Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Compliments


“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14


Have you ever received a compliment that you think might stick with you the rest of your life?  I got one from my friend Jill once.  It was one of those terrible chain mail-like emails where you had to list three people and then give them each a compliment, and then they had to list three people, and so on and so on.  I don’t remember who I listed, but I remember what Jill said about me:  “She always does the right thing.”

That was one of the nicest things anybody has ever said about me.  Oh, I’m sure somebody’s told me I had nice hair and meant it, or that I’m a good cook or whatever, but those compliments don’t have staying power for me because they are minute to minute.  One minute with the window down and my hair wraps itself around my head like a turban.  One minute too long on Facebook and I’ve burned the macaroni.

That compliment said something about my character and my character is something I think I can keep.  It said that I was fair and that I had others’ intentions at heart.  It said that even though sometimes the road might be rough, that I would choose the right path.  I loved it and I love Jill, who coincidentally always does the right thing too.  We also share the same gift of “telling it like it is”, so if you ever need an intervention, you know who to call! 

Well today I received my second life-sticking compliment.  It was from a near stranger.  His name is Larry and he’s stepped on my toe in Zumba before, but besides that we’ve had limited contact.  We smile and say hi, but I only just learned his name today. 

He said: “You seem like you’re always happy and really enjoy life.”   

I told him that I do, and then he proceeded to ask me what I did for a living, and I told him I’m a Lady of Leisure.  He seemed surprised by this.  Then he tried to get me to go back to school to get a degree, and I told him I already had one, and then I had to spill the rest of my work experiences.  He was impressed with my litany of qualifications and tried to convince me I needed a job (like I need anyone else to remind me I have NO money).  Okay, substituting.  I still have substituting!    

But his opening comment stuck with me. 

“I’m happy and I enjoy life.”   

Or at least I seem that way to others.  But for the most part, it’s the truth.  Even though I have days where I think I’m getting the shaft, or that the whining will never end, or that it will take an act of Congress to get something done, I’m mostly happy. 

Even when I burn dinner, or I’m cussing the sewing machine, or the dog won’t stop barking in the middle of the night and I have to go out to the barn with the broom and chase him around, I mostly enjoy the process.

So how do others see you?  Do they tell you?  Do you agree?  Sometimes it takes a stranger to make us see ourselves a little clearer.  And hopefully we’re happy with what we see.  The funny thing is, my impression of Larry is the same as his impression of me.  He seems like a fun person to be around every time I see him.  He’s never without a smile.  He dances in Zumba like no one is watching (which we’re really not because we’re all concentrating too hard on not falling down ourselves).  And he acknowledges people every time he sees them.  I learned today that he’s a retired high school teacher and I’ll bet he was a great one! 

He taught me something, didn’t he? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Being Related

..."Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."  Mark 5:19

We took a trip to Portland, Oregon over the summer.  I was amazed at their greenness.  I was wowed by snow in July.  I was aghast when I returned home to 111 degree temperature.  But, what has stuck with me, besides a secret longing to move there and never have 100 degree summers again, was how me and my distant cousins were definitely all RELATED.

My great-aunt Norma (my mom’s dad’s sister) had come to Oklahoma to visit several times throughout my life, as had my great-uncle Don, my cousin Kari, and my cousin Erik.  But, they have another “kid” I’d never met.  His name is Mark, and he’s 50, so he’s hardly a kid, but the last time he’d stepped foot in Oklahoma was in 1973 before I was born.

He told stories of putting a toad in my grandma’s drinking water and how she was going to beat his butt.  We exchanged grandma stories and related quite well, right off the bat.

Did I mention that I run a small toad farm here, and that my kids love toads?

Mark’s family and mine took a trip out to Multnomah Falls and hiked all the way to the top.  On the way through the pedestrian tunnel we bought bags of rainier cherries that we stowed away in the minivan and then returned to after our hike.  We all sat out in the parking lot with the windows down blowing seeds out our mouths like uncouth cannons into the parking lot the exact same way.  I said it was like we were all related or something!

And then he said those fateful words that led me to believe that some ties must be genetic.  He told my kids, “You betta check yourself, before you wreck yourself.”  I tell my kids this all the time, but I hadn’t yet said it in front of the Oregon folks.  I told Mark that I tell them that all the time.  He said, “Those exact same words?” and I said yes.  Funny how an affinity for Ice Cube quotes could be common halfway across the country.  Coincidence?  I think not!

So then the other day, I was out rinsing off the crystals we got at the Great Salt Plain with the hub and I wondered if they’d lost their saltiness.  So I licked one.  Yep.  Tasted just like a rock.  My husband looked at me like I was nuts. 

A few weeks later, I was sitting out at the picnic table with the hub going through the crystals and our youngest son came over to see what we were doing.  He picked up one of the crystals and licked it.  Again my husband rolled his eyes and looked at us both like we were nuts. 

Then a couple of weeks ago, my dad came to visit.  We were sitting at my kitchen table showing him the crystals we’d dug up when he picked one up and licked it!  I died laughing because that made three generations of rock lickers!  Good grief!  My stepmother was quick to note that SHE did not lick the rock.  I said it must be a Taylor thing.

So the next time you’re thinking “why did I do that?” you might look no further than the people you’re related to. 

And for the record, I don’t lick ALL rocks.  I think that’s an entirely different syndrome altogether and I am (so far) undiagnosed.

Hug your family today.  You’ll need them to blame later!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Necklaces and Joyce Meyer

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

Ok, so I made this necklace.  We have a lot of selenite crystals (as you can imagine) from our days at the Great Salt Plains, so I’m trying to figure out what I could do with them.  We also had some nice rocks that were picked up by my children at the Gem Dig at the Tulsa Zoo and even more from the panning station at Silver Dollar City.  We have a rock habit that we just can’t shake! 

I caught a show on PBS the other day about wire wrapping and hammering wire and such, and like with all shows I watch on TV, I thought “I could do that.”  So I tried it.  It almost killed my fingers, but it worked out pretty nice, I think.  Even the hub was impressed. 

And like all good Facebook friends who try something new and succeed, I posted a picture of my accomplishment.

My friend from church said, “I need that…. Seriously.” 

I thought okay, I can do that.  It’s my first try, and if she likes it that much, then it’s hers!

So then I’m flipping through the channels last Friday night and I run across Joyce Meyer.  Now I’m not a regular watcher, but I occasionally try to keep up on my televangelists to dispel rumors and such.  I’ve watched her a few times and found her to be an interesting subject.  I need to read up on her and figure out more about her. 

Anyway, moments into my running across her on TV, she says, “If God tells you to give something away, it is no longer anointed for you!” 

I said, “Holy cow!  I think she’s talking about my necklace!” 

Then she tells a story of how she had a bracelet that she really liked and felt compelled to give it to a friend, but then she had remorse over giving it away and hounded the friend about how much she liked it until the friend said that God was telling her to give it back to Joyce.  And then she never wore it again because it had lost its luster to her.  She said she kept it as a reminder that God had used that bracelet to teach her a lesson. 

So then I was thinking that I for sure had to give that necklace to my friend at church!!

I wore the necklace to church on Sunday and everyone gushed over it and I told them I made it and yada yada yada.  But then I ran into my friend and told her it was really her necklace because Joyce Meyer had told me that I had to give it to her! 

She was confused. 

I’m sometimes confusing. 

I told her the whole story and she thought it as bizarre as I did, but said I should wear the necklace until the end of the service, and then she would get it from me.  She hugged me, and thanked me, and then we took our respective places – me in my pew, and she as a song leader.

And that would be the end of the story, except for the fact that our church has all sorts of fascinating little tidbits of information in the bulletins.  They list the elders and upcoming events and ushers for the week and such, and they also list the week’s birthdays. 

And guess whose birthday it was?  My friend’s. 

