Monday, November 21, 2022

Sunday Stealing


Apparently, there’s someone named Bev, and she “steals” questions and people answer them. That’s about all I know, but here are my answers to the most recent questions.

-What’s your favorite childhood memory?

When I was about 5-years-old I went with my mother to pick up my brother from Little League practice. It was early evening. While we waited in the car for the practice to end, I could see the sun going down through the car window and it prompted me to ask my mother, “Where does the sun go when it goes down?” She took a deep breath and, using the steering wheel (remember those big skinny steering wheels on cars in the 60s?) and the car horn in the middle, explained the solar system to me – the car horn was the sun and the wheel was the orbit. I don’t remember all the details – like how she explained how the planets revolve and orbit – but I remember I thought she had to be the smartest person in the whole world to know all that!

-Do you sing in the shower? I do – not as much as I used to, but I do sing show tunes, choir anthems, popular songs…stuff like that. The funny thing is that my husband, who used to be a singer and choir director never sings in the shower.

-What is the best gift you’ve ever received? I treasure a wedding picture of my parents that my mom gave all of us siblings for Christmas one year. I love it for its own sake, but I also love it because it was the first year she gave me the same present as my siblings. I’m a lot younger than they, and she would always get five of the same present for them and something different for me.

-Do you prefer being indoors or outdoors? I like both unless it is super hot outside – can’t handle the heat. I like gardening; that’s what pulls me outside.

-Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? My daughter calls several times a week, but we text many times. She usually calls me on her lunch hour or afternoon break.

-What do you keep in your bag or handbag? I like a little handbag. Can’t stand those giant tote-type bags. So there’s not much in there – wallet, glasses case, little cosmetic case. There’s a side pocket for my phone. That’s about it. Maybe a pen.

-Can you knit? Oh my gosh, this question kills me! I can crochet, quilt, embroider, garment sew, even macrame, but I can’t knit and I want to so badly. I watch several knitting podcasts – Fruity Knitting; Wool, Needle, Hands; Cherry Heart; Sew Sweet Violet. I see the super cute things they make and all I can do is cast on and knit stitch (and poorly, at that) – and that’s not much!! My brain turns into wool when I try to do more than that. I sound crazy.

-How many hours do you sleep each night? Around six. I slink out of bed around 4 a.m. and go in the living room and cuddle with my calico cat, Daisy Buchanan. Or I listen to an audiobook and cross stitch.

-Who is your role model? I think that I have different role models for different things, like decorating, cooking, working. Everyone is a role model in some way.

-Who was your first ever pen pal? Must have been a girl named Patty, who moved away to Wisconsin in about the 4th grade. We wrote until high school, but I must admit to embellishing my life in some of my letters (in most of my letters). Especially as it pertained to boyfriends. I did Google her years ago and it turns out she died of cancer as a young woman – early 30s.

-What has been your favorite job so far? I never expected to love my work. Stay-at-home mom has been my best job, but my most recent job, freelance grant writer, has been pretty sweet, and the job before that at a college was hugely rewarding in many ways. But my real favorite was sample stitcher for a needlework magazine – didn’t make much money and didn’t care. I just liked stitching the projects and then seeing them in the magazine.

-What is your favorite go-to recipe for mid-week meals? This is hard, because I hate to repeat recipes very often. Maybe veggie burgers and oven fries?

-How often do you eat in a restaurant? Way too often, although because of the pandemic we didn’t eat out for months and months.

-Are you close to your family? Not as close as I’d like to be. We lived away from here for 17 years and I think they just got used to me not being around.

-Which phone app could you not live without? Weather Authority, I guess.

-If you could afford to volunteer full time for a charity, which would it be? Hmm. Probably a museum or botanical garden.

-Do you have any siblings? There were six of us. We arrived boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl. There’s a 20 year spread between oldest and youngest, with five years between the third and fourth and seven years between the fifth and sixth. My mother had at least one child in school between 1943 and 1979.

-Who is your favorite YouTuber? Definitely Laura of Garden Answer. Second place goes to Nicola Parkman of Hands Across the Sea Samplers.

