Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Death Penalty?

I was listening to the raido only a few minutes ago and the DJ's were talking about Colorado debating on whether to seek the Death penalty for a mass murderer.

Still stunned, sitting here wondering, what is the debate? I won't get on my soapbox about an eye for an eye, who can and can not play God but there is already a law on the books! Colorado has the death penalty. When would be a good time to seek a death penalty if not now?

I know many people who do not believe in the death penalty, my husband is one of those, many of my best friends. This is why I love America, we can have different opinions and no one goes to jail for expressing their belief about politics, religion or whether to be a vegan but it is too hard for me to think this guy will live his life out on tax dollars as he inflates his ego each time a book is written about him, a write or news reporter requests an interview on camera, then he gets to read about himself getting more famous, knows he will be in history books, studied in colleges and in fact, never forgotten.

We don't want to forget events like this, we learn from them but to grant a gift to the murderer who made this happen, to allow him to watch his fame grow as we feed him, cloth him and shelter him for the rest of his life makes me feel ill. It is my belief he will surpass the fame of the Manson Murders and the number of books, movies and documentaries about Manson spins my head. How long ago were the Manson murders and his fame has not faded.

To me, seeking life in prison will only inflate his ego, confirmed to him that he did the right thing and look at the fame as his legacy.

There is a lot of talk in many states about revamping gun laws. Every time my daughter sees this on TV she shakes her head and says, guns laws only work for the people who follow the law.

Off my soap box now.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Spank 'em or Hang 'em High?

The topic of child discipline came up today with some friends. We might as well have been talking about politics or religion because with parents, their way was the best way, the only way to assure we won't raise a mass murderer and each had some sort of book to support their point of view.

When I was a kid, there was only one method of discipline I knew about, you got spanked. We would get spanked with a switch, whipped with a belt, a shoe, a fly swatter, or what ever was close when spanker was angry at the spankee!

Wellll, this tradition lives on in the Ozarks and I am not saying it is a bad one but don't be surprised, parents, when you have some very creative kids that will turn it around on you, to teach the parents a lesson. I saw the message as, "Don't spank me, you will be sorry you did if I ever get hurt real bad."

Attached to this post is exactly what happened to my neice when her kids pranked her. I am sure there was older cousin involvement too, a little kid could not have pulled this off without careful planning by those what could climb, carry, then direct the actions, or lack of action, by her son.

I won't even go into the ruckus upon first sight of her child, as you can only imagine if you saw your child like this. After my neice realized her child was safe and she pretended to have gotten what ever message the kids were trying to send, there are differences of opinion about the message, she had her son stay in the tree so she could take a picture. She posted this on facebook so my Niece has a GREAT sence of humor.

AND...."What a GREAT Mom!" I would have been tempted to whomp the hell out of all of them kids for giving me a heart attack, or close to one. It's one thing for us to hurt our own kids, another thing for someone else to even look at them wrong, right?

What do you think about this payback from her kids?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the Deep End

Have you ever jumpped before you thought, really thought about what will happen after you jump? Where will you land, how will you land, is the water deep enough, will anyone help me if I get into trouble?

My grandson has been going swimming almost every night with a young friend who is taking swimming lessons. DJ has never taken swimming lessons but loves the water, would morph into a fish if he knew how and loves everything about the Ocean. I can't believe I have never thought about swimming lessons for him.

He was talking about jummping off the diving board when he got home with such excitment that these days, I can only envy. I can't remember being that excited about anything for maybe a decade, except when my grandkids were born.

The pool he goes to does not have a high board, in fact, I can't recall any of the pools in our town that have the low, mid and high diving boards we had in the 50's.

My brother and I would walk to the bus station with our nickle for fare and ride the bus to the nearest large town that had a pool, since our little town didn't have a pool. We would ride for about an hour and then have to walk from the bus station in that town to the city pool. I can feel the excitment right now and have a smile on my face I recall seeing the high dive before actually seeing the pool. This was going to be the day I climb that ladder and jump into the deep end with the bigger kids, it was time. I wasn't a baby any longer, I was in 2nd grade for goodness sakes.

