Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our first dinner party...

Forty-one years later, and I still remember our first...slightly disastrous...dinner party.

Thankfully, I was able to laugh then with everyone else and still think it's funny. We had invited Bill's parents, sister and grandmother to be our first dinner guests.

Bill and I had spent the morning cleaning our little duplex apartment. Between classes and working part-time for each of us, there wasn't a lot of time to do housework, but everything was now clean and polished.

I certainly hadn't perfected "cooking" yet, but had a few things I could do pretty well by then. I had prepared "Phony Spumoni", an Italian gelatin salad in a triple tier mold that morning, as well as potato salad, and set them in the apartment's ancient refrigerator.

Using a covered stoneware pot we'd received as a wedding gift, I'd made baked beans in the oven, and then prepared Southern fried chicken. I don't remember for sure, but I believe we must have had hot biscuits and a dessert.

Our dinner guests arrived. We enjoyed visiting a little while and then it was time for dinner. First, it was time to unmold the "phony Spumoni". I took it out of the fridge and turned it over onto a serving platter and a bed of greens. Splatter...splatter...splat...went the top two tiers of the spumoni. The old fridge had not done its job. We scooped up what we could that looked somewhat chilled, but the presentation had lost its effect.

I took the stoneware beanpot out of the oven and set it on top of the old gas stovetop. It burst. Yep. Beans went everywhere.

We all laughed and laughed, then ate what was left intact: fried chicken, potato salad, soupy spumoni and biscuits.

Christmas 1966...

It was our first Christmas together, and we were starting our own traditions. Christmas would always be special in our family...

Through the years, there have been many elaborate, beautiful Christmas trees...but none quite so special as this Charlie Brown Christmas tree. All that little tree had were colorful paper balls and tinsel.
I loved it just the same...

Monday, January 19, 2009

My twenty-first birthday...

It was December 1, 1966...our birthday. We had been married since September. It was my twenty-first birthday and Bill's twenty-third. Looking at the photo here, I'm wondering how many candles were on that cake...quite a few!

Funny how clothing and hair styles come full circle. I wish I had this ensemble I was wearing then now. Soft pink wool vest with covered buttons, an A-line skirt in the same soft pink wool and a white silk blouse. Remember, my Mama was a wonderful seamstress. The only problem is...even if I still had it, I couldn't get in it! I weighed all of 107 pounds here.

And, yes, I know. The hairstyle is still similar...just lots of silver now highlighted in blonde.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our first home...

Our first home was a small, rented yellow brick duplex on a well-kept, tree-lined street. It was located about fifteen minutes from Memphis State where we were both students. It had newly refinished wood floors, a small living room, dining room, kitchen, 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. There were plenty of windows which let in lots of light throughout.

What it didn't have was a lot of furniture or the decorating expertise I've gathered all these years later. Don't we always wish we'd known "then" what we know "now"...

Somehow, we'd inherited a used, ugly sofa sleeper that weighed a ton, and Bill made a large square table which held our tiny black & white television set. That was it for furniture in the living room. We laughed for years about that television, for it basically operated on a shoestring...literally. The TV would turn on and operated fine for a while...then the picture would start turning dark. Bill isolated the fuse or whatever in the back of the TV and attached a shoestring to it. When the picture started to turn dark, we'd pull the shoestring and wah-lah! The picture came back on! Years later, there would be televisions in several rooms of the house, but none that brought laughter like that one did.

For $35, we'd purchased a used, hardrock maple round table and four captain chairs for the dining room...all in surprisingly excellent condition. Thankfully, I'd brought my new bedroom furniture from home.

We didn't realize, or couldn't have cared less, that our little home was sparsely furnished. We were newlyweds and so happy to be together. We were college students and each working part-time. We would study at our dining room table together or at the MSU library. We'd have friends over or friends would have us over. It was a wonderful time...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The beginning of a lifetime...

It was Autumn of 1965 and I was falling in love...I just didn't realize it at the time.

I thought Bill and I were just very close friends - soulmates - who spent as much time together as possible, sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings.

