Thawing out

December 24, 2016

So here it is.  ‘tis the “season to be jolly” has come ‘round again. I’ve been stuck these past few weeks in the post-election blues and my brain felt frozen. But today I did my “Merry Christmas” phone calls to grandsons and a couple of old friends. It worked somewhat to elevate the spirits without actual spirits, but that will surely come later.

I decided to make a Christmas wish list/New Year’s resolutions:

I wish the next Congress will not slash and burn Medicare and Social Security.

I wish my grandkids won’t end up glowing in the dark.

I wish for the cream of humanity to rise to the top and leave the sour milk behind.

I wish for us to be kind to one another.

Next year:

I will try to experience something new at least once a week.

I will spend less on food and eat healthier.

I will not let social media freak me out and stoke fear.

I will hate the cat a little less, maybe…

This a beautiful Christmas picture I saw today on my daughter-in-law’s Facebook page. I think it came from Realm of the Faerie Garden

christmas-picture

So, Merry Christmas, dammit!

 

 


May you stay forever young

June 1, 2016
Me at 6 months

Me at 6 months

This is me with my mother at about six months of age, 68 1/2 years ago. We were living in Germany where my dad was posted for three years. I really don’t remember anything about Germany.  I used to think I’d had this dream about looking down and seeing all these tiny houses, people and trees. But, after talking to my mom about it, I realized it was what I had seen through the airplane window as we were landing back in the good ole USA.

This is a picture of me almost 42 years ago. It’s my son Jack’s, first birthday party and we are at the Besson family’s house in Austin, Texas. As my 69th birthday is Me at 28 years old, Jack at oneright around the corner, I’ve been reflecting, once again, on what an awesome life I’m living. Nah, I’m not rich or famous, but I am for the most part healthy and happy.

I am grateful for the many times in my wilder years God pulled my butt out of a metaphorical fire so that I can continue to enjoy life. I am grateful He gives me the energy to keep on learning. I am blessed to continue to meet and make friends with some smart, creative people—young and old. I’m glad I’m still around to grow older together with my hubby and kids and grandkids.

I know 69 years is not that old in these times.

But, it does feel like it’s down the road a piece.

I extend to you Bob Dylan’s words sung by Joan Baez “May you stay forever young”

May your heart always be joyful

May your song be always sung

May you stay forever young

 


Jesus loves ALL the little children

March 18, 2016

Remember that Sunday School song we all used to sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children”? For some reason I started singing it this morning as I was getting ready for work. And, I thinking, “Jesus loves ALL the little children in the world including:

22% of all children in the US living below the federal poverty rate

one in five children suffering with mental illness

62% of Hispanic children in the US living in or near poverty

The estimated 679,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect

All the Syrian and other refugee children, clinging to their parents, hoping for a chance to live in a better world

The children born to undocumented parents in the US who fear they may be torn from the only life they’ve know and deported.

Let’s remind all the “conservative Christian” politicians and their ilk spreading hate and bigotry, Jesus is not selective about who He loves and that is the model we should strive for. Not how much we can cut the assistance and education programs. Not how fast we can round up all the “undocumented” families or build a wall to keep out all those who do not ascribe to the same faith as they claim to follow.

all the children of the world

Jesus loves the little children All the children of the world Red & yellow, black & white they’re precious in his sight Jesus loves the little children of the world

 

Sing that little song several times today to as a reminder just who does Jesus love. Sing it for your family, your friends and co-workers. Sing it for yourself.

 


Give me your hope, so I will never give up

May 19, 2013

This is an open letter to my grandson who just spent his 19th birthday in jail–for writing a misconstrued comment on Facebook. His bond is $500,000 ( yes, that’s 1/2 a million $). I’ve put a picture with the post, but they don’t allow pictures, drawings, books, or many other things to be sent to inmates. Bird_full bloom_smaller_2

Dear Grandson,
I know it must have been a sad 19th birthday. But, know we were all thinking of you and whenever you get out, we will catch up on cakes and candles.

