Family

All posts tagged Family

FaceBook, Smart Phones, and Fishing

Published August 31, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I’m not an expert with social networking, but I have a Facebook account to connect with people I’m closest to, and I have a blog to connect with folks on the web.  To my husband, a social network means a company picnic and his face on a billboard… I never expected there’d come a day when he’d be schooled.

When he returned from fishing, horns tooting and “Whoopie!” shouting, Marie and my husband flaunted their prizes and took pictures with their phones.

“Baby Beth, hold this up so I can take your picture,” Marie told her daughter.

“I don’t wanna.  It’s icky,” Baby Beth said.

“Oh, common.  I’ll help you,” said my husband.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

After taking several “good ones” with their smart phones, my husband and daughter compared their catches.

“I’m posting my shots on Facebook,” Marie declared, deftly tapping her phone.  Within seconds, the picture of Baby Beth’s grimace holding an icky fish was shared with the world.

Marie hopped to the computer and logged in. “Mom, come look.”

“Oh, Lordy!” On the nineteen inch monitor flashed a picture of my granddaughter struggling with a  dead 4lb. bass.  At this very moment, our entire family could see them on Facebook.  Ah…the wonders of the modern world.

“These are great. How can I print these out?” my husband asked, looking over my shoulder.  My dear husband, bless his heart, does not know how to use the features on his smart phone.  Marie, bless her heart, did not want to teach him how people pass around pictures nowadays.

“You need a Facebook account, Dad.  I’ll set one up, if you want…”

He sighed, shook his head, and left.  It was not his thing.

Marie and I seized the moment to introduce him to social media and all its glorious splendor. While he was outside cleaning the fish, Marie and I zip-lined him to the twenty-first century.  We opened a Facebook account for him, uploaded his pictures (a profile, too!), and sent “friend” requests.

After dinner, Marie braved a Facebook demonstration on his smart phone.  She had synced his accounts and showed him how to upload pictures and access his email.

During her lesson, he held his breath and concentrated.  Yes! He’s taking it in, I thought. Within minutes, his eyes glazed.  He blinked repeatedly.  Oh, no.  Marie had overloaded his microchips. The program is not responding.  Do we wait or end program now?  We waited.

It worked!  We squealed as he accessed Facebook and patted him on the back as he opened his picture files.  I can’t say he was delighted, but he grinned at our enthusiasm.

The next day, he slammed his phone on the table. “I hate Facebook.”

“Why?”

“My phone’s been vibrating all day. People keep leaving messages wanting to be “friends” on Facebook.  I’m too busy for that crap.”

I took his phone and tapped off  the notifications. Poor guy.  He’ll still catch fish, but he won’t be using the networks of the twenty-first century.

 

Have a great weekend. And thanks for stopping by!

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When the Wind Blows

Published August 27, 2012 by Ms. Nine

By NOAA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As Hurricane Isaac threatens the Gulf, I am reminded of the devastating effects of nature.  There’s something feral about hurricane winds.  Your animal side responds to its howl.  Can you outwit nature? Subdue it? Do you really have dominion?

“Mom, can we stay with you tonight?” It was Rachel.  She, her husband, and their infant son lived in a mobile home surrounded by trees. “We’re supposed to evacuate on account of the hurricane.  Mike’s on his way home from work, now.  I’m scared, Mom. ”

“You have time.  But please, honey, come as soon as you can.  We’re getting ready for it.   Bring everything you’ll need for the next several days just in case….” I said.

That night after the wind knocked out the power, we listened to news on a battery operated radio.  My daughters, all of them, huddled in the living room and clung to every word of the emergency broadcast…A loud crash broke the concentration.

Armed with flashlights and rope, my husband and son-in-law left the house to investigate.  The girls held hands and prayed.  As I watched the men though the window, their flashlights illuminated blurs of their movement – the struggle to tie rope to the posts and tether themselves, their blown faces like distorted images in a fun house, the rain slamming them sideways.

