Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I don't mean to brag but . . .

I can still fit into the same earrings I wore in high school. :-))

The earrings on the left were among the first ones I ever bought. I hadn't had pierced ears very long. I was in the 7th grade.
I had been bugging my parents for a long time to let me get my ears pierced. The answer was always the same: No. Even though "all the other girls" were doing it, I wasn't allowed to have holes in my ears. I think I must have finally worn them down because one day, to my surprise, the answer was different. They told me (knowing how squeemish I was) that if I did it myself, I could pierce my ears. It wasn't the answer I wanted but it was permission nonetheless.
I finally got up the nerve to do it when they were both gone. I gathered my supplies: sewing needle, thread, alcohol, and ice cubes. I threaded the needle then sterilized both needle and thread with alcohol. I held the ice to my ear lobe, first the front then the back, until it was numb. I stood in front of the mirror and took a deep breath. I stuck the needle into the center of my ear lobe. Blood! Not much though so I didn't faint. I continued pushing the needle but it wouldn't break through the back side.
Nervous, in tears, and with a needle sticking out of my ear, I was not about to be outdone. I put more ice on the back side and gave the needle another shove. Success!! I pushed it all the way through then cut the needle off the thread. I tied the thread ends together so it made a loop. I proceeded to pierce the other ear. After both were done, I realized the holes were not exactly even. No matter - it was done.
When my parents came home, they were both shocked. Daddy said, "The only reason I said you could was because I never thought you'd have the nerve to do it!"
For the next several weeks, I changed the thread periodically, wet it with alcohol daily, and pulled it back and forth through the holes so they wouldn't get infected. By the way, I did not get strange looks at school because there were several of us who had to pierce our own ears.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I waited on the porch early Sunday morning at Daddy's while he got ready to go to Hardee's for his favorite biscuits and gravy breakfast. I sat in the same chair that Papaw had used many years ago when he chewed tobacco so he could spit into the yard or when he taught a kitten to climb the leg of his overalls and sit in his lap. It was the same chair in which Mom had sat as she broke beans that were freshly picked from the garden or bounced a grandchild on her knee. Daddy sat in this chair late in the evenings while playing his guitar and singing cowboy songs such as "Patanio the Pride of the Plains" and "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie." It's where I sat on weekday mornings and watched for the school bus to pass so I'd know it was time to go wait at the road for its return.

The air lay thick and heavy in the valley on this Sunday morning. Wallens Ridge was almost obscured by the dense fog and I could feel the mist against my arms. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something moving. I looked to my left and saw a deer grazing alongside the road. Oblivious to the human just a few yards away, she lazily continued up the hill, enjoying her morning meal before turning and disappearing into the woods. My attention returned to the front of the house where I saw a rabbit come out of the weeds across the road. His cotton ball tail stood out against the green and brown grasses as he circled a fence post and scampered back to his hidden home. A leaf loosed its hold from the oak tree in the corner of the yard and began its descent, twisting and turning before finally landing in the grass. The silence of the morning was broken only by the occasional call of a crow.

For a few moments, I was transported back in time to my youth. I was home.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cookie Crisis

