Friday, April 17, 2009

Ah, The Still Small Voice

My daughter, Melissa has always been a good listener. Even if she might not see the need to act on it, there was never any question that she heard, understood, and retained what was said.

A couple days ago an employee at BASF, and personal friend of Melissa's, called the health clinic and said she was concerned about a co-worker who was diabetic and wasn't "doing well". She asked if Melissa could come over there and just check on her. Since Melissa knew this person well, she might have been tempted, but was inspired to tell her right away to officially call the ambulance and she'd come with it.

When she arrived, the patient was in insulin shock and completely unresponsive. Melissa tried to give her some glucose orally but wasn't even able to do that. They put her in the ambulance and headed for the hospital. It has been a lot of years since Melissa started an IV (since that isn't done in the health clinic), but she was able to get it on the first "stick" . . . in a moving ambulance, no less! A short time later, she left the woman feeling much better. The moral of the story here is, even when it's a personal friend calling for a favor, it is far more professional to stay within policy and try to focus on the matter at hand. It also doesn't hurt to be in tune with that all-important "still, small voice". Good listening, Missy!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's The Little Things

Linens beg to be out on a clothesline to dry. Years ago, my Mike set in concrete, an umbrella clothesline for me so it wouldn't take up too much room in the back yard, but I could hang my sheets out to dry and I LOVED it. After a number of years, it fell apart. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that my older grandchildren loved climbing up and hanging from it.

It brings to mind the scripture (from Latter-day Saint revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants), in 3 Nephi 13:19-21, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." On more than one occasion, I have admitted to myself that I love a particular inanimate object more than I should. I have lived long enough to see that very object rust, tarnish, corrode or as in the case of my clothesline, fall apart.

But I missed my clothesline! One of my fondest memories is of my sister-in-law (Mike's sister), Marsha, who visited us and took a nap in front of an open window with a breeze, on a bed made with freshly dried linens from my clothesline and remarked at what a pleasant experience it was. That made me so happy, not to mention all the money I've saved over the years by not using an electric dryer. So, recently, my brother-in-law, Brad (my sister Kat's hubby) ordered me a replacement clothesline. I am a whole woman again!

Fast forward to last week, when I put my grandchildren down for a nap, my 4 year old Brennan pulled the fresh sheet up to his face and said, "Nana, this smells really good!" It made me smile, I thought of Marsha and thanked him. He said it several more times. Not only a young child, but a male child! Who woulda thought he'd even notice? It's not a big thing, but it's the little things in life that seem to always put a smile in your heart. My Mike used to leave me lots of little notes written on whatever scrap of paper he had close by. Like I found one in his dresser drawer thanking me for the clean, folded clothes he was always grateful to find there. If it was beans and cornbread for supper, he described it as "a meal fit for a king!" I could go on forever because today marks the 9th year since his death (Friday, April 14, 2000) and I miss him. Not because he was a good provider or because he single-handedly remodeled our home or helped me be a better person, but I miss the little things. He made me feel pretty, even when I knew I looked frumpy. He had a forgiving heart and was almost always the first one to say "sorry" and mean it. He hated gossip and kept me in check. He was strong physically but had a gentle touch and what you saw in public, was exactly what he was in private. No hypocrisy.

I especially miss his creativity and humor. Once after a lengthy grocery shopping trip, I came in the front door to find him and my young son Aaron, sprawled out on the floor, like you might see at a crime scene, with a sheet of notebook paper at each one's side. In large letters, the note next to Aaron said, "DIED OF STARVATION", the note next to Mike said, "DIED WHILE TRYING TO SAVE SON". I'll never know how they kept from laughing. The notes were written with a black Sharpie pen. Oh how Mike loved those pens! He had about 40 of them in his desk at work. See, it's the little things that you remember, but they add up to a lot of sweet, sweet memories. Can't wait to be with him again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


With every passing day that I approach the possibility of meeting my Maker, I grow to love Easter more. Without the hope of a resurrection, life would be impossible to bear. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. And yet, not only will the righteous to resurrected, but ALL. With that, I want to post my annual Ukrainian Folk Tale . . . it helps me wrap my mind around the connection between the Savior's sacrifice and decorating eggs, which is a tradition we have always enjoyed so I'm glad it is deemed appropriate:


"One day a poor peddler went to the marketplace to sell a basket of eggs. He came upon a crowd mocking a man who staggered with a heavy cross on which he was about to be crucified. The peddler ran to his aid, leaving the basket by the roadside. When he returned, he found the eggs transformed into exquisite designs of bright colors. The man was Christ; the peddler, Simon. And the eggs were to become the symbol of rebirth for all mankind."

I hope we spend this day with those we love, rejoicing in the season of hope and blessed reunions. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bahama-Mama with Cream, Please

A local man has a portable snow cone stand and makes great "Bahama-Mama" snow cones with cream. They are a favorite of all of Jennifer's kids and when they finally wear us down, we indulge them. He worked alone with a "Help Wanted" sign in the window and was often swamped with customers, so Cheyenne (my eldest granddaughter) applied for the job and was hired. Her first day there, he asked her how she learned he needed help so she explained that her Nana (me) saw the sign in the window and that her aunt (Jen) knows his mother, Shirley (who also had a stand in Angleton, close to where Jen & Jon used to live). He then said, "You knew my mother died, didn't you?" Poor Cheyenne was crushed. Jen had not told her that. She immediately began to apologetically offer her sympathy for his loss when he started to chuckle. "April Fool's!!" he said. What a thing to do to a 16 year old on her first day of a new job with a boss who she did not know. The good news is, Shirley is alive and well ~ and we will never have any trouble remembering the date she started working there.

At the Lake Jackson mall, in a children's arena, Dow Chemical donated some brightly colored, larger-than-life objects made from some kind of soft poly-vinyl, to include a car, a couch, a stack of books with one laying down, forming a ramp, a TV, and a can of paint on its side with a pool of paint on the floor. There is ample sitting room for the adults to supervise while the kids run and climb. It's free so it's one of Ella's and Brennan's special treats when they've been particularly well-behaved. If we go early, they have it to themselves. Other times, there are many little ones to make friends with. Tradition says is imperative that before we go, I have at least one quarter in my coin purse for each of them to use in the gum ball machines afterward . . . 

I suppose it is a side effect of watching cartoons, that they both look so animated at times. On our last trip to the "Dow Furniture", (what we call it), we got out of the car and waited to check for traffic before crossing into the mall. When I gave the go-ahead, Brennan threw both his arms over to the left, much like a cartoon character, let his feet spin in place for a couple seconds and shouted "Fire in the hole!!" before he took off running across the street. A Kodak moment if ever was one.

When El and Bren first wake, they almost always reach for the Wii game. (It usually short lived because soon after the contention begins, it gets shut off). Sometimes they are precious to watch and listen to, maybe sitting on the couch side by side, like a mutual admiration society, complementing each other on their performance. If Ella is beating herself up because she is behind, (is it possible she could really be fishing for complements?) Brennan reminds her all she needs to do is practice. (am I wrong to say the following is a gender thing with him seeking affirmation?) He might ask her if she thinks he's "doing good?" Affirmative. Then after a time, Ella complains that Brennan is bragging. Brennan insists he is a good sport! (he is convinced a good sport is someone who is good at sports). Absolutely fascinating study of the human species. And I get a front row seat nearly every day!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I've been lucky in love, lucky with in-laws and lucky with my lineage. I've been incredibly lucky with the family I have, to live in America, and far too many other things to mention, but I am simply not lucky at chance. So I don't play penny-ante poker, have never bought a lottery ticket in my life and didn't gamble a nickel on my one and only trip to Vegas. Therefore, it only makes sense that I never win anything. If I do purchase, say, raffle tickets for a fund-raiser, it is purely for donation's sake. I have never won and don't expect to.

However, a recent contribution to the classical radio station KUHF in Houston (88.7 on your dial) automatically entered me in a contest and amazingly enough, I WON! I came home to find a congratulatory message on my answering machine, announcing an all expense paid trip for two to St. Paul, MN to attend a live broadcast of the show, "Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. I've been a fan of the show for years so I don't have to tell you how excited I am. They said I could choose any weekend in October, so I may go early, since I don't do "cold" very well. I'll get more details later.

Speaking of chicken dinner (in the title of this entry), a couple weeks ago, Jen and I took her children and a friend of theirs out to eat. They love Chinese food and Jen said they especially like the General Tsao's spicy chicken, orange chicken and bourbon chicken from the food court at the Lake Jackson mall. When it's something they really like, they eat like refugees, so we bought a lot and none of it was thrown away.

Days later, Ella was hungry and wanted to get more "suburban chicken" from the mall. Normally, I like to educate them but 1) I thought it was so cute and 2) it saves me from explaining to others within hearing distance that we don't slink out to the food court in the mall to become inebriated on chicken that sounds like it's been soaking in alcohol. It is yummy, but it just tastes charcoal grilled. If we were at a fine-dining establishment, I might be concerned there is actually bourbon in it, but with the cost of using it for food-court food, no worries there. I'll eventually straighten Ella out, but for now, it's "suburban chicken"!