Thursday, December 9, 2010

They were trying to drown me. It had to be a test. I couldn't help but think about the Salem Witch Trials. I had heard they would hold an accused witch under water for a certain length of time. If she drowned she was not a witch. If she lived, she was considered a witch and hung. (And we think our judicial system is bad!)




The city girl from Atlanta (me) was engaged to the country boy from South Georgia (him) and they wanted to know if I liked to fish.



"I've never been....fishing." You would have thought I said "I like to vacation on the moon."



In that big, booming voice of his, my father-in-law-to-be said,"Well tomorrow we'll take care of that. Can't let my son marry a girl that's never been fishing, now, can we?"



I wasn't sure why we couldn't but I was willing to learn....didn't look as if I had a choice.



I had watched my fiance' and his parents with their rod and reels, fishing in the acre-large pond in front of their house, so I had no reason not to believe that's what would we would be doing. But apparently that was not the "testing ground." The four of us crammed into the cab of the old Ford pick-up after loading very long sticks they called 'cane poles' and went to a place they called Sue Rose. I soon discovered that Sue Rose was not the name of the place, but the name of the woman who owned the official testing ground.



I was given a long stick with a string and cork on it and something nasty on the hook, and told "Stand over there and chunk it in the water."



Of course it would be hilarious to say I threw the whole pole into the water but I'm not that ignorant and that would be a lie. I got as close as I could to the water without sliding off the bank, dropped the cork in and then it happened. It started raining. I tried to hide my smile as I said, "Too bad. Maybe another time."



The four of us threw our poles in the back of the truck, piled in and sat. And sat. I wasn't quite sure what we were waiting for.



"There we go," boomed the man, "Looks like its slacking off! Let's try again."



We piled out, retrieved our poles and continued the test. FOUR times we piled into the truck waiting for the rain to "slack off"! FOUR times I thought "this is it, we're heading back." FOUR times I wondered if this is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.



I caught nothing. Not even a cold. I was very okay with that. I had no idea what I would do with a fish if I had caught it. The men caught about four between them and my future mother-in-law, I discovered has a gift. She caught twenty-seven and three of those were while we were waiting out the storm.



It was decided that any girl that could withstand those conditions with a great attitude was worthy of their son. That's funny cause I don't remember having a great attitude, but I guess its worked out pretty good. Just don't ask me to fish...

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Sing because I'm Happy

As a pastor in a medium-sized, middle Georgia community, my husband often tries to bridge what we refer to as the "racial gap". On any particular Sunday you can look at our congregation of about 200 and see a sea of Anglo-Saxon, Caucasion, lily-white faces. But not because he hasn't tried.

We've had guest speakers, guest choirs, guest musicians, etc. who are from different races. They'll bring guests with them and they stay long enough for us to pat ourselves on one another's backs and whisper in each other's ears, "Look at us, breaking down these barriers, mmm...mmm. The Lord is proud of us today!"

And the next meeting is vanilla.
As a result of one of these invitations my husband extended, he was invited to speak at a neighboring church. Our choir (which is only ten people strong, but throw in our incredibly-gifted praise band, we can rock the HOUSE!) was also invited to sing. There were more white faces in this CME church than there were non-white faces. And the looks on their faces was astonishment when these white folks started SANGING! Now, before you go off getting all huffy and PC, I need to tell you what the Lord was doing in me.

Here I am getting all indignant, thinking, "WHY in 20TEN for goodness' sakes, do we have to still separate ourselves as Black brother and sisters and White brothers and sisters? Why can't we just be one big family? And would you look at the congregation. Whites on one side, blacks on the other? People! Please! What's it going to take?" I was ready to run out and join a civil rights group (I mean no disrespect).

We went on back to our lily-white service down the road but we were joined by two guests of the CME church who apparently were moved by the music and the message and we all had such a good time together we didn't want it to end.

One of the ladies was Reverend at a church thirty miles down the road and invited us to attend a revival meeting. Because I had played a little ditty during the offering time she clasped my hands and asked if I would come share some music with them. "I would love to."

I invited a friend to go with me but she had another commitment. I found a piece of music, a praise chorus, that I had been working on and just knew it would be a blessing to others (ha!). I pulled up in the grass at exactly 7pm to find one other car parked outside the quaint building. A door opened beneath the large "Pastor's Study" sign and the Reverend bounded out the door to greet me with a welcoming hug.

"Am I in the right place?" Obviously I was but I felt the need to ask.
"Right place. Right time. Some of our people don't get here til late but we'll get started anyway."
She grabbed me by the hand and led me inside where her assistant (The Armour-Bearer) was seated.
The Reverend pushed me (Not necessarily gently) down on the piano bench and starting humming a tune.
"Play this one. Mmmm...hmmm."
"um," I mumbled,"Which page?"
"Oh, its not in the book. Don't you play by ear?"
"No...no..ma'am, Reverend. That would be our other pianist. I need music. I'm s...sorry."
"That's all right. Come on up here on the podium and we'll have us a praise team tonight!"
I joined the Reverend and the Armour-Bearer in singing "We Have Come Into This House."
We lifted our hands and our voices! There was no one in the congregation. Just the three of us, singing in the microphone as if the place were filled with hundreds. As we sang "Forget about yourself" the fourth time, a little lady shuffled in, passed all the pews as if they were filled, and sat in one of the prayer pews to the far left of the stage, apparently in "her spot".
The Reverend gave a hearty welcome to...the lady...and then announced we would be singing hymn 310. She pointed to me to start playing. I didn't know the song and more importantly, I didn't know how they, she, was used to singing it. Probably not all-white-Gaither style.

First of all we were not anywhere near the same key. She didn't have a bad voice but the piano (i.e.Me) made it sound like she did. I didn't want to keep playing but she kept signaling that I was supposed to go on. She was pounding her thigh and then the pulpit with an odd rhythm that I was supposed to follow but I could NOT get in the groove.

"Lord, Please, please give me some soul right now!" Yes, I prayed and asked the Lord for soul.
"God, my husband is always talking about his inner black-man. If I have an inner black-woman, please Lord let her rise up now." God answered immediately. He said "no."  In the meantime an older couple found their way in, looked around to make sure they were in the right place and sat down.

