Friday, December 31, 2010

My Birthday Girl

Happy birthday, my sweet angel! 

Because Autumn is my only daughter, I am able to use the phrase "How's my favorite daughter?" :) She seems to have gotten all the "good" genes. She's sweet, smart, thoughtful, caring, talented, and just all around amazing in every way. Even though she was a surprise, she's the best surprise that's ever happened to me. I wish all the surprises in my life were as wonderful as her. 

I love you baby girl, and wish you many, many more happy birthdays.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Brownie Hawkeye and a Little Mystery

A few weeks ago I started reminiscing about the first camera I ever took a picture with. I remember being very young, maybe 5 or 6, and my mother handing me a box-like contraption, telling me to hold it at waist level while looking through the viewfinder. She told me to be as still as possible, make sure the family was centered, then press down on the shutter button. I was instantly smitten, and so proud that she had given me an adult job to do.

Thanks to Google, I was able to figure out that it was the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. I found one on e-bay WITH UNDEVELOPED FILM STILL INSIDE! I placed my bid and waited. I almost forgot about it, then received an email a couple days later stating that I had won the bid! How much, you ask? $4.99! Here are the photos I took of the camera itself and the film:

Last week I finally found a lab that still produces 620 film. I had no expectations that there would be anything on there and if so, the film was probably severely degraded from age, handling, etc., rendering any photos completely worthless. Still, I hoped. I imagined all kinds of scenarios such as children playing on snow covered streets, old homes, a farm, farm animals, a child on his/her first day of school, baby photos, cars. Or, *gasp*, maybe these photos held the key to an unsolved murder!

Well, it didn't quite turn out to be what I was hoping for, but at least there was something! Five photos to be exact. Looks like a grandfather and grandson at Christmas, maybe? Although nothing spectacular, I'm now left with questions. Why was the film left in the camera never to be developed? Who are these people? Where are they from? What year is this? Are they still alive?

At least the photos have now seen the light of day. They have been released from camera prison after 30+ years. I'm guessing this was taken in the early 70s because the Kodacolor II, 620 film was created in 1973. That's probably as close as I'll ever get to knowing anything about them...

UPDATE: I had emailed the e-bayer I purchased this from, asking where he obtained the camera. He told me it was purchased at an estate sale somewhere in Ohio. Exact location unknown. Another piece to the puzzle!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

City of Flames

My patio thermometer
The Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex is now in its 19th day of triple-digit temperatures. Since July 31 we have hit 100+ degrees every single day, with hardly a drop of rain. Every summer I grumpily complain to anyone who will listen:

"We have to move!"

"I can't take another summer here!"

"This is my last summer in this godforsaken place! I mean it this time!" (Stated for the last 26 summers.)

"I don't know how much longer I can take this!"

Whenever it's this hot I start thinking a lot about hell, and how I hope and pray that I don't end up there. Texas is as close to Hell as I care to experience. Sometimes I wonder why God didn't threaten humanity with freezing temperatures or an eternity of snow. For whatever reason, He chose heat, and for me, it is a threat that works. Unless Hades has air conditioning, which I highly doubt, that is going to be one miserable existence. I want no part of that. Spending eternity in a reasonably cool environment is all I ask. Please and Amen.

Here are some of my favorite "It's hot/hotter than" quotes:

It's hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hades.

It's hotter than Paris Hilton's underwear.

It's hot enough to cure tobacco.

It's hotter than seven hells.

It's hotter than a whore in church without her panties on.

It's hotter than a $2 pistol.

Do you have any favorite heat-related sayings or jokes to help me through this miserable time?

Monday, August 16, 2010

At the Proverbial Crossroads

My life has been in turmoil and limbo lately; more-so after the visit with my mother around July 4th weekend. I've been wanting to blog about it but could not seem to press the "New Post" button to start the first word. Today I decided to start typing and see what comes out. So here I go (deep breath)...

It's painful to go home and watch my once vibrant mother struggle to complete the simplest tasks we all take for granted. Rarely do I hear her complain, and even when she does she'll say, "This is really the pits, you know?", as she struggles to sit in her favorite chair.

Parkinson's is an insidious thief that robs you of your life one tiny segment at a time. One day you think you're fine, perfectly capable and in charge, wondering what all the fuss is about. A few months, years down the road and you're now shuffling your feet, no longer able to make them go briskly across the room. She's had this for over 20 years after all, so it's taken that long to get to this point. Twenty years of various levels of struggling, not knowing exactly what day you will wake up and no longer be able to function.

