Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Memories

Previously published in the Charleston Gazette & USA Deep South~

A neighbor recently gave my husband and me a big bag of fresh blackberries. The largest blackberries either of us had ever seen, they surely must have been picked from a bush that had been infused with some sort of growth hormone. These berries were the cream of the crop!

My first thought was to freeze them for later use - maybe show them off to the rest of the family at Thanksgiving - but then, I was reminded that I'm constantly advising everyone to live in the moment, and a question came to mind, "Why don't you practice what you preach?" Besides, my taste buds were already starting to tingle at the mere thought of a delectable dessert made from the succulent berries. So, in the spirit of "living for today," I decided to go ahead and make an old-fashioned cobbler. There would be no freezing, no waiting for another day or a special holiday; instead, there would be pure enjoyment right now! After all, who knows what tomorrow may bring?

As the cobbler began to bake and the aroma of the sweet berry mixture started to fill the house, my mind wandered back to delightful memories of my childhood days and the blackberry cobblers my grandmother used to make.

After I started school, my mother went to work. That meant I had to spend summers with my grandparents. They lived in a small coal-mining town in southern West Virginia where my grandfather worked in the mine. My aunt (only three months older) and I had a lot of fun finding ways to entertain ourselves. Some days, we explored the beautiful West Virginia hills that surrounded the tiny community, splashed around in the rippling waters of Paint Creek or visited the Company Store for a peppermint stick. Other days we spent hours picking blackberries in anticipation of some of my grandmother's scrumptious cobbler at the end of the day.

After supper, a bunch of us kids would gather in an open area just down the road to play "Hide and Seek" or "Kick the Can." Screams and giggles echoed throughout the neighborhood until long after dark. When we tired of games, we roasted marshmallows or potatoes over an open fire on the creek bank and sat around the fire telling scary stories. One by one, we were summoned by our mothers and another unforgettable summer evening was over. After splashing creek water on the fire, we'd head home, resembling coal miners ourselves, with faces blackened by smoke that had swirled upward from the blazing fire as it charred potatoes.

But the best evenings for Aunt Betty and me were the ones when, after our baths, my grandmother dished up the mouthwatering cobbler she'd made from our blackberry harvest that day. She covered the warm mixture with milk and, after we devoured it, we were tucked into bed with warm, satisfied tummies, and sleep came quickly.

The "ding" of the oven timer signaled my cobbler was done and jolted me back to reality. Funny how such small occurrences can sometimes fill our hearts with total joy for a brief time. A simple bag of blackberries, given by a generous neighbor, led me on a lovely walk down memory lane that was as sweet as the delicious cobbler made from them!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I’m getting pretty excited! It's only two days until October. Those of you who’ve been reading my blogs for a while understand my enthusiasm. Fall is my favorite time of the year. This most magnificent month of October awakens my soul. I am transformed. Alive. Energetic. Happy.

Can’t paint a charming portrait
Or sing a lilting song
But I can tell you what I love
If you’d like to tag along.

I love a cool crisp morning
When autumn comes around
The twinkling of an early frost
And leaves upon the ground.

An azure sky excites my senses,
A pumpkin wet with dew
A sunny, cloudless afternoon
A field of cornstalks, too.

When mountains are emblazoned
With colors warm and bright
Their splendor can’t be hidden
Even from the night.

As autumn leaves are falling
Each one a different shade
Who wouldn’t marvel at the sight
Our wondrous God has made?

It emerges early in October
This awe-inspiring view
I love it, oh, so very much
I hope you love it, too!
             ©2011-Peggy Toney Horton

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Charge It To Daddy

While talking with my grandson this evening, I was jokingly telling him that he shouldn’t waste food... adding, “When you have to pay for it, that will change.” Almost as soon as that statement came out of my mouth, I realized it had stirred up some wonderful childhood memories, and I couldn’t help but smile at the difference in my memories and what I had just said to Chase.

