Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Thanksgiving

We are having Thanksgiving at my house tomorrow, with approximately 15 or more people. Besides turkey and ham there will be the usual Thanksgiving side dishes: Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Corn Casserole, Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Gelatin Salad, Sister Shubert rolls, etc. Then there will be Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Pecan Pie and  Peach Cobbler for dessert.

I love Thanksgiving Day because it is the time set aside for families to gather together and count our blessings.

I'm thankful for my two daughters and four grandchildren, who are the light in my world.

I'm thankful for my health.

I am thankful for the people I meet each day and the stories they tell me. I recently talked with an elderly man who was taking care of his sick wife. They had been married for 62 years. People don't share stories any longer.

I am thankful for my home, in light of the many tornado victims who lost their homes this year.

I am thankful for a job when I have seen so many lose their jobs in this poor economy.

Most of all, I am thankful for God, who has made me stronger during my trials and hasn't given up on me yet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Today I would like to think of all the veterans in my life, past and present.

To my Dad, who retired after 20 years in the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam the year I turned 10 years old.

To my step-son, who is in the Air Force Reserve, and has served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the home front he is a police officer and the father of four.

To my brother and brothers-in-law, who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Two are Vietnam veterans.

To my neighbor, who is in the Army National Guard and has served in Iraq.

To the husband of a good friend, who is also a Vietnam vet and suffered from PTSD.

To many friends who have been military wives or Army brats, as I was, and can relate.

To my late husband, who was a wounded veteran from the Vietnam war, and served 20 years in the U.S. Army.

To my co-worker, who juggles a full-time job with being a mother and a weekend warrier with the National Guard.

May God bless all of our veterans, and especially the ones in your family and circle of friends.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October Days

Every Fall a local, historical (almost 200 years old) cemetary
hosts a "Cemetary Stroll"
and features local people dressed in period clothing
who portray the famous and not-so-famous that are buried here.
For example, I didn't know that one of Samuel Clemons' cousins,
Jeremiah Clemons, is buried here, and that he also wrote novels.
.This year there were almost 70 people that were "risen from the grave", so to speak.
This little event used to be a well-kept secret, but not anymore.
There were literally hundreds of people visiting the cemetary
on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon, each following their paper guide.

One actress portrayed Talullah Bankhead, a native-born Alabamian,
whose father was in politics.
Her mother died when Talullah was an infant and is buried here.
There were many Civil War soldiers and widows who retold their stories,
along with many prominent men and women, such as the famous madam
who donated her land to the hospital.
Then, there was the Southern belle who ordered her bridal gown from Paris
and was taking a special powder to whiten her skin. Only her illiterate maid gave her
boric acid by mistake. She became ill and called for her doctor.
When he discovered what had happened there was nothing he could do.
Still, the young couple married, she sick and dying and lying in her bed. 
When the young bride died a few weeks later, she was buried in her exquisite bridal gown
shipped all the way from Paris, France.

The last story we heard was from a famous widow well-known in my neck of the woods.
She had been married six times before the Civil War. Her first marriage lasted almost 20 years
when her husband passed away. The second one lasted six months and each husband
subsequently succumbed to some mysterious or short-lived illness. Now, this
is quite possible, seeing that this was the early 1800's, and being a strong, Southern woman,
known for her beauty (historical accounts claim that she was a beautiful woman)
she may have been smart and opportunistic.Remember Scarlett O'Hara?
Rumor has it that she had a hat rack in her foyer with a hat from
each of her husbands hanging on it.  At age 60, the beautiful widow moved to
Mississippi, after a trial involving slander and a feud with a local farmer.
 Coincidentally, the ancestors of that farmer still own that land
and now have a popular Pumpkin Patch in the Fall. See pictures below.
Oh! Another reason the widow moved away...the local Baptist preacher refused to marry her again.
I love these stories!

I never knew there were so many varieties of pumpkins. I didn't take pictures of all of them,
but I saw at least a dozen varieties.

Beautiful Mums

Baby granddaughter #3

Hope you are enjoying Fall as much as I am.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Tidbits & More

One thing I love about Fall are the county fairs and street festivals
that abound at this time of year. There's something for everyone:
pony rides and fun activities for the children;
arts and crafts for the adults;
food and gorgeous weather for everyone.

What better place to hold a street festival except near the railroad tracks?
Believe me, that was the longest train ever!

Fall also means that I have to stock up on butter because I do more baking.
 This is "Walnut Pear Sour Cream Cake"
 found in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
 It's perfect with a cup of tea.

I love a bargain and found this bag for $3.99 in a thrift store.
 It looked like Fall to me.

