Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Laugh All You Want

Has it occurred to anyone else that we are already halfway to Christmas? In fact, six months from now, it will be three days after Christmas. I wrote a post four months ago about how quickly time passes and how soon it will be holiday time again. I was joking then but now, at the halfway point, it is beginning to feel like a reality.

I can almost hear your laughter. But just think about it. Where did June go? It seems to have evaporated. July will do the same. It will be highlighted by the many elaborate Fourth of July celebrations all over the country, and once that’s over, the rest of the month will fly right on by just as June did.

Suddenly, it’ll be August, usually the hottest month, and things will begin to change. Mothers of young children will be buzzing around getting them ready to go back to school. College students will be signing up for fall classes. It will start to feel like summer is coming to a close, whether we want it to or not.

There are other changes in August, too. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but both days and nights take on a different feeling. There are bluer skies, cooler nights interspersed with the warm ones, and times when we feel as though we can actually smell fall coming—at least here in the Southeast.

By now, most of you know that fall is my favorite season and you’re saying, “That’s just wishful thinking on her part.”

You may be right. So go ahead and laugh all you want. But don’t wait too long to start making your Christmas list.

I promise – the way time flies, you’ll be shopping before you know it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Betrayed By My Emotions

Good-byes are difficult! No matter how much you think it won’t bother you to say good-bye to someone, it’s just part of our emotional makeup to become a little teary-eyed when it’s time to bid farewell to someone who has been a part of your life for several years.

Today we said our final good-byes to the Pastor of our church. He had been with us for five years. In that five years, I had never become particularly attached to him, having loved the one before him so much that, in my mind, nobody could ever replace him. And so... I tolerated the new Pastor. I tried to work with him, but never felt really comfortable. I helped with Vacation Bible School as I had before, attended Bible studies, and took on the job of Communications Coordinator, which involved keeping up the website. Ah, but I still felt no strong connection to this Pastor.

However, in five years, 260 Sundays—we attended most of them—I suppose anything becomes a habit. I listened attentively to this man’s sermons, and without even knowing it, apparently became fonder of him than I realized. Today, when his voice broke a little while telling his congregation good-bye, I felt a tug at my heartstrings. Stop it! I thought. You’re happy to be getting a new Pastor. But there was no denying it; I felt something.
After the traditional luncheon for departing Pastors, we headed for the door, and there he was, right in our path. There was nothing to do but “make nice” and say a personal farewell. My husband and grandson shook his hand. I tried to remain cool but ended up giving him a warm hug instead, and wishing him well.

Why do our emotions betray us?

Author Nicholas Sparks once said: “The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected.” 

Could be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Raccoons In Your Attic?

Have you ever been overcome with a sudden attack of “silliness?” Once in a while, a totally ridiculous image forms in my mind while another person is speaking and I can’t help but giggle before he/she finishes. That happened today while I was chatting with my friend, Carol, on the phone.

Carol was telling me that she’d been having trouble with her new air conditioning system. She’d had a service man twice and was still having problems. The first time he came, he checked the new unit and told her he found nothing wrong. But the thermostat kept climbing during the hottest part of the day despite her setting it for a lower temperature.

The service man came back, checked things again and still found nothing wrong. A quick check of the thermostat convinced him that this could be the problem, so he put a new one in and told her to watch it and let him know if it changed things. It didn’t.

She called him back the next day and he said, “Well, we’ll have to get into your attic. Sometimes, raccoons get in attics and knock the ductwork loose.  That could be your problem.”

“How do you get into your attic?” I asked.
“There’s a pull-down ladder in the garage,” Carol answered.
Instantly getting a mental picture that amused me, and struggling to hold back a full-blown laugh, I said, “Do you think raccoons are strong enough to pull that ladder down?”


And then, we both burst into unrestrained laughter that lasted for at least two minutes. Carol finally said, “Dyed your hair blonde, did you?”

That's the kind of friendship we have. Flexible and fun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Puddles Of Light

This afternoon, I was talking to my son who lives about ten miles away, just across the Interstate. We are separated by a small mountain. He vowed the sun was shining through his windows creating puddles of light on the floor for his cat to enjoy. I laughed because I thought he was joking. I hadn’t seen the sun all day! The sky was overcast in my neighborhood and had been for two days. He assured me he was telling the truth. I wondered why the sun was avoiding me and paying a visit to my son instead.

