This picture was taken the day of Jerry's and Mona's wedding in 1984. I wonder what Mona was thinking when it was taken. If I'd been there, if I know Mona, she'd probably have shared her feelings with me. One thing is for sure... she isn't hesitant about saying what she thinks. We can always count on her common sense and upfront way of dealing with the issue of the day. I've always admired her honesty and forthrightness and appreciated her non-judgemental support. She's a good listener and one from whom one can expect a tactful, honest response. Some of my favorite memories of Mona are our first real conversation, several of our phone conversations in the last few years, one on the beach last summer and one, which wasn't exactly a conversation, on Nov. 22 of last year, and all of the last year. In the first, we were at the beach (Virginia Beach), the summer of 1984 and I was in awe of and curious about the fact that she'd come to the U.S. only a few years before, lived with Jimmy and Marilyn as their nanny for Katie and Caroline , married Jerry, (after meeting Jim on an airplane in Europe, but don't get me started on that story. Talk about weird. It's one of the select stories I tell to my friends about my family. How many people do you know whose Norwegian sister-in-law met one brother on a plane in Europe when she was twenty or so, came to live with him and his wife as a nanny, then married another brother? I mean, seriously, that's unusual.) and I was asking her how she felt about leaving her country to spend her adult life in another country. That's amazing to me and I've always been impressed with her strength and loyalty to the cause (whatever that cause may be.) Shoot, I've only moved to Texas and I feel the pull of my homeland pretty much all the time. Plus, that day, she told me, when asked what one of the main differences between the two worlds was, that they eat more fish in Norway which stuck in my mind because I don't particularly like fish. Over the years, she wrote the occasional letter and the much-anticipated Christmas newsletter, we talked over the phone now and then and visited occasionally in person (including the time that they came to Texas, in the 80's, in their new Volvo with heated seats and a laptop, one of the first I'd ever seen, when she broke out in hives because she was allergic to dogs and horses. No one told me in advance. We had a dog and, also, took them to a dusty, dirty rodeo -they're full of horses, you know. She hasn't been back since.) We've had some phone conversations, in the last few years, dominated by my obsessive-compulsive rambling, that she handled perfectly and helped me a lot. Last summer, we had great conversation, again, at the beach. That was one of those heart-to-heart, meaning of life conversations - my favorite kind. In fact, any other kind is almost a waste of time, in my mind - I love sharing deep feelings! The night Mom died, Mona welcomed us all into her home, served a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and left me with a warm memory of her kindness and hospitality. She took that hospitality and kindness much further by hosting Billy for the vast majority of the last year, for which we're all grateful. Mona's only fault, as I see it, is that she's tall and thin and young. I can forgive her for that since she's pretty great otherwise. Happy Birthday, Mona. I love you and hope to get to see you soon.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Last November 22, when we lost Mom, I was afraid that we'd disintegrate into what, if not for her, would've been our natural state of lowlife existance, and either drift apart or, worse, deliberately distance ourselves from each other. The reason I came up with that fear has more to do with my tendency to fast forward to the worst case scenario, especially when considering something important to me, as our family is, than to thinking that we'd have reason to jump ship. I'm grateful that, a year later, we're all still speaking to each other, sometimes loudly or in a hissing voice but still speaking. And, as the song says... I love you more to-day than yes-ter-day, neh,neh, neh-nuh, but not as much as to-mor-or-oh-ho. Mom would be happy. Small consolation for we (us?) who miss her so but it's something.
Okay, I have an old O'Keefe and Merritt stove. It sits in my dining room because we love it and can't bear to get rid of it. The stove in the kitchen is old (26 years) but without a hint of charm and it has two cracks on the top, one of which is 1/2" wide. Needs to be replaced. Here's the question. Should I get a new stove or use this old one? We'd have to have the cabinets cut back because the old(est) stove is wider than the just plain old stove, but that would cost less than a new stove, I'd think. The oldest stove may not be as efficient as the other but, let's be honest, when was the last time I used a stove? A brand new stove would be better for resale but we're probably here for the duration. The main reason I hesitate to use the O'Keefe and Merritt is because the door makes a screechy noise when I open it and the broiler drawer makes a metal on metal screechy noise when it's opened. Maybe we could WD-40 something and make the noise stop. So, what do you think?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Winter is my favorite season. For one thing, one can dress in lots of clothes which suits me just fine. I love sweaters, sweatshirts and sweatpants, flannel (Dad had the most deliciously cozy flannel shirt last weekend) and my bathrobe that feels like a dense cloud. I love fires in the fireplace and the sun going down at 5:30. The evenings are so nice and long. It feels like 10:00 right now but it's only 6:40. I romanticize the idea of snowy winters, dreaming of snowdrifts and snow falling. It snowed enough to partially cover the ground here in 1985 and I keep hoping that this will be the year for a repeat. Last year, for Spring Break, David, Terry and I went skiing in Colorado. I hadn't skied in years but it wasn't too hard getting back to my old level of skill which meant getting down the baby slopes alive. We could all meet at this lodge in Keystone some day. http://keystonelodge.rockresorts.com/ Check it out. I'm in. Way nicer lodging than I'm accustomed to but we splurged and I was glad we did.
