Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The light was bright, Papa T. had on a clean shirt and Mama J. had had her hair done that morning, so it worked out perfectly to take them on our way to dinner. I had only about a fifteen minute window of opportunity as that’s how long their patience lasts with posing when turnip greens and sweet tea awaits, but I worked as fast as I could and managed to get what we wanted.
No daughters-in-law were harmed in the making of these photos.
The whole time we were taking pictures, the loveliest patch of purple irises sat just feet away from me. They waved in my peripheral vision, screaming my name. “Ignore them, Hula. You have hundreds of pictures of spring blooms. You have overdone the flower thing. You don’t need anymore,” I told myself. “Get control of yourself.” And yet, they were there.
When we finished, Hubby started shuffling his parents to the van while I packed my stuff away. I had a “what if” moment and gauged how long I had to snap a couple of photos before everyone was loaded into the van and ready to go. “It’s a test, Hula. Don’t fall for it. Beauty shots are for amateurs. Hit the cemetery this weekend instead. Don’t fall into the flower trap anymore.” I packed the tripod, swung my camera around my neck and started walking to the car. “Don’t do it, Hula. Be strong. You can do this. Step away from the irises.”
And I couldn’t. I had to have just one.
*#%@ macro lens.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
However, last night I was reading online the rules for the arena and came across these:
Intoxicated Guests are not admitted into Bridgestone Arena at any time. If you see an intoxicated person enter Bridgestone Arena, please contact building security or Metro Police.
Frisbees and/or beach balls are not allowed
Patrons entering the Arena must be properly attired with shoes and a shirt. The items must be worn at all times in the facility.
And I said to myself, “Self, the folks at Bridgestone have no idea what’s about to hit ‘em.”
Oh, and Brother Dave? If you see me, say hello and don’t worry I won’t tell your parishioners where you were. What happens at Buffett, stays at Buffett.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Pronunciation: \ˈa-kyə-rət, ˈa-k(ə-)rət\
Etymology: Latin accuratus, from past participle of accurare to take care of, from ad- + cura care
1 : free from error especially as the result of care
2 : conforming exactly to truth or to a standard : exact
3 : able to give an accurate result
synonyms see correct
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
While cleaning out the corners of the old house last week, I came across a hanging bag. It held my high school and college graduation caps and gowns and my eighth grade graduation dress. Oh, prairie dress, I loved you so!
There was the maid of honor dress I wore to E.’s wedding, and can I just say my dark Coppertone tan complemented the yellow nicely that summer.
And the Piece De Resistance: My senior prom dress. Hello 1982!
It was the year of the southern belle dress, worn with a hoop. It was the year most of us girls barely fit into the car with our dates because our hoops took up the whole front seat. Parents liked those dresses because it was hard for a boy to paw their daughter in that contraption. Girls like them because they felt like a princess. Isn’t that the way with all prom and wedding dresses? By the way, my wedding dress is hermetically sealed in a box at Mama J.’s house. I kept it, too.
Anyway, I didn’t think it was fair to show you the dress without showing you the dance picture from 1982, so in honor of all that is puffy and sparkly, I give you An Evening in Paris teen Hula style.
Proof that I indulged in my own share of prom nonsense. And I’m hoping some of you will trudge down memory lane with me. I want to see YOUR prom pictures. Come on, post ‘em. You know you want to. And in case you're wondering I did try on the dress, much to Teen Angel's amusement. I could get it on, but I couldn't quite zip it. (Not that I really thought I could wear a junior size 5 that had been taken up on both sides of the bodice, but we all have to dream right?) It does appear I grew breasts after I graduated.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sometimes on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons I do get a chance to wander around the countryside for a couple of hours, looking for things to photograph. It’s during these times I’ve discovered the intricacies of the woods behind my house, the wildlife in the nearby wildlife refuge and an occasional cemetery or two tucked away in the countryside. I’ve also burned a lot of gas, and here’s hoping Hubby won’t be too annoyed when he finds a gauge sitting nearly on empty when he gets in the van tomorrow. I should have filled up on the way home yesterday, but it was getting late, and I had old folks to feed. Sorry, baby.
It’s not unusual for me to take a few hundred photos on these outings, and I always learn a lot while I’m doing it. Mostly, that I still have a lot to learn. Some things I’ve discovered along the way:
-Always wear something with pockets, preferably something that will hold an extra lens, lens caps and car keys.
-Keep boots in the car. There’s a lot of mud out there. And snakes.
