"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Like That

I love my house after we have had a family gathering. Sounds funny doesn’t it? Sounds like I am glad to see everyone has gone. I don’t mean that at all; but after all the chatter, laughter and eating, clanging dishes and the hum of the dishwasher, the stillness when everyone is gone is in high contrast. The quiet seems stronger than it did before the gathering, though in reality it should seem the same. I like that.

Yesterday, was my dad’s birthday, so I was determined we should celebrate together. I invited everyone out for dinner and birthday cake.

Now, I certainly don’t do a gathering for a thank you. I don’t do it to show off our home, or the things we have; but for some reason it certainly means a lot when someone has noticed a change we have made; or when someone comments on the yard, or garden, or something like that.  It is our own little pot of gold and it is nice to share it and to know others enjoy it, too.
My sister noticed my new little triangle planters that my husband brought home one day from a garage sale.  I don’t know why, but I liked that she had noticed.
The End of the Rainbow

My dad noticed my “purple flowers” in the front yard and said how beautiful they are. I don’t even know what they are called, some type of aster, I believe. I took a start from my sister’s plant a generation ago, it seems. I have simply transplanted them from home, to home, to home. Daddy seemed genuinely pleased when I told him we could get them a start for their home….and I like that.

My dad lit up in appreciation when he noticed some jars of pickles still sitting on the counter after doing my last canning for the season. ‘Oh! Look at those!” he exclaimed.

“You can take some home,” I told him with my own heart beaming.

“Oh, no,” he replied. “I just like to see that someone is still making Mom’s pickles.” He didn’t know that I had placed a jar in his birthday bag. And now I was really glad I had.

My dad is a task master and he is a perfectionist.  So to tell the truth, it always makes me a bit nervous to do any work for him. Yes!  Still!  After all these years!  But when a job is done right and it meets his satisfaction, there is no one, and I mean no one who shows their approval and appreciation more. So after dinner was done and desert over, I walked back to the dining room table to gather some more dishes.  Dad was telling my mom and my sister how "just about perfect" everything was. 

I learned from my maternal grandmother, that a compliment over heard means so much more than one told directly to you.  And I thought about that as I unintentionally interrupted Dad. I really didn’t mean to interrupt, but when he saw me, he let me know how much he appreciated everything. And because my dad is who he is, I knew he wouldn’t have said it, if it wasn’t true.  I like that.

I was especially pleased to see all my grown nephews. It meant a lot to me that they would come all the way out here for the celebration.  It especially warmed my heart when one of my nephews and his wife told me it had been 8 years since they had been here!  That shocked me - time goes so fast. They have been away, so it is somewhat understandable, but they both seemed so genuinely pleased to be here. It made me feel good to see their joy in being here. I liked that they would take the time out of busy schedules and this crazy life to come and celebrate a patriarch’s life. I just really like that.

My husband was gone, and my son almost missed dinner to answer a call, but this gathering was all still very much about family. And my son made it back before everyone had left the table. I was so thankful for that.

After everyone was gone, my son got another call leaving me to myself in the stillness.

I thought about the fallen birthday cake that I had embarrassingly joked about; I heard laughter reverberating in my ears though everyone was now gone.  I wondered about missed conversation, things I wanted to ask, because I only heard part of a comment across the room. I thought about the things the family seemed to appreciate - like my niece wanting something from my garden and telling me she would love some salsa…My!  How I like that! In the silence, it all felt successful. People seemed to enjoy themselves and that is my highest hope when people come to our home.

I like sharing our home.  I love it when we are gathered here.  But what I like best of all is the silence afterward – it’s my time to listen to all that they said.  I like that.





Friday, September 20, 2013

"SO You Say!"

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the quizzical look she gave me.

“Over medium”, I repeated. She looked really confused; I continued with my order, now wondering if my eggs would come out the way I like them.

“Will you make sure to circle that, so the cook won’t miss it?” I really wasn’t worried about the cook, but the way this was going, I wanted to be sure she knew enough to write it down. I was beginning to wonder about her experience.

“Oh, we don’t ever make undercooked eggs,” She emphasized.

“Yes, you do”, I laughed. “I had some last time I was here.” Everyone makes that mistake sometimes”, and I started to explain over medium doesn’t mean I am worried about them being undercooked for health reasons; over medium simply means they are just a little more done than over easy.  But she interrupted me again and I didn’t get to give an explanation of what I wanted.

