Sunday, November 30, 2008

For Tim

When the Goldenrods bloom in the fall,
I remember our walks down The Old Dirt Road.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends...

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blowin' in the Wind

It is Friday, November 22, 1963, and the sun is shining in LeRoy, Illinois. Suzanne is two months old, and I am giving her a bath. The TV is on in the family room and I’m listening to frequent updates on President Kennedy’s trip to Dallas, Texas:

“Cooler weather was forecast, but it’s a warm, sunny day in Dallas," the newsman says, "So Jackie Kennedy is wearing a wool Chanel suit.” He chuckles. “She might get a little warm before the day is over!”

Suzanne loves her baths; she coos and gurgles as I soap her tiny bald head. But she stops, blue eyes studying my face, as I begin singing to her:

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry...
In the background, the newsman continues: “The motorcade will go to Dallas where he will speak at a luncheon with civic and business leaders at the Trade Mart.”

I wrap Suzanne in a towel and turn off the TV, and then I mix her oatmeal and heat her bottle, looking forward to getting back to the book I plan to read while she’s taking her nap.

But first, I’ll feed her while watching my favorite soap opera.

In Dallas, the motorcade is arriving at Dealey Plaza and turning right from Main to Houston Street. And then it takes the 120-degree turn into Elm Street passing the School Book Depository Building.

Shots ring out.

The right side of President Kennedy's head is blown off, a huge mist of brain matter and blood spewing over everything nearby, including Mrs. Kennedy. She crawls onto the trunk of the limo, reaching for a piece of his skull.

"I have a piece of his brain in my hand!” she screams, "My God…they have shot his head off!”

I have dressed Suzanne and I’m settling in my chair to feed her and watch As the World Turns. Between bites, I glance at the TV where Nancy Hughes is giving advice to daughter-in-law Lisa.

As I pause to wipe oatmeal from Suzanne's chin, Walter Cronkite suddenly appears on the screen.

“Here is a bulletin from CBS news,” he says, “In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

I stop, spoon in mid-air: What?

Suzanne begins whimpering, but I am frozen, unable to move.

She whimpers again, tiny mouth open.

“Shhhhh,” I whisper, “Shhhhh…”

I panic, not wanting to be alone. I must to talk to someone!

As I head to the phone in the kitchen, I hear Cronkite’s voice again.

"From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at one p.m. Central Standard Time, two o'clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago."

When I get back to the TV, Cronkite is pausing. He takes his glasses off and looks down, and then he puts them back on and swallows hard.

Our young, vibrant President is dead.

Why? Why would someone do this?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Congratulations, Carson!

Carson, my grandson Chase, and Carson's older sister Barclay
Circa 1995

* * *

Paducah is honoring Alben W. Barkley this week on the 60th anniversary of his election as vice president of the United States. Last night the winners of the Barkley essay contest were announced, and I'm very proud to report that my great-niece, Carson Dubrock, won first place at Tilghman High School for her essay. Carson is the daughter of Christa Dubrock and granddaughter of my sister Mary Ellen.
And so today I'm thinking of Paw Paw Wilson and how proud he would have been to know his great-great granddaughter won an essay contest about his good friend, "The Veep," whom I had the honor of meeting at that picnic so long ago.
Congratulations, Carson!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who is this lovely little girl?

Our next Secretary of State (I hope!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

Ninety years ago our country celebrated Armistice Day, the end of World War I. Armistice Day officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day, to honor all veterans.
I can only imagine how happy Uncle Ray must have been on Armistice Day, 90 years ago, and how anxious he was to come home to Kentucky.
Ray Underwood was my great-uncle, Maw Maw Wilson's youngest brother, and he and Uncle Wilbur, her other brother, fought in The Great War. Maw Maw had large portraits of both of them, and Pitty and I often sneaked up the steep stairs to gaze at the two handsome brothers dressed in their military uniforms. They stood at attention, hands on their guns, as if waiting for enemies to come creeping up the stairs.
Uncle Ray was a happy, jovial man with a great sense of humor. And although his sandy hair had turned to silver by the time I came along, each time he saw me he swooped me up in his arms and threw me high into the air. He was always joking and laughing, a mischievous look in his piercing blue eyes.
Today I search Uncle Ray's young face, imagining the horrors he must have gone through. (They didn't train troops then; they just gathered them up and sent them off to battle.) What a shock it must have been to him and all of those young men, many of whom had probably never even been in a fist fight.
My ancestors fought in all the major wars: the Revolutionary War (including seven brothers from one branch of the family), the Civil War (some for the north; others for the south), World War I, World War II, and a cousin, brother-in-law and ex-husband in Vietnam.
So I stop each Veterans Day and say a prayer for all of our brave young men and women who went off to war. Some came home and some didn't, but they are all heroes.
God bless you, dear veterans. And thank you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Thrill is Gone

I'm the recipient of a fresh bunch of National Enquirers, thanks to Mother. And I'm a bit concerned about Hugh Hefner.
According to the Enquirer, the Playboy mogul is in a deep state of depression. His three live-in girlfriends (Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson) have flown the coop! The silicone sweeties plan to complete the fifth season of the E! reality hit, The Girls Next Door, and will continue to make appearances with Hef throughout the season. After that, they're outta there.
"It's strictly business now," says an insider, "The thrill is gone."
Why did they all leave? Well, according to friends, the gals wanted romances with guys a lot younger than 82. (Can you imagine?) Two of the buxom blondes already have new boyfriends. And Kendra just got engaged, to a Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver!
I think that just adds insult to injury, don't you?
Friends say the Viagra poster boy was trying to have a baby with Holly not long ago, so I can only imagine how disappointed he must be. He probably dreamed of having a son, crawling around on the floor with him, carrying him on his shoulders, going to all his baseball games. And seeing him off to college when he's 100 years old.
Hef is not a quitter, though. Despite his deep depression and disappointment, he has moved in sexy 19-year-old twins, Kristina and Karissa Shannon.
But he should have checked their references.
Sources report both twins were busted for felony aggravated battery in January, and Karissa was also hit with a misdemeanor battery charge last year. The girls were working at a chicken wing restaurant at the time, and they went to a house party after work with a Wing House co-worker. But trouble started not long after they arrived. It seems they raised such a ruckus at the party (one twin smashing a beer bottle over someone's head) that they both received probation and were ordered to pay restitution.
All I can say is Hef had better sleep with one eye open when they're with him in his big round bed. And put the champagne bottles away.
Or maybe he should just retire his big round bed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change has come to America.

