Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lucy and Ethel: Close encounters of the car kind

Lucy and I have had many, many vehicular encounters where I just knew that I would lose my life. There was a point when I felt like Lucy just aimed the car and pressed on the accelerator blowing over whatever happened to be in her path. It was fast and furious to say the least. Lucy had some pre-license fiasco's where I fortunately missed that I still can't believe she was able to get out of. Both were when my parents and I went the bowling alley as my parents were on a bowling league. Lucy had my Aunt's car in the ditch because the just KNEW she could drive it and then one occasion where she broke the key off in my Dad's pick-up. She told my Dad that she wanted to listen to the Radio--HE BELIEVED HER!
My Granny came down with a bad cold and called my Dad to get her some soup for meals. Granny lived in a town about thirty minutes away from where we lived and they didn't really have a grocery store. Dad asked Lucy and I to go to the store to get some soup for Granny and take it to her. "[Lucy] I want you to drive straight to Consumers, park by the trash dumpster away from the cars, walk in buy the soup, drive straight to Granny's and straight home." Dad had learned that he needed to provide such painful detail as my sweet sis took many privileges and would say, "you never said I couldn't..." she was so smooth--Velvet pure velvet!
My Dad drove an enormous Ford Super Cab. It was an extended super cab which meant it was like driving a school bus. Lucy didn't really have enough experience driving this as she usually drove my Mom's car. Any chance to get out of the house with key's was just too good to be true for Lucy. She and I piled into the truck and started on our way. We made it to the grocery store just fine, until Lucy started to think for herself. That always gets us in trouble--Lucy thinking for her self.
"Where are you going? Dad said to park by the dumpster." "He won't know where I park, besides I can park right her by the door and be in and out before anyone sees us." "Dad said,..." "William he's not going to know just shut up!" Lucy had chosen to park the behemoth between an awkwardly parked 79 Buick, huge in it's own right, and the yellow-poled concrete cart ramp. Lucy just didn't have the whole dimension of the truck in mind as she tried to angle her way into this tight spot. I was on the passengers side looking at the huge car when I heard the first sounds of scraping. SCREEEECH! "Oh my God, Sis you just hit that car-Oh my God, Dad is going to kill you." "Crap, Crap, William just shut up and look to see how bad it is." All the while she was still pulling into the parking spot. "Stop, just stop the truck." We stopped and Lucy's mind was racing, racing, racing.
An elderly gentleman walked up and saw the precarious situation we were in. Without saying anything he just held up one index finger and motioned in a circular direction then waved his hand. Why we trusted him I'll never know. His advise caused the Buick to puncture and rip into the side of my Dad's truck. It could have been that this man was the ex-husband of the old lady driving this tiny continent and just thought he could get some sort of revenge vicariously. "Crap." "Oh my God we are going to die--You are ripping the bumper off that car!" "William I swear to God--if you don't shut up!" The elderly gentleman was still leading the crash and bang orchestra with this index finger not helping us at all. We finally waved and smiled, saying our final goodbye's to the world.
After Grandpa Jones had is fun another person came up. This was a guy who looked to be in his teens, if that old. "Looks like you are in a pickle." "Yes, my Dad's going to kill me." "OK turn your wheel this way, now give it just a little gas---there now turn this way and just take it on out." Viola! Magic. This young pup knew his stuff and we were free. The Buick was now parked in the right position and had some serious damage to the chrome bumper. Lucy pulled around to the side of the store--where we were supposed to park in the first place and got out of the truck to survey the damage.
There was about a foot and a half scrape down the side of my Dad's white truck. The chrome trim had popped off and you could make the streaks of color left by the wounded Buick. "Sis, Dad's going to kill you." "Not if he doesn't know." "How is he not going to know. Look at that." "I can pound it out. Simple" Note: When one tries to pound out a dent by approaching it form the underneath side you only cause more bumps that compliment the dent. "I don't think that is helping, it's worse. You are dead." I because mortally afraid at that point because I just knew that Dad wouldn't be over his rage after killing Lucy and might just turn his attentions to me and take me out on account.
The old lady who drove the car was not even a little bit shocked. She told us that it happened to her all the time and that she was just glad it wasn't her that had made the dent this time. We were consoled only until the Insurance agent called our agent and made arrangements for the claim to be processed. Then it became a bigger deal.
By the time we got home it was dark, really dark. Dad was in the garage tinkering with what ever men tinker with in the garage and Mom was talking to him about her day. "They are both home. Don't say a word, I'll say everything and on matter what I say that is what happened." She really didn't have to worry too much about me because true to my typical reaction I was headed for my room to hide.
To get to the garage you had to go into the dining room and step down about two or three steps. "hey guys we are home." "What took so long?" "Oh nothing , Granny has her soup." "Dad, I had a little accident in the parking lot." I remember nothing else because I was in my shelter hiding. I do recall the aluminum screen door screeching open and slamming shut with my Dad headed toward the truck with a flashlight. The I recall the sound of the door shutting back and my Dad really, really mad. He lost his religion for about two minutes and was totally hot--madder than mad.
He never fixed that dent and as the scratch rusted into a giant hole it reminded him of his deep seated hate for Lucy's antics. There would be many, many more encounters with Lucy behind the wheel--it had only just begun.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

All Fezzed up and nowhere to go

Thursday night Poppa, Titus, Levi and I went to the Shriner's circus-the 62nd Annual Shriner's Circus. It was my second circus ever to attend, the first has a very vague memory wrinkle in my mind. I only remember the frustration of trying to watch three rings of activity at the same time and wondering why the powers that be would do such a thing.
This was a four ring circus. The audience comprised the largest ring as well as the most entertainment for me. Then there were the three rings of performers which we paid to watch. We were in the second row, on the floor in clear view of ALL the action. I was in absolute "gawk-overload." I told Mildred that I could blog about this night for the rest of the year and still not have exhausted myself on material. What a spectacle.
I really can't wrap my brain around Shriner's. I totally admire and appreciate their contributions toward the betterment of underprivileged children and happily support them. However, I find it amazing that these business men, leaders of the community, pillars of society would parade around in public wearing felt covered chicken buckets on their heads with tassels hanging down. These fez's as they are called symbolize the Shriner's loose connection with the Arabian culture. Couldn't they wear a pin, or something other than these buckets on their heads. Almost every Shriner present was at least 60 years old. As these fellas dinked around they would toss those tassels on their bucket hats like Cher when she was with Sonny.
The entire time the Circus was going on people were walking around, scrambling around in a constant state of movement. Shriner's every where all fezzed up and nowhere to go! The time came for the circus performers to make feutal attempts and distracting me from the bliss of gawking at all of the people in the "big ring."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Welcome the Shrine...uh-Welcome to the 62nd Annual Shrine Circus. Are you ready to begin the circus?" "I said, are you ready to begin the circus!" It was at that point that the Shriner Color guard came parading out followed by the Divan, the officers of the Shrine people. Each of these walking sofa's were dressed in their bucket, blue pants, and a light blue bowling shirt. That is when it hit me a revelation to rival Newton's theory, Einstein's theory, Kepler or Drake I had discovered a theory.
It seems that at a certain point in a man's life (I'm theorizing around 50) he subconsciously decides whether he will have his pants above or below his gut. I saw many examples of each lined up in a row. Those who wore their pants below the gut looked oddly wobbly and unsafe. Just as a dreidel spins precariously on it's tiny tip. The "bg" men also had to allocate more shirt coverage and have immense faith in the power of a cinched belt. "Bg's" also walk as if they are trying to shake something off the cuff of their polyester jean slacks. The above the gut group have a certain median of comfort and no matter how the circumference of their torso changes they always maintain the median comfort spot. This means that the pants rise, and rise, and rise. These folks walk in a somewhat reclined gait with significant arm swingage. I did see some men who have shucked convention and just wear one piece polyester jumpers replete with some sort of emblem on their chest pocket that adds some sort of , "It's ok that I am wearing a onsie at 90 because I have this sophisticated emblem on my chest and a pretty felt bucket on my head." I believe that you are required to wear either velcro fastening black shoes or just your basic slip on shoes. These appear to be an ensemble of shirt and pants with matching belt--but don't let that faux brass buckle fool you.
I must move on--so much to cover. I can only highlight three of the performers--My top fav's. First:Vincent Von Duke. This fella at some point in his life must have been muscular. He was tall, wearing a salmon colored genie costume. His hair was a seriously receding mullet that had been bleached far too many times. Von Duke was the Lion master. Those poor lions looked so bored. I know the only thing that kept them from devouring him was their conviction that they could never get the fowl taste of peroxide out of their mouths--no matter how much licking they did. Every tired trick produced this show-stopping wave of Von Duke's hand. I just knew that at any moment the show would begin to be exciting. Second: Circus girls. All of the girls who performed in this circus must have shopped at the Pole Dancing/Porn Thrift store. Clear Acrylic stilettos and black leather boots adorned scantily clad women who all wore phony tails that were ratted messes. The dog troop was really cute, they did the exact same stunts as the lions without Von Duke around. I got the biggest kick out of the Amazing Asante. His amazement was for balancing "things" but what was more amazing is that he was the chief stage hand coordinator. It was quite humorous to me to see this world famous, deaf defying acrobat stage handing. There was this guy who did BMX bike tricks, accompanied by his pole dance sans pole. The dynamic duo returned to stun the crowd with a roller skating demonstration. Riveting.
There was this family behind me who had obviously been counting down the days for this event. They came in so excited. Seven of the most interesting people I have ever seen. They got settled then bought everything on the menu that came with chili. They were loud talkers and loud laughers which annoy me. What was so funny to me is that they were spell bound the entire time. As if they had never seen anything so fantastic before in their life and woudl be forever changed by this experience. After the chili-fest they moved on the menu items covered in fair cheese (I really haven't figured out what canned nacho fair cheese flavored goo really is). After that funnel cakes and dippin dots. I can't imagine how horrified their digestive tracks must have felt.
The pony ride Titus went on was really funny. The ponies never stop moving, you have to find the pony you want to ride and almost run to keep up with them and toss your child on this moving horse. The horse attendant kept saying, "just put him on one and keep up." These suckers were moving at an alarming clip for this fat boy. I think we averaged two full rotations before we had to yank our children off the continuously moving ponies. Thank God they didn't do that with the elephants!
Every time I turned around I found myself breaking a twenty. Everything cost at least $5. Akdar commemorative light stick: $8; Stiff leash with poorly sewn dog, $10; Cotton Candy, $5; Elephant ride, $8; Pony ride, $8. I felt as though I was in Disney world where a Disney buck is a $20 bill.
Yes, the 62nd annual Shrine Circus, coming to a city near you didn't disappoint. I've always heard that there is no show like the circus and as long as there are those amazed by the performances provided by near and should be retiring circus professionals willing to pay then the "show" will be very worth it. Oh how I love to watch people they are the best acts around.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Odd Couples

