Those We Know

My friends’ parents are part of the soundtrack of my childhood.  In junior high and especially high school, I spent many more nights than I can count at the homes of Sarah and Mary Linda.  I lived 25 miles away from where I went to school, so overnight stays after football games or play practice or before big trips were often necessary. Plus there was way more to do in Monroe.

Sarah’s dad passed away last night after a 30+ year battle with cancer in various shapes and forms.  Her parents were and are every inch of what you would call “A Class Act.”    I always think of Mignon as elegant and put together–her Louisiana drawl, her laugh–and Mike, her dad, was the kind of man who remembered your name, used your name, and made you feel like you were JUST the person he was wanting to see at that exact moment, and that your specific presence in his day had made it worth living.  They  just recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Now, obviously, being close friends with their daughter gave me the inside scoop on how they and their family functioned.  I learned many lessons from the Rileys, and although they may not seem super important they are part of my life, and it makes me smile to remember them.  Some, but not all, are:

  1. Fresca was a drink that was always cold in their fridge.
  2. The Rileys had a picture collage wall as early as 1983 and LONG before Pinterest.
  3. Music playing in a home is a very good thing.
  4. The toenails of a Shih Tzu on a tile floor is a happy, peppy sound that you do not forget.
  5. You can be A Class Act and still drive a Harley (or ride the back of one if you are Mignon.)
  6. The importance of timing and physics when learning how to spit gum out of the sun roof of a moving car.
  7. Hondas are good vehicles.
  8. You do not call someone’s home after 9:00 pm. (This is a hard-learned lesson to which I still ascribe, and when I have to break it, I apologize profusely.)
  9. The meanings and appropriate usage of the the phrases “Katy, bar the door” and “Hie your skirts about you and run.”
  10. Having one’s blood pressure and voice volume escalate due to bad drivers can be an art form.
  11. Your own voice volume should GREATLY decrease after 10:00 pm (this was a challenge for me) unless you are at the other VERY FAR end of the house in the play room.
  12. Don’t sit OR lean on the footboard of the bed.
  13. If you are the one driving, you have ONE job.  FLY the PLANE!
  14. Someone’s own name is the sweetest sound they can hear.
  15. Your friend’s parents love you.  A lot. Even when you are loud after 10:00 pm and call after 9:00 and drink their last, cold Fresca and lean on the footboard of the bed.

In the fall of 2009, there was a chorus reunion to honor one of the teachers we had in high school.  The morning of the event, I went to the school to help decorate with Sarah and others, then we spent the afternoon together and ended up at her parent’s home to get ready for the evening.  This was the same home in which I had spent so much time as a teenager–same bathroom with two sinks–same tile floor (minus the Shih Tzu)–and as we bustled about and got ready and talked across the hallway and laughed, Mike showed up at the bathroom door (the same one where he had once delivered a stern lecture to us both regarding the fact that Sarah could have driven to Bastrop SEVERAL TIMES to talk to me IN PERSON for the price of the ONE phone bill he had just retrieved from the mail box and was currently holding in his hand and waving for effect) with a huge grin on his face.  “Man, it sure has done my heart good to hear you girls (we were 40  at the time) laughing and talking and getting ready in this house again. I’d forgotten how happy that makes me.”

It made me glad then, and now, I’m the parent who is happy to hear her daughter and her daughter’s friends back in my own home on their breaks from college.  And it made me understand that I was just as much a part of Mike Riley’s life as he was of mine.  He is home now–no longer sick–singing at the top of his lungs and greeting all of those who have gone before like they are JUST the person he was wanting to see on his first day in Heaven.

 

 

 

Louisiana

I recently traveled to Louisiana to spend time with my friends MaryLinda and Stephanie.  We get together once a year (although this year we decided twice would be better), so for our lagniappe trip we chose New Orleans.

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This photo is more of what MY Louisiana is like.  The northern and southern parts of the state are quite different, but we both have bayous, Spanish moss, cypress trees, and good food.NOLA Trip, November,2014 140ps

Speaking of food, we pretty much ate our way through part of the French Quarter.  I cannot say I am sorry.  That would be a lie. This billboard speaks truth.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 100ps crop

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Unfortunately, we only made ONE trip to Cafe Du Monde for hot beignets.

