Archive | January, 2013

Monday Manners

22 Jan

Who would have thought that good manners or proper etiquette would be the exception rather than the rule? It appears that being polite may often attract more attention than rudeness.

Case in point: My husband and I often have the opportunity to catch a movie during the week. The theater is usually quite empty in the afternoon, so we never have to wait in line to purchase tickets or popcorn. I wouldn’t say that we go often, but probably twice a month. So, I was very amazed when the young man at the counter asked, “You guys are in here a lot, aren’t you?”

I responded, “Well, I guess so. Why do you ask?”

He smiled and said, “I remember you. You’re always so polite.”

Then, I realized that whenever I ask for something or place an order, even at a fast-food restaurant, I always say, “May I have the…(whatever I am ordering)?” Inadvertently, I am always the recipient of a big smile and the response of, “Yes, you MAY.”

It’s funny, I never noticed this until the young man commented on my manners. He obviously wasn’t used to it. How sad! I decided to pay closer attention to other customers and their manners. Oh my, was I shocked and disappointed, to say the least.

Examples: 1. Gimme the number three. 2. I need a large decaf, extra cream. 3. I’ll take a pound of the smoked turkey, sliced thin. The list goes on and on. I don’t think I ever heard the words “May I.”

Doesn’t anyone say, “May I,” anymore? My mother insisted that her children always asked with “May I,” and NEVER, “Can I.” We were never allowed to ask for something to eat or drink when visiting family or friends. We had to wait to be offered refreshments. I still remember the old, “Children should be seen and not heard,” drummed into our heads. Etiquette and manners were mandatory.

Hopefully, this age of high-speed informality, and digitally driven rudeness will not prevail. May I make a suggestion? Let’s all remember our manners out there folks!

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Sanctimonious Sunday

21 Jan

SWS is a very serious affliction plaguing the country this time of year, especially on Sundays. It’s not Swine Flu or any other form of influenza. No, it’s Sports Widow Syndrome, and it has hit all time epidemic proportions. Severe and debilitating side-effects may include charge card trigger finger, excessive chocolate consumption, red wine whining, shortness of breath, and depression with occasional thoughts of manslaughter.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call a girlfriend or female family member immediately. Do not attempt to drive while under the influence of a three margarita lunch, a shopping frenzy at the mall, or if chocolate overdose is suspected. Notify your sister or a neighbor as soon as possible if you start sharpening all the kitchen knives and meat cleavers or start frantically scouring the drawers for the gun safe key.

Remember that Sunday is a sacred day. It’s a time for prayer, meditation, and reflection. If fourteen hours of consecutive pre-game, post-game, regulation and over-time madness is just too much to handle, hopefully there is another television somewhere in the house. Make some microwave popcorn and settle in with the Hallmark or Lifetime Channel. It certainly beats life in prison. But then again, they don’t have televised football, basketball, baseball or hockey in maximum security.

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A Special Saturday:Sharing A Special Tree For Christmas

20 Jan

I shared this special story with my Facebook friends at Christmas, and thought I’d share it with my new blogger friends. Perhaps you have a “Pay It Forward” story that you’d like to share. I’d love to hear it.

A SPECIAL TREE FOR CHRISTMAS

It is believed that the tradition of the Christmas tree spread across America during the 1800s with the arrival of German immigrants, a reminder that the dark grey of Winter would soon bring the green renewal of Spring.The Germans would bake fancy ornaments for their trees and then eat the decorations when the trees were taken down. Fruits, nuts, flowers and lighted candles also adorned the first American Christmas trees, but only the strongest could support the weight without drooping. So, German glassblowers began producing lightweight glass balls to replace heavier, natural decorations. These lights and decorations were representations of the joy and light of Christmas, with the star on top of the tree a symbol for the “Star in the East.”

This is such a wonderful American tradition, but what about those who don’t have a Christmas tree, ornaments, toys and freshly baked cookies? The thing I love about America, Texas and the marvelous city of McKinney is, when there is a need, there is a way to fill that need.

One of my own personal holiday traditions is giving my hand-painted ornaments to friends, neighbors, and family along with homemade cookies, cupcakes or brownies, because “nothin’ says lovin’ like homemade.” This week, when I stopped at my neighborhood McKinney Fire Station 5 with my ornament and a dozen chocolate cupcakes, as I have for the past eight years, I was greeted with the usual smiles and appreciation.

As I was escorted back to the kitchen, I asked, “Can I see your Christmas tree?” I remembered how beautiful the tree was last year, and how all my ornaments from the previous years were carefully displayed on the branches. The young firefighter just smiled and said, “Well, it’s not much of a tree, but come on in.” He turned on the light in the dimly lit space, and there to my amazement was a bare five foot metal pole with a red light on top.

I asked, “Where is your Christmas tree?”

“This is it,” was the only response.

I knew there had been a big change in personnel this past year when the new fire chief took over, and a lot of the guys relocated to other stations, but I didn’t think that would effect Christmas. I asked, “Where is your beautiful tree and all your ornaments? I’ve been bringing ornaments for years.”

