Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Glorious Day of Thankfuls!

Mother Nature wreaked havoc with us for spring break. It was cold. It was warm. It rained. There were 40 mph wind gusts. We had freeze warnings. It did not snow here, but folks not that far away got some.

But Friday? Friday was glorious.

My husband took the day off, and he and I had a play day.

He drove, I navigated, because (a) I planned the day and (b) he can't read a map.

We had deep, meaningful conversations along the way, like this:

Husband (starting the car in the driveway): My hands are cold.
Me: Sissy
Husband: What?
Me: What?

Husband: Where'd all these pine trees come from?
Me: They grow here. You realize we just left the town of Pineville?"
Husband: Is that how it got its name?
Me: Where'd you think they got it? From pineapples?

This part of the southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas has many chicken farms and chicken processing plants, and there is now a high population of Hispanic immigrants here that work at the plants.

Me: Have you noticed all the Simmons plants?
Husband: Yes.
Me: They hire a lot of immigrants to process chickens.
Husband: You mean those aren't mattress factories?

(He really needs to get out of the office more.)

Our first stop was in Gentry, Arkansas, in the northwest corner of Arkansas. They have a Little Debbie factory there. And a company store. And it was Free Product Friday!

Not only can my husband not read a map, he can't take a picture on an iphone without sticking his finger over the lens. He took six shots of me in front of the Little Debbie store. All with his finger in the way.

My husband thought I was crazy for taking us here. Then he saw the prices on the boxes of snack cakes and started loading up the cart. Who's the crazy one now?

Because it was Free Product Friday, we got a bag of cinnamon and sugar doughnuts for (wait for it) free.  And because we spent more than $20 (a lot more), we also scored a Swiss Roll bag. Cool, I thought, thinking it would be a cloth shopping bag like I use when I shop at Aldi.



Onward to our next stop, just over the Oklahoma line from Siloam Springs, Arkansas (which is west of Fayetteville, if you're a WPS fan) to Natural Falls State Park. I only heard about it kind of by accident earlier in the week, or neither of us would have even known it existed. As an interesting side note, my husband's sister and her husband lived about 5 miles from this park for a number of years and NEVER ONCE mentioned the place to us. And they are outdoorsy types. What up wit dat?

Anyway, there is camping available for the kind of people who camp (that would not be me) or you can just visit for a day. There's a spring on the grounds, and several trails, from easy to difficult, and, yes, A WATERFALL.

Or waterfalls, because there's kind of more than one.


The angle of the sun made it difficult to get a really good picture, but at least MY FINGER ISN'T IN IT.

No, we did not cross this bridge. I'd be
curled up in a ball, crying like a little girl,
if anyone tried to make me.

Everything is kind of brown still. Give it
a week or so and the trees will all be green.

Scenic overlook. I could not stand up there.

There was a relatively easy trail that went from the falls to a little lake. It had some tricky parts, rocky and slippery, but when we watched Daniel Boone skippity hop along ahead of us, we figured we could make it.

He was about 6 years old.

There was another fall, but it was man-made, not natural. Still pretty.

Some kind of dam, probably for flood control.

It was warm enough to bring the turtles out.

We sat on bench for the longest time and just watched the water and enjoyed the sunshine and warmth. It also delayed us having to chuff up the trail to the car.

Heading north, we ate lunch at PF Chang's in Bentonville. I didn't take a picture. Yes, we had the lettuce wraps. Doesn't everybody?

Next stop was Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. also in Bentonville. The museum was founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and it truly is a gem. Besides the art collection, there are walking trails throughout the grounds and it is surrounded by green space, and admission is free.

Some of my favorite exhibits:

I love Mary Cassatt.

Portrayal of the artist as an old man.
It is 3 feet high. He used his own hair
on the sculpture. Amazing detail.

This is life-sized. It's called Supine Woman,
and it reminds me of my lifelong friend Abbie Hunter,
not because of the way she's lying there, although
it's something Abbie would do, but because
the woman just looks a lot like Abbie.

Life-sized sculpture and so real,
you expect him to start talking.

This is called "Untitled" L.A. by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
It is an endless supply of green candies, wrapped in
cellophane, on the floor. Visitors can take a piece of
candy, thereby consuming the work,
which can be endlessly replenished.

And it was tasty, too.
Our last stop was to the Walmart museum at the original Walton's 5&10. Sam Walton's Congressional Medal of Freedom is displayed there, as is his original office and lots of stuff about the evolution of the store. The reason WE came here was because they have a soda fountain. We had sundaes and sat outside to eat them.

That's my unconventional Ten Things of Thankful. Come visit me some time, and I will take you to see these places, too!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Monday, March 21, 2016

A to Z Challenge 2016: Theme Reveal

The A to Z Challenge is coming! The A to Z Challenge is coming! THE A TO Z CHALLENGE IS COMING!!!