As a child, there was nothing I couldn’t have to eat, unless, of course, it was bad for me. My father strongly believed that food must be the first thing to come out of his paycheck, and what was left divvied up among the bills. I vividly remember those Saturday mornings when he came home with his check. He and my mother made themselves comfortable in the living room with fresh cups of coffee and spent a long time making a grocery list. I was asked, also, if there was anything I’d like to have.

We were far from wealthy, but we always ate well. My father insisted on it. Not only was there the big grocery shopping day on payday, but anytime between shopping days, I was permitted to go to the little community grocery store and buy anything I wanted to eat and just say, “Charge it to Daddy.” No problem.

Almost every family in the town had a charge account at Keefer’s. You could buy most anything you wanted there. It was divided right down the middle. One side was groceries and the other was dry goods. Convenient?

It was very convenient, especially when someone had a birthday. My father, for instance. I was about ten years old when I decided I couldn’t let his birthday go by without getting him a gift. So, after pondering it for a while, I knew exactly what to do. On the morning of his birthday, while my father was at work and my mother was busy, I hopped on my bike and hurried to Keefer’s. I went straight to the dry goods side of the store where I advised Mrs. Keefer that I wanted to buy my dad a birthday present. She showed me pajamas. I chose a pair that I thought would be just right for him. She agreed. I also picked out a birthday card and signed it. Mrs. Keefer arranged the pajamas and card in a nice box and gift-wrapped them for me. My last words were, “Charge it to Daddy.”

Elated, I rode home on my bike as fast as I could and ran into the house, careful not to let my mother see the package. In my bedroom, I slid it under my bed. I could smell the dinner my mother was preparing, and going into the kitchen, I saw that she’d also baked a cake. Everything was all set to celebrate.

My dad came home; we ate dinner and then gathered in the living room. My mother gave him a few presents, and he thanked her for everything, including the wonderful dinner. She said, “Now it’s time to cut the cake.” I said, “Wait.” I ran into my bedroom, retrieved the package, ran back and gleefully handed it to Daddy. He and my mother looked surprised. They apparently had no idea how I could have bought a present.

With the paper off and the box opened, he looked first at the card, oohed and aahed and thanked me with a big hug; then he pulled the tissue paper back. His eyes widened and he seemed puzzled. He touched the PJ’s, picked them up and then handed them to my mother. A strange look passed between them, but he regained his composure in time to tell me how beautiful the pajamas were, then he gave me another big hug and a “thank-you!” Feeling that I’d done something very good, I was proud!

I didn’t know until many years later that my father had no need for pajamas because he never wore them. I also didn’t know that Mrs. Keefer had left the price tag on the gift. That alone was a shock to my parents because, five decades ago, $7.99 was expensive for a pair of pajamas. Mrs. Keefer must have shown me the best she had in stock. Perhaps she thought my dad would bring them back.  

Not my dad!

As far as I know, that pair of overpriced pajamas stayed in his drawer until my dad passed away... many years later.

After I was grown, he used to joke about my buying him a birthday gift and saying, “Charge it to Daddy.” But he never once considered cutting off my charge privileges.

That’s the kind of father he was.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

She Did It Her Way

 My mother smoked cigarettes. She started experimenting when she was about ten years old and was still pursuing the habit when she died at 85. Like many elderly people, the older she got, the more crotchety she became. It was amusing. After her health began to fail, I, her only child, had to take her for every doctor appointment. I once took her to her ophthalmologist for an exam. She had terrible eyesight; already having dealt with cataract surgery in both eyes, and still struggling with poor vision due to age related macular degeneration. The doctor became a little short of patience with her when he asked, “Have you quit smoking?” and she replied, “No, I haven’t.”

His speech went something like this: “I’ve told you over and over again, Mrs. Toney, you may be able to slow the progression of your macular degeneration if you stop smoking, but if you continue, you’re going to be blind!” Trying to look innocent, she said, “I think they gave me some pills the last time I was in the hospital that made it worse.”