Working in the church you come across some odd ducks every now and then. The church is full of those characters that are larger than life and stand out in the world as the sun does in the galaxy, however there are those whose oddities really rise to a new height. Such are Buck and Ruth.
Buck and Ruth were strange folks in every since of the word. Buck was always dressed in slacks, tightly tucked white shirt, pocket protector filled to the brim with pens, screwdrivers, and other ephemera necessary for his survival. His was a balding man, with salt and pepper Gray hear slicked back, and yet kind of fly away on the side. He had a "slapped" look about him usually. He was extremely intelligent and had his Bible packed full of articles and papers, truly using his sword as a file folder for all things biblical. When he walked up to me with that smile on his face, I always knew he had thought of something very clever. He had a booming announcers voice, but spoke very softly. I can also remember his tarnished gold, elasti-band watch most likely given to him by his company for retirement.
Ruth was always dressed in polyester. She had a botanical garden of polyester blouses and most always wore navy blue polyester pants or navy blue polyester skirt. She wore SAS nursing shoes and had her signature matching black handbag with the ivory scarf she wore to protect her hair from the elements. Ruth had a permanent smile which showcased her perfect smile (thanks to the modern marvels of dentures) and round glasses with an ever so slight tint. Her hair was salt and pepper grey, with the Queen Elizabeth hair do and always smelled of aqua net--always. Ruth could produce a tissue at a moments notice, like a western gunslinger always posed and ready to draw.
Buck and Ruth loved me and always sought me out to lavish my young insecure personality with compliments. Buck always knew some almanac fact or point of history that he could just regurgitate and share freely. They were very much into health and their health. Ruth knew exactly how many milligrams of sodium she had consumed in a day and freely shared the consequences of such overdose. Buck the same way. Every meal we shared at the church always had them pulling their wax paper packages of vitamins, pills, and other things to swallow out of their pockets. Perfectly cut, perfectly folded little bits of was paper. "Thank you Daddy." "You are welcome Mama." Their children had been grown and gone for close to thirty years yet they still had that sweet salutation.
Kendra and I were invited to their home for Sunday lunch once and still to this day talk about it as if we were driving home from their house. Their home was a typical 1960's ranch home, perfectly manicured and kept with every thing in its place. We joined them in the kitchen as they scrambled to get lunch on the table. "I have some appetizers for us to enjoy while lunch is being prepared." This relish plate had only pale green and white veggies, absent of any color. Cauliflower, celery, peeled radish all arranged on a white milk glass plate. The dip was a salt shaker and the information on how these veggies are best for you colon, "la, la. la, la, la."
Ruth placed the whipped mashed potatoes in her aqua blue serving bowl and began to make a decoration for presentation. She used a butter knife to carefully scallop the potatoes into this volcanic mound--licking the knife with every careful swipe! Atop the potato volcano she place two pats of butter which then oozed a golden lava river down the sides of the white potatoes. Fried chicken and green beans rounded out the lunch.
At the table the conversation was awkward, yet light. We just listened to them banter back and forth about their children and neighbors, etc. Just the things that sweet old people talk about. "Momma pass me the duck" "It's a chicken, Daddy." "Well, it's a duck isn't it?" "NO, Daddy it's a chicken." This was a basket which had been transformed into a pillowed poultry bun/biscuit holder. The bread was retrieved from the caboose of this poultry bread laying animal. Something about that retrieval portal bothered me. Buck was also very proud of his technique for removing all of the fat out of the chicken gravy. Note: removing fat from gravy is the equivalent of removing all the flavor. If you don't' want the fat, stay away from the gravy!
"Hey Will, I have a great story to tell you. Mama and I were on the way home--'Are you telling them about our great dinner find, Daddy?' Yes. Anyway, we were on our way home from the doctors office the other day and had just turned onto Hefner when the car in front of us hit a squirrel. The beauty of this is that they only clipped the head. I stopped and picked up the squirrel, took it home and dressed it and had fresh squirrel for dinner." I nearly choked, caught my eyeballs as they popped out of their sockets and proclaimed; "YOU ATE ROAD KILL!" "It was a clean kill, the meat was perfect." Shock...stunned shock is all I can say. "It tastes like chicken." I was immediately uneasy about the remaining morsels of meat on my plate. It's amazing how full one can get when you find out your host is combing the city for fresh road kill.
"Ready for dessert." Ruth disappears into the back bedroom. Minutes later she reappears with an institutional size can of sliced peaches. "I hope you like peaches." Kendra and I were calculating how many peaches we would actually have to eat-fifty or sixty maybe. We each had two peach halves in a beautiful bone china sherbet bowl. We also had animal crackers to go with our peaches.
Buck and Ruth were also known for their Meatloaf--I swear I cannot think about them holding their meatloaf without thinking of Sweeney-Todd. Buck would custom grind his own blend of meat depending upon what was in the fridge. Fresh-kill squirrel, bison, chicken, pork, beef ground up. Usually, the mystery ground meat conglomeration had some bizarre spices mixed in as well: cinnamon, cloves, thyme for example. Spices that clearly didn't like being together and decided to take out their hatred for one another on your tongue! There was also an intricately placed lattice work of very thin lines of ketchup. Meticulously drawn atop the mystery meatloaf. If only people knew what Kendra and I knew they would only admire the design and not partake.
The smell of Aqua net always takes me back to Ruth and the sight of dead squirrel's shutter me back to that fateful Sunday a decade ago when I realized that cars can be used as weapons of mass destruction.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When I rule the world: Part One

There are some things that just aren't fair to me. Call is selfish or mean spirited but somethings just don't seem to be fair. Some things are just not fair to me--period while other things are not fair in general. Facing these injustices has always rubbed me the wrong way and made me wish that I could rule the world and solve all of these problems handily and in one fail swoop. So...I have a list of things I would do if I were to rule the world, things that would make me feel better at least. This installment will cover just a few, there will be more--plenty more.

When I rule the world:

  • Banks will not be allowed to charge you for insufficient funds. Clearly if anyone on the planet knows about your financial insufficiency it would be your bank. To charge you money when you clearly do not have money is just not fair or right. Banks will have to come up with something else.
  • Banks will also not be allowed to charge you for any service they provide. It is simply ridiculous to do that. Bank patrons will be able to charge inconvenience fees if they have to drive more that 3 miles to get to their bank to make their transactions. This fee will be based on a graduated scale and will not exceed $10,000 per violation.
  • Any and all Petroleum companies that show a profit will be required to return that money to the patrons of their gas stations. This return will be done by dividing the gallons of gas sold by the profit made and then giving that much off at the pump. If the gas comes out free with the patrons getting one or two dollars then so be it. That is for you to work out on your own-Bub!
  • Any company that charges you an interest rate will not be allowed to charge more than one percent of the amount borrowed. If they feel the need to charge more to punish and cause pain and suffering then it cannot be more than 5% in one billing cycle.
  • The cellular phone industry will be radically transformed. Flat fees will be paid to providers and you call whoever you want whenever you want. Land line phone companies have done it that way for centuries and it works great for them.
  • Any vehicle that is equipped with that heart thumping, car vibrating stereo thing will be instantly destroyed, no questions asked. That crap can be enjoyed in the isolation of your own place and not inflicted upon those who are surrounded by them.
  • Certain vehicles will be equipped with rocket launchers. Stupid drivers will be annihilated without explanation. If are going to drive then you will drive with sense. This includes anyone who drives in a lane fully knowing they will be changing lanes, but choose to go faster just to get ahead--Boom!
  • My cellular phone service will be destroyed along with every single employee paid to provide the services they sell. Gone, they will be gone!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hell has a Green Valley

