Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Holiday Season

I don't have much spirit this year. Gone is the excitement of decorating the home inside and out; searching and purchasing a tree to put in that right spot in the sun room; wrapping gifts bought secretively. Perhaps the emptiness I feel is (1) having our own grown kids in scattered places, or (2) having a grandson only four months old, too young to share much with him.

Too much sickness has roamed our home. Too little time for me to write down everything that somersaults through my mind. Too much of  my life disappearing. I'm not the one ill, I"m the one desiring to accomplish so much more in the remaining short time. (I've asked for an extension of 40 years;that decision .)

I ventured out one day, camera in hand, to snap decorated mailboxes -- found only two examples. Our neighborhood has all their curbside mailboxes topped with pine bough/red ribbon. Outside the gates I found one mailbox beribboned as a package. Nothing more. In earlier years mailboxes were treated more affectionately as an extension of yard decorations. Perhaps there are others who are not exactly hot and heavy on decorating this year. Does money have anything to do with this lack of decoration? Nah, the houses are filled with over-60 years of age folks who, like  me, just don't care to go  to the trouble. Christmas has a different meaning, perhaps one that nearer what it should be.

The card this year we mailed  out has our 50 year old's age six depiction of Christmas. He didn't miss anything. Oh, to experience that innocence again!

Midnight service at my church will invigorate me and help me remember that after tearing through the wall of tinsel I'll remember this is the commemoration of the Birth and become invigorated again.Despite my lack of enthusiasm for lighting the tree and house, I  still have enough spirit to wish all of you the best for the season, a blessed new year, and peace to all mankind. Remember our men in service. AMEN.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Apps Can Be Catching

I don't own an I-Pod, I-Pad, or I-Phone. If I have apps on my ordinary cell phone, I  don't know what they do. However, I'm beginning to miss what many people have shelled out dollars for:  convenience. A common remark among friends like, "Wonder if XXX  Restaurant is open Saturday night?" produces like a bolt of lightening a hand that whisks out an I-Phone, taps a few times and within seconds shows us a map, pertinent information, and the menu. The group decides to make a reservation and this I-Phoner hits a few more buttons and says satisfactorily, "Done. We have a table for ten at 8  p.m. Saturday night." Just like that. No phone calls or no flipping pages of the telephone directory.

One occasion I was talking with a friend who was recalling days of our teaching at a local high school. I said, "Remember that young senior who sang so well? She was the lead in all the musicals." And with I-Phone in hand, my friend had tapped the face a few times and come up with this graduate's latest album and her bio. Amazing!

You've had similar experiences with I-Phoners. Does their possession of this magic box entice you to purchase one? Does me. Businesses are joining ventures to put their companies readily available to the public via apps. Transactions conduct more easily via computers and cell phones. It's happening like a runaway roller coaster.

Where is the sweet voice that answers the phone? Where is the familiar disappearing to? What? I have to listen to a mechanical voice in the complaint department that refuses to let me speak? Technology is ruining social  networking. Social, as in person-to-person. I predict that the future will have us meet each other via the phone. Imagine, our facing each other, carrying on a conversation with the bug in our ear, mumbling as we fumble with our packages, looking every where but directly at each other, afraid to converse naturally. Gads. . .

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day, 2010

The weather is kind today. We are enjoying 80 deg with a light wind. Last year it was quite cold.  The warmer weather this week has brought out the pollen allergies. Closed windows and air conditioning when we should be enjoying the fresh air.The cooler weather will rush in during the night and plunge the thermomenter to  about 40 deg. On again, off again go the sweaters.

Nothing special happens for us on holidays anymore. I  almost dread the dates. R is getting too decrepit to travel by car anymore and we are usually stuck going through the same living pattern on the Day as we do the days before. Fortunately we have one son visiting from NYC and the other living nearby, so all is not lost. I often long for their being  kids again,and that'll occur when our grandbaby Henry grows older, as we do ourselves. I wonder if we'll be too old to romp with him in play or walk him around the park, pull him in the red wagon that sits waiting for him to age a few years?

Despite my darkness I hope the reader is blinded by the light of children laughing, playing, friends and family hollering, chatting and having a reunion of a good time. We have a lot more to be thankful for than what I've mentioned in words. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yikes--Another One with My Name?

I've often mentioned my family  research using Today I was checking the resources under the name of my family and was struck, as I usually am, by the repetition of  names of people who share my family's names. There it was, a 1948 California Voter Registration of someone with my full maiden name and married  name. VAWN...I  couldn't believe that such a person had exisited. At first reading I thought my identity had been stolen, but I didn't have the N in 1948. In fact, I  was  a single  ninth grader. Later I  found someone who shares my full maiden name VAW living in Florida at age of 2. Funny world, to meet yourself in different states and on different registers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

High School Yearbooks

You'll do it as I'm doing  now. Reviewing yearbooks. Remembering stories and people's faces. Recalling what was important  in high school. As I search for ideas to write, I'm drawn to several incidents that occurred during my high school days. So I reach up to the topmost shelf and wiggle my fingers until they touch THE BOOK. This one relates  my single year, the tenth grade, that I attended Central High School. I had earlier spent three years in junior high with many of the sophomores pictured in the Cotton Boll. For that reason I keep the book handy.
The photos are available when I'm helping someone research family members, when the annual is the only source for remembering a particular person, as cameras in the late 1940's early 1950's weren't like cell phones of today.

I've turned to a page to remember an old boyfriend; a friend  who recently passed away; a neighbor I"m sure I know but can't place; or a teacher I want to point out to R with a fond experience to tell. Yearbooks are the portals to revisiting our youth.

Recently, while researching on, I came upon a notice that annuals are being collected and torn page by page to microfilm to add to their vast research resources . I have been trying to tear the Cotton Bowl away from my knarly grasp, like pulling a child from its  mother's arms. I'm fearful that if I send it off to the netherlands I'll find thousands of reasons for having kept it. That is something I'll have to work on.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Contest To Win

Surely you have read about the national siesta championship in Madrid. I should have entered the contest. As an avid sleeper, I can take an afternoon nap for three hours and still be in bed by 10 p.m., sleep 8-10  hours more. So this contest was made for me. The purpose of the contest was not only to find the best napper but help revive the tradition of taking a snooze after lunch. We've always associated Spain and Mexico with siestas, haven't we?

 Here are the highlights : Contestants lie on  bright blue sofas in the middle of a shopping mall with their choice sleeping clothing; pulse monitors attached to their bodies. The winner is the one who manages to sleep for the full 20 minutes.  Eight rounds are held daily with five participants each on sofas parallel to each other. Awards go not only to the longest napper, but to those with the most original sleeping position, loudest snore, and the most eye-catching outfits (yes, you could wear your PJ's.).

