2730 Words


2730 words. That is all he wrote. 2730 words define his poetry and deepest thoughts. So few, yet they say so much. How can it be?

There are fewer words in an obituary, even fewer on a tombstone, summing up most of our lives. We don’t know how the person buried under the soil felt, or what they thought, or what engaged them. And when those that knew them are gone too, all is lost.

It is beyond sad so few of us leave behind any written legacy for our loved ones. A quote, a thought, a story, a remembrance, to hand down from generation to generation sharing and telling the future what the past was all about.

Each of us has a story, lived a life seen only from our perspective. We know things no one else knows, and we share only what is acceptable, easy, and gentle. The hard truth, the pain, the rage, all of those are buried as deep as a coffin, shame.

2730 words are the legacy of my son. Something to share, no matter how painful, with all those who loved him, and all those who will never meet him in this life. It was an honor to put his words together for those who will come after.

I Will NOT Feel Guilty About Christmas Gifts.


I saw a meme on Facebook today that left me speechless, for all of four seconds, then I was totally ticked off. I do NOT like it when people try to manipulate me in any way, and this was exactly what the meme was trying to do.

Basically, it calls people on the carpet for buying nice gifts for their children and labeling them from Santa Claus. Because, after all, some other child might not get anything as nice as a laptop or phone, they may only get gloves and a scarf or something less expensive from the man in red. Therefore, those of us who give our kids something from ‘Santa’ that is more expensive will cause hurt feelings if they share what they got with those less fortunate. In other words, we have to limit what we spend on our kids, or we are guilty of flaunting our wealth, and that makes us evil people.

Quite frankly, that is a load of bull$*(*#!!! If you have kids young enough to believe in Santa, they won’t give a flip how expensive the gift is, because it will be from Santa! That is all that matters. If they are old enough to know the cruel truth of who bought them the gift, then they won’t be upset because it will be from you no matter what name is on the package. Sometimes the logic of the knee jerk emotional response people baffles me. No, the logic of such people always baffles me.

Why would it be my responsibility how your child reacts to what my child receives for Christmas or any other time a gift is offered? I don’t expect you to buy your children’s gifts based on my income or what my child might want. It is utterly ludicrous to suppose that anyone should be involved in gift giving between myself, my children or grandchildren but us.

Everyone knows Christmas comes around every December 25th. Everyone knows that we give gifts to one another in remembrance of the gift we received from God in the Savior, and in the gifts the Magi gave to the Christ child. We know it is coming all year long. I do not understand why everyone waits until the last possible minute to recognize the expense, whether in dollars or time and effort, that will be added to the budget. So let me explain how we do things.

In January, I take my empty Christmas money jar, and start putting back as much as I can from my budget. Some months it is more, some less. I have a goal of one hundred dollars per child or grandchild, a bit less for the babies as they are happy with wrapping paper and boxes until about the age if two. I also factor in things like baking goods, baskets, and wrapping paper to the fund. As I save each month, I start a file from each kid or grandchild about the things that they are interested or would like to have. It gives me a bare bones budget from which to work.

Around the end of October, I start shopping in earnest. I look for sales, coupons, two for one sales, any way to save money and still buy them what they want. It doesn’t matter if it comes from Santa or me, each gift is carefully chosen and paid for with CASH. No debt here, thank you very much. By Christmas, I have spent my savings, prepared goodie baskets for my friends and neighbors, wrapped all the gifts, and have everything set for a family dinner.

Even on a limited income, this can work as long as you are diligent about saving and keeping the funds for Christmas. The trick is to be determined not to waste the funds on other things. If it is in the Christmas jar, nothing short of a life and death situation will get it out of the jar before Christmas. My point is, that anyone can give their children nice things, if they want to work hard enough for it.

Sure I will go without other things, and maybe I won’t have that extra whatever I wanted, but at the end of the day, did I really need it? How many pairs of shoes, or handbags, or goodies does one need to be healthy? Not too many. I would rather see my granddaughter’s face light up with joy at her “Santa” present, or have a heart felt hug from my son for the item he has wanted for a long time, but didn’t want to spend money on with a family to feed.

So, back to the meme, get over it people. No one is responsible for your family but you. My family comes first, and what I have left over, I share willingly and for as far as I can stretch it. Maybe it will only be a basket of Christmas cookies and muffins, but it is given with love and appreciation to my friends and family.