Not yet the dare devil I finally became in my teens, I usually only made it to the mid-level dive board but didn't feel the thrill I heard from the shreaks of the high dive kids that were plunging into the water next to my board. I wasn't on the baby board, as everyone called it, closest to the ladder that led to the safety of solid ground, but I wasn't flying like the bigger kids on the high dive either.

The day I climbed the ladder to the high dive, I didn't think about the butt that was in my face all the way up the steps as we waited for the ones in front to jump then clear the water below so the next one could jump. I also didn't think about the kid beind me that had my butt in his face as he waited his turn, we were all anxious but now I wonder, what was going through their heads. I know what was going through my head. WHAT HAD I DONE!! I was the smallest kid on the board. The life guard told me, don't climb if you won't jump, no one was allowed to climb back down. The ladder was piled with kids who would not move to let anyone climb back down anyway, we had to jump it we went up the ladder.

A little more than half way up, I changed my mind. I was terrified as I looked down. It reminded me of being in a huge tree or on top of the house, which I was forbidden to be but did anyway. I was warned of the dangers of climbing as high as the roof of my house and I must be twice that high on the ladder. I asked the kid with his face in my butt, can I climb down? He yelled, with about 5 kids below him, NO!

When I got to the top, the kids behind me along with the lifeguard began yelling. I couldn't understand what they were saying, I was frozen on the end of the board. Then the chant started, "Jump, jump, jump!" Terrified, knowing there was a horrible and painful death waiting for me in the water below, I couldn't move, couldn't think, I was glued to the spot then suddenly, I was flying and the water was rushing up to greet me. I forgot to take a breath. My feet touched the bottom of the pool. I only flet the bottom of the pool in the shallow end, never the deep end. My lungs burned as they screamed for air. I knew I would never reach the surface, bubbles surrounded me, for sure slowing my attempt to reach safety. Just as suddenly, I burst through the surface confused buy the applause and how I ended up in the deep end when I was frozen on the high board. I looked up to make sure I wasn't still there as the kids began to chant "move, move, move" and the lifeguard blew his whistle of power and pointed to the ladder for my exit from the pool. I was never so relieved in my life, for sure I just narrowly missed certain death.

I survied the deep end. Somehow, without relizing it happened, I was climbing that ladder again, my heart beating so hard I knew it was making my chest hit the slippery ladder, wet from the dripping kids above me. I didn't care, I just knew, I wanted more.

If there is something I could give to DJ each day when he goes swimming, it would be that feeling I had on the day I jumpped into the deep end.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Brother Trucker

I had a new reader stop by who is a long haul truck driver. My older brother was a long haul truck driver but as with everyone, he is so many more things. Isn't it weird when we meet someone new we ask, "What do you do?" as if that defines who they are?? I know the truck driver who stopped by my blog is so much more, that is something he does, it is a part of his identity and it was nice to read how proud he is to be identified with this group. My brother was the same, he still drives a truck for a cement company. He had skills, he went to college but loves this job.

I remember movies like "Convoy" and learned about "front doors" and "back doors". My brother lived this job for a very long time after a stint driving the monster rigs in West Texas oil fields. After he almost died in a rig accident, he changed jobs to a "safer?" long haul driver where he didn't have to help unload heavy oil rig equipment but he was so much more than a coast to coast driver of trucks.

Another identity was as a soldier in the war during Viet Nam when I watched many of the boys we went to school with get their numbers pulled during draft lottery or they would come over or call after getting "the notice" in the mail. These were brave men who has to grow up from teenage boys in the blink of an eye. They had dreams of being teachers, coaches, and one even a Priest. Some got married just before they left, not knowing if they would return, leaving pregant young wives.

