Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year Y'all!

From the kid in the house and his peeps,
we wish all of you the best new year ever!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Singing the Blues

Although this version of me was singing a solo: "Away in a Manger"
today's ME is singing the blues....

...because it's the first official day of Winter and it's HOT outside!

I swear, swatting at mosquitoes in December
is not a festive activity.

But I will try to maintain my Jolly.
Maurcheen...kindly sing us towards Christmas.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Seriously?!

What do you mean today is the shortest day of the year?
How am I suppose to settle down for a long winter's nap
if I don't have a long enough day?

Hmmm.  I'll figure out something.
Let me sleep on it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Wee Tree

Ah, here is the little fella, wearing his Christmas best.  
And yes, I've dubbed him "Charlie".

I was a little worried at first as we put the star on the tree...
and five minutes later it died.
Then we dug out the old Angel topper and five minutes later...
she was singing with the other discarded Christmas angels.

So we got a new angel and she shines, holding a star in each hand.  
Sort of the a reminder of those tree toppers which have gone to the land of Misfit Toys.
(And yes, that is the Burl Ives' snowman character with his back to you)
So of course, we're calling her Charlie's Angel.

As you can see, Bou's stocking is like a little kid's. 
 If you can't read it, it says,
"Dear Santa.  Let me explain."
 And yes, that other stocking says Walter...for our Security Mockingbird.  
Because as much as he sits on the front porch to sing, 
I'm pretty sure he looks in the window to see what we're up to.  
I didn't dare leave him out.  
After all. I have to go past his security post to get to the car and go to work.

So, got any silly traditions of your own?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No. That's Not Right

The little kid in me will always want a REAL, fresh Christmas tree.  To me that smell IS Christmas.  I know, I know.  But I think of it as helping a small business owner, who is planting a tree for every one which is sold.  Besides, living near a lake system, here old trees are sunk in the lake after Christmas to serve as beds for fish, giving the fry a place to grow and hide until they're big enough to go out on their own. 

Traditionally, Hubby and I get a tree together but this year, tradition got scrambled by schedules...and a failed attempt to locate one this past Sunday.  So Hubby suggested a five to six foot tree, no bigger, and I found one at lunch.  Granted, it didn't feel very Christmasy because the weather has suddenly turned exceptionally warm when a week ago it was below freezing at night.  There's something very wrong about perspiring while selecting a Christmas tree.

I can only imagine the picture I made, all 5' 1" of me trying to one hand a tree a foot taller than me by holding it out at arm's length to check for symmetry and the knowledge that limbs will unfold to look natural, not one sided.  At least the "excessive needles falling" check was easier; grab and shake.  With the tree about 2 feet from my face, it LOOKED fine to me. So the tree and I tangoed to the register...which, of course, was as far away from the trees as possible. Carry two, three, four and rest two, three, four.  I'm sure we entertained anyone in sight.

At the register the young cashier looked at the tree and shook her head. "Nope, I need a tree bigger than that!" she huffed.  "Least 7-9 feet."  

I kindly explained that by the time you put the tree in the stand and added the topper, my tree would be close to 7 feet.  She agreed that hadn't crossed her mind.  So the tree was bagged in netting and a very nice man, realizing I was on a solo mission, told me to bring the car around and he'd load it.  Ah, mission accomplished!

When I drove in, Hubby was coming around the corner of the house and not seeing a tree tied to the roof, thought I had failed the mission.  He looked skeptical when I told him it was INSIDE my Jeep Patriot, as I reminded him of his 5-6 foot requirement.  I'd measured beforehand and knew I could get a 6 foot tree inside.  Just barely.  He opened the back and seemed pleased.  I went inside to do the annual rearranging of the furniture...which amounts to moving a rocking chair into an adjoining room to free up the "Christmas Tree Corner."

Task completed, I went on the front porch.  Hubby had finished the requisite trimming of the bottom of the tree, so I helped tighten down the bolts holding it in the stand...yet another Elf service rendered by those born low to the ground.  Hubby stood it up and claimed it was just the right size. 

Taking a step back I thought, "Good grief, I bought a Charlie Brown tree!"

Actually, it's a perfect little tree, with emphasis on little.  Sure it fit perfectly in the corner and I know when we decorate it tonight I will be pleased.  But in that moment, on the warm front porch with no evening breeze and mosquitoes buzzing in my ears, I felt a twinge of grumpy Grinch.  