Later, after dinner, I spotted it – shining brighter than usual – its outstretched rays more golden than yellow. How exciting! After hiding out for two days, it had staged a most impressive comeback. I felt like Trixie, a cute little imp who lives in the comic pages. Crawling around on the floor, her life revolves around the appearances and disappearances of “her sunbeam.” She has conversations with it – about it – and sometimes, has to compete with the family dog to take a nap in the warm bright spot it provides. And after it’s been gone for a while, she’s always delighted when it reappears.
Some say that time is our most valuable commodity. But if we could find a way to package it and sell it, I’m sure sunshine would be number one in no time.

 I’d vote for it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Are You An HSP?

Sometimes I wake up feeling so low, I’d need a ladder to climb on the back of a rattlesnake. Someone asks, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lie, in an effort to hide my misery.

But today was different. The gloominess was so severe; I had no choice but to inflict myself on a friend. However, I didn’t get a chance to express my feelings. She immediately took control of the conversation and, by the time she finished droning on and on about her problems, I felt like a candidate for the Noble Joy Prize! (?)

I suppose the moral of that story is: To forget your own troubles, listen to someone else’s. Don't try to help. Just listen. 

For some, moods are varied. They wake up one day wondering how they’ll make it through the day, and then the very next morning, the sun is shining brightly and they find themselves happy and thankful for their many blessings.

“Only if they’re bipolar,” you’re saying. But that’s not always the case. Some people are just more sensitive than others. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I recently took a quiz called The Highly Sensitive Person Test. At the end, it said if you answered "yes" to 14 of the 27 questions, you are a highly sensitive person - or HSP. I answered "yes" to 26 of them!

I was a little concerned until I read further: 

If you find you are highly sensitive, you need to begin by knowing the following:
  • Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population--too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you. 
  • It is innate. In fact, this trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others'. 
Writers and artists are almost universally considered to be the most sensitive members of our species. They tend to feel things more deeply than their non-sensitive friends.

Fancy that!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moments In Life

There are moments in life when you miss someone
so much that you just want to pick them from
your dreams and hug them for real!

When the door of happiness closes, another opens;
but often times we look so long at the
closed door that we don't see the one,
which has been opened for us.
Don't go for looks; they can deceive.
Don't go for wealth; even that fades away.
Go for someone who makes you smile,
because it takes only a smile to
make a dark day seem bright.
Find the one that makes your heart smile.

Dream what you want to dream;
go where you want to go;
be what you want to be,
because you have only one life
and one chance to do all the things
you want to do.

 The happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
they just make the most of
everything that comes along their way.

The brightest future will always
be based on a forgotten past;
you can't go forward in life until you
 let go of your past failures and heartaches.
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong,
enough sorrow to keep you human and
enough hope to make you happy.

Picture by quotesarcade.com

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

A few days ago, my husband went to our son’s house to begin taking out his old heating system in preparation for installing a new one. He worked for several hours accomplishing what he’d planned to. This was his line of work before he retired. He had his own heating and air conditioning business for thirty years.

However, being retired for a while takes its toll; the inactive pattern we let ourselves fall into often hurts us more than we realize. The next morning when he awakened, he was surprised to find that his back was very sore and it was hard to move. He said, “I think I used muscles I haven’t used for a while.” He took medication and hoped the pain would cease shortly so he could go back and continue working on the job. 

But it was not to be. He could barely walk. At one point, I watched him trying and couldn’t help but giggle. The injured look on his face compelled me apologize quickly. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I know it’s not funny, but you remind me a little of Tim Conway’s character in the old Carol Burnett shows.” I thought it might cheer him up, but he couldn’t even muster a grin.

Many of you will remember the character I’m talking about. He portrayed a very slow-moving old man, shuffling his feet along—barely managing to put one foot in front of the other just an inch or two at a time. It was hilarious! If you're too young to remember it, you missed a classic!

Resting that day and more medication plus a good night’s sleep gave my husband enough relief that he was able to continue the work at our son’s house the next day. I was grateful to see him moving again, but I’m also grateful for the many funny memories he unwittingly evoked.

