Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pictures to come tomorrow or the next day. Or the day after that.
Off to bed to try to make up for all that lost sleep. Good night, Mama. Good night, Daddy. Good night, John Boy.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
laughing at the inside joke Molly made about Bojangles--and
crying because she's not here to sample the 4-piece snack!)
We got PIEWORKS in Greensboro! (The "Salonika" with "burn chicken" is
the all-time best pizza ever, hands down.)
We got to see the picture of our handsome Uncle Lloyd and his best friend
on the crew, Levi Frank Caldwell!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Okay, JUST THIS MORNING, Houston and I decided to make the trip to Charlotte! Please pray us all the way in and all the way back home to TEXAS, where my bones belong.
Oh, and btw, I'm like the Harriet Tubman of the Virginia trip; so far, I've made the drive from Texas to Virginia with three teenagers and always let them drive across the Mississippi River...Russell, a stepdaughter, Bethany, and now Houston!
Oh, and in case we don't have access to a computer over the holidays...I'd better let you see the final Christmas picture we used for this year's card (now that you've all had a hearty laugh over the rejects).
Monday, December 08, 2008
It looks like May Bee's been sampling the nog in this last photo...
Look for yours in the mail around Christmas Eve!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Mr. Deford relates: "When the lights dimmed, I happened to glance over, and I saw that, right away, he'd taken Joanne's hand. They'd only been married 50 years. He kept holding her hand all the way through, just like they were teenagers.
I reached over and took my wife's hand. There are not many things any of us could do so well as Paul Newman, but, I thought, if you could follow his lead in any way, then you'd be a fool not to."
And as much as Karen and I love Mr. Deford's tale, it's not our favorite story about holding hands; our parents' love story will always be our favorite.
Below is a letter my mother wrote to her three children...and prepare yourself...because it's the MOST ROMANTIC thing ever. (Recently, I shared this letter with my church at our First Annual Talent and Pie Showcase...and many people--these same people who prayed with me when Mom's health was so fragile and the doctors only had bad news--told me afterwards that they loved her story or actually remembered those days at Dear Old Christian College.)
So here it is...one of our greatest treasures and family stories...and oh, so romantic. (Get a tissue.)
March 21, 2003
I suppose I could say that your father and I fell in love on a Sunday morning in November at “the College church”—or University church, as it is known nowadays. That was our first date. Or perhaps it was at Templeton’s Pharmacy, where your father worked for 60 cents an hour and where I went on the Saturday evening before our first date to order a hamburger (take-out) after I had missed the last bus back to the campus from a beauty shop on Mockingbird Lane and had to walk back to “the Hill,” arriving after the “bean” had closed for the evening. It was there that your father, who was working in the back of the fountain area of the drugstore, saw me sitting at a table waiting for my order to be prepared, and decided it would be a good time to wipe tables so he could seize the opportunity to invite me to church the next morning—he was too polite to ask me for a date for that same4 night. (Oh, yes, that was also the night that a foreign student from Iraq, a modern-day Goliath about 8’ tall, asked me to accompany him that same night to a theatre in Abilene—and I accepted! I didn’t tell your father about that for years, and he still seethes about it.)
Perhaps it was on the steps of the Ad Building at the following Tuesday night’s “devo” where we actually fell in love; but I believe Cupid’s arrow pierced my heart on the following Saturday night as your father and I went on a walk after he got off from his job at Templeton’s at 10 p.m. (remember, curfew was 11 p.m., so we only had one hour). We strolled hand in hand around the campus, stopping in the shadow of Bennett Gymnasium to look into one another’s face and talk eye to eye, and then as the hour neared its end, he ever so lightly pressed his lips to mine for an innocent, demure kiss which lasted not nearly long enough. I was hooked! He would be the last man on that campus that I would ever date! As the kiss ended, I thought I was seeing fireworks, but it was only the porch lights of McKinzie Dormitory flashing on and off, our signal that the doors were about to be locked and it was time for all female residents rimming the lawn to rush forward to get inside just in the nick of time to beat the clock; and as we bid one another goodnight, my Prince Charming asked for my company at the College church the next morning.
The young ladies’ handbook, which was given to all coeds, advised us that proper attire for worship on Sundays included hats, gloves, stockings and high heels. The next morning, I dressed appropriately and went down to the parlor to meet my date when the switchboard operator called my room to announce his arrival. During worship, I was impressed by his good voice as he sang tenor and I sang alto (“Hmmmm! We harmonize well. Could that be a good omen?”). As we settled in for a good sermon from Brother George W. Bailey (the campus minister on whom we could always count for a good message), I slipped my gloved hand out of your father’s hand and removed the glove, joining my bare hand with his again. At that moment, sparks of electricity flew as skin met skin. And you know what? Forty years later, I still feel those sparks of electricity when my hand touches his.
Neither of us had much money to spend, and our dates were usually to church or to the “bean” or to the “grill,” where we would check our mail and then order one coke and two straws, never costing us more than a quarter. We tried to go on dates to the library, but that was never very successful—his nearness interfered with my concentration; and mine, with his. There was only one destiny for us, and that was to blend our futures into one life, one love, one Lord. I thank God for His gift to me—a man who loves Him first and me next. He is a “living stone” in the Kingdom, standing for the Truth, and still holding my hand as we walk toward the uncertain days of our old age. But we both know Who holds tomorrow, and we know Who holds our hands.
Good night, my children. I love you,
(a/k/a/ Mrs. Thomas B. (Linda Greek) Fowler, Class of ‘64
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Oh, and my bright idea to add cereal to the tops of 2 of the 3 sweet potato casseroles I made this morning? BAD IDEA.
Now we know why the school cafeteria ladies use corn flakes...because if you use "Alf's Natural Nutrition Brown Rice Cereal," it looks like your casseroles are sportin' maggots.
(You think I'm lying? I'm driving up to school to get the library's camera.)
Oh, and the inspiration to substitute golden raisins instead of regular raisins in the chutney? NOT GOOD. After cooking, golden raisins look like peas. It looks like I'm bringing Cranberry Pea Chutney to Kirsten's party.
(This is why people always put me in charge of napkins and nuts.)
Still thankful, though! What a wonderful time of year! In fact, one *good* thing about this morning's culinary fiascos was the ability to watch John Hodgman's TED speech three times on my laptop, perched precariously on the kitchen counter.
Hope your Thanksgiving preparations are going well! Chris, Falisha, and Bethany will ALL be under this roof tonight, Lord willing, and that's better than ANY casserole or chutney...
Monday, November 24, 2008
(And I'm not talking about the basketball team, who "only" scored 90 points on the same day before their game went into overtime...)
Our dear Alma Mater today.
Like stars shining brightly above you
Your fame shall shine brightly for aye,
To you we’ll prove faithful and loyal
While ever upholding the right
And, gladly we’ll give forth the royal
Three cheers for the purple and white.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So, anyway, I was sort of bummed that we were going to be reading a book called Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton. (1. It wasn't out in paperback so I'd have to shell out hardcover money. 2. The author wasn't Max Lucado. 3. The summary mentioned the words "spiritual disciplines," and I'm not good at discipline--receiving, giving, or practicing discipline. Discipline is HARD! 4. The title sounded icky; I don't have rhythm and can't hear rhythms. 5. Plus, "rhythm" is a weird word, and I don't like how it's spelled. My shallow list went on and on...)
So what a delight to find out that this book is GREAT. Here's hoping that our Wednesday night Bible class will practice some of these spiritual disciplines together...there's no other group with whom I'd rather be still and quiet and contemplative...if I *can* be still and quiet and contemplative...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Molly called it. The best dog ever, Joshua, would have sung just like Bing Crosby.
On the other hand, Karen and I have decided that May Bee would sound like Nina Simone. Some of my favorite Nina Simone YouTube clips are below...and if you know May Bee at all, you'll know I'm telling the truth.
(Warning: The third one, from a French documentary with graphic Civil Rights footage, is pretty tough to watch. In this particular clip, Nina admits "If I'd had my way, I'd've been a killer.")
