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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deep Thinking

Lately I have been pondering on the fact that the man Jesus was only 33ish when he was crucified.  Many of the books of the New Testament were written by 'new' Christians.  I am not a new Christian.  No way I do have it all together by any stretch of the imagination.  There are times I feel unchallenged maybe even a little weary of the same verses being quoted in devotionals, sermons and studies.  I get the whole do unto others, I just do not always live it with my beloved husband and others.  I get the sheep and goats during the time of judgement, take care of those in need, in prison, the lonely, etc.  Yet I have watched as persons of faith have struggles in the years when body and mind fail.  I am left wondering, pondering, searching for direction on aging.  Aging in a manner that is still caring for those in need, doing for others, being a light in a dark world.  Doing these things when we are hurting, unable to control bodily functions, unable to recall simple tasks.  How do we live this last part of life?

The summer read for me is, Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth. This book is written by two folks.  One is new to the last third while the second is well into the last years of the final third.  Each chapter highlights a scripture about or pertaining to age.  Some familiar, others more obscure.  A short chapter of thoughts and information followed by questions.  It is thought provoking. Not my typical by the pool read of choice.  This recognition of the need for some deep thinking, the need for continued growth tells me I am still alive.  The pleasure of seeking and learning feels good, a viable being doing more than just, well, getting old.

The hope is by taking time to recenter my core the new direction needed for my journey will become more certain.  The acceptance that my life is in an entirely different phase will make it easier to focus.  Having been a person of lists, projects, doing and achieving may possibly will not always be viable.  This does not mean I am giving up on life.  It means simply adjusting.  It is somewhat like knowing when to quit wearing a certain color of lipstick, the mini skirt or too high heels.  Not because it is not longer fashionable.  Rather because it is just no longer comfortable in one's life.

As I go along on this journey (I'm not ready to call it a pilgrimage) you will read about it on this blog.  Not every day or even every week.  Maybe when, as today, I just knew it was time to put the thoughts into words.  To say 'out loud', "I've been doing this a long time.  Much of what I read bolsters the newbies.  I am still part of the world.  My mom and aunts are still part of the world as are my husband and sisters.  I know part of my responsibility is to help the newbies.  It is, also, part of my responsibility to continue to grow.  I need something new to ponder, to chew on as I swim laps.  A pattern that will reflect joy in the final third of this life given to my by the Creator.  Maybe even a pattern for others about aging "well."  I'm pretty sure there are lots of folks out there feeling the same thing.  Companions and comments on this journey will be

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Neglected Blog

I have been sort of neglecting this blog as I worked with the new camera Gene gave me for our anniversary. Those photos can be seen at the Wordpress blog, A Little of Nothing.  The Spin Cycle is on a two week vacation so I am sort of on my own for inspiration.  Of course I do have the Hubby that keeps giving me plenty of material for use in the blog.

That's Gene's chair.  Mine is at the other end of the sofa.  Playing with
remote exposure settings on new camera.
For example, just today.  We were each in our respective chairs less than 10 ft. apart checking emails on our individual laptops. We do no talk much at all as 47 years together leave us with little new to say.  But Gene was being almost chatty this morning.  We already planned a swim in the pool, a trip to pick up an order at Penney's and along the way get Icie washed.  I was deep in thought about some blog I was reading when I heard Gene say he wanted to share something in bed.

'Scuse me!  We are already up and dressed!  What the $#^! is going on.  I almost tripped over myself bolting for the bedroom.  Well not really, just in my mind.  I mean it takes quite a lot these days to get this old gal to move, little on bolt.  And Gene was not even moving any thing except his mouse and mouth.  That is when I asked for clarification.  What are you desiring to share and why in bed?  He looked really puzzled and asked the question again, "Do you use 'share' or 'embed'?"   Gene was wondering which way I preferred to share videos.   A smile crept across my face as I explained the simple process I use when sharing a video by embedding on the blogs.  After my explanation to him of how I share I told him what it sounded like he initially said.  We both had a good laugh.  For those friends and family that know the back stories I say we were hauling bees on Toronto time.

