The View From My Window

The world as seen from my window and through my eyes

What do you remember about going back to school? August 29, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far — auntlelo @ 7:49 am

All of this back to school stuff made me remember how I felt when in my childhood I would reachthe end of summer vacation and the start of a new school year.

I lived on a farm and we didn’t have many people who lived nearby. At least, no one my age. Summers got to be pretty long and pretty boring. I was one of those nerdy kids who liked school and started looking forward to going back by the end of the first week of summer vacation!

My summer activities included Bible School for one week, sometimes swimming lessons, and a family vacation in August. That was about it, except for helping in the garden, picking blackberries, doing a few household chores each day and watching soap operas because there was nothing else on TV. Back in those days, we didn’t hang on the phone with our friends either. When I was a kid in grade school, we were still on a party line! (Now I’m showing my age!)

Getting ready to go back to school was fun though. Mom would take us shopping for our school supplies. Do you remember struggling to decide what 3 ring notebook you’d buy and what color pencils you wanted? Seems sort of silly now, but, we really did think it was important back then. Buying clothes and new tennis shoes was fun, too. I remember a really hideous hot pink dress that I desperately wanted to buy at JC Penney’s one year. My Mom hated the dress and did her best to talk me out of it. Nothin doin. I had to have that dress. I even had my school picture taken in it. Yes, I just saw a picture of myself a week or two ago in that dress with a short pixie haircut. Hideous, hideous, hideous!

The first day of school brought butterflies to my stomach. Getting on the bus for the first time (remember the smell of the school bus?) was a pretty scary thing. I always wondered if my friends from the year before would still be there or if someone had moved over the summer. Change was hard, even then. It only took a day or two, though, to settle into a routine. I loved school. I still have fond memories of those years of my life.

To all the kids who have just started back to school, I hope you have a good year. Study hard and play hard. You’ll do just fine. (Just stay away from hideous pink dresses!)

What do you remember most about starting back to school? 

 

Introducing Hen-rietta Peppercorn August 27, 2007

Filed under: The Adventures of "Fat Chick",Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 9:11 pm

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Today, “Fat Chick” has invited her prissy cousin from the south, Miss Hen-rietta Peppercorn, to stay for an extended visit. From time to time you’ll be able to listen in on the interesting conversations that take place between these two poultry kinfolk who are as different as night and day.

The first thing you’ll notice is that while “Fat Chick” is a rather hefty and outspoken bird, Miss Hen-rietta is a bit on the prissy side. Her family came from rather good stock and had a well-to-do coop down south. After all, they put the “finger lickin” in the Colonel’s Kentucky Fried franchise! When you read the dialogue remember, this is a hen with a deep southern drawl and she swoons at the drop of a feather.

Let’s listen in on the first part of this family reunion…

FC: Welcome to Missouri, Hen-rietta! It’s great to see you again. I don’t think I’ve seen you since we were both little chicks!

HEN: It’s so nice to see ya’ll! I agree, I don’t think you were nearly this BIG when I saw you last! Why, I never woulda recognized ya’ll!

FC: Well, thanks a whole heap! Haven’t seen you for years and the first thing you do is start making cracks about my figure. At least I don’t have a long skinny neck and my beak stuck up in the air!

HEN: Well REALLY! You do take offense easy, now, don’t you? I only meant to say that you’d filled out considerable since I saw you last. I’m sure they like their chickens fat and sassy up here in the north!

FC: Oh brother, is this the way it’s going to be for your whole visit? How long is your vacation anyhow?

HEN: Vacation? Oh, honey, my family sent me up here to stay with you permanent! Ya see, they think you could use a little refinement. You know, make a lady outta you. After all, I’ve been to finishing school!

FC: Finishing school? What the heck’s a finishing school?

HEN: That’s where they teach you the finer things like manners and deportment. How to look and act like a lady and keep your feathers smooth and fine. You could use a little help in that department, don’t you think? After all, I’ve been reading your little ole blog and that woman you talk to here in your office is no help at all. She’s what we call a real bad influence!

FC: Good grief! Are you gonna talk in that southern accent all the time? Can’t you cluck like a normal chicken?

HEN: Honey, I’m no normal chicken! I’m bona-fried! 🙂

Stay tuned for more “Adventures of Fat Chick!”

 

Counting our blessings

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:36 am

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It was appropriate that our pastor would base his final sermon on blessings, both given and received. In fact, most of us were doing that very thing as we reflected on the past few years with the Prestons.

Of course, it would have been easy to have been saddened or disappointed. Change is hard, especially when you like the people who are leaving. But, if put in the right mindset, we could just as easily make this a time of celebration and I hope that’s what we did yesterday as we wished our pastor and his family a fond farewell.

It had fallen to me to make the presentation of our gift, as no one else thought they could get through it. That was okay with me, though. It gave me an opportunity to include a few of the thoughts that others had shared with me throughout the week. And, I got through it—barely. So, let me count those blessings as I should.

1. Our pastor came to us at a rough time in the life of our congregation and God knew we needed them to help us regroup after losing our two previous pastors in ways that were hard. We were, in fact, still trying to deal with grief. However, with the Preston’s came a breath of new life and the energy to pick up and move on. It was exactly the right blessing at the right time.

