oops.  Maybe not.  Oops! Excuse me!!

So if you are now smiling because you are YOUNG and think this is crazy-well just keep living that dream! And if you are OLD and you are laughing, then I know I told the truth!



The Widow and the Baby

Yesterday I wrote about my grandmother and my real grandfather that I never knew. Until I attended a family reunion a few years ago, I never knew anything about my real grandfather.  Now I have seen pictures of him and his brothers and sisters. I have worshipped in the church that he helped to build. I have visited his grave. He is a real person to me now.

Years ago after I was married, my grandmother gave me her marriage license. It is the most ornate document that I have ever seen. First of all it’s probably 24″ by 36 “. It is entirely written in German. It has beautiful graphics that form a border around the document. It’s over 100 years old! And it is part of who I am.

When my grandmother became a widow, we have a gap in what actually happened to her and my father.  My reunion relatives think she returned to her family with my father.  We also know she married again but how she met her next husband is a mystery to me. He was a widower and had several children.  When they married, they had children together. They became a “yours, mine and ours” kind of family.  I loved when we visited my grandparents because the family would gather and there were a big bunch of folks there.  It was like a circus.

One of the funny things that I remember about my grandmother is that she called her husband Mr. and then his last name. I never heard her call him by his first name. She was this stocky little German woman who always smelled like talcum powder. She wore black lace-up orthopedic shoes with cotton hose.  In the winter she always wore a wool scarf around her head. She never learned to drive. She either walked where she needed to go or she rode the bus or train. She gave the best hugs where she squashed you hard against her broad chest. And she would whack you on the back as she hugged you.  And I loved her dearly.

The farmer and the spinster?

Both of my parents passed away many years ago.  And although I felt that I knew a lot about them, I now know that I really did not.  There are so many questions that I never thought to ask.  If only—–

My parents were divorced and my father remarried many years later.  When my father died, my stepmother got the address book and when she died, I have no idea what happened to it.  As a result, I lost every family contact that I had.  I searched several times to see if I could find anyone but eventually gave up.  I was afraid that any relatives I had were gone.  Then just a few years ago, one of my distant relatives found me. Yay! He had been searching for me, too.  Anyway, there was a big family reunion coming up and he wanted to invite me.  I was SO excited! I had “people” left from my father’s side of the family. So my husband, my daughter and I went.

That is when I realized I knew nothing really.  I learned a lot at the reunion and one of my favorite tidbits was about the farmer and the spinster.  My grandfather came from Germany with his seven siblings during the 1800’s.  They answered an ad about needing farmers and carpenters in the USA.  So they came here.  Most settled in Kansas and became farmers.  My grandfather married and had several sons.  When his wife died, the sons were grown.  Usually when a wife died, the man married again and had additional children.  But he was in his late 60’s and had sons to help him.  This is where the story gets a little cloudy.  My grandfather was friends with another farmer who had a daughter.  She was unmarried and although young-considered a spinster.  Story A is that he hired this young woman as a housekeeper for his house and several years later they married.  Story B is that my grandfather kept visiting his friend but would spend time talking with his spinster daughter.  Then the farmer said “marry her” or  “leave her alone”, so my grandfather married her.  No one in the family knows which story is correct.  The sad part is that no one asked when they were still alive.

Well, that spinster woman of 20ish married this farmer man in his late 60’s. Two years later when he was in his 70’s, they produced a son who was my father.  I think that this whole story  is pretty awesome. I never realized this.

The saddest thing is that my grandfather died when my father was only 15 months old.  He never really knew his father.  And I never got to know him either.

If only………….


Drinks of the South

I was born and bred in the South. I am Southern from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  So tonight, I am reflecting on the drinks that spell SOUTHERN in capital letters!

Who can talk about the South and not talk about sweet tea? No one.  Not a single person.  Sweet tea is best when it is brewed and sweetened with white sugar.  It is even better when a freshly cut chunk of lemon is squeezed into it and then left floating among the ice cubes.  It is best served in a glass.  I mean a real glass. Not paper, not plastic, not foam.  Pour that wonderful, thirst quenching liquid into a glass.  Another very special tea is mint tea.  Only a few people can make proper mint tea.  First you have to grow your own mint in your garden plot.  My Nannie had a plot right beside her back door with nothing but mint in it.  Her recipe for mint tea was a secret.  When she was done, there was no “muddiness” in the bottom of the pitcher. The brew was perfectly done and had just the right amount of minty taste.  And of course, it was sweet.  Ahhh-to have a glass of her mint tea again.

