Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alley Cats

Teensy & the boys, Kendra and I all went to the Mall on Monday. Teensy needed some summer shorts and stuff, she's growing like a weed and it's hard to keep her in clothes. I am looking for some flip flops to replace the worn out pair I've had for years. As I was rummaging through the Dillard's Men's Shoe department I saw these things. $199...are the not BOWLING SHOES?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Animal Crackers

Ever since we've been in Tulsa I've been trying to go to the zoo. It's not that I HAVE to go to the zoo or die, it's just that I know kids love the zoo and being a Children's Minister...well you can do the math. The first time I attempted a trip to the zoo, I chose one of only two day that the zoo closes a year. Can't win the lottery, but I can choose one of only TWO days that the zoo is closed. My second attempt was rained out--that's when I gave up. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't ever going to see the zoo.

I can remember going to the Springfield, MO zoo as a child. One particular trip is most memorable. My parent's good friends and eventual neighbors, the Schmidt's, went to the Springfield zoo with us one time. Roger was a particularly cocky fella always cutting up and trying to make folks laugh. I always thought he was a little on the odd side, but never said anything. This zoo trip, Roger was taunting the baboons rather relentlessly. Most people would make monkey sounds at them and stuff like that to which the stoic baboons would just sit resolute picking the gnats out of their friend. This particular taunting from Roger caught them on a bad day because one baboon defecated or excreted something and flung it on Roger with amazing aim and precision. Roger slowly turned hands extended as if he were about to take flight sputtering the substance from his eyes. I was gobsmacked! I can't say we ever went to the zoo with them, and I'm certain he never taunted a primate again.

As zoos go, the Tulsa zoo is fairly nice. I wouldn't say it's huge by the standards of the Fort Worth Zoo or other larger zoos in the country, but it's nice. The admission was very reasonable and the grounds well kept. As we rode the train around the zoo I did notice some exhibits that were no longer being used which has become overgrown and other clutter, but nothing to throw the towel in over.

At the chimp exhibit, we were bushwhacked by a zoo friend who shared some interesting facts about chimps. Unfortunately he did not do it in an interesting way or a very engaging way I must say. It was rather like listen to roll call at Ferris Beuller's school! Titus just stood there with this awkward, gotta get out of here, stance that only a 5 year old could pull off. He couldn't wait for this guy to stop talking so he could move on. If you are ever at the zoo and there is a zoo friend sitting down smiling, return the smile but do not under any circumstances stop and engage him--unless you are really interested in being bored out of your mind. The picture above is of Titus posing inside the frame of an actual sized Chimp, full grown. We tried to get him to make a monkey face but he was out it was all we could do to get him to do this.

One thing we enjoyed watching was the newest addition to the family, Chip, frolicking around with his Momma. Too cure to see that little guy clambering around and playing...then all of a sudden--hop on Mom's back for a ride to the shade. Titus and Levi were very interested in this exhibit, Levi kept making the monkey sounds and did a good job of it. This picture is of Titus, Kendra, and Emma looking at the Chimp habitat. Kendra is reading the Zoo Keeper's notes about these particular chimp's behavior and such. That was a very interesting part of this Zoo, the Keeper's Notes, because it helped you feel a better connection to the animals.

Next we went to the Polar Bear exhibit and I have to say, "Polar Bears are cool." This huge animal was swimming around in this Arctic exhibit, and was bigger than I had thought. I told Titus he was carrying a Coca-Cola and Titus got all excited, but I burst the bubble as soon as it as blown.

This guy kept swimming back and forth, back and forth over and over the whole time, I was beginning to think it might have been crazy, but there really isn't anything else to do but laps. Inside the exhibit you could go down to an observation pit and see the bear swim under water which was really, really cool. I would have to give, "Cola"[my name not the name bequeathed to him by the zoo] the prize for most interesting. It was very neat to watch him swimming and interacting in the water.

Our zoo has a bald eagle, I think Oklahoma City has one too. These things are quite impressive. I have been told that the only way to get a bald eagle in a zoo is if the eagle is handicapped. I don't think this eagle could fly at all because it kept trying to flap, flap, flap away, but just couldn't get anywhere--poor thing. Their talons are immense and really shocked me as to how big these fellas really are. This eagle didn't look particularly big, maybe it was a baby or something.

The Children's' zoo was closed, but the goat and sheep pen was open. I've never smelled a stronger concentration of crap than at this place---well maybe the fair, but geez this stunk! Titus was determined to pet a goat and sheep. Mind you that Kendra's Grandmother raises goats and Titus could have petted all the goats he wanted to at Granny's, but this was a zoo goat and that gave him 10 million extra cool points. He was a very proud boy petting that goat. The goat he chose to pet was licking salt. It was pretty warm, which made me wonder, "if I were a goat, would I want to lick a block of salt?" Maybe, but I don't want to be a goat--nope! I was nervous as a cat and ready to fumigate he and I by the time we left that pin. WHEW! They stink.