When they returned, the girls threw questions at them.  What happened? Did you see the barn? Are the horses okay? What was that noise?

“The sycamore, the one by the driveway, toppled over,” Mike reported.

“It’s okay,” my husband said, “it didn’t hit the propane tank.”

At this point, most of us were exhausted.  We were tired of listening to the wind, the tinny radio voices, and the pelting rain.  I blew out the candles and brought out blankets and pillows.  We dosed.

In the light of dawn, the brightest light I had ever seen, we stumbled awake and gathered outside. I heard a scream.

In the blink of an eye, our yard had become a strange landscape.  Toppled trees and branches obscured the view of the street, the barn, and the pond.  A large oak lay across the front field.  The top of  an old cedar had hurled like a spear into Marie’s ragtop.  She was still screaming.  She loved that car.

We comforted each other and checked on our neighbors.   All the people on our street were without electricity too, but no one was hurt.  For the next several days, I would bond with my neighbors in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.  We held grilling parties to share thawing food, passed around generators for our well pumps, and took turns with chain saws to clear the road of fallen trees.  A friend fixed Marie’s car.

Within a few weeks, our lives returned to normal, but we would never be the same.  We learned about the power of people and the power of nature.  United in humanity, we do have dominion.

Higher Education

Published August 23, 2012 by Ms. Nine

 

Nerner Moore White (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

For the first time in over fifty years, I’m not preparing to enter a school building. When I stopped teaching and started writing full-time, I didn’t anticipate the feelings I’d have at the start of this school year.  I feel like a blood hound sniffing for a lost scent.  For Heaven’s sake, where are my crayons and wheat paste?

When you think about it, school consumes a large chunk of your life.  You might be a student, a teacher, or a parent of a school-age child; sooner or later you’ll march through the doors of a school building.  For many of you, that time is now.

As you poke through your school memories, you’ll find moments of truth.  If you’d like, share them in a comment.

Have a great year and thanks for stopping by!

 

Does it Matter?

Published August 10, 2012 by Ms. Nine

When I discovered blogging, I made a mistake and told my mother about it.  She didn’t get it at all.

“Why are you doing that?”

“It’s fun to write stories and read other people’s comments,” I said.

“How do you know they are who they say they are?  They might be scammers. You could get a virus, you know.”

Trying to tell my mother about secure servers, virus protection, and anonymity is like telling the Holy Father about birth control.  Why bother?

I simply said, “It’s safe, Mom.  I don’t even use real names.”

“So what.  Hackers could find out.”

“You know the story about the tree and the elephant cables?  Well, I write stories like that on my blog,” I said. “You’d get a kick out of them”

“I don’t go on the internet for stories.  My computer is too slow. No. No..No..I wouldn’t do that.  Can’t you just mail the stories? Just send them to me.”

We didn’t need to be skyping for me to see her shaking her head. I dropped the subject like a coconut from a skyscraper.  I told myself it didn’t matter if she reads my blog.  That was a fat lie.

Mom called today.

“I read your blogs, you know,” her sing-song tone sounded like a nananaboobee.

“Oh.” I said. I wanted to jump up and down, shout hallelujah, and do a cartwheel.  I was proud of her.

Silence.

“Well, what did you think, Mom?”

“There’re wonderful!….You should be writing your book.”  There it was – a “should be” – an admonishment dressed up and ready for church.

“I’m doing both at the same time,” I said.

“Okay, yeah, yeah,yeah… You remember Bob? Well, his father died and the funeral was yesterday…”

A funeral?  So she called to tell me about a funeral?

She told me she sang at the service, baked a cake, and brought over a casserole for the family.  When she received the thank-you note, she was baffled at how much her gifts had meant to them.  An implied  shucks it was nothing.  A lie.  Maybe she didn’t expect them to express their gratitude so deeply. I’m sure she appreciated knowing that what she did mattered.

“Mom, remember how grateful we were when Dad died and all those people brought food to the house? We sent thank-you notes, too.  Kindness matters.”

