Saturday, July 22, 2017


My daughter and I recently drove up to Nashville to see the "Downton Abby" exhibit of many of the clothes and costumes worn during the series. It was at the Cheekwood mansion, and my first visit there. It was a beautiful day and we arrived early to walk around the gardens before the heat became too unbearable. We took the self-guided tour through the many rooms of the mansion where the clothing was displayed.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Growing up in my era we didn't take a lot of pictures. Of course, there were the school pictures, which I dreaded, and Mom rarely bought because they were so hideous. And then there were the obligatory holiday pictures with the siblings in front of the Christmas tree, but not a lot of random photos were taken. With marriage and children I became the photographer in the family and always had my Kodak 35 mm camera handy and the photo albums filled up fast. Still, we didn't take as many pictures as people do today with their smart phones. After going to a visitation of an old neighbor of mine I realized you can't ever take too many photos. Because those photos leave a legacy of love and family. And one of these days those photos will hold the memories of your loved one. So take all the pictures you want.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The World

The world goes on
and people get up
day after day
and go to work, go to the market
the doctor, the dentist,
to get their oil changed
and hair cut
and meet old friends for lunch

They stop at red lights
turn on their lights in rainy weather
wave at their neighbors
and stop for yellow school buses

they go to church on Sundays
and choir practice on Wednesday nights
Bible study once a week
say grace before meals
say  the rosary if they are Catholic
believe in God and his son, Jesus Christ

The world goes on
the war continues
and yet we will vote again, soon
and try to make sense of the world
as we pay our taxes
take out home equity loans
and build a compost bin in the back yard
doing our part to help the environment

The world goes on
as our children grow up
and we grow old
our grandchildren learn to walk,
start kindergarten and lose their baby teeth
and start to ask grown-up questions

Who is God?
Why did Grandpa die?
Where is heaven?
We read stories about the three little pigs
and Cinderella, but they are smarter than we are
and the questions get harder.

And suddenly, one day,
we cannot hide the gray hair
nor put off that knee replacement
and we wonder where did the years go
where are all the people?
What happened to them?
The faces in our scrapbooks and photo albums
in college yearbooks
and class pictures
from decades ago?
The world goes on

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Grandchildren Stories

I always say that grandchildren are cheap entertainment. Out of the mouths of babes come the most profound or funniest sayings.

Four of my grandchildren spent the night with me on New Year's Day. They were out of school until today, January 4th.

My eight-year old grandson, 'Luca,' loves to draw. His favorite character is Charlie Brown and Snoopy. One of his presents was the Charlie Brown book, the 1960's edition (which is the one he wanted). They have them for the other decades, as well.

On New Year's Day, after breakfast, he wanted to go to the library.

"Honey, the library is closed today because it's a holiday."

"Oh, man! I wanted to check out "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy." he replied.

"Where did you hear about that book?"

"Charlie Brown. I figured if he could read it, so could I."

Luca loves history (like his grandmother) and is also a sentimental child. Since he lived with me for almost three years, he was looking through a dresser drawer where I saved a lot of his baby items. His little blankie with the bear head wasn't there.

"Nemaw, do you know where my blankie is from when I was a baby? That was my favorite."

"No, you probably took it with you when you and Mom moved. It may be put away in a box."

"Do you think she could find it if I called her?"

"Why don't I buy you another one if it's that important to you?"

"No, it wouldn't be same. I had that from the time I was a baby."

I think the blankie is in there somewhere.

My younger granddaughter, "Mae-Mae" was looking through a picture album of her mother and aunt when they were children, Five-year Mae-Mae was asking lots of questions. She asked about her grandfather, who is in heaven, and wanted to know all about him.

When I was doing something else she brought me the album to show me a picture.

"Look, Nemaw!" "There is Grandpa standing in front of God." It was a picture of my husband taken in Crete many years ago. I have no idea where that came from, but it warmed my heart.

