Today Joy and I put flowers in the church in honor of Mom. Her birthday was August 12. Our dear friend, Billy Rich, did the flowers, as he does every year. We never tell him what to do or what flowers to use…he just knows. He was such a special friend to my Mom, and he honors her by using his talents to fix an arrangement that just shouts, “MRS. ELLA!” He gets it perfect every year! Thanks, my friend!
Mom, sure hope you liked your flowers today. I bet they are nothing compared to those growing in Heaven, huh? I also hope you heard all the kind things folks said about you, too. You are remembered with such love and admiration…a true testimony to the life you lived. We love you, Tonja, Joy, and Pop.
There is nothing exciting to post here today. But, I think sometimes we forget to appreciate the ordinary, everyday things that happen on a given day. So, that’s what I’m doing. Because, when you think about it, some of your best memories happen on a regular day…no planning, no setting up…just everyday life.
Suzanne has started back to school, so that means Levi gets to stay with us and his other grandparents. It’s been a long summer without seeing his love of life everyday. I’ve missed the things we do together. He was here a few weeks ago and watched me cut a lemon to add to some sweet tea. He asked me is he could squeeze it and make lemonade. I told him that he could and that could be one of our first projects when he came back to stay. In the meantime, I found a little lemon juicer that I thought would make it easier. So, here’s how it went…
And, I missed the photo where he looked up after taking a sip and said, “Now, that’s de-lis-ious!” He loved it. And, it really was good!
Then, I made a cake. Yes. I made a cake. I ran across the recipe for my Mom’s famous pound cake. She used to make at least two or three of these every week or so and take them to folks who were sick or shut in. She always made sure Alex had some, too. So, I went to the grocery store and bought all fresh ingredients right down to the flavorings. I wanted it perfect. And, you know what? It was! Just eating a bite of it warmed my heart!
This is an old recipe…called Million Dollar Pound Cake. Just be sure to use the vanilla and the almond flavoring. Makes all the difference. It is a dense cake, and I like to undercook mine a little because I like a little bit of gooey in the center. My mother in law used to call this a ‘sad streak’.
MILLION DOLLAR POUND CAKE
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 1 hour 40 min. + cooling MAKES: 16 servings
1 pound butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour alternately with milk, beating just until blended. Fold in extracts with a spatula.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan. Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 16 servings.
And, may I add…it is delicious with a little butter spread on a slice and toasted in the oven on broil.
A little later, Joy called and said Pop wanted to give the little boys a treat. So with a set amount to spend, he was treating them to a mini shopping spree at Toys R Us. Oh! My! We filled the cart and then began the process of deciding what to put back. Choices! So hard for little boys to make when they truly want it all. But, a great lesson, as well. We weighed pros and cons of this and that and finally Levi decided on his favorites…two sets of Legos. John Thomas was all set with cars and trucks. What fun!
Thanks, Papa Clyde. This was a real treat. You’re the best!
The day ended with Don and Levi playing in the pool with their new water toys! They played pirates and found all manner of bad guys lurking around the pool. Their water cannons got ’em every time!
What a full day! I may just take an early bedtime tonight…cause…Levi will be back tomorrow!
WE CELEBRATED ! And what a fun celebration it was! Pop turned 90 on the 9th of July, but it was the 17th before we could all be together for the party.
Invitations were sent to two churches and other close friends. We held the party at my house, and, even before 2:00 they started coming in! And, they kept coming! Friends for many, many years were here. Friends of his and mother’s were here. Young men he taught were here. (Some of that teaching took place on a motorcycle!…other times, while gardening in his yard). Friends our age who have much respect for him. And, even those with children the age of mine came to honor, him.
Pop loves to talk. He loves to interact with people. He wants to know who you are and what you are and why you are what you are. And, if you’re not a Christian, you’ll know before you leave him. And, you’ll get a few words of wisdom, too. Like…” the most important decision you will ever make is to become a Christian. The second most important is the choice of a mate. Choose wisely, in both cases.” And…“If you are lucky enough to be born in America, you are blessed beyond measure.”
He’s a talker and he’ll talk as long as you’ll listen. But, he’s also wise and has seen much in his years. And his joy is in giving to others.
