Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Almost Sacred


We are about to put the eighth month of the year behind us once more and welcome a brand new one. One of my favorites.
I think of September as a prelude to October, which is the introduction to fall, my favorite time of year! If you’ve read my blog at least five times, you’ve probably learned about my love for October and fall. Here in the southeast, it is more beautiful than anything else I can imagine!
This year has passed quickly. I predicted it would, as early as February, although I’m certain my predictions are more wishes than prophecies. It is said, “If you think strongly enough about something, you can make it happen.” I believe it! That’s why I can’t caution you enough about negative thinking. Unfortunately, it works both ways.
There is only one day of August left. In less than forty-eight hours, it will be September. But the feeling started weeks ago. The one I always go on and on about – starting in, oh—about July. First, the light changes. It is a soft golden yellow instead of the harsh, hot, humid eye-straining yellow of midsummer. Then there is the silence. The lovely silence! Perhaps it’s only because children are back in school and we don’t hear their clamoring throughout neighborhoods and in public places. Whatever the reason, it is quieter. Combine golden days with refreshing silence and the still colorful, though declining, flower gardens, and you have September days that seem—almost sacred.
It is a restful time. I like to read, write, listen to music~ or a combination of all three~ and savor the time that I love.
To welcome the new month, I’m borrowing my own quote from a year ago. I don’t believe I could improve on it.
Ah, September. You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul... and I welcome you enthusiastically! I invite you to stay a while, but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.



 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Legend Of The Cherokee Rose


A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Native American heritage and the story of what became known as the Trail of Tears when some 100,000 American Indians were forcibly removed from the eastern United States to what was called Indian Territory, which is now the state of Oklahoma. 

I'd like to share this legend with you, too.


When the Trail of Tears started in 1838, the mothers of the Cherokee were grieving and crying so much, they were unable to help their children survive the journey. No better symbol exists of the pain and suffering of the Trail Where They Cried than the Cherokee Rose. The chiefs prayed for a sign to lift the mother's spirits and give them strength to care for their children. 

From that day forward, a beautiful new flower, a rose, grew wherever a mother's tear fell to the ground. The rose is white, for the mother's tears. It has a gold center, for the gold taken from the Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem that represent the seven Cherokee clans that made the journey. To this day, the Cherokee Rose prospers along the route of the "Trail of Tears". The Cherokee Rose is now the official flower of the State of Georgia.





Lose Five Pounds In One Week


If you’ve got an important event coming up soon, and you need to work off a few extra pounds, here are some tips that’ll help you squeeze into your favorite outfit. But a word of caution: quick weight loss isn’t healthy, and you shouldn’t do it often. But if you need to slim down fast, just this once, here are 5 tips from Women’s Health and Fitness magazine.

  • Make sure one of your meals each day is just raw vegetables.
  • Don’t drink anything carbonated – it can bloat you.
  • Drink a ton of water – then drink some more. It’ll help keep you full and prevent you from retaining water.
  • Minimize carbs – no potatoes, rice or pasta.
  • Walk for 20 minutes twice a day.
Between the exercise, the vegetables and the water, you’ll be squeezing into your favorite outfit in no time.





Friday, August 26, 2011

Birds Of A Feather


My young granddaughter, a Middle School student, just tried out and made cheerleader for this school year. She has been so excited! She came home yesterday with her uniform, modeled it for the family and pranced around in it for some time. Ah, youth! I remember it well.

But today, she wasn’t quite so happy. Seems that a couple of girls that were her friends before she made cheerleader are suddenly not her friends anymore. The ones who aren’t on the squad are sticking together and having nothing to do with her. She was crushed; almost in tears!

I gave it my all. I told her: “You can’t make someone be your friend, but you can be such a nice person that they might want to.” I said, “Just keep smiling and speaking to those girls, don’t say anything bad about them to anyone else and maybe they’ll come around.” She looked at me with big, sad brown eyes and said, “But what if they don’t?”

Remembering this feeling – and hurting for her – I forced a smile and said, “If they don’t, it’s their loss. You’ll have other friends; good friends who’ll appreciate you for the sweet person you are. You don’t need friends who treat you badly just because you’re a cheerleader and they’re not.”

