A Picture Perfect Christmas

Christmas ~

That time of year when we decorate everything that doesn’t move, trying to recreate all those beautiful images we see on Pinterest. You either nail it or fail it! I’ve been guilty in the past of over decorating and have the pictures to prove it…but the older I get, the more difficult it is to keep up!

We all want to live that perfect Christmas, but where I live, we don’t get beautiful snowy scenes like this one! Thank you Photoshop!12265852_10201336929102208_7425298091410155474_o

We also don’t see people ice skating on frozen ponds….12291708_849411115156196_1131659081857891675_o

But we do have beautiful decorations in the city though…this scene is from Sundance Square in Fort Worth –15815831659_d9319bc4c4_o

Ahhh, one of my favorite things to do…lean back in my comfy chair with a cup of hot chocolate and admire my tree.297276_2623236917172_415736083_n

Of course, every time a bell rings…1486088_509043362526308_428006049_o

This is “Leon”…he visits our house in December to make sure we are being good and reports back to Santa every night! We never know where he will be the next morning!205057_2623286838420_864669216_n

My adorable grandson was seemingly overwhelmed by Christmas year before last. We would never leave him “home alone” …883834_3793435611408_1835789829_o

Don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas, though….12265861_849134751850499_4839915693882912705_o

Remember to let your light shine, not everyone will have a warm, cozy holiday.12366160_10201370684866081_6404405836560199289_o (1)

No snow for us this year, the weather forecast is calling for 70 degrees on Christmas Day. We can always hold out hope for next year, though!12363256_10201381106046604_5728194156823991609_o

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It’s Okay, I *AM* the Band….

Today while I was deleting old files to make space on my hard drive for more photos, I stumbled over this draft that I started…..who knows when….of course, I’m not going to finish it now. Just posting it, because it’s all true……

I lived a very sheltered life until my divorce at the age of 31. I didn’t drink alcohol, I never learned to smoke, didn’t use foul language and I didn’t know what the world was like outside my small circle of friends. Of course I saw these things on TV, but I couldn’t visualize living in that world.

My life changed one day when I answered an ad for a band that was looking for a piano player. I played piano, I should be able to do that, I thought. I auditioned on a borrowed keyboard, and even though I had never played with a band, had no idea what to do I got the job. This meant I had to acquire a piano and an amplifier on my minimum wage paycheck. That was no small feat right there. They also asked me to sing backup harmony, since there was another girl who sang lead. Yikes…..most of the singing I had done was at church and a few times at a local Opry show. I managed to fake my way through that also. I was beginning to get good at faking things.

The name of the band was “Burgundy and Lace”. Catchy and descriptive….Burgundy was the masculine part and Lace was the other girl and me.

The band picked up a few gigs locally, and I gained more and more confidence and experience. I also began drinking, simply because that is what people do in a bar or nightclub. You go there to drink, to mingle, to dance; to live the nightlife. Ah, the nightlife.

I will admit to being quite conceited in those days. I admit it now, but not then. My mother told me once, when she was annoyed and disgusted with my new hobby, that all I wanted to do was “get dressed up, go out and let men tell me how pretty I was”. I was appalled that she would say such a horrible thing to me, I was a “professional” musician now, and I was going to be famous! It was a few years before I could acknowledge the stark truth in what my mom said to me. It was the truth. I loved it, I was thin, didn’t look my age, I was cute and the men liked me.

Even on my off nights from the band, I couldn’t just sit at home. I would go out to a club with my new girlfriends; I learned to dance, sort of. For a musician, I’m not a very good dancer, but I loved trying. The most popular place in the 1980s was Calhoon’s, on Breezy Hill between Denison and Sherman. Thursday was “Ladies Night”….which meant no cover charge and maybe even free beer. If not free, then it was 25 or 50 cents. That was my price range in those days. At a place like Calhoon’s, the crowd was constantly moving, back and forth from one end of the club to the other. We never, ever sat down at a table; that was for the married people, or the ones on dates. As single ladies, we were there to “see and be seen” by all the (hopefully) single men. The three of us heard every lame pick-up line ever uttered, and some never heard before. My favorite was the obviously drunk guy who came up to us right before closing time and said he’d been watching us all evening long, but was so intimidated by our beauty that he had to work up the nerve to approach us. Sure, buddy, sure. We know; we all get prettier at closing time! But, you didn’t get better looking or smarter…..take a hike!