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And I “did” it wrong by having a Diet Coke rather than cafe au lait. . .but I was happy. . .and ML and Steph didn’t have coffee either.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 027New Orleans is OLD.  Really, REALLY old. . .1700’s old.  The first time I visited New Orleans was in 1985 WITH, interestingly enough,  MaryLinda and Stephanie (and a bunch of other friends).  We were in high school, and our undefeated football team played the state championship in the Dome.  I remember thinking at that time how OLD it looked.  I think it has to do with the color of the stone. . .the erosion of edges and corners.  It was also DIRTY. . .two and a half centuries of grime in the Louisiana heat takes its toll.  Katrina did a lot to wipe some of the grime away, but at a high cost.  I would LOVE to know exactly how old this building and those chimneys are.

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Most of the major streets in the French Quarter had signs similar to these.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 005

We were out in the morning, and they still wash their sidewalks and stoops to clean them off.  As pretty and historic as the French Quarter is, there are many who sleep on or against stoops like this each night, hence the washing.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 003

NOLA Trip, November,2014 048I have never been to Mardi Gras, and can honestly say I ever want to go. . .but here is a quintessential shot on Bourbon Street that tells the tale.

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Come with me on a weekend stroll through the Quarter. .

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“New Orleans ladies. . .all the way from Bourbon Street to Esplanade, they sashay by. . .” I didn’t see any of the “ladies” that the group Leroux immortalized in song, but I liked this sign.

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I cannot begin to describe the way this gal plays the clarinet.  Brought me to tears. Seriously have never heard anything like it.

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A place we actually did NOT eat.  If it’s on MaryLinda’s list, we WILL eat there someday.

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And this lovely, lass just appeared out of nowhere with her Robin’s egg blue bike, dark red lip and hair, and wrap skirt.  It was like she stepped right out of the early 1960’s. I barely had time to snap this shot. She was on a mission.1NOLA Trip, November,2014 079 ps

Caricature dude with a tale on Jackson Square

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The Louisiana Supreme Court building 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The three steeples of the St. Louis Cathedral

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 022psToo dark to take a photo, but I tried anyway.  They are getting ready for Christmas.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 031

Transformer Dude was pretty amazing to actually see.

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1NOLA Trip, November,2014 060If I’d had room in my car (and a boat load of money), I would have taken this set of lions home with me.

Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 063ps  This one is staring across the threshold at his twin–maybe they are discussing how to eat that lamb that is just feet away. Also, it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the “do not photograph in our show room” placard.  I’m such a rebel, but I was on the sidewalk anyway. . .1NOLA Trip, November,2014 061 bw

Traditional French Quarter Horse Head Hitching Post.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 093

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This is one of the views from our room at The Ritz Carlton New Orleans.  We had two windows–this one looking down Canal. . .

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. . . and this one with a view towards The River.  Old Man River.  The Mighty Mississip.

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Our 12th floor room gave me the PERFECT vantage point to photograph the iconic Ritz Lions.

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I think this might be my favorite photograph of the entire trip.

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And being the photography happy yokel I am, I couldn’t resist this shot.

 

1NOLA Trip, November,2014 103There is never enough time,  so when we discovered we had taken NO photos (but one failure of a selfie) together, we had  the valet who brought the car take some shots of us. . .all blurry. . .all hurried. . .but here we are–happy to be together.Blog NOLA Trip, November,2014 115

So, we were all “home” in some sense of the word–MaryLinda still lives where we all grew up, Stephanie was born in Texas but spent most of her growing up years in Louisiana, and I was born there and moved away.  It matters not–when we are together, we are home.  We carry it with us.

 

 

 

 

Friends

MRS, 2014What a blessing to have good friends.  MaryLinda and Stephanie came this weekend.  Among other things, we informed MaryLinda that she is, in fact, 44, we went to the British Isles store in Rice Village–a nice, little jaunt–, ate some incredible fish and chips at Baker Street Pub, ate too much in general, visited a friend at MD Anderson, read letters that they had sent to me during jr. high and high school, and I got us matching bracelets so on the days we need our girlfriends beside us, we have them right there shining on our wrists reminding us of many, many things.

It is nice to remember who you were, who you are, and know that whomever you will be is already covered by the love and devotion of friends.  As Stephanie said this weekend, “God put y’all into my life.  None of us had much choice.”  And I’m SO GLAD!!!!!

