Cameos of the Heart

Collette Reichenberger and I will sign our latest children’s book, Cameos of the Heart, at Sayers Ace Hardware on October 20 from 10:00 until 3:00 in Independence, Kansas. This is the third book in our Cottonwood Series and features three ten-year-old girls. The first story describes life in different areas of Kansas during the Great Depression. A young girl’s life in a small Southeastern Kansas town during World War II is explored in the second story, and the third selection is set in another small town in the 1950s. It focuses on the tensions created by the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. Our first two books, Cameos of Courage, and Cameos of Strength, along with Cameos of the Heart, are available at Sayers. All three books are available at Magnolia Scents by Design and Little House Lane at Ana Mae’s in Independence. The books may also be purchased on Amazon.


What did you say?

“Did you say something?”

“Would you turn the TV up a little?”

My husband does not hear as well as he once did. He does not believe he has a hearing problem. On the other hand, I believe my hearing is great, except….

At a birthday gathering, my son received “ear ties” as a present. At least I thought that was what he said they were. I envisioned the red, flexible “ear ties” somehow draped over his ears.

“Ear ties?” I questioned.

“No, deer ties,” another child said.

“So, do they make a noise that stops a deer from jumping in front of your car?”

“No, Mom, gear ties–gear ties,” another child impatiently said.

“Oh, now that makes sense,” I answered, and planned to google gear ties later.

Shortly thereafter, I overheard two of my children discussing the price of corn syrup. “How strange,” I thought. After listening a few more minutes, I determined they were discussing the price of car insurance–a conversation which made more sense to me. (There is some similarity in how corn syrup and car insurance sound.)

“What did you say, John? Well, yes, when I make your hearing appointment, I’ll make one for me, too.”

I’m late, I’m late…

My exercise class at the gym began at 7:00 A.M. sharp. I tried to arrive on time. Running late, though, I failed to apply hand lotion before leaving home. Dry, chapped hands were a possibility. However, if late by even five minutes, I feared I might lose muscle tone–a real issue at my age.

Fortunately, I remembered I had lotion in the van console, courtesy of a Holiday Inn Express. In the pre-dawn darkness, I squirted lotion into my hand. Somehow, it didn’t feel the right consistency for hand lotion. I stopped the vehicle on the shoulder of the highway, turned on the overhead light, viewed the glob in my hand, and then read the label on the bottle. It wasn’t hand lotion; it was shampoo.

While I’m old enough to experience muscle loss, I’m apparently not old enough to remember to carry tissues in my purse, or even in the glove box of my car. Should I return home or continue on to exercise class?

The exercise class won, but I was late after all. Turned out, it was difficult driving with a tablespoon of shampoo in my hand. So much for muscle tone….

Yogurt, please….

“May I have your order, please?” a teenage voice asked as I pulled my van up to the speaker.

“One small, soft-serve, vanilla yogurt, please—in a waffle cone,” I answered–and, thus it began.

The next morning I again pulled into the drive-through lane and was relieved to hear a different voice ask for my order. “One small, soft-serve…,” I answered.

Later that afternoon I found myself in the drive-through lane again. I hoped there had been a shift change in workers. “One large, soft-serve….”

Within a week, I was hooked. Each morning and each afternoon, I treated myself. Soon it was “two, large, soft-serve….”  Fearing judgment by the young teens handing me my cones, I began driving my husband’s car. (It has very dark-tinted windows.) Although alone in the car, I pretended to hand a cone to a grandchild in the back seat as I exited the drive-through lane.

It was a good time all right—until one morning even my slacks with the elastic waistband felt tight. A glance at a mirror confirmed my tight-pants suspicion.

Somehow, a salad in my kitchen isn’t nearly as tasty as a “soft serve, vanilla yogurt cone” in a car with tinted windows.

Summer Vacation

Our extended family vacation this year involved a visit to an “indoor amusement park” of sorts. Six family members chose instead to go to a science museum featuring a special exhibit on the Apollo space program. I certainly would have enjoyed that exhibit. Unfortunately, I instead chose the “amusement park” adventure.

“One, two, three, four….” I counted the seven grandchildren and other three adults I hoped to keep corralled.

“Stop, don’t climb up there,” I commanded.

“No, don’t go in that tunnel,” I yelled.

“Come down from there…now,” I screamed.

“One, two, three…,” I counted again.

I was not amused by the ten-story, five-story, or three-story slide. I did not like being in a building with 9,000 children. (A number confirmed by the noise level in the building and by the person selling tickets.)

Eventually, my adult children led me to a large, quiet, open room, gave me a bottle of water, sat me down, and told me to “think about how I was acting in front of the grandchildren.”

Oh yes, there is a reason older people travel in groups on buses to quiet, serene places in nature or sail on ships to destinations not usually popular with those under the age of fifteen.