We made it through the hymn and the Reverend said we would now sing "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." This one I knew but I knew she would not be in the same key as the book and I had always heard this song accapella. It doesn't want music to carry it. It requires soul and emotion.
"Is it okay if we just sing this one? Without the music?"

"Okay. You come in on the chorus."
WHAT? We hadn't practiced this! This is not what I expected at all. We're singing unrehearsed music for three other people. Calm down, girl. Get a grip. 
"Why do I feel discouraged?" she hit every note in a two-octave range. "When Jesus is my portion..."
There's no WAY I could have kept up with her as she was changing keys with every line, but it was somehow appropriate and hautingly beautiful.
"I sing because I'm happy!" Points at me.
I look for a quick escape.  I follow the other lady's lead and sing "HAPPY." (I see. Its an echo-thing...get in the groove, girl. You can do this. Get in the groove...!)
"I sing because I'm free!"  Points. "Free!"
"His eye is on the sparrow." Point. "...on..the sp..sparrow."
I join with harmony "I know He watches me."
Bythe eighth time singing the chorus of His Eye is On the Sparrow, we had a good thing going. I was finally "in the groove." God had humbled me enough and did allow me to find my inner black girl (I knew she was there somewhere!) and the Armor-Bearer even backed off and let us do our thing as we worshipped and praised.
I left there feeling good, not because we had found a common ground but because of our differences. Not between me and them, but between me and her (she and I?) and between me and you. Thank God we're different. I learned some important lessons about myself, about people and about God last night.

I hope you take this post for what it means. Some of you may not understand it. Some of you may be offended, although I can't imagine why. I've tried so hard in the past to make everyone feel like we were the same, when in reality I can't make anyone FEEL anything, and its not our duty to be the same, but just to be.

Wow, I didn't know this was going to get all serious but there it is. Take it for what its worth and have a great day!

http://myhomeandmyhipsarebothdoublewide.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-sing-because-im-happy-i-sing-because.html

Thursday, July 15, 2010

my love for Community Theatre, part 1


I am directing our Community Theatre's production of "Once Upon a Mattress." Our group is cleverly called the Milledgeville Players and I've been involved for three years.

Did your Mom ever insist on you performing for guests when you were 3 or 6 or 12? But you were more than likely terrified and didn't want to? Well, I loved it. I started writing plays and recruiting my sister and kids in the neighborhood to join me in my theatrical endeavors. My heart longed for the stage.

When my friends were hanging up posters of C.H.iPS and Scott Baio, I was hanging posters of CATS (the musical) Chorus Line. and Phantom of the Opera. I couldn't wait to get to New York.

I pursued my dream through school, from elementary to high school, although there were a couple of major setbacks.  In the fourth grade we were invited to sign up for extracurricular activities. I didn't even have to think about it. I scanned the list, found "theatre" and checked it off. We were told to pick a second and third choice, in case the first was full. I didn't have other choices. It was theatre or nothing.  I was asked to collect the papers and as I did, I noticed no one else had checked theatre and that was good because I knew I would get the spot.

Weeks passed and I heard nothing. The other kids were enjoying pottery, dog care, photography, and I waited.  I didn't like to make waves so I said nothing. I figured, the class was late getting started and they would find me...eventually. I heard some kids were getting costumes together for a play and that's when I finally spoke up, "Isn't that the theatre class I'm supposed to be in?"  She said she put ____ in the class instead of me because she was prettier. She knew I'd understand.  Guess what lady? I don't understand. I'm still in therapy 30 years later and do not understand, how they ever let someone like you teach and nurture children.

Anyway, not bitter. I majored in theatre for two years in college and then changed at the last minute thinking I needed something that would actually help me get a job. And conciously thought, "I'll do community theatre. Its the next best thing to Broadway."  Twenty years after that decision I auditioned for my first community theatre production, "Bell, Book, and Candle." I got the part I wanted and haven't looked back.

When I directed "Annie Get Your Gun" last year we had four parent-child teams in the show. They all wanted to spend some together. How often do you see parents on the field playing side-by-side with their child in sports? Rarely.  This year, we have a gentleman in our cast who says he has never performed in anything, but when he turned 40, he made a "bucket list" that included doing something he's never done before, viola! Community Theater! He's having a blast and isn't half bad.

Is there something you've always wanted to do and think its too late?
Nah. Just do it. And when this show is done, I'm taking a road trip on a motorcycle.
Okay, maybe not this year, but one day....

Monday, July 12, 2010

What I Did This Summer...

a little of this...

some of this....

and a lot of this...



and where am I in all of this, you might ask?
I'm glad you asked.

This summer I'm doing what I absolutely adore.

Thanks to Julia Hinson for the wonderful photos of our auditions
For Once Upon a Mattress.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Real Thing

I was married just a couple of months, had recently turned the wise age of 21, when I was visiting with my dear Mama and Daddy.  I opened the freezer to "fix the drinks." (They weren't broken, but that's what we say when its time to prepare beverages, i.e. sweet tea, for meals.) Upon opening the freezer I noticed something that caused me to ask a question that had been burning within since I had arrived home from our 2 day honeymoon.

"Mama, why do I have butter in my freezer?"

"What's that, dear?" She was stirring hot gravy on the stove.

"Why do I have REAL butter, not margarine, in my freezer, not the refrigerator?"

She turned off the stove, removed the hot, steamy goodness we would soon slather on everything, from biscuits to the field peas and looked at me directly.

"Honey, what are you talking about?"

"Mama, I noticed you have a box of REAL butter in your freezer. And Mrs. Branch (ny new mother-in-law) has a box of REAL butter in her freezer. So I when I went shopping to stock my kitchen I bought a box of REAL butter and put it in my freezer, because I want to be a good wife. But for the life of me, I don't know why it's there. We've never eaten real butter as long as I can remember but the freezer is always stocked. Is it okay to ask, or is this one of those things I just simply need to accept?"

She closed the blinds slightly, poured a fresh cup of coffee, and lowered herself into the great rocker she often sat in when she imparted wisdom....not really but I wanted to build the tension in my story.

She laughed. And then she looked at me with that look, "girl, you are so crazy. I'm glad I got you married off so young cause now you are somebody else's problem."

What she said was something like, "To make pound cake."

"huh?"

"I don't know," she finally admitted. "Real butter goes in pound cakes, cookies, lots of baked goods and its just something good to have on hand."

"Oh. So I gotta learn to make pound cake?"

She laughed again. Not with me...at me..."Never met a man who didn't like pound cake."

"Can't his mom make him pound cake?"

"Let's eat."

All our great discussions and disagreements can be settled with those two words. Wars could be put to end with those two words. The inevitable financial ruin of our country may well be avoided if someone would simply take the initiative to boldly, without restraint announce, "LET'S EAT!"

I quit buying butter years ago because I found a recipe that calls for Crisco instead. Its quite good. But I admit, now that Mama and Daddy are gone from this life, I miss little things like our talks, Daddy's laugh, and Mama's gravy. What my life needs right now, health matters aside, is some REAL BUTTER.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Freedom and Justice for All

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
There are many patriotic videos out there.
I like this one because these people did not take
INDEPENDENCE for granted. Be safe!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Maybe I AM an Electronic Device!

The characters you entered didn't match the word verification. Please try again.

Do these words look familiar to you? I see them every single day. I am apparently a computer.

resoft   
oveyb
surmmrl
fuergt

These are a few of the words that I didn't enter correctly today.
I want to do it right. I put my glasses on. I squint. But I can't tell the difference sometimes in an 'm' or 'n' or a 'er' and 'w'.  

And I'm tested in this more and more often. And failing more and more often. (heavy sigh)

I find its especially difficult as I try to post a link on Facebook and I get jumbled letters, all crowded together with black ink smeared across them. I find myself often yelling out loud at the computer.

"WHO CAN READ THIS!"

Apparently a computer can't. And me. "Oh, I'm sorry", I think to myself, "I wasn't familiar with groikle. I would never have mistaken it with pueglty if I had looked closer!! What the heck is going on here??"

And then I get disctracted wondering what these words mean, if anything. I know they're supposedly fictious but I can't help it. I start making up definitions. Here's a few I've come up with recently.

resoft- obviously to make something soft again. Honey, my underwear are getting all scratchy. Could you resoft them for me?

oveyb- The tiny crumbs left in the very bottom of the bread bag.  Do not throw the oveyb out. I'm saving it to bread the chicken next week.

surmmrl- September 22. The last day of summer. I thought surmmrl would never get here but it won't feel like it til December!

fuergt- to forget something you know you know. I know you're my firstborn and I fuergt your name, just give me a hint!

What chofkeplles (the nonsense words that prove you're not an electronic device)  have you typed lately?

Monday, June 28, 2010

It Doesn't Burn!

I don't know how y'all do things at your church, masque, synagogue, lake, whatever. Doesn't matter right now. But in our church we have a few folks that like to lift their hands when the "Spirit moves them" (or when they need an excuse to stretch.)

But now if there's a particularly good song being sung, or if its slow, with more meaning you'll see even more hands being raised. The point I'm trying to make is that its not something everyone does (we would probably lose our Baptist status) but its something that as the older folks might say "I don't care if that's what they want to do, but I just don't feel comfortable doing it myself." Okay. Point noted.

Yesterday we had a young lady sing "How Great Thou Art" as a solo. First of all, whenever a hymn is sung in our more "contemporary" place of worship, you're going to make some folks happy. Secondly, she did an awesome job singing Carrie Underwood's arrangement but adding even more country flair. Thirdly, she's pretty. I wish it weren't so. I mean, I don't wish she wasn't pretty, but like it or not, we judge folks by their appearance. People are more receptive to folks who are attractive. If you don't believe me turn on the stinking TV or go to the movies. I know there are exceptions but I'm getting way off track here. Finally, it was her first time singing in our church.

Because of the above reasons and the "moving of the Spirit", there were LOTS of hands raised. My good friend told me her 4-yr. old daughter looked around the room, saw all the hands up and slowly raised one of hers. Then, even slower, she raised the other one.

Then she whispered, "Do it Mommy!"

"No, honey. I don't want to. I'm fine."

"Go on Mommy! Do it! It doesn't burn!"

I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions, be they spritiual, emotional, or whatever you need today.

For me, I had to laugh out LOUD cause that's just how we roll!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What's In a Name

 Kenny got a kitten for his birthday and named him Jeffrey.


I asked him if it was spelled Geoffrey.


He said "no G."


He then asked if it could have an 'e' in it, as in Jefferey.
(A game of cat and mouse!)


I told him he could spell it anyway he wanted.


He was thrilled.

Friday, June 25, 2010

This Could Be The Beginning of My Novel. Its Mostly Accurate.

Disappearing houses are no surprise to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 15% of housing units have disappeared from the time they were mapped, until the time someone goes out to find it. They get demolished, moved or yep, just disappear. It was my "job" to either locate these houses that have disappeared or find someone who could concur that there was no house.

Here's an example:  I have an address listing I am supposed to locate, but the street numbers don't go as high as the one listed on my form. So I do some investigating (I like this part!) I determine its not a misprint. I knock on a neighbor's door. ( I look for one that has a big, friendly dog. Owners of big, friendly dogs, contrary to popular belief ,are generally friendly...though not necessarily big.)

I ask the neighbor if they see a house across the street. They say "no".  I ask if they remember a house ever being across the street. They say, "I just moved..." I interrupt, very attorney-like.

"Just answer the question please. Do you ever remember a house being across the street?"

"No."

"Thank you. May I have your name please to confirm there is no housing unit on that property?"

I thank them again, pet the dog, engage in small talk, and I'm on my way. Or something like that...

Sometimes (as in this case) I would get a form with no address, just a description of the house. Those were really tricky!  This one in particular was fun: "Yellow house, green shutters, near 130."  That of course is not the actual street number, that would be some sort of breach of confidentiality and I can't blog from jail ( I think...).

I went to 130. No yellow house anywhere. There was however a beekeeper's house. I got out and quickly got back in my car.  I drove up and down those five blocks, hunting for anything that could have been mistaken for yellow or green.

I drove further down the street at a snail's pace. The cars behind me began honking and I forgot to put my sign in the window that reads "Get Over Yourself Or Go Around! I'm Doing Government Work Here!" or something like that....

