Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

I have always loved Thanksgiving. Most of them have been crisp, cool days with lots of sunshine.
The first one I actually  have a clear memory of is from the very early 80's which would put me at about 6 or 7 years old.

We were at my Grandparent's house at the lake. I don't remember much, but I do remember all of us sitting around the long table which came standard with my Grandma's vinyl tablecloth and tall, white Tupperware salt and pepper shakers.

I asked Grandma for the sweet potatoes. I despised them and she knew it. But it wasn't the sweet potatoes I was after, it was the mountain of fluffy white marshmallows on top! They had the perfectly toasted peaks and looked like something you would find at a campfire. Grandma was on to me and insisted that I could not scoop just the marshmallows, I had to also scoop (and eat) the sweet potatoes. Well that put a bit of a damper on things but I did it. I ate them and enjoyed those delicious marshmallows on top.

As I got older my mom, brother and I would spend time at my Aunt and Uncles house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was always a good time. My Aunt had a hair salon in her basement. My cousins and I would play in there fixing each others hair sometimes. Or we'd play with their baby dolls or Strawberry Shortcake playhouse.
On the dinner table was always a feast! My aunt made the same rolls each year. I found them delicious and fresh tasting although she always thought they "turned out wrong". Another thing she always made was Broccoli Cheese Rice or green rice and it was divine.
My Mom's famous tradition was Watergate Salad. It brings joy to my heart right now thinking of her Watergate Salad. She made it every year and I always ate so much of it. When I grew up and started my own Thanksgiving dinners I always made it. But now I make it for Christmas dinner instead.

By 4th grade I was living with my dad. He comes to my house for dinner now, but back then rather than a dinner at home, we would always make rounds visiting family and friends.
I loved when we would go to my Aunt  Joyce's house. Her husband was my Dad's big brother and they had 8 children. I could barely keep track of all my cousins names but I did enjoy seeing them. The food there, oh, heavenly. My aunt made a Thanksgiving feast like no other. When you walked in the home where they raised their 8 children, you just felt love and smelled turkey! My favorite thing to eat was her homemade Chocolate Pie.

As I got older, my Dad had a few different relationships with some really lovely ladies. Jo is one near to my heart and some of my best Thanksgiving memories are at her Mother's house. Her name was Ruth and she was like an angel just beaming with light and love. We'd spend all day at her house and her meal was outstanding. Her home was so lovely. There was a formal living room and then a wood paneled family room with orange shag carpet. I remember feeling so cozy curled up in that room after eating turkey dinner. It felt like home to me.

When I met my husband in July of 2000, who knew that Thanksgiving would be such a sacred holiday to us? That November I came here to Arkansas to visit him. It was my first time seeing the state that would soon become my home.
We had our very first Thanksgiving together during that trip. It is a memory so dear to my heart, my eyes are filling with tears at this very moment. To think that after that we have built such a life together. So full of tradition, family and holidays. He cooked a turkey for me that day and has done so every year since! No wonder I fell madly in love with him and moved here to be with him just a few months after that.

Each year got better and better. Our first Thanksgiving together after that was in our little trailer house. We took pictures that day on a disposable camera. I cherish those photos because they capture all the little things that my mind has forgotten. I love looking back on that time in our lives.
We ate our dinner on the fold out card table my Mom gave us. It wouldn't be long before we started a family to add to our Thanksgiving days.

My  husband had a very special tradition of his own. He would call his mom every year on Thanksgiving morning around 5 a.m. for turkey cooking tips!  She would advise him on how to cook the turkey to make it perfectly moist and delicious. He loved those phone calls with her.
One year we were living in an old farm house. His mom came  for Thanksgiving and stayed a whole week with us. She shared many recipes with me. We loved to cook together and I don't say that about....anyone! I usually want to be all alone in my kitchen. But with her, it was different.  On a past visit she brought her Kitchen Aid mixer with her and taught me how to make Divinity for Christmas. This Thanksgiving with her was special because little did we know, it was the last one we would have with her. She went to Heaven less than a year after that very lovely Thanksgiving visit.

