The Mother’s Encyclopedia

Sister Bee dropped off a box of things from her house, of which consisted six volumes of “The Mother’s Encyclopedia”.  The first copyright was 1933, followed by a reprint in 1942 a year in which I am sure many new things were updated on childrearing — being how we were so progressive in the ’40s.

Each volume covered a broad range of topics.  My favorite is Volume Four:  Measles to Prostitution — how about that for an opener at the dinner table when Timmy gets home from school.

The photos are hilarious.  I have taken the liberty to update the captions from the original…

“Go on outside Suzie with your brother and play on the rickety, tetanus infested fence
while Mommy makes me a pitcher of margaritas.”
“Dear, do you think it’s a problem we dressed Jeff in a dress
for the family Christmas card?”

The original title of this photo read:
“The disturbed child may need help.”  I think that’s a keeper.
I shall close with a dramatic reading  from Volume One titled “Natural Childbirth.”  This is exactly as it appears:
“As the doctor lifted up my baby and placed her on my stomach, a wonderful feeling of accomplishment came over me.  Under the sheet my hands moved forward to touch her, and it gave me such a thrill to realize that this little girl, with the umbilical cord still attached to her, was really part of me.  I had just been through a normally comfortable delivery following the principles of natural childbirth.  And it had worked!  Just as I had been told it would.  Every stage of my labor was clear in my mind, and not for an instant had I wanted to avoid the experience through the blackout of drugs or anesthesia.  I felt well, not at all fatigued, and greatly refreshed.”
Alrighty then.

Miss Hathaway, Take a Letter Please

I have a new secretary!  I have named her Miss Hathaway — for those of you who know your TV trivia — she was the dutiful, prim secretary of Mr. Drysdale at the Commerce Bank on the Beverly Hillbillies.

My secretary came from Sister Bee’s house.  It was Earnie’s and Sister Bee has been using it for years.  She is redecorating her house and moving things around and offered it to me.  I am so excited!  I’m using it to put on my makeup in the morning and for secretarial duties like check writing and correspondence.  Here she is….

The desk flips up so I can hide any insightly mess.

Inside I have on the bottom shelf my morning accessories like makeup, perfume and a dish of q-tips.  On the top two shelves I have my latest books and accessories.

The desk cubbies hold stationary, my clock and timely coorespondence, a milk glass cup of fun pencils, a Citron bottle with a red flower, a journal my besties gave me and my mirror for when I feel like belting out “I feel pretty” from West Side Story (I have been known to do this, by the way).

The last time I was at TJ Maxx I found this fun frame so I put a photo of my besties from one of our trips.  Sister Bee gave me the “buzzes” card.

Moving out an old desk and a cabinet freed up space for a sitting spot next to Miss Hathaway.

The leather storage ottoman I found at Kohl’s last year for almost nothing.  The table is from my Southern Living at Home days.  I use the ottomon for the desk and also a spot for me to put my shoes on in the morning.  The framed photos are botanicals I took during a trip to England to visit Mr. Bee’s family.  The wall lamp I found at Home Depot and I love it because it frees up table space.  Do you see Ruthie’s weinerend in the photo?

Two more things to show you before I buzz off.  New uses for old things…

I find I almost never use the bedside table on the right side of the bed.  Thought I would use this wasted space by topping it with a dressing mirror and my jewelry.  I am so glad I did!  I use this space every morning now to accessorize my outfit and check my hair on the way out.

I took a tiered dessert server and put my baubles on it so I can see what I have.  And, I found a hand ceramic piece at TJ Maxx on clearance (I guess no one could think of how to use it) to hang my long necklaces on.  Very chic!

One last change up I made was to move Earnie’s marble top Victorian table to the bedside.  I like it so much more. Gives me more room for my things and creates visual space as well.  The photo doesn’t show all the detail of the bottom.  I had a crazy thought…painting the bottom a peacock blue?  Mr. Bee would die.

What to do with my latest book, the remotes, my lotion and notepad?  I took Earnie’s old rattan desk organizer and put all the stuff in there.  Looks great and keeps it all together.  Old is not so bad.

Gotta run.  Mr. Drysdale needs me to make a deposit into the Clampett’s account.

Mother Dear

Earnie turned 84!  She was having her girlfriend’s getaway with her 99 year old friend in Denver last week on her actual birth date so we had to delay the celebration until yesterday.  We gathered at the sister-in-law’s hive and enjoyed a salad luncheon — chicken caesar salad, bean salad (Miss Bee’s fave), potato salad, and broccoli salad.  Then for dessert, Earnie’s favorite — Strawberry Cake.

This is the recipe using strawberry jello and about 8 cups of oil and a dozen eggs.  But, boy is it worth it.  Miss Bee adorned the cake with candles and we sang.

