Posted in Friendship

Pock- Pock by Ginger Keller Gannaway

A Cajun Easter Tradition

Now in April, 2020 the coronavirus pandemic is keeping us from celebrating in the same ways with all of our loved ones this Easter. Here’s an essay I wrote awhile back about one of my favorite family traditions. Y’all be safe and sane!

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Evan & Mama Gerry

     Chubby fingers clutch a pale pink and green boiled egg.  Concerned eyes flick back and forth from the egg to the bowed head of the chubby-fingered 4-year-old girl’s 8-year-old brother, a boy with destruction in his eyes.  The boy firmly holds a bright blue egg, and as he quickly raises his egg a few inches above his sister’s egg, the girl muffles a scared squeak as the brother aims and delivers a decisive blow to his target. POCK! “Ah-ha!” the destructor declares as he witnesses the broken crown of his sister’s special Easter egg (the one that took her a full 6 minutes to dye because she patiently dyed the pink half before carefully turning her egg over and holding it in the green dye for several long minutes).  The girl juts out a “boudin lip,” yet she dutifully hands her victor brother the cracked egg.  “My egg’s the champion!” brags the boy as he tosses the pink and green egg into an overflowing basket of slightly cracked Easter eggs. He struts around the grassy backyard holding the blue egg over his head.  Other kids in church clothes throw sideways glances his way, but his sister simply reaches for a Goldbrick egg in her Easter basket to ease the loss of her two-toned egg.  MaMa Joe tells her cocky grandson, “Way to go, cha! You beat your cousins!” but PaPa Joe sulks in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the purple guinea egg which he refused to give up to his grandson a few minutes earlier.

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Momma Gerry & Emile

For now 8-year-old Claude Emile revels in his Pock-Pock Championship for an Easter in Ville Platte, Louisiana.

Such is the way in Cajun land on Easter morning.  Friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas and competitive grandpas compete with their multi-colored boiled eggs to win the title of Pock-Pock Champion on a bright spring day.

  Our family’s Pock-Pock Rules:

  1. Two folks each choose an unbroken Easter egg.
    easter7
    Ryan and Andrew face off!

     

  2. One person holds his/her egg with the fat side up and faces the opponent.
  3. The opponent holds his/her egg with the small end towards the other egg.
  4. The egg-holder on top taps the other’s egg until one of the eggs cracks.  (Most folks prefer a soft, slow tapping motion that makes a “pock-pock” sound and that keeps the game going longer. * Emile’s quick, hard hammer-like hit irks me).
  5. After a few pocks, both folks will hear a deeper sort of cracking sound that signals the breaking of one egg. They pause at this point and examine their eggs’ ends; however, sometimes the crack is not visible and a few more pocks are needed to reveal the definitive cracks that label one of the egg-holders a loser.
  6. The holder of the uncracked egg is that round’s winner and he/she gets to keep the broken egg. (Unless you’ve pocked-pocked with Papa Joe and his favorite egg)

     

easter4
Caseman &Big Papa

My momma learned from her dad (Papa Joe) that guinea  and duck eggs were harder than regular chicken eggs, but this was not always the case.  Cajuns can be very competitive (even when the prize is a grubby boiled egg), and some have resorted to cheating.  One Easter Emile made a plaster of Paris egg and painted it yellow.  He managed to trick the younger cousins and the older relatives with poor eyesight, but when cousin Kenneth discovered the trick, the final pock-pock sounds came from Kenneth whacking Emile’s “tete dure.”

 

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Kelly Ann & Ginger

 

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Casey & Jana

I have always enjoyed this Cajun tradition, and even though Emile’s grandkids don’t particularly like or even want to keep boiled Easter eggs (They prefer the plastic eggs filled with jellybeans or chocolates), the kids still enjoy the pock-pock competition.  This Easter I look forward to  spitfire Amos (age 5) going up against his calm cousin Evan (age 24) and may the best egg win!

