Snapshot #269

Yesterday, rather than jumping into the Black Friday shopping melee, I opted to look for garage and estate sales while Studly Doright played golf. I bought a couple of fun books, but my prized acquisition was this very un -Christmasy Christmas ornament.

Folks, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree. I like snowflake and angel ornaments, Santas and snow people, so I’m calling this one, “There’s No Place for Han on the Holidays.”

Being a fan of all things Han Solo, though, I might have to find him a spot on the tree this year. I don’t even have a bad feeling about this.

Peace, people.

Baking and Candy Making

My mother had a good many skills in the kitchen, and while none of her abilities were passed on to me, at least once a year I was tapped to assist in her culinary endeavors. I’m sure I did so under protest because I was such a klutz at cooking and baking and candy making, and Mom was not a patient soul.

She’d cluck and shake her head and give me looks that would’ve withered a lesser soul, but Freida Hall didn’t scare me. Okay, I was scared sh*tless most of the time while working in the kitchen with Mom, but I had no choice if I wanted to continue living under her roof. My brothers both turned out to be quite proficient in preparing food, so maybe the fault was all mine.

What did we make? Martha Washington candies, chocolate covered cherries, and divinity. We baked cranberry bread and pumpkin bread, and banana nut bread. If it was a fruity bread, we baked it. We made a pecan nut roll that defied all of Mom’s attempts at perfection and only turned out divine once in every ten attempts.

Here’s a recipe for Martha Washington candy similar to the one Mom and I used to make. You’ll be a big hit if you take these to a gathering. It’s still the candy I remember most fondly.

Peace, people.

Holiday Blahs

Ho Ho Ho, and all that jazz. It’s not quite bah, humbug, but it’s not that far off either.

My seasonal depression keeps me from fully embracing the spirit of the upcoming season, and this year feels a bit worse than any I can recall from recent memory. There’s no mystery as to why I’m feeling low–it’s knowing I won’t see my kids and grandkids at Thanksgiving or Christmas that’s weighing me down. It’ll just be Studly and me for both holidays.

The Christmas just after my mom died in late October, 1997, was worse than this, though. I still feel the weight of her loss during the holiday season more than any time of the year.

Some days it feels like a block of anguish around my neck, dragging me down, forming an insurmountable barrier to getting out of bed. Other days her absence is just a touch on my forehead, a reminder of what I miss most–my mother’s ability to make the pain go away.

The Christmas season comes with so many expectations. We should be happy and joyful, surrounded by the ones we love. But many will be alone and some will be depressed even in the midst of a happy crowd. If anyone needs a hug, I’ll send a virtual one.

Based on my previous experiences, I’ll manage to pull myself together before December 25, but until then don’t expect my happiest self. I’m just bah humbugging along for now.

Peace, and hang in there, people.

A Sweet, Suite Suit

Studly Doright and I walked into a nearly full doctor’s office waiting room yesterday. After he signed in for his procedure (nothing major, so no worries) we found seats in separate corners and made funny faces at one another for a time.

People came and went, and soon I moved into a chair next to Studly. We were right beside the registration desk and couldn’t help but overhear conversations. Most were pretty innocuous, but one made Studly look at me cross-eyed, and I couldn’t stop laughing.

An older gentleman walked in and gave his name. The twenty-something receptionist looked through her schedule and told him she didn’t have him on her list.

“Who’s your doctor,” she asked.

He looked through his paperwork and gave her a name.

“Oh, you’re in the wrong office. His office is three doors down in suit 224. This is suit 227.”

“Suit?” I mouthed. Studly made his eyes cross, and I got tickled.

“Does that mean I’d wear a suite to a wedding?” Studly whispered.

“Sweet! A sweet suite,” I nodded.

We’re just awful.

Peace, people

Totally relevant picture of a good looking man in a suit, or is it a suite? Regardless, it’s sweet.

Filling the Silence

You talk. I listen.

Words slip smoothly from your tongue

To fill up my ears

Rain beats steadily

Drumsticks on the windowpane

Filling the silence

I watched for your car

After all you claimed to be

Puddled around me

(I found the photos on Pinterest. They suited my mood, if not my words.)

Peace, people.

A Good Find

Yesterday while Studly Doright played golf I went into Tallahassee to shop at St. John’s Episcopal Church’s annual market day. I’d never been before, and I was excited to see what they offered.

There were baked goods and jewelry, kitchen wares and knick knacks.

And a great many books!

As soon as I entered the book room I saw this little paperback.

I love Billy Collins’s poetry, so I grabbed this treasure. It was the only purchase I made.

One of the poems had been bookmarked. I’m always interested to see what another reader liked so much that they wanted to mark the spot, to come back to at another time for a second or third or fiftieth reading. Maybe they wanted to share it with a friend.


