Category Archives: family

Promise

It seems that relationships are often based on promises. After all, that word is a big part of traditional wedding ceremonies. “I promise to . . . “. I find myself also using that word quite a bit around children. “Do you promise to put the toys away if I give you five more minutes to play?”

The past week and a half, however, promise sticks in my mind as a noun. This connotation results from the birth of my son and daughter-in-law’s first child, Emmy. It’s hard to look at any newborn’s photo without getting that “ahhh” feeling. We see the sweetness in the child’s face and it often brings memories of other babies we have held and loved. That face symbolizes newness and the continuous cycle of life. It can evoke joy, hope and happiness.

Emmy sleep

This week, this new little face in our family has me singing a song that I used when teaching preschool music. It spells out why I smile when gazing at a newborn.

I am a promise

I am a poss-i-bil-ity

I am a promise

With a capital “P”

I am a great big bunch

of po-tent-iality

I AM A PROMISE!

Yes, you are Emmy – yes you are!

Flutter By

Sometimes, when you are old, the memories from your past flutter by like butterflies in the Fall. They can be just as difficult to capture unless someone is there to help you.

Mamaw turned 93 a few weeks ago and we have to admit that she has considerable dementia. Yet, if I am with her at just the right moment in time and ask the right questions, occasionally the stories of old, although brief, unfold.

Mama Young

Today, we were talking about why my hair isn’t gray yet. I remembered that my grandmother’s hair was late in turning; so I asked about my great grandmother, Dee Dee, too. Neither of us remembered a time when her hair wasn’t gray. So I guess I’ve been lucky.

I also ask about my great great grandmother. “Mamaw,” I said, “do you remember Dee Dee’s mother?” “Well, of course.” Mamaw replied. I asked her what the woman’s name was and quick as a wink she said “Grammaw.” I said, “no, what is her real name?” She gave me the same answer and told me that Grammaw was all she was ever as called. Mamaw told me that Grammaw lived out on the farm in Oklahoma with her brother, Will, who had a wagon. Of course, I was thinking a little red wagon, but Will’s wagon was the big kind pulled by horses. Once, Mamaw said the family had her go to town with Will. She told me that she hid in the back of the wagon so no one in town would see her. Can’t you just see a little girl doing that?

Next, Mamaw told me that once someone in town died and she was sent out to the farm to tell Grammaw about it. She couldn’t remember how she got out there and with that, this day’s memories fluttered on and left us behind. I’ve learned there is no point in asking more probing questions; this only proves frustrating and, for Mamaw, painful.

Although I learned this years ago from my studies, today it was even more apparent that emotion has a big affect on memory. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, embarrassment or another emotion, feelings at the time of one of life’s episodes help a person retain the memory. It is also apparent that feelings at the time when a person is trying to remember can also affect the story. When Mamaw is upset, weary or frustrated, she answers most questions with “I don’t know; I just don’t know.” At that point, it’s definitely time to stop asking.

Some say emotions are fickle and perhaps that’s true, but when and if they are just right, feelings can help us capture those memories as they flutter by. I just hope I’m around when things are “just right” for Mamaw.

Where Do Songs Come From?

We’ve always been a very musical family and yesterday I realized that music holds my memories, giving them a time, context and emotion. For other families, it may be a handmade article, special piece of jewelry or other artifact that stirs the memory pot, but for me, it’s the music.

Sunday, at my daughter’s suggestion, my spouse and I met her family to take food to Mamaw at the nursing home. This was the first time I’d seen Mother since my back surgery 2 weeks ago and it was exciting to be out.

We usually eat outside in the courtyard when we visit Mamaw, but for some reason I was insistent upon eating indoors in the living room this time. We all enjoyed our food and talk, but the littlest one soon moved from our table over to the corner of the room where two new cockatiels were in their cage. He pulled a wooden rocking chair up in front of the pair and as they screeched, he sang to them.

bird3

Appearing a bit disgusted with the birds, he sang louder and then softer, trying to get them to stop being “annoying”. Finally, he tried a new tactic, we made up a song for the birds. The tune was strangely family . . . mmm and Bingo was his name . . . but the words were new. They had something to do with a shooting star. The birds selected the point at which the new song started to become quiet and we’re all sure it was the song that did it.

bird1

Later, when the child’s mom asked who taught him the song. He said “no one”. “Then where did it come from?” she queried. Without hesitation, the little 4-year-old put his hand over his heart and said “from my heart and then it goes to my brain.” I guess that’s where all good songs come from.

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This episode helped me remember so many of those little songs this child’s mother and his “unc” made up when they were little. “Unc” is still doing it, having just given an acoustic performance of his own music at a café in San Francisco the night before.  My daughter performs daily with this little fellow as they sing through part of their day. My songs seldom escape in any audible form anymore, but they are definitely still within me.

So where DOES the song come from? My songs comes from a need –  to comfort sadness, to bring joy or perhaps to find a memory. Now that I really think about it . . . songs DO come from the heart. It’s a good place to hold them.