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Easter in Eunice, 1985
Posted in Friendship

Relativity

Relativity

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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An old tree stump in my hood that reminds me of myself.

When visiting a fellow teacher’s high school classroom last week, I overheard a student tell her friend, “I hate those old teachers.”  The teen answered, “They shouldn’t let them keep teaching.” Then the first girl noticed my old self in the back of the room and apologetically added, “Just the ones with grey hairs, ya know.” (I’ve dyed my hair for eleven years.)

Teens. So entertaining. So hip and quick and yet so slow. They have razor sharp radar for any kind of prejudice except ageism.

Of course, we over-sixty folks are quick to judge as well: “My new doctor is twelve!”  “My grandson is addicted to his phone.” “See those tattoos all over our waitress?”

Ageism is relative.

My favorite part about teaching teenagers is their funny, honest spitfire comments:

“Miss, your skirt got a stain from your hippy days,” or “Did the Civil War happen before or after you went to college?”

Our youth-obsessed culture may have persuaded me to dye my hair and update my 1970’s wardrobe; however, do I not now judge my 90-year-old dad who lives with us?

IMG_1628
Dad’s birthday last June, 2019

His grunts, sighs, belches, moans, and creaks annoy me almost as much as the messes he leaves in the bathroom. How does someone grunge-up the sink, mirror, countertop and floor just by brushing his teeth?  But the worst part is the adult diaper crap. Seeing him shuffle to and from the bathroom in his pull-ups makes me dread my own scary future. It makes me want to hide out on a remote island alone where I leave my bungalow only to sit in my cozy backyard and listen to birds, watch squirrels, read a book and forget I’m wearing Pampers.

Dad-guilt consumes me when I complain. He’s trying hard not to annoy us. He apologizes when we spend six hours at the VA clinic. He’s learning to take the short bus to the senior center for bridge lessons, and each night he says, “Good night, sweet princess” before he goes off to bed.

Still the saying “We all turn into our parents” never sounded so ominous. I worry and I pray and I warn my husband, “If you die before my dad, I will kill you!”

I tell my head to stop judging Dad the way teens judge “those teachers with grey hair.”  My heart thumps “Be patient. Be kind” but my bratty brain answers, “Damnit! Dad’s fresh sheets got another poop smear down the middle.”IMG_0367

I need to change my heart’s chant to, “Be real. Be strong’” because one day my three sons might say, “Damn! Mom tried covering her bald spot with a Magic Marker again.”

Posted in Friendship

Vive la France


quote-in-department-stores-so-much-kitchen-equipment-is-bought-indiscriminately-by-people-julia-child-5-48-25

Written by Nancy Malcolm

“Babe,”  I hollered from the bedroom while folding laundry.  “You really need new underwear. I can almost read the newspaper through these!”

I heard his footsteps and felt him lean against the door frame as he sighed,  “They’re O.K. But, I guess you could get me another pair whenever you’re out.  You know what I like. The usuals.”

And that, my friends, is how a simple conversation prompted an international experience.

Full coverage?  Mid-rise? Boxers, briefs or compression?  Silk? Cotton or polyester? These were the choices as I stood in the men’s department at Kohl’s among the stacks of underwear.  I knew my husband had said ‘the usuals,’ but I was thinking this was a perfect time to spice things up. When I returned home with an assortment of new silky, multicolored, longer length undies, I really thought he would embrace the change.  Instead, with a deer in the headlights look, he asked,   “Didn’t they have mine?” 

I dumped out the new packages and said, “Please? Try it, you might like it .”                471909-070818

I have to give him credit, seeing that he tried to envision himself as the model on the front of the package:  slim, flat stomach and handsome. He stood in front of the mirror holding his stomach in and flexing his biceps.  “O.K.,” he said, and agreed to give it a go. Truthfully, what else could I ask for?     “Hubba-hubba,” I crooned and then gave a little whistle just to seal the deal.

As the days went on, he would incorporate a new pair here and there, but I could tell he missed his tighty whities.  “These are a little too slick (aka silky) and too long. And, aren’t they too tight?”  

“They might feel tight to someone who has been wearing underwear with questionable elastic,” I countered.

Finally, one morning he sauntered into the kitchen, where I was pouring my coffee.  “Hey now,” he sang. “These are very snazzy!”

“Those?”  I asked.

“Yea, these sexy French ones,”  he said.

“French ones?  Did I buy those?” I asked.

“Yea, see the tag?  Sen~ah’ I like these.  They’re perfect.”

“Babe,”  I said. “You’ve got them on inside out.  It’s HANES.    Sen~ah’ is Hanes backward.”

And with a sheepish grin he said, “You know I’ve never been good with too many choices, and besides, I hate change.”

Suddenly, I realized I may have pushed him out of his comfort zone, away from the security of his tighty-whities, but it was worth it.  My little puffed pastry was trying something new, even if it was inside out.

Viva la Hanes!! Baby, Viva la Hanes!!

Posted in Friendship

Money Money Money

Money Money Money (1)

 

Written by Nancy Malcolm

 

Boo and I have been married for fifteen years and while we rarely disagree, the main times we do are when he tries to tell me something I already know.

Because this isn’t our first marriage, we decided from the beginning to have separate checking accounts.  I feel very strongly about my money management skills and my ability to handle my affairs. But, so does he.

He is so old school that he still wants to receive his paycheck in the mail so he can deposit it himself. 

 “Direct deposit feels risky,” he says.  “So many things could go wrong, and besides, I like to see and feel my money.” 

 The man doesn’t even use an ATM machine.  He withdraws his cash from the drive-through bank cashier or he goes inside the bank to speak with a real person.

Once, I tried to show him how to deposit a check using his phone and I thought he was having a heart attack.  When I explained how easy it was and that he could just check his account at any time, he begged me to stop. “That’s crazy!  Someone could just hack in and take all of our money.”

“Yes, but that’s why you have passwords and safety features.  I’m telling you this will save you time and the stress of driving to the bank,” I said.

Boo just shook his head, “I don’t know you anymore.  You’re just willy-nilly with this online banking shenanigans.  I like real people, not machines and phones,” he said and added, “You charlatan!”

Needless to say, our household bills are divided between the two of us.  Boo pays his bills the same day they arrive in the mail, and although I have never been withdrawn or had a late fee, he worries that I will forget or miss a payment.  

“Don’t forget to pay the mortgage,” says the worrywart.

“I won’t.”

“I see the mortgage payment is here,” says Mr. Passive aggressive.

“Yup.”

“You know there’s only a five day grace period for the mortgage,” he scolds.

“I know.”

Seriously, the mortgage just arrived in the mail and he says all of this during the first twenty-four hours.

  I have NEVER forgotten to pay the mortgage or any bill, but he cannot trust my process.

I have to admit, sometimes I let it sit out just to make him ask questions and sweat a little.  If he gives me cash for something or just slips me a twenty, he will worry and watch until that twenty-dollar bill is safely in my wallet.  “All of my bills face the same direction,” he proudly proclaims. “That way I can tell at a glance how much money I have.”

“I’m happy for you, Wells Fargo.”  I egg him on, while secretly mine are too.

He saves all of his change and is keeping it in one of those old, large water cooler bottles.   Once I put some extra coins into the jug, thinking he would be happy and he completely freaked out because I had included pennies.  He only likes silver.    

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The man has money hidden in all kinds of places.  I’m quite sure that the garage alone has a couple hundred and his desk is probably packed with wads of cash hidden in the bottom of drawers or folded in stashed envelopes. I haven’t checked between the mattresses yet, but I wouldn’t rule it out.   His cash hoarding is endearing and yet perplexing.  But one thing is absolutely true; he is generous and loves giving gifts, especially to his grandkids.  His heart is pure gold. (or should I say silver.)

