Posted in Family

Auntie Sue aka The Skip-bo Queen of O.K. City

            My little Auntie Sue always said she was going to give Eve a ‘talkin to’ when she got to Heaven.  Never a complainer, she did want to tell Eve how miserable life with menstrual cycles, menopause and adult diapers was.  She blamed Eve for all of this and wanted to give her the ‘what for.’  It’s been several years now since Auntie Sue got to Heaven so I’m sure by now they’ve had their talk.  Being a reasonable soul, I’ll bet Sue got it out of her system and all is forgiven.  She never was one to hold a grudge…for too long.  Unless you continuously interrupted her sittin’ ugly time or messed with her family, then she could positively be ninety pounds of bulldog fury.

Auntie Sue and my mother

            Every morning, at the crack of dawn, she would make her one and only cup of Sanka and sit down to read her Bible and her Alanon book.  This was her sittin’ ugly time.  Her quiet time to get her mind straight for the day.  And then she was off like a bolt of lightning, hitting the trail for her morning mile with her sporty red walker.  Down the hall, down the elevator, past the common room, across the solarium, outside, down the sidewalk and across to another part of the building then back up the elevator and down the hall to her apartment 215.  She would do this twice a day, adjusting for rain or snow, as Oklahoma City was prone to have.  “You have to walk or die,” she would say.  And I believe her.

Family Reunion Love

            My little Auntie was over-the-top with enthusiasm.  If I came for a visit, she would say it was the best visit ever!  Every rent car I drove from the airport was the best car ever. It was always better than the last one.  Every joke she heard, was the funniest thing ever told.  Every meal was the most delicious.  Every game of Skipbo was more fun than the last and everyone she met received a compliment.  She was genius at complimenting even the hardest shell.  She was thankful for every phone call, card, and hug.  She was generous with her money and always tithed to the church, even on a fixed income.  She was fiercely loyal to her family and loved her only child more than life itself.

Ysleta and her son, Chuck (me)

            If she was here and heard me going on and on…tooting her horn, she would argue that she was not perfect, she had faults.  Maybe she did, but I never saw them.  Her five-foot frame, ninety pounds soaking wet, shock of white, curly hair and easy smile was perfect to me.  Her true grit, determination and positive attitude was perfection.  Auntie Sue had it all and everyone wanted to be her friend, even her would-be foes.

  Like her issue with Eve, there are many things in life we don’t understand now. There are loved ones who leave us too soon, and some things we know in part but won’t know the true reason until we’re in the by and by.  That’s just the way it is.

            January 19th would have been Auntie Sue’s ninety-ninth birthday.  Those of us who knew her and loved her, still miss her every day.  She was a loyal and loving wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend and there will always and forever be only one, Ysleta Davis Lane aka Auntie Sue, the original Sittin’ Ugly Sistah!

Posted in writing

A Writer’s Soul by Nancy Malcolm

            Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I had a white ‘My Diary’ journal in sixth through eighth grade.  It had a tiny key so I could lock up my secrets safely from prying eyes.  I’m positive I wrote about daily occurrences and boys I liked or who said what about something or other.  I wish I could remember what happened to ‘My Diary’.  Maybe it made it to a landfill somewhere, fully intact, secrets safely hidden.   Maybe I dramatically ripped out each page and tore it into a million pieces to protect my thoughts… I  don’t recall its demise.

            Once, I came across some writings from high school where I had copied the words from songs. During one particular romance, it was that song by the Turtles: “Imagine me and you…I do.  I think about you day and night, it’s only right…. So happy together!”  The name of the boy is nowhere on the pages, and quite possibly he didn’t even make it to the end of the song, but I had pages of songs written out.  I must have listened to my albums playing over and over to get the words, because there was certainly no google lyrics to look up.

            In my early twenties, my then husband and I tragically experienced the stillbirth of our first daughter together.  The months afterward were dark for me, and I have since found the poems I wrote during that time.  The poetry of my grief was written in sprawling handwriting on sheets of stationary and somehow, I preserved them, guarding my grief like the protective mother I wanted to be.  I still feel the sadness written onto those pages.  It rises from each word like heat off a summer sidewalk.

            I saved the hysterical letters I later got from my girls when they were at summer camp.  I’m sure my letters to them were discarded long ago, but theirs are short and confessional.