-Designate at least one old pair of jeans as “camera jeans”. These should be pants that you don’t mind staining with mud, covering in stickers or ripping on barbed wire. Please do not ask me about the barbed wire. Oh, and it’s not a good idea to pick a baggy pair of jeans for this purpose. Don’t ask about that either. Please.
-Carry your cell phone and be aware of your surroundings. There are some weird people roaming around on back roads. Seriously weird.
-Watch where you step. There are snakes out there. In fact, my days of wallowing on the ground with my head in the mud in the wildlife refuge are over for a few months. Too many slithery things are out of hibernation. Something flopped into the water about three feet from my right foot Sunday, and I jumped out of my skin.
-If you are going to spend a lot of time in ditches, and I do, bug spray is your friend in warm weather. I learned this lesson the hard way as I am sitting here now covered in some kind of tiny bites that itch like crazy.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to revisit places. It’s interesting to see what time and a change of seasons does to your perspective. Remember this pond I shot last fall?
It sits just off the highway, and I see it all of the time. I often wonder why the property owner never moves that boat. Perhaps he does, and I just can’t tell, but I really don’t think it’s been moved in quite a while. I don’t really want to know the truth about it because my imagination is probably more fun than the real story. It’s my favorite little pond, and I have to wade through the weeds to get to the bank closest to the road. I try to get as close as possible while still staying on the public right of way, which is a little sketchy to be honest. (Another rule-don’t get shot by a gun toting property owner.) I didn’t think that pond could be any prettier than it was last October when the trees were ablaze in color. I decided to photograph it in all seasons, just to see what it’s like, so I went back in January when there was snow on the ground.
Still lovely, but the fall picture was still my favorite. I expected the spring picture to be nice but not as lush as the fall photo. I was wrong.
Spring may be my favorite now. It’s so ethereal and bright. I love it.
I can’t wait to see the summer shot, and I’m hoping that the owner doesn’t remove the boat now that fishin’ season is upon him. Even if he does, I’ve learned another lesson from that pond: Never assume and enjoy the surprises.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
From Raymond (the oldest boy):
I remember when we lived with Grandma M. One day she and mom got into it about something, and mom ran out the front door and said, “I’m leaving here." She went out to the road and then turned around and came back. (Grandma lived with her mother-in-law for twelve years.)
I remember going blackberry picking and getting chiggers all over us and putting kerosene on the bites to kill the chiggers. We used kerosene for a lot of things like when we cut a toe. We just put it in some kerosene, and it stopped the bleeding.
The first day in spring when we got to go barefoot, us kids running up and down the gravel road in front of the house to toughen up our feet.
How mom worked over a hot wood stove trying to can enough to last all winter, and at hog killing time she could make the best sausage I ever ate.
There was a tree at the school that the bigger kids used to swing on, and they wouldn’t let us smaller kids swing on it. One evening dad and I went down there and took a cross cut saw and cut it down.
In third grade our teacher was Leona H. She used to throw a rubber ball at us if she caught us turned around talking to someone. In eighth grade the teacher caught Calvin B. and I talking, and he made us get up before the school and sing. We sang “She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain”.
One day we kids were playing Annie Over, and I decided to bat the ball over the house. I thought I could really send it over if I batted it. I batted it right through the bedroom window. I knew I was gonna get a whipping before the glass stopped falling.
One time when Everett L. was staying at our house, he and I went down to the Casino Club. He got drunk, and when we came home he had a bottle and was trying to hide it underneath the porch where dad or mom wouldn’t see it. He crawled around all over the yard and thought he had it hid, but the next morning it was sitting on the walk, right in front of the door. I got in trouble for that, too.
I often think of growing up in the 30’s and 40’s and how simple life was then compared to today. Back then things were either right or wrong. Right was what daddy told us to do, and wrong was what he better not catch us doing.
The winter Jimmy was a baby, he and mom were both sick. I think it was the last day of school before the Christmas break, on the way home I remember passing the car taking him to the hospital. That Christmas the neighbors were all kind. I remember Miss Virginia bringing some gifts and Laverne S., a boy in the same class as Paul and I, bought Paul and I candy. Paul’s was hard Christmas candy and mine was chocolate drops. Laverne said his mother had told him that you always bought a girl chocolate.
Paul used to trap animals to sell their hides, and one morning before school he went to run his traps. He had caught a skunk. It wasn’t dead, and he got too close. When he got back to the house mom wouldn’t let him come in. She gave him a pan of water, a bar of soap and clean clothes and sent him to the barn.
