Thursday, July 30, 2009

It Simply Cannot be August Already

Whew! Is it nap time yet? No? Shoot. I was so looking forward to it. I figure you know you’re finally an adult when you WANT to take naps again. If I don’t get a nap soon somebody’s going to have to shove a cart under my butt and push it around ‘cause the cheeks are draggin’ baby. They’re draggin’ so low, they’re chapped. It’s been another whirlwind week around here, and it’s a good thing I don’t have to work tomorrow because I’m in desperate need of a day off. Some highlights:

-It’s been so crazy lately, I did not realize until Monday that the Buffett concert is almost here. One week from today, friends and countrymen, I will be swingin’ my grass skirt on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati to the tunes of Jimmy with about 22,000 other Parrot Heads phlocking together for phabulous phun. The tailgating party on Kellogg Avenue will be large and loud and is sure to produce some interesting pictures. It always does. After all, Cincinnati is Parrot Head Central. Also, we are staying at a hotel where hundreds of Parrot Heads have been known to tailgate. I’m in desperate need of some Margaritaville, so this little retreat comes at a welcome time.

I have a new addition to my costume this year. Aren’t these darling dahling?I bought them last Halloween and tucked them away for our annual Buffett road trip. How blessed we are to live in a country where they sell sunglasses shaped like martini glasses and no one arrests you for wearing them.

-Teen Angel has logged the required driving time in order to take her driver’s license test. She is scheduled to take is August 12th. That’s the day I’ve scheduled my nervous breakdown. I am so not ready for this.
-I put my underwear on wrong side out yesterday. AGAIN! That’s the fourth time in about a year. The really bad part is that it took me half the day to discover I’d done it. By the time I’m eighty, I’ll be forgetting to put my clothes on before I walk out the door.
-The dog and cat have reached somewhat of an uneasy truce. Sabrina doesn’t hit Jack in the nose if Jack doesn’t try to eat her food. They are now able to sit within three feet of each other. They still give each other the stink eye, but at least they’re not chewing on each other.
-Hubby and I are going to have to emotionally detach from our home during this selling process. The first lookers came over last night to check it out, and I felt so sensitive about it. After they left, I was all, “How could they not like the dressing room?” They were very kind, but I can tell this is not going to be easy.
-Remember when I told you about the overweight man I’ve seen jogging for months and how he started out walking and progressively got faster and skinnier? I said I’d like to stop him and congratulate him one day even though I don’t know him. Well, I got my chance. Hubby and I sat down at a restaurant the other night, and lo and behold, he was at the table next to us with his family. We introduced ourselves and had a nice little chat. He’s lost fifty pounds and runs seven miles day, four days a week. He, his wife and son were lovely people and we had a great time meeting them. I’m so glad I finally got to meet him, and it happened by accident. How cool is that?
-And somebody stand by with the paddles. Any moment now I should get a call from the flooring guy with an estimate on the cost of the hardwood for the new house. It should be good for a class A coronary or at least a few gray hairs. I’m gonna need some hair dye before this is all over.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everybody Into the Deep End

Ya’ know how I said things were finally settling down, and I wasn’t quite as overwhelmed as I had been recently? Well, the calm didn’t last. In fact, it didn’t have time to settle in before I ran it off. In a move I like to call the crazy dance, Hubby and I threw caution to the wind and decided to sell our house. And buy another one up the street. Never mind that the housing market sucks monkey toes for sellers right now or that we’ll have our current house paid off in a couple of months. Never mind that the last time we moved it was so traumatic I told everyone I’d rather be beaten with a stick than to move again EVER. Or that we are too busy taking care of two senior citizens in failing health to make a move, and we’re still trying to settle Sissy’s affairs. We’re doing it anyway, dadgum it. Get this, we’re buying Sissy’s house. I’ll take my straight jacket in a size small please, with brass buckles. And could I have a valium cocktail with that?

We have outgrown our house, and for the last few years we’ve talked about the day we’d buy a bigger home. We always assumed it would be after Mama J. and Papa T. passed away because living next door to them is ideal for taking care of them. In fact, it’s why we bought our house years ago. However, the space issues have really grown increasingly troublesome in the last couple of years. At least once a week I tell Hubby, “One of these days I’m going to have a house big enough so that I don’t bump my ass on the bathroom door every time I turn around in here!” There’s my old standby, “And just where am I supposed to put this? You know if we had a pantry….”
Or the old reliable, “We CAN’T move the bed because it won’t FIT anywhere else!”