For the third year, I will be participating in the A to Z Challenge during the entire month of April. If you weren't around for it previously, the objective of the Challenge is to write a blog post every day that corresponds with a letter of the alphabet. Yes, you have to start with A and go through the alphabet, in order, to Z (I know there's a smart ass out there somewhere who is wondering about playing loose and fast with the orderliness of this).

My first year of participation, I did my usual fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach I use for writing and, oh, life, and produced such gems as "J is for Jesse James," "L is for Lost," "P is for Picher, Oklahoma," "T is for Tiny Dancer," and "V is for Vignette." All random and mostly written and published at 11:59 the day of.

I conceded having a theme would have helped.

When I participated last year, I chose Pinterest Challenges as my theme. Let me tell you, when you do that, you are never at a loss for a topic. Some of my favorites were "D is for Doughnut," "I is for Invasion," "J is for Japanese Bagel Head," "P is for Pendant," and "Z is for Zentangle." (Lest you read those and think all of my projects were Pinterest wins, you might want to read "O is for Overnight Oatmeal.")

Guess what? Gonna do the Pinterest Challenge again this year.

And I still have a few slots open (okay, a lot) that need pins to challenge. Feel free to send ideas my way.

See you April 1 with A is for Aaaa... nahhhh, not telling!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

It's Spring Brrrrrrreak

Spring Break has broken. We're not doing anything terribly exciting to celebrate it, but a break is a break, and I'm thankful for that times ten!

1. My dad also got broken this week, but suffice it to say that it could have been so, so much worse, as in a hip or arm or even both arms. You can read about it here, if you haven't already.

2. We headed to the lake house for the first weekend of our break and brought all three cats with us. I'm thankful that two out of the three went willingly into their carriers to come with us. The third one eluded us, as the last time she went into her carrier, she got taken to the vet, but my husband nabbed her after Emma and I left (he had to attend a meeting before he could leave town) and brought her with him.

Pete spent the entire day right here.

Ruby never misses an opportunity
to admire herself in a mirror.

3. I'm pretty sure I speak for Ruby when I say that this thankful is for her: had she not thought she was home-free from getting in her carrier and sauntered into our bedroom right after Emma and I left, she would have been left home alone for three days. She has NEVER been home completely alone before; even when we have been gone, the other two cats are there with her. She would have been one sad, lonely kitty!

4. We did absolutely nothing all day today except eat, nap, and watch intellectual tv shows. We did lazy right.

5. I annoyed my husband and daughter during a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon by not knowing who anyone was. Every scene, I had to ask them to identify each member of the family. I really am thankful that I don't care enough to know which one is which.

6. Naturally, now that it's Spring Break, the weather has turned cold and nasty. In spite of the brisk northerly wind and temps in the 40s, I found a teeny, tiny violet growing in the yard. We used to have violets at the house I lived in until I was 11, but they didn't bloom until late May. Finding this shivering violet in the yard brought back sweet memories of taking a bouquet of violets to school for my teacher, the stems wrapped in a wet paper towel and covered with a piece of aluminum foil.

This violet bloom was about the size of a dime.

7. Another blast from the past were these grape hyacinths that were growing outside the screened-in porch. They used to come up every spring at my great aunts' house when I was a little girl.

Grape hyacinths.

8. Thanks, Fletcher, for insisting on going out on the screened-in porch in spite of the weather; otherwise, I wouldn't have seen the grape hyacinths or the violets.

Fletcher enjoying the fresh air on the
screened-in porch.

My husband refers to them as "prison gay."

9. Emma and I went to Dick's 5&10. It's a real dime store and lots of fun to putter around in. It's always full of tourists, so we don't go very often. You can buy hair nets and toys and underpants and Christmas decorations and souvenirs and candy and a gazillion things in between.

10. Dick's had candy cigarettes.

In all things, give thanks.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Contract: A Six Sentence Story

Today is the statewide tornado drill. At this very moment, the tornado sirens are sounding, and even though the sky is clear and the sun is shining and I KNOW it's only a drill, my stomach muscles contract at the sound, my heart beats faster, and I have goosebumps.

Hearing tornado sirens is not something to take lightly here.

Five years ago this May, two-thirds of our town was destroyed or damaged in an EF-5 tornado, including schools, a hospital, homes, and businesses. There were 158 deaths and over 1,000 injuries.

Both the landscape and our emotions are healing, but they are still scarred.

Linking up with Ivy at Uncharted for Six Sentence Stories with the prompt "contract."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

When I was in the hospital for my bilateral mastectomy, I sported a bracelet that read, "FALL RISK," and to be honest, I was quite indignant about that. What made them peg me as a fall risk? Someone old and doddery, okay, I get it, but I WAS NOT OLD AND DODDERY.

