"Say! Do you want to see me kick the ceiling?" he called to us children.
"Yes, yes, Grandfather! We want to see!" we began clamoring.
"Jesse Finnell, if you kick my loom, I'll beat you with my broom!" my grandmother hollered from the kitchen. She could hear anything!
My grandfather peered around, with a forefinger to his lips, looking for her. We all got quiet, trying to smother the giggles that tried to escape. We didn't want Grandmother to chase us out before seeing Grandfather do his trick.
When he was sure she was busy elsewhere, he got ready. He crouched down, almost to the floor. Then he just leaped into the air and kicked the ceiling and the loom!
All of a sudden, we heard Grandmother coming. She sounded like a train doing ninety miles an hour. We kids and Grandfather looked around, and there she was with her broom. We skedaddled right out the front door as fast as we could, Grandfather right behind us. All of us laughing and Grandmother shaking that broom at us.
"I done tole you Jesse, not to kick my loom! Ya'll just stay outside 'til dinner's on now, ya hear!" her Texan accent becoming thicker. Grandfather blew her a kiss, and we kids scattered through the farm.
Grandfather wasn't a big man. Actually Grandmother was bigger than he. Small-boned and wiry, he had white wavy hair and twinkling blue eyes. His face was weathered from the elements, and he had laugh lines etched around his eyes. You could tell he was thinking of something to do; either about to play a joke or to tease Grandmother. You could tell what was on his mind just by looking at his eyes; they'd always get that particular twinkle in them that meant no good in the humorous way. He didn't have a mean bone in his body.
Grandfather came from Tennessee and Grandmother from Texas. I never learned how they met, but, it must have been love. There was always love there at my grandparents place. I know he loved her and she must have loved him to abide with his jokes and teasing. I do know that we had the upbrings of the South instilled in us. Lots of hugs, love and kisses. And that peachtree switch when needed.
Grandfather always had time to listen to us and answer our multitude of questions. But we tried not to bother him when he was doing chores on the farm. It wasn't a big farm, located in the San Joaquin Valley of California, but big enough for the two of them and a passel of kids.
Grandfather was always up early to tend to the animals and things. Whether it was weeding the garden, picking fruit or vegetables, shelling nuts, or helping with the wash, we kids got up early also, we had our chores. We also had time for playing with each other, or the new batch of kittens that momma cat just littered, or whatever came to a child's mind to do.
We had free run of the farm. as long as we were careful. Grandfather would remind us, "Shake out your shoes before putting them on." "Don't go putting your hands in dark corners or holes without checking them with a stick or something." "It's okay to watch the fire ants, just don't go sitting on them!" And, "Stay away from the bull!"
On Sundays, we would all go to church. That was the only time I saw Grandfather dressed in something besides his usual denim bib-overalls, chambray workshirt, brogans and his cap from the rail road. Instead of smelling of hay, pipe smoke, and sun, he would smell of Old Spice and hair tonic. His face would be clean shaven after using the old straight-edge and strop. How I enjoyed watching him shave with that; I wondered how he didn't cut himself!
He wasn't a religious man, the way some folks are. But he believed in God. His beliefs were simple and full of common sense. Just like him. When you talked with him, he'd tell you things straight without the flowerey words. Just plain and simple.
It wasn't until I was a teenager that we found out he had a bad heart. He wasn't much for doctors or doctoring. But Grandmother made him go and the doctors put him on nitro pills and that seemed to help.
When I was in college I told my mom I was going to go down and visit him that coming summer, because I felt that we'd be losing him soon. I didn't make it in time. He left us in the Spring of 1977. He went the way he always said he wanted to go. In bed, at home, asleep.
He was a well-loved and loving man, my grandfather. Always full of laughter and love. His blue eyes always twinkling with humor. Never too busy to talk with a child and never too busy to give a hug. I will always love him and greatly miss him; yet, my memories of him are always alive.
This is a "Search Story" I created on YouTube. I made another one for a contest I entered on Women's Memoirs. This was real easy to do and it was a lot of fun! I hope you like the story!
Scottish Shortbread and Momma
It never fails. Every time I hear the name Scottish Shortbread I remember those winter days as a child when momma would be in the kitchen baking cookies. I would come home from school and walk in the door and the aroma of the different kinds of cookies would hit me. Especially the aroma of Scottish Shortbread.
Scottish Shortbread was one of the cookies that she would allow us kids to help her make. Once she had mixed everything together and it had chilled to where we could handle it, she would let each child take a turn patting out the dough and then pick out a favorite colored sugar to sprinkle on top. With five kids those cookies could be quite colorful. Sometimes momma would make enough of the dough so each child could have their own batch to sprinkle with sugar.
Once they were in the oven, the aroma of those cookies baking would drift out enticing us with their rich scent. The smell of them would cause our mouths to water in anticipation of tasting their delicate buttery, not too sweet flavor.
Momma would check on them every few minutes to make sure they didn't get too brown. She was the Scottish Shortbread queen. She would pull the cookies from the oven at just the right time. They would come out a very light brown color and still semi-soft.