Back to the party. Joy and Suzanne and Lori and Tara came over to help me get ready on Saturday. And, Ian came home, too. Adam managed to take off work, and Praise God!, Alex was able to be up with us, too. Tara and Will were here, and Lori with her boyfriend. Tommy was here, too. Only Donald was missing. He had a business meeting out of town that was imperative he attend.
It was a glorious day! Even if the skies opened up and sent a deluge of rain. Many came right on through the rain! So, outside it may have been yucky weather…but not inside. Inside was filled with laughter and reminising…eating and drinking…catching up on lives of each other and children and grandchildren. Inside was filled with the buzz of family! Not all blood kin, but all of the same heart. A group of friends and family who have grown throughout the years to become a part of each other’s life…caring and loving one another…being available when hard times surface…laughing and playing and sharing the good times. That’s what a family is.
To each one who came to celebrate with us…who sent messages…who helped with the party…who braved the rain…who loved us enough to share this special day we us…we thank you from our heart of hearts.
I don’t like spiders, or snakes, or bugs. I do not feel I have authority over even the tiniest of creatures. I just want to flee. I hate to kill them…but I will stomp on a spider. Roaches…I don’t even think I can stand to talk about them…so let’s not. I do, however, have a fondness for two of the tiniest of God’s handiwork…ladybugs and fireflies. I can get along with these…and let them live and be at peace.
But, I recently heard a sad tale abut the firefly. Actually, we used to call them lightning bugs. I remember Joy and I catching them in an old glass jar….and Mama making us let them go before we came inside for the night. (That was when you could play outside and with neighborhood kids with out your parents worrying to death!) I’m glad she had us let them go. If you think you don’t see them much anymore, you’re right. Their population is on the decline. This is because of (according to Mother Nature Network.com) light pollution, pesticide use, and habitat destruction. And, this is the sad part…if a field where fireflies have lived is paved over or built on..the firefly family doesn’t just move over to another field…..they just disappear forever.
Does that make you a little wistful? It does me. I think of the absolute delight my sister and I, barefooted and dirty, had running after that elusive light to try to catch one in our hands. I don’t think I ever did. To get them into the jar, you had to be real sneaky and creep up behind them and bring that bottle down over them quickly! It’s not a skill I use anymore, sad to say. I don’t know when I’ve seen a firefly.
We lived in town on a busy road, but had lots of friends out in the country. And, once you got away from the light around town…right at dusk…you would begin seeing them. We also went to a church out in the country. I can remember when Memphis Baptist was just 2 small buildings. And when we would get out of church on Sunday night, it would just be getting dark. At that time, there were fields all around and a cemetery across the street. They would all be filled with the tiny lights! Of course, we couldn’t go chase them…cause it was still the Lord’s Day, and that was not befitting behavior for 2 young ladies, Daddy said. And besides, we still had on our Sunday dresses and sox and shoes. Mama was not happy if those white patent leather shoes got marks on them! But on Wednesday night, those bugs better beware! We had on school clothes and there weren’t as many rules about them! Even that far back, I remember what a sight it was to see a field all of a sudden light up. Wow. God makes so many wonderful things for a kid to marvel at!
Let me tell you a little about these little creatures. First of all, they are beetles…not flies. They have a chemical called luciferin inside their tails. When this combines with oxygen, calcium, and adenosine triphosphate….a chemical reaction occurs to create their spectacular light! Now, they carry the luciferin in their tail…and I know where the oxygen is…but where do they get the calcium and adenosine stuff from. Does it float in on the air, or is it in the ground. Do they get it from the food they eat? I could not find out. But, isn’t it wonderful to know that every little firefly that’s burned their beautiful light had to have help from the Master Creator to get the job done! And, it’s even more wonderful to think that Almighty, Heavenly Creator that He is, cares about his little firefly family on the earth enough to make sure they have the things they need to shine their light…attract a mate…and make more fireflies!
And, get this…they are light geniuses.! Their light is 100 % usable light where as the incandescent light bulbs that we humans manufacture lose 90% of their energy as heat…only 10% is usable light! Anything God makes is right from the start!
A very wise friend of mine told me once that God is just as magnificent in the tiniest of details we may ever not see, as He is in the large things we notice every day! It’s true!