When I was thirteen my parents sent me to Green Valley Bible Camp in Rogers, Arkansas and I still don't think I have recovered from that experience. I was not a gad about as a boy, I stayed home and kept to myself. I didn't have friends whose house I went to or friends whom I spent every waking moment with away from home. Lincoln Kirk, who lived in Pittsburg, and Matt Mortenson were the two friends I had. I spent every waking moment that I wasn't in school with my Mom and Dad at home. I just didn't get out and go and do, socialization was not something that I desired.
Enter Camp. Camp is designed for people who have friends, enjoy socializing and also crave a rustic pioneering atmosphere. I didn't have friends or socializing and certainly didn't want to connect with my pioneer brothers of yester year. I loved the electronic age, refrigeration, microwaves, and my TV friends who were always there at their designated times.
My sister loved going to Green Valley and ticked away the year each day, anxiously awaiting the week of freedom she enjoyed in Arkansas far away from her family. She was a normal teenager with all of the typical teenager "things." I, on the other hand, was a reclusive, shy boy who was only comfortable with my family or those older than me.
I had to pack according to the strict dress code of the camp, and bring all of my other necessary paraphernalia to make it through this week that I was about to endure. That fateful Sunday approached--departure day. Mom, Dad, and I had our last supper, loaded the car and headed to the building for my trip to Arkansas. I can remember the nerves building up indide of me like a massive tumor feeding off the nervous energy being created. We loaded the Gospel Chariot, an old school bus painted green, and headed for Arkansas. It was hot, the bus was not air conditioned and I was alone--totally alone with no one to talk to as I bounced and bumped further and further away from the comfort I was missing. All of the other anxious, chattering campers were busy talking about their memories of Green Valley sharing all of the stories that they were so excited to relive a then begin new memories of this happy respite from summer's doldrums.
I felt as if we would never, ever get to that camp. The camp was nestled in a densely wooded region of Northwest Arkansas. The faint sound of banjo music playing with bose quality sound. All of Arkansas' humidity was generated from Green Valley. There were no sounds of the city, only the buzzing chirping squeaking sounds of the wild, wild west. then there were the sounds of the hundreds of excited chattering children scrambling to get settled in for their week of camp. Gleefully reconecting with the camp friends. I on the other hand, stood frozen on this foreign patch of land. Seems there aren't welcoming patrons waiting to take new campers by the hand and get them settled in for a great week of camp. No, you are on your own, on your own to figure out the drill the schedule the cabin. I had a sleeping bag, suitcase, my pillow which now had a dusting of Arkansas dirt which made the pillowcase feel like sand paper piled around my ankles, and no clue where I was supposed to go. I finally found my way through registration and headed to cabin 4. Clearly hell has a Green Valley and I was there for a week.
The girls cabin's were on on one side of the valley along the steep hill, dirt trails led campers to their hillbilly huts. In the valley was the mess hall, open-air auditorium, pool, command central, and the small sporting venues like BB gun range, darts, horse shoes, ping pong, basketball all scattered along the long valley, on the other side of the valley along another steep hill were the boys cabins. The softball fields were up another hill in the back of the valley, and another softball field in the front of the valley near the entrance to the camp.
The cabins were crudely built shingled huts with screen windows and a rusty metal door that never really shut well. There were large wooden storm shutters propped up, which were closed 9 months out of the year. Inside the cabin, there were six sets of bunk beds with old, musty mattress slapped upon the large wooden frames. The smell of must, dust, and mold shut down your sinuses like Fort Knox, you were not able to breath through your nose only through your mouth which meant you tasted every breath. you could spray water on the wall and wake up to a fresh crop of mushrooms in the morning. Oh it was hot and humid.
As I was making my bed, which was simply unrolling my sleeping bag and getting all of my stuff stowed away I realized something horrible. The flashlight my Dad had packed had nearly dead batteries. Flashlights were imperative to navigate through the pitch black valley and scale the mountain upon which rested our cabin--this required a flashlight--with good batteries. A boy that went to church with me, Tony Flint, was across the room on the top bunk. "Hey Tony, did you remember to bring a flashlight?" "Yeah, you gotta have one--here it is." You know where this is going! "Can I see it?" "Sure." Fresh batteries! Quick swap--good to go. Surely this dastardly deed would be overlooked, after all I was encamped in the green valley of hell for the sake of the Lord! The command central/general store had batteries for sale. At Green Valley you were given a supply of paper strips that acted as cash. You were to write your name on the slip and your cabin number. Everything cost a sum of tickets, they were your currency. Batteries for flashlights: 10 tickets. Buying batteries for a cabin mate whose flashlight mysteriously ran out of battery life thus causing nauseating guilt for another cabin mate who resorted to petty theft: Priceless. I guess I would just dip my drinks out of the mossy green water hose fountains scattered about the camp. Or, just wring my shirt for a 44 oz. gulp of thirst quenching sulphur!
At Green Valley you know the schedule changes each day by the screaming of the adults. All meals were in an unconditioned mess hall which had absolutely no draft at all! All of the heat generated by the kitchen was successfully contained in the cabin, coupled with the body heat of a hundred or so kids and counselors and you have a nauseating heat which quenches any hunger pangs with the putrid pain of misery. I sweat more in that first few hours than in all of the 13 years of my life combined. The sweat was stinging my eyes as it ran like niagra falls down my head. Misery upon miser! Solomon would had nothing on me.
You were not allowed to wear shorts because that would lead you to lust after the legs of the lady campers and cause one to sin and begin the long journey toward the dark world of laciviousness. Instead you were clothed in denim, during the hottest week of an Arkansas summer. You were also required to change each evening inot worship attire, slacks and a shirt--every night! Lust was the farthest thing from one's mind. Pouring your ice cold cola (three tickets) down your pants does not put out the fires of lust, oh no it extinguished and gave brief relief to a near spontaneous combustion!
The heat was distracting, the loneliness was distracting. I had been there not even a full day and felt as if I had been there for a year. I was in for a long, long week. I had not made friends, most likely my fault, and just wandered around longing for the comforts of home, shorts and air conditioning. I sat in worship each night radiating heat, sweating, and wishing that the goddess of wind would just blow one quick breath my way. Oh I was hot!
As the sun fell the battalion of mosquitoes came out. Mosquitoes love my blood. They flock to me as a hummingbird flocks to red bottles of delicious nectar. I looked like a bee keeper only I was covered in mosquitoes. Mosquitoes didn't care that I had a layer of Off on my skin, the risk of their death was worth the delicious taste of my blood, and suck they did! The valley doesn't really cool down at night, it stays hot--it's just dark hot. When you are camping in the Green Valley of hell it's not such a good idea to cuddle up in a sleeping bag designed to keep you warm in 20 below.
As I laid there on my top bunk sweating profusely it dawned on me that I had to go to the bathroom. I was surprised I had any fluid to void. Now, where was the bathroom! Just a trek in the dark through the wilderness about 30 yards away from my cabin. Drill: Take your flashlight, wear your shoes, walk carefully and watch for snakes--G R E A T! Damn my bladder and colon for their frequent, clockwise precision--they clearly didn't get the memo I was at camp, 30 yards away from the bathroom. Blast!
The bathroom was hot, there was a definite theme here, and a hot boys bathroom none the less. Boys away from their mother's warning that aim does count. Clearly all bets were off and aim was a laughable suggestion. I had just walked into a urine sauna! The smell was disgusting. You practically had to chew the air it was so thick. Ok...rush and flush-- a flush, by the way, that took care of the previous 20 boys who heeded the call of nature in that stall. The lights above the sinks of course had attracted a menagarie of photophyllic bugs drunk on their light quest. There were Crickets scrambling to crawl out of the porcelain death they had found themselves to be in. Just a drop of water is all they needed yet they were going to be flushed away--lucky ducks! Oh to be flushed away from the green valley of hell.
A typical day meant getting up at 7:30, hygiene, breakfast, class, class, class, lunch, afternoon sports, nap, dinner, worship, some type of entertainment, snack break, closing devo, bed time. Swimming was really a hoot. We were not allowed to mix gender in the pool. A huge bell was rung which signaled that the girls were marching to the pool. All boys were sent to their cabins for rest. The windows were slammed shut to block us from our temptaiton. All the girls marched down the hill, wrapped in a towel and wearing a dark colored t-shirt. When the girls had made it safely into the pool the bell was rung again and the wooden shutters were raised. We did the same thing again when the girls went back to their cabins. I saw swimming as my bath and left it at that because the thought of standing in a room full of naked men and boys was just not my idea of fun. Thus was the drill everyday.
By Thursday, I had developed a heat rash on both legs on my inner thighs. Just when I thought I couldn't be more miserable i developed a rash! Who needs a t-shirt? A rash would be fabulous, just fabulous!
I could not wait to get home! Finally Saturday morning had come. I had been pardoned from my prision--freedom at last. Sweet freedom. That old, bouncy, noisy bus could not drive fast enough to get me back to Hillcrest and home. Even though I didn't want to ever speak to my parents again because they sentenced me to this horrible week--I was thrilled to see them!
Ahhhh...home! Air conditioning, carpeting, TV, humidity free comfort. Cool sheets, clean toilets, food not handed to you on military lunch trays, drinks at your leisure and not requiring tickets which I lost by Tuesday. And a cream that quenched the fire of that rash. I never wanted to go back to that camp again! Had I known about therapy i would have definitely sought some type of professional help to clear my mind of this horrible week. I did go back to visit once or twice and was reminded just how lucky I was to be able to go home.
Lucy has wonderful memories of this place, went as long as she could go as a camper, and has returned as a counselor for several years. Why I will never know! They can have the Green Valley of hell! I'd rather remove my own gallbladder with an oyster fork!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happiest of Birthday's Kirstie Girl