Having said that we don't usually stay in fancy places when we travel, I'll post this picture of the beautiful hotel in which we stayed in Mobile last weekend. Even Terry, who's not averse to sleeping in airport hangers, dormitory style hostels and tents, was glad we stayed there. The whole weekend was glorious in every way. We drove my car and, unexpectedly, Terry loved that, too, though he usually prefers to fly. The Battlehouse Hotel is sentimental because my father's mother worked there as a secretary for 32 years and his two aunts lived there before it closed down, was shuttered up for years then was renovated and re-opened by Marriott. So, now it's sentimental because it is run by Marriott for whom Edward works, as well. He had the opportunity to be the manager but didn't want to leave Virginia. Can't blame him for that but it sure would be cool for him to manage the hotel where his great-grandmother used to work. The renovations are spectacular. Marriott emailed me a customer survey afterwards and my responses were so positive they may send me a complimentary visit. Probably not. The purpose of our trip was to attend the ceremony, honoring my dad, at the USS Alabama battleship. Returning to Al was emotional for all of us, after visiting Mom and Dad there for so many years, plus the Navy stuff is always emotional and getting to see relatives that we don't see enough was emotional (in a very good way.) The only thing that marred my trip was my broken camera because now I'll have to rely on my memory for recollections and images and I can't even remember this morning clearly.
These snazzy pants were handed down to me by my cousin, Janie. Aunt Madeleine sent a big box up from Alabama and I was so excited to get them. Wow, I just noticed that I'm wearing the Haverford shirt that Don gave me. I wrote about it a few months ago. We bought these azaleas from a guy on Watergate Lane who raised them in his yard and sold them. King's Grant Lake looks narrower than I remember.
My great-grandmother, Madeleine Clitherall Jones, lived on Old Shell Road, at Spring Hill, in Mobile. This picture is one in our family collection. Is it Namama's house? I've been to the house but, true to form, I only remember the food. She had caramels, in plastic wrapping, in a bowl in the living room. My only first-hand memory of my great-grandmother. She lived to be 104 years old, thus setting me up for the idea that Maury women live forever and that age 81 was not-quite-the-onset-of-senior-citizenship. Eventually the property was sold, the house torn down and apartments were built where the house had stood. Spanish Villa apartments... where my mother's mother lived in her later years and where my parents had an apartment "in town". Surely they'd rather have stayed in Namama's house. It's too bad she sold it. Remember... "land is the only thing that lasts, Katie Scarlett". At work, I have a poster of Spring Hill College so I can look up and think of Mobile and all it's meant to my family.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Katie may be half my age but I still look up to her. She doesn't intentionally draw attention to herself but one always knows when she's in the room because she has presence and is, honestly, a little bit mysterious. And wonderfully bright, honorable, admirable, sensible, beautiful, funny and loyal. I remember the day she was born, two days after Dad was elected to the Senate, at the beginning of the Reagan era. Jimmy started bragging about her right away but every word was true so we let him get away with it. She had a stuffed globe and there wasn't a country that she couldn't identify. Little two-year old Katie solemnly pointing them out without missing a beat. Impressive, but I could picture the poor child being drilled morning, noon and night so she could entertain Jimmy's friends and relations. Of course, I ran right out and got a stuffed globe for David when he was two. I taught him where some countries were and how to say "(I) don't like Russia" when he pointed to it (Reagan era, remember?) but he had some trouble committing the names of presidents, prime ministers and kings to memory like his cousin, Katie. One of my all-time favorite stories is about Katie and the "K" from the Ocean View sign. Get Jimmy to tell you the story. It's a classic. And, I love that she married Kyle, her high school sweetheart. Yes, she's always been amazing and we love her so.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I like it that I married someone who "gets it" about the military. Not everyone does but having grown up in a Navy family, during a war, in a Navy town, and, of course, because of Dad's situation, a feeling of unity with the military, and a profound respect for it is ingrained in me. Terry totally feels the same way about it. His dad was an airman in the Army Air Corp during World War II and you won't find a more honorable man. Terry grew up making model airplanes and listening to his dad's stories about the men he met, the experiences he had, when he left tiny Canyon, Texas and went to war. It occurs to me that it would be really weird to be married to someone who didn't "get it".
Hey, you guys, this is Kimmy Coleslaw! Isn't she adorable? We met at King's Grant Elementary and she was a big part of my childhood. She went to Cheatham Annex with my family, went to Don's wedding and sat up at night with me, watching out of the window to see Billy come home. She's about fifteen in this picture which I bought off of a table from which the First Colonial yearbook staff was selling extras. We can talk for hours without missing a beat. Just catching each other up on her four siblings and my six takes a chunk of time. Kim read my grandmother's potato chip cookie recipe on my blog and made them and mailed them to me. Her mother died completely unexpectedly the year before mine did and her support was so appreciated when I needed it. Thanks, Kim.
Monday, October 13, 2008
For many summers, we spent nearly a week at Terry's parent's old cabin in Riudoso. We hunted for (and found) arrowheads, had picnics, roasted marshmallows over a fire and read books about Indians aloud at night. David and Micah got busy with basketball and gymnastics and those trips got pushed to the side. It's about time we get back up there. An especially favorite thing to do was the annual ritual of getting dunked in the stream at Eagle Creek. There's nothing like plunging head first into ice cold water to bring life into perspective! My perspective's just fine, though. I'll stay on the bank.