Aygs*

Chickens lay eggs.  This you know.

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What you probably DON’T know is just how MANY eggs a group of eleven hens can lay in one month’s time with some if not all of them taking a day or two off each week.

One of the Girls making use of the ramp and The Sky Walk to go inside.

Excuse me.  I need to go and lay an egg now.  BRB.

Go ahead.  Guess.

Can't a girl get a little privacy?  Seriously.  I'm working here.

Can’t a girl get a little privacy? Seriously. I’m working here.

Here’s a hint.  We get anywhere from 6-10 eggs each day.  We’ve not gotten less than 6 in quite awhile but have yet to get 11.  Keep that in mind as I tell you a thing or two about chickens and their eggs.

Thing the first:  Hens do not need roosters to lay eggs.  I believe I’ve covered this before, but just in case, ’tis true.  Hens (like human females) are born with the total number of ovum they will ever possess all packed away in their little avian ovaries, but unlike human females who only release one (very tiny, miniscule) egg a month (although on occasion there might be two or three), most hens  lay about one egg  per day (with the occasional double or triple yolker–and those suckers are BIG).

Thing the second:  Would an egg of any other shell color taste as good as a brown egg?  Yes.  All eggs taste the same with the exception of fresh eggs possibly tasting a little “better” because they are fresher.  Brown, white, cream, pinkish, blue, AND green shelled eggs whether they are small, medium, large, or jumbo taste about the same.  If a hen eats a lot of a certain type of food, the yolks of her eggs can be much, much darker, but this does not normally affect the taste. (Although, if you feed your hens an exorbitant amount of onions or other strong tasting greens and foods, it CAN affect the taste.)

Thing the third:  Eggs last a LONG time and can be kept on the counter for short amounts of time.  Of course, they last longer if kept in the fridge, but some doomsday experts state that sealing an egg with wax or oil can keep it fresh for up to a year.  We don’t plan to try this–but I suppose it’s good to know.  If your fridge is PACKED for the holidays or a party, just put those eggs on the counter.  They are better for baking and scramble, mix, and froth (the whites) better when they are at room temperature anyway.

THIS is the number of eggs we have in our fridge right now.

THIS is the number of eggs we have in our fridge right now.  We gave some to our neighbors yesterday and are not hoarding them.  I promise.

This is the back side of a hen (no “guess what” jokes, please).

Eggs and chickens 9.13 139Victoria tells me that this is Rubye Mae (named after my Granny), and I can think of no finer specimen to carry that moniker.  Seriously.  I LOVE this picture.  Do you know WHY?  Because it shows (much like the ovum packed ovaries of fetal pullets/aka: future hens) how incredibly creative, thoughtful, and awesome God is.  This is a New Hampshire red.  She is perfectly suited to sit on a clutch of eggs–those downy soft feather will keep them warm and protected should she ever go broody (which she won’t unless we get a rooster). Her tail feather curve back perfectly to help create her chicken shape.  That is some serious soft right there.  Feather pillows, feather beds, feather duvets. . .geese aren’t the only fowl who can stuff a tick.  Rubye Mae, however, will keep all of her fluff for herself as I plan to pluck no chickens.

Okay.  Have you come up with a number?  Our hens started laying August 7th.  We know not who laid the first egg (although we DO know that the chicken came first), but here it is.  We were VERY excited.Frist egg 8.19.13 rsz

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Later in the month of August, some of the different colors of shells.

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I know that one egg looks either lavender or gray, but it is tan with a chalky coating on it. You can get up close and personal with the array of hues if you click on the pic.

Tony discovered that our red hens are laying the eggs with the chalky coating.  He said it is called “bloom.”  It is a natural coating that is on eggs when they are first laid.

Okay. . .any guesses as to how many eggs 11 hens can lay in one month?  Well, in the month of August with only one hen laying starting on the 7th and the others joining in fits and starts, we got a grand total of.