Each Thanksgiving now is a little different, and a little better. Now days, our home is filled with kids holiday artwork and paper chains. The whole week before Thanksgiving is spent tweaking the menu, shopping for ingredients. Baking pies. Pulling out my recipe cards and mulling over them with joy in my heart.

Thanksgiving to me is more than an American holiday. It is about love. It is about memories. It is about family.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I didn't learn about God in school. Thank God.

I wasn't taught about God in school. I was taught math, science, english, typing, cooking, sewing and physical health and activity. I was also taught how to drive a car, write a check, balance a checkbook, live on a budget and even care for children!

As a highschool graduate from the class of 1992 I feel quite blessed to have gone to school the years that I did. I strongly question peoples motives when I hear them complain about God being taken out of our schools. They say they want God put BACK into school. Well in my experience, God was neither taught in my school, nor taken out. God was in my life no matter where I was.

I learned about God from my family, church (when I went), friends, life, the bible. I am thankful the bible was not taught in my school. Government funded religion? No thank you. Learning about the bible via a government curriculum? No thank you!

I am here to tell you today that I am thankful for the things I learned in school and I am sad that kids today are not being taught how to live. Just live and survive. Just the basics. They are being taught that the only way to survive is go to college. They are being taught that answers are no longer in books in the library, but rather they are on google. They are being taught that money is what will make you survive or succeed and the only way to get money is through education.

I'm sorry I strongly disagree. Stop right there, please before you come unglued. I am not talking about you. I am talking about me. If college was your lot in life, I understand. It was not mine so please don't tell me I am a failure because I did not go to college.

The truth is, the subjects in school that I use the most in my life and always have are the following: Typing. Home Ec. Checkbook Balancing/Budget Making. Cooking. Health Class. Drivers Ed. Phys Ed.

Those are the things that I use daily. Every day of my life.

So, that is what school taught me. Here is what I learned about God from the sources I listed above. God is not gone from anyplace. He is wherever you are. If you say God has been removed from our schools, then please tell me when His word was ever taught in public school. If you then tell me it was back in the earlier centuries, I will then tell you I refuse to believe your ideas about reversing backward in time. We have come  a long way....Thank GOD!  If you say God has been removed from the pledge of allegiance, please tell me exactly what school did that.  Because all the schools in my state still say One Nation Under God.

As bad of a student that I was, the memories of school that I value, cherish, treasure and USE are of my cooking class, my sewing class, my typing class, my home ec class. I wouldn't change a thing. They taught me exactly what I needed to learn. Maybe that is not enough for some students, but it was plenty for me.

You are free to believe whatever you choose. But you will not be allowed to desecrate MY truth. And my truth is that school taught me to take care of myself, even if I didn't have lots of money.
My family and church taught me the word of God and to rely on Him, even if I didn't have lots of money.

I beg you to ask yourself, honestly,  do you really feel the schools are failing because they are not teaching God? Or is it possible they are failing because they are not teaching kids the basic skills of survival?
No need to answer here as you already know how I feel and a differing opinion will not sway me. I am simply putting out a new thought in the world. You may take it or leave it.

God bless.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Inspired by Savannah & Taylor Swift

I awoke this morning to the soft sounds of rain. I looked out my window and where the sun should have been, there were dark storm clouds. Perfect blogging weather!

Opened up my facebook page where I saw the normal uninspiring reposts, complaints, but also some good mornings and cheerful statuses. It's always a mixed bag.
Then I saw some posts from my niece, Samantha. I always perk up when I see what she is up to in the big wide world! (She and her sister are kind of amazing)

She was posting photos of her evening at a Taylor Swift concert she attended with her cousin, Savannah. The photo that brought a tear to my eye, yet a smile to my heart was one of little miss Savannah, teary eyed as Taylor took the stage.

You see, I didn't much care for Taylor Swift when she first hit the scene. That was until a few years ago when I learned that little Savannah liked her music so much. I say little Savannah, when she is actually a young adult, but will always be little Savannah to me. I don't see her often and I'm sure she thinks of me as just another grown  up. But she has a heart of gold and I figured if she loves Taylor, then Taylor must be a good seed.