 The National Association of Friends of the Siesta began the competition Oct 14 and ends Nov. 6. According to this organization "The mission of the championship is to spread the idea that the nap is something of ours that must be defended and practiced, because it is healthy and good for everyone."  Yea!

 I've been a proponent of naps since childhood when my parents insisted Saturday and Sunday afternoons were for rest. This has been a  part of my life I cherish. Didn't some scientists recently state that those who nap live longer? I'm for that, too.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

There Comes a Time . . .

. . .when changes occur you least expect. In my case, the cabin is no longer ours; our son has sold the property.  I cannot  enjoy the serenity that get-away provided me -- my knees won't propel me up and down hills, steps, or on the irregular slope that houses the beautiful trees that burn with color each fall. It was a wonderful visit for eight years.  So the photograph will be taken down and you will be staring at me. Not quite the same.The small cabins are prettier. I'm still the Cabin Writer, no doubt about that. Inspiration comes, anyway, from all avenues of life.

What Aging Has Taught Me

The photo album slipped out of my hand, and onto the floor went pages and photos into a mix-up pile. I wasn't ready to sit down and gather them up at the time, but the mess was in the middle of a walking area. So I drew up a chair and leaned down to collect the memories of a lifetime. The album was started injunior high school. Each year as I received a photo or snapped one of my friends, I put a copy in this album. In the 1950's before college I didn't own a camera. They weren't items most average families owned. I must have used the old Kodak box camera that somehow my parents had owned since my birth.

I searched for and found my scrapbook. In it were all the articles of weddings and features of my friends. I gathered together the articles and paired them with the photos.

Picking up each photo became a journey. I laughed at the memory as I recalled the incident, my brain whirling through tons of mass to take me back to that time and place. I  wondered Where are they? What are they doing today? I  set aside a small stack of follow-ups. I wasn't sure of my next move.

A few days later I used Google to find the names of these friends. No hits. I checked FaceBook and found one. Tried the White Pages and found three. The latter had remained in Mississippi. Then I turned to, where I'm researching four families. I entered the names to find death certificates. Bingo. Two. I was disappointed to find my junior high school friend Nancy had died  five years ago. A boy I had dated in the tenth grade died on his birthday two years ago. No one was supposed to die, this early, I told myself.

How to contact three guys who probably don't remember me? Be armed with reminiscences. First, I called South Carolina to GB. He vaguely remembered me (naturally, who would after 60 years?). I told him our connection--Civil Air Patrol in Mississippi, attended CAP camp in Montgomery, AL for  two weeks. . .he remembered slightly. Then I told him I'd email  him all photos. A subsequent call opened up good conversation. I was talking to an adult my age whom I'd know as a kid. Wonderful to know who he'd become, the career he'd chosen.  I promised to visit when I went through his hometown.

Next, I called Gulfport, MS. Talked to DK. I"d met through someone else. I had kept a newspaper article about his finishing army training, and I had a photo of him outside his tent during his Korean service.  He told me he'd suffered loss of all memorabilia during Katrina; he'd like to have the photo and article. We chatted and during that time he didn't remember me from King Tut. That was OK. I remembered him. Sent him the material hoping he would enjoy a walk down memory lane.

 The third guy, JS, I'd known in junior college. Why I had so many articles on his basketball career, I don't know. Perhaps at HJC he was the star player. I discovered he had married the sister of a high school boyfriend. While helping an AR genealogist with this family, I'd run into this star's name and it tweaked my brain. Until I found the photos and articles did I make the connection. Calling him gave me the chance to check up on the family he'd married into.

One more contact left. A young woman who had shared CAP and  cadet life with me. I located her graduation invitation and name card accompanying. I had her full name. A search through White Pages brought  me no satisfaction. She was probably married and I wasn't sure of that new name.  FaceBook came to my rescue. Although she didn't use the page much, she had registered in the name I recognized. That connected us. Thank you FB.

Now GG and I are corresponding. No, she didn't remember me at all until I sent her the photos (We were 16 years old). We had separated when I went to boarding school in the eleventh grade and she had moved to Florida. She doesn't live nearby, so through emails we can keep  abreast of each other. Neither of us looks familiar, but the thin thread of cadet life keeps us together. We discovered how much we both had enjoyed the CAP encampment and the cadet program, sponsored by the Air Force. I don't recall us missing a single meeting held at Hawkins Field in Jackson. (Incidentally, the cadet program is still operational, at the same site.)

High school reunions are important. However, these friends were acquired from areas  unrelated to a specific school. Thanks to the Internet I can make connections. These people had appeared in my youth and contributed to who I am today. 



Monday, September 27, 2010

A Special Bishop's Visit

We were a small mission with a mission---to establish a new sanctuary in the northern part of the city to accomodate new Episcopalians living in the suburbs of the city. Small  --  meaning every adult and child needed to participate and support all events; adults taking on responsibilities in addition to their regular day jobs.Living at the church during "free" time. Much work. Finding new members to swell the church treasury, lay out plans for land purchase, make decisions for the kind of sanctuary/building to meet needs for the next ten years. . .plus serving as teachers and leaders and followers. Big Job.

One of the highlights of the first summer for our willing group of workers -- for any mission  or church, actually -- was a visit from the Bishop of Mississippi. An affable man, good looking (looks never hurt a leader, you know), compassionate, loving, Bishop Allin in his myriad of annual visits throughout the state could recognize any of us  in whatever different church where he met us. One one occasion he brought a special visitor whom he introduced to the state churches and missions. We would meet and hear an extraodinary man from South Africa. Yes, it was Bishop Tutu. At that time few people knew that this man's name in the near future would be on everyone's lips and most would come to recognize his face from thousands of photos that would be published.

The Bishop's office is located at St. Andrew's Cathedral in downtown Jackson.  On these yearly visits he confirms  new members who have taken the required course on church practices and the Prayer Book. Because of Bishop Tutu's visit, the mission communicants decided to rent the local Catholic priest's party boat  (so called because it had double decks and was usually rented to groups for parties) and have dinner on the deck and informal chat while anchored in the middle of the new reservoir in Madison County.

 The party boat was a success. Everyone had their time to chat with Bishop Tutu, enjoy his humor, his sincerity, and if a few snapshots were taken, I don't remember. At the time we didn't think of him as anyone but another visitor. The church often brought colorful men of cloth to visit churches around the city, if not the state.  However, in those days of the 1960's we knew so little of this imposing little man that few, if any, failed to record this memorable meeting. We knew only what Bishop Allin had told us.  He was an emerging figure of the Church. We laughed, chatted, toasted a glass of wine with a man who later became a national figure, a headline maker, a mover and a shaker for his country and his beliefs.

