Stop the insanity (pods)!

A giant insanity pod has descended upon me and has taken up residence on top of my head. For the past few days, it’s been trying to make its way through my dense thicket of hair to creep into my cranium and wreak havoc with my internal circuitry. It threatens to annihilate me if something is not done to stop it.

What is an insanity pod, you say? You won’t find the precise definition in any dictionary, but an insanity pod is much like the humidity pods that descend upon Arkansas about this time of year and don’t leave until October or November. It’s a presence you dislike, but you learn to live with it, much like you learn to live with oily skin, or a husband who steals the covers. Until it’s time to cry out, “Enough is enough!” or “Out, out, darn pod!”

But, unlike with the humidity pods, you have some measure of control – within predetermined parameters – over an insanity pod. For instance, you can control how large it gets and how long it stays attached to your brain – or whether it makes it past your scalp in the first place.

In case you have never heard of insanity pods, we offer this helpful Q&A:

How do insanity pods form? No one knows for certain how the first pod came to be, but it grew and spawned other pods (much like Amish friendship bread). They approach the most vulnerable victim first (they can tell who you are). They begin by spotting someone with an overloaded schedule, too much stress from the challenges of life, a poor diet, the inability to sleep through the night and a merely compulsory reading of the Word. To that they pile on more stress, which leads to impulse eating, more insomnia, uncontrollable drooling, chocolate cravings and a worried mother (well, that last one is just a fact of everyday life, but it becomes more obvious as the insanity pod tightens its invisible tentacles around your nerve endings).

How do insanity pods manifest? The list of symptoms is exhaustive, but, among other things, the pods cause forgetfulness, crankiness, night blindness, a messy house and the Scary Mama Voice when the dogs misbehave (which means when they act like themselves).

Who suffers from insanity pods? As mentioned above, the pods attack the most vulnerable members of society first. The most likely victim is female, age 35-55, premenopausal, works full time, goes to school part time, volunteers at church and takes care of children, an aging parent, a chronically ill spouse or at least two pets – or all of the above. (We should mention that the sufferers include not only the victim, but relatives and members of the victim’s work and social circles.)

What can a loved one of an insanity-pod sufferer do to help? Just stay out of the way, baby.

How does one “stop the insanity”? As with an addiction to alcohol, food, shopping, gambling or Dancing with the Stars, the insanity-pod sufferer, or IPS, must admit her affliction. That is the first and most crucial step. (If the malady is caught early enough, there is no need for a formal 12-step program.) Then she must recite the insanity – er, serenity – prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and sufficient distance from sharp or heavy objects that can be used as weapons.

The next step is to begin removing obstacles to sanity, starting with items (even seemingly important ones) on her social, business and volunteer calendars, even if others don’t understand why this is happening. Would they rather find out about it in the newspaper or on the 10 o’clock news? (“Disgruntled worker takes out 23 colleagues, then turns the staple gun on herself – coming up after the break!”)

Relief can be immediate, much like when an Alka-Seltzer grants the first gut-relieving belch. In fact, when the first one or two items fall off the calendar, the IPS begins feeling lighter and the furrowed brow begins smoothing out. Then recovery can begin in earnest.

Within weeks (or perhaps days, depending the sufferer’s commitment to the program) a balance has been struck – the schedule is more manageable, school is out for the summer, the sufferer’s mother and the dogs are speaking to her again, the husband has stopped sleeping on the sofa. At this point, it is probably safe to approach, but proceed with caution. There could be a relapse. It is best to monitor the IPS from a distance for a few days to be sure equilibrium has, indeed, been restored.

How can you tell when the insanity pod has left for good? As there is no immunization at this time, there is no way to permanently remove the threat of insanity pods. But you can minimize the risk by remaining vigilant. The sufferer should get adequate sleep and exercise, stay hydrated, restrict caffeine, take long baths, play with the dogs, spend time with her husband, immerse herself in a few pieces of quality literature (no, we’re not talking about People magazine), work/play in the garden, write in her blog, eat 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate daily, watch Saturday morning Food Network and/or HGTV, listen to music, visit her mother more often (this should go without saying), pray and read Scripture regularly, and start reading the Sunday funny pages again.

This way, when the fall semester begins and the cycle threatens to repeat itself, the insanity pod will be less likely to try to park its ugly head on top of this particular victim’s. It will simply move on to the next unsuspecting forty-something woman and try to suck out her brain.