Taylor Swift has so far been much more sincere, talented and inspiring than many of the people I looked up to when I was growing up. The musicians and actors I adored were always drunk and on drugs! When I became an adult, enter the world of Vh1 and learn all about the turmoil and chaos in their lives, usually created by themselves. When I started learning the private lives of so many of my "role models" I was startled. I really didn't want to know these bad things about the people I admired. It was a rude awakening but of course, a lesson to be learned.

I learned that I need to be careful of who I allow my children to consider role models. I don't find that too difficult actually. I am their role model. Their father is their role model. Their grandparents, etc.

I have taught them that celebrities are never, ever to be their role models, but they are just as important as role models and I'll tell you why.........INSPIRATION. Being inspired to do good things, amazing things, difficult things is so important. They might encourage you to become something really great in life. Something a role model might not inspire you to do.

When I think of my children, my nieces and nephews and sweet Savannah, I hope I am able to be both, role model and inspiration!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Grandparents + Summer = memories of love

My Grandparents account for just as many of my childhood memories as my parents, if not more. There are so many things I still want to ask them, but it's too late. Mostly, though, I would thank them for giving me so many treasured childhood memories. There is  much I would like to share with you about them but I'll stick to one topic at the moment....The Lake.

My Grandpa was a hard working man. Original, fun and old school. I like to think I get some of my good traits from him.

In the early 70's he moved my Grandma and himself down to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. He built  a marvelous house right on the lake.

The first thing you notice is the incredibly steep brown gravel driveway. Even further up the hill sat a top of the line above ground pool which served family and friends for several decades. You could either walk down the hill back to the house, or, you could slide down the metal slide my Grandpa had installed directly into the ground next to the pool!

From the wrap around deck on the house you had a view of the sparkling lake. There were concrete steps leading down to the lower area that met the basement. That outdoor space provided many bbq's where my Grandpa made the best brisket I've ever had! You could hang out with him at the bbq or you could step further into the backyard and play some horseshoes. Better yet, you could step right in to the basement that had a full bar (for grownups) or a keen air hockey table.

Back up top, walking through the front door brought you immediately to the 1970s kitchen where my Grandma prepared all the meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for hungry Grandkids. If you went to the left, you would walk into the open dining room and living room area which was quite large.

The dining room table was a long rectangular shape that could seat at least 10 and was always covered with a patterned, vinyl tablecloth and retro Tupperware salt and pepper shakers & sugar dish. In one corner there was a little nook that was home to their shiny percolator and all the coffee supplies. At the end of the table stood a magnificent hutch full of vintage china and over the years, collected anniversary items. (They were together just shy of 50 years).

The living room had bright red carpet! The divan, as my Grandma called it, was very long and lasted all the years I can remember. That is a long time compared to the quality of today's furniture. There were always little throw pillows covered in crochet cases made by my Grandma. The coffee table was full of candy dishes with hard candies that we were allowed to eat any time we wanted! I do not think there was ever a time that there was not a jar of peanuts on the table as well.
Next to my Grandpa's recliner sat his end table, complete with T.V Guide and always a little bottle of iodine to heal raw little toes of grandchildren after long days in the swimming pool.
Against the far wall was the step up area with fireplace and door leading down to the basement where my Grandma did all the laundry.

From the kitchen into the hallway there were 3 bedrooms and a "back room" Sometimes we would sleep in the bunkbeds in one of the rooms or we would sleep in the back room that had, not an attic fan but a fan built directly into the wall. They seldom had to run the AC thanks to that fan. Just off the back room was the door to the garage where my Grandpa taught us how to clean fish (I do not remember now). There also was a refrigerator dedicated to beer and an array of generic soda's for us kids. Any kind you wanted, black cherry, creme soda, root beer and all the classics!

I grew up spending time and holidays with the family at the lake. But when I got to a certain age, something pretty great happened. The 4 of us Grandkids got to go spend two weeks of every summer down at the lake. The memories from these trips have lasted me a lifetime! I could write an actual book about all of them. Maybe I will someday. But today I'll just give you a little taste of how wonderful it was.

Our trips always began with our Grandparents picking us up. They drove four hours from the lake to Kansas City to get all us hooligans. Many years they picked us up in a Winnebago. I think you already know my passion for Winnebagos! I'm certain the reason I love them so much is purely sentimental. We had a ball riding down in the Winni. After a certain time though, my Grandpa switched to a more economical vehicle. A station wagon. The trip down was still fun.

