Category Archives: Journey

First Quilt

My 1st Quilt

I still have the FIRST QUILT that my Mama ever made for me when I was a little girl, more than half-a-century ago. This is also the very FIRST QUILT that she ever made! I think that it is a treasure and I love it dearly. It’s called a ‘postage stamp quilt’  because that is the design: it’s basically a patchwork quilt ; however, all of these squares are as little as postage stamps. It does differ than an ordinary patchwork quilt in that this quilt does have a pattern in the way that the squares are placed in a particular order into long strips as they’re sewn together, and then each row is sewn together to complete this pattern. Usually most patchwork quilts do not necessarily follow patterns because they’re using up scraps of leftover cloth. Mama used to make dresses for my cousins and Aunty and herself and I, so she’d buy lotsa material. She also made a lot of curtains back in the 50s when it was popular to do so. So whatever fabric was leftover was cut into little squares and this was what she designed into her FIRST QUILT. I can still point to the squares and remember which of my dresses or tops had the same fabric! That’s part of what makes the quilt special.

Mama has been trying to get me to throw this quilt away for the past dozen years or so! At this point she’s HANDMADE (never ever quilted by machine) over 325 quilts for folks!! What an amazing accomplishment! I am extremely proud of this! My Mama is soooo amazing! Myself, my children, my brothers and their children, my Aunty and her children, all have numerous quilts that Mama has lovingly made for us and we treasure each and every one of them. Most of Mama’s friends have commissioned her to make quilts for their own kin’s weddings or babies or graduations, etc. Plus Mama is regularly DONATING quilts to church raffles, nursing homes, and even soldiers’ hospitals overseas. This fills my heart. So for me to throw away her very first one, even tho it most definitely is old and fragile and could probably never be washed again or it’d likely fall apart, would surely cause me much dismay.

Believe it or not, my kiddies NEVER had a bedspread! They always had Grandma’s quilts on their beds. Me too. I wouldn’t have it any other way! There’s such a ‘homey ‘ look about a house that has bedrooms with a quilt on every bed, especially when those quilts are made by loved ones. My belief has always been that if the house catches on fire : kids out 1st, quilts 2nd, photo books 3rd!

So many times, as Mama would lovingly present me with a new quilt to put on my bed, or another lap quilt for the living room, she’d say : “NOW will you get rid of that old green quilt?” As if she REALLY REALLY thought that I would!! Every time she tries….and every time I turn her down. This was the FIRST QUILT that she ever made PLUS it’s my fave color PLUS this daughter-of-hers just cherishes it, and her, toooo much to ever even consider it! I LOVE MY MANY QUILTS!!!

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Waikiki Chase

Aerial Waikiki

Today I have 2 young cousins that are in Waikiki. They’re first cousins and didn’t even know that the other would be there too until their mothers informed them today of their posts that they read on Facebook! One is there for the Honolulu Marathon Week festivities and the other is just there for a short stopover before she heads for a much-needed 3-week vacation to be with her Mama, who lives on Kauai. Of course, this reminds me of a myriad of fabulous memories and events that I’ve enjoyed in Waikiki throughout the past 40 years, but thinking about the Honolulu Marathon being run tomorrow makes me think about my own WAIKIKI CHASE that occurred 26 years ago. The photo above is an aerial photo that was taken recently of Waikiki but the shoreline is basically the same, although the sandy beach area in front of the Sheraton Waikiki isn’t nearly as expansive as it used to be. The 2 red stars that I have placed on this photo are the beginning and end points of this ‘chase‘.

When my (now ex) hubby was stationed on a ‘remote’ tour-of-duty on the Arctic Circle in the very northern part of Canada, the USAF sent the 3 children and I to Oahu for 14 months to be near Hickam Air Force Base. We assumed this would be our next assignment. It didn’t turn out to be so, Hurlburt Field in Florida’s Panhandle did, but that will be for another story. Our favorite activities were going to the beaches and to the zoo. Luckily, the beaches are free and we had an annual pass that included both the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. My daughter loved watching clams and anything else that’d make it’s way into the sand, and running after the birds. My youngest son had his most fun building sandcastles. My oldest son played in the water and chatted with the tourists. That’s one of the main reasons that I usually chose to frequent the beaches with the lifeguard stands….because my 3 kids were ages 5 and under.