My mother is beautiful, funny, strong, smart and kind.  While Daddy has always received the laughs and attention over the years, she’s the one that has been the backbone of the family.  One of the things I love about her most is her ability to laugh at herself and not take life too seriously.

She’s also very inquisitive….about everything.  Driving her anywhere is a real treat sometimes…”why do you suppose they are building that facing that direction?”  “That office wasn’t here the last time we were here, what kind of doctor is that?”  “How you think I could get a hold of that glue they put on the back of credit cards they send you…you know the rubbery adhesive that you peal off things?” “I see that person out walking all the time, how far do you think they walk everyday?”  “I could use this box for something.”  And the list goes on, literally, everyday.

And, don’t even get me started on her poor hearing.  That’s made for alot of funny laughs.  Latest installment:  “Do you think Ruthie might like to have a treat?”  — Earnie’s reply — “I didn’t go to a University.”  Okay.

I love you Earnie.  Each day you are with me I am a better person.

Let Them Eat Cake

Today’s discussion includes two things:  First, my secret profession and secondly, wedding cake.

Mr. Bee and I attended a wedding of his co-worker’s last evening.  Saturday night big events, like a wedding, are not something I really look forward to because I covet having free weekends to do what I choose.  So, knowing I had to take a shower, do my hair, put on makeup, my Spanx and find something to wear was all going to be worth it because, in the end, my reward was wedding cake.

I am not a big fan of Groom’s cake.  It’s usually chocolate, which I like, but it’s also dry.  I will knock a line of women down for a big, thick, corner piece of Bride’s cake, which is usually white.  Mr. Bee has been married to me long enough now to know that white cake with white buttercream frosting is the way to make my heart sing.

Here’s a photo of the happy couple (that would be me and Mr. Bee) after we had a glass of wine and our appertifs…I am going to take a break from the cake talk and review the first point…my secret ultimate profession….wedding singer….

No, this isn’t me.  It’s the singer in the band from the reception.  I thought they did a nice job.  She sang on key, was dressed appropriately and they had a great mix of songs they played.  I wanted to be an actress and major in theatre when I went to university but Earnie said I had to actually earn a living.  I became a nurse, which in some way is like acting.  I think wedding singer would be the perfect jumping off point to re-visit the whole acting thing.

When I mentioned to Mr. Bee that I wish I were up there singing he said, “Yeah, but your version of a wedding singer would be more like Debbie Reynolds.”

I knew what he meant.  Debbie played Bobbi Adler, Grace’s mother on Will & Grace.  Everytime Grace would come home with Will, her mother would be laying on top of the piano singing.  Mr. Bee said that would be me when Miss Bee comes home from college.  He’s right.  Okay, back to cake.

As soon as we arrived at the reception, I made a bee-line for the cake to see what we had in store.  After all, it was the whole reason I was wearing Spanx.  I was working on my strategy of how I was going to score two pieces of bride’s cake without anyone noticing.  Here’s the bounty…

My world of cake came crashing down at 10 p.m. when the darned bride and groom still had NOT cut the cake.  They were happy as clams dancing the night away and since the bride weighs all of about 95 pounds cake was the last thing on her mind.  Mr. Bee turned to me and said, “we need to go.  I have an early flight”.  Cue sounds of old-timey records scratching.  “But, everyone is going to get to eat cake and we’re not.”

I completely understood his plight.  I didn’t really need the cake.  But I wanted it.  I have been thinking about it ever since.  I am thinking about staging a fake wedding and calling a bakery with a fake name to have a small cake made for myself.  Of, course my birthday is coming up and Mr. Bee already has the bakery’s number on speed dial.

Six Things You Should Focus on Everyday

I signed up to teach our adult Sunday school class tomorrow.  For about a month I have been thinking about what to share.  Recently, I picked up a copy of one of my favorite magazines Life:Beautiful.  I have posted about this lovely magazine before.

The photography is ethereal and the articles are inspiring.  I read an article by Joyce Meyer entitled Enjoying Everyday Life:  Six Things You Should Focus on Everyday and knew this was the message I wanted to share.

I have really enjoyed my summer with Miss Bee.  Relaxed summer days, a slower pace at my job, no homework to do every evening, no lunches to pack, or hurried mornings preparing and serving breakfast before the bus comes.  I am hoping I can keep this peaceful feeling despite the approaching first day of school.  I know when my hurry and anxiousness bubbles to the surface Miss Bee is sure to feel it.  Do I want to empose these feelings on her?   So, this is my message.  Six things I can work on everyday that will help the “Keep Calm, Carry On” mantra in my life:

1.  Feel Blessed — Start the day with the right attitude and focus
2.  Be Thankful —   Treat everyday like Thanksgiving.  Say thank you more often
3.  Offer Encouragement —  Build up those around me
4.  Be Truthful —  Admit your weaknesses and make hard choices
5.  Make God’s Word Your Vocabulary — Make time for God’s company everyday
6.  Be Quiet — Listen Before You Speak — Hold Your Tongue.  Are your words really necessary?