UPDATE: Well, it happened. I watched May Bee kill a squirrel who made a less-than-stellar leap from our back fence to the China berry tree. There was much violence and screaming (the squirrel) and angst (me) and inability to breathe (the squirrel and me) and smug victory (May Bee). I woke Houston up with a bowl of tamales to soften the blow of what I was about to ask him to do...put the squirrel in a make-shift coffin (an empty Gain detergent box). RIP, little buddy.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Oh, and since Kirsten got me started on the Dewey Decimal System quiz, I'm apparently filed under 714--Water features.
Well, anyone who has seen the horrible piece of "art" that hangs on my bedroom wall will believe the last part about other people not understanding my taste or style. I bought a framed 3-D objet d'art as a gag gift for a tacky game our family plays, but then I just couldn't part with it. (It's so awful that Bethany makes me take it down when she sleeps in my room. And yes, it really IS that bad. Ask Karen; she's afraid of it, too.)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
And forgive the language below, but it's *infuriating* to see something as inspiring at a Nick Vujicic YouTube video with horrible comments beneath it and inappropriate videos beside it...
Thanks to Brandon & Josh, two former students, for sharing the joy of xkcd with the world...including their old teacher!
And here's a sweet one...
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The day started with Kirsten, who volunteered to keep the library open and watch another teacher's class during Mike Peterson's funeral.
And then the moving funeral for Mr. Peterson, a fellow NCJC alum who was bold for Jesus and marched to the beat of a different drummer. We both loved Tolkien and Lewis, and I recently lent him the amazing book Prayer: Does It Make a Difference? He's been after me for years to read The Catch Colt, but I always had some excuse about why I was too busy. (It will be the very next book I read, and even if it's not a tear-jerker, it's a pretty sure bet I'm gonna' cry.) After a long illness, Mike is now completely healed...and completely home.
At church Wednesday night, I was inspired by the two young Jonathans and Brandon. All in their twenties, these young men show a spirit and dedication that inspires us old folks! (One is collecting blankets and socks and toiletries for the homeless, one is heading up the men's camping trip, and another is teaching the class from Lee Strobel's The Case for Creation, written by a former atheist who came to Christ trying to prove to his wife that the Bible was just a great work of literature.)
Then, when we passed the hat to help one of our members buy food, Hannah asked me if she could put ten percent of her Christmas money in the collection. Her generous spirit just blew me away as she dropped her gift in his hat (twice what I'd given, by the way).
And then, after church, we all drove to the Jacob's Dream sculpture on the ACU campus and choked back tears of happiness as our preacher baptized his oldest son. What a wonderful day! What a sad and happy and blessed day...
P.S. Karen and the kids and May Bee and I are headed to this house now to drink hot chocolate and write our favorite Scriptures on the studs of the house Cathie & Daniel are building!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Since you probably don't want to share in the pain of my bills, I'll share in the JOY and HOPE of my Google Reader instead. Back in June, I linked to the church in Amarillo who posted their cardboard testimonies. Well, now Southern Hills has posted theirs...and Tammy Marcelain, the photographer who snapped the picture of us at the Same Kind of Different as Me event, shared this news on her family's cardboard testimony: after chemo and gamma knife radiation, her son has been healed of his brain tumor. (Tammy's family is the second on stage...and Jack holds the cardboard.)
I wish I could have been there to share in the laughter, tears, and applause. Many of us have been following Jack's progress for a while...like when he was Pilot for a Day on Team Dyess. Or when he was in the paper. Tammy's post about the experience is here.
Here's wishing Jack a long and happy life! May God bless him always...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Karen and the kids were shocked when I went to bed last night at 7:45 instead of the usual 8:45. They think I'm crazy for turning in so early every night and getting up so early every morning; I think they're crazy for not enjoying all the rituals of bedtime...snapping on the tv while I pick out tomorrow's clothes, flossing, brushing May Bee's teeth (and mine, too!), slipping into snuggly pajamas, and enjoying some Serious Book Time as the stress and frenzy of the day slips away.
Side note...I don't remember when I started reading the blog of an Austin mom; it's been in my Google Reader for ages. The blog name "One Block from Jollyville," is appealing because one time I stayed in a motel "one-HALF block from Jollyville" in Austin and learned that Jollyville was a fast way to get where I wanted to go without getting on the highway. The Indian restaurant, the grocery store, the back entrance to Dunk'n Donuts, the gas station, the post office...just so handy and pretty, too.
Recently, this mom posted a blog that really caught my attention. She summed up how a lot of us feel; we like and respect Senator Obama, but we also feel passionately that abortion ends the life of a baby. Not an animal, not a fish, not a group of platelets...but a baby. (The scene in Juno when the young lady decides not to go through with an abortion after learning her fetus has fingernails moved me. When I had an unplanned pregnancy as a 19 year-old college freshman, abortion would have been an easy option...an easy option we NEVER considered.)
So get out there and VOTE, no matter which candidate you support. CNN reports that early voting is at an all-time high, and there's already long lines at early voting locations. (Karen waited for nearly 45 minutes before giving up on Hastings.) It's estimated that A QUARTER of Florida voters will vote early! (There are at least TWO punch lines to that prediction; can you think of more?)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Oh, and May Bee, the girls, and I swerved into a gas station yesterday when we saw that gas had dropped to $2.29. (Hard to believe I am excited to pay $2.29, but it's so. $12 is all I had in my purse, but it sure went further than it did last spring...)
The guy on KACU just said it's 35 degrees outside, with patchy frost. Guess I'd better wear a turtleneck under my Madison t-shirt today...at the Book Fair's TEACHER PREVIEW PARTY. Kirsten took before and after pictures of the Book Fair setup yesterday; you can see them here.
Off to Book Fair,
Sunday, October 19, 2008
*Sharon's barbecue for dinner Friday night.
*When Russell heard that his sister, the boring librarian, was on her way to a party, he told me "to party like it was 1899." (Very funny, Bro!)
*Plum wine and cheesecake (sounds gross together, but it was YUM!) with friends after Sharon's. We blew off the "Bronco Bonco," and just enjoyed yummy food and the company. Anytime with Libby and the girls is like a tonic for the heart.
*Karen and I LOVED this video Kirsten sent Saturday morning:
*Granny Smith apples & a chocolate fountain at Nikki's wedding shower...and Janet LOVED my idea of giving gifts in reusable green bags instead of gift wrap destined for the landfill.
*Prairie Home Companion ROCKED Moody Coliseum! What a delight to attend in person. (I've been listening to this show since Steve Greek lent me cassette tapes a friend made him back in the early '80s.)
*Mowing, edging, and 3 miles in the park with May Bee on Saturday made me sleep like a baby!
*Sarah Palin on SNL!
*The meeting at the church this morning. What a wonderful group...regardless of where we meet. When I think of Hope Church of Christ, I never think of *the building,* anyway...I think of the people who helped me move (TWICE!), the friends who came to our House Blessing, the hands on my back and shoulders as they surrounded me and prayed for my mother, the ladies of all ages who read Prayer:Does It Make a Difference? and The Shack together, and the people who will bring me Communion if I'm ever in the hospital!
Kelli and I are going to do something for Hope's college students during Finals in December. We're on the Care Package committee so feel free to leave suggestions. (We're thinking bags or boxes filled with popcorn, uplifting verses from Scripture, #2 pencils and new pens, tea and/or coffee, notes of encouragement, a can of Red Bull or Diet Rock Star, M&Ms, quarters for laundry, and that sort of thing.) Any other ideas?
*And finally, playing around in snotr.com led to this gem:
UPDATE: I forgot one! At the "Bronco Bonco" party last Friday night, a terrific local artist and photographer told me that I had beautiful lips. I don't get a lot of compliments these days...come to think of it, I didn't get many when I was married, either...so I just walked on air all weekend.
