Friday, July 29, 2011

Coincidental Rabbit

"Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys." - Emma Bull

During our trip to Washington, DC last month, we visited the National Gallery of Art.  We saw this statue in the garden outside the building and I thought it was kind of odd. 

A thinking rabbit on a rock.  And he was quite large.  A lot larger than myself. 

Today I took the kids to Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art because it is still H-O-T, hot outside and we're getting bored watching SpongeBob.  We decided to check out the garden area and guess who we found?

"Thinking Rabbit on Rock" I believe was his official title.  But I'd call him "Brother Rabbit" because I've already met his larger brother. 
I'm not artsy.  I'm not particulary interested in art that doesn't come from a pencil held by my own children.  I do, however, think it strange that in a single summer in my life, I've thought a statue was strange, not once, but twice, half-way across the country from one another in the span of a little over a month. 
Now what does this all mean??  Maybe I should find a rock and think on it. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

High Pressure Laundry

“No good deed goes unpunished.” - Claire Booth Luce

So the regular robe washer at the church goes on vacation this time of year. Used to be, her substitute would have to do the robes for two months and then the regular lady would be back. Well, last year I mentioned something about the cleanliness of the robes and was quickly put on the sub list with the other lady. Somehow I dodged the bullet last year and did not actually have to wash the robes. I only hung them up and such after the service.


This was my first week on my four-week stint as substitute robe washer, and, wouldn’t you know it, they needed washed. The acolyte robes probably always need washed, and the Pastor’s robe had discernable unfreshness.

“Just put them in the washing machine, maybe with a little bleach,” I was told last year.

But then I got back there, and saw the rope belt was also a bit non-white, and the multi-colored stole (which I would later find out is also called a vestment on Google) had seen cleaner days. My instructions didn’t include these items, but I’m a washer of dirty clothes no matter who they belong to.

I put the belt in a laundry bag, safety pinned all the Velcro together on the robes, and threw them in. Bleach, Biz, and soap. No dirt particle was safe.

“Just take them out of the dryer. They hardly ever need to be ironed,” she’d said.

I took them out of the dryer promptly just before the end of the heat cycle. They looked like I’d wadded up a piece of newspaper and then tried to flatten it out with my hands. Thank goodness I hadn’t done that since they were as white as they were ever going to get thanks to all my laundry products. I was aghast, as I hung up my iron and can of spray starch when I left the working world. I threw them all on hangers and waited for a miracle.

In the meantime, I decided to tackle the stole. Like I said, it was many colored and appeared to be woven. No tags. Probably hand-made. So I took what I thought was the safe route and put it in the sink with a little soap and some cold water. I draped it very slowly in the sink, watching carefully for any sign of fading or colors bleeding. And of course, wouldn’t you know that the very last blocks that entered the cold water bled like a head wound onto one another.

Grey fish on lavender backgrounds are no longer my friends.

I quickly removed the stole from the water and blotted it with a kitchen towel, willing away the travesty that was occurring on the lavender background. That fish was bleeding like a stuck pig. I rinse it some more at a different angle, trying to get the dye to run off the side and not onto the background. I hit it with hot water trying to stop the madness!!

Finally, I gave up and took it out and hung it on the line. When I brought it back in, my fish nemesis had a serious case of five o’clock shadow caused by all the bleeding. It was terribly noticeable. In essence, I ruined the Pastor’s stole.

I spent the rest of the evening Googling “woven Pastor stoles” and that’s where I came across the term “vestment”. Just an FYI, in case you’re ever looking. There are some fancy ones out there! But none like the one I currently had in my possession.

The next day, after hours of ironing and starching, I took the robes back up to church and intended to confess to the Pastor on the demise of his stole, but he’s on vacation this week! A break in my luck, I’d say… Anyway, our church secretary was there and I showed her the stole.

“I figure it’s from Guatemala, and the mission team brought it back for him, and it was made by some poor woman in a third-world country…”

“Who was blind,” she said.

“Oh, no! Was she???” I said

“I don’t know,” she said. “But that would be your luck!”

She wasn’t helping.

She mentioned a product I might try as a last-ditch effort, and that sent me back to the laundry aisle of the grocery store. The product she mentioned kept saying “remove” and “removal” when referring to color and I didn’t think bleaching it out was quite what I was looking for.

I did remember though that I’d had some pretty good luck with some pretty nasty stains with the Tide Pen.

I took the pen and the stole and several other spontaneous laundry products home, and gave the fish section the scrubbing of its life with the Tide Pen. Then, I rinsed it, and did it again. In my opinion, it was looking a lot better, but I still wasn’t sure.

I stuck it out on the clothesline, determined to place it in such a way that the sun’s rays would surely fade away any evidence of the colors running into one another.

And guess what?

It worked!

Now I really don’t think the untrained eye would be able to tell where the horrible bleeding of the fish occurred. Especially not from a few feet away.

And, you know, this was just my luck! It seems that if something like this can happen, then it happens to me. Perhaps I’m haphazard when it comes to laundry. Maybe I’m careless in knowing my fabrics. Or maybe I’m just the best one for it to happen to because I can live with a lifetime of teasing, poking, and prodding over my killing the Pastor’s stole. Everyone has a gift, and I have thick skin and broad shoulders! And I tend to get a laugh instead of a cry over such things.

Now come on July 2012 when the mission team goes back to Guatemala where hopefully they’ll be able to find the same woman at the open-air market where they bought the previous one SIX years ago!

Was I the first to wash it??

I’m not sure I want to think about that…

Thursday, July 21, 2011


"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - my great army that I sent among you."  Joel 2:25

The locusts are happily singing all day long in my trees in the backyard, and I seem to have an abundance of these guys this year. 

 Takes me back to when we used to run trot lines on the Neosho River and in the evenings we would go out along the highway and collect big yellow and black grasshoppers in 2-liter pop bottles and put them in the refrigerator. 

Now how many of you have ever had pop bottles of grasshoppers in your refrigerator? 

Raise your hands... 

Anyway, I seem to have quite the abundance of grasshoppers this year.  Lots of different kinds. 

I've got big ones and little ones. 

Green ones and brown ones.

But the common denominator is...  They are eating everything in sight! 

Maybe I should go fishing. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"It rises at one end of the heavens and make it circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat."  Psalm 19:6

How hot is it? 

It is so hot that everyone is heading to the pool, including this June bug and his Styrofoam floaty I found today.

It is so hot that I barely can remember being up to my thighs in snow only five months ago. 

It is so hot that I don't want to do anything that involves being outside for more than a couple of minutes.  Unfortunately the horses needed water, so I had to tend to them.  Hey, Scooter, why the long face? 

Get it?  It's our long-standing joke.  Today's answer is "Because I need water, Dummy, and I won't fit in the pool!" 

So since I had to go outside for more than a minute, I thought I'd take you on a tour of what is left of my yard. 

I have three developing tomatoes and this one just might make it. 

The sunflower seeds are nice and dry and ready for snacking on by the hub...  or birds...  first come, first served. 

The basil is going to seed.  It still smells good.  I plant it every year with the intention of eating it, but I really only smell it.  I like the smell.  Makes my mouth water.  But I never eat it.  It might ruin it for me.  I like how fancy the seeds are though.  I'll bet I have more than one plant next year!  More smelliness!

The black-eyed susans don't appear to care if it is 105.  I think I only had about six plants last year and this year, I have a gazillion.  Looks like the crispy ones are all ready to make me a flower plot for next year too.  I love perennials!  Oh, and look at the little butterfly too.  I must be more dainty than a butterfly. 

Another not-so-dainty butterfly out catching some rays.  And guess what happens to spent coneflowers??

Yep!  More seeds.  Had one plant last year, eight this year, so next year??  There looks to be several hundred chances right up there alone!  Did I mention that I love heat-loving perennials?  

The milkweed is beginning to bloom too.  Won't be long before we're raising caterpillars again! 

And last but not least, the sunflowers are still seeing some pollination action on new blooms.  And to think I didn't even plant any sunflower seeds this year! 

The seeds I did plant - cucumbers, broccoli, turnips, radishes, etc. - didn't hold a candle to the seeds I didn't plant!  Maybe next year I'll have a no-plant garden and just see what shows up! 

Hope you're staying cool today and that all your days are sunny.  Personally, I think we're due for a few clouds and some rain!  And maybe a second dose of deodorant! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy and the Freezer

"Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me for you are good, O Lord."  Psalm 25:7

This morning the children were particularly unruly in the house, slamming doors, screaming, throwing things, slamming doors, laughing, stomping on the stairs. You should know that my central nervous system is directly tied to the slamming of doors and it then elicits a “fight” response in me that gives me visions of becoming a professional lady wrestler and body slamming someone. That someone being whoever slammed the door!

However, this morning, I was barely out of bed and I was too sleepy to jump off the top turnbuckle, so I yelled (we’re down to yelling at this point in the summer), “GO OUTSIDE!!”

They must have sensed the desperation in my voice because for one of the few times in the past couple of weeks, they listened to me on the first try! They decided to go swimming. Usually, I don’t condone children swimming without direct adult supervision, and I definitely don’t recommend it for other people’s children, however the threat of drowning in our three foot deep pool was a stark contrast to the threat of Darth Mother this morning.

I watch them through the window, after all.

After they’d been out there a little while, Mother Guilt began to set in as I realized I’d sent my half-naked children out to swim without their sunscreen on a 100 degree day. I headed out, spray and towel in hand.

My oldest had three big scratches on his rib cage that were quite red, but were from the night before.

“What happened?” I asked.

Huge sigh.

“I hope you don’t say the same thing as Daddy,” he said.

“What did Daddy say?” I asked.

“Well, I was playing with Happy (see cat above), and thought I would just hold the lid of the freezer up and put him in the freezer for just a minute, but then let him right back out, but…”


Huge sigh.

“That’s what Daddy said.”

Thank God for consistent parenting, teachable moments, and cats with mind reading abilities who are fast enough to get away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pigs, Sheep, and Throwing Dice

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  John 10:28

Have I told you the story about Piggy? Well, I was in 8th grade and I took home a runt from my stepdad’s father’s pig farm to raise as my own. I kept her in a box on my dresser and got up every two hours through the night to feed her with a baby bottle. My stepdad cared for her during the day.

Anyway, she was pink and cute and had a tiny little grunt. I’m not sure how long she stayed in the box, but the time came when she was strong enough to be moved outside. We put up a barricade in a walled-in area between the house and the carport and left her outside for her first night as a real pig.
 We’d also gotten a new dog named Kim sometime that week. She was purportedly a coon hound, and she was all black and definitely pregnant. She was also quite the fence climber, I learned the next morning.

I went out first thing to check on my pig, and Kim ran to the barricade, jumped over, and sat by my dead Piggy that she was proud that she had killed. She sat and wagged her tail violently. She’d bit her right across her spine and probably broke her back.

I was horrified. I cried and cried.

My mom still made me go to school that day. (For the record, I believe pig dying is worth a day off school now.) So there I stood outside of the band room at Will Rogers Junior High crying, and waiting for the bell to ring for us to go in. Kids would come up and ask me what was wrong. They gave me funny looks when I said, “My p-p-p-pig died!”

It was one of my more traumatic hick moments as a child.

Last night, I was asked to be a sub for a Bunco gathering. I hadn’t played Bunco in five years, but I was pretty sure I could figure it out again. I was the first one to show up and didn’t have any idea if I’d know anyone else there besides the friend that called me to sub. My friend Amy came too, so that made two people I knew.

Anyway, I was stuck with the ghost as a partner at the head table for most of the evening and eventually won “Most Wins”. They said they won’t be inviting me back. Amy said I cheated. Apparently you can’t win the first time you play with a group you don’t know. Unwritten Bunco code, or something.

We all stood around after the game and started telling stories. Lo and behold, Amy told of a traumatic adolescent farm animal death that had happened to her!

She said that even though she lived in town, she would visit her friend out in the country. Her friend had a myriad of animals to play with and raised baby lambs. As luck would have it, one of the lambs was a runt that year, so the friend and Amy had nursed the baby lamb in a box by the stove for weeks. Amy said that every weekend she would go to her friend’s house to check on the baby sheep.

The time finally came when the lamb was strong enough to be set out into the world. And guess what?

Her friend’s dad ran over it.

She and her friend were so distraught over the death of the sheep that the father almost cried too.

And so it was, through Bunco and stories of traumatic farm animal death, that Amy became more solidified in my mind as a Hick Sister.

May you be able to bond with your friends over less traumatic memories!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Invasion of the Goats

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."  Matthew 25:31-33

After a wild night on the town in Bartlesville, Oklahoma - three games of bowling, eating at Taco Bueno, and visiting the Kiddie Park for what could possibly be the last time due to tall children - I was rudely awakened at 6:30 am by the incessant barking of my neighbor's dog, Sugar, right out in front of my house. 

I'd gone to sleep with wet hair.  Wet short hair.  Thank goodness for elderly neighbors who don't see so well. 

I opened the door. 

"Shut up, Sugar!" I said. 

She lowered her head and looked at me like she was guilty. 

"Git," I said. 

But she didn't move. 

I threw my shoe at her and she decided to go home.  And I went back to sleep. 

Then we all got up at a more decent hour and got ready to go to church where I would be covering Sunday school, so we couldn't be late. 

Woman who says things like "shut up" to a dog and occasionally her own children covering Sunday school.  What will they think of next? 

Anyway, headed to the car, I look around the corner and see this.

So I run and grab the camera before it gets away.  I'm believing this to be the guilty party for the early morning barkfest. 

Then I see the other two.  Mama up by the house, other baby already in the dog pen. 

Very cute, but I don't really have time for a band of rogue goats before church. 

I grab a bucket with a little horse feed in it and try to get them to come over to me.  They weren't interested, but as soon as I walked toward them, they went into the dog pen through the gate.  Our dog was still in the barn and barked from that gate at the intruders who were stepping onto his turf. 

I shut both gates and headed off to church, leaving them the bucket of horse feed.  I was sure when we returned, someone would have come for them and taken them home.  But I was wrong.  I had three goats taking an afternoon snooze in the shade under the tree after church. 

We figured out that they probably belonged to the new neighbors, so we went over and told them we had their goats.  Judging by the escaping frequency of the horses who lived there last year, I expect this to happen no fewer than 25 times in the next 6 months.  Especially if I keep feeding them.   

The oldest boy came over and herded them home. 

I thought it was kind of a funny site. 

Three goats heading home down the street. 


Not something you see everyday. 

Hope your day too was filled with surprises, or laughter, or little flopping goat ears! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Travels

“… but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler…” Job 31:32

We’ve had quite the travels in the past two weeks!

We’ve seen the road to Damascus (Maryland).

We’ve been to two Mount Vernons (Missouri and Virginia).

We’ve seen the road to Cabool (which I think sounds a lot like Kabul).

We’ve been in two mountain ranges (the Ozarks and the Appalachians).

We’ve crossed Turnback Creek and didn’t turn around.

We’ve been to the Potomac (or Potomatic if you’re talking to my kids).

We’ve been in at least six states and the District of Columbia.

We’ve traveled more miles together than ever before.

We’ve been on strange roads in a strange car traveling 60 miles an hour while the rest of the non-HOV-laners stood still.

We’ve had to pry our fingers from the steering wheel.

We’ve been thankful for GPS and the destination of “home”, which really wasn’t our home, but we didn’t care.

We’ve seen history, and gluttony, and mutiny, and revelry.

We’ve been thankful for on-time flights, little traffic, speeding metros, and the Tourmobile that would pick us up when our legs threatened giving out.

We’ve been glad for water rides when it was 105.

And we’ve been glad to return home to our own beds and dream about when we’ll do it all over again!

But we think we'll stay home the rest of the summer.  


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Star Cash Grocery

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

I got the call last Thursday. 

Ok, actually I read it on Facebook, the source of all my knowledge. 

Star Cash Grocery in Commerce, Oklahoma was closing its doors forever at the end of the day. 

"So what?" you say. 

Well, Star Cash Grocery was right down the street from my Nanna's, about 2 1/2 blocks away.  It was where Nanna shopped.  It was the source off all my candy bars and cans of Dr. Pepper.  And it was my last chance to take my kids there. 

And so, a road trip ensued that took us to Main Street Commerce and of course I took along my camera to have a final Kodak (actually Canon) moment with a grocery store I'd visited a gazillion times as a kid. 

Here's my Star Cash Grocery pictorial, kids included.

This is the front of the store with the original sign.  You'd probably have to be looking for it or know where it was. 

This is the back of the store where my Nanna always parked her gigantic car.  I parked my car there, like I owned the place, right in her spot.  Picture a giant brown Buick Century and you'll have my childhood memory. 

The Nutrena sign stems from when the store first opened 74 years ago and was a grocery/feed store.  A one stop shop.