I was still hearing from Ross who was at sea on the U.S.S. Forrestal, and Bill was still dating the tall redhead named Linda. I knew he wasn't serious about her, but she, evidently, had other plans. One afternoon in the BSU, I was sitting with a group of friends when Linda came over to our table. She had a notebook with her and commented directly to me, "I wanted to show you the menus I've planned for when Bill and I get married"...hmmm.

A loud bell went off in my head, and I remember the thought I had at that precise moment: "THAT'S what you think". Quiet little Baptist girl I was...but the thought was there all the same.

Not long after that, Bill and I started officially dating exclusively. It was a late Autumn afternoon, and we went to the movies at the Audubon Park Theater. When we came out, night had fallen and it was snowing....enormous beautiful snowflakes drifting down in the moonlight. We drove through Audubon Park with its magnificent trees covered in a blanket of white. Bill spun circles in the snow in his black little VW bug, and we laughed until we almost cried...

Bill asked me to marry him sometime in early 1966...I said no the first time. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was still a little scared of the whole idea of marriage...I don't know. I'm glad he asked the second time a few weeks later, when I promptly said yes.

We began planning a wedding for September 1966. We were both still in college and each working part-time. Needless to say, there was very little money; but we were young and in love, and that didn't seem to be a problem. My mother made my beautiful wedding dress. I had an exquisite bouquet of yellow roses, and my bridesmaids each carried a long-stemmed yellow rose with greenery and ribbons. The church was packed with family and friends. It was a beautiful wedding...

We couldn't afford an official "honeymoon" at that time, so we took special day trips to fun places within driving distance of our new little duplex home. We drove to Shiloh and toured the battlefields of the Civil War. We went to Pickwick Lake...and even managed to get an invitation to go below to see the inner workings of the huge dam there (Bill was an industrial technology major and loved that). We took a picnic to Shelby Forest. Without spending much money at all, it was still a wonderful time...

Leaving the church after the reception...back when everyone still threw RICE at you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shadows and highlights...

As the new year has come and gone, I've been thinking about, and struggling with, how to tell the rest of the story...

Telling a story is much like painting a picture...only with words.

My grandchildren create the most wonderful paintings...quite magical paintings actually. However, my grandchildren haven't learned about shadows just yet. Their paintings are in pure colors...no dark shadows that would give their paintings realism and depth. Our lives are like this. The joyful times in our lives are the brilliant blues, reds, golds, vibrant greens and even bright silver...the highlights of our lives. Any painting without highlights is dreary and flat.

It's the valleys - the sad times...the losses...the grief - those are the times in which we grow. Those are the times that create the depth and dimension in our lives. Granted, while we're in those valleys, we don't comprehend that fact. We only feel the pain or loss. Those valleys are the times that stretch us, test us, strengthen our faith and propel us into the arms of our loving Heavenly Father.

So, life is made up of mountaintops and valleys. It's that way with each of us. I thank God for the mountaintops He has given me over the years, but I also thank Him for the valleys...and for being with me each step of way through them. So, as I struggle with how to put my life into words, I'll try to remember to be thankful for both the mountaintops and the valleys.

I discovered the following poem many years ago. It's still true today.

My Life Is But A Weaving
My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the under side.
Not 'til the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skilled hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares, nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those who leave the choice with Him.
(author unknown)

(I recently discovered the treasured drawing at the top of the page in a box of old papers I was going through. The drawing is done in crayon on manila paper and is by my older son who just turned forty in August of 2008! My best guess is he was about 7 or 8 years old when he did this drawing. Actually, he did put some "shadows" beneath the ship, which was pretty clever for that age. He is now a missionary doctor in the mountains of Peru.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

This Southern Heart of mine remembers the turn of many a new year in the South...my homeland...celebrating with the traditional New Years Day meal of black eyed peas, ham, coleslaw, sweet potato casserole, turnip greens and hot corn bread muffins. Just thinking about it makes me hungry and homesick! I just talked with my sister Gerry and that was exactly the meal she was preparing...wish I could be there to enjoy it with them!

Here is wishing each of you, dear readers, a blessed 2009...full of good health, love, joy and peace.

Blessings to you,