Eighteen years ago today was a day filled with intense sorrow and immense joy. It is the only day in my life where I struggled to balance the avalanche of emotions. On this day it marked a fabulous ending and a fabulous beginning. The ending was the the funeral for my Granny-the beginning was the birth of our Kirstie Girl.
My Great Grandmother, Fleeter Hill, raised my Mom. Fleeter lived a hard life, growing up in Alabama on a share croppers farm. She married when she was 12 and had a baby by 13, Aunt Mae. My Granny literally climbed up a mountain all of her life, overcoming obstacle after obstacle. Granny took my Mom home from the hospital to raise her because her mother, Pauline (Granny's daughter) could not raise her. I grew up knowing Granny, not as my Great Grandmother but just as my Granny. There will be a post dedicated to this lady.
Granny had a massive stroke in 1985 that left her paralyzed on the left side and without speech. She was not without life or character and that shone through until the day she finally gave the world a break and crossed over to comfort, joy, peace, and eternal rest after a long, hard, life. My Granny never took anything lying down and fought the world with a double fisted tenacity that I envy to this day.
Lucy struggled with fertility and had resigned herself to begin infertility treatment because they were just not successful on their own. She and her husband were going to take some time off and then begin the journey through the wilderness of infertility. We think that a Harley-Davidson colliding with a railroad track, speed bump, opened a small window of opportunity for Kirstie's creation. I believe it was Mother's Day (if it wasn't Mother's Day then it was Father's Day) 1987 that Lucy revealed to our family that she was with child. Her pregnancy was tough, she miscarried Kirstie's twin and was confined to bed for the remainder of her pregnancy. Granny had been in and out of the hospital with various bouts of illness all through Lucy's pregnancy. But we never knew that we were going to have a day like we would on February 20th.
I basically moved in with my Sis. I continued to babysit the children she cared for so she could continue to get the income, cooked, cleaned, ironed, did laundry, and just loved her. She and I really wove our relationship into the tight mesh that it is today during this time. I would not trade that time for anything in this world.
The day of my Granny's funeral was insane. All of the funeral relatives had arrived and were feverishly trying to reconnect. In my family, we only came together for funerals and at no other time. When my Uncle Raymond (the only child of 13 that my Granny didn't have to bury) died we saw the last of the funeral relatives because we had exhausted the "family" that drew us together. Everyone was telling stories and reminiscing about Granny each one laying a different tile in the mosaic of her life. Everyone was at our house and there was a bustle everywhere, people in the yard in the kitchen in the den in the family room--everywhere. I had snuck down stairs to my fortress of solitude to hide from reality and heard the phone ring. It was Doug, Lesa had gone into labor and Kirstie and she were in danger. Mom and Dad teleported to the hospital to be there for their baby girl. I was left at home with all of the funeral relatives. To say I was out of my element is a gross understatement. I had relatives trying to blow up our microwave by making fast tea in a gallon jar. There was no way I could control any of them because I didn't know who had weapon's and who didn't.
Saying goodbye to my Granny was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I spent the better part of my childhood with her, she was my primary baby sitter and most favorite "spend the night place" next to my Robba, and was in a deep state of depression that I would never again be with her. I still miss the year round blast furnace heat of her house, the feel of flanel, her thin, cool wrinkled skin, the reminisint smell of tobacco juice (she chewed "backy" Good Money woven tobacco) and coffee that filled her house. So many scent memories, so many memories period. The feather bed...oh the feather bed.
Saying hello to my Kirstie-girl was awesome. I am unclear on the exact time that I actually came to the hospital to see Sis and KL. I believe it was the day after the funeral and I came from work. That seems right. "Here she is, bud!" "Hi, Kirstie--I'm your uncle Will. We'll be very good friends you and me and you will never go through anything alone because I will be there for you." I brought my Sis carnations, her favorite and some "baby" carnations as well for the Kirstie girl. I also brought KL an Enesco "Growing Up" baby and have continued to gift those to her every year up to her 16th; there is only one more left the graduation doll that comes in April.
Kirstie is so feisty, so sweet, just a joy to be around. We were tight, except when I tried to comb her hair and fix a style for her. Every other time we were buds. She called me Unkie and has ever since. Kirstie embodied the feisty spirit of Granny, almost as if their spirits passed each other--Granny on her way up and Kirstie on her way down--and connected. She is tough, smart, and gentle all at the same time, just like Granny. I was so proud of her as a baby, as a toddler, as a young girl, and now as a young woman. She has really set the bar high for herself and manages to leap over those with ease and grace.
We began making sugar cookies together on Christmas eve and leaving them out for Santa. I loved making cookies with her. One of Kirstie's greatest loves is eating. She embraces carbs and sweets with warm affection like welcoming a long lost relative home again. Mashed potatoes and home made rolls buckle her knees. Ever since she was a tiny baby she would emit this moan that signaled to all of us that she had been satisfied and our scramble was over. Whether buying shoes, trying on swim suits, looking for the right Barbie, the lost shoe for Barbie, you name it when she gave the moan you knew the girl had been satisfied.
I left for college when she was three or four and missed every major milestone much to my dismay. Now that we are close enough to be together for dinner I don't miss a thing. We spend a lot of time together and have such a great relationship. She is truly my pride and joy and I love her with all of my heart.
She graduates this year and closes a chapter that I wish was not months away but years, just so I could selfishly hold on to a little more of the girl I love. The journey she begins after graduation will take her to places I do not yet know. I do know that road she will walk has been paved with a deep love for the Lord, and a smart savvy in the true spirit of Granny and Lucy. I have often wished that Kirstie could sit close to Granny as her tired yet strong hands ran through the silky smooth pony tail as those hands did with Lucy was her age. I long for the times that Granny would embarrass Lucy and I to the point of death because it is so much fun to embarrass KL. What Kirstie missed in not knowing Granny she has made up in allowing her Mom to be her best friend because there is no truer champion than to have Lucy in your corner.
Happiest of birthday's sweet girl. Your Unkie loves you and admires the future you have but admires you more for the woman you are. I love you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The lap of Luxury just stood up!

Today I was in the lap of luxury--for approximately 3 hours. I had three meetings to attend in Oklahoma City and had to rent a car to get my caboose to the capital. I went through Thrifty Rental because they rented Chrysler Pacifica's and I really want to drive one of those babies--I love the way they look.
My meeting was on Monday mid-morning. Since we are down to one car I felt I needed to rent one so Teensy and the boys could have a ride if Kendra needed it. I really struggled and strained to muster up the nerve to ask someone to pick me up and take me to the airport to rent my car. I thought if i rented it last night i would be able to get up and get on the road first thing this morning. Our Youth Minister was willing to oblige and hauled me to the airport.
Airports are really quite scary places at night. Our airport is relatively small although not tiny, but no O'Hare. As I was dropped off at the Rental Car return and made my way toward what I thought was the right way I finally found the rental booth. That's where I met Clara.
Clara had been working a very long shift and had her sleeves rolled up, hair in a pony tail and looked like she had been standing in front of a fan, a very windy fan. She was one of those people who looked at you over her glasses, which were in serious need of cleaning. Most likely diggin out lost pencils in her mustup hair. "May I help you?" "Yes ma'am I'm here to rent--"; "Name? " Clara was in no mood for joviality or hospitality for that matter. Clearly she needed to sneak back to the back and pour a cup of Diet Dr. Thunder in the Sonic cup she brings to work everyday so she won't have to pay for the sodas at work. After giving her all of the information she needed she said, "We are all out of the cars you requested and only have the following cars available...." Crap! I only rented from your throw-back agency because I wanted the Pacifica. "We have a 300 M with all leather--very nice and luxurious." "I'm all for nice and very ready to sign up for luxurious. " there an additional charge?" "Yes, $8 I can't upgrade for free you know." "Well you don't have my car so--" "SIR, we can't upgrade to that level without me getting fired. It's $8" I smiled calmly. There will be some day that I rip into people like that and take them out, but I will have to have some serious mind altering trauma for that to occur. "OK, I'll take the 300M for $8 additional."
This car was a beauty! The outside color was a blue/gray called magnesium, just beautiful. The interior was the color of white mocha! Heaven! As I sat in the car I noticed that my head did not scrape the roof as it does in my cracker box. The seats were supple, butter soft leather--the color of a white mocha! The car had that new car with leather smell fully uncorrupted by the pipe smoking, sweaty, executives that will be flatulating in this dream machine next go round. Poor undeserving luxurious coach, why should it live out it's life in the rented burrows of haphazard executives out for blood. Loved that new car smell.
As I drove out of the airport I realized that I really should live the lifestyle that makes these cars a reality--I'm destined for the lap of luxury, but it always stands up. For me this was a 24 hour rental and an hour and a half drive each way. I would only be in the lap of luxury for 3 hours before it would stand up.
This morning I got in the dream machine picked up my White Mocha and sipped my fancy coffee in my rented swanky luxurious roadster. This is the life--not the life I normally live but the life of someone who clearly doesn't appreciate that they have it so good. I called Mildred to report on this dream machine and just grab onto someone who could connect with the state of bliss I was enjoying. Even though she was sickly she grabbed on--with one hand.
I felt subconscious at several points throughout the three hour tour and had moments when I wanted to roll down the window and say, "This is a rental I don't really own a car like this although I would love too" That would be awkward though so I just let them think what I thought they were thinking and moved on.
When you are sipping white mocha's and cruising in the lap of luxury you don't really know how fast you are going. I realized I was going 90 miles an hour! I needed to slow down. On the way home I was cruising back to reality and wishing the counter lady would just award me this car for pain and suffering, but that was a pipe dream--which I really like pipe dreams. As I approached a fairly congested wad of cars I noticed that a trooper was also cruising home. The cruiser and I were neck and neck, but I was not about to pass the trooper. Something inside me just says, "don't" and I don't. I was trying not to pass him and at the same time trying not to act like I was trying not to pass him. That's when he rolled down his window and waved me on around him. "Me...shooed away by a trooper? It must be the luxurious roadster." In my reality, car I would have been pulled over and tazered for obstructing the flow of traffic.
I bid my brief touch with the luxury lifestyle adieu, stepping out of the crisp clean car and back into reality. My tiny, boxy import will haul me from hither to yawn in cramped economy. I have tasted freedom and cannot be the same. Yes, the lap of luxury is soft and comfortable, but when that jerk stands up the fall back to reality is hard and fast. Now the smell of stale french fries and sour milk will nail me against the wall of reality and hold me prisoner until my next brush with an $8 upgrade from an over worked underpaid airport rental employee named Clara.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Courtship of Kendra Rushing

