Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Vacation...away from my desk

Well, the first week of "Staycation" it's rained the whole time, 
so all my "outdoor" plans have gone away.  
However, I do have a second week.  
In the meantime, 
I'm trying to not overdo on news/politics/opinionated people.  :) 

Have a good week y'all!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Still growing

Today he's 10 months old and 80 pounds.  
Still enthusiastic.  
Still stubborn.
And he still climbs on the couch 
to sit in my lap and lean against me.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Time to Remember

 My soldier friends have spent the week leading up to Memorial Day reminding folks this is NOT the time to thank them for their service but to remember those who have sacrificed.  Seeing this photo brought some memories rushing back...that of 12 year old me watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, seeing row upon row of graves at Arlington National Cemetery and being overwhelmed by it all.  I've shared this before, and I'm no poet, but the original challenge was to share an emotional experience in as few words as possible.  The number of words isn't important...the men and women who've served are. 


Five little girls.

Black and white.

Traveled in a van

With the undertaker’s wife.

Destination: Washington, DC.

Twelve years old.

Won a trip for helping folks.

Winning in the '70s…not a well known concept.

Especially at the end

Of the Vietnam War.

Arrived in the nation’s capital giggling.

Their accommodations:

A convent of nuns.

Quiet an experience

For 4 Baptists and a Latter Day Saint.

Their prize was a tour.

Their job to write it up.

Report back to the Principal

For a missed day of school.

The prize wasn’t what they expected.

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.

The Unknown Soldier.

Guarded by military precision.

Stony faces mirrored in a marble block.

How many guards pretended

To watch over a fallen buddy?

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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 more Outdoor T.V. for you

I can't decide if our baby boy Bourbon (8.5 months and 80+ lbs of muscle!) thinks he's a cat...or a mountain goat.  Hubby took these with his cell phone before I got up the other morning.

Bourbon finds the farming machinery across the road outside our front window fascinating. Guess he'll want a tractor next instead of a new chew toy.

The first one is funny but the second one scares me...there's nothing but air behind him! Hope he doesn't roll over in his sleep.


Friday, April 21, 2017

What the...?!

Yes, I posted this in the bathrooms at the Sr. Center because sometimes, it is more tactful to preach to the choir.  Truth is, only one gentleman refuses to flush...and it's not pretty.

Well, the sign worked (for him) for one week.  Now we're back to me wanting to wring his neck because he's an adult, not a child who can't reach the handle.  The man doesn't have any physical ailments (or mental ones, unless you count an attitude) so short of walking up to him and asking if he has a phobia of toilet handles, I'm at a loss.

Suggestions?  Hubby had a couple but I'm not brave (or angry enough) yet to try them.

Otherwise, have a wonderful, stress free weekend!

Friday, April 7, 2017


I stopped at a different gas station today to fill up. Their pumps have one of those "modern" screens which plays 30 second video clips.  Do people really need to be entertained while filling their tank?

I glanced at the screen in an effort to ignore the wind trying to burrow its way through me.  It showed, "Word of the day".  Okay, I'm all for expanding my vocabulary.  The word was "gimcrack".  Pronounced "jim krak", it was defined as,"a cheap and showy ornament. A knickknack." 

This was followed by a video of... Kanye West.

I was laughing too hard to see what came next, although it was probably a special on sodas inside the building.  

Thanks gas pump, whoever thought you'd give me the giggles?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

You Can't Keep A Good Old Gal Down

Yep, yesterday the Old Gal stood up.  What?  You didn't hear me yelling as I came home, "She's alive!"

Someone asked Hubby why we didn't just take a chainsaw to her and the other two pecan trees (which are also upright and staked).  He told me his reply was, "The things you do for the love of a woman."  He explained that I was so heartbroken, he was going to do everything in his power to try and get our old friend upright once more.  And in the mode of "It Takes a Village", a lot of folks have contributed to that shining moment.  

