Remembering My Dad

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. He’d have been 82, I think. I wrote this post about him the first year I blogged, way back when I still used two spaces after a period.

It’s hardly a perfect post. My paragraphs are too lengthy and the piece is not constructed all that well, but if you take the time to read it I hope you can tell just how much my Daddy was loved. I miss him every day.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2014/08/16/not-just-any-man/

Scraps from Their Pasts

For Christmas I put together scrapbooks of their early years for our two children. The idea wasn’t an original one. Studly Doright’s mom, Saint Helen, had given Studly and his four siblings scrapbooks several years ago as Christmas gifts and for him at least, it remains one of his all-time favorite gifts.

I’m not a very crafts minded person, but in preparation for assembling these scrapbooks I made multiple trips to Michael’s (for non-Americans, that’s THE place to go for creative types) in order to purchase the books and to find appropriate decorative touches for each page. I bought tons of stuff and ended up using only a fraction of it. Project ideas, anyone.

I’m so awful at this type of thing that I actually started all this at the beginning of 2016 and had planned on presenting them with their gifts at Christmas that year, but I got bogged down in the minutiae, and it took me almost two years to complete the task. I’m still not sure how my mother-in-law put together five such books without going crazy, because I’m fairly certain some of my sanity was lost in the process.

I’d looked forward to presenting the books to my kids in person when we were all in Nashville that Christmas, but since I was an entire year behind, and we weren’t getting to see them for the holidays this year, I had to put them in the mail.

Now, I’d worked my butt off cropping photos and arranging them with curlicues and doodads. I’d spent countless hours searching through old school pictures and awards. The thought of trusting these works of heart to the mail almost drove me crazy(er). So, before I boxed them up for shipping to Dallas, Texas, where our son lives and to Port Byron, Illinois, where our daughter resides, I documented each and every page with the help of my trusty iPhone camera.

I’ll spare you from viewing all of the pages (you’re welcome). While I wasn’t there when they opened the books they both assured me they’d enjoyed their trips down memory lane. I’m so glad I spent the time creating these, but even more glad that I had only two children.

Peace, people.

Swing into Spring

In my junior year of school at Floydada High, I took Distributive Education (DECA) classes. Even though I planned on attending college, I needed to earn some money, and these courses allowed me to work for a couple of hours each afternoon. In retrospect I wish I’d gone the purely academic route, but I didn’t have a great deal of career guidance coming my way. In the end it all worked out okay, I suppose.

DECA was interesting, though. We learned a variety of things about working in retail businesses, including how to display goods and market them to the consumer. Our teacher, Mr. S, was rather limited in his understanding of marketing strategies, but that didn’t keep him from trying. I remember one lesson in which we were to come up with an advertising slogan to promote a product.

The only slogan Mr. S could come up with as an example was “Swing into Spring!” Given that we lived in the Texas panhandle this sounded a great deal more like “Swang into Sprang,” and every time he said it I’d dissolve in a fit of giggles.

Mr. S was not amused. In fact, he threatened to send me to the office if I couldn’t stop laughing. Of course that made it worse, and I ended up trying to explain to the principal that I wasn’t being disrespectful to Mr. S. Apparently the principal wasn’t amused either, but rather than calling my parents to report my transgression he allowed me to stay in his office until it was time for me to report to my DECA related job, the better to compose myself before I found myself in the presence of Mr. S again. As punishments went, it was pretty sweet.

Ironically, just a few short days after my trip to the principal’s office I received a note to call my mom during DECA class. We didn’t have cell phones, kiddies. This was back in the dark ages. The only phone available to students was in the main office.

All the way there I imagined I could hear the other shoe dropping. Somehow, I figured Mom had learned of my previous transgression and was going to read me the riot act followed by a few weeks of grounding. I’d had a feeling I’d gotten off too lightly from the start.

Instead Mom had called to tell me that my dad had been offered a job in another town and that we’d be moving before school’s end. I was supposed to begin wrapping things up. Man, how I wished she’d been calling to ground me instead.

I returned to class sobbing. My friends gathered ’round to console me, but I could tell Mr. S was feeling pretty smug–he figured I’d gotten further punishment, as well. He looked a little less smug as my story unfolded, but was probably relieved that I’d be out of his hair.

The joke was on him, though. In the end my folks arranged for me to live with my maternal grandparents to finish out the school year in Floydada. I still wasn’t happy about leaving my friends and the only schools I’d ever attended in my last year, but it was a workable compromise. Plus, I met Studly Doright in the new town, so that was a positive.

And the next time I got the giggles over “Swang into Sprang” again, Mr. S let it go. I guess he figured I’d had punishment enough.