She seemed to feel better after our talk. I hope so. Problem is – there is so much more to this enigma than I could tell her. She will have to learn it just as we all did – through the painful experience of living it. No one can tell you. The truth is, this is just the way girls are. It never changes.

Some grown women still act this way. And nothing brings it out in them like the green-eyed monster. Birds of a feather flock together, too! Those who are envious of another's position in life stick together. Just like my granddaughter’s former friends, they learned young. And they've been this way their whole lives!

Unfortunately for them, jealously is a very unattractive trait! 












Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Me Fall"


Do you know there are only nine days of August left? I’m excited.

To me, September is the countdown to fall, my favorite season. And it’s almost here! We used to enjoy going to the seashore in late September. The first year we tried that, our youngest grandchild was only two.

How delightful it was to see him running down the beach in front of the adults, his short legs moving as fast as he could possibly make them go! It was as if he knew there just wasn’t enough time to take it all in. He loved the sand and the moon and the water rolling in to embrace the shore. He’d giggle when he saw a wave coming and run toward it as if to meet it, but when it got very close, he’d squeal loudly, then turn and run away as fast as his little short legs would carry him...only to repeat the process with the next wave. I loved watching him! That first summer with him at the beach would have been recorded in my Joy Journal, except for one thing.

One bad incident sometimes ruins an otherwise wonderful experience. That’s what happened on the last night of our vacation. The five of us – my husband and I, my daughter, her husband, and Chase decided to take our final walk on the beach. Our delight in doing so was mixed with a little sadness because we knew, come morning, we’d be packing up the car and heading for West Virginia and home. It had been a very special six days and none of us wanted it to be over, especially little Chase. So off we went, barefoot and scantily clad for our last long walk on the beach. It couldn’t have been a more perfect night! The moon was full, and so was my heart!

Walking beside that overwhelming body of water with a huge full moon hanging so low in the sky that you feel like you could reach right out and touch it, its light glistening from the whitecaps as they roll in, kiss the shore and hurry back out again, renders me speechless every time I see it. It makes me feel so small and reinforces my belief that there is a God who truly is in control of everything. We are puppets with Him pulling the strings. As my bare feet sink into the cool wet sand and the warm ocean breeze caresses my body, I am lost in another world and not eager to return to reality.

And that’s exactly where I was when it happened. Somewhere else. My husband was looking down at the sand, collecting sea shells and Chase’s dad was lagging behind everyone else, for some unknown reason. But when God bestows a child upon a woman, He also gives her an uncanny ability to always know when that child needs her. Mothers always know.

Suddenly, my daughter screamed, “Chase!”  I returned from my trance to a frantic mother, a father running ahead of us and a grandfather looking as puzzled as I was. Then I saw what was causing all the commotion. Chase bobbed up from a hole in the sand – just briefly – and then disappeared again! By this time, both his mother and I were screaming hysterically and his dad was on his knees trying to reach Chase to pull him out of the hole. And, after what seemed like an eternity, with some supernatural strength of his own, he finally was able to do it. Strangest thing; the little guy wasn’t even crying – just reaching for his mother. When she wrapped him in her arms, he said simply,“Me fall.” He had stumbled onto some kind of a sand-hole cave in and nobody had seen him disappear, except his mother!

We were a very grateful bunch that night. Actually, we were awed by what had happened. Later, back at the hotel, I found Chase fast asleep and his mother standing on the balcony staring at the moon. She was almost speechless – with gratitude! Fourteen years later, we sometimes revisit the horrifying memory. I don’t know why. I suppose we never want to forget how thankful we are that God gave Chase’s father the strength to pull him out of that hole!

It could have ended tragically! We might have never seen Chase again! We could have had to drive away the next morning without the precious child we took with us!

The very thought sends shivers up my spine!




Sunday, August 21, 2011

Letter From Hawaii

Many years ago, my husband and I had the good fortune to visit our 50th state. My mother-in-law stayed at our home with our young children. I wrote about the trip here, but I was recently reminded of it again when I came across a letter I had written to the family. Reading it brought back wonderful memories. Thought you might enjoy it, too.

Dear Nanny and Children,

You would not believe the beauty of this place! This hotel is supposedly the largest resort hotel in the world. It’s fabulous! But the real beauty is the island itself. The weather is perfect. There's a constant wind that changes suddenly from a soft, warm breeze to a body-tugging gust, but it isn’t humid. There is none of the sticky, salty air that you normally feel at the seashore! The ocean and sky are the bluest blue you've ever seen! It's indescribable! We're taking lots of pictures.