Her goal these last couple of years is to have everything in place for when she can no longer do anything for herself. She's made me financial and medical Power of Attorney, she's put me on her bank checks, taken me to see her financial broker. Last week she decided to make a will. She said that even though I'm an only child, she wants there to be no question.

The other big, looming issue was my sister's remains. She had talked of moving my sister into the mausoleum where she plans to be interred. The thought of digging my sister up caused me extreme distress. I really could not discuss this with her without crying. She let the matter drop, then a few visits ago she calmly stated, "I've decided that Dee shouldn't be disturbed. If no one paints or cleans her grave or puts flowers on it, so be it."

"Oh, mama, I'll do it! Or I'll find someone who can! Don't worry!"

But something told me she is not really worried because she knows Dee is not in that grave anyway, that she will be joining her soon. Maybe she's looking forward to it. Is that possible?

The type of planning my mother is into these days is extremely difficult for me to listen to, but strangely she doesn't seem to get overly emotional. My mother is a planner and this is definitely in line with her personality; wanting to make sure that after she's gone all is in its proper place.

Sometimes I think it would be better for a loved one to just drop dead suddenly of a heart attack than to deal with slow death for 20+ years. But maybe I should look at this as a gift, a way to strengthen the bond with my mother which has had a sometimes rocky history.

My dilemma is...should I move there and take care of her in her last days? Should I sell my house here in Texas, leave my children and go? Do I leave my job of 22 years and start over? Double D has said he wants to move there, but I worry about the economy in Louisiana and how his business will fare there. I keep hoping that God will show me, that He will give me a sign or something. What should I do?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 1980, 12:53PM

At this moment THIRTY years ago (gasp), my boy entered the world and changed my life forever. We named him after his father, though he's not a "Junior". These days he likes to go by JB.

The first several months were touch-and-go because he was allergic to formula. I tried breast-feeding when he was first born, but that turned out to be a disaster. Apparently, I was too young to know what I was doing, even with the nurse's help. To my mother's relief, I abandoned the idea and went with formula. The idea of breast feeding was not attractive to her. The formula, however, caused major stomach complications. The doctor suggested different types of formula, and even goat's milk was offered at one point. It would just run right out of him; the lining of his stomach completely gone. He was getting weaker and sicker. Finally, he was put in the hospital with an IV drip. 

I remember the baseball playoffs were going on because his dad insisted on watching it in the hospital room while I cried and fretted. We eventually found a formula that agreed with him. He healed, growing stronger and more determined with each passing day.
JB turned out to be a sports fanatic just like his dad. The above photo is from his 29th birthday party. My mother had sent him the Baton Rouge Advocate's sports section because LSU had just won the college world series baseball tournament.

To commemorate today's huge milestone birthday, Double D and I told him to pick out tickets to the Rangers vs. Angels baseball game which happens to be playing tonight. He picked some great seats right over the Angel's dugout near third base. I hope to get lots of good pictures. More importantly, I hope to have a marvelous time with my special, sweet, firstborn. :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 1983, 9:47AM

At that exact moment, I delivered my third and final child. It seems like just the other day I was 27 and dreading my 30s. Why in the world did I think that was old? And don't you know he feels the same way? Sometimes he thinks so much like me it's a little freaky.
He may be a 27 year old man now, but in my mind he's still my baby boy. And always will be. Forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thought for the Day

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. ~Wayne Dyer

Friday, May 28, 2010

Choosing to be Cheerful

Today I am counting my blessings. These photos help me do that.

6 week old Liam. Finally met him yesterday and decided that he is too precious for words. What is it about the way a baby smells? Can't get enough of that.

Yes, we were in a traffic jam on Monday night, but we were on our way to have dinner with our dearest friends. They are moving to Austin, TX, so YAY! Another place to visit!

Camryn is an 8 year old dynamo with gorgeous red locks. She has a bright, sunny disposition just like her mother. She's so fun! She looks so serious here, but she was actually excited to be there even though they were losing. Badly.

Our little Hannah graduated kindergarten last week! We were all so proud of her when she received awards for reading 100 books and 'most improved'. Hannah's the pretty one, top right.

All boy, this is Seth landing safely on first base last Saturday. He can make some funny faces for the camera and he was doing so on the field, too. Little stinker. Sometimes he made faces at his coach; other times at the opposing team. As much as I love the faces, I just wanted an action shot, which was not hard to get.

I've discovered a field of wildflowers in my neighborhood. Anybody have a clue what this is? I loved the way the light was hitting it.

Even though there are some stressors in my life right now, I try to remember what Mama used to say: "There's always someone worse off than you." Then I start thinking of the person who is paralyzed or someone without arms, and I immediately chastise myself for even thinking of throwing a pity party.