I gave her the necklace at the end of the service and told her I couldn’t believe it was her birthday!!  I told her THAT was even a little bit too weird for me even! 

And I think I heard God laughing…


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Great Salt Plains

"You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."  Matthew 5:13
After driving approximately 267 miles from home, with a detour to Ponca City to see the Marland Mansion, and another stop in Enid to see Leonardo's Discovery Warehouse, and find a hotel room since the Little League World Series was in town, we finally made it to the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, we had no idea where we were going and went east when we should have went west and ended up on the east side of the lake where there is actually water.  There wasn't a whole lot of scenery in the area.  Apparently the wheat harvest is just getting started. 

We asked several people where to dig crystals by the lake, but they'd only heard of it and had never been there themselves.  Okay, we drove 267 miles and these people had never been there?  Anyway, we found a bathroom and vowed to press on and find the salt plains before sundown.  We also conveniently found a water hydrant outside the bathroom with a hose so we filled up our two water containers with lids that we had in my trunk. 

Things you need to know #1 - you'll need jugs for transporting water, possibly long distances, so you'd better have a lid for it unless you want a wet trunk. 

The outside of the bathroom also had a map of the lake area, so we figured out we were on the wrong side of the lake.  We were approximately 20 miles from where we needed to be.  And we were burning daylight! 

Thing you need to know #2 - The digging area is located on the west side of the lake, west of Jet, Oklahoma.  There is a dirt road cutoff that we took that takes you to the salt plains.  There is a large sign on the right-hand side of the road for the cutoff.  3 miles on dirt road, 1 mile on pavement.  My car can take it!

We finally arrived about 8:00pm, but I'd forgotten my camera at the hotel and so there is no photographic evidence of our maiden entrance into the great salt plain.  I will tell you, it looked a lot like this.  Only I was totally freaked out driving out into it.  There were no other people there.  The bathroom and "scenic" overlook greeted us at the gate and then let us out into the white plains ahead.  It was probably a quarter-mile to the parking area from the gate/bathrooms and it was completely white and sandy.  To me, it felt like we were driving out onto ice, or snow, or water, none of which I am a fan of driving out onto.  I felt a bit claustrophobic or something. 

Then we arrived at the designated digging site and our excitement was only briefly squelched when all four doors of my car were nearly ripped off their hinges from the constant wind gust we experienced while we were there.  I instructed the children to "hang onto your doors" and then we tried again.  This time, no doors were nearly damaged.  Unfortunately, I had to pop my trunk and the wind tried to take off with it too.  It bent the hinges of the trunk so that it closed funny until we got home and my husband took a board to it.  Now it is as good as new.  Well, close.

Things you need to know #3 - It may be quite windy out on the salt plain.  Hang onto your doors, even if it doesn't sound windy to you from inside the car.

We dug about 30 minutes before the sun turned a deep red color that was warning me to get the heck out of there before it was pitch black.  So we heeded its warning and vowed to return in the morning.

The hub was so excited.  He said he'd never done anything like this in his life.  I told him that made sense since this was the only place in the world you could do anything like this.     

This is us the next morning.  We arrived at 8:00am.  We were the last ones out on Saturday night, and the first ones in on Sunday morning.  We began to wonder if very many people visit here or not?  Anyway, that's the hub and children up there with visual examples of our water jugs, and our digging gear.  We wore pool shoes and brought along regular shoes to change into after the digging was over.

Things to know #4 - you'll need a shovel, and possibly a change of clothes/shoes.  Oh, and sunscreen, definitely going to need sunscreen!    

Yes, the wind was blowing 999 mph on Sunday too!  
Obviously people had been here before, but it really is quite deserted.  We felt like we were at the end of the earth or the surface of the moon.  I wonder why more Hollywood Armageddon movies aren't filmed here?  Apparently the military used it as a test bombing site during WWII.  There is a sign when you first go in instructing you what to do if you find any leftover bomb paraphernalia.  *Call 911!!*
The salt plain is also home to the Least Tern, whom we saw several times.  Kind of like a killdeer, but smaller and faster and tougher.  Most killdeers I know make there homes in cemeteries, where there is at least grass.  These guys have NOTHING!  I don't know how they do it. 