Only later did we realize what a gift we had been given with that visit on that sunny weekend in Jackson, MS some forty years ago.

 Archbishop Tutu
                                                   (Photo taken from Internet files)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Confusion in News This 2010

I'm about to declare war on health news. One year we're told not to drink coffee to protect our health. I don't drink that much to begin with, but the idea --  that many folks have to depend on coffee to get their motors running in the A.M.and continuing with this habit jeopardizes their health -- just baffles me. Now coffee is good for everyone, especially two cups per day which keeps the diabetes bug away.

Then there's Don't Use Real Sugar, use the wonderful substitutes; once we're hooked on Equal and Splenda we're informed that sugar has more benefits that artificial sweetners. Huh? Next, they'll proclaim eating bananas is the cause for arthritis, or eating good dirt solves sex problems. And what's this about NSAIDS? Don't take them, instead swallow acetominiphen and ibuprophen, but they may not agree with the other RX's you're taking?So what's a person in pain to take if avoiding prescription drugs?


I've just finished reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, who has researched the fact that those expensive athletic shoes we've all been told  were necessary to protect our feet are in reality worse for them. His facts are backed up with good sources. I look at my expensive shoes and wonder how to get the value of its orginial price. The author reasons that the Tarahumara Indians who run great distances in light shoes have strong feet and never have the leg and feet problems we have today. Great reading.  Read this if you are contemplating buying a good pair of the best brands out there.

                                                    ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE
If you don't subscribe to Discovery newsletter, you don't find out marvelous works of scientists who toil without notice until something good enough to reveal comes to light. Take diamonds.  Since it's been proven they are a gal's best friend, they are now more so than ever, and that includes men's best friend. If you swallow a special type of diamonds, they can attach themselves to your cells in the digestive tract and clean you out.

Before you assess the diamonds in your jewelry box, note that you don't have to have those diamonds  to swallow. And, for goodness sakes, don't swallow them thinking it can clean you out like some large dose of Milk of Magnesia! diamonds.

Indeed, the diamonds now being tested are nanodiamonds. They are " tiny pieces of carbon about 100,000 times samller than a human hair," says Discovery. Who swallowed these nanodiamonds? Our friends the round worms. Inside the tiny pieces are " tiny holes called 'vacancies' where a nitrogen atom fromt he air has replaced two carbon atoms."

How can you tell the difference between nanodiamonds and the ones in your ring, or watch, or necklace? The latter diamonds are yellow in tint because they receive more nitrogen.  Nanos absorb yellow light and emit violet. Nanos can be used to attach themselves to cancer cells, immune cells, pathogens and other cells, delivering powerful drugs to help treat diseases. Guaranteed not to taste bad!

For more details check the website:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Gift Wrapper I'm Not

When I was growing up I never learned to wrap gifts. Maybe it was the lack of need, since the free wrapping service of department stores came to my rescue. Unlike my sister who had a job every Christmas vacation wrapping gifts for customers, I never worked. In my day only "low class girls" worked. A t hrowback to England, maybe?

All the years following I've tried to avoid wrapping, choosing to pay for the service that once was free. Only recently, when the store where I bought a baby gift didn't wrap and I couldn't find the only store that wraps for a price did I decided to tackle the job myself.

Armed with strong wrapping paper and tape I looked at the odd-shaped gift--a baby tub--to determine how to attack the problem. No amount of paper and tape would make my job easy. So I unrolled a long piece of the paper, plopped the tub in the middle and proceeded to wrap. The paper was not the regular wrapping kind, I had inadvertently selected a stronger type advertised as useful for imprinting. At least it wouldn't tear, I figured. I completed the job with a fellow non-wrapper and here are the results. I don't think I'll do this job again.

Step 1--Lay the the tub in the proper position
Step 2--Decide which folds to make and carefully crease the paper neatly in a symmetrical manner and tape.
Step 3--Pay no attention to the number of taped folds in the container, they'll all be on the bottom.
    Step 4--Don't fight with ribbon, use colorful tape. I chose stars in blue, since this was a boy's tub.

    Step 4--Turn the package over and admire. I had a miniature coffin. Not a happy gift for a happy occasion.
   Step 5--Be sure the gift is swiftly given and opened before anyone notices the shape.


Bed Bugs? What Are They?

You've read about the new influx of bedbugs. In my day bedbugs were like lice in a kid's hair. Both came from unclean homes and bathless kids. Now scientists are telling us to be alert for these near-microscopic crawlers any place you sit or lie down: movie theatre seats, office areas, clothing, hotel/motel beds and sofas. They love to jump from one person to another, bite you on the neck, legs, arms.

I know from experience about bedbugs. I encountered them in the most likely place: Mexico.

A fellow teacher Fran and I planned to spend the summer in Mexico City attending Mexico City College. Six or maybe twelve weeks of study and travel. We found the perfect place to live in one of the better colonias in the city, a short distance to the bus stop, near Chapultepec Park and restaurants. This was the summer of 1959.

When the taxi that ferried us from the airport to the colonia (subdivision) we were amazed to find we were in one of the ritziest areas of the downtown area. The driver drove us to a two story white brick home with an equally tall brick fence surrounding the property. The woman who met us at the door was a maid, which raised our eyebrows--"A maid? Hmmm." Our hostess was an artist who spoke no English. I was able to  communicate ok, since I'd studied previously in Monterrey, Mexico.

We helped the maid carry our bags up a beautiful winding stairway off to the side of a gorgeously decorated living room. And there the gorgeous decorations ended. We may as well have been in a low income apartment. No color, a simple bed in each room furnished with one chifferobe and one lamp and table. windows looked out on the back of the roof of the home. Drab draperies and bedspreads. We each picked  a room and I immediately began to unpack, as I felt the drabness would disappear as we became accustomed to the living quarters. Outside properties were beautiful with landscaping up and down the streets.  We were lucky to have found this place.

We turned in early and it was once in bed that I realized my mattress had that musky odor of having never seen sunshine. OK, I thought, I'll lie on a towel. Sometime after turning off the light I began to have an itchy feeling up and down my body--legs, neck, arms. Thinking of ants, I jumped up and turned on the light, pulled back the covers and inspected. Nothing. I went through that routine most of the night, getting little sleep. I assumed, without knowing how, that I had bedbugs. Never had I experience them, nor had I lice, but I sensed about both.

The next morning I repacked my bags, told my friend we had to find another place to live, as I couldn't sleep on that mattress. She had had a delightful night's rest. I was envious. My main problem was How to Say in Spanish "There are bedbugs in the bed." This had to be done diplomatically.

We had breakfast but the artiste was no where to be found. I'd have to discuss this after school that day. We proceeded to walk to the bus stop, and take the particular bus that would carry us on a 25 minute ride up the mountain north of the city. During the break at school there was a small woman holding a placard and standing in the middle of the campus where we changed classes, stating, "Come live at my nice quarters," or something like that. We approached her and she said she had a very clean apartment  and the rent was more reasonable than in the Colonia. I told her my bedbug story and declared I didn't know how to solve my dilemma of a written agreement with the owner. She agreed to take care of the problem.

And she did. Oh, the fury of the artiste, the shrill voices of argument, the confusion. The artist would be losing a summer of rent. How could she find other renters at this late date? She did not have bedbugs, she declared. Our new landlady won the argument and we packed our bags into the small  car that Senora had and we went to her  place. We weren't too thrilled as we drove through a disaster-like area with people living in hovels. But Senora assured us her place was across the street from the American School whose students were the best in the City. She opened the front gate and we entered a paradise of beauty. Her "place" was a motel setting, with dual apartments dotted in a semi-circle, and her family's home at the middle in the back. Bright colors dotted each apartment roofed in sunbaked  tiles. 

Inside was a small living room/kitchen with stove and fridge, a sizeable bedroom furnished with typical Mexican crafted wood  furniture consisting of twin beds with handsome woven bedspreads, a table with lamps in the middle, and a sizeable bathroom. Unbelievable that we had  lucked up on the Senora.

Our new address was Avenida Observatorio. We later learned from Fran's local  friend that we were living in the absolute worst section of town, and that was brought home to us when we attended a few functions in town and had to find a taxi after midnight to take us home. No one would drive down Observatorio. Only a few brave souls did the whole six weeks. That move was the best we could have ever taken.

What began as a bedbug experience of one night turned into a wonderful six weeks of learning  that even today I maintain fond memories.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Because magazine subscriptions can add up in costs, I subscribe to newsletters. My special email address is chock full of reading material about new discoveries, songwriting, creative writing, photography,just to name a few. I'm always signing my name to some avenue of learning. I enjoy reading and learing. My college studies were finished in the Middle Ages and so much can be learned today. But one newsletter I misunderstood and now I'm getting solicitations--well, one so far.

It was about biking. I can no longer bike because of bad knees. When the doc said "No walking long distances, no swimming, no bike riding, no long sitting" I wondered how much more sedate my life could become. However, the bike newsletter that I subscribed to was going to give me information AS THOUGH I were riding on weekends. I'd learn all about taking care of the bicycle, places to ride, how to prepare for a long ride--you understand?

So when no newsletter arrived for months, I figured there was a glitch in the computer system, and I forgot about resubscribing. Until---

Until I got an ad with a biker, his cap and sunglasses on his head, leaning against a huge motorcycle. He is 49, Caucasian, and lives in Santa Fe. He wants to "get to know" me. What a laugh he'd get to know he was solicitating a 78 year old gal! Well, we do seek younger companions nowadays, don't we? If I were single, I might wave a hello back. I've never ridden a motorcycle. Would he give me a ride if I were to fly to Santa Fe (my favorite place in the U. S.)? So far I've no wrinkles or any tell-tale sign of aging. Would I be able to "fool" him into thinking I'm a wee bit older than he? Perhaps before answering I could take a snapshot of me at the local Harley store dressed in the finery of a cyclist and send it to him. (I refuse to wear a bathing suit and a helmet.) Would he take the bait? How far could I go with this ruse?

Then I realize that he looks like a nice guy. You don't mess with nice guys. Guess I'll have to answer that I'm no longer biking, and thanks for the invite. Or just hit "Delete." My husband says the guy looks sincere and to reply and tell him I'm too old for a replacement. Problem is: I never recorded my pass word and refuse to retrieve it. I may get into trouble.

Would he laugh if I sent this photo of my daughter on her mini-bike?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love My Ice Tea!

Today, Thursday, is Free Tea Day around the country, and Mississipi has its best iced tea, sweetened of course, served just about in every restaurant. We have one company with cafes scattered around the Jackson Metro Area that is really famous for their tea, McAlister's. If you haven't gotten a McAlister's you are missing some good Southern sandwiches and their tea.

A recent article revealed that the company is particular about making and keeping their prepared tea. Their recipe and the fact that they don't keep prepared tea around long are two secrets. In fact, oftentimes they run out just when I'm ready to order. We get 32 ounces of cold tea sweetened too much for some and just right for others. Until I saw a recipe, did I realize that a pinch of baking soda in the tea as it brews reduces the bitterness of the tea and gives it a dark color. The taste is perfect and if you finish with 32 ounces, you can get a refill. Refreshing!

We Southerners consume lots of tea year around, not just the summers. Unlike the literary books and movies about the South that has made you think we sit on our porches drinking mint juleps, you can hardly find anyone who has an afternoon julep.It must be tea. Iced, meaning cubes sitting in the glass; no tepid tea that sat in the fridge attempting to get cold.

As one local restaurant owns states,"I see it as a staple. You best not open a restaurant if you're not able to provide iced tea." And that sums it.

P. S. We say "Ice Tea" not "Iced Tea" We've swallowed the -d so long we've forgotten it belongs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's That Southern Thing

Today's sports section of our local newspaper carried an interesting article entitled "Childress, Favre now have better understanding." Seems the Viking coach and Brett had difficulties Childress' first year of coaching the famed quarterback. Favre has held off his decision to return to the Vikings' clubhouse. So Childress decided to come to Mississippi and entice Brett to return. What he discovered is this, in his quoted words:

"The Deep South is different, and he'd (Favre) would be the first to tell you that." The time spent, as the article continues, gave Childress a stronger understanding of Favre's way of life and his way of thinking".

Every section of our country has produced people whose philosophy and general way of life are slightly different from other areas. Southerners are no different. Despite our slow speech, our laid-back life, our seemingly less informed minds (although we do have highly educated people), we treat life as it comes. A friend from the Northwest remarked, when I sent him a photo of a friend and me both over 70 years old, commented, "You women look so young!" We don't have searing cold weather to erode our skin, and the moisture of our humidity does preserve our bodies. Most of my neighborhood is made up of vibrant young-looking, women over the age of 60.

On the same day of the article, a friend from Memphis forwarded a poem about Mississippians. With all the bad publicity we've had, somehow we folks seem to thrive in our little world.

If Mississippi's In You

(by Patricia Neely-Dorsey, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, page 86)

If Mississippi's in you,
It'll always be that way;
It matters not how far you go,
Or how long you stay.

If Mississippi's in you,
It always plays a part;
In how you live and move and breathe,
And in every notion of the heart.