It must be hard to be Boo and have so many rules about money.  He stresses a lot because he wants to be in total control and secretly, I guess I do too.  But, my Boo is a fabulous money manager and even if his practices are antiquated; even if he causes me angst, and questions my techniques; he is thrifty, loyal, helpful, kind and brave just like a Boy Scout.  He’s my JPMorgan and Citi Bank all rolled into one.

Posted in Friendship

My Dad, My Cat

written by Ginger Keller Gannaway

These days my dRAad reminds me of my cat. As he ages, he resembles more and more my cat J.T.  Both are very old. She is 16 or 17 (no one recalls exactly when we got her from a friend at work). My dad is 92. They move in slow, deliberate ways anJTd show little interest in the world at large. 

Both make annoying sounds. The cat meows incessantly. She starts crying at three a.m. and goes until five. Her vocalizations can be pleading and helpless or demanding and stressed. She starts with short, emphatic, “Meow. Meow. Meow.” If I don’t heed her call for food, she tries sick-sounding, “Meeereow, Meeereow!” and will mix the short cries with the drawn-out ones at uneven intervals. After seven or eight cries,  four minutes of silence might convince me that she’s given up. I smile and settle deeper into my pillow when, “Meertchkmrowww,” assaults me.

Dad’s sounds are more predictable. He moans any time he is conscious. It’s a low steady moan, almost a hum but void of any musicality. It has a pinch of pain in it and a rhythmic quality that is in sync with his breathing. Once my dad’s roommate’s wife told me, “Your dad sorta sounds like he’s purring.” (a weird coincidence of phrasing, for sure). But Dad’s moans have no satisfying feel, and he’s unaware he’s making any sound at all. After he assured me he was not hurting anywhere, I pleaded with him: “Please stop moaning, Dad.”

“What?” he asked.

“Moaning. You’re always moaning.”

He paused, stared at me, and said, “Am I off key?”

My cat, on the other hand, knows she’s meowing. She wants food. “She’s a cat,” explains my husband. “She just wants a taste.” Maybe so, but we can’t leave food out all the time because our dog will devour any morsel she walks away from, and in three minutes she meows for more. I refuse to cow-tow to her unreasonable, middle-of-the-night cravings! I sometimes get up, act like I’m going to the kitchen to shake out some Tender Vittles, and then fake her out and rush back to my room and shut the door on her. 

JT asleep

Perhaps my dad and cat moan and meow to let the world know they are still here. 

Thankfully, both Dad and the cat love to sleep. True to her feline nature, our J.T. sleeps at least seventeen hours a day. She curls up on the sofa arm, the window ledge that gets afternoon sun, or the blanket-covered bench at the foot of our bed for the best sleep.  Likewise, Dad is asleep way more than he’s awake. Every time I visit, I find him napping – mouth wide open and snoring instead of moaning. My, “Hey, Dad!” makes him sputter awake, force his eyes open, and give me a smile, so happy to have a visitor. He drinks some of the smoothie I bring him and soon dozes on and off for the rest of my visit. Even when we watched the champion LSU Tigers take care of ALL their opponents, he’d nod off until our “Geaux, Tigers!” yells roused him. He is as much an LSU fan as he’s a fan of  saying, “Any time is nap time.”

Both J.T. and Dad are picky eaters. Our pet now only wants soft food and gets sick if she eats too quickly. Dad is at the soup, yogurt, and ice cream time of his life with pudding and milkshakes as snacks. Both look skinny and act tired.

The two do share a calm air of acceptance. Their wants are few: a comfortable place to rest, small bits of food and drink, and regular signs of love/attention. Maybe Daddy’s moaning really is his version of purring. He prefers to close his eyes, hold a loved one’s hand, and listen to the conversations from his visitors that make him nod and smile. Satisfied and comfortable, he moans (purrs) and reminds me that he (and cats) understands the joy of serene relaxation.