Here’s a prayer we say at school. I think it speaks to all our needs without being denomination specific. That’s called ecumenical–1.  concerning Church unity: relating to, involving, or promoting the unity of different Christian churches and groups
2.  involving friendship between religions: involving or promoting friendly relations between different religions

O Lord
Grant me your strength, so I will have courage in every situation

Grant me your love, so I will never give up on anybody

Grant me your wisdom, so I will show others the path to success

Grant me your mercy, so I will forgive those who have hurt me

Grant me your peace, so I will find the best in everybody

Grant me your hope, so I will never give up

Grant me your joy, so I will be thankful for all my blessings

And, grant me your grace so you will always be at my side
(David Bennett)

It’s definitely summertime now. Mostly 95+ during the days. I put the AC on for the duration.
Love you, praying for you, Richard says stay strong.

Grandma


Wade in the Water

January 21, 2013

This is from the bible verses of John 5:1-10.  There was a pool in Bethesda surrounded by five colonnades.  A great number of diseased, lame, or otherwise afflicted persons lay by the pool. At certain seasons, an angel of the Lord would go down and trouble, or agitate, the waters.  Those who made it into the waters as they were roiling, would be healed.

There was one paralyzed man who had lain by the pool for 38 years.  His physical state did not allow him to ever make it down to the pool in time to be healed. When Jesus asked him why he had been there so long without being able get in the water on time to be healed the man said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Now sometimes this verse gets the negative treatment. What’s wrong with this guy he can’t drag himself down to the water in 38 years. Everyone else can get down there. What a whiner, he expects someone to help him down to the pool. After all “God helps those who helps themselves.” Those people on welfare and food stamps, they should just get off the couch and go get a job. They’re just lazy and looking for a handout. All those kids with no health insurance. So what if that single-mom is working two jobs just to provide the basics. We shouldn’t have to pay for those kids healthcare. Certain politicians think the way to balance the budget is by cutting all human services programs.

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. After all, Jesus didn’t berate this man, he healed him. It’s hard to pick oneself up by the bootstraps if you don’t have boots. Sometimes it’s hard for us to ask for help as it can be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
The platitude that states “God won’t give you more than you can handle” doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help from your fellow humans as well as the spiritual implications.

It’s ok to give help–joyfully, and without judgment.  It’s ok to ask for help without guilt or supplication.

OK, that’s my rant for the day.


I Want to Go Home to the Armadillo

August 1, 2010

One of my favorite lines is “if you remember the 60’s (or 70’s) you weren’t really there.”  Well it seems plenty of us were really there and are remembering the Armadillo World Headquarters–that venerable music venue in Austin, Texas which was THE place to hear live music from 1970 through the early 1980’s.

Having been pointed in the direction of the ‘I Remember the Armadillo’ Facebook page by my brother Jack, I became an immediate fan.  I proceeded to spend way too much time reading the posted memories, checking out the list of bands and dates they played, and creating my own nostalgic musing. Since my downstairs neighbors worked at the Armadillo, and would put me on the ‘list,” it seemed I was there every time the doors opened.

Just about every band or musician you ever heard of and, some you hadn’t, played at the ‘Dillo.   Always the best audience, we gave a standing ovation for everyone—Ravi Shankar to Jerry Lee Lewis, Commander Cody to Frank Zappa, Freddy King to Boz Scaggs, and the list goes on.  The Armadillo embodied everything about that era in Austin, the music, the camaraderie, the wafts of smoke (you know what I mean).  But, it was definitely, first and foremost about the music for me.

So this weekend, I grooved to some of my old LPs, did a little dance and felt the love.

Listen to some good music this week.


Six Days on the Road and a Wedding

July 28, 2010

Let me say this right up front–I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than go on another road trip.

Here’s how it begins. Anticipating the impending marriage of our daughter, Maria, Richard–aka Hubby– decided we should drive the 1,200 miles to Minneapolis where the wedding was to take place.  This way, he said, we could bring his specialty dessert, Torte Maria, to be used for the groom’s cake. So the trip went like this:

Good first day, ate a wonderful dinner at the Two Frogs Restaurant in Ardmore, OK. Displayed on the walls was a fine collection of rock and roll musicians’ autographed guitars.  We sat under Johnny Winters’ Firebird! “This is not so bad,” I thought.

Second day, spent two lovely hours in Burger King in Somewhere, Kansas waiting for the Imodium to kick in. Got as far as Des Moines, Iowa for the night.

Third day, drove in the rain through the rest of Iowa. Survived a killer mosquito attack at a beautiful Minnesota rest stop.

Finally in Minneapolis, Hubby, Maria, and I plan to drop off the cake at the reception venue. Driving around lost for an hour, Hubby is holding a 25 lb. cake in his lap all the while the warning bell is going off because he can’t buckle his seatbelt. Phone battery died, so no Google maps.  Finally find the ballroom, hand over the cake and get ‘shortcut’ directions to our friend’s house from the manager.  Lost for another two hours, Maria finally goes into a bar and gets good directions from the bartender.

Friday wedding rehearsal at the Lakewood Chapel. The groom’s mother, who evidently never even heard of Emily Post, doesn’t introduce any one of the wedding participants, but proceeded to give us each our marching orders. “So, Adolph,” I say to the young man escorting me down the aisle, “how do you fit in the family?”  “I’m Scott’s boyfriend.” “Cool,” I say.

After rehearsal, six cars of folks caravan all the way across Minneapolis to a “surprise” restaurant for dinner. Surprise!!–wrong restaurant. After another hour of driving around, trying to find the right restaurant, Hubby and I decide to call it a night and go back to my friend’s house, which we actually find this time fairly easily.

Wedding day. The groom’s mother keeps calling me Maria’s mother, when I am in fact her step-mother. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but she does this in front of the real mother’s mom and sister. Geez, could things get worse you ask.  Pastor Jeff Cowmeadow (I swear that was his name!) did a simple, sweet ceremony, calling Jason and Maria “you guys” about a dozen times.  Maybe he was practicing for Scott and Adolph’s wedding.

Reception speeches were all by the groom’s family. They never even asked if we would like to say anything. And, for the pièce de résistance, the entertainment was an Elvis impersonator who only vaguely resembled a very young Elvis.

By this time, all I can think about is getting home. The next day at the airport, after the plane to O’Hare gets pushed back for the fourth time, I realize there is no way I can make my connection to San Antonio. Re-route to DFW, stay overnight in a hotel (American Airlines’ dime) and catch the morning plane to San Antonio; kiss my front door and collapse on the bed.

All that being said, I wouldn’t have missed the marriage of Jason and Maria for a perfect trip to Hawaii or anywhere.  It was the shining star that made the trip worth all the driving and other misadventures.

Oh, and if you are invited to a formal wedding–DO NOT wear Capri pants and flip-flops


Race Relations

July 16, 2010
Uncle Seymour Washington-The Walking Blacksmith

Uncle Seymour Washington-The Walking Blacksmith

Updated December 29, 2016: Found two old pictures, one of Townes and Rex, and one of me and my baby son Jack Berry at Unk’s place. 

The other day, I was wondering just what constitutes “family” anymore? It seems that in one or two short generations, the definition of family changed from a mom, a dad, and 2.2 kids to include ex-husbands, your kids, his or her kids and your kids together. Does a relative have to be blood or marriage related? Last Thanksgiving, I had dinner with my sister’s ex-husband’s daughter from his first marriage and her children. Can’t that be family, too? And now, on June 26, 2015, I add a family of two dads or two moms to the possibilities.

This post is a very late tribute to Uncle Seymour Washington, affectionately called Unk. No, not my “real” uncle, but a treasure of a man who adopted, like family, a whole lot of folks in Austin during a time in the late 60’s-mid 70’s.

A retired blacksmith, Unk had worked on many ranches in South Texas including the famous King Ranch. He was a simple but wise, peaceful, Christian man who opened his front yard and home to a motley crew of people–hippies, musicians, elderly neighbors, and more. I’m not sure how it all started. I am sure he did not understand many of us, but accepted us into his life and his heart with kindness and some of the best smoked chicken and sausage I ever ate.

Unk came by his home in the Clarksville area of Austin, just off West Lynn, by way of his ancestors. Clarksville was land originally deeded to freed plantation slaves after the Civil War. Most of the people who lived there were actually descendants of those slaves. The streets were unpaved and many did not have indoor plumbing.

townes-and-me0001-2Unk’s front yard consisted of a few wooden benches under a tree, a big wash tub for icing down the beer, a really big Bar-B-Q smoker, and an outhouse. There was frequently something cooking, guitars playing, kids chasing each other and the dogs–we were all feeling the love. Unk would hang out with us until he got tired or it just got too rowdy and then he would go in his little house and take a nap. His neighbors didn’t know what to think about all these white kids hanging around, but they finally warmed up and joined the gatherings when they saw we were helping take care of Unk.

townes-and-me0001-3

Townes Van Zandt & Rex Bell

Besides musicians like Joe Ely and Jessie “Guitar” Taylor, Townes Van Zandt always came by when he was playing in or around Austin. Heartworn Highways, a music documentary, includes the late, great Townes sitting in the Uncle Seymour’s kitchen singing “Waitin’ Around to Die” tears running down Unk‘s face.

