Moving Things

We’re having new carpet installed this week, so all weekend I prepared by spending my time sorting through the large collection of oddities that take up space atop dressers and cabinets. Things the carpet installers won’t move for me. I also moved a few larger items. Things the carpet installers might not handle gently.

Some items I plan to discard; others will be dusted and returned to their old, or perhaps new locations. I like seeing how old stuff can take on a different look in a new place.

I do fairly well when given a task that’s straightforward. Abandon this. Keep that. Sell this. Toss that. Seldom do I spend much time agonizing over possessions.

But heaven help me if I come across old photographs. I never throw those away. Even if I’m sure I don’t know a single person in the photo I cannot throw it out. And if I make the mistake of opening a photo album, whole hours can go by without my notice.

That might’ve happened a time or two this weekend. Maybe three or four. I can’t recall.

Isn’t this a great photo? I think I know the woman, not sure about the man.

Peace, people.

Cinderella, Dressed in Yellow

Sketch a girl in black and white,

Pigtails flying, slapping against a plaid shirtwaist

Skinny sun browned legs skip-hopping to a rhythmic chant

Cinderella, dressed in yellow,

Went upstairs to kiss a fellow.

Made a mistake and kissed a snake,

How many doctors did it take?

Rope twirls ’round, up, then down, over and over again.

All in the wrist, she thinks as she counts, “One, two…twenty…ninety,” and beyond.

So many doctors! She can jump all day, or at least until recess ends.

Beach Combers

Beach Combers
by Leslie Noyes

We were the Beach Combers, baby
Barefoot and easy on the eyes
Ripped jeans and plain white tees
Making music; earning sighs

We covered the Beach Boys
Crooned all the smooth tunes
Scattered all the seagulls
Drove the turtles from their dunes.

Lately I’ve been thinking,
Life came easier back then,
But the music now’s much deeper,
And we’re rocking once again.

(Photo courtesy of Robin Garrett, a.k.a. Effron White, one of the original Beach Combers.)

To Myself at 18

What’s the rush?
Why the urgency?
Just a few years
Ago you were 12,
Riding a bicycle
Pigtails flying
Elbows scraped.

Take a moment to
Be a young woman
Out exploring in
This world alone.
Don’t be hurried
To plunge headlong
Into domesticity.

Your choices won’t
Be easy, my friend
Perhaps they aren’t
Meant to be clear,
But you’ll make it.
You’re strong and
weird and wonderful.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking about my grandchildren and how quickly they’re growing. The oldest two are on the verge of becoming teenagers. I became a little weak in the knees thinking that when I was that age, unbeknownst to me, I was a mere six years away from settling into marriage with Studly.

Six years was the distance between goofy slumber parties with my friends and keeping house for a husband.

My choices weren’t
Clear back then,
Perhaps they never
Were meant to be.
I do love my life,
Even while I wonder
What might’ve been.

  

Do You Remember?

What is your very earliest memory?

Mine is an image of my mother carrying me early in the morning to my babysitter’s house. I wasn’t very old, perhaps not yet two, so I have a feeling that my memory is a conglomeration of many mornings of being carried; the repetition, as well as the feelings of warmth and love, firmly embedding the experience in my mind.

Studly’s earliest memory is of his mother trying to help him get over a case of the croup with a concoction of honey and whisky. He doesn’t recall how old he was, but he’s certain he wasn’t school age yet. I wonder, was it his mother’s love or the whisky that made the experience memorable? At any rate, he hasn’t had croup in years.

It isn’t surprising that for each of us our mothers play such an important role in our earliest memories. I would imagine that is most often the case, with memories of fathers coming in a close second. I could do some research, but who has the time for that? Unless, YOU could help me! Yes, YOU!

What is your earliest memory? (Notice how I made my first sentence work as my last sentence, as well?)

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Will she remember this epic Christmas of 2014?

Peace, People!

Love, Mom, and the Cabbage Patch Kid

Today is my mom’s birthday. How old would she have been? Well, let’s see, she turned four years old on the day that the Japanese launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor launching our country into World War 2. That year was 1941, so Mom was born in 1937. She’d have been 77 today. Sadly, Mom passed away in her mid-50’s, a victim of cancer.

I miss her every single day. I’ll never forget when it hit me that Mom was gone. Many days after her funeral, Studly, the kids, and I were back in Kansas, and one of my students said something funny to me in class. When I got home that afternoon I picked up the phone to call Mom. I even started dialing her number before I realized that I’d never be able to do that again. That’s when I cried until I thought my head would implode.