This is Janet working the meat counter at the back of the store.  Well, really it is the middle, if you count the back store room, but it was the back of the store to me for years since the public isn't usually invited to the back room.  Janet worked at the store for 28 years according to the Miami News Record, but I'll just say she worked there my entire life.  I used to babysit for her when her oldest was a baby.

The meat couter was always run by Junior Geren.  He was always bald, always wore glasses, and most always wore a white apron that would have some kind of blood stain on it from cutting meat.  He made sandwiches at lunchtime and wrapped everything in white butcher paper with masking tape and hand wrote with a pencil the price of the item.  Janet would ring you up at the cash register up front, which is where I remember her most. 

Here's Junior's butcher block behind the meat counter.  I was always told not to touch it because there might be worms on it.  Or maybe it was germs.  I think I heard worms. 

Do you know how many slices of sandwich meat I watched that man slice as a kid?  Me neither, but it was a lot.  Years later I would be very familiar with a similar machine while doing my stint at Arby's. 

Not sure what happened to the old scale, but here's the white butcher paper I was talking about.

See that handled door there to the right of the butcher block?  That's where I got my Dr. Pepper.  Notice the funny signs.  One says "Bald is Beautiful" and the other says "Oklahoma Motorcycle: Cowasocky" and has a picture of a cow wearing socks. 

This is the door to the cooler space behind the meat counter.  There used to be cow carcasses hanging in there waiting for Junior to cut.  I also remember him saving big bones in there for one customer's LION!  I guess it was true.  Could have just been for a big dog.  I was a gullible child. 

That's probably a 74 year old collection of stuff, right there.  There may even be something I gave Junior up there.  Who knows?

One fateful day, I had to use the restroom while I was at the store and was ushered into the backroom.  There was a small closet of a restroom there and I remember it being scary and thrilling to get to use the bathroom at the store.  I didn't get out much.  The door barely opened wide enough for a person to enter.  I tried to take a tasteful picture of the bathroom, but couldn't so I took a picture of the toilet paper holder to show you its luxuriousness. 

While we were back there I found this.  I think it or a smaller one like it used to sit up front by the cash register, right inside the front door.  It used to contain popsicles, if memory serves me right.  I believe the wearing on the finish is from butts sitting on it.  My memories.  My story.  And I'm sticking to it. 

Ok, continuing our grand tour.  You see the meat counter there in the back?  Then there was the left aisle, the center aisle, and the right aisle.  Left aisle had cereal.  Center aisle was home to pecan pies, donuts, and bottles of pop and bags of chips, right aisle was produce and soup. 

I picked out cereal here.

Bananas and potatoes and such here. 

And here's where we weighed them.  Still works.   

Here's where cold stuff was found.  I seem to recall hotdogs and perhaps packaged cheese, but I'm having a hard time visualizing contents here. 

And the soup was here.  And dog and cat food, I think. 

Moving forward...  Hey, who's that yay hoo coming in through the door?  Looks like a relative.  Grandpa EB.  He's the snazzy dresser in the family.  He acted like he didn't know me...  to the other four people in the store who knew darn good and well who he was to me.  I'll steal his sweat band later.

Here's where you would push your little shopping cart up under so that Janet could ring you up and bag your groceries.  I can remember hanging by my fingertips and swinging under there.  I was probably like three.  (The legs belong to Janet's brother, Charles.)

And see that candy shelf there in the background.  When I was too tall to swing, I would stoop under the cart thing and then pick out a candy bar before returning to the customer side of the counter. 

A safe was always part of the front counter.  There used to be a second cash register set up on the safe for particularly busy days.  Junior's wife, Margaret, used to put things in the safe.  Probably money, but whatever it was, it was exciting when she had to open the safe.  Margaret also kept houseplants in the front of the store.  I think she had a cactus bloom once that smelled like rotten meat. 

And this is where I always remember Margaret sitting in between customers.  Maybe not this exact chair, but in this spot, over by the shopping carts.  She would answer a big black rotary phone with a curly cue cord.  Margaret passed away many, many years ago, but this will always be her spot. 

I never thought I'd get choked up over an old grocery store, but this place held so many memories of Nanna and childhood and good times that I found my throat closing off. 

Now find one person who gets teary eyed over the SuperCenter! 

This concludes our tour of childhood and Star Cash Grocery.  Please watch your step.  I hope you've enjoyed my trip down memory lane!