Our living room TV is on a lazy Susan so it can be moved to accommodate the one and only furniture layout that will work in that room. I have groceries stacked on garage shelves. There are small cooking appliances I’ve given up because I have no place to put them. The only time of year we can have a party is summer and fall because the deck and backyard is the only place we have room for more than six people in our home at once. We’ve shuffled clothing in and out of storage each season because of too little closet space (thanks in part to my clothing addiction). And on days when school is in session, Teen Angel and I have Ultimate Fighting Matches over the bathroom sink, mirror and electrical outlets. There are times when I literally end up fixing my hair in the living room mirror because she and Hubby have taken over the bathrooms. Don’t tell anyone, but I have made promises to God that involved me getting my own bathroom mirror. And after months of bargaining, He’s finally giving it to me.

About a month ago, Mama J. asked us if we were interested in buying Sissy’s house. We were surprised, and our first reaction was no. It was very difficult for us to be in Sissy’s house after she died. The first few times I walked in there I felt as if she was standing next to me, especially when they were still searching for her body. It was all I could do not to run for the door. Hubby was the same way. Gradually, it got better, but it still wasn’t a comfortable situation. There are some very strong emotions attached to that house. We had a terrible time picking through her belongings and packing up her things. We were still in the midst of packing her stuff when Mama J. approached us about buying the house. We agreed it was a decision we could not make until the house was empty and we had had time to thoroughly think about it.

The house has been empty for about two weeks. In that time, we’ve pondered and debated the pros and cons, wavered back and forth and sought a lot of advice. We’ve been criticized within the family for even considering it since we were not on good terms with Sissy right before she died. We know there are people who will never understand our relationship with her or how we can live there. But the bottom line is this: The house fits our needs perfectly. It’s big enough, but not too big. We can afford it. We can grow old in that house without major renovations, and best of all we can still be close to Mama J. and Papa T. in order to take care of them as we promised them years ago. So, my friends, we are doing it. We’re buying the house. Critics be damned. We’re making this move because it’s the right move for us. The realty sign goes up in our yard this weekend, and the remodeling we want to do to Sissy’s house, I mean our house, begins too.

In the four days since we made this decision, we have talked to a carpenter, a painter, an electrician and the flooring guy is on his way as I’m typing this. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed again. With paint samples, lighting fixtures, furniture and all kinds of other choices that will make me want to pull my hair out in the next several weeks. I’m not sure I have the stamina for this, but I guess I’ll find out. Call us crazy, but we’re moving. During a recession. And a housing slump. And the busiest, most stressful time of our lives. We are doing it. We're excited. And as God is my witness I will never go without my own bathroom mirror again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hula's Photo of the Week-Comedy and Tragedy

We have some friends who have a daughter who is cuter than a bug's ear. And one night last week during bible school, she copped some attitude with mom. Major attitude. Dad was brought in to quell the situation, and he obviously came out on the good end of things. She did not.
By the way, that face last about a half hour. I still laugh when I see this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Feelin' Froggy

I’ve never particularly liked frogs. I don’t hate them, and I’m not scared of them. They just don’t have the appeal of a koala bear or a monkey. It could have something to do with the great toad shooting of 1977. Super Cop and I were playing with a BB gun behind the house when I shot a toad at point blank range. The toad died instantly with all four legs pointed outward at garish angles. The realization of how easily I took a life, albeit a toad’s, freaked me out, and I proceeded to wail and carry on as if I’d killed a real person. SuperCop was all, “Eh, what’d you think would happen when you stuck that gun next to his back?” And I was all, “I DON’T KNOW! I DIDN’T THINK HE WOULD ACTUALLY DIE!” It was the last time I ever had a desire to hunt something down and kill it. It may have been the last time Super Cop let me play with his BB gun.

Anyway, I’ve basically avoided contact with toads and frogs for the last thirty-two years. Until Saturday, when I met this little guy who changed my mind. This bright green fellow hopped into the yard, looking for a place to hang out.
Now, frogs and toads don’t usually look like this around here. They’re usually grayish brown with lots of warty looking bumps. This fellow was well….downright beautiful. And look at those cute little finger things. His green coat faded and changed to help him blend in with his surroundings as he moved around. And boy could he climb. He used those sticky little pads to climb right up the side of the house. Not having seen a frog like this in these parts before, we assumed he was some kind of tropical critter that someone released from an aquarium. But when we called our friend at the pet store, he refrained from calling us goobers when he explained it was probably a common tree frog. And it was. I did what any good blogger does in a situation like that. I Googled it, and sure enough, there he was in Wikipedia glory, the North American Green Tree Frog. It seems they are more prevalent in the south but live as far north as our corner of Kentucky. And with the news that Froggy needed a tree, my animal loving husband who’s always trying to rescue the critters that wander into our yard set out to catch him and move him to a tree. That’s when we figured out how high North American Green Tree Frogs can jump. And boy, can they jump. He jumped so high and so fast I couldn’t get a picture of it. To make a long story short, Hubby captured him in the wastebasket, set him free by the walnut tree and hoped for the best. I’m hoping he hangs around ‘cause he’s just so gosh darn cute, and I never thought I’d say that about a frog. Now the lizard on the back deck? That’s another story.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Word of the Day-Joy