Sofa is against one wall and the tan chair is
almost against the opposite wall.
I will have to record a video to explain No, let me try at least a partial explanation.  Many, many years ago we along with Gene's aunts, uncles and parents were visiting in his folks living room.  Now that was a room of small proportions.   One would assume all words could be heard clearly.  But as most of the folks were in their 70's and 80's hearing abilities were less than optimal.

Uncle Pete says to us "I started to come visit you but the traffic was just buzzing so we headed on home."

Gene's dad said. "They must have been hauling bees."

Uncle puzzled responds. "What?  There was lots of traffic, no bees"

Gene's dad says, "Well, were they hauling bees?

Uncle Pete says, "You know back when I was in the service I saw a truck wreck once.  It had stuff like screen wire all over it. It was hauling bees........"

The Toronto time is just another story of how communications between persons with hearing issues lead to mix ups and confusion.  My brother in law spent about 2 weekends and additional time between assisting his folks get a new television installed and working.  The setup included syncing a device to help his hearing impaired father.  It took three different sets before that setup could be made to work.  At the end of the second weekend and endless hours installing, uninstalling, returning to the store, getting channels etc. in place, BIL was D.O.N.E.  But the TV clock was not showing the exact time noted his parents.  BIL said he would do it on the next visit.

The next visit came a week later.  My sister and 22 year old nephew were along this time.  The three walk in the door, hugs, kisses and then the subject of the time on the TV comes up.  BIL attempts to explain the time on the TV only shows occasionally when buttons are touched.  The time cannot be made to stay on.

Parents say, "Yes, it can."

BIL, "No, not all the time."  He changes channels to demonstrate.  The time comes on for a few seconds and disappears.

Parents say, "See, there it was but it is not the correct time."

This line of conversation repeats in basically the same fashion for several minutes as BIL is changing channels.  In the background the 22 year old nephew and my sis have obtained the remote, set the time for CDT so the time is correct now as channels are changed.  The only problem is the TV is now tuned to a station that has the time of day up in the corner.

"See, that time is staying on!" said the Parents.  "Now make it the right time".

BIL is so frustrated he does not realize  why it is staying on or the reason the time is incorrect.  The program is showing Toronto time.  BIL finally changes the channel and the problem is solved as no time is showing permanently on the TV.

The parents, who are in late 80'/early 90's, are content.  My sis and nephew are in gales of laughter watching all this transpire.

With all the back stories now told,  I'll close for the day.  It is getting on toward midnight.  Who knows what we might need to buzz to bed and share some Toronto time tonight!

Peace and love to all who read.  Hope it brought a smile to your heart.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Parks and Recreation

Town and Country Soccer Fields

Milburn Soccer Fields
San Gabriel Lacrosse fields.

Dell Diamond
Hubby and I have spent a fair amount of time in parks around the Austin area this spring and early summer.  With three grandsons involved in soccer, lacrosse and swimming teams, we could easily drive 90 miles on any given Saturday.  Names like Milburn, T and C, Anderson Mill, WilCo, San Gabriel etc. now appear as favorites in our GPS.  We even enjoyed a night at Dell Ballpark to watch Middle play drums pregame.  We have honed the soccer and swimming field packs.  Each requires a different set of goodies.  Snacks like fruit and vegetable strips are supplemented as needed by sandwiches picked up at a nearby deli or from the booster services.  There are always water bottles in various stages of cold.

Covered Jeep awaiting our next adventure.
The Jeep, which is now doorless and topless, sports both a bike rack and hitch rack.  A storage duffel bag holds both folding chairs and sunshade.  The bag, also, holds empty milk jugs to be filled with water to hold the sunshade stable in the Texas 'breeze'.  Bungie straps abound in bags and boxes as my husband has a bungie obsession.  Bungies are quite useful.

A recent visit to my sister's home had us in close proximity to a camping park.  Husband toured the park walkways on foot the first morning.  He insisted on the walk even though the skies were threatening.  It P.O.U.R.E.D rain almost the entire time he was gone.  We were preparing to send out a search party just as he returned.  Husband was soaked to the bone.  His new nickname is Chief Walks In Rain.

