Friday, April 20, 2018

Slides to DVD Experience

In a spare bedroom closet on a shelf, in my bedroom under my bed and in the attic, I found approximately a hundred and twenty some slides. All were taken with my 35mm camera purchased in 1978. Since I needed prints from them before I could finish my photo albums, I researched online and felt like Walmart could do the job, but it wasn't as easy as it sounds. 

Store 1: The first Walmart store photo area that I stopped by told me to come back later when another person would be there who could give me the information that I needed. Since I don't live in that town I couldn't come back later that day. 

Store 2: The next WM store, in another town, said they couldn't do it there, that I would need to go to a bigger store. I left, but was pretty darn sure they could do it.

Store 3: The next and final store that I tried, the photo clerk frowned at me and said, "I'm not sure we do that." 

I said, "Yes, you do. The website says so." Then right before my eyes a brochure appeared (like Harry Potter magic) in a rack on the counter. I pulled it out, scanned it and found the area that informed on transferring slides to a DVD. "This is what I need." I sounded more confident than I felt.

She too read the brochure, told me to bundle them in bunches of 40 when I brought them back.

The next time I traveled to that town, I took my bundled slides hoping for no more resistance. The associate helped me through using the slooooow kiosk and the packaging. It took about three weeks to transfer from one media to the other. At some point, I received an email to look at them online. Then someone from the store called me to say my order was in! When I picked them up, the same associate remembered me. She somberly told me some of the photographs were faded. I grinned and said, "That's okay because some of the slides are nearly forty years old."

The DVD, full of images, is a gift. There are pictures I don't remember taking and others forgotten until I saw them again.

This cute picture of my son and daughter was taken at Easter one year. A Chuck Norris, action figure, was in my son's basket. Little sis needed baby doll supplies. Both received those multi-ink pens. I love my kids, but my eyes are drawn to my wallpaper and paneling. My cabinets are now white and there is no wallpaper or paneling.

I could tell you a story about Mr. and Mrs. Parakeet, if I could remember them. I don't know if I took a picture of my neighbor's birds (which I highly doubt) or if I zeroed out the memory of owning these beauties.

I call this photo: The tootsie roll caper. My daughter is hiding her sucker behind her back. She's got some good hair going on there.

My son on his trike.

Several of the slides are of my dad. Seeing new pictures of him is super meaningful.

Here's one of my daughter and I in matching dresses, sort of. I wasn't much into matchy stuff, but made them to make her happy. I love how I am sandwiching her tiny hand between mine.

Lastly is of my oldest niece of whom I love so much. She's nearly forty herself (like the slides) and physically an absolute beauty. We are no longer in contact.

And that is my Slides to DVD Experience.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Year in Passing and St. Patrick's Day

(I put off posting this until now, hence the reference to St. Patrick's Day)

Ronnie Powell
St. Patrick's Day has a different meaning for me now. My dad's funeral was held on March 17, 2017, a day before my March birthday, and fitting (in my opinion) since Dad was partly Irish and redheaded. It’s been a year since his passing and still weird to be at family functions without seeing his cowboy hat and hearing the click of his boots.

Dad's fast departure from this life was difficult for us, but I'm glad he didn't have to suffer a long time with illness. He didn't want it that way. Dad's illnesses seemed to come fast and hard, but in reality had been percolating in the background. We were surprised by the diagnoses: COPD (he didn’t know), lung cancer (he didn’t know that one either until the hospital stay), pneumonia and a stroke at some point that (evidently) didn't slow him down because he never knew about the stroke. Doctors and nurses alike shook their heads regarding his shredded lungs and how he breathed without being connected to an oxygen tank, in his everyday life. He didn’t need the hospital oxygen either, they said, but they had to keep it attached to him. 

He did seem superhuman at times.

His viewing and the funeral were the best as those kind of services go. He'd joked with Mom that they would have to pay people to come to their funerals, since over the years they'd lost a lot of family and friends, but that was far from the truth. Many people attended. Each person who waited in line told us the history of their relationship with Dad. Most we knew, but some came as new information (at least to me). And many wanted to share a story about him. The funeral part was led by a pastor that we once knew. Dad was not a church goer, but he really liked this young fella. Evidently the feeling was mutual because they spent time together camping and hiking. Ben presented a message that touched the hearts of most who attended the service, from our community of friends and family, the religious and nonreligious alike.
Dad didn't compliment me much, but once said that I was a good driver. Told me he liked how I kept my house and property tidy. He loved my children an incredible amount, told me so and showed it. On our trips together and car rides to writing classes, Dad told me stories of his youth, probably some I didn't need to hear. 😉
People who have been in our lives and then die often leave their voice in our heads and claim a portion of our hearts. You'll still hear them at times influencing your actions and decisions. My dad influenced me in many ways. We both: 
  • love writing.
  • like mowing our yards.
  • walk fast.
  • are hard workers.
  • entertain a bit of the no nonsense attitude.
  • love singing. He loved to sing and felt that I got my (so called) talent from him.
  • have a love affair with bacon and over easy eggs.
  • love buzzards. We even talked about buzzards. I do like a pretty buzzard!
When you lose someone that you love, your life has to change; there's no way around it. After all these years, I have no answers for overcoming grief or living without the people that we still want in our lives.
I suspect there is no easy answer.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