Pronunciation: joi
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French joie, from Latin gaudia, plural of gaudium, from gaudēre to rejoice; probably akin to Greek gēthein to rejoice
Date: 13th century
1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion: gaity
2: a state of happiness or felicity :bliss
3: a source or cause of delight

Used in a sentence: For the first time since Sissy died in April I woke up today feeling truly joyful.

I'm not sure why. All I know is I felt like singing, dancing to loud music and smiling. I didn't walk around waiting for the other shoe to drop or worrying about what bad thing might happen next. I just felt good...really good. And that my friends, is a welcome feeling.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Breaking News

Our top story tonight? I’m glad this week is winding to a close. It’s been a hectic one, but good. We will wrap up bible school tonight and tear down everything, but I think we can safely call it a rousing success. A few observations:
-Parents, you have no secrets. You have no idea what your children share with their teachers when you’re not around, and you really don’t want to know how much we know about you or what we know about you. It’s best not to ask.
-This Little Light of Mine is the best church song ever. Why do we quit singing it when we become adults? It’s got a good beat, and it’s easy to dance to. I like the jazzy version we’ve been singing all week, but I LOVE Bruce Springsteen’s version that I downloaded from iTunes this week.
-We’ve managed to make it through this week with no major casualties. However, we have had an issue with people sticking pipe cleaners, fingers and other items in their eyes. Every night-an eye injury. What’s up with that?
-We are adding that magic puke dust to the budget next year. It’s that stuff you sprinkle on vomit that absorbs it so you can clean it up easily. It may be $40 for a small container, but in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.
-On that same note, vigorous games right after snack time are risky.
-The other item to add to our list? Bug spray. I sat down in the grass Monday night to take a few pictures of the kids. In the ten minutes I was sitting there, 16,981 bugs invaded my shorts and my shirt, apparently, in search of my underwear. I am the proud recipient of twenty something chigger bites, some of which are in places I can’t mention. Benadryl Anti-Itch is my new best friend, and if you happen to catch me scratching my backside, please let it pass.

In other news around the world:
-Special Delivery is now walking. Ha! His parents will never rest again. We have the cutest picture of him in Teen Angel’s phone. If I were smart enough to get that picture out of there, I’d show it to you.
-Papa T. has a machine from the Bureau of the Blind that plays books on tape. He uses it all day long and gets a little antsy when he can’t use it. Well, his old one broke, and the new one came in the mail yesterday. Hubby couldn’t get it to work either. He resigned himself to returning it, but Papa T. insisted that I come over after bible school last night to look at it. He believes that my seventeen years of working in radio and television makes me capable of fixing any electronic device. I had my doubts but was surprised to find that I fixed it. Turns out, Hubby had forgotten to plug it in. I would have looked like a genius if it hadn’t taken me about fifteen minutes to figure that out.

Well, that’s all the news for this evening. Join us back here tomorrow when we take a look at the latest economic figures and how they’re affecting our grocery bill, and we check the weather forecast to see if Hula gets to get in the pool. In the meantime, have a good evening and watch out for those bugs.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Fun Fact #971

For years Hubby’s family attended the World’s Biggest Fish Fry in Paris, Tennessee where they enjoyed parades, carnival rides and the main attraction, heapin’ plates of fried catfish. In 1961 Aunt Charlie thought it would be cute to dress Hubby and Cousin Hugh Allen in matching overalls and have Hubby push Hugh Allen down the parade route in a stroller decorated like a fishing boat with a fake fish hanging off of it. You don’t see Hubby in this picture because he was hiding behind the Ben Franklin, hoping not to be seen in his overalls, red shirt and straw hat. Is anyone else reminded of Mayberry when they look at this picture?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pass the Macaroni and Watch Out For the Plague

Bible school oh, bible school. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. We are headed into evening three of vacation bible school at church, and we are having a grand time. We’ve had a great turnout so far, even though we had a frog stranglin’ rain last night. It didn’t dampen the kids’ enthusiasm, and they’ve come from all parts of our community to participate. Janjanmom and mia sent their youngin’s over to party with us Methodists in the bayou, so I get to see Mookie and Lilly every night, and there are lots of other new faces this year. And cute little feet. Ya’ know, I’d wear those flip flops if they made them in adult sizes.

We’ve had no mass casualties so far. Just the usual mayhem that follows children. Little Brown Eyes poked himself in the eye with a pipe cleaner last night and Sir Jumps Too Much After Snack vomited The Plague snack mix all over the Pharaoh’s floor. There was the incident Monday night when Mr. Divulges Too Much stopped in the middle of gluing the wings on his glow stick firefly to look Teen Angel in the eyes and blurt out a rather graphic fact about his hee-haw. The best moment yet though, was last night when Mr. Giggles A Bunch pulled out his partial plate, showed us his three false teeth and proceeded to accidentally fling them across the floor. Imagine our surprise. He had no interest in washing them off before he put them back in his mouth, so I’m guessing he has a habit of doing this. He seemed very pleased that we laughed hard enough to wet our pants. Oh, the joy! Oh, the fun of working with children! I can’t even begin to count the number of times they’ve made me smile already. The fun should really ramp up tonight because I’m in the preschool room. Pray for me brothers and sisters.

All of this reminds me of the times I attended bible school as a kid. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but let’s just say we sang Kum-Ba-Ya and made tie dyed shirts. We also drank a lot of Kool-Aid. My favorite craft was an oval Chinette paper plate that I glued shell macaroni to along the edges, painted gold and attached a cluster of red rubber grapes in the center. I remember thinking that was the coolest art ever. Oh, the joy! Oh, the fun!

Trailboss mentioned one of her favorite VBS moments in the comments here earlier this week, and I love hearing that kind of stuff, so I’d like to hear from more of you. If you are a bible school graduate or worker, tell me brothers and sisters, what is your favorite memory of bible school?

And by the way, is it wrong that I managed to sandwich a post about panties in between two about bible school?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can I Get an Amen?


Whew. Now if I can just work out that whole underwire thing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hey Hula! Where Have You Been?

Well, I built a swamp, got a little older and ate my weight in crab legs. In my spare time, I executed a survey, did some research for a project and visited the merry land of odd known as insurance paperwork. I did not float in the pool. I did not make margaritas and I did not take a sunny nap in a lounge chair. Frick. Double frick. Double frick with two snaps and a swirl.

The last couple of weeks have been insane. Work has been unusually busy, and family life has been more hectic than usual. Throw in a little bible school preparation and my birthday, and I managed to create the perfect storm of exhaustion. I was so busy last week that I kept forgetting my birthday was drawing near. When Mama J. handed me her credit card and told me to buy something nice for myself I said, “What on earth for?” “Uh, isn’t Saturday your birthday?” “Great googly moogly, it sure is!” For a brief moment I was giddy. Then the power steering went out on the van.

Thank goodness, Teen Angel’s weekly chores include laundry, otherwise, the Hula-gen’s would all be going commando by now. When a teenager takes it upon herself to wash her own bed sheets because thinks they’re long overdue for a wash, they are looooooong overdue. And we haven’t been to the grocery store in three weeks. For a family who cooks most of their meals at home, that’s a long time. The milk in the fridge has an expiration date of July 14th. Every morning, for about week I have said a little prayer, given it the sniff test and poured it on my cereal. Fortunately, it’s skim so it’s watery and slow to spoil. Any day now it should be turning into cheese. The up side to not going to the grocery store is that we’re doing a fine job of emptying up the cabinets. We’ve managed to eat just about everything but some Lipton onion soup mix, a stray can of beets and an old gingerbread house kit. And frankly, those beets are looking better every day.

In the last five days we have boxed up the remaining contents of Sissy’s house and sent them to the auctioneer, loaded up some of Mama J.’s stuff she wanted sent to the auctioneer, spent about three of those days decorating for bible school and negotiated several standoffs between the cat and the dog. I completed a couple of labor intensive projects at work and started planning for another. I ran a race Saturday morning and had to move up an age category. I was a full two minutes slower than I was the previous Saturday, which I found highly amusing. Saturday evening we took time to eat at my favorite seafood restaurant, where I poked down more crab legs than should be legal and yesterday Mama and Daddy visited with birthday cake in tow. I finally sat down last night at 9:15pm and marveled at how fast the weekend went. When I woke up this morning worrying about the week ahead, I said “Hula, something’s got to give. You need to make some changes, girlfriend”, and I did.