I hadn’t eaten since 1:30 and dieting leaves me constantly hungry. I am accustomed to eating something every three hours. I snack on fruit or yogurt between meals so the lengthy gap was taking its toll. I got Daddy a dinner at Long John Silver’s on our way through town. I stopped at Subway to pick up something for me. I opted for a 6” ham and turkey sandwich. As I approached the cashier, I picked up a bag of Baked Lay’s. They’re baked . . . that’s healthy, I reasoned. The perky little cashier asked if I wanted a meal and I told her no. She rang up my purchase and cheerfully noted, “Did you know that for one penny more, you can get a meal?” No, I did not know that. I had a freshly mixed bottle of Crystal Light water in the car so I didn’t need a drink, however Daddy didn’t get a drink with his meal. Oh, why not? I paid her, got a cup from the dispenser, and filled it with Sprite. I wrestled with the lid to the drink cup, running my fingers around the rim in an effort to get it to fit.
“What kind of cookie do you want?” asked the cashier. Cookie? The word got my attention away from the lid. “It comes with the meal,” she continued. I heard myself ask, “Do you have Macadamia Nut?” She reached the tongs into the display and retrieved a golden brown cookie. My eyes followed as she placed it in a paper sleeve and then slid it into the bag with the sandwich and chips. I hoped it wouldn’t get broken as she lifted the bag and handed my supper to me. I put the bag into the back seat of the car. I planned to eat the sandwich and chips on my way home. I was unsure about the cookie.
After Daddy was settled at his house, I got back in the car and brought the Subway bag up to the front seat beside me. I opened the chips and unwrapped the sandwich before pulling out of the driveway. By then I was starving. It was dark and I could barely see what I was eating as I drove toward home. When tidbits fell from the sandwich onto my lap, I just picked them up and plopped them in my mouth. If you’ve ever seen a movie where a king is depicted sitting at a table laden with meats, fruits, cheeses, and wines, remember the part where he picks up the nine-pound drumstick and gnaws at the meat. I imagine I looked very much like that king, minus the beard and crown. I had scarfed down the sandwich in time that would match any pie eating contest champion. I finished off the chips by turning the bag upside down and shaking the crumbs into my mouth. That left only the cookie.
Why was I born so weak? There was a cookie in my car and I was helpless against it. I tried to resist, honestly I did, but to no avail. As I pulled the cookie from its paper envelope, I knew I was about to sin but the little red devil on my left shoulder had beat the socks off the little white angel on my right. I took a bite and, as the sugary sweetness swept over my taste buds, they jumped for joy. I chewed slowly, holding onto each morsel of macadamia nut mastery. I would have closed my eyes had I not been driving. Bite after delicious bite I continued, savoring the flavors for as long as possible. Then it was gone.
My taste buds shouted in unison, “More! More! More!” I had nothing with which to appease them. I could stop at the supermarket and get a bag of cookies, I thought. My mouth watered as my salivary glands were whipped into a frenzy with anticipation. No! I had to get a grip on myself. I bared my teeth and passed the grocery store without stopping. I took a drink of raspberry water hoping it would satisfy my taste buds’ cry for sugar. It worked . . . for a few moments. Then the craving started again. There was a convenience store just up the road. They would have little packs of cookies. I clinched the steering wheel then took another drink of water as I tried to clear my head. Water – if I drank enough water, it would drown those evil taste buds. I continued on, taking a drink each time I got the urge for a cookie.
The water bottle was empty by the time I got home. Let me say that in another way: I drank a pint of water right before bedtime. I was up twice during the night but the cookie crisis passed. I was able to stop after just one cookie. It may be a small accomplishment to some, but it was a giant victory for me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I needed was a new chair . . .

. . . but what I got was a whole new corner.

The vinyl on the stool I had used for several years was split in a couple of places and, to be honest, the thing never was comfortable anyway. It came with my keyboard and the price was right (free) so I had made use of it. I decided now was the time to treat myself to a new chair so I could work on my scrapbooks and surf the net in comfort. I checked around for prices and styles. I especially liked the ones that reminded me of the teachers' chairs when I was in school. However, that style was expensive. I looked on [shameless plug for our website] and found a chair - with a matching desk and filing cabinet - that I could afford. I called the person who had placed the ad and made arrangements to go look at it. My mind was already made up, provided it was as nice as the photos suggested. I would have paid for the chair what she was asking for all three pieces.

If I bought the set, I would need to make room for more furniture. I had used an old drafting table for a desk so that would have to go. I didn't have much storage space for my scrapbooking supplies. While I was cleaning out my corner, why not go ahead and de-clutter? One thing led to another and, before I knew it, Keith and I were at Lowe's buying shelving. We measured, marked, and mounted. To my surprise, the shelves came out level . . . almost . . . well, let's just say things don't slide off.

The week prior, Amanda had reorganized her room and somehow had a chest of drawers left over. (I still haven't figured out where she put all her stuff but now I'm afraid to look under her bed.) Keith and I dragged the chest into my room. I put my scrapbooking paper and embellishments in the drawers. I loaded the wall shelves with the remaining supplies and filled the empty spots with knickknacks. I had a place for everything and everything was in place. I could hardly wait to get the desk and chair.