One of my last park adventures was an alfresco dinner in west Austin.  The Capital of Austin Freeway has a pullout specifically designed for viewing downtown Austin which lies in the distance.  Hubby had been planning for weeks a special evening with wine and food to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We had spent our honeymoon in Austin.  He wanted to spend this anniversary watching the view as the sun set.  It was a lovely evening.  We had many visitors as we sat sipping wine and taking pictures of the surroundings. The wind kept is from having a good sound recording of what was said.  That's okay as the main gist was we still love each other and hope for many more years together.  The background music is the very song that was sung at our wedding in 1967, just not by Andy Williams.

Now for more Parks and Recreation fun join Ginny and Gretchen over at The Spin Cycle.  Better grab a soda and a sandwich for a bite to eat along the trip!

Second Blooming

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Gets Hot

Predictions for this week are showing several days of 100 F. (37.7 C.) for this part of central Texas.  I do not think we plan on Jeeping though Gene did mention wanting to go to a park the other side of Burnet.  My response was not in this heat.  Last week's cool temperatures with highs in the 70's surely spoiled me to cooler weather.

Front porch view, fields beyond trees
All this heat takes my memory back to the days of my youth in Chambersville.  The corn field between us and the Thompsons would be showing signs of ripening.  The maize field across the gravel road would be filled with the deep russet and green of the maize plants.  On the bare fields and roadways you could see heat waves distorting the view slightly.  An occasional whirlwind would travel across the fields lifting any loose leaves into its vortex.  A gentle circling of leaves and debris I would try to catch to see if it could lift me.

Inside the house there might be a fan running.  The fan would oscillate back and forth giving each person in turn a slight reprieve from the heat.  Daddy installed an evaporative cooler in the front room window.  Windows and doors into that room would be closed.  That room would be somewhat cooler.  With the blinds drawn to keep out the sun's rays and the moisture from the cooler the room seemed almost cave like.  The hum of the cooler fan still resounds in my mind.

The window where cooler was installed during summer months.
Days were spent playing dressup or dolls.  Sometimes we played mud pies if there was enough water in the well to spare some.  If Reba Jane came over we would tromp along the cow paths that ran by the nearby wet weather creek.  We did not worry about much of anything, just enjoyed the freedom of summer.  Late afternoons might include going to Ryan's lake for a swim.  I would see lots of friends there swimming, too.  Teens and parents as well as kids my age all joined in the fun of cooling down.  Lucille, Reba Jane's mom, never swam.  She always said she was like a momma cow, just wade out far enough to cool down her bags.

Back yard of Farnsworth house.
The black dirt would get so hot during the summer months.  The continued heat, day in and day out, baked the earth until it cracked.  Wide, deep cracks that seemed to have no bottom.  No cooling rains year after year.  These were the years of the worst drought in Texas recorded history 1950-57.  Many farmers were forced to sell out and leave farming all together, no rain = no crops = no income.  It was during those years my dad slowly put aside farming in search of a more consistent income.  Though we still lived in the same house with the cooler, by the end of 1958 my family was no longer considered farmers.

For three more years we would live in that house.  Minimal indoor plumbing consisted of running water in the kitchen.  We had an outdoor privy and a "night chamber" to avoid the long walk to the privy in the dark of night.  The windows open to try and catch a breeze allowed the stuff and sounds of life to filter through out the house. The curl of dust from passing cars would slowly roll across the front yard toward the house.  The dust would settle on the surfaces inside.  The sound of a distant train whistle could be heard in the evenings when the rumble of farming equipment was stilled.  

Today I sit in the air conditioned comfort of my home.  The thermometer creeps upward toward triple digit readings.  The heat waves rise from the pavement and business roofs.  I may don a swimsuit and try the apartment pool.  It will not be quite the same as Ryan's lake with Lucille teaching me to float on my back.  Or Reba Jane and I catching minnows.  But it will still be hot in Texas in July and cows will wade out just far enough to cool their bags.

Screened back porch was our bathing area in summer.
Also, the beginning of the path to outbuildings including privy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sister Days

The past several days were spent in the Dallas, TX, area playing with my sisters.  One sis and her husband came in from Oklahoma.  Husband and I drove up from the Austin area.  The fourth sis is still employed full time so could only make it on Friday.  We converged on our Mom's apartment at assisted living on Wednesday.  We three sisters and Mom time in a quiet sitting area just catching up on each other's families.  Of course there was the usual discussion of aches and pains that seems to accompany gatherings of folks our age.