We had the same routine every year. We'd stop at this old school fast food place and order cheeseburgers and fries. Once we got into Eldon we stopped at the grocery store and loaded up with snacks, soda's and food for the week. My Grandpa always made sure we had a nice juicy watermelon too. Some of the best I've ever had! The grocery store is still there. It's called Gerbes.

Once at the lake it was free reign. We usually spent the first few days just settling in, but then we got our groove.  My Grandpa was ALWAYS the first one up in the mornings. He would start his percolator coffee and let my Grandma sleep in. He was so happy to see us when we woke. He'd greet me with a hefty GOOD MORNING AMY LYNN!!! Then he'd ask me if I wanted doughnuts or some type of cereal, like Raisin Bran.  Sometimes we'd wait for Grandma to wake up and she'd make us bacon and eggs.

After breakfast  it was directly into the pool, and usually all day! If we were not at the pool my Grandpa would take us out on the lake in his Pontoon or bass boat where we would ski or fish. Sometimes we'd just walk to the dock to fish. We would take extra long walks up to the mailbox which was very far from the house.

Usually during the middle of the trip, he'd take us all to Bagnell Dam. We would walk up and down the strip enjoying the sites and playing fun things like skeeball or bumper cars. I loved the tshirt shops in the 80's, they were so fun and neon prints. Then he'd always make sure we got to see at least one show. I'll never forget the Presley family show. Got my picture taken with "Elvis".

By the end of our two weeks together, I didn't want it to end. I wish I could tell you every detail but there are just too many years of details to tell. Years and years of loving memories.

I miss them so very much. Those days are long gone but not forgotten. Everything changed when my Grandma passed away in the mid 90's. Then sadly my Grandpa passed away just a few years ago right before Christmas. I took it really hard. It was the end of an era indeed.

But as my Grandpa always said "Death is a part of life".

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

David & Susie

I moved in with my Dad just before the start of 4th grade. It was the early eighties and things in my little life were looking up!

Across the street from our house on N. Jackson,  lived a family that included a boy my age and his older sister. Their names were David and Susie.

David and I were in the same grade at school and we became fast friends. We did everything together. We walked to school together every day and even cut through some woods to get there. Something I would never let a child do today! Whether it was  walking to the gas station to play arcade games, playing hide and seek outside until dark or just hanging out in his room upstairs, we had fun together all the time. It was innocent, it was pure and it was really sweet.

The hours we spent in his room included activities such as playing Atari, listening to records or cassette tapes or our favorite thing to do which was use his tape recorder.  We would create movies and record them and have so much fun listening to them afterward. Sometimes we  would push fast forward and record at the same time which would, on playback, make your voice sound just like Alvin and the Chipmunks!

I was also very much intrigued by his older sister. She was older, taller and had the coolest 80's hair! By the time David and I started middle school, Susie was in highschool. I loved to hear her talk about the crushes she had on boys. I loved to watch her curl her hair. She curled every strand on her head. It wasn't quite yet the 80's teased style that was gigantic. It was more like the evolution of Farrah Hair. Meaning she would create ringlets all over her head and not quite comb them out. It was very soft looking and a beautiful brown color.

David and I never really got into trouble together but we did like to try and play tricks on his sister and she did not like it one  bit! One time while over at my house  we put ketchup on my leg and layed a steak knife right next to it. He then called Susie on the phone and in a most frantic voice begged her to come help us! Well, when she got there, we were laughing hysterically.....she was not at all amused.

But times changed. I was after all a growing girl going through puberty and hormones which made me...well, frankly, unpleasant. David was always there for me if I needed him. I see that now. But the older I got, the less I was there for him.

They eventually moved to a different neighborhood and we ended up going to different highschools. I have ran into so many people over the years, but never David. Man I would love to catch up with him and talk about old times. It's not very often that I can look back on the boys in my childhood and realize how respectful they were to me. Most were not. He was.

I did have the wonderful pleasure of finding Susie on facebook a few years back. But sadly, she has since passed away. She was still so very young and vibrant and I don't even know what happened for sure. I just know that there are so many more things I would love to talk to her about. So many more things I would love to reminisce about.