I’m afraid I didn’t bring the proper shoes. My feet are swollen and painful from so much walking, but I’m not letting it slow me down – too much to see and do!

The coconut and pineapple drinks are scrumptious and the food, heavenly! Bet I’ve gained ten pounds, but, the Hawaiians measure the beauty of their women by how big they are—the fatter, the more beautiful—so I’m safe while I’m here, at least. (Smile)

The time change is hard to get used to. I was sitting up in bed at 4:30 this morning eating a candy bar and drinking a cup of tea. After all, it was 10:30 at home. Then I had watermelon, pineapple juice, beef hash, poached eggs, muffins and coffee at 7:30! See what I mean about getting fat? I could really get used to this life!

The only thing that would make this a more perfect vacation would be to have every one of you here with us, including Sammi (Yorkie). Toney, you would go crazy over the clothes – so colorful and bare! Here, they call girls in bikinis, “turkeys” (a lot of meat and a little dressing)!

I pray that all is well at home. I can’t wait to see everyone again! Take care and look for us around six or seven Wednesday evening.       
     
     Hugs and kisses to all. We love you!

           Mother and Dad~ 

Need I say more?








Friday, August 19, 2011

Morning's Awakening

~Published in the Charleston Gazette, Sunday, October 23, 2011~


I’m not a “morning person.” I usually stay up until three or four a.m. and sleep as late as my conscience will allow. I avoid making appointments in the morning hours when I can. But there are times when an obligation arises and I have no choice but to force myself out of bed early and do what is mine to do. 

I was once involved in an organization, which shall remain nameless. I’m not sure if it still exists, but it was a religious-based organization that helped people in trouble. After a few weeks of training, I and about ten others were scheduled for telephone duty around the clock. We pulled four hour shifts in a small room at a secret location. We weren’t even allowed to tell our families exactly where we were. The reason: We talked to people who were contemplating suicide and others with every problem one can imagine. There were alcoholics and drug addicts and battered women – and some were just lonely and wanted to talk. It would have been too risky to make our location public.

The shifts were rotated, and eventually, I had a four a.m. shift! After trying to get a little sleep, I was back up at three a.m., had coffee, grabbed a couple of granola bars and headed toward my destination.

I knocked on the door of the secret location to let the worker inside know I was there to relieve him. He filled me in on the calls he’d dealt with during the night – nothing unusual – and left. I poured a fresh cup of coffee and sat down.

The first two hours were uneventful – even a little boring. I read the newspaper. Twice. The phone didn’t ring. I tried to take a nap, but it wasn’t in the cards. About six a.m., noises from outside began to invade the stony silence. Morning sounds.

There was the sound of a truck stopping, perhaps to make a delivery, and then starting again. Birds twittered cheerfully. The unmistakable WHOOSH of air brakes told me that a bus had stopped at the traffic light not far away. It had been a long time since I’d heard a morning awaken. But I enjoyed it. Taking a piece of paper from my purse, I started writing about what I was hearing. At the top of the page, I scrawled, “The Sounds of Morning.”
After writing a few lines, I got up, walked to the window, barely opened the blinds and peeked out to see how this morning was shaping up. I saw a robin perched on a limb singing his heart out. Beyond the tree, several yards away, there was a beautiful lake. Fog rested softly on the water like a thin layer of frosting.

Did you know that, with the first light of morning, the sky becomes a masterpiece of color? I didn’t. Although the sun was still nestled behind the hills, its golden rays were a harbinger of the beauty that was still to come. Beyond the burst of yellow was a hint of sky, the promise of blue. It was magnificent to behold!

As I closed the blinds, I could hear footsteps on the sidewalk outside the building and people talking as they passed. The morning was in full swing. The world had awakened to another day. And I had witnessed it!

The phone rang and I talked to a lonely old lady for a while. She said she called every morning when she got up and talked to whoever answered. She explained that she had no one. No family. No friends. “Except you nice people,” she said sweetly.

I wished her a happy day and hung up just as the knock came at the door. My shift was over. And my day had begun in a much different way than usual. I’d like to say that the experience changed my habits and that I began getting up early every day.