Dear Mom, I’ve worn the sme cloths evryday, but they made us take showers and eat cantelope.  Send stamps!  Luv, Courtney

           Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs, the antics of life that Ginger and I share with you, as well as the birth of my memoir, I Thought It Was You are recent projects that fill me with joy and at times, angst. I feel as though to write is to live.  To breathe is to write.  Words scrawl across my mind like an old-fashioned typewriter clicking away.  The one thing that remains the same is my fear at being vulnerable and, in contrast, the exhilaration of facing my fear.

            I’ve learned an awful lot about myself since beginning this writer’s path.  I’ve seen boldness and shyness live on the same page.

I’ve pushed myself to see parts of my life I long ago buried.

I’ve resurrected bravery.

I’ve accepted that not everyone wants to read what I have written, and I’m learning not to take that personally because I have to write.  It’s part of who I am.  And whether trolls on the internet agree with me or not, I am a writer.

Whether an agent takes my book or not, I am a writer.

Whether my husband, children or grandchildren ever read a word I’ve written or not, I am a writer.

Whether somedays I don’t believe it myself, and my inner critic is screaming ‘You’re Not Good Enough!!’ I am a writer.

I am a writer with a writer’s soul.

I am a writer.

 “I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Anne Frank

Posted in Holidays

A Generous Spirit

Once upon a time, all I wanted for Christmas was a new car.  I believed Santa would grant my wish, I believed in the spirit of Christmas, and I believed I had been a very good girl all year long (my brother would beg to differ).

As a child I wanted all kinds of things, like a red, cowgirl outfit, baby dolls and a bicycle.  Although Santa did not always bring what I asked for (the cowgirl outfit), I always had gifts and we always had a tree.  Not true for many families these days.  There are so many folks in need, working hard to provide for their families.  We have only to open our eyes to see the vast opportunities to help others this holiday season.  St. Francis of Assisi said, “For it is in giving that we receive.”  This sentiment seems, at times, to boggle the mind, but I assure the doubtful, that once you truly give, you will receive the gift.  Like the Grinch, your heart will grow three sizes. 

 Generous people are the ones who give more than is expected of them.  And it is not strictly the giving of money or gifts, it could be the gift of time, the gift of help and the gift of a smile or a door held open.  Generosity of spirit.  Those that have it can’t contain it.  A generous spirit can’t stop itself, because to give is to live.  The spirit of generosity is a personal trait to be valued and admired, upheld and protected.  It is a gift to others and the one to whom it belongs. A cheerful giver has his reward from simply giving.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.(2 Corinthians 9:7)

My Boo is one of the most generous souls I know.  One example is that every year he gives a gift to the city workers that pick up trash and recycling in our neighborhood.  Last year, he thoughtfully wrote them each a thank you Christmas card and put fifty dollars in each envelope. After that, one of the workers generously rolled up our trash can every week for a month, and honked as he went by.  If Boo sees a lemonade stand, he stops for a cup and donation.  If he substitutes for someone who has had a particularly hard situation, he will leave them a gift card.  He is generous of spirit with all of us and asks nothing for himself.  

This holiday season, I hope we all take time to give.  “No one has ever become poor by giving.”(Anne Frank)  Even small things may be big to someone else.  You just never know what a smile might do.  Be generous with yours.

And I will leave you with one more quote by John Wesley,

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

Merry Christmas from the Sittin’ugly Sistahs!

Posted in Boo, Relationships

Vegetables, Granny Style

Scott eating

Most Sundays after Church, before the Pandemic, we would go to Luby’s, a Texas traditional cafeteria.  And almost every Sunday I would marvel at the colors and textures on Boo’s plate.

Strangely, chicken fried steak, cream gravy, fried okra, mashed potatoes, and a roll are all in the same color family…beige.  Of course, okra is green, but the outside is fried and therefore a brownish beige color, too. There is no pop of color, nothing with a stalk and no variety unless macaroni and cheese or corn is swapped for the usuals.  But, the colors are the same: beige, brown and blah.

I used to lament about his choices, calling him out for choosing nothing green.  I’ve lectured on the health benefits of vegetables and I have prepared every root, tuber, flower, bulb, seed, leaf and stem known to man.  “You need your greens!” I preach.

Granny used to cut up my vegetables so fine she could hide them in my mashed potatoes and gravy,”  he said.

“Really?”

Laughing, Boo said, “No, not really!  Granny never made me eat vegetables. She loved me.”

Some culinary experiments go over better than others.  Cauliflower rice, broccoli slaw, and butternut squash was a big thumbs down.  Creamed spinach, creamed corn or green bean casserole was a thumbs up. If I ask which vegetable he wants with dinner, it’s always the same answer, “Just open a can of green beans.”  At dinner, he will proudly count out 4-6 green beans and smile, “See? I like green vegetables.”

“Remember last time we went to Costco, and I insisted we get the twelve can box of green beans?  I’m practically veterinarian,” he said.

“Boo, it’s vegetarian, and no you’re not,”  I countered. 

“Don’t be snippy,” he said and added, “I like broccoli rice casserole. It’s chocked full of broccoli and healthy stuff.” 

 Of course he does.  BRC is chocked full of cream of mushroom soup and cheese, and not even real cheese at that… Cheese Whiz!   Boo’s list of vegetables all includes words like creamed, au gratin or cheese sauce. He tries to say fried zucchini and french fries are true vegetables.  He insists guacamole is a superfood and when he gets black olives on his meat-lovers pizza he is boastful for days.

“A man your age should eat vegetables without having to hide them in his mashed potatoes,” I say.

I felt him roll his eyes.   

“You’re trying to kill me,” he said.  “Remember the time you brought home grapefruit and tried to make me eat it at breakfast?  You know it doesn’t mix with my meds.”

“That was an accident.  I didn’t mean to. I just want you to eat more fruits and vegetables so you can live a long and healthy life.  I love you, Boo.”

“Promise me you’ll try to eat more greens?”  I asked. “You know, greens without a fried outer covering or smothered in cheese sauce?”

  “OK, but you’re asking a lot,”  and as he walked away I heard,

“I wish Granny was here.”

Granny
Posted in Grandmother, Relationships

Martha Margaretha

Valentine Queen

Growing up, everything I knew about beauty I learned from Grandma.  She was my source of information on becoming a woman, wife and mother.  Because my mother was deceased, I had no one to teach me the basics except Grandma and sometimes my dad, which as you might expect, was not always on point.

Grandma was raised on a dirt farm in Kansas.  They were so poor that her parents sent the last two siblings to live with another family because they could not feed them all.  She was only able to complete the 3rd grade because everyone was needed on the farm.  Grandma told me once that she did not remember laughing as a child.  “There was nothing to laugh about,” she said.  “We worked from sunup to sun down.”  And so my grandma, Martha Margaretha, was a serious, no nonsense kind of gal most of the time, but there was a little girl inside who longed to have fun and feel carefree.

Grandma was a wonderfully accomplished seamstress and made all of her clothes, even slips, bathrobes and nightgowns.  She also made all of my clothes until I was old enough to sew for myself.  She made my Barbies the most fabulous ensembles!  I distinctly remember Barbie having a dress out of the same fabric as Grandmas, and even a fully lined coat, complete with bound buttonholes.  Barbie never lacked for functional yet stylish outfits and neither did I.  Grandma had an eye for pattern, texture, design and she could easily visualize how our dresses would turn out, while working tirelessly to make it come together.

Martha had two main rules on beauty:  Always wear lipstick and always wear earbobs or ear screws, as she called them.  In Grandma’s bedroom, on her dresser, was a tray that held her cherished personal items.  There was a comb, brush and mirror set that I always remember her using.  She wore Lady Esther loose face powder, and kept the box front and center.  If I close my eyes I can smell the sweet fragrance and remember the way Grandma’s face felt so soft when I hugged and kissed her.  She always smelled of this face powder and I think to this day I would know it, if I were lucky enough to breathe in that precious scent.  The fluffy, round puff sat on top of this all important powder and next to it was her lipstick.

The dresser top was balanced with a simple jewelry box.  The kind that opened up and the top folded back revealing a bottom section.  Grandma had a large collection of earbobs, necklaces and brooches, most of which came from us, for Christmas or birthdays.  She also had a small little cameo that she pinned on for special occasions.  I would always ask to look through her jewelry box and try on these simple, yet glamorous pieces.  Grandma truly believed in accessories, and although coming from humble beginnings, she wanted to look her best.  It was very important to her.

With her beautiful silver gray hair, smart clothing, ear screws and lipstick, Martha always looked ‘put together’.  No matter how poor you are, you can be clean and neat...a Martha mantra for sure.  Everywhere she went, she would be complimented on her neat appearance, even winning Valentine Queen at her nursing home.  Grandma lived well into her 101st year on this earth.  I remember once, while visiting her in ‘the home’,  one of the caregivers gave her a compliment, which made her proud, yet shy.  After the worker left, Grandma turned to me and said, “It’s almost a curse to be so beautiful”, then she laughed and patted my hand.

 My dad made sure she was always taken care of and able to live comfortably, and so the former Valentine Queen was content and loved.  I know even now, as she sits playing Canasta in heaven, she’s looking all done up…lipstick, ear screws and that wonderful face powder.  We would expect nothing less from Martha Margaretha.

As CoCo Chanel once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

I think Grandma knew that too.

Grandma’s 100th Birthday
Posted in Boo, Relationships

Talking Up A Storm

“Hi Babe, how was the fishing?”

“Good.”  (1)

“Did you catch anything?”

“Three bass and a catfish.” (5)

“Did y’all have fun?  What else did you do?”

“Yep.  Just fished.” (3)

Wait time……

“Got a burger coming home.” (5)

Or here’s another scenario:

Me:  “What did the doctor say?

Boo:  “Not much.  I’m good.”  (4)

And another…

“What all did your brother have to say?”  I asked Boo this after a twenty minute animated conversation on his phone.

“They’re good.” (2)

Wait time….

“It rained.”  (2)

I get that in some cases it is my fault for asking questions that could be answered with a yes or no.  Sometimes, I try adding  “what else?”  or “tell me more.”

Me.  “The kids want to know what you want for your birthday.”

Boo.  “Underwear or socks.”  (3)

Me.  “They can’t all get you underwear and socks.  Isn’t there anything else you need or just want?”

Boo. “Gift card?” (2)

Me.  “To where?”

Boo.  “Anywhere is fine.” (3)

Me.  “Really?”

Boo.  “No.” (1)

Wait time….

Boo.  “Home Depot or Academy.” (4)

*(I could have answered that question myself, but I was hoping maybe he would branch out on ideas, although sometimes he does say Red Lobster.)

It’s not always like this.  Sometimes I can ask a simple question and he will go on and on with elaboration, facial expressions and hand jesters.  It just depends on the topic, time of day or whether CNN is on.

Boo is the strong, silent type until he’s ready to share.  He’s really a deep thinker, but he rarely expresses his thoughts unless the spirit moves him, and when it does, I see a whole different side of Boo.  He’ll talk up a storm, and I’ll get a glimpse into that steel-trap mind and heart of gold.   Any newsworthy topic, discussion of grandchildren or sports will have him chatting for minutes at a time.  He’s practically loquacious.

  But until then…we’ll share our peaceful silence.

That’s just Boo. (3)

Posted in Boo, Family, Relationships

Boo’s 20/20

Boo’s 20/20 by: Nancy Malcolm

“Your driving scares me!”  I said.  “Did you see that car?”  And I threw my arm across his chest in a move I used when the kids were little.

“My eyes are perfect,”  Boo declared.  “It’s you I worry about.”

“Maybe you need your eyes checked.  When was the last time you had an eye exam?”

“5th grade, by the school nurse.  I aced it!”  Holding one hand over his left eye. 

“I’m sure your school nurse was a lovely person and took her job seriously, but you have not had your eyes checked since elementary school?”

“I don’t need to.  I can see perfectly.”

Needless to say, I did not trust Boo’s last eye ‘exam’ as the current state of his eyesight.  As with most of Boo’s health care, I felt the need to lecture (that’s a harsh word) on the value of healthy eyes as we age.  You know, cataracts, glaucoma, and basic vision.  An eye exam can also warn of diabetes, high cholesterol, or other problems.

“Don’t worry about me, my eyes are x-ray vision!” he said. “Like Superman.”

“Well, if you don’t believe me, ask your doctor at next week’s annual exam.  See what he says.”  I was feeling smug that his doctor would agree with me and send him right away for an eye exam but sometimes I don’t trust Boo to ask his doctor the right questions.

When it came time for Boo to go, I handed him a slip of paper with three concerns to ask his doctor, just to ease my mind.

Do I need a flu shot and a pneumonia shot?

Check the mole behind ear that looks funny

Eye exam

According to Boo, his doctor, too, was a little surprised he had never had a real eye exam.

“So what did the doctor say?”  I asked.

“He asked me if I was having any problems.” 

 “What did you say?” I prodded.

“I said no. Then he asked me if  anything was blurry far away or close up?”

“And?”

“I said no.  Then he asked me why I wanted my eyes checked, and I said my wife thinks I need to.

“What did he say then?”  I asked.

“Oh.  Ok.”

The next week, Boo got his eyes examined, dilated and checked by a trained ophthalmologist, not a school nurse, and he came out with flying colors.