After a long day at the street festival there's nothing like dining out and learning
how to color in the lines.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remembering Mama

I've been thinking about my mother lately and how much I miss her, still. I wish she were here to talk to. It doesn't matter how old you get, sometimes you just need a mother. I was blessed to have her for 44 years, but I wish she could have stayed a little longer. Long enough to be a great-grandmother, for example. She would be tickled by the babies that have been born since she passed away. I wish she could have stayed long enough to enjoy her retirement years. But it wasn't to be. God gave her the rest she needed and took her home at age 62.

I was listening to a "paid advertisement" on television while reading a book. They were playing the old country songs from the 60's, 70's and 80's. My mother was a fan of country music and I grew up listening to Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, and all of the popular artists at that time. Hearing those songs brings back so many memories.

Music always made my mother happy. She loved "The Sound of Music" and never tired of watching it. She would sing "Edelweis" when she though no one was listening, just as she would hum the little German songs from her childhood. Mama was shy, just as I am. When "GI Blues" is playing, I can remember Mama singing along with Elvis, " Muss ich denn, muss ich denn, Zum Stadtele hinaus Stadtele hinaus, Und du, mein schatz, bleibst hier?" Can't you see I love you, please don't break my heart in two... (Wooden Heart lyrics)

Like my mother, I sing along with the songs, if no one is listening.


Sunday, August 21, 2011


My daughters when they were little
My daughters are my friends and confidantes. They are my "go-to persons" when my friends are busy. They are strong, independent young women, a little opinionated, but that's okay. They get it honestly. We actually agree more than we disagree. They have blessed me with grandchildren and are doing a great job raising their families. They both also love to cook. I am proud to be their mother.

No, I don't want to make this a "brag fest" because they are not perfect. There are times that I still want to tell them what to do, or at least advise them. At times, they are my advisors, my mentors. They are good listeners and have a sense of humor. They get that from their father, who was a funny guy.

I thank God for my daughters.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Innocence of Childhood

I love the innocence of childhood.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked my grandchildren when they spent the night.

"Spiderman!" immediately responded my three-year old grandson. He is currently obsessed with this comic book hero.

"Tinker Bell," said the four-year old. She wants to fly when she grows up.

"A princess," replied seven-year old "Teka", "Probably Belle, because she looks like me."

I see many children that are miniature adults. My grandchildren still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. And that's okay, because these years go by so fast and soon they won't remember their childhood dreams. But then again maybe they will grow up to be a princess.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


August is a month full of blessings.

My daughter and her husband celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary today.

Their oldest will turn 7 next week and start 2nd grade. "Teka" is like a little Mommy to her four-year old sister and the new baby. She has been known to fix the baby's bottle and change her diaper when my daughter is busy. And she listens...most of the time. She was looking at the advertisements last weekend and pointed to something that she wanted, "Look, Mommy," she said, "Oh, never mind. It costs money."

My grandson just celebrated his third birthday. He loves Chuck E. Cheese, so that's where we had his party. His party guests were four girls. "Where's all my girls?" he asked when we arrived.

Have you ever noticed how little boys come with sound effects? And they actually say, "I want to be a Super hero." I didn't have boys, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the company of this little boy.

With school right around the corner, my older daughter is like a kid in a candy story, getting her classroom ready for her eighth-graders. She'll be teaching Algebra.

I have a couple of friends that have cause for celebrations, too. The daughter of one friend is finishing up a four-month hike along the Appalachian trail. She is down to the last 100 miles and will be home soon. S., whom I have know since she was in preschool, is quite the adventurer. She worked in a bear camp in Alaska last summer, after driving there all the way from Alabama! And in the fall/winter she worked at a ski resort out west and drove along the California coastline and then across the southern United States. And she is only 23 years old!

I love to celebrate the little things, as well as the big occasions.

Hoping that you have something to celebrate this month. Whether big or small, it's worth celebrating.

Monday, August 1, 2011

When I Get Older...

I want to be like my mother-in-law, when I get older. Her mind is sharp as a tack and even with her arthritis, two hip replacements, and a knee replacement, she doesn't sit still. She makes it to church on Sundays, cooks and cleans for her daughter's family, loves to attend hockey games, and loves to laugh at a good joke.
My husband is the cute kid on the right.
This week she is flying to Michigan, by herself, to go to her family reunion. She and her sister are the only remaining siblings out of nine children. Her son and granddaughter will fly in from Minnesota to meet her there. She's proud to be the oldest of the "Graves" family that will be attending.

