Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
This blog best viewed with IE4 or greater and tongue in cheek

Monday, February 27, 2006

Combat Duty

Becky called last week and ask if we could keep Luke on Sunday afternoon so she could take the two older ones to the Sunday Matinee. The Warden said “Sure”. Then Sunday after church as we were loading his stuff, the Warden decided we might as well take Aaron also. Ok, we’ve had combat experience, so why not take them both, I thought to myself.

Well, first off, the worst of it was getting the last minute instructions from “the moms”; “they have to have vegetables”, “these kids don’t watch TV”, “make sure they have a nap”. You would have thought we had never raised kids! The main thing I wanted was instructions on how to put in those dang car seats! But finally we were ready to leave the parking lot with the munchkins strapped in tight and their mothers hanging on to the car door.

Our first order of business was to keep the munchkins awake until we could get home and eat dinner. So the Warden and I sang songs and the kids sit there wide eyed listening and grinning. I have to admit I was sort of grinning too. It’s been a long time since I sang such songs as “The Wheels on the Bus”, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Patty Cake”.

Then about half way home, the car filled with fumes. My eyes crossed and almost watered! I looked in the mirror to see if I could tell which had just filled his britches, but all I could see was two sets of innocent eyes looking back. Good thing the weather wasn’t too cold to prevent rolling down the window for some fresh air.

We got home and ate some dinner and the boys ate real good. We even took some pictures as proof we had indeed fed them some vegetables! (Next time it’s going to be ice cream and cookies!)

After our naps, we all went out for a walk. Ok, we strolled in a straight line and the boys ran circles. I just wish I could understand “munchkin-ese”. They were constantly pointing at something and muttering, at which I had no idea what they were saying. But we explored the neighborhood anyway, eyes wide and searching. Too bad that us grown-ups don’t view our everyday surroundings with such desire.

We took them to their various mothers later in the afternoon, uncorrupted by the way. I reckon we passed the tests. (If you want proof that we didn’t just lock them in a room CLICK HERE and then CLICK HERE)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Frozen Toast

What is this world coming to?

More and more families are requiring two incomes to meet their wants. And this results in every one wanting something fast: Instant coffee. Powdered eggs. Dry milk. Canned biscuits. Potato flakes. Two minute oatmeal. It would seem that people have sacrificed the family breakfast and “taste” for “convenience”.

All fast food joints are fixing something for breakfast now days. Some of the subsistence victuals include such things as sausage and egg biscuits, breakfast burritos, breakfast wraps, etc. You drive up to the window, grab the bag from the extended arm and head down the road.

Even the convenience stores are offering things you can grab and stick in a microwave while you get your coffee and gas. In my case, what I pick up to eat usually produces it’s OWN gas…but that is a different story that we won’t go into at this time.

But the other day I seen the ultimate commercial. They were reaching out to “re-gain” family values. Trying to reach back in time when the family gathered around the table before starting the day. The time when each person told of their daily plans and their time to return home.

Having grown up in a family that always ate breakfast; a tradition I brought to my own family, this caught my interest. I was actually looking forward to this new convenience that would bring back the family breakfast.

Frozen Toast! Just unwrap the individually packaged toast slices, pop it in the toaster and in seconds you had TOAST! Just add butter, margarine, jelly or any of your favorite spreads and enjoy the down home taste.

This took a few minutes to soak into my brain. (Actually it took longer than making frozen toast into toast!)

How can ANYONE be stupid enough to purchase such a product? Surely they did some sort of market research before trying to distribute such a product! After thinking about it for a while, I even felt sorry for the person who put his enthusiastic sales pitch on the commercial!

If this product is around a month from now, I am going to start selling horse manure! I may even go to a pick your own! And what’s even better, I can charge the stable owner for cleaning his stable and make money both ways!

P. T. Barnum said once, “there’s a sucker born every minute”.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Voice From Beyond

I am visiting my Dad this weekend and I set here this morning, trying to put to words, the feelings within. Normally, I would try to find some event that has happened to me, add some embellishments to make the event more interesting to the reader and then type to my hearts content. (Kind of sounds like the NBC or CBS news crews doesn’t it?) However, this morning I truly hope I can convey to you my experiences of yesterday evening.

First of all, for those readers who are outside of this family’s realm, I must start back in August of 2005. We had come together as a family to plan and prepare my Mother’s funeral. As we discussed the options of; what songs to sing, which preacher to ask to do the service and which preacher to do the graveside, my niece brought me a notebook, written in Mom’s own hand, with what my niece described was one of Mom’s poems.

As I leafed through the notebook, I found many of her writings. The dates were not “in order”, spanned several years and showed that they more like a “thought of that day” rather than any type of diary. I found one that she had written while setting on the front porch back in the mid 80’s, apparently about sunrise. This writing inspired us children to conduct our Mother’s funeral service; to honor her life rather than just mourn her passing.

Anyway, I asked Dad at that time if I could have the notebook. He said yes and asked if I wanted the rest of her notebooks. I was unaware of more but said I did want them when he was ready to give them. Dad has been after me for several months now to come get them. However I have avoided it somewhat because of the emotional process which it would again trigger for me. But last evening, we opened the drawer on the chest beside her bed and started sorting.

Now Mom, being somewhat a pack rat, had kept a lot of things. There was tucked inside the pages of several notebooks, articles from newspapers, grocery lists of long ago, some Ann Landers columns, phone numbers and addresses and even a personal letter from Sam Walton to my Dad from back in 92.

Then I started paging through the notebooks, skip reading various things she had written. She had dated most of the writings. They were in no order and obvious, that for the most part, she had just picked up the nearest notebook, dated and wrote what was on her mind at the time, characteristic of my Mother who was not a “scheduled” person.