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. Caldwell

Two years ago, my former store director, whom I had worked with for 9 years, retired after 47 years in the grocery business. We threw him a huge party, and in honor of his retirement, I wrote some fitting (humorous) lyrics to the song “Thanks for the Memory”…….with lots of little inside jokes and insight into this amazing BUSY man!

 

 

 

Thanks for the memories……there won’t be any tears

after 47 years…..of sacking groceries

day and night a never-ending sight…..


How lovely….. it was?

 

Thanks for the memories…..that polyester red

blazer now is dead…. he’s cutting up his ties and

wearing polo shirts instead

How lovely it is….

 

Who started out as a bag boy,

soon worked his way up through the ranks,

with honesty and integrity

and for that, we say THANKS!


Thanks for the memories….. for giving us a chance

inspiring us to dance,

to spread our wings and learn new things

to make you proud of us……

We thank you so much!

 

Thanks to our Mr. C.  ……. for talking way too fast!

and walking way too fast!

we nodded when you said something

then wondered what you said!

How funny it was!!!

 

Thanks for the memories ……there won’t be any tears

after 47 years ….. of sacking groceries

day and night and now the end’s in sight…..


Deserve it? … darn right!

 

We know you’re ready to sleep late

and drink coffee out of a real cup

but we’re going to miss you complaining

it’s cold in here, turn the heat up“!
So, thanks for the memories,


And strictly between us, we’re going to make a fuss…


And show you that we’re glad your dreams are finally coming  true…..


Awfully glad we met you, you’re our partner through and through…..

So, thank you so much!

Jimmy Caldwell began his grocery career in 1958 at the age of 15 in Weatherford, Texas. After high school and starting college, at the age of 19, he was an assistant manager with the responsibility of carrying store keys. In 1963, Jimmy was hired at Brookshire’s #9, while he was visiting family there, and 3 months later went to Terrell #20 and worked his way up to assistant and stayed 5 years.

In 1968, Jimmy was named store director for Gladewater #7, he was the youngest store director for Brookshire’s at that time, and he stayed in Gladewater for 19 years!

In 1986, Jimmy was re-challenged as store director in Bossier City, LA. then 3 years later went to Shreveport where he served for 13 years.

In 2001, Jimmy moved back to Texas to serve as store director at the new #69 in Midlothian, where he led the store for 9 years; serving the community, setting the example of honesty and integrity, while maintaining his “old school” roots and training. Mr. C. retired in September 2010, but still had 16 of the original partners hired for the new store in 2001. Quite a feat these days.

Mr. Caldwell is enjoying his retirement, playing lots of golf and working with his sons in a new business venture. Each time he comes into the store, he has the biggest smile on his face and makes sure to visit with his former partners. We miss him, but are very happy that he is reaping the rewards of his many years of service.

Fourteen of the sixteen partners still working with Mr. Caldwell, that helped open the store in 2001.

Thank you Mr. Caldwell, for taking a chance on me, also, giving me the opportunity to learn with the challenge of training, and then taking over as office manager. You always said you and I were “old school” and I reminded you that YOUR old school was still ten years older than mine, but I was happy to be considered a valued partner. Thanks for your leadership, and more importantly, your actions and dedication to your customers.

PS…..I still keep the thermostat set on 70 degrees and it’s still cold in your former office 🙂

Summertime Ice Cream Socials

These days everything is “social network” this and “social network” that. Hmmph. I love my computer and technology as much as the next geek, but when I think of the word “social”, I think back to the many ice cream socials from my childhood.

Yes, I am a person of that age….that old lady who remembers and talks about “the good old days” when life was simple and we enjoyed it. I grew up in church as a 3rd generation Nazarene, both sets of grandparents went to our church in my hometown. My grandfather on my mom’s side was the big ice cream fiend, which rubbed off on mom…and me…so I have fond memories of “helping” him make the ice cream.

