July 27, 2009

Until Then...

I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I have come to the conclusion that it's time to take a break from blogging. Oh, not that I have been faithful, and committed...I haven't. Actually, I am a very poor excuse for what one would normally think of as a "Blogger." A real blogger blogs even when their spirits are low, or if they are not feeling up to par, physically.

The truth is that I have nothing to offer, because I am weary of even thinking of politics, and the state that our country finds itself in, lately. Other than that subject, I have written about myself, and my own experiences, mostly. I'm not sure how interesting that is to others, though, and I'm not an expert in any particular field of interest, so there you are--time to stop, at least for now.

I'll leave everything as it is, and I will still be here, reading other blogs, and happily answering any emails that anyone is kind enough to write. Later, perhaps, I will feel that I have something to write about, worth reading. Until then, thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to drop by...you were more than welcome.

I wanted to leave something uplifting, since it will be here for awhile, so I reposted the picture of the plaque hanging in my family room. I hope that trouble never knocks on your door, but if it does, I hope it will hear your laughter, and hurry away.

I want to keep as much laughter as possible in my home.

How about you?

July 19, 2009

Mama's Mortification

Today is Sunday, and down south, where I'm from, they'll be serving up a lot of chicken and dumplings. But I just can't eat chicken and dumplings without remembering Mama's mortification.

Just before my ninth birthday, Mama got married again, to a widower with six children. Now, Daddy was an uneducated man, as far as any formal training, but he was so much fun, and saw a little humor in just about everything.

In fact, he said concerning his education, or lack thereof, he did finish the first grade, and would have gone on to the second, but couldn't 'cause his daddy was still in there!

Not having been trained for much of anything, other than "hard worker" and because there was no work of any kind available, Daddy became a sharecropper. That isn't an accurate job description, because we didn't get to share in much of anything at all, except the work, and we got to live in a shack, which the owner preferred to call a house.

We worked the crops for the owner. We got some flour and beans, and a few meager commodities, and enough money for shoes when school started in the fall. This, of course, was as long as we were producing, but after the crops were in, and until we could start on the next one, we just got by the best way we could.

Mama canned all of the food that she could, and Daddy hunted, but when in the dead of winter, and the canned stuff ran out, and Daddy couldn't hunt because he had no bullets, things got pretty rough. With nine people to feed, what we had didn't go very far.

This one particular time, we were down to a little flour and lard, left over from a long period of meals, consisting of nothing but gravy and biscuits. So now, here we were with not really enough for one more meal, and it had been a long, long, time since our last one.

I watched Mama and Daddy as they stood in the kitchen, whispering intensely, Daddy, seemingly, trying hard to convince Mama of something, and Mama, obviously distraught, resisting adamantly. Finally, some agreement must have been reached between the two of them, with Daddy the victor, because he went around for the rest of the day, smiling and happy, but Mama looked extremely miserable, and quite a bit nervous.

I remember getting into bed that night-- which in itself, was hard to do, because sleeping with three others, it was quite an accomplishment, just to find a place to get into -- and I was so hungry. I just laid there thinking of food. Wishing I had some. Anything. I even thought of all the stuff I hated, like slimy boiled okra, and wished I had some of that.

I finally drifted off to sleep, with visions of tables and tables, loaded with food, in my head, and a painful, growling, feeling of emptiness in my stomach.

I could hear Daddy's voice, pulling me unwillingly, back to physical awareness. "Great Goodness! What in the world? You young'uns get up, and see what's here! Great day in the mornin', Mama, where you reckon this come from?"

Was I dreaming? Or was that really chicken and dumplings I smelled? No, it was real -- I could smell that wonderful aroma -- and daddy kept saying, "Get up, get up! Get up and eat, unless you want me to eat it all up!"

Oh, how scrumptious did those chicken and dumplings taste! There it was, two or three o'clock in the morning, and there we sat, eating chicken and dumplings, enthusiastically! Everyone except Mama, that is, who looked very pale, and more than a little nervous --which really amused Daddy, because every time he looked at her, he would get so tickled that he would burst out laughing, so loud, and so hard, that he could hardly stop.

I was too hungry, and too busy eating to try to figure it out then, but Mama told me a long time after that what it was all about.

Daddy, she told me, had been worried about us because we hadn't had much to eat for so long, so he had finally figured out a solution to the problem, although temporary. He had decided that since the man we worked for had so much, and wasn't concerned at all about whether we had anything, that it wouldn't really be stealing if he relieved him of a couple of his chickens. Now to do this, he had to enlist Mama's help, which is what all the intense whispering had been about.

He had instructed her, over and over, what to do. They would wait until late into the night, until everyone would be sure to be asleep. Then they would go across the field, up the little hill to the chicken house, and inside, where Daddy would take a hen, hand it to Mama, and then he would take one, They would make a very quiet exit, down the hill, across the field, and back home again.

He had cautioned her, throughout the day, to hold the hen in such a way that it couldn't squawk, and whatever she did, not to make any noise, which would make the whole hen house to start squawking and cackling, which would alert the owner, who, although not very generous with his food, would be very generous with a load of buckshot.

All went well for awhile. Across the field, in the pitch-blackness of night, up the hill, into the chicken house. Daddy handed Mama a hen, whispered to her to hold it so that it didn't squawk, got one for himself, and they were making their very quiet exit, when Mama kicked over a bucket, which created utter chaos!