One of the good things about being married to someone for a long time is they know what you're thinking without you opening your mouth.  I was feeling rather dejected about my choice.  It's autumn and I was hot.  There were stupid mosquitoes running around in December!  And worst of all, it didn't feel like Christmas.  My confession?  I am not an adult this time of year, I'm a kid at heart.  Not even an overgrown kid. An elf sized one who doesn't try to peek into packages but awaits Christmas with all the wonder and awe of a six year old.  And if that ever stops, plant me in the ground.

Hubby was in the kitchen cooking when I walked in.  He hugged me as I muttered with a sigh, "I bought a Charlie Brown tree".  Laughing, he said he liked it and it really was the perfect little tree.  I stated in no uncertain terms that I was never, ever going solo tree hunting again. I got another hug. The combination of his understanding and reassuring hug might've been the best way to bring my Christmas spirit back to life. A perfect gift.

Then again, smashing that mosquito which followed us into the house might've helped.   :)


Monday, December 2, 2013

Scottish Sheep & an Unlikely Santa

As I was telling the Chef,
the only Scottish Sheep I've ever encountered
came courtesy of two young red headed twin Scottish lads
who sent me one to sit upon my desk. 

In this festive season Mr. Sheep 
(who really needs a proper Scottish name)
 has been joined by Opus,
a cartoon Penguin who never understood he couldn't fly.

Because he always tried.

I know how he feels.
So we're working off the same desk this month.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eye See You

So, did you get any of those good deals
they were advertising on t.v. for  Black Friday?

Me and the peeps pretty much hid in the house to escape the crowds.

Soon as the list making is done, it'll be time to deck the halls.
But I have people for that.  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What?!

You mean you don't do the
 "Happy, happy, joy, joy Thursday we're eating Thanksgiving Turkey!"  
dance?

That's right, some of y'all aren't from around here.
Have a good weekend anyway.

As for my peeps, 
they will be steering clear of all the madness known 
as Black Friday Shopping.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Birth of a Do-Gooder

Nov. 22nd marks a tragedy in America: the 50th "anniversary" of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  I was five years old when he died.  I still clearly remember playing outside and asking Mom if Mr. Kennedy was going to be okay.  As documented in my baby book, I was quite the fan.  One notation stated that when Kennedy appeared on t.v. , I announced, "There's the President, now on with the show."  His death was probably the first time I cried over someone I didn't know.  Ironically, shocking as it was to witness on t.v., I did not cry when Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transported  to another jail.

Kennedy was well known for, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".  And with that statement, the man from Massachusetts planted a seed in a little southern girl's mind.  Sure, he had his personal problems, but little kid me subconsciously latched onto the power of public service.

We would meet again at a crucial moment, Mr. Kennedy and I.  As a twelve year old, I was part of a group of girls who won a trip to Washington, D.C. over a Thanksgiving weekend. We were part of the "Y-Teens", a group for strengthening "girl power" locally known as the YWCA.  It was the female counterpart to the YMCA, which we thought of as the gym where boys played basketball.  Several years ago I chronicled that trip in a 2 part poem which began: 
                                                             
Five little girls.
Black and white.
Traveled in a van
with the Undertaker's wife.
Destination: Washington, D.C.

Yes,  our driver was the wife of a local undertaker who'd taken girls on this trip before.  Yet this was at a time when integration was in it's infancy.  Sending a racially mixed group out-of-town with a black woman was a test of our parents' intestinal fortitude.  As kids, we were caught up in the adventure of it all.  Our biggest "shock" was learning that our accommodations would be in a convent of Nuns. 

We toured the usual sites, with the exception of the White House because there wasn't enough time.  And yet, it would be an encounter with Mr. Kennedy which firmly planted my feet on the path to public service.  
Journeyed for fun.
Learned awkward lessons
courtesy of Arlington Cemetery,
the Unknown Soldier and
the work of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Arlington Cemetery.
Eerily quiet.  Creepily correct.
A mathematician's symmetrical dream.
Precise angles wherever you looked.
Death done to perfection.

We watched in hushed awe at the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Funny, I still remember actually wondering who he was, what he was like and what had happened to him.  Afterwards we walked over to the eternal flame at Kennedy's grave.  It was there that all the "stuff"  I had witnessed on t.v. became real.  I was standing at the grave of someone I didn't know, but admired.  And it overwhelmed me.


Four giggling girls

Raced for the van.

One stood with a lump in her throat

that felt as eternal

as the flame at her feet.



Quietly a soldier approached.

Silently laid a hand on the little girl’s shoulder

and stood reverently with her for one brief moment.

Funny…his touch

reached all the way to my heart.