If anyone ever doubted what a good man Hubby is, the Old Gal stands in silent tribute to what a big heart looks like. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

So I'm on my way to get her a good meal of fertilizer to encourage her to dig deep and hold on.  She's already budding out...a good sign for someone whose been lying on her side since October.  She won't retain her former glory in my lifetime (after all, she's well over 200 years old), but seeing her stand proud once more makes my heart sing.

Hubby did it for the love of a woman.  I'm pretty sure he meant me.  But I have a feeling, he meant her too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Returning the Favor

     Working with senior citizens, one of the “odder” parts of my daily ritual is checking the obituary column.  Granted, it began years ago when I was Director of Elections, to ensure our Board knew when a poll worker had died.  It evolved into a habit, which turned into routine.  I remember when two of our poll workers died the same week: Robert Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.  I kid you not.

          Sure, I am occasionally jarred to find the unexpected name; the parent of a kid I went to elementary school with or an adult I admired growing up.  The worst was recently finding a photo of my favorite local newspaper photographer. My first thought was, “Somebody screwed up and put Keith’s head shot in the wrong column!”  We’d worked together for years as he covered my department’s events.  He’d always take time to speak or squeeze my shoulder in greeting.  He’d give me a hug and laugh, knowing I had co-workers raising eyebrows in the background.  I was shocked to discover his photo was in the right spot.  Recently diagnosed with cancer, he was only 47.

          Yes there are days I simply scan the names like a robot.  Then there are days when I cringe, hoping I won’t find the name of one of my seniors…especially ones who’ve been ill or are in their 90s.  What I found today made me sigh as the reality that time marches on slammed head on into the fact my youth is farther away than I realize.  Today I found “Mr. Herbert”, a 91 year old widower.  Who was he and how did he inspire me as a kid?

          He was my Junior High School janitor.

          I feel fortunate to have started school in a different era than my parents: I was one of the first kids to attend integrated schools.  Sure, there were only 3 black kids in my elementary class, but by Junior High (yes, in the dinosaur days grades 7-9 were lumped together) we became more of a melting pot.  As we began this journey towards high school, we were exposed to things we’d never had in elementary school, like male teachers. (Yes Mr. Reynolds I still know the names of most of the bones in the body and Mr. Collins, I still refer to Teddy Roosevelt as “TR”).  We also began to notice more…such as how many times the Football Coach could be found at the door of our Art Teacher, Miss Matthews between classes.   In many schools, the janitor was probably invisible to the kids.  An adult on the other end of a push broom in the background of life as we busily scampered through the halls.  Not Mr. Herbert.

          Granted, that wasn’t his full name.  In other parts of the country, he would’ve been addressed as Mr. Boykin.  If at all.  But in the south, we have a way of adding “Miss” or “Mr.” to a first name as a sign of respect.  It means while we’re not close, personal friends, we’re a step closer than the formal Mr. Boykin version. Mr. Herbert not only encouraged the title, he embraced it.

          Even better, he embraced us.

        The years from 12-15 are fraught with all sorts of drama, much of it enhanced and overblown by hormones.  His official job title may have been “Custodian”, but Mr. Herbert was our port in emotional storms.  He didn’t just instruct us to slow down in the halls, whose floors he kept polished like glass, he spoke to us.  Not at us.  We were greeted, often by name.   In fact, I think he might’ve known the name of every kid who attended that school.  If not, he knew who was on the football team, who got straight A’s, who was sneaking out of class and who just needed an encouraging smile.  I benefited from those smiles more than once. I can still see him, head tilted with a soft smile, as he asked a visibly upset kid what was wrong.  We had Guidance Counselors and Teachers, but he was our Father Confessor.  It didn't matter we were different colors, because he treated us all alike, teaching us to do the same.  He was an adult we considered a friend because he cared about our petty moments of despair.  His greatest gift was to listen kindly, then send us on our way with words of encouragement and a smile.  Exchanging daily greetings with him wasn’t just routine, it was every much as important as doing homework or learning a new fact for the day.