I often wonder if David thinks about our childhood memories. Those years we spent together, being so much in each others lives, are now just a moment in time. Moments that have come and gone. But I will never forget the fun we had. The years that he was my best friend, are some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

Thank you David, wherever you are.

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Country Stroll Down Memory Lane

I have told you in a past blog about the first time I ever heard Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. What an amazing moment in my life. Such a short, sweet memory that was so intense that I can remember it vividly. Where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, the scenery, everything!

The top 3 country albums (cassette tapes actually)  to impact my memory bank the most are some that I will love forever, even though some of them take me to a dark time in my history.

Time travel with me, if you will, back to 1990 when I was sweet sixteen. I had a wicked crush on a boy from school that drove a Camaro. We had  fun together, a lot of laughs.  He was however, a bit of a  heartbreaker....my heart anyway.
He was  in between bouts with his own girlfriend of hot and heavy turned hot and cold every other day, it seemed. I was the one on the sidelines. But the short times we did have together, I'll never forget! 
There were lots of good tunes on the radio that year and I listened to all of them, but I had one cassette that I played constantly during that tempestuous time. It was Tanya Tucker's album Strong Enough to Bend.  I knew every word to every song from beginning to end. I always played it while I was getting ready for work at Showbiz Pizza Place, now known as Chuck E. Cheese (sadly). I would sit at my lighted  mirror in my basement bedroom of wood paneling and faux wood carpet (yes!) and blare Tanya's  music while curling my hair.
My relationship with this boy would last into our 20's but we were never exclusive, nor were we ever consistent. We would sometimes go years without talking. But when we got together it was like we never left off. Alas it was always over as quickly as it began.
I don't look back sadly at those times. It gave me my first real taste of angst, longing and heartache. Those are good things when  you are young. I'll pass now days, but you get my meaning I hope.
I can't hear Tanya Tucker without thinking back to those times in my life.


Fast forward a few years after highschool. I graduated in 1992 and had been in a relationship with a boy soon after the one I just told you about. It was a rocky road from day one because we were not meant to be together. I know that now, I just didn't know it then.  I hung on, thinking things would get  better. I had no idea that the sooner I broke free, the better my life would get. Which it did but it took me years to do it.
Even more than heartache that I had felt from other boys in my past, this one caused great heartBREAK. Very different. It wasn't a fun, achy, longing type. It was down right brutal on my  heart.
During this very dark time, I also had a lot of fun. I was, afterall, growing up! I drank too much, smoked too much, partied....just entirely too much. And it was a blast. But amidst all of it, I was also hurting deeply. I was so lost and I didn't know how to get myself out of it. I eventually figured it out but in the meantime I dove into music, as I always did.
I had 2 cassette tapes that I listened to non stop during some of those times. One was Tim McGraw's All I want is a Life. The other one was a George Jones greatest hits album with the song He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Unlike the Tanya Tucker songs, when I hear these songs now, they take me back but to a dark time. I don't like the feeling they give me. I'm slowly getting reaquainted with the songs and learning to love them again but it is not as simple as you might believe.
 When I hear the Tanya songs, I get lost in my own mind, a fun place. But these others are taking me a little longer. Even after all these years.
Of course we all know that I am a very happily married woman these days. I have been deeply in love with my husband for almost 13 years now (and counting). Memories are so deeply embedded in my mind though. Some I can just never forget. Some I can even recall certain smells, the day of the week, was it sunny or cloudy. So many details are remembered.
Even more profound than my memories themselves are the songs I connect them to. Songs are POWERFUL!! 
I am thankful for music. All the heartaches have led me to the most amazing places. And the music along the way, well, simply marvelous.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hello Paradise City....we meet again.

Music and books were the number one influence in my life from the time I was a small girl, to present day. People are becoming more and more inspiring to me but when I was a kid, that was not the case. People regularly disappointed me. But music and books.....NEVER! They were always there for me.