Eggs and chickens 9.13 228

For the month of September the hens totaled out at 256 (no including some misfires in the form of soft-shelled eggs and one that was just plain wonky–it looked like a hen drawn by Dr. Seuss laid it.)  So far in October we have 126 which puts us on track for 250+ again this month.  Of course, the time is changing, so Tony is trying a “trick” to keep the girls laying a bit longer by having the coop light on a timer so it stays on for a bit after they come in for the night and turns on a little earlier than the sun actually rises.  I’ll keep you posted.  In the mean time, how about an omelet.

*There are many, MANY words I heard pronounced as a child that do not strictly adhere to the rules of (American) English phonics.  I spent a large portion of my early childhood wondering why on Earth a soldier of Christ who had gone through all the trouble of arising AND o’ercoming through Christ alone would want to “stand in tar at last.”  Tar is hot. . .and sticks to your feet, and tires, and makes gravel from newly paved roads adhere to a paint job as though attached with super glue.  Seriously!  It took a bit before I realized that the word was “entire” and that standing in tar was not required of soldiers of Christ or any other cohort.  Eggs was yet another word that rattles around in my memory as being pronounced “aygs.”  It was REALLY more like “aaayyygs.”  Rubye Mae said it that way.  She also let her aygs come to room temperature before making meringue (which Daddy told me was calf slobber. . .OH, The South!) and her (world class) divinity.

ALSO, FYI a website has to say this about storing eggs:

Storing Eggs
Store your eggs pointy end down to keep the yolks nicely centered.
Keep them in an enclosed carton for longer freshness.
And don’t forget to keep your eggs refrigerated – an egg kept at room temperature ages the same amount in one day as a refrigerated egg ages in an entire week.

Sadie’s Lamp

2011, January 081This lamp belonged to Sadie Williams.  She is a woman I never met.  I may have seen a picture of her, but I could not identify her if I saw the photo again.  Despite all of that, I have known this lamp for about twenty years and owned it for at least eight.

It was delivered to me at a school where I was teaching by some missionaries who were headed to Italy.  It had traveled from Texas to Arkansas, then back to Texas.  I have discovered via The Mighty Google, that it is called a “Gone With the Wind” lamp and that it is a reproduction as it is electric (the originals were just highly decorated hurricane lamps that used kerosene).  GWtW lamps came into vogue after the release of their namesake movie, so I will assume that my lamp was produced sometime after 1939.  A part of it has been replaced–the very top metal bracket with the key is a shiny brass that does not match the rest of the metal.  I don’t know if it was Sadie’s or Sadie’s mom’s as Sadie was a teenager when the movie was released, but it is now mine and lives in my bedroom.

Sadie’s lamp is very old-fashioned and has huge tea roses painted on both globes.   If Sadie’s lamp had a scent, it would be a combination of Merle Norman face powder, and rose scented talcum.   It is a very feminine in a grandmotherly, time-gone-by way.  It is a rather large lamp, and it takes a certain person to appreciate it aesthetic qualities.  But anyone–anyone at all–would be able to recognize the loveliness of it’s light.

They key has three functions.  Click one:  the bottom globe is lit.  Click two:  the top globe is lit.  Click three:  both globes are lit.  Both globes give a nice, golden glow to a room.  It’s enough to read a book by, but not enough to disturb someone who might be sleeping.  The top globe lit alone is not a function that is normally used by us.  The bottom globe lit alone is the one we use the most–just one click is all it takes.

When a child is sick and needs to sleep on a pallet in the floor with a bowl near their head or enough light to make it to the bathroom–Sadie’s lamp (click one) is the light that shines.  If either Tony or I go to bed before the other and we want to leave enough light so the night owl can find their way across the room–Sadie’s lamp (click one) lights the way.  If there is anything unsettling that may need attention in the night, but we want to rest until it’s time to go into action, Sadie’s lamp is the sentinel that keeps the time.

I got Sadie’s lamp from this little girl.

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Isn’t she cute?  I love her angel costume over her blue jeans–the north Texas wind blowing her blond curls–the shadows of the bare tree branches on the wall of her home along with the shadow of her Daddy taking her picture right below.

This little girl grew up to be My Friend, Carolyn.  She has been my friend now for twenty six and a half years.  Sadie was VERY NEARLY Carolyn’s aunt.  Of course, had Sadie BEEN Carolyn’s aunt, then Carolyn would have been a different person and might not have been my friend.  Chances are high that we would never have met at all.  The story of how Sadie was not Carolyn’s aunt after all  is a sad one.  It involves World War II and a girl back home who was waiting for her fiance to return.  I will tell it sometime, as it is very, very important.