Strange Happenings at Dreamcatcher Ranch

These things have happened over time - the last year and a half to be exact. Once we found dinosaur footprints on the floor of the house and another time a note led us to a science experiment in the wagon. On a separate occasion there were cow prints strewn about and then there were those ants (raisins) that crossed the carpet and led to the sugar bowl.

Today, however, there was something different. At first we didn’t see it, but then at snack time it caught our eye. What was that gold ribbon doing hanging out of the refrigerator? Do you see it down at the bottom?

ribbon1

We followed the ribbon and found a piece of paper at the other end.

ribbon2

I asked my grandson what it was and he retorted that he didn’t know because he couldn’t read. He’s four. He suggested that I should read it. Since I remained silent, he simply followed the ribbon back to the fridge and . . .

ribbon5ribbon6

. . . found it connected to a bowl of something strange. “It looks like mashed potatoes,” he said. What do you think?

ribbon4

Upon close examination and a quick read, we finally determined that we had cookie dough in our refrigerator. We learned what to do with it by reading the paper, but I’m not sure it told us to stick our fingers right in. It is, however, impossible to roll those little sugar cookie balls without getting messy and there’s only one thing to do about messy fingers . . . lick them!

ribbon8ribbon7    

In the end, we had good sugar cookies which we decorated with a dollop of cream cheese and a blackberry. We put a tiny bit of cool whip on each prior to eating. Tomorrow, I’m told, we are continuing our “experiment” by trying a different topping. I can hardly wait to see what that will be. I think I may have heard something about peanut butter.

I just wish we knew why these unusual things happen at our house and why they only happen when the grandson is here. . . hmm . . . any thoughts? Do these things happen at your house too?

Family Traditions

I used to get a bit down in the dumps around various holidays. People on television would discuss what they “always” do with their family on this and that holiday and friends would inquire as to what we were going to do. When I would try to think of our specific holiday traditions, I didn’t think that we had any in particular. My parents always felt that you could celebrate just whenever you got together and you didn’t have to do the same thing at the same time on just the right day every year. I seem to have embraced that with my own family as well.

Yesterday, however when we were privileged to have our grandson spend the night, I realized that the things we did together were actually my family traditions.

It was just a simple thing that I thought we would enjoy doing together; yet, after my grandson started to question me about why we did this and that, I realized it was tradition. You see, we were making Wilson Biscuits from my Dad’s recipe.

Wilson Biscuits

I can’t actually say that the mess we made was traditional, but then I think I was a lot older than four when I made these biscuits for the first time. At one point my grandson wanted to know why we didn’t roll out the biscuits the “proper way”. He meant we should use a rolling pin. Thinking quickly, I told him we were doing it the Wilson way and just using our hands. Hopefully he will remember a little about our traditional way of making Wilson Biscuits. By the way, he used his great great great grandmother’s biscuit cutters. The oldest  one is not shown in the photos.

Wilson biscuits3

 

Wilson Biscuits2

On the second day of my grandson’s visit, we made Easter cupcakes. I hadn’t made these in years, but remembered doing them most Easters with my own children. I guess it was one of our traditions. My husband showed the little guy how to share the batter bowl with someone. They drew a line down the center of the bowl and each person ate on his own side. I think Sir (what my grandson calls my husband) was sad when the batter on his side was gone. It is traditional to lick the bowl at our house.

G & Sir

I’ll bet some of you decorate cupcakes in the same manner with green coconut grass and jelly bean Easter eggs. It’s really hard to keep from licking the spreader while you are doing the icing.

cupcakes1

cupcakes2

The cupcakes turned out well and tasted great. Do you think he’ll remember and ask to make them again next Easter?

Now that I’ve realized that traditions don’t have to be grandiose, I’m going to pay better attention to activities we’ve enjoyed together first as children, then parents and finally grandparents. Perhaps we have more family traditions than I realized.

Happy Easter to All!

Vining

I enjoy making handmade chains. If my hands would hold up, I could sit for hours twisting “S” links and making jump rings; yet I wanted something a bit different for the design below. As it developed, I began to picture a vine running along one side toward the wearer’s neck. First I made the chain without beads on the vine, but now I think it’s better adorned with them. See what you think.

vine sweet pea

My friend from Magpie Gemstones , made a few suggestions and I think the design is working now. Another friend named the above necklace “Sweet Pea”.

Below is another version. You can also see that I’ve played with the use of different size jump rings to add a bit of interest.

vine lapis

My analogy for the initial necklace may be a stretch, but here goes any way. As so many of us gather with family members and/or friends this special time of the year, it seems to me that we are vining. Vines often reach toward their nourishment whether it is sunlight or water and it seems that people do the same. We lean towards those who nourish us by listening, caring and sharing our lives. While we may originally “vine” in one direction, later that part of the growth may wither and we vine in another direction depending upon our needs. I watch my ivy houseplant do the same thing. It grows well in one direction and then I notice it withers and needs trimming. Once trimmed, it angles off toward something else. It doesn’t seem to inhibit the plant as it takes the process in stride. As we traverse our own growth including changes in relationships and in families, it may be important to consider new directions or perhaps to better nurture those old ones. I think we just need to keep vining.