If heredity has anything to do with it, however, I am doomed.

Late last October, my mother fell flat on her back on the sidewalk on the town square when her cane slipped as she stepped down from the curb. Or that's her story about how it happened. She suffered compression fractures in her back and further damage to her already arthritic spine, hips and shoulders. She also had a concussion, and that rattling of her brain caused some pretty severe memory problems for her. Time and medication have helped her brain function improve, but she can't walk unassisted (meaning without a walker) and still has a tremendous amount of back and hip pain.

In other words, falls are very, very bad.

Between both of my parents, they have well over a dozen doctors, and I try to go to as many of their appointments with them as I can. Yesterday, they had a joint appointment with their internist in their hometown, an hour's drive from me, so I drove up for it after preschool (and after sleeping off a migraine AND voting in the presidential primary, so that will give you an idea of how my morning had gone up to that point). I called my dad to let him know I would meet them at the doctor's office (long line at the polling place), and he said fine and that was that. 

I arrived at the doctor's office just after they had been called back from the waiting room. My dad was still standing on the scale, his back to me, fiddling with the slidey thing on the scale while the nurse watched him. 

"Are you trying to cheat on your weight?" I asked him as I approached, and with his back still to me, he said to the nurse, "She hasn't seen me yet."

Then he turned around.

"DEAR GOD, WHAT DID YOU DO? DID YOU FALL?!" I asked, horrified.

"Yep," he said. 

"You landed on your FACE?"

"Yep. Broke my nose in three places. And I got two stitches. And scraped it here (points to forehead) and here (points to upper lip)."

"Where WERE you?"

"Outside the hospital this morning, picking your mother up from rehab (editor's note: shoulder, NOT drugs or alcohol) and my ankle kind of rolled and down I went."

My mother chimed in, "I was standing inside the door and saw the whole thing. I thought he had a seizure."

I suppose if you're going to face plant on concrete, doing it in front of a hospital is a good location, because people swarmed out of the building, picked him up, and hustled him into the Emergency Room. (This may be a little graphic, mmkay?) When he got to his feet, blood was gushing out of his nose to the extent that it hit the pavement and then spattered up onto his khaki pants knee-high. His shirt was covered with blood, and one of the front pockets (he has a two-pocket requirement for all shirts) ripped halfway off, and the pen he had had in the pocket came all the way through the fabric. There was a puddle of blood on the pavement the size of a dinner plate.

And he BROKE his FACE.

Back at their house after the appointment, I fixed dinner for them and prepared to leave, saying, "You've each had your fall. YOU fell (pointing to my mom) and YOU fell (pointing to my dad). I am done. No more falling allowed."

"No, no more falling," they both agreed, and I drove home.

Today, I called my dad to see if he was in much pain.

"It doesn't really hurt very much," he said. "But I've got one really black eye and the other one is getting there."

"Take a picture," I said.

"I did fall out of my chair today, though," he casually tossed out.

"Wait, what? You fell out of your chair onto the FLOOR?"

(He has a rolly desk chair in the kitchen that he uses when he's on the computer. He also uses the rolly chair when he's cooking or loading the dishwasher [two of his many new duties since my mom fell], as his back hurts when he stands for too long.)

"Well, I was stretching to reach something instead of getting up, and the chair kind of shot out from under me and dumped me on the floor."

(Take deep breaths. Take deep breaths. Take deep breaths.) "Did you hurt anything?"

"Just my thumb. It's a little stiff."


"That was my last one," he said.

If you need me, I will be searching Pinterest for how to make bubble wrap suits for both of them.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why, Yes, This Entire Thankful Post Is About My Dinner

If last week seemed to last a year, this week was a mere minute long. How does that happen? Maybe it was because the College Boy was home for spring break, and in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself I only had seven days with him home, then six, then five....

How about a Ten Things of Thankful about my dinner Saturday night? 

My mom hasn't been well since she fell at the end of October, and although she's doing much better now, when my dad called me earlier this week, my first reaction was to brace myself for some kind of bad news. Instead, he called to see if we wanted to go to dinner with him and my mom on Saturday night, which is two thankfuls right there, because (1) it wasn't bad news and (2) she's feeling up to going out somewhere.

See, there's this little town called Hume (population 325) about a 40 minute drive from my parents' home that has a little restaurant called Sisters & Friends. That alone is a Big Deal, as the town has a liquor store, a funeral home, a beauty salon, a grain elevator, a lumber yard/hardware store, a bank, a school, and post office and that's pretty much it. No groceries. No gasoline. On the second Saturday of every month, this little restaurant in this little town has all-you-can-eat boiled shrimp. And my dad is all about all-you-can-eat boiled shrimp.