However, for today we will just look at Sadie’s lamp.  The fact that it sits in my room in Waller, Texas after a detour FROM Texas to Arkansas, then back to Texas is an amazement to me.  The fact that the cute, little girl in the angel costume is my friend is an amazement to me.  How she even came to be my friend and the impact it has had on my life, the lives of my children, the lives of HER children (and grandchildren) is an amazement to me. The fact that God in his infinite mercy and wisdom and grace takes sad stories and brings good things from them is an amazement to me.  It reminds me of this poem that I have loved since one of my teachers in high school showed it to me.

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Bits and pieces.
Bits and pieces.

People. People important to you, people unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and carelessness and move on. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go away and leave such a gaping hole. Children leave parents; friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on. You think on the many who have moved into your hazy memory. You look on those present and wonder.
I believe in God’s master plan in lives. He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who ever touched your life, and you are more because of it, and you would be less if they had not touched.
Pray God that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder, and never question,
and never regret.

Bits and pieces
Bits and pieces.

Lois A. Cheney, (God is no Fool, 1969)

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Tomorrow, September 30th is Carolyn’s birthday.  Happy Birthday, friend.  The friendship that we have is one of my greatest treasures.  You are a gift far above rubies.  Or sapphires since you like blue best.  You know how much I love Sadie’s lamp.  I will keep it safe until it is time to let it travel to another home and continue its journey and its story.

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A Bit and a Piece of God’s loving kindness, October, 2012, Searcy, Arkansas.

Big Sisters, Little Brothers

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Me in my “dog ears/pig tails” with Hal in front of the gardenia bush.

I have a brother. His name is Hal. He is exactly 12 months and four days younger than me. We shared a room until I was ten years old. We also shared birthday cakes. Chocolate with chocolate icing. Momma would make one big sheet cake, and decorate half for Hal and half for me. (There was nothing better than licking chocolate icing off the back of those hard, royal icing decorations. . .the kind in the cellophane pack that you have to peel off the cardboard? You’d meticulously lick the icing, then go to town crunching on all the little letters and numbers.) I spent a large majority of our childhood bossing him around. I was, after all, older than him–and born with an innate bent toward bossiness.  Really, for all accounts and purposes, we were twins separated by a year.  There were times we were sworn enemies and times we were fast friends, but we ALWAYS had each others’ backs when push came to shove–and still do.

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Easter, 1986 or 1987. Momma made my pretty dress, and Hal was sporting the skinny tie.

Obviously, Victoria has a younger brother. They are very nearly three years apart. Thad arrived just six weeks before Victoria turned three years old. The first words out of her mouth upon seeing him were, “He’s so cccccuuuuuttttteeee!!!!!! Can we keep him?” Yes, baby. We can keep him. And thankfully we had her to help us raise him. I’ve talked before about how she can get him to do pretty much anything. She is especially gifted at making him laugh so hard I fear for his safety. They are, at times, like an old married couple. And since they are young and in the middle of it and still get on each others’ nerves, they don’t know it yet, but they are best friends.

Victoria making her brother laugh.

Victoria making her brother laugh.

I also grew up in a smallish town. I went to church with a group of kids. There were some a little older and some a little younger, and a nice bunch of us that were the same age. I cannot say that our relationships were always rosy or pleasant, but there we were all together in the nursery and cradle roll and Sunday school and VBS and on the youth pew until I left for college. Our parents had grown up together–and in some instances, even our grandparents had grown up together, or at the very least been newlyweds together.

Anyway, one of this group was a girl named Missie. Missie had a younger brother named Max. At the time he seemed SO MUCH younger than us. . .and he was. About four years worth of younger, which is an eternity as children. I would go to Missie’s house sometimes to spend the night–or on a Sunday afternoon between morning service and evening service. I remember Max as a bundle of energy–a live wire–a bouncing ball of jumping and running and noise. He grew into a tall, strapping, buck of a man, married with a son of his own. Max and his 13 year old son and my brother shot guns together–pistol matches–accuracy.