Today finds me thinking about one band. Guns N Roses. My relationship with that band's music is a long one. Starting all the way back in 1987 when I was 13 years old. And just a little reminder....I was not a pleasant 13 year old! (Sorry Mom & Dad)

I remember the first time I ever heard/saw a Guns N Roses video  on MTV back when it was king. Welcome to the Jungle came on. I was hooked the second I heard the music start and Axl stepped off the bus in the video. My eyes and mind were nowhere else, they were simply glued to the tv.
No other band  sounded like them at the time. None.

After that I immediately had to own the cassette tape. But I really didn't need to since the album was being played virtually on repeat on every radio station I listened to. I remember spending the night with my friend Lara one night. Her mom drove us to White Castle, you know, to order like 20 cheeseburgers, and we heard Mr. Brownstone on the radio. Lara and I were just jamming, we didn't care what the song was about. Her Mom then informed us that the song was about heroine. Our 13 year old minds were like...no it's not! No way man, you're crazy. Guess who was right? Not us!

That didn't stop me from being a fan. If anything, it inspired me to learn more about them. Fast forward to Highschool. My freshman year, my best friend in the whole world was named Chad. He was a few years older than me but we lived in the same neighborhood. He picked me up for school every day in his classic Mustang. We did nothing but have fun together. One night we went to a party. I remember this party because I had a crush on one of the boys there. I don't remember who it was now but I remember the feeling I had that night. The party was dimly lit, everyone was drinking from a keg. I had braces on my teeth and my hair was huge! Of course someone was playing the Guns N Roses tape and my heart was racing and anxious over this boy! What a sweet feeling that was.

Next thing you know, there is a concert coming up. Not G N R but rather Ozzy Osbourne. It was now '88 or '89 and we loved us some Ozzy. Chad and I didn't have money to go so we put up a collection in the smoking area at our highschool. (Yes we had a smoking area! So wrong but at the time, so right!) I remember exactly what I was wearing that day. I had on a black Tshirt. The logo and writing was hot purple. It was the cover of the Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhodes tribute album (another one of my obsessions at the time) We begged everyone we knew to give us money so we could go to this concert. And they did! We had enough money to go.  So that evening we met up with a bunch of friends at the townhouses where many of the kids from our highschool lived. We all set out to go  have the time of our lives to see OZZY! There was a convoy of cars and Chad, another boy and myself were at the end of the line, I believe. We were riding in his Mustang. What song was on the radio? Paradise City by Guns N Roses. I mean we were jamming so hard. Next thing you know the song is at the very end when it's just going crazy and we get cut off by a semi truck and slam into a guard rail...............The details after that are not so pleasant. But don't worry, we all survived and are still friends to this very day!

After that, I still loved my Guns N Roses. But I could never, ever, ever, ever, EVER listen to Paradise City again. UNTIL................Last Saturday night. Almost 25 years later. Last Saturday my husband and our friends went out to celebrate my 39th birthday. We are all sitting at the table, laughing, listening to music and enjoying our time together. Then what song comes on? Paradise City. At first I tried to escape, as I had done so for years and years. I always succeeded at turning the channel or leaving the room. But this time was different. I couldn't just get up and leave, or turn the channel. My husband looked at me and we all sort of panicked for a hot second. Then something happened. I said I'm ready. I'm ready to hear it. I want to make this song my bitch!!!!!!! And I did! I sang it, I jammed to it and now I love it all over again.

This is just one more reminder to me that if you are able to face the pain of your past, you will be so free. What an amazing feeling! Here's to you Guns N Roses....THANK YOU for the memories!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Photographs and Memories of Payless Cashways

When I was a little girl in the late 70's and early 80's, there were a few things that I REALLY loved to do. One thing was going to see my Dad play music. He was (still is) a drummer and I loved it when I got to go see him play. I got to go to wedding receptions, pig roasts and even bars! Settle down it was different back then, it just was. Besides, where do you think I learned all my mad Pac Man skills?
But the other thing that I loved to do was go to my Dad's work. Oh the years and years of memories I have of that place, Payless Cashways. It was a lumber yard that no longer exists. But in it's prime, in the very early 80's it was a magical place, to me anyway. They were like a family there! They worked together, played together, partied together. It was fun. I'm sure it had it's drama like any other place, but through my eyes it was marvelous!