You know the brick path in back of the house,
the one you see from the kitchen window,
the one that bends around the far end of the garden
where all the yellow primroses are?
And you know how if you leave the path
and walk up into the woods you come
to a heap of rocks, probably pushed
down during the horrors of the Ice Age,
and a grove of tall hemlocks, dark green now
against the light-brown fallen leaves?
And farther on, you know
the small footbridge with the broken railing
and if you go beyond that you arrive
at the bottom of that sheep’s head hill?
Well, if you start climbing, and you
might have to grab hold of a sapling
when the going gets steep,
you will eventually come to a long stone
ridge with a border of pine trees
which is as high as you can go
and a good enough place to stop.

The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

Still, let me know before you set out.
Come knock on my door
and I will walk with you as far as the garden
with one hand on your shoulder.
I will even watch after you and not turn back
to the house until you disappear
into the crowd of maple and ash,
heading up toward the hill,
piercing the ground with your stick

– Billy Collins

Certainly a beautiful poem and worth a bookmark.

Peace, people.

Hotel Phone Scam

As many of my readers know, Studly Doright, my husband of 43 years, travels often for business. This past week he traveled west to Mississippi for work and then continued on to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to attend a celebration of life ceremony for a colleague’s stepmother. When he arrived home last night he had an interesting story to tell, and I wanted to pass it along.

On his return trip he stopped for the night in Saraland, Alabama, a place he’s familiar with from previous business trips. Since this was an unplanned stop he hadn’t made reservations at his preferred hotel and had to make do with a different place

After he had dinner and checked in Studly went right to bed and fell soundly asleep. At 10 p.m., his phone rang. The male voice on the other end said, “This is the front desk. Our computers went offline and we lost all of this evening’s transactions. We’ll need your credit card information in order to close out our books for the night.”

First of all, one doesn’t wake Studly up from a deep sleep and expect a happy camper. “I’m not getting up tonight. You’ll just have to run my card in the morning.”

“No sir. We need the numbers right now so we can reconcile our books.”

“Let me speak with the manager,” Studly said.

The voice replied, “I am the manager. And I’m going to send security up to get your information.”

“What’s your name?” Studly asked.

The man rattled off a name that Studly couldn’t quite catch. “I’m calling your corporate office as soon as I hang up,” and then Studly did just that.

He fished out his Hilton Honors card and talked to a customer service representative. He told her what had happened and asked for the name of the manager at that location. It didn’t come close to matching the name the caller had provided. He asked for the manager’s number and dialed it immediately.

The front desk picked up and a clerk put the manager on the line. Studly relayed what had happened and asked if the computers had been down.

The manager told him that nothing had gone wrong, and assured him that his payment had been duly recorded. She said his was not the first call they’d received on the matter that night.

Studly finally went back to sleep, and when he left the hotel in the morning he noticed several signs posted warning people of a phone scam.

I had to wonder if I’d have given out my card number under similar circumstances. Awakened from a sound sleep in an unfamiliar room, I might’ve been groggy enough to have given up the goods. So, this is a warning to myself and to you. There are some nasty people out there, and the good guys have to look out for one another.

Peace, people

Cool Hand Luke

How is it that I’d never watched Cool Hand Luke in its entirety?

My goodness, Paul Newman might have been the best looking man ever created. No lie. That face. That smile. Those eyes. Be still, my heart.

And Strother Martin’s voice makes one want to strangle him in mid-sentence. He was perfect as Captain, the warden of the prison in which Luke (Newman), a decorated war hero, is sentenced to serve two years for cutting the tops off of parking meters during a drunken spree.

George Kennedy won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1967 film.

I’m not a fan of prison movies, but this one’s a gem. And the cast is amazing. Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Wayne Rogers, and Ralph Waite, among others, are familiar faces in the prison barracks.

As I write this I’m watching the film. I won’t give away the ending for anyone who, like me, had never seen Cool Hand Luke, but you should definitely watch it, if for no other reason than to see God’s most perfect creation–Paul Newman.

Peace, people.

Whirlwind Girl

That staple of concerts, the ubiquitous t-shirt: Fountain of youth or reminder that our glory days are long gone?

The young man behind the merchandise table smiled kindly as I told him I thought I could fit just fine into that size XL Sister Hazel t-shirt.

“Um, they um….”

“Run a little small?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am,” he nodded, obviously relieved that he wouldn’t have to tell me what I’d just deduced.

“I’ll take the next larger size then. And thank you.”

“For what, ma’am?”

“Your diplomacy.”

He blushed. It was all I could do not to pinch his cute little cheeks.

I like my new Sister Hazel t-shirt. It makes me feel 17 again. A much larger version of my 17-year-old self, but a more grounded one, as well. (Have to be grounded; jumping is completely out of the question these days.)

I couldn’t resist this one because my high school mascot was a Whirlwind. How cool is that?

If you look closely at the Floydada high school 1974 yearbook cover, below, you can see my 17-year-old self on the left side of the white space in the D, slightly behind the band mate in plaid pants. My forehead seems to be touching the dot in the exclamation mark.

Kind of like “Where’s Waldo” without all of the stripes.

Bottom line, I was meant to have the t-shirt with “Whirlwind Girl” blazoned across the front, even if it might be a bit snug across the chest.

Here’s the tune, Whirlwind Girl. It’s a fun song.

Peace, people!

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