The Best First

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately for those early days of my relationship with Studly Doright. I don’t know if it’s because we’re both in our sixties now, or because our oldest grandkids are near the ages we were when we first fell in love, but something has me in a mood to reflect on how this whole thing started.

We’d begun dating not long after I moved to Dumas in my senior year of high school. Studly worked as a stocker, keeping groceries lined up on grocery shelves at the local Piggly Wiggly, and as a sacker who efficiently packed shoppers’ purchases into bags and then carried those bags to their cars. My dad was his boss and even before I began dating Studly, Daddy would comment on his superior work ethic.

“That Noyes kid works circles around the rest of my crew,” he’d say. (FYI, Studly Doright sometimes answers to the name David Noyes, but don’t tell anyone.) Coming from my dad that was high praise and most likely impacted my feelings for Studly even before I’d gotten to know him.

Our first date was to the homecoming football game in 1974. I can’t remember who our team, the Dumas Demons, played that night, or even if we won. I just recall how comfortable I was with this boy, and that was not the norm for the awkward kid that was me.

When he walked me to the door after the game and kissed me goodnight I knew I was a goner, so perfect was that kiss. Once inside the little house my family was renting I shut the front door and leaned back against it. My mom had been waiting up for me and gave me this look.

“Oh, Mom,” I said. “I think I’m in love.”

I didn’t say those words to Studly until that Christmas, though, and not until after he’d said them to me first. My family had returned to our hometown of Floydada, Texas, to spend the holidays with family. For nearly a week Studly and I had to endure being apart. I’m sure I mooned around like a lovesick puppy, and from accounts from friends, so did he.

As soon as we were reunited he took me to our favorite parking spot in his ’66 Plymouth. We were a little awkwardly sweet at first. His motorcycle helmet was in the seat beside me, and as a goof I put it on. Underneath the protective layer of that helmet I said, “I missed you a lot.”

Studly replied that he’d missed me, too.

“I might like you a little,” I confessed.

“I think I might love you,” he responded.

“Oh! I love you, too,” I said. We most likely kissed after that. I forget.

We’ve been married more than 41 years now. We’ve had some epic fights over four decades. We’ve hurt each other’s feelings and done incredibly stupid things, but on some level we’re still those two teenagers, sitting in that old blue Plymouth shyly declaring our love for each other. Every single day.

How Do You Like Your Eggs

While Studly Doright played golf on Saturday morning I watched the 1936 film, “The Plainsman,” starring Gary Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane. The old movie wouldn’t be deemed politically correct nowadays with its portrayal of Native Americans as aggressive savages and women as nothing more than flies in the ointment of men’s lives, but it wasn’t without humor.

In one scene Gary Cooper asked another cowboy how he liked his eggs. “Well,” said the man. “I like them just fine.”

I couldn’t help but giggle. Studly walked in about that time and asked me what was so funny. He’s an aficionado of good one liners, so he got a chuckle out of the egg quip, as well. I then recalled the first time anyone asked me how I liked my eggs.

I’d gone with my grandparents to Houston to see the oldest of their three children, my Uncle Jack. I might’ve been five, and I adored Uncle Jack. He lovingly called me a little jackass–which I, in turn, took to calling others, much to my parents’ chagrin.

On one morning of this trip Uncle Jack treated us to breakfast at an International House of Pancakes. I’d never been to one before, and it was the most wonderful place I’d ever seen. The variety of pancakes on the menu was staggering. I took my time choosing just the right item. As I recall I ordered a combo that featured a pancake festooned with strawberries and whipped cream, along with bacon and eggs.

When the waitress took my order she asked, “How do you like your eggs.”

In my sweetest five year old voice I responded, “Cooked, please.”

Everyone, my uncle, my grandparents, even the waitress, laughed. My Nanny quickly told the waitress that I liked my eggs over easy, but I was mortified. I didn’t order eggs any way other than scrambled for many years after. I was a sensitive kid, you know.

Now, many years later I can marvel at how naive I was. How do I like my eggs? Well, I like them just fine.

Peace, people!

Designing Woman

My mother had two hobbies: reading and rearranging furniture. I shared her love of reading, but never understood her passion for decorating. Once I get my furnishings placed appropriately they might remain in the same place for years. The only times I've moved furniture around are when we've been transferred to a new location. I wouldn't do it even then, but I can't afford new stuff every time we change houses, and no one ever seems to want our old stuff.

Mom never had a budget for decorating, so our furniture was about as basic as it could be. We had a sofa, a love seat, and two chairs in varying shades of brown, tan, and black, but by simply rearranging the pieces from time to time and adding a new throw pillow or a crocheted afghan she'd create a completely different look.