Mom used to make Annabelle and I these long legged bloomers with elastic in the bottom of the legs. One time we had done something and she told us that she would have dad to spank us when he got home, so we went upstairs and stuffed our bloomers full of old clothes for padding. When dad got home he didn’t spank us right away, and we got tired of carrying around the padding and took it out, but we got the spanking later.
During the war, we had a battery radio, and we all loved to listen to the music and the programs that were on. When the battery started to get low then dad would only listen to the war news. On Saturday night we would listen to the Grand Ole Opry.
We didn’t have electricity until 1947. We had coal oil lamps for the house and lanterns if you went anywhere at night.
I came into this world on a warm July night in 1937. That was the year of the big flood, and they say one catastrophe follows another.
I bought mom and dad’s first television set in 1957, when I worked in Chicago. Daddy’s favorite western was Gunsmoke on Saturday night. I think I bought the first refrigerator from someone by the name of Claude. I bought it when I worked as a janitor at the school. I made twenty dollars a month, cleaning and building the fires.
Daddy traded a team of mares we had to Bud F. for a team of mules. Dad told him the old mares didn’t look too good. The red mule was blind. She ran over everything in the barn lot. Bud came back to dad about it being blind. Dad said, “I told you the mare didn’t look too good, in fact, she doesn’t look at all.”
Me thinks I know where daddy got his sense of humor.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
For two days we moved boxes, opened boxes and sorted through a collection of books, Christmas decorations, Teen Angel’s old baby stuff and stuff I like to call “Hubby’s s***”. While he’s technically not a hoarder, he does attach emotion to every knick-knack and what-not in our possession leading to more than one instance of me throwing something away and him digging it out of the trash. I’m all, “Purge, purge, purge!” He’s all, “Hey, that might be worth something.” It drives me crazy. By the middle of that second day he wanted to strangle me with that two foot section of rotten rope he took from his Aunt Leta’s farm when she died ten years ago.
At the end of the cleaning binge, we had a trailer full of stuff to donate to the Salvation Army, a trailer of trash bags (BIG bags), a pile of sellable items and some boxes headed to storage. We had also discovered some real gems we had forgotten we owned. It was quite the walk down memory lane. There was a journal I wrote to Teen Angel when I was pregnant, a box of keepsakes from high school including old letters and ticket stubs, pictures and Hubby’s grandma’s pistol (more on that later). One of the neatest things I discovered was a packet of family history facts put together by one of my aunt’s several years ago. It details daddy’s family and includes memories of growing up on the farm from him and his numerous brothers and sisters. It seems I got the packet at a family reunion, packed it away and promptly forgot about it. After a long shower the other night I sat down with a glass of iced tea and read it from front to back. It was wonderful, so wonderful I have to share some of it with you. There’s too much for one post. In fact, I could write a month’s worth of posts from the information in that booklet, but I will try my best to pare it down to a few posts. Before I do that though, there are some things you should know about daddy’s family.
Daddy was born in 1938, the ninth of ten children. Most of his brothers and sisters were born in the midst of the depression, the first child dying at childbirth. They grew up poor in a tiny community in southern Illinois nicknamed “Gabtown” because the community store was a good place for people to congregate and gab. They scratched out a living on a farm with rolling hills and great views. Grandpa raised all kinds of fruits and vegetables that he sold to people and used to feed his family. By all accounts, it was a hard life.
Grandpa was born in 1888 and died when I was in the fourth grade. I remember him as a kind quiet man who commanded attention when he spoke. Grandma was pretty quiet, too. She was one of fourteen children, many of whom died at childbirth or infancy. Letha Belle was her name, and I have fond memories of her biscuits and chicken and dumpling’s. By the time I was born, grandma and grandpa had sold the farm and moved to town. Daddy’s brothers and sisters had scattered across the Midwest, working and raising children of their own. It would take another thirty or so years before his siblings would start to retire and move back to their hometown. Many of them live near each other now. They are close and support each other in their advancing years. It’s amazing to me how well they’ve always gotten along and how happy they seem to have been growing up. When I look at pictures of them from their youthful farm days, I see lots of hand me downs and scuffed up shoes. They are thin and weathered looking but usually smiling. When I read their personal narratives from the family history book, I find mostly happy memories. Like people of their generation they simply made do with what they had. There were tough times. Uncle Raymond had scarlet fever. Daddy nearly died of pneumonia as a child and actually lived with the town doctor for a while because grandma and grandpa couldn’t afford his medical care. The old farm house burned when the kids were young, and they have vivid memories of that as most of them wrote about it in their narratives. But through it all they held onto each other and are still hanging on. Uncle Raymond died a few years ago of Alzheimer’s. Aunt Annabelle died of cancer in 1991. They are caring for each other in their old age, and I believe they will until the end. I marvel at their devotion to each other, and I share with you some of their memories in their own words.