We always took a cooler to the beach with our sandwiches and drinks. I kept my wallet in the bottom of this cooler for safekeeping so that I’d not have to have a purse to sling over my shoulder every time the kiddies and I wanted to go into the water. We had a lot of ‘stuff’ that we took to the beach: beach towels, hats, sunblock and suntan lotion, aloe, 2 pairs of sunglasses for each of us, boogie boards, slippahs (flip-flops), assorted items to build sandcastles with, pails and shovels, cooler, bandages, and even an extra swimsuit for each of the kids. I had a couple of big cloth bags that fit all of this stuff and it fit into the trunk of my car. Our car always had this ‘beach kit’….ready for anytime that the mood struck us to ‘hit the beach’!

On this particular day, we were eating lunch at the Ft. DeRussy Beach, which is the military beach at the western end of Waikiki. My daughter started chasing a small flock of birds. I called to her but she didn’t hear me. The wind picked up and she kept running, so I grabbed a boy in each hand and took off after her, leaving ALL of our belongings behind. Every time we got close to her, I’d call out to her but she didn’t hear me. She was 3-years-old and her only thought was to run and laugh as she chased those birds! She was having a blast while the boys and I were barely able to keep her within our sight! The tourists paid no attention and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to ask a lifeguard for assistance. All I could think of was to get to my baby girl! We FINALLY caught up to her at the eastern end of Waikiki near the zoo. We’d run a total of 1.8 miles in the sand! My 5-year-old son caught her first and we all collapsed into the sand, exhausted. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to make that long and tiresome trek back. I suddenly remembered that all of my belongings, including my wallet and keys, were almost 2 miles away. I decided to beg for a ride so that’s exactly what we did. I brushed off as much of the sand as we could, and then we went to the road, where The Bus comes along every 10 minutes. I was extremely thankful that the very first busdriver believed my story and let us ride for free!

When we got back to Ft. DeRussy, I was relieved that our stuff was still in the same spot where we left it. I was nervous as I stuck my hand down into the cooler but my untouched wallet and keys were actually there too! We gathered everything and walked to the car. Of course I made the kids pay extra attention to the long path as I drove along the exact route that we’d taken as we ran that 1.8 miles during our WAIKIKI CHASE!!! We were very tired when we got home but the ‘lecture‘ was minimal. My daughter never did catch those birds. She still tries though. She’s studying to be a Biologist with hopes of getting a Master’s degree in Zoology. Guess what? She DOES HAVE a special place in her heart for birds too! Hmmm, maybe it started when she was about 3 on a beach somewhere in Hawaii!

Hometown Pride

RCHS Mascot

Thanksgiving has come and gone for this year. Many events occurred during the last 2 weeks, other than just that traditional turkey dinner. My small Hoosier hometown celebrated much more than Thanksgiving this time around. Yes….everyone was truly thankful but that big family dinner was definitely not the MAIN EVENT this holiday season. HOMETOWN PRIDE was #1 on everybody’s menu this year as nearly every household was fixated upon the day after Thanksgiving. That was the BIG DAY….for the very first time in the history of Rensselaer High School Football, our young athletes were vying for the Indiana State 2A Championship! This undefeated team from a small town of less than 6000 residents actually won! HOORAY for the home team!

I live in central Florida but you had better believe that I was cheering on the Rensselaer Bombers from my chair right in front of my computer! My brother was at the game, which was played at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. I stayed with Facbook throughout the entirety of the game because I knew that at least 20 of my ‘friends’ were regularly posting every event plus plenty of short videos. So I was still able to view EVERY touchdown. How thrilling to see about 100 faces in the crowd that I knew. Also, how humorous to see them bundled up for the cool Hoosier weather while I was in my flip-flops here in Florida! I enjoyed the commentaries. It was fun watching the faces as they discovered themselves on the Jumbotron. Everybody was wearing their new ‘Bomber Nation‘ jerseys or their own former high school attire (if they still fit!) and it was wonderful to see the old school colors again: red and black!

So much has transpired during these past 2 weeks. Tragedy as well as Triumph. We’ve had a death in the family. My best friend of 49 years got her very 1st granddaughter and is expecting grandson #3 in a couple of weeks. This same friend retired 2 days after that granddaughter was born so I’m certain that she and her hubby will enjoy babysitting duties now that their schedules aren’t as hectic. Two of my children were honored at their workplace with a fabulous banquet, as per Disney tradition, for being 10-year Castmembers at Walt DisneyWorld! I’m soooo proud of them! My youngest son’s fiancee got the amazing promotion that she’d been hoping for and so far is enjoying her training quite a bit. My daughter-in-law finishes college this week too. I’m tired just trying to think about it all, my mind cannot keep up!

The photo above is our high school mascot. I’ve always thought that this little Bomber is a cute fella. I still think of my home team whenever I see the colors red and black together too; always have and probably always will. I like those colors. Same as the Chicago Bulls, which is, of course our favorite NBA team (the Pacers probably run a close second tho!). Rensselaer is a sports town. St. Joseph’s College is in Rensselaer and the Chicago Bears held their annual training camps there every year in August for 30 years, from 1944-1974. I think most folks still root for ‘Da Bears‘, while some also cheer on the Indianapolis Colts (did I mention that Rensselaer is geographically situated halfway between Indianpolis and Chicago?). As for baseball, well that’s easy. We’re all die-hard Cubs fans! Folks from my hometown NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! High School Football has been played in the fall, talked about, and attended for approximately 115 or more years in our town. That’s about as far back as anyone IS SURE ABOUT….maybe more! So that means that portions of 3 different centuries of HOMETOWN PRIDE has finally brought home the ultimate victory, plus bumped our school up into the next division too! Hmmmm, that makes me think of something: if’n it can happen for small-town guys like Rensselaer Bombers, who have waited over 100 years….I’m thinking that there’s still hope for those Cubbies yet! Make it happen Chicago Cubs!

Magnum Kiss

Smithsonian's Magnum P.I. shirt

Meeting and seeing celebrities has been a part of my life since the late 1970s when I attended college in Hawaii. A decade later when I returned to Oahu as an Air Force Officer’s wife with 3 very young kiddies in tow, I’d had many opportunities to teach them that celebrities have lives other than those that are portrayed on TV. We saw sooooo many celebrities that it seemed rather commonplace, especially since Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for them too. I’m thinking this is the reason that my children don’t particularly ‘go nutso‘ whenever they see somebody famous nowadays. This is a good thing because now they either are, or have been, Disney Castmembers and are once again seeing dozens of celebrities. I taught my kids not to pester famous folks for autographs (unless it’s a book signing, for example) or for photos because these people are only hoping to have an enjoyable vacation experience like everybody else! And to think that, for them it all started more than a quarter-of-a-century ago with my daughter and her ‘kiss‘….a MAGNUM KISS to be precise!

I took my children to the beaches of Oahu almost on a daily basis. There were numerous beaches to choose from so we liked to explore different areas and tried to find some of the quieter beaches. Of course we adored the ever-popular Waikiki Beach but my kiddies had a tendency to get away from me quickly there since the beaches were crowded and the children were ages 2, 3, & 5 and very quick. We also tried to go as early in the morning as possible so as not to get too overly pink; besides, the tourists were mostly still kinda hung-over from partying the night before and didn’t usually start arriving until 10:30 or later. By noon Waikiki & Kaneohe beaches are packed. So earlier was better for us. A breakfast picnic on the beach was fun and lovely!

One perfect morning we were at a particular beach, which shall go nameless for the sake of celebrities that enjoy the privacy of this stretch of beaches. I knew of several celebrities that lived in the area because of a former college job that I’d had delivering floral bouquets. So I sometimes brought the kids to this beach because it was usually very quiet and we were often the only ones there! But that morning there was a couple strolling far down the beach and my 3-year-old daughter saw them and recognized HIM before I did. She jumped up and started running down the beach towards them, hollering “Magnum, Magnum, Magnum!”. (she was too young to understand that he wasn’t actually named that in real life) I was embarrassed but had no choice but to leave our things, grab a hand of each of my boys and start running after her! We 3 were so much slower than she was by herself. Of course, by the time we finally caught up, she’d already made her way to ‘the man from the TV‘ and his then-girlfriend Jillie. So there I stood, face-to-face with THE HEART-THROB of the decade, apologizing profusely to Tom Selleck and his girlfriend while he held my daughter and acted like he honestly didn’t mind! Tom and Jillie were the nicest, sweetest people and were extremely kind to my 3 children as we chatted for 20 minutes or so. My daughter didn’t wanna let go of him but he kissed her cheek and she giggled….probably his mustache tickled!