I was a girl and didn't have to worry that my number would be pulled but I cried when I heard about the boy down the street who didn't last one month, then I heard about a boy I had a few dates with didn't make it six months. I couldn't read the obituary page with my grandparents, it was too painful. When my brother and his friends had to pack off for boot camp, I sobbed.

My brother, James, is a proud veteran. I married a Viet Nam vet. He became a truck driver too. I wonder if there is a connection? They became road warriors.

Although I worried every time James was on the road, I was happy he was a part of something larger. During the Viet Nam war, he has his brothers in arms, a huge support group and a painful lesson for all of America, SUPPORT OUR KIDS in the MILITARY, EVEN IF YOU DON'T AGREE WITH THE WAR. Sorry for the shouting.

When James was a truck driver, a road warrior, finding the same kind of family as veterans. Truckers stick together. If we haven't done it, we can't understand. They have a brotherhood I envy. I love stopping at truck stops and seeing the buddies who are mostly kind and caring souls who would help a family or lady stranded roadside due to a break down.

Take care all who are on the road, give room to the truckers as they carry heavy loads trying to earn a living, like the rest of us. They are much more than just an extension of the machine they control. Drive safe truckers as us little cars are terrified of the huge metal monsters. Even through my fear, I am so very proud to know you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mamaw's Famous Moldy Soup

Sitting outside listening to insects and turtle doves while I closely watch my water hose, for fear of an expensive fine by the city (story for another day) I started to write about my Papaw Hoot Old, how he got the nic name....instead, once again my brain took a right to my Mamaw's infamous moldy soup.

My grandmother horded somewhat, guess bing hungry during the depression and what with my Papaw hunting, she needed a huge freezer to store the extra. Back then, we all had ice boxes. She didn't have to go to the ice house for blocks of ice, it was electric but did not keep food like our modern refrigerators.

About once every couple of months, Mamaw would would start pulling out leftovers from her icebox while slamming pots, shoving chairs and in general, becoming a creature I wanted to avoid. It was moldy soup time.

Mamaw kept all food that didn't make it to the compost. If we didn't eat it, she still kept it, if started turning bad, into her canning pot it would go and that lady refused to cook another thing until all the soup was eaten.

I loved my Mamaw dearly, have my own version of moldy soup, without the mold, but back then, I ate buttered bread with watery powered milk rather than lift my spoon only to meet a left over green bean wilted not from the heat of the soup, but from the fur that clung to it, refusing to let go even when shook. Yuck.

God bless you Mamaw and all you taught me but this is one tradition that will only live in my memory, not in my kitchen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lord Help Me Jesus.....My Grandchild is a Buddhist

I think of myself as a recovering Southern Baptist, then an Episcopalian, with a detour though Lutheren, almost to Catholic. Something like religion was simple when I was a child, either you were a born again Christian or you were going to burn in the fires of hell for all of eternity.

When I was told my middle grandson was Buddhist and his parents were searching for a temple, I calmly informed them of one near my home with little thought to, "What..... HE WON'T BE BAPTISED BORN AGAIN!!"

It occured to me that although all my children were baptised, none of my grandchildren are baptised. Unheard of when I was a youth. I didn't even know about Buddah until I was an adult.

My father and his family were deeply devout in their Southern Baptist roots. My mother never spoke of her beliefs and only went to church on special occations; a wedding, baptisim, or Easter. I thought it odd anyone would stay home on Sunday when I had been taught we could burn in hell unless we sorted out all the do's and don't's. To learn these do's and don'ts and avoid the eternal fires of hell, we were suppose to be in church.

My home church was quite sedate, like a soft spoken lullaby, it could lure kids and older adults into a soft snore which resulted in a lot of startled gasps as elbows found ribs. The songs were just as sedate.

When I went to church with my mom's sister, I learned there were other ways to worship. Aunt Betty was a rolling on the floor, speaking in toungues, foot stomping, hands clapping, arms raised over her head fundamentalist Pentencolstal.