Laughter is indeed the best medicine, even if – this time – the person who needed it most, didn’t feel much like laughing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When The Hands Were Straight Up

In his younger days, my father used to enjoy Saturday night carousing a wee bit more than was prudent. He didn’t own a car (which was probably a good thing). His main mode of transportation was the local bus.

After working hard all week, he felt entitled to cut loose on Saturdays so he and a friend would board the bus and head for the nearest city, which was Charleston. Meeting up with more friends at their favorite bar, they’d have a few beers and shoot pool. There was always music, and my father loved music—especially that of Hank Williams. The more of old Hank’s songs that were played on the jukebox, the more beer my father drank, thus becoming quite inebriated by midnight. Back then, alcohol could not be sold on Saturday night after midnight, so for him and his buddies, the fun was over when the hands on the clock were straight up.

Later in life, he had many stories to tell about those Saturday nights. But one of them amused me more than the others. He’d say, “I bought the record, Walking the Floor Over You (Hank Williams) at least three times, but never got home with it!” Then he'd clap his hands together like a gleeful child and laugh heartily. My dad loved to laugh.

Some of you will, no doubt, remember that those old 78 rpm records were easily breakable, although chances are, in his drunken stupor; he left his records on the bus.

They say the older one gets, the more he/she remembers the past. I must be getting very old because I have more stories to tell than anyone I know. And many of them are about my father. Nobody knows, except those who were closest to him, what a colorful character he was. I believe I could write a whole book about him. 

Perhaps I will.  


My dad holding me and our puppy.

In The Moment

Sometimes it seems that my life is just too complicated. I feel overwhelmed and long for a simpler life. As I daydream about a long-ago childhood, I can almost taste the carefree feeling of living in the moment – without stress. I wonder if it’s possible to recapture that simplicity.

One day last winter, when we had been blessed with an unexpected snowfall, I took a walk. Suddenly, I looked up at the grey sky, opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue and was delighted with the sensation of cold, wet snowflakes landing on it. All alone, I found myself giggling like a child. When I returned home, I was energized and happy for the rest of the day. It is refreshing to become like a child seeing the world with a sense of awe and wonder. 

I’m sure we all remember lying on the grass, watching clouds float by or stopping to smell a fragrant rose on a neighbor’s bush. Perhaps setting aside a little time each day for playful activities would help to balance the busyness of our lives and give us a renewed awareness of the beauty around us.

Could it be as simple as this? Or once childhood is gone, is it gone forever – never to be enjoyed again?

"So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us."                             ~Gaston Bachelard

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paintings From A Novice

When I posted this a few nights ago, several people asked to see more of my artwork. I have posted a few of my paintings. The photos aren’t great. I’ve done a lot of things in my lifetime and been fairly good at some of them, but photography is not one of my talents. I’ll leave that to my well-known grandson, Chase Gunnoe.

I have more paintings but this is enough to start. Perhaps after seeing these, you won't care about seeing more.

Pink Rose


Covered Bridge


Let's Go Fishing

As I said before, the photography is not great and the paintings are those of a newbie. Sorry to say, there was no natural talent. But I enjoyed myself for a while. And that's what matters.

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. 


Thursday, June 9, 2011

No Labor Of Love

At one time, I fancied myself an artist. I watched all the half-hour painters on TV like a million other enthusiasts did; I went out and bought paints, brushes, canvases, and everything else the TV personalities said I’d need, and set up a place in my basement just for my new endeavor.

I never thought I’d sell paintings or get rich—or even find anyone who liked what I painted. In short, I didn’t have big expectations. The truth was, I needed something to do after my children left the nest. Most people would say taking care of a four-bedroom house, cooking and doing laundry for my husband and me should have been plenty to do. And it was. However, as they say, I wasn’t fulfilled. I had always been so busy with children, teaching piano and other things that I needed more. And if, by chance, I had more talent than I thought, I reasoned - and it suddenly surfaced – well, then who knows what might happen?

I painted with some success for several years. Trouble was, I was obsessed! If I started a painting, I couldn’t work on it a little at a time until it was finished. No, I had to finish it all at one sitting – or standing, in my case. Sometimes, I stayed up all night just to get the desired effect on a canvas.