Keith was working the day the seller and I had planned to meet so I took his truck and drove to her house. The furniture looked just as I anticipated so I paid her and she offered to help me load it in the truck. It's a good thing because it is much heavier than it looks. It took all our muscle to get that desk hoisted into the truck bed. After wrapping the furniture with a quilt and tying it down, I headed home. Amanda, who won't weigh 90 pounds soaking wet, helped me unload it. We rolled the chair and filing cabinet into my room but we could only manage to get the desk into the garage. It had to wait there until Keith got home so he could help me get it into the house.

I was pleased with the way everything fit into the corner. The filing cabinet drawers open all the way without hitting the chest. While it doesn't match exactly, my old filing cabinet blends in well enough. I even treated myself to a mousepad customized with one of my favorite photos from our trips out west. The larger desk drawer is intended for a keyboard but I put my makeup in there so it now doubles as a vanity. I hope I can keep things this organized but, knowing me, it won't look this way for very long. I decided I should take a picture of it while it is still tidy. Now I'm ready for my next project. I need to move the tv but that would mean taking everything off the tv stand so I might as well upgrade to a Blu-ray player while it's disconnected . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shake Shack

We traveled through the little town of Monticello, Utah, on our recent trip. There weren’t many restaurant choices so we decided to give Shake Shack a try. Jim and I went inside to see what was on the menu. While we were gone, Gloria watched as a couple of deer tried to cross the street in front of where the car was parked. After not being able to maneuver around traffic, the deer gave up and walked back to the nearby field.

Meanwhile, Jim and I were looking over the menu and noticed something called a "Shack Attack." It is an eight-patty cheeseburger, fries, and large milkshake. If you can eat it in half an hour, your next regular meal is free. A wall board displays photos of people who have tried. Several have been successful but many have not. They are called the "Hall of Fame" and the "Hall of Shame." A young boy ordered the Shack Attack while we were there, but he got it "to go" so we will never know if he ate the whole thing.

I placed my food order and asked for a cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato only. The clerk told me, “It comes with everything on the side.” When I ordered Gloria’s and Daddy's food, I again had specific requests for accompaniments. The clerk repeated, “It comes with everything on the side.” Jim, who had been reading the menu and not paying attention to the clerk, gave his order and asked for no tomato on his sandwich. The clerk, in a higher pitched voice and through slightly clenched teeth, told him, “It comes with everything on the side – no matter what you order.”

Once the food was ready and we were preparing to leave, a herd of 8-10 deer came back from the field. They walked down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from where we were parked then disappeared into the darkness.

My cheeseburger, fries with dipping sauce, and pineapple milkshake were delicious!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Medicine Wheel

We took Medicine Wheel Passage (US-14A) eastward from Lovell, Wyoming, toward Sheridan. When we saw the sign that pointed to Medicine Wheel National Historic Site atop the Bighorn Mountains, I told Jim and Gloria what I had read about the rock formation. It is a wheel-shaped structure made of stones. Measuring 80 feet in diameter, the wheel has 28 spokes. It is assumed to have been constructed by indigenous peoples of North America for astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. I had it on my bucket list but I didn’t think there would be enough time to stop on this trip so it was not on “The Plan.” Gloria said she would like to see it. Jim turned onto the unpaved road and drove the three miles to the parking lot.

There was a gate across the road leading to the site so Daddy was going to wait in the car while we walked the rest of the way. We met a couple on their way back and we asked them how far it was. They told us it was about 1½ miles. Gloria and I knew we couldn’t walk that far. The couple suggested we open the gate and drive on out. They said persons with a handicap were allowed to take their vehicles to the site. I walked to the gate as Jim brought the car around. I ducked under the telephone pole-sized gate to get to the other side and released the hasp. The log was so heavy and it swung open with such force that I barely had time to get out of the way. Jim drove through and, with a struggle, I closed the gate and got in the car.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t going to enjoy this ride. The road was wide enough to pass a pedestrian but probably not another car, there was no guard rail or shoulder, and it was on the side of a mountain. I said, “Jimmy! I don’t know about this!” He asked, “Do you want me to back down?” I looked behind us at the narrow dirt road. I told him to keep going. I turned my head toward the bank on the left.