Help researchers find a cure for insanity pods! Contribute your suggestions by leaving a comment below. Or just send me a check.

Share this post:
Share

Nanny saves the day

After The Great Pepper Turtleneck Misadventure of Thursday morning (see previous post), my mother took pity on my tiny pooch and finally bought her an XS sweater (she had been telling me that Pepper’s XXS sweater was too small, but I disagreed – still do).

Mom went shopping in Jonesboro yesterday and came home with matching sweaters for the girls. Salsa is a cold-weather dog and wouldn’t wear one if we put it on her, so Mom’s going to return it. She will have to make do with the nice bouncy ball that Mom brought her.

Thanks, Nanny.

Share this post:
Share

Woof … woof … woof …

You cannot imagine how guilty I feel.

Five minutes ago, this was going to be a different post. Similar (less blurry) picture but different words.

I had been e-mailing an old friend with whom I had lost touch – in fact, I was writing about the Spice Dogs because he had written to me about his dog. Pepper had been talking to me for half an hour from the bedroom: woof … woof … woof.

Usually when she does that, there is no discernible reason. She just feels like woofing. You barely can hear it if you’re not in the room with her.

I had told my friend in the e-mail that Pepper was letting me know it was 30 minutes to breakfast. She usually dances around my chair when mealtime is that close, but this time she chose to communicate from the bed.

I kept saying, “Pepper, hush!” But she kept on. I finally went to look in on her, and she was lying there, chin down, just staring at me. Nothing appeared to be wrong, so I took a picture of her, told her to hush and came back to the computer.

When I uploaded the photo, I saw that it was blurry, so I went to take another one. She lifted her head, and I told her to get back in that “cute position” so I could take her picture in the cute little turtleneck I had bought her (size XXS) so she wouldn’t shiver so much when going outside to potty.

Then I saw her little paw sticking awkwardly out of the sweater.

Her left leg was hung in the collar of her little turtleneck. She had been woof-woofing because she couldn’t get off the bed!

Needless to say, the second photo went untaken. It took some maneuvering, but I got her tiny little leg back to the correct opening of her sweater.

The Spice Dogs got breakfast 10 minutes early today.

Share this post:
Share

Pepper and The Big Blur

Bruce thought he’d try his hand at photography this week. Our favorite subject: the Spice Dogs. Here’s a pic of Pepper, our 3.9-pound Min Pin …

Pepper, age 6

… and then there’s Salsa, our 14-pound bundle of energy. I can’t recall a photo of her that isn’t blurry. She’s a Manchester terror – er,  terrier – who NEVER slows down unless she’s getting a belly rub, her favorite thing in the world. (Pepper’s favorite thing: FOOD.)

Salsa, nearly age 6 (we think)

Salsa and Pepper, the Spice Dogs. They’re half the inspiration for the name of this blog (see my very first post for the rest of the story).

Bruce and I are wacky for, with and because of these two goofy animals. We’ve even got my mother crazy because of them. One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, she called and said she wanted to come over and see her babies. “Sure,” I said (I assumed she meant Bruce and me). When she arrived, I quickly discovered that she meant the fur-babies.

Never thought my mom would act that way over a dog.

Gotta love ’em.

Share this post:
Share

Random thoughts 01/10/10

I was writing an e-mail to a college roommate this afternoon when I realized that if she clicks the link below my signature and goes to my blog – which she’s likely to do because we haven’t been in touch since I started the blog – she will see very few recent posts.

So, even though I can’t seem to form a coherent thought lately, you need to know that I am not dead.

Random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon:

