Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trouble in Charge

I am going to rest my voice for a few days and make some memories with my granddaughter. While I am resting, Trouble the Cat will be in charge. Behave yourselves. Trouble sees all and tells all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Love Affair With Words

I’ve had a love affair with words most of my life. Not just talking words, but also writing them. I don’t always succeed, but the intent has been to share information or convey a feeling. A word alone, but with the proper inflection, can ask a question, give direction or display emotion. Playing with words is like stringing beads to make a necklace – one bead (word) at a time. Sometimes you can get your message across with one word - or a few - or it may take many.

You can make your necklace in person, face to face. The meaning of each word depends on the inflection of the voice and the facial expression. If talking on the telephone, you retain the inflection but lose the facial expression. The hardest way to communicate, in my opinion, is by the written word. Am I stating my feelings exactly as I want? Am I leaving too much up to the imagination of the reader? Does each word carry its proper importance? Am I worrying too much about all this?

This blog was started as therapy for myself – to string all those words together in order to record long ago happenings and express my feelings about certain events. It wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t writing these words just for myself; it became a way to communicate with my granddaughter so that she would know the things I did as a child, as a young mother and now, as an older woman (I hate that phrase!), the things that are important to me. Maybe she will know her grandmother as someone besides the cookie baking-holiday cooking-story reading person she sees only a few times a year.

If other readers joined this journey along the way, that’s fine, you are welcome to come on along. But do yourself a favor. Start your own blog to record your life’s journey for your children and grandchildren. Tell them who you are behind those glasses and gray hair. Tell them about your hopes and dreams and why you took one path and not another. You don’t have to be a great or even a good writer (I can be a witness to that!), but you have to be honest and tell it as you remember it and not as you wish it had been. Sharing your life story is sharing one of the most valuable possessions you own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning!

There are some things a woman is born to do. Men aren’t capable of doing it, but women are mistresses of it. I’m talking about that yearly procedure designed to rid us of the old, the dirty and the worn out. Spring Cleaning! I grew up in a household where this ritual was faithfully followed and to fight it was to invite scorn from the top – Mother!

My mother was the mistress of cleaning. She could yank down the winter drapes, clean and polish the windows with Glass Wax and hang the summertime sheer curtains in no time flat. Then it was on to the floors. Mother was on a mission to get the house in tip-top condition. I can see her now: Broom in one hand, dust rag in another, eyes fixed on the next project … and her weary followers bringing up the rear.

All this activity was not confined to one day. There is no way on God’s green earth that the entire house could be cleaned to Mother’s satisfaction in one day. No, she usually managed to drag it out over a week. It didn’t matter if it was a week of the most glorious weather possible, we were doomed to spend the whole week cleaning. Mother was the southern Indiana version of a Whirling Dervish during Spring Cleaning time.

During this week, meals were “thrown together,” as Mother would say. Sandwiches prevailed while kitchen cupboards were emptied, dishes washed, fresh shelf liner put down and clean dishes returned to the cupboards. The job of cleaning the cupboards was usually relegated to me as Mother said it was “good practice.” I was never quite sure what I was practicing for – I didn’t plan to make cleaning cupboards a career, but I would never dare tell her!

In Mother’s world, there were people who were “clean” and people who were “not clean.” Now, this didn’t mean that the “not clean” people were dirty – it just meant that you might spot a bit of dust on the end tables or a slight smear on the mirror. Now, if you were really, really “not clean,” it was never stated outright. Mother would say, “That’s not a place where you want to sit down.” That was all; not an impolite word said, but we knew what she meant. Only twice have I heard Mother utter those words and, honey child, hogs would have been right at home in both places!

At some point in Mother’s life, she vowed to be one of the “clean” people and, in doing so, she brought me along with her. To this day, I can not ignore those springtime twinges that force me to dust, shampoo, sweep and clean. I would rather die than be thought of as “not clean” or have someone say they could not sit down at my house!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Meet Grandma

I've blogged a couple of times about my Grandma - remember, the one who put her nerve medicine instead of vanilla in our homemade fudge? While sorting some photographs today, I ran across the above photo taken in 1904 of my grandparents, Lycurgus Mino Joyce and Beatrice Mary Smith, and their oldest child, Lacey Hebbert Joyce. Without a doubt, this photo was taken in Hardin County, Illinois, where they resided.

Grandma was born 18 November 1877 and passed away 5 September 1968. L. Mino Joyce was born 3 February 1878 and died of pneumonia 10 February 1921, leaving Grandma to rear four children by herself. Grandma did remarry, but not until she was 70 years old.

Besides the eccentric behavior, Grandma left behind memories of a quirky sense of humor and red-blonde hair, which many, including my son, inherited. Wait until I tell my sister/cousin how much she resembles Grandma!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Song of the River

Most of my life I have lived on or near water. I was born in a little southern Illinois town that is nestled up again the Ohio River. Not realizing that it is happening, the river becomes a big part of your life. You learn to monitor its moods. Will this be the year when the river will spill over its banks and destroy homes and crops? Will this be the year someone will misjudge its strength and lose his life? You learn to listen to the river and pay attention when its attitude changes.

