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  • Southern Boy

    February 2, 2006

    I thought Sean was developing a speech impediment but it turns out it’s just a southern accent.

    Sean: “Aah ayuht awll mah deenor Mommy. Can aaah hayuve aahce cuhweem?”

    Antique Daddy: I think he said “I ate all my dinner Mommy. Can I have ice cream?”

    Antique Mommy: We may have to move. To Canada.

    Ode to Granny McKee

    January 31, 2006

    Dear Granny McKee,

    You had long passed away by the time I married into your family, but I feel like I know you from the stories your children and grandchildren like to tell of you. Now that I have a child of my own, it is all the more that I admire you.

    On those days when I’m exhausted from the constant struggle of trying to shape one pint-sized caveman into a civilized human being and I’m up to my eyeballs in self-pity, I try to imagine what your life was like living out on the North Texas prairie in the early years of the century with seven children. It is then that I sober up and laugh at the absurdity of my mistaken notion of hardship.

    Sometimes I feel put upon to have to make yet another trip to the store (in my nice car and with my bottomless credit card) to buy disposable diapers and wipes and diaper genie refills to manage the never-ending cycle of diapers. Then I think of you with your two sets of twins less than three years apart. No indoor plumbing and no electricity — nothing but a bucket of water from the well and a scrub board. I know you could tell me a thing or two about never-ending diapers.

    Then there are times I imagine myself a martyr because I occasionally sacrifice the few hours of free time I have in a week to lend someone a hand. But then I recall my mother-in-law telling me how as a little girl she would hear you leave the house in the middle of the night to go deliver a baby or care for someone who was sick or to sit up with the dead, as they did in those days. I guess the fact that I no longer have time to sit down and read a novel anymore doesn’t really qualify as a sacrifice, does it?

    You would probably find it ridiculous that I groan about having to go to the grocery store when everything on your table was put there after a season of planting, tending, harvesting, peeling, chopping and cooking. And when the Texas skies were stingy with the rain, as they often are, then even all that work didn’t yield enough to feed nine mouths sufficiently. Your children like to tell of how never a Sunday passed that you didn’t invite the traveling preacher and his family home for Sunday dinner and then how afterwards you would send them on their way with a basket of leftovers. In spite of having to work so hard for so little, you shared what little you had, often at the expense of your own family.

    And after you had raised all of your seven children and were at a point in your life when you could indulge your own desires, you raised your oldest grandson. Except for Sarah Lee pound cake in your later years, self-indulgence was something with which you were unfamiliar.

    Thank you Granny McKee for the example of your noble life. I am so proud that my son shares in your heritage. I pray that he has inherited your steely spine and your heart for sacrifice and service.


    Sean’s Mom

    I Love A Parade – Once Every Five Years

    January 16, 2006

     There’s an old song that starts out “I love’a parade!” Well, I don’t. Parades, fireworks and the state fair all fall into the same category for me under the heading “Been There Done That.” If I see a parade once every five years, I’m good.

    Saturday morning there was a parage at the annual stock show and rodeo. And since I’d seen a parade in the last five years, I wasn’t all that thrilled about going. But Antique Daddy and the boy love that kind of thing and I’m a go-along-get-along kind of gal, so I went. It was a sunny and cool morning, and if you had to go to a parade, it was a great day for it.

    Parades in some parts of the country might mean floats and balloons and clowns and that Macy’s kind of thing. In Texas, parade means horses. Lots and lots of horses.

    So it wasn’t surprising that first up were the horses. And it was kind of fun the first 25 or so horses. Sean called out “Vilver!” to every horse that passed. Vilver – or Wilbur – is the name of Godmother Gigi’s miniature horse and therefore every horse in the universe is named Wilbur. Ooooh! A spotted horse! (Vilver!) Oh how cute — sparkles on her spotted butt. Oops. Make that his butt. OK Mr. Horse, we get it, you’re a he. Now put that thing away. Oh, and a bow in his tail. No wonder he looks humiliated. Oh. Gosh. Wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t know horses ate bran muffins. So much for the bow.

    Oh look. A brown horse. (Vilver!) And a black horse. (Vilver!) And a brown and black horse. (Vilver! Vilver!) And a white horse. And a gray horse. And a white and gray horse. And a big horse. And a little horse. And a very little horse. Old men on horses, old ladies on horses, fat old ladies on horses. Poor horses! Ladies in ruffled dresses on horses, prom queens on horses, Cowboys for Christ on horses, bankers and realtors on horses. Even Chihuahuas on horses. (Vilver! Vilver! Vilver!) I think I’ve just written a Dr. Suess book.

    45 minutes and 1,472 bran-muffin-eating horses later, I’m wondering if there are any horses in the state of Texas that are not in downtown Ft. Worth and where did I put my surgical mask? Sean is no longer calling Vilver! to every horse, but picking gum off the sidewalk and I’m thinking of joining him.

    Next up, a middle school marching band. No wait. That’s a high school marching band. Well, maybe not marching. Apparently they aren’t too thrilled about being here. I guess if I were marching behind the horses I’d wear that expression too. And a surgical mask. And boots. Or maybe I’d duck out and pick gum off the sidewalk instead.

    And then there were more horses and that was the end of the parade.

    That oughta’ do me for another five.

    Photo: temporarily unavailable.

    The Hostess with the Leastest

    January 12, 2006

    We had visitors right after Christmas – a family of four from California. They stop by for a few days about once a year and we always look forward to their visit. They are smart and interesting people with kids they have home-schooled into smart and interesting teenagers. We are always hoping that maybe some of that smart and interesting will rub off on us by proximity, so we ask them to stay with us whenever they are in town. And they always do, which makes me think they might be faking that smart thing.

    The challenge for us, in hosting our friends, is this: They are from the Bay Area. And that is a problem in that there are so many great sites to see and restaurants and things to do in the Bay Area that our sites seem a little rinky-dink by comparison. Let’s see – they took us to Golden Gate Park and we took them to the Trinity River park area (no link had pictures which I think says all you need to know). River is probably an overstatement — trickle would be a more apt description. The Trinity River is the reason why Dallas and Ft. Worth exist, which proves it doesn’t take all that much. Think about it, you can probably start your own metroplex.

    They have the rolling streets of San Francisco. We have Cow Town. (Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a picture of a sleeping homeless person. And if that doesn’t make you want to visit, I don’t know what does.) It’s a struggle to think of a site we can take them to that is not known for someone being shot. I know. It’s Texas and that’s a toughie. Southfork? The Grassy Knoll? Anywhere in Dallas? But no matter what culturally enlightening freak-show shoot-out of a site we force on them, they are always gracious about it.

    And it’s not just that the local sites we take them to are so… so um, (figure out your own word), it’s also that everything seems to curl up in ball and die or puke on us when we are trying so hard to make their visit enjoyable so they will come back. And we want them to come back because it’s not that many people we can trick into returning to the Antique House of Weird. 

    For example last year when they visited, we had a week of tornado threats and the power went off every night. And then the shower broke. And the toilet backed up. And every restaurant we took them to, it was as if someone was standing at the door on the look-out for us and hollering into the back, “They’re coming! Quick find yesterday’s schmluckchiladas! Can you get those bad boys any closer to the heat lamp? Be sure to let them get good and cold before serving them. Who’s got the bugs? We need a bug for the water. Oh, and find the dirty glass with the lipstick. Anybody seen that?” It was as if we Googled “Worst Restaurants in D/FW” and made a to-do list.

    But in spite of the adventure of misadventure that usually defines their stay at our house, they keep coming back. Which proves they really are friends. Either that or the hotels here are just that bad around here.

    Pay It Forward

    September 7, 2005

    So much has been written and said about Hurricane Katrina, that I hardly think I have anything more to offer on that topic in terms of how things went so horribly wrong and who is to blame. What I do have to say is how proud I am of my adopted home, the great state of Texas and the many Texans (naturalized or native) who have stepped up to the plate to care for the suffering. We are a big state with big hair, big hats, big ideas, occasionally big mouths, but most of all, big hearts. I am not surprised in the least by the outpouring of help because this was the same response I received when I moved here 24 years ago.

    Way back in 1981, before many of my fellow mommy’s were even born, I moved to Texas from the cornfields of the mid-west. I was 21-years-old and greener than the green beans my son lobs at me at the dinner table. I had been working for an insurance company and when an opening in the Texas agency opened up, I jumped on it and transferred. When I say transfer, I don’t want you to get the idea that they paid to move me and set me up. What I mean is that they said, hey, if you’re crazy enough to move to God-forsaken Texas, then we’ll pay you minimum wage when you get there.

    When you’re 21, you are long on hope and dreams and short on wisdom and cash. So it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. I loaded up my Honda Civic with what little I had and set off to become a Texan. I vividly remember the January day I was packing all my worldly belongings into my little car. As I was carrying a box down the icy, snowy steps of my parent’s house, I slipped and slid all the way down on my back, bumping my head on each step until I finally came to rest completely under the car. I had figuratively and literally hit bottom. As I was lying there on the dirty snow looking up at the underside of my car, I knew I was doing the right thing.

    After I arrived in Texas and got my apartment and paid my rent and my phone bill and utilities, I had exactly $8.43 for two-weeks. But I never felt more wealthy. Everyone I met extended kindness, encouragement and offers to help. And they meant it. A lady who worked for the company in the next office nearly every day would bring by a meal that she said was left over, which I kind of always doubted. “Nell, you mean to tell me this entire roasted chicken and corn casserole is leftover?” I’d ask. She’d wave both her hands like she was shooing away chickens and say, “It’ll just go to waste, honey, now you take it home and put it in the fridge.” I never went hungry thanks to kindness of Nell and many others like her.

    I’ve been the recipient of Texas hospitality more times than I can remember in the past 24 years. I hope that maybe I’ve passed a little of that along to others somewhere along the way. Sometimes on the hardest, hottest, most miserable of Texas days, I’ll think back to that January day when I was laying under my car in my parent’s driveway and I remind myself that I did the right thing in coming here. These are my people and this is where I’m supposed to be.