Probably the most entertaining part of any gathering is the remember game.  We can spend hours trying to remember the name of a movie, TV show, actors or about anything.  The process can take days if the thing we are trying to remember is family centric.   When it is about famous people the answer is only as far away as the nearest phone or tablet.  I, also, seemed to have enhanced recall during my showers.  Unfortunately by the time I would get dried, fluffed and dressed I would have forgotten again.  Ah!  The joy of aging.

Now we sisters and husbands did spend a good amount of time going out to eat or preparing simple meals.  Tortilla pizzas, sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, ham, potato casserole, garden fresh fruits and vegetables tickles our pallets.  We even indulged in apple, cherry and apricot pies.  Meals eaten in restaurants included everything from fish and chips to prime rib, steaks to chili.  Warm foods were good this past week as records were being set for July.  Not the usual 100 plus temperatures for highs.  Instead highs in the mid to upper 70's.  This is in an area where 20 days in a row of 100 plus temps is common for summer months.

Besides remembering, eating and visiting we enjoyed an evening at the ballpark.  Not the mega park the Rangers play in over in Arlington.  We watched the Rough Riders double A team in Frisco.  The weather was chilly and rainy but still it was fun just being together.  Being together and no doing something like moving Mom.  Or helping Mom as she goes through rehab.  And there was no big holiday.  We just spent time together.  We did visit our hospitalized Aunt Opal who is holding her own.  Mom sat at Aunt Opal's bedside holding her baby sister's hand as we three daughters/nieces/siblings looked on.  We know the time will come when it will be us holding the hand of a sister as she struggles.  But that is for another day.

Our oldest sis joined the fun on Friday.  That day we chose to enjoy the simple pleasures of sitting on Baby Sister's patio to play another game of remember.  Later our youngest niece brought her two children to visit.  Those two children were very entertaining.  Nana's home is so familiar to them the great niece has claimed one bedroom as her own.  When she discovered someone's clothes piled on her toy box she came back with a frown!  Nana!  Momma!  Shirts on my stuff!   Later in the evening she entertained all present with 'Let It Go'.  Great Niece is a red haired, blue eyed 2 1/2 year old with sass!

Saturday night we sisters and husbands enjoyed a community theater production of La Cage aux Folles.  What a fun play and a challenge to deduce which were guys in drag and which were not!  Really impressive production for a community theater.  A light hearted evening we all enjoyed.   Sunday morning brought one last opportunity to play the remember game.  Hubby announced a well know actor had died.  He promptly forgot the actor's name.  Finally he said the last name, Garner and someone added the first, James.  Then it was time to remember the names of the TV shows and movies.  We giggled and laughed as we each would add a little to the memory puzzle.  Or one would give the answer only to have another person "remember" the same answer in a minute or so.

Bags were repacked, beds were stripped, hugs and kisses exchanged.  We followed the first sister and her husband to their car to wave one last goodbye.  Youngest sister's husband had driven this sister's auto the night before and set the parking brake.  Instead of releasing the brake, first to leave sister's husband accidentally opened the car hood.  One last laugh about how age is creeping up as we hit the wrong switches all the time now.  Youngest Sis nor I could get the hood closed so one of the husbands came and closed it.  Hood is slammed shut, car doors closed and we head back to our homes.  Sister Days are over for this week but not forever.  We are already planning the next gathering for the colder months.

Macho Men Staying Dry

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Aunt Opal

My beloved Aunt Opal is seriously ill.  Cancer.  Eighty-nine and she has cancer.  She is so weak she keeps falling.  Now she is in the hospital with a subdural hematoma.  Aunt Opal has spent just about every Christmas with my Mom, her older sister.  I look through the pictures of family and Aunt Opal is there, always.

The last three years have dealt her health challenges.  And now this.  What does life hold for the this precious person?  This person that gave so much of herself to me during my childhood.  There were books, Little Golden Books, over 100 of them.  One every time she stepped off the Greyhound bus bringing her home for the weekend.  She bought me a tricycle.  Purses, bonnets, laughter.  Joy but most of all love.  The last visit to our home in Missouri she brought me a Little Golden Book.  It is in the shelf with what remains of the books she brought me 60 to 65 years ago.  She loves my husband and enjoyed a Jeep outing on that last visit to Missouri.