I stayed out of my granny’s kitchen as a kid, but I knew there was mixing, measuring and cooking done beforehand. My big thrill was after the mixture had been poured into the can, the paddle in place and the top securely fastened. My papa would use his ice pick to chip the ice (never in a bag from the store, we froze our own ice in wax milk cartons!) layer it around the can, adding the rock salt as he went. Then, several layers of newspapers were placed on top, followed by a towel…..and all the cousins clamored to see who would get to sit on top while the cranking was done by papa! It was so much fun to sit on top of the freezer and feel the chill from the ice below, while the hot summer wind blew across our faces, underneath the shade tree.

My cousins, left to right…Britt, Gwen, Tami….and me on the right 1961

Of course, everyone brought a freezer of ice cream to these socials, so there were many flavors to try. Peach ice cream made with fresh picked peaches, chocolate, strawberry…but my favorite was always vanilla. Call me a purist, I just love plain homemade vanilla ice cream.

I can still see it in my mind, lawn chairs around the yard, bowls and spoons clattering, brain freezes because we ate the ice cream so fast! Women chatting together in groups, men engaged in whatever men talk about…..and kids running around barefoot without a care in the world. I wish I was an artist so I could draw or paint the picture that’s in my mind.

I’ve owned several electric ice cream freezers over the past 30 years, but somehow it’s just not the same to plug it in while it sits in the sink and churns. I’m pretty sure the ice cream doesn’t taste as good either as it did in the 1950s…..

I suppose that’s why us “oldsters” like to relive our fondest memories…..sometimes the memories are better than what’s surrounding us now.

Thanks for reading and reminiscing with me….I feel a trip to Braum’s in my future 🙂

Nightlife

*When the evenin’ sun goes down

you will find me hangin’ round

oh the nightlife, it ain’t no good life

but it’s my life.

She sat in front of the mirror applying another coat of mascara to her lashes. Her dark brown eyes were her best feature, everyone said so, therefore she tried to make them look even more seductive. It was always dark in the nightclubs, and she wanted to be noticed. She wanted very much to be noticed over all the other single women vying to be noticed.

The garage apartment Jeannie rented was very small, furnished with hand-me-down furniture, odds and ends, but was very homey and comfortable. Her clothes hung behind a curtain suspended from the ceiling. Satin jackets, sequined tops, jeans, prairie dresses, cowboy boots and assorted high heels, most verging on stiletto. She was the shortest child in her family, at 5′ 4″…..everyone else seemed to tower above her, so the heels were a must have. Tonight’s costume would be the red satin camisole, black satin pants, black satin jacket with rhinestone adorned lapels, and heels in a silver/black pattern. She fastened the rhinestone necklace carefully behind her neck, and checked her reflection in the mirror. “Looking pretty good for 30-something” she thought.

“Don’t the girls all get prettier at closing time…. Don’t they all begin to look like movie stars… Don’t the girls all get prettier at closing time… When the change starts takin’ place… It puts a glow on every face….. Of the fallen angels of the backstreet bars”

It was the same routine she followed almost every night that she didn’t work. Jeannie sang with a local band, and loved being on stage, in the spotlight, it was a rush like none other. But, the nights that she wasn’t on stage, those were the lonely, empty nights that she tried to fill. She and her two best friends made the rounds between the two neighboring towns.

First stop was the club at The Sheraton Hotel because it was an early crowd, and happy hour included a buffet. She could kill two birds with one stone. Heads turned when the three women walked in together, they joked between themselves, that they looked like “Charlie’s Angels”, without the firearms, of course. They would stake their claim to a small table near the dance floor, and hold court while sipping slowly on their drinks. Next stop was a rabble-rousing country bar, full of good old boys, drugstore cowboys and more single women to compete against for attention. The “meat market” she called it, because the crowd of single women moved from one end of the building to the other in a well-organized throng, constantly moving, looking at every man as a potential dance partner, or more. Jeannie was glad it was ladies night here so she could drink for free. Last stop for the night, the other country bar in town, more of a couples atmosphere there. Not any good prospects there, because Jeannie was determined to never be a home-wrecker. Jeannie and both her friends had been hit on by many married men; it was just part of the nightlife, but having been on the receiving end of that betrayal, she swore she’d never be the reason another woman would lose her man. This was just the place to relax and have fun, the house band was laid back and would let Jeannie sit in on piano and sing later, so it was the perfect end to the night.

The waitress appeared at the table with a Colorado Bulldog, “complements of the gentleman at the bar” she said, nodding toward the man in the teal colored shirt. Jeannie caught her breath, and mumbled thank you to the waitress, all the while keeping her eye on the man. The man who once belonged to her, until some sweet young thing stepped in and took him away. Why was he here? She hadn’t seen him in over a year. Had it really been a year since she moved 700 miles to get away from the pain and memories of the two years they had spent together?

Alex started walking toward the table, and Jeannie began to panic. What would she say? How should she act? Offended? Hostile? Cool, indifferent? He held out his hand and led her to the dance floor. They began to dance like they had done so many times before, and everything seemed so natural and comfortable, but surreal all at the same time. Her head fit perfectly in the crook of his neck and the smell of his cologne brought memories rushing back into her head and her heart. At the end of the dance, he held her tight and asked if he could see her home safely. It would be so easy to say yes, to let him take over and be her protector again; it would be so nice to have someone to share her laughter and tears with. But, she could still feel the hurt, the pain, and she knew she could never forget.

The bartender called “last call” and the lights came on in the club. Nothing is worse than the harsh reality of fluorescent lights after being in a dimly lit building for hours, then you see the real person in front of you, the one you’ve romanticized over, danced and flirted with….and you realize, he’s just a man. A man who has realized what a mistake he made.

Jeannie looked at her reflection in the mirror as she removed her makeup. Her brown eyes were still her best feature, but now she noticed something new. Just a glimmer…….Self respect? Hope? Yes, maybe a bit of both. She had just discovered how strong she had become in the past year. She said “no” to the man who once was the center of her world, who she loved more than anything and who had hurt her beyond comprehension. She said “no”…..and walked away.

* Nightlife…by Willie Nelson

Funny Family Fotos

People often reminisce about  the “good old days”……and I’ve done it also, however….some of these photos make me appreciate the “here and now” for sure!

All of these photos came from my grandmother’s photo albums, which I acquired a few years ago, because my dad knew I’d take good care of them. These photos are his family and ancestors, and most had no information written on the back. I’ve had to post these on Facebook so my assorted cousins across the US could help me identify them. There were but a few that we had no clue at all, they are a mystery.

Let’s have a picnic…deep in the woods….let’s take the kids…..grab your coats, axes and washtubs!

We were all "stumped" about this one for a while!

The subjects in the photo above were eventually identified as my grandmother (tall woman holding baby) my dad (in hat) at her left elbow, my two aunts Bea and Geraldine, and some neighbors. We narrowed down the year to 1938…..

“ROAD TRIP”! (apparently my ancestors loved to leave home for adventures?)

This is my dad, age 3 months 17 days, according to my granny's handwriting on the back.

 

 

 

Oh, just put the babies down anywhere, they’ll be fine!

I know the baby on the left must be my dad, because it looks just like ME......

 

“Hi, I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl”

My great-grandfather and his sons who never married and never left home.

I think this little boy may be my dad, or his cousin Sonny-boy…..they looked about the same in every picture I’ve found.

Once again....."let's sit the baby out in the road or middle of no where and take his picture"!

 

They must have been trying to “capture the light”……..

My daddy....
This is the little suit my dad was wearing in the photo above....
This is the suit and hat along with the original tiny photo; I have put them into a memory keepsake box, hanging on the wall in my bedroom. So sweet....

Retail therapy????

The first yard sale ever?

 

Playing “let’s pretend”……

“Let’s pretend like we’re not really poor”……

on the back "to Beatrice Wilson, this is Mildred and her little friend in their play house" .... printed on the back "Finished by Nichols Studio Jacksonville, Texas"

Forget taking the kid to the woodshed……

CPS.....where are you? After very close scrutinizing, we have determined this to be one of my dad's cousins, and there is someone behind her, holding her up on the woodpile!