Mama started running as fast and as hard as she could, while still holding onto the chicken. It was so dark, and she was so scared, that she sort of lost her sense of direction, missing the field, and going through the corn patch, instead. Which further added to her humiliation, because after that, every time Daddy told it, he would tell how Mama had torn up the corn patch.

"It just beat all I ever seen" he'd say. "Mama goin' through that corn patch! I'm tellin' you, she just tore it right up!"

But that wasn't all. When she did get home with the chicken, it was dead. Mama had held on so tightly, that she had strangled it to death. "Oh," she said, "When I got home and saw that poor old dead chicken I was just mortified!"

So now do you see why I can't eat chicken and dumplings without remembering Mama's mortification?

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Psalm 33:18-22

July 10, 2009

Of Shoes And Purses

There's just something about me, and shoes...I like them. Shoes and purses. Mama always told me that when I was a little girl, that I would choose a purse over any toy, including dolls. When asked what I wanted Santa to bring me, my answer would be, " A puhse"--I couldn't pronounce it correctly at that tender age, but I sure knew what they were, and I loved them! Even now, when I find a pair of shoes that I really, really like, I will buy them in different colors. Females are strange critters, I know, and we are blessed, indeed, if we can find a man wonderful enough to put up with our strange ways, and not only that, but to be a real help in any situation.

For instance, several years ago, when my husband worked at the Kennedy Space Center, we lived there, right on Indian River, across from where they launched the shuttles. It's beautiful there, but it is so hot and humid, that it sometimes it makes just ordinary tasks seem nearly impossible--and oh, yes, I do have a "for instance" about that, too.

One evening our church took all the young people to a skating rink, which I loved, because I always loved skating. We all were having a great time, gliding around the rink, doing our special little moves. Except that I suddenly wasn't really gliding, more like stumbling along. I realized that one of the wheels on my skates was not functioning properly, and decided to go to the changing room for another pair.

I was easing myself across the carpet, when I suddenly felt myself falling, headlong, with no way to stop myself. I fell like a ton of bricks, with my left hand taking the full brunt of the fall. It was bent backwards, with the tops of my fingers, touching my arm. The pain was so intense that I couldn't move. It seems that there had been a hole in the carpet, and the wheel of my skate rolled right into it, throwing me forward.

Needless to say, I was in the hospital for five days, having undergone surgery, to instill five pins in my wrist, hand, and arm. My wrist was broken in eight places, and the bone in my lower arm was broken in two places.

I don't have to tell you what a predicament that put me in, as far as trying to do things for myself, such as getting dressed. I had a cast from my wrist, all the way up to my arm pit.

The worst times were when I would try to get dressed for church, because being the prim and proper little lady that I am, I wouldn't have dreamed of going to church without wearing pantyhose! And just by the way, have any of you ever tried pulling on a pair of pantyhose with one hand, over legs covered with perspiration from all the humidity, that not even air conditioning going full blast would remedy? And did you ever have to have your husband do the deed for you, while instructing him how to roll them up, position them over your (wet) toes. slowly, and carefully unrolling them up the entire length of your (wet) legs, keeping them straight, so that the seam of the panty part of them would be in the right place? And when it wasn't, pulling and manipulating them, until it was, almost, but not quite? Well, let me tell you, by the time it was over, we would both just about be in tears--of frustration if it turned out to be a long struggle. But, oh the joy when it went well, and we had plenty of time to get my shoes on, and to church on time.

One of those times, when things had gone well, we so enjoyed our time at church--sitting through the service, singing in the choir, a potluck dinner at church, There was only one hitch to that wonderful day! Just as we were going in the door, back at home, I looked down to see--yep, you guessed it! My two feet, each with a shoe exactly like the other, except for one little thing. Each shoe was a different color! Even now, I'm almost embarrassed to think about it, but that's what I get for buying the same shoe in different colors! My husband tried to console me, saying that no one had even noticed. I asked him if he had, and he said, "Well, yeah, but not until it was almost time to come home."

I still don't know if anyone else noticed it, but my only consolation is that if they did, they have forgotten it by now. Sure wish I could.

In case you're wondering, I have another little anecdote about shoes, and if you'd like to hear about that one, too, just let me know, and I will be happy to humiliate myself again, just for you, my dear, dear readers.

July 03, 2009

An American Without Reserve

An American Without Reserve
by Daniel Webster

I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American; and I intend to perform the duties incumbent upon me in that character to the end of my career. I mean to do this with absolute disregard of personal consequences.

What are the personal consequences? What is the individual man, with all the good or evil that may betide him, in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country, and in the midst of great transactions which concern that country's fate?

Let the consequences be what they will, I am careless. No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer, or if he fall, in the defense of the liberties and constitution of his country.

In spite of everything that's going on in our great country right now, I know that there are still those who echo those very words of Daniel Webster, and have within their hearts, a commitment to do whatever is required to preserve the freedoms for which so many have sacrificed and died.

It is easy to become discouraged, when all around us we see those freedoms slipping away, but I have to believe in my own heart that there are more like the men I just mentioned, than those like the person who wrote these words on a blog I just read:

"And Happy Fourth of July to all nihilists out there. Burn a flag for Obama tomorrow."

When I read such things, it only makes me more thankful for the men and women who truly love and respect this great country of ours, and even more determined that people like the one who wrote those hateful words will never have their way in destroying what we have.

Happy Independence Day to everyone!