If Mississippi's in you,
It's in you through and through;
It's who you are and how you be,
And it's in everything you do.

If Mississippi's in you,
There is some special glow;
A different something down inside,
That all the home folks know.

If Mississippi's in you,
It'll always be that way,
From the time you enter in the world,
Till in the grave you lay.

Every true Mississippian,
Can surely have it said:
"I'm Mississippi born,
I'm Mississippi bred,
And when I die,
I'll be Mississippi dead."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Older I Get the Worse Food Becomes

Weekly I receive a newsletter from the state Department of Health citing articles of interest to those on the free subscription list. My son is the webmaster. Usually he sends an extra email with information about how we should care for ourselves. Usually, I have already read them elsewhere.

I had earlier dismissed a newspaper article about salsa and guacamole found in numerous restaurants around the country, and when my son emphasized that article with this title, " Salsa and Guacamole Emerging as Transmitters of Food-Borne Illness" I was somewhat appeased with my last meal.

Cooking isn't my forte, so I rely on whatever comes to mind one hour before a meal. I've wanted Mexican food for a month. Yes, I know that that's not the healthiest to select, but I need my Mexican fix every two months. Laziness prevented our going out to eat, so I created a near-Mexican meal of tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and cayenne pepper. Served over spaghetti, served with Fritos. I thought it was 4 on scale of 5 but R offered, after a second helping, a 2. I don't create meals as my friend Laura does (see her website and this one was my "open cans and heat" recipes. Afterwards,I still longed for the salsa made at our favorite restaurant.

The next two articles were entitled "Wider Waistline and High Triglyceride Levels Together Indicate Heart Disease" and " Excess Weight on Hips Linked to Memory Problems in Women" which really upset me. Wouldn't you say that some guy has a grudge against women? I don't need to be reminded that the wide waistline I now carry is related to possible heart disease. I've tried, honestly, to whittle down my hips and thighs with no improvement. Alas, yes, I'm having trouble putting a name to an object, as in, "Honey, take the THING there on the stool and put it in the, you-know-where." Nowadays, a third of my daily conversation is uttering "thing".

And now my favorite drink, milk, is under attack. What is this world coming to?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day 2010

R and I were glad to have chosen a small town to celebrate the Fourth of July. We could have been in AnySmallTown, USA. Its citizens were "down home" type, full of southern hospitality. And it isn't "put on". Tourist shops line the town's square, a variety found in most small towns. The square anchored by a large building once the city hall. The town is Dahlonega, GA. Never heard of it?

First, it is pronounced Duh LON e guh (note how easy to speak southern?); second, it is the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains, the beginning of the Appalachian Trail nearby, so you see a lot of hikers and bikers; third, it's an hour's drive north from Atlanta on State Highway 19; and fourth, it is near the site of the first U. S. gold rush in the 19th century.

All it took for the rush was a farmer kicking up a clod of dirt and recognizing the gold sparkles. This was on Cherokee Georgia land of Araria. Within 24 years Araria was growing with prosperous mines circling the town, and finally a mint being established in Dahlonega to convert the gold flakes into coins. The city hall, now the Gold Museum, presents a video chronicling those early days, along with displays of early coins and history in photos and writings. The building was constructed of hand-made bricks from area dirt and a close look at any brick reveals gold flakes. Nearby a chapel at the Northern Georgia University and College sporting a gold leaf roof, beckoning cars from the highway to come sit a spell in Dahlonega.

For two people who labored for five days learning new jewelry techniques, the square with its myriad of benches was a welcome sight. Sunday, the fourth, we sat in the shade of a building's overhang, feeling a light breeze as a church choir sang selections from WWII, the U. S. flag was raised, politicians stood in the sun giving their prepared speeches, and the reading of the Constitution. In the late afternoon visitors and citizens watched a colorful parade. Just what you'd expect in a small town.

Nothing makes most citizens more proud than to participate in the celebration of our independence from England. The most touching in Dahlonega were the white crosses listing deceased soldiers from the area who died defending their country. Patriotism and love of our country couldn't have been more visible.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tuberculosis Scare

I was six years old when my mother picked me up during first-grade at the local Catholic school. Since I was an obedient child, I didn't question her motives. I'm sure she told me because I was sickly I needed special care. But I didn't realize a separation from my parents and my new baby sister was imminent.

I recall a long drive past fields and thick woods from Jackson, MS, to a town called Magee, MS. There I was led to a large dormitory, shown a bed(not unlike double bunks of metal frames) and a locker, had only a few minutes to say goodby to my parents, and I was left to assimilate into a new way of life. A lady handed me a pair of white panties and a tee shirt. My good clothes went into the locker, a four-some at the end of two sets of bunks. I wore those clothes home six months later.

Within a short time I was regimented into sleep, play, sit and listen, weekly examinations by doctors, eating three full meals a day, and school. Visitors were allowed twice monthly. I always had someone visiting me on Visitors Sunday. The idea that isolation and protection from the germs that could be brought in from outside would be minimized. The medical team there thought sickly children could more easily take TB and needed special care not otherwise. At six years of age I weighed 20-25 pounds. I had chronic illnesses that gave me a slow start in life. I've often told my own children I resembled a war orphan then. My parents blamed my skinniness on their inability to provide milk and proper food during the years after the Depression.

The Missisisippi State Sanitorium opened its Preventorium in 1929, so my presence years later gave the staff plenty of time to be organized. Actually the system of taking care of sickly children lasted into the mid-70's. The lifestyle of nutritious food, the outdoors, and rest was an experiment. Since the weather is so wretched this time of the year, the Preventorium would have had a difficulty time running in the summers today.

Services provided a swimming pool, a play village, and a golf course with a duck pond. The course was for the adults, but I remember the pond. My sixty-odd years of memory have almost dissolved like sugar in hot water. I recall as the cooler weather came, we still wore our white bloomers with a sweater. Fresh air was most important, yet, no one thought that that air being circulated from the Sanitorium past the Preventorium and in and around the nearby town of Magee could be tainted. The Sanitorium, I recall, had TB paitents in their beds on porches and in the yards, enjoying the same air.

Our schedule allowed us schooling in the mornings, play, fat-rich meals, an hour's rest, and medical examinations. We were introduced to music. I recall hearing Kate Smith sing "God Bless America" for the first time when all children were gathered in a general meeting room. I remember having to shut our eyes while lying on our backs at the beginning of our naps so the head mistress could glance from her perch to check on us. That simple activity has lasted my entire life. I love naps. Christmas came and we celebrated opening our gifts from home. We made simple cards for our family to send home. In February the doctors declared they had done enough for me, I was TB free. I assume that meant I had gained enough pounds to be considered average in weight.