 It goes without saying, but it is very salty - hence the name, I suppose.  Salt crystals actually form at the top of the abandoned holes after the water evaporates.  I was apparently the only one in the family that was fascinated by this because.... 

...  the "boys" all headed straight to work.  I told the kids, "Stay where we can see you" which by all accounts was approximately 10 miles in any direction.

Here they are digging the hole.  It is just sand, so it goes pretty quickly.  The hub decided the best bet was to find the clay "bottom" and start there.  He had quite a bit of luck with this theory. 

After digging the hole, we filled it up with water and then started scooping through the sandy soup with our hands.  If you find something hard that almost cuts your finger off, then you've found a crystal.  We worked for about 2 1/2 hours this day and finally..... 

More people showed up!  Some were ill-equipped.  Some dropped their buckets and they immediately flew right to Kansas.  Some probably had their doors ripped off like I did.

And this is what we found.  Singles, clusters, all shapes and sizes.  Selenite crystals!  And no fingers were even lost in the process. 

When we got back in the car and began to dry out.  Even my jeans began to crystallize from all the salt on the ground.  I was glad that I'd asked for a late check-out from the hotel and that we could all go back and take a shower before we headed home. 

Things you need to know, #5 - You're going to need a shower.  Sand is not my friend. 

I suspect that our ease and success of finding so many crystals in such a short period of time was based on the fact that we were there relatively early in the season.  The Great Salt Plains open on April 1st and I suspect are quite picked over by October when they close.  So, if you're planning a road trip, here's my advice:

  • Secure a hotel room in advance (just in case the World Series is going on or something).
  • Take bags for dirty clothes.
  • Take large sealable containers for water.
  • Take small containers for rinsing/transporting crystals.
  • Don't forget your shovel and spade.
  • Wear clothes you don't mind ruining (although miraculously it appears everything came out of the clothes we wore) .
  • Take extra shoes, sunscreen, and water to drink.
  • Make sure you go to the west side of the lake instead of the east, unless you need water and don't want to drive all the way back to Jet. 
  • Fuel up before that last strip of highway through Nash and Jet.  Gas was 30 cents higher there per gallon than in Enid!     
  • Get ready to get dirty!!   

The kids are already asking when we can go back.  I am not a road warrior by any means, but I suspect we'll visit again.  Probably not this season, but perhaps when we run out of crystals. 

Now, what to do with them all??? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Duck Quilt

"Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?"  Ecclesiastes 4:11

My Granny Donaldson gave me this quilt.  She called me one day, sometime before I got married in 1997, and said she had something for me.  She was quite the quilter and had a huge quilting machine in her house.  I was less than impressed with the duck quilt, considering I’d seen some of her other creations, but I remember her telling me “I thought it might keep you warm.”

Granny Donaldson died in 2001 at the age of 96.  The duck quilt never found a prominent place in my house.  It’s a bit manly.  Doesn’t really go with anything, and the 20 ducks on it are a little too brown and orange for me.  Plus, Granny Donaldson is gone now and I’m never getting another one, so I should put it away and save it.  But…

In 2007, we experienced an ice storm here in Northeast Oklahoma that caused horrible damage and power outages and constraints on normal folks that I wish not to live through again.  Trees literally exploded with the weight of the ice breaking enormous branches.  Standing out in front of our house the next morning, we thought we were in a war zone for all the explosions of trees around us.  Our power was out, but the husband had secured a generator from his workplace for us to use. 

There was a mad dash to secure a generator if you did not have one, and we provided the cash necessary for our neighbor to buy a large one from a wholesaler who had come to my bank to sell generators.  Everyone was desperate!   

We have a wood burning fireplace, so we camped out in the living room for 13 days without power!  One of the things I did to conserve heat was to place this quilt in my doorframe that leads to the upstairs of our house.  I remember thinking then that “it had kept me warm” just as Granny Donaldson had said it would. 