“Life on the farm….PETA would love this, right?”

I guess they couldn't afford to have a dog for a pet....???

Anyone up for some fried catfish???

We have studied this one and can only hazard a guess that *maybe* this was a scene on the Red River long before the Denison Dam was built to create Lake Texoma. I don't think I'd want to eat the fish that came out of that water, though!

And last, but not least…….no wonder they were so destitute, the “lucky” horseshoe was upside down…all the luck was running out!

This one is my favorite! We believe this is my great-grandfather Charlie Wilson and one of his sisters, or daughters....

Now, I know all these photos are in black and white and are very old, but I sense there wasn’t much green grass around at the time. It looks very desolate….no wonder my grandmother loved plants and flowers so much, she needed color in her life!

Thanks for the memories, Granny K....

Techno-geek-wannabe…that’s ME!

Until 1998, my hubby and I did not own a computer at all. We entered into the technology world very hesitantly. When we bought our first PC, we didn’t even know what to ask for or look for, we just bought one that had a printer and a scanner, and it was almost $2,000.00. Now we are on our third desktop model and third laptop…..in 13 years. Prices have gone down considerably, but they are still not cheap. The current desktop is acting strange lately and I’m afraid it’s going to crash completely; I mean I am truly afraid! This is the computer we use to record music with, burn and print CDs and even though I now have an external hard drive for (hopefully) safekeeping of important documents, I’m clueless about how to retrieve anything from said hard drive. Everything I have learned in 13 years, I have learned by trial and error. Lots of errors!

Our very first computer....and the monstrous desk we thought we needed! Every home office/recording studio should also have a saddle.....
Much smaller desk, much larger monitor, and yes, more recording equipment! Lots of clutter, too.....one of my many faults!

Last week, my faithful laptop crashed and I’ve been lost without it. I dropped it off today at the local techno-repair place, entrusting it to the care of a nice young man who’s probably younger in age than most of my shoes. He assured me that he could even retrieve all my music, photos and documents from my last laptop that crashed 3 years ago, that is sitting forlornly in my closet. My husband, Mike tried to give that one away and I fairly screamed……NO!!!!!……all my stuff is in there! I know it’s still in there. I watch C.S.I.  I know that nothing is ever really “gone” from a hard drive!

Mike has a smaller laptop which he has tried to get me to “borrow” from him while mine is out of service, but I declined. It’s like driving a strange car, you know? I’ll just do without my laptop until the nice young man calls. I know I shouldn’t be so lost without my laptop, I have an iPhone, a Kindle Fire and my desktop; it’s just like a security blanket to me. Even while we are watching TV, I am constantly looking up facts and trivia on sites like IMDB, one of my favorites, so I can impress Mike with all the information.

I confess I have a love/hate relationship with technology, I love how easy it is to make music digitally, but I hate it when things don’t work like they should. I’m forever saying “but that should WORK, I know it should”! Just this morning, I was trying to print a label on a CD, like I have done hundreds of times, and the printer kept spitting the tray out and telling me it was not in place correctly. I beg your pardon, Mr. Epson Stylus, but it WAS in place correctly. You are not doing your job! You’re fired!

So, how did I function before computers came into my life? My phone was wired into the wall, my pictures were printed and kept in an album (or shoebox), my music was on cassettes or CDs, I played a lovely Yamaha acoustic piano and I sang without a microphone.

My gorgeous Yamaha......such a beautiful sounding instrument.
Band-in-a-box.....really cool software!
Cakewalk Music Creator recording software.....

But, now, I can record semi-professional sounding tracks, make videos with the songs and post them on youtube, or my blog; I can email them to my parents, I can burn and print music CDs to mail to my parents (see a theme here?) … or I can just keep them on my computer forever.

Until I die.

Or until my computer crashes.

Whichever comes first……

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s a song that my daughter Kelly is singing….she asked me to make the piano track for her so she could sing this Gretchen Wilson tune…..

“I’d Love to Be Your Last”

……..and THIS is why I love technology…….