I hope everyone has a great Memorial holiday, remembering the sacrifices made for us. I am very grateful for those who fought for our freedoms. Rock on with your bad selves and be safe!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've been tagged by Glen over at Glen's Blog Spot. Unbelievably, I was searching all day yesterday for a good meme for my blog and couldn't find one. There it was on Glen's blog the whole time. Thanks, Glen!

If I were a...

MONTH: October. Cool. :)

DAY: Friday. The work week is over and it's play time!

TIME OF DAY: 7:00PM. I'm not a morning person and tend to be more productive between the hours of 7 and 9.

SEASON: Autumn. Gorgeous colors and cool temps. This a no-brainer for me since I named my daughter after the season even though she was born in winter! :)

PLANET: Earth. I'm all about nature.

DIRECTION: Even though I was born without an inner compass, this much I know: North! Mountains! Cool air!

TREE: Live Oak. I love how the branches hang low to the ground and sprawl out as though reaching out to you. Such character!

ANIMAL: The dog, of course. Loyalty, devotion, gratitude, positive attitude, fresh hope for each new day. I strive for these things even though I fall short.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT: Acoustic guitar. I can rock out or be mellow.

FRUIT: Peach. Sweet and fresh. :)

FOOD: Praline. Sweet, creamy and rich. :)

COLOR: Red. Fire red!

BOOK: The Yearling. An only child who begged for a pet, lived on a poor farm, and lived through hard choices. The central character was a boy, but that story was me. Pretty close.

SONG: Never Will I Break by 3 Doors Down.
The road I walk is paved
With the broken promises I made
At least a million times I've fallen
but never will I break

MOVIE: Gone With The Wind. A strong-willed southern belle. I can relate. Although I don't think I could sew those drapes into a gown to help save the plantation. :/

FLOWER: Lily. So graceful. Although not always graceful or gracious, I really do try!

FACIAL EXPRESSION: Sadly, I'd have to say fear AND worry. I'm afraid of a lot of things and a professional worrier. If there's a worrier club, nominate me for President! But then I'd probably worry that I wouldn't win, so don't do that.

Leave Me

This is a short film about a recent widower dealing with his grief through his wife's broken camera. I love that a Canon was used. :) Enjoy.

Some people have asked what Jack says during the beginning because it isn't completely clear. He says: "It broke during the wreck."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

She Arrived!

On Friday, May 21, my daughter and her friends made it safe and sound to their destination. Although road weary, she sounds so happy. How can I be anything but happy for her? Yet here it is the weekend and I'm feeling a little lost. Not myself. It's not like I can call her on a whim to go take photos or have a margarita. I'll miss that, but I also look forward to hearing about all the neat places she's going to discover and see all the great photos she's going to take. And it'll be a great place for us to visit as well! I'm tryin' y'all!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Funny Friday

I received this email a few weeks ago and found myself ROTFL. I'm sure it's been around the world several times, but in case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Dear Granddaughter,
The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a 'Honk if you love Jesus' bumper sticker.
I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting.

So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed.

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed.

It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.
I found that lots of people love Jesus!

While I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, 'For the love of God! Go! Go! Go! Jesus Christ, GO!'

What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus!

Everyone started honking!

I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people.

I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach.

I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air.

I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant.

He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.

Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii , so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back.

My grandson burst out laughing. Why even he was enjoying this religious experience!!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me.

I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove on through the intersection.

I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared.

So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.  Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!

Will write again soon,

Love,  Grandma

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tracking: Day 3

One more day of tracking my daughter's odyssey online. As a mother I feel compelled to document her pilgrimage to a land far, far away — a land that may or may not have more hippies per capita than anywhere else in the world. Who knew hippies still existed? I certainly didn't until I read about this weird and wild place where uninhibited people ride their bikes in the nude or do gardening in the buff. Yes, I've gotten conservative in my old age, though I wasn't always this way — I went streaking in the 70s, hah! But as a mother I am filled with worry. And just because my children are all adults now doesn't mean that I'll be ceasing that activity any time soon. So there!

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tracking: Day Two

Technology has helped me feel a little better about this cross country move my daughter is making. Using the iPhone app, Instamapper, I can see exactly where they are and even the speed they're going. We also communicate by text and phone. Hearing her sweet little voice on the phone exclaiming how beautiful the countryside is makes it a little easier. But I must admit, the farther that red dot move west, the harder it is to watch. That red dot is my heart, by the way. 
(click to enlarge)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tracking: Day One

That red dot on the map is my daughter driving away from me and starting a new life in Egypt. Or maybe it's Oregon. Not much difference, really. :(
(click for larger image)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


These last 10 days have been filled with love, family, friends, awe, wonder, exhaustion, aching feet, and beauty. It started with Double D's birthday trip to Colorado Springs and ended yesterday with my birthday at home.