“Oh no, they didn’t!” the doctor shouted emphatically. “It’s your smoking. You don’t listen to me and now, there is nothing more I can do for you!” With that, he turned and stomped out of the room, leaving us both with gaping mouths. I felt sorry for her and wanted to stop him and tell him he shouldn’t talk to an elderly lady like that – especially my mother! But part of me knew he was right. She needed someone to bring her to her senses so she’d dismount the self-destructive merry-go-round she was on.

She cried pitifully all the way home in the car. She said, “If I told a doctor my big toe was hurting, he’d say it’s because I smoke. They blame everything on smoking!” I had to chuckle. It must have seemed so to her. Every doctor wanted her to stop, but she refused.

When we reached her house, I helped her out of the car and into the house. She flung her coat off and plopped down in her favorite chair. Pulling a tissue out, she dried her tears – and quickly lit a cigarette.

What can I say?  This woman who raised me from a baby had never done anything she didn’t want to do and she wasn’t about to start now. She was never health conscious, as people are today. She ate what she wanted. Drank what she wanted. And never bothered to exercise except for the work she did. That was plenty. I’ve seen her work like a man and get mad at my father because he didn’t do as much as she thought he should, even after he’d had a heart attack.

But working served her well until she was past eighty. It was only then her health began to fail and she had a heart attack. She fought it all the way, refusing to obey doctor’s orders. She was sure she knew best. Perhaps she did.

Just before she died, she was on the verge of a second heart attack, and needing another stent, but, according to doctors, she was too weak for the operation. She had a broken hip, a broken vertebra, COPD, which is a serious lung disease; she was deaf and legally blind. On top of all that, she contracted pneumonia, and it was over!

If ever there was a woman who lived life to suit herself, it was my mother. She did it “her way” throughout her life. And why not? She lived to be 85 years of age without giving up anything she enjoyed.

As I think of her tonight, I can’t help but wonder how many years she would have lived if she had made even the slightest effort to take care of herself?

I wish she had.

This story also appears in Bewildering Stories.

Thoughts To Ponder

Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

What hair color do they put on the drivers licenses of bald men?

When you put 'THE' and 'IRS' together, it forms 'THEIRS'. Coincidence?

Does anyone actually kill two birds with one stone?

If you’re born at exactly midnight is your birthday on both those days?

Why do we say "bye bye" but not "hi hi"?

If someone can't see, they're blind and if someone can’t hear, they're deaf, so what do you call people who can't smell?

Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

If Americans throw rice at weddings, do the Chinese throw hamburgers?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?

If people from Poland are called "Poles," why aren't people from Holland called "Holes?"

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?

Do dentists go to other dentists or do they just do it themselves?

If a doctor suddenly had a heart attack while doing surgery, would the other doctors work on the doctor or the patient?

Why do they put holes in crackers?

Is there another word for synonym?

Not one shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is

Sunday, September 18, 2011

West Virginia Country Road~

 What could be better than driving along leisurely on a sunny Saturday afternoon, listening to your favorite music? For me, it could only be better if I were driving on one particular country road – in mid-September.

You guessed it! I was back on my favorite thoroughfare yesterday. I don’t drive it often because I, like everyone else, am always in a hurry these days, but I treat myself about four times a year. Each season has something special to offer here. I’ve written about this road twice before; once, in October and again in February. Both times were very different from yesterday, but all were beautiful! You see, there’s something magical about this two-lane highway. It’s impossible to drive it and be unhappy. It "takes me away" – even better than Calgon.

From the moment I leave the city limits of my small town, I sense the magic. All stress begins to disappear, and I can think of nothing but good things. I always return home feeling relaxed and happy.

Lush green trees line the road on each side. Sunbeams force their way around the abundant leaves and dapple a design on the blacktop. The leaves are tipped with a hint of orange and yellow... allowing a small preview of the vibrant colors to come.

Farmhouses, at least a hundred years old, stand proudly on hillsides, sunshine reflecting off their metal roofs. Barns and silos accompany some of them. The few newer brick ranchers are finally beginning to take on a look of permanence, as they are aging and not appearing as out of place as they once did.