From Aunt Mary, the oldest. She is 85.
I can remember Grandpa B. coming to see us and staying all night. I believe the last time before his death. He was in a buggy with big dark horses. The morning he left must have been in May or early spring. Raymond and I went out under the red plum tree across from the sweet potato house to watch them hitch up the horses. I remember how cold the dew was to our bare feet. Seems like he had on a dark suit and hat and he sat so straight with a whip in his hand for the horses. Mom said Raymond and I rode in the buggy with him out to the log house. I also remember when he died, someone sent us word and I remember Mom standing, looking out the window and crying. He died on January 18, 1929. I was four years old.
In the cellar were fruit shelves full of canned fruit for winter use and on the other side were the apple bins. Since we had an orchard the bins were always full if we had a good year. They were for our own use and to sell in the winter. It always smelled so good and lots of times at night, dad or Uncle D. would go down and bring up a pan full for snacking before bedtime. The cellar also served as a storm cellar in the summer time. Upstairs over the cellar was the smoke house where the winter’s meat was smoked and cured and put into wooden boxes. There was sometimes a stone jar of grape wine in the cellar and bottles of home brew. Since it was illegal to make, it was made at night by lantern light. This home brew was lowered down into the cistern with a dish of butter in the water bucket to get cool for dinner in the summer time, two bottles, one for dad and one for Uncle D. One time when Raymond was little he got into the brew and he wanted sideboards on his chair after he fell out. This was also the favorite stopping place for out of town relatives. Mom didn’t approve of the drinking.
In the spring, we ordered baby chickens through the mail and raised them in the brooder house. We usually had a hundred Domers, Plymouth Rocks, black and white speckled and white Leghorns. The roosters were turned into Sunday fried chicken, and the pullets were left for layers. The eggs were taken by wagon to Wilson’s Store in Karnak and sold, and the money was used to buy groceries. One time around Christmas, a red wagon was brought back and a couple of dolls. In the fall, the brooder house was cleaned out and Uncle D. always had a pile of black walnuts picked and put up in a corner of it. Lots of times at night Uncle D. and I would wrap up and go crack a pan full. We picked them out with a horse shoe nail.
There was a big blue plum tree just east of the kitchen between the house and the garden. There was a large garden with gooseberries and rhubarb in the center and grandma’s prized tiger lilies along the fence that was absolutely off limits to little feet and fingers. On the east end of the garden was an old log house where the family had lived before the new house was built. Mom said Raymond and I were born in that log house. Dad put the Model T truck there and one day when he was working on the truck, Raymond and I were playing around it and found two valentines. This was the first valentines I can remember seeing.
Grandma had a beautiful yellow rose bush. On the hillside on the north were black walnuts and locust trees where we played many days and had picnics. One day I found a little blue bird’s egg, and I picked it up to show Mom. Raymond chased me, and I ran into the barbed wire fence and split open my upper lip. I had to be taken the doctor and had two or three clamps put in it. (Days before stitches.)
When we had chairs that needed new bottoms, dad would always go into the woods somewhere and get tree bark and weave in new bottoms. I can remember the big flour barrel that stood in the southeast corner of the kitchen. It was covered with the dough board on which bread was kneaded and rolled out. The big wood cook stove with a black tea kettle and blue enamel coffee pot. No running water, no hot water, only in the iron tea kettle which was always full. A wooden box behind the stove held the wood.
I graduated from eighth grade at Gilliam School in 1939, and in the fall our house caught fire on wash day. Dad was gone, just mom and I and the little ones were there. Dwight B. and Paul A. came to help, and we carried out everything we could. I carried my hanging clothes out and put them on a stump too close to the house and they burned, but I also carried out my dresser drawer with my quilt top and other treasures. I remember Raymond and some of the boys came from school. Our barn also burned. Everything was a total loss. Paul and Dwight carried out mom’s sewing machine. (All of our clothes were made at home in those days.)
I remember a time when there was a big snow and ice and everything was at a standstill. Mr. Almus F. tied tote sacks on his boots and came across the field to see if we were alright (days before telephones). Then there was the time Raymond had scarlet fever and was really bad sick and Uncle Johnnie had a Model A car with windows skirts. He came and took him to the doctor. Dad’s truck had no windows or skirts.