I did some list making and some prioritizing, set a few immediate goals and let go of a couple of items. I worked through my short list today and hope to work a little farther down my long list tomorrow. And while that list looms large and long, I expect this will be a good week, and I will greet Friday renewed. Ya’ know why? It’s bible school week, and I love bible school.

Heading up the decorating committee is usually my job, which I enjoy, even though it’s labor intensive. It’s always the one time of year I can justify to my parents all of those theater classes I took in college. I like to create an atmosphere that wows the kids when they walk in the door and makes them excited to be there. My wonderful, tireless partners in swamp building have prepared a set that I think the kids will like.
And the bayou theme looks like it’s going to be really fun. It’s been a while since I’ve had a little one in bible school, but I love to help because the kiddies make me smile, smile, smile. And somebody with sticky fingers is always trying to give me a hug. And somebody with a peanut butter grin will say something funny and blow milk through his nose. And somebody will wait until the last minute to pee and make me dash with him to the potty. But most of all, they will remind me time and time again how good it is to dance and laugh and sing off key regardless of whose listening or watching. They will teach me how to see wonder in the smallest things, and they will warm my soul for five full days. And that my friends is worth two snaps and a swirl.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chock Full of Nuts

It seems like everything I read these days has some kind of lesson about taking time to enjoy the little things and having an appreciation for the beauty that is put before us every day. I will admit I have a habit of racing from one task to the next without enjoying the journey. I’m trying to do better. Lately, I have made a real effort to enjoy the sunsets I see each night when I’m running. Why, I even counted the chips in that big cookie I ate this afternoon. It’s not easy for me. I’m a diehard multi-tasker. However, as my friend Randall says, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

On the weekdays Teen Angel works until closing time at the bakery downtown, I have about thirty minutes to fill between the time I get off work and the time I need to pick her up. My job is literally about a minute and a half from the bakery, so it’s a short drive. It’s a great time to take a few pictures but not a long time, so I usually end up scouring the same two block area around the bakery for photos. I’ve been doing this for weeks, so it has become a challenge to find new stuff to photograph there. However, just about the time I think I’ve picked that area clean, I stumble onto something else. This exercise forces me to explore details and things that seem average but really aren’t. It also teaches me to see with new eyes things I’ve been looking at and looking over for years. I’m discovering that beauty and art are everywhere. It’s certainly in nature and in architecture, and occasionally it’s deliberately placed there by the skilled hands of someone who had a vision, waiting for someone like me to stumble into it.

Yesterday, I tripped over this:

Handmade tiles which cover the front of a restaurant that closed a few years ago. I’m not sure what the artist’s inspiration was, but I like the results. I’ve walked by this building dozens of times, but yesterday was the first time I really NOTICED it. Hundreds of colorful tiles, each one a little different and each one a burst of rainbow. Each one beckoning me to marvel at their color and to enjoy the journey I called Tuesday. Acorn anyone?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Softly and Tenderly

The strangest things make me cry. My husband and daughter laugh at me sometimes for the way I tear up at things that aren’t the slightest bit sad, like when the preschoolers sing at church in the spring or someone sings the national anthem on TV. It’s a little embarrassing, but I can’t seem to control it. I think it’s because tears, for me, are an expression of many emotions, not just sorrow. My heart seems to be attached to my tear ducts, and the slightest sentimental squeeze sends them into action. It happens at the most unexpected times, and this past Sunday was one of those times. Are you ready for this? I welled up because we sang out of the Cokesbury hymnal in church.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, and many of you probably are, the Cokesbury hymnal was a staple in many churches for decades. First published in the 1920’s, it’s the only songbook many of us grew up with and is as much a part of the Methodist faith as a good potluck. It’s a slim book that contains all of the “old” songs with catchy tunes that were written from the heart by folks like Fannie Crosby (Blessed Assurance). Songs like The Old Rugged Cross, Rock of Ages, Softly and Tenderly and I Love to Tell the Story. Years of standing in my patent leather shoes wailing away to the tune of an old upright piano laid those songs on my heart and burned them into my brain. And I’m not the only one. I’d bet my left arm that there are several people in my church right now who could sing just about every one of the songs in the Cokesbury book without looking at the words. While it’s long been replaced with other more modern hymnals in many churches, the Cokesbury songbook still lingers on many a pew and gets pulled out every now and then for old times sake, which is what happened at my church Sunday.