          If Mr. Herbert wasn’t found in the hall, you could count on kids to pop into the Office to ask where he was…and if he was okay.  On the rare days he was out sick, he was greeted like a visiting dignitary upon his return, every kid on a mission to ensure Mr. Herbert knew he’d been missed.  And that we’d noticed.  He was such a beloved institution in our halls, one year we dedicated the yearbook to him.  I think that’s the first time I ever noticed an adult swell with pride.  His obituary states he held that job for 37 years.

          Years later, when I was Director of Elections, a man came into my office.  The Voter Registration office was closed for lunch and a sign instructed folks to climb the stairs for assistance from me.  As I looked up to greet a gentleman who was probably in his 60s, a smile began to spread across my face.  The words, “Mr. Herbert”, slipped from my lips with the fondness of youthful memories.

          He looked at me and asked softly, “Were you one of my kids?”  I nodded and he smiled in return.

          As I handed him the form to fill out, he looked slightly embarrassed and muttered, “I should’ve done this a long time ago.  I don’t know why I waited.”

          He sounded so forlorn it made my heart hurt.  To most people registering to vote is often an inconvenience.  To him, not having done so was somehow a personal failure.  He’d never failed us.  It was time to repay the favor.

          “It doesn’t matter,” I told him kindly.  “You’re here now.  That’s what counts.“  As the smile returned to his face, I wanted to tell him how much his kindness had meant to that shy little me of so many years ago.  The one who could only show her appreciation by voting “Yes” when it came to dedicating the yearbook to him.  For some reason that shy little girl suddenly had my tongue and all I could murmur was, “I never forgot how nice you were to all of us.”

          “I did my best,” Mr. Herbert said, handing me the signed form.  He was happy to learn he’d registered in time to vote for President for the first time in his life.  To some, it’s just a piece of paper.  To us, it was a shared accomplishment; he’d reached one of his goals and I’d finally gotten a chance to do something to help Mr. Herbert.

          As his footsteps echoed on the staircase as he exited, his words rang in my ears. “I did my best.”

          Yes sir, you did.  And 47 years later, I still remember that fact.                     And you.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Not Much To Say....or Report

As the world gets louder (and often ruder) I find myself getting quieter.  It's as if the sound of silence is a vacation from reality.

So, in no particular order:

Hubby survived his birthday, in spite of shaking his head and mumbling, "60? 60! 60?!"

Bourbon the Enthusiastic now weighs in at 71+ pounds at not quite 7 months old.  Still mischievous, prone to take stuff not belonging to him and quick on his feet.  Oh but when he curls up on the couch next to me for a puppy nap, it's all easy to forgive.

Pollen 99.....hope 1 (and itchy).  Spring like weather all week, now cold front with rain/possible snow visiting on Sunday.  As if that stupid Daylight Saving Time "spring forward" wasn't enough.

Heard a radio program concerning Lent and 2 college students: one Catholic, one Jewish.  While having the concept of giving something up for Lent explained to him, the Jewish roomie stated he didn't believe his Catholic friend was actually really giving up anything he cherished.  So Roommate C. allowed Roommate J. to chose what was to be given up.  Year one, J chose "oregano" and C. laughed.  Until he remember that he loved Italian food and Pizza.  Not only did they follow this routine for 4 years of college, 25 years later, J. still calls C. to advise what he needs to give up.  It's always so seemingly innocent until the bigger picture is seen: yeast (no beer/bread), corn syrup (goodbye sodas), sugar.....  C. and J. are not only good friends, they learned from one another about what's important in life.  C. claimed the only thing he wouldn't give J.

Remember our huge pecan tree, the Old Gal?  Hope springs eternal at our house and progress was made in sinking deep anchors into the ground today in hopes of pulling 3 trees back upright.  All are alive...and buds are trying to push out.  Just have to weed out the procrastinating, well meaning folks and find more like the guy this morning who said he'd be here and he was.