I never felt unloved, ignored by the family, or put in the Preventorium for any reason but a good one. The experience has always been in my memory and I appreciate my parents for having the good sense to follow the doctor's orders to send me there. The only regret is that I don't remember any of the other children who were present. Although I'm on a Yahoo message board for children of the Preventorium, no one has remembered me. But that is because those who belong to the group are younger and have better memories from the 1950's to 1970's. The reunion today in Magee MS will gather many former youth, but I will skip that. I doubt anyone from 1938 will be there.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

One Last Attempt

Southern Living touted the recipe as a two-step process. Surely after all these years of baking failures I can make pound cake in two steps. Dump all the ingredients into the bowl at once--no more beat after each addition as Mother once instructed.

When I discover I have discarded all cake pans several years ago because R said we had to reduce our sweet intake eliminating baking altogether, I spent twenty minutes of unforgetful memory of that time trying to find my pound cake pan. To no avail. I decided to make half the recipe and use the glass loaf pan I did keep (for meat loaf).

The only hold-up was the butter. I had to dash each block into the micro a few seconds to get it to the right softness: "test softness by gently pressing the top of te stick with your index finger. If an indention remains and the stick of butter still holds its shape, it's ready to use." I used a small dish and cut each block into smaller pieces and dashed each dish into the micro. While the second dish was softening, I was busy dumping the eggs, sugar, flour and milk. Then I had to taste. Remember that wonderful cake batter taste as kids? I had to relive that moment.

I was too caught up in deja vu. I poured the batter into the glass pan and whisked it into the oven. As the baking continued into thirty minutes, I opened the micro to warm up a dinner dish and voila! there sat the second stick melted to a liquid.

Now the question was: Should I pour the butter over the batter beginning to brown? Should I remove the batter, stir the half-baked cake through with the butter? Or should I have dumped the pan into the trash?
Worried earlier that I had left out the baking powder or the salt, which the recipe called for neither, I never once thought of the second stick of butter (making a cup). I had to allow the cake bake on its own. Testing, not quite done in the middle, the cake baked a bit longer than an hour and a half.
When I removed the pan, the cake had an imperfection on one side: an indention. Was the cake telling me it was unhappy? When I sliced it I was cutting into a loaf of stale bread. However, I knew that with a few fresh peach slices and juice, the cake would rejuvenate.
Ummm. Not bad when this is all you have for dessert. And for breakfast, I can top it with butter and whisk it under the broiler.

By the looks of the cake in the photo all you bakers can tell something is missing. What would you have done?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family History--Again

I've written about my journey into family lines before, encouraging readers to begin their own journey. This time I want to report the excitement of finding old friends, regretably, long since passed, but discovering a tiny bit more about them after we parted.

One such was a junior high (middle school) friend. Pretty, blond with a reserved manner, Nancy was my favorite friend. I don't recall her ever going to movies with me, but she did play board games. We had a group of girls during the last few years of 8th and 9th grades who enjoyed playing games, also. We'd meet at different homes on Saturday and play all afternoon. Then we'd depart and catch the city bus back home.

On one occasion Nancy and I decided to bike (the common means of transportation when you didn't ride the city bus) from her house in west Jackson to a two-lane road in South Jackson--quite a ride. Then, Raymond Road was little used on Saturdays. and years later would be a main road. I took photos of her and she of me of that journey. I found those photos recently in my photo album I kept from seventh grade through high school. After she moved to Tuczon, AZ she sent a few pictures, graduated from college, married and she and her husband became Bible translators for Wycliffe Translators.

Being a member of allows me to enter a name and check birth, death, and censuses primarily on anyone who has died. I found Nancy's death, plus an article from the Tuczon's newspaper about her missionary family returning for several months furlough from Korea. She and her husband lived among native people in the most primitive conditions while translating portions of the New Testament into a language and teaching the natives to read.

At that time I was a new teacher enjoying a semblance of life away from home, eating well, having fun with fellow teachers, all the while Nancy and her family were living opposite. I often thought about her but I didn't know how to get in touch. So using ancestry methods to find my dear friend gave me such an unexpected deja vu.

Next I discovered a family member had entered her profile in the Ancestry bank, and I was able to read that she had died in Tennessee. I wrote that person stating I had photos of Nancy, would he/she want them to complete Nancy's file? Yes, came the answer, and with joy I sent them.

That one day discovering dear friend Nancy gave me the most joy, despite knowing she no longer lives. She had a tremendous spirit of giving, and I know that had I checked in 1995, two years before her death, I would probably found her and visited with her before her death in 1997. My next step is to find where her grown children are located.

Thankfully I have Ancestry's bank of research to discover people who once passed through my life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Those Tornadoes You Read About. . .

They were big, numerous, and devastating. Debris hurled for miles. People huddled where they could: bathtubs, basements, closets. "Came so fast, I didn't have time to put a pillow over my head."

W are accustomed to expecting tornadoes in the spring. Sometimes they pass over, other times they skip here and there without damage. Mississippi has lots of land filled with trees, not a clear, open landscape. And when there is a warning, we spend more time at the television set or huddled near the radio than at any other time, sometimes hundreds of times during the season. I've been known to usher my parents and children into closets, fully clothed, pillows nearby to put over their heads, water and food nearby. All the while Dad relaxes in his comfortable chair watching the weather news. Rarely perturbed, at times he laughs that I've taken such measures. I recall putting my 80-year-old parents in the bedroom closet while I was sitting in a hall closet and hearing them, like children, after 30 minutes, whisper, "Can we come out now?"

When the kids were small, we donned our rain gear and headed out to the "gully" a depression in the wooded area behind our house. At the time the ground was clear of leaves and debris and seemed safe enough. Today they laugh at the many times we sat out there. We should have had a clubhouse, they say, since we visited so often.

But you never know.

A local columnist of our newspaper, Rick Cleveland, summed up Yazoo County like this:

"The people of Yazoo have endured the Civil War, the great flood, a deadly yellow fever epidemic, the Great Depression, numerous tornadoes and a fire that burned most of downtown Yazoo City to the ground.

Often described as half hills and half Delta, Yazoo County is 100 per cent tenaciously durable. Folks here have to be."

Recently, Mississippi was considered top of the line in charity work. We believe in giving until it hurts. We furnish clothing, food, home items to anyone who needs help. Neighborhoods band together to help local small organizations by collecting shoes, clothes, hygiene products, water, or whatever is requested. We furnish homes and wardrobes for those in need. So helping those stricken with the loss of their homes is nothing new for fellow Mississippians.