Inside these treasure chest of thoughts, I found: letters written to my two brothers, my sister and myself; thoughts concerning friends, extended family and neighbors; hand written prayers; her inner fears; funny stories; sad thoughts; her wishes for each us children; and thoughts concerning her grandkids. Some of the thoughts were short, just a couple of lines. Some thoughts were several pages.

I could see in the hand writing the changes that happens to us all. The lovely cursive from the earlier writings; the shaky handwriting after her stroke. Yet both filled with the same love and grace my Mother was known for. Of course I have yet to read all that she has written, but look forward to it as time allows.

The thought that keeps reverberating in my mind is that these same words or thoughts spoken directly to us, in times past, would have brought a smile as any compliment would, a bowed head as any chastisement would and rolling laughter as any funny story would. But these words now in written form will continue to bring her influences, her expectations and her love for a lifetime that is totally separate from just the emotion of her passing.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Valentine Cycle

Valentines Day is known for two things; Love and the St. Valentines Day massacre! (One of the theories was that the slain mobster’s wife had set up the massacre after her mobster husband forgot to bring her a card! However, that was never proven.)

But, along a lighter side, have you noticed the valentine cycle over the years? For instance, as a child you got out your paper and red crayons and did your best to draw a red heart on it. Then you had some one write “I Love You” on a separate piece of paper so you could copy it into the heart. It was then hung on the refrigerator door by your mom and grandmothers to show everyone your perfect artistic skills.

Then in grade school, there was the package of cards that could be bought and you wrote your name on it and gave to each kid in your class (and maybe held on to one or two for “special” friends and mom). Usually, there was even a contest on who could make the “prettiest” box to receive each other’s “Be My Valentine” cards. A dollar bought 50 valentines.

Then came high school and you went to the drug store to pick out a single Hallmark card for that VERY special valentine. You had to do a little more searching cause these had verses that actually rhymed and you wanted them to say JUST the right thing. And that single card cost a couple of dollars.

The next stage was the “young adult” where not only a card was necessary for that “special someone”, but a long stemmed red rose or a teddy bear was also included. The cost is now up to 25 bucks but well worth the smile!

Valentines Day again changes over the next few years as it includes a card, a teddy bear and flowers, a dinner, a movie and the cost of a baby sitter for the evening! It now takes a credit card to pay cause you don’t carry enough cash in your pocket!

Then you watch as a spectator as the cycle takes shape in your house. The hand written hearts appear on refrigerator doors, the grade school bag of valentines, the boys showing up with a Hallmark hidden behind their backs and finally the teddy bear or flowers begin to arrive. Maybe you get to hear about their “night away from the babies”.

Well tonight as I walked by the refrigerator, there on the door was a hand drawn heart.

A Hallmark Card ……. $ 3.00
A Teddy Bear ………. $10.00
A bouquet of flowers … $25.00
A hand drawn heart …… priceless.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Theater

Last night, the Warden and I attended a dinner theater. However, it wasn’t a Broadway play or even at the Wichita Fine Arts Center. It was at the Atlanta Community Center and Theater. It was quite a gathering, must have been 200 plus people there. (Which doubled the population of the town by the way!)

Several locals (of which, one was my daughter) had worked for weeks to prepare the sets, find the costumes and learn their lines. Then came all the work that goes with advertising and final preparations before production. The play had a western setting of men returning home from war and finding how things had changed. In the end, the “hero” found his love. It was a hilarious success that ended with a standing ovation for the cast and crew.

As we drove home, the Warden mentioned it felt good to “be home”, back among people who had played significant roles in our life. And indeed it is. It’s always nice to sit and visit with “friends and neighbors”.

As I sit here this morning trying to put words to my feelings, one thing, one word keeps re-surfacing in my mind, “hero”. (I know, it’s a far cry from “The Theater”, but relevant if you read on.)

We sat at the table with Phil and Nancy, a unique couple with deep historical ties to Atlanta. Both had graduated from Atlanta, married and went off to follow a career in the service to our country with the Air Force. Phil has flown “spotter” planes in Viet Nam and B-52’s for SAC during the “cold war”. Over the years, he has shared with me some very hair raising experiences he had encountered during those years of service and my admiration for the man is tremendous.

Also at our table, there was a relatively new comer to the Atlanta community who had served our country by flying tankers out of McConnell Air Force Base. They were a very cordial and delightful couple and easily put on the “list of friends”.

To my right, (as I think mentally) was Roy, who not only was the bus driver to my children years ago, but also as a teenager risk his life on the beaches of Anzio. For those of you who are not historically competent of WWII battles, this was a sixteen week long battle that cost many men’s lives. A hero drove my kids to school each day.

Further back in the crowd was a man who had done service in the “Korean Conflict” (yet a war by any standards). Surrounding him were several who had served in the Viet Nam War. Others attending had served in Desert Storm and even those who were returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom. I received a hug from Nicole, a senior at Central High School who will, upon graduation, be inducted to the US Army Reserve.

Heroes come in many arenas though. Not all have served the country in the military. I talked to one who was just returning from the gulf coast region of Mississippi where Katrina had devastated homes and lives. He told me of helping a couple of victims of that hurricane and how he hoped to go back and do more.

Yes, heroes are a funny lot, a group of “locals”. As one man put it as he received the Congressional Medal of Honor, “I’m not a hero, but I served with some”.

Yet all (even the heros) laughed at the lines of the play, all snickered when lines were forgotten, all clapped when a scene was completed and all stood when the play was done.

Dang! I am PROUD to be from a “Red State”.