“Yeah, well…”

Not long after our conversation ended, it occurred to me that shucks, it was nothing was the same response I had made when she told me she reads my posts.  It matters.

Thank-you, Mom.

Happy writing and happy weekend!

When Mom Calls

Published July 30, 2012 by Ms. Nine

 

My mom called me today.  One of my uncles recently celebrated his 90th birthday.  I loved my mom’s version of the party.  After our conversation, I pictured the scene and drew out the memories of my uncles and cousins.  Home.

This post was buried in the archives.  It’s back in case you haven’t read it.

 

Nine Writes

I visited my hometown, a place I haven’t seen in years, to attend a wedding.  A day before the wedding, my feelings of nostalgia led me to the old neighborhood where I grew up.   How differerent it looked from the days of my youth!  It took days to untangle my emotions and wrap them up in words.

Here’s what I told myself:

What did you expect?  When you walked away thirty years ago, did you think you were the only one who would leave?  You thought home would always be there, didn’t you?  Well, things change.

Where you once lived, the new owners have installed wrought iron stairs leading to your old room on the second floor.  At the top of the stairs is a door instead of a window.  Two familites live there now.

As you walk the streets of your childhood memories, you notice the sidewalks where you learned to ride a…

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 I would never…

Published July 26, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I would never post anything my kids shouldn’t read. In fact, my writer’s soul wants them to read my posts. I want to share my words with them like I did every day when they were little.  Now that they’ve grown, that desire persists.

“Thelma, did you read my post today?”

She chortles. “I didn’t have time today, sorry.”

“Sandy, what did you think of the post today?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t read it. Yet. I’ll read it later. I promise.”

“Marie, did you like my post today?”

“What post?”

I shrug off their indifference. I stop asking. You see, it doesn’t matter whether they read it or not, the story is alive. Permanently.

Today, the phone rings.

“Mom, I called to tell you I laughed when I read your blog story.”

And that, my friends, is why I write.

Thanks for stopping by! And keep your stories alive.

Three Word Wednesday Knocks Me Out

Published July 18, 2012 by Ms. Nine

Today’s words lured out a story I thought had sunk to the depths of dead bottom.    3WW: feel, tangle, shade

She unwrapped herself from the tangle of sheets and bounded out of bed.  Today was her birthday!

“Did you get it, Daddy?”

“Get what?” he answered coyly, “This?” He placed a tiara on her head.

“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “No, the pony!”

“Oh, that. Go on, open the back door.”

Her father rented it for her birthday party.  The party guests clambered about her, a chorus of “Can I be next?”  Her father led the beast for each romp around the yard.  During the last ride, the pony bit his arm.  His face turned an ugly shade of crimson.  Instantly he reacted with his fist, a blow that knocked the stubborn pony on its ass.

Years later, she could still feel the tiara’s comb dig into her scalp.

Thanks for dropping by!

Pot of Gold

Published July 16, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I have four adult daughters who live nearby and often drop in to visit on the weekends.  During their visits, we share many astonishing moments.  I don’t always have a camera to capture their images, but I always have words.  So it is with words that I retain an extraordinary moment that occurred on Saturday.

It was a day when bright sunshine, humidity, heat, and too many puffy white clouds brought on a sudden rain.  First, I heard the drops fall on the tin roof.  It was play rain, the kind of rain that glimmers in the sun like a disco ball and beckons you to dance.  I’m compelled to witness it up close on a porch rocker and watch the diamonds fall from the sky.  My husband joined me to share in the scenic pleasure.

As I watched the rain, a red Honda Civic rolled down the street.  My youngest daughter drives this kind of car.  I squinted.  Is that Thelma?  The car turned into our driveway.  Yes, it was she.  But why did she stop at the end of the driveway, a football field away from the front porch?  The car crawled forward, a turtle’s pace, toward the house.  I wondered if she was taking her time because of the rain.  Did she find it as delightful as we did?