I tend to lean on the side of being oblivious to the obvious. Especially when it comes to relationships and dating and all of that stuff. When people would tell me in college that so and so liked me it was a total shock, complete and total shock. There was, after all, no way that they could like me. Even more to the point is the fact that I was totally afraid of the confrontation and potential rejection of approaching any girl and "asking her out."
The courtship of Kendra Rushing is simply a miracle. I have no idea how she stayed with me or even decided to marry me for that matter. Lord knows she had plenty of warning! Kendra and I became good friends as a result of having mutual friends and "running together." I had known of Kendra as she was a Dorm supervisor for the Dorm in which some friends of mine lived in. Every day she would come striding in, black wind pants with a cotton shirt--hair pulled up into a clip on top of her head. She looked tough-really tough. And she had this posse that followed. Usually three sometimes four girls tagging along right behind her. It was that way everyday. She noticed me too and thought I was a snob. I was actually very shy and awkward and tried to avoid socialization. I did stare at a lot of people and usually had a jaw dropped but that's not snobbery--it's sociology.
We were great friends and really became close. What I didn't know was that she was falling in love with me. I, on the other hand had not a clue. Karen Neel was my coach and my cattle prod in getting me to take the leap of faith. I resisted because I was totally comfortable with the way things were and didn't want what we had to change because I pursued something better. I tend to like doing the same thing and don't ever have to change. i amd a consumate creature of habit and do not stray from my routines at all. My friends and family can attest to my proclivity to not changing a thing.
"Will, Kendra really likes you and you need to ask her out. She'll say yes and you guys will have a great time." I was still licking my wounds from the last date I suffered and didn't really want to get a fresh taste of that nightmare again. "I just don't know, we are good friends I don't' think she likes me." This was the conversation for several months. Winter had come which meant Christmas break. I had bought Kendra a new outfit and was very proud of the purchase. I thought she would look great. Kendra came over to my condo to exchange gifts. She bought me a robe, matching sleeping boxers, and two pictures of her. I immediately was uncomfortable that she gave me a gift I would wear to bed and thought that to be terribly forward of her. The pictures on the other hand were beautiful--she was beautiful. I just stared at those pictures and realized that I did love her. And that I didn't want her to leave. I didn't want her in Brazil, but here at home.
I told Karen that I was going to ask her out after Christmas break. "I'm going to write her a note and give it to her so she can read it over break. We can go out when she gets back." "You can't send her a letter--that's crazy. You just need to call her. Besides when she comes back from break she is going to start getting ready to go to Brazil." "Brazil! three years what the heck." She couldn't go to Brazil. Now I really had to move. I didn't' move. Christmas break came and Kendra left for home. Karen stopped by the church where I was working and gave me a letter from Kendra. Talk about betrayal! I read the letter which revealed her affections for me and knew I needed to get in touch with her. I left for home and stayed with Lucy. I tried to call all Christmas break and never could get through or determine if I was actually calling the right house. Their answering machine was messed up and the message was all goofy. I tried and tried. I told my sister to save the phone bill in case Kendra didn't believe me. She agreed.
When we all got back to school we decided to meet at Harrigan's for a New Year's dinner. Kendra, Karen, and me.
We wouldn't have our first date until October 29th. It was her birthday and we were going to go out to eat and to a movie. Dinner was great, with really good conversation--nothing awkward. Then came the movie. We were going to see some really long movie like Little Women or something and had our snacks and drinks. When we walked into the theater we sat down and I put my foot up on the armrest in front of me because I have really long legs. The armrest fell off--great! Kendra just laughed it off and settled into the movie. I put my arm around her just as the movie started to show some affection. We had yet to hold hands, hug, or kiss. As the movie played on I became uncomfortable with my arm around her and tried to move it. Kendra had leaned against my sweater and trapped my arm. This is where awkward comes in. I didn't want to say anything to her for fear she would think I didn't want my arm around her, I didn't want to jerk my arm away because I was afraid she would think I didn't want my arm around her. What would I do? Suffer!
After about 15 minutes of excruciating pain she readjusted in her seat and gave me a window of opportunity to move my arm. My arm had fallen asleep and moved to the state where you feel as though it is 200 pounds and totally limp. I had full and complete dead arm. When i moved it to my lap it just flopped onto my leg and sat there all swollen and limp.
We didn't hold hands for about a month or two after that. Again we were at the movies. I had decided that tonight was the night I would hold her hand. I was a nervous wreck. My strategy went like this: Make sure that I am on the left side--I'm left handed and needed to have my dominant hand free.; About 1/4 of the way through the movie I would put my hand on my thigh wait about five minutes and slide my hand toward my knee; at the 1/2 way mark I would place a pinkie on her knee...wait...then place the whole hand on her knee. That was the point of no return. Everything went as planned. But disaster was about to strike. I had my hand fully on her knee and she has placed her hand on her thigh in close proximity to my hand but not on my hand. We were not holding hands. She clearly didn't want to hold my hands and I had been totally to forward. We were sure to break up because she thought that I only wanted her for her body. Come to find out her arm was too short and mine too long-- she couldn't reach my hand!
Two months later I decided I would kiss her. I had tried to kiss her on several occasions during the decision point, but just never did. She either got out of the car before I could do anything, or just didn't happen. We would sit in my car in the parking lot and talk for hours and hours upon end, sometimes until 3 and 4 in the morning. Sunday night was the night I decided to kiss her. What would the strategy be? How in the name of God do you kiss someone? I had seen it in the movies but never actually kissed anyone other than good bye. So many questions. We talked and talked. It was about 2 am and she said, "I really have to go. I have work in the morning. I'll see you tomorrow night." We had been seeing each other every day for about two months now. "Wait...Kendra...there's something I need to do...I mean...something I need to ask's just that I really like you and I enjoy holding your hand, but I was wondering if.." SMACK! I had kissed her! I had made contact with her lips! She kissed me back. No slap to the face or pepper spray, but a soft kiss in return for my aggressive move. "I thought you would never kiss me!" "Well, I just didn't want to seem too forward." "Don't worry, you are the farthest thing from forward. Kiss me again." I called Lucy to tell that my virgin lips were no more. My four year old niece answered the phone, "well it's about time Unkie! What took you so long?" "Can I just talk to your Mom please." "MOOOM! Unkie kissed that girl finally!"
One of our favorite games to play during our courtship was hide and seek. She was a live-in Nanny for three precious kiddos and we spendt hours and hours together playing with them. Hide and Seek was fun because the kids would hide and we would hide--to kiss! Dirty and perverted I know, but kissing was fun.
We dated for a year. Then i asked her if she would be my wife to which she agreed. We were married in the middle of March and enjoyed a honeymoon in Vegas. Talk about Moses going to Sodom! I was out of place. What happened on our honeymoon will stay locked away between she and I for our hearts only. All I will say is that if you think Barney Fife and Gomer Pile were bumbling fools, they had nothing on the learning curve of our honeymoon!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Teensy & the Boys

My wife and I will have been married for 12 years this March. It's hard to imagine that I've been married that long really. I never dated in high school, or college for that matter. Never experienced the "first kiss" or holding hands awkwardly. All of that stuff missed me. I had one girlfriend in 5th grade, Barbie Reeves, and that was all she was, my girlfriend. I never called her, we never held hands, we never went to the movies, we only saw each other during 6th hour. We were together like that all school year. When summer came I forgot to break up, actually I didn't know that was part of the "girlfriend thing." She moved out of district and didn't show up until my Senior year. She had changed into this very dark person. Smoked, wore punk clothes and was not my type. When I saw her I said, "Hey Barb, long time no see. I guess this would be as good a time as any to break up. Sorry it took so long." She gave me this half cocked strange look and said, "O...k I hope you are OK with this decision." My first dating experience was with a girl named Denise, her grandmother asked--begged--me to call her up and go on a date with her. I called and she accepted. Typical of my incredible low self esteem I panicked and bought an entirely new outfit (underwear, socks, the whole nine yards-even waited to shave and took another shower right before going to her house) and contemplated buying a new car, but didn't have time. I was totally nervous that she wouldn't like me and would dismiss herself at dinner to go powder her nose and then crawl out the window escaping to her freedom. The date almost went that bad. I took her to my favorite place, Bellini's Italian Bistro. I spent the remainder of the evening staring at an arm-crossed mute. Awkward on a level that no scale or algorithm could calculate. When I'm nervous I start blabbering about the most bizarre things and never stop to give anyone a break. I was regurgitating every trivia fact I knew, commenting on the wait staff that I acted as I were family, and pointed out every single table I had dined at in the restaraunt. Then tere were the famous Waterford ducks that I tried to talk about. It was awkward. That was the case on this night. Totally uncomfortable and awkward, stumbling and gafawing all over myself. We called the date over after dinner even though I had some movie times in my pocket just in case. "So, would you like to go to a movie?" "Oh, NO! I mean, you have to work tomorrow and i wouldn't want you to be tired or anything." It was 7:30! I was just a tad beyond that being my bedtime since I had to stay up until 1 am to perform my duties as a Dorm monitor. The car didnt' really come to a complete stop before she was out the door and on the porch. I was as glad as she was that it was over. I swore I would never ever date again (I was 23 and clearly too old to be going on a first date).
Mutual friends of Kendra and me started talking behind our backs about how we should get together. I wanted no part of it, but did become good friends with her and enjoyed that. I'll have to save our courtship for another blog. Skipping forward--we got married.
After being married for two years we decided to begin our family. Six months into our efforts we decided we needed to get professional help. That started our journey through infertility. Kendra has a host of medical problems that made our ability to have children impossible. Specialist after specialist told us we could not have children. Surgery, pills, shots, thermometers and charts, you name it we tried it. Some of the things we were told would be sure fire can't miss things turned into a Barnum and Bailey center ring attraction. Needless to say we were frustrated and climbed the mountain for about four years. Each month that passed more frustrated.
The realization that we were not going to bring children into this world from our gene pools was painful and rather devastating to accept. Adoption opened up an opportunity for us and we pursued that. When we were accepted through an agency and began the process of waiting for a birth mother to select our profile we waited nine months. Titus came to us rather unexpectedly, but we were thrilled. Note: I'm giving ver basic information (basic for me) and I'll be sure to tell each of their stories in the painful details that my posts often disclose. Titus will be 5 in June.
Titus was two and another opportunity just fell into our laps. A friend of ours at our church in Texas had come to find out that their daughter's preschool teacher was pregnant and did not want the baby. One night at Starbucks we met and spent about three hours talking after which time she asked if we would accept her unborn child into our family. Enter Levi. It's so hard to just skate over these stories--you have no idea. Levi will be two in August.
Kendra and I had finished our family and our time with the church in Texas. We moved to Oklahoma at the first of last year. Due to the nature of our situation Kendra and the boys lived in Missouri with my Mom while I lived and worked in Oklahoma at our new Church home. Our house in Fort Worth was on the market. After living apart from January until March we decided in April to buy a house and keep our home in Texas on the market and just make it work. My great church paid the mortgage on our Texas house which was a blessing. We moved into our new home in April and love it.
For most of the 2006 summer and into fall Kendra felt horrible. No improvment and it was October. In November she finally decided to go to the doctor and get checked out. she knew she had a hernia by her belly button and figured the rest was a medication malfunction. We finally got an appointment for November 29th at 10 am. We dropped off our boys at preschool and made our way to the doctor's office for her checkup. there was a massive winter storm approaching and we were hoping to get through and home with the boys before all of that stuff hit.
At 10:30 I was summoned to the exam room from the waiting room. Kendra was crying and her doctor looked very pale. He said, "Mr. Spoon your wife is pregnant and in grave danger. Her blood pressure is extremely high and she is at risk of stroke or seizure. She needs to go straight to the Emergency room by you or by ambulance." A very long...long pause ensued. "So...she's pregnant?" I seemed to get high center on that one. The rest began to slowly leech into my thick head. He doctor made his way to the front and began calling the hospital while we began making our way to the ER.
I dropped Kendra off at the door and found a parking spot. The storm had started and it was getting ugly outside. In the ER a nurse took Kendra to the first stage, temp and blood pressure with the "what's your problem" questions. We were not through with that when a nurse just appeared out of thin air and said, "Spoon! Come with me" We were on our way to the second floor. I text messaged Millie at that point. Lucy was on her way up and all of our family was on their way too. All we knew at that point was that Kendra was pregnant and in danger of losing her life and the babies life.
The second floor of the hospital is Labor and Delivery. We were in a L/D room. I still couldn't believe it. I felt as if I were in the Matrix and everything around me was moving slowly while I was moving at break neck pace. A crew of 8 nurses had Kendra stripped and fully wired in about thirty seconds. I was sitting in a chair, breathing--deep and slow. At one point I remember asking, "Is there anyone here who attends to husbands?" No response. I supposed I would be discovered when one of the nurses tripped over my lifeless body. I was all alone my boys were all alone at school and I was staring at my wife, contemplating what decision I would make if the fate of her life were thrust upon me.
Dr. Walter came rolling in. She was an interesting person. The love child of Phylis Diller and Eddy Albert. "Kendra, I'm Dr. Walter--you are pregnant we aren't sure how far along, but one thing is for sure--you are delivering a baby today maybe tomorrow if we can keep you alive that long." B...A...B...Y! Today! Holy Cow! Today? Another text fired off to Mildred. By this time the sonogram cart had been rolled in. The mega-fancy one was on another floor and put into que for our room. This sonogram machine was very old and used only to see if the baby's head was in the birthing canal. The inexperienced nurses were roaming around Kendra's tummy looking for something. The nurse said, "there's the baby." I was looking for a kidney bean sized baby on the screen--"I see the head." HEAD! Oh dear God that is a full blown baby in that gut! That head was huge! "This baby is at least in the third tri-mester, right Doctor?" "At least, we'll know more when we see it."
For the next twelve hours we were waiting, anxiously waiting for Kendra to stabilize and not get worse. Slowly our family managed to make it in and took over caring for our boys. On November 30th at 7:42 in the morning Emma came into the world by emergency c-section. She weighed 3 pounds 2 ounces and was 17 inches long. She was 29 weeks long and had a mountain to climb. I briefly got a chance to see her before she was taken to the NICU. She was in the NICU for forty days and came home at 5 pounds on the nose.
She is my teensy, the genesis for the title of this rambling waste of cyberspace. Teensy and the boys are all gifts which I do not deserve to have. Each one of their precious little lives are amazing. I am in awe and amazement each and everyday at just how amazing and wonderful they are. Teensy is getting bigger and bigger each day and the boys are getting bigger and badder everyday. We love them so much.
I have many, many more stories to share from within the confines of this post, but this is in a nutshell the story of Teensy and the Boys.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Imagine Nations