When my eyes started to well up on about the second verse of the first song, I immediately started searching for the reason why. During the offering I sifted through the pages, smiling at the familiar titles. I realized the power of the memories I have attached to those old hymns. A lot of those memories involve my grandmother, and she’s been on my mind a lot lately. She’s been gone nearly twenty years now, and I seem to miss her more as the years go by.

Grandma and Mama

Grandma B. toted Mama to the local First United Methodist Church when Mama was just a baby, and Mama carried on that tradition with me and my brothers. Usually, we attended the church’s little chapel near Grandma’s house. Grandma didn’t drive, so most Sundays found us swinging by Grandma’s house to pick her up on the way to church. If it was Mother’s Day we stopped long enough to cut roses from her yard to wear on our lapels. White for Grandma because her mother was dead. Red for the rest of us because our mother was alive. Not too many folks practice that tradition now, but it was pretty common when I was a kid. So was wearing a lily corsage on Easter, which I still do when I can find one. Mama used to always bring a corsage to Grandma on Easter. Grandma loved flowers, especially her roses and her Mock Orange bush. When she passed away I asked for a cutting from her old white rose bush, and it blooms in my yard every May.

When she sat down in the car, I looked at her shoulder to see what pin she was wearing. She always wore a pin, and often it was a rhinestone flag that Mama’s brother gave her as a gift when he was very young. Sometimes it was a pin Grandpa sent her during World War II. Sometimes she wore dress gloves. She often carried a handkerchief in her purse, and she always wore a headscarf. Grandma didn’t have much money, but she dressed in her nicest clothes for church. We would bounce off to the chapel a few blocks away and scatter to our Sunday school classes when we arrived. If I was lucky, it was my turn to pull the rope that rang the church bell. Our pockets held a few dimes and nickels that we were expected to put in the Sunday school collection plates which were usually little plastic churches like this.

When I grew old enough, I got to collect the little churches, count the money and post the total and the attendance numbers on the chapel wall. I took the responsibility very seriously.

There were Christmas programs, chili suppers and vacation bible school. Daddy drove the church bus, so sometimes there were bus rides around town before and after services, picking up elderly ladies in nursing homes and kids whose parents didn’t attend services. There were Easter egg hunts and races to see who could find bible verses the fastest. I won many a pencil that way. And there was always music from that little hymnal. I’d swear we sang Mansion Over the Hilltop every other Sunday.

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder, we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold.

Our piano player, Mrs. Rush, was an elderly widow who liked to play ragtime, and she was well known for picking up the pace of the hymns we sang. I’d give a $100 to hear her play again. I liked the Sundays when Ollie Pucket and his wife visited and sang for us. They introduced this sheltered little white girl to spirituals and improvisation, and I liked it. It made me want to dance.

Sunday after Sunday, year after year we went to the little chapel, saying hello and goodbye to some dear preachers and dear friends. Grandma was always there, singing those old songs, taking steps in her own spiritual walk and unbeknownst to me, laying a foundation for my faith. I can only hope I’m half the person she was. Despite her poverty and many trials, she was good. Really good. I don’t remember ever hearing her say anything bad about anyone. She was kind, gentle and forgiving. I have many memories of her standing in the kitchen making her special turkey and dressing or sitting in our kitchen chair while Mama gave her a perm and color. But some of my best memories of her are standing beside her in church as the strains of those old hymns tickled our ears. Which is why the feel of that leather hymnal in my hands Sunday and the songs within its covers put such a squeeze on my heart. I miss you, Grandma, but you’ll be glad to know some of us are still singing In the Garden every now and then. Some of us still wear a rose on Mother’s Day and a pin on our suit when we dress up. And some of us take our kids to the little Methodist church on the corner.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Because Nothing Makes You A Pet Owner Faster Than A Little Guilt

We have a new pet. I hadn’t planned on a new pet, but I got one anyway. And it’s a cat. I’m not a cat person. I’m a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, I love most all critters, but I prefer the kind that love you unconditionally, beg for your attention and live for the opportunity to please you. Not the kind that are aloof and want things on their own terms, which is how most cats strike me. However, I just couldn’t say no to this one. It’s Sissy’s cat, Sabrina.She is without a master, and Teen Angel is terribly attached to her. She is the kitty Sissy got not too long after my nephew died, so there is some emotional history with this cat. I didn’t have a chance did I? I might as well have “sap” tattooed on my forehead. From the day Sissy died, I suspected Sabrina would end up in our home. We left her at Sissy’s house, visiting and feeding her every night on her territory so as not to traumatize her any more than she already is by Sissy’s absence and all of the packing and moving going on in the house. I kept saying we would eventually figure out what to do with her when everything settled down, but my gut was shouting, “Ooh, pants on fire.”