She's 89 years young. She still has the dimples, too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Growing Up in the 60's

Growing up in today's society seems so much different than it did 40+ years ago. The main difference between yesterday and today is definitely technology. There were no home computers in the 60's, no satellite television, no Wii, no cell phones, no Facebook, no email, no Twitter, no 24-hour news, etc. I can remember the days when TV went off the air at midnight and the station played "The Star Spangled Banner" at the end of the viewing day. Guess what? We actually had to interact with each other, instead of our video games and electronic gadgets.

I am the one in the middle, 1968.
It was a different world, a simpler world.

Remember hearing the Ice Cream truck come down the street and running outside just in the nick of time?

Remember those Toni home permanents and pink curlers that your Mom used to put in your hair? My hair was straight as straw and the home perms never lasted more than a few weeks.

Remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating Captain Crunch cereal? I loved watching the Flintstones and the Jetsons. And don't forget Captain Kangaroo.

Remember Moon Pies and ice cold bottles of Coca Cola that you bought at the corner grocery store, straight out of the cooler? We would return the glass bottles for a refund.

Remember having to share a room with a younger sister?

Remember watching The Ed Sullivan Show, Wonderful World of Disney and Mutual of Omaha's, Wild Kingdom? And of course, all the classic comedies, such as Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, etc.

Remember the plain, black rotary telephone? We didn't even have a phone until the late 60's. I remember when the Princess phone became popular, in pastel colors. It was all the rage at the time.

Remember road trips and stopping at Stuckey's for souvenirs and a bite to eat, before the fast food chains and the Interstate highways took over?

Remember playing jacks and marbles in the dirt outside and drinking gallons of Kool-Aid in the summertime?

Remember shopping for new school clothes in August, which meant dresses for the girls, and a brand new pair of saddle shoes?

Remember the boxes of laundry detergent that came with a towel inside? And Mama hanging out the clothes to dry? And S&H green stamps that could be redeemed for all kinds of cool stuff?

Remember actually playing outside with the neighborhood kids?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Front Porch

I love my front porch. When we bought the house it didn't have a railing, so my husband and I built one. We did a pretty good job, considering that neither one of us had carpentry skills. That railing has lasted almost 20 years.

The porch has had its moments through the years.

I would sit on the porch when the children were little and watch the yellow school bus come around the corner and drop them off at the end of the driveway.

I would drink my morning coffee on the front porch on a nice day and read the newspaper while listening to the birds sing.

I would bring a book out on the front porch to read when I needed a quiet moment.

The front porch served as a "Smoking Room" for my friends and relatives who smoked.

The front porch was a good place to have a chat with a friend or neighbor who stopped by.

Now, the grandchildren draw all over the porch with their chalk. I let them draw all over the driveway, too.

I was off today, so I scrubbed the front porch. I poured a bucket of sudsy water, equipped myself with cleaning rags and put on my rubber gloves. First, I cleaned the windows and then wiped down the railing and porch furniture. At last, I turned on the hose at full-blast and sprayed away the winter's dust and dirt.

There is nothing like a clean, front porch.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Remembrance

My daughters and I were talking this past week about how we miss the "old days," when their father, their grandfather and their uncle were still alive. I loved to listen to them joke around and talk about the good old days and tell tales of their youth. My father-in-law was really special to me. We had many similar interests and the same taste in books. He would often send me a package of books when he was finished reading them. He also loved cryptoquotes, another favorite of mine, and kept index cards from the daily cryptoquote in the newspaper. He was a real family man and loved nothing more than to spend time with his children and grandchildren. My father-in-law was a veteran, but never made it overseas. While his unit was on their way to Europe during World War II he was hospitalized for several months for Tuberculosis, a lung disease that claimed the lives of several of his siblings. Out of nine children, he and a younger brother were the only ones to live past the age of 30. When he recovered he was discharged from the Army and went to college on the GI Bill, becoming a teacher. Not bad for a man with a wife and four young children.

While his father did not make a career out of the military, my late husband did, serving 20 years in the Army. Before he was 30 years old he had already been stationed in Vietnam, Panama, Korea, Germany, and Alaska, and these were not counting the stateside tours. Don was  proud of his 101st Airborne badge and the bronze star that he received for being wounded in action.  He was proud to serve in the Army and proud to wear the uniform. My husband was a spontaneous type of person and with the Internet, was able to contact some former soldiers of the 101st Airborne. He called one veteran late one night, against my cautious, "It's 11 o'clock at night!" He and the other Vietnam vet spoke for over an hour on the phone. Another soldier that he had contacted replied with this email, "Welcome Home, Brother."