When Unk passed, his “adopted” family, along with his one nephew, packed the Sweet Home Baptist Church for his funeral.

So, what is family? I like to think it is the human family, but, I am not sure we have all caught on to that yet. I miss Unk, I miss those days; but as humans, we keep on creating our own unique family relations. How’s yours?

If you were a friend of Unk’s, please leave a comment.

Also read my blog post “And we all shine on” about a March 2020 Townes Van Zandt Tribute in Austin. Flashbacks and fun. 


Random Thoughts of Love

February 12, 2010

Consider the word ‘love.’ Roll it around on your tongue like a piece of fine chocolate. Feel its velvety smoothness on your skin. Think how love makes you feel tingly, excited, passionate, euphoric… Sometimes love feels comfortable like your favorite cozy chair or safe like a parent’s sheltering embrace. When love goes bad, it can feel like an ‘achy-breaky’ heart.

Love is a ubiquitous human condition. Love permeates our entire existence from birth to death. It expresses itself in our literature, art, film, music, and religion. Love built the Taj Mahal and destroyed cities. Studies have shown teenage boys think of ‘love’ every 14 seconds or something like that.

Did you ever wonder how love and the heart became conjoined? Here are a few facts I found on Wikipedia: The heart was once widely believed to be the seat of the human mind.  Ancient Egyptians and Greeks and throughout the Bible, the heart was used poetically to refer to the soul. In the 15th century Europeans began stylizing the heart with its current shape to symbolize romantic love.

I have questions about love. When was the first word for ‘love’ uttered? Was it when Neanderthal man dragged Neanderthal woman into the cave for a passionate embrace?  If God is love, why does He allow all the bad stuff in the world to happen? Did Hitler love anything–ever? Do you believe “love is all you need?” If your family stinks do you still have to love them?  What is “tough love?”

So, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, my hope is we love one another, without boundaries or qualifications. Make ‘love’ the fuel that drives your life. Or like Homer Simpson might say, “mmmmm, luuuvvv!”


Destiny and Demolition

December 3, 2009

Whether you consider it fate, destiny, kismet or just plain luck, I venture to guess most of you recall where and when you first met your true love. Every day, as we drive down Broadway to work, my husband and I pass the place where we met—that derelict, graffiti-covered eyesore, once the home of Broadway Dodge.  In this building, as employees of a bustling, successful dealership, Richard courted me and won my heart.

Several weeks ago, demolition began on the property.  As the building was being dismantled, we noted its progress and reminisced. I was working in the parts department, surrounded by a motley crew of auto parts clerks and mechanics. I listened all day long to shop talk, drinking stories, and boasts of sexual prowess. Fresh from a painful divorce, I tuned them all out–including the quiet guy on the other side of the window in the warranty department.

An avid fisherman, Richard is an artist at tying fishing flies. In case you don’t know, fishing flies mimic bugs fish like to eat. Imagine my surprise as huge cockroaches and spiders began showing up on my computer keyboard. All the guys thought it was hilarious making the lone woman in the department squeal. Believe it or not, this sophomoric tactic worked and Richard and I began talking and taking refuge in each other.

So, almost 25 years later, the building is razed to the ground, but we are still standing together. Any married couple will tell you marriage is not a constant love-fest. With all the usual problems and trying to make that ‘blended family’ thing happen, it is often hard work.

So, what is the secret to a good marriage? You and your spouse may have your own, here are a few of mine: It is not necessary to share all the same interests. Appreciate and listen when your spouse goes on about their favorite hobby, even if you haven’t a clue–like fly-fishing. Try really hard not to criticize your spouse’s family. It OK for them, not OK for you. Be friends.

Next time you are together, take a few minutes with your spouse, significant other, partner… stoke that love flame and remember your first meeting.

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This blog was published by Alamocitytimes.com December, 2009