The above map shows how the line of tornadoes--28 in all--ravaged its way across western and then east. Our home is located at the dot. We were fortunate to have intermittant rain. Now it's time to go through our closets and find good clothing we no longer need and give to the needy.

We take care of our own.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April in Missisippi

We are luxuriating in 80-degree weather: warm days full of sunshine, soft breezes, outdoor dining, and no mosquitos. Those bugs don't bother us until April begins to leave and we welcome May. So I finally get to enjoy sitting outside on the neglected patio more now than any other time of the year. I glance around in silence and see our old azalea bushes still flowering.
A walk into the front yard and we are greeted by a Grandfather Greybeard waving with his beard in full form. We decided to plant a few more of them this year since they are so graceful, but the local nursery we use couldn't obtain seedlings.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Let's Go Back to 1950

Don't let the title fool you--I'm talking about FOOD. Back then I was a twig, always able to eat or drink anything, like chocolate milk shakes with French fries, and never gain a pound. I didn't have to check labels either. Nowadays here's what's happening:

R all our married life has been a rare reader, until now. He reads labels, food advice, checks the Food Network, and like a parrot from the moment he gets up chants what he's read or heard, oftentimes challenging me. He still weighs 130 pounds, I've added a few pounds; he thinks he should remind me to stay healthy. Here's a sample of what I hear daily with my responses in parentheses:

"Check your vitamins, are you getting too much copper, zinc?"(Of course not, I read, too)

"Did you know that you should consume only cereal with 2 grams or less? Isn't that in your bowl higher? Hmmm. Indeed, you can't be eating this stuff!" (I don't eat Rice Krispies often, Hon.)

"Have you taken your vitamins today?"( I don't need to be reminded. I'm a big girl.)

"Did you know the Mediterranean diet is best for us?"(You're just finding out about that one?)

"Why don't you serve more salads and greens?" (You don't want a salad every day and the lettuce wilts!)

"Did you know we shouldn't eat too much red meat, stay with fish and chicken?"(You should be swimming or clucking by now to know that answer!)

"Are you still ordering the salmon capsules?" (You're taking them, aren't you?)

"Get rid of those canned goods, they're not healthy." (Not until we've eaten all the contents.)

"We need more frozen veggies ." (Take out your ice cream containers and walnuts and we'll have room.)

"Why don't you buy fresh foods? (I don't like what is sold in our chain grocery stores.)

"You mean you went all the way into town to buy organic food?"(What other option do I have?)

"How much did this organic cabbage cost? (I'm not telling.)

"You've got to quit eating so much sugar. Don't eat that muffin!" (Here, take half and we both can enjoy it.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Phoebe Allens Has Laid Again

I wrote a few entries back about watching on my computer the expected arrival of the hatching of two eggs.Up to the last minute thousands of folks from all over the world were watching. Well, this gal has done it again. She's laid one egg and if that nasty ole' lizard stays away, perhaps this time Phoebe will get her fledgling. I couldn't imagine how this simple process caught so many people's attention. It is something like this that takes us away from the ugly situations we are caught in throughout the world. Check the website and find out the date Phoebe will become a mom hummingbird. Go to and watch when you're ready.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Party's Over

For the last four days I and millions of others have watched, sometimes too much, their computers waitin...waiting...waiting for two eggs a phoebe allen hummingbird has tended to with responsibility. Over 385,000 in the U. S. watched, and thousands more all over the world. This tiny bird would have gone nuts if she had realized the number of eyes watching for the hatching event. The eggs were due to crack wide open today, March 16. One opening egg was attacked by a lizard so mama had to discard that one. The other egg just wouldn't progressed.

And so by 5 pm (more or less)by Southern California time lil' mama deserted her nest. The world was as disappointed as she was. I am greatful to C M for informing me of the website.

The party's over until another webcam begins...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration

Attending a southern celebration in one of Mississippi's oldest towns, Natchez, was a delight last week. Listening to writers on southern humor emphasized our connection with the rest of the world. A tribute to Horton Foote by Scott Dixon McDowell through a documentary that took 20 years to complete was one of the outstanding aspects of the week. McDowell has a film that will be viewed by college and post college students of literature and writing for eons to come. Horton Foote died last year at age 94 and left us two of many endearing movies: "Trip to Bountiful" and "Tender Mercies". One of his many movie adaptations "To Kill a Mockingbird," revealed his subtle humor. (Sis and I were pleased to have heard Mr. Foote seveal years ago when he was celebrated at a Southern Writers' Conference in Alabama.) Gerald McRaney, actor originally from Mississippi, gave us his views on Mr. Foote in his sharing of "Horton Foote, the Man That I Knew". McRaney is a member of the advisory board that produces this literary festival yearly.

Another bright light that shone was Clifton Taulbert, author of Once When I Was Colored,Last Train North, and Eight Habits of the Heart. He grew up in Mississippi and now lives in Tulsa, OK where he runs the Building Community Institute, which he founded. He spoke of the humor that George Washington Carver possessed. Always he is a popular speaker.

One speaker delighted us with referrals to "Double Names, Conniption Fits and 'Kiss My Foot':Laughing at Ourselves with Eudora Welty and Other Southerners" An actress of television, movies, and theatre, Jane Welch, entertained us with behind the scenes struggle of snatching a role in TV, theatre, or movies with her "Life in the Theatre: The Agony and the Ectasy".

Others reminded us of how gentlemanly manners pervaded the Old South and how Pogo, Snufy, Lil Abner and other comic strips used southern humor. Our own cartoonist from Jackson's Clarion-Ledger, Marshall Ramsey, delighted us with a series of his political cartoons and a running commentary of how he found humor in serious subjects.

Collectively, these speakers, southerners who live and work in the east and south, reminded us of the traits of behavior, speech patterns, and use of flowery expressions that are slowly disappearing as we adapt to modern life, thereby losing our identity as southerners. Only our accent remains.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day A Bust

I'm a romantic. My R is the least romantic guy on earth. He rarely thinks creatively (do engineers think any other way than rationally?) so his idea of readying himself for this loving day begins this way:

"I guess I need to buy you something for Valentine's Day, huh?" I say nothing. I am going to let him be the instigator of any gift or thoughtfulness for the day set aside for lovers, knowing all the well it'll be a bust.

"What do you want?"

"Something in diamonds," is my reply. I hate diamonds but I may as well suggest it knowing that'll never happen. "Just don't buy me a box of candy." That is a hint that I'm tired of the cheap candy he buys at the drug store.

"Well, Joe (our neighbor R walks with) is going to ask me what I got you, as well as the kids."

"Don't worry about what they say," I tell him, all the time wishing he'd be hit by a guilty stone and rush to the bakery and purchase one of those heart-shaped cookies. But no, by the time he'd wait, the cookies would be sold out.

Sunday arrives, I open a card from Sis (we understand to remember each other when a guy doesn't)and I buy her the valentine cookie. We meet for a movie, appropriately entitled "Valentine's Day" and split her cookie.

The songwriter of these words must have thought this of my husband:

I can't give you anything but love, baby
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby
Dream awhile, scheme awhile, you're sure to find
Happiness, and I guess, all the things you've always dreamed of...

Gee, I'd like to see you looking swell, baby
Diamond bracelets, Woolworth doesn't sell, baby
'Til that lucky day you know darn well, baby
I can't give you anything but love.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Sedum Heralding Spring?

My husband bought himself a camera. Not the one I would have selected. I thought we needed a SLR digital. But he chose a small one to fit into his pocket. That was his birthday gift to himself with my urging. Next, one son gave him a book on digital photography which had beautiful photos of macro/micro photography. That got me to begin looking at textures and beautiful colors I could find around the house outdoors. The sedum is a cropped photo of a larger snapshot of sedum regrowing in a pot outside.

I decided to think of textures and captured some closeups with my Canon PowerShot. Then using simple choices of Adobe Photoshop I came out with these photos of a droopy poincettia:

For a different texture I added from Adobe the plastic feature to get this:

For an interesting texture look at this:

Can you guess what I took here?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dealey Plaza, Dallas TX

I was quite hesitant when Sis insisted she had to visit Dealey Plaza Museum. She's writing an article about a Jacksonian who was eyewitness to the tragedy that November, 1963. There had been so much information on television and in books, how could I experience something new, I asked myself. However, with a warming trend due to hit Dallas, the opportunity to travel somewhere was too enticing.

Sis and I inherited our wanderlust from our mother, who never hesitated to take us on a quick trip to Houston or New Orlans or Memphis, just for the heck of it. Daddy stayed at home. He didn't like to travel, he always said. I suspect it was the need to be away from three chattering magpies he had to endure daily. Even in the waning days of Mother's life she would look at me and say, "Let's drive to Colorado." I would get out the atlas and we'd look at routes we could take. We didn't make it to Colorado with her. But every trip since then that Sis and I take is in memory of Mother.

We traveled to Dallas on a Tuesday, stayed all day downtown to visit the sites made so famous by the shots that rang out that sunny day. We found the spot where the young woman had stood by comparing a photo, took the tour through sixth floor of the Book Depository and experienced anew a fascination borne of a tragedy that swept people of all ages into a whirlwind of sadness. That tour was worth the trip. I firmly believe all U. S. citizens should visit Dealey Plaza, see the Xs in the road, glance upward at the grassy knoll which stands today as a silent reminder of earlier people who were a part of a history-making day.

The young woman of that year recently died of cancer, several days before she was to talk with Sis to expound on her oral history that is in the archives. So much she didn't say and Sis hoped to open her up. We discovered that very few witnesses have given their oral testimony of that fateful day. And that's been over 40 years.

My photos are familiar but I wanted to record a few sites to place in my own family history.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Earthquake Experience

The 6.5 earthquake that recently hit 20 something miles offshore of Eureka, California, and the television responses to the shaking and quaking, remind me of the only quake of which I've been a part.

I accompanied a large group of high school students to Mexico City one Easter holiday. Oh, it was in the late 1980's. Even before we left there were reported rumbles from the interior of Mexico, and I guess we teachers felt nothing could harm us as we proceeded with our trip via bus and plane into D. F. without making any "What If" plans. I alone had checked up on earthquakes and on what to do if one should occur. On the second night in the hotel I was awakened by glass bottles falling in the bathroom and an undulating feeling rushing through my body in bed at 2a.m. I knew instinctively to get up and check the kids.

Moving about in the few minutes after the big rumble wasn't easy. I threw on my bathrobe and started with the adjacent rooms, waking up students and urging them to use the stairs and assemble on the bottom floor. I could imagine the top floors crumbling any minute. A few doors opened and we all formed a line one behind the other, holding onto some part of clothing of the person before us.

The lobby was filling up quickly. When I saw we still had students missing I made one more round to the sixth floor, muscling my way up the stairs now more crowded. No amount of knocking would arouse anyone--if there were anyone--in the rooms. I gave up and returned to the lobby. As we huddled around one sofa we looked around and saw a couple entirely shrouded in sheets. Ah ha! we thought. Caught in the act!

Word spread that the epicenter was near Acapulco. The quake recorded at 5.6 on the Richter Scale. Whispers resounded off the walls with talk of where folks were going next. We sat through several aftershocks, discussing the event and assuring those young women who couldn't take adversity. When the all clear came, I saw each young lady back to her room. The guys took care of themselves, laughing as though nothing serious had occurred minutes before. As I walked up and down the hallway on floor six, doors to rooms from which I couldn't arouse anyone flew open. Confessions flooded my ears. "We were just sitting around talking, Mrs. N. and were afraid you'd get onto us if you discovered we were together." "I knew what to do, Mrs. N., I hid in the closet." It seems some guys were visiting in the girls' rooms(a forbidden rule at that time) and decided it was better to stay huddled together in the room rather than risk the wrath of a teacher. What stories they told the remainder of the year!

The next day I accompanied a group on an excursion to the downtown area of Mexico City. We were stunned at what an earthquake does to a city several hundreds of miles from the epicenter. Sidewalks had buckled up, much like what we see in the south when excessive dry weather wreaks havoc. Some buildings were leaning towards the street one and two feet. Fortunately, the hotel we were staying in had been built with a rocker foundation, so the only damage was to a three-story window. Outside the adjacent buildings were leaning forward a couple of feet beyond our hotel. We felt safer just seeing the effects on other structures. Glass was everywhere and we made a lot of detours off the main avenue. Office workers on upper floors spent time looking out the windows unmindful of their safety inside,chatting with passers by. Within 24 hours the city streets were clean and with exception of crowds of people vying for taxis and buses, normalcy began to return.

The local newspaper in our town found out the school group was in mid Mexico so my family was interviewed. My son was quoted as saying, "Mother knows how to take care of herself, so we aren't worried." Calling home was impossible as all phone lines were inoperable. With his remark I hoped the families of my students felt comfortable knowing their children were in the hands of a calm leader. Many parents took it in stride while only a few demanded their children leave immediately. Unfortunately, with hoards of people leaving the capital city, getting a ride to the airport was a task. Only one student got to the airport at the inconvenience of a our American bus driver(who stayed with us the entire trip)and flew home, but it took all day. The remaining parents allowed their children remain with us. And they had the best time ever.I'll bet they, too, upon reading about the latest California earthquake were reminded of their own experience in Mexico City.