There are over 2000 species of fire fly, but they don’t all light up. Each species that does light up, however,, has their own specific pattern of flashing. Some can even synchronize their flashes. Now, the whole’ light up thing’ is just a ploy to find a mate! The male flashes one pattern…the female flashes back another. I don’t really know the deciding factor on who they choose…but their lights can come in yellow, light red, green and orange. Perhaps the female has a favorite color!
And should some other creature be attracted to this light and decide it looks appetizing….a firefly also has something in his blood called LUCIBUFAGINS (love that word!) which makes them taste really gross!
Now friends…if you’ve even kept reading this far, I know this is not on the list of information that you would find useful or even interesting. But, when I got to thinking of the fact that I would so hope my little grandson has the chance to see and experience the wonder of ‘fairy lights’…I wanted to know more about them. I want to know where they are. Cause I’m gonna take him. I’m gonna watch it once more through his eyes! And, then I’ll hold that memory as close as I do the ones of my sister and I. Have you seen any in this area?
There are so many wonders in the animal world…but none that I know of as enchanting as watching the yard ‘fill up with little fairy lights’. It’s an experience similar to seeing stars race across the sky. It’s something you never forget…even if you’re 63. It’s just a little ‘magical respite’ from long days and hot work in the sun. It’s in those few minutes between being out working and going into the house for the evening. It’s where you think, “Man, I’m tired, But got a lot of good stuff done today.” But, you just don’t quite want to go in and call it a day. You just stand and survey the world. Maybe hear God say, “Sit back. Put your feet up and watch! I’m have some friends who want to do a show…just for you!” And, He calls His fireflies to perform…just to delight you! Isn’t He a good God! I am remembering my days on the farms in NC with my aunts and Uncles. I can see my Uncle Arthur Lee drive up in his truck and come up under the carport….stomping the mud off his feet as he comes. Then he’d sit down on a chair and take his shoes off and then his cap, and run his fingers through his hair. And, just sit there for a few minutes. I’ve seen my uncle Charles and Uncle Jefferson do the same thing.
You know, I have a song playing in my head…sorta in the background…while I’ve been writing this post. Seems I remember that once upon a time I did a musical with a bunch of kids at school. It goes..“Angels and Lambs, Lady Bugs and Fire Flies told every person in sight that Jesus was born in Bethlehem on that Christmas night” I can even see the book I used. Hmm! Now that was not even in my head when I started this post. Funny, isn’t it, how thinking about fire flies leads to thinking about old summer time memories as a child and then to children and music I taught at school! Yeah, memory is a funny thing. And songs seem to really stay with me.
I hope you see some fire flies soon! Reckon what memories they will lead you to? I’d love to hear about it, if you’ll share. Just leave a comment at the end of the blog. I’ll see it!
PS. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has firefly tours!
I do a lot of reading. And, since one of my loves is arts and crafts, I look at a lot of crafting web sites. I’m always looking for something new and fun for Levi to do. I also teach art at FP Preschool and love to find new ideas for the children. A few months ago, I began seeing a lot of info on water beads. So I explored. Sounded like fun…and an extra for the Boogaloo Camp boys.
The beads are actually vase fillers that have been around for a long time. Some clever crafter just found a new way to use them! The ones I bought were from Hobby Lobby in their floral department. They did not have a good selection of colors, but, I got 3 different ones. They look similar to this…
When you pour them out they are very tiny…
Then comes the magic! I let the boys play with the beads as they were for a while, then told them the beads were growing beads! I used one of the big aluminum throw away casserole dishes…the biggest and deepest I could find. Then I let the boys pour lots of water into the pan and added the tiny beads. It wasn’t long before they started getting bigger…and bigger and bigger! We had to add more water once. After several hours,we could see them growing. The next day, they were at their maximum size. So we poured off all the water, and let them have it. This is the size difference.
Oh, my, they were mesmerized! We adults were, too. It is a totally sensory experience. The beads feel wet, but are not. They have turned into balls of a jelly like material. And, we found out they would bounce, too. But, that was not an inside game! They ran their arms through them…picked them up and let them slide through their fingers, dropped them on top of the others…just exploring this new sensation.
I left the pan sitting out and it was amazing. No one…kids or adults could walk past without running their finger through them. It attracted everyone. And, they just felt so good. I left them out for about 4 days, and they were just starting to shrink some. That may vary depending on conditions where you are.