“You seem disappointed that I am truly perfect in every way.”

Maybe I was, just a little.  With Boo, I do worry about his health.  I’m glad to know he is now up to date on his flu shot, eye exam, colonoscopy and dental cleanings.  I’m still working on his nutrition, though.  His stash of candy and treats rival the grocery store check-out line, and his addiction to licorice is worthy of a 12-step program.

But, one thing at a time.  I’m proud of him for all he’s done and for now I will stay quiet and stop being Nurse Nancy.  

First the eyes….next the Twizzlers.

Posted in Pets, Photography

How To Love A Cat

How To Love A Cat by Nancy Malcolm

            We filled out mountains of paperwork, completed a background check, paid our fee, did a home-visit to the foster parent and solemnly swore to care for her until the end of time.  We knew we would be a good match, but did they?

            Emmy Lynn came to us through an adoption agency.  She had been born during Hurricane Harvey and transplanted to Austin shortly thereafter.  We have always been partial to little black cats, so after our Blackie left this earth, we waited one year to make sure we were ready.

RIP Blackie Marie

            “She’s shy,” the foster parent kept saying, but she also had two other cats and a loud, hyperactive Lab living there, too.  We persevered and finally got to hold her for a minute or so before saying yes, we wanted to adopt.  A week later, we were bringing her home, where she promptly hid inside our leather couch for two days.

            “She’s shy,” we mused.

            She finally crept out from the couch and began purring, rubbing our legs, eating, and pooping.  Then, over night she began racing around the house, demanding snacks and kicking her litter out of the box. 

            “Remember, she’s just a kitten,” Boo smiled.  “She needs our love and support.”

            “I don’t get a minute to myself,” I countered.  “She follows me around the house, wanting me to carry her everywhere and is only happy if I sit still and pet her.”

            “So?”

            “I’m busy,” I retorted. (Busy being retired) “She’s like a toddler.”

            In the morning during my sittin ugly time, she would sit on my lap while I did my prayers and daily reader.  If I dared to get up for more coffee, she would chew on my Bible and try to bite me when I took it away.  Get thee behind me, Satan!

            She would race from room to room, jump on counters, and at Christmas she jumped up into the tree trying to bite the lights.  At one point, I called the adoption agency behavior hotline.  I was anonymous, but I felt ashamed as I kept asking, “Is this normal?  I don’t know what to do. I got a water bottle to spritz her when she acts up….”

“Oh No,” she interrupted. “Absolutely no spray bottles!!!”

The hotline worker kept repeating that she is a kitten and simply doing what kittens do.  “The only acceptable discipline for her is ‘time-out’, she said.

            “How do I do that?”

            “You go in another room for a few minutes and she will eventually understand that Mommy will not accept her behavior.”

            “Thank you,” I said without meaning it, and I promptly went to my room and shut the door.

            The next day, I went to the swanky pet store in our neighborhood and asked for help in keeping this little kitty happy and entertained.  Money was no object as I purchased several ‘never fails’ and ‘guaranteed’ toys and gadgets.   I vowed to stay calm and renew my patience with this adorable, bad to the bone kitty, and s l o w l y she adjusted to life and we have adjusted to her.

            Emmy has charmed the grandkids and trained them to her liking.  She will play fetch with her soft felt balls, even bringing them back, and dropping it at my feet.  She sleeps with her tongue out and still is the happiest in my arms or on my lap.  She sits in the ivy in the front yard and waits for mothers pushing strollers so she can greet the children, and she climbs up between the comforter and sheets on the guest bed to nap when no one is home.  If we go out of town, she is always forgiving and charms her sitters with good behavior.

She is delightful, funny, loving and loyal.  She’s our little black kitty and this we know to be true…In a perfect world every cat would have a home and every home would have a cat.

Posted in Mothers, Piano

My Mother’s Piano

My mother~ Margaret Armenta Claughton

The story of my piano is bittersweet but beautiful, and begins with my mother.  As long as I can remember, we have had my mother’s piano.  You could say it was part of her dowry when she married my dad, and it is one of the few things I have that was hers.

The piano was a beautiful shiny black, but somewhere in the ‘60’s, my dad repainted it in that ever popular antique avocado green.  Why, we will never know, but it became that  ‘green beast’ color until today.  My brother and his wife housed it lovingly for years, until sometime later I pleaded with them to let me have it, which they did. Although my father always referred to it as ‘your mother’s piano,’ it has been mine ever since.