It was without a doubt the worst camping adventure I’d ever had and I hope not to do it again!


And then yesterday, our air conditioner to the upstairs decided to die.  While we didn’t have to worry about freezing to death, sleeping was a high priority last night.  We camped out, once again, downstairs, but this time we slept in the extra bed and bedroom since we didn’t have to keep the fire going.  And once again, I hung Granny Donaldson’s quilt in my doorway to conserve energy.  And I’d say it is working!  The upstairs thermostat is currently reading 81, while we are sitting at 73 downstairs.  The air conditioner has only kicked on a few times in the past hour, so I’d say the quilt is keeping me cool too! 

Thank God for two air conditioning units, local repairmen who will hopefully show up today, and a less than impressive duck quilt from someone who knew I would need it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Page - Zack Heroes

In an effort to support the ongoing artistic endeavours of my 7YO, I have added a page titled Zack Heroes (a name he picked out) and have started him his own artwork blog at  See the page up there by the Home tab?  I've posted the hilarious pictures he drew of me in his "About My Mother" book he completed in first grade this week.  He's pretty excited about his own webpage.  Every 7YO needs their own webpage, right??  Ha!  Before long he'll be running this one instead of me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brotherly Love

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  Romans 12:10

We always say the above bible verse is my 7YO’s verse.  His name is Roman and his birthday is December 10th.  So Romans 12:10 is HIS verse.  And he does a pretty good job of loving his brother. 

For the most part.

I told you about Mitten’s kittens, and how the orange one showed up straight from Jesus, so it was only fate that we should have to keep that one.  But now we have this other ginormous kitten that is older than all the others, who plays, and jumps, and eats cat food in a horribly cute way the others cannot.  The kids have named him Max and have started petitioning for his adoption as a “family cat” as well.

We do not need to keep two kittens.

I repeat. 

We do not need to keep two kittens. 

We’re full up on cats.

No room at the Cat Inn.

The litter box runneth over. 

Which is a whole other issue entirely since they are all outside cats and refuse to potty anywhere but the litter box in the garage so that I have to clean it out!!  

We like to think we’re good parents, but we also like to give our kids a hard time.  It’s part of our master plan of not making it too easy here, so that they will one day want to move out!  So we told each of the children individually that they could keep both kittens, but they had to give up their brother.

The 9YO quickly recounted and said that he didn’t want to keep the kitten. 

The 7YO thought about it for half a second and said, “OKAY!!”

Brotherly love. 

A beautiful thing!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Foreign Language

“The Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’”  Genesis 11:6-7

Okay, so my husband is Russian, but I took a lot of Spanish in school.  In fact, I almost came out of college with a minor in it.  But I think I would have had to take one more semester and it didn’t really seem worth going to school any longer for.  What good would it have done me anyway, since I married the Russian? 

Anyway, in college I had had so much Spanish that I had to give presentations in front of the class in Español.  I was always self-conscious when speaking Spanish because of my accent – read, hick from Oklahoma – and felt kind of like Sean Penn’s character on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  “Dude… Cómo está usted?” 

We had a lady in my class from El Salvador, whom I asked if she could even understand me, and she said yes, but maybe she was just being nice.  Oh, and my college Spanish classes were taught by a Cuban who’d gone to school in Russia and married a Russian lady and spoke Spanish, English, and Russian.  Fate, I tell you! 

So, I am the authority on Spanish in my household, even though I don’t speak it, read it, write it, or even understand it anymore. 

Here was the conversation at breakfast this morning:

9YO: “What does español mean?”

Me: “It means Spanish.”

9YO: “No, what does it MEAN?”

Me:  “It means Spanish in Spanish.”

9YO: “That’s not what I MEAN!  What does español mean?”

Me:  “Español is the Spanish word for Spanish.”

9YO: “So what does it mean?”

Me: “It means SPANISH!  It is the Spanish word for Spanish!”

9YO:  “So how do you say English?”

Me: “Inglés.”

9YO: “Ohhhhhhhh!!!  Now I get it.”

And to think that conversations like this would have never existed if the tower of Babel had never been attempted!  What would the world be like if we all understood each other?  Who would we assume was talking about us just because we don’t understand what they are saying?  What word would I use for “You got me?” besides capisci to sound like a mobster mother? 

Thank God for differences, and children, and laughter, and entertainment that stems from us all trying to understand each other for thousands and thousands of years! 

Monday, April 30, 2012

And Then There Were Nine...

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." - Emma Lazarus, Statue of Liberty, Mittens the Cat

So my last post about the Orange Kitten was just the beginning of what becomes a story of strife, rejection, consternation, and adoption.  Read on. 

It was last Monday night and a teacher-friend’s daughter had just returned to her car from night classes at the local junior college.  What should she find, but a box of four kittens on the hood of her car!   Kittens that were too young to not have a mother.  Kittens that were about a week or so old.  Kittens who were dumped by doofuses who should be sterilized and never allowed to reproduce. 

Teacher-friend’s daughter has a good heart and takes the kittens home, even though she could have just set the box on the next car’s hood.  Teacher-friend has another teacher-friend who has had success in hand-raising kittens, so they pawn…  I mean, leave the kittens… in her care.  Teacher-friend’s teacher-friend feeds the four kittens for three days with a bottle until I catch wind of the story. 

“I have a lactating cat!” I announce.

And so it was arranged that the other teacher-friend would deliver the kittens to me, just moments before an impending field trip to the zoo with my oldest son, so that I could pawn…  I mean, leave the kittens… in the care of Mittens, our new mother cat. 

“This is her first set of kittens,” I told them.  “She doesn’t know that four more don’t usually show up a week later.”

I had the kids pet the kittens profusely on the way from the school to my house.  That way they would at least smell like us.  Their eyes were matted and their fur a bit unkempt, but maybe Mittens wouldn’t suspect they were dumped. 

We plopped the four new kittens in the box with the five existing kittens and left for the zoo.

Hours later we returned to find Mittens happily snuggling with all NINE baby kittens.  Apparently she has a heart for adoption.  She’d considerably cleaned up the kittens as well and everyone appeared happy and satisfied about the situation as evidenced by a pile of sleeping kittens.

And the story would end there with “and they all lived happily ever after”, except for this one kitten.  He’s bigger than all the others.  I’ve named him Bubba due to head size and have been fascinated with his behavior.  He swats and plays and gets the other kittens in headlocks.  His ears stand up.  He’s getting teeth and he administers the bunny-kick to all his unsuspecting siblings.  Everyone else lays there like a slug.  No teeth.  Folded ears.  Thinking “WHYYYYYY?????” when he grabs the in a choke hold. 

So, not only did the doofuses dump the kittens, they didn’t even keep the litter together.  Here’s three from one litter and a bonus kitten!  Two mama cats without babies now, somewhere out there.

Thankfully, through the magic of Facebook and a few mushy photographs, most of the kittens are already spoken for.  I still have a couple that I may end up giving away as parting gifts at Bunco, or perhaps as an end-of-season prize for soccer, but if there is anything to be learned from this, it is this:

  1. God gives animals a heart for the innocent, wayward, and helpless, so surely that is a part of himself he has instilled in us as well. 
  2. We would all do well to heed the advice of Bob Barker and “have your pets spayed or neutered”.
And maybe our doofuses too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Orange Kitten

"Happy is the home with at least one cat." - Italian Proverb

I am not a fan of orange cats.  It’s not that I think they are any different from any other color of cat.  I just don’t care for orange ones.  And I believe there are enough stray cats in the world, that should I go to choose another cat, I should be able to find one that is not orange in color.  Orange cats are also known as “blonde” by my 7YO. 

Second in line on my Cat Color Hating Scale is a calico cat.  Not a fan.  Probably because of a black and orange calico cat name Kiki that would not let me pet her when I was a child. 

So the 7YO’s cat, Mittens, had been killed by a car late last summer and a cute little mostly gray kitten had shown up at the neighbors.  (She undeniably had peach colored calico mixed in with her gray fur, but I was willing to ignore it because she was a nice kitten.)  The neighbor didn’t want her, so I said I would take her home with me.  The 7YO promptly named her Mittens and she became his own. 

Fast forward to about a month ago.

I’d thought about getting Mittens fixed, knowing she was borderline on the preferred age of six months to have her spayed.  But was she getting fatter?

The 7YO noticed first that she had “milk suckers”.  Great!  Maybe I could still take her in…

Let me just say that nothing riles up the pro-choice/pro-lifers at this house like an unexpected teenaged cat pregnancy.

How could we not let her have the kittens? 

And so, our ignorably calico Mittens has been ballooning up over the past several weeks.  The kids couldn’t wait until she “pooped out her kittens”.  They had already begun petitioning to keep one of the kittens as a “family cat”. 

“If there is a blonde one, can we keep it?” my 7YO asked. 

“I don’t really like orange cats,” I told him.

“Why would you say that?  When they grow up, they get all shiny and nice, and they look professional!” he told me. 

Professional cats. 

What will they think of next?

And so the days had been accomplished that the cat was either to have her kittens or explode. 

Yesterday morning, she wasn’t waiting at the front door to be let into the garage for breakfast.  She wasn’t in the garage at lunchtime.  I got to thinking that I hadn’t seen her all day and I’d been home for most of the day.

I checked with the neighbor lady who said she hadn’t seen her either. 

I decided to check the barn.  On my way out to the barn, I peeked my head under the roof of the well house.  There was Mittens and her kittens.  Four little dark blobs. 

But wait…. 

She moved her front paw.  And there… what did I see?  ...but another blob that was undeniably ORANGE!

I could almost hear God laughing!

I kept the secret until the kids got home from school.  My 7YO was so excited that he “happy cried”.  We relocated Mittens and her kittens to our back porch so they would be protected, and the kids could pet the kittens every day to keep them tame so that their fate of leaving this house to go to a new one will be as expeditious as possible.    

My 7YO then prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for my blonde kitten.  It is just want I wanted.  It’s my FAVORITE!  In Jesus' name we pray, amen.”

It looks like we’ll be keeping a kitten, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grandma Hazel

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  2 Corinthians 5:6-8

My Grandma Hazel died on Saturday.  Went home for Easter, I suppose.  I woke up Saturday thinking that she would probably die that night because the next day was Easter, so when my Dad called about 6:30 pm, I really wasn’t surprised at all.  We lost Grandma Hazel a number of years ago, really.  Dementia took her from us.  She wasn’t who she used to be, who we really remembered as our Grandma. 

Several years ago, before she entered an assisted living facility.  The family had an auction of all her personal effects.  Family members got what they wanted out of the house, but the rest was auctioned off to the public.  Everyday common crap really.  Nothing really special. 

I had wanted pictures from her house.  I’d heard for 30 years that she had pictures of my brothers that died in infancy.  I found them hiding in a chest of drawers along with a lifetime of pictures of people I knew and didn’t know.  Pictures are a high commodity to me, as I don’t have as many as I used to due to my house flooding while I was a teenager several times.  I also took pictures of my cousins and other family members, leaving behind the vast majority.  I wish I’d taken more.  I wonder what happened to the rest of the pictures now.  Probably got thrown away. 

Anyway, the skull up there is a treasured reminder of Grandma Hazel to me.  It is an ashtray.  I guess you put your cigarettes in the glasses.  Why would a skull need glasses?  Why would Grandma Hazel have an ashtray?  She didn’t ever smoke that I knew of.  I always assumed it belonged to my Grandpa Taylor who died before I was born.

