A Letter To My Teenage Self

Dear Sweetie –

I know you’re busy being an active teenage girl, but I have some words of wisdom for you.  I have gained this wisdom through many years of experience and lots of trial and error.  I hope to relieve some of your anxiety and give you hope for the future.

Most importantly, know that the difficult times in life are survivable.  It may not seem that way now, but only because you have had such a short life and maybe so few hard times. Each success in hurtling a storm will make you more equipped to face the next one.  By the time you reach my age, you will be a master and a teacher, and others will look to you for counsel in the stressful times.

Don’t take yourself or anything else for that matter, too seriously.  Learn to see the humor in everyday life and you will always have a smile on your face. You will find that humor will get you through a lot of difficult situations.

Always tell the truth.  No matter what, tell the truth.  It shapes your character for the rest of your life.  Make your word and your signature your most solemn promise.

Meet all sorts of people and value diverse relationships.  Learn to make and maintain friendships.  Some of the people in your life now will remain close to you for the rest of your life.  Make good memories.

Try all sorts of interests.  Join after-school activities. Take up a musical instrument.  Try out for a team.  All these things help you discover your strengths and weaknesses – all good knowledge.  And they make you a more well-rounded person.

Don’t abuse drugs and alcohol – just don’t!!!  They bring you nothing but heartache and will steal your life.  They will take everything from you and I do mean everything – your money, your job, your family, your home, your friends, your name, your trust, your health and finally your very life.

Finally, have fun!   These are some of the best years of your life – enjoy them. Go to school with a positive attitude.  Attend school functions.  Spend time with friends and family. Explore hobbies and sports.  Keep a journal.  Look for ways to share with others.  Be goofy.

Have faith in yourself.  You will do well and will be successful.

Remember, I will always be here to help you.

Your grown-up self

How The Barter System Works In Coronavirus Land

Gramps and I did not do any stock-up shopping at the beginning of the virus outbreak.  We had what we needed at the time and the thought of the world running out of toilet paper never occurred to us.

So last week we were running low on paper products, including tp.  But by that time the stores were completely empty of anything paper.  Even Amazon was sold out.

As it happened, I made chocolate chip cookies one day and thought I should share them with our daughter and grandson Mac.  Mac says I make the “best” chocolate chip cookies ever.  Music to my heart!

They assured us they would love some cookies.  So over to their house we went with cookies in hand.

We had a lovely visit.  We talked and shared and laughed.  Until the subject of toilet paper came up.  How many stores did you go to?  How many rolls did the store have?  How many rolls do you have?

Finally we confessed we were down to three rolls.  (Can you believe this is what we’re talking about?!).  Our daughter offered to give us some from her supply, as she had just found a large package the day before.

We were saved!  Chocolate chip coolies for tp.  The going rate appears to be one dozen cookies for four rolls of toilet paper.  Not bad really.  They stay fed and we stay dry.

A Cat Named Starsky

It all started when I looked out into the backyard one day and saw a white rabbit hopping around.  He looked very domesticated and very lost.  So, of course, we adopted him and named him “Hutch.”  We thought that was very clever.

Within a month, I was coming home from work in the rain and saw a small cat in the street.  I stopped to see how I could help and when I opened my car door, a wet black cat jumped into my lap.

And that’s how we adopted a completely black cat who subsequently was named “Starsky” after the TV series “Starsky and Hutch.”  Now we thought we were practically brilliant at naming pets.

When I took Starsky to the vet to be checked out, the tech asked me all the necessary questions including the cat’s name.  I said I was a little embarrassed to tell her the cat’s name and she said that was okay – she had heard them all.

So I told her his name was Starsky, and how he got his name.  She said that was not bad. She actually thought I was going to say his name was “Sammy Davis Jr.”  Now that would be a great name for an all black cat!

We eventually gave Hutch to a friend who owned a farm, but Starsky lived with us for many happy years.  He grew up to be the best cat ever.

He was calm, gentle, playful and great with our two children.  They could easily dress him in clothes and he would never make a fuss.  Or put a hat on him and he would just stare at me with a “come help me” look on his face.

We even have a picture of him with red checkers all over him and the poor cat is just frozen in position.  He was the best!

He would let me carry him anywhere and would sleep on my lap.  He also slept at the foot of our bed at night.  He was quiet and didn’t snore a bit.  But he could also be playful. Have you ever seen a cat play fetch?  Well, our Starsky would!

If anyone would throw a bottle cap or fire a rubber band down the hallway, that silly feline would run as fast as he could, snatch the object and trot back with it in his mouth. Casually he would drop it at the thrower’s feet and wait for the next toss.

This would go on for as long as the thrower had energy or until Starsky got distracted by something fun . . . or maybe food.

Which brings me to poor Starsky’s weight problem.  He loved to eat and he was no athlete, so eventually he ballooned to a whopping twenty-five pounds.  Vet said, “Put him on a diet!”.