That was a memory-of-a-lifetime for her! Me too! Oh, and by the way….my daughter’s name is Jillian. She’s always liked her name. Sometimes we call her Jillian, and often she goes by Jill. But you’d better believe that after meeting ‘Magnum’s girlfriend‘ that my 3-year-old preferred us to call her Jillie for about a year after that encounter. She was as much enthralled with Jillie Mack as she was with Tom Selleck! For MANY years afterwards, we’d ask her: “Where did MAGNUM KISS you?” and she would always coyly point to her cheek and smile. Such a precious memory to have her very first non-family-member KISS be from such a handsome man! Aaahhh….could I possibly have been jealous of a 3-year-old?

1st Love

My 1st love-age 12-Middle School band

I’m thinking that if somebody looks at this photo before reading this blog then there’s bound to be a bit of confusion. But nope….my 1ST LOVE was band! In this photo I was 12 and had no beaux to speak of, nor did I want any. I had my pals, the boys that I grew up with and played with since childhood and that was all right with me!

I was a ‘late bloomer‘ when I started band. Most of my classmates that’d been interested in playing instruments had begun 2 years before. I started late and had a lot of catching up to do. I certainly did! This was probably the first time in my young life that I’d ever taken anything seriously enough to develop an extreme passion for it. I practiced and practiced and practiced, and I was GOOD! Luckily I had a band director that worked with me to give me lessons during that beginning summer on my own since I’d not had the ‘group lessons‘ that the rest of my classmates previously had. So I started out having to be in the 6th-grade band as an 8th-grader, that first fall when I had my original beginning band experience. It wasn’t fun being with the younger kids, plus my school itinerary was quite messed up in order to accommodate my classes so I practiced even more at home, 2-4 hours nightly (yes, I DID learn to drive particular family members crazy whenever I wanted to!) so that by the time spring term rolled around, I’d moved up to 7th-grade band. I skipped 8th-grade band altogether because I got more than caught up during the next summer vacation….so much so that when I began high school in the fall, I moved to the lead of ALL of the freshman clarinetists! Of course I was 1st-Chair Clarinetist as a Senior and had lots of solos, which I loved!

This evening my daughter and I were watching a TV reality show and one of the given tasks was to learn to march. I found it humorous that the couples were having so much trouble doing so, even after several attempts. My daughter was surprised when I stood up and marched around the house, CORRECTLY, showing her that I still knew how to do every command and make every turn although I’d not done it for approximately 4 decades! She was quite impressed and even asked me to write my blog about my love of band! Awwww!

In my high school we had marching band in the fall semester and concert band in the spring semester. I adored them both! Nowadays, I reckon I was then what was called a ‘Band Geek‘! I spent any and all free time in the band room. Band was my forte. I went to band camp every summer throughout high school at Purdue University. I was awarded the honor of being named to the McDonald’s All-American Band during my Senior year. Unfortunately, I turned down that honor because I was also invited to audition for the American Musical Ambassadors the same year. I chose to do that instead, and was surprised at the auditions to learn that several hundred invitations had been sent out to audition for each individual spot. I did manage to be one of the 2 representatives chosen for the state of Indiana so I got to make a grand European trip, playing 1 or 2 daily concerts EACH DAY in various cities all over Europe! It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I cherish those memories immensely! It was also my first time being away from home but I got a taste of what it was going to be like to go away to college when I returned from the trip. It was so very much fun selecting souvenirs from Europe for my parents and brothers and Gramma! My parents were usually the ones that’d traveled lots, and my brothers and I would always remind them to bring us something. It was a tremendous joy for me to be able to be the one to select the ‘treasures‘ and give them out for a change!

Now my clarinets (I have 3) and my flute and my daughter’s oboe sit in my closet. It would presently cost a lot of money to get my main instrument ‘overhauled‘ in order to get it back into ‘playing condition‘, because it wasn’t a cheap clarinet. For my 16th Christmas, my parents bought me the best clarinet that money could buy, all the way from Paris! When I went to college in Hawaii and took private lessons from a member of the Honolulu Symphony, even my instructor was constantly trying to buy it from me. But I wouldn’t give up my 1ST LOVE!!! I’m just hoping that someday perhaps one of my grandbabies will love music as much as I did. Then my clarinet can possibly come back to life!

Getting Pincurls

Getting pincurls like Mommy-age 3

I find that it’s certainly true that we want the opposite of what we have. Myself, well, I have rather crazy hair that has never been stylish nor have I been able to tame it into whatever hairdo seemed to be popular at the current time. Nowadays I’m not particularly concerned with the way my hair looks, but according to the photo above this must have began at approximately age 3. I’d imagine that my Mama was probably placating me at the time and I was probably excited to be GETTING PINCURLS just like Mommy had, but maybe this began several decades of unsuccessfully attempting to make my hair do things that it wasn’t meant to do!

According to early photos, I had very straight hair as a preschooler! Mama was thrilled that I even had some hair because I had quite the lack of it as a baby. She and Daddy had curly hair so it made no sense to either of them that mine was straight. If only she’d have left it alone then I probably would’ve been very happy with long straight hair, as that was the norm in the 60s and 70s. But I blame my Mama for that early perm that she gave me because after that my hair would never go back to being straight again! Luckily it was very thick, so that was the only thing that I DID LIKE about my hair. I could not use a hair dryer because it would frizz terribly; in fact, a dryer hasn’t touched my hair in more than half-a-century! I took great care in cutting off tiny split-ends, as soon as I noticed them, little-by-little in such a way so as to not cut any of the length of my hair. I’ve had short hair, long hair, and shoulder-length hair throughout the years. In the Hoosier summer sunshine, I’d squeeze lemon juice onto my hair before sitting poolside after getting out of the backyard pool. Somebody had mentioned that this would keep away that greenish sheen that the chlorination from the pool’s chemicals would tint my hair. It must’ve worked because my hair didn’t have that ugly color. I remember when I wanted bangs or short ‘sideburns’ and having to wear the pink tape at night. The next morning I’d be happy with the reflection in the mirror from my temporarily-straight bangs….however, my disappointment would return along with my curls by the time I got to school! I just had no luck with straightening my hair. I thought that it was so unfair that I could not have the popular hairstyles! I got into very big trouble one Saturday afternoon when my Daddy came home early and walked in on me and a friend ironing my long hair on the ironing board, with a pillowcase between my hair and the iron. He sent my galpal home and I promptly got a paddling, even though I was already a teenager!

My Mama has always put a lot of effort and emphasis into her hairdo and makeup. Whenever she went out the door of our house, she does so looking beautiful. I was of the generation that didn’t like makeup, and even though I experimented a bit, mostly I only wore makeup for special occasions or when Mama told me that I HAD TO! Anyway, Mama had a LOT of hair….verrryyy thick. She’s mostly kept it short, but has gone to the beautician to have it styled for as long as I can remember. When my brothers and I were young, we used to tease that we couldn’t even put a finger into her hair for fear that it’d get stuck! I am NOT kidding! Mama always knew everything that was happening too….we could never be sneaky and get away with things like we could with our Daddy or grandparents. Mama always told us that it was because that mothers have ‘eyes in the back of their heads‘ that children cannot see, but that we’d better believe that those secret eyes were there, nonetheless. Well, the night before Mama would have her weekly hair appointment, she’d give one of us kids a coin to brush out her hair. It took a long time since it was really thick plus had several layers of hairspray. Besides, she liked the feel of the scratching of the Avon brush upon her scalp. The oldest of my brothers almost always insisted upon doing this, and he performed the task ardently. It wasn’t until we were all grown up that he explained that he’d been looking for those ‘eyes in the back of Mama’s head‘ all those years and he never did find them! Tooooo funny!

When I went away to college in Hawaii, I found that my long wavy strawberry-blonde hair was suddenly very popular, especially with the Pacific Islanders. Of course, I had to forget about the frizz because August in Hawaii is a bit humid and I just got used to it anyway. But I soon found that the Polynesian boys would hurry to sit beside me in classes. After a couple of weeks of feeling like a Midwestern Oddball, my Indonesian and Samoan roomies told me that the guys hadn’t seen red hair before! Several times I’d catch someone touching my hair just to see if they were gonna get burned! I even got mad at a boy from Palau that cut a long strand of my hair without my permission; when I turned around and glared at him, his excuse was that he wanted to send it home to his grandmother because she’d never believe it! I didn’t know whether to laugh or smack his face! In my mind I was having these thoughts of a little voodoo doll of myself in a dark room someplace awaiting these strands of golden hair but I remembered that these were South Pacific Islanders and not Creoles. Instead I told them that they could’ve asked and I’d have given them some strands from my hairbrush. About that time I started wearing my hair in elaborate braids and buns in order to avoid and solve these situations. It didn’t take too many months for the warm Hawaiian sun to bleach the red outa my hair anyway. As my skin darkened into a golden brown, my hair lightened and lost the red. I looked like any beachgoing blonde!