A Gaelic Blessing

Since my daddy passed away, I haven’t been out to see his grave.   I guess I wasn’t ready.  Approching the second month of his death,  Mr. Bee and I took a drive out there recently on a beautiful, sunny day after church.  It was an odd feeling.  My memories of the day of his funeral were seeing the bugler, who played taps, standing off under a nearby tree and Daddy’s casket covered with the American flag.

I’ve made grieving my hobby for the last thirteen years.  It started with the loss of our little John.  I was trapped in a darkness that seemed insurmountable.  By God’s grace I recovered and I promised Him I would devote my life to helping others who grieve find a sense of hope for the future.  It has been a blessing and a honor to walk this journey with others.  I have made many close friends through this ministry and, as a result, received comfort from those around me in the recent death of my daddy.

Grieving is hard work, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I tell others this all the time, so I have to make sure I listen to my own advice.  When I am stting in church, I imagine Daddy sitting next to me or at the back of the church.  He’s wearing his coveralls, a ball cap and his boots.  He has a half-chewed cigar in his mouth (he long ago gave up this habit) and has his loyal canine companion, Lexy, by his side.  I can feel Daddy’s presence.  I can sometimes feel him putting his hand on me.

Last Sunday during one of these moments with him, this blessing was sung by the Chancel Choir as we were being dismissed from church.  It was a God thing…

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

Heaven Sent

One month ago today, my sweet Daddy went to live in heaven.  Of course he timed it with the full moon, because sure enough he was out on Saturday night.  Sister Bee called me and said have you seen Papa’s Moon?  I ran outside.  It was so beautiful.

As I reflect on the two weeks leading up to his journey, it all played out the way it was supposed to.  He was surrounded by countless friends who came to say their goodbyes.  All our family was here, even baby Bryan, my 30-something nephew in the Navy, was able to be with him until Daddy’s last breath.  Daddy even got to have his last “lodge” meeting a few days before he closed his eyes into deep slumber.

Always the prankster, one of his friends, I think his name is Big John, put a plastic bug in Daddy’s bed.  It about scared the bajesus out of me — thinking what kind of establishment is this that has giant bugs in patient beds, until I realized what it was.  So, even in death, Daddy made things funny for us.

Two lasting images I have, are my precious mother giving Daddy his last kiss goodbye.  Devoted to each other.  You didn’t say Ray without saying Earnie too.  Forrest Gump would say “they were like peas and carrots.”

The other classic image is Daddy and his cell phone.  His phone was his lifeline to the outside world.  Somehow, we don’t know how, while he was in ICU, he managed to get a nurse to let him use her cell phone.  We had told him no phones were allowed in patient rooms — a white lie, but we thought it was a good one.  Anyway, he called Earnie late one night to talk to her.  Like a mother of a teenager I got on the extension and told Ray under no uncertain terms to hang up.  He was not allowed to be calling Earnie, they both needed their rest.  Daddy has no memory of that night.

So, as his days on earth came to an end, we placed that old cell phone in his hand.  We laughed we should pen a country song titled…”waitin’ on a call from Jesus”.  It was a lovely site — his phone, the cross on his chest and his talking watch on his wrist.  Jesus did call Ray…and they’ve been together ever since.  I look forward to hearing Daddy’s “reeport” at the next full moon.


To the Moon Raymond

At 3:23 a.m. this morning, my sweet Daddy went to live in heaven.  For the last four years, he has been my constant companion, one of my greatest joys (and pain in my side on just a few days) and a wonderful father.  I wouldn’t trade anything for having him here with me.  I know that he is pain free, can now see out of those beautiful grey eyes again, can run and skip, and is flying airplanes with Jesus as his wingman.

As we were all sitting out on the patio enjoying a cool night, we looked up to the heavens and saw the most beautiful Moon.  Tonight is a Perigree Moon also known as a “Supermoon.”  NASA tells news that the “super” in the word Supermoon refers to the rare beauty and illusion that the Moon will create this evening. At first glance, tonight’s full Moon may not have a proportional difference than any other night, but as NASA explains, when tonight’s Moon is observed behind foreground objects like trees and foliage, it will appear “supersized” and brighter.

There is more to be excited about tonight’s Moon besides it enlarged appearance. It will appear also thirty percent brighter that a normal full Moon. The last time this happened was March 1993.   And yet, tonight’s Moon is only fifty thousand kilometers closer to the Earth to create this spectacle.

So while tonight’s “Perigee Moon” may appear as the biggest and brightest full Moon in almost 20 years, there is always something exciting to capture in the sky.  Of course, I know, it was all my daddy’s doing.  He picked out this moon just for us tonight.   It’s his way of telling us “I am okay”.

If I could go back….

I’d live in the 60s.  I love to watch movies from that era.  The clothing and the homes.  There was a formality of that time, dressing for dinner, cocktails before dinner, after dinner drinks.  It’s funny how in fashion, architecture and home decor these days — the 60s is what everyone is after.  I liked the 60s before it was cool.

One of my favorite movies is the orignial version of the Parent Trap with Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara, and Brian Keith.

I found the funnest website the other day Hooked on Houses.  They had photos of the set design from the movie.

This is what the typical lunch looks like in Boston.
Note:  Father reading the paper in the background.  All
Disney movies show the dad reading the paper while the women work.
Nice to know things haven’t changed..
Look at this bathroom.  Now, some people might think
gut job, but it looks like something out of modern home magazine.
I know I have the same Calphalon she is cooking with (note the peasant blouse)
except mine is blue.  Look at the state of the art ovens behind her.  I think
I have the same turquoise vase.
Cookies and milk with the nanny.  I always wanted
a blue phone…and an easy bake oven.
And finally, just relaxing in my ballet flats
listening to my HiFi.  Instead of humming “Let’s Get Together”
I was singing “Copacabana” into my hairbrush.  I have those lamps in white.

The many faces of Hobbes

When I survey my backyard, it’s like Lion Country Safari.  Cats galore.  My backyard is a cat’s Wally World.  A fountain with fresh running water, and because Earnie loves birds, about 20 bird feeders.  We’ve got your finch feeders, your cardinal feeders, your ghords for nesting, your lint holder for making that nest, hummingbird feeders, and I could go on.  It would look like Garden Ridge if I didn’t say no to Earnie every once in a while.  We also have very soft furniture on our covered porch perfect for the 18 hours cats nap.

I spied my favorite feline, Hobbes, the other day loving life.  If there ever was a cat that was grateful to have a home it’s Hobbes.  He’s always fit in, even before we invited him to live inside the house.  When Ruthie, the weinerful, would go outside, Hobbes would greet her and lay down next to her in the sunshine.  He’s very snuggly and loves to purr.  A true testimate to all things Great and Small.

Our neighbors, the Paysons, actually were the first family to take care of Hobbes.  They were grooming him to be the neighbordhood ratter.  They even took him to get vaccinated and “tutored”.  I thwarted their plan when I started letting him in the house.  He told the Paysons…”why would I want to hunt for stinky rats when I’ve got canned frisky’s from the lady next door?”

He has a pretty great routine down…here’s his daily journal entries:

6 a.m.   Eat breakfast, sip some water, lay around watching everyone get ready for school and work.  Occasionally pounce on top of Wilson.

7:30 a.m.  Sit by the door to be let outside.

7:31 a.m.  Go next door to get breakfast from the Paysons.  Be sure to look pitiful like I haven’t been fed in several days.

7:40-10 a.m. Say hi to Cameron and Mitchell, the two stray toms, who have taken up residence on the back porch.  Watch the occasional bird that hasn’t received the memo that cats will eat them if they visit the birdfeeder.

10:00 a.m.  Sun is usually shining on the backporch, perfect time to stretch out for a morning nap on the outside couch.

11:00 a.m.  Yawn

11:40 a.m.  Play with rat I found, flip it into the air to get Earnie to notice me.  Earnie comes outside, picks up rat, puts into a ziplock bag, and leaves on kitchen counter to show Mr. Bee.

11:41 a.m.  Wait and watch through the window for Mr. Bee’s reaction when he sees my bounty on the counter.

11:53 a.m.  Mr. Bee finds rat in ziplock bag.

11:54 a.m.  Calls Mrs. Bee.

11:55 a.m.  Resume nap.

1 p.m.  Wake up.  Get a drink from the fountain.  Stand by the backdoor.  Earnie lets me in the house.

1:05 p.m.  Eat

1:10 p.m.  Take a nap in the chair in the living room

3:00 p.m.  Mrs. Bee comes home from work, greet her at the backdoor, say hi then go back outside.

3-5 p.m.  Sit under bench in backyard.  Still watching for birds that haven’t got the clue about the four cats living in the backyard.

5:01 p.m.  Go back inside the house.  Mrs. Bee is cooking dinner.  Sit on chair and watch her lovingly.

6 p.m.   Go back outside until dark.  Might find a few more rats for the ziplock collection.

8 p.m.  Go inside to listen to Little Miss Bee practice the piano.

9 p.m.  Lay on bed with Mrs. Bee until she goes to sleep.

10 p.m.  Go to sleep in my bed that Mrs. Bee made for me outside her door (because she thought me sleeping on the carpet might be uncomfortable).

Note:  Humans asleep from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. so they have no idea what I do during this time.  It’s best to keep it that way.

6 a.m.  Start agenda all over again