Emma was along for the ride the whole time and just looked around at where she was. She was ultimately relaxed and happy as long as we had drinks and snacks handy--she was good to go. She's easy going and always takes things as they come. We kept trying to get her to wear sunglasses, but she just wouldn't. I was teasing with her to keep them on and she was fully playing the game right along with me having the best time. She loves to play, I'm not doing what you say. We always get stares when with our kids because they are off the charts with cuteness. How, tell me, how can you not look at this face and say it isn't' cute? We love our Radio flyer wagon incidentally. It has flip up seats to hold to riders, or you can fold them down and have a flatbed. I would ask the Radio Flyer people to please allow the pull handle to turn the wagon, please? The front wheels on ours pivot, which I don't really like. How can you ride down a hill in this thing!

Kendra and I commented on the shock of so many teenager's being inappropriate with their girl/boyfriend. It was beyond just holding hands which is fine to what I would say is just groping. Where are these parents? Why did they not teach their daughters that they should not compromise their dignity or chastity...where are the Dad's to taught their son's to not "go out with" girls who think so little of their own bodies that they offer it up to just anyone? Where are they? There is beauty and wonder and honor and dignity in chastity. Please tell your sons that they need to respect girls and honor them and be turned off by girls who do, because they think so little of themselves. Please tell your daughters that no matter what they are wonderful, and beautiful, and that their chastity and dignity and honor is something that can only be given once, to chose wisely whom you honor with that gift and make it count. Sigh.

All in all the Tulsa Zoo was fun and I would go back. On the way out I pointed to Kendra and said, "look my favorite sign in the whole place." "What?" "Right there...EXIT." I got a whack, but it was a whack of, "I totally agree...but this was a great day and our kids had a great time and we are both really, really tired but our kids will never forget this" kind of whack.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Memory Lane: Big Spring Park

My hometown is Neosho, Missouri. I was born at Sale Memorial Hospital just off the square in Neosho. As a little boy I can remember loving Saturday's because it meant, "going to town" which meant going to the square. Our square had a JC Penny, McGinty's, William's, Buster Brown, Ben Franklin, and other great shops that you could while the day away shopping from store to store. We always had Granny with us which was just a hoot, she loved to shop at Penny's and thought William's and McGinty's too expensive. Even though each of these stores had sales which made clothes cheaper and Penny's the fact that it came from "there" made it too rich for her blood. "They can keep those fancy clothes. I don't need no fancy duds--whom I gonna impress." Needless to say when I had opportunity to purchase clothes from McGinty's I thought I was really stepping out in style!

If you had to go to the bathroom while shopping you had to take yourself to the courthouse. You didn't ask a clerk where the bathroom was, you didn't look around and try to find it yourself, you just went to the courthouse, everyone knew it. Sis and I always went to the courthouse using the excuse that we had to "go" just to get free and explore. Our Courthouse is also the county seat for Newton County. Neosho has a rich history which dates back to the Civil War. It was actually the Confederate Capital for during the war. Being a person who loves nostalgia--I love thinking about my city being in the midst of the Civil War and the town square being burned down as the soldiers retreated (which it was). This Courthouse was built in the 30's ( think 1938). It's all limestone and marble. As you walk in the whole place just echos and resonates. The Jail is on the very top of the building. Sis and I always went to the very top to try and see a prisoner--no such luck. I always imagined what I would do if a prisoner came into the bathroom while I was there. I could get myself really worked up. It would be the ultimate rush and flush--let me tell you. I was kind of a fraidy cat. As I remember it, the courthouse looks exactly the same on the sides, so I don't know which side of the building this was. I'm guessing west side, because all of the sheriff's cars parked on the west side.

As will most town squares in our great nations it is struggling to survive. William's, McGinty's, JC Penny, Buster Brown, all have gone by the wayside closing. It is so tragic that William's and McGinty's closed because they were locally owned. So sad, but an unavoidable sign of the times in which we live. I think that the day is coming, and may already be here, when our town squares will once again the bustling and thriving hubs as we try to get back a piece of history to comfort us in "this age."

Big Spring Park was a wonderland for me. I love Big Spring Park. I have played for hours and hours in this great park. A little over three years ago we took Titus there and let him play in the wading pool that I played in at his age. I found myself very emotional, filled with nostalgia in seeing him love a place so dear to my heart. The picture above is a great shot of Big Spring Park, as you can see it really goes back quite a ways. There are hills surrounding the park with walking trails all throughout the woods. Legend has it that this spring, and the bridge, (smooth as glass rock bridge over 150 years old!) was THE location for slaves and wives to gather and to their wash. There is also a legend of a cave which has long been closed off and cannot be found. There are two legends. The first is of confederate gold and confederate soldiers buried in this cave, and the other legend is that there were several children who lost their lives in exploring this cave when it collapsed. I like to believe the the first legend as it's very adventuresome and exciting much more so than the dreary and depressing deaths of children.

I came across this flick'r post of Big Spring Park in Neosho! I have no idea who these people are, but boy am I glad they brought their camera to Big Spring Park. The white columns in the background are of the wading pool, which is in the very back of the park. This park was in it's prime in the 20's and 30's.
As a kid I can remember going to the park and playing on the swing set and slide, and teeter totter, then going to the wading pool. It was always packed and full of kids, but there never seemed to be too many, always room for more. Parks today are so "safe." Nothing like when I was a kid. The slide in our neighborhood is slide was metal. Sliding down a stainless steel metal slide in August is sheer torture on your bare legs! It was more of a EEEEEOOOWWWW than a "WEEEEE!" There was a really cool rock "water house" where the boys and girls could go to the bathroom. When we went there with Titus it had been closed, but was still standing. I hope they never tear it down.
On one of the hills there is a white limestone cross (probably 20 feet tall) laid in the side of the hill which used to have tulips and daffodils that would grow just in time for Easter Sunrise service. There were also a lot of May Day and May Pole parties. Here is another flick'r shot of that area. Not sure who these people are either, but don't they look uncomfortable? The steps behind the columns go up to the cross. The columns are a sort of amphitheater type set up, very cool. This is area is in the middle of the park. As you look into the park (from the top photo) it would be on the right hand side right in the middle. The originators of the park obviously placed great importance on it's location and wanted it to be the center of attention, but it's place was lost years ago. Towns just don't celebrate like they used to, do they?

Here is another photo from the same flick'r group of Abbot Cave at Big Spring Park. This cave is in the very back of the park in the corner (behind the wading pool). This cave has a spring running through and is damp and noisy and so cool. As you go down these steps you feel like you are stepping into history to a time that has been long done. I can remember sitting on these steps, which go down to the underground stream, and wondering about the people who forged these steps. What were they thinking as they stood on this "new" entrance to the cave. Did they imagine generations of people walking up to this very entrance and going down to catch crawfish so girls could be scared out of their minds (girls can run FAST when boys come at them with crawfish!). What mementos were put into those steps by the craftsmen that only they knew were there but were placed there to leave a piece of themselves. I dont' know if you can tell or not, but between the boy and girl are some concrete walkways--what were they for? I have no idea.

My family enjoyed Memorial Day and 4th of July pic nic's under the shade of trees provided by the Big Spring Park. Those times with my Poppa, Granny, and Robba all were assembled for a massive family get together (rare for both sides of the family to come together) and enjoy the day laughing and having a great time. Robba brought German Potato salad and this fabulous layered salad which was so good. I usually tried to get mostly mayonnaise and bacon with my little bits of lettuce. Mom made this great salad with cauliflower (raw), green onion, bacon, cheddar cheese, peas, all tossed in this bacon ranch dressing (loved it!). Auntie Ilene's sweet tea brought in the Tupper ware gallon jug (remember those?) ice cold Nehi grape and other colas in the cooler. Grilled burgers and hot dogs. The best time.
Making memories is so fun. Being able to look at pictures, even if they are from people you don't even know, that take you back to a time when you had no worries or cares and were surrounded by the people whom you adored and adored you. Times when you could run free and have the cool grass keep your feet from being burned. Love the memories of my childhood and I love Big Spring Park!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Love that wake up face

I just love a wake up face! I love wake up hair too! Miss Teensy is an early riser, like her Dad, and I usually get her up every morning and we go downstairs for breakfast.
She was somewhat confused why I was taking her picture and not acting the fool as I usually do. Kendra and I have always been extra animated and happy when we get our kids every morning because we want them to be happy and start their day off with joy and not grumpus. I think it helps them set the whole days tone. So far all of our kids are very happy when they wake up and ready for the day.
Teensy will lay her head on my shoulder and pat my back as we walk from her room to the stairs. We have a mirror on the wall right by the stairs and I always stop and say, "where's the beautiful girl?" She always reaches out and pats the mirror, "there she is the beautiful girl." That's another philosophy of mine. I want my daughter to hear me say she's beautiful and talented and that she looks great. I think that sets her self-esteem and gives her confidence. I also want her to know that people measure you more by what is on the inside than what is on the outside. If she measures and hears this from me then she won't have to look around to find those words. Some Dad's just don't compliment their daughter and so when they hear it from a boy it can get physical. I firmly believe that Father's can chart the course of a child's life for good or bad--huge burden and responsibility.
This sweet face is growing up all too fast. She's beautiful and talented and has a mind of her own. I know she's going to do great things and accomplish much more than her mother and I could have ever done, and as long as I can breath I'll be there to tell her how proud of her I am, how beautiful she is, and how much I love her. I do love you sweet, Teensy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Control Tower