As soon as we would pull into the parking lot I'd get so excited! We would walk in the doors and be greeted by the wonderful cashiers who I thought were the coolest chics on two legs. I loved their hair, their clothes and their personalities!

Next we would usually do a lap around the store, saying hello to everyone. They thought I was the cutest little thing (or so they said) and I ate it up like candy! After a lap around, we would enter a doorway that led to the break room and offices. The break room usually had a few yard workers and store workers. I always wondered what they were talking about with each other. Maybe their Payless softball team, or maybe who is dating who, or maybe what party they will go to that night. I was intrigued! The offices were totally awesome I thought. Typical late 70's early 80's wood paneling on the walls, rotary phones, REAL typewriters, and energetic workers who did a lot of paperwork!
  


After a pleasant visit inside, we would head out to the lumber yard where we would chat it up with some of the coolest dudes in the Kansas City area! They were manly, they were tough but they were fun! They worked hard and seemed to really appreciate and love their jobs. I had a few crushes over the years, I must admit!




As the years went by I got to see who dated who. I got to hang out with these people at softball games, summer get together's at our house, Saturday Night Live parties, the Renaissance Festival! Some of these people are in my life still. Christi is one of them. She is one of the funnest people I've ever known and the kindest. She watched me grow  from a little girl, into a wild teenager and now into a full grown adult, mother and wife. I love her so very much. When I was little she would sit with me and play People's Court. She played Judge Whoppner and would tolerate me saying let's play again, over and over and over! This is her beautiful smiling face flashing up her peace signs.

I am quite positive that many of these wonderful Payless workers do not realize the impact they had on my life. It was profound. They taught how to live, love and work hard! They proved to me that there are a lot of good people in this world. They don't realize that they grew up with me. I think about all of them so very often. It is REALLY a wonderful part of my history and who I am today. And none of it would have been possible if it weren't for my Dad, pictured here in the store. He started off in the yard. He (and all the yard workers) worked in rain, blazing heat, icy cold. He would come home with icicles on his mustache! Then he worked his way into the store. Head of departments and then to the home office where he began training new store/yard employees.  Spent the last half of his 20 year career there until one day it was all over. It was hard for him, obviously. But not just the loss of income, security, etc. He lost a comradery that I am sure he has not felt since. A family that seemed torn apart. But I am positive that he, like me, has many many MANY fond memories and nothing but endearing love in his heart for Payless Cashways.











Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Babysitter's Club

I recently posted a not so fun photo on my page. It was a real photo from a real vintage magazine in which extreme racial injustice was occuring. I posted it with a dose of fact and a side of opinion. Someone then suggested, condescendingly,  maybe I should consider a name change because "marvelous" memory didn't seem to fit with what I posted. In which I replied that to me, knowledge IS marvelous. The truth is marvelous, even when it's ugly.  Dealing with painful truths can bring about marvelous healing! So the things I share with you today in my experience with being babysat, are to serve a purpose. Maybe you will see the point, maybe not. But I do have one, I promise!

When I comb through my mind rolodex of former babysitters I have some memories that make me cringe, and some that make me smile.

The earliest babysitter I can recall was just before kindergarten. This was probably the worst experience I had in the care of a babysitter. I cannot bring myself to share all the details but I will share what my heart is strong enough to allow. I don't actually remember my  babysitter, believe it or not. It was a woman but the people I remember are her husband and their kids who were all pretty awful to me. I remember one day the older kids lifted me up on a clothesline and ran off. I was very small and scared to let go  so I held on, screaming until I finally dropped. I was fine  but I knew then and there I could not trust them. Things got worse after that with the children and especially the husband. That is where I will leave it.

After that, I had one that was again, pretty bad. Not as bad as the first but still very harsh. The whole family was mean to me. Truly mean. But yet when my mother would come to pick me up they were all sugar and spice. This confused me greatly and  embedded severe trust issues that would last me a life time, even now. They would often times make me clean out their toddlers potty chair. I was a young child and did not know how to do it and each time they would then stand me in the corner for not doing it properly. If they found out I wet the bed the night before, they would  swing me around the room by my feet. Not painfully but I suppose to humiliate me? Your guess is as good as mine. But the worst thing came from the oldest daughter of my sitter. On a recent visit with my Dad he took me to a park. I collected pine cones from our outing. I saved one and cherished it. I took it with me to my babysitters one day and showed it to the oldest daughter who then grabbed it from my hands and ripped all the cones off and handed it back to me, torn to shreds. Which symbolically also tore my heart to shreds.