-Have you ever been a bridesmaid or a groomsman? I’ve been a bridesmaid four times. I was an almost-bridesmaid once – the wedding got called off a couple of weeks before the ceremony. Weirder still was that I had never met the bride. I was dating her brother and their mother made her include me in the wedding party.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

My Mother's Bible

Let me tell you about my mother's Bible. It sat on her nightstand by her bed. By her side of the bed, even though she lived her last 16 years with no one on the other side after my father died. It was a King James Version, very practically bound in black leather-look vinyl, smallish and not showy in any way. Well, maybe the edges of the pages were gold. Or red, maybe. It was always there on the nightstand, to bring comfort when needed. I believe that was its job description, "Sit here until needed on an anxiety-filled night." I know those nights came all too often to her, because they also all too often come to me. It was worn, but gently so; far be it from her to make written notes or turn down pages or bend back the spine of something as important as a Bible. Why, you might as well scratch out the word "Holy" on the front cover. No, it was treated with respect, as were its contents.

It was a "red letter edition," meaning that all the statements attributed to Jesus in the four Gospels were printed in red ink. Handy if you are looking for "Blessed are the meek" or "Eli Eli lama sabachthani." Which I remember looking for with her one evening after we heard it quoted in a Western drama we watched on TV. Might have even been “Gunsmoke.”

What I remember most, though, about my mother's Bible was not what was on the pages, but what was kept between them. There were so many bookmarks in my mother's Bible, at least 20, or that’s what I remember. And they weren't just old envelopes or torn slips of paper. And they certainly weren't Post-It Notes, because those nuisances were yet to be invented. They were actual, purpose-created bookmarks, several with Bible-appropriate artwork and glorious satin ribbon with glitter on the edges. And glitter on the front. And glitter on the back. And glitter on the child standing before her, because a number were the artistic creations of one or more of her six children, who apparently spent a lot of time in Vacation Bible School licking the back of gummy stickers featuring a Renaissance-era Madonna and Child and sticking them on lengths of purple satin and sprinkling them with the aforesaid glitter. “I made this for you today!” “You did? Thank you. I love that picture. I'm going to keep it in my Bible.” And then she did.

A favorite of mine was a promotional hand-out from either a funeral home or an insurance agency, I can't remember which. It was a maroon satin ribbon, about three or four inches wide, printed in white. One side featured a list titled, “Where to Find It in The Bible.” When You Need Courage: Joshua 1:9. When You Are Anxious: I Peter 5:7/Phillippians 4:6-7. When You Feel Discouraged: John 16:33/I Corinthians 15:56, and so on. The other side featured the ad for the funeral home or insurance agency, and directions for reading the Bible through in one year. In case you are wondering, it’s three chapters a day except Sunday, when you are supposed to read five chapters. It worked for me for at least a week.

But as a mother myself, I look back on one particular bookmark with especially deep feelings of longing. Longing for my mother. Longing to be able to tell her how meaningful this sentiment is to me now and how poorly I understood it at the time, or even why she treasured it so. Longing to talk to her about what it meant to her. I’ve been longing to talk to her about a lot of things lately; if by “lately” you mean “since 1983,” like I do.

It was a magazine clipping. Probably from Woman’s Day or Family Circle because she never missed picking up the latest issue of either while waiting in the Handy Andy checkout line. It featured a poem by the Lebanese-American writer/poet/artist Kahlil Gibran. I share it with you now.

On Children

 And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

     And he said:
     Your children are not your children.
     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
     They come through you but not from you,
     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
     For they have their own thoughts.
     You may house their bodies but not their souls,
     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

 Talk to me, Mama. I will bend to listen.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Sunday Stealing on Thursday

I'm stealing this Sunday Stealing stuff from a friend's blog. I think there's a place to link to other stealers. I'll have to figure that out.

1. Do you like your handwriting? I really do. I've worked on it for years. Before I learned cursive writing I admired my sister's handwriting so much I tried to copy it exactly. I based mine on hers, but have developed my own style over the years. People comment on my handwriting often. That sounds a bit obnoxious, doesn't it?