Now Mom and I were often at odds. As much as we look alike we had very different approaches to life. Mom was a perfectionist, and she never quite understood my haphazard ways. She had the subtlety of a sledge hammer, so even when she thought she was correcting me in gentle ways her message came through like a bullhorn in a closet. But, and every mother and daughter will understand this: Mom was my best friend.

My fondest memories of my mother:

Anytime I was sick my Mom was the very best nurse–she should have been one, but circumstances prevented that from happening. Instead, she worked for doctors for most of her life. There was nothing quite as comforting as having Mom lovingly placing cool cloths on my forehead when I had a fever or cradling me when I had a bad cold. Honestly, sometimes I played sick just to get the attention.

One Christmas, I think I was 7, my California cousins came for a visit. My cousin Gail was a year older, and we were great friends. On Christmas Eve we were excitedly discussing our presents while snuggled into the twin beds in my room. I said I couldn’t wait to see what Santa would bring. Gail told me, in no uncertain terms that there was no Santa, and that parents who told their kids there was a Santa were liars.

My sobs brought Mom in from the living room where the grownups were enjoying an adult beverage or two. I told her what Gail had said, and Mom told me the truth–that parents did provide the gifts from Santa, but that Santa, would always be in our hearts as long as people did good things for one another. I could live with that, and I still believe it was the best Santa explanation ever given.

One of the very best times I had with Mom was the December we camped out all night at a local retailer in order to secure a Cabbage Patch doll for my daughter. I’d gotten a tip from a co-worker that a store in Amarillo was getting in a shipment of 100 of those much coveted dolls. Casually I mentioned to Mom that I was thinking about getting up extra early to try and get a doll. She immediately went into action and said she’d go with me. She packed a bag like we were going into battle: Thermos full of coffee? Check! Two warm blankets? Check! Cushioned seats? Check! Reading material? Check! Extra heavy gloves? Check! Snacks? Check!

We arrived at the store at midnight thinking that we’d be able to sit in the car for a couple of hours, but there were already 20 or so people in line. As we watched, a few more joined the queue, so we quickly grabbed our supplies and staked out our spot. I can’t remember everything we discussed that night, but we talked non-stop. I’m pretty sure most of the world’s problems were solved. Thanks to my mom, we never got cold or hungry, and we each ended up with a doll–one for my Ashley and one for a friend’s daughter.

I’d love to have that impromptu camp out one more time. I’d make sure Mom knew just how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her.

Peace, People. Please let your family members know how much they mean to you. Right now.

Below: Mom and Dad circa 1957.
My daughter Ashley, Cricket the doll, closed-eyes me, and Mom.

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Mom with her family, from left, her brother Jackie, my Grandaddy Carl, Mom, and my Nanny Grace holding my Aunt Nedra.

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Pardon Our Dust

Studly Doright, (my first and current husband), our two children, and I have moved many times in our 38.5 years of marriage, so we’ve never become overly attached to any one residence. Home has always been wherever our little family is at any given time.

A friend wrote something on Facebook the other day, though, that made me wonder what it would have felt like to have stayed in one home for all of our married lives, raising a family and watching them grow, and helping them leave the nest. I wondered what it would be like when eventually one of us had to face the task of selling the home. Ok, I got a little teary eyed.

The poem below is what came of my reverie. Parts of it are gleaned from true events from my own childhood–I drew the mountains, my brothers and I played for hours and hours under a big old pine tree in a long ago front yard.

Please pardon our dust
The old house has been closed up for a long, long time.
But if you close your eyes
You can almost feel the love that once lived here.
Over there our children played
At make-believe
Before they made their own lives
And their own dust in their own homes.

Please pardon my tears
I really thought this would be easier,
But remembering is both sweet and hard.
You see these marks on the wall?
Our oldest drew ‘mountains’ there
When she was barely three.
I kept meaning to paint over them
But thirty years later you can still
Pretend to take a trip to the summit
And ski down the slopes to drink
Hot chocolate at the lodge.

Please pardon my lapse
I just can’t go through the rest
Look around on your own
Take your time.
Be sure to visit the backyard and
Swing on that old tire,
Maybe dig in the sand,
And carve roads under the pine.
It’s a fine place for kids
It was a fine place for us.

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