Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rearranging the House

We moved furniture all day today. My muscles are aching. Hubby and I had major disagreements on what should stay and what should go and where things should live now.

I ended up with a bed in my computer nest. I was not a happy camper. My lower lip ran waaaay out most of the day. Hubby was determined I have a day bed for lounging around on. I tried to explain to him that a bed would take up valuable real estate in the office and not be used. He said it was "asinine" that I not use a perfectly good bed. I lounge around on the couch because it is in front of the television. There is no TV in the computer nest nor do I want one there. He offered to buy a TV to go at the foot of the bed. I nearly slugged him right in the middle of the Wal-Mart electronics section in front of God and everybody.

Our antique cat is thrilled to have a bed by a window. She sleeps there 23.75 hours per day. She can lay in the sunshine, look out the window, and Ack Ack at the squirrels. At least she is a happy camper.

Some furniture pieces got hauled off to storage. I've been griping about these for several years now. I threatened to buy a new house to put them in and Hubby finally got the message and moved them out. These were pieces we inherited from his family when we first married 25 years ago. I've been hating them for about that long.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciated them when I had nothing else, but after five years or so we could afford to acquire our own furniture and they needed to go away. Instead of having exactly what I wanted, I was always making concessions to make these pieces fit in. I was stuck with a particular style of furniture so they wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb.

I finally put my foot down and said they were going, or they were going in a much bigger house. Out they went to storage. Now I've got to get them out of our storage unit, but at least they are out of the house.

We got rid of one bookshelf, and I hope to get rid of one more. We have an extensive personal library, but it it past time for a good culling. Getting rid of a book is excruciatingly painful for both of us. They are our friends, our comfort, our joy. They all hold valuable information and we use our library often. However, in our small space our library has become a burden.

Like some of the furniture, some of the books were inherited. Some from Hubby's family, some from my family. Some came to our library as rescues from curbside trash. The time has come for these guys to find new families. One can have only so many coffee table books and home improvement books. I don't have a coffee table any more, and I'm retired from major home improvement. I'm hiring that crap done from now on. Sheetrock dust and sawdust makes me break out in hives.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I realized today just how special my sisters are to me. Whenever anything interesting happens in my life, I reach for the phone and call them. Good, bad, or ugly, they are the first to know about it.

When we arrived home from our big furniture purchase, I was racing for the front door. Hubby commented, "You can't wait to call your sisters, can you?"

Well of course! The fact that I bought something new was big news. I had to share and not a moment to waste. I had the phone in my hand before I set my purse down.

Almost two hours later the first call ended. We had arranged, redecorated, and planned shopping trips. Joys and frustrations were shared. Major ramblings occurred. Every detail was thoroughly discussed ad nausem. That's what my sisters do. They share my life. I love them for it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day 2007

This is my Daddy and me. No matter how old I get I will always be Daddy's Little Girl.

I love you Daddy and miss you. My corner of this little blue planet just isn't the same without you.

Your Baby Girl
Then, Now and Always

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Need to Know About These Things

At the family reunion this weekend, I somehow ended up being responsible for driving my nine-year-old niece from our campsite out in the woods to dinner in town. A few delays along the way made the trip about 20 minutes or so.

I was panicking about being alone with her for that long. She's a sweet little kid, but I'm terrified of children, which translates to anyone under the age of 25. I just don't know what to do, what to say, or how to act. I only have experience interacting with adults.

I'm mostly terrified of saying something terribly inappropriate or not protecting them from danger. Kids are a big responsibility and I don't think I'm old enough for that yet. With gray hair and bifocals, I *look* like I'm a responsible adult, but the truth is I'm not.

As we left the campsite, we passed a rather large country cemetery. Jen commented that it was amazing that so many people had died in one spot. Wouldn't they run out of room to bury them all?

Woo Hoo! Cemeteries, my favorite subject! I launched into a detailed explanation about cemeteries: public, private, and environmentally friendly ones; and the cost of funerals, caskets, and burial plots vs. cremation. That led to a discussion about how someone is cremated, embalming, ashes, urns, mausoleums, columbariums (a word I couldn't come up with at the time), and how a body gets nasty pretty quickly after death and has to be dealt with.