About a month ago I was at Los Cabos with our church staff enjoying some chips and queso when..."crack." I broke a tooth. It's very difficult to pretend everything is all ok and fine, when half of your tooth is now in your hand. I discreetly disposed of the tooth then went about my merry way mowing through the chips. I didn't want to draw attention to myself or say, "hey I broke a tooth!" I just began thinking about how I was going to find the time to get in to see a dentist. I didn't have a dentist though even though I though I could go to a friend of ours who attends church.

Over the course of the next few weeks I hobbled along not drawing attention to my plight until it started to hurt. At first it would just kind of throb for a little bit, but two nights ago I really started hurting. I woke from a sound sleep in the middle of the night with this intense jaw pain. I'm not one to take medicine, but I had to get something for this pain. Advil to the rescue. You see I had quite a busy few days and didn't need to have this interrupt my plans, people were counting on me and I don't let people down if I can at all avoid it.

About 6:15 this morning I texted the Dentist who is one of my Deacons at church and asked if he could fit me in. Sure enough, he had an opening. One x-ray and it was all over. "It seems you had a cavity that grew down and decayed the tooth. All that was left was this shell and when something cracked that shell it was over. Here are our options..." "Options I don't like options, but I don't' like dental procedures either." "You can go to an oral surgeon to get it removed, or I can do it. There will be quite a bit of pressure and discomfort but I can do it." "Let's go for it."

Dr. VanBrunt set me up with a movie and hooked up the gas to begin giving me the shots to numb the area. Apparently I have two of my 4 wisdom teeth and now I have one!

The amazing thing about a dentist is their ability to stick both hands in your mouth, the assistants hand, and seven tools all freely moving. It's a phenomenon. "Are you ok?" Quick nod and a thumbs up. I was not having fun but I was making the most of it. "Will, are you sure your ok?" "Yes." "Your feet are sticking straight up and your hands are white...are you ok?" "Well it does hurt a little bit but I'll be ok, don't' mind my feet unless you see them up over the light." My tooth was huge and came out...I'll make it and be fine.

What I did realize is that I have control issues. I don't think it was that I was in pain as much as it was releasing control to him. As I laid there I thought to my self, "just in him to take care of you." I really didn't want to allow myself to release control. Fine time to have a Dr. Phil moment when you are at a 45 degree angle with a grown man's hand in your mouth!

Trust...control...all things I need to work on. I need to trust people to do what they say they will do and release control and not think that my way is the only way--there are other ways. So that's my challenge...give up some control.

Thanks Dr. VanBrunt for helping me out and through a control issue. Need a good dentist? is the place to go.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I love

I just love a wake up face! I love wake up hair too! Miss Teensy is an early riser, like her Dad, and I usually get her up every morning and we go downstairs for breakfast.
She was somewhat confused why I was taking her picture and not acting the fool as I usually do. Kendra and I have always been extra animated and happy when we get our kids every morning because we want them to be happy and start their day off with joy and not grumpus. I think it helps them set the whole days tone. So far all of our kids are very happy when they wake up and ready for the day.
Teensy will lay her head on my shoulder and pat my back as we walk from her room to the stairs. We have a mirror on the wall right by the stairs and I always stop and say, "where's the beautiful girl?" She always reaches out and pats the mirror, "there she is the beautiful girl." That's another philosophy of mine. I want my daughter to hear me say she's beautiful and talented and that she looks great. I think that sets her self-esteem and gives her confidence. I also want her to know that people measure you more by what is on the inside than what is on the outside. If she measures and hears this from me then she won't have to look around to find those words. Some Dad's just don't compliment their daughter and so when they hear it from a boy it can get physical. I firmly believe that Father's can chart the course of a child's life for good or bad--huge burden and responsibility.
This sweet face is growing up all too fast. She's beautiful and talented and has a mind of her own. I know she's going to do great things and accomplish much more than her mother and I could have ever done, and as long as I can breath I'll be there to tell her how proud of her I am, how beautiful she is, and how much I love her. I do love you sweet, Teensy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A man a can...a plan

My very first official job was working at Wendy's in Neosho. I had just turned 16 and needed to pay for my car, car insurance, and gas. I didn't really think I would get the job but gave it a shot. Dad dropped me off at the restaurant, which had just opened in our town right across from McDonald's, and waited in the truck while I went in to apply.