Sabrina’s about eight years old. The odds of her being adopted from a shelter are slim since she’s not a kitten and is definitely set in her ways. I feel an obligation to Sissy to make sure Sabrina is taken care of, and I couldn’t stand it if kitty was euthanized. And she just wants to be loved and yadda, yadda, yadda and blah, blah, blah and isn’t she sweet and can’t we please keep her mom I promise I’ll take care of her and on and on and on with the kitty talk until I relented. Hubby tried to resist, too, but he’s a bigger sap than I am when it comes to animals, and he actually likes cats. So here we are, adding another critter to the fold which already includes a dog and a dozen fish, but I have to admit she is lovely. Teen Angel got Sabrina a new tag with our address the other day and took her to the vet for a well check up, which I guess means she is officially ours now. She is warming up to us fine with the exception of the loudest member of the house.And she wants no part of him. In fact, she smacked him hard Saturday night when I took him to Sissy’s house and was prepared to do some real damage to his head until I put him back in the truck. It’s going to be a slow process, introducing those two. He wants to be friends. She wants to kill him. We’ll keep trying, dragging him down there each night….while we feed the neighbors’ two dogs and cat because they’re on vacation. And because I couldn't say no to them either. Sigh. Have I showed you my new tattoo?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer fun and staying cool is the theme of this week's Fun Monday assignment which comes from the lovely Janis.

Since the Lazy Hazy Days of summer are upon us now, tell us what activities you enjoy doing outside and how do you stay cool. Share some photos of both if you wish.

The humidity runs thick in the Ohio Valley, so things can get pretty steamy and sticky around here in July and August. Heck, sometimes it's sticky in May. You have to work at trying to stay cool. The Hula-gen's work hard, but they like to play hard, too. Each summer, we usually take a couple of trips to amusement parks and water parks. We love Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. It has wonderful rides, the water park is fantastic and we never ever feel ripped off when we go there. They have free sunscreen and free drinks. It's just a great family friendly place. We also like King's Island in Cincinnati and make a trek there every summer with the church youth group. Hubby and Teen Angel are there this weekend. Some years we take a vacation in the summer. Other years we wait until fall break in October. This year, we're going to Destin in October, and I can't wait. Florida is so stinkin' hot in July that we opted for the cooler and less crowded fall break this time. Most weekends, we simply vacation in our backyard. We are fortunate enough to have a pool, and we like to use it. Teen Angel splishes and splashes. Hubby and I float. We go round and round and round in our floating chairs. I read and he naps, which is what he was doing when I took this picture recently. It's the best way we know how to stay cool in the peak summer months.

We also garden. We have 53 tomato plants this year, and they are really blooming right now.

We've picked a few small tomatoes, and they should really start coming on pretty soon. There's nothing cool and comfortable about gardening, but we do enjoy it.

One of the other things I enjoy in the summer is races. We have several 5K races in our town between April and October, giving me ample opportunity to be reminded of how slow I, I mean to see how well my weekly running sessions are working. We had one yesterday, and I was a little concerned that it was going to be miserably hot. It wasn't because it rained.
And rained.And rained.And rained some more.Oh, hello young man with the nice calves.

They delayed the race for a little while and when the lightening stopped and it became obvious the clouds weren't going to pass any time soon, they lined us up and we ran in the pouring rain. All 3.1 miles. We were soaked. The poor folks who were walking the course were absolutely pruney by the time they finished. I've been caught in the rain while running before, but my feet have never been this wet. Fortunately, I had packed extra clothes, shoes and a towel when I left the house, so I eventually got somewhat dry but not before I spent a full three hours standing around in the driving rain. And guess who was there. Jerry, from The Biggest Loser. He seemed like a really nice fellow, and while he could have finished at a much faster pace, he stuck with the walkers in the back and talked with them and encouraged them. Classy.

The clouds really opened up during the youth race. Those kids got pounded, but they didn't mind. You know kids, the wetter, the better.