Now I’m in my late 50s and my hair is totally white in the front. The back part is whitening. My hair is partially curly and partially straight. It cannot make up it’s mind. It’s nothing at all like when I was younger. The straight portion is as I had always hoped and envisioned but then there are these unruly curls that pop up here and there all over the place. They’re curlier than ever before. The curly-hair gene must have totally skipped my daughter. I’d always imagined that my daughter would have thick, blonde, curly hair. Well, it’s blonde, Period. Not thick. Not a tiny bit of curl or wave in sight. But she’s as blonde as can be. She got a perm once when she was a little girl and it was a mess to keep up with so we never did that again! She prefers a long ponytail and it suits her. Since my hair doesn’t do anything worthy of a style, I’ve been keeping it kinda short for the last few years. So I don’t think that either one of us will be GETTING PINCURLS anytime soon!! Maybe we’re finally accepting what we have.

Country Scars

IMG_20140916_234433

One of my younger cousins was grumbling about getting bruised from the trailer hitch on the back of her pickup truck early in the morning while in a rush to get her son to school on time. I think that’s something that most of us ‘country girls‘ have experienced at one time or another, unfortunately! YOWWEE! Add that to the scar on the inside shin from a motorcycle….plus knee scars from riding bikes & learning to do wheelies as kids plus elbow scars from getting thrown from horses! Aahhh….isn’t it great being a REAL country gal??? These all add up to a bunch of what I call my COUNTRY SCARS and, truthfully, I wouldn’t trade my upbringing, scars & all!

I certainly had more than my share of scars and scabs during my ‘growing up‘ years. Much to my Mama’s dismay, I picked at them relentlessly. My Mama warned me time after time after time not to do so but did I heed her well-meaning warnings? I did not! And I had plenty of ugly scars as proof. They were reminders of my disobedience. Back in the 60s, whenever I’d open up a scab so that it’d start bleeding….I’d try to hide it! Because as soon as my Mama saw it then I knew that she was gonna get out that bottle of alcohol and that really really REALLY stung like crazy and I hollered and cried so much that Daddy often had to hold me down until Mama got everything cleaned and bandaged. Of course I thought that she was trying to punish me (well, perhaps somewhat). But I’m not a child anymore and I understand the necessity of cleanliness in order to avoid infection and healing.

Nowadays there are multiple cleansers and ointments so that the bandaging process is nearly painless. Plus all the cutesy bandages made my own 3 kiddies come running for kisses and Band-Aids when I couldn’t even find any wound after clearing away dirt and debris! I still buy the adorable bandages when they’re on sale even though I know that I’ll be the one using them, even if it’s only for the instances that the bleeding won’t stop after taking my daily blood-sugar reading! So I have colored bandages, animal-printed bandages, Disney bandages, and whatever else may be in my ‘Band-Aid tin‘. I may not be getting any more COUNTRY SCARS but I’d much rather have those than the type that I get nowadays: surgery scars, scars from having too many blood draws, and scars from multiple falls! If only I could turn back that clock to my awesome childhood!!!

Remembering Corcovado

Corcovado sunset

 

This photo is a beautiful sunset image of the Cristo Redentor, or ‘Christ the Redeemer’, statute atop Corcovado Mountain in Brazil. Yes, I HAVE been all the way to the top of that mountain! I was fondly REMEMBERING CORCOVADO as I’ve been perusing photos from very long ago, this one from the mid-1970s.

I was still a teen, a college freshman, when I convinced my family to let me do a semester in the jungles of Brazil as a student missionary. There were a handful of us from the college, and one day the missionary took us into Rio de Janeiro on our way to someplace else. We were very young and naive Christian students that seemed shocked at the big city! I’d never seen so much flesh displayed as on the beaches there in Brazil! I thought that I had seen bikinis before, after all I’d been to Waikiki….and Hawaii was (and is) my favorite place on this planet. But nothing prepared my eyes for Copacabana Beach and the string bikinis and thongs on both females and males of all ages. Needless to say, the missionary wasn’t letting us dawdle there, we were passing through on our way to the old train to take us up the mountain. Corcovado means ‘hunchback‘ in Portuguese, which is the language of the Brazilian people, the only country on the South American continent to not speak Spanish. I probably learned about 5 words of Portuguese throughout my time in Brazil, but since our group was working at a youth camp in the jungle, it mattered not to the children of Brazil. I think they delighted in hearing us trying to sing their hymns because they clapped and laughed and gave us lotsa hugs anyway!

