05 January 2014

{s}no school

We've already gotten the call that there is no school tomorrow due to the 6-8 inches of snow that fell last night and this morning, as well as the low temps and negative windchill in Monday's forecast.  So we are nestled in here at 5380 South Woodfield.  I got the Christmas decor put away before our holiday break was over and the house feels a little plain without it.  I've been doing the quintessential organizing and cleaning out that comes with this time of year and have a few projects on deck.  

Ryan is really sick, so I made chocolate chip cookies for him even though he might not have the appetite for them.  I'll have to wake him up in a bit for the 49ers playoff game, so I've got a fire going in the living room and Booker is warming up the couch for him.  The snow has stopped, I think--at least for a couple of days--but I don't see us leaving the cozy confines of home any time soon.

14 November 2013

celebrate {good times}

My sisters and I hosted a birthday party for my parents last Saturday at their house in Cassville.  My dad turned 60 on 30 October and my mom's 60th birthday is 28 December.  We figured 60 was a milestone worth celebrating, and a good reason to have an event for friends and family at their new-ish farm.  The weather was beautiful, the yard picturesque, and the turnout was great.  My sisters were in charge of the food and I did the decor and setup on the back patio.  I used mostly things I already had--flea market crates, the pumpkins and mums from my front portch--to accentuate the fall decor my mom already had in place.  We had a firepit in the driveway for everyone to gather their chairs around.  It was nice to see lots of old friends from Cassville, but I was especially glad to have some of our family from Oklahoma there:  my aunt Debbie and her husband Jerry (and her cute little dog, Chip!), my cousin's adorable little girl Gray, my dad's sister Cathey and my uncle Rick, and most of all, my sweet 92-year-old Grandpa Jude.  I squeezed him often and much while I had a chance.  Quite a treat to see him and so nice for him to be happy and getting around okay and enjoying himself. I took lots of pictures and also had guests write little messages, all of which I hope to package in a small scrapbook memento for my parents.  An all-around lovely day!

I'm linking up to Debra's Common Ground..Hi Debra!

10 November 2013

we will miss you, Pop...

We lost Ryan's grandfather week before last.  He was kind, generous and funny, a business success, a flirt and an animal lover.  Most of all, he was a huge part of Ryan's life.  We were just talking last night about how many of his personality traits, interests and abilities he inherited from Pop.  There's a lot more to say, but for now I wanted to post links to this tribute from an old friend of Charles and this detailed write up from the front page of the Bolivar town newspaper, as well as the link to his obituary and online guestbook. Ryan's parents have been receiving letter after letter these last couple of weeks from people they never knew who Charles helped over the years. I can't wait to look through them myself.  He left a legacy and that makes his passing at the age of 94 a little easier, but it's just so hard to say goodbye...I personally can't thank him enough for some very generous things he's done for me over the years and also for helping to raise such a good boy for me to marry...

RIP, Charlie by Dave Berry
Many throughout the region will have stories to tell about Charles Fraser, who died last Tuesday at age 94. There would be even more if he hadn’t outlived so many friends and associates.

Among the stories is the one about how several months ago he was given only a few weeks to live, but until just days before his death he could still be seen mowing his lawn despite near blindness and other maladies that would have idled the common man.
And the one about his many treks back and forth to Parkview Residential Care Center, crossing a busy highway to care for his friend Elizabeth Teters over the last few years of her life.
I developed an instant liking for Charlie the moment I met him in 1977. As a banker and youth baseball coach he reminded me of another banking Charlie who had done his best to coach me in Aurora Little League. As it turned out, they were close friends and golfing buddies over many years.
And I grew even fonder of banker Fraser in 1978 when he loaned us $25,000 to buy what was then the Bolivar Bowl, sporting six lanes in what is now a warehouse for Roweton Home Center, alongside N. Springfield Ave.
The wife and I would go back later to borrow more to buy used pinsetters to replace leased units that AMF was trying to force us to buy at an outrageous price. What AMF was saying was worth a fortune went straight to Yeargain Salvage for scrap after I happily told them to come and get them, because a friendly banker agreed they were trying to take unfair advantage of us.
In both cases, Charlie had absolutely no reason to have confidence I would have the means or wherewithal to repay those loans, other than what he saw in my eyes or felt in my handshake. And, for that matter, neither did I.
To this day I don’t know for certain if Commerce Bank issued those loans to us or if the bank just serviced what Charlie put up out of his own pocket. I would later find out he and other country bankers were prone to do the latter on occasion, something technically prohibited even then but out of the question in today’s regulated banking world.
But truth be known, the loans probably had more to do with the other signature on those documents — my wife’s, whose smile and legs he appreciated. He was a safe flirt all the way to the end.
Either way, the loans were repaid in full and we gained a gold mine’s worth of experience that is paying dividends still today.
There are countless stories like that out there involving people who were helped by Charles Fraser in some fashion. Some probably didn’t end with full repayment of the loans or mutual appreciation for the acts, but there are valuable lessons in that, too.
Of course, I’ll also never forget him because of his donation of the land upon which John Playter Rotary Park was developed.
Or for the column material he occasionally provided, such as when he, as a snowbird in Florida, set out plastic bags for the trash truck to pick up when preparing to head north to Bolivar. The bags turned out to be filled not with trash but with some of his wife’s best clothes.
Or the time his wife, Georgia, received a sympathy card from a friend who, from a kitchen window many yards away, witnessed Charlie heeding the call of nature behind a bush on the Bolivar Municipal Golf Course.

Rest in peace, old friend.
'He loved helping people' Friends remember Bolivar's Charles Fraser by Matthew Barba
Looking at the list of accomplishments which punctuate Charles Fraser’s life, it is easy to tell he touched many people’s lives. Some remember him as their competitor in business, a friend for life, and perhaps most importantly, a good golf buddy.
Charles Ruel Fraser was born June 12, 1919, in Polk, the son of Elgie and Elpha Fraser. While he grew up working in the family’s grocey stores, many people remember Fraser as one of Polk County’s iconic bankers.
In addition to his wife, Georgia Lee, Fraser was often found in the company of Gerald Stephens and his late wife, Helen.
“We were the best of friends,” Stephens said. “His wife and my wife were such close friends, and Charlie and I played many, many rounds of golf together.”
Stephens said when he finally retired the Frasers would invite them down to their place in Florida for some rest and relaxation.
“Charlie and I would go play golf, and the girls would go shopping,” Stephens said with a laugh.
Stephens said that while others might have thought Fraser was a little “unusual” as a banker, his way of helping people in need is what really shone through about him.
“Everyone admired Charlie because he was good at helping people and he was glad to do it,” Stephens said. “I certainly miss the guy.”
Fraser was tapped in the fall of 1961 to run the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank of Bolivar. He had no previous banking experience but his work ethic and knowledge from operating grocery stores in Bolivar, Stockton, Buffalo, El Dorado Springs and Lebanon gave him an edge that showed in how he conducted business.
“Charles was the most competitive human being that I ever met in my life,” recalled Dave Strader, vice president of Bank of Bolivar. “He was competitive whether he was vying for a bank customer or on the golf course.”
“From a banking standpoint, he was good competition, but he was also a real proponent of Bolivar’s growth and development,” Strader added.
While Strader remembers Fraser’s competitiveness well, a fonder memory is from when the two were neighbors.
He was the greatest neighbor that anybody could ever have,” Strader said. “We were neighbors for many years. He and his dog, Bogie, were constant companions and an absolute joy to be around.”
Shaping young lives
Golf was a passion for Fraser but it was hardly the only sport he helped cultivate in Bolivar and Polk County. Bill Jones remembers when Fraser helped start up Little League baseball in Bolivar.
The Fraser Yankees were one of four teams formed in 1956; other teams included Newport, a dime store; Foremost Dairy; and Houk Dairy.
“Charles Fraser was instrumental in forming a Little League here in Bolivar,” said Bill Jones, a player on the Fraser Yankees in 1956 and 1957. “Virgil Hogan had a vision to form a league, and Charles Fraser and others followed up on that vision while Hogan was here and after he moved from the area.”
When Bill Jones played for the Fraser Yankees, Charles Fraser was the manager; other coaches were Joe Otradovec, Gerald Stephens and Jim Strange.
“Fraser helped us young boys play baseball for several years before forming the league,” Jones said. “He helped take us to Springfield to play against teams there Sunday afternoons. We also played some of our games at Northward school — you could hit the ball over into the Dunnegan’s garden.”
Jim Sterling, former publisher of the BH-FP, remembered Fraser fondly. “He was a great Polk countian.”
Sterling added, “When they opened the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank, it really helped the business community grow and the entire economy blossomed.
“Charlie was a good banker, a good grocer, a good citizen and a good family man and friend to many,” Sterling said. “And I supposed he’d like to be remembered as a good golfer.”
One person who saw both friend and family man aspects of Fraser was David Cribbs, who described Fraser as “a partner, my banker, competitor on the golf course and one of my best friends.”
“He was like a father to me,” Cribbs said. “My father [Clifford] died early and I came home to run the business. He and dad were very close, and Charlie became just like a father to me.”
One thing that Fraser was responsible for, along with others including Clifford Cribbs, was starting the Bolivar Nursing Home, now owned by Citizens Memorial Hospital, which was the start for local health care services.
Cribbs said that without Fraser, who was humble and selfless, he would not be where he is today.
“I really loved that man because without all of his advice, his character and loaning me money, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Cribbs said. “That man has done a lot behind the scenes and he never wanted to be recognized.”

14 October 2013


I couldn't quite convince Macauley to commit to the banana he tried on at Target last week for his Halloween costume this year...We've been so busy that figuring out what to go as hasn't been on the radar, but Macauley did mention to me the other day that this might be the last year he dresses up for Halloween...Boo(hoo).

Jenn, Casey, Tonya, Andrea, Tina, Misty, Kara, Heather, Me

What's bananas is that I've known several of the girls in this photo for almost 30 years, all of them for at least 20...I met up with some of my friends from Cassville for a long overdue girls night at the Branson Landing last weekend.  We got a big suite at the Hilton, had dinner and stayed up way, way too late catching up on years and years of happenings--some of us hadn't seen one another since graduation in 1994 or since our ten year reunion.  We were missing a couple of key components of the old gang, but there's just something about the comfort of knowing you don't have to impress or prove anything to these old friends. 
It feels like we have had plans or obligations more nights than not, both weekends and school nights.  The above photo is one of 30+ we collected over the last week (and had developed today) for Macauley's extra credit math project entitled "Shapes in the Real World."  We counted the wet floor sign as a pyramid, though it may only pass for a triangle.  The poster is glued, labeled and packed in a trash bag for transport to school tomorrow (in case it rains as forecasted).  He has struggled with fifth grade math thus far, and we could sure use all the points we can get.

On Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, we drive to Drury for Mac to practice swimming.  He's been on burnout lately, and Ryan and I have been fretting that we've made him despise the one physical activity he's always loved.  But once he's in the pool, he swims hard and seems happy and I think it's good for him.  Plus we get to see our sweet little friend Ella.  Adorable.
As of tomorrow, the school year is officially 1/4 completed.  I've been on a bit of burnout myself where school is concerned, but just like with Mac's swimming, I keep showing up.  And once I'm there each day I swim hard and seem happy.  We've got a workday with no students on Wednesday, and then it's a downhill slope to the weekend.  I'll be seeing Keith Urban and Little Big Town in concert on Sunday with Amy.  For now, though, I should be in bed.  6 am will be here in a blink. 

08 October 2013

goodbye, funny pug

Our hearts are breaking tonight for my sister Lindsay who had to say goodbye to her sweet Meena today.  After 13 good years, her little pug body was giving out.  We feel like we've lost a member of our family and we are so sad for my sister.  But, as you have to do in times like these, we are trying to hold on to the memories and the thought that Meena had the very best life a dog could have.  She was such a funny little pug and spent a lot of time at our house over the years.  We will miss her very much.  We love you, Linds...Hang in there.

Meena Tate
9 February 2000-8 October 2013
aka our...
Meenie Beens
Meenie Beenie Been Dip
Meena Pug

25 September 2013

come again

Dream Marks on My Pillow by Ana Lancu
Last night before bed, I stepped out onto the front porch while Booker T. raced with a predatory growl towards the woods behind our house.  I waited for him to return, a triumphant skip in his step telling me all was safe and sound thanks to him, and from there on the front steps I noticed there was no moon out, or at least not one I could see.  A few stars dotted the sky but the yard was darker than usual and my big black dog crept back up beside me almost camouflaged.

I had been thinking of her off and on all day--my sweet Nanny who left us in June--and another round of loss swept through me there...no moonlight only made me miss her more. I scratched Booker's ears and cried, soft so that no one would hear, as if anyone was listening at that time of night.

I'll never be a little girl again.
I'll never see her shrug her shoulders
the way she always did.
I'll never see her handwriting on a
letter in my mailbox.
I'll never see her listening with interest
to my little boy's chatter the way she
always delighted in whatever I had to say.
I'll never see her again.

Ryan let Macauley sleep with us--a real treat on a school night--and with puffy eyes I slipped into the tiny sliver of our king size bed left for me, my son's now long legs tucked in close to mine and my big black dog in a ball at my feet, my husband miles of blankets and pillows away. Our room was dark and warm and I read only a few pages of my book before I floated into sleep.

And then, she was there...standing on my front walk, reaching out to me with a piece of paper in her hand.  He was there, too, a few feet behind her and to the side in dark blue jeans and the striped shirt he had on in their only picture with Macauley when he was a baby.  I grabbed her and squeezed her and cried for her to stay.  She just stood there and let me, still holding the paper.

I blinked and turned to see the numbers on the clock pushing me to start another day. I stared at the ceiling, making myself remember seeing her, knowing how dreams come and go if you don't commit them to long-term memory...like so many days I spent with her or spent not with her...they just slip away.

I could have cried in the car this evening when I told Ryan on the way to dinner. He said maybe it was a sign but he didn't say of what.  If I cry for her again tonight, will she be there on my front steps when I close my eyes?

the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking
It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn

~Stanley Kunitz
"The Testing Tree"


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