In Aunt Betty's church, rather that the calm monotone sermon from our preacher, her preacher marched all over the stage as he shouted the Word and slapped the bible with his other hand. He never stopped shouting as he ran 0 to 60 from the podium to the front doors of the church then back up to the podium, ignoring and running around the women rolling on the floor shouting in a laugage I had never heard. I was told they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

I believe my dad went to the Heaven he sought, no matter that he sang slow songs, never raised his hands to heaven as he prayed and never spoke in tongues. I believe my Aunt Betty is in the heaven she belived in and that my grandson being a Buddhist will find his own heaven. His beliefs will not bar him from what ever waits for us all at the end of life. Even rock and rollers sought faith and comfort. "Give me something to believe in", Brett Michaels from Poison sang and Kris Kristofferson sang, "Lord Help Me Jesus". Some people choose to sing quietly, others shout, and now my grandson will meditate. It comes down to faith in something that can give hope and peace when needed.

As opposed to when I was a child, religion is not black and white any longer. I don't believe my grandchildren will go to hell if they are not baptised, "washed in the blood of the lamb" as I was, but it doesn't make their faith, belief, or their jouney though life any less. God Bless, my very young grandson that chose to look outside the box when seeking faith and a peace that passes understanding, as there are many boxes to choose from. To me, never giving up the belief there is something outside ourselves that can provide peace of spirit is the ultimate definition of faith.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hooked on Games?

Have you evern known anyone that was actully additcted to a computer game? Seemed to only think about the game when not playing it and talked about it as if all family and social life had disappeared?

I don't know if I have met anyone with that level of obsession with a game but I have met many who will risk trouble at school to play their game on the iPhone they didn't need in the first place. I'm talking about 4th and 5th graders who would rather be at their key board than outside in their tree house or riding bikes.

This fourth of July brought memories of my large family, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathering at my grandmother's which spilled over to my uncle's next door or go to a city park where there were horse shoe pits for my dad and his brothers. The city park was a treat because it was too far to walk and had larger trees to climb for us what liked to climb trees.

This would usually be a morning to dark event and our decade's equal to computer games was the televison. It didn't cause the frenzy personal comperters have, maybe they were not as fun as the other games us kids played.

My absolute favorite games for these long events, due to the time of year I am sure, had to do with bugs. Bugs we called Kattie dids were abundant and easy enough to catch. All of us managed to grab a spool of thead running out the door as I had visions of home made icecream and cold watermellon appearing like magic on the quilts scattered around for the feast.

After our bellies were full, off we went to have tree climbing contests and look for kattie dids. Once we had an insect, it quickly had a tread tied around it without binding the wings. We held our breath to make sure the knot was good or the thread didn't break as away it went. Those bugs would fly in circles until we either wore it out or the threat broke. I can still hear that buzz the insects made when they flew in circles, although I have been told it is actually tinnitus.

The other game involed lighting bugs or fireflys. They lit up the sky at dusk and there were so many, you could take your jar and after whipping in a circle, you would have captured at least a couple. After our jars were full, we would lay on our tummies in the cool evening grass, heads resting on hands folded under chins, until it was time to make jewlery.

Us girls would were as eager as the boys as they decorated themselves as American Indian warriors, with head bands and streaks across their faces. We usually made rings and ear rings. If you think about it, what was the only way this florscent material would stick to our bodies? We had to pull their butts off, the part that glowed stick them to our faces and hands with their guts. We would then strut our stuff in the dark, no street lights to dim the glow.

I never thought about what we did as being cruel. It was just what all the kids did so I did it too. This was our version of computer games, with the added benefit of exercise, being outdoors and unfortunantly, thinning the populataion of these lovely insects.

I still hear the kattie dids at night near my home and smile as I recall when the only thing I had to worry about on July the 4th was climbing trees and catching bugs. I don't think 10 kids wiped out the population.