A picture of my husband when he went to Crete while he was in the Army.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Christmas List

Dear Santa,

I am writing you early in hopes that you will receive my letter in plenty of time before your trip.
You may not remember me, the little German girl in a knitted shawl and cap, blonde hair and a couple of missing teeth. I wrote in crooked letters back then, learning my alphabet. That was about 50 years ago.
I wanted a doll, some chocolate candy, and some new mittens to keep my hands warm during the cold winters in Germany. I remember the oranges that I received, wrapped in delicate tissue paper. Oranges were rare in winter and we only had them at Christmastime.

Before I make out my list I want to thank you for the presents I received last year. The robe keeps me warm and cozy and fits perfectly. I love my fuzzy slippers! I loved my gift card to the book store. The kitchen gadgets come in handy. I truly appreciated all the pretty and thoughtful gifts I received.

I'm keeping my Christmas list simple this year. Christmas is about the kids, so don't run yourself ragged over a middle-aged woman who has everything she needs. Please, no new kitchen appliances to clutter up my already crowded cabinets. Come to think of it, I don't really need a new waffle iron. And, please, no more lotions, bath oils, or spray colognes. I am highly sensitive and besides, I already have enough lotions to satisfy the moisturizing needs of an entire nursing home!

Christmas is about the children. Please fill their stockings with a home full of love. Bring them lots of smiles and presents of overflowing joy. Give them hugs and kisses and stories to read. Bring them lots of goodies, too. And of course, honor their little lists of toys and games and dolls, but also teach them that it is good to give, as well as receive.

What I really want for Christmas is for children and adults to believe. Believe in good things, believe in the impossible, believe in hope and love. There are gifts we can give to one another that don't have to be wrapped and tied with pretty ribbons. The gift of love. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of understanding. The gift of hope. The gift of encouragement. The gift of friendship. Practical gifts wear out and break down, but the gifts of the heart are eternal. And most of all, the gift of the baby Jesus should not be forgotten amidst the tinsel and strings of lights.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gatlinburg Wedding

It is been a busy Fall. The end of October my daughter and I drove to Gatlinburg to see my nephew get married. We were there for only a short while, but managed to take a few pictures before we came home. Gatlinburg is only a four drive from where I live. Of course, hearing about the fires in the recent days is heartbreaking, as my family has so many memories from the Smokies.

The view from our hotel room.

The wedding chapel in the woods.

The tunnel going to Gatlinburg.

At Pidgeon Forge

On the way home

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On the Lake

My granddaughter had ankle surgery last week. "Mommy, take my chair on the pier, so it feels like I'm on the lake," she asked my daughter, while her sisters were jet-skiing with their Dad.
So Mommy did. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Things that Children Say

I am constantly entertained by the things my grandchildren say. And sometimes they teach me things I didn't know that I needed to learn. I think that every grandparent feels this way.

Recently, my seven year old grandson asked me,

 "Mamaw, do you ever get lonely?" 

"Why do you ask that?" I said.

"Because you call my Mom all the time."

Oh boy, did I learn a lesson there!

And when my daughter picked me up for lunch one day she chose a Chinese restaurant that I had never been to before. The boys, all three of them, were well-behaved and opened their fortune cookie at the end of the meal. I read Sam's fortune cookie, which said, "You will get lucky." Lucas told Sam, "You need to give that to my Mom, because she hasn't had any good luck lately." I almost died laughing!

My younger daughter has three girls. Allie is the middle child and has to share a room. The girls wanted a fish tank for their rooms, something small. The older sister teased Allie, telling her that she would have to share a fish tank with her baby sister. Allie wasn't having any of it and put her hands on her hip, " I have to share a room. I have to share everything with her! I am not sharing a fish!"

They each got their own fish.

Drive Through Zoo

Yesterday, when I had the day off, I took four of my grandchildren to a local Safari. First, we went to swimming lessons for my grandson. At 8:00 in the morning it was already hot. When I picked them up bright and early the little ones were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes (it is summer vacation, after all), so after the lesson ended I took them to McDonald's for breakfast. Since Mommy wasn't picking up the girls until lunch time I decided to take them to the Safari animal park. We bought food at the gate and had to be careful feeding the animals. When I took my grandson the first time he got scared at the Emu that tried to poke its long neck into the car window. The children were fascinated by the animals and were able to pet the pony, the deer and even the Zebra. I wouldn't roll down the window when the bull or the buffalo came near, however! At the end we parked the car and went to see the reptiles, the snakes (even an albino Python), and fed the tortoises. It was lots of fun and the kids are ready to go back, but not until I vacuum the car out!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day.

