The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

A Sad Day July 12, 2019

Hello, all. It’s been a tough week. This week I experienced a first in my almost 47 years on this earth. Last Saturday night I was sitting in a lawn chair in my parents’ driveway, watching fireworks, holding my uncle’s hand and talking to him, hugging him goodbye when he and my aunt left, and the next afternoon he was dead.

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I’ve lost people before. Of course I have. But never someone I was just talking to and having fun with the day before. I mean, I knew he wasn’t well. He was on oxygen and was really struggling with his breathing that night, but none of us could have known he was in such danger.

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My family is a very loving one. Even if we don’t see each other for months at a time, (a fact made somewhat more pitiful by the realization that we live in the same county) we still love each other and enjoy seeing each other. I feel very blessed by that. Last Saturday night was an example. It was a throwback to the days when we had big family gatherings at my parents’ house, with aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family. We’d eat, maybe grill burgers or make a huge pot of spaghetti. Then afterwards we’d have watermelon and homemade ice cream and pop fireworks until late into the evening.

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That’s what we were doing that night. Not everyone was there- but a few family members from both sides made it feel like the old days for the first time in a long time: simple, homemade country joys, shared with at least part of a loving family.

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Then today, the rest of that family were all together for the first time in ages, as we said goodbye to my uncle. His service was in the church we all grew up in, with congregational acapella singing. That was one of the best and yet hardest parts for me. My aunt and uncle sat behind us for years in church, and many of the songs they chose to sing today were my uncle’s favorites and I could hear his singing so clearly in my mind. Afterwards, the police stopped traffic for us when we had to leave the church and get on the highway that runs through town. My uncle’s youngest son rode honor guard on his motorcycle.

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But the part that struck me, one of the things I loved the most, was the way all the traffic on the roads pulled over and stopped until we passed. It’s such a small thing, and I guess maybe it’s not done in all parts of the country, but the comfort I felt from seeing that show of respect can hardly be described. It made me feel proud to have grown up here. I wished that I could have said thank you to all those people who had taken time out of their day, stopped for a moment in their busy schedules, to sit by the roadside as we followed my uncle to his final resting place.

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As lovely and comforting as that was, though, it was nothing…*nothing* compared to the comfort of knowing my uncle was a Christian, and having an utterly firm conviction that he was in paradise at that very moment. I honestly never realized it before, because at the times of other losses, either I was too young to really think about it or appreciate it, or I unfortunately could not be absolutely certain the people I had lost were in a saved condition. Today, I knew. I knew without question that my uncle was literally in a better place. There is nothing that compares to the joy that comes from that certainty.

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Now, I know all of this gets into religion and theology or whatever, and not everyone shares the same beliefs and convictions. I am not even the most churchy person myself at the moment, but today made me want to start living my life better. It reminded me, as funerals always do, I guess, that someday this life will be over, and all I know is that I want to go to heaven. I want to have my poor fragile physical body exchanged for a spiritual heavenly body that will never get sick or broken. I want to spend eternity in the presence of Jesus, singing and worshipping God and walking streets of gold.

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I know this feeling may not last. This inspiration, this determination. It never does. Death happens, losses happen, and they make you think. And then the sadness goes away a little, the thoughts and introspection fade and you get caught up in the busy-ness of life again until the next loss happens. But maybe I can make it stick around and get back to how I was raised, going to church more often and trying to live a better life. I hope I can. I’m going to try, anyway.

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Until next time,

D.

PS. I have another family member, a cousin who was in a terrible motorcycle wreck. He could use some financial help if he is to make a full, long recovery. Here (I hope) is a link to his GoFundMe:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/joshua-findley-medical-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

 

A Good Day, A Bonsai, and A Warm Blanket April 13, 2015

Hello all!  Today is a little bit of a weird day.  It’s my last regular day at my job. For one more day I am the secretary of a TV/Radio/Internet ministry program.  Tomorrow it moves to Tennessee and I will be one day closer to my summer job as a clerk in a gift shop in a wilderness resort in Alaska.  I was a little emotional walking into my office today.  My formerly pleasant work space is half-packed, cluttered, disrupted.  The sky outside my sixth floor windows is gray and rain weeps down the glass.  I’ve spent three and a half years at this job, and one year in this office.  It has been a journey.  This program has been through three boards of directors, three computer techs, and lost its main speaker in my three years with the program.  Now that is all behind, and what lies ahead is a summer adventure in Alaska like none I have ever experienced.  I am so excited!