I happen to live on this road but about seven miles down, so for several days I drove up and down this highway looking for ANYTHING that might be mistaken for a yellow house with green shutters. I finally stopped at a dirty white house (Could possibly be mistaken for pollen-yellow) with dark blue-green shutters. Nobody answered so I left my handy-dandy notice. But I was doubtful. It just didn't feel right.

I talked to my supervisor about it. We looked it up on the map. (Oh yeah, I forgot about the map.)
It was "spotted" (Census jargon) between two roads that were outside town. I had been looking near 130 on the INSIDE of town (did I mention it wasn't really near 130? Just checking.)

Great. That's on my way home. I'll check again. I drove slowly, I mean I was almost going backwards! I looked on both sides of the road. NOTHING. No yellow house with green shutters. I turned around and retraced the path. Still nothing.  I went back to the supervisor. We had a great laugh over these ridiculous instructions. She said find a neighbor to confirm it. I did. I turned it in and headed home, hot and sweaty from a very long afternoon (this was one of many houses I had visited that day.)

I was determined not to even look side to side as I drove past this block. I was done. Finished. Heading home for a cool bath.

I SLAMMED on the brakes! I threw my car in reverse and backed up ON the HIGHWAY!
I heard music playing from a dramatic movie scene. The trees parted and I think an eerie glow was surrounding the most darling, most quaint cottage-like home I had ever seen. It was a lemony yellow with evergreen shutters and seemed to say, "Welcome home. Come stay awhile."

I turned up the diminuitive drive, that I couldn't have missed earlier. There were no cars present but there were cats. Lots of cats.Other than that there was no sign of life. I peered into the sky to see if the mother-ship was still hovering. This house was NOT here a moment ago ( I shook my head to clear it). I looked up slowly and it was still there (the house, not the mother-ship)

I got back in my car and pulled back into the street. I drove several blocks away and pulled through at a normal speed thinking, surely it was hidden by foliage. But it wasn't. It was off the road a little further than the neighboring houses but it was definitely visible from the road. It was tucked into the trees like it was being comforted between warm blankets, but the trees seemed to be parted so that passerbys could admire the misplaced cottage.

I was freaking. I called my supervisor. "You're not going to believe this. The house just appeared. I mean it wasn't there and now it is."

"What about the neighbor who confirmed it?"

"He's gone. Poof! Can't find him."

"Any signs of life there?"

"Just cats. But otherwise it appears vacant."

"Shhh. Don't say a word to anyone. This will be our secret."

"Okay" I whispered, not knowing who was listening.

So don't tell, okay?
This is NOT a picture of the yellow house cause they may put me in jail, but here's A yellow house that looks very similar to the one I told you about.

I drive past that area every day. The mother-ship has indeed returned and taken the house home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Random Thoughts

Random Thought #1.    We have a new kitten named Jeffrey. My 17 year old wanted to get my ten year old a puppy for his birthday. The pound had one for "FREE" if you paid $50 for neutering.  Not FREE. So he got him a kitten.


We have an old cat, named Spot. Jeffrey tried to introduce himself.

Spot was not impressed at all.

Random Thought #2.  We took Kenny (who turned ten on Wednesday; the one who likes the library) to the Arts and Science Museum in Macon, GA. He said he was tired of the skating rink. Fair enough.  They had a Giant Bug exhibit. 

 


Kenny was not impressed. He was, in fact, horribly scared.

RT #3.  I'm directing the community theatre's summer musical. Again. I initially didn't want to, because I like being ON stage, but there was some talk of not doing the show we (the "BOARD") decided on. So I'm surrounding myself with medeival stuff as we prepare for

Auditions are Monday.  Somebody sent me a resume' and a headshot. That's really not necessary for community theatre. Nice gesture but I wasn't overly impressed. We'll see.

RT #4. I'm done with Censusing for now. At least for that part. Knocking on doors during naps and TV shows, etc. I may be moving on to the next phase: " I ONLY SEE THREE PEOPLE HERE! WHERE"S THE GRANDMA YOU"VE GOT LISTED? WHERE IS SHE HIDING?" Just kidding.

RT #5. My eldest son came home from college for Father's Day. He said he was coming Friday. He didn't make it until Saturday and stayed his usual 24 hours. He goes to school two hours away and never stays more than 24 hours. He brought his girlfriend and another friend. I love having him home...24 hours is enough for everybody. They bring their video games (he's studying to be a game designer and he will be VERY good!) and they end up covering one end of the living room to the other. Yep. 24 hours is long enough.
I love that young man.

RT #6. I've applied for three jobs at the local college. I haven't really worked in twenty years except for the Census thing and a couple of temp jobs here and there so my work history is pathetic on paper. I want to go in and say, "Trust me! Hire me! You will LOVE me! I promise!" But I doubt that would impress anyone.

RT #7.  I got a book at the library that had a funny, Southern-sounding title. It wasn't funny at all. It was un-funny. You know, when something has the potential to be funny but then the way its presented takes away every little bit of humorous pretense (I'm not sure if that's the right word but I like the way it sounds so I'm gonna use it there.) To say the least I was un-impressed.

RT #8. I've heard of overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Can a person be just "whelmed"? (That was from the movie 10 Things I Hate About you)

RT#9 I heard a great quote this week. "Even Cinderella knew that a single shoe can change the world."

RT #10. My choreographer quit. Just yesterday. I'm thinking of doing it myself. I've been saying I want to choregraph a show. This might be my chance. How hard can it be?
Shuffle, ball, change, step, again.


RT #12 I have a niece named after me. I don't know why I'm trying to eat her.
They call us the Dixie Chicks.


Yep. We're both named Dixie and we live up to the name. Check it out if you haven't already.
Prepare to be impressed.

RT #13. I'm not sure why I'm using the word "impressed" or variations thereof today. Or why I haven't posted much recently. But thank you THANK YOU! to my regular followers who faithfully check back and to those new guys who are wondering "What's up with the doublewide chick?" I feel like family is checking on me to see how I'm doing, and I'll be checking on y'all very soon.

RT #14. Tomorrow I will tell you about the disappearing house (crazy!) and hopefully figure out how to show you the giant bug stuck in my phone!

What's your very random thought today?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Didn't Know I Liked People So Much

It was absolutely one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life. I don't know if I would go so far as to say I would pay them, but its something I wish I could do every day.