Our Wendy's was the traditional old style with the Tiffany lamps hanging over the marble type tables. There was a freshtastics food bar, which was all the rage, along with the Classic. Remember the Classic? The only thing different about the burger was the bun, which was kaiser-ish and dusted with cornmeal on top. I did like the classic burger. The restaurant was much more subdued than McDonald's which was busier and more hectic to me. I like Wendy's better anyway.

The Manager was in and had me fill out the application while I interviewed with him. As we were talking he said, "So, Bill, do you think you would want to work here?" "Sorry, it's Will, and yes, Sir, I would very much like to work here." "I'll be right back." Ok...where was he going? He returned shortly with two shirts and a ball cap. "You'll need to get some black shoes and navy blue start on Monday. Welcome aboard." Not being one to immediately process shocking things my reply was, "so I got the job? Just like that." "I like you and think you'll fit right in here." "Thank you."

No one was more shocked than my Dad. "You got the job! When do you start?" "Monday." With that we drove home. My sister and I scoured Joplin looking for black shoes and blue pants. We finally found black shoes at Tom McKann and Penny's had the blue pants. I was now ready for work...or was I? I showed up on Monday after school and walked in with my shiny new uniform ready to my new career in the fast food industry. The first day was spent reading this use manual on how to keep Wendy's Wendy's and not screw things up. Of all the things I read that day I'll never forget the layering process of how to make a Dave burger. By the way the burgers are square because Dave Thomas said, "we never cut corners!" Mustard on the burger. Top bun is white, red, green. Mayo, ketchup, pickle, onion, tomato, lettuce. It HAS to be in that order, whiteredgreen.

I usually closed the store because it wasn't busy and I wasn't fast so it was good match. It did mean I had to do all of the crappy stuff, like cleaning the grill and floors. It also meant getting to take home the left over apple dumplings that they used to make. I also had to scrub the next day's potatoes, and prep the chili for the next day.

  • Chili: The hamburgers that were cooked on the grill were passed through stages. The patties closest to the "cold bar" were the ones you used first. Four in a row no more than 12 patties at a time (if you were slow) on the grill. The patties would expire as far as being served on a bun, so they were put into a pan in the fridge below the grill where we kept the cheese and extra patties. The patties were never frozen. I had to dump all of the patties in this huge pot and chop them with two flipping spatulas. After that I opened the two bags that magically made the chili--chili. It cooked in a huge pot on the back stove. All day. I didn't eat their chili any more once I knew it was made with expired meat! I'm just that way. People loved the chili and we sold a ton.
  • Cleaning: Every night I had to put on a big stock pot full of water and bring it to a boil. Upon closing I had to scrub the grill until it was shiny and clean. That was a hard job, but I didn't mind cleaning. The huge pot of water which took forever to come to a boil, had three scoops of Tide dumped in. Then I had to pour that pot of water on the floor and scrub the floors clean. I really hated doing that.
  • Cooking: The coolest thing to cook was the chicken for the chicken sandwich, my favorite thing to eat there. They were fried in a pressure fryer. It was so cool. The sound of that chicken cooking away was just awesome, the sizzle. Loved the chicken sandwich.

We had our regular customers that came in every other night or every night and always got the same thing. Never too busy kind of steady and slow, I liked the speed. One night about twenty minutes before closing the Crowder College baseball team showed up, having just pulled into town from a game, famished. There are a lot of people on a baseball team! Every one of those guys wanted a triple. Half my grill was clean and ready to close. All of a sudden we had this rush! And when I say rush---I mean RUSH! I was so freaked out. My whole grill was completely covered in patties sizzling away, All three fry vats were churning out fries--ALL AT THE SAME TIME! It was just to much for me to handle, but I sucked it up and made it through the night. I really hated those guys for that.

The manager I liked left and an new jerk manager, Larry, came to work, he was a jerk! One of my all time favorite stories is the day he realized one of the evergreen shrubs in front of the store had died. It was brown...dead brown. "Will I need to talk to you." Oh crap...I was going to be fired, I just knew it. "Yes, sir." "As you know[here it comes...he knows I've been in the freezer drinking the frosty mix] we have a dead shrub [whew!] in our landscape." "I've noticed that." "Well...we can't afford to replace it, but we can't have a dead shrub in our landscape. " "Of course you can't." "Here's $10 go to Wal-Mart and get two cans of spray paint then when you get back paint the shrub." "Excuse me?" "I want you to paint the shrub." thunk "OHHHKAY." The whole way there I could not believe I was buying spray paint for a dead shrub...In a Wendy's costume! When I got back I painted the shrub with my Krylon evergreen spray. It looked horrible having a dead shrub painted green! And I knew I did it! That dead shrub was there for nearly two years after I left! That's a lot of spray paint!