Exhausted, I’d fall into bed, sleep a while and wake up with nothing but the painting on my mind. I didn’t want to eat or do housework or go anywhere; all I wanted to do was make sure that painting was as perfect as it could possibly be. I wonder if the great masters were that passionate. Seems to me painting should be a labor of love, not one that wears you out physically, mentally and emotionally.

My husband hated my obsession! He got a little angry every time I’d head for the basement with that inspired look in my eye. When I’d paint all night and have a terrible headache the next morning, he showed no concern. He let me know in no uncertain terms that I had nothing to blame but my own stupidity!

Whenever there was a problem, my mother-in-law would say, “This, too, shall pass.” She was right. Problematic things do seem to take care of themselves, given enough time.

In this case, I got sick. Very sick! For a long time. I saw a doctor and took many antibiotics, but the fever, achiness and coughing wouldn’t stop. I had pneumonia brought on by breathing the fumes from the paint and thinner. When I finally got well, I painted a few more canvases, but had to change my medium. I didn’t like it as well as oils and lost my enthusiasm for the hobby.

I gave most of my paintings away. They hang in the homes of my children and a friend or two – and yes, I have blatantly displayed several of them in my own home.

Sometimes we do foolish things. But if we learn something from everything we do, nothing is wasted.
“One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”    ~Anonymous

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Many Lizards Would It Take?

Lizards! Oh my gosh! I hate reptiles!

All I wanted to do was plant a few impatiens this afternoon. After all, my son gave them to me on Mother’s Day – almost a month ago – and I’m embarrassed to say, until today, I hadn't gotten around to planting them. Poor little things, still in their nursery pots, were blooming anyway – trying their best to make an impression even though they were being ignored. However, at 87° this afternoon, they were starting to look a little peaked.

Shame on me! I thought as I grabbed my watering can and shovel and started digging up the desert-like dirt in the pot I’d planted impatiens in last year. I’d be mortified if Lee came for a visit and saw his gift still in the tiny nursery pots! He'd never give me flowers again.

It didn’t take long once the dirt was wet and loosened up. I was just ready to put the first one in when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Turning, I saw two – not one – but two, lizards right in front of the garage door, about three feet from me. They may as well have been alligators!

Cold chills ran all over my body. But then the lizards disappeared into the garage, and I hurriedly finished the job at hand. When I went over to the spigot to get more water to “water the flowers in” (as my grandmother used to say), I almost stepped on another little reptile, but it ran under my flower bed (which I’ll never again weed with my bare hands!) How many of these things are there? I thought.

When I was finished, my plants looked happier in their new home. At least they weren’t thirsty now. I felt better, too.

I put the watering can and shovel back into the garage, mindful of where I stepped and what I touched. I then closed the garage door and went inside. Carefully placing a throw rug across the bottom of the door in case there was room enough under it for unwelcome visitors to come in, I shivered and went to wash-up so I could start dinner.

While we were eating, I said to Mr. H., "How many lizards would it take to make an alligator purse?" He takes everything so literally. Very seriously, he said, “I don’t think you can make an alligator purse out of lizard skin.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Even if you had enough – and it would take a lot – the skin is totally different.”


“Alligator skin is thick and rough, and lizard skin is soft.”

“How do you know? Did you ever touch one?”

“Yes,” he said, starting to chuckle.

I don’t think I believe him, but I’m certainly not going to touch one to find out!

Just Like Your Dad

My mother lived 85 years, most of them healthy. She fell and broke her hip at 82 and that was the beginning of her decline.

I used to tease her when she talked about getting old. I’d say, “You’re the youngest old person I’ve ever known.” And she was.

When she was in her mid~seventies, she still washed and waxed her car, painted the interior walls of her house, and rearranged furniture any time she decided she was tired of it the way it was ~ and that was fairly often.

As I was growing up, my father worked shift work. When he was on what he called “evening shift,” he’d go to work at three P.M. and return around midnight. My mother and I would be in bed when he got home. I don’t know why she didn’t leave a light on, but she didn’t. So on the days she’d rearranged furniture, my poor dad would come into a dark house and run into things or fall over something that wasn’t in that place when he’d left that afternoon. Occasionally, he could be heard shouting words that were unfit for my young ears. But he finally learned to turn the nearest light on before taking too many steps. As the years passed, I heard him joke about the whole thing many times. He’d laugh and say, “I never knew, when I came home, where the furniture would be.”