2. For a church as old as ours, changing anything can be a big deal. However, our pastor led us through many changes while helping us stay true to the name above our door: unity. We bought new pews and choir chairs, added a new sound system, installed a new HVAC system and remodeled our basement fellowship hall. And, we’re all still together. I count that a blessing.

3. We began to organize ourselves in ways that made sense. We added a fellowship committee and a building committee. We started a youth group and reinvented our summer vacation bible school into a sports camp approach. Blessing number 3.

4. Our congregation grew with new families. Those faces were evident among the group gathered yesterday to say farewell. The growth has been welcome in so many ways. We will continue to care for and nurture these new relationships that our pastor helped to initiate.

5. We were filled with music. The choir was blessed to add the pastor and his wife, both accomplished musicians, and we raised a joyful noise these past few years. We also enjoyed the frequent visits of the rest of their family who not only brought special music, but, also helped out with major presentations at Christmas and Easter. I’ll miss that more than they can know.

6. Church should never be boring and it wasn’t. Our pastor brought with him a healthy sense of humor that was appreciated by everyone in the church, young and old. To hear laughter coming from a church during a Sunday worship service certainly provides the kind of witness God intended. That there is much joy in being a Christian.

7. The pastor was a good businessman with both wisdom and the assertiveness to get us moving and keep us motivated. He dealt with many a sticky issue while with us, but, managed it very well. With both wisdom and understanding. Although divisiveness could have easily occurred, he kept folks together and helped us weather each storm.

8. At a time when politics are nasty in the Southern Baptist camp, our pastor led us away from the fray and in a direction that matched who we are and what we believe as a church. He was accepting of our earlier decision to ordain a woman as a deacon and, in fact, helped us to ordain a second woman while serving as our pastor.

9. He loved fellowship and being with his congregation. Although time was not always on his side, he attended as many events as possible. It was increasingly difficult for an already busy man with a family and another job to be available, but, he managed to attend an amazing number of those events while serving as our pastor.

10. He was not only our pastor, but, our very close friend. That’s what I’ll miss most. There aren’t many people in our church my age. They were one of the few couples that my husband and I could really relate to. We both had children in college, both worked at the University, had many things in common and genuinely enjoyed being around each other. He was more than a pastor. He was more like a brother. I picked on him and teased him. I told him more about my thoughts than I’d shared with any other pastor. He tolerated my stupid jokes and helped me keep my Irish temper in check. Wow, I’m gonna miss that.

So, I’ve done my best to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. I hope God can appreciate how hard I’ve tried to do that this week. It will be different going back to church next Sunday, but, when I start feeling a little down and melancholy, I’ll take a look around at the reminders of Pastor Preston that will be in the room with me and know that God was good.

 

What I remember about my first vacation August 24, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far — auntlelo @ 10:12 am

The summer was filled with lots of events and although I took some time off work, I didn’t get to take an actual vacation this year. Oh well, since it didn’t work out for me to take a vacation, I’ll just reminisce about vacations past…

The things I remember most about my first family vacation at age 6:

  • Tongue sandwiches. My Granny fixed dinner for us the night before we left and I remember vividly the site of boiled tongue coming out of a pan and laid on the plate for slicing. It was a horrible thing to see. An even more horrible thing to try to eat. It was a life-changing event. I’ve never eaten it since. Thank goodness we were leaving the next day. Can you imagine leftover tongue? Ewwwww!!
  • It was my first real experience with restaurants. I loved eating at restaurants. However, every day I would order something called “hotcakes” from the menu, and every day the restaurant would get my order wrong and send me pancakes. No one bothered to explain to the kid that they were the same thing. By the end of the week, I finally got the message and started ordering eggs.
  • My parents got really annoyed at all of us for ordering certain things at the restaurant that we normally didn’t partake in when it was set before us at home and for a fraction of the cost. I remember the lecture about tomato juice as though it was yesterday…
  • Yellowstone National Park SMELLED REALLY BAD! I couldn’t quite understand everyone being so excited about looking at spraying water and holes in the ground that stunk like rotten eggs. PHEWWWW! I did think the bison were pretty cool though.
  • Speaking of bison, they were nice to look at, but, not great to eat. I’m not sure about the fancy meal in a certain hotel we had. Daddy said it was range-fed beef or buffalo or something like that. Anyhow, they tasted really weird and I don’t think any of us ate our hamburgers. The soup was good though!
  • The Corn Palace was a really, really cool place for a 6 year-old kid.
  • I got tired of riding in a car. I remember sleeping a lot. The kids picked on each other and Mom and Dad fussed at us for arguing. You know, the usual car trip stuff.
  • I remember swimming at the motel. I was at the top of the slide and Daddy was encouraging me to come down (it was my first time) and he’d catch me. He lied and thought it was funny. End of story.

Doesn’t it make you want to relive your childhood? Next time, I’ll tell you what happened when we went to Washington, DC. 🙂

 

What I hate about iPods August 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 12:23 pm

The death of the family conversation. That’s what occurred when we introduced not only one, but, two iPods into our household.