I can make the same Scottish Shortbread today but it just doesn't seem the same. I guess it's because it makes me miss the one person I would rather have here, making them. But I have to admit every time I bite into one, the memories of her in the kitchen make me smile. That delicate buttery flavor and remembering the flour on her cheek is a memory I wouldn't trade for the world.
So you can make your own memories, I have included the recipe for Scottish Shortbread. Don't forget to add the sprinkles!
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon backing powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) soft butter or margarine
Colored sugar, optional
Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in flour mixture. Chill until easy to handle.
Pat out on an ungreased baking sheet to a rectangle about ¼ inch thick, with edges as straight as possible. Prick the surface with a ford and score with a sharp knife to furnish guidelines for cutting after baking. Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. The shortbread should be only very lightly browned. Cool for about 5 minutes after removing from the oven. Then cut into squares or bars as scored.
This is a story I wrote for FaithWriters. It is a real story. It is how my husband and I got back together... well you read it for yourself!
All I Can Say Is...
One day as I was washing dishes, my cell phone chimed indicating I had a text message. When I looked to see what it was and who it was from, I couldn't believe my eyes. My heart stopped beating and then started racing as fast as my mind. Could it be possible? Is what I am seeing real? Is it really him? How did he find me?
I immediately sent a text back to verify if it really was him. He responded that it was truly him and all I could say was, “Wow.”
It had been over 30 years since we had last seen or spoken with each other. We were childhood sweethearts and lost touch with one another. I never thought I would see him again much less hear from him. He couldn't believe that he found me and I was so blown away that he had; all we could say was, “Wow.”
Peppered throughout our conversation that night were expressions of disbelief that we were actually talking to one another. It was a sense of fairy-tale and dreaming that affected the both of us. We constantly said to each other, “Is this really happening? Is this real? I can't believe it! This is a miracle! This is incredible! I am so amazed. I know God had His hand in this. Wow!”
It's the expression to describe a feeling, a moment of complete awe. When something happens that was totally unexpected, whether it is good or bad, it's the only word left to say after, golly, gee whiz, incredible, I can't believe it, cool, I am blown away....
It's the expression family members and friends say when they hear we got married a month after he found me.
And it's what we still say to one another, after all other forms of expression have been used when we discuss with one another about the miracle of being together as husband and wife. Wow!
Today as I was looking at the watermelon seedlings sitting on my kitchen table, I couldn't help but remember how excited I would get at this time of year. As a child. I remember momma doing the same thing I am doing, pre-starting her vegetable garden on the kitchen table.
When the seedlings began to push their little heads up through the dirt, I would get so thrilled.
I was experiencing and watching new life being formed. The pale green spoke to me like nothing else did. It was a sign that Spring was finally here.
I knew it would be only a matter of weeks before those seedlings would go into the ground that my father prepared. And when they did, then it became my job to see that the weeds were pulled so they didn't choke those precious seedlings out.
Week after week, I would watch the seedlings grow and become the plants my mother had started. Watermelon, squash, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, corn, peas, beets, and others. These were the vegetables she would later can to feed a family of seven through the winter months, and to give to friends and neighbors.
But, for me, the best part was just being out in the vegetable garden, weeding and hoeing and watching each plant grow. I loved the smell of the plants and the soil. Each plant had it's own scent. Each leaf it's own feel.
I think the smell of the tomato plants was my favorite. Just smelling it made the juices in my mouth begin to water as I thought about how good those tomatoes were going to taste.
The silky tassels of the corn as it ripened always felt so soft between my fingers. And the leaves that protected each ear as it grew felt like rough paper when I gently rubbed it.
I haven't really been able to have a vegetable garden for many years, so this year I am excited. I am anxiously waiting for the ground to dry out enough for my husband to rototiller the soil. Once that has been done, then I can plant my seedlings, just like momma did.
Once the garden is planted, then I will tend it and care for it, as I did as a child. I will watch each plant grow and become food for my family and friends and neighbors. My husband, who knows how to can, will teach me how to can and freeze the vegetables.
In the meantime, the joy of watching each plant poke its head through the soil is enough for me.
Kayaking: What an Experience!
Yes, that is me! I am in a kayak for the first time in my life!
This picture was taken Sunday, March 7, 2010 on the Bybee Lake in Portland, Oregon.
My husband, our neighbor Kerry and his son; and I went out there because for one reason, it isn't very deep; only four to five feet in some places. That was good news for me because if I tipped over I knew I could get up and not drown! Of course I was wearing a PFD (personal flotation devise) but, for some one who really can't swim, water depth is an important thing.
I only had a few panic attacks out there. But eventually I began to relax and enjoy the experience of kayaking. It was an experience like no other. There were times when I felt like I was one with the boat and water! And the wildlife I could see from that position was great.
We were sitting in the middle of the lake when all of a sudden a bald eagle dove down and grabbed a fish from the water and then flew directly over our heads. It actually took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes because of the beauty of this bird.
Will there be more kayaking experiences? You bet! I look forward to learning how to kayak better, conquering my fear of water, and exploring rivers and lakes in my kayak, with my husband. I can't think of a better way to spend a honeymoon than on the water enjoying all that God has created.