Alaska Update

Yes, I wore my walking shoes while hiking in the “wilds” of Alaska. (Okay, I walked on a path near a lodge for almost an hour.) I wore my pool-lounging, deck shoes, too. Okay, I had them on those times I wandered by the pool trying to find the restaurant, the buffet dining, the coffee shop, the information desk, an elevator,  my cabin…. Not sure why I was always lost as the ship traveled east throughout the trip. In fact, I’m not sure how I got to Alaska and home to Kansas as the plane going flew west, the ship sailed east, and the plane home flew north.

John, too, appreciated his walking shoes, but his deck shoes never left home. Something had to give when push came to shove while packing.

At first I was confused about the days of the week. I am a creature of routine, and sitting on the cabin’s balcony glacier watching rather than doing laundry on Monday morning confused me. I learned, though, to check my pill box each morning to determine the day of the week.

The trip and traveling companions were great! I’m ready to go again—after I pack my footwear.

Appropriate Footwear

 John and I were planning a trip to Alaska with friends. Planes, trains, automobiles, and, of course a ship were involved. The plans did not include wilderness hiking. Yet, in a quick-texting exchange that somehow got out of “foot” with her daughter, my friend soon found herself overwhelmed with suggestions for suitable hiking shoes, special hiking socks, and silk liners for said socks. Support hose were even suggested.

“She really cared for the well-being of my feet,” my friend said. “I was puzzled, though, as to why she thought I might possibly entertain the idea of hiking in the wilds of Alaska.”

Upon hearing this, John and I assessed our own footwear. The cruise line recommended comfortable walking shoes for day excursions and rubber-soled shoes for lounging around the ship’s pool. Walking shoes, yes; lounging-around- the-pool shoes–well, I wasn’t so sure.

The lady at the shoe store was helpful–very, very helpful.  John and I both now own sturdy, comfortable, waterproof, (if somewhat expensive) walking shoes. We also both now own rubber-soled shoes for lounging around the pool.

I’ll update later as to the amount of hiking and pool lounging that actually occurred during the trip.

Beef Stew, Anyone?

“Are those bouillon cubes?” my husband asked. “Why do you have so many?”

“Two jars are cubes, the others are granules,” I answered.

“Still, what are you going to do with all that bouillon,” John asked.

I didn’t know. In fact, until I cleaned the top shelf of the cupboard, I didn’t know I had so much bouillon. It was certainly more bouillon than I needed.

In no sense of the word, am I a cook. At the most I use four bouillon cubes a year, if that many. Yet, at some point in time…well maybe at several points in time…I must have thought I needed beef bouillon. Perhaps I thought I would make beef stew for a hundred people or more, or maybe I thought I could use it as a foundation for a weight-loss program?

I do remember dripping a cup of bouillon soup on myself once following major surgery, but that was some years ago. Say…well…I checked the expiration dates: January, 2016; January, 2017; December, 2017; and September, 2019.

So, I guess I won’t make beef stew for a hundred. I just hope I remember to make beef stew for John before September, 2019.

Tea and Freedom

“Nana, your tea is ready,” my two-year-old granddaughter said as she took my hand and pulled me toward the small table. She is my sixth granddaughter, so I have attended many pretend tea parties. I am blessed.

“Nana, play trucks with me,” my four-year-old grandson said and handed me his concrete-mixer truck. I have two other grandsons. I am blessed.

I live in a free country. My grandchildren and I do not worry about a war raging outside as we play safely inside. I am blessed.

Many honorable Americans have served America by holding political offices or by working in city, county, state, or national government jobs. Their efforts contributed to America’s freedom. Since before America’s first “tea party” men and women have served our country–and many have died–for freedom.

This Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate freedom with family and friends. There will be fried chicken, grilled hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and homemade ice cream. There will be fireworks, too.

As an American, I am free, I am blessed, and I am thankful. Yet, our country is troubled. I pray it will heal.

Happy Father’s Day!

My father stuck the butcher knife in the large, oblong, striped watermelon. Craaaack…the melon split open, and a black seed or two fell onto the counter. I had anticipated this moment for a couple of days.

Daddy purchased the watermelon, at a low cost I’m sure, from a roadside stand. He had an ear for a good “thump” of a melon. The melon had cooled all day in the milk cows’ water tank.

“Just look at that color—it’s a good one all right,” Daddy said and handed my brothers and I each a half-circle slice. We hurried outside and sat on the porch step.

“I won! My seed went the farthest,” I said as juice dripped from my elbows. I was proud of my watermelon seed spitting ability.

I recently purchased a small, round, seedless melon at the supermarket for $4.99. After cutting it into small chunks, I cooled it in plastic ware in the refrigerator. I ate the pieces with a fork. The experience was not exciting.

So, I’m going to buy a big, oblong melon with seeds, invite the grandkids to share, and eat on the deck’s steps.  Daddy would approve. I miss him.

Happy Father’s Day!