But that wouldn’t be true. I will forever treasure the special memory of watching and hearing a new day “come alive,” yet, I must agree with Vincent van Gogh, who said:

"I often think the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day." 





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Insurance Claim Forms


Actual Statements On Insurance Claim Forms:


   A truck backed through my windshield and into my wife’s face.

   A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

   I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over an embankment.

   I thought the window was down but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.

   I was on my way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

   I saw a slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the roof of my car.

   The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

   I was thrown from the car and was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

   

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You A Worrier?

As a child, I thought it amusing to hear my father quote this scripture. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. (Job 14:1). He obviously believed it because he quoted it often. Throughout history, much has been written about the worry men experience, both real and imaginary, as they face a multitude of challenges in the journey of life. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, worry is defined as "a troubled state of mind, anxiety, uneasiness, distress.”

I’m a world-class worrier. I learned it from my mother, who was an expert worrier. I just figured it came with the territory. When I don’t have anything to worry about, I worry because I’m not worried. “Things are going too well,” I say. “Something must be wrong!” But please don’t follow my lead. There is a better way.

Worrying is a choice, and you can choose not to do it. Once you catch yourself, you can say, “Okay, I’m getting off this merry-go-round. I’m not going to do this to myself.” Then, get completely absorbed with something that requires your complete mental attention: do a Sudoku puzzle, add some numbers to your cell phone, answer e-mail, or count the change in your piggy-bank. Just do something to get your mind off whatever is causing you to worry.

My research tells me that worry is bad for your health. It leads to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, headaches, lowered immunity against viruses, and lots of other health issues. Chronic worrying affects your daily life so much that it interferes with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Many people who worry excessively seek relief in harmful lifestyle habits such as overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.

But can you wrap everyone up in a neat little package? I don't think so. Personalities are complex. My mother, whom I’ve already stated was an expert worrier, lived to be 85. She ate anything she wanted, started smoking cigarettes at an early age and continued her whole life – even after a heart attack. When she developed Macular Degeneration, her Ophthalmologist told her she’d be blind if she didn’t stop smoking, but she continued.

My father, on the other hand, was a seemingly easy-going chap who gave the impression he never worried. He watched his diet, didn’t smoke and did everything the doctors told him, but was bothered by stomach ulcers for years, then had five heart attacks within a short period, and died at 63.

One has to wonder why some people get away with anything and others... well, just don’t live long lives no matter what they do. Doesn’t seem to matter, does it? Some say, “When it’s your time, it’s your time and there’s nothing you can do about it.” However, I’ve always believed that we can hasten the end – or slow it, according to the choices we make and the attitude we assume.

What do you think? Please share your comments on the subject.

~~~

"Calmness is a huge gift. And once you master it, you will be able to respond in a useful way to every difficult situation that decides to walk into your heart." ~Geri Larkin




Friday, August 12, 2011

Neon Yellow Shoestrings

Sometimes I plan my day and when it’s over, I look back and find that it doesn't even resemble the day I had imagined for myself. I’ve been wondering for years: Why is that?

Funny thing is – everyone seems to know the answer but me. And they don't hesitate to tell me, “Your problem is – you can’t say, ‘No’.” 

Hmmm... I can’t deny it, especially when it comes to my grandchildren.

I had errands to run today, was planning to get my hair done, do a little housework and write. I always write! But my daughter delivered Carson, my 12 year-old granddaughter to my house on her way to work. She often stays with us while her mother works. With her I-phone to keep her busy recording songs and talking to friends, along with practicing cheers and gymnastics in my family room, she’s not much trouble. 

But today, she had other plans. For both of us. She wanted me to take her shopping for school clothes. This is definitely not on my list of most favorite things to do! I endured that for many years with my three daughters. It is grueling!

I gave her every excuse I could think of: I was tired. Didn’t’ get enough sleep last night. Had a headache. Had other things to do. And finally, I just plain didn’t want to do it! But for every excuse I had, she had two reasons why we should go: there were great sales today and tomorrow, we’d have to pay full price for everything by Sunday. The stores will be more crowded over the weekend, all the good clothes will be gone – “especially my size” (0 or 1)! Her mom would be too tired to go after working all day... and on and on and on. 

I made my case and then ignored her. She sulked. I stood my ground! She’s right, you know, my conscience said. There’s not much time left. School starts in a week. It would really help her mother out. Everything you were going to do can be put off for a day or two.

I was ready in about an hour and we set out for a mall about thirty minutes away. It was a beautiful sunny day. We chatted, listened to music and enjoyed the time together.

Once we were in a parking space, there was no holding Carson back. She jumped out of the car and walked so fast, I couldn’t keep up with her. She knew exactly where she was going and wanted to get there. Fast!

Inside her favorite store, there was nothing for me to do but stand around waiting. In no time at all, she had gathered up an armload of jeans, shirts, sweatpants and other items and was heading for a dressing room. She motioned for me because there was a chair where I could sit and rest. I was ready!

Watching this 12 year old try on clothes took me back to a time when I could put on anything and look good in it, too. Those days are gone forever!  After about 50, most of us hate fitting rooms and mirrors. Especially mirrors! It’s always so disappointing to see something you really like on the hanger or model and then try it on to find it doesn’t look like the same outfit on you! I don’t buy many clothes for that reason. Trying them on is just too depressing!

So... we got in line to pay for our purchases. I was thinking – This wasn’t so bad. Now, we’ll get shoes and head home, when Carson said excitedly, “Only three more places to go!”

“Huh?” I said.  “Yeah, I have to get a few things at (store A), a bag for my books at (store B), and a pair of shoes to start school in at (store C)... and maybe another pair... for later.” I said, “Let’s get a bite to eat and rest a few minutes and then finish.” She nodded. But that didn’t work out well for me. I suppose most malls have a food court where you get what you want and take it to a table to eat. No fancy food or service here. Just a quick bite for weary shoppers like me who need something to keep them going a while longer.

 Carson chose Chick-fil-A – a place I’d never eaten and wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I needed something, mostly to drink and rest, so Chick-fil-A it was. She opted for a Kid’s Meal – chicken nuggets, fries, and drink. I’m sure there must be an age limit on the Kid’s Meal, but the waitress didn’t say anything – so I ordered one, too! Oh, yes I did! I didn’t see a thing on the menu I wanted, so I deduced that, at least, Carson would eat it if I didn’t want it.

When we got our food, we found a table and opened our bags to find that not only did we both have a prize inside... a small book (I love books!)... but also, while Carson had ordered sweet tea, I hadn’t, so I had a juice box - with apple juice in it. It had a little straw attached to the side and everything! I’d seen them before, but never had one. I love new and exciting experiences!

Carson giggled the whole time we were eating. She was certain people were staring at me. I told her if they were, they were just jealous because they didn’t get a book.

Fortified with chicken nuggets and apple juice, I was able to withstand visiting the three stores she had left. After finding most everything she wanted, she finished with a pair of white tennis shoes for which she added a little something extra – a pair of neon yellow shoestrings. Finally! She was happy and ready to go home. And it wasn't even dark yet.

In the car, she phoned her mother to tell her all about her purchases and how much fun we’d had. Giggling, she told her in detail about my having a Kid’s Meal. I truly don’t know why that was so amusing.

About half-way home, she said, “You know, if you aren’t too tired, we could go to Wal-Mart and get my school supplies.”

