Dreams and Collaboraters

Doniphan exemplified collaboration last week. By the time you read this, the first football game in Brumitt Stadium in Griffin Field will be the new chapter in the history of that sport in our schools. What a journey for sure! The dictionary defines collaboration as a joint endeavor to produce or create. The action to make the return of football possible took longstanding passionate investment of time, energy, labor and love while ignoring the bystanders who quipped every chance they could, “It’ll never happen.” It started out some years ago in a few minds with vision enough to share it. Though shelved temporarily, when retrieved, dusted off and proposed again, it had enough of the community on board to gain momentum. 

No one ever made the impossible a reality by listening to the naysayers. That’s why sometimes it SEEMS a dream materializes out of thin air. Could be that those dreamers chose not to divulge their ideas or plans at the git-go to avoid that negativism. It can be a drag.

Sometimes naysayers play a role in the success of a project without realizing it. How? By giving the dreamers a heads-up on potential obstacles, to help them ‘head ’em off at the pass’ before becoming seemingly indestructible roadblocks. There comes a time in any dream when talk stops and actions take over if that dream is to become a tangible force in the real world.

Have a vision of your own? Look to this success to learn a lesson or two about progress.

*Rigid attitudes can thwart anything. Flexibility is paramount. Just because it won’t get done the way you want it to, doesn’t mean it can’t get done.

*Timelines can be pliable. You’re human.

*Don’t sweat the small stuff, but it ‘ain’t all small stuff’ so be willing to ask for help. It’s out there.

*You’ve heard patience is a virtue. Believe it. There might me a lot of time and frustration between firing up at the start and crossing the finish line. Don’t give up.

*Gratitude counts. Celebrate the milestones and those who help you get there.

*Be for another what others were for you.

I don’t know what the final score. I might argue we were winners regardless.

This was written for my Close to Home column in the Prospect-News in 2018.

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September gets shortchanged. We scramble to complete summer projects and errands while days are still warm and sunlight is still ample. These days do we schedule anything in September because it is September?

When I was a city kid, August was still part of summer vacation, followed by the back-to-school month, with the start day usually after Labor Day. School shopping and closet switching (you know, putting fall/winter garments front and center, with spring/summer to the upstairs or downstairs or the far dark corners), putting the pool away, finding the rakes, washing windows and screens, swapping the curtains – these tasks were delegated to September. It was a work month: homework and housework.

Once the Labor Day parade was over and the grill cleaned from the cookout, everyone was in bed early from the hustle and bustle of one day off. September slipped into a somber state while we looked eagerly toward awesome October with its fall colors, playful piles of leaves, bonfires, chili, homemade Halloween costumes and decorations and rehearsals of tricks to perform for treats on that bewitched night of neighborhood fun.

September, now that I am all grown up, I do appreciate you a bit more. I enjoy sleeping later; it has been a busy summer. Decorate? No. What does September look like? (For some of us, we might need to get 4th of July stuff down).  You don’t get enough acclaim for giving us the autumn equinox. To celebrate that, I will hang a fall wreath but in October when the leaves change colors. Till then, September, you and I will chill and enjoy just hanging around.

This first appeared in my Close to Home column in Doniphan’s local weekly, the Prospect-News.

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All in a Day’s Work

Last week an angry red wasp, a Ripley County red wasp, dive-bombed my upper lip. Surely I had encounters with wasps and bees in my city upbringing, but encounters with the rural variety stand out. Two were at grandparents’ homes here. Both elicited screams which got grandma’s attention, an ice pack and a cool pop. By the time the cool pop was gone, so were the sniffles and play resumed. 

I’m supposedly all grown up now. I didn’t yell at this most recent attack, but if either grandmother had heard my initial reaction, I might have had my mouth washed out with soap BEFORE receiving an ice pack. It hurt like the dickens and began swelling immediately. After a quick glance in a mirror, it was back to work. 

Did I mention it hurt like the dickens? The resumption of work was short-lived as I sought ice-relief – sticking my upper-lip into a solo cupful. Alas, no cool pop around. Considering the location of the sting, that would have soothed the site AND my nerves simultaneously. My grandmas were sooo wise. 