The Mystery of the Rattling Boots

 

boots

It’s been many months since I wore my cowboy boots, but yesterday seemed like the day to get them down from the top shelf in the closet and put them on.
As I brought them down, however, I heard an unusual rattle that I thought came from the left boot.

Now, all Texans know that it’s not a good idea to stick your hand down in your boot if you hear something suspicious; so I just turned the boot upside down to see what would fall out. I was, of course  prepared to use the other boot to smush what ever was in there.

It’s good to be prepared but what came out was nothing to be feared.

mac

It was only macaroni. As I pondered how in the world that one piece of pasta got into my boot, I noticed the other boot emitted a similar rattling sound. Less afraid, I dumped out the contents of the second boot and founds another single macaroni shell – nothing more.

I looked for other pasta clues on the shelf where the boots had been, but found nothing. Hmm . . . a mystery. Initially I thought a rodent might have deposited the pasta, but my spouse assured me it would have been quite a feat for a mouse to carry a pasta shell half its size all the way from the kitchen to the top shelf in the bedroom closet. Then, there’s that problem of how the rodent would have skinnied up my boots.

Next, I wondered how my three-year-old grandson might have completed the pasta-to-boot trick. Just the day before, when I removed my bracelet mandrel from the vice, several small objects fell out of it. I DO know who put those in it! Yet, it seems unlikely that any small urchin could have placed or thrown anything so accurately into my boots on the high shelf.

So, the mystery remains. How did that pasta get into my boots? Will it happen again? Should boots come complete with lids to keep things out of them? OR should boots be stored upside down?

I guess we have enough to wonder about without lamenting too much about the rattling boots; yet, it is a mystery. I just hope that pasta is the only rattling thing that ever gets in my boots.

Everyday Tiaras

Playing with wire one evening, a seemingly familiar shape emerged in my hands. Who knows whether it came from my subconscious while thinking about my long ago high school years or from something else. My high school class just celebrated our 45th reunion in Medford, Oklahoma. Although I didn’t attend, the photos and notes from classmates brought back a flood of memories long buried, but still reachable. While I don’t remember too many high school dances, I do remember my last prom. I had been sick and out of school for three weeks, but managed to get it together and make it to the prom. After all, I already had a date! It was an eventful day of preparation during which my mother burned a hole with the iron in the chiffon overskirt of my long blue dress. The local dry goods store saved the day. There she purchased blue plastic flowers which she sewed on the dress to cover the hole. I remember that she was much more upset than I was.

I also remember that my hair wasn’t in very good shape, but we managed to adorn it with a pretty sparkling tiara. It seems to me that it looked much like the one in the photo below (from Tiara Town). It was probably much smaller

tiaras

That shape stuck with me and I recognized a similarity in the wire shape I made the other night. It became the bracelet below.

tiara bracelet

I also turned the shape upside down and made a necklace.  If you stand on your head and look at the necklace below, you should be able to see the tiara – or you could just believe me! This particular piece and the bracelet above are both made of moonstone from Magpie Gemstones. I made another similar necklace out of sterling silver wire with grey colored moonstone, but it found a home before I could take a photo.

tiara necklace

Today, I tried my hand at a smaller necklace, shown below, that has less loops. I really think I prefer the loopier one. All of these are finished with handmade chain and clasp.

tiara small

These necklaces are fairly easy to make and the bead placement helps secure the wire loops in place at the top.

I think there are a few more jewelry tiara designs in my future, but I don’t anticipate ever needing to wear one on my head again. I’m either afraid or relieved that those days are past – I wonder which . . .?

Hooves in the House-A Sunday Caper

The signs were everywhere through the house and there was no question about it. Something had been there and it was NOT human. The prints, though no larger than a woman’s foot, were an entirely different shape – they were familiar and yet . . . what made them?

cow prints

Luckily the young sleuths arrived in the nick of time to help with the conundrum.

G3

They discovered no less than seven sets of footprints about the main level of the house and upon close examination and consultation they agreed. These prints appeared to have been made by something bovine. It was, however, impossible to determine whether one or many animals had been in the house. Luckily for the home owner there were no other more disgusting signs of the animal(s).

The visiting sleuths shared their hypothesis with the home owner, but requested assistance with gathering data since they were both too young to drive around the property alone. Unfortunately, neither sleuth’s legs could reach the foot pedals of the needed vehicle, a jeep. The home owner therefore chauffeured the sleuths carrying one of the sets of footprints with them on the fact finding mission.

First they checked the front pasture, but the hooves of the cows there were much bigger than the prints they carried. Then they checked the back pasture; but the prints of the calves there were smaller than the prints. Finally, they checked the middle pasture where they found hoof prints that were just right. Actually, they were a perfect match to those found in the house.

G2

Feeling satisfied that they had solved the mystery, the young sleuths said it was time to head back to their office. “But wait,” said the home owner. “ How did the cow prints get in my house?” “Well,” said one of the youngsters, “you didn’t hire us to answer that question and our time on this job has been spent.” With that, they were gone . . . riding off into the sunset with their parent drivers . . . ready to face the next challenge and solve the next mystery.

If you ever need help solving a mystery at your house, you might want to call the young sleuths. They work pretty cheap and are especially good nature.