Raymond and I often went to Farris’s to play, and one time we stayed a little too long and dad met us at the top of the hill. We had seen him coming and knew we were in trouble. Them limbs from the bushes sure did sting. It also taught us a lesson we didn’t soon forget.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I’ve always liked spring and the way it washes away winter’s bitterness, but this year I seem to have a better appreciation for the beauty and hope that it brings. Some of it may be due to the harshness of this past winter, and viewing it through the narrowness of a camera lens has certainly helped. But I think the biggest reason I am feeling spring so deeply this year is because of where I’m at in my grief over Sissy’s death.
April 21st will mark the first anniversary of her suicide. That’s one week from now. In recent weeks, I’ve tried not to think about that date much. It hovers in the back of my mind, though. It’s always there, running through my brain during quiet times. Like in the morning darkness when I’m walking the dog and the neighborhood is asleep. Or at night when I lay in bed in the room where she used to sleep. I rarely cry during those times. Mostly I just feel regret for the way her life ended and for the way our relationship withered near the end. I find myself sighing a lot during those times.
I can’t believe a year has already passed. Time has flown, but I’ve made a lot of progress in recovering from her decision to leave us. The tears only come when I stumble across a certain family photo or hear a particular song. There is a song we sing in church sometimes, Spirit Song, which makes me think of Sissy and choke up. The words in that song are the wish I held for her for so long before she died.
O let Him have those things that hold you
And His Spirit like a dove
Will descend upon your life
And make you whole
O give Him all your tears and sadness
Give Him all your years of pain
And you'll enter into life
In Jesus' name
It’s kind of ironic that we sang it this past Sunday.
Suicide usually leaves families asking why. Why did the person do it? Why wasn’t their family enough? I don’t have to ask why Sissy killed herself. I know why. She couldn’t stand the pain of losing her son. I’m convinced she started dying the day her son died. She spent nine long years trying to swim out of the grief and never could. She finally let the waves take her. That’s an answer I don’t have to search for, and for that I’m grateful. That knowledge allows me to move forward and keeps me from being angry about her decision.
A few months ago, someone asked me, “Don’t you wish you could have her back?” I can’t comfortably answer that because she’s at peace now, and she often told me she just wanted to be at peace. The decision to live or die was hers to make, not mine. I’m not condoning what she did. I just don’t judge her too harshly. I miss her with all my heart, but having her here in pain would be selfish of me. The reality is I had prepared myself for her death months before she actually died. It didn’t lesson the pain of her death, but it started my grieving process long before she jumped from that bridge.
Some of her behaviors in the last months of her life caused us to separate ourselves from her for our emotional and physical well being. That decision caused a lot of angry feelings toward us by other family members and we are still dealing with their anger. That is painful, but I do not regret our decision to stop enabling Sissy to succumb to the demons of her illnesses. In the past year I have accepted that I don’t have to have anyone’s approval for our decisions. I just have to live with the consequences. We simply try very hard not to say or do anything to cause any more pain to people in our family and avoid situations that might erupt in harsh words. I wish some family members would do the same. They don’t. I have a lot of conversations with God about this.
Suicide leaves a wide wake of pain in its path. It’s a unique grief. People don’t know what to say, so they avoid talking about it period. It’s a lonely grief. I’d say this branch of the Hula-gen’s has done about as well as we can with it. It has certainly accelerated Papa T.’s dementia. I worry about the lasting effects all of this will have on Teen Angel and we suffer from “always waiting for the other shoe to drop” syndrome. Once you’ve had a deputy at your door in the middle of the night, you tend to expect bad news all the time, especially when you have ailing parents. But all in all, we’ve done a great deal of healing. We can tell funny stories about Sissy and laugh. We can talk with Papa T. and Mama J. about some of Sissy’s worst moments without shouts or tears. And we work through each day with intensity and a newfound respect for each precious moment. That’s why I find myself driving home these days with the windows down, smiling and singing loudly I’m Alive over and over with Kenny Chesney.
And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin' in and out's a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah I’m alive, and well
The beauty in nature these days reminds me that I am indeed alive and well. I feel very alive. I am content in my love for Sissy and my acceptance of her death. Sissy always liked bright colors. I see her in that patch of tulips I run past each day. And I smile.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I was so excited I jumped up and stepped out of my shoe. This totally makes up for the fact that I have a new pile of moving boxes in the garage to sort and put away, Papa T. couldn't figure out which end of the fork to use at dinner Saturday night and Teen Angel and her BFF were in a fender bender this past weekend. (No injuries, exept to the fence.) Oh, and I ripped the elastic out of my under drawers when I was getting dressed this morning. Apparently, the shelf life of Hanes cotton high cut briefs is two years, eight months and 22 days. Who knew?