I like to think that heaven has a flag-waving welcoming committee for all those who served, and that they are all holding signs that say, "Welcome Home, Brother."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Six

My granddaughter, Teka (her nickname), has been getting into trouble at school lately. It's the usual stuff that first graders do  - talking too much and not listening. In her defense, the past few weeks have been full of upsets and changes. There were the bad storms and the power outage and having to go out of town. There's a new baby at home. Teka was also worried about her cousin that was having a tonsillectomy. She's a little worrywart. It's the end of the year and the children are getting antsy by now. Teka is usually well-behaved. She loves to read and is the typical older child, shouldering the responsibilities of big sisterhood. She has landed on "Yellow" before, but after a couple of days on "Yellow", my daughter made her write a note to her teacher, apologizing for her behavior.

"Nobody else has to do this," she remarked through tears.

"But what if you had to go to the Principal's office?" my daughter asked.

"But you don't go to the Principal's office until you're on "Red" and I was only on "Yellow."

It's not easy being six.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Home's in Alabama

I've lived in Alabama for over twenty-five years. I was not born in the South, but I am a Southerner by the grace of God. I believe that every state and every region has something to be proud of...and together we can celebrate each other's gifts. That's what makes us the "United States."

But Alabama has always suffered in the way it has been represented in the media. We're always at the bottom of some list, and jokingly say, "Thank God for Mississippi!" It was pointed out to me recently, though, that Alabama was upgraded on a new list. It is now No.#1 for tornadoes.

There is one thing that is often overlooked about Alabama and the South. We have had some great talent come from the red clay dirt and cotton fields that dot this landscape, from the hills and hollows, and even from the Gulf Coast. I bet there are some people who don't realize that Alabama actually has beaches. But Alabama has produced some literary giants, like Harper Lee, who wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Truman Capote, her childhood friend from Monroeville. Helen Keller was from Tuscumbia. Former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, is from Birmingham. Fannie Flagg, another Birmingham native, gave us "Fried Green Tomatoes" and Winston Groom wrote "Forrest Gump." Somehow, the creative juices that were born in this southern state are ingrained in our minds. Who can forget Scout and Atticus, from "To Kill a Mockingbird?" Who will ever forget "Life is like a box of chocolates" from "Forrest Gump?" What woman hasn't jumped off of her sofa in her bathrobe, cheering Kathy Bates in "Fried Green Tomatoes" in the parking lot scene at Walmart? And who has not seen "The Miracle Worker" and knows the story of Helen Keller by heart?

 Everyone knows that Hank Williams was born in Montgomery, Alabama. His music needs no introduction, but I love his song, "I Saw the Light". My absolute favorite gospel song is " I Shall Not Walk Alone" by the Blind Boys of Alabama. The group, Alabama, recorded a song, "Angels Among Us" that has always been one of my favorites. Taylor Hicks, an Alabama native, was the winner on American Idol a few years ago. Tammy Wynette was also from Alabama. And, of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd gave us "Sweet Home Alabama."

Yes, here in Alabama we might live across from a cotton field or live in a mansion on a hill. We like our sweet tea and we like our football rivalries. We are passionate about our faith and our politics and we cherish our liberties. The Old South is no more, but the New South has a lot of heart and a lot of soul. Just listen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This is for the mothers who are sleep-deprived, stumbling in the dark to change sheets in the middle of the night when a child is sick.

This is for the mothers who wake up at dawn to bake cookies or brownies for snack day at school.

This is for the mothers who yell at their children and hide in the bathroom while they wipe the tears from their eyes.

This is for the mothers who practice spelling words while washing the dishes.

This is for the mothers who clean up after the puppy, tackle loads of laundry, and make it to all the soccer games.

This is for the mother who saves every homemade Mother's Day card, and crayon drawing from their child.

This is for the mothers who read to their children.

This is for the mothers wno stay at home or work outside the home because a mother's shift is 24/7.

This is for the mothers who learn how to text, so that they can communicate with their young adult children.

This is for the mothers who are not perfect, but whose love for their children is perfect.

This is for the mothers young and old alike, who will tell you that being a mother is the most important job she ever had.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I am so tired that I should really be asleep, but since I go in an hour later tomorrow I can justify staying up a little later. My house is a mess and I have piles of laundry, but I've barely been home long enough to tackle my chores.

I work for a financial institution and we finally re-opened for business on Monday morning. I left early, hoping to find a cup of coffee along the way, but the fast food restaurants were still closed. Thankfully, I had a cup when I got to work and immediately started cleaning out the refrigerator in our break room. I was happy to return to a sense of normalcy. We were busy, as our customers lined up to get cash. We had been closed for four days and many people didn't have access to cash and with no power, even debit cards were useless. People were extraordinarily patient and grateful. We heard their storm stories and are still hearing them. I think I have teared up more than once or twice a day since the beginning of the week. As of right now there have been 39 counties in Alabama designated as disaster areas. Alabama only has 67 counties, so more than half of the state was affected. It will take years to recover.

I drove home on Monday evening. Still in the dark. Since I needed a shower, I grabbed a few things and spent the night at my older daughter's house. My pregnant daughter got her power back...for one hour. The transformer blew and once more they were in the dark. They went to her in-laws. Luckily the power came back on by Tuesday of this week. Just in time. My newest granddaughter made her entrance into this world on Tuesday evening, all 7 lbs. 10 oz.  Her middle name is "Dawn", a perfect fit. After the darkness, comes the dawn.

I came home at midnight, happy to see my front porch light on, and happy to have another bright light in my life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

In Darkness and Light

The news has been plastered with horrific stories from the storms. But there have also been amazing stories of people helping each other, stories of  amazing grace. Strangers helping strangers. Neighbors helping neighbors. "I need to get your phone number," said one of my co-workers as we went back to work today. "I had no way to reach you." "Me, too," I said. I now have several more phone numbers saved in my cell phone. I also answered every call, even from phone numbers that I didn't recognize, because people were borrowing phones from strangers to make phone calls.

With no power, neighbors are cooking food and sharing their meals cooked on a charcoal or gas grill. My daughter made gourmet burgers and roasted potatoes wrapped in foil on the first night without lights. It was delicious. One co-worker heated water on the grill to wash the baby bottles. The son of a friend used a rain barrel and solar power and improvised an outdoor shower with warm water. My cousin brought a generator, gas grill, supplies and enough gas for several weeks, from her home in Tennessee to my sister's house. The fire department helped my friend, who is handicapped, and opened her garage door. One middle-aged man that I met told me that his neighbor used his chain saw and cut down the tree that landed on his roof, single-handedly, all out of neighborliness. My sister, who is in animal rescue, and my niece, took cat and dog food to the devastated regions. My daughter donated children's clothing and several packs of diapers, diapers that she had been saving for her baby. "I can always buy more," she said.

People, with few exceptions, have been unbelievably polite. With no traffic lights, we have had to follow the 4-way stop rule. Neighbors who have never talked to one another now know each other's first name. One lady realized that her neighbors weren't actually "vampires" and are actually nice people. Everyone has a heart of gratitude and feels truly blessed.

Daylight is no longer taken for granted. You have to make the most of it. Isn't this what our ancestors did?
And if you work hard and play hard, you'll be ready for bed not long after dark.

Being in the dark has taught us all to never take anything for granted, especially our loved ones. I can live without my hot water for a few days. I can live without computer access or my cell phone. I can even live without my favorite television shows. The roof can be repaired, a new tree can be planted, a house rebuilt, food and clothing replaced, but the ones we love are what matters most.

Friday, April 29, 2011

After the Storm

It has been some week. I am sitting in a hotel room in Tennessee with my daughters and grandchildren, thankful to have made it through the worse storms in Alabama history. I have been through tornados before, but nothing like what happened on Wednesday.

The storm sirens were going off constantly by noon. We were told to go home at 12:30. The children were stuck at school, waiting for anxious parents to pick them up. I had only driven five minutes and there were already trees down on the highway. I spent the afternoon at my neighbor's house in her bathroom, coming out during the calm. We saw a funnel cloud, about half-mile wide, over the cotton field. It was eerily quiet, but it veered away from our direction. Later, when it calmed down once more I attempted to make it to my daughter's house. I made it ten minutes down the road, when there was yet another warning and the ominous storm clouds and flooded streets made me turn
around. By now we had no power and our cell phones weren't getting service, so I had no contact with my family. We listened to the battery-operated radio for all news reports and it sounded bad.

I woke up early and headed north. All of North Alabama was without power. TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) supplies our electricity and was hit especially hard, unprecedented in its history. Luckily, I was able to get gas at one of the few places that had gas. By mid-morning it was 20 miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic of people trying to find gas and supplies. Our county had several fatalities and dozens of injuries. My son-in-law works for the Sheriff's Department and had to work search and rescue. He came home soaked to the bone, saying that he'd never seen anything like it.  Still, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham were also hard hit and and I am just now seeing the pictures in the newspaper.
They are saying that it may be a week before power is restored. My younger daughter is expecting any day, so we decided to get a hotel room for a couple of days. We are so fortunate that we have a roof over our heads and everyone accounted for. Many others are not so fortunate.
Please keep the tornado victims in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Houses that Built Me

In the country song, "The House that Built Me," a young woman visits her childhood home and takes a trip down memory lane. It is a poignant song and reminds us that we can't go home again. I don't think I was ever attached to our temporary homes, but more to the sense of place, at that particular time.