My father was a career soldier. He joined the Army after he graduated from high school and knew nothing but hard work from an early age. My mother was a stay-at-home Mom. They were young parents and raised five children. Although they divorced when I was grown they kept us together for 20 years and always put the family first. When money was tight, my Dad would take extra jobs to put food on the table. My parents took cleaning jobs on nights and weekends and eventually started an antique clock and restoration business. At one time we had over 30 clocks hanging on the walls, many of them chiming on the hour and half-hour.

I remember my father sitting at the dining room table many nights as he polished his brass and spit-polished his boots.

I remember my father getting up before daybreak and dress in his uniform to make PT by 6 a.m.

I remember especially the time he returned from Vietnam, surprising us as a cab dropped him off in front of our house. He got to meet my baby sister for the first time. She was 9 months old.

I remember the many moves we made across the country and overseas, tackling the moves and keeping up with five kids, ages 2-12. When we went overseas we had to wait more than a month to get our household goods and all of our belongings, not to mention, the family car. My parents were champions to get us enrolled in new schools, find us temporary housing, and never lose any of us at the airport!

My parents always managed to get us what we wanted for Christmas. I had to have a guitar when I was 13 years old. Standing next to the Christmas tree that year was a real guitar, just for me. I needed money to go to London on a high school trip when we lived in Germany. He managed to come up with the funds. The older I get the more I appreciate what my parents did for us, too often with limited resources.

My Dad helped my buy my first car at the age of 19. I had saved $700.00 and he loaned me the other $700.00 to buy a red Volkswagen beetle. I paid the loan back.

When I was a teen-ager, like every young person, I thought my parents were too strict. My siblings and I didn't have the freedoms that young people now have. There was no dating or "hanging out" before a certain age. We had household chores to do. It was ingrained from an early age that we were a military family and our actions could influence my father's career.

My father wasn't a soapbox type of Dad. He didn't lecture us a lot. We knew what was expected of us.
He showed us what it meant to have a work ethic. He didn't have to tell us what it is.
He showed us what is meant to be patriotic by serving his country.
He showed us what it meant to be responsible by taking care of his family.

I'm sure there are a lot of Dads just like him. Let us honor them today.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day. It was a perfect day. My daughters surprised me by taking me to lunch at a seafood restaurant about an hour's drive from here in a quaint little riverfront town. The kind of southern restaurant that sits on the river and serves sweet tea and hot cornbread in little iron skillets and tin plates for the appetizers. The food was good and the service was great. They were prepared for a busy Mother's Day, seeing all the servers in their matching polo shirts.

Afterwards, my granddaughters wanted to buy some potting soil and seeds, so we made a trip to Home Depot. They miss the garden, so my daughter told them that they could grow a few things in clay pots. They wanted strawberries and heirloom tomatoes and marigolds and even bought some watermelon seeds (the small variety), so we will see how it goes. I was excited that the girls, ages 5, 9 and 11, would show an interest in growing things. They are outdoorsy kids and would rather walk around the block instead of staying inside. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Say Hello to Spring

Is it April already? I am glad to say say good bye to March. 
I went to the park on Saturday to enjoy the weather.
It was still a bit chilly, but the sun was shining 
and the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Morning Rituals

          I listen to your footsteps in the early morning
turning on the kitchen faucet
and starting the coffee
I listen as you unlock the door
and walk to the end of the driveway
to pick up the morning newspaper

I listen to the clock radio
as another Top 40 record plays
and as the DJ tells another silly joke
I pull the blanket over me
through the weather report
and the latest news headlines

You open the bedroom door, softly
to see if I am awake
I rub the sleep from my eyes
and reach for my robe
which had fallen to the floor
and wrap it close around me

You pour my morning coffee
as I hunt for my reading glasses
You chatter; I am quiet
the early bird and the night owl
 We are familiar with each other's habits
especially in the early morning hours

(c) 2005 Anita M. Ashworth

(I wrote this several years ago)