That night we were on our way back from the Chinese restaurant when the answer to, "What would you like for dessert?" was an emphatic, "Ice cream!"  Yep, in November.  So we stopped at a hotel with a restaurant and went in for dessert. Some of you will get a kick out of the fact our mischievous waiter sent us into the bar.  When the bartender turned around and found five little girls on bar stools requesting ice cream, he almost had a heart attack as his buddy stood in the doorway laughing.  Rushed to a proper table, we discussed our day while waiting.  The room was virtually empty, with just a single couple nearby.
Seated next to the romantic couple,

Five little girls turned to look.

He was dashing in Marine dress blues.

She was picture book pretty.

Four little girls diverted their eyes uneasily and looked away.

Ah yes, even then I was Miss Curiosity.  Politely of course, but always wondering, "Why?"  I'll let the rest of the poem tell the tail.


The fifth little girl was spellbound.

Watching the Marine look the woman in the eye,

the little girl’s heart skipped a beat

right along with the pretty woman’s

as he took her hand and smiled.



Although she couldn’t hear the words,

the girl somehow understood the dance,

interpreted by the woman’s face.

He spoke, then she spoke.

Their laughter intertwined until you couldn’t tell them apart.



The little girl wanted to scoot closer.

To hear what the handsome man said

that made the woman look so fascinated,

and shy and moved and happy

all at once.



Four little girls

No longer giggling.

Hissing at the fifth

that it was impolite to stare

at a man in a wheelchair.



The fifth girl frowned.

Confused by what they said.

Staring at each girl until,

one by one, they glanced at the man,

then diverted their eyes.



Very carefully, not wanting to cause a scene

the fifth girl politely checked

and was amazed to discover that

the Knight in Shining Armor

had ridden in on his own set of wheels.



Oddly enough, it didn’t matter.

For one thought kept returning to the little girl.

One day when I grow up

I want a man to look at me

the way he looks at her.



Five giggling girls.

4 left laughing.

One left changed.

She never saw his chair.

She only saw the love in his eyes.



My Unknown Solider.

One who survived the war.

Left to ride his government issued metal horse.

Got the girl.
And won my heart.

Fast forward to now, where a little girl made the decision to embrace the concept of, "what you can do for your country".  I grew up wanting to make a difference with compassion, like that silent soldier at Kennedy's grave did for me. Our charity for wounded soldiers is more than a "Do-Gooder" exercise.  It's paying it forward...with love and respect.

That day when I was so unsteady on my feet, a soldier literally had my back.  Today, I have his.  Our charity doesn't just give archery equipment to help soldiers heal physically.  We offer a hand to someone whose world might be a little unsteady.  We don't hand them a gift and push them out the door,  we actually care about that soldier.  And we stay in touch.  

For me, it's the ultimate "Thank You" to those two soldiers:
the one who could've rushed past but made time to care about me
and
the one who made me see the man, not the wheelchair.  
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hi Y'all!

Today I discovered Nov. 21st is "World Hello Day"
Folks are encouraged to greet 10 people to
"demonstrate the importance of personal communication 
for preserving peace".

Nice thought.

So, HELLO my friends!
Have a wonderful,peaceful day.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

For Chef

 Currently cooling in the kitchen: 2 dozen Pecan Pie Muffins.
And yes, 
I did have to stand on my trusty kitchen stool in order to get an overhead shot.

These little delicacies remind me of your recent words: 
like friendship, 
they're sweet and nutty with an interesting texture.
Their goodness is best when shared.

Saluting the man you are today
rather than questioning the path which brought you here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Seeing Spots

When I opened my door this afternoon,
to temperatures which have returned to spring like, 
I saw this.
Looking as if it had the measles, my door was humming with activity.

When I was a kid, I remember a rhyme, 
"Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home. 
 Your house is on fire and your children will burn!" 

I know, we learned odd things in childhood 
but when you're a kid, it seems perfectly normal.  

Seeing so many of them, 
I was beginning to wonder if maybe OUR house was on fire.
They were literally everywhere!
(Yes Kim Ayres, I know.  
Bad photographer didn't check angle, 
thus added self and top of car to photo)

On the house and shutters.

The porch swing.

It was a virtual tornado of flying red giddiness.
I had them in my hair, on my shoulders, crawling up my legs...
even landing on the camera.
After I finished playing photographer and went into the kitchen, 
 a few hitchhikers flew off of me to inspect my kitchen curtains.

I know they will soon be gone.
Mother Nature keeps them on a strict schedule of eat, reproduce, then
 pass on to the great Ladybug Haven in the Sky.  

But until then, I will laugh when they buzz past my ears 
or tickle me as they march from my hair to inspect those freckles on my face.  
With so many spots of my own, perhaps they think we're related.

Have a great weekend!