One hundred feet away, I noticed there were two people in the car.  My husband remarked, “Why, it’s Thelma and Sandy.  Look, they came together today.  Thelma must have been helping Sandy can tomatoes. ”  The car halted twenty feet from the porch.  They were talking to each other like best friends sharing a secret.

They waited in the car a moment then dashed for the porch.  Thelma’s eyes sparkled as she fell into a rocker, breathless and flushed.  Sandy shook the rain off her hair.

“Didn’t you see it?” Thelma asked, looking at me.

“See what?”

“The rainbow in the front field!”

We bounded off the porch, craned our necks toward the sky, and searched the heavens for what my husband and I hadn’t noticed before.  And there it was, faint and fading in the distance.

“It was brighter a minute ago.  And the weird thing about it? It stopped…I mean it dead-ended right in your front field,” Thelma squealed in high-pitched bewilderment.

“Yeah, that’s why we stopped.  We were looking at it.”

“Yeah! I’ve never actually seen the end of a rainbow before.  The end of a rainbow! And it was right in the front field!  It was amazing!”

“I told her to ask you for a shovel. There had to be a pot of gold,” Sandy teased.

They laughed, giddy and girlish.  And I knew exactly where to find that pot of gold – home.

Thanks for visiting!

Writing for Revelation

Published July 10, 2012 by Ms. Nine

When my daughter talks to me, which isn’t very often, our conversations are one-sided.  She does most of the talking, which is usually a rant, and I do the listening. She’s toxic, and it’s better when I don’t take the bait.  When she leaves or hangs up the phone,  I fill my journal with what I wanted to tell her.  I thought I’d share with you a recurring theme.

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      “Why did you adopt me?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” I replied.

She scrunched up her face.  The answer, after all, implied that if I had hindsight, my decision would have been different.  Well, what did she want to hear?  Because I loved her?  Because she needed a family?  Because it was the right thing to do?  All this she already knew.  The truth is, even when I try to remember the reason, I really don’t have a better answer.

     Honey, you’re thirty-seven, an adult.  So your life sucked for the first eight years, then you got a new family.  It’s been twenty-nine years and you’ve yet to call me Mom.  Your therapist said you couldn’t say it because the word dredged up feelings of horror, pain, and dread.  Maybe if I had pushed the issue, made you talk the talk, eventually you’d see me as your “real” Mom.  Just so you know, being the “adopted one” never made you any less of a sister or daughter.

      We accepted you for yourself, the crooked sapling that we loved regardless.  Could anything have straightened out that sapling so its trunk wouldn’t grow up gnarly?  Does it matter?     

     Is that why you stuck the needle in your arm?  You blame your heroin addiction on being adopted?  Well, Honey, that’s what addicts do – they blame.  All the therapy in the world won’t change that.  True, you could have been someone else’s daughter.   But you’re mine, and nothing will change that, either. 

     So, why did I adopt you?  I can’t promise you’ll like this answer any better.  It’s a divine poker game and God’s dealing.  When He gives you a chance to love, even if the stakes are high, you don’t fold. 

    And if God ever gives me the chance to tell you this, I will.

 

Writing this has helped.  It’s her birthday and I’ve no way to contact her.

Thanks for stopping by.

Fragmented Shorts

Published July 4, 2012 by Ms. Nine

Flash fiction and sentence fragments.

Using exactly one hundred words.  No more.  No less.

Only for a Minute

Driving home from work.  Picking up two children from day care.  Watching the temperature soar to a record 106.  Forty minutes from home.  The intense urge to urinate.  Can’t think.   A gas station ahead.  Stopping.

Only for a minute.  Urgent business.  Locking the doors.  Leaving the kids inside.  Only for a minute.  Molten pavement.  Racing to the bathroom.   Occupied.  Waiting only for a minute.  Hot urine.  Liberation.  Relief.  Washing hands.  Thinking clearly.

Grabbing two popsicles.  Waiting in line.  Only for a minute.  Running back to the car.

Not sleeping.  Not nodding off.  One semi-conscious.  One dead.

 

Be safe.  Stay cool.  Thanks for stopping by.

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