Here's to the memories I made with my cousins 5 decades ago and my hope that somewhere in the United States, this lives on. Many thanks to the beetles and fireflys that made my summers extra special and gave their lives for my entertainment, you live on in my memory, for those that died for my entertainment, I salute you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Failed Home EC

Tomorrow is a breakfast for co-workers birthdays and I puzzle over what to buy. Not bake, not fry, not prepare; buy.

I failed Home Ec in Jr. High. Never wanted to take it, didn't ask for it, fought against it, lost, had to take it. I wanted to take shop. I wanted to cut wood, use the machines my grandfather used when he built things, I wanted to breath sawdust and wood stain that I could only get hints of as I walked near the shop room.

When I told my friends I came up with from elementary school, that I wanted to take shop, not Home Ec, the girls laughed, the boys made fun of me, one girl, older, said "To get into that shop door, I had to "do" the shop teacher." Do what? I was only in 7th grade, I didn't know what she was talking about. Do his chores, shine his shoes, wash his car, sweep the shop floor, clean the machines? I was willing to do those things. She laughed as she walked away calling me a "fresh fish" as if that meant anything to me either.

I was taught to respect my elders, never argue with adults, and do what I was told but this time, I spoke up. It was the 60's for goodness sakes, I should be able to take shop and ask for the change in elective without doing the shop teacher's laundry.

I lost. I had to take home ec, had to learn how to set a table, which spoon when where, which fork to use for salad, how to properly eat soup, how to place a knife on the plate and how to properly cut meat. COME ON!! All of us had been eating since we had teeth and my Mamaw told me, "God made fingers before he made forks!" at a picnic. I learned how to separate laundry, load a washing machine, fold towels and sheets. Something I had as a chore at my house since I was in first grade! I was the person in my home that did the ironing, had to sit on a stool to reach the ironing board because when times were tight at our house, my mom took in laundry for extra money.

First cooking class where we actually had to make something from scratch that the teacher taught us, I made my Papaw's biscuits and gravy. Shock, someone knew how to make something the teacher didn't teach! I was sent to the principals office.

Time to do laundry for the class, I stuffed everything into one tub and put twice as much soap. I went to the principal's office.

Time to turn in our folders with pictures glued onto the pages showing our dream home, room by room, I was stumpped. We didn't have those things in our house, I had no idea where to get them, I drew pictures of trees, told her was I was going to be a monkey when I grew up. I went to the principal's office.

Needless to say, this went on for the entire year until it came down to I gave in on some things. I joined the drill team, Mamaw made my uniform, not quite the red the other girls had but we didn't have the money for the uniform. I joined the FHA, Future Homemakers of America, although.... I was failing Home Ec.

I never learned to cut a right angle on a 2x4, I never learned to build bird house or a mail box. I also didn't pass Home Ec and had to take it the next year, same teacher, same walking with a book on my head, learning how to wash my face and again, how to separate cloths before they were washed. What a waste of time but I passed this time, with a D. Back then we acutally had a "D" for a grade if we were close to failing but they didn't want us in their class another year. My report card was funny. Science, B, Math, B, English, A, PE, A, Home Ec, a resounding "D"! I actually had to meet with the principal before I was given a D!

Tomorrow, I am BUYING a breakfast item, not cooking but all the talk about cooking by the WOMEN in my office took me back to the 60's at the end of 7th grade when I discovered, to my horror, what "doing" ths shop teacher meant and that I had more gumption that I realized. Although I only hurt myself by having to take Home Ec twice, that school year, I started to find my own voice.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm a Hermit Horder, How'd it Happen??

Before I left the house today I lugged two large boxes out of my room and into the living room, as I have Wednesday off for the Celebration of the liberation of our Nation, I felt I should do some liberation a little closer to home. The boxes have been in the middle of my bedroom floor, on top of other boxes, suit cases, piles of cloths, Chistmas gifts yet to be wrapped or given, for many years! Okay, I know exactly how many years, five years.