Hope you have a Happy Weekend in your neck of the woods.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Once upon a time, a 17 year old boy swept 16 year old me off my feet.  Years, later, he's still taking me on adventures.  His hair may have turned silver, but that boy is the best thing that ever happened to me.
Today he has one of those "milestone" birthdays...60.   He doesn't like the number,  but I can't imagine a world without him.  In the photo, we're about to go to his parents' 25th Anniversary vow renewal.  I remember him telling me renewals were silly...after all, if you're married, why stand up and do it again?  I agreed and promised him when got married we wouldn't need a "renewal" because we were going to do it right the first time.  I added we had a 100 year contract and if, at the ripe old age of 123 he wanted to dump me, I'd understand.  He smiled.  Hey, we're only 37 years into that contract.

Happy Birthday Big Guy....I look forward to many more adventures with you. 


Friday, February 17, 2017

Two Words

Okay, I’ve been patient.  I’ve tried to take the high road and sidestep arguments I don’t want to get into with people I like.  After all, everyone is entitled to an opinion.  I’m just not big on jamming mine down someone else’s throat.  So I tend to turn inward, (usually mumbling, “Not my circus, not my clowns”).  Recently I attempted to head off a potential argument (you never want to get into a war of words with a senior citizen armed with zeal), by stating I’d give the man a chance to prove me wrong. Yet I keep hearing Michelle Obama’s, “When they go low, we go high” ringing in my ears.  I keep hoping the storm will pass and we all survive.
Well, it’s time to put on the waders…because this crap has gotten deep.
A wise man once told me, “The problem with stepping in crap is the more you move around, the more it stinks.”  I agree.  But I can’t take it anymore.  It feels as if my head is going to explode.  I find myself either avoiding the news or huffing in disbelief, ”Are you kidding me?!  Seriously?!”  So in my role as “the Kid” in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, I have two words for he who believes himself king:
Grow up.
It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that hissy fits via Twitter are unbecoming to ANYONE in a position of power.  We’re all aware “you won!” …as well as who didn’t.  Real adults know when to let things go and move on.   Being viewed by the world, not as the leader of a great country (we knew that word before you claimed it, you know) but as a spoiled, rich brat who yells louder when he doesn’t get his way isn’t… well….great. Repeating the same lies over and over doesn’t make them true. Even a five year old knows that.  The problem is, for all you have, you don’t know how to be a true public servant. That’s what your job is, you know.  Serving others.
Let me help. I am a public servant.  I’ve worked in local government, serving my community, for almost 30 years.  Even with a college degree, my annual salary is probably what you spend on a fancy dinner…or a couple of rounds of golf.  I’m the Director of a facility…and the entire staff.  On Tuesdays I cook lunch…one that I planned, shopped for and served.  On Friday, I’m the janitor, cleaning toilets and taking out the trash.  Hell, I even take home our kitchen laundry once a month.  I’m part of a mandatory retirement system I didn’t choose, which allowed the public to vote that it was okay for the state to invest my money.  There have been some lousy investments, leaving my state representatives complaining that I, as an employee, need to pay more into the system.  (Because they’re paying out $3 billion a year and only taking in $2 billion a year…and somehow that’s my fault).  My 3% cost of living raise is eaten up by the increase in my only “perk”…health insurance.  In a few months, my retirement contribution will rise to 9% that disappears from my paycheck before it’s written.  I’m pretty sure if I make it to retirement; I might be working for free. 
And yet I stay.  Why?  To make a difference in the lives of those who came before me.  To offer an option for those tax dollars which pay my salary.  To encourage a sense of community in a world spinning out of control.  Do you know how my facility is viewed by those who use it?  As a “home away from home. Where somebody cares.”
I may not be rich or (in)famous, but I am somebody.  And there are more of us than your favorite polls describe.  If I could offer advice to someone not interested in it, I’d tell you….
…suck it up, Buttercup.  Life is hard.  You won’t always win.  My bank account may be skinny, but I have common sense, a working moral compass and a sense of humor.  Honestly, I think I’m richer than you.  And I know a lie when I hear one.
Just remember, you’re living in OUR house.  And we expect our guests to show some class and respect while on the premises.