Levi has quite a collection of little sea toys he keeps at the beach…creatures and boats, etc. So we took those and hid them under all the beads, and they had great fun seeing what they would pull out. They would try to guess what it was by feeling before they pulled it out!
Suzanne was most intrigued! In fact, she used the same idea this week in VBS at her church…calling them ‘fish bubbles’. Their theme for the week was Submerged…all about the sea. The children were amazed!
She ordered a big bag from Amazon…they are much cheaper that way.
And, by the way, if you let them dry completely out, you can start the project all over again. They shrink back to the original size. Not quite sure how long this takes.
In one of the web sites, it suggests to give each child a clear bottle…like an empty water bottle…and have them drop 8-10 beads inside. Then fill with water…and watch the fun begin. They will float and move from top to bottom. I think I’ll try that.
If you mix the colors, it can also be a great sorting game!
One word of warning! These are NOT EDIBLE! So do not use with children who want to put everything in their mouths. HOWEVER, in my perusing the craft sites, I did come upon a recipe to make some that were edible. Didn’t try it, but you can google it and find it easy enough.
Just thought you Moms and Grandmoms may want to try this out. Not much mess and loads of fun!
Another Lulu/Levi project
One of the first things I planned for this year’s Boogaloo Camp was a cruise on the Sea Dragon. The ship is based at the St Andrews Marina, in Panama City Beach, Florida. I had run across it online and every single review was glowing.
The cruise is geared totally for the kids.There are places for adults to sit…but other than that…all activity is for the little ones. Every single minute, is planned. There is no time to sit around and get bored. They do all sorts of pirate stuff. ..water gun fights, shooting the cannon, dancing and singing and a conga line, swabbing the deck, face painting, sword fights, discovering treasure in the ocean and helping to pull it to the boat, then opening and sharing the loot!
Following are some pics of the day. BTW…this was a surprise for the boys…they didn’t know about it till we got there! They were so excited! Shirts courtesy of Lulu.
Pulling the treasure chest up from the bottom of the sea!
Every day we had a time for some arts and crafts…both of the boys are quite artistic and love to paint and cut and create!
Protecting the walls from flying paint!
Now we are all back home in Dothan and Abbeville. We are going about our daily routines…going to PT, seeing about Pop, getting ready for VBS at church, going back to our work with the sick. Boogaloo 2016 is over…but the memories linger on. John Thomas taking the test at the pool and going the distance well. He got to do the obstacle course and the tall slide. Levi taking the swimming test, but struggling a little…he only got to do the slide. And, once on the slide was plenty for him..while JT did it about a dozen times! ***Levi saying to us all, out of the blue, “Im a good talker and a chicken eater!” *** John Thomas working slowly and surely on painting his anchor.***Levi chasing about 10 chickens down the road trying to catch one. He didn’t. John Thomas taking it upon himself to be sure I had my waker every time I needed it! *** The look on the boy’s faces when they realized they were going to ride on that big pirate ship! *** Sitting between the boys on the couch and reading to them…acting out the voices and being silly. ***
Friends, life is so sweet. Family is so important. God is so good. Amen!
It so nice to have all the girls in the same room. Talking, acting silly, eating, talking about eating, talking about shopping, eating, interacting with the little boys…just doing life. We don’t have the chance to do that much during the year. Oh, we spend time together for a meal…but everybody has to talk to everybody else and there’s no time for real interaction. And, so as we gather together away for a few days, we focus on each other.
Not a whole lot of seriousness, mind you…but a whole lot of bonding!
Let’s start these pics off with a ‘breakfast of champions’!!! (Good ole Thomas Doughnuts)
“Rock me, Aunt Tara.”
Chasing the chickens…no luck!
What a fun aunt Lori is to these guys! John Thomas calls her “Ree”…….Levi calls her “Lorly”……I call her “Loopy”…we all call her “Special”!
Shirts by Lulu…
My dear daughter in love!
No room for me on the couch!
Even if we don’t always act like it! Fun with ribbon wands!
The boys think my walker is a perfect place to sit!
The boys bring their favorite books and we have story time together before bed!
Gigi and Lulu and their boys!
More to come in Part 3…..