NOTE:  A year after my mom died, my dad moved in with my husband and me in Texas. Two years later after a couple of falls, he switched to assisted living. Now he’s bed-ridden and in a skilled nursing facility. I visit him several times a week, and I love him way more than my cat.

happy papa

Posted in Friendship

Smokin’ Hot

Smokin' Hot

Once when my girls were over for dinner, one of them asked, “Where’s the big salad bowl?”  I replied, “Look up on the top shelf in the cabinet.”

“Oh”, they laughed. “Where you used to hide your cigarettes?”

How did you know that?”  I knew it was too late to deny.

“Mom”, they said, “Everybody knew that!”

I’m not proud of it, in fact, I hate to rat myself out, #IwishIneverhad, but I used to smoke cigarettes. Of course, not in public.  Never in public, but I was definitely a full-blown closet smoker.  I would go hours out of my way just to have 10 minutes with a Kent 100 Golden Lite.  I had guidelines, mind you. I wasn’t just a ‘willy-nilly’ smoker, I had rules for my closet smoking,  that were strictly enforced.

Rule #1

I never smoked during the school day.  I didn’t want my students to smell it on me and think I condoned smoking.  Self-righteous and hypocritical? Of course.

 

Rule #2

I never smoked around my parents.  Once, I was in Amarillo visiting my dad and it was cold, windy and slated to snow.  I had been cooped up in their small Assisted Living apartment all day, when at bedtime, I abruptly said, “Oops, I left something in the car, I’ll be back.”  Of course, I had been planning my ciggy break for hours, so I had one cigarette, (no room for error) a lighter, car keys and a breath mint stuffed into my bra.

Next, I debated on whether to put on a coat and draw more attention to my outing, or just sprint to the car.  I decided to sprint. Once outside, I realized it was sleeting. I got into my car, turned it on and cracked the window.  I don’t know why, but I decided to lay down in the front seat so no one would see me. (what? A snitch in the Assisted Living?)  I lay there in the freezing cold, shivering, waiting for the car to warm up and puffing away.

Pretty soon I hear a car drive up and park next to me.  I hear two men get out and begin discussing the fact that a car (mine) was running and no one was in it and then they peeked in the window.  Can I tell you that cigarettes make you do some crazy stuff? One of the men asked through the cracked window, “You OK?” I sheepishly said, “Oh yes, just taking a break.”  ugh…..

So, I put out the cig, stood outside to get the smoke smell off and popped my breath mint before heading in.  When I got back to my parents’ apartment, I just casually kept walking to the bathroom to wash my hands, when my step-mother said, “We were worried about you, we can see your car from the front window.”  Ugh…..my walk of shame was now complete and to make matters worse, I did not enjoy one puff of my stolen moment.

You would think a grown woman could just tell the truth, but I could not.  Cigarettes made me lie, cheat, steal and hide. I began to smoke thinking it was cool and here I was slithering around in the snow and lying to my folks.

Oh, the tangled webs we weave…

 

Rule #3

Never drive and smoke.  It wasn’t so much a rule as a safety feature.  For some reason, I could never drive, puff and flick the ash at the same time.  I learned that the hard way when I flicked an ash and it flew back into the back seat.  This happened to me while crossing the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. Everything turned out fine except for that little burn mark on the floorboard.

Rule #4

Last but not least was “Thou shalt deny.”  I never admitted that I smoked, never carried cigarettes in my purse and always acted sanctimonious when catching a student with tobacco. My picture is next to hypocrite in the dictionary.

 

The good news is that closet smoking does cut down on your habit.  It was too hard to sneak around to ever smoke more than 5 in one day.  The best news is that I truly am now a non-smoker. The birth of my grandson was the catalyst.  I never wanted to be a little old granny hiding out behind buildings or standing in alleyways, puffing a ciggy.  My cold turkey quit was perilous at best but so worth the pain.

I want to be an active granny even in the nursing home.  Not pulling my oxygen tank trying to sneak a smoke without blowing up the building.  I’m not a hater, you’all. I truly understand the pull toward that green-eyed monster called tobacco.  And if you really want to know the secret to break that habit, I’ll be happy to share.