The second drink that shouts Southern is Coca-Cola.  I am not talking about Tab or Coke Zero or any other form of Coca-Cola.  I am talking about Coca-Cola that is bottled in Atlanta, Georgia and comes in a glass bottle.  The best place to get a cold one is from an ice chest that is filled with ice and those lovely little green bottles.  You would reach your hand down into the ice to find the one at the bottom because it would be the coldest.  Your fingers would feel like they were freezing as you searched for that cold one.  And it was all worth it.  You used a bottle opener-also called a church key-to pop off the lid.  FYI, in those days, the twist cap had not been invented.  You would sit on the swing and just swig down that drink.  It would almost take your breath away.  When you were done, you burped.  Sometimes a lot.  Coca-Cola was also good with an individual bag of salted Mr. Planter’s peanuts poured into the bottle.  Coca-Cola and peanuts-a delightful combo! Kids would also sit around and compare whose drink came from the farthest away.  In those days, the bottle had a city name stamped on the bottom to indicate the city of bottling.  When your bottles were empty, you returned them to the store of purchase because you had to pay a deposit for those bottles!

The third drink that I hate to mention but probably should is moonshine–also called white lightning. It was very illegal when I was a child.  I never saw anyone drinking moonshine.  But I know that if you were camping in the mountains in the rain, you could purchase some “fire starter” from most of the locals who also sold wood to campers.  Hmmm.  Of course today, moonshine can be consumed in public with no problems.  Our local history museum has a benefit every year and the big draw is the moonshine tasting.  I have never been but have considered it!  I understand that the peppermint is quite tasty.

Well, all this talk about drinking has me parched.  I am heading to the kitchen for a Coca-Cola!

Dear me-it’s deer time!

I live in the South where we seriously sweat all summer. Then fall begins to creep in and you are jolted into DEER SEASON.  Hunting is BIG in the south.   There’s bow season and gun season and whatever season.  I grew up in a family that did not hunt.  My father could shoot but he laid his gun aside when World War II ended.  My mother’s side of the family pretty much stuck to hunting squirrels.  My husband is not a hunter, either.  He is not getting up that early for anything. My darling daughter-in-law has hunting in her blood.  Her father hunted, her brother hunted and she hunted.  She is my source of all knowledge about hunting.

Last fall, we were having some work done on our house and had the most amazing contractor doing it.  He is a big hunter and a fisherman.  He likes nothing better than getting up at 4am to drive to the mountains to fish for trout.  So one day while he was at my house, he asked me if I liked deer meat.  Yes I answered.  You see I had eaten deer meat before and it was pretty yummy. So he said he would bring me some if he got another deer.  Cool, I thought!

Days went by  and I didn’t hear back from him.  Then one Saturday morning, he called and had a deer.  He told me he would bring me some in a bit.  I immediately thought about what I could do with this tasty meat. In an hour, he showed up at my house with a cooler.  He brought it up to my porch and threw the lid back. “What do you think?”, he said. I didn’t know what to say.  All the deer meat that I had seen came in white butcher paper with labels.  This was a shank of a deer.  That’s the leg part.  It was a leg in a cooler!  OH MY! I said it looked wonderful-what else could I say? I thanked him again and off he went.

I put the lid down on the cooler and called my D-I-L.  Help! I have a deer leg.  What do I do with it? It has to be processed, he said.  She  laughed and told me what to do.  You soak it in ice water until the blood is out so it won’t taste gamey.  So for several days I soaked it in the cooler before cutting the meat into huge chunks and soaking it in big bowls in my frig.  Finally I was done with draining the blood.  What I had was the most gorgeous red meat I have ever seen.  Then I had to cut it up again into cubes so I could freeze it.  Sticking the knife in the meat was hard the first time.  I kept thinking that this was NOT Bambi-it was just meat.

If someone gives me deer this year, I know exactly what to do.  I am experienced! Bring on the coolers!


It’s Fall! Let’s go school shopping!

There is not a mother who does not either dread or look forward to school starting!  Actually, how you feel can vary from day to day or morning to evening. So I thought I would take a little jog back to the 1950’s and tell you about school starting then!

First of all, our calendar was different than calendar’s today.  We started after Labor Day and had no holidays until Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas.  There was NO Fall break! We started again in January and went until Easter when we had Good Friday off.  We finished up right smack dab before Memorial Day. That’s it.  What a change from calendars today!

My Mom always took me shopping for school clothes in August.  That was exciting! We looked for dresses that would do well for everyday wear.  Yes, you heard me right–dresses!  Girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Never. Ever. Even when it snowed. Never.  Ever.  And the dresses were knee length.  We did not have any kind of sneakers in those days. Surprise! Girls and boys wore leather shoes to school.  So you looked for some sturdy shoes that would do well for school and playing outside.  Flip flops had not been invented! And anyway, they would not have been allowed at school.   Socks were a necessity.  I can remember being excited when my foot reached the size that would fit knee socks! That meant that my legs would be partially covered up and a lot warmer! We didn’t have tights to wear. One time my Mom bought me a corduroy skirt and vest that had matching knee shorts.   So when it was really cold, I would wear the knee shorts under my skirt to school. Was that classy or what??? I looked like a fat tub of corduroy.  But I was warmer!