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Yesterday was a really good day. I’ll tell you why.  I took a moment to spend time with one of my best friends before I’m out of the state for four months.  We went to a high school production of Grease, which as my loyal readers will remember, I stage-managed in community theater this past summer.  A couple of the kids who were in my production were also in this one, in their same roles, and they were absolutely wonderful!  I was so proud of them and their efforts.  Even in the short time since they last performed the show, they have grown and improved so much. It was impressive to witness.

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Another reason yesterday was good was that I was actually able to acquire something I have always wanted:  a bonsai tree.  There was a van set up by the side of the road in the town where the show was, and we stopped and checked them out.  I had only ever had artificial bonsai trees before.  I had two of them when my house burned in 2009, and had always wanted a real one.  (Probably, if I were to confess, a side-effect of being a child of the 80s and watching Mr. Miyagi care for them in The Karate Kid! Ha!) One of my dorm-mates in college had one and she was always leaving it in the bathroom sink to water it, and I have rarely ever been so tempted to steal something! Shocking, I know.  Wherever the fascination originated, I really love them.  I felt a little guilty buying something that was going to require care and attention when I am about to be leaving for Alaska, but I knew either my mother or my daughters would take care of it for me.  I spent a good portion of the evening trying to think of a name for it.  Yes, I’m a little goofy.  I wish I could take my new little tree to Denali with me, but unfortunately I cannot.  Here’s my new friend:

It still needs a name.

It still needs a name.

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I made up for that with another purchase, though.  My daughter recently started working in the electronics department at Wal-Mart, and she was tickled to discover that you can get photos put on things like mouse pads, coffee mugs, and blankets.  She is an artist, a cartoonist, an animator.  She declared that she wanted to get some of her artwork put on a blanket so “I can be surrounded by my art!” She got that done quickly and easily, and I was inspired.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

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I may not be able to take my new Bonsai friend with me to Alaska, but I can take my babies! Not in person, sure, but I can take my Sweet Baboos (thank you, Sally Brown) to the Last Frontier with me on a blanket!  I can take them out on the deck, snuggle up with them and watch the mountain, and they will be with me any time I want!  Here is what I ordered:

Notice the yellow border.  Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? :)

Notice the yellow border. Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? 🙂

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All the pictures are from our cruise in 2012, which was our biggest adventure to date.  This Alaska thing will trump that, I think, what with all of us becoming grown-ups and striking out on our own and all.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  People keep asking me what I am going to do when I come back, and I don’t have an answer.  That is the beauty of life at this point.  I am a little like Forrest Gump’s feather.  I’m just floating along and open to whatever adventure I happen to land on next!

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Stay tuned for more blog adventures, soon to be coming to you from the great state of Alaska, complete with  (I hope) lots of gorgeous pictures!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Until next time,

D.

 

Maybe I’m Too Easily Entertained March 25, 2015

My motto for life, apparently!

My motto for life, apparently!

Hello all!  Ok, I don’t think this is likely to happen:  I don’t think I am in any danger of anyone thinking I am cool.  Or hip.  Or with-it.  Or fleek, or whatever the word is these days.  Ok?  Pretty sure nobody has ever mistaken me for any of those things, BUT.  Just in case I’m ever on the verge of being thought of as having or possessing in any way, any modicum of cool-ness, let me dispel that notion right here and now.

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See, because it takes a certain kind of person, a certain kind of personality, to enjoy at the age of 42 something meant to entertain 6-year-olds.  Today on the way to school, The Boy and I were listening to a CD recording of a book in the Hank the Cow Dog series.  First of all, if you have never heard of this adorable series, let me just say it is Hilarious.  With a capital H.  It is, in fact, so cleverly written as to border on brilliant.  The books themselves are adorable, but listening to them read on CD is even more special.  They are read and voiced by the author himself.

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Now, the particular story we were listening to was called The Case of the Tricky Trap, wherein:

Someone has been stealing feed out of the feed shed, and Hank knows that it’s his job to do whatever he can to help nab the culprit. Slim sets a live-animal trap in the shed, and Hank checks it in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the trap is a little trickier than Hank anticipated, and in the process of his investigation Hank manages to get himself…well…trapped. Can Hank find a way out of this sticky situation?

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The thing I enjoy most about these stories on CD is absolutely the voices.  What intrigues and entertains me about these voices is that they are all done by the same person, but each one is a completely different, completely developed character.  For the last two evenings I’ve been watching auditions for the new show ALT is doing, their final show of the season, Tuna Does Vegas.  I usually love watching auditions because it’s interesting to see how people interpret characters, and it’s something I am just learning.  Sometimes people take things in a way you would never expect, and the result is usually pants-wetting funny!

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So back to Hank.  As you might expect from a story set in the Texas panhandle, there are two buzzards in the series- a father and son duo of buzzards called Wallace and Junior.  In this episode, Wallace is getting a huge kick out of the fact that poor old clueless Hank has gotten himself stuck in a trap, and decides to entertain him with a song.  (There’s almost always a song in these stories, and they are genius!)

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Right about the time it was time for The Boy to get out of the car and go in to school, this song was cueing up.  Now don’t we assume that most moms would turn off the kid music when the kid gets out of the car?  Aren’t most moms dying for adult music, news, ads, talk radio, or anything you might hear on your morning commute?  Well, not this mom. The Boy gets out of the car, flashes me a wicked grin, and says “Enjoy your song, Mom!” And as he shuts the door, I crank up the volume a little more and listen to this:

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…and laugh and laugh.

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Maybe I’m just blowing off stress because I leave for Alaska SIX WEEKS from tomorrow!  I have three weeks to pack up my office and get it ready to move to Tennessee.  Then three weeks more to get new clothes bought and ship a few things I can’t take on the plane with me.  It’s going to go super fast.  Yikes!  Stay tuned for my new blog detailing my Alaska adventures.  Also plan to join Instagram for the purpose of sharing all the pictures people keep begging me to post, so watch for that.

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Until next time,

D.

 

County Fair, Country Culture, and Confessions September 8, 2014

Filed under: Family,Weight Woes — DDKlingonGirl @ 11:51 am
Tags: , , , ,
Ooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! (And the County Fair happens!)

Ooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! (And the County Fair happens!)

Hello all!  Hope things are super in your world.  Mine has been pretty darn good here lately, for several reasons.  I’m doing very well on my low carb eating plan.  I had a great birthday weekend this past weekend.  I am up to the eyeballs in new theater things looming on the horizon.  Things are just… pretty darn good.

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So let me tell you about my birthday evening with my kiddos.  Some of you may possibly not live in a small southern town, and have possibly never experienced anything as culturally specific as a County Fair.  Well, let me enlighten you, if I may.  Settle in, now.  Ready?  Ok.  So the Carter County Free Fair has been going on for scads of years.  Eons.  I’m not sure, but I’m too lazy a blogger to go look it up.  Anyway, it’s a tradition.  When I was growing up we used to go to the fair every year- it was always the first weekend in September.  Now, let’s get specific and identify some definitions.  The Fair is a term used to describe the entire event, but it is actually composed of two parts- the County Fair, and the Carnival.  The County Fair is exactly like the ones you used to read about in your old story books, where people bring everything from goats and pigs to quilts and preserves, to be judged against everyone else’s.  The animals are usually shown by kids raising them for 4-H projects.  My mother used to enter photos in the fair, years ago, and she won several ribbons.

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The Carnival is a different animal.  It’s your typical affair, loud music streaming from brightly lit thrill rides, slightly…strange-looking people hawking absolutely un-winnable games (ok, mostly un-winnable), and tantalizing smells emerging from travel trailers full of FAIR FOOD!  Aka, Junk on Wheels.  Aka, Heart Attack on a Paper Plate!  Funnel cakes, kettle corn, corn dogs, sausage, cotton candy, pretzels, nachos, corn on the cob, turkey legs, deep-fried ANYTHING, sodas, fruity drinks, all made while you wait, ridiculously overpriced, and oh-so-good.

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So we went to the fair Friday night, me and my kiddos.  It was my birthday, but even if it hadn’t been, we would have gone anyway, and ONLY because Miss Moneybags, aka Daughter J. had been saving up her money to take herself, her boyfriend, and her siblings, to the fair.  This was a much-anticipated and long planned event, you see.

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Well let me tell you, there were a number of thoughts that crossed my mind as we meandered through the games, food, and animals on display.  First and foremost, is the Culture of County Fair People.  Now, everyone in my group was wearing knee-length or longer shorts or pants.  But my goodness!  The clothing (or LACK thereof!) on the girls I saw!  Skin tight shorts just barely covering their butts, mysteriously coupled with boots.  Shirts that looked like they had been mangled by a mountain lion, strategically placed rips and tears and tie-ups that seem thoroughly dedicated to showing as much skin as possible while technically remaining “dressed.”  (Kind of like Miley Cyrus wearing pasties to fashion week, but that’s a whole other kind of tacky.)  And on the other extreme, the “emo” or “Goth” or “skater” kids who for some reason decided to attend the fair wearing hoodies, despite the fact that it was still over 90 degrees at 8:30 at night! And, categorized as perhaps less strange and more mildly amusing, the “Cowboy” types who saw it as an opportunity to wear their best starchy jeans, their button down shirts, their pointy-toe boots and their HUGE glittering belt buckles that would put the Crown Jewels of England to shame.  In addition were tired, stringy-looking grandmas, wrangling three or four toddler grandkids, Yuppie parents with strollers and wagons, complete with Soccer Mom performing the Lysol and Wipe Ritual in a ring around them every 10 steps.  We even saw a couple of … hmm, how to say this? Interesting-looking ladies carrying a sign for a petition to legalize marijuana.

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Waiting for Da Go! ;)

Waiting for Da Go! 😉

Anyway.  As I mentioned, it was definitely hot and sweaty.  Walking through the animal barns and in the show arena, I somehow managed to get sand between my toes (!) despite the fact that I was wearing sneakers and socks!  Daughter J. and her BF spent most of the evening riding carnival rides together, while Daughter S. and The Boy and I hung out and explored the fair.  We looked at the bunnies, and the chickens with funny hairdos, and goats.  Lots of goats. We rode only one thing together- the Ferris wheel.  It was here that I almost experienced a trauma, and it came with a flashback to a similar trauma that did in fact end up happening, years ago.  Here’s the scoop:  when we were boarding the Ferris wheel, I let the kids get on first, and they both sat on one side of the cart, which made it swing precariously in the wrong direction, making it virtually impossible for me to squeeze my rather large backside through the little gate and get into the cart.  So the very kind, and really not scary-looking at all, carnival worker and his partner swung the cart level and steadied it so I could climb in.  Well… I couldn’t quite make it.  I tried to step up but it was pretty high, and I was already worrying that this wasn’t going to work out and I would be humiliated in front of God and the world, but then I reached up, grabbed the cross-brace above the cart, pulled myself up, slid sideways through the cart gate and plopped into the seat, trying desperately to be nonchalant (a total contradiction in terms, by the way) about the fact that I had just very nearly experienced one of the most humiliating moments of my life.  I joked it off, grinning and chuckling at the kids, and we moved on.  I’m sure I told the carnival guys thank you, too, and I was hoping and praying that not too many people standing in line waiting were actually paying much attention to the people boarding the ride.

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So we took off, and the ride was very nice, and it was just almost dark.  I took some pictures, and a short video, but the funniest part was when I kept getting frustrated while trying to take pictures as we went around, when there kept being a blue bar across the picture.  I was confused, because I was sure I was missing the hub of the wheel that kept turning in front of my vision- I just knew I was timing the photo better than that, so I couldn’t figure out what on earth was getting in front of me that was making that blue bar.  The Ferris wheel bar wasn’t even blue- it was white!  Finally, I figured it out, and y’all… I am such a dork.  It was the far horizon on the opposite side of the fair grounds.  It was the sky just above the treeline.  Yeah.  I’m that goofy. A little slow on the uptake, but I get there eventually.

The Blue Bar Mystery

The Blue Bar Mystery

 

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Well, we finally got off the ride, having carefully planned our exit strategy so as to avoid the same trauma as we experienced on boarding.  It was thus:  when the ride stopped, I was going to stand, The Boy was going to slide over to my seat and sit there while I eased myself down from the cart.  Then he and his sister would have the balance to get out of the cart just fine on their own, and the poor Carnies could avoid a workman’s comp claim from holding the cart steady for my bulk to move out of it. Our carefully devised plan went off without a hitch and we all left the ride with no problems.  Well, except my son, Too-Tall Jones, who bumped his head on the cart, despite the carnival workers’ repeated warnings of “Watch your head!” to all of us as we climbed down.

 

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one whose experience was slightly dampened by my size.  Daughter S. and The Boy were rather chagrined that they were now too big to ride the carousel.  Sad face.  They insisted they had been allowed to ride it the previous year, and technically Daughter S. wasn’t over the weight limit, but The Boy is, since he is now 13, taller than I, and as solid as a rock.  He’s not fat, probably barely overweight now because he has gotten so tall, but the Carnie was being a stickler for rules (weight limit was 150 pounds) and decided they were both too big.  So they were pretty disappointed with that.