Posted in Friendship

Labor Day by Nancy Malcolm

 

According to Merriam and Webster, one definition of labor is: an expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory. Once a year our nation pays homage and celebrates the holiday called Labor Day, however, I have found that in my life, Labor day, rolls around more often.

College exams, grad school projects and commencement celebrations all follow a predictable set of trials that reek of labor and culminate in satisfaction. Never the less, in life, there are unpredictable days of labor that propel you to either sink or swim, fight or be knocked to your knees in fear.

Unpredictable labor days take you by surprise. You wake up one day, excited about a plan, looking forward to a completion and then it happens…your ordinary day turns into labor day.

On July 7, 1977, I was pregnant and excited about an early September due date and another addition to our family. My time had passed in a rather unremarkable way. I looked good, felt good and actually enjoyed being pregnant. As a teacher, I had made it through the school year and even managed to take a graduate course during the month of June. Day after day, that June, I carpooled with two other teachers and we laughed, studied and improved our minds. My already large belly seemed to grow more each day.
Our 11 year old daughter was such a trooper, being watched by babysitters and Aunts (it takes a village). I would come home, exhausted from Grad school and she would let me take a nap. Then we would eat popsicles and watch The Match Game together…our little ritual.

But, on the morning of July 7th, I had woken up a with a backache. Feeling achy was no excuse to lounge about, I thought, so I proceeded to clean house. After all, today was the day the crib would be delivered. My precious daughter checked in with me often but went about her job of playing outside and summer fun book reading.

The bed was delivered and I felt finally ready for this new baby. As the day progressed, though, I knew this was not a simple backache and finally in the afternoon, I summoned my daughter to call her Daddy and tell him to come home.

What happened next is a blur. A slow motion, fast-paced, jumping off a cliff Labor Day. We must have dropped our daughter off w/ neighbors or her Aunt. I can only imagine now, how frightening it must have been for her because I was so afraid myself. Afraid of the severe pain, afraid of what would happen next and knowing in my soul, it was too early for this little one to appear.

The last thing I remember, on this unexpected Labor Day, was lying on a gurney and the nurse and Dr. telling me they would have to break my water. They did so, and water flooded the bed and the floor. The look on their faces was not matching their words of “let’s go have this baby” The cheerful words did not hide the concern of their eyes.

They quickly put the mask over my face and the next thing I knew, it was two days later. Our small town hospital had a maternity ward and then a wing for everyone else. They put me in a room with another woman away from the maternity wing and crying babies. I remember waking up on and off and hearing the woman in my room sobbing. I laid perfectly still in that dark room and wondered what had happened to her. Looking back, now, I wonder if the sobs were mine.

When I finally came to, the Doctor on call approached my husband and I. His military manner was straightforward and blunt. In essence, our little baby girl never breathed a breath of life in this world, her malformation prevented it and he encouraged us to seek genetic counseling. Period, end of story. Still trying to understand what the Doctor had just said, my husband then announced that “they” had already done the autopsy and buried the baby…there was nothing for me to do except feel better and get stronger. My bleeding heart sunk into a pit, a pit so deep, I wasn’t sure there was a way out. I felt silent. I became silent.

I told my husband how sorry I was. I knew he had weathered much pain in his life, but he assured me it would all be ok. We’ll move on with our lives.

I think we drove home in silence. When we pulled up to the house, I saw my parents’ were there. I went to bed and stayed there for what seemed like a long time. I could hear hushed conversations, doorbell and telephone ringing and silently, I lay in bed trying to get the courage to go into the nursery.

I finally walked gingerly around the house into the baby’s room. The new bed, the rocking chair, changing table, it was all gone. In its stead were a desk, chair, and table, all items in an office not my baby’s’ room. I was silently reeling. Well-meaning friends had thought it best to get rid of it all so I wouldn’t be reminded.