"The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. But I promise you we as a people will get there."
President-Elect Barack Obama

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Love/Hate Relationship

I watch HGTV's House Hunters just about every night. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, each night a realtor shows a couple three homes. After the tour is over, they make their choice, and we are fast-forwarded a few months, where we see the family all settled in and enjoying their new home.

It's fun being a observer on the tours, and it's fun guessing which house they will choose. I'm usually impressed with the houses and the couples' choices, but I'm often disgusted with the house hunters themselves. Especially first-time buyers, most of whom are young couples.

Many jump in way over their heads, thinking nothing of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for their first homes. (Granted, location makes a difference; homes in Manhattan and cities in California, for instance, are outrageous. But many spend exorbitant amounts of money in all parts of the country.)

There are many young couples who use their heads and buy what they can afford, of course. But on House Hunters, there seems to be an inordinate number who throw caution to the wind, insisting on four or five bedrooms (one for each child), and three or more baths. (One haughty young woman insisted that each of her three young boys, all under 10, have his own bedroom and his own private bath. Another couple, who had no children, wanted six bedrooms. The misses insisted on a room for her scrapbooking, another for her sewing; her husband wanted a media room and a practice room for his rock band. And they both wanted an exercise room and an office.)

One woman strolled through a magnificent Atlanta mansion, raising her eyebrows and shaking her streaked-blonde head. "It's nice," she said as she viewed the huge great room and beautifully-appointed kitchen, cherry hardwood floors, six bedrooms, and a walk-in closet the size of Paris Hilton's, "But not as nice as our house in Austin." (She made that statement time and time again throughout the tour.)

The realtor should kick her a$$ all the way back to Austin.

Speaking of Texas, one young man was disappointed by the size of the basement and the garage in a huge home he and his wife were considering in an affluent suburb of Dallas. The basement was as big as a bowling alley and boasted a large recreation room, a kitchenette, a bar, a bedroom and a bathroom.

"I'll be honest with you," he said, "There's just not room for a pool table, big-screen TV, and couches and chairs for my buddies when we watch football."
He opened the door to the two-car garage. "I'll be honest with you," he said, "There's not room for my ATV, golf clubs, fishing gear and what have you."

His wife gave the realtor an indulgent smile, "He has to have his toys."
The man sauntered through the living room, gazing up at the oak-beamed vaulted ceilings, obviously not seeing the sunlight streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows and dancing on the cherry hardwood floors. Or the sparkling lake beyond the yawning yard. "I'll be honest with you," he said, "The yard isn't big enough for Twinkie and Tootie."

Twinkie and Tootie were their Poodles. Their tiny Poodles.

Nevertheless, the couple bought the house. And as the credits crawled down the screen at show's end, Twinkie and Tootie cavorted in the vast yard like cotton balls tumbling in the wind.

I'll be honest with you, Mr. House Hunter. You and your wife are a couple of dumbbells.
Another couple entered a lovely home in a suburb of Chicago, unimpressed by the spacious and airy rooms, all painted a rich buttery cream, the three sunny bedrooms and the two modern bathrooms decorated in soft shades of green and blue.

I was impressed by the beautiful living room, but even more impressed when we got to the kitchen. It was large and square and surrounded by sparkling white cabinets. An enormous island stood regally in the center of the room, and the appliances were brand new.

"Oh, my god! That island has got to go," the wife said, "It's not big enough, and the top isn't even granite!"

I watch her husband rush to her side: Ah ha! He'll bring her down to earth in a hurry.

"Just look at this," he said, running the palm of his hand along the cabinet countertops, "We would have to change this to granite, too." He suddenly jerked his hand away, as though a Cobra had sprung from the disgusting countertop and injected him with deadly venom.
The wife nodded and turned to the new refrigerator, the new stove and the new dishwasher. "These appliances are all white," she said, giving the realtor an accusing look, "We'd have to change them to stainless steel."

"Needs a lot of updating," the husband said, "It would cost us a chunk."

I have owned four homes in my lifetime, three of which were new constructions. And when we built our first, I never wished for larger rooms, more baths, or better hardwood. I was just glad to have a new house. (I did, however, insist on a coppertone wall oven. I had longed for one since I saw the first episode of The Donna Reed Show!)

Despite it all, I will continue watching House Hunters while eating popcorn and bitching to my heart's content.

"I guess I have a love/hate relationship with House Hunters," I told Bill last night as he lay dozing on the sofa, "I love the show, but those people irritate me. Don't they know if they get everything they want in the beginning, there's nothing to look forward to in the future?"



Bill suddenly woke up, a startled look on his face. "Right!" he said, "If McCain is elected, there won't be anything to look forward to."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mary Ellen!

It was the summer of 1960 when 15-year-old Mary Ellen spent two weeks with us in our little attic apartment in Brookfield. And before we left for work in downtown Chicago each morning, I (all of 19 at the time) instructed my little sister not to go outside, under any circumstances.

I was afraid she would be kidnapped!

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley