Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hand in hand.

Recently, Frank Deford shared a touching story about Paul Newman on NPR. Mr. Deford looked over at Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, at a concert and was touched to see that Paul had taken Joanne's hand.

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


Dear Children:

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,

Mama
(a/k/a/ Mrs. Thomas B. (Linda Greek) Fowler, Class of ‘64

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Update!

PHOTO UPDATE: Thanksgiving pictures below. Focus less on the maggot casserole (which looked *even more* disgusting if you ran your hand up and down under the flimsy foil pan, making the casserole...well, undulate) and focus more on all the happiness. Thank you to Karen and her kids for being wonderful housemates! Thanks also to Bethany and Falisha and Chris for coming to town and making our very first Thanksgiving in this new house a real reason for giving thanks in our new HOME...

***original post***

Still thankful, even though I'm all hot and sweaty from cooking, and the homemade cranberry chutney I made has the kids gasping and choking that "the house stinks!"

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

How 'bout them Wildcats?

Scoring NINETY-THREE points against West Texas A&M Saturday?

(And I'm not talking about the basketball team, who "only" scored 90 points on the same day before their game went into overtime...)

***
Oh, dear Christian College, we love you
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

Sacred Rhythms

Y'all, this book we're reading in our church reading group is AMAZING. (I didn't vote for it, truth be told, because I wanted to read Max Lucado's Traveling Light. Oh, well. Maybe next round.)

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

You know you're old when...

...you go to the hottest movie in the country and find the main character's DAD, the Chief of Police, to be the heartthrob.


Applying for my AARP card,
the OLD librarian

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

May Bee=Nina Simone.


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

Since we're sharing...

Here's a never-before-seen photo of my father's parents, emailed to Dad today by a friend who found them among a stack of family photos! (Yes, my grandmother DOES have red hair...and yes, her temper was almost as legendary as her penchant for fun. Not surprisingly, my grandfather was legendary for his outdoorsmanship, patience, and good humor.)

Oh, and since Kirsten got me started on the Dewey Decimal System quiz, I'm apparently filed under 714--Water features.



Kristy's Dewey Decimal Section:

714 Water features


Class:
700 Arts & Recreation


Contains:
Architecture, drawing, painting, music, sports.



What it says about you:
You're creative and fun, and you're good at motivating the people around you. You're attracted to things that are visually interesting. Other people might not always understand your taste or style, but it's yours.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com


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.)

This picture of "Brittany" does NOT do her justice.
She hangs in my bedroom in the new house...and she's terrifying in the dark...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Always the last to know.

Does everyone on the planet already know about xkcd and visit them thrice weekly? Why am I always the last to know? (I know these images are too big to fit on the blog, but I'm too HTML-challenged to fix them. Click on them to see them for real!!!)


Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Speechless Monday.

Yeah, that's right.

Those are my parents.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Inspiration all around...

Wednesday was both sad and wonderful, filled with emotion and examples of spirit and generosity.

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!