I think my family must have spent 100 million dollars on toys for our boys. When you have three sets of grandparents, Lucy, plus my wife and I you can only imagine the quantities of "things" we have accumulated. We could open a car lot selling only Cozy Coupe models, a video store selling only children's videos guaranteed to move any adult into a comatose state. Then we have books, trains--Oh my God do we have trains! Titus is a train freak, Thomas the Tank engine specifically, and has amassed three different sets of tracks, a train table, and every train, car, crane, or helicopter on the Island of Sodor. I cannot describe the horror of stepping on one of those blasted trains in the middle of the night. A foot pain that reaches every single acre of my body and is one of the worst pains I have ever experienced.
Having amassed the Hammacher Schlemmer inventory you would think that my boys spend hours of engaged play, running through all of the toys in their arsenal of jovial pleasure. But no, that doesn't' happen. The toys just sit around the house, waiting for their turn to run through the minds eye of our boys. What do our boys play with? Well.... this morning I spent one solid hour building forts, chapels, gates. walls, ball stadiums, a spaceship, houses, elevators, and chambers with Solo cups. That's right, Solo cups. We have probably invested $4 on these cups. Titus' imagination was on fire and he was building, Levi was tearing down, Titus was yelling and building more, Levi was tearing down. And so it went for quite some time. Both boys happy and carefree, galavanting through the fertile fields of the nation of Imagine. From there we moved to cup baseball. Titus stopped calling me Dad and went to calling me coach! He had for his gear: a spatula, one of my fabulous wooden french spoons and those cups. I threw he hit, Levi just went around and hit me which he thought was really funny. Titus won the game with his, "awesomest hits, dad!"
I was able to teach Titus about gravity. Our cup walls kept falling over and he was getting very frustrated, "evryfing keeps falling Dad!" "It's gravity, bub, we can't fight gravity." Titus gets abstract things like oxygen and now gravity with surprising clarity for a 4 1/2 year old. After that little science lesson, every time our wall or house would fall he would just rear back his head, make fists and flex his body yelling, "GRAVITY!" Priceless!
There really isn't an amount you can place on the imagine nations. The minds of little boys and girls are wider open than the universe. With an endless potential of discovery and creation. It seems that toys just put children in too small of a box and suspend their imaginations within the confines of the toys ability to take them to their far away place. Solo cups on the other hand can become anything within the imaginations potential to create.
I can remember as a boy that my imagination never stopped working. A fabric pattern board my Mom used for sewing became my platform for "cars." I loved hot wheels and collected quite an assortment, I still have those cars and can connect with those beauties each time I open the tire case. I had cities built in my mind and used the board merely for a smooth driving surface. I didn't need anything else--just the board and my cars. My characters usually worked for a police station. The chief of police drove a Rolls-Royce (some city, huh!) or a Bugatti to work. The underlings just drove Cadillac's and such. I had great fun. anyone outside of my wonderland just saw strategically placed cars on a cutting board and nothing else. No, to me there were limestone buildings, dogwoods in bloom, manicured lawns with lush green grass waiting to cool the hot feet of barefoot children at play in front of the station. That is the world in which I lived with my cars.
We'll still buy toys and waste their college educations on batteries, but the moments I will cherish most are times that my boys and I build Solo cities or Santa's sleigh with cellophane tape, laundry baskets, and one belt from a robe.
When we lived in the Pink House my Dad made me a cape so I could complete my superman uniform. It was a heavy, thick tweed type fabric with various shades of yellow and green. It was wonderful. He sewed on a button and made a button hole. That cape transformed me into Superman. He and Kung Fu Louie were my heros. As Superman, I flew around the house fighting evil villains. Lucy would hunker down like some lioness stalking her lunch and at just the right speed of my flight grab my cape sending me "flying" to the ground. She loved it, I hated it. Dad wrote on the cape: "DON'T TUG ON SUPERMANS CAPE" A sure and certain warning that would work to rid Lucy of her dastardly deeds. Didn't work. I still have that cape in the cedar chest at Mom's.
As long as children are allowed to explore the depths of their own minds and create worlds far away from reality, the nation of Imagine will stand strong and all of the princes and princess of this great nation will secure the future for all other royal inhabitants of this great, great land.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tiger by the tale

My cousin Tiger was a brat. He was probably two years older than me and the oldest of my Auntie Ilene's two children. The whole family called him Tiger and to this day I would probably call him that, if I knew where he was. He had a younger sister, Julie. She was a brat too. They were the golden children of all my Grandmother's grandchildren. Why do mean Grandma's like the horrible grandchildren the most? My Dad has two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. My Uncle's family, wife and three children, lived in California so they escaped most of the family events that we were defaulted to attend. My Auntie lived on Flowerbox court in a neighborhood that looked like it was built after WWII, tract homes at their finest. My Grandmother showed obvious unapologetic favoritism toward Auntie Ilene's children and Lucy and I were just "the other children." Painfully obvious it was. My sis doesn't really like Grandma to this day, but I have always pursued her love and invested my heart into loving her without any expectation of reciprocation.
When Lucy and I went to Grandma's house we were allowed to play freely outside, but inside--lock down. We could lurk around the living room, but that was about it unless we asked for permission. Bathroom? Ask. Snacks and hydration was really a stretch but reluctantly given. Usually water, or Kool-Aid. It was not a fun place to be. The bathroom was between my Grandmother's two bedrooms and let me tell you I sauntered to the bathroom, slowly creeping, scanning along the way. I'm sure I would have frustrated most sloths with my slow saunter.
When Tiger came over it was our ticket to freedom. He could run through the house with freedom and gleefully swing open the fridge allowing the cool light to spill into the dark kitchen scanning for whatever his heart desired. I would usually peer from the couch vicariously living through his tenacity.
Tiger got into a lot of bad situations and never got in trouble but just got yelled at. There might have been some ear yanking or shoulder squeezing, but that is about as far it went.
When Tiger was at grandma's house and I happened to be there it was freedom. We were allowed to play in the back room and go wherever we wanted. Once Tiger decided he was going to break the world's record for drinking the most water. I was in charge of getting the water and counting. Not knowing the actual record, we surmised that 100 cups would surely be a record. He drank, and drank, and drank. 88...90...92...92-he was feeling very full by that time and kind of woozy. I went to fetch one more glass of water and returned to see him turn green. It was a pale shade of green that no one would swatch at Home Depot for an accent wall. It was a putrid, pale, blue-ish green and what I now know to be the tell-tale indication that, "the tide was in!" He threw up, copious amounts of water 92 cups of water for that matter. All over the guest bed and onto the floor, it was an amazing, shocking regurgitation. Telling my Grandma was not fun. It got even less fun when I said, "he was trying to break a record, we got to 92 glasses of water--what is the record for drinking the most water?" Bad idea and too much information to stay safe.
For my birthday, my Mom would have one of the sweet baker's at her hospital make me a cake what ever my heart desired. I most remember farm cakes--I had some crazy idea that I wanted to run a farm. What was I thinking! We had pizza and invited the family over for cake. Tiger would come busting in to our house, destroy my room, play with my new birthday toys before I could get to them (usually breaking one) and insist that he take home my farm animal toys from atop my cake. I would just watch in horror as this pernicious tyrant rampaged "my day." He would not have to help clean up before leaving our house, which was a requirement when we went to their house.
He once used my cousin's potty chair, thought that was a great idea too. When my aunt found the "present" left in the chair she went ballistic. Tiger was a seasoned veteran liar by then and I was too afraid to lie, about anything. Tiger wanted to blame me, I wanted the truth to set me free. I remember sitting on the footstool next to Tiger while my uncle smacked his belt between us--no interrogation lamps though. That was intimidation to draw out the truth. I was singing like a bird, Lucy was trying with all her might to rescue me from them but to no avail. I escaped the belt spanking but we both had to go to bed wearing a diaper. I don't ever remember him spending the night with me. I can only imagine that my Auntie Ilene knew her Tiger would be tamed by my Dad's might hand. Tiger steered clear of my Dad--I assure you.
Looking back at my life and Tiger's life, I'm so glad I lived my life. I'm so glad that I live my life under the supervision, love, and strictness of my parents. Tiger has not made anything of his life--nothing. His loose, no rules, free living life of adolescence produced nothing. I don't regret any of the things that happened to me around Tiger, I am happy to be me and know that every page turned in my past has delivered me to this chapter, this page and what a page that it is. I like to think I'm a good person, and most of my flaws endear me to folks who I allow into my "batcave" of personality.
I've been pen pals with my Grandmother since I left for college in the 90's. I write her every week and still to this day pursue her with a love that does not expect reciprocation. I've always treated her like a Grandmother who liked me-it drives Millie and Lucy out of their minds. Grandma tells me all the time that, "you are the only grandchild who ever talks to me. All of the others treat me like I'm dead." That was a bed made, but I would never tell her that. I'll still love her and treat her with great respect. I just don't think you should love someone because they deserve it, but because they need it and dont' know it. After all how hard is it to love someone easy to love?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fig Newtons and the Marlboro Men