The perplexed fireman responded, “I don’t know. Maybe they took them over to the other station.”

I shook hands with everyone on shift that afternoon and wished them a Merry Christmas, walking out with an unsettled sadness. Not quite the feeling I was expecting.

When I got home, I went to my handy iPad and posted a picture on Facebook of the ornament and cupcakes that I had taken to the fire station. My message retold the story of the sad looking “Festivus” looking metal pole that took the place of a traditional Christmas tree at the fire station.

To might delight, when I checked my page an hour later, there were so many comments from friends and neighbors appalled at the situation. There were several offers of Christmas trees from neighbors. My friend, Kim McCraw, said her son Shane was working at Christmas Traditions on US75 and they said that they would drop off a freshly cut evergreen tree the next day. Wow!

Saturday afternoon, I drove over to Station 5 with a box of newly purchased blue ornaments for our friends in blue and their new tree. When I arrived with my gift, a gorgeous nine or ten foot tree adorned the space where a sad metal pole stood the previous day. I explained that I was “the ornament lady” from yesterday, and that I had posted on Facebook that Station 5 didn’t have a Christmas tree this year. They were all smiling and honored when I told them that just one Facebook post had inspired a dozen offers of trees and goodies to brighten their holiday.

When I looked at the beautiful tree, there was a single ornament on a branch, and it was one of mine from 2008. They were waiting to decorate the tree until they purchased some new lights. Off to the side was a box with decorations and ornaments that they must have found in a storage room somewhere, many of which I recognized from my signature matching hand-painted boxes. I was delighted, humbled and grateful. The old “Festivus” metal pole was off in a dark corner. What could have been a dreary space for a group of gallant firefighters, was now a bright and cheery room better suited for a group of kind men and women who are always nearby to serve and protect.

I returned New Year’s Day and found a beautifully decorated tree. Fire fighter David Crump, wife Barbara, and young son Coleman were enjoying some family time at the station. I asked if I might take a picture, and they happily obliged.

The tradition of the Christmas tree is alive and well in McKinney. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

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Funny Friday

19 Jan

Yesterday, I posted a little blurb about my mother and her endless thirst for knowledge. It was a touching, loving story of an eighty-five year old woman who loves to learn. But, what I didn’t mention was how extremely hilarious she can be sometimes. In her quest to be “hip” and up-to-date with all the latest trends and terms, she often comes up with some amusing “original” words of her own.

Today, when I asked her if she had been checking her e-mails, she replied, “Yes, and I’ve been reading all your tweeters.” When I let out a muffled giggle, she asked, “What’s so funny?”

I went on to explain, the best I could, “Sometimes I put my stories on Twitter and the posts are called Tweets. Are you following me on Twitter? You don’t have a Twitter account. I thought you were reading my blog on Facebook?”

“Oh, you’re right. I’m reading your blobs on Facebook,” she replied.

“Giggle, giggle.”

“All right, now what did I say wrong?”

“I don’t mean to laugh, Mom. But, it’s called a blog, not a blob.”

“I knew that!”

“Mom, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing with you. You are awesome!”

The only reason I feel comfortable laughing at Mom’s little mistakes and made-up new words is because I am even more notorious for such blunders. But, I’m always the first to laugh at myself. I always tell her, “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

She interjects, “No, it’s suppose to be the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“No, Mom.It’s definitely the NUT!”

This is just one of thousands of conversations like this we have had. Now you know why Fridays are always funny.

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Thirsty Thursday

18 Jan

Are you thirsty? What are you thinking right now? I’m sure an iced cold beer or a frosty margarita pops into your head. Well, if it didn’t before, it certainly did now, didn’t it? Admit it!

Today, when I was thinking about a thirsty Thursday, I immediately thought of being thirsty for knowledge. Quite a different picture. What I am picturing is my eighty-five year young mother. She has lived through the Great Depression, seen several wars come and go, and voted for many presidents. She has loved and lost loved ones, but has never lost her lust for life. For over eighty-five years, she has been thirsty.

My sweet mother is a sponge. She soaks up every ounce of energy in the atmosphere. Mom reads constantly, watches endless television, writes letters, draws, paints, and has excellent skills on the computer. Only a few weeks after receiving a new iPhone, she was texting, sending photos, and surfing the Internet. Thirsty never looked so good!

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SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light 5
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face, 10
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek and o’er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 15
But tell of days in goodness spent,—
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Lord Byron

Wild Whacky Women on Wednesday

17 Jan

What’s crazier than a group of wild whacky women? Answer: A group of wild whacky women artist girlfriends learning to knit after too much caffeine.

Today being Wednesday, I knew it was going to be a whacky day. The TOTS, (Table Of Talent Sisters) were meeting at SNUG on the Square Coffee Shop in downtown McKinney to learn how to knit. Knit? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and you can’t teach this old gal how to knit. It was hilarious!