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Anyway.  Over all it was a pretty good evening.  Despite Hot and Sweat and Sand, it was nice.  The one drawback was that I had been planning on indulging in the ONE low carb fair concession I could imagine, which was one of those giant turkey legs, but unfortunately as far as I could tell, there were none offered at any of these particular Junk Food On Wheels places.  (The carnival was part of the Pride of Texas Midway Shows, just FYI)  We didn’t have anything to eat while there, and the only drinks I bought were two water bottles.  So we were all exhausted and ravenous by the time we left, but we took care of that on the way home and taking The Boyfriend home, the next town over.  One last look:

Ooooh, pretty!

Ooooh, pretty!

 

 

Oh, you’re still wondering about the Ferris Wheel Flashback?  I didn’t think so, but I’ll tell you anyway.  Years ago when my family was visiting Port Aransas, Texas, which was my dad’s favorite place to go, they decided to go horseback riding on the beach.  There were several places you could go to do that, and we went there, paid up, everybody got on their horses, including my dad, who has always been a big guy but at that time was still fairly athletic, I guess you could say.  Anyway, I was the last one to be given a horse, and when I went to get up on it, the saddle would start to slide toward me, and I was too afraid to just keep pulling and jump myself on up there and swing over, correcting the saddle slide as I went.  So they didn’t have a step stool or mounting block, and they refused to let my dad dismount his horse and try to offer me a hand and help me up… so I had to stay behind.  The van was locked and Mom or Dad had the keys, so I sat on the running board of the van, all by myself for what felt like two hours, feeling humiliated and suicidal because I was too big to join in with what the rest of the family were doing.  I don’t remember what year it was, or how big I was compared to now, but I’m sure I was probably actually bigger then.

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So that’s the story of the Ferris Wheel Trauma Flashback and probably the most humiliating moment of my life that I can think of right offhand.

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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next post, in which heaven only knows what I’ll confess to next!  Oh- I know.  Next post will be all the Theater News!

Until next time,

D.

 

Family Traditions Series- Reunions!! August 6, 2014

Filed under: Family,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:19 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

Hello all!  So in my last Family Traditions series entry, I promised a post about all the crazy things my family gets up to in the month of May, and I will definitely deliver that.  But not now.  I’m too excited, and of course the title of this post will give you a clue as to why.  Oh, yes, Virginia, it is definitely that time again- our family reunion is this weekend.  This is an event not just limited to my crazy nuclear family  (my parents and siblings and myself).  Oh no.  This event draws in the whooooole crazy family- all the progeny of my great-grandfather Kyle Guy Findley.  Let me tell you about us.

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We have this family reunion, the Findley reunion, every two years.  It alternates years with an even more extended family reunion (the Hoffman reunion) we have that also occurs every two years, so that barring some weird complication or problem, there is some sort of reunion on this side of the family every single year.  The one I am going to be describing to you is the only one I have been able to go to since Daughter S. and Daughter J. were about 4 years old, which, sadly, was the last time I was able to make it to the Hoffman reunion.  Now, the Hoffman reunion has one advantage over the Findley reunion and that is that it’s always in the same place, Ulysses, Kansas, where I was born.  The Findley reunion has changed locations several times over the years.

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As far as I can remember, the tradition of this reunion began the weekend of June 4, 1993.  I know this, because that was the date I chose to get married, so that all the family would definitely be able to be there.  Yeah, I’m sneaky and manipulative like that.  I hijacked the family reunion so everyone would be at my wedding.  Anyway.  The first several years, the reunion took place at the same location, one of the group campgrounds at our local lake.  Rustic cabins, no A/C, lots of trees and a big lake for boating, skiing, tubing, jet skis, and just general tomfoolery in a water setting.  I say this because my mom’s brothers have a notorious history of being wild and crazy when it comes to water sports.  They like to go fast and hit hard.  They’ve slowed down a little in the last 21 years, but I cannot count the number of pics we have of Uncle R., Uncle B., and Uncle D., life-jackets on, hair and mustaches dripping, clinging to a jet ski or a sailboard, big huge identical grins on their sunburnt faces.  That tradition has extended to their sons now, and we have just as many pictures of cousins in the same poses.

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While the boys are out running wild like hooligans on the lake, the moms are usually staying behind, either in the camp kitchen, or at the water’s edge watching all the “little ‘uns” swimming and playing.  There is always a time when the guys put away all their fast toys and just take the girls on a leisurely evening boat ride around the lake, so it’s not like the moms never get to have fun.  Back in the day, my mother, I am proud to say, used to be able to water ski like crazy!  My dad would get her out there and hit the throttle and she could just pop up out of the water like a cork.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time she tried, because we don’t go to the lake much anymore these days when it’s just us, but she always used to say she planned to water ski on her 100th birthday.  Dad used to say she “could water ski in a teacup!”  Rarely, we have bad things happen on the water.  One year, an uncle was pushed unexpectedly off the pontoon boat into the water, and his wedding ring got caught on the gate hinge, almost ripping his finger off.  They rushed him to the hospital and all was fine, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like to remember that particular reunion.

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Our family also has some much happier traditions, such as talent night; we’re a talented bunch, if I do say so myself.  Usually people either sing or do skits, which is always a hoot.  This year, I’m particularly excited because… da da!  We’re having karaoke Saturday night.  We’ve hired a local karaoke DJ to come out to the reunion and help us party for a couple of hours.  I am very familiar with this particular lady- we grew up and went to the same church together.  And boy! can she sing.  She is absolutely and utterly amazing.  (File that one under hashtag: sojealous!)  Anyway, she also provided the DJ service when I gave Daughter S. and Daughter J. a big, special party when they turned 18.  It was super awesome, but that’s another story.

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Once we had a family auction to try to raise funds for the next reunion.  People made arts and crafts, special food, anything they had that had a “market” value, so to speak, and we auctioned them.  My personal contribution to that effort was two copies of a collection of my poetry that I put together.  I think they made me stand up and read a couple of the poems, and then they auctioned them off.  I forget now who won them, but that was pretty cool.  It gave me a bit of a big head to know that my family members would pay money just to read my romanticized, dramatic drivel.   What can I say?  We’re a supportive bunch, and I love us.

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In other years, the family reunion has taken place down near my grandpa’s house in the Hill Country area around San Antonio, Texas.  There are a number of nice lakes there, and my grandpa lives right on the Guadalupe river, so there are always a few that go floating every time we are there.  Our last reunion was a bit of a departure.  We met at Cuchara, Colorado.  It was beautiful there and so cool at night, but always, always too short.  One weekend is never long enough to enjoy with this family.

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So THIS year, we’re at a church camp about 45 minutes from where we live, called Pettijohn Springs Christian Camp.  It will be a lot more comfortable than the lake camps, because (Hallelujah!) the cabins have air conditioning.  My cousin and I are the food committee (although my mother ALWAYS ends up doing more than her share of the research and planning) and therein lies another reason I am so excited:  she’ll be here tomorrow!  Yay!  I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but she is one of my two favorite cousins, because the three of us are the closest in age.  From my birthday in early September to her birthday in mid-September, we are all three the same age.  Tomorrow when she gets here, we have to spend all day grocery shopping.  I’d like to say that sounds like a chore, but running all over town with this particular cousin, making big fools of ourselves in all the local grocery stores, laughing like hyenas when we remember all our favorite escapades, just sounds like a really good day.

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So yeah, if you live around here, and tomorrow you see me and someone who kind of looks like me, staggering breathless with laughter through WalMart or Homeland or Aldi, with a cart piled high with groceries, now you know, it’s the Findley Family Reunion Food Committee, just doing their duty to our family to keep them from starving.  And having a darn good time while we’re at it! Ha!

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The last, and most special tradition that you will always hear mentioned whenever we talk about our family and the essence of who we are, either together or apart, is our family church service.  On the last day of the reunions, Sunday, we always have a family worship time together.  I have said many times that I am so proud of the fact that I come from a family with a strong tradition of faith.  In past years, one of my mom’s cousins would get up and share a few scriptures and a few words with the family, then my wonderful, beautiful grandfather, the family patriarch, would get up and speak, talking about our family history and maybe sharing a story or two about his parents, and praising our family for its strength and love, but always giving the glory for that to God.  We would sing a few hymns, and be dismissed with a prayer.  This year, my father will be leading the singing, and we have practiced some of the songs we will be sharing.  In past years, my dear grandpa and his siblings would share their beautiful family harmony and sing an old hymn called “Out of the Ivory Palaces” but now he is the last of his family.  He told my mother he didn’t feel as comfortable now even to get up and speak at the worship service because he has become so forgetful it is hard for him to keep his thoughts organized.

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Families stay the same, and families change.  Our reunions are so special because they allow us to spend just a few treasured moments together, to catch up on each others lives and see where we all are today, but more than that, they remind us where we came from, where our roots began.  We are reminded of the strength and determination of the pioneer fathers who came through the Civil Wars and the Dust Bowls, and the Depressions, whose simple lives and strong faith became our story.  We are reminded of them, and of the debt we owe them to live our lives in such a way that we carry on their legacy, that our children and grandchildren can look back on us and be proud that they are the continuation of a story worth telling.

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Until next time,

D.

 

 

Catching Up on the Family Traditions Series- Easter in April July 25, 2014

Filed under: Family,Lovin' Life — DDKlingonGirl @ 12:57 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hello all!  I would be willing to bet that some of my regular readers are basically wondering when on EARTH I am going to post about something other than THEATRE!  Well… it’s your lucky day.  I realized (last night on the way home from the.. um.. place I like to go a lot that has a stage and curtains…) that I have fallen behind on my Family Traditions series!  The last one I posted was in regards to our family traditions in March, namely my dad’s birthday and how he grills burgers that make us all drool, etc.

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Easter was in April this year, which means I have a fabulous opportunity to tell you how dorky our family gets on Easter.  First of all, some backstory.  Oh, come on, you knew it was coming.  So our family has always attended a church that doesn’t really put much extra special focus on Easter as a religious holiday.  The religious world celebrates Easter as a commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is great.  But in the church of Christ, in which I was raised, Easter is really not that much more special than any Sunday, because we (and some other religious groups too, I know) commemorate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, each and every Sunday.

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So Easter.  I remember back when I was a kid (waaay back in the olden times!) my mother would always stay up until ALL hours making matching dresses for my sister and me.  (Yes, that’s the correct grammar.)  So not only was she always up late sewing, she would also put together our Easter baskets.  She’d put candy and goodies in the plastic eggs, and if we’d already colored real eggs, she would put those in there for us first thing in the morning before we got up.  And generally, there was some little present in there, something special for us- a little piece of jewelry, a watch, a video, a t-shirt, a toy.  It could be anything.  There was usually also some lip balm or hand lotion from Avon.  (Or maybe I’m thinking of our Christmas stockings, but it sounds like something she would put in Easter baskets as well!)  Once my sister and I told each other what our Valentine’s Day surprise was and Mom didn’t let us have them until Easter!  I still remember, too- mine was a watch and Middle Sis’s was a Giant Hershey’s Kiss. Baby sister wasn’t around yet.

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Every Easter morning we’d get up and find our new dresses and baskets laid out on the couch or dining room table, ready to enjoy.  We’d have breakfast and get ready for church, and after church we’d come home and have a nice lunch.  Seems like we often had ham and cheesy potatoes.  I think you fancy people call them au gratin.  So then she always made a dessert or two, and the star attraction was always the Lamb-ie cake.  Lamb-y.  Something.  It was a cake shaped like a lamb.  She had this old cake pan that was shaped like two lengthwise halves of a lamb.  You filled both halves with batter and when they were cooked you stuck them together and set them upright, and it looked like a little lamb lying down.  She would always tint coconut flakes green with food coloring and put it on the serving plate where it looked like the little lamb lying in the grass.  Sometimes she’d add jelly bean “eggs” in the grass, sometimes chick Peeps.  She frosted the lamb himself with white icing and covered that with coconut as well to give him a fleecy look.  And then she’d give him pretty little blue eyes and a pink nose.  He was so cute!

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Once or twice in later years, the Lamb-y cake had been set out of the way so there would be room on the table for the rest of the lunch, and the dog found him and ate half of him before we could stop her.  That was always an adventure.  Other times we’d get really silly and argue over who got to eat the lamb’s rear end, or his head.  Yeah, we were sick, twisted little puppies.

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Anyway.  Once lunch was finished, it was time to hunt eggs.  Mom would get all the eggs from the baskets, take them outside and hide them for us.  No place was off limits.  My parents have 15 acres, but the Hide Zone was usually restricted to the front and side yards around the house.  They’d be hidden in tail pipes of vehicles, up in trees, everywhere.  Dad would come outside to watch us hunt, and he’d be sitting in his front porch rocking chair, and usually there would be an egg actually hidden ON Dad, somewhere.  One year someone got the bright idea to hide eggs in the back yard, and someone lifted the lid of the grill and hid an egg there.  That grill wasn’t used often, because my dad has more than one, and that egg wasn’t found until barbecue season the next year!!

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Now that there are grandkids in the family, it’s as competitive as ever, but I have to say here, my sisters… are devilishly competitive when it comes to egg hunting.  Seriously.  Zeroing in on the same egg as my beautiful middle sister would like as not result in a full body-check and a lost egg or two, because when she plowed over you and you lost half your eggs?  She’d pick them up! Youngest sister was not usually such a vicious competitor, but for Middle Sis it was all-out WAR, and her daughter is now the same way.  It’s hilarious to watch!