Both of these sitters were before I was even 6 years old. I can still remember wanting to tell my mom the things that were happening but my tongue could not speak the words. I didn't understand why these things happened. All I could say was "They are mean to me" My young mind had no defense yet.

Ok the worst is over! Exhale :) Luckily after this, my experiences with sitters changed and for the better! I had one who was so sweet, so loving and so protective of me! She was a homemaker with small children of her own. She made me healthy meals and gave me chewable vitamin C tablets.They were cherry flavored and I have yet to find them again.  After school we got to watch Tom & Jerry and some days, Godzilla. One day she found me rubbing my back against the door corner, it itched like mad! She took one look at me and said "You have chicken pox!!" She was right, I sure did and oooooh weeee did I itch! She was very kind and I treasure my memory of her.

I had a few more over the years but nothing to write about. So here we are to  the best one I ever had,  a teenager named Wendy. Now Wendy is the babysitter I wish I could contact TODAY and tell her how awesome she was to me! The babysitter of all babysitters! She was the coolest thing on legs, in my opinion. She use to curl my hair, part it on the side and tell me I looked like Princess Diana. She loved to listen to me talk about my little life. She loved to cook in the kitchen with me and one of my favorite things was she took won ton wrappers and fried them in a Fry Daddy....Oh man I ate them like candy, they were so good! She was so into the pop culture of the early 80's and knew all the cool music. She just inspired me and I love her even still!

I use to look back at my caretakers who treated me badly, with much anger and resentment. Sometimes I still do but more importantly than that, I realized they taught me the perils of people who should not be trusted. They taught me how to truly listen to my children. Taught me to look for signs that I may not otherwise see. They taught me what COULD happen. When people say, "Oh you can't live in fear blah blah blah" to them I say, I don't live in fear, I live in fact. MY facts, MY reality, MY life. It all taught me, formed me, changed me. Some bad but LOTS of good! I don't regret the things that happened to me, but rather I am thankful for the lessons they taught  me :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Things are not important. I love things.

The title of this blog post "Things are not important. I love things" sounds like a contradiction....maybe it is. But let me try to explain what I mean by this.

I am not one to idolize things of monetary value. The more it costs, the less I want it. Besides a safe home and vehicle of course. But I mean the things I collect such as vintage cookbooks, bakeware, etc. I often refer to my "things" as treasures and the reason I do this is because yes, these are just things but they were once a homemakers things.

Maybe the woman who once owned it is no longer on earth, but yet I can still feel her because I have her cookbook, or her mushroom canister set, or her Christmas record that she adored while sipping egg nog. Maybe it belonged to my very own Grandmother or maybe it belonged to a complete stranger. Either way, she did exist and the item I have of hers, proves it! She used these very items with her own hands. This connects me to her in some way and I love that! She is teaching me things while not even saying a word.

I also treasure my "things" because they were gifts from loved ones. They know how much I feel disconnected to the world of today, but very connected to the world of yesterday. I'm sure though, if I were alive back then, I would feel the same disconnect. I don't want to live in the past, I've expressed that in detail in other blogs. But I do need to feel connected to the past because it has so much to teach me. And my favorite memory of the past is of homemakers. Women, wives, mothers, activists.

When I feel overwhelmed by today's world, I just look to the past because those times were WAY harder than now. Suppression, oppression, judgement, abuse, ignorance, violence were all rampant. But yet the woman of yesterday persevered. They were not perfect, they may not have always been happy in their situation, but they kept going. They are my teachers. They have taught me more than any school teacher ever has. So when I am blessed with a "new" vintage cookbook or household item from the past, I am learning yet one more thing! I will never go backward but I will always LOOK backward to learn what to bring FORWARD.

Arthur's Theme

Arthur's Theme (Best that you can do) ...This song has a way of sweeping me off to another time and place. It starts in my childhood an...