I probably shouldn’t have said anything, but I have been disappointed with my eggs far too many times. I decided to make a habit of making sure the waitress, and therefore the cook would see that I wanted my eggs over medium…Most people ask for over easy or scrambled.  It’s easy to just do things from rote and make a simple mistake.

Truth is I have had this conversation many times with my brother-in-law who has been a cook for almost 40 years. “You are the only one that gets my eggs right!” I have told him on a number of occasions. And he has explained that he isn’t surprised, not getting eggs over medium when requested is a common error.

Over easy has a runny yoke and often has even some of the white still runny.  Over medium leaves the yoke still runny but the whites are thoroughly cooked, with even the outer edges of the yoke beginning to cook. I have never had to explain that to my brother-in-law; he always just knew, and he always gets it right.

It wasn’t long before our breakfasts came, and I was checking out my eggs to see if the cook had got it right. “They are ok”, I told my son; after the way our order went, he was wondering as well.  “Not quite as cooked as they should be, but I can live with it.”  I was hoping the waitress didn’t ask me; I didn’t want to beat this dead horse.

She went by a few times, and then came over and asked me how the eggs were.  “They are ok”, I responded, but apparently not enthusiastic enough for her.

“Well, are they done enough?” she pressed.

“Not quite.” I should have lied, I guess. I didn't, so I quickly repeated, “But they’re ok”. 

Her eyes got big, and her expression said, “Oh, brother!” Gosh, I hate to think I saw her roll her eyes….

“Well, you want over hard, then,” she lectured in a condescending tone.  “Next time just tell them you want over hard.”
"This is what you want," she said.
Does this look like over medium to you?

No, I started to explain that I didn’t want over hard, that I knew what that was and it wasn’t what I wanted.  But she wouldn’t let me get that out either.

“I told the cook exactly what you wanted. I explained it all!”  Is she taking this personally, I wondered.

Now, I was getting exasperated, she didn’t know when to let it go and just leave us to eat and enjoy our meal.

“I said they are ok”, I said firmly. “I don’t want to get in an argument with you and ruin my breakfast.”

“Oh you misunderstood!” she exclaimed. And began rattling on about something; at this point I didn’t listen.

I misunderstood! I thought to myself…there it is again….she is telling me I’m the one that doesn’t get it. I’m the one that is wrong. Holy cow!

I wanted to tell her I work in this business, too…and I do know over medium from over hard eggs.  I wanted to tell her I have been eating my eggs this way, for more than double the years she has been alive, but of course I didn’t say all that and wisely didn't.

I gave up.  I interrupted her this time. “I’m not going to argue.” I told her emphatically.  She kept on. I had to get direct with a firmness that would get her attention.  “You can leave now.” I finally said.

When do people stop to listen?  When do people quit knowing it all?  Even how one likes ones eggs!! When do youth respect the advice or counsel of someone old enough to be their grandma - or maybe even stop to think they might have something they could learn?

Not going to happen on this day. Things were going south fast.  At this point my son and I just wanted out of there. It was really a lousy beginning to what otherwise should be a nice day.

“Wow, she has a lot to learn!” I said as we got into the car.  “Does anyone these days know the old adage: ‘The customer is always right.’?” I asked him. I mean even if I was wrong about the eggs, I would have never and I mean never argued with a customer like that.
I must still be pondering it in my head to make me want to write about it.  Crazy! I do try to have patience with people in that industry.  Working as a waitress, I do understand how difficult that job is.  It is no piece of cake, believe me! People can be so difficult at times. But, on the other hand, a waitresses job is to serve, not change someone's mind about what they want to eat; or even more to tell them they are wrong about what they eat.  
I yi yi!
I know this is a just a little thing that has no meaning at all in the big scheme of life. Or, I could turn it into a lengthy essay on the arrogance and pride of man/woman.  I'll spare you.  I will just leave you with this thought, with which this young lady was probably raised:
I am Sam

I am Sam
Sam I am

That Sam-I-am
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like
that Sam-I-am

Do you like
green eggs and ham

I do not like them,
I do not like
green eggs and ham.

Would you like them
Here or there?

I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
I do not like them,

Would you like them
in a house?
Would you like them
with a mouse?

I do not like them
in a house.
I do not like them
with a mouse.
I do not like them
here or there.
I do not like them
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Would you eat them
in a box?
Would you eat them
with a fox?

Not in a box.
Not with a fox.
Not in a house.
Not with a mouse.
I would not eat them here or there.
I would not eat them anywhere.
I would not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Would you? Could you?
in a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are.

I would not ,
could not,
in a car

You may like them.
You will see.
You may like them
in a tree?
not in a tree.
I would not, could not in a tree.
Not in a car! You let me be.

I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox
I do not like them in a house
I do mot like them with a mouse
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

A train! A train!
A train! A train!
Could you, would you
on a train?

Not on a train! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!
I would not, could not, in a box.
I could not, would not, with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them here or there.
I will not eat them anywhere.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

In the dark?
Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, in the dark?

I would not, could not,
in the dark.

Would you, could you,
in the rain?

I would not, could not, in the rain.
Not in the dark. Not on a train,
Not in a car, Not in a tree.
I do not like them, Sam, you see.
Not in a house. Not in a box.
Not with a mouse. Not with a fox.
I will not eat them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere!

You do not like
green eggs and ham?

I do not
like them,

Could you, would you,
with a goat?

I would not,
could not.
with a goat!

Would you, could you,
on a boat?

I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE!

I do not like
green eggs
and ham!

I do not like them,

You do not like them.
SO you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may I say.

If you will let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat...
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good so good you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,

See how well that turned out?  Maybe I should write an expose on the dangers of Dr. Seuss...


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just a Little Bit Better

I watched curiously as 4 or 5 men in black suits stood at the side of the stage. They all looked younger than I expected, except for maybe one who had a full head of silver gray hair. “I wonder if that’s him”, I thought to myself. I really didn't know what to expect. The suits, the men were wearing, though? That was entirely what I expected. It was simply the way this band had dressed back then.  I was probably 10 or 11 when Herman’s Hermits had burst onto our national scene in 1965 with their early, rock music.

I sat eating my burger, as we waited for the introduction. The announcer asked us to stand for the National Anthem. Goodness, that pleased me, but I was starting to wish I hadn’t decided to eat during the show. It was getting in the way of things at this point.

Mark Peterson, a weatherman at one of the local television stations, came out to introduce himself first and then to introduce the band. I wish I would have paid more attention to what he had said.  Doggone burger anyway!  It was distracting me with the balancing act it required.
Peter Noone - "Herman"
Then came the introduction for Herman Hermits; but it seemed a bit off. The band (the guys in the black suits) entered the stage, but there was a delay of sorts - like the music they had chosen for introductions didn’t coincide with their entrance. I was still wondering if the only member with the gray hair was Peter Noone – obviously the guy who IS Herman’s Hermits.

But then came another introduction, or announcement, or something, I don’t remember for sure what was said. But there to the side of the stage probably 100 feet away or so, a man was running along the side lines ready to bound onto the stage.  And I knew without a doubt – that this was the guy for whom we had all been waiting.

I watched him run as the applause and anticipation grew. Surprisingly, to me at least, his hair was not gray and he had a thick, full head of it, just as he always had. It blew behind him as he ran, climbing the stairs onto the stage.  Now that was the entrance that seemed appropriate…no, nothing off here. I smiled, and then laughed! Tears had welled in my eyes. Oh my goodness!!!  Where did that come from?  I was going to cry!  Oh, BROTHER!!  How was I going to explain this when I didn’t even really understand it, myself?  I looked over at my son, somewhat apologetically, but laughing as the tears welled in my eyes….  “I’m going to cry!” I unnecessarily told him.  He could already see that!

I tried to wipe the tears away without being noticed.  I certainly didn’t want anyone to think that I was acting like those silly teen-age girls of the ‘60’s that would scream and cry when their idols like Elvis Presley or the Beatles had walked onto the stage.  Good grief!!

But still there they were – tears!  I laughed it off and shook them away. Herman’s Hermits wasn’t even one of my favorite bands at the time.  Oh, I liked them, for sure.  Everyone my age did; but my favorite genre was still “country and western” as it was called back then. And I would more often be found listening to Glen Campbell or Johnny Rivers.

Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone.  That was his given name. I smiled as I remembered that I had actually once known that simple fact. He was born in 1947! Now that surprised me, too! He is only 65 years old, soon to turn 66.  My goodness!! He is only 5 or 6 years older than me!  I would have thought he would be pushing 70 by now. Still, he certainly didn’t look even 65.  Wow, I read further, he was only 15 when he started his band Herman’s Hermits.  I did not know that, either!!  I only knew he had to be older than me at the time his band became so successful in the United States. He is still married to the same woman he married when he was just 21 years old. Now, there is a huge success side-line fact; unfortunately, something not so very common in his line of work!  He has one daughter, also a musician.  