They were quite an odd couple: my dad was quiet, easygoing, loved to tease and have fun ~ and my mother was a human dynamo! From the time she awoke, if she wasn’t doing, she was planning what she was going to do that day. She had to be busy all the time. There was no room in her life for idleness, and she couldn’t tolerate it in others. This caused problems from time to time but they, somehow, overcame them.

Unfortunately for me, I was more like my dad and, as I grew up, many times she’d say, “You’re so slow~ just like your dad!” Even after he died and I was grown, married and had children, if I didn’t adhere to her wishes for things to be done on a certain schedule, she’d remind me that I was just like my dad. The good thing was, by this time, it no longer mattered to me and I took my own sweet time doing things no matter how agitated she got. Actually, I liked being told I was like my dad because I loved him in that special way all girls love their fathers.

Strange phenomenon though ~ the fact that he was so laid back and died of a heart attack at the young age of 63, while she was the Type A personality who lived to 85. Never made sense to me. I have a theory, but I’ll keep it to myself.

My mother aged beautifully. I visited her at the hospital on one of the last days of her life and found her asleep. I stood staring at her smooth, flawless skin, white hair and peaceful looking face. I said to myself, this is how I’ll remember her.

And as tears rolled down my cheeks, I recalled this quote:

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art”. ~ Stanislaw Lec, Polish poet

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Long Hot Summer ~ Part II

Somehow mothers know when their children need them. Mine was there in a flash when the porch swing overturned, dumping me on the back of my head. I was bleeding badly when she helped me up and led me through the house to the bathroom where she cleaned the wound. I cried as if I were dying. I thought I was. My dad looked at it and decided it may need stitches, meaning they’d have to load me into the car and head for the hospital. I was agreeable until my dad made the mistake of saying, “They’ll have to shave your hair.”

Whoa! No way! Not my long, thick hair that everyone refers to as my “crowning glory”.

“I’m not going if they have to shave my hair!” I said. My mother put her arm around me and assured me it would grow back by the time school started. “Remember how fast your hair grows.” But I dug my heels in, pursed my lips and said, “No; I’m not going!”

My parents looked at each other quizzically for a few seconds, and then my mother said, “Well, let’s have another look.” She wiped at it some more with a cold cloth and finally said, “It seems to have stopped bleeding.” Maybe we can put some [i]mercurochrome on it and, since it’s right in the middle, we can part your hair and pull it to each side so that it stays away from the wound.”

My dad didn’t seem to agree, but wasn’t one to argue with my mother, so he said, “We can try it, but if it’s bleeding in the morning, I’m taking her to a doctor for stitches if I have to carry her!”

Mother nodded in agreement and we smiled at each other. “Will we still go on the picnic,” I whined. “We’ll have to wait and see how you’re doing,” she said.

I woke up early and ran to the mirror. I looked fine. Grabbing the hand mirror and looking at the back of my head, I could see dried blood and it didn’t look very pretty, but I was okay and anxious to go to New River.
So both parents inspected my head and decided we’d go, agreeing that we’d watch closely for any problems and head home at the first sign of one.

Mother made a ponytail on each side of my head and it looked pretty cute! Necessity had given me a new hairdo that I could wear later, too. 

My dad loaded the food and all our picnic supplies in the car; we stopped and picked up my friend, Carol, and were off for a day of fun. Carol didn’t know about my accident and all she could see was my face. “Oh, I love your hair!” she said. Turning around so she could see the back of my head, I giggled when she drew back and said, “Eew! What happened?” She grimaced when I told her the details, but soon lost interest. We were going to have fun. To young girls of 12, in the summertime, that’s all that mattered.

My head wound healed in a short time and the incident became just a bad memory. But this one, as well as others, taints any description I might give of a “perfect” childhood.

There were terrible bicycle wrecks that left painful wounds for days and scars forever. Many times, I had stripes on my legs from peach tree switches my mother used to punish me for misbehaving... and I must not forget the time I slipped off the slimy raft and would have drowned if a neighbor hadn’t fished me out of the water by the hair of my head.

