yeah, well…

One night we were making a quick trip to the grocery when my husband’s phone rang just as we pulled into a parking space and were about to get out. His phone is connected through bluetooth to his car, so the caller was on speaker phone. It was our contractor, calling about a small piece of tile that needed to be re-grouted in our bathroom remodeling job. I was ready to get this grocery chore behind us but my husband motioned for me to stay. The conversation went like this:

          Hey there.


          How are you, man?

Good, good – and you?

          Doing great. Hey, I got your message.


          Yeah, well, about that grout.


          Yeah. Well, I checked on it.


          Well, Terry had the same color as you.


          Yeah, just what you need.




          Well, he doesn’t have any more of that grout.


          Yeah. So I checked on what I have.


          Yeah. I don’t have any either.


          Well, did you check to see if you had some left there at your house?

Yeah, I don’t have any. I looked everywhere.


Well, I did find the color name.


Yeah, it was Beige Buff.

                    Beige Buff?

Yeah. Is that what Terry had?

                    I think so, but I am not sure.


                    Yeah, it doesn’t matter, ‘cause he doesn’t have any more.


                    Well, we can try to match it.

Yeah? How’s that?

                    Well, we can mix up some of what we do have.

Well, would that work?

                    Well, I don’t know.

It might not match.


Well, I guess I could buy some more.


Yeah. But you have to buy so much for such a little job.


Yeah, but I do want it to match.

                    Yeah. Me, too.


                    Well, that might be best.

Yeah. I guess I’ll get some.

                    Yeah, that’ll be good.

When can you come and fix it?

                    Well, let me see.

Well, don’t make a trip just for that.

                    Well, OK. I should be up that way next Tuesday.

Well, that will give me time to get the grout.


Well, do I need anything else?

                    Naw, I don’t think so.

Well, I guess I will see you then.


Yeah, I’ll have the grout then.

                    Yeah, next Tuesday.

Yeah, next Tuesday.

                    Well, we will see you then.

Yeah, thanks for checking with Terry and calling me back.

                    Yeah. Sorry that didn’t work.

Well, that’s OK, this will work fine. Then we will have more if we ever need any.


Well, thanks again.

                    Yeah. See you next week.

The only thing I omitted were the long pauses in between comments. I thought I would go crazy listening. But honestly, this is what it sounded like. You can’t make this stuff up.

an HD day

Today was an HD day. The sun was out, the humidity low, and only a slight breeze was present. Everything was in high definition.

The cars I passed on the road seemed to have an outline of light around them. Each reflected brilliant points of light, some almost too strong to look at. Even the wheels were clearly defined as they rolled along.

The electric wires that stretched from pole to pole were dotted and dashed with shiny lines as the wires reflected the sun’s piercing light. Each and every brown pebble in our aggregate driveway was shining like a tiny flashlight, welcoming me home.

As I looked at the trees, it seemed I could see each leaf individually. The same was true for the blades of grass in the lawn. The flowers and buds on our knockout roses glowed like candle flames, pointing to the sky. Even in the shade of our sun-dappled back yard, the lines along the edges of the shadows were knife- sharp and clear.

Interestingly, the local paper has an article about why we love fall, and included is a section about the shift of light this time of year. Lines from William Falkner’s A Light in August were referred to: “In August in Mississippi there’s a few days somewhere about the middle of the month when suddenly there’s a foretaste of fall, it’s cool, there’s a lambence, a soft, luminous quality to the light as though it came not from just today but from the back of the old classic times….It lasts just for a day or two, then it’s gone.”

The article also quoted Keith Miles, a local amateur photographer: “There is a point, usually in mid- to late August, when I can see the quality of light begin to change. It heralds the beginning of autumn for me.”

I have seen this shimmering, autumn-forecasting light in years past, and felt the slight cool, crispness in the air that says it is time to move on past summer. But today was not like that. Perhaps today the light may have been the last full light of summer. And when I thought of the impending hurricane winds on the gulf and the smoky fires in the west, I tried my best to stop and notice, to fully take in the still, sharp, HD portrait of this corner where I live.

a special day

August 16th is a wonderfully special day in our family, with many occasions to celebrate! This year my aunt and uncle have their 70th wedding anniversary on this day. As someone commented when making our family picture at a celebratory dinner, “Most people feel fortunate just to have their 70th birthday, much less be married for that long.” They are a model couple, setting the example that all of us younger family members would do well to follow. They have lived in so many places it is hard to keep count, always moving where the job opportunities were offered, and making friends at every stop along the way. They are thoughtful and considerate of each other in everything, and they have a zest for life that has kept them young at heart.

August 16th is also my husband’s birthday. I have been blessed to be married to him for thirty four years (we celebrated our anniversary on August 12). He is hardworking and talented, employed as an accountant and the controller of a very successful insurance business. Yet he enjoys the fun side of life, too. He loves to exaggerate, and the more gullible folks often get caught up in his tales. And he is the epitome of integrity, always choosing the high road in every situation. He is a wonderful father and was a devoted son and grandson to his family members. Our dog Maggie is smitten with him, and dogs are a good judge of character, you know.