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Another tradition we still have is family pictures on the front porch.  Somewhere over the years, someone got the idea to put their baskets upside down on their heads, so now every year there is at least one grandkid with the Easter basket on the head.  One of my favorite Easter pictures from my childhood years is the one that was taken the year Mom was expecting my baby sister.  For one thing, our dresses were yellow, my favorite color.  But I also love to see my mom in that picture, looking so young and adorable with her baby bump, in her black flower-printed dress. It’s amazing to think that I am ten years older now than she was when that picture was taken!

Slightly altered for comfort of publication.

Slightly altered for comfort of publication.

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So.  That is how weird we get on Easter.  Baskets on heads, violent egg-hunting, fighting over lamb’s butts.  Just another day in my awesome family!  Stay tuned for the (admittedly belated) continuation of the Family Traditions series, when I talk about May:  Mothers’ Day and Youngest Sister’s birthday, and The Boy’s birthday as well.  Oh, and End-of-School celebrations, and Memorial Day family gatherings.  It’ll be action-packed, I promise!

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Until next time,

D.

 

Birthdays and Barbecue! (Family Traditions Series- March) April 2, 2014

Filed under: A-Z,Family — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:15 am
Tags: , ,
Lovin' the parents today!

Lovin’ the parents today!

Hello all!  This post is a twofer:  It will serve as my B post for the A-Z Challenge and will be the continuation of my monthly Family Traditions series.  March is already over and technically I missed it, but I can still talk about the one big family tradition that falls in that month:  my father’s birthday.

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Dads and their birthdays.  How many fathers dread their birthdays because it means another ugly tie, another useless coffee mug, another bucket of car washing goodies?  My dad’s birthday rolls around in late March, and our family always gets together and has dinner on these occasions.  Sometimes Dad gets to choose the menu, and in the past he has wanted super-healthy (NOT!) country favorites like goulash with fried potatoes and corn bread, or chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes.  But sometimes the birthday boy gets elected to actually do the cooking! See, Dad is quite the accomplished Barbecue Grill Chef.  He doesn’t actually barbecue, as such.  What I mean by that is that he doesn’t use sauce on his grilled foods.  He uses things like Liquid Smoke and lemon-pepper seasoning.

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Anyway.  Dad’s grilled burgers have been known to inspire all kinds of promises.  My children will promise anything when they’re craving G-pa’s burgers.  (Ah, the intoxicating power! Mwahahahaha!)  So we call him and ask if he has enough propane to grill some grub, and he’ll say yes, but we have to bring all the goodies, so we go to the store and buy ALL the buns, lettuce, tomatoes, chips, etc.  By the time we get out to their house, he’s already got the grill fired up and running, and the rather torturous waiting begins.  The Boy and his uncles sit outside and watch the grill with Dad; G-ma and us girls are in the kitchen, slicing tomatoes and onions, tearing up lettuce, getting out the Miracle Whip (yuck!) and the mayo (much better), pickles, cheese, etc., catching up, singing, laughing, and yelling for dogs to get out from under foot and Amazon parrots to stop shrieking.

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After what seems like an eternity, he finally brings in the food and we all sit down to eat.  We hold hands around the table and Dad says a prayer, and then the gobbling and snarfing begin.  Not even kidding here- my kids can put away three burgers each.  But it is always enjoyable, and invariably there are one or two burger patties that have to be popped in the microwave for a few seconds, and poor Dad is always greatly chagrined at his inconsistency.  He always wants to know how the burgers are, and we always tell him they’re awesome, because they always are.  After the burgers are obliterated, we finish off the meal with Dad’s favorite birthday dessert.  He’s not much for cake, but he does love a good Jell-0 Instant Cherry Cheesecake.  Some of us don’t care for the cherries, so my dear sainted mother usually makes two boxes of cheesecake, served in a long cake pan, half with cherries and half without.  She’s just accommodating like that.

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Dad has gotten some goofy gifts over the years, but he never complains.  This year his gift was that the family came over and helped do some outdoor yard work and deck construction.  We spent time together in the sun and air, and helped accomplish some things that he’s just not quite up to doing by himself anymore.  It was a really good day.  A belated Happy Birthday to my Dad! Thanks for everything.  ❤

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Until next time,

D.

 

 
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