Let's start with Colorado Springs! We arrived at our resort around 2PM. Double D and I were very pleased with our room, but he was sorely disappointed in the view from our balcony. In order to see the mountains you had to lean waaaayyy over the side and possibly risk a fatal fall, so after some civil negotiations with resort staff, they arranged for another room with a beautiful mountain view that didn't require body contortions.

For our trouble, the staff gave us coupons for 50% off admission to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The first exhibit we saw was a tower of reticulated giraffes. They walked right up to us and let us pet them. I've never been that close to a giraffe before. They are such gentle, beautiful creatures.

After the zoo we drove around North Cheyenne CaƱon Park. Country roads, take me home ♪♫ ♪ •*♪♫ ♪...

The next day we headed up to Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.

Garden of the Gods is spectacular! The rock formations were unbelievable. Magnificent. The mere thought of going back to Texas seemed like a sad prospect. I could see that the longer we stayed in Colorado, the harder it would be to leave.

Pikes Peak is 19 miles high and we were allowed up to mile 16 — beyond that it was too icy to continue. The sharp curves with no guardrails were daunting, but this didn't phase Double D! He was going too fast for my liking. As a coping mechanism, I pressed my foot firmly on the passenger side brake for nearly 32 miles — there and back. In between the moments of fear was the glorious beauty of the trees, glistening snow, and fresh mountain air.

As we arrived at mile 13, to my astonishment was a red fox! Slightly urbanized, but still wary of people, he stood patiently waiting for bits of granola that another tourist was throwing in his direction. I wanted to set up a tent and camp there the rest of the night, feeding my little friend all the granola his heart desired. But in the end, I realized that too much granola can't be good for a wild fox, and besides, I'm not a camping kind of gal.

For our last full day we explored the Royal Gorge. It wasn't as exciting as Pikes Peak, but we got to see moose, sheep, llamas, goats, and buffalo, even though they were in enclosures. Seeing wild animals confined makes me sad, but I think they are well taken care of and they do provide a learning experience for the public. We also walked over the suspension bridge several times. My poor feet! I also underestimated what the altitude and lack of oxygen might to do my aging, out of shape body. Oy!

On the morning of our flight we drove to Manitou Springs to see the cliff dwellings. I couldn't enjoy our time there because I was worried about missing our flight at 1PM. And once I learned these dwellings were replicas, I was no longer as enthused.

We made it to the airport on time and uncharacteristically dilly-dallied in an airport restaurant. We missed our flight by five minutes. So for Mother's Day, we sat in the airport for an additional, agonizing, 4-1/2 hours. My iPhone and I were really able to bond with each other during that time.

We sadly returned to reality and our jobs this week. I'm still pining for Colorado.

Last night was the family gathering for my birthday. Cards are my favorite things to receive and this year they were especially touching. I just wish I wouldn't cry! I'm not talking about eyes misting over. Oh, no. We are talking giant tears flooding my face like a geiser. Ugh! It's not a pretty sight. My oldest son gave me a funny card that made everyone laugh when I read it out loud. I was so relieved to laugh, then I got to his personal note which was so sweet it produced more Texas-sized tears. I needed windshield wipers for my face. :/

Despite my crying jags, everyone seemed to be having a good time. I love my family so much!

I have one more hurdle to overcome tonight and that is saying goodbye to my beautiful daughter as she embarks on her dream of living in Oregon. But that will have to be another post for another day because wrapping my mind around this next chapter has left me an emotional mess. A Sad Sack. A Weepy Wanda Wuss. But there's also a place in my heart that is so happy for her. As soon as I'm able to write about my daughter leaving, I'll spill all the gory details. Until then....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

About To Check Out

One more day of work, then Double D and I will be jettng off to Colorado Springs to celebrate his big birthday. Jetting off sounds so sophisticated, doesn't it? I've always wanted to use that phrase. Anyway, I hope to come back with some amazing mountain photos and perhaps a good story or two.

Until then, here are photos from my trip to the rose garden last Sunday where my daughter and stepdaughter joined me. Sadly, this is probably the last photography excursion with my daughter for a while. She's moving across the country in less than two weeks. :( I'm sure I'll be spilling giant tears on my blog after she leaves.