I haven’t seen Missie since my kids were very small, but I have seen Max. He is what you would describe as a Good Guy. As in, “You know, that Max is a Good Guy–just a good, Good Guy.” He led singing at church and spent a lot of time with his family, and on Thursday afternoon, the plane he was in fell out of the sky just four miles short of its destination. He and the pilot and two other men who were on the plane with him all perished.  They were coming home from a business trip.

Someone wrote on a condolence page, “Max, the world cannot afford to lose men like you.” And that is the truth. At Christmas when I was home, I was walking around doing my normal “hug as many as you can before church, and get the rest after” routine. On my “after” run, midway back, near where his mom and grandparents still sit (which is where my Granny and PawPaw used to sit), I ran into Max. We spent maybe twenty seconds just acknowledging each other–glad to see the others’ face. I had to reach up to “hug his neck.” He was as solid and strong and real a human being as anyone could find. And now he is gone from this earth and is in heaven. But I don’t want him to be in heaven. I want him to be here. He is a 40 year old man with a wife and son and family who need him. It is very, very sad. It is tragic beyond measure and our hearts are broken for the people he left behind.

I told my sister yesterday (during one of our three phone calls) that I feel useless all the way over here in Texas. She said, “Well, at least you have the excuse of being 7 hours away. We all feel useless too, and we’re right here in the same town.” At least they get to take over cake and paper goods and let his loved ones see their faces. My sister understood my frustration, and call today to give me Missie’s number. I called Missie this afternoon. We talked for just a few minutes as they had gotten a call to come to a meeting for the victims’ families. I told her it was good to hear her voice. I told her how sorry I was. I told her that there were no words.

But there are words. They are few and simple and the only ones that have any power. “God, please help them.”

On the night of Max’s death, his wife told my sister, “Please, tell everyone to pray for us and don’t stop praying.” I have not stopped. I fell asleep Thursday night praying. I dreamed all night long about the family. I woke up yesterday morning already praying. I pray now as I type and hear my son laughing hysterically over something funny his sister just said to him. I know most of you who read this are my friends. And I ask you to please pray for Max’s family–especially his wife and son. Then go call your own brother or sister–and tell them a few, simple words too.

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Hal and Me, July, 2010

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Holding the deer’s ear in Grandaddy’s “Hustler.”

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Hal 4, Me 5

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Hal 5, Me 6

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Hal 6, Me 7

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Puppies in the house–one dressed up with a Dixie Cup on its head. The back of the photo said “Tom Boy” and “Angie.” Names we’d given them.

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I am sporting a Wonder Woman nightgown and am opening my “Bionic Woman” doll.

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I think this was the trip where Momma barely slept for fear that Hal was going to roll out the back of the camper.

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Show off Daddy’s big bass.

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More bass–and a pretty good crop of corn in the garden.

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This is included, because it’s the best soft serve anywhere, and also because my brother pulled over and took the photo for me when I didn’t have my camera. He also bought my ice cream–and Diet Coke. He’s a Good Guy too.

The First of Many

Tomorrow VERY early, Victoria and I are leaving to visit my alma mater “near the foothills of the Ozarks.” It is homecoming, and I’ve never attended–but it’s a great time to make a BIG impression on The Girl. My freshman R.A. and her daughter are going with us. It’s amazing to me how God takes people and places and arranges them in ways to make beautiful lives and friendships–opportunities and blessings. Thus it was in the fall of 1987 when Rhonda Chappell was charged with watching a wing of first-floor, Cathcart freshman girls. I have NO DOUBT that I was her favorite freshman EVER–what with my loud voice and water guns and lack of housekeeping abilities. Low and behold if about 12 or 13 years after that, I ran across Rhonda and her family–which happened to contain a daughter right about Victoria’s age. Ruth and Victoria HIT. IT. OFF. Like peas and carrots to quote Forrest Gump.

This weekend will be full of not-so-subtle brain-washing about where to attend college (alhtough they can TRULY attend where they would like. . .but we hope it’s HARDING!!!) and LOTS of Girl Power as I also get to see Stephanie and (my friend) Carolyn and her family. I will be missing a senior girl from church and my Momma who couldn’t make it. . .but they will be in our thoughts while we are there.

Now. Time to pack. Yikes!!!!! It’s been a busy week, but the leaves are turning colors in central Arkansas, and a cold front is headed that direction!!!!!

In the mean time. . .