The reflection after a second glance in the mirror alarmed me so that I dropped the ice cup. It didn’t seem like the time to be alone if I were going to experience an anaphylactic reaction. (At the time that was too complicated a word to recall). Panic at my image was going to make me hyperventilate at the least. 

So I decided to leave the mirror and non-chalantly drop by for a quick hello to former colleagues-still-pals. There I received attention that almost equaled the grandma variety and was assured my breathing was ok. Laughter may be the best medicine – and I certainly looked funny – but guys, laughing hurt my stiff upper lip!

My cheeks resembled tomatoes for a while, and my eyes almost disappeared, but the longest lingering effect was the swollen upper lip making me look akin to cartoon diva Marge Simpson. I may stick a can of wasp spray in my purse. 

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Senior Citizens Day

Wedenesday, August 21 is a national holiday, one with a presidential proclamation issued  in 1988  and all that. I am not thrilled about celebrating it myself, because I don’t think I fit the target group. Baby boomers out there…what about you? 

It is National Senior Citizens Day. For several reasons based solely on my view of the elderly when I was a youngster, I am not a senior yet because:

*I still have real teeth. A few are missing, but I have enough and they are mine. (There are valid reasons for having false teeth at any age… but still).

*My closet holds trendy clothes. (Well, several eras of them in different sizes, but that’s another issue).

*I do not own a housecoat or duster. (That’s the purpose my oversized tees serve till I do…. WHEN I’m 100 and IF they come in tie-dye).

*It is never my intention to have my earrings match my necklace and have my purse match shoes and belt. (Though I would ADORE wearing hats, I don’t so that’s that).

*I do not tat or crochet items that anyone in my family would cherish as an heirloom. ( I can knit functional/durable stuff that is nowhere near ‘ooh and aah’ worthy).

*I don’t stay home long enough to learn to crochet or tat magnificent creations. I have a gasoline-fueled lifestyle. 

*My garden… that’s a term used loosely… has greenery in it I can’t name or make tea and cure ills with. 

*Canning? Can’t do it and don’t want to learn. That pressure cooker gizmo is scary.

There ARE signs that senior citizenhood is sneaking up. I do love a rocking chair though I always have. It’s even better with a cat in my lap. I safeguard special family recipes and I can bake a pretty yummy chocolate chip cookie and brownie. I have started drinking coffee and liking it.  Perhaps the most startling difference is a nenewed reverence for all breathing creatures, even the critters I am afraid of or find disgusting. It is hard to swat a fly or smoosh a spider. I will give a snake its space and hope it gives me mine. Mosquitoes are pesky for sure but they are on the food chain to feed others so my strategy is now based on preventing them getting close rather than waiting for them to so I can end my aggravation. Sounds a bit far out, but it surprises me, too. 

In his Presidential Proclamation in 1988 President Ronald Reagan said “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.”

No one owes me any thanks nor do I expect to be saluted, but I do want Doniphan to be a good place for all of us to feel safe and connected as we age.

Happy Senior Citizens Day to my elders! 

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Twixt Two Worlds

Twixt two worlds. That’s how I feel.

Want to contact me? Dial my landline number – I realize we SAY ‘dial’ even though we don’t  – and I might talk to you using a harvest gold rotary desk phone. Missing is the sense of immediacy to answer but the connection is good enough to take care of business if I do. Or use a cell phone to call, text, message or see me while you talk. The amalgamation of sounds the iPhone emits elicits the need to know who it is and answer in the moment, though I can’t figure out what drives that urgency.

Want to watch a movie? I can travel to a drive-in to see a vintage movie, sitting in a car tweaked in ways that would amaze even the Jetsons while watching the fine big ol’ cars –  antiques now? –  of former times. Clothing, hairstyles, accessories and furnishings on the outdoor screen  pull me back to life at a slower pace. Or we can choose from thousands of offerings at just a touch on a remote to view on a big screen in a living room, complete with surround sound. No rooftop satellite dishes or wall-threaded cables required.

Want to eat out but go as you are and eat in the car?  Once upon a time carhops took orders, delivered them back to the vehicle, then removed the trash along with the window tray. It wasn’t fast but it was handy and the car was full of family banter. Now we can order with our phones and pick up in a flash to avoid the drive-thru brouhaha. What’s the hurry?