Taking census.

During training I got the usual jitters about knocking on a stranger's door, unannounced. You've heard the horror stories about the Girl Scouts that were abducted, Jehovah's Witnesses who were never seen again, Amway salesmen who were forced to convert to selling Avon against their wills. Then here am I. A Census taker for the U.S. Government, interrupting their "stories" (soap operas), their lunch, their naps, and yet I couldn't wait to get out there!

Finding some of these places was like going on a grown-up scavenger hunt. I found roads and neighborhoods in my town that I didn't know existed. Some were beautiful, some were a little 'sketch' but all were special.

Meeting the people...not just asking trivial questions, but becoming a part of their lives, their stories, if only for a moment, was what motivated me to get up and get moving. I found out I can walk several blocks in 103 degree temperature without passing out, my van can maneuver dirt and gravel roads, and I can change a tire (maybe) but why, when there are helpful men around to do it for me (thank you, God!). 

My first flat occured a mile from my house. I had forgotten something and was headed back to get it when a loud noise and bumpy feeling interrupted my thoughts (husband changed that one). The next one happened two weeks later way out in the edge of the county. I was very near a gentleman's house whom I had just spoken with and he graciously helped me out. The very next day my son and I were driving my daughter's car home from Atlanta when it started shaking really bad. I was just about to get car sick when my son pulled over and discovered a large bubble or some sort of growth on the tire. My redneck son got that tire changed in no time....after we searched for a Walmart to buy tools.(Why would my daughter need tools in her car? sheesh!)

I learned some interesting things during this venture:
--Big dogs don't bother me a lot. Its the small to medium sized ones that I don't like. They're unpredictable and loud. Never got bit cause I wasn't going to get close enough to find out if they were "friendly".

--I like folks...a lot. Even those that aren't necessarily friendly at first. Just give them a chance.

--Loneliness is an epidemic.

--There are places I wouldn't want to live, but they are the very ones I want to go back and visit.

I could tell you about the gentleman that had scared the census trainees to death, so they sent me out to get the story. I saw an elderly man sitting on his side stoop. There were six older mobile homes behind him. He came to my car wearing a scowl and asked what I wanted, in an unfriendly tone. After a couple of minutes explaining who I was, listening to his rantings about the government wasting his money, he told me about his ailing wife, his kids who were grown and didn't want anything to do with him, the tenants that he obviously treated better than he had his children, particularly after stressing that he didn't "spend enough time with them."  I went back and reported a tired old man was trying to make up for his mistakes. I told him I would come back, not representing the Bureau. And I will.

I could tell you about more than one young woman, each with more than five children, that were obviously exhausted and "didn't have time to answer questions" until I told them I understood. I had four children and I've been exhausted. They each invited me in, seemed thrilled to have someone sympathize with them and were even thankful for the break in the routine to take time to answer a few questions.

Then there was the gentleman that just laughed at me. "What's so funny?"
"Cause you're here. I just saw you on TV."
"No sir. I wasn't on TV."
He laughed again.  "I keep seeing you census people on the commercials every few minutes, and here you are in person! What do you want to know?"  (wow. that was easy....)

I loved the ones that just hollered through the locked door, "WHO IS IT?"
"U.S Census Bureau. It'll just take a minute."
"WHO???"
"I'm with the Census Bureau. I have a couple of questions. It won't take long."
"OH!! HOLD UP! I'll be right there! Go get me a shirt" (Not directed at me but to the kid inside).
A large woman opens the door, buttoning up a shirt. I proceed with my questions as if this is happens all the time (it did happen more than once).

Please come back later this week. I want to tell you about the disappearing, reappearing house; my experience in the housing projects and about a man named Floyd.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Letter to Inspiration

Dear Inspiration,

Where have you gone? Why did you leave so soon?

Its only been a few short months and I was not ready for you to go yet.

I looked for you inside every door I knocked on as a US Census Taker but you weren't at any of them (but I'm still looking...)

I went all the way to the beach, confident you  would show up there. The ocean was breathtaking, the atmosphere relaxing, but you, my so-called friend, were not there.

I thought surely you would be lurking around my flat tire yesterday but you took off before we had a chance to chat.

I've tried to find you through therapy, counseling, long talks and even longer times of silence, but you have chosen to stay away.

But I have not given up my search. I will continue to search for you in the smile, or a frown, of a stranger; in the funny words of my family; in the hummingbirds that now come to feed, or in the overwhelming fragrant of a gardenia (that will always invoke wonderful memories...) or in a simple blade of grass.

My dear Inspiration, you may be on vacation now, but you cannot hide forever.  I will be here when you're ready to return.

Your Faithful and Patient Friend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kenny's Very Happy Place

Once a week my nine year old asks the same question, "Mom, can we go to the library?"

How do I say no to that?  Last week I did. I was busy. Very busy...I forgot exactly what I was so busy with, but trust me it was important. And besides, I believe its good for a child to be told "no" occasionally, just so they understand the real world. It went something like this:

"Mom, can we go to the library?"
"No."
"Mom, what do you mean, 'no'?
"I mean, 'No, Kenny."
"Do you mean 'not right now no' or 'not today no'?
"I mean, 'No.'"
"Okay........Mom. When do you think we can go to the library?"

He starts middle school in the fall and when he went for the tour of his new school he wanted to see two things, the computer lab and the library.  Someone asked if he was going to go to the private school. He asked, "How big is the library?"  I'm glad. There are certainly worse places he could be.

Yesterday I said yes and we went to the library. He checked out ten books about trains. Model trains, history of trains, steam engines, toy trains. The child LOVES trains....and libraries.

Tell me a little about your child. What do they absolutely love?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Has it Really Been a Decade?

Ten years? Has it really been ten years since I said the words "I'm NOT moving to Milledgeville?  Ten years since we put down roots in the double wide parked behind the church? Ten years since my husband accepted the position of pastor and said the words, "I have no idea what I'm doing" ?

The church family honored us throughout the day yesterday in celebration of the last ten years. The evening included a potluck dinner and skits by the youth group.  The night even had a theme: chocolate. My husband, pastor is always saying there WILL be chocolate in heaven because Revelation says there will be no tears there.  That's of course, a loose interpretation but it did make the evening special.

The morning service included a guest choir and a few of the songs the pastor has said "Sing that one at my funeral." 

Thanks to modern technology and Power Point, no appreciation/memorial service is complete without an embarrasing slideshow.  This was no different. It is encouraging when people tell you that you look much younger now than you did ten years ago, but there's a good reason for that. I was nine months pregnant.

When our youngest child was seven, one of us thought it might be fun to have another baby. He agreed. What I didn't count on was moving 200 miles away toward the end of the eighth month. People started asking if I was having twins during my third month. (That is just as bad as asking someone when they're due when they're not...just don't ask, please.)

The picture that brought this to mind was of me sitting in front of the ocean backdrop for Vacation Bible School. We just moved a couple of days earlier and were in the middle of unpacking. I didn't look very happy.  I was holding a child's inflatable inner tube in front of my stomach trying to disguise something...not sure what.  I would love to share the picture but I can't seem to lift it out of the presentation. I'll keep trying but there's no way I'm posting it here!

At nine months we drove 200 miles to my doctor to beg her to induce labor.

"Two more weeks," she stated.

"WHAT? Look at me! I look like I'm having triplets, my feet are swollen, we moved 200 miles away. People get induced now so they don't miss their manicure appointments and you're telling me two more weeks?"

"Yes," she said (maniacally) "its too soon. Two more weeks."

What I wanted to say was, "Look, lady. You get this baby out of here now or I will CUT YOU."

But I didn't. I cried. In the office.

"Go home. I'll see you in two weeks, unless you go on your own before that."

Hubby drove back to new home, new church. I stayed in town with my mom. I called him eight hours later and said, "Get back here. I'm in labor."

He rushed back, which was silly because the combined time of my last three labors was six weeks. And this one was no different. 164 hours of intense labor later I was admitted to the hospital. The doctor shook her head and prepared to deliver my little bundle. I gave birth to the world's largest preemie, weighing ten pounds, eight ounces. The doctor almost dropped him as she was prepared to deliver nothing more than six pounds.

"HA!" I mustered up enough energy to look that doctor in the eye and say, "I told you I was ready!"

My smallest baby was 9 lbs 1 oz. When they started hitting double digits we thought it was a good time to stop.  We bundled up our toddler and headed back to Milledgeville and its hard to believe this is only home he's known, after ten years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coca-Cola came to town. Pepsi Cola shot him down. Dr. Pepper fixed him up.



Another memory of my Mama....click on the button to read other trips down Memory Lane.


My little Southern Mama was raised in the heart of Atlanta (properly pronounced "Atlanna"...the second "t" is silent. If you hit that 't' its a clear sign you ain't from there or anywhere near there for that matter.) and took great ....that's GREAT pride in the wonderful, accidental invention, of Coca-Cola, which happened in a soda shop in Atlanna...AtlanTa. 

In case you're wondering, yes, Coca-Cola did indeed have traces of cocaine in it, which makes sense as it was originally produced for its medicinal purposes, mainly for headaches, "nerves", and "vapors".  Yep. From what I hear, a little cocaine will do the trick.

My Southern Mom worked for a couple of years answering the switchboard (never say she just answered the phone!) at the Cloister Resort on Sea Island. To some of you this may not sound like much, but trust me, this was a huge deal. Over the years the Cloister was THE vacation spot to TONS of celebrities, politicians, etc. Anyone who wanted to truly hide away without a lot of fuss could do so at The Cloister on Sea Island. Many Georgians still don't know about one of its best-kept secrets.

Mama would turn on that Southern charm every minute she could. She loved speaking to the celebrities and public officials and say things like "Weah so glad to haave you heah at the Clawstuh. How can Ah help you?  May I send you up an awdu of bald peanuts?"

"Can we please have some Diet Pepsi sent to our room?" asked one guest.

"Suh, (she didn't talk like this all the time, just around people she really wanted to impress) ah don't know where you ah from (side note digression: ...some of you may be thinking she would use the word "y'all" here, but NO. For the love of all that's Southern, I'm going to let you in on something...if you EVER, EVER use the word 'y'all' while only talking to ONE person, its a definite indication that you Ain't from around here. "y'all is a contraction of 'you' and 'all'. The only exception is when you're asking about the person you're talking to and their family who may or may not be present during the conversation, as in "Your Mama said y'all were going to the monster truck rally on Thursday. I thought y'all were going to the wrestlin' match."  You know immediately that the whole family (probably 12 or more) will be attending either the monster truck rally or the wrestlin' match...likely both.)

"Suh, ah don't know wheah you ah from but dowun heah in the South we only drink Coca-Cola products." (She was being hospitable...its ingrained...)

"Pardon me but did you know that there are 14 towns in Georgia where Pepsi is consumed three times more often than Coke?  And in the "South" as you call it, Pepsi is preferred by one out of four consumers?"

PLEASE NOTE: The above statistics are totally mythical. It was a long time ago and I don't remember the facts. The point of the story was he spewed a lot of statistics out about how much better Pepsi was than "Co-cola".

"Excuse me, suh," Mama really turned on the charm now..."Do you happen to work for PepsiCo?"

"As a matter of fact ma'am, I do. I am the Executive Vice President of PepsiCo."

"We will gladly have your Pepsi delivered to your room within the hour, along with a complimentary awdu of our very own bald peanuts."

Twelve cases of Pepsi product found their way onto Sea Island that day. And Mama got a raise.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life's Ups and Downs

I always loved roller coasters.

When I was growing up, we lived thirty minutes from Six Flags Over Georgia. Whenever a new roller coaster opened we were among the first to try it out. 

My cousin and I went to Six Flags and rode one of the roller coasters 41 times. The last fifteen or so was in the rain. We stopped riding because we got bored.

The last time I rode a roller coaster I got so sick. Nothing came up but I sure thought it would...I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Now I just want this emotional roller coaster ride to be over.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Always Special. Never Simple.

Attention FRIDAY FOLLOWERS, you're in the right place. Please keep reading or scroll to the bottom for button and comments. Thanks!

This was my second post ever...originally posted on February 17th.   I was compelled to post it again in memory of my mother, Sunday being Mother's Day and all...


"Shoes?" Check.

"Dress?" Check.

"Hose?" Check.

"Extra hose?" (sigh...) Check.

"Thirty pounds of pulled pork bar-b-que with outside meat and extra sauce?" Check.

"Twenty quarts of Brunswick Stew?"

"How do you expect us to get all this on the plane?"

"STEW?" (sigh...) Check.

"Four crates of peaches?"

"California is the leading peach grower in the country. We don't need to take more peaches into the state."

"They are not Jawja peaches!"

"Yes, ma'am."

Thus my brother's rehearsal dinner the night before his wedding was unlike any rehearsal dinner before or since. And it was beautiful. A complete barbeque meal (Not a barbecue beef in sight!) basically catered by my brother and his buddies' favorite restaurant located only 2500 miles away as a special surprise to him.

ALWAYS SPECIAL. NEVER SIMPLE.

My mother also requested the church hostess, who was responsible for setting everything up, to serve water and sweet tea. The hostess repeated the words slowly, "ssswweeett tttteeaa?"

Apparently people in Yukaipa, California, who are we kidding? no one west of the Mississippi had heard of sweet tea.

The hostess recovered slightly and said "Oh, out here we offer artifical sweetner packets with the tea beverage but very few people use it."

To which Mama replied, "And how many people drink iced tea out there?" (I love how she always referred to any place outside of Georgia as being 'out there' like it was on another planet).

"Very few, ma'am. We mostly drink bottled water or hot tea."

"That's because you people don't sweeten it."

I don't know why Mama didn't just tell her how much sugar to add but I heard the hostess called a friend in Kentucky to ask her how to make sweet tea.

ALWAYS SPECIAL. NEVER SIMPLE.

My husband coined this phrase to describe my mom after we had been married about six years. He had no idea how perfectly this phrase encapsulated the woman's entire life.
But for him, it took root when we moved our family from Georgia to Ft. Worth, Texas with a three year old, two year old and six month old in tow...and my mother. My father committed suicide just a couple of months prior to our moving. We considered postponing our plans. We were going west for Jody to go to seminary, and we talked and prayed about waiting until the following semester.

Mama wouldn't hear of it.

"Your father wouldn't want you to disrupt your plans. And it would be good for me to get away awhile."

"I'm sorry. Could you repeat that last part?"

"It would be good for me to get away awhile."

"What does that mean?"

"Honey(for emphasis)I'll go with y'all and fly back. You can't handle those babies by yourself all that way. I'll watch them while you drive."

"Oh."

Jody and I looked at each other. He turned ecru (that's off-white I think).
He shook his head back and forth so slowly I wasn't sure if he was saying "don't think about it" or if he was trying to coax a fly to land on his head. I assumed the latter.

"That...would...be great! Wouldn't it dear?"

He apparently went to chase the fly because he started running around the yard, waving his warms wildly and calling out something to the fly. Fortunately, I couldn't make out the words.

ALWAYS SPECIAL.
We TIGHTLY packed six years worth of belongings, three carseats and all the paraphanelia one would need to occupy two toddlers, one infant, and a mother-in-law for a twelve hour ride. There was not an inch of leftover space in the moving truck or car, and five minutes before we pulled out Mama dramatically and ceremoniously took two GIANT vinyl tote bags out of her car and presented them to our older children. She hugged them close and told them the bags were filled with games, toys, snacks and wrapped surprises. They could open a surprise at every stop we made and every time we crossed a state line. I wondered if we should leave the TV or the microwave behind in order to make room for the two "Barney Bags". After some quick measurements and figuring I decided the TV and microwave were both luxury items we could do without. Jody was chasing the fly again.

ALWAYS SPECIAL.
After many long hours Mama started talking to me about a restaurant she's always wanted to try at Natchez Trace.

"What?"

I had no idea what she was talking about or even what she said.

"Natchez Trace, Mississippi. There's the sign. Its not far."

"Mama, this is not a pleasure trip. We looked at the map and I-20 goes directly from Dallas, GA to Dallas, TX. Its a straight shot. No detours are necessary."

"ok. Its just your Daddy and I always talked about going to Natchez Trace and now we'll never go."

So we veered south toward Natchez Trace to the tune of "Not much farther; its the next exit; we're almost there!"

I began noticing steam coming from the moving truck. Not from the engine but from the driver's window.

NINETY MILES later we passed a sign that read "Welcome to historic Natchez Trace".

"Where's the place, Mama?"

"Oh, I don't know exactly but it can't be that hard to find."

I noticed steam billowing from the driver's window in the moving van. Suddenly the truck pulled into a parking lot and Jody emerged from the steam. He slammed the door, walked around to the passenger's side to remove Brad and then through gritted teeth said "Move over." And I did.

"Well, there it is!" Mama was pointing across the street at a beautiful Antebellum house with a large sign on the porch that read "Closed on Mondays". Yesterday was Sunday.

"I'm saawry". No one could say those words like she could. We still say it in her beautiful Southern drawl when we truly want to make that point.

"I think there's a place down by the river that is supposed to be good."

We rode in silence and found it and it was.

NEVER SIMPLE.

Even her death, two years ago today, carried out this philosophy. She elected to have a surgery she knew would most likely kill her and the doctor told us once she opened her up and saw what she did she also knew Mama would not make it and almost changed her mind. But the doctor looked at us, with tears in her eyes and said "Your mama was a special lady and she said she would rather die than to live like this. So I did the best I could."

Just like she would have wanted. Very dramatic. Not unlike something you would see in a Hallmark movie. And then we sang. Family and friends circled her bed, held hands and sang her into the arms of Jesus. The mylar balloon my brother gave her for Valentine's with the words "I love you" bounced behind her, or was it in front of her?

Always special. Never simple.

Handmade Valentine's, birthday parties that none of the neighborhood kids will ever forget, Christmas treats that are now Facebook discussion topics, and oh! the trips!
What I wouldn't give to hear her say one more time "I'm saaawwryy."

I think her first words in heaven must have been "Why this is bee-u-ti--ful! You do serve sweet tea, right?"


WELCOME, FRIDAY FOLLOWERS!

Friday Follow

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are you employed, sir? No. Not Anymore...

Apparently he didn't really need this job.
He said he needed a job, but apprarently not that much.
He looked like he needed a job to support his drug habit, but that's a little judgemental on my part.