Without a word, I drove straight to her house. I helped get the packages out of the trunk, hugged her and drove away as fast as I could – before she could start telling me all the good reasons to go to Wal-Mart!







Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Native American Blood

Like a million others who grew up in the same era, I spent Saturday afternoons at a movie theater. Often, the movie was an old western, which wasn't my favorite, but at thirteen or fourteen, if all your friends went to the movies on Saturday, so did you, no matter what was playing.

I’ll never forget the ones that had Indians in them. For no apparent reason, the savages would go on a rampage, and, riding their horses as fast as the animals would go, they’d head for a little cabin where a family was huddled inside, hoping to escape capture by the bellowing, red-skinned enemies. Both men and women hovered by windows with shotguns and fired, in vain, toward the onslaught while children snuggled together in the farthest corner of the cabin.

Anxious movie watchers would cheer when an Indian was hit with a bullet and fell off his horse, but in the end, there were just too many of them! Using their tomahawks, they’d chop their way through the walls, come through windows and down the chimney and finally, through the doors. The good guys and gals were then dragged outside where they were usually relieved of their scalps in much the same way that hunters skin a small animal. After setting the cabin on fire, the Indians rode off displaying their trophies on poles and chanting victoriously.

Looking back, I know that this was quite violent for young children to watch and I wonder how movie makers slept at night. Many children who went to the movies were too young to discern that this was fiction and only meant to entertain.

As silly as it may sound, I was bothered by these movies for many years. Until after I was grown, I’d see those very scenes in my dreams – only the good guys were me and my family. After a number of pig-tailed redskins made their way into our house, I’d awaken in a cold sweat, sometimes screaming! I’ve had others tell me they were affected in the same way.

All of those years, I thought Indians were bad. Then I found out that my great grandfather was a Cherokee Indian! That meant I had a lot of Native American blood running through my veins. Now, I was confused!

But listening as my grandmother told stories of The Trail of Tears helped me to see things in a different light. This is the story of the removal of the Cherokee Nation from its ancestral homeland in parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama to land set aside for American Indians in what is now the state of Oklahoma. Some 100,000 American Indians were forcibly removed from the eastern United States to what was called Indian Territory. Included were members of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes. The Cherokee's journey by water and land was over a thousand miles long, during which many Cherokees died. What a tragic story!

Torn between my ancestry and my nightmares, I'm still somewhat bewildered, but at least, I finally learned the difference between fact and fiction—and in this case, neither is very pretty!








Monday, August 8, 2011

True Confessions

They say confession is good for the soul.

First, I’d like to know who “they” are, and then I’d like to know exactly what confession does for the soul.

Perhaps I’ll soon find out because I seem to be on a roll. A few days ago, I confessed to accepting a ride with strangers when I was fourteen – and tonight, I feel the need to confess another youth-inspired deed. Should I or shouldn’t I?

A lot of years have gone by. Who is going to tell whom? And at my age, who cares anyway? Except for my conscience, there is no one to punish me.  No repercussions.

I was sixteen and Carol would be in a few months. I had my driver’s license; she had a learner’s permit. One summer day, after much cajoling from Carol, her mother permitted her to drive the family car a few miles down the road, with me beside her. I felt honored that her mother trusted me... but was a little nervous, too. This was a big responsibility!

There was one condition. She was absolutely not to drive across the Kanawha City Bridge, which, in those days, was only two lanes – and they didn’t look that wide, especially to a new driver. 

“Oh, no, Mother; I wouldn’t do that. I’d be afraid,” Carol innocently said. So her mother handed her the keys and off we went. Driving through our little town with the radio blaring, we felt much older than our years and were giddy with excitement. Talking and giggling, we hardly paid attention to where she was driving until we suddenly realized we were on the road that led right onto the Kanawha City Bridge!

“Oh my gosh!” I said. “Your mom said not to cross the bridge.” But by this time, she had no choice. She continued, slowing down so much that the man behind us honked his horn impatiently, but Carol kept driving.

Once we were off the bridge, she pulled off the road and stopped. She was shaking. I said, “You want me to drive?”

“Nope,” she said stubbornly. “Just give me a minute.”

Regaining her composure, she pulled out into the traffic again. It seemed everything would be okay until we started to notice the traffic was suddenly very heavy. Bumper to bumper. Looking at my watch, I said, “No wonder. It’s the 5 0’clock traffic; people are getting off from work.” We hadn’t counted on that. “It wouldn’t have happened if we’d stayed on the other side of the bridge,” I told her – a little upset. “And the worst thing is,” I said, “the only way home is back across that bridge!”  

The plot thickens.