Want to visit a baby, maybe relieve the parents for a few hours? Used to mean lots of goo-goos and ga-gas, nursery rhymes, clapping games and floor time. Meal time and diaper changes were just part of the fun. Not much tops a baby’s laughter. Now there are apps for keeping little ones occupied and even one coming soon that will alert caregivers to need for diaper changes. W-H-A-A-T? What could be going on that requires an app for that? Or maybe the question should be what is NOT going on! What happens to the eye contact, wiggles and squiggles, tickles and chatter that lets a baby know they are in a loving, nurturing environment, one that offers a variety of learning opportunities with humans? As a toddler grows, will there be a chance for the tot to communicate with parents/sitters that a change is needed? That is a clue a child is ready for potty training. 

That’s all we need… another distraction to diminish already dwindling child-parent interaction. 

In reading about the diaper app, I learned it tracks several things for parents. This could be a mind-easer when sickness or disease makes the technology a big help in child monitoring. Technoligy has a way of sneaking in and taking over, though. It’s worrisome that we succumb so effortlessly to diminishing our humanity and saving time for…?

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Tomatoes speak summer. We enjoy the ‘love apple’ in a variety of ways…

fresh off the vine with juice dripping off elbows, quartered on a plate with salt and pepper handy, sliced on a sandwich chowed down quickly before the bread gets soggy, or in salsas and hors d’oeuvres.

They are tasty either cool from the fridge or warm from the garden or window sill, whetting our appetites for more. We enjoy the juicy fruit in a salad, complementing a cold-cut sandwich, or as the major ingredient in a tomato/mayo sandwich that is all the rave among some. I haven’t tried that yet since to me it sounds like it would be a wimpy sandwich. 

The tomato has been around a long time, but America is among some of the last countries to accept them as food fit for humans. When we did finally accept it, it was due to European influence rather than from its countries of origin – Central and South America. Even the Europeans took a while to embrace it as edible, since it appeared that nobility died from its consumption. In retrospect we know they died from lead poisoning, since tomatoes were often served on pewter plates high in lead content quite reactive to the acidic tomato.

Before Americans decided to eat them, the colonists used them for decoration. I would bet the invention of pizza coincides with the appearance of tomatoes in American gardens and markets. If one is so inclined to read the history of a food item, the fact that tomatoes were used in ketchup before they were used in salad will eventually surface. 

Leave it up to the government to complicate the fruit/vegetable debate. No one can deny the tomato is a fruit, but the US Supreme Court clarified in the 1890’s that Americans used it as a veggie so it was subject to that tariff.

The next time you bite into a ripe juicy tomato or enjoy a dish prepared with tomato-based products, ponder the fact that the tomato is really a berry. It is also a perennial! Does that mean those with green thumbs might be able to enjoy home-grown vine-ripened tomatoes year round? Or does that mean…since it is a berry… I can get tomatoes off the same plant two summers in a row? 

Let me know how that works for you. I can’t seem to get ONE plant to bear an edible berry during a single summer. My tomato treats are much-appreciated gifts or purchased from yard gardens and farmers’ markets. Thank goodness there are many around here who grow and harvest this delectable berry with such skill!

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First Sight of Nature’s Gem

At about the age I was moved to St. Louis to start school, Albert Morrow was moved to Doniphan. In reverse expectations, Big Spring would remain a consistent destination for my family’s excursions to the area. Though living only an hour away, life circumstances altered those expectations for him. He never made his way to that popular attraction that feeds our crystal clear Current River until this summer, about the time he qualified to join AARP. He took it all in – sights, sounds, smells – and now understands the magnetism Big Spring has.

Two others in the nation compete for title of the largest one: Idaho’s Snake River Spring Complex and Silver Spring in Florida. The daily flow in each hinges on rainfall, so the title of largest is passed around accordingly. Big Spring’s average daily output is about 286 million gallons of water that flows into Current River. Big Spring became part of the National Park Service in 1969, but I was a regular visitor when it was still in the state park system.

If you have not yet witnessed this awesome wonder, put it on your to-do list before school starts this year. Be sure to stop by Jolly Cone in Van Buren as you head home. No trip to Big Spring is complete without it.

ThThis was first written for the August 2019 issue of Poplar Bluff Living.

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