Don’t try to manipulate or guilt people into shame for doing well, working hard, and giving generously, be it from “Santa” or from Nana and Papa. It makes you look inept, immature, and impractical. It used to be people stood up for themselves, they didn’t expect everyone else to feel sorry for them and make life easy. Be honest with your children. They aren’t stupid, they know if you are wealthy or if you are barely making it. So, work hard, save hard, give with love, and teach your children to do the same.

How Did I Get So Old So Darned Fast?


Today I turned 62 years old. I think that qualifies me as older than dirt. I know it qualifies me as a senior citizen. What I want to know is how it happened so darned fast. Just a few weeks ago, I swear I was trying to figure out the whole concept of being an adult.

When I turned nine, I remember it well, because my parents gave me a copy of Huckleberry Finn. The first real book I remember ever getting. I still have it. And I took time to re-read it not too long ago. When I turned 17, I was a married woman of a whole three months. I remember thinking I had it all, and knew it all, and wasn’t afraid to face everything life would throw at me. I was a grown woman, and by heaven I knew it all. Arrogance knows no bounds to a 17 year old.

When I turned 20, I had a three month old son, he was taking me down a peg or two in arrogance, and teaching me that being a grown woman was harder than it looked. Being a mother certainly was harder. Little did I know that by the time I turned 22, I would have a second baby boy and life was set on fast forward for the next twenty years or so.

I don’t remember many spectacular birthdays. They seem to blend together. However, I remember when I turned 30, my two best friends kidnapped me, drove me all over Harrison, Arkansas for a few hours, then took me out to eat at a steak place. When I walked in, almost the entire church ward, most of my Boy Scout Leader friends, and many others turned up for a surprise party. I was totally shocked. Not a clue slipped out from anyone. Back then, there were no cell phones, so no one was able to tip me about the kidnapping or anything. It was great! I was fully embarrassed, but it was the slickest thing anyone has ever pulled on me. Candy, and Edie Mae , I have not forgotten, and I will get even one day.

The best gifts my husband gave to me are: The Elton John Concert in Hong Kong, The Michael Buble concert in Memphis, and my beautiful blue Honda Del Sol sports car, I call Posh. Treasured memories, and one of the most fun toys I have EVER had.

Once our boys moved out and on with their lives, and we got custody of Crystal, we decided to move to Europe, and then around the world, using employment opportunities to set off on our next adventure. When it was time to move on to the next new home, it was always on my birthday. We were either moving into a place, or packing to move out of a place – or in accommodations between places. Since it was either a sad time, or an exciting time, there was never time to pay much attention to celebration. One exception, however, was when we were living in Hong Kong. The other moms with children Crystal’s age who attended the same international school as Crystal took me to lunch. It was a fabulous time, and each gift is still something I use today, or wear today. They are part of my treasure horde. Of course, tea in the plaza after school every day was special too. Sigh, I miss you all.

I guess I was busy having a life, and simply didn’t notice time sneaking past at such a rapid rate. Technology has overtaken the simple pleasures, and I miss that. I miss being the mom of growing boys (before teenage hell set in). I miss the summers at the swimming hole with Edie Mae and her girls, and Candy and her boys along with me and my kids. I miss the Plaza with the ladies there and their kids, I miss the women in London and Nottingham, and I miss the dear friends in New Zealand, especially Leah who was more than willing to give me a kick in the attitude when I needed one most. I miss being young and strong physically even if I am old and stronger emotionally and have more wisdom.

The older I get, the less it matters if we celebrate my birthday or not. It is a day I do a lot of reflection on my life. Since it is so close to Christmas, and the anniversary of my baptismal date this month, there always seems to be more important things to focus on. Especially, for me, spiritual matters.

But I still don’t understand how I got from 22 to 62 so darned fast! The upside, is now I have grandchildren, and great grandchildren to love and spoil. I have a husband of 45 years, who has grown up and old with me. And who can still carry on a conversation and debate over all sorts of interesting topics with me, Who still, after all this time, wants to have adventures with me. So, I guess the real trade off of getting old, is that I have had a great life, get to do so much more, and know that life is still full of adventures.

It Isn’t A Tragedy


I over heard a conversation this morning between two women. It left me a bit gobsmacked and annoyed. It seems these two women have a mutual friend who had a kidney transplant via a relative. One woman said it was such a tragedy that their friend had to have a transplant. They went on to talk about how everyone needed to make allowances for her erratic behavior, and that she should be treated carefully as she recovered. After all, with someone else’s kidney in her she would never be normal.

I thought, “Tragedy?’ Not to me, it isn’t. That woman will live a long healthy life, she is not an invalid, she is not helpless, she is the product of the miracle of medicine and blessings. How can that be a tragedy? They acted as if having any transplant was something no one would ever want. What?

Tragedy is something that cannot be controlled, stopped, or overcome resulting in either an end of a life or constituting a complete change in circumstances for a survivor. Tragedy is losing a new mom to childbirth. Tragedy is a child with incurable cancer. Tragedy is a wounded warrior who has lost limbs, sight, ability to walk, or suffers brain damage or mental illness from serving in the war. Tragedy is a teenager committing suicide. Tragedy is a plane crash that kills 300 people. Tragedy is an old person freezing to death. Tragedy is the mentally ill on the streets of the country when they belong in a safe institution where they can be cared for, instead of suffering the effects of cold and heat, and the lack of food. Tragedy is losing someone to addiction to drugs or alcohol. Tragedy is having a funeral for a twenty year old girl whose death was sudden and unexpected. Surviving a kidney transplant is not a tragedy! It is, instead, an opportunity to celebrate a new and continued life!

What those well meaning women are doing is placing their friend in a box labeled perpetual victim. In pandering to her, giving her excuses for bad behavior, and creating a tragic attitude around her, they are making her weak, mentally, physically, and emotionally. In refusing to celebrate the miracle that her life is, they want to demean it. That isn’t friendship, that is an attitude of superiority. “Poor little thing, she will never reach her full potential,” one of them stated. The other agreeing and doing the Southern thing when faced with perceived tragedy, shaking her head, and murmuring, “Bless her heart.”

I don’t get it. I really don’t understand their attitude, especially treating her as if she is fragile and unable to cope with surviving. She isn’t one bit more special than anyone who has survived a horrific illness. Instead of encouraging her to be helpless, they need to stand behind and beside her as she moves forward into a strong, healthy life. Instead of lowering their expectations for her life, they should be the best of cheerleaders, celebrating each and every milestone in her recovery. And, the last thing they need to be doing is enabling helplessness. I repeat, she is not an invalid. The only tragedy in her life is that her friends see her as a victim who will never be normal instead of a survivor.

“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”


“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people my age tend to simply stop. They stop doing fun things, they stop being involved, they stop thinking and growing intellectually. They just stop. Then they sit about and complain about how boring life is, how hard it is to do things they used to do, how much they wish they had done such and such before they got too old. They are failing to thrive in the late years of their lives. And there is no excuse for that- period.

I know, things are a bit harder to do when knees hurt,backs don’t want to bend, and the body gets tired much easier than it did at the age of forty. We all have to slow down,but that doesn’t mean we have to stop. It may take longer, but there is no reason not to at least try.

Years ago there was a movie entitled Cocoon followed by another, Cocoon Returns. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest watching them at least once. It starred a lot of “stars” who were getting quite elderly. All stuck in a nursing home, waiting to die, fussing at one another, etc. Until things change due to a visit from the aliens. Look, I know it is really a sappy story, but what I loved about it was the willingness of almost all of the elderly folks to embrace that which was different. If their youth didn’t return, their joy for life certainly did. And, at the end of the day, their inaction became action, and their lives infinitely better.

Another movie I loved was Driving Miss Daisy, a stellar performance by one and all. Again, another character that defies the tendency to just sit down and stop. Fried Green Tomatoes is a fantastic film. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were great together and the flashback between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson is equally dynamic. At the end of the day, we are still not sure which woman Jessica Tandy was as the elderly friend of Kathy Bates. Ambiguity saturates the film, while turning Katy Bates’ character from a meek doormat into a woman filled with confidence. And, of course, the character played by Shirley Mclaine in Steel Magnolias is just like I want to be when I get old.

I see many older folks off and doing things all over the world. They travel, explore, serve missions of compassion – regardless of sore knees and aching backs. They move, act, and they live every minute of every day. That is what I want to do too.

When our youngest son went off to college, my husband and I decided to work our way around the world. Eight years later, we finally returned to the US. As we were raising our granddaughter, she went right along with us. We lived in London, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and only came back to the US due to health issues and the awful Socialized Medical care in NZ. We traveled all over each region and were enriched many times over by our experiences.

But I was in my forty’s when we did that. Now I am sixty, and it is going to become more difficult to do some of the things we did. So, we chose other things to do so we could travel. A cruise or four, a road trip across the US, and our big adventure this year is to travel across country by train. I don’t hike for miles any longer, but I sure can sit and enjoy the view from the train.

So there is no excuse not to thrive, people. Just get up, take a few steps, find a hobby that fulfills you, volunteer as a surrogate grandmother to rock babies at the hospital. Volunteer at the schools or libraries to help kids with their reading skills. Go help out a nursing home if you have a talent like playing the piano. There are a multitude of things you can do to overcome the lack of inertia and sedentary inaction. For me, being with my grandchildren is one of my greatest motivators. I write, I hang out on social media sites, I keep up with friends and work on my family history, and I am planning on taking art lessons. I have always wanted to learn how to paint. That will be so much fun!

So, you are old, so what? Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. Just because your body is starting to creak and moan, it doesn’t mean your brain isn’t functioning. (Unless you have a serious condition, of course.) With all the medical miracles out today, most of us will live well into our eighties or nineties.

I have a friend who is ninety-eight. For the several decades, she has traveled the world following the performances of the operas of Wagner. All on her own, she would jump on a plane and off she would go to Italy, France, Germany, or any place in the world that the operas were being performed. What an amazing lady

who just kept on going like an Eveready Battery. She is running down now, but she is still in control of her life and decided to go home until the end of her days. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, what a life she has had! Even now, she keeps busy with doing her family history and chatting with her friends and family.

Even if you are homebound, unable to walk, unable to drive, so what? There are a million things you can do to keep your brain healthy and busy. Never just stop and wait to die. We all have a finite amount of time here in this life. I could spend it worrying about death, or I can just get on with living while I am still here.

The more we let inaction rule our lives, the less likely we are to live a long life. Not just because our bodies need to move to function well, but because our brains atrophy at an alarming rate. Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. But it is only you that can take that first step. I can’t wait to become a feisty old woman who says exactly what she wants to say about everything.

Come on people, get up, find a cause, reason, purpose, or passion to fill your life. Go on!

 

Taking A Break


I have recently taken a break from most of my most politically, socially, and emotionally liberal friends. Some of whom, I have known for over forty years. I am not angry with them, I do not hate them, I don’t think of them as less important or valuable as I am, or anyone else for that matter. I am just tired of dealing with people, though I love them, who are so narrow minded, judgmental, and so caught up in their self serving lives that they cannot, or will not, take the time to learn to be truly accepting people. Accepting, that is, of others who do not profess the same agenda, live the same life style, agree with the same issues, and walk, talk, and do just as they do. I am too old to deal with group speak, group mentality, and group non thinking. I miss the individual thinkers that they used to be.

Political correctness has taken over the minds of so many of my brilliant friends. Highly talented, intelligent, and, previously, interesting people to the last one, they have become mind numbed robots of the politically correct, or they have taken a path that allowed them to steep themselves in unending self victimization as an excuse to be angry at everyone not exactly like them. The odd thing is, they profess, profusely, profanely, and with great pontification that they are accepting of everyone. Of course, they don’t say, “As long as they believe exactly as I do.” We see this playing out on the stage of world politics every day. It has, sadly, trickled down into every day life for many people.

I am reminded of the opening scene in the movie, Joe VS The Volcano where hundreds of men and women walk in near lockstep into a factory of some sort. In the center of the concrete slab that is the outdoors, one single flower grows regardless of the fact that it shouldn’t be able to do so. It gets stepped on, ignored, pulled up, but it still managed to grow and make a single bright spot in the middle of the gray concrete. Not one person notices, except for a man who is miserable with his boring, repetitive life. He notices, and that leads to a whole new life of adventure.

Many of my friends of old, have become those boring people who do the same things day after day They only read the socially approved books, watch the popular movies, listen to the music that is most acceptable by their peers, and never, ever, think for themselves. It seems like they have given up on growing intellectually. Why read history, why bother with anything that you can’t find on the Internet with the newest electronic gadget? Just go with the flow, and accept that you are happy just the way you are.

There is one particular person, that we love very much, and always will. He lives in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world. However, at pushing sixty, he has never lived anywhere else other than to attend college. He lives in the family home, and he is doing exactly the same things he was doing at the age of 25. His life is a world more based in fantasy than in reality. Don’t get me wrong, he makes a good living, and is successful in myriad ways, but his entire life outside of work is caught up in fantasy characters and play. Not on line, oh no, in real life. Yeah, he is the guy wearing the clothes that always look like a costume of one sort or another. Last week he was Sherlock Holmes every time he went out the door. He has a vastly busy social life, on and off line. (But seriously, can one really have 2000 “friends:?) He has a successful marriage, to an equally fantastical woman, but I really don’t think he has a friend he can just sit down and talk with – as himself, bumps, warts, and all. He hides behind that personae and crazy, frenetic activity that is his life. Consequently, he sees anyone who is practical and based in reality as someone who is completely out of touch with the ‘right’ way to live. As a liberal person living in a very liberal city, he has abdicated common sense and turned over his thinking to big brother and others who bother with that sort of thing. Go with the flow, man, go with the flow. Even if it does rip away all his rights eventually. That liberal river is one mean mother when she overflows and takes rights away in a flood of laws and regulations.

On the other hand, I have friends who live such supercilious, fake lives that they think they are living in a movie, and they have the staring role. It is all about cars, houses, clothes, money, gizmos, and doodads. The women get hooked on shoes and the men get hooked on, well whatever they can get away with, be it golf or women. They are like one of those French pastries that looks delicious on the outside, but they are all hollow inside. Under all the chatter and silliness, there is a cut throat competition that would make the Hatfield and McCoy feud look like a tea party. Many of the men in this group are business men. It is all about screwing over the competition so they can feel manly. For the women, it is all about looks and having more than the wife, or girlfriend, or lover of their significant other’s competition. I really, don’t get it. These people can look at a diamond and tell you exactly the karat, cut, and value of it in a glance, but mention something like, oh, Benghazi, and they look at you like you just passed gas at a formal dinner party. They know all the trendiest spas, trainers, cars, places, and things, but rarely have an original thought – and if they do, it scares them to death. The women copy each other, the men steal ideas from each other. They bore me to death. Really, I would rather walk on rocks than go shopping all day, (Bookstores are an exception, but I only shop there on my own.) or spend my time trying to out do everyone around me. Too much work, too little return.

Then there are all my LGBT friends. Yes, I have more than a token one or two. You can’t be in my field of employment without knowing many. I have a few, very few, friends in this group who are as conservative as I am, that just get on with their lives. They honestly do not care one bit who anyone sleeps with, loves, or cohabits with. They are who they are, and being LGBT is not a big deal. They are accepted professionally, socially, and politically – and yes, religiously within their group of friends, family, and community. However, sigh, there is the group of friends who are LGBT first and foremost. They are angry, strident, bigoted, and racist toward anyone who does not bow down to the god of rainbow flags and their sacred fight to be “Just Like Everyone Else.” If you do not agree with everything they do, say, and believe, then you are branded as a hater. Ironic, since they are the people hating to begin with. No matter how often I tell them I don’t care who they sleep with as long as I don’t have to be a party to it, they still think I am a homophobe. I have just thrown up my hands and decided they are all insane and need a time out for anger management. Thinking for themselves is anathema to these people. Just get on the band wagon, in the parade, or carry the rainbow flag and scream about how much everyone hates them already. Oy, can we say self fulfilling prophesy? If you treat everyone as if they hate you just because they think or believe differently, they they just may start walking away in droves. OH, and the LGBT group is evenly sprinkled with fairy dust and delusional beliefs in the first two groups as well. Professional victims still, but vacuous victims.

I have a boat load of friends who are living in the fly over country in middle America. The majority are parents, hard workers who know how to enjoy their down time. Some are city dwellers, some live out beyond the back forty. Some love to travel, some won’t leave their home county, let alone their home state. Some are professional people, from judges to teachers and then some. More are blue collar workers of one sort or another, and another bunch are farmers and ranchers. There are a few things they have in common. They believe in Family First, and included in that is the extended family of friends and neighbors. They tend to be religious, not necessarily church going, but religious. They believe in the greatness of the United States (even those in the south who still lament the late Northern Aggression, aka Civil War.) and they stand firmly for the Constitution and values upon which this country was founded. Best of all, they are independent thinkers, and they understand that history repeats itself if humanity doesn’t protect its freedom from tyranny. Most of them have either served in the military or come from a family that has served. They are patriots.