Growing up in a military family we didn't have one particular house that we could call home. We lived in a series of rental houses and government quarters (apartments) until I moved out on my own at the tender age of 19.

There was the two-bedroom house on a country road in Tennessee that had a leaky roof. The landlord farmed the acreage next door and gave us free vegetables. We had a beagle, "Pee-Wee" and a German Shepherd, "Lady". The school bus picked us up at the end of the long driveway. My mother watched "General Hospital" on the black and white television , and we went shopping once a month, because the military only paid you monthly.

When my father went to Vietnam we lived in another two-bedroom house near my grandparents in middle Tennessee. I was ten, and my mother had just given birth to my baby sister. She had five children to take care of and a husband at war. I helped wrap the Christmas presents that year, after picking out my own gifts.
My father came home safely from the war. A taxi dropped him off, surprising us all.

The next house was in Oklahoma. I was eleven and we were studying Oklahoma history in school. I loved the musty odor of the history books and loved the Indian culture that we learned about. I had never seen prairie dogs before, nor buffalo that roamed on the nearby refuge. The house had a crawl space that we would hide in during tornado warnings. It was scary.

When we moved back to Germany we were assigned a four-bedroom apartment on the third floor of government housing. Each stairwell had eight families. At suppertime we could smell what other families were having for dinner and hear footsteps running up and down the stairs with children coming in from the playground. We walked to school, and walked home for lunch, and then back again. We spent the next four years there and we saw many families come and go. I remember in particular one cute Hispanic boy who had played one of the children on "The Flying Nun." His parents drove a fancy car and had a car phone, something unheard of in 1970, so we were in awe of his celebrity status. His name was Ruben.

We moved back to Alabama for the second time when I started high school. The one thing that I remember about the rental house was how it withstood the tornado of 1974. Our family took shelter in a small hallway when we heard the storm pass over, sounding just like a train. When it was over our neighborhood looked like a war zone, with trees and power lines down and several homes damaged or completely destroyed. We were fortunate.

When my husband retired from the Army we wanted our two daughters to grow up in one place. I wanted them to have roots and close relationships with their relatives. They would have their own childhood memories, of course, and not experience the itinerant childhoods of their parents. But there were times that I would get itchy feet and wish that I could move again. My children would say, "Mom, you were so lucky to see so many things and visit all these places." And I was. The houses that built me gave me so much more than four walls.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What I Learned From My Grandparents

Get up early ~ the early bird gets the worm ~ till a garden ~ don't stay up too late ~ don't watch too much television ~ make biscuits from scratch ~ memorize a favorite hymn ~ pray ~ be thankful ~ there's always someone who is worse off than you ~ sit on the front porch ~ say howdy to your neighbor ~ make do with what you have ~ treat others with respect and kindness ~ obey your elders ~ eat everything on your plate ~ there are poor, starving children out there~ learn from the mistakes of others and don't repeat them ~ straighten up ~ the world doesn't owe you anything ~ do your homework ~ help your mother ~ listen to your father ~ watch your tongue ~ hard work never hurt anyone ~ a good name is all a man has ~ nothing is free ~ you have to work for what you want ~ don't make excuses ~ choose your friends wisely ~ think before you act ~ don't talk back ~ say Yes, Ma'am and No, Ma'am ~ say Yes, Sir and No, Sir ~ go outside and play ~ watch out for your brothers and sisters ~ believe in God ~ watch out for the devil

I also learned that standing in front of a hot fireplace in a house without central heat could warm your bones like nothing else could. ~ And that even when the pantry was almost bare, Grandma could knead a little flour and lard and soon those flaky biscuits would melt in your mouth. ~ I learned that even though she didn't have much, there was a warmth and coziness about my Grandmother's house that I still remember after all these years. ~ And I learned that people didn't have to lock their front door and friends and family could simply walk right in and make themselves at home. ~ I learned that people could be happy with simple things, like having family around the dinner table, and happiness was not found in material things. ~ And  I learned that neighbors still talked to one another when walking down the street and having a phone was a luxury, not a necessity. ~ I learned that children were still treated as children and adults hushed their voices when little ones were around. ~ And I learned that the world moves too fast and you have to slow down sometimes and listen to those around you because you might just learn something.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If Children Ruled the World

My daughter, Carrie, as a little girl
If children ruled the world
Grown-ups would have to be quiet
And let children have their say
Grown-ups wouldn't be allowed to interrupt
Or pout when they didn't get their way..

If children ruled the world
There would be no black or white, brown or yellow
There would be no prejudice, no hatred
Just love for one another
And looking out for the other fellow...