What is fun about racing in the pouring rain or blistering heat you ask? I'm not sure I can explain it. It SEEMS like torture to run your legs off all week just to see how far you can push yourself on a Saturday morning when you're not likely to win a prize and if you do it's a cheap trophy. There's just a lot of satisfaction in trying to stay healthy and trying to hang onto a shred of athleticism as you get old. Of keeping your competitive spirit alive and always trying to make yourself a little bit better than you were the week before. Of course, floating around in pool is just as fun. And a whole lot easier. Which is what I'd be doing right now if it weren't RAINING...again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not That Anyone Asked...But

-After months of fighting with his gall bladder, daddy surrendered his belly to the surgeon this morning and finally had his gall bladder taken out. The value of Tums and Rolaids stock is likely to drop with news that their business will drop off about 30% since daddy won’t be chewing those tablets like Chiclets anymore.
-I am amused by hospital patients in their gowns who drag their IV and wheelchair outside past the no smoking zone to smoke a cigarette.
-I learned today I shouldn’t go to the farmer’s market before work because I polished off most of my newly purchased cherry tomatoes by 9am while sitting at my desk. So much for tomatoes with dinner.
-A fellow I worked with in radio many years ago shot and killed himself this week. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew and was an absolute joy to work with. It makes me sad, and I can’t believe I’ve been touched by suicide a second time this year. We just never know what’s going on in the hearts of others, do we?
-My husband and child left at 5 o’clock this morning for King’s Island in Cincinnati with the church youth group. I rolled out of bed at 4:30 to drive them to the church. I drove there in my pajamas and was glad I didn’t get pulled over. Great Gertie, I’m cranky at 4:30am!
-I’ve made this church trip many times, and I usually end up riding all kinds of scary stuff that eventually makes me puke, so I opted to stay home for Mama J. and Papa T. duty. The beauty shop and Cracker Barrel, here we come!
-I don’t care where Michael Jackson’s body is now. I don’t care where he’s buried. The media can move on to more important issues as far as I’m concerned. However, I will admit I am curious how much that gold casket cost. My Aunt Mabel, who was a funeral connoisseur and took great stock in the quality of a casket, would have been very impressed with the Jackson family’s selection.
-Hey, Sarah Palin! Quit wearing makeup when you go fishing. It makes you look vain and ridiculous. And please, quit pretending like you don’t know what your immediate plans are.
-Did you hear the one about the guy who posted a song on YouTube about United Airlines breaking his guitar? It’s hilarious. If you need laugh, check, check, check it out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hula's Picture of The Week-Corn Bred

I'm dying to know how this stalk of corn managed to germinate and grow in the pavement of one of the busiest roads in my city.
Is this what they mean by no till farming?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Family Fun Fact #62

In 1970 Hubby’s sweet little cousin, B., got married in a small church in the country forcing her bridesmaids to wear big hats and the best floral dresses evah!Someone please call Martha Stewart. I hear she’s missing some tablecloths, and I think I found them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look Ma! No Hands!

I have this friend, Sunny, who will be a senior in college this fall. She was one of Sissy’s fourth grade students a long time ago and now goes to Yale. She’s a smart cookie, that one. She just took the LSAT last month, and I suspect she’ll be turning the judicial world upside down one day. Right now, she’s all study, study, study and work, work, work, which is understandable given that she wants to graduate. However, all work and no play makes Sunny a serious girl. And she’s always trying to take care of someone else, which is a nice quality, but she’s a college student for goodness sakes, and this is supposed to be the time of her life. Being around her and other college students always reminds me of my college years. That was such a wonderful part of my life; having a good time, working hard and trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be. I just think everyone should have an opportunity when he’s young to sow some oats, grow up and get all of that partyin’ and playin’ out of his system so he doesn’t wake up in his forties, wonder what he missed and start shedding his spouse and children in search of a good time. I think everyone needs some time to find himself through adventures. If I were doing my twenties all over again I’d be more adventurous and see a little more of the world. I’d take odd jobs in foreign countries and the Caribbean in order to see the world, and then I’d settle down with a family and a “real” job.

Back in the winter, I told Sunny to make the most out of these college years. See the world, I said. Grab the tiger by its tail. Sow some oats. Live it up while you’re single and free. You’ll never get this time back, so use it while ya’ got it. And apparently, she is. Great Gertie! When that girl decides to do something, she does it up right as daddy says. She went and jumped out of a plane this weekend.

She sent me some pictures yesterday, and they made my head spin just to look at them. And my heart soar. Look at the curve of the earth! And the smile on her face..eventually. Way to grab that tiger, girl. And can I say I'm just a tiny bit jealous.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Flags I Found on the Fourth..and a Couple of Fireworks

Have you ever tried to take a picture of a flag flapping in the breeze? It's harder than catching a live turkey on Thanksgiving.