That’s not to say that middle America folks aren’t selfish and self absorbed. They can be, and some are as vain and supercilious as anyone else. But, at the end of the day, they are less focused on themselves, and more focused on the world around them, and the world far away.

There is something so fun about engaging in a debate with thinking people. Even if we are complete opposites on everything, thinking people take the time to listen and think before spouting the current propaganda and talking points of the day. Like me, these good folks don’t give a flip about who you love, sleep with, or how you live – you are defined by your behavior and how you treat others. What they do care about is the individual, not the lemming behavior of the group. Everyone has incredible potential, and the greatest gift everyone has is the ability to learn, think, and make up their own minds about who they are and what they think. I may not agree with the things they do, or how they think, but it is their right, and they know the consequences of their behavior. The great thing, is we can disagree vehemently and still be friends – not thinking any less of each other or throwing about invectives concerning hate.

So, this self imposed distance from my knee jerk, emotional, lock step, group think, self absorbed liberal friends has done two thing. It made me realize that I bought into their arrogant belief that I simply could not be as good as they are because I am an ignorant hick from Oklahoma, and it made me aware that they are so bogus in that arrogance. They may think they are all that, but deep inside there is a huge hole of discontent and fear. Hiding behind pretend personae and victimization isn’t going to improve anyone’s life. Suck it up people, and learn to think for yourselves. Yes, you might lose a few of those so called friends, but if speaking your mind offends them so much, then they aren’t really your friends.

It took me years to realize no one has the right to tell me to sit down and shut up. No one has the right to tell me how to think. And, best of all, that I am intelligent, well educated, caring, accepting, and willing to lend a helping hand or listening ear. I am not perfect, liberal whiners and moaners annoy me and I loathe the political leaders who are trying to destroy our country. But, at least I am honest with myself and others, and I am not afraid to take a stand and state my thoughts on any topic.

So, my distant liberal friends, I recommend that before having a knee jerk emotional response to every little thing in life, take a deep breath, step back, and think before babbling nonsense. If you don’t know the truth, find out. If you don’t understand, learn. If you are afraid, learn to stand firm even in the face of adversity. Because until you do, my dear liberal friends, you will never be truly happy, content, or who were intended to be.

I Love Words


Being in the middle of my first century, I have a different understanding of words and their usage than kids young enough to be my grandchildren. Sometimes it bugs me to no end when I hear kids talk in what is generally text speak slang, and I loathe reading text messages that use “UR” for “you are, or your” and the like. But, what bugs me most, is how the meaning of words are twisted around from the way I learned them.

The word ‘nice’ used to be a compliment. Now it isn’t at all. I have come to loathe the word as it is used as a dismissive, if subtle, insult. When I hear anyone under 60 use the word, it is always drawled in a tone of voice that absolutely grates on my nerves. Superlatives have to be super words now. We can’t say, “oh, that’s a lovely dress.” Now it needs to have more “oomph” when we compliment someone. We have to use words like amazing, cute, darling, smashing, hot, sexy, and always a word or phrase that invokes a meaning of thin.

I think a lot of the super superlatives are due, in part, to two generations, or more, of kids sitting in front of televisions as companies hype the products they sell to stay in business. Loud, excited, or oozing suggestions of seduction and sex, commercials overwhelm our senses with the urgent need to buy a product that will make us all beautiful, rich, popular, smell good, eat well, or any number of things. All of it is, of course, hyperbole. However, all those super Superlatives have become ingrained in our cultural brain and skip around in our verbiage. Insincere, in the deepest way, gaggles of teenage girls and middle aged women squeal and giggle at one another from the moment they meet until they finally shut up and go home. Generally, less than five minutes of meaningful conversation will take place in an hour.

I was shopping with my granddaughter last week. She is five, and very into shopping. We were standing next to a mother and daughter as they looked at clothes. Every other word was something inane. “Oh that’s cute. You will look hot in that (the kid was all of nine). That’s cool, you will rock that color.” Bella looked at me after the mother held up one particularly horrific outfit and said, loudly, “Nana, that girl is too fat for that outfit. She will look like a fat grape.” It took every bit of self control I had not to laugh. She was right. She was also not buying the babble. I was very proud of her for being both honest and straight forward in her comments. We will, however, need to work on her vocal volume a bit. The mother stomped off in a huff. The kid didn’t even pay attention to Bella. She was too busy cooing over the outfit that will make her look like a grape.

