Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, August 27, 2009

From the Memory Box - "Musical Noses"

"Somewhere there is a tape of [the three youngest children] playing 'Jingle Bells' with their noses."

Many families are overflowing with musical talent. When we were first married, I envisioned evenings around the piano, singing our hearts out, but no one can play well enough for that. I bought a player piano and that worked for special occasions.

I am not familiar with this tape or, perhaps, I have chosen to forget it. I can certainly believe that they played "Jingle Bells", and probably a few other things, on their noses. Maybe I can find that tape and copy it for their children.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Promises, Promises

We are about to set a new record in Central Texas. We have had 65 days of temperatures in the triple digits. It is not a record I want to see set this year, or ever.

Today, the skies were dark, there was thunder, and the lights flickered. I know that was rain somewhere in the area just teasing us here. When I stepped out to gather the mail, a gentle breeze whispered around the corner. It felt like the air from an oven just cooling down after a baking session. Not much to stir hope for the Fall, but every little bit helps.

Maybe the next promise will deliver rain....a cool front....relief.....

From the Memory Box - "Books"

"You have to read one good-for-you book every time you go the library."
Once a week, I would load all the children into the car and we would go to the library. I put a limit on the number of books they could check out, 10 each, and they would push the limit every time. Silence reigned as we drove home. The children were engrossed in the books they had checked out. I would already be worrying about keeping the books accounted for so we could return them promptly and not have to pay a fine. That was a lot of books to keep an eye on!

As we pulled into the drive at home, the children would complain that they had almost finished reading everything they had checked out. Suggestions that they should up their reading levels fell on deaf ears. Finally, I refused to take them to the library unless they got at least one good-for-you book. At least one had to address a subject that had some substance to it, was hard enough to read that it took longer than a 30 minute ride from the library, and presented enough challenge to keep them occupied for a while.

There were some perfunctory complaints, especially from DS who was in a reading competition at school when he was in first grade.
"All the other kids get to read books that have 1-2 words or even no words on a page. Why can't I?" he complained.
"Everyone has his own abilities and I know you can do better," I pointed out.
He redoubled his efforts and won first place, having read some 200 books in the allotted time period. When his teacher asked what he wanted for a prize, he never missed a beat...."Money," he told her.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Memory Box - "Fur Coats"

From the Memory Box

"The fur coats you got from Chinatown or somewhere that someone from gymnastics picked up for you."

I was so happy to find some other women who were always looking for a bargain. One brought her daughter in one day wearing a nice, furry jacket made of rabbit skin. It was really reasonable, she told me, so I had her get a couple for my girls. Every time the girls wore them, they left a trail of fur. Fur floated in the air and we all sneezed repeatedly. They really were cute, but I don't buy rabbit fur products anymore.

A Song From the Memory Box

No, I have not forgotten about the Memory Box the children gave me some time ago. I pulled one today to write about before I return to my wanderings....

"My reindeer flies sideways, your reindeer flies upside down! A song sung to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, so when you graduated from TWU, that is all could think of as they played that song."

Well, it is true. The children were so enamored with that silly song that it kept running through my head as the melody was played at my graduation ceremony. I was in a long line of serious minded women marching to the front of the church where the ceremony was held and all I could envision was reindeer flying around inside , rather like the silly bird that sneaks into the house through the open door then flies furiously attempting to find an exit.

It was reminiscent of my predjudice against the traditional Wedding March. My brothers had sung the silly version to that tune for ao many years, that I could not bear to have it played when I walked down the aisle.
You remember.....
Here comes the bride,
Big fat and wide
See how she wobbles from side to side.
Here comes the groom
Skinny as a broom
He'd wobble, too,
If he had any room.

So much for Tradition!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life's Unforgettable Moments

DDKr, D.A., and I went to ChaMo's play this morning at the Palace Theater in Georgetown, Texas. ChaMo was a narrator and did an awesome job. He had a multitude of lines to remember and that job was interspersed with his role as a rat. Well, it was the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin after all. He has been in acting camp all summer and his roles varied from a talking head to Prince Charming.

Kr went to a meeting afterward and I get to keep the boys overnight. It was not too hard to entertain them. We went to SAM's to pick up some things I need for tomorrow and grazed on samples throughout the store. Funny, I think the samples always taste better than the product does when you fix it at home. Perhaps hunger makes a tiny taste seem gourmet.

We got a huge pepperoni pizza for lunch (less than $7.00) and there is a lot left for tomorrow. We cooked it at home and it was pretty good. The boys spent the afternoon playing with Legos and Connectix (or some such). It is amazing how everything turns into a sword, or a weapon of some kind. They were quite creative!

After grilling some funny-cut "ribs" for supper, we headed back to the Palace Theater for an evening show put on by the teen group. Thirty-two teens had been working for four weeks on a "junior" version of Guys and Dolls. The term "junior" just means it is a shortened version. There were only 2 boys in the group and the roles called for mostly boys, so the girls stepped right up to the plate and did what they were supposed to do - ACTED in the boys' roles. They were all awesome. I am always amazed at the talent in this small town and the talent of the staff that brings it all to fruition.