That’s when the begging began.  Our wonderful gentleman of a cat became a real pest for food.  At every meal there would be a little black paw running along the edge of the table, just in case any crumb happened to be there.  Steady as clockwork.

And our Starsky was a pacifist every day of his life.  He wasn’t a good fighter either.  I know, because after every disagreement with another cat, he had an injury on his backside.  Never anywhere else.  Always the tush – from him running away, I suppose.

Our Starsky set the standard for all the other cats we ever owned. He was the most mild-mannered, cutest, gentlest, funniest, best cat ever.

He left a huge hole when he was gone.  Hard to believe for such a small animal.  We still talk about him in all our “remember when” stories.

Everyone should have a pet like Starsky to enjoy and then remember forever.

400!

Today’s blog is my 400th!   I can’t believe it but yes, it’s true. Four hundred blogs!!!!

I’ve been writing pretty much all my life.  Mostly newsletters for different organizations and lots of letters.  I’ve always loved expressing myself per the written word.  Even after I almost failed Freshman English in College.  (The Professor didn’t think I was much good at writing in those days.)

I started this blog because I had a few things to say about being a Granny.  I thought it would be a temporary outlet and that I would run out of topics.  What a silly thought that was!

I have more to say now than I did then.  As the years have gone by, I have found that more and more ideas have occurred to me and my subject areas have broadened immensely.  It seems odd, but the older I get, the more observations and opinions I have.  I realize now it will never stop.

This blog has given me a wonderful creative outlet.   It has allowed me many opportunities to express myself in hundreds of ways. Through gratitude, humor, self-reflection, pride for another, happiness, courage and faith, I have been able to tell stories about Granny, Gramps, the grandchildren and the village.

The blog keeps me disciplined.  I must not go too long between blogs.  I must choose a topic.  I must write a certain number of words with a beginning and an end.  I must edit it and it must make sense when done.  Then it gets published.  At that point it’s all up to the readers.

They are in charge of reviewing the blog and making comments on it.  No one can know the importance of the viewing public to me.  Without you, your views and your comments, I really have no reason to write a blog.  It would be like talking to the wind.

The blog provides me much encouraging feedback to keep writing.  It’s you, the readers, who keep me going and wanting to keep posting.  One sweet compliment lasts a good long while and a positive reply is as good as intravenous vitamins.

All you viewers out there have no idea how important you are to me.  How much you mean to me and how much I depend on you.  You are always brutally truthful as to what is a good blog and what is less than my best.  For that I thank you.

This blog has taught me to be able to choose which parts of a story can be told in truth and which parts need to be kept secret or told in code.  People must be protected and social media is not very good at that, so a person must decide what is included and what is not, to protect the people.  Editing becomes a big part of writing a blog well.

This blog has taught me another thing – how kind most of you readers are.  You are basically a good group of nice people with specific opinions I need to hear.  All this exchange back and forth makes me a better writer and you a better reader.  That combined effect of getting better makes the whole blog that much better.

So how do I say thank you to all of you – my faithful followers, my diligent readers, my responsible ones, who read each blog.  How do I express my gratitude?

This is my BIG THANK YOU!  I couldn’t do this without you!  Besides the fact that I have to do this, I have to do this for you!  Thank you for that – for being there and making it worth it!

Here’s to the next 400!

My BFF

Paula has been my best friend since we were in sixth grade.  We are now seventy-two years old, so that’s . . . sixty years!  Hard to believe but true.

We lived close to each other and would often “meet in the middle,” which was halfway between our houses.  Sleepovers were common in those days, as they are today.

We clicked right away and did most everything together.  I remember when we taught ourselves sign language and would sit silently in the back seat of her family car, happily signing back and forth.

There was a time in high school when we made clothes alike, so we could dress like twins. I think we both secretly wished we were real sisters all those years.  Point of fact: we look nothing alike.  How we thought we would pass for twins is beyond me.

For several summers during high school, we went on vacation together with her family. Those are some of the greatest memories I have.  Especially the night we stayed outdoors on cots so we could see the deer come up to the cabin.  We planned to stay awake all night in shifts.  Well, the next thing I remember is us waking up in the morning and seeing the deer tracks where they had come up to investigate us while we slept.

Or the time we planned to row across the lake in a very small boat. That lasted about half an hour and it seemed we were getting nowhere.  So we turned around and came back. Best laid plans!

We shared most everything in those days – ideas, activities, goals, worries, laughs and dreams.  Where one went, the other was not far behind.

College found us going in separate directions – different career paths, different jobs, different friends.

After college, we stayed in touch by phone and letters.  We were in different states by then. We both got married and had two children each.   We visited each other a couple times during those years.

Then one day Paula called – she was getting divorced. How could we help?  “Come get me,” she said.  We helped her move and she stayed with us for nine months.

It was just like before.  We laughed.   We cried. We shared everything.  Paula and Gramps became gardening buddies.  Gramps would enter the house after work and announce, “Hi Honeys, I’m home!”