We finally reached the Medicine Wheel and Jim got the car turned and parked. He, Gloria, and I walked over to the rock formation which was enclosed by posts and rope. We walked around the circle to the left, as the sign instructed, so we wouldn’t disrupt any karma. We wondered what ceremonies might have been performed here by ancient peoples. Other visitors had left mementos, such as scarves, beadwork, and amulets, on the rope. As a show of respect, I sometimes place trinkets at places I visit so I decided to leave something here as well. Remembering that I had broken the charm off my bracelet the day before, I went to the car and retrieved the chain. I squatted down to wrap the bracelet around the rope and fasten it. Jim said he felt he should say something and began chanting, “Mekka lekka hi mekka hiney ho.”

Gloria said she was going to pray for me because I was dabbling in spiritism. She said, “Jehovah God, forgive her because she knows not what she does.” At that very moment, a great wind blew from the north, pushing me off balance, and I fell flat on my behind. I was startled and embarrassed at first, but when I realized I couldn’t get up, I started laughing. Jim and Gloria stood there laughing at me until Jim finally felt sorry for me and helped me to my feet. Gloria said she was glad to see me get my comeuppance. Was I being punished for “dabbling in spiritism” or for leaving a broken bracelet at this sacred site?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Day in August

The August day dawned hot and muggy in much the same way as the one before it and the one before that. Like their neighbors, the young couple was trying to scratch out a living from the southwest Virginia dirt. They eagerly anticipated the birth of their first child but, times being what they were, the mother-to-be kept working in the field even though her due date was fast approaching. From all indications, this might even be the big day.

By late afternoon, she was sure it was time. She sent her husband to fetch her sister and two sisters-in-law who lived nearby. She rested on the bed – the same bed in which her mother had spent her final moments on earth six years earlier. There would be no trip to the hospital. The birth would take place at home. Once the three ladies arrived, her husband was all but banished from the room. He took up a position in the kitchen to wait for the blessed event – and to be nearby in case the request came for boiling water like it always did in the movies.

The evening wore on with no word of any progress until one of the ladies came and told him to call for the nurse. There was no phone in their little four-room log house so he walked half a mile to the nearest telephone. He called the nurse who agreed to come right away. Once she arrived, she disappeared into the room with the other ladies.

After some time had passed, the nurse came out and said the doctor was needed. He walked up the hill once more to the house with the telephone. He called the doctor and told him of the nurse’s request. The doctor wasn’t familiar with the area where they lived so he asked the husband to meet him and be his guide. They decided on a location and he went back to inform the others. The next thing he had to do was figure out how to get to the meeting place since they had no vehicle.

He went to his brother-in-law who readily agreed to let the fretful father-to-be borrow the only mode of transportation available. He then headed up the road as fast as the farm tractor would take him. By that time, it was pitch dark, a thick fog had developed, and he could barely see the way. He reached the designated location and waited for the doctor to arrive. An hour elapsed between the time the doctor had been summoned and the time they reached the little house.

The doctor allowed the nurse to leave and he assessed the situation. By now, the mother was tired, weak, and in excruciating pain. He decided the best course of action would be to let her rest. He administered the ether and she drifted off to sleep. The combination of oppressive heat and humidity added to the daunting task ahead of him. Two lives were in his hands. With the mother asleep and unable to assist, it would be a difficult delivery. The three ladies stayed tirelessly by his side.

Finally, at 3:45 a.m. on August 3, 1956, the baby girl was born. She never cried nor even whimpered, yet she appeared healthy in all respects. After she was cleaned and swaddled, her aunt carried the newborn to the kitchen to her waiting father. She was gently placed into his outstretched hands and she lay there quietly. He looked into her eyes and, at that instant, she became Daddy’s little girl.

The mother recovered quickly and was soon able to go about her daily routine. They continued to live there in that little log house.

That’s the story of how we became a family as related to me by my dad and my aunt.