One Sunday Morning

My brother and I - 1961- Easter 
As a youngster, after Sunday school in our beautiful country church, my mom, two siblings, me, my maternal grandma, cousins and aunt that lived with Grandma all sat in the same pews (one or two) for the worship service. Since my grandma (and grandpa) had eight children, the extended family was large. Added to the "family" pew each weekend were visiting family members who sometimes attended church with Grandma Sadie. Needless to say, the family pew(s) overflowed. I would like to add that these were not assigned pews, but squatted, claimed emotionally by families.

My involvement with the family pew thing changed as I became a teenager and wandered around the church with friends,  until I married.

But this isn't a story about family pews. No. This story is about the pew that helped trap me. 

We weren't the only ones that sat in the same place each Sunday. In front of us, sat three of the elder women of the church and community who often sat together. They all had fluffy white sometimes blued tinted hair which I fought to not touch because their hair 'looked' soft. (I read somewhere that women blued their hair because they didn't want their gray hair to look yellow.)

One particular Sunday, the congregation sang its hymns, stood and sat as directed. (I can still hear my grandma’s sweet singing voice.) I liked two of the ladies who sat in front of us, but the third I did not care for since she was surly to me.  I witnessed her snippiness to others, too. All three of the ladies were close neighbors to us and each other. That day, a couple of things were flitting through my mind and it wasn't church related: obsessing on their soft hair and thinking on what I would do after church. I don't recall if I was singing, but I do remember running my hand over the wood of the back of the pew in front of me. That is where I left my arm, dangling over the back of the next pew when the singing stopped. 

After that last song, the song leader told us to be seated. Before I could collect both arms, the lady that wasn't so nice, fell back into her seat, slamming her body against my arm. There I stood with my skinny little arm pinned by her back to the pew. The moment was so brief, but felt lengthy as I pondered how to free myself without talking to the surly woman. I knew she would say I shouldn't have put it there in the first place. 

The woman didn't seem to notice that MY arm was the lump between her back and the seat. Maybe she thought the lump was her sweater or something because she shifted her shoulders side to side then pressed back even more against me. Suddenly, she moved again, this time forward, giving me the opportunity to pull my arm out and sit down. I looked at my mom who hadn't noticed my dilemma. She'd been in a whispering conversation with my grandma, as they sat down. 

I want to point out that others thought this woman was not surly but instead likable. Somehow, she left that impression on me. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

To Grandmother's House We Go

This week on FB, I posted a photo that I have hanging on a wall in my house of a road that once led to my paternal grandparents farm near Long Lane, Missouri. The road is still there. My grandparents are not and their farmhouse has since burned down.

The photo evoked emotions from some who had lived off of and traveled the road. 

Those people shared their memories. One said that the trees in the photo were no longer there. A couple of people wrote about riding the school bus and playing in the creek that the road runs over and picnics. I talked about my own memories and a cabin that my dad had built overlooking the creek when he grew up there.   

For me, the road begins at a highway just before the small town of Long Lane and eventually passes a church with a cemetery where some of my relatives have graves. There were other ways to get to this road that turned onto the road where they lived, but we normally didn't go those routes.

A sign on the chain link fence around the cemetery.
This sign good to know. 
Memories are what we use when we cannot revisit something or someone. 

Memories are unique for each person, personalized by experience. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

When rewriting a story should not be done...

When I was a kid there was a game we played. We called it Gossip, but I think the real name might be the Telephone Game. The first person whispered a sentence or two in another person’s ear. That person whispered what they'd heard in the next ear until the last person repeated out loud what they had heard. At that time the first person would read or repeat the actual message that had been gossiped. Usually, what came out at the end was not the original story.

If nothing else, Gossip made us laugh. 
Sometimes family stories are rewritten on purpose (to save face) and sometimes because people cannot remember them correctly.
My Easter outfit that year. I wore this
to the graduation
For years, I had told a story about staying with my grandmother Minnie one night so that I could attend my aunt’s college graduation with her. At the time, we didn’t have many college graduates in the family. I knew it was a great accomplishment and wanted to go. The plan was that I would stay the night with my grandmother and the next day drive down to School of the Ozarks (now called College of the Ozarks).

That evening, (distant) relatives that I did not know, and had never met, out of the blue stopped by my grandmother’s tiny two bedroom house in town. They asked if they could stay the night. I remember four adults: the older couple, their adult son and daughter and a younger kid (although the kid could be gossip). My grandmother cooked them dinner, fixed up the living room couch as a bed and put bedding on the carpeted floor. She didn’t want them to invite themselves along to the graduation the next day and asked me to not mention our plans.