For several years, my family whined and complained about my spending time at my computer and not spending time with them in the same room. They watched TV, I enjoyed surfing the Web and doing my game playing, shopping and reading online. Note that while in another room adjoining the living room, I could still hear the conversation and join in. If someone asked a question, I could answer. When the phone rang, I could answer. When someone knocked on the door, I could still respond by getting up and opening it.

Not so with the iPod situation. Both my son and my husband now have iPods. It’s a bit disconcerting because it’s difficult to see that they have their earbuds in and it looks like they’re just sitting in their chair. However, I can ask a question, call them to the phone, tell them dinner’s ready or a variety of other things and the only response is silence. It leads to a great deal of frustration on my part and a great deal of “you never told me that” on their part. While very happy that they have found technology they enjoy, it does create some communication barriers for a family.

I’ve found it to be particularly difficult when it’s used for an excuse not to talk to your family. If you’re listening to your iPod, it can easily become a reason to avoid instructions, discussions, etc., that you’d rather not engage in. This is definitely a negative when you’re trying to improve your understanding of and communication with, for instance, a teenager.

So, I guess I won’t bother to feel guilty anymore about spending time playing games at my computer. At least while I’m doing that, I’m always listening to my family. Can’t really say that about the iPod generation. 😦

 

Two middle aged women with Barbie dolls August 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:33 am

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I have always been a Barbie doll fan. I collected them for years and, as a child, they were my most treasured possessions. When I was 7, I wasn’t happy about another baby coming to our house. I had a pretty good gig going, you see, and this kid might mess things up a bit. However, the one positive thing was that I would finally have a sister who could play Barbie dolls with me.

Boy, was that ever a wrong assessment. This “girl child” played with cars. She was a real tomboy and wanted nothing whatsoever to do with dolls. At least, that is, except for one short period of time when she took a minor interest in these things called dolls. She wasn’t really interested in playing with me, but, she did have an interest in my dolls. Rather than buying her a doll of her own, Mom let her play with mine. Big mistake. She cut off their hair, broke arms and legs, lost all of their precious little shoes and sunglasses…it was AWFUL! My beautiful Barbie collection was dessimated.

Fast forward about 30 years or so. Now, the younger sister has a little girl of her own. And, she likes to do all the things I liked to do when I was little. Including playing with Barbie dolls! (insert evil laugh here) It’s been really interesting to watch my sister Sue struggle with a little person who likes girly things. Last night, they pop over to my house for a visit and my niece immediately makes a beeline for the guest room and the container that holds the Barbie dolls, clothes and accessories. Yes, I have Barbie dolls still. After all, I have 3 granddaughters that come to visit and this is something that Grammy likes to do, too!

My niece drags the case over to the dining room table and we sit down to play. It was a bit comical to watch my younger sister struggle with the tiny clothes and shoes. There were the typical comments about how trashy Barbie looked in some of the skimpy outfits and comments about Barbie being too well endowed to fit properly in the clothes. However, there was something sort of satisfying about finally sitting down with my sister and playing Barbie dolls like 2 civilized children. (Note: my niece had wandered off to do other things by that time and we continued to play.) Between the 2 of us, we tried every outfit on the Barbies before we stopped.

After we packed them back up, she told me she’d better not see this show up on my blog today. Hmmm, sounded like a dare to me…  🙂

 

To everything there is a season… August 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:08 pm

It was a difficult day today. I didn’t realize when I got out of bed this morning that life was about to get ever so much more complicated again. I just made it through a summer of overwhelming stress and thought, as a family, we had managed it pretty well. Children were happily married, grandchild was born in April and another is due in November. Things at work are going well, although it’s very busy.

I had begun to contemplate tackling some other things that have been put too long on the back burner. For instance, my own professional development and dealing with a weight loss and exercise plan to take off those stress pounds I’ve gained in the past year. I wasn’t anticipating a more complicating factor to land this morning.

As we sat in church services this morning, I was thinking about a lot of things. In truth, my mind had wandered in the direction of other thoughts such as creating a checklist for making sure certain things were done in the right combination with our sound system in order to avoid loud screeching feedback. I was thinking about how nice it was to have two baptisms this morning and what a wonderful way it was to start a service. I wasn’t thinking about what came next. As our pastor was delivering his sermon, he told us he was resigning from his position following next Sunday. No one knew it was coming. It was a complete and total surprise.

So, how did this complicate my life? For one of 4 church deacons in a small church, it is a big deal when you’re without a pastor. We don’t have an assistant pastor who can step in. We don’t have a large church membership with lots and lots of active members who can take over tasks like visitation and missions work. We have a large number of elderly folks in our congregation for whom we need to be attentive and provide a great deal of support. We have a fledgling youth program. We had lots of plans.

So, what next? Item number one: pray. Pray for our pastor because he’s leaving us for reasons concerning health and because he is spread too thin. Pray for our congregation that they will all focus on the work in front of us and band together to continue the work of our church. Pray for our church leaders that they will have the wisdom and the energy to handle what lies ahead.