The train made it’s way up 2&1/2 miles to the top of Corcovado Mountain, which is in the Tijuca Forest, a national park. We then had to climb more than 200 steps. At that point it was so very foggy that we were unable to see any of the 125-foot statue except the base because we were up so high that we were literally in the clouds! We waited a long, long time with our cameras ready to snap photos. The clouds were moving fast but they were so numerous that it seemed that we were in the midst of some sorta ethereal white cotton candy forest and all we could see were the toes of Jesus! It was surreal ‘standing at the feet of Jesus‘, knowing that He’s there but not quite being able to see Him. Oh my, just like in REAL LIFE!!! We stood thataway for more than an hour before the clouds moved for only 3-4 minutes, just long enough for everybody to GASP, and then to get a couple of pictures. Then the clouds covered the statue again. The tour guides said that some days are like that all day long but that those are also usually the days with the most magnificent sunsets from below, which did certainly prove to be true for us.

Looking out over Rio de Janeiro was one of the most amazing vistas I’ve ever personally witnessed. We could see the Atlantic Ocean, all of Rio and Copacabana Beach, and even further than Sugarloaf Mountain, which stands ‘guarding’ the other end of the city of Rio de Janeiro. One day in Rio was all that we had. REMEMBERING CORCOVADO plays in my mind as being the inspiration of that trek. We still had an extremely long and arduous journey to our mission camp, somewhere along the Rio Parana. This was the remotest locale that I’ve ever visited in my life. We worked hard for weeks, ate rice and beans with every meal, and were rewarded with the smiles and friendships of the Brazilian children. All in all, a most satisfying mission!

Baby Brother

Steven & dad

 

50 years ago I got a BABY BROTHER. I didn’t WANT a baby brother. He wasn’t supposed to BE a baby brother, I already had a brother. I was supposed to have a baby SISTER for my 8th birthday. which had just been 6 days before. My other brother would be 6 in just 3 months and he’d asked for a baby brother. But a baby sister was supposed to be MY birthday present and ever since Christmas, when our parents had told us the news of the upcoming addition to our family, my brother and I had been very excited and joyously awaiting the baby’s arrival. But we also had been constantly arguing about which of us would be right. I had been positive that I was getting a sister because it was MY birthday; besides, I’m the oldest and I felt as if I deserved a sister! I’d always prayed for a baby sister and a big brother! Mama said that we couldn’t get the big brother but perhaps we could get the baby sister. I thought that meant that it was a ‘done deal’. (The photo above is the earliest photo of my youngest brother with our Daddy.)

When Daddy came home from the hospital and announced to my brother and Gramma and I that we had a baby boy to add to the family, I was in total disbelief. I did not want this news and I wouldn’t even smile or give my Daddy a hug. I just pouted. When the baby was brought home, I didn’t want anything to do with him. I wouldn’t even look at him. I winced when he cried and ignored everybody that visited when they ‘oohed and aahed’ over the new baby. As far as I was concerned, he wasn’t there. Our family was just the same as it was before: Mama, Daddy, my bratty brother, and myself. I didn’t want to hold the baby or give the baby his bottle or even sit next to the baby for a photograph. His crib was in the corner of my parents’ bedroom and I don’t remember the baby making much noise at all. According to Mama, one day she watched me pass the baby when he was 2 months old. Evidently the baby was staring at me and smiled. Mama hid so that I wouldn’t see her. I was curious when the baby grabbed the bars of the crib and was cooing AT ME….I thought he knew me and he was smiling and laughing. He was very happy to see me! I thought that nobody was around so I stopped and looked at him….then touched his little fingers and he grabbed onto mine. Then I reached to touch his chubby cheeks and was amazed at their softness! The baby boy was soooo happy by this time, and to my amazement, so was I! I kissed him!!! It just took a few moments but by now Mama had come out of the shadows and caressed my shoulder and lifted the baby outa his crib to change his diaper. This was the first diaper-change that I witnessed and I knew that I wanted no part of that! Thankfully she never asked for that kind of help! From then on I rocked the baby and he became my constant little companion. By the time school started the day following Labor Day, I was sad to have to get on that schoolbus and go to 3rd-grade but the baby was always excited to see me come home!

As we grew up, my brothers fought a lot and were constantly getting (or trying to) each other into trouble. Probably most brothers do. My other brother and I were always arguing and complaining about something or another. This is rather common since we are 2&1/4-years apart. But there’s 8 years between my youngest brother and I. We didn’t fight. We always got along. Even today, now that we’re at that dreaded middle-aged mark in our lives….I’d still consider my BABY BROTHER to be one of the best buddies and confidantes that I’ve had throughout my entire lifetime. He doesn’t even get mad at me if he doesn’t like my opinion or perhaps we don’t agree. He still calls me nearly every week, usually either right before or right after he talks to our Mama. Family means the world to him, and that is a view that we share wholeheartedly!

He has 2 daughters, but waited to have children until later in life than our other brother and I did. So when my 3 kiddies were very little, he was the younger Uncle that knew nothing about child-rearing. He bought gifts that made the most noise and that he thought would be funny because he knew that it’d annoy ME the most! And he’d laugh! He did the same thing with our other brother and his 2 children, who are approximately the same age as my kids. Yep, again he’d laugh! So when our kids were teens and our baby brother had his 2 girls, of course my other brother and I bought the noisiest gifts that we could find! And then WE LAUGHED!!! Oh yes; payback time!

On another cutesy humorous note, I had to have my gallbladder out when I was 49; so did our other brother….so all year long I’ve been asking my baby brother “how’s your gallbladder?” So I reckon he’s hitting that 50-year mark with gallbladder still intact. I find that rather unusual. My Dr. told me to quit eating fried or spicy foods. My baby brother’s wife is from South Africa and she spices nearly all their foods! So I’m wondering why he still has that gallbladder but at the same time, I’m very glad that he does because it gives him another thing to brag about, anyway!

I remember when our folks turned 50 and we told them that they were officially ‘OVER THE HILL‘! I hit 50 several years ago, as did the other brother; it’s hard to believe that now my BABY BROTHER is 50! I feel sooooo old. When our parents hit 60, I teased that “you’re not only OVER-THE-HILL, now you’re DOWN-IN-THE-VALLEY“! Oh my….I’ll hit 60 in just 2 years. Isn’t it amazing how our views of ‘OLD’ keeps getting about 20 years older than whatever age we currently are? Remember when we were graduating high school at 18 and we thought that 40 was ancient? Sure seems young now!

Cease Bickering

This quote reminds me of so very many things. I liked it’s simplicity. My 40th reunion from High School was last month, and even though my health made my attendance not possible to make

that 1000-mile journey this time, I’ve certainly had lots of enjoyment perusing the numerous photos that my former classmates have posted onto Facebook! Out of 151 that graduated, 46 were there, so I’d say that was a successful turnout! Fortunately, our class has had very few deaths, which means that approximately 1/3 attended this event. Looking over the photos and trying to remember the faces, I also recalled some of the past ‘instances‘ and ‘quarrels‘ and ‘bitter competitions‘, and am happy that after 40 years folks have finally managed to CEASE BICKERING! This wasn’t necessarily the case at the 10th or the 15th reunions. Why, oh why does it take people so very long to make amends? Human nature is a peculiar thing!

The same is true of old friends, and family members, and co-workers. When a friend is having a party, they’ll have the audacity to tell another friend that they can bring a friend (as long as it’s not ‘so-and-so’). Or lunchtime with co-workers can get complicated if you’d already made plans with just one person but then a group wants to include you but not that person. Of course, I’d stick with the plans I made first! The most difficult is when kinfolk is visiting and prior to their arrival, I have to call either my Mama or my stepmom (depending on which side of the family) to find out who isn’t talking to whom JUST SO THAT I WON’T accidentally say the wrong thing at the wrong time! This is ridiculous to me and shouldn’t have to be so. Why can’t we just all get along?

I absolutely refuse to play these games! I will not get in the middle of other people’s squabbles! I’ll listen if you really need to talk but don’t ask me to choose sides because I love my relatives and I wanna keep my friends. Next time you go to the cemetary to put flowers on the graves of your ancestors, look up and down the rows of headstones….I’ll betcha that all the spirits of those people would love to tell you that those squabbles just DON’T MATTER and that they are a waste of your time and energy! So please CEASE BICKERING and live the rest of your short life in harmony!