2. Do you like roller coasters? No. The worst thing my daughter and a friend ever did to me was to convince me to ride the Rockin' Roller Coaster at Disney World. It was just awful. You know when you get off a ride and you can see the picture that was taken of you at some point along the way? I looked like someone was trying to kill me and telling me my puppy died at the same time. Give me a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round or slow miniature railroad - those are more my cup of tea. In fact, if you can drink a cup of tea while riding, that's an appropriate speed for me.

3. Do you like scary movies? Depends. I don't like a lot of blood and gore, but I enjoy some psychological thrillers.

4. Do you like shopping? I do, but not as much as I used to. Several years ago I was walking through my formerly favorite mall and thought to myself, there's just nothing here that is relevant to my life anymore. Those darn millennials have even taken over shopping.

5. Do you like to talk on the phone? Not really. My husband can talk on the phone (and sometimes does) all day long. I much prefer texting.

6. Do you sleep with the lights on or off? Off - in a room that is as dark as possible. 

7. Do you use headphones or earphones? Yes. I often wake up an hour or two before my husband does and I use headphones to listen to my Audible book.

8. Do you have any tattoos? Do you want any? No, and possibly/probably not. I used to have not the best impression of people with tattoos, but I've really revised my thinking. I met a fellow quilter and needleworker who had a lot of tattoos - of cute quilty/handwork type things - spool of thread, pin cushion, ball of yarn, etc. She and they were so cute. I guess that's the type I would get - granny tattoos, you could call them. The problem is, what if I got tired of them? 

9. Do you wear glasses? Oh yes. I wish I didn't.

10. What is your strangest talent? I can write forward (normally) with my right hand and backwards with my left hand at the same time. It just has to be the same word(s). I think a lot of people can/could do this, so maybe it's not so strange.

11. Have you ever been in the hospital? The summer between 5th and 6th grade I spent a week in the hospital for strep throat. I guess I had a severe case. Of course, it was during the Dark Ages. The funny thing is that I was sick at home for a week, then finally they admitted me to the hospital, but I was already starting to feel better. So I really enjoyed all the visitors with presents; the snack cart that came around every night before bed (I chose grape juice and vanilla ice cream); and playing Old Maid or Go Fish with my nurse every day. It was like a little vacation. The worst part was being told I couldn't go swimming for the rest of the summer (again, Dark Ages). My next trip was my C-section in 1991. And in 2008 I gave away one of my kidneys and was in the hospital a few days for that.

12. What color mostly dominates your wardrobe? Pink, I guess. I'm wearing pink right now, in fact. I wear a lot of black, too.

13. What's your most expensive piece of clothing? Like my friend Lisa, it's my mother-of-the-bride dress. And it wasn't all that expensive to begin with, plus it was on sale.

14. Have you ever had braces? Yes, in junior high - but just on my top teeth. Then when my wisdom teeth came in they messed up my bottom teeth, but I wasn't interested in getting braces again, especially as I was 21+ by then and I would have had to pay the bill!

15. Have you ever been on TV? Yes, several times, accidentally and on purpose. I was on local news several years ago, being interviewed about a project I was involved in at the college where I worked. But the most fun was being an extra for the 1990 movie, "A Killing in a Small Town" which starred Barbara Hershey and Brian Dennehy. It's the same true crime story as the current Hulu series, "Candy." 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Last post of the semester

Well, here it is - the last letter she sent me during my first year away from home. In a couple of weeks I'll be home for the summer. 

It was a great year for me, even if my classes were not my first priority! I had a lot of fun, made some good friends, and had my first taste of independence after growing up in an ultra-protective environment. The next year, and especially the year after, will bring some hard questions and real challenges to my life - mostly good, but some not. so. much. How much of that will I reveal to my mother? Probably not very much.

Friday (April 29, 1977)

Dear Robin,

We had an awfully big rain Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning but when it stopped I floated over to First Federal and the bank. I deposited $75.00 for you. It's a while until your check comes again so I thought you might need extra.

I'm sorry if I came on a little strong about how much money you spend. I realize you didn't take any out of savings for this semester so I guess you really have done very well. Anyway, this fall you won't need to buy as many things as you did last time. And we are going to get a raise in July. Every little bit helps.