It was indeed a memorable night and for one young (12 year old) girl, a night that will be recounted for years to come. She was dressed in a knee-length bridal outfit and had just come on stage in celebratory fashion. The cast was strung across the stage getting ready to burst into song and dance, when the girl looked down and saw her skirt puddled around her ankles. Her reaction was priceless - a most surprised face. She was carrying a large bouquet with one arm and could not reach down to pick up her skirt. Thank goodness she had on a slip. Girl #2, standing next to her, picked the skirt up and attempted to fasten it somehow while girl #1 went bravely on with her speech and song. Holding her bouquet in her right arm, gathering her skirt top around her with her left hand, and traipsing around the stage to fulfill her role, girl #1 finished the remainder of the scene without missing a beat. What a triumph for her! Meeting and overcoming an unexpected challenge will have far reaching consequences, especially for the girl, but also for everyone who witnessed it.

Yep! Live theater beats movies any day.

I am reminded of a similar occasion when DDKr (15 years old at the time) was leading part of the opening ceremonies at a National GS convention in Houston, Texas. She had been through several practices and each time changes had been made. When the time came, she inadvertently asked the 20,000+ people to stand. About half those present stood, but the rest remained seated knowing the timing was off - 10,000 standing, 10,000 sitting. I sat in the convention hall wondering what DD would do and if she were panicking and what was going to happen. The program moved on and a minute later, when we were expected to stand, this amazingly calm young woman spoke clearly to the group, "NOW, will everyone please stand," and gave them a big smile. Amid the appreciative laughter, I could hear the people around me finally exhale.

Girl Scouts, theater, school - every child deserves a safe place to fall down, pick themselves up, and know they have support to continue their journey to success.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How Long are Your Telomeres?

I just read the most intriguing article in my RN magazine, September 2008....I know, I know, I am running behind.

Telomeres are the little caps at the end of chromosomes, rather like aglets on a shoelace. Our DNA, but not the telomeres, constantly replicates, so the telomeres shorten each time. As we age, the shortened telomeres can no longer keep the DNA from unraveling so the DNA stops dividing and we age. Amazingly, telomeres are longer in people who are physically active. Therefore, some scientists have concluded that exercise can delay aging.

This discovery will probably annoy those who were waiting for a pill to cure aging. On the other hand, exercise can be free and is available to everyone, so there are no excuses. Will the government and health agencies stop encouraging people to exercise when agencies discover that exercise may increase longevity, thus increasing the demands on our health care system? Just think, really exercising and drinking plenty of water could be the long-sought Fountains of Youth.

I am off to Jazzercise....

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I don't cook as much as I used to and discovered this weekend that I am getting a little rusty. We had a surprise potluck for our accompanist at church; her baby is due in September. I made egg salad sandwiches since deviled eggs are a popular dish at our church potlucks. The sandwiches were fine. Even the ones I made with the heels of the bread were eaten, in spite of the fact there were two other plates of egg salad sandwiches, and two plates of deviled eggs. It was a high cholesterol Sunday!

I also made cupcakes for dessert.My vision was to to ice the cupcakes, make a nice flower from icing, and put a little plastic baby in the center. It had been a loooong time since I had done that kind of work, and I was never a pro. The cupcakes tasted good and the icing was tasty, but I tried decorating with the newfangled "icing in a container" and it was too soft. No problem, I thought, I will just spray it with some food coloring, put a sort of spiral design on it, and plop the babies in pools of icing in the center of each cupcake. That didn't look too bad. To improve on my improvisation, I decided to make a simple flower outline around the baby sitting in the pool of icing at the center of the spiral on the iced cupcake. It still was not too bad, even though it was a far cry from my original vision. I packed everything into covered containers last night so I could leave bright and early this morning.

When I opened the containers to set the cupcakes out, I realized my mistake! The icing was too soft for the project. The icing on the cupcakes had flowed together during the night, leaving me with lavender iced cakes sporting tiny plastic babies resting in pools of yellow. I set them out anyway because they tasted good and I had nothing to put in their place. Also they were chocolate and I was afraid to keep them in my household for my sweet tooth. That might have been my second mistake. All the cupcakes were eaten and there were several babies set aside near the dish. I only heard one person admit he ate the plastic baby, thinking it was hard candy.

I plan to get back to baking and regain my expertise.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Promises, Promises

I just read a comment by Uncle Dan that reminded me of a family story.
Uncle Dan said "I am always leery of anyone who promises the moon."

One day I heard one of my brothers trying to bribe his younger daughter to do something, He promised one thing after another. I did not say anything, but became increasingly annoyed. Finally I had had enough and blurted out "Well, why don't you just promise her the moon and be done with it!"