I, like, you know, hate it, when people, like, kinda, you know, never really say a full sentence without one of those, you know, like stupid phrases. I also get impatient with folks who hesitate and pause every other word, and fill in the silence with uhh, mmm, err, ahh, or any other nonsense noise. How about simply stating, “I need to think for a second before I answer that question?”

Now the Christmas season is here. Yes, I said, gasp, the C word. CHRISTMAS. I know all the history behind the X in Christmas as the symbol for Christ. Got it. Greeks, spell things weird. I also know that it is a holiday season for the Jewish and the made up one for all the ‘former slaves’ in America. And I also know that it is held during what was a Roman celebration of some god or another. However, traditionally, since the death of Christ, and the rise of protestants, Christmas has been a holy day celebration for CHRISTIANS. So, I don’t like words and phrases like holiday tree, and Xmas. I dislike people trying to secularize what is a sacred holiday for me. So the modern terms that take all the true meaning from the holy day annoy me.

With all the new technology around us, people don’t actually speak to each other very much. I know my teen texts her friends more than she every rings them on the phone and chats with them. Chat has come to mean typing furiously on the keyboard while on line with a bunch of other people. Chat rooms, a new use of an old term, are now electronic pretend places on line where a bunch of strangers type at each other and generally end up in “flame wars” over their comments. In my mind I see a vague, hazy room with a fire in the middle of the floor and people screaming at each other.

Sometimes I long for an intelligent conversation with someone who actually knows how to have a conversation. One where I speak, they listen, then they speak and I listen. A conversation using words that have more than two syllables would be good. A conversation that invokes laughter, concentration, and lightening quick thinking would be incredible.. A conversation with an adult, teen, or child that doesn’t have slang and hesitations throughout, but the proper use of complete sentences and a tendency to maintain at least a hint of a link to the original subject would make me happy. Too many of us are simply too distracted by shiny things, ringing cell phones, and movement to concentrate on a long conversation. Soon, like handwriting letters, conversation will be a lost art. Eventually, we will all communicate through the typed word, and only gesture and grunt like original cave dwellers when we actually meet in person.

Oh well, I still love words. Shakespeare, Spencer, Pope, Bronte, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, and even a few Science Fiction/ Fantasy writers use words that say what they mean and mean what they say. The words can make me laugh out loud, cry, ponder, and fill me with an overwhelming urge to write. I can only hope that future books aren’t filled with one word pages written in text speak.

At A Little Stone Church


At the little stone church on a dusty country road, cars and trucks park in a row in the evening sun. The people stream into the building, dropping off homemade snacks while the aroma of coffee begins to fill room.

It is obvious that the people are long time friends as they greet one another. Slowly the stage fills with amplifiers, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, and a smiling man settles himself to play the piano. The men pick up their instruments, the audience quietly chatters, and with a downbeat the band begins to play.

This isn’t your ordinary band. The youngest member is in his early twenties, but the oldest is nearing eighty. The music is pure country and gospel – American style. They have hundreds of years of combined talent and ability between them, and it shows. There is no set pattern to the songs they play. In turn the singers, young and old alike, stand to sing songs that have been part of American music for generations. Sad songs, gospel songs filled with hope, and songs that create memories of days gone past. The band catches the downbeat and simply needs to know what key the singer wants to sing. Then they bring the music alive.

White heads nod in time to the music, worn hands clap out the beat, and faces smile in recognition of the talent of the musicians and singers. The younger faces in the crowded room smile and listen intently to the words of each song, knowing they were learning at the feet of masters.

As I sit and listen, I am transported back to the days of my childhood when I would listen to these same songs on the radio. Suddenly, my eyes fill with tears of nostalgia and the yearning for days that are long past.

I can’t help but wonder where the good in the world has gone. In the rush of getting ahead, making progress, and living large, the world has lost touch with the simple joys of life. Singing on the front porch with a guitar and mandolin, sitting around the kitchen table laughing at old stories, walking out into the sunset to enjoy the beauty, all seem to be lost in the hurry of life. Where are all our simple joys? What has happened to our traditions?

For the time being, they are alive and well in the small stone church on a dusty country road in Oklahoma. As the sunsets to the rhythm of country music, the world seems to stand still just to listen, with pure joy, to the melody.