I had decided to Google him this morning just to see what he has been doing with his life all these years. I mean, come on! It has been almost 50 years since he burst onto the music scene in America.

At the time, Herman’s Hermits was highly successful, selling more than 60 million records and at times even out selling the Beatles. Herman's Hermits was not a radical rock and roll band; they were soft and easy, perky and catchy. They were probably what we called at the time a “teeny-bopper” band. But in actuality, they seemed to appeal to all and they had several memorable number 1 hits. This band was actually a very big part of the 60’s era.

The concert was great, and "Herman's" performance last night, made it easy to understand why he had become so popular back then.  He simply has the stage presence required to “be somebody”. We had grandstand seats, but that winning smile could not be missed even from clear back where we sat. "Herman" has added a lot of humor to the show that I’m sure his concerts would not have had back then. The band members carried on in overly dramatic antics, almost mocking the behavior of the time. He joked about his success, (or maybe dwindling, recent success) saying: “This is a night like we always dreamed of as kids growing up in Manchester, England…playing at a fairgrounds in Spokane, Washington!” 

He joked about the “British Invasion" that had taken place in the 1960’s.  It would include bands such as Herman’s Hermits; The Animals: Paul Revere and the Raiders; The Monkees; The Dave Clark Five; Chad and Jeremy; Peter and Gordon- as well as the Beatles, of course, and the Rolling Stones, (the last two being more of the hard core type) - are a few that I remember; all of them straight out of England.

"Herman" as he was mostly known back then, impersonated a few of the stars that would have been successful at the same time his band was. Tom Jones (also a Brit), Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, and Davy Jones of the Monkees are the ones I remember him mentioning. He impersonated each artist while singing one of their popular hits.  Also hearing, that people at this county fair like country, he did a Johnny Cash tune – Ring of Fire. But he certainly didn’t disappoint his fans with his own personal play list, though saying he now needed glasses to be able to read it. Some of the songs included:
  • There’s A Kind of Hush
  • Silhouettes
  • Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter
  • Leaning on the Lamp
  • Sea Cruise
  • Henry the 8th
  • I’m Into Something Good 
  • A Must to Avoid
  • Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat
  • Just a Little Bit Better
  • Wonderful World
  • Listen People
It was a lovely night to be at an outdoor concert, and the ones I have attended at this fairgrounds have never disappointed me.  As I sat back enjoying the show, remembering each song as he sang, I also enjoyed watching the crowd every bit as much.  They were almost all in their 60’s, I would say.  Swaying to the music, laughing at his jokes, reliving a bit of their childhood and probably some memories these tunes invoked.

I shook my head in disbelief as I watched a shooting star in the night sky at the precise moment “Herman” was singing about stars on a romantic night. YES! It did!  Coincidence?  Whatever!  Maybe it was a “God Wink”. One of those moments where our Lord says, “It’s all ok…I got this thing called life…enjoy, yourself…just for this moment.”

I heard a man behind me say, “I hope he does Mrs. Brown”.  And I smiled at the thought of people coming out to watch an entertainer that had obviously never left hearts, even after almost 50 years.

Henry the 8th was his second to the last song and the silliness of it could only be turned into more silliness.  Peter easily got the audience involved and participating while I watched as those that sat on the ground in front of the stage began to stand. Pretty soon they were all standing, clapping their hands and singing the words. A couple to the left of me decided to stand too and that was all it took to get me on my feet.  I looked over at my son and his friend as they remained sitting. My son had a look on his face that said “Oh, Mom; please, no!”  But I simply smiled and motioned for them to stand and sing along, too.  Being the good sport my son is, he willingly obliged, and that is all it took for the rest of the grandstands to get on their feet, as well.  Nothing off here - it was all very appropriate. As Herman’s Hermits finished their clowning around and transitioned into what is probably one of their most popular songs of all; There’s A Kind of Hush, I smiled, fighting more tears. The crowd remained standing, as Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone finished crooning for the evening and thanked the audience. He informed his audience that he would be signing autographs in front of the stadium.  And that he did! Though, I didn’t stand in line, I watched intermittently for what was probably an hour and half after the show as he continued to sign and have his picture taken with fans.  Now, that’s rare!  And that’s a nice guy!

Herman’s Hermits quit performing in 1971 – I would have been a junior in high school. Last night he dedicated a song to all those who had remained fans continuing to follow him all this time – that would not be me. I didn’t know he was even still touring and performing; that is, until I saw he was going to be at the Spokane Fair. Still, that is not what brought me to the fair, yesterday. But when we arrived at the fair, and checked the information booklet to see what all was going on during the day we had chosen to go, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets when I saw it would be Herman’s Hermits performing that evening.  I am not sorry I did.

Those tears?  Gosh, I’m not exactly sure what that was all about; though I have always been known to express my appreciation of impressive talent with tears. In this case, though, I’m not so sure it was the talent that moved me to that kind of emotion. I tried to explain it to my son on the way home. It was actually kind of embarrassing.

“I get it, Mom,” he said.  “It was more about being part of an era, again…your childhood.”

“Yeah”, I softly answered, grateful for his understanding. “That’s exactly it. And all these years later; after all we have been through; after all that that crowd has lived to see....there was really nothing off in my emotion. It was only a moment to relive a nostalgic part of life that was actually in the smallest of ways, and only for a moment in time, soft and easy, and simple...maybe even by today's standards it would be considered corny and unsophisticated, but for me in that moment it was quite possibly something remembered that was Just a Little Bit Better.”



Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Bird Lady

Northern Flicker
I had such a fun day watching my birds yesterday. Yes, they are my birds! At least while they are in my yard they are my birds. ;-) I don't know why for sure, but there are certain days the birds are more active than other days. I think it is generally on a cooler day, after it has been warm; and it is most often on a rare day free of wind when they seem particularly content.

I kind of feel like God has given these birds to me to bring me joy. He has also given them to me to take care of while they are here, visiting. So when one little one (I didn't see what kind) hit the window, I quickly shut the blind. It wouldn't be the first time, birds have hit my window, thinking they could fly straight through because there is another window in the exact same spot on the other side of my living room. One of the blinds must be shut to prevent them from trying to fly through.

I got the biggest kick out of watching a small, grey bird with a patch of yellow on her back. I am not really familiar with this bird, having not seen many of them. I believe it was a female Yellow Rumped Warbler. She was silently chasing a butterfly around the yard and it all looked so peaceful, almost magical, that it made me smile. She kept trying for several minutes to catch the little butterfly all the while within my view. It was all so sweet, until I thought about it a bit more, and I realized the bird was trying to catch the beautiful, little butterfly for a meal. I started rooting for the butterfly then. "Eat worms, you silly bird! They are higher in protein!" I thought to myself.

There were also a few Mountain Bluebirds playing in the back yard. They have been so rare this summer, I determined to sit and watch all the while they were here. Another time when they were here this year was on a day with the exact same conditions: cool, no rain, and no wind. However, that is not typically the norm. During a usual summer, once they are here to nest, they are here for the duration. Just not the case this year, so I really wanted to watch them for a bit now that I had the opportunity.
Not me, just yet!

Other birds that have been plentiful this year, are the Western Bluebirds, the Meadowlarks, Killdeers and the Flickers; and of course Robins; Chickadee-dee-dee-dee-dees; Sparrows and Swallows. There seem to have been more humming birds than is normal, and the Meadowlarks were especially active this year. I think I have seen more Meadowlarks this summer, than I have throughout my entire life. They are generally a bird heard and not seen. Of course, they are and always have been one of my favorites.

Another new favorite is the killdeer. While their warning call can become a bit bothersome at times, they are such a treat to watch, because they are typically a ground bird and one of the few I can watch the babies as they grow. My other new favorite is the Flicker. They have so much personality, turning upside down, and then right side up; peck, peck pecking away. They are obviously God's "comic relief" in this movie called Life.

I have been keeping track of all the birds I have seen and enjoyed this summer. Either at home or in my travels, I have seen Eagles, Canadian Geese (another favorite); Ravens, Crows, a Great Blue Heron, California Quail, Pheasants and of course the Red Tail Hawk. Oh, and the troublesome Starling; one of the few birds that I dislike. This probably isn't an exhaustive list of my bird viewing, but rather the ones that I remember the most.

Sometimes, I am amazed at how important birds have become in my life. Other times, I am more amazed that until the last few years, I hadn't paid much attention to them at all. Still, I am trying not to become one of those eccentric bird ladies that we often see in the movies. You know; the homeless or bag ladies that will feed the pigeons, while they go hungry themselves. I don't want to be that lady. I only want to view God's gift of majesty and joy revealed in the scene of a bird in flight.