Tuesday, December 28, 2004

happy merry christmas

This Christmas was very nice. Early Christmas Eve afternoon, we had a visit from my stepson Jason, his wife Beth, and their son Garrett. We exchanged gifts with them and sat around talking for a while. Next on the agenda was my mother-in-law's annual Christmas banquet. My husband Marvin fried a turkey for us to take over. There were about twenty people in attendance this year. Everyone brought a man or woman's gift, and we played bingo. When you won, you picked out your gift. Everyone had the option to take a gift that someone else had already selected, otherwise known as "Dirty Santa", but no one exercised that option. I selected a porcelain snowman (i collect snowmen) that had an opening at the back where you can also insert a candle to light him up.

I have some friends who took some pictures I took of my mother-in-law's Christmas house and put them on a website as her personal page. They added Christmas music, and it is pretty cool. Check it out at: www.ecsis.net/~oscearce.

Marvin and I took our presents over to his mother's house the next morning, and we opened our presents along with his brother, niece, and mother. I got a lot of nice things and I'm very thankful for everything. I received clothes, jewelry, DVDs ("A Christmas Story" and "Simon & Garfunkel Old Friends"), a vacuum cleaner, a coffee table, a silver breakfast set, a casserole serving set, a couple of food gift sets, gift cards from JC Penny's & Hastings, an M&Ms Christmas candy dish, and assorted cards and letters from various friends. I'm going to take advantage of the after-Christmas specials and make full use of those gift cards. Thanks for everything, everybody!

This time of year makes me thankful for my family and extended family and friends. That's what Christmas is all about really. It's about celebrating the birth of Jesus with those who mean the most to us. I hope everyone had a great holiday, and may 2005 be good to all of you.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

snow and such

Merry Christmas to everyone. I'd like to give a shout out to all my family and friends who are spread out over the miles. I hope that Santa brings you all that you wish for plus a box of cookies. Or candy, if you prefer. Here in Tennessee we are being blasted with a winter storm. This is the first white Christmas that we've seen in probably ten years or so, the type of weather for careful driving. I just put my truck in 4 wheel drive and go slow and use my brakes sparingly. I've been exposed to winter driving since I was sixteen. That was my first year of driving. When winter came, my dad did not let me drive in the ice and snow. He told me that this was my learning year. So, every time the car left the house, I went with him, and he taught me proper braking and steering for winter conditions. He was a good teacher and tried to show and tell me what he was doing and explained things such as why you need to gradually slow down instead of suddenly hit your brakes, and how to ride out the spin when your vehicle starts swerving. I was grateful for this instruction even though I was very impatient and wanted to drive that year. The Arkansas Delta was flat land snow driving, which was very easy compared to what followed.

During my years in Fayetteville, Arkansas and the University of Arkansas, I learned how to slide up and down the hills that are characteristic of that area. I worked for an inventory company and did a lot of traveling to surrounding towns, and Oklahoma & Missouri in the ice and snow. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, the winters were managed very nicely there. Lots of snow, but the roads were clear of ice. Then I wind up back in Tennessee, where we see some winter weather, but not that often. Drivers here do well to drive when it's raining, much less when you have four inches of snow on the ground. We have some hills and curves, but nothing like my Northwest Arkansas experience. The toughest part of my drive is about a hundred yards from the main highway. (Yes, I do live off the beaten path! Take a right off the main road...) I have this downhill slope with curves that has to be taken very slowly so that you don't wind up in the woods on either side of the road. One funny thing I saw last night was that one of the highway department road crew trucks got stuck in the median of the four-way highway near my house. It was still there when I drove to work this morning. I bet it will take a long time for that guy to live that mistake down. A new definition of winter weather: You know it's really bad when...even the road crew trucks get stuck in the snow.

Merry Christmas to all...and Happy Trombones to some of us!
Abbeygrape, still hangin' out on the winter vine...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

a little bull!

This morning our cow Sweetie Pie had her calf, a baby bull we are naming George. We knew that she would be coming in anytime soon, because she was showing the usual signs of swollen milk bags and labored breathing.

This was truly a miracle birth because it took three years in between her calves.

It was on a summer day about three years ago that we decided to sell four of our cows (one-half our herd) to give better grazing for the remaining cows. Our pasture can support about eight cows, but not very well. So we sold Big Brother and Mason, (bulls), and Ma Barker and Ma Kettle (cows) . We kept Little Brother and Memphis (bulls) and Precious and Sweetie Pie (cows). Little Brother was always my favorite bull. When I petted his head and ran my fingers through the curls on his forehead, he would lick my arm. His tongue felt like sandpaper on my skin. About a month after the sale, I left home on a light rainy day. I saw Little Brother standing near a tree and that was the last time I saw him alive.

When I got home that night, my husband met me in our driveway and told me that Little Brother and Precious were in the barn dead. They were stacked in their stalls just like they were sleeping. Since it was a rainy day, we decided that lightning must have hit the barn just right. It was too late to do an autopsy, because an accurate autopsy for a cow must happen within six hours of death. The body deteriorates too fast otherwise. A friend brought his backhoe over and buried them about sixty feet deep under the ground behind the barn. That is no small job, because we estimated that Little Brother probably weighed about 2500 lbs., and Precious was almost as big as he. The chain wrapped around their legs was strong enough to drag them to their grave. We spread a sulfur compound in the barn to cover up the stench and fumigate the area.

Memphis and Sweetie Pie seemed to be okay, but they were coughing and their breathing was very ragged. We got some wire and fenced them off in an area near the front of the pasture so that a closer watch could be kept on them. Our veterinarian came by and checked them out, and all was fine. They were eating and drinking okay, so we felt that they would make it okay. Memphis was only about a month old, and even though Sweetie Pie was not his mother, she took him on and let him nurse from her milk bags.

Over the past few years, Sweetie Pie would not let Memphis sire any offspring. We decided that we must have some cows with morals. One time they both got out and wound up with the cattle at a neighbor's farm, so we were hoping that maybe she was in heat when that happened. But, still there was no pitter-patter of little cow feet in our pasture.

Finally, at the end of this summer, we began to suspect that she might be "with cow". She was getting bigger, but we didn't want to jinx her, so we didn't say much of anything about it. Over the past month, it looked like we might actually have a cow baby in our midst. Last Saturday night, we knew it would be "any day now". Sunday morning I looked outside and then ran to wake my husband up. The heifer was out in our thicket and cleaning up a little critter out there. We ran outside and saw our new little calf. He reminded my husband of a bull he once had during his childhood, so we have named him "George", after the bull in his past.

George is doing nicely so far. He is starting to make his little bull noises. And Sweetie Pie is starting to make her mother sounds. When she is addressing the calf, she has this "Mmmmmm" sound. When he hears that, he knows that she wants him to follow her. It's awesome to watch the love between mother and son. Even Memphis has been involved a little in the parenting process. He came up and was nose-to-nose with Little Georgie just minutes after he was born. Good job, kids!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Deer Abbey

I live out in the country, and our two-story cypress house is the only house on our road. We are surrounded by soybean fields, corn fields, and wheat fields, with several thickets spread throughout the area. The countryside is full of chirping cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, owls, and other various birds of a feather. I like to take walks down our road when the weather is nice. It is not uncommon to spook a deer or two when you're walking down the road. A few weeks ago, I saw a fawn wandering on the side of the road near a bean field. She ran into the field to hide and watch me as I drove by. Another time I was driving in between two thickets, and a flock of about fifteen cardinals flew from one side of the road to the other. Absolutely breathtaking! On Wednesday afternoon around dusk, I was headed out to run some errands and just driving along minding my own business. Suddenly, a doe ran out of a field and right in front of my truck. I hit my brakes and missed her by inches. She was a little taller than the hood, so she would have made a big impression on me and the truck if I had hit her. I was a little shaken (not stirred, well a little maybe) and drove on to get the errands done. It's little things like this that make the little commute I have to work worthwhile. Nature at it's finest, right at my home.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

And Now, A Quote from Joan Baez

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

the big picture

This morning I arrived at my podiatrist's office at the same time he did. I then found out my true purpose in life...helping to pay for a beautiful candy-apple red Corvette. This aggravated me for a while, but then I remembered that he has battled cancer and has won this round. My attitude turned around 180 degrees then. He deserves as many red Corvettes as he can afford. Hell, we should all buy red Corvettes, because most of us have survived some huge obstacle in life that needs to be rewarded.

My foot seems to be healing nicely. My biopsy results show that I have a case of contact dermatitis. I'm not sure what I "contacted" to cause this to happen, so all I can do is keep rubbing in the new cream he prescribed and hope that it never returns. I'm thankful that nothing serious was found. These feet have been a lot of places, and I plan on them going to a lot more places over the next forty or so years.

Friday, December 03, 2004

missing palms

The other day my Kyocera phone with built-in Palm Pilot decided to play a trick on me. Sometime after lunch, the stylus was missing. I searched everywhere...my desk, in my truck, retracing my steps, but to no avail. I didn't have an extra stylus, so I was going to have to order a new one. Thank God I have fingernails! I was the blonde walking around with her phone and tapping the screen with her index finger. I know it looked funny, but I didn't care. Last night when I got home, I was getting my things out of the truck. I looked over at the passenger's seat, and there, right in the middle of the seat was my missing stylus. Where have you been, my friend, and how did you just reappear out of thin air? I must have found the secret entry door to the Lost and Found division!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Growing Up with Baba

My first memories of Baba (Czech for "Granny") were associated with the smells of her cooking and her very distinctive voice. She lived with our family and helped raise us kids since our parents worked. And we helped take care of her when she got older too. I remembered being awakened every morning by the slam of our screen door as she walked down the driveway to pick up our morning newspaper. She would then drink a 6-1/2 oz. Coke out of the bottle while taking two aspirin. We always wondered why she had this little ritual. She was helping to keep her blood thin 50 years before modern medicine proved that this was the way to keep your heart healthy.