August 16th is also our daughter’s birthday. When she was born on her daddy’s birthday, seventeen days past her due date, my husband said it was the best gift he would ever receive. (He also said he would never have another birthday of his own, but we haven’t forgotten him along the way.) Our daughter has been beautiful from the moment she was born. We looked at her and wondered whose baby she really was, not able to believe a child that lovely could have come from us. She has always been independent yet never rebellious, reminding her brother she is “the good child.” Her talent and determination show in her stationery and paper design business, (Beth Hart Designs), making us very proud. She and her husband Jamie enjoy live music, trendy and delicious restaurants, Ole Miss sports, and spending time with their many friends.

We are blessed every day of the year, but August 16th is definitely a red-letter date for our family.

a developing theory

Driving along country highways I often notice scenes like this:

There are miles and miles of these views – pastures lined with trees, gathering spots for cows to pass the days away.

But look closer:


Now do you notice the way the tree limbs end in a straight line? There are several different varieties and ages of trees, but their lower limbs all end along the same horizontal plane.

Look closer still:


I couldn’t help but wonder what caused this phenomenon, not just in this field, but in dozens of pastures along my route.

So I thought and I pondered, and here’s my theory:  the cows nibble the leaves as high as they can. And where they can reach no farther, well, that’s the line we see along the trees.

Any other ideas?




A friend and I were talking about cleaning out all the “stuff” that accumulates in classrooms at school.  She has just moved to a new room at her school, which is double trouble because not only do you have to go through your own stuff but there’s always stuff left behind by those moving out.

“I have been so busy getting my room off the floor that I don’t even know what day of the week or what time it is. My new room is going to be great when I find all the stuff,” she said. “I have worked nonstop for days and nights. It is just now coming together. My restroom is clean and the tables are clean. That is just about all.”

“Well, that’s a start,” I replied.

“My son helped me push and shove stuff this weekend. Thank You, Lord!”

“Yes, thank goodness for good sons!”  I agreed. “Mine came by last week and helped me with some ‘monkey work’ – stamping books – and that was so nice.  (The first time I asked him to help stamp levels in books he got fed-up with it pretty quickly. He said, “You could train a monkey to do this,” and it has been “monkey work” ever since.)

“We have a meeting today about our classes but I hope I have a few more days to find my materials and know what I have in this room,” she went on. “I have cleaned all of the old occupant’s stuff that she collected for twenty years. You wouldn’t believe the home made stuff I have thrown away. OLD OLD. I had enough old word cards that would supply the whole county. Ha!”

“I know what you mean,” I told her. “I once moved into a room at the school I had just transferred to and everything the former teacher had was in paper or plastic bags with rubber bands wrapped tightly around the tops. I soon started ripping open the bags – and then eventually not even looking inside them – because I got so tired of unwrapping those rubber bands that were twisted around twenty times or more!”

“Oh, my,” she sympathized.

“There must have been ten miles of scalloped, corrugated bulletin board border in every imaginable color (though most were faded)! I didn’t have an outside door in that classroom but I had a window, so my husband pulled up his truck and we loaded it up two or three times for him to take stuff to the dump. (When he was there at the dump he saw a family or two digging through the dumpsters, and the children turned out to be my students, but that’s another story.)”

“It does feel so good to get rid of all that unwanted stuff,” she said. “Then you can concentrate on taking care of the things worth keeping.”

“And buying new stuff!” I added.

“You bet,” she said with a smile.

finding the time

Well, its back to school for me and I am torn between home and school once again. Only one week and I’m caught up in it all over again. There just never seems to be enough time for everything. Of course, the days are as long as they ever were, it’s just that now there are more things to do, parked and waiting in two different camps, and I feel like neither side gets enough attention.

But there are some good habits I’m working on (getting rid of the weeds). I am eating better, and walking daily, and choosing to do the things at school that I believe are right and necessary, not just the things that others try to force upon you for various no-good reasons.

I haven’t taken the time for writing, and I have to figure out how to fit that in. I have missed it terribly. So right now I am writing, when there are two or three (dozen) other things calling my name. But it feels good and right, and the tension is sliding off my shoulders as I compose these words.  Maybe I’ll get up earlier and write FIRST thing, getting the day started off in an encouraging way. Yes, that’s a good idea!

But right now it’s back to the world of paper grading, supper cooking, birthday planning (my husband AND daughter have birthdays tomorrow!), finding a dress to wear to my college roommate’s daughter’s wedding this weekend, pricing a new group of pottery for the space I have at a local store, talking to a friend about HER struggles with figuring these same things out, and sending friends some thank you notes and get well cards that are long overdue.

But just this little tad of writing makes me feel so much better. And now I have a plan! Here’s to an early start tomorrow on making it a good, good day.

an evening jog

There’s a man and his son jogging through our neighborhood this evening. Right now they are on their second pass by our house. There’s quite a contrast between the two.

The father is slugging along, his feet thumping, pounding, beating the pavement. His arms are pulled up and he is wearing some sort of pedometer. The sweat is soaked through his shirt and trickling down around his visor. His red face makes me hot.