When she asked about cremation, my definition was, "They put you in a big oven and cook you up into about three pounds of ash, kinda like a pile of charcoal briquettes." Aw, Crap! I knew I had screwed up the minute it came out of my mouth. That's a terrible image to give to a kid her age. Comments like that are the reason I shouldn't be left alone with small children.

I said to her, "Ya know, since I don't have kids, I don't know if I should be telling you this stuff. Is it creeping you out to hear about dead people?"

She pondered for a second, then replied, "No, death is a part of life and I need to know about these things."

Whoa! I was blown away by such a mature response. I'm not sure this kid is just nine years old.

Then she asked, "What happens to your money when you die?"

Yep, she's a 45-year-old lawyer disguised as a short kid.

Well, she asked for it so I gave it to her; an overview of wills, estates, trusts, executors, probate, the whole nine yards. I explained most people leave their money to their children. If they don't have kids, they can leave it to the church, a charitable organization, or a sibling. She nodded occasionally and seemed to be absorbing it all.

When I finished her only comment was, "It's unusual that someone else does all the talking."

I think that was a very polite way of saying, "You're an old windbag."


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great Obits (#4) - Potluck Funeral

Danny Lee, age 46, of Mena, passed away Friday.

He was an avid sportsman, and loved to hunt and fish. It was his wish that his ashes be put back to the outdoors he enjoyed so much. He was a loving father, son, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Danny Lee was sent for cremation. His family will be holding a pot-luck dinner to honor his memory and character. A date and time will be announced.


The folks in Mena, AR know how to throw good funeral doings. It has never occurred to me to have a potluck funeral. What a concept.

"Danny died, y'all come eat! Bring a dish."

I suppose they will scatter his ashes in the river after dinner, build a bonfire, and hoist a few cold ones in his memory. It's a bubba thing to do.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Children Left Behind

Another fateful trip to Wal-Mart this afternoon. We were leaving right behind a lady, age 35-ish or so, with two little kids. The girls were precious little sweet things, about ages 4 and 10 months. When a man commented how cute they were, the lady replied they were her grandchildren, not her daughters.

Hummm....a 4-year-old grandchild at age 35. Do the math.

The four-year-old wanted to ride on the outside of the cart across the parking lot. Grandma told her to get off the cart in a rather loud voice. There were a lot of people, carts and traffic in the parking lot. The little girl was obviously frightened and wanted to hold on to grandma or at least the cart. Grandma continued to loudly berate the little girl about clinging to her dress and holding onto the cart as they walked to their car.

We go two rows over to get to our car. About that time we (and everybody in the parking lot) heard grandma scream at the top of her lungs at the 4-year-old, "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE AND GET IN THE DAMN CAR!!!"


The boys said, almost in unison, "And we're gonna have to teach that kid in a few years."

I'll bet when George W. and his cronies cooked up the No Child Left Behind crap, he didn't know this lady or others just like her who live here in Our Town. Lots of folks like this live here. We see 'em every day in Wal-Mart. Probably not so many live in George's neighborhood.

These poor kids have been left behind at birth...both of them, and lots of their friends. About the only thing public schools will be able to do for them is feed them a decent breakfast and lunch.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Flippin' The Bird Fer Jesus

Yesterday evening Hubby and I ran a few errands before dinnertime. At a traffic light we waited behind a church bus full of what looked to be elementary school kids.

One of the little boys, he looked about seven or so, stood up, looked squarely at us, and flipped the bird. Hubby laughed, wagged his pointed (index) finger at the little boy as if to say, "That's not nice and you know it."

The little boy flipped the bird again, then one of his little buddies stood up and flipped the bird too.

These boys were on a church bus.

What exactly was the Sunday School lesson there last week?

Friday, June 1, 2007

What I'm Thankful For

Several years ago, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, my company enclosed a slip of paper in our pay envelope with the heading, "What I'm Thankful For" and three lines below that. We were supposed to fill it out and post it on the cafeteria wall.