  • I’ll begin Accounting II on Saturday, Jan. 16, after withdrawing last semester so as to avoid a heart attack from everything that was going on in our lives (I mentioned the latest heart symptoms in my Sept. 12, 2009, random thoughts). I decided to try a Saturday morning class because I simply hate having to rush home from work, gulp down a few bites of something and rush to class, sit there for nearly 3 hours trying to stay awake and get home just before bedtime. Besides, I’m a morning person, and that’s when I do my best thinking (if you call me after 9 p.m. – or if you’re a former roommate [hi, Di!] – you’ll understand). My class this semester will be 8-10:40 a.m.
  • I finished reading In Cold Blood, although I never told you I finished it. I mentioned it in my March 22, 2009, post (a random-thoughts post that was a LOT more interesting than this one, and a lot less depressing than the 09/12 one, so check it out), and I finished it months ago, but now I have closure since I have told you about it. 🙂 The book was great, if creepy. Killers with no remorse. And it’s a true story. I read somewhere that when Perry and Dick were hanged, Truman Capote (the book’s author) became physically ill and had to remove himself from the crowd of onlookers. Interviewing the killers, retracing the events of the heinous murders, left a lasting impression on him, and he was never the same. I believe it was his last book.
  • And this year I finally started reading the book on which my favorite movie was based – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Since the first time I saw the movie about 20 years ago, I’ve been in love with Atticus Finch (Bruce understands – I think). I kept telling myself I needed to read the book, but when I checked for it at the local library, it was always checked out. After several months (maybe even a year) of checking, I finally inquired about it at the desk, because the electronic card catalog kept saying it was NOT checked out. They said it probably had met the same fate as a lot of the other classics: Someone simply took it and never brought it back. Before Christmas, I finally checked again, and they had 2 copies! (Bruce was an English major and has many, many of the classics, but we’re not sure whether this book is in one of the boxes-upon-boxes of books that we have packed, ready to move “someday.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Part 2 (because the above paragraph was getting long and this really should be a separate post): So I’ve been reading it, along with dealing with the usual Christmas chaos, which this year included getting new windows installed all over the house (the “2 1/2-day” job took nearly 3 weeks!), and trying to read a little of my Accounting I book to refresh myself since taking a semester off, and being tired and going to bed early. And from the very first sentence of this long-desired book, I was hooked. It just draws you in immediately, this tale told through the eyes of a 5-year-old tomboy in a small 1930s Southern town. I have to say, though, that this is one of the rare cases in which I didn’t immediately start to think, “The book is way better than the movie.” The movie is just so darned good, it actually enhances the reading of the book. When I read a book after I’ve first seen the movie, I try not to imagine the actors as those characters. Most times, the actors are too Hollywood, I guess. But in this case, I am imagining Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus, and the kids who played Scout and Jem and Dill, and of Calpurnia and the schoolchildren and the neighbors. … I’m in chapter 10 or 11, and we haven’t even gotten to the rape trial yet. But it’s not slow reading. It’s written through the eyes of little tomboy Scout Finch, and it’s just delightful, because the actress they picked to play Scout is just perfect  – not Hollywood at all (please, if you know anything about the actress that will burst my bubble, keep it to yourself!). And Scout and Jem and Dill and Atticus – and even Boo Radley (Robert Duvall), even though the kids haven’t laid eyes on him yet – those are the faces I see as I read. Brilliant casting.
  • This bullet point is sort of To Kill a Mockingbird (hereafter referred to as TKAM), Part 3, but it’s technically about the author and not the book, so cut me some slack. 🙂 Did you know that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends? In fact, Harper Lee was Capote’s research assistant for In Cold Blood. And her character Dill Harris in TKAM was based on old friend Truman. Some say Capote was the real author of TKAM, but others say it’s a ridiculous notion, the different writing styles being one clue among many.
  • (Link to info about the movie To Kill a Mockingbird.)
  • The next book I read may be Breakfast at Tiffany’s (by Capote), another book I’ve never read but I’ve seen the movie. I didn’t like the movie the first time I watched it – not in spite of Audrey Hepburn but because of her, or at least the character she played. Audrey Hepburn is delightful to watch, but I did not like Holly Golightly the first time I experienced this movie (I tend to judge people I perceive as flighty and irresponsible). Fortunately, my favorite song, “Moon River,” is a big part of the movie, so there have been times when I’ve popped the DVD into the player just to hear that beautiful Mancini tune. So, because of the wonderful song, I’ve grown to love the movie and appreciate the sadness and lostness of the main character. But I imagine this will be one of those times when the book will be much better. It has to be – Capote has written so many wonderful books, and the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (BAT?) is somewhat Hollywoodized, I think. And I want to know what the sad, lost Holly was thinking that early morning as she stood outside Tiffany’s looking in, after having partied all night in that iconic hairdo, dress and black evening gloves. All dressed up in party clothes yet all alone, and I want to know what she was thinking. A movie doesn’t give you that. (Unless it’s Ferris Bueller.)
  • Last year I decided to read more of the classics and am gradually getting around to them. I read slowly, and I tend to get sleepy when I find the perfect comfortable spot to read in, so it takes me a while to finish a book. But now that