I would like to say that is the only room in my home where such mountains of unorganization lurks but it would be a lie. Today, I am only focused on my bedroom, which the two semi-large closets would usually hold this type of junk, are over flowing with the same type of things.

I am forever fearful I won't have a gift for a birthday, Christmas, or I see something on sale and know it will fit, eventually. Never does. Maybe if I bought it in a larger size, I would have better luck with that plan.

When I clean the built in shelves of my half century + home, I put everything into boxes that found a home on the shelves. I dust and then rest, feel too tired to put all the things back, think, "I really need to get rid of half this stuff, even if I give it away so I will go through each box and sort, that's very organized and rational of me." Then it get's set on the pile from the last time I thought this and eventually new books, pictures, candels, frames awaiting pictures and school projects fill the space I was going to use and the cycle starts all over again, for five years!

Since I am off mid week, I am going to liberate the boxes of junk I am sure I don't need, never needed and won't miss. Before I left for work, I made another liberating decision. I decided as I was dragging 5 gallon dead plans in their plastic planters from the front of the the house to the carport that on the 4th of July, I would replace the weeds with flowers. The neighbors are used to seeing these weeds that have adorned my front yard for at least two years. I may get thank you cards. I bought flowers this weekend but was too bummed out by the mess in my house to plant them, so I ate cookies and watched TV instead. Reasonable.

Now that I decided to liberate at least two boxes and three planters on the 4th of July, I have to tell friends I can't go with them to a parade and spend a fun filled day with them that we talked about weeks ago. In fact, I feel so much anxiety about this that I would much rather stay at home by myself, althought I love all my friends. What is wrong with me?? This is the question I thought about on my drive to work.

I have an empty nest this summer for the first time in my life. The first 10 days after DJ left for his dad's, I cried all the way to work and sobbed all the way home, acutally puzzled where this flood of emotion was coming from and why in the world did it seem to have a schedule? My friends, who are also co-workers, have done many things to try and pull me out of the quicksand of despair that seemed to swallow me as I grieved over the empty house. I declined all offers saying I had plans. I did have plans, with ice cream, cookies, and take out food all eaten in a dark living room in front of the television. I am a hermit! A home cave dweller! For some reason, it seems to be the only place I feel safe. How did this happend?? I didn't use to be this way.

All I could conclude on my short drive was that my life centered around family when I was growing up. I was always with a cousin, a grandparent, a sibling, some gathering of family that always brought us together. Tons of people but it hit me today, we were all related and everyone seemed to gravitate to my grandmother's house. Then my siblings and their children began to gravitate to my mom's every holiday, for barbeques, to pitch horseshoes, Sunday dinners and all the next generation cousins became best friends and the cycle of my childhood was being replayed with nieces and nephews. Now it is my sister's house the grand, or is it great, nieces and nephews gravitate toward for all the same reasons. I am the lone ranger, so to speak. I moved away from not only the compound where all my siblings live but from the State where I was born. I started a new life. Now my kids are grown, my grandkids are mostly grown and I am raising a 10 year old grandson who will be going to live with his father next year. At that point, my house will be forever this empty, this lonely, every single day.

I find it hard to relate to friends, with the rare exception. It is not them, I realize this, I envy the ones with friends, dinners, going on trips together, it is most certainly me. I never learned how to be comfortable with friendships, only family is familiar and dare I say....safe? Hording is more of a puzzle. I never used to do this as a younger woman. Why now? My only thought on this is that it seems I have lost so much in life, I don't want to let another thing go, even if it weighs me down.

So, on the day of liberation, I will have a decision to make as I am sure I will be expected to meet with the folks I agreed to spend time celebrating. Will I use the time for opening the door to friends or will I hide in my home cave? Does that make me a coward? What could I be afraid of and how do I face fear without reason?

I wish all of you the very best of times as you cook out, laugh with family and friends and make memories that will last a life time. Maybe I will take a step toward this....... next year.