Our good friend, Gail, had knitted some beautiful scarves for all her friends this past Christmas, so we all wanted to learn how to knit scarves. Well, almost all of us. I am dexterously challenged. Today was the day. Today was a joke! But, I must admit, after four hours of poking, tangling, laughing, crying and yanking out mistakes, I believe that I have the most beautiful six inch chain stitch known to man. Well, maybe five inches. It’s like men and fishing, the fish gets longer each time the story is repeated. (We won’t even go there.)

The moral of the story is, you can lead a whacky woman to water, or coffee in this case, but you can’t make her knit.

(These are my girlfriends. They all did a lot better than I did)

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Tedious Tuesday

16 Jan

I confess! I have an affable affinity for the allure of alliteration. It has plagued a plethora of playful print, and has spoliated many a splendid speech since my challenging childhood. There! I got that out of the way. But, there’s more.

Today, being another tedious Tuesday in Texas, I found it necessary to cordially conform to this criteria. A shimmering shawl of snow conveniently covered my car this morning, so I didn’t go to my cardio-crazed Zumba class. At noon, I was invited to yet another belated birthday brunch, then tea at two with the elegant Miss Eleanor. Afterwards, my fear of influenza forced me to find a pharmacy to get my first-ever flu shot. On my way home, I stopped at the store to purchase plenty of perishable items to prepare a delightful dinner.

Now that I have totally voided my vast vocabulary and beleaguered a bounty of other bloggers, I bid you a glorious goodnight. Enough already!!!

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MONDAY AND MAYHEM

15 Jan

It’s Monday again. Mayhem and Monday always seem to go hand-in-hand. But, if everyday was perfect, I guess I’d have nothing to look forward to. Having a puppy is like having a new born baby, except that newborns don’t climb up on the kitchen counter, grab your glasses, and run like the wind. They do have some similarities. They both sleep a lot, eat a lot, and poop a lot. similarities end there.

While on puppy patrol, which is a 24/7 endeavor, I do have some time in between chasing previously mentioned demon dog, to do a little reading and writing. Occasionally, demon dog does something funny or cute. Not often, but when he does, I try and document the moment in a photo, just to remind me not to strangle him when he takes off with my cell phone.

This new blogging passion has consumed most of my lucid hours, and I’ve had the pleasure of following several really cool blogs. Seth ( sethsnap.wordpress.com) has the coolest photographs on his blog, and today he asked his followers to write a word, a story or poem, or just comment on a very interesting photo. I have tried this a few times before, but not many people have commented. Personally, I find having a prompt is like candy to a writer.

Therefore, I’m posting this photo of my mayhem Monday, and I’m hoping you might add a comment or write what demon dog, (nine months old and on top) is thinking in the photo. His big brother is fed up with the constant torture, but puts up with it as best he can. What do you think????

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SUNDAY: SECRET GARDEN

14 Jan

SECRET GARDEN

There is a secret garden
That few have ever seen
A hidden path to nowhere
With walls of evergreen
But there within this fortress
A lovely angel stands
With wings of gray and glory
A dove held in her hands
If you come upon this angel
Beneath skies of azure blue
You need only look to heaven
To make all your dreams come true.

Toni Andrukaitis

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WITH A SONG IN MY HEART

12 Jan

I hear voices in my head! These voices are there ALL the time and NEVER go away. They are not the scary, go out and kill someone voices, on the contrary. These crooning voices are magnificent melodies of Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, Rod Stuart or Carly Simon. They constantly remind me that my kind of town is Chicago, or when things start getting me down, I should climb up to the roof where it’s peaceful as can be.

There are many positive and negative side-effects of this ailment. On a positive note, I really don’t need to turn on the radio or pop in a CD for entertainment. Music is always playing internally with limited commercial interruption. But the adverse reactions can be annoying. I call it STS, other wise known as “Show Tune Syndrome”.

When anyone starts a conversation, it may be just a single word or phrase, but if I recognize the lyrics, or part of a tune, I burst into song. If I hear the words, “I’m leaving…” they don’t even get to finish before I’m belting out, “On a jet plane. I don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh, Babe I hate to go”. Of course, they are not all show tunes, but I do have a serious affinity for old Broadway musicals. My repertoire ranges as far back as the World War I love songs, the timeless 1920’s, and as recent as the ever effervescent Lady Gaga and Pink. It’s all good, and it’s all in my head.

As time goes by…oh no, don’t get me started…” You must remember this, A kiss is still a kiss, A sigh is still a sigh.” Anyway, I have learned to suppress or at least hold back on my bursting out into song in public, but the song will play in my head. I guess I will always go through life WITH A SONG IN MY HEART.

With a song in my heart
I behold your adorable face
Just a song at the start
But it soon is a hymn to your grace

When the music swells
I’m touching your hand
It tells me that you’re standing near

And at the sound of your voice
Heaven opens its portals to me
Can I help but rejoice
That a song such as ours came to be?

But I always knew
I would live life through
With a song in my heart for you

Lyrics by Lorenz Hart

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