If children ruled the world
Everyone would have a chance
To get off the bench and run in the race
With the rest of us cheering, "Hooray!"
As you cross the finish line and come in first place...

If children ruled the world
There would be a giant playground
Where children could play all day
And the world would be our canvas
As we painted and colored the drabness away....

If children ruled the world
Every child would have a home filled with love
A glass of warm milk and a comfy bed in which to sleep
Sweet dreams and goodnight prayers
'Til morning light their little souls shall keep

If children ruled the world...

(c) Anita M. Ashworth 2010

Monday, April 4, 2011

Memories In Black and White

I only have a few photos of my German relatives. The photo of my grandparents wedding is the only photo I have of my grandfather. He died when my mother was nine years old, in East Germany. They had been separated after the war and my grandmother and nine children became refugees, travelling by train from Czechoslovakia to West Germany after the war ended. I know very little about my grandparents, Karl and Anna, so I cherish the few photos that I have.
The next picture was taken of my Aunt Marianne's church wedding in the 1950's, when she married an American airman. My aunt was beautiful and reminded us of a movie star when she came to visit us in her convertible, with a silk scarf wrapped around her blonde hair. She was also my godmother. Sadly, we lost her at the young age of 37.

The last picture was actually an old, old black and white postcard that I had enlarged. It is the Cinderella castle, or Neuschwanstein, home of King Ludwig. No, he wasn't a relative, but I loved the picture of the castle!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


If I stay
Will you stay with me
Will you hold my hand
And never let me go
Will you follow right beside me
And watch my steps
Catch me if I fall
And never let me out of your sight
If I stay

If I go
Will your thoughts go with me
Will you think of me each day
Will you miss me
Will you remember when
You held my hand
And followed right beside me
Never letting me out of your sight,
If I go

(c) Anita M. Ashworth 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lessons from a Two-Year Old

Sometimes you can get to the top on your own.

And sometimes you need a helping hand.

Sometimes you have to size each other up...

Before you have them eating out of your hand.

 Sometimes it's nice to have lots of friends...

And sometimes one good friend is more than enough.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Strawberry Fields

In my last post I wrote about living in South Florida many years ago when I was newly married. There were so many wonderful memories...such as

Sunsets over the beach....soft, balmy breezes on a summer evening....the Coconut Grove....Strawberry milkshakes straight from the strawberry fields....real Florida oranges......Shrimp fresh off the boat.....a drive along the coast, anytime....a dip into the pool after a hot, humid day....Latino music...the diverse culture....the relaxed atmosphere...driving along the Florida, hot, hot Miami!....the children of the migrant workers that used to come into my store....picture postcard memories.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Songs to Remember

Isn't it funny how certain songs can remind you exactly where you were in your life when you heard it the first time? Music is the soundtrack of our lives.

My late husband, Don, and I lived in South Florida when we were first married. We lived in Homestead in a small, furnished apartment that looked out towards the pool. We were newlyweds, and broke most of the time, due to the fact that we had bought a "lemon" on our way to Florida. We had plunked down cold cash when we bought the Impala in Kentucky and I'm sure the salesman was laughing all the way to the bank after we left. But what could we do but deal with it. And that's what we did. I took a job at a convenience store across from our apartment complex. My husband drove the car (when it wasn't in the shop) to his Army post in the Everglades. When I worked late on Fridays and Saturdays Don would help us keep the beer stocked, because we were so busy. After I got off from work, we'd order a pizza from Pizza Hut next door and stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching old black and white movies on TV. It was a simple time and we explored South Florida and visited the tourist sites in Miami. It was in Miami that I was sworn in as an American citizen, along with 800 other newly-minted Americans.

One song that always reminds me of those sunny, carefree days in Florida was "Key Largo." It made the charts briefly, but I liked it. "We had it all, just like Bogey and Bacall starring in our own late, late show, sailing away to Key Largo." We drove to the Keys a couple of times; Key Largo was only 30 miles away.

 Another popular song at the time was "Escape," better known as the "Pina Colada" song. It's a catchy tune and every time I hear this song, and "Key Largo", on the radio, it takes me back to those early married days in South Florida.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letter From God

(I wrote this a few years ago for my 5th Grade Sunday School class at the time.)

Dear Beloved,

Do you know how much I love you? I have loved you since before you were born. I loved you when I formed you in the womb of your mother.

I love you so much that I will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, my child, for I am always with you. My love for you endures forever.

Do not lose heart if I rebuke you, because I love you as my child and what father does not discipline the son he loves?

Remember, I am love. And if you live in love you will live in me and I in you. You do not need to be fearful, because perfect love will take away your fear.

So love one another, my child, just as I love you. Love your neighbor as yourself. And if you love me, also love your brother.