As far as any embellishment goes, girls didn’t have pierced ears in those elementary days. I was nearly 16 before the pierced ear fads began.  Girls wore their hair in pony tails if it was long or it was pulled back and held by a barrette. We didn’t have scrunchies to hold our pony tail-we had rubber bands and they hurt when you took them out!

When preparing for a new school year, you generally purchased a new lunch box.  They were metal and are collector’s editions now!  Why didn’t I keep them!?!

School supplies were easy.  You needed pencils and a Blue Horse 3 ring notebook with paper.  If you were in seventh grade, you needed an ink pen with extra cartridges for penmanship class.  You also needed 50 cents for your year long subscription to Weekly Reader.  That’s it.  My Mother would have had a heart attack if she had been presented with the supply list that students receive today!

Hey! And you know what? We did just fine.


Sunday Dinners and Such

Since today is Sunday, I thought I would reflect on my childhood Sundays.   First of all, Sunday was a day of rest.  In my town in the 1950’s, stores were closed. There was no shopping on Sunday afternoon.  None.

Sundays were also the best, I thought. My dad made breakfast because he liked to do that.  He liked oatmeal.  So that is what we had for breakfast.  Then everyone got dressed for church.  We didn’t have a shower at our house.  We had a bathtub and folks took their bath at night-not the morning.  Girls washed their hair on Saturday nights and put it up in curlers so it would look nice for church the next day. Then we all loaded up in the car and went to church.

After church we came home to eat.  Folks didn’t eat out in our town on Sunday.  If you really wanted to eat out, you did on Friday night because that is when your Dad got paid! My Mom would fix Sunday dinner on Saturday.  She cooked the vegetables and just had to warm them up on Sunday.  The meat was either a ham or chicken that could be eaten either warm or cold.  Sometimes we had macaroni and cheese as the meat part of our meal.  Biscuits were the only thing made directly before the dinner.

Well, you are saying-this sounds pretty regular.  Yep it was.  The unusual part is that after dinner my Mom would take a flat sheet and just cover up the table and the food.  It just sat there all by itself — completely unrefrigerated all afternoon.  Even when we had deviled eggs–they just sat out under the sheet.  So anytime I needed a snack between either reading or playing the piano, I could snitch it from under the sheet!

The BIG thing is that we didn’t get sick from our unrefrigerated  food.  Never.  Not even when it was slaw or potato salad.  Never.  No one thought a single thing about leaving your dinner out all day.

Sixty years have passed since I was 8 and snitched food from under the flat sheet.   And you will be happy to know that I put my leftovers in the frig-not under a sheet on my table!

2015 Day 7: To Swim or Not To Swim is the Question

For over thirty years, I worked in education.  I was a classroom teacher, a gifted teacher, a curriculum coordinator, an assistant principal and a principal.  I worked in elementary, middle and high school.  I loved working with children and I loved being an administrator.  Then I retired.  When you retire, people are always curious about what you will “do”.  Lots of folks told me I should volunteer in the schools because I had a lot of experience with it and I was very good working with children.  That makes sense-right? Well, it didn’t make sense to me.  I had “every shirt” possible over those 30+ years.  I wanted to do something else.  I wasn’t sure what but I knew I wanted to do something else.

I had always enjoyed swimming.  I had taught swim lessons as a teenager and had been a life guard.  I can’t remember when I could not swim.  So I joined our local YMCA because they had an indoor pool.  What could be better than swimming year round? Nothing.  I had never done an organized exercise class but joined in anyway.  I found that I really liked pool aquatics.  If some part of your body hurt, the water always made it feel better.  I participated in deep water classes and in shallow water classes.  I went five days a week.  It was early in the morning and was a great way to start your day.Then one day I mentioned that I would be interested in subbing for water classes if they needed me.  So I subbed one day and was offered the opportunity to teach.  I said yes and my waternana career was begun!

Since that time, I have become a certified water fitness instructor.  BTW, water fitness is the fastest growing fitness area.  Of course that is because there are so many more of us that are more “mature”! I teach two water boot camps every week and three water cardio classes.  At 66, that is my limit.  I sometimes sub for others-we all do that during those sick times of the year. I have learned A LOT.  And I have enjoyed every class immensely.