Paula has since moved out, remarried and bought a new home.  But we remain close.   She is my best friend forever.

We share a love of quilting and belong to the same Quilt Guild. We keep in touch with phone calls, lunches, birthday and holiday dinners and sleepovers.

The best part of our relationship is the shared history.   We don’t have to say a word. Sometimes a look will get us laughing and only we know why.  Everytime we get back together after a time apart, we just pick right up where we left off.  No awkwardness.  No reintroduction necessary.  We really know each other.

The two of us have been to many of our high school reunions over the years.  They have all been fun but the best part has been sharing them with Paula.  Remembering those years together has been most special.

In fact, Paula and I are going on a cruise this year for our high school fifty-fifth reunion.  We will be roommates for ten days to Alaska.  Can’t think of anyone I’d rather go with. (Except Gramps. But he didn’t go to my high school)

We are going to have so much fun.  Share such a wonderful trip.  And make more memories together.

Advice From Mother

My Mother always had good advice for me and for others. She would gladly provide advice to anyone who asked for it or pretty much anyone she thought needed it.

She began early in my life with safety recommendations and some common sense things that would work for the rest of my life. Easy things like “One banana is good for you, two bananas are not” or “Never waste food” or “Look both ways before crossing the street”.

Later she got to more important issues involving sex, personal safety, drinking, things like that. She always told me to keep my clothes on and buttoned closed. I was to always keep a quarter in my shoe to call home if I ever needed help.

I was never to go out with any boy who never came to the door to get me for a date. I was not to respond to a honk from a car at the curb. The boy must come in and talk with my parents. In fact, if it was a first date, the boy was required to drive my mother around the block in his car to show he could drive well before he could take me out. And they all did it!

My mother said never trust a boy that did not bring you home on time and did not take you where he said he was going to take you. But point of fact – Gramps brought me home (back to the dorm) four minutes late on our first date in college. That was significant back then. I had to come in four hours earlier the next night as punishment. And look where we are now!

Mom was the greatest decorator and was not afraid to use color or paint anywhere. She said you could have five colors and three patterns in a room. And believe me we did! And it all looked great!

I remember she loved pink, so it was very predominant in our house. Daddy never said a word. Of course, he was color blind.

We had the only pink refrigerator I’ve ever seen. And the cabinets were pink, blue and green, all around the kitchen. You certainly couldn’t nap in her kitchen.

Yes, Mom was fearless with color. She would say, “It’s only paint!”

And she sewed everything we used practically. From clothes to table linens to curtains to slipcovers to pillows. She make almost everything I wore. One year, for some reason, there were numerous school parties and I got a new outfit for each one. When I commented that this seemed too much, she said, “If you have fun in it one time, it’s worth the effort.” How sweet was that to say to a sixth grader!

And that held true for babies also. One good day in an outfit was worth the making of it.

She had good advice for a newly married daughter. Never stop talking to each other, she said to me. And I have found that helpful for fifty-one years.

Mom had lots of good words for us and would often refer to the old standards. But somehow she would get one or two words wrong and yet still get the meaning across. Such as, “A stitch in time saves ten”. It was hilarious and she never knew why we were all laughing.

Mom was a caution and her words of wisdom, correct or a bit revised, helped raise me. They even saved me several times.

I imagine she is still organizing and advising in her corner of Heaven.

Thanks Mom.

A Good Book

Reese Witherspoon has written a wonderful book “Whiskey In A Teacup” about life and recipes from the South – Nashville to be exact.

But it’s not just a cookbook. Although the recipes are truly fantastic. I mean, who can pass up great tips to making Southern favorites like sweet tea, lemonade, pecan pie and fried chicken.

And all the other wonderful tried and true recipes from her family and friends. You can’t beat those special meals handed down from generations ago. They are each a small treasure to be guarded, enjoyed and passed on to the next generation.

Added to the recipes are the touching stories of her childhood years  in Nashville and the impact of her mother and grandmother They are priceless!

After such good training from such strong women, Reese can and does give us all appropriate advice on how to be beautiful and proper on the outside, and fierce and warrior-like on the inside. Hence the name of the book, “Whiskey In A Teacup”.

She shows how Southern friendship and community breeds women with good manners, hospitality and a sense of decor who will fight for the rights of others, see that everyone is fed and will never lose an argument.

Included is a list of Southern Expressions and a Southern Pronunciation Key so we can all understand each other. Although since I’m from Texas, I didn’t have any problem “talking’ Southern”. My favorite, of course, is “Well Bless Your Heart!” which, as Reese points out, has many meanings. The tone of the voice will tell you which version is meant.

A good portion of the book is devoted to how Southern women deal with entertaining especially during all the holidays. Of course, a Southern woman will tend to overdo everything, so Reese’s best advice is to try to simply as best you can. Good luck with that!

I really loved reading this book .It is charming. It is sweet. It is comforting. It is like a big hug from a friend. In fact, some people I know will be getting this book as a birthday or Christmas gift.

Shh – don’t tell them!