"Downtown" Hume. I took these last summer,
hence, the green, leafy trees.

Once upon a time ago, there was a gas station here....

We trekked up to my parents' home, my husband, the College Boy, and I (daughter had a Big Event at school that she wanted to attend, so she didn't go with us). I have managed to win my son over to the wonderful music that was produced in the 70s and 80s, so we listened to that all the way up there, and he didn't make fun of my singing, unlike the one who didn't go with us often does.

The wheat fields are so lush and green, and even though signs of spring are popping out everywhere, the ground is still mostly brown. It was a gloomy, overcast day, but the green of the wheat still looked gorgeous against the still-brown pasture land and bare fields.

Taken from the car window, but you get the idea.

The main dining room in the restaurant was full when we got there, so we were seated in the back dining room. It is made out of a grain bin and it is awesome, although a long walk for my mom and her walker. The owner is a character, all 430 pounds of him (not an estimate, he brought it up), and wears overalls and a big beard and holds court at the cash register, and he unlocked a side door in the grain bin so we could get my mom back out to the car more easily.

The restaurant's main building.

The grain bin/dining room from the outside.

There are always pickled beets on the salad bar, and all the salads are made fresh in the kitchen. I will admit a little disappointment that there was no cornbread salad this time, but I made up for it with two kinds of potato salad, cole slaw with raisins and marshmallows in it (which sounds dreadful but was really good), pistachio salad (YOU know the one I'm talking about) and banana pudding.

My mom kept saying she was really hungry, which is terrific, as she has had little to no appetite for a number of months, and she ate three (small) plates I filled for her from the salad bar plus two large chicken strips (she's a huge fan of chicken strips).

My mom and the College Boy, inside the grain bin.

My dad, husband and son ate enough boiled shrimp to grow tails and feelers. (I had a hamburger steak, which I am terribly fond of, especially when wrapped in bacon, as they do here.)

My dad and husband in the grain bin. The empty
cottage cheese container is for shrimp shells.

On the trip to the restaurant, where we took all back roads, because my dad likes to take back roads, we met a grand total of two cars during the 45 minute drive. How many of you can say you drove for 45 minutes today and only saw two other cars? 

It was dark when we headed back home, and although we took a slightly more direct route back to my parents' home, half of it was on a two lane road through the countryside where we, again, met only one car and didn't hit any critters, although if you ask me, that raccoon was asking for it when he ran out in front of me like that. 

I'm also thankful that whatever that was on the side of the road (whose eyes were reflected in my headlights) didn't dart out in front of the car, because it was either a large deer (which means there were others behind him, as you never see just ONE deer) or a wolfman (my son's best guess), and neither would have been good with which to collide on a dark, country road.

I would have written this post last night,
but Ruby had other ideas.

Good company, (reasonably) good health, happy tummies all around, spring on the way, and I missed the raccoon. I'd say it was a good week!

Link up, yo.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Because I've Done One Every Week For 141 Weeks

When you most don't want to write a thankful list, it is precisely the time to do one. Ten things of thankful. Go.

1. I wrote one of my A to Z Challenge posts already! Spoiler alert: it was a Pinterest winner!

2. I worked on a second A to Z project, too. I don't want to give anything away, but I'm still trying to get the taste out of my mouth....

3. More signs of spring in my yard. I sure hope this early spring is not some cruel joke that Mother Nature is playing on us.

Buds on the maple tree.

One of the somewhat pathetic
hyacinths that come up every spring.

4. I participated in Ivy's new Heart And Mind Monday hop at Carrot and in her Thursday hop, Six Sentence Stories, at Uncharted

5. Show Choir season is over, and my daughter's group did their best performance ever last night. Here's a video of their show, which is really only entertaining for parents and grandparents of the performers, but I'm putting it out there anyway.

6. I had a hella time getting the video to upload to YouTube from my phone, but I finally got it to work this morning.

7. I had a hella time with all things electronic, actually, as I couldn't get iTunes to update so I could back up my phone. I did manage (finally!) to get it to update, although I have no idea how or why.

8. And I got the phone synced and now don't have to worry if I lose any or all of the 112 notes I have on the phone (notes which range from prescription numbers to blog ideas to wish lists, among other things). 112. 112.

9. My daughter is sick with some kind of upper respiratory virus, and I'm just thankful it isn't the stomach flu.

10. The College Boy is home for his spring break, and I sleep better knowing my baby birds are in the nest at night.

I am saying a fervent prayer that the funk I'm in today will dissipate soon. I don't like feeling this way. As a Pollyanna, however, I'm pretty sure I'll shake it quickly, and for that, I'll be very grateful.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts