31 July 2012

At any rate

My Nanny and Papaw lived in a tiny low-slung ranch house on a dead end street in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and just three houses to the south her sister Lorene and her husband Jim lived in a brick ranch a number of years newer.  When we were kids, my cousins and I pedaled and skipped between the two houses without rhyme or reason, speeding up past the neighbor's chow-chows that would bark after us from the end of their driveway.  Nanny's was home base, was home period, but Aunt Lorene's was an available diversion with an open-door policy.  There you could get a tall glass of instant iced tea served at the kitchen counter, plush mint-green carpet under your bare feet, ceramic or wood minis to paint at the dining room table, a note scribbled with a tiny pencil on a spool of receipt paper dispensed from the wooden holder on the thin strip of wall between the kitchen and the laundry room.  Uncle Jim was diabetic, so you'd also find fruit in a bowl on the table and might witness the daily routines of insulin shots and monitoring of blood sugar.  They never had kids of their own and I never knew why.  But they had all of us.  We wandered in and out at will. 

Uncle Jim died when I was a freshman in high school--the first family funeral that I remember, maybe my first funeral ever--and Aunt Lorene's house became a second place to stay when I brought friends from Cassville and even college to visit the street where most of my childhood memories are centered.  She made it just fine there on her own for quite a while, sleeping in past 10 if she wanted (to her sister's dismay), and buzzing around in her big maroon Mercury to church, the casino and the Senior Center.  I didn't see her as much as I grew older, and the easy comfort I felt around her as a child waned with time and distance and her inability to hear well.  But the amused affection we've all always felt for her remained.  And for her trademark quirks:  Bright pink lipstick, which she'd leave on your cheek as she greeted you with a kiss.  Ordering blue cheese for her salad at Hamlin's in a hurried huff with the outdated name Roquefort.  Her attempt to get in the loop on conversations around her with a slow, "Now do what?"  And her filler phrase, tucked into the middle of stories or at the end of statements, "At any rate..."  She was the spunky, rebellious counterpart to our loving but straight-laced Nanny.  Not our great-aunt.  Just our our Aunt.  I sent her a birthday card a couple of weeks ago, with a short note about what we were up to here in Missouri, mailed to the retirement village in Ardmore where she'd lived for the last couple of years near my Aunt Phyllis.

Tuesday evening she sat in her recliner at the village with a can of Ensure and never got up.  When she didn't come down to breakfast Wednesday, staff found her still there, legs crossed, in her chair.  She left us unexpectedly but peacefully and Lindsay and I drove from KC to home then to Muskogee to be there yesterday with a small cluster of family and some of her friends I didn't recognize, the lot of us gathered in the relentless Oklahoma sun to say goodbye.  I stood behind my Nanny's wheelchair and peeked at her during the prayers to see her head up, neck pivoting, looking at the faces around her with no expression that I could read.  Later, after lunch at Debbie's next door to Nanny's old house, Lindsay and I noticed her take out her sister's funeral program tucked between her leg and the chair and read over it at least ten times, chin up and glasses down, like she was perusing the West Side bulletin or the Muskogee Phoenix.  Again, no expression that I could read.  Maybe it's better that way.

I had Lindsay drive slowly down South 24th Place when we headed home so I could capture some of the landmarks that have changed more in their present conditions than they have in my memory.  Nanny and Papaw's low front porch.  Jim and Lorene's sparse brick facade.  The Stanley's inexplicable decapitated cow cut-out.  The spot where you turn from Smith Ferry Road and know you're there.  There where I come from.

Aunt Phyllis was the most heartbroken, having taken care of Aunt Lorene these last few years when she needed it most.  She made sure Aunt Lorene was decked in her favorite pink lipstick at the funeral home and had just taken her for a cut and perm that Tuesday.  Her last day.  Phyllis said she never looked better, actually, when she last saw her, coiffed and bathed and in a fresh outfit.  Fiesty and combative as ever, Phyllis told us, before she announced that Aunt Lorene had been "set free" in her last years when Phyllis told her she didn't have to wear the hearing aid she despised if she didn't want to.  Or wear underwear, which Phyllis said Aunt Lorene "hated with a purple passion."  News to me.  We laughed out loud as we mingled near the funeral home's tent and made our way across the crunchy brown grass of the cemetery, away from Aunt Lorene there next to Jim, each of us running through our own mental inventories of funny things we remember her saying and doing.  It seemed fitting.  I will miss her and think of her with that same amused affection.  At any rate.

27 July 2012

These days

It's been kind of nice using the excruciating heat as a reason to nestle down inside the house with the kitties and Book and just be still.  I've done a little cleaning and organizing and a bit of scrapbooking, even some computer work for school, but the days have been slow and easy.

But not entirely sedentary.  Ryan and I ran in the Mammoth 5K to benefit the museum near our neighborhood tonight.  I thought my head might combust from the heat (and my feet, too, actually), but we made it.  Ryan finished a good deal ahead of me.  Macauley stayed behind at the museum/starting line while we ran.  I love that he is brave and self-sufficient like that.  He also took our before (above) and after (below) shots...

I've been backtracking on his scrapbooks and finishing odd pages in each.  There is one for each year of his life.  Someday he will either be thrilled that his days were documented so, or he will think his mom was psycho obsessed with him.  Books 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 are complete.  4 and 6 almost.  8 barely started.  9 non-existent.  He will soon turn 10. Times truly flies and it's so hard to catch... 

Lindsay and I are headed to Kansas City in the morning to see Lane's new house and her wedding venue and do some sister shopping and hanging out.  I'll also stop by my old friend's wedding reception in Shawnee to give her this little utensil bouquet I put together for her.  The OXO pieces are from her registry and the colorful bits caught my eye at Target.  I tucked in some daisies and tied it all up with a bow in a white crock.  Hope she likes it...

Summer Song
William Carlos Williams
A faintly ironical smile
At this brilliant,
Dew-moistened 5
Summer morning—
A detached,
Sleepily indifferent
A wanderer’s smile— 10
If I should
Buy a shirt
Your color, and
Put on a necktie
Sky-blue, 15
Where would they carry me?
Over the hills and
Far away?
Where would they carry me?

24 July 2012


I really loved the beams at this house we visited on the HBA Home Tour a few weeks ago.  I especially liked how they seemed to have traces of white paint from a former life.  I wonder where the builder got them.  He had used some salvage wood in a few places in this very large home.  I liked the scale of the kitchen and the master and the built-in on the staircase.  The house backed up to the Finley River and sat on a huge lot.  Pretty.

23 July 2012

Ready for grade 4

Since Macauley is going on vacation with my parents right before school starts on 15 August, we went ahead and got his 4th grade (!) school supplies before the stores were picked over.  We found everything at Target (except the recorder--we will get that later in the year) then got the new backpack at TJMaxx.

The list:

Fourth Grade (Boys)

1 Trapper with 5 pocket file folder
6 glue sticks
2 composition books
2 pack of wide rule paper
4 dozen #2 pencils
Pencil top erasers
2 red pens
2 boxes of Kleenex
2 containers of antibacterial wipes
1 white glue 4 oz.
1 highlighter
1 scissor 5” pointed tip
1 box of 24 crayons
4 dry erase markers
1 three ring binder 1.5” white (with clear cover insert)
1 package of 5 tab 3 ring dividers 8.5x11
1 box of gallon size storage bags
1 music store quality recorder
$5 for school planner first week of school

We also tried a somewhat newer place here in town that serves healthy Asian food.  I think it was good?  The flavors were odd, but not necessarily in a bad way, and the presentation was nice.  Macauley had plain noodles and they were garnished with seaweed. 

I picked up these slippers, too, which make me think of cozy fall and winter weekends at home.  Cute!  So we're not ready for summer to end, but we are prepared for Macauley's last year at Wanda Gray.

22 July 2012

Yes I did just Instagram my Instagrams

Like many, I'm a bit addicted to the Instagram app.  Maybe because I'm too lazy to figure out real photography.  I love the filters and how they make ordinary things seem artsy.  Earlybird is my favorite.  I ordered some prints from Printstagram a couple of weeks ago and they arrived yesterday.  I didn't realize they'd be coming from Taiwan.  I'm pleased with the paper quality and look forward to using them in some scrapbook pages.  I've got just shy of 3 weeks before I'm back at work...

20 July 2012

Double (not trouble)

Macauley and I are just home from Salem and our visit with Molly and her 10 week old twin boys, James Benton (being fed by Macauley) and Judson Todd (in baby burrito mode). Plus her adorable old kitty Trixie--I have always loved that face.  The boys are wonderful and Macauley and I both enjoyed helping Molly the best we could for a couple of days.  We watched them while Molly went to the dentist today and they were so, so sweet.  Feeding two babies at the same time is a bit stressful--making the bottles (with different formula and one with medicine), getting each situated, facilitating burps, and so on.  Molly is a supermom doing it on her own and I'm so proud for her and her beautiful babies.


Macauley and I got out this afternoon and went to two antique stores in Salem.  I bought the little creamer and platter at a strange place with all sorts of wonderful things.  The prices were both high and cryptic, written in code on the tags so that you had to ask the older man in charge to have a look and tell you what he'd take for things.  Awkward.  I don't think he really wanted to part with most of stuff so he priced it through the roof.  His prerogative, of course.  :)

Trixie's adorable paws
So we're home now and ready to settle in for one of the few weekends left before school starts.  I can still smell "baby" on my shirt.  Isn't that a wonderful smell?

19 July 2012

These came home with me

My finds from Billings Saturday, minus the Dundee jars.  The last is from Relics and the other two are from an etsy seller.  The huge ironstone pitcher has some chips and cracks, but I saw the same one (I think) on ebay for $129.  This one was $12 and it came with a huge wash basin type bowl that didn't match.  Today Macauley and I are headed to Salem, MO to visit my old friend Molly and her new twin boys!


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