My reminder wasn’t furniture. It was my swollen breasts, my empty womb, my sore inner thighs. My broken heart.

Suddenly among the deep sadness, I felt shame. Shame that I had produced this imperfectly formed child, shame that I wasn’t grateful that friends and family had taken apart the nursery. Shame that I didn’t agree with well-meaning phrases..”It’s for the best”, “You can have another baby”, “its time to get on with your life.” Shame that I couldn’t bounce back so everyone else could feel ok.

My unpredicted labor day lasted longer than 24 hours, as often they do. If I could know then what I know now, I would do so many things differently. I just didn’t know, and no one else near to me knew either.

I would hold myself and rock and cry. I would mourn the loss of this precious baby girl. I would hold her clothes, her tiny shoes and drink in their sweetness. I would take time to grieve, be unashamed of my sorrow, my tears. I would not worry about disappointing others on how long it takes me “to get over it”.

I never got over it, I just went on. She is always with me. My little Autumn, my champion for all the wee souls who got a fast track to heaven. I want her to know that I loved her, and wanted her. Even though I was young and unsure of my right to grieve, I mourn her loss yet celebrate her sweet heavenly soul.

Today, I honor two tender souls, hers and mine. Our tenderness gave us strength and gratitude. I will always remember, probably always be sad and always celebrate Autumn. For in doing so I realize, that my Labor Day was her Independence Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Friendship

Ptomaine-Schmomaine

dishwasher-449158_1280Ptomaine-Schmomaine!!!!

 

“That’s too much,”  he said. “You’re overloading.”  

“But, I think I can get one more in,”  I challenged.

Just then, with a sigh, he wiped his hands on the dish towel and walked off mumbling, “I won’t be responsible for such irresponsibility!”

The man who never sees a sink full of dirty dishes and can leave a used tea glass parked by his chair for three days has strict guidelines for loading the dishwasher.  Each glass, plate, and utensil is rinsed thoroughly and placed in its own ergodynamic location.

 

This guy who leaves his coffee mug in the garage until the remnants are glued stiff to the cup bottom is a stickler for perfection in the dishwasher.  Overlapping dishes is a sin!

 

“Aren’t you afraid the dishes won’t get clean and we’ll get ptomaine from a piece of baked-on egg in-between a fork tine?  “Aren’t you the least concerned that the dishes are unorderly and just willy-nilly?”

 

“NO, I barked, “ as I closed the dishwasher door and pushed start.  “I’m more concerned with missing the last episode of “Sister Wives”!  I’ve heard it’s a cliffhanger!”

I admit I did for one moment consider he was right, but as I reached for a paper towel to put my cookie on….and clicked the remote, I knew there was no going back.

Posted in Friendship

For Out of The Abundance of the heart, The Mouth Speaks

 

For Out of The Abundance of The Heart, The Mouth Speaks
Photograph by Nancy Malcolm

 

Words can heal us or hurt us.  The spoken word is undeniably powerful.

Perhaps we should all have to obtain a  license to speak; for some people have no filter, no compassion and according to the scripture…no heart.  We could all share stories of words that have wounded our souls.  No one escapes this life without an insult or offense, and sadly we ourselves are sometimes the perpetrator.

 

Today we are witnessing calloused words thrown back and forth on television and in the news.  Angry, slandering terms so effortlessly spoken. Is there no alarm that goes off inside, warning the offenders to stop and think before they speak?  Are these insidious words actually a reflection of the speakers’ heart? Maybe there is venom flowing through the veins, not blood; otherwise, how could so much hurt be inflicted?

 

I’ve been cursed by more than a few high schoolers.  As an educator for many years, I have also observed the hateful, hurtful flying words between teenagers who are in pain and wishing to inflict pain or get even.

I’ve been sliced by an unthinking acquaintance, I’ve been bullied by someone claiming to love me.  And, sometimes, even more hurtful has been a silence, the unspoken word of a darkened heart. I have almost seen the painful word as it lept from its cave. Certainly, I have felt it.