In her bedroom, Grandma told me they "mooched" off other people. She said that the younger male, probably in his early twenties, hadn't ever worked a job. And by the way, she didn't trust him, and thereby, I would be sleeping with her and give the spare bedroom to the older couple of the family. I was fine with that. She told me to bring my purse in the bedroom, too, because things went missing after their visits. To me they were odd acting people. I did what she asked. She put her poodle Trixie in it's bed between us and shut her bedroom door. The next morning Grandma fixed a monster sized breakfast with no help from anyone but me and did the dishes, then encouraged them on their way.

Trixie in 1983 or 84
Here’s where I sort of rewrote the story. I've told this story many times in depth, how I slept in my grandmother’s bed with Trixie the poodle between us in a little pet bed made by Grandma. One day my daughter said, “How could that have been Trixie?"

Originally, Trixie was my aunt’s dog but did not have her when she graduated college. After she finished her masters degree, she worked her way across the U.S. with a friend of hers for the experience. I believe that is when she left Trixie with Grandma and well Trixie never went back to live with my aunt. My aunt graduated college in 1969 or 1970. Trixie was born after that. As I think back, one of grandma’s cats was probably in the pet bed between us, but who knows? I could be rewriting that, too.

Are family stories ever rewritten in your family? If so why? Bad memory? Embarrassing incident?

Saturday, August 19, 2017


In my rural community, you either like (a measure of love) or dislike (meaning hate) a neighbor. It's probably that way everywhere. Usually, there is no middle ground since neighbors are important fixtures, in a rural community. They will help watch your property when you’re absent. They wave from their vehicles when they pass or from their lawn mowers in their yards. They call an ambulance for you and take your kindergartener into their home until you get back from the emergency room. Good neighbors also bury your nineteen-year-old cat that has crawled upon their deck to die. They rally around you when times are tough and cheer you on when good things happen. These are good neighbors.

I’ve talked to my eastern neighbors a lot this summer. There was the issue of my thirty-year-old tree needing to come down, that kept getting in the power lines and shutting off everyone’s electricity. It was an emotional issue for me, the tree. My neighbors never said that I needed to take it down, in fact they mourned the passing of the tree with me. There was the issue of limbs that fell out of that tree and damaging my eastern neighbor’s shed. This is a shed they’d just reroofed and painted a pretty shade of gray to match their house. I wanted to pay for the damage. They said no that it wasn’t that much damage. The male of the house cut up the limbs that fell on their property, before I could get someone to do it. They hauled that away plus a pile of limbs in my yard. There was the exchange of family matters, between the female and myself, on sad stuff like their kid and grandkids moving to another state. She talked about her debilitating autoimmune illness and a new treatment that is working. I talked about my being dumb and exposing myself to heat exhaustion this summer and wearing a heart monitor for thirty days.
I’ve lived near my eastern neighbors forty-one plus years. Forty here. One year at another location. My first house after marriage happened to be next door to them. After we both moved, they invited us to dinner at their new house. I even remember the menu and that I read a book (or ten) to their oldest child. I was pregnant at the time so I felt motherly, I guess. I looked out of their patio doors that day and asked about the house being built behind them. After our baby was born, we moved in.
I've lived next to my western neighbors, my daughter-in-law's parents, for the same forty years. Funny thing is that one out of each of the households graduated high school with me. To the north, there is an older couple that I absolutely adore. They moved in from CA about seventeen years ago (I think). One of their kids (with family) lives northwest to me. They are all wonderful.
I am blessed with good neighbors.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

When socioeconomic groups come together

If there is one thing, okay maybe two, that will bring socioeconomic groups together it might be sports teams and dollar stores.

In the town where I work (and live near), there is a new Dollar Tree! For months, Facebook buzzed with excitement over the new business. At one time, our town had its fair share of industry, for a rural area nearly forty miles from Missouri’s Queen City. 

I didn’t go to the opening of the new Dollar Tree, since I don’t like crowds, and I figured there would be crowds. However, one day after work I stopped by to purchase a greeting card. I bought two.

My big-spender purchase cost me one dollar plus tax. Even on that day, after the grand opening had passed, the parking lot was full. Inside, I was met with a well-organized, clean store and lots of people shopping, with carts. I recognized the patrons as a mix of those who had less money and those who had more than enough money. 

Customers were buying everything from food to school supplies. Most bought much more than I bought, but I’m careful with my dollars in the dollar store or I might be sorry. Dollar stores are a great tempter.

I'm super happy that we have a new business and that our community can come together over a dollar store. I only wish that one could buy a dollar tree from a dollar store. If I did buy that dollar tree, would I spend those dollars at the dollar store? That is the big question.