I was six years old riding all the way to California in the back seat of Freckles.  That was the name of the blue Chevy we travelled in that year.  It had rusty spots that made it look like it had freckles.  I had freckles almost the same color.  The seats were sort of a scratchy, gray fiber.  No air conditioning as we made our way across West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California.  It. Was. Hot. Windows down so long as it did not blow Momma's hair too much.  Stops at the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert and Carlsbad Cavern broke up the long miles for a six year old.

Being a huge fan of Roy Rogers (my maiden name is Rogers) and Dale Evans I could hardly wait to get to California.  We crossed the state line and every one in the car noted we were in California.  I was sitting next to the left backseat window.  I was near tears.  Aunt Opal asked what was wrong.  I told her Roy and Dale were not there to greet us.  I was very disappointed.  The car occupants erupted in laughter.  I was six, what did I know.

On that long road trip vacation Aunt Opal would love to tease me.  Endlessly it seemed.  One person in particular she used as the object of her teasing, a boy named Melvin Murley, M & M as she called him.  "Don't you wish you could see M & M?"  I would loudly rebuff her question.  Repeatedly came the M & M questions with the same reaction from me, "NO!"  Why does she think I want to be his girlfriend.  I had heard women say he still suckled his mom till he started to school.  Yucky!  One more time Aunt Opal said just 2 letters and a word, "M & M."

From the front seat Momma and Daddy could hear nothing but gales of laughter from Aunt Opal.  When amused, Aunt Opal would laugh till she was in tears gasping between the giggles.  Finally she was able to regain enough self control to tell what had happened.  One too many M & M comments had brought this recrimination from me, "I'll be glad when you are old and gray in a rocking chair!  I'll knock you a winding!"  That reaction has lived in infamy as part of my contribution to all the family lore.  That and the Roy not being at the state line to greet me.

Things changed somewhat when Aunt Opal married.  She and her husband would spend a couple of weekends a month with us in Chambersville.  Two daughters came along so the overnight stays stopped.  Christmases included Aunt Opal's growing family, eventually to include grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Some years ago I picked up a pack of Christmas cards.  There was one card among them that would need to go to Aunt Opal.  It was a rocking chair.  I no longer wanted to knock her winding in her chair.  Today I want to be in that back seat one more time snuggling up to her.  I want to see her coming in on the Greyhound bus to spend the weekend.  She does not need to bring a Little Golden Book.  I just want to see her and feel her love one more time.  Maybe I can take her a package of M & M's.

Who needs child seats when you can just jump while eating.

Christmas 1972 at my home.

Christmas mid 1970's at Margaret's house.

Christmas mid 1980's, Arlene's home.

Christmas at Momma's in Allen.

Aunt Opal and grandchildren, Christmas late 1980's.

Aunt Opal with her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
2013 Christmas gathering.  Santa, Mom, Aunt Opal and newest great grandson.

Friday, July 11, 2014


My mind's eye is filled with the many gardens I've grown.
Names like tickseed coreopsis, yellow twig dogwood, 
boxleaf euonymus, pineapple sage, crepe myrtle, 
Japanese painted fern, purple cone flower, zinnia etc. 
filled my record book of the gardens.

The first lawn was large, almost two acres in size.
It took both Hubby and I all day long to mow.
We used two Lawn Boy push mowers Daddy had rebuilt.
Within a year we upgraded to a garden tractor with
a mower deck, a plow and disc.  We made a vegetable garden.

The lawn sizes became smaller with each move.
Son grew up on 3/4 acre.  Eventually he would mow with
that same Sears garden tractor bought in 1970, three years
before he was born.  The tractor stayed with the house in Aurora.
Springfield's lot was not a quarter of an acre.  A wisteria vine
I planted covered the fence along the walkway.

Now my garden is contained in a few pots on the small
patio outside our apartment.  I have sneaked a few
flowering plants into the otherwise empty soil just off
the patio.  Son says, "Mom likes to keep her hands dirty".
Maybe what he says is true.  I know this,
that manchild is the best thing this woman ever grew.

Son with Youngest Grandson

For more takes on Grow, join Gretchen and Ginny Marie at The Spin Cycle.  
No telling what other folks are growing!

Second Blooming