 

How is it that we fellow humans send these fiery darts?  Have we forgotten the old admonishments of “Think before you speak”?  Are we so intent upon hurting other travelers that we purposefully strike fast and deep so as to stop them in their tracks?

 

My dad used to admonish me with “Aren’t you going to fight back?” or “Don’t let them get away with saying that!”  But, I have always been taken aback when someone was rude or hateful to me. I continue to be surprised when someone acts unkind and I am slow to respond with equal vengeance.   Perhaps I am naive or Pollyanna-ish, but I firmly believe that ‘hurting people… hurt people’.  

 

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

 

I do believe that there are vipers whose intentions are not good, but I am convinced that there are other ways besides cutting words to take up for myself and feel safe.

 

If only there were x rays able to see into the hearts of others. Whether it would help us or hurt us, I do not know.  For each of us is responsible for our own words and what we do with them.  Someday we will all be held accountable for what we spoke and the hurt or help that our words intended.
If we could remember to THINK before speaking:  Is it Thoughtful? Honest? Intelligent? Necessary? Kind?  Perhaps then,  we could reflect more goodness from our hearts and not hatred.

Posted in Friendship

Fragile by Ginger Keller Gannaway

I remember the nervousness of holding my baby Shane 30 years ago. He was a couple of days old and hooked up to monitors and tubes in an ICU unit in San Antonio.  Born with transposition of the greater vessels, Shane had undergone an emergency heart procedure about six hours after he was born.  Dr. Bloom, a pediatric cardiologist, reopened the flap between the chambers of my first child’s heart with a balloon catheter that changed Shane from being a “blue baby” to a greyish-tinted baby. Shane would not be a healthy-looking pink Caucasian baby until he was big and strong enough to survive open-heart surgery to get his ticker to pump the proper amount of oxygen to his lungs.

Baby shane and mama
My mom (MaMa Gerry) and Shane Thomas

The morning I first held my baby in the ICU my mind held a confusing mix of excitement and fear. The nurse had to unhook Shane from a few monitors to place him in my arms as I bottle-fed him my pumped breast milk.

A week later a different nurse gave me lessons in swaddling and bathing my son. Also, I was handed a list of the signs of heart failure. She reminded me that Shane was still sick, and he would need extra care until he weighed 20 pounds and could undergo a 5-hour surgery.  Her directions, “Don’t let him cry too much” haunted me and Gary for the next 7 months.

Shane seemed beyond fragile. Bathing him involved getting the bathroom sauna-room warm before we washed his squiggling, crying, slippery self.  Breast feeding was the one thing my newborn and I seemed to get right. Shane was satisfied with his meal, and I felt like my boy was perfectly safe for those round-the-clock connections we shared.

As Shane grew and learned to sit up and crawl, we developed a small amount of parental confidence (until he had his first earache, busted lip, bumped head, or gagging incident).  Later Shane survived his open-heart surgery ordeal, and we worried less when he soon walked and talked his way into toddlerhood. Then in 1990  Casey was born followed by Evan in 1993. I let go of many parental fears since I saw my 3 boys as rough and tumble puppies who were more unbreakable than fragile.  (Like in Truffaut’s “Small Change” when a toddler falls out an apt. window and bounces his way to safety on the lawn).

However, when my boys became teenagers my fears about their fragility returned, and I felt sure about nothing. From the first broken-heart moment to the first traffic violation or the middle-of-the night call for help, I realized that a teen’s belief in his own infallibility only makes him more likely to get in trouble or hurt.

Now my boys are ages 30, 27, 24 and to me they are still fragile. Years before Shane was born, my dad told me that a parent never stops worrying about their children. I hate to admit that Dad was right-on with that observation. These days I aim for balance between fear and confidence when I think about my three sons. I know all of them have strong, loving hearts and minds that will serve them well when Life hurls danger at their fragile parts.

my 3 sons
Evan, Casey, Shane in 2006