The worst accident I ever had involved the fryers. There were three fryers-a total of six baskets, and the oil was cycled. The freshest oil was used for the fries in baskets one and two, then baskets three and four for back up fries, with baskets five and six for nuggets. The nugget oil was like molasses by the time it was changed. The process was really complicated for me and always a drudgery. One night I had to change the oil and accidentally poured the oil from vats one and two into the same place. Oil spilled all over the place what a Mess! My manager was so mad at me. I was kind of hacked at myself too because I had to clean that up. Took forever.

Soon after the fiasco with the fry oil I decided to move on and quit my job having secured a job at the toy store in the mall. That's another story for another day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Snakes on the brain

For the past week Titus has been carrying around this very realistic rubber, floppy, life-like (especially in a darkened hallway as you are stumbling your way to Teensy's room, early morning light brings LIFE to certain things) snake with him everywhere he went. His fascination with snakes started when his best friend, Justin, showed him his two corn snakes. His father lets them have snakes in their house as pets...I don't know what's wrong with them. I just don't like snakes. They have their space and I have mine...let's just coexist shall we? Having him tote this snake all over creation made me think of all the snake encounters of my life. Some encounters just burn into your brain and leave a mark that won't go away.
My Robba lived in Carl Junction, MO for several years. Robba was my Great Aunt, but I was raised thinking she was my Aunt. I'll have to peel the onion sometime on my Mom's side of the family...that's going to be a doozie! Robba was my favorite person in the universe, I just loved her to death. I would spend as much time as I could with her. In Carl Junction she lived on this hill kind of outside town. There were probably 12 or so houses on this hill and we knew almost everybody on the hill. Robba's house was the last house on the left at the top of the hill. They were very close to Shoal Creek, within walking distance. It was very woodsy and rural so a lot of beasts were around us all the time, country beasts. Among the many beasts that frequented her space were snakes. We were always finding snakes around her house. Robba would just get a shovel calmly walk over to the snake and whack it's head off, throw it over the fence and walk away. I would always just stand gobsmacked by her brute force and fear of nothing attitude. That must have been what David felt like when he faced down Goliath.

Like my son, I had a few pet snakes that I loved to tease people with, especially my cousin Gail. She was a brat, a spoiled rotten brat. She got to live with Robba full-time since Robba gave birth to her pfheh! Brat. One Summer day we were all out in force playing with our neighbor friends and Gail had to run home for something. As Gail was running to the house she saw what she though was my snake stretched across the driveway, she was just going to jump over that and have no reaction to my trick. As she was in mid-air right over the...fake snake...Gail realized it was a real snake! A real snake startled by the huge human jumping over it's sunning body. You don't block the sun when a snake is soaking it up. This think flipped and flopped and curled up--it was hopping mad! It still feels like all of this happened while Gail was frozen over the snake, but it sure put the fear of God into my cousin. She was scared to death of snakes.

"MOOOOM...MOOOM! SNNNAAKE!" Here came Robba and my Granny! My Robba was Granny was tougher...and them together defending one of their babies...look out. This snake had no chance! It was even worse because Gail was the ONLY baby on their side. Me and Sis were on the other side of the snake and that snake was in a foul mood. Robba had a shovel and Granny had a broom. The snake had five minutes to live. When my Robba and Granny were through with that snake is was sushified! You just don't mess with the babies.

One other time as we were on an adventure to the creek and walking down the dirt path to go do whatever we were going to do, we were stopped by a snake. A snake in the tree! It was a Cotton Mouth, one of the only venomous water snakes around. When threatened they display their ugly side! I do not know why this snake was in the tree. I do not know how it go into the tree. How does a snake climb a tree? All I knew was this a tree...was going to drop down into my hair and bite the crap out of me injecting its venom into me. I would die and vultures would swarm down to eat my poisoned dead carcass leaving the remains for the crows to pick at. Talk about scared. We were screaming bloody murder! I don't really know what transpired to get us connected with a competent adult, but I do know this snake was shot! No shovel involved...sorry. I'll have to talk to sis and see how all this unfolded. She'll remember, and probably know what we were all wearing.