Black and white cows graze casually, giving one the feeling that they have always been there. A few small children romp and play, taking advantage of the beautiful afternoon. There is almost no traffic. I pass only one car each direction.

I soon come to what I call “my tunnel,” which is fashioned by luxuriant trees leaning over the highway and touching at the top. This produces near-darkness for about a quarter of a mile. Driving through it makes the light seem much brighter when I emerge from the other side.

Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, I recall the memory of warm, sunny mid-September afternoons like this one, and the time spent on this enchanted country road...

And it comforts me greatly.

Read my next story about this country road here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Good Old Days

Occasionally, my husband and I get into a conversation about some of the improvements that have taken place during our lifetime. We have a few laughs and dig up some bittersweet memories, too. Perhaps we’re living out the established practice of thinking and talking more about the past as we get older. Maybe our children and grandchildren will remember some of it. Who knows?

One of the first things we recall is that our parents bought ice from "the ice man.” Before we had refrigerators, everyone had an ice box. This was a large box made of wood and lined with metal or cork. It had a tube running out the bottom to catch the melted ice water into a tray. Ice was made artificially in ice plants, and delivered right to the ice boxes. The delivery man would throw a piece of canvas over his shoulder and, with large tongs, he'd heft the ice onto his shoulder and bring it to the box. In the summertime, we kids would follow behind the truck and, at the next stop; the delivery man would give us some ice chips. Sucking on them was refreshing on a hot day.

Of course, we had no air conditioning in our early years. I’m not sure we even had a fan. Basically, we endured the hot weather by opening windows and welcoming a cool breeze. A nice summer shower was even more welcome. It wasn’t uncommon for mothers to allow their small children to play in a warm summer rain as long as there was no lightening. Kids loved it!

We had no TV either. My family finally got one – black and white only – when I was in high school, but my husband says he doesn’t remember having one at all until sometime after we were married. And, of course, a home computer was only a fantasy. The only computer we’d heard of, at that time, filled a whole room.

Our children laugh when they hear these conversations. They simply can't imagine what we did with our time! Funny, much of the time was spent washing dishes (no dishwashers), doing laundry, hanging the clothes on the clothesline to dry, then ironing them, raising our own vegetable garden, and numerous other daily chores. For entertainment, we read books, went for walks, had conversations, played board games and many other nice things that people have forgotten about with the addition of modern conveniences and electronics.

I could go on and on but I think I’ll stop for now. Old memories sometimes get me down.

And, besides, I’m giving away my age! 


Monday, September 12, 2011

Does Anyone Want To Work?

It seems everyone needs money these days, but no one wants to work for it. My son, L, needed some tree work done. A young man stopped by his house and said, “I’ll cut down those three trees for $750.” L said, “That’s awfully reasonable for three trees. Are you sure?” The man answered, “I know it should cost a lot more, but I need the money so I'm willing to do it cheap.” L said, “Okay.” He was delighted. Three big trees taken down for what it would normally cost for one.

The man was supposed to come by with a contract for my son to sign. Days went by and he didn't come. But one evening, L came home from work and there he was – with his crew of helpers – cutting down the two smallest trees. No contract was signed. When they finished, they left a big mess in the yard, large stumps that needed to be cut closer to the ground and L's driveway full of branches preventing him from getting his car off the street. L would have to call the city to pick up the branches.

The man promised to come back, clean up the mess, remove the stumps, (for which he said they didn’t have the proper saw today), and cut down the larger tree. Okay. L gave him half the money and everyone was happy.

The city promised to get the branches out of the driveway. L parked on the street for three weeks before that happened! M, the tree man, didn’t show up for another week. When he did, he picked up some of the debris in the yard, said he still didn’t have the saw for the stumps but he’d be back soon and get it all done.