This ashtray sat on an end table beside the couch where Grandma Hazel always sat with her crochet.  She’d watch Days of our Lives just about every day, and was hardly ever without something to crochet in her hands.  I can remember her holding me on her lap while she crocheted.  She taught me to crochet when I was five.  And where did she keep her crochet hooks?  Here in the back of this ashtray.

So when we went through the house to see what I wanted to take, I purposely left the ashtray.  Surely someone other than I would want it for sentimental reasons.  One of my aunts probably. 

The day of the auction came, and I went.  Not because there was really anything in particular that I wanted, but because I wanted to see how it all turned out.  Grandma Hazel had a huge Budeweiser picture of Custer’s Last Stand behind her stove my whole life and we all thought it might bring quite a bit of money, even though we all thought it to be hideous.  Another leftover from Grandpa Taylor, I always assumed.  Some man bought it because his dad had had one just like it in his barber shop when he was a kid.  He paid $500 for it and felt compelled to make a speech after.  He said, “This is going in my house, and it ain’t EVER coming out!”  Glad he liked it! 

As I walked around, I saw more stuff that had been stuffed away in closets that I remembered.  I was looking through boxes when, lo and behold, there was the ashtray – the head, as I call it – crochet hooks still sticking out the back.  I guess no one else waxed nostalgic over the skull like I did.  But it was up for sale!  To strangers!  I had to have it!  I couldn’t just go stealing it out of the box.  The auctioneers had all the stuff inventoried.  And the money from the auction was going towards Grandma Hazel’s long-term care.  What if this ashtray was worth more than that Budweiser picture?  How was I to know? 

So I hung around waiting on the box to come up for sale.  In the meantime I bought her sewing cabinet for $20 because I didn’t want furniture dealers to have it.  I bought a little dilapidated wooden bench that always sat beside her bed, and I bought a pair of ceramic chickens that always sat up on a shelf in her kitchen.  Better for me to have those things than people to whom they only had resale value.  And probably little of that! 

So the time comes for the box that contained the head to be sold.  It was in a line of six boxes that contained all kinds of stuff.  Two boxes of mason jars.  One box full of old quilt squares.  And a few cardboard boxes best described as miscellany.  I even tried to kind of hide it in the bottom of the box under a doily, but auction goers are pretty undeterred by such things as a doily.  One lady even looked at it. 

The auctioneer announced that we would be bidding for “choice box” in this round.  Tension mounted.  I was sure everyone there was interested in MY box.  I had worked out in my mind that I’d try to get it for five or six dollars, so I wasn’t just going to go crazy!  The bidding started and I had some stiff competition, but when my final bid of $5 was topped with one for $6, I stopped just as I’d promised myself I would do.  The other lady had won.  The auctioneer asked her which box she wanted and she took…

The big box of mason jars.

Whew!  I still had a chance! 

I assumed we’d be bidding on our choice of boxes again, but the auctioneer announced that we would be “cleaning up” this lot!  Great!  Now I’d be bidding on the rest of the boxes all at once!  More tension! 

Bidding started again, and I stuck true to my decision and only went up to $6.  But this time, it was enough!  I’d won the whole lot!  Junk boxes and all! 

A lady standing near to me came up and said, “Did you really want those mason jars?”

“No,” I said.  “I only wanted this,” and I reached in the box and pulled out the head.

She laughed and said, “How much do you want for the jars?” 

“Three dollars?”

“Sold!” she said, paying me, and quickly carted off at least part of my loot.

Later, I made a couple of lap blankets for Grandma Hazel to use while she was in managed care, but even those have been returned to me.  Some junk just keeps coming back.    

It’s funny to think how we all treasure our personal effects so much, but yet what would be left after the auctioneers come through?  Those things we think of as being sentimental to others, might not really be what they associate with the person at all.  And to think that something purchased for only $3, net the mason jars, could become one of my prized possessions!

Here’s to all my memories of Grandma Hazel.  I’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come.  May she rest in peace with the Lord until we are all reunited, and may her memory live on forever in our hearts.