When Kendra and I lived in Oklahoma City we worked for the Deer Creek church for a couple of years before moving to Texas. This was a start-up church in rural Edmond, close to the community of Deer Creek and Piedmont. It was country. Our church was built in a pasture. On one occasion, our pulpit minister, Darrel was in the auditorium during the weekday. It was unusual for him to be in the building during the week and even more unusual for him to be in the auditorium for that matter. "Will...Will...Come quickly Will...Will!" "What's wrong?" "I believe there is a snake in this room, right over there, but I"m not going to stay around to find out." "Snake?" "I saw it crawling...over there." You know you are in trouble when anyone finds comfort in my strength! Darrell made me look like a Green Beret! "Take care of that..I'll be over here." Take care of it? How was I going to take care of it? Shovel...I need a shovel. OK, what next...broom. I'll get a broom and whack it to death.

NOTE: If I have something in my hand and am required to swing at another object to make contact...I'll miss. I found a broom and made my way into the auditorium. Sure enough there was the snake. I guess this snake didn't get the whole, youdon'tbelonginachurchbecauseyouaresatan lecture. I crept up on the snake, broom in hand, waiting for my moment. "How's it going?" "SHHH!" WHACK! Crap missed the snake. Now where is it? Over there. "Did you get it...Will...did you get it?" "SHHH!" Where's crocodile Dundee when you need him? One more time. If I don't' get it this time, I'm leaving and someone else can take care of it. WHACK! I got it. I Lizzie Borden'd the snake about 100 times. It was dead beyond dead. Luckily for me I had a broom and just swept it into the trash. Pish Posh!

One Sunday morning as Kendra and I were gearing up for services, she was in her classroom getting a bulletin board ready. Her brother Devin was in the room with her and they were chatting. "AHHHH!" Kendra doesn't scream-ever. She's not a sissy pants at all and for her to scream was big. "What's wrong." "Snake." Holy cow how many more snakes are there. This snake was not on the floor. It was in an expanding file. We had all of our letters in this file and just pulled out the letters we needed to make the bulletin board. As Kendra was pulling out a letter...SHE GRABBED A SNAKE! When she realized it wasn't a letter, but a snake [how long does it take to know you aren't holding paper!] she flicked it across the room. Thank God there were no children in the class. Guess which compartment the snake was in? Go ahead...guess. Give? S, that's right it was int he S compartment. I had some fun with that. I can assure you that she NEVER reached into a expanding file again--EVER!

One other time a snake got into our baptistery. Took a little swim. I just called Mac and had him come take care of that sucker. No way was I going to tussle with that sucker.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mars and Venus in the Parenthood

The primary difference between men and women in parenting is...Dad's allow this

to happen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Lessons

Of course I thought of more lessons as I put last night's post to bed...and myself of course. Speaking of putting things to bed--we got a new bed! The upon which we have been sleeping our entire married life was purchased from a friend about three or four months before our wedding. Kendra moved into an apartment and didn't have a thing, so I bought her a mattress (which is on the guest room bed) and she bought the four poster bed. We found out that it was broken when we got it, we didn't want to know how it was broken! The mattress was given to us by my Step Mom. This is the first "NEW" bed and it's nice.

More lessons:

  • Your Mom's wedding china, white porcelain with a real silver bamboo inlay and rim, will create a 4th of July explosion in the microwave oven. This was the 80's when microwaves were the size of a Yugo and we just didn't know, ok. The plate was never the same.
  • Your dishwasher will not accept a dispenser full of DAWN dish washing liquid as the suds created are thick as meringue. It will take approximately 1 1/2 cups of Downey to take the suds away. Sorry Dad, thanks for jumping right in there and fixing that one.
  • When your best friend sneaks his girlfriend into your house while you are next door babysitting the punks and calls to say that they's see how I can put this..."been" together... with each other...on your parent's bed! Change the sheets. I revealed this little tid bit of info at one of my Sister's and my infamous Father's Day lunch reveals. "Hey Dad, remember when..." This was one of those reveals. I just didn't know what I know now.
  • Thinking that a dog chain will stay on the ground as you mow over it is false! It will get sucked up into the blade wrapping itself around the rod causing the engine to explode. Thick Black Smoke will come out of the top of the mower. Your Dad will not say a word about it to you, but will also not let you use the new mower to cut Mrs. Cope's yard. I was my Dad...for a job I had mowing an old lady's yard! Blasted chain!
  • Unless you have a Polaroid camera and take a photo of the toupee which is on a foam head in the bathroom you were not supposed to use but thought no one would know until you touched the hair piece and it slid off onto the counter do not touch it. Well, if you do touch it for Pete's sake be gentle!
  • If you think you need a plumber...YOU DO!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Life Lessons..the hard way