It rained. Actually, there was a terrible storm! The wind blew a 4'x4' section of shingles off L’s house. The attic was leaking. The next day, M came by, saw the roof and said, “I’ll patch that for you for $100.” L said, “Wonderful! Do it soon, before it rains again.” M said he would. He’d also clean the gutters while he was on the roof and then he’d start on cutting down the big tree. But he’d need a little more money for materials. L gave him more money.  Not all.

M is gone! That was more than a month ago. L found someone else to patch the roof and clean the gutters. The big, dying tree still stands in the front yard like an ugly statue for birds to assemble on, while L paces the floor during storms wondering if it’s going to come down and take out power lines or worse.

I rant and rave about this situation. But L shrugs it off, confident that he got a “good deal,” and that it was worth what he paid M to cut the two trees down. He says, “If he needed the money that badly, I hope it helped him.”

I thank God for my son's goodness.

As for M ~ I feel sure he’ll get what he deserves. People usually do.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Day Without Sunshine

When I awakened this morning, I felt like Trixie again. You know, the funny little child in the comic pages who crawls around on the floor all day looking for her “sunbeam.” When it finally appears, she is so happy!

I was happy, too. I hadn’t seen the sun for four days and was beginning to feel a little “down.” But there it was – waiting patiently and brightly – when I opened my eyes. Sunshine is the only thing that gets me out of bed without complaining, or at least groaning a little. So up I jumped, made my bed, got dressed and went to the kitchen for my OJ and that wonderful first cup of tea. Why is the first cup of the day always the best? (Another blog).

A day without sunshine is a day without accomplishment for me. No sun, no work for this gal. I only labor when the sun charges my batteries. So I had big plans for today and the list was long after four days. I was geared up and ready to go!

Unfortunately, though, it was all for naught. By the time I finished eating my breakfast, the skies were gray again and it was starting to rain. We didn’t even get “one day in a row” of sunshine!

Do you suppose Mother Nature has forgotten that it’s September – a time for warm sunny days, blue skies, foliage that displays just a hint of color and cooler nights? Nah! She wouldn’t do that. She’s just a little slow getting started this year. We must be patient like Trixie, who faithfully watches and waits for her sunbeam.

One day soon, September, as we know it, will show up and be just as special as we knew she’d be; then, with all the elegance that we’ve come to expect of her, she’ll escort us ever so gently into a spectacular October.

And that’s when we’ll know it was worth the wait.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Festive Afternoon

When both my parents had died, I felt a keen sense of loss. Even though I was an adult with a family of my own, there was such a feeling of loneliness. The two people who had nurtured me and taught me my values were gone. It was almost as if I had lost my identity. I had no brothers or sisters. I was alone. Though, not technically, I felt like an orphan.

Mine was the best childhood any child could have. I had it all! Parents who adored me, grandparents who doted on me, and extended family members who thought I was very special – and showed it.  On my birthday, I received more presents than any kid should be allowed. And it was repeated at Christmas. I suppose you could say I was spoiled. But you’d be wrong. Well – maybe just a little.

You see, my mother was very strict. It was her belief that no teaching is effective except as it springs out of experience. That was fine for me because I had a strong will and it took a lot to teach me a lesson. Still does. And since I was an only child, she taught me to share by making me do just that. I had to share everything with her. If there was only one candy bar and I asked for it, she’d hold out her hand and say, “Give me half.” One bottle of soda – half was hers. And on and on... So when I played with other children, sharing came easy because I was used to it.

But one hot summer day, my mother carried the lesson a little too far, I thought. The temperature was close to a hundred degrees. In those days, we didn’t keep a lot of soft drinks in the fridge like people do today. For one thing, refrigeration wasn’t great, and refrigerators weren’t as large. That made it wiser to keep only the necessities on hand. When you wanted a particular treat like ice cream or “pop” as we called what is known as “soda” today, you made a special trip to the store for it. Such was the case on this very hot, humid day.

My mother gave me some money and asked me to walk to the neighborhood grocery store, which was only a block away~ and get each of us a bottle of Royal Crown Cola (RC). That was our favorite. I don’t know if they even make it anymore. Our plan was to sit on the porch sipping our “pop” and enjoying a leisurely summer afternoon until my father got home from work.