Not long after I left home Mom bought a floral sofa. It kind of pissed me off. For all those years I thought furniture had to be a solid color and at the tender age of 18 I discovered florals exist! Had I not been worthy of a floral sofa? Was she making an exchange? Me for a sofa of flowers and leaves?

Studly Doright and I inherited my parents ugly black sofa when we married, but when I had the opportunity to buy a new one, it had flowers everywhere. It was ugly as sin, but at least it wasn't a solid. That'd show 'em.

Honestly, I have no skills in decorating. I never thought of it as something I'd enjoy doing for fun, but recently I was looking for an online game to keep me from overthinking everything in my life, and I found Design Home. Now I'm obsessed.

Here's how it works. Every few hours a design challenge is posted, usually with some criteria attached, i.e. two metal items, three rustic pieces, etc. Players select pieces either from their own inventory, from the inventories of friends, or from the shop, and then try to create a pleasing room. Players also get to vote on other designs. I get a kick out of seeing how others interpreted the challenge.

Here's one of my designs:

Isn't it pretty? My mom would have loved this game. Would she have chosen a floral sofa? I'll never know.

Peace, people. Go hug your mom.

Oldie #7: Twirling Queen

Some folks were made to twirl a baton. I was not one of those people; although, I can still do the figure eight with style and grace. Or at least with style. Okay. No style either.

http://wp.me/p4O8fw-44

Sticky Date Nut Roll

Today would have been my mom’s 79th birthday. She’s been gone for many years, and I still miss her every day. 

Mom was a Christmas person. She didn’t do a great deal of baking during the year, but at Christmas she pulled out all the stops. She baked cookies and made candy and sweet breads. She made a sticky date nut roll that either came out perfectly or had to be peeled off the wax paper in gooey chunks. But she made it every year, always hoping for the best.

I haven’t had that date nut roll in years, but I’ve been going through my recipes this week and reminiscing. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to make Mom’s date nut roll, to see if I could make it come out perfectly, in her honor. Alas, I can’t find it. Maybe I never had that one. 

I turned to Google and came up with this one, though:

Date Nut Roll

Ingredients 

3 1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Milk
1/4 C. Butter or Margarine
1 16 oz. pkg. Pitted Dates
1 C. Chopped Pecans
1 Tsp. Vanilla extract
Powdered Sugar

Directions

-Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves.
-Cover and cook over medium hear for 2-3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.
-Uncover and continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240°).
-Cool to lukewarm (110°).
-Add vanilla.
-Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens and cools.
-Sift powdered sugar on a linen towel.
-Divide mixture into two portions and shape each portion into two rolls, each

    1 1/2″ in diameter.
    -Wrap in towels.
    -Let stand until set, then cut into 1/2″ thick slices.

    As far as I can tell its Mom’s recipe; although, I don’t think she used a candy thermometer, and that probably explains why it only turned out perfectly about 20% of the time.

    Will I give it a go and try to make this Christmas treat? I kind of feel Mom urging me to do just that.

    Mom as a teenager.

    A Box and a Bottle 

    The box sat unopened on the kitchen table, a bottle of red wine close at hand, long-stemmed glass in reach.

    Off came the lids and memories spilled forth: 

    Newlywed couple, too young to know the perils of an uncertain future.

    Pensive new mom in a white nightgown holding her firstborn, swaddled in soft blue bunting.

    Happy one year old, face covered in frosting.

    Another newborn held tightly, this one covered in pink.

    A grinning toddler waving chubby fists over a Cabbage Patch birthday cake.

    Wine poured, a tentative taste.

    Years roll along. Kindergarten, primary years. Slow days, fast years.

    Field day ribbons in primary hues.

    Teachers’ notes in calligraphy

    Cards from grandparents, now long gone, the signatures unique and cherished. Tangible proof of their love.

    A bit more wine, a smooth second sip. Sweeter, deeper, longer.

    High school awards, who knew they’d had so many?

    Yearbook photos from different schools

    Letters from crushes, embarrassingly frank, oh this is blackmail material!

    Pour another glass. Wipe a tear away. 

    Graduation photos with family and friends.

    Caps and gowns

    Alma mater in the background

    That glass went quickly! Pour another. Be generous. That’s good. 

    Adventures abroad

    Wedding gowns and cummerbunds

    Honeymoons

    First grandchildren, three months apart

    Sweet babies. She has my nose. He has your smile. More wine? Please.

    New grandchildren are born

    Personalities emerge–this one a tomboy, this one mercurial, this one a charmer; all loved

    Marriages shift

    New alliances form

    Those were difficult days. Yes, more wine, please. 

    Holidays and birthdays

    Moving days, so far away

    Family reunions, look how we’ve grown! From two scared kids to this grand family.

    Enough for one afternoon. Besides, we’re all out of wine. Close the box and kiss me.