In order to get back to the bridge, she had to turn onto one of the busiest streets in Charleston. Cars were everywhere, some going too fast, some turning off, and some drivers noticeably displeased with her obvious inexperience. She was nervous and I could feel my heart pounding! I suppose our guardian angels were with us that day because, somehow, we made it back to the bridge... and across it. Once we were on the road that led to home, and the traffic was no longer heavy, we looked at each other and broke into hysterical laughter! Looking back, I suspect it was our bodies’ way of releasing stored up tension?

When we finally pulled into her driveway and went inside, Carol threw the car keys on the table and calmly said to her mother, “We need something to drink.” Her mother got two glasses out of the cabinet, started filling them with ice and said, “How did it go? Did you have any trouble?”

Nonchalantly, Carol said, “Just fine. No problems at all.”

Then Mrs. Lewis looked into my eyes and said, “How’d she do, Peggy? She didn’t cross the bridge, did she?”

I froze! Why did she have to ask me that direct question and not Carol? She was always the lucky one who got away with everything. And I was the one with the conscience. I didn’t want to lie to her mother! Yet, I couldn’t “rat” on my best friend. Time stood still. Finally, without daring to look at Carol, I managed to say, “Oh, no. Everything was fine. We had a good time.”

This is only one of the many adventures Carol and I experienced together over the years. Even after we were grown and should have known better, we’d sometimes find ourselves doing things that were a little iffy.

I think I'll stop with the confessions now!

                                       


  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Long Ago


by Eugene Field (1850-1895)



I once knew all the birds that came
   And nested in our orchard trees,
For every flower I had a name-
   My friends were woodchucks, toads, and bees;
I knew where thrived in yonder glen
   What plants would soothe a stone-bruised toe-
Oh, I was very learned then,
   But that was very long ago.

I knew the spot upon the hill
   Where checkerberries could be found,
I knew the rushes near the mill
   Where pickerel lay that weighed a pound!
I knew the wood---the very tree
   Where lived the poaching, saucy crow,
And all the woods and crows knew me-
   But that was very long ago.

And pining for the joys of youth,
   I tread the old familiar spot
Only to learn this solemn truth:
   I have forgotten, am forgot.
Yet here's this youngster at my knee
   Knows all the things I used to know;
To think I once was wise as he!-
   But that was very long ago.

I know it 's folly to complain
   Of whatsoe'er the fates decree,
Yet, were not wishes all in vain,
   I tell you what my wish should be:
I'd wish to be a boy again,
   Back with the friends I used to know.
For I was, oh, so happy then-
   But that was very long ago!




Friday, August 5, 2011

Was It A Dream?

Just like you, I had a lot of good advice from my mother. You know, the advice we let bead and run off us like rain. Funny thing though, when Mom is no longer with us, it all comes flooding back, doesn’t it?

The one I’ve been thinking about lately is, “Don’t talk to strangers.” While relaxing tonight and letting my thoughts drift aimlessly into the past, I remembered a night when I was only fourteen years old and met a boy at a skating rink. No, not the one I married! This was before his time.

His name was Rob Horner. And yes, he had a brother named Jack. This probably won’t mean a thing to those of you who are under forty. You see, Little Jack Horner is the name of a nursery rhyme – and nursery rhymes are a thing of the past.

As I said, I was at a roller rink with my cousin, Liz, when I noticed a boy watching me. When it was time to go home, he was waiting at the door. He introduced himself and asked my name. When I told him, he said, “Could my brother and I offer you ladies a ride home?” I was only fourteen, but when this boy smiled, revealing his gleaming white teeth – his eyes twinkling like Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens – I was smitten!

That was many summers ago. I was visiting my grandparents in a small town and the skating rink was within walking distance of their home. In those days, in that small town, there was no fear of talking to strangers. He was a local boy and it was perfectly okay to accept his offer of a ride home. At least that's what I decided.

The strangest thing was, when we got outside, he took my hand and led me to his car, which, to my surprise, was a long, black limousine! He opened the front door and motioned for Liz to get in beside his brother, then he opened the back door, ushered me in and quickly slid in beside me. I was awestruck!

The four of us made small talk during the short trip home. The boys were perfect gentlemen. When we pulled up in front of my grandparents’ home, both of them got out and opened the doors for us. We thanked them, said good-night and giggled as we watched them drive away. I didn’t know the word then, but today, I would dub the whole experience, “surreal.”

So many questions went through my mind as I lay in my bed reliving the incident. I wondered where these two boys had come from and why were they driving a car that looked like a hearse? And more important, why had I agreed to let them drive us home? I’d felt almost hypnotized! It was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me and I knew I’d never forget it. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel it was peculiar… and although I hadn’t done anything wrong, I felt guilty. What would my parents think? 

I slept fitfully and woke up early thinking about Rob and his big, long, black limousine. Is it possible it was all a dream?

I truly hope it was because I just know my mother is somewhere scowling and shaking her finger at me!