Of course I was happy to go. A big bottle of RC, just for me, on this hot day would be great! So off to the store I went, skipping and humming and eager to get my “pop” and hurry home to enjoy it. But on the way home, gripping a tall bottle of RC in each hand, I became a little too rambunctious. The air of a festive afternoon carried me away and I slowly drifted into a rhythm of walking and tapping the bottles together – first in front of me and then behind, all the while humming a happy tune in tempo with my steps and bottle clacking. The cadence became quite natural and made me happy until... smash! One of the bottles broke. Looking down, I was startled to see that, not only was I now holding only the top of one of the bottles, but a large chunk of the glass was sticking up in the back of my leg and I almost passed out when I saw that I was bleeding freely.

Limping up the steps to my front porch, half crying, I saw the look on my mother’s face. Fear. Anger.  (I remember having those same feelings many years later when my own kids were hurt. It’s a “mother thing.”)

 “What did you do?” She asked. Too upset to talk, I demonstrated. She went to work cleaning the blood from the wound, which, thankfully, wasn’t as bad as I thought. As soon as she cleaned it with a cold rag and bandaged it, the bleeding stopped and I felt better.  Now, I thought, she’ll give me some of that RC.

You won’t believe me when I tell you; my mother sat down and drank the whole thing without sharing it with me!  She said I should have known better than to walk along aimlessly hitting two glass bottles together. “It was a stupid thing to do!” She said. "Maybe you’ll learn a lesson.”

I did.

To this day, when I see the two inch scar behind my right knee, I remember that long ago summer day; the tall, cold bottle of RC that I wanted so badly...

...and the tears that ran down my mother’s face that night when she sat beside my bed... as I pretended to be asleep.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Good Day For Storytelling

Today is Labor Day, a holiday that the U.S. observes on the first Monday in September to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

When I was young – very young – my dad put Labor Day right up there with the Fourth of July in holiday rankings. He was a coal miner. A working man. Labor Day meant a day off for anyone with that title.

It wasn’t just a day off. It was the last day off until Thanksgiving, unless it happened to be an election year, of course, when there’d be a day off in early November to vote. That was a big day for my dad, also. And when I was growing up, school always started the day after Labor Day, so that made it a biggie for me, too.

Every holiday was a big deal for my dad. Each special day that rolls around brings with it loving memories of him and his zest for life. He was the force behind our family; a typical “head of the household” man. I wonder how many of those are left.

If I could turn back the hands on the clock today to a time when I was about ten years old, I’d find my dad sitting on the front porch swing puffing on his pipe; my mother would be in the kitchen cooking a nice meal and I’d be sitting on the porch listening to one of my dad’s stories. He always had a story! I was never quite sure if his tales were true or if he was just having fun with his listeners. He loved to tease!

There was one I’d heard many times, but I kept asking him to tell it again and again over the years. Seems he and a friend went hunting in mid-November. It was pretty cold so they took along some moonshine. They couldn’t say where it came from, but its purpose, so they said, was to help them stay warm.

“Like I said, it was awfully cold,” my dad began, “so we needed a few swigs of that moonshine before we ever got started. Only thing was, before long, we were feelin’ so nice and warm, we didn’t care much about shootin’ anything but the breeze, so we found a couple-a tree trunks to lean back on and sat down and started tellin’ each other tall tales. We were just a-laughin’ and havin’ the best ole time when all of a sudden, we heard a noise from behind some bushes.” We both sat straight up!

“What was that?” Ole Jim said, his eyes as big as half dollars. “’Bout the time I was ready to answer, that noise came again! Well, we didn’t wait around to see what it was. We were both on our feet in a flash and climbin’ the trees right behind us. In a few minutes, we sure were glad we did ‘cause we saw what was makin’ all the noise.” It was a big ole grizzly bear!” He came walkin’ out from behind the bushes, didn’t even see us, but you could tell he was hungry ‘cause he went right over to our basket of food and started pullin’ out stuff and eatin’ everything in sight. He must-a been thirsty, too, ‘cause he looked around and, sure nuff, he spotted our jug-a moonshine. Well that ole bear picked up that jug and turned it up and just barely tasted that corn liquor before he shook his head like a wet dog and then snorted like a scared stallion. We were tryin’ to keep from laughin’, ‘cause we didn’t want that ole grizzly to spot us, but it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen!”

Well, we didn’t know what to do. We just wanted him to leave so we could come down and go on home since he’d done away with all our food and everything. But he just kept lookin’ around. He finally picked up the jug again, turned it up to his mouth and didn’t take it down ‘til it was plumb empty! Then he pitched it as far as he could.”

I was gettin’ so cold I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to move again and so was ole Jim, but that grizzly didn’t look like he was goin’ anywhere. Then after about twenty minutes, all of a sudden, plunk... he just fell to the ground! Me’ n ole Jim looked at one another. “You think it’s alright,” Jim said. “I reckon it is,” I said back, “He doesn’t look like he’s gettin’ up any time soon.”

So we came down outta the trees, tiptoed around that big grizzly bear, and took off runnin’. We didn’t stop ‘til we got to Jim’s pick-up parked down on the highway ‘bout a half mile away. Me ‘n ole Jim were so glad to get home, we never went huntin’ again!”
"Is that a true story?" I asked.

"Every word!" my dad said, winking.

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Hottest Day Of The Year

Just when I was getting used to the idea that September would bring cooler days and before long, I’d be singing the praises of October again, Mother Nature changed her mind, as women are prone to do, and brought back summer with a vengeance! It was 97° yesterday – the hottest day of this year – and the weather report predicts more of the same today. I can only hope that this is summer’s “Last Hurrah!”

My granddaughter was visiting last evening and saying how much she wanted to move to Florida where it’s warm all the time. She has two small children. I told her I thought it would be unfair to take them away from the changing seasons, the mountains and other things that make our part of the country unique.
But she stood her ground. “There’s nothing to do here,” she said. “In Florida, when the kids say, ‘what’re we gonna do today?’ I’ll grab a few things and off we’ll go to the beach.”
“That’s just like eating ice cream every day,” I told her. “Before long, it’ll be ‘old hat’ and not a treat anymore.” To be truly happy, one has to have something to look forward to; we have to live with the expectation that something good is on the way. That’s the way children live. Why can’t we? 
She thinks she won the argument because she finished by reminding me how much I complain about the “grey days” in January and February, and I had to admit that’s true. But there’s nothing she or anyone else can say to change my mind. To know me is to know how each season delights my senses!
Spring with the sudden appearance of a warm, yellow sun, welcome after a long, cold winter; showers that assist the sun in the gentle awakening of sleeping violets, crocus and daffodils.
Summer with its sometimes unbearable heat and humidity; lightning and thunderstorms that both frighten and amaze us; evenings filled with giggles of children as they play a variety of games or catch lightening bugs.
My beloved autumn who flaunts her azure sky, brilliantly colored
foliage, shorter days, and a quietness that promises a more restful time ahead.
Winter with its cold gray days, long nights, unexpected snowfalls that delight children of all ages, and joyous holidays that bring families together in loving celebration.
So, dear granddaughter, you go ahead and pack up and head for greener pastures – or in this case, more stable year ‘round temperatures, if you must. I think I’ll just stay right here where I was born and enjoy my lovely seasons until the day I die. I’ve visited many of our United States, as well as other countries, but no matter where I go or how much I enjoy being there, I’m always pulled back to where I belong.
My thermometer reads 97ยบ right now and I really hate it! But I’m living with the expectation of a cooler tomorrow.
And a dazzling October!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gonna Be A Bear

In this life I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.

When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and you awaken to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that. 

If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them, too. I could deal with that.

If you’re a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

      Yup, gonna be a bear!

Author Unknown~