First of all, I cringed at the title. "What I'm Thankful For" is a dangling participle or something like that, but "That For Which I am Thankful" would have been little too formal and stuffy for the crowd who worked there. Secondly, it rankled me that I was restricted to only three lines. Being the rabble-rouser I am, I wrote a whole essay instead.

I got two-thirds the way through before other priorities pulled me away. I found the essay today in some old files and decided to finish it. Without further ado, here it is.


Soap, Tree Frogs, and Letters to the Editor

These sound like odd things to be thankful for, but I tend to look at the world from an odd perspective most days. Many folks will tell you they are thankful for their families, their health, their home, and their jobs. I too am thankful for these things, but much more also.


Whenever I am shopping in Wal-Mart in the soap aisle, I am reminded of a story of a Russian doctor missionary planning for her first trip to the United States. She was worried about the availability of soap in the U.S. So, before she left, she spent three hours standing in line for the opportunity to purchase soap. Three hours just for the opportunity to enter the store! When she was allowed entry, she purchased all the seller had on the shelves...nine bars.

When she told this story to her host family here in the States and showed them her prized bars of soap, they chuckled. They loaded her in the car (which was in itself a wonderment to her) and took her to the local Wal-Mart. This was a small Wal-Mart, back before the era of the Wal-Mart Supercenters. She was stunned at the vast volume of goods available for sale. She thought Wal-Mart was a special store where only the elite were allowed to shop. She couldn't quite grasp the concept that not only was the common populace allowed to shop in such a well-stocked store, but there were other big stores similarly stocked just down the street...and they were in every little town in America.

So, as I gaze along the 20 running feet of shelf space devoted only to soap, different colors, fragrances, and formulas; bars, gels, or liquids; boxes, bottles or cases, I remember the missionary doctor, and I am thankful for soap.


Even though I live in the middle of town, (one block off the main drag, three blocks from the hospital), my house would still be considered a "rural" home by most U.S. standards. One would expect that it would be a quiet place to live. However, sitting on my front porch in the evening, there is a raucous cacophony of tree frogs singing their little tree frog chorus, drowning out the traffic noise. I'm thankful for the tree frogs because it is the only sound I hear.

What I don't hear each evening is the sound of fighter jets and exploding bombs. I think of all the people in the world who live in the daily terror of bombs exploding overhead. For the entirety of my existence on this little blue planet, I have never once feared that my home would be bombed. That's pretty awesome if you think about it. Lots of people have lots of grievances with our government, but for the last 100 years they have kept the skies above my house clear of bombers. Occasionally when a massive aircraft thunders low over my rooftop, I am assured that it is Life-Flight on the way to the hospital on a life-saving mission, not an enemy bomber on a life-threatening mission.

So, as I stand on my porch in the evenings hearing *only* tree frogs, I remember those people who are hearing bombs, and I am thankful for the tree frogs.


The Letters to the Editor in any small-town newspaper are the finger on the pulse of what worries the local citizens. My paper has letters of thanks for support of a local charity drive, concerns that more people don’t read the Bible, and unhappiness about the route of the upcoming parade through town. There is an occasional gripe about local or national politics, but really it is all small stuff when looking at The Big Picture. Our local citizenry has such comfortable and secure lives that these are their biggest concerns.

They do not face abject poverty, widespread famine, or massive pestilence of any kind. They do not suffer under the oppressive rule of some ego-centric despot. They do not fear being taken away in the night for a wrong word said to the wrong person. They have the freedom to go about their daily lives, living and loving and eating and sleeping and raising their families in a pretty civilized community. They have the freedom to voice their opinions without retribution and public forum in which to do it.

So, as I read the third complaint about the pothole on Madison Street, I remember the millions of people who struggle each day to merely survive, and I am thankful for Letters to the Editor.

The United States can be a tough place to live, but not nearly as tough as other places. She has her share of warts that's for sure. There are some Good Folks and some Bad Actors; some good laws and some unjust laws; some nice places and some hellholes; but all in all, I am thankful I live here rather than anywhere else on Earth. I am thankful for my home, health, family and job. But I am also thankful for the little things: soap, tree frogs, and Letters to the Editor. They remind me that Life is Good.