And because I love you so much I sent my one and only Son, that if you believe in me, you will not perish, but have eternal life.

Love, God

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

When I Grow Old....

I recently watched a sweet movie with Betty White entitled "The Lost Valentine." The actress plays a young  bride whose husband is sent off to war. His plane is shot down and he is MIA. The young woman is expecting her first child. She never remarries, but goes on with her life, always returning to the train station each Valentine's Day where she last saw the man she loved.

I know it's a cliche, but I'm a hopeless romantic. I love movies like this, even though real life is seldom as syrupy-sweet as the plot in a Hallmark movie.

When I grow old... I want to be like Betty White.
I want to live life to the fullest.
I want to smile and show my (make-believe) dimples.
I want to laugh heartily and always know what to say.

When I grow old.... I want to be the center of attention
When I blow out the candles on my birthday cake.
I want to wear the color red
And never leave home without my lipstick.

When I grow old ....I want to have lunch with friends
Where we can talk about anything
Except our aches and pains
And the medications the doctor prescribed

When I grow old ....I want to spend time
With my grandchildren as much as I can;
Entertain them with stories and jokes
And love them unconditionally

When I grow old ....I want to keep on learning
And work the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper;
Keep up with current affairs
And vote on Election Day.

When I grow old... I want to be on good terms with God
And hope that he remembers me,
So when it's time for me to go
He'll be there to welcome me home
When I grow old.

(c) Anita M. Ashworth 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amazing Grace

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

My prayer list for January was long. I mentioned it in an earlier blog post. But today I am writing about  answered prayers.

My sister B. had her corneal transplant surgery yesterday. When the doctor removed the bandage from her eye, she was shocked. She could actually see the eye chart and make out the letters for the first time in years. My other sister, C. and I were both teary-eyed to see results this soon. My sister, who is several years younger than me, has had numerous eye surgeries through the years, starting when she was an infant. She was the kid in school with the thick glasses that everyone made fun of. She was the child bumping into things and falling down because of her poor eyesignt. She could never pass the eye exam to get her driver's license and was considered legally blind. B. worked as a Nursing assistant for years and had to quit work because of her eyesignt. So to have some of her vision restored is a miracle indeed.

My sister has the information about the donor. We read it, but she doesn't know the contents of the letter, only that it was a young woman who donated her cornea.  I feel like that young woman gave a gift of sight to my sister and I hope that God blesses her family with peace.

Amazing grace indeed!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


My daughter's house is almost finished. She talked to her Realtor and it looks like she may be ready to close within six weeks. We've been shopping for appliances and housewares. It's fun shopping for a new home, but there are things that I'm going to miss once she and my grandson move out.

No more little feet running to meet me at the door with a big grin and wrapping his little arms around me. "Maw-maw's home!" It makes me feel like a rock star to be given such treatment.

I'm going to miss having a little boy's room in my house, even with toys scattered about. And I'll miss folding his little jeans and screen-printed pajamas, which even a two-year old has favorites. I'll miss the beating of the drum set, stepping over the Legos, and  Buzz Light Year, "From here to infinity!" Can you say that I'll miss "Toy Story" (1,2, & 3). I'll miss playing hide-and-seek, but I can't say that I'll miss all the piggy back rides...there is a limit as to what this middle-aged body can do.

But I will miss my daughter's company and staying up late on a weekend, watching a movie and eating popcorn, even though most of the time we fall fast asleep on the sofa and loveseat.
I'll miss the smell of dinner already cooked when I come home, and groceries already picked up from the store.

Yes, my house has been a little crowded and a little messy with my daughter and her son living here, but I have survived. A new home will be exciting for her, and I'll have them come over on Friday nights, when we can stay up late and watch movies, eat popcorn and listen to Buzz Light Year, "From here to infinity!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Mother and Her Son

Here is one of my favorite childhood poems, from a Scholastic book of poetry, now old and yellowed, and here is the pencil drawing I made of Abe Lincoln. I couldn't believe that I saved both all of these years. I still love Poetry, and the beauty of language, and wonder whether children still read and memorize poems in school, such as "Nancy Hanks."

"Nancy Hanks"     by RoseMary Benet

If Nancy Hanks
came back as a ghost,
Seeking news of
what she loved most,
She'd ask first,
"Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe?
What's he done?

"Poor little Abe
Left alone
Except for Tom,
Who's a rolling stone;
He was only nine
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried.

"Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town.

"You wouldn't know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Down a Country Road

 Snow never stays on the ground this long in the South.
It's been a week since the big snowfall of 2011.

Barn scenes are my favorite.

A snow-covered bridge

On heading home, a beautiful sunset. Icing on the cake.