All things considered, I did have a wonderful childhood. Scrapes and bruises are, after all, just a part of growing up, but I think sometimes, we tend to gloss over the bad and relate only the good when writing about our lives. I can’t help but wonder if that gives readers a false impression of us and diminishes their own self-esteem.

[i] An agent that was once popular as a topical antiseptic. Its perceived effect was based solely on the fact that it turned the skin bright red.

The Long Hot Summer

At a time when most people are busy planning vacations, picnics, boating and swimming parties, I’m staying inside with my new best friend – Air Conditioning. And I’m not going anywhere unless a member of my family, or a close friend, loses a limb or worse! All I can think about is the long hot summer ahead.

I’m talking about the next three months: 90 days – give or take a few – 2,160 hours, 129,600 minutes! I’m almost certain a root canal would be preferable to my having to endure 90 degree plus days for that long. My husband just informed me that it’s not going to be that hot for the next couple of days. “It’s only going to be 85 degrees,” he said. “Gee, thanks!” I said. “That 5° will help so much!” That didn’t change my mind. I’m still not going out of the house until it's cooler. And that’s that!

I wonder why – in relating our childhood memories of summertime fun, we never once speak of intense heat. To hear us tell it, summers were “all good” when we were kids. Perfect! But were they really?

My mother-in-law often quoted a wonderful truism. She said, “God has a way of removing the bad memories, or at least softening them, and leaving only the good ones!” Then she’d say, “How could we survive, if we kept reliving all the bad things that happen in our lives?” She was a wise woman. What a shame I didn’t realize that until she was gone.

Looking back, I can remember several unpleasant events that took place in the summers of my young life. One summer night, while sitting on our porch swing – a place that frequently shows up in my stories – I was thinking about the picnic my family had planned for the next day at New River. We had established a favorite place there and returned to it every summer. We’d park the car and walk a downhill path through the woods to the river. 
All along the riverbank, there was nothing but rocks. Huge rocks. My father would select the smoothest one and claim it by setting our cooler and other belongings there. Then we’d take a dip in the cool, rippling waters of the New River. It wasn’t very deep, but refreshing just the same. We loved it! But it didn’t take much splashing around before we realized we were hungry and ready to enjoy the fried chicken and potato salad my mother had gotten up early to fix.

So, with towels wrapped around our shoulders, we’d eagerly pitch in and help get the food ready. My mother would spread out a large tablecloth – one that had felt on the back and was plastic-coated on the front. Then we’d get the food and drinks out of the cooler and have ourselves a good old-fashioned picnic right there in the summer sunshine. I suppose our wet bathing suits and wet hair kept us cool for a while. Actually, the sun felt good.

And so... as I was sitting there on the swing, legs propped up, anticipating the fun we’d have tomorrow, suddenly, the swing tilted backwards and I fell head-first on the porch. My hair was pinned up in the back with a plastic ponytail clip. It came undone and the end of it jabbed into my head. At first, I was stunned, but not too stunned to know I was bleeding. Profusely!

Check in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lemonade Afternoons

June 1st – 90 degrees.

A day like today takes me back to my childhood. As I ponder a time when I was about five or six years old, I remember hot summer days like this one. And my mother’s homemade lemonade.

I’d outgrown my need for an afternoon nap, or so I thought. But my clever mother knew that after I played hard all day, I’d be getting tired and irritable by about two o’clock. So she’d appear on the back porch around that time, call me and tell me to invite my playmates to come and sit on the porch for a while and have some ice cold lemonade.

She didn’t have to ask twice. There were always at least three friends – sometimes more, and everyone rushed to take my mother up on her invitation.

What a nice treat! We’d sit there sipping the cold liquid, giggling and telling stories that can be conjured up only by kids that age. One little girl was known for her tall tales, and the rest of us tried our best to come up with something even more far-fetched than she. The stories ranged from one little girl’s brother killing a bear with his bare hands, and a little boy’s father holding a rattlesnake without getting bitten, to another little boy climbing so high in a tree that he was able to touch a big fluffy white cloud. “That’s the truth!” he said, wide-eyed.

In the evening, while I was getting my bath, I’d relate my friends’ stories to my mother and she’d laugh heartily. I think she looked forward to hearing them.

If only I could remember all of those fabrications, I could write a book and call it "Tall Tales for Summer Afternoons."

My mother would like that!