 I'm now an employeed of the U.S Census Dpt.... You know those annoying people that come knocking on your door just as your sitting down to enjoy your evening meal, and want to ask you these nosy, somewhat ridiculous questions ("Mr. Smith, you're a male, correct?"  We HAVE to ASK!). Please be nice. It may be me, and I would hate to have to blog about how rude you were....

We've been traning since Monday. 6:00pm-10:00 pm.  Its really not that big of a deal. The first night a few of us straggled (is that a word?) in after 6:00 because the weather was atrocious! (I know that's a word.)
But our fearless, slightly ditzy trainer stressed the importance of being on time for the duration of the training.

Second night, college-aged Joe Blow who smokes his cigarette up to the door and blows his last puff into the training room, struts in at 6:05. Ms. Trainer rebukes him, makes a spectacle of him, all but threatens him to be on time tomorrow.

Do you think he was? I really had hopes for him. I did. His seat seemed to blinking with neon signs reading "Loser! Not here! Don't Care!" at 6:00pm.  At 7:05 we ALL looked at the clock on the wall as Joe Blow (not his real name) entered behind a puff of smoke and plopped down in the blinking chair.

Trainer said "Excuse me," left the room and no one looked in Joe's direction. Joe closed his eyes as if trying to sneak in a little nap before getting down to some hard core Census training.

"Let's get back to work." We continued with the training for another hour and a half. After the break, he was  dismissed, but only after he was told to complete his pay form for that evening. Huh? We all knew he wasn't going to last, but rather than disrupt our training, she allowed him to be paid for an hour and a half work, PLUS travel, KNOWING he was going to be dismissed. Hmmmm.....

None the less, Joe didn't seem to mind, although when he introduced himself on Monday, he clearly said "I'm here because I need this job."  Apparently, he needed his nap more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tennessee Flood

I'd like to introduce you to two lovely ladies.

Beth from Just Me and My Life   and
EthelMaePotter from The Adventures of Fred and Ethel.
you may also read this article about the Flood.
Both of these precious friends live in Nashville and have written touching posts, both with heart-wrenching pictures about the recent flooding of their hometown.

Please visit one or both of these ladies and don't just visit.

Pray. Repost. Act. Do Something.

These are two of my friends and I care about them, even though we've never met. Show them you care.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"The Story of a Boy, a Girl, and a Universe"

Do you know what today is? We've been celebrating this holiday for many years in our family. We once even talked the church into letting us have a party on this date, complete with Wookie Snacks and Jedi Punch! That's right! its....

STAR WARS DAY!
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!
Get it? May the fourth? Well anyway, even if you're not into robots and light sabers you should enjoy this trailer from the original 1977 movie.

 "From the man who brought you 'American Graffiti'.

"Its a big, sprawling space saga of rebellion and romance." 
(Sounds like the next Nicholas Sparks movie!)




Happy Star Wars day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Life, My Blog. The Musical.

I am a musical geek. That doesn't mean I play a lot of instruments. I do play piano (how cliche' is that, for a preacher's wife to play piano?) But that's not what I mean. By "Musical Geek", I mean I love musicals!

"High School Musical" and "Glee" are not musicals. They are posers. Wannabe's. I watch Glee occasionally because several of the stars (Matthew Morrison, Lea Michelle) and guest stars (Kristen Chenowith, Idina Menzel!) were first stars on Broadway.

When I was five years old a cousin gave me an LP (record) of Broadway classics for Kids  and I was hooked! I listened to that and "Songs from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" over and over. Then I discovered my mother had original soundtracks on LP from "South Pacific", "West Side Story", "The Music Man", and "The Sound of Music". I learned every word to every song and acted them out in the living room long before I even knew they were made into movies.

In high school I learned about "Cats", "Chorus Line", "The Phantom of the Opera" , "Le Miserables", and "Little Shop of Horrors".

Then my daughter was born. She entered this world singing. Literally. We thought she was crying but soon realized it was a melody. Its been almost twenty years and she hasn't let up. She introduced me to new musicals such as "Spamalot", "Wicked", "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", and my newest favorite: "Next to Normal", that brings to light the nightmares of mental illness and the effects it has on the family. Its dark but wonderful.

I've had a part in many musicals, including Summer Stock Theatre at Jekyll Island where we ran three musicals all summer. I've written several musicals for church settings and am presently pursuing publication.

And now there is a trend that I just have a difficult time swallowing. That's taking a book, a show, whatever, throwing in a couple of songs and adding the words "The Musical" to it. Thereby, making it officially a musical. It makes my heart hurt for Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loew, Sondheim, Andrew Lloyed Weber, who spent countless creative hours poring their hearts into book and lyric to make the musical magic. (in my opinion they could have spent a little more time on "Carousel", but that's just me.)

I understand that many of the former shows, including ones I've mentioned, were not original ideas but to add the words "The Musical" is just so .....cheesy. The musical world is itself already full of cheese product so why must you add "VELVEETA" to the title? 

But they've gone and done it. In order to keep musicals alive with the new generation, and to offer a complely "family-friendly" arena ("Avenue Q" has puppets, but trust me, is NOT family-friendly) you can now see "Little House On the Prairie, The Musical with Melissa Gilbert as "Ma"." 

I'm not criticizing the show, just the title. If you have to tell us its a musical, I'm a little nervous. And I think today's generation would be better reached with "CSI, The Musical", "Southpark, The Musical", "American Idol, The Musical" (Isn't that redundant and trust me, that one's coming...) and check out "Harry Potter, the Musical" that was written and performed by HP fans.  And actually its pretty good.


So I'm going to go sing and dance my way through this Monday. Its a lot better than dragging through it.

Is your life a musical? A sitcom? A mixture? A reality show? (haha) or just a series of commercials?

What TV show/story would you like to see made into a musical?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Follow

Today is Friday Follow, sponsored by Midday Escapades, One 2 Try, and Hearts Make Families.
Its a fun way to check out other blogs. So hop along and have a great Friday!

(If you missed the post about Pot Roast and Slappin' Grandma, not what you think....then keep scrolling down.)

And a big  'ole Thanks! to the gals at The Suite Life of Lucy and Ethel for their shout out this morning!
Friday Follow