I have met a bunch-I mean a big bunch-of people that I would have never met if I had not started teaching at the Y.  They are lovely gracious people.  We care about each other. We pray for each other-sometimes in the pool holding hands in a circle. I see ladies and men change for the better.  I see them stand straighter and walk taller and have better balance. WooHoo! The cardio we did two years ago is TOO easy for them now.  Another WOOHOO! People have lost weight and changed their shape. And we have done it together. We laugh and do the Chicken Dance as a warm-up sometimes.  We Twist.  We sing along to the oldies as we exercise.  We look forward to getting together each week.

So for me—To Swim is my answer.  What about you?



Day 24: Could I have a Room Without Chickens?

Sometimes when you travel and you make reservations for a night, you ask specific questions. Just when you think you know what to ask, life throws a curve.  This is about one of the biggest curves I have experienced.

First of all, you need to know that I had children before I went to college.  I was a late bloomer, you might say. I loved college. The first two years, I went to a junior college in the town near where we lived.  I was able to take my basic courses and for less money than a traditional four year college or university.  Like everyone else, I had some electives to take.  I needed a science elective and selected an entomology course. The professor was very interesting  and lots took electives from him.  He was officially the bug and snake man at the college.  I have to say it was a difficult course but one of the most enjoyable I have ever taken,

One of the super things about the course was the field work. We were armed with killing jars and nets and went a lot of places capturing specimens for our collecton.  Then there was THE TRIP.  And it was a doozy. We went to South Georgia and Florida for a week.  People from three classes could attend. The bug class. The snake class.  The ocean class.  All total, there were perhaps 12 of us. Previous students pulled us aside and warned us not to ride with the professor.  So we didn’t. On the trip down we found out why.  We would be driving along and the professor would put on his blinker and pull off the road. In a second, he was chasing into the grass and scrub on the side of the road. The first time this happened, we just watched until he hollared back at us to get our nets and come on. So we did.  If he found an interesting snake, he would bag it. It went into the truck with him. I can deal with snakes but I do not want to share my seat in the car with them.  Ick!  I can also remember being in the scrub watching for snakes when he would shout to us to be careful and not disturb the snake.  When I saw a snake, I headed for the road. Period.

The first night we spent as a group was in a small town (village might be better) on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp,  We arrived late in the day after traveling from north Georgia and stopping numerous times to scour the roadsides. We were almost to the hotel. I pictured a cool room, a shower, bug spray, a cold coca-cola.  Ahh.  I was ready to stop. We went down a tar and gravel road for a few miles. Then we turned and went down a gravel road for a few miles.  Then when we could see no signs of civilization, we turned down a dirt road.  A narrow dirt road.  The brushes along the roadside scraped the sides of our vehicle.  Then we came to a clearing.  We were there, we guessed because the professor leaped out and shook hands with this large, weather-beaten man in overalls.

The building looked like it had started as a traditional shotgun house.  If it had ever been painted, there were only a few places that showed any color.  And that was gray. It had a long porch that ran along the front. The edges of the porch boards were curled up. Some places had gaping holes. The doors to rooms(we guessed) faced  directly out on the porch. Most doors were ajar. You could see completely under the entire house. Various cinder blocks held the structure up. A few places had truck rims substituted for the traditional piers. The three of us-the only women-looked at each other. We are staying here!!!!!???

Yep, apparently so.

The professor had arranged for is to share a large spacious room. So we went to check it out. First of all, we could not get the door open. It was ajar and stuck! The professor laughed and told us to put our shoulder into it. So we did.  When we got into the room, it was really big! There were four double beds, two chests, and several chickens. We just looked at each other! There was a big old fashioned sprayer in the room. So we checked to see if it had bug stuff in it. Yes it did! Then we looked at the beds and drew straws for them. They were iron beds and quite sturdy. The mattresses were fluffy on the edges and all had a huge sink hole in the middle of the mattress. The spreads were chenille and in pastel shades. If you sat on the edge of the bed, your body just rolled into the center.  One of the women who was 5 months pregnant, slipped into the center and it took two of us to pull her our!  We decided to take showers and then spray our room.  Sounded like a plan to us. The actual shower was interesting. It had slatted wood as the bottom. The water just ran down under the house and into the pig pen. We saw that when we tried to open the window. Then we got it open and closed it back again. But the water felt marvelous and we were refreshed. We sprayed the room and left. None of the other trip members were excited to see us. We had apparently used more than our quota of warm water that was stored in a sun heated tank. Oops again!

Later that evening as we were sitting around a fire pit, we listened to gator stories until we couldn’t sit up any more. As the three of us were leaving the pit, we heard the professor talk about what a steal the accommodations were.  Only $10 a room-we heard him say. We looked at each other and said, “He was taken!

Then we did a pinky swear that we would never tell anyone about our accommodations !  We certainly didn’t want our husbands to know what kind of accommodations that we had stayed in that night!