He never missed a beat. He smiled at me sweetly and confessed, "I can't do that. I have already promised it to her sister."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Thoughts....

We have had a few drops of rain here and it has cooled off....well, "cool" is relative.
Now guess what HEB has on sale....FIREWOOD! and we aren't even allowed to have open fires.

For several years I have attempted to view the wonderful meteor showers that should be appearing every August around this time. I never have any luck. I stood out in the backyard, in my jammies, staring intently at the eastern sky for about 15 minutes. The mosquitoes found me and I gave up. I did not see one "falling star."

Thank goodness for Jazzercise! I have to psych myself up to get out and get there, but I always love it after I arrive. Still walking 2-3 miles most mornings. Need to start riding my bike to prepare for my biking trip. I'll never be a triathlete like the rest of my family.

I have some good ideas for Christmas presents for the children this year. Hope I have enough time.

ChaMo went to a vocal workshop with me Wednesday. He has such a good voice and he is growing up too quickly. I am sure these years will go quickly. He and Em will both be in 6th grade. ChaMo is taking drama and Em is taking French.

I so dislike seeing people chew gum when they are speaking to a group. Did you see the guy on "America's got Talent"? He was voted off. I wonder if others were repulsed by it as well. The next day, I sat through a meeting where the leader of the group led the whole meeting while chewing her gum. I just couldn't concentrate on what she was saying. I kept thinking she should tuck it into a hole in her tooth until the meeting was adjourned. I wonder if this means I am getting "crotchety."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday "W"

A very happy 1st birthday!
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Alone.....

All the hearts are settled in Colorado, settled as they can be.

My heart just melted when I put Abs on the plane Saturday, after all she had been my constant companion for the last six weeks. Seeing the world through her eyes gave me a new perspective. I also have a new perspective on her world and the challenges she faces. No, I don't have any answers and I am not always full of patience for her antics, but she just brings such life to this world.

I goofed when I left packing Abs' bags until the last day. I had thought she would be anxious without her accoutrements, so I waited. The good thing was that her cousins, Chas. & D.A. were over for the day and served as a distraction while I packed things up. Abs could check two items and have a bag to carry on. First, I told her that the oversize dinosaurs would each require a seat on the airplane, so they would have to stay here until they could be delivered. Then I told her to bring all her things, including those left behind by other family members, so I could pack them.
The three children made several trips to pile my bed high with all the possibilities.... was an overwhelming task. Finally, I packed the suitcase to sitonthetopandzipitup and stuffed a large box with everything else I could fit in. The bicycle pump, petrified rocks (legally acquired), plethora of books, and sundry other treasures will have to wait. I have a sinking feeling that much of it will be waiting until they move back to Texas.

The children are like little puppies. I think they all roll in the dirt as soon as I let them out the door to play. I gave Abs a quick bath, did her hair, and she dressed for her trip. We had made a quick jacket since she was leaving the 100 degree weather of Texas and heading into the 40-50-60 degree weather of Colorado. Whatever the temperature there, she was sure to feel cold.

I had been explaining everything Abs might encounter on an airplane from air pockets to oxygen, and reminded her that the pilots were professional and she could ask the flight attendants about anything she might not understand. she was very confident, but subdued. She asked a ton of questions at the airport. She had a bad case of the "What ifs...." for a while, a trait inherited from her mother. Fortunately, she stood quietly while I signed her in. She asked questions the rest of the time....
"What is that thing moving in the back?"
"The conveyor belt for your bags," I answered. That led to a flood of inquiries on her quest for information.
"Where does it go?
"Does it make a loop?"
"How will my bags get off?"
"How will they know which airplane to put them on?"
"What if they get lost?"
"Why do we have to prove who we are?"
"Why do I have to pull my shoes off? No one could possibly hide anything in their shoes!"
"What does that machine do?"
"Will it X-ray my bones?"
On and on, right up to boarding time. Then Abs became very quiet and hugged herself to my leg as if she could never be pulled away. Only the thought of her family waiting for her in Colorado, moved her to board the plane. One small girl carrying two bags filled with dinosaur books, colors, reading material, beading materials, and her supper - peanut butter sandwich, grapes, 2 oreos, dried cherries and raisins.
"I am a little scared," she admitted at the last minute.
There were a half dozen unaccompanied minors travelling on this flight, all older and appearing more experienced. Thankfully, a mature young lady about 12 years old, stopped at the gate and took Abs under her wing. Abs never looked back. She was off an a new adventure.

The house is very quiet now. I am not yet accustomed to the fact that there is no one else here and that "quiet" does not mean someone is into something. I have not had to fish Q-tips out of the toilet. I do need to buy some eye shadow since the last lot was turned from caked into powdered, but it had been cleaned up and that shows progress. The TV does not blare cartoons when I turn it on and there is not a trail of clothes and towels leading to and / or from the bathroom. When I put something down, it will still be there when I the same the same condition. I am home alone....for a while.....