Yesterday I went with Lisa and Grant to do some running around. We had lunch at Luby's and then we went by to see their house. It's really coming along.

Early in the morning Doug and Betsy and I are going to the lake and stay until Sunday. We are going to try to get things fixed up a little. When school is out we plan to try to get the whole family up there for a weekend. Gary said they would come.

Today is a beautiful day and it's supposed to stay this way for a few days.

I'm waiting for Nora. We are going out to have some Mexican food for lunch.



You have about $380.00 left at First Fed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wedding bells, but not for me

Tuesday (April 19, 1977)

Dear Robin,

I just got back from Cotulla. Donna was in Thursday and I went home with her. She and Gary brought me back today. I've had a wonderful time. It rained a lot and Gary was working cattle but I enjoyed it all. Saturday afternoon Donna and I went to Laredo for Miss Stacey and that was a nice drive.

Have you heard from Julie? If so I guess you know all about her being engaged. I didn't see her of course but I did meet Stan. He is a nice looking man and seems friendly and nice. He is a deputy sheriff. Julie is going to go to school one more year so the wedding will be next June but Donna is already making plans. They like Stan very much.

It's getting closer to time for you to come home. I'll be glad. I hope we can spend some time at the lake. Then we'll do some cleaning and painting around here and then a lot of sewing to get you ready for school again.

Right now I have to try to get this yard cut. It rained while I was gone and the grass is growing like crazy. My garden is growing nicely, too. I've got a lot to do.



The year is winding down. Sounds like she's got my summer all planned! From what I remember, I did take a class or two at the community college that summer and I'm sure there was sewing involved. I remember going to the lake house, but I have no recollection of any cleaning and painting!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Some things aren't worth remembering!

 Wednesday April 13,1977

Dear Robin,

I just got your letter and no, I don't want another son-in-law at this particular time. I don't think I'll ever want one (even a kind of rich one) who almost proposes on the first date. It makes me wonder what sort of guy he is. I've always said, though, that if I haven't taught my children something about choosing friends by the time they are your age then it is too late to start.

I washed the car yesterday so of course it's raining today. The yard needs rain but it does look pretty good. My tomato plants are starting to blossom. The sweetheart rose is full of blooms.

Lila and John Monfrey are in a run off for mayor. The election is Saturday, They have been throwing a lot of mud around.

I hope you get things worked out so you can come home when Sharon comes. If it is necessary of course I can always come after you. When I think about it this year seems to be going very fast.



Oh, my goodness. How well I remember this blind date a friend in the dorm arranged for me with a guy from her home town. It was the worst date ever! We went to dinner at a steak house. He was rude to the waitress the whole time. We were then supposed to go to see the movie "Rocky" but he thought the line to get in was too long. So we drove around Lubbock for two hours, and he asked me all kinds of questions about my major and what I wanted to do with my life and every time I would answer he would excitedly say, "That's just exactly what I would want my wife to do." I could not get back to my dorm soon enough. I was conveniently "not home" for his next few calls and I guess he got the hint, or our mutual friend told him to back off. She told me later that he was "broken-hearted." Yeah, I'll bet. I just remembered that his car had been stolen at some point and was part of a high-speed chase. When he got it back, it had several bullet holes which he never got fixed - I guess he thought they were cool.

I still have never seen "Rocky."

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Bad Kitty!


Friday (April 1, 1977)

Dear Robin

John Boy got a very hard spanking this morning. I had two beautiful red roses in a vase and he turned it over for the second time.

It's been quiet around here this week. I played golf Wednesday and yesterday Lolly stayed all day with me.

I mailed your doll Monday and I hope it got there O.K. Your plant is looking fine.

I talked to Brandon Sunday - they are all fine.

I hate to waste a stamp on such a short letter but I just don't have anything else to write about.



Wow, a whole month since her last letter, but there's a reason - I was home a week for spring break in March. Actually, there was another letter that I've skipped - it was even shorter than this one and only talked about banking issues - no family (or pet) news.