Next she would start rattling the pots and pans in the cupboard. It was time to brew her morning cup of tea and get breakfast started. I was always scared of that cup of tea because she would tell me that the tea bag was actually a mouse and chase me around the kitchen with it. If it was Friday, she would get her bread dough ready to rise and get her bean soup started cooking and make the noodles. Sometimes we would have haluski on Fridays, and the smell of cabbage and onions would fill the kitchen. As a small child, I would run in and out of the kitchen, checking on the progress of all that she was cooking. Usually around mid-morning, we'd go through the alleyway and wind up over at Aunt Mary's back door a few blocks away for a few minutes so that she could see what they were having for lunch. We'd stick our heads in Uncle Jack's bedroom door and say "Hi" before running home to finish lunch. Uncle Jack was bedridden with arthritis for many years.

Then lunch time finally rolled around. Dad would drive in from the farm and pick Mom up for lunch. Baba and she would watch "As The World Turns" before Dad took Mom back to work. After lunch, Baba would walk to town with my sister Carol and me. We'd go to Sterling's dime store and look at the trinkets. If we were good, she'd buy us some candy to eat on the walk back home. We'd also stop in Belk Jones and do a little window shopping there. Baba had a lot of friends we'd see on our little excursion. She reacted nearly the same way anytime she saw someone she knew. "God damn, son of a bitch, what the hell are you doing here?" was her usual greeting to anyone she met. It didn't matter who it was or their religion. Baptist, Catholic, or Methodist, she greeted them all the same. You just knew that when you saw Baba, that you were going to probably hear a curse word! Other than that, she was a very religious woman, faithfully praying her rosary every night, and you would also see her in line at the confessional every Sunday morning to ask forgiveness before Mass started.

Usually on the way back home from our tour of the town, we'd stop back by Aunt Mary's house. Sometimes we'd find her watching her favorite soap operas. If it was later in the day, Aunt Mary would be relaxing and drinking a beer. Baba liked to have a shot of Old Crow whiskey, and she always took a piece of bread after she took her shot. Maybe that's what her aspirin was for? Late afternoons would find Baba back in the kitchen making supper. We kids would go outside and play. If we were out too long, she would pull a switch off of one of her bushes and come looking for us. If she caught us, we would get swatted on the back of the calf with the switch. We learned to run very fast!

I also remember Baba going to our neighbor's house and swiping tomatoes as she needed them. They gave her their permission to get what she needed, but she would always wait until they were not at home to go get them. I'll always remember the time after her stroke when she was getting around with the aid of a walker. She was missing from the house, and I went to go find her. I looked all over the neighborhood for her, and then I found her, standing in the middle of the Allen's garden, with the walker stuck deep in the mud. I helped her pull it out, but we never did find the rubber stoppers from the bottom of the walker. The pharmacy was very puzzled when we called to order replacements.

I attended Mass with Baba as I was growing up. We always dropped by Aunt Mary's house and picked her up when she needed a ride. This was usually when her daughter-in-law (her usual ride) had to work Sundays at the Riceland Hotel. When I was a teenager, I would sometimes drive Baba to church. One Saturday afternoon we were running just a little late for Mass. The priest was standing at the back of the church putting on his robes when Baba said, "Oh hell! We're late again!" Father smiled and shook his finger at her. I was totally mortified, and my face was about fifty shades of red.

Living with Baba and growing up around her was an experience I wouldn't trade with anyone. She taught me how to cook ("a handful of this, a pinch of that") and embroider and how to pray. She was a strong woman who stood up for what she believed in and taught her family the values they needed to be successful in life. A bowl of her soup and a slice of homemade bread made the world just a little more bearable.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

blonde bowling

Wednesday is my league bowling night. I have a lot of fun at bowling , even though my average is only 98. I bowled my average the first two games, and then bowled really well on the last game and pulled out a 125. Well, 125 is a good score for a genetically inferior female like me, anyway! I had a very "blonde" moment in the second game. I was talking to some friends and listening intently to the music playing from the jukebox, so intently that I walked up to the lane and tried to bowl out of turn . The only excuse that I could come up with was that I'm blonde. One fun thing that I like to do when the lane has problems like the ball didn't return or a lane is stuck on a "180" is when I'm calling in the problem on the intercom, I'll say "by the way, I need fries AND an apple pie with that too!" It's a standing joke between the bowling alley personnel and me. but for someone who has never heard me say that, I really have them going there for a while. I would be totally speechless if they actually did bring me over fries and an apple pie. I'm sure that the look on my face would be like the dog that chases cars, and finally catches one. I'm president of our local women's bowling association, and we never have a dull moment. I even started an annual bowling tournament that we do around the 4th of July where people win prizes for Most Gutter Balls, Lowest Score, Highest Score, Most Splits, and other fun categories that you don't find in a "normal" bowling tournament. I feel that bowling does not need to be serious all the time. If you can't have fun, then why be there in the first place?

coke bottle patterns

Well, today was the day of reckoning. I removed all of my gauze and bandages, expecting to see all sorts of "war wounds". What I found was three little holes on the size of my foot, resembling the little holes that my grandmother punched into her Coke bottle to sprinkle the clothes with when she was ironing. Most of my pain is gone. But, for all the pain I went through, I expected more blood and guts than what I saw. Am I that much of a wimp? I don't think so anyway...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?