If this piano could talk, we would all be entertained for years.  The music bench is filled with music from my mother’s era, and the lesson books from my sixth grade.  “Songs of Alpha Chi Omega”, when my mother was at O.U.,  “Tip Top Tunes for Young Pianists,” and “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” are all mixed in with my lesson books to travel through time in music.

There is a corner chunk of wood missing off the bench from an ‘unchaperoned’ high school party by my youngest daughter. 

 There is a long, deep scratch on the top from a hectic move during my divorce’ years.

 Our grandkids have banged on it pretending to play their favorite songs. 

And there are strange loud moaning and groaning sounds nightly that used to scare my husband.  He thinks the piano is haunted by spirits, but I think the piano has been sad about its green color.  

Almost everyday for the last twenty years, I have passed by the piano and wished it was back to the original color.  I never thought it would be possible, but somewhere along the line my thoughts changed to, “I’m going to paint the piano.”

I would say it to myself and to anyone who would listen, but I either got a surprised look or half-sincere encouragement with a side of ‘naysayer.’  I had no one who was interested in my endeavor.  No one believed in me, except my old, true-blue friend….Pinterest.  Even the paint guys at Home Depot gave me a ‘look’ when I asked about the best type of paint to use.

I began with the bench as I dipped my brush and kept moving.  Almost immediately I knew I had made the right decision.  There was no turning back, and I wondered why I had waited so long.  Fear was the main reason, I think.  Fear of messing it up.  Fear it might look worse, if that was possible.  But, there is something about being sixty-seven years old and knowing that time is fleeting.  Perfection is not necessary, but happiness is.  Restoring my piano to a gorgeous black color makes me very happy.

My mother’s birthday is today, September 28.  I wanted to do this for her as well as myself.  This weekend has been about change and restoration; patience and perseverance. I feel fearless and creative and I know she would approve of that.

Love you, Mom.

Posted in Boo, Relationships

Zoom Zoom

Last week Boo had to attend substitute training in preparation for the start of school.  This man worked thirty years in the classroom and as an administrator guiding thousands of high school kids toward graduation.  Now, he substitutes as an elementary P.E. teacher (when he feels like it) doing hula hoop games and Kidz Bop dance-a-thons.

This year, being what it is, his training was on Zoom.  Boo has never been on Zoom and didn’t really know where it was.  This is a true story.  Most of us recognize the little blue square with a camera symbol, but Boo was a novice.

“I need your help,” he said.  “Where do I go for my Zoom meeting?”

“What do you mean?  Like the computer room???”

“I mean, where is it?”

We sat side by side and I showed him the icon, talked about the meeting number and passcode etc.  I agreed to be with him and help him “get on” his meeting.

Their first instructions said to turn off the camera and mic.

“But, I put on a nice shirt and everything,”  he said.  “How will they know I’m here?”

“It might be too distracting to have such a handsome guy on camera.” I smiled.

However, two folks did not follow directions and their faces were beside the presenter.  I became terribly engrossed watching them get up for water and coffee, primp in the camera and one even picked his nose.

Meanwhile, Boo, sitting straight in his chair said, “Can they see me?”

“No, I turned off your camera.”

“But, those guys are on…”

“They shouldn’t be.”

“I wish I was.”

“Maybe another day,”  I said.

The professional development progressed, but Boo was losing attention, staring out the window and checking his fingernails.  

Suddenly, we heard, “Type your response in the chat box, now.”  Wide eyed, he let out a few choice words and said, “Where is this chat room?”

“Ah, it’s a box, and you click on the word chat then type in your response.

By the time he completed his answer, the speaker was on a new topic…”You will be receiving a virtual backpack with information pertinent to your daily check in at school. Download now.”

I leaned over and downloaded the folders.

“What did you just do?”

“I got your backpack.”

His eyebrows shot up.

“It’s a virtual backpack, Boo.  I downloaded the information for you.”

“But, where is it?”

“It’s in our download file.”

“With the backpack?  Remember last year we got a coffee mug and the year before a grocery bag with AISD on it?  I’m excited about a backpack.”

“Honey, you really won’t get an actual backpack.  It’s virtual.”

“Oh.”

One and a half hours later, an accidental disconnect, much cussing and a virtual break-out session, it was over.

“Maybe, I should work at Home Depot,” he said.

“Don’t be discouraged, Boo.  This was just your first Zoom.  It will get better.  I think you did a great job!”

He sighed and with his sad looking baby blues, he looked at me to ask, “I wonder what color backpack I’ll get?”

Oh, Boo.