The son is light of foot and free as a bird. His loose fitting jersey is blowing in the breeze he’s creating as he trots along. He wears no special equipment – I think he isn’t even wearing socks with his tennis shoes. There’s no wet hair plastered to his dry head.

Honestly, they make me think of a duck plugging along with a little bug flying around its head. But they both have smiles on their faces, and they’re in this together, cheering each other on.

Go friends, go!

a special couple

Chapter One

In the 1930’s, towns had small communities within them, with every necessity within walking distance. East Nashville had Fluty’s Gas Station, Sanderson’s Five and Dime, and a hardware store.  Lehning’s Grocery was next to the Post Office and the Woodland Street Bakery, and across from the theater at Five Points. Students went to East High School and to churches like Lockland Baptist Church, on the corner of 16th Avenue and Holly Street. It was here that our story begins.

Rosalie Bond Lankford was singing in the choir at the church. Unbeknownst to her, the son of the woman beside her in the choir loft was in the congregation keeping an eye on this beautiful young lady. At home he asked his mother who the girl sitting next to her was. “I’d like to meet her,” he told his mother. “Will you see if you can arrange that?”

On September 15, 1940, Lawrence Bernice Beck’s mother introduced him to Rosalie on the sidewalk in front of the church after the service. It is fair to say they were both interested in each other, possibly smitten would be a more apt description. Rosie and Larry saw each other for the next twenty-eight days straight. “Dating was more casual back then,” she said. But they found ways to spend time together: sharing a soda, taking a walk, swinging on the porch. They don’t remember why they weren’t together on the day twenty-nine, but by that time they were definitely in love.

Larry had graduated from East High in 1938 and was making deliveries on his bike for Lehning’s Grocery. Rosie was still a student at East High School. In December, 1941, the world changed for everyone when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It was also during this month, at Christmas, that Rosie and Larry became engaged.

The war was foremost in everyone’s minds. In January Larry changed jobs and became a messenger for the government offices at the Smyrna Airfield. This Civil Service job paid $27 every two weeks, quite an increase from the $7 weekly salary at the grocery store. Rosie was working in Dr. Truelock’s dental office for $5 each week.

Larry’s friend Robert King convinced Larry to join him in electronics school in July 1942, for three months. They would attend Hume Fogg School together from 4-12 PM, five days each week, and be part of the Signal Core Enlisted Reserve. Larry quit his messenger job to devote his time to this schooling.

Meanwhile Rosie and Larry’s  romance continued, and almost two years after they met they were married on August 16, 1942. It was a simple ceremony at Lockland Baptist Church, at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, and the church was filled with family, friends, and church members.

Their honeymoon of one night was spent at the James K. Polk Motel in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  On Monday they returned so Larry could attend school that evening. Their first home together was a bedroom and kitchen in a friend’s house on Lillian Avenue, and this apartment was rented for $20 a month. They lived there while Larry finished the first part of his schooling, and then in October they made their first of many moves to live in Memphis for the next section of training.

the world needs another

I had lunch with a dear friend the other day. She’s the person who always calls when I need something, always gets in touch when I need to talk. She just has that sense about her.

Our daughters grew up as friends and are still close. I can remember the times my friend would call when the girls were young. It was always on a day when I needed a place for my daughter to stay, or when my daughter needed some fun times with a friend. Somehow my friend always knew.

She would bring us a meal when we didn’t even know how tired we were from some situation in our lives. Her ham salad sandwiches are incredible. She brought us an underwater camera once when we went to the beach – something we never thought of taking ourselves. Always the right thing at the perfect time.

I felt like she got the short end of the stick in our friendship. I never seemed to think of kind things to do, never had my timing right for fun surprises or for meeting needs. This was all too true when her husband Eddie became ill and then passed away. She would tell you that I was there for her, but that’s just how she is.

The loss of this wonderful man is something no one has ever come to terms with. He was the kind of person who loved life and everyone in it. He would do anything for you, and he always knew how to enjoy every moment. They were such a happy family, with a deep love for each other. But cancer struck, the battle against it went back and forth for a while, and then, he was gone.

My friend is a private person who always shows her bright side to the world, but even so, you could tell it was a devastating loss. In keeping with her desire to have her husband remembered, the family encouraged others to do good deeds in his name. They even made “calling cards” for people to leave behind when some kindness had been offered in his memory. Eddie will always be missed.

Now, her older son and his wife are adopting a baby, and the little one was due soon after our lunch date. So we talked all about this excitement when we were together, and she promised to keep me posted on the developments.

A few days later I received an email telling me when the baby was scheduled to come. I read it through tears of sadness and joy when she ended it this way:

Did I tell you they’re naming him Eddie? The world needs another Eddie Denson, doesn’t it?

love, me

picture a day

Picture a day…



So blue up above, the clouds fluffy white.

Wide open spaces, the endless view, a bigger sky.


A day on the lake, skimming atop the water in the boat.

All around you wind blowing, swirling, absorbing every other sound.


The water so sparkly –




foaming behind you,

splashing your skin.


A deep breath,


try to take it all in.


This day is over, heading in to shore.


But this feeling remains tucked inside you,

replaying thoughts of the freedom,

this joy,

this delight.


Memories, for when you need them,

at cloudy, busier times.