Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grandparents - September 25, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday September 25, 2014

I hardly even noticed.  Autumn slipped in a couple of days ago with hardly a whimper after the last gasp of summer heat over the weekend.  Actually it was a pretty nice summer, weather wise.  Only a few really uncomfortable hot/humid times and more rain than average.  I believe I mowed my lawn every week.  I think I’ll cut back on the fertilizer next year.  The arrival of autumn  wasn’t the only thing that was missed.  Grandparent’s Day, which is normally observed on the first Sunday of September, was a complete non-event this year.  How could something as extremely important as that not get our undivided attention?  Why weren’t the flags displayed in all their splendor?  What happened to the greeting cards, phone calls and gifts?  Oh, well!  When I was growing up, three of my grandparents were already in heaven.  I was fortunate to have my mother’s father to help “raise” me.  Granddad lived with us until he passed away when I was about fourteen years old.  We were very close.  His name was Lucas and everyone except me called him Uncle Luke.  I always called him “granddad.”   Probably since the average age of the population of our country is much higher than when I was growing up, families have resorted to giving the grandparents names that aren’t quite as quaint or out-of-date.  This almost always occurs in families where there are two sets of grandparents drooling over the above-average offspring of the respective son and daughter.  Take our family for instance.  My mom and dad were “granddad and grandmother” to our two kids.  Anita’s mom (her dad had passed away a few years earlier) was referred to as “granma Woolf.”  Not too bad, but it gets worse.  When our first grandchild (Sara) was born, Anita and I continued to be known to her as Granddad and Grandmother.  Her other set of grandparents were “Grandpa Bill and Mimi.”  Now that Sara is married and we are great-grandparents, no one has really decided what the “greats” should call us.  When Ruby was born last December, she became the first grandchild for Ross’ parents, Jack and Brenda (our daughter), and Leah’s parents, Eddie and Vonda.  Jack is now Pop, Brenda is Gigi, Eddie is Papaw and Vonda is Nana.  Well, just having a little fun.  This all started because of an article entitled “A Grandma by Any Other Name” that appeared in the September issue of the AARP Bulletin.  In that composition, the author’s first grandchild was about to be born and she was trying to determine what she wanted the new baby to call her.  She was looking for something that was fun, cool and inventive—not frumpy.  She conducted an informal survey with 20 current or prospective grandparents and only three said Grandma and Grandpa are their go-to names.  Others wanted to be called Granna, Bobo, G-Ma, GeeBee, Meema, Gogo or Glam-ma.  The author ended up choosing Granny, partly due to the British TV drama, Downton Abbey.   Anyway, I’m sorry to spend so much time on this topic.  I wanted to mention that September is the month for the annual election for school director which drew a lot of attention this year and resulted in a large turnout of voters with a very close finish.  This always reminds me of my four races for this unheralded, mostly unappreciated position.  I lost my first race by seven votes (19 to 12) and my last race by two votes.  I won the other two races probably because I didn’t have an opponent.  I think there might be a message for me there (stay out of politics).  September also marks the time of the annual Community Revival in which all the churches join for a time of ecumenical togetherness.  The museum sponsored the festival that included both a Mountain Man rendezvous and a tribute to the Native Americans that once populated our area, concluding with a remembrance of the “Trail of Tears.”  A very active month leading up to one of the busiest times of the year, October.  Thanks for the correspondence you have sent regarding the Ramblings column.  It has occurred to me that perhaps others might like to offer some comments or maybe even suggestions about future articles.  If so you can contact me at PO Box 296, Calico Rock, AR 72519 or e-mail  See you in a couple of weeks when I will be talking about some families from the past.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Domesticity - September 11, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday September 11, 2014

Anita and I resided in Missouri for most of the first decade of this 21st century.  During that time period, traffic on the Missouri streets and highways almost doubled as did the speeders and crazy drivers. When that young whippersnapper in that red Miata sports car passed me on the access ramp as I was attempting to enter the four-lane US 65 highway (it is now six lane), I decided “enough is enough.”  We immediately started conversation about moving back to Arkansas.  Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of our return to Calico Rock.  One day last week, Anita and I were having early morning coffee out on the front porch when she began to comment on the traffic in front of our house.  Most of the cars were probably heading to the high school or were hospital employees.  “Look at that one.  She’s going too fast” and “there goes another one; lickety-split!”  I just laughed.  She comes up with those old sayings ever so often.  Such as “well, I swan” or “quicker than you can skin a cat” or “slicker that goose grease.”  I’m not sure where all these sayings come from.  When I was a boy growing up in the Rock House on Red Lane, our family would listen to the radio program, Lum and Abner, every evening at 6:15 PM.  Lum referred to those proverbial expressions as “old Eddard sayings.”  Did you know you can still listen to episodes of Lum and Abner on the internet?  Tune in if you are wanting a good laugh.  I mentioned in an old column that I met Lum (Chet Lauck) at a Lions Club mid-winter conference in Jonesboro years ago.  Anyway, I know that many of you have also heard and used these sayings in your normal conversation.  I was at the grocery store the other day when I bumped my cart into an acquaintance.  “Pardon me, Ray, I wasn’t looking where I was heading.  How are you doing?”  “Pretty good, Reed.  Whatta ya know?”  “Well, I know it takes a big dog to weigh a ton.”  He laughed and came back with the usual reply, “yea, and it takes a big man to kick him off the porch.”  We both nodded and laughed as if neither of us had ever heard this bit of nonsense, then, after a few remarks about the weather, went on about our shopping, both satisfied with the useful conversation that had occurred.  For me, it had reminded me of an old joke:  “A man went before a judge to get his named changed.  ‘What is your name?’ the judge asked.  “Joe Dumbbell.”  The judge replied, “Well, I understand.  What do you want your name changed to?”  “Charlie Dumbbell.  I’m getting tired of hearing ‘Hello, Joe, whatta you know?’”  OK, I thought it was funny.  I do most of the grocery shopping now that Anita has been feeling poorly.  As a matter of fact, I have turned into a pretty fair house husband.  I have always believed that marriage is a joint effort and, since retirement, have tried to increase my part of the household duties. I caught myself singing the other day:  “On the Calico Road, there’s room for just two, no more and no less, just me and just you.  Each burden we’ll bear, each sorrow we’ll share, there’s never a care, while we are both there.”  It’s not easy getting old and some can accept it more gracefully than others.  Perry used to say, “it’s not for sissies.”  I’ve learned to do the laundry (thank goodness for the wash and wear fabrics).  I can run the vacuum and do the  dusting (sort of).  And, in addition to the grocery shopping (I clip coupons) I am doing part of the cooking.  I have tried several recipes that I saw on Facebook and regularly check the websites and apps that offer interesting possibilities for something to soothe the appetite.  So far, I have made a roast (crock pot), a cake (Betty Crocker),  a batch of peanut butter cookies that I made from scratch using a recipe that Dee e-mailed (they were delicious) and some soups and chili that turned out pretty good.  Some of our younger couples, and others, have learned to prepare menus for an entire week and grocery shop for the necessary items on weekends.  I’m not that organized yet but it sounds like a good idea.  Motivation and deciding what to try out are my biggest problems now but I’m making progress.  Some great philosopher once said “You do what you have to do.”  I’ve adopted that as my motto.  So far it seems to be working.  I’ll keep you informed but right now I have run.  I don’t want to burn the beans.