I've been involved with the church of Christ for almost my entire life. I started going to church at the Pink House so I would have been around 4 or 5 when I started attending church. In the church of Christ when you "go to church" you just say, "I am a member of the so and so church.." and that tells everyone that you are associated with the church. The church where I went was full of many, many characters and has made for some fantastic memories. My church was called Hillcrest. When you talk about the churches of Christ you either say you are liberal or conservative and depending on the things you do or don't do you are put into a category without much attention to the grey areas. I will save that for another blog. I will just say that Hillcrest embraced conservatism--very much! Sunday's were always an adventure to me. I can't tell you how many times I counted the rows that made up our veneered pine ceiling. We also had these Gothic inspired lights that hung precariously from the ceiling and swung ever so slightly. I would often get wrapped up in imagining who who was in harms way should the chain give way. Would that huge lantern fall straight or go at an angle? I know that they provided preaching for the imagination impaired, but had much better things with which to occupy my time.
We served communion every Sunday. I would always dread the man who walked up to say a prayer with his Bible. That meant, he had written something out and was goign to pull out his script right after he said, "would you bow with me?" I wasn't bowing I was goign to check out how many pages that fella had written. I only enjoyed that when they could not read their own writign or did not read well, then it was worth my time.
On my row (North side, 12th pew) sat my Dad, Mom, me, Grandma, and Etta Caywood, with just enough room for about three visitors. In the church of Christ you are supposed to find your place to sit and stay there. I've seen many times that a member woudl ask a visitor to move because they were in their spot. It is true! I can still remember who sat in front of me and behind me for about three pews. Etta Caywood was one of my favorite people. She was the mother of my Auntie Ilene's ex-ex husband. She married him twice for some unknown reason. Etta was the sweetest person in the world. She wore a white sweater draped over her shoulders year-round with the top button buttoned. It was a cape with sleeves. She smiled all the time, all the time, nervously fidgeting with a tissue over and over, and had the very faint smell of hand creme about her. She was very thin and about 5 feet tall. Even though she was the same age as my Grandmother she never had white hair, just a sandy grey, naturally curly old lady hair do. It resembled the hair style of Queen Elizabeth minus the intentional poofiness of her majesty and the crown of course. She had a great pink scarf that could be whipped out of her purse for the slightest breeze. She had a magic purse which contained many splendid things. Etta was always getting into her purse: clippers... nail file... throat lozenge... back to the nail file... Kleenex... coupon... folded piece of paper the contents of which could not wait to be revealed--it had to be read. She also had fig newtons. She snacked on fig newtons all during the sermon and would drive my Grandmother crazy each week as she offered, "newton, velva?" My Grandmother would always give this pursed lip indignant hufff and shake her head. All of the packaging in Etta's purse was acoustically altered to emit 10x the normal sound when rustled. One other claim to fame for Etta was the fact that she made change in the collection plate. That's right she would make change. She always gave the same amount, each week and why she didn't just come with that amount, I do not know. She would place the plate on her lap and make change, sometimes calculating future purchases and the bills she would need so as not to make change again after all she wouldn't have access to her plate.
My cousin, Tiger (the oldest of Auntie Ilene's children) and I spent many wonderful days playing at Etta's house. We were free to roam her huge yard. She lived on a corner lot and had at least an acre of property. Her house was built into a hill (living in Southwest Missouri you almost always had a house built into a hill on your street). We could play all day in that yard. Her House was very modest and immaculate. Snow white with a half rock wall and a scalloped wire fence around the front perimeter. There was the ever present smell of Pine-sol and sugar cookies with that wafting of heat that seems to fan you when you are in old ladies houses. The bathrooms of old ladies are a wonderland of discovery by the way--yet another blog for another day. She had a living room full of salmon colored furniture. And copious amounts of doilies every where. The furniture had a very interesting fabric on it, kind of like corduroy, but small little squares of raised rows. I can remember sitting in her living room and rubbing the couch because it sucked you into it's texture and took you to a far away therapeutic place for calming you nerves. Etta was an interesting cook. Her kitchen was too small to house a refrigerator so that was in her dining room. She was famous for grilling Bologna and cheese sandwiches. Frying the bologna before placing it on the melted cheese. I never had grilled bologna anywhere but there and actually never looked for it to be honest. Kraft macaroni and cheese was served along with the grilled bologna and cheese. She serve the macaroni with the butter and milk as indicated on the box but added a personal touch--she didn't stir in the cheese powder. That was taken around to each person and sprinkled on top. I always thought that was the most bizarre thing. At Halloween we always went to her house for homemade popcorn balls. Now she could make a mean popcorn ball. Stove popped popcorn enrobed in a sweet, salty, sticky, golden syrup that was to die for. They were bigger than softballs and always the first thing I would eat. I just loved her to death and logged many an hour wishing her to be my grandma.
Hillcrest had deacons who smoked outside, the Marlboro men, and were almost always late for the start of service because they were caught up talking a little too much between the puffs. There is nothing more welcoming than a cloud of Deacon smoke! I never saw these men sit down, just pace around the foyer walking away the day. If I went to the bathroom to take a break from envisioning a members sudden death by falling lanterns or became bored of the ceiling plank counting I always had to walk by "the men" and could feel their cold stare. The alpha males were watching me, and were not going to yield their territory to the likes of me--the young disheveled whipper snapper. I always wished there were other bathrooms and that I would not have to walk through that foyer.
There was a man whom I never could identify, but he fell asleep almost every week and when he was awoken would shout, "Amen!" I always knew he was awake by his holy proclamation. I did enjoy scanning the auditorium for the sleepers. But that was a risky business, because head turning was not allowed on my pew. One turn too many and I would receive the stealth thump from my Dad which came from out of nowhere and would leave me seeing black spots for minutes. My Dad has some of the hardest thumps! Man they hurt!
One lady, Mrs. Reibolt, always came to church with purple hair. I can remember asking my Grandmother, "does she mean to do that or is it an accident?" She went to the "Curl up and dye" every week for her hair to be set, surely they could pick another tint other than purple. I always dreamed of rain just to see if she would drip purple water, but never had that fantasy fulfilled.
Lastly--VBS misery. I really hated VBS. I never really had friends there and was always afraid that I would be called out to answer something and be exposed for the Biblically illiterate dumbo I was. I often wished for the power of invisibility. Most children perk up at the thought of snack time. You know they start asking for cookies about 10 weeks before VBS and ladies start baking and freezing cookies. Truck loads of cookies. Our VBS matrons carefully wrapped each "serving" in a white napkin (the kind that were dispensed by those old-fashioned diner napkin holders and used by most donut shoppes in America) neatly folded. It concealed the contents of the cookies within. They also had Kool-Aid very diluted under sweetened Kook-Aid. We were lined up single file and marched through the cookie line. One Dixie cup of Kook-Aid and one mysteriously wrapped cookie present. This was not a pleasant passage it was a mission and a chore to move those sniveling children through the line. Seconds were out of the question and asking for another stealth package because you didn't like the contents of your package was blasphemy. My package always had one store bought sandwich cookie and usually one very stale home baked cookie with nuts. I hate nuts in cookies, especially when they are frozen and stored. I could remember the ire I felt the Sunday's after VBS ended, "Be sure to stick around after church tonight because we have plenty of cookies left over from our great VBS. Help us eat up those great cookies." ARRRRGHHH!
Now that this wrinkle in my brain has been stimulated I realize that there are many, many more characters which need to be exposed. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Who wants to be a Millionaire? I do!

I've just discovered the ultimate ticket to my life of wealth and freedom. I once thought it would come through inheritance, but there are no relatives that could bequeath me enough money for bus fare across the street let alone a life of independent living. From there I became convinced that I would become wealthy through the lottery. Week after week I did not win, but undaunted I pursued my dreams of cashing in on the big money ticket and spent my millions. It seems that you have to purchase tickets to even have a slim chance of winning. So, that's on my list of things to do--buy lotto ticket. I tried gambling in Las Vegas, but that was ridiculous. I am not Vegas material--at all! I was so out of my element in Vegas it wasn't even funny. For someone who absolutely loves to stare at people to point of awkward confrontation, Vegas is your ticket. This place has the highest concentration of weird than anywhere else in the world. You want eccentric, bizarre, out of this world visual experiences just go to Vegas. I played the slot machines there and had no idea what I was doing. I really didn't want to wrap my brain around the science of gambling because I knew that I wasn't for this place. Every where you turn there is a buffet. I have very serious convictions about avoiding buffets at all costs. Sneeze guards drip, food is just too unprotected on a buffet--I'm out. If I ever get into gold lamae, silk jump suit, tinted glasses, fanny pack wearing gamblers I may go back. But I think I'll leave it at that--THEY can have Vegas.
This new pursuit is sure to be the ticket to me being a millionaire. It is in wireless communications and has a guaranteed market and a sure following of boomers and aging Gen-Xer's. It involves the cellular communications element of society. It seems that all the buzz now is in ultra-sonic ring tones. Ring tones that are pitched to a frequency that most adults are not able to hear, but that teens and children can hear. These stealth tones allude a parents keenly tuned ear and completely give a child with a cell phone a free ticket to communicate with their peers. Children are getting cell phones right after being potty-trained it seems all for the simple pleasure of communication. My sister text messages her kids while they are in the same house, but on different floors. Now that's a connected family!
I am not going to try and cash in on a market already under way with ultra-sonic ring tones, instead I am targeting parents with ring tones that only they can hear. Think about it, a ring tone that is tuned to such a frequency that only adults can hear--genius. I don't have all of the bugs worked out--like how in the blooming world you create a ring tone; but I know I'm on to something. After all Edison didn't know how to make the light bulb when he started, he just knew it was a good idea. These adult ring tones would be your own voice recorded and then played back when your phone receives a signal. One such tone would be: "Take out the trash," or "Have you cleaned your room?" These simple, clearly audible statements fall upon deaf ears to teenagers. Just think you could go about your day and answer those secret calls with one simple, "Is your homework done?"
I know you are probably kicking yourself for not thinking of this yourself, but when you are in the presence of brilliance it is humbling. Electricity, the Decimal system, Internet, DOS, splitting the atom, Post-It notes, Velcro, all among the legendary inventions that changed the face of the world. This, my friends is among that cloud of great witnesses. My next quest is to understand why drive-up ATM's have Braille on the buttons--that will take some time to wrap my brain around, but I will come to the solution and share it with my friends. After that, I am going to try to develop a solution for the hot dog industry. We need continuity with the hot dog bun industry and hot dog industry--someone has to give here. Either take out a wiener or add a bun! It seems that they can insert cheese into a frank--no problem, but have reached this impasse at bun to dog ratios. Should I have the energy and mental stamina left I will launch a crusade to rid the world of the factories that seem to think those plastic coated wires that permanently attach toys to their packaging are OK. They are not OK, and have been twisted by some sadist who is laughing silently all day long, "try to unwrap THIS one tee hee." When I rule the world there will be a resolution to this one. Unwrapping one box is hard, but 25 on Christmas day while your hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls are getting cold is ridiculous and just torture. I will also require batteries to be sent along with the package, if the item needs batteries. Good grief! it's not that hard to throw in some batteries! I'm already getting keyed up with the dolls that have this plastic band around their hair! Teensy will most likely be into dolls and I already hate the thought of wading through that mess.
I hope I have time to solve these other problems, after all I will be trying to spend all of my millions made on the teen-proof ring tone, and may not have time. Too much money is a burden after all you know.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The next Food Network Star?

I really enjoy cooking. It is probably the one past time that I enjoy the most, other than hitting a great clearance rack at Dillard's and having enough credit to buy some stuff. I love to get a cookbook and read it cover to cover like a novel. I always say, "oh I want to try that one" and rarely do. But, it is fun and fulfilling to cook.
I think I can associate this new blogging obsession straight to food. If it weren't for egg rolls I would probably not be the blogger I am today, I would be no blogger at all. Mildred sent me the link to this blog called Posie gets cozy by Alicia Paulson. She is a very talented artist and an excellent writer as is her husband, Andy. Andy made a batch of egg rolls and posted the pictures and recipes on her blog. They looked delicious. Needless to say the blog was great and i read it from start to finish in about a week. She is a great writer and all of the things that she has created are really, really cool. As I read her writing I could feel my own creativity being drawn from the depths. The hinges were rusty, with a considerable amount of dust and cob webs, but out it came--here I am.
I have always loved to cook. I spent a cherished amount of time with my Great Grandmother, Granny and Great Aunt, Robba. They were precious jewels in my life and I miss them so very much that it hurts. I hold on to the memories of my time with them and guard them because I never want to forget one minute with them. Smells take me immediately back to their kitchens and tastes completely close the door in my imagination. They were great cooks. And I loved to mess around in the kitchen with them and soak up their tips. There are a truck load of good cooks in my family, on both sides. It's funny to me because the foods that they prepare which I love so much have to be prepared and served "in the vessel" that they are always served in because that is part and parcel to the experience.
Robba and I made my first dinner together at her house when I was seven or eight. Pork chops, Macaroni and Cheese, Peas. A feast--a feast that I made all by myself (with considerable supervision). That was just the beginning of my obsession with cooking and creating in the kitchen. I'm so grateful that I spent time in the kitchens of these two great ladies and had the gift of cooking presented to my life. It's wonderful and I love it.
My first kitchen disaster was a grilled cheese sandwich. Mom and I were at my Grandmother's house working on some project. I remember that we were there alone, just the three of us and I was hungry. A grilled cheese would satisfy my hunger pangs and I just knew i could make it all by my self. My Grandmother had this really cool round, cast iron griddle that was black as pitch and just wonderful. I turned on the gas stove, paying no attention to temperature adjustment, just high as I didn't know that you adjusted the stove it was either on or off. As the heat from that skillet began to almost glow white hot I supposed it was ready for the buttered bread. Slapping that piece of butter on the super hot skillet really sent up quite a plume of smoke and a very loud sizzle. I never knew a piece of bread could give off that much smoke and that much sizzle sound. Assuming this is how the grilling process went I pressed on. I place the piece of processed American cheese on the bread and waited a minute. Smoke still billowing up from the griddle. To ensure the proper meltage of the cheese I decided it would really be best to have the cheese make contact with the griddle surface. Just a point of note: When working with smoking hot cast-iron griddles one doesn't need to have the cheese make direct contact with the skillet, seems it melts enough on it's own. Placing the cheese on the griddle was the end of my solo sandwich making experience. things were getting out of control. My Mom and Grandmother came running into the kitchen and were just over whelmed by the sight. I didn't get that sandwich or any sandwich for that matter. I was banished from Grandmother's kitchen and given stern looks of disapproval. Mom and I got McDonald's on the way home which covered up the multitude of sins and filled the void.
Lately I've been having these bizarre dreams of being a host of my very own Food Network show. I am the host of a children's cooking show. Apparently I make full course meals that are super kid friendly and easy to make. Two children help me out, usually one child star of note and an anonymous child--probably sent over from the agency. I've aired three episodes in my mind thus far: Mexican Fiesta (empinada enchiladas, fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar chips, Mexican rice, and sopapilla cheesecake); A baby comes home party (I read about this in a Southern Living and just made the recipes that were in that article); and a random nightly dinner (houdini hot dogs, and flower pot desserts with homemade crisp rice pots). Guest appearances by Jonathan Lipnicky, Webster, and Dakota Fanning. It's amazing how much detail is in my dream and also somewhat scary. I really don't want to dwell in my subconscious much because I have enough trouble wading through the garbage in my conscious mind.
I'll have to share more cooking escapades with you, later. I'm sure this blog is long enough to drive Mildred to distraction. Take that!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Where is Andy Griffith When you need him?

As one might conclude from the title of my blog, I am the father of three children. Teensy is the newest addition to the family at two months, then we have an 18 month-old Levi and finally, Titus 4 1/2 years old. I will be spinning the tale of Teensy and the boys soon, but not tonight. Talk about avoiding long blogs--that one will be a humdinger.
Titus is, as you might imagine a great kid. He is awesome in every way with exception to the temper tantrums he throws--hate those. Lately, Titus has been coordinating what he wears with exactly what I wear. He must match me exactly and is not convinced that they don't make Power Ranger underwear for "big boys." My usual uniform when I come home from work is a white t-shirt and sweat pants, summer moves me into very comfortable shorts. Every night the story is the same, "Dad, what underwear are you wearing?....What color pants?...OK, Dad I look just like you." It's the ultimate form of flattery. But a load I doubt Atlas would be willing to carry.
Knowing the heir to all of my debt is watching me so closely is such a huge, huge burden. He is processing and filtering every single detail, every move, every facial expression, every word, every t-shirt. It's all being choreographed in his sharp little mind and played out in his life. As much as I try to influence the programing of his brain, I know I can't. But, I also know that I am able to influence his programming by doing my best to be my best.
I want my son:

  • to see me take the shopping cart back to the "proper location" and not abandon it by my car.
  • to see me put the grocery items I decide not to purchase back in their proper location and not in whatever aisle I happen to be in. Or politely tell the underpaid clerk checking me out that I decided against these items.
  • to see me help someone who needs it. Maybe I will get that box of super rich, fiber and flax, horse food processed for human consumption cereal down form the tippy-top shelf.
  • allow someone to pull out in front of me so they can be on their way. I can't make them win the lottery, but being allowed to pull into traffic is as close as you come to winning the lottery.
  • to see my cry.
  • to see me angry at injustice.
  • to see compassionate toward those that are not as blessed as my family.
  • to see me struggle with a problem work it out and be the better person for it.
  • to know that I will always be there for him, even when he doesn't have the courage to ask--he wont' have to because I will know and I will be there.
  • be able to identify bizarre people and give a comprehensive list of the reason for their qualification.

Integrity, honesty, compassion, empathy, sympathy all traits that I would throw into the fish bowl as great traits; ingredients for great people. I won't be able to teach him anything about athletics, car repair, woodworking, hunting, carpentry, barbecuing/smoking, or your basic garage/outdoor dwellings. Should he choose to participate in any of the afore mentioned "manly man things" he will be a good sport, help his teammates, and have a great time. I will of course be there reading, "_____for Dummies" and attempting to wrap my brain around the logic behind our American past-times.

I feel the same sense of burden with Levi and Teensy, too it is just that Titus is already living a life of his own. I don't know what he does at preschool. I don't know his friends or the things that they laugh about. I don't know if he washes his hands after he goes to the bathroom, or if he is actually avoiding the public drinking fountain (they are so gross to me). It's his own little world, his life, his way that he is making for himself and all in just 4 1/2 years.

I'm glad that he wants to be like me, but I wish he would want to be like someone else who is more excellent at being a person to shape your life around. Where is Andy Griffith when you need him! He would know what to do. He embodies all of those traits with exception to his one character flaw--those pants legs are always hung up in those boots. (Mildred--I'm not slamming Andy in any way or making a derogatory comment about him, just an observation.) I would gladly let him do the job.

"You are the best Dad in the world." He's said that to me on more than one occasion and it's music to my ears.

Thank you, Father for the blessing of my children. Help me to be the best Dad I can be and then step in and be the best Father YOU can be. I know I make decisions everyday that don't make you proud, or make you want to stop the angels to see what I did, but I ask that you give me just this one measure--that I might be a great father to my three gifts. Teach me how to be held so I can hold them, teach me how to be loved so I can love them, teach me how to accept forgiveness so I can forgive them, teach me how to accept challenge and be better on the other side of it so I can challenge them and guarantee their success. Make your steps deep so that I may never not know where to walk. amen.