Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cover it up

Spring, glorious spring is here in a big way. It has been unseasonably warm, 80 plus degrees, for several days. The Bradford pears are in bloom, wild onions are in the air and the mowing has begun. Old man winter has been licked again. Beaten into submission and locked away for the next several months. Hot dang! The jackets and pantyhose are being relegated to the bottom drawer, and I don’t have to wear real shoes anytime soon. Can you say pedicure? I can’t dig out my shorts and t-shirts fast enough. Hubby and I were walking through Walmart the other day, rejoicing over the wonderful warm weather when he made the profound statement that “The only down side to summer is that some women are compelled to dress like that”. He pointed to a woman at the jewelry counter, and I practically shouted “Amen”. The 40-something woman was, as my southern grandmother used to say in her passive aggressive way, somewhat fleshy. She had on duck shorts, you know, two inches below the quack…a tank top about three sizes too small, a belly ring and 16 million tattoos down the side of her leg. Hello! When you are 40 plus, no one wants to see your belly (unless you’re Halle Berry), even when it’s slim and trim. They don’t want to see your saggy boobs (unless they’re a middle school boy, in which case they want to see any boobs), and a belly ring just looks stupid on you. Pu-lease! Do not let me see the cheeks of your butt. Ladies, let’s make a pact that we will dress for the warmth this year, but not like we’re going to the corner strip joint.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Welcome to The Club

What a busy weekend! I had a three day weekend that felt like 1 ½ days. No rest for the wicked, I guess. I spent a full day with my mother-in-law shuttling her to a beauty shop appointment and other errands. Her frailty is a constant reminder of where she is in life’s journey. Every day reveals a task that she and/or my father-in-law can no longer do because of their age and failing health. Recently, I began to accept the fact that we have begun the long goodbye. I hope it’s a very long goodbye, but I now realize they have begun the last leg of their time with us. I hope their journey is without pain. I hope we have the patience and wisdom we need to care for them in the best way possible. And I hope that among the tears and frustration we are likely to encounter there are plenty of laughs and smiles. My husband and I are official members of the “sandwich generation”, and it’s not a fun club to be in. I have always used my writing as an emotional release. However, I’m torn about how much I should write in this column about the long goodbye. It may be a little too painful to put on cyber paper, and yet, it could be helpful to share. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it some more. If any fellow club members have suggestions, I’d like to hear them. Do I hear a motion to adjourn?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Oh The Places You Will Go

I am finally rested up from our trip to Washington, DC. Whew! Wrangling two buses of middle school students for a week is tough. Overall, though, they were pretty well behaved. I was especially proud of them for maintaining absolute silence during the changing of the guard and wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Ceremony. Who would have thought so many teens could be so still for so long? It was an event filled week with a lot of walking and sight seeing. There is history on every corner of DC and so much to do that you can’t do it all in one week. I absolutely loved the city and all of its history and politics. I hope to go back in the next year or two and see the sights I missed this time. It sounds very hokey, but I truly feel like a better American because I’ve visited our nation’s capitol and learned so much more about my government. Most of the museums in town are free, so you can come and go as you like. There is tight security in each building and you can speed up your entrance into these buildings by leaving bags at home. I recommend carrying only money, an ID and sunglasses. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to get through the metal detectors. Also, no gum is allowed at many of the facilities, so you’re better off to do without it. For those of you interested in visiting, here is my assessment of the tourist spots there:

Washington monument-Visible from EVERY corner in DC. Make the trip to the top of the monument for a great view, but pick up your free tickets for the elevator ride at the beginning of the day. That way you can visit something else nearby (Treasury Dept. or Holocaust Museum) while you wait for your designated tour time and don’t waste your “waiting” time. Also, they give out only so many tickets per day.

Lincoln memorial-Check this out at night. It’s beautiful then. Ditto for the Jefferson Memorial. The other war memorials are fabulous and should be seen, but I recommend seeing them at night too. They are just so much more impressive in the evening, especially the Korean War memorial.

Capitol building-Very cool building. The tour is very interesting.

White House- I would have been disappointed if I had stood in line with 20,000 tourists in the hot summer sun to see this one. You get to see only a few rooms. It was much more fun taking pictures in front of the White House and learning lots of great facts about the building and its operations/history from our tour guide. I highly recommend tour guides. They really do enhance the visit. We did see the presidential dogs being walked on the lawn and Dick Cheney’s motorcade while we were standing there. That was kind of fun.