The artist, a woman named Ruth Jackson, took the most amazing pictures in India; my favorite was a picture of hundreds of widows, in beautiful saris in every color of the rainbow, opening gift bags with Lone Stars and the word "ABILENE" on the front of each present. It was gorgeous, and our state representative ordered TWO prints of that one. Ms. Jackson also took art supplies to an Indian orphanage called Sanctuary Home; Karen and I have been reading the profiles of all the orphans...here's just one of their touching stories. (My friends Jim & Rita sponsor child 27, Sandyarani.)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This election is so energizing! I usually can't stand politics and even upped my NetFlix subscription in June when I realized this summer and fall were going to be nonstop campaign ads, debates, and political coverage (since we only get the three Big Channels...with the help of *rabbit ears* which won't even work after February).
But I've been pleasantly surprised...I like and respect both candidates and have even managed to keep my eye rolling to a minimum when Joe Biden talks. Or laughs creepily like he did during his last Good Morning America interview. (Seriously...what was up with that? Did you see it? Stay tuned to the end where he unleashes his best Charlton Heston Omega Man jocularity!)
And whether my Catholic brothers and sisters vote for Obama and his Catholic running mate or for McCain and his more conservative pro-life ticket, I'm just thrilled that we're all heading to the polls! (We *are* all heading to the polls, right? Cool.)
Saturday, October 11, 2008
A day or two after we moved into the new house, a gecko charged RIGHT AT ME in the tee-tiny bathroom and made me pee in my pants. It was horrible...like a disembodied pinkie finger running across the 1950s linoleum! After that, I learned not to wait until the last minute and to turn on the light and tap my foot around a lot to let him know I was coming in. Never a big one for going barefoot (against my dad's rules when we were little growing up in freezing cold New Hampshire!), I haven't gone barefoot EVER since the gecko made his presence known.
I wear shoes in the shower. I keep sandals by my bed for my many nocturnal trips to the bathroom, even though the potty is only five feet from my pillow.
Well, my diligence paid off because on one of last night's sojourns (and there were more than usual, thanks to two glasses of post-wedding rehearsal Lambrusco), I must have stepped on the Restroom Reptile. When I flipped on the light this morning, I was greeted by a flattened lizard whose insides were now on the outside.
Only Falisha, who shares my PHOBIA about lizards and would rather stand in a bucket of bugs than have a lizard on her, will understand the simultaneous (and equal amounts of) disgust and relief that washed over me after the Initial Full-Body Gross-Out.
Bethany, and all other normal family members who have a rational understanding of lizards, will be proud that I overcame my loathing and repulsion to gather the poor wafer-thin creature and its internal organs and give them a watery send-off to Gecko Heaven...and flushed three times, for good measure.
Heading to Red Bud Park, even though I'm sick and can barely swallow,
The Gecko Killer
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Today, Anu from A.W.A.D. quoted an article about what happens when the suburbs encroach on the turkey habitat...and how suburbanite McMansion residents would rather see wild turkeys "on platters instead of porches."
The article (Complete with photos! Check it out!) also mentions how crafty they are...and how the "ubiquitous turkeys" never seem to show up on the days the environmental officers try to round them up...which reminded me how Ben Franklin lauded the wild turkey for its resourcefulness and would love to have seen it made our national bird.
Karen and Mom tell hilarious stories about the turkeys Dad used to raise and how one particularly aggressive tom turkey attacked the Asplundh guy (electric company guy?)...well, SOME guy who came onto our property uninvited. The only person that turkey feared was Dad, probably because he knew Dad was armed. Karen and Mom could only get to their cars safely with the help of a HUGE red-and-white-striped golf umbrella they would open and close furiously and repeatedly on the way to and from the house!
Good times, good times. (Glad I was in Texas for the Turkey Trot Days...)
P.S. This article is SERIOUSLY good. You will love it! Here's a snippet of Clara Germani's terrific piece:
Reverie over what Ben Franklin wanted to be the national bird is, in fact, common. James Earl Kennamer, of the National Wild Turkey Federation, says: "A turkey at his magnificent self" - in full iridescent strut and drumming (an explosively loud release of air) - is so surprisingly splendid that even veteran big game hunters are rendered "literally unable to shoot." The birds are also remarkably fast: To capture them with net guns, for example, authorities have to use Howitzer rocket powder rather than gunpowder, which allows them to launch the nets at 450 feet per second.