We never swam in the river, choosing instead Big Creek, an ice cold country stream, as our swimming pool. No waiting in line or admission price to pay, we romped and splashed and had a good time. Contamination and pollution were not problems – we never even considered the possibilities, but that was a simpler age. Then we moved to southern Indiana, close to, but not on the river. Our town was built on the river, though, and since the beginning, the river influenced our lives – from transportation to entertainment. It is still true today.

I lost track of the river for several years while living in a large metropolitan area, but then, after I was married and had children, we moved to a house on a dead end road with a small lake or what we called The Pond. It was not the same as a river, but it was still water and it still played a part in our lives. This was where my children learned to ice skate, swirling and twirling and playing hockey. It was also where my children fed the ducks, caught fish, threw them back in and caught more. The Pond was their playground, but we always respected the dangers hidden under the surface.

Then, much later, we moved back to southern Indiana to a house overlooking the Ohio River. It was good to again be close to an old familiar friend. The Ohio is muddy and often smelly, but it sings its own special song that calls out to you.

I don’t live on the river now, but I visit often, watching the barges chug back and forth, and the sun winking off the water. I miss the river when I don't see it and I miss hearing its song.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Whatever happened to ...

Life changes constantly – sometimes quickly and sometimes so slowly we do not realize changes are occurring. Thinking about these changes makes me wonder.

Whatever happened to …

Sunday afternoon family car rides? And sometimes followed by an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen?

Sunday family dinners that included the grandparents, parents and all of the children – and all dressed in their best clothes?

Jackets and ties for all males above the age of five on special occasions. How many men even wear jackets and ties to work today?

Doctors who looked mature and not like they were just out of high school?

C.B. Radios? Remember “Come on back, good buddy?”

Black patent leather shoes for little girls? And rubbing Vaseline or a cold biscuit on the shoes to make them shiny?

Ribbons in little girls’ hair? We called them “bow ribbons.”

Polishing shoes? Every home had a shoe shine kit.

Dances that had names and you needed a partner to dance?

Saturdays at the movies and spending no more than $1.00 for an afternoon’s entertainment?

Showing respect by not calling your elders by their first names?

Catching lightning bugs and putting them into an old jar with a lid?

Tying a string on a June bug and watching it fly?

They say change is good, but wouldn’t it be nice to experience all of these things just one more time?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Memories 1976

How long has it been since you wore patent leather shoes? They seem to have gone out of style, but, in years past, every little girl had a pair to wear on Sundays and important occasions.

Although it is age toned, this picture is a favorite. My children, McKayla and Tim, are caught forever on an Easter morning in 1976. I can see the eye-rolling and hear the sighs, but indulge me, children. At my age, one is allowed to reminisce.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Come Sit And Dream With Me

A cold front blew through yesterday evening, causing the temperature to plummet from over 70 to the upper 30s. The calendar says Spring, but the weatherman says Winter. My solution is this: Let's "Play Like" it's Spring and sit on my deck. We can have a glass of sweet tea, listen to the birds sing and dream of the return of Spring.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pass the Peanut Butter!

What do your eating habits say about you? Are you what you eat? That’s what the experts say, you know.

Diets have been around almost forever. Way back in the 1830s some people advocated a bland diet, which was touted as the way to avoid gluttony and, get this - immorality. The motto was “If it’s bland, it has to be good for you.” Well, that didn’t last long. People were too fond of their salt shakers and some of the followers of this diet passed out from starvation. I bet the immorality part didn’t work either.

Then, in 1864 the first low carb diet was created. It told us to avoid starches and sugars. I guess that meant you had to avoid hard tack, but you could eat lots of goober peas. Oh wait – that’s a song, isn’t it?

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the first honest-to-goodness, realistic diet came along in the form of Weight Watchers. This diet stressed counting all those nasty calories and the avoidance of such in order to lose weight and be healthy. Those who start the Weight Watchers diet either fall by the wayside or become fanatics. And in my book, there is nothing worse than a convert to Weight Watchers … except maybe for an ex-smoker. They are a fanatical lot, too.

The worse diet of all is the one that insists you eat nothing but meat, eggs and cheese. It leaves some of its followers with constipation, weakness and bad breath. None of those is very appealing, if you ask me.

One of my friends swears that an ounce of dark chocolate will reduce your blood pressure and relieve your stress. The only problem is she has gained five pounds so now she is on the Beverly Hills Diet and is as cranky as a constipated bear and her blood pressure has gone through the roof. Sometimes you just can’t win.

As for me, I’ll stick to my diet of Ritz crackers and Win Schuler's Bar-Scheeze and sweet tea. For dessert, just add a spoonful of Jif and you’ve got a meal fit for a queen.