I could dedicate an entire blog on the lessons I have learned in life the hard way. Most of these lessons have left me in the dark universe of life with a spot light on me and the neon flashing, "laugh" sign buzzing away. It has to do with my being oblivious to the obvious--that's another blog too. So, here are some, just some, of the lessons I have learned:

  • Styrofoam cups DO NOT get along with gasoline. This lesson learned as I was trying to refill my Grandmother's lawnmower and couldn't find anything but a cup...a McDonald's Styrofoam cup. It melted faster than...water on a hot griddle.
  • Burning cotton balls on Formica sinks in your bathroom leave PERMANENT brown marks which will not come off. It was and still is the coolest thing in the world to see a cotton ball go up in flames. Please do not try this at home.
  • Running your Mom's favorite cheese cutting tool over a flame to heat the tightened piece of metal will not make it cut the cheese (I just giggled) but instead cause the wire to explode a piece of which will land on your arm giving you a painful burn. Sorry Mom, that's exactly what happened to your beloved cheese thingy. Whew I feel better now.
  • Cars have more than one spark plug. How many spark plugs a car has and exactly what cars don't have spark plugs can be answered by calling a mechanic or googling it. I found this out at the furniture store I worked in for four years, owned by my Sister's father-in-law. I made one casual comment about a spark plug and the whole group of those butthead men were on the floor in a grand mall seizure of laughter. Jerks.
  • If you get a painful chaffing and don't have any baby powder and your wife give you liquid talc--DON'T PUT IT ON YOUR THIGHS!! It's alcohol based and will burn like the fires of hell on your tender, raw thighs. It will not help if your wife is laughing at your pain.
  • It takes exactly two hours for 1/2 gallon of apple juice to completely rip through your digestive track and give you painful...cramping...explosive diarrhea the likes of which you have never seen. Apparently apple juice is a laxative and helps babies go poo when they get plugged up, and 20 year old adults who don't make the connection to this nuclear powered intestine clearing liquid.

That's enough for now. I'm going to go to a corner and suck my thumb now. Starbucks is too far away.

I knew you were I baked a cake.

Life interrupted my getting this cake made last week when I started the craving for it. I decided I would make it last night and life began to knock at the door...would it be interrupted? I managed to keep life in tow and get the cake made at the same time. I'm really glad I did because it's one of my new favorite cakes. I love a really moist, somewhat dense yellow cake more than chocolate or any other cake for that matter. Pound cakes can, at times, make the list but usually are too dry for me. I don't mind a little crumb, but when all of your saliva is absorbed in your mouth and you have this chia pet experience in your mouth wondering how you will swallow this huge glob of cake...not so much a fan of it. I would say this is a coffee cake, but the glaze! Oh the glaze is awesome!

The whole thing hinges on buttermilk, friends. That's right buttermilk is the star of the show, but doesn't just slap you in the face. My Granny used to take a tall glass, fill it with crumbled cornbread then pour buttermilk over the whole thing and eat it for dinner. I still find that repulsive, but she just loved it! Cooking with buttermilk imparts a tremendous amount of moisture and a very distinct flavor which to my buds is tangy sweet. I love to use buttermilk in cornbread, pancakes, waffles, anywhere you have milk called for use buttermilk.

If you don't have buttermilk on hand don't go curl up in a corner and suck your thumb because you can make your own. Please do not go spend $5 on that can of buttermilk powder friends, just spend $1.29 on the huge bottle of distilled vinegar make sure you have milk on hand (most don't) and make your own. In your liquid measuring cup, add one tablespoon of vinegar to the cup then pour in milk to the one cup mark a quick stir with the measuring spoon and it will acidulate the milk and create buttermilk. For real. Just do it early in the baking process so the milk has time to get funky.

Buttermilk Cake:

1 (18.25 oz.) Yellow or White Cake Mix.

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup melted butter

5 large eggs

1 T. Vanilla

1/8 t. Almond Extract (I just use a cupful and call it good)

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 T. Good Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare bundt pan by greasing and flouring (I use baker's joy with great results). In the bowl of a stand mixer add cake mix, butter and buttermilk. Mix on low until moistened then medium for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, add eggs one at a time, mixing until the egg is incorporated each time. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the cake, then pour the remaining cake batter in the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and tests clean when poked with a cake tester.

Buttermilk Glaze:
1 cup Powdered Sugar
2 t. Vanilla
2-4T. Buttermilk

Add powdered sugar to a medium bowl with vanilla and 2T. of buttermilk. With a fork, stir the powdered sugar until combined and moistened. If the glaze is too thick, add more buttermilk slowly until you get the consistency you like. I went with a thicker glaze so I only used 2T.

The glaze reminds me of cream cheese frosting, but thinner.

This cake is so good, especially with coffee and a good friend to chat with while you enjoy.