Library of Congress-Do not miss this building. It is probably one of the most beautiful buildings in the country, if not the world (on the inside) and most folks don’t know that because you just don’t hear about this building. It’s free. Take advantage of it.

National Archives-Many of the exhibits are interesting but you should go just to see the original copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Emancipation Proclamation and Magna Carta.

Franklin Roosevelt memorial-Would have been only slightly interesting without the tour guide. The guide made it very interesting.

Arlington Cemetery-A must visit place. Learning about the intense training and precision required for the changing of the guard before you go makes it so much more interesting. As you stand on the steps and face the tomb of the unknown, sit on the far right for the ceremony. This is the best seat in the house for watching the fascinating movements of the soldiers. The ceremony is very impressive, and the cemetery is striking. If you have small children, do not visit during a time when they are likely to be tired or cranky. Some parts of the cemetery require silence.

Smithsonians-Fascinating places that hold everything from Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers to Lincoln’s stove pipe hat. There are several, and you will want to spend plenty of time in each. Allow a minimum of one day for this. You may want two or more days if you are a museum/history buff and like to take your time.

National Holocaust Museum-My favorite stop of the trip. The permanent exhibit at this museum is well thought out and highly effective. It’s a fabulous exhibit. My 14 year old daughter and her friends truly enjoyed this museum. It’s a heavy subject, but you emerge from the building having learned an incredible amount of information. Even if you think you know all there is to know about the Holocaust, you will be surprised at how much you will learn at this facility. If you have limited time in DC, put this one near the top of your “must see” list.

Ford Theater-the place where Lincoln was shot. There is a museum below the theater that holds the pillow he died upon and other artifacts from the assassination. The bed in which he died can be viewed at the boarding house across the street. I did not get to visit the theater, but others in my party did and said it was VERY interesting. I hope to visit it the next time I’m there.

Also, make a point to drive by: the Kennedy Center, Embassy Row, the Watergate Hotel and the Washington Cathedral. Whatever you choose to see, just go, go, go to DC. It’s a fascinating place.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Goodbye Uncle Bill

We buried my Uncle Bill yesterday, and words can’t express how sad I am about his passing. My dad comes from a very large family, so I have lots of aunts and uncles, but Uncle Bill was my favorite uncle. He spent a lot of time laughing. He used humor to relieve stress and dissolve anger. He always had some kind of corny joke to tell, and I always fell for them. He loved it when you teased him back, so our relationship was full of taunts and practical jokes. In fact, the last time I saw him we were cutting up on the back row of Miller Funeral Home just before my Uncle Raymond’s funeral last fall. Only he could make me laugh during a funeral.

He loved the guitar and spent his younger years playing in bands in local honky-tonks. My aunt Katherine tamed his wild ways and stood by him for 56 years, raising 4 great kids and a passel of grandkids. He called her “that old woman” and said it with such love that it was never an insult, just an affectionate nick name. He loved so many people that everyone knew him as “Uncle Bill”, even those who weren’t related to him. I think the whole population of his hometown turned out at the church for his visitation. Near the end of visitation a transformer blew outside the church, putting the whole church in darkness. I can’t help but think he had a hand in that. One last practical joke.

He was always doing a good deed for someone, never asking for payment, never seeking praise. Just doing what he thought was the right thing to do. He found religion somewhat late in life. His relationship with God began when he was doing volunteer mechanic work on a church bus, and a little boy invited him in for services. Eventually, his music playing moved from bars to barnyard bands. In his later years, he often played and sang in church, always singing the old hymns and always calling his selection of the day, “the preacher’s favorite” no matter what song it was. He often cried while he sang, a sign of his heartfelt faith. He burned many a gallon of gasoline driving to nursing homes to sing for old folks. He spent hundreds of hours fishing with buddies and kids. I never saw him angry, never heard him say a bad word about anyone and never heard him use bad language. He was a special man, and I will miss him.

We buried him on a hill in a small 250 year old church cemetery, overlooking rolling farmland and woods. I like to image that he’s strolling over rolling hills in heaven, laughing with family long gone before him and pulling a prank or two on those around him. “Hey, Peter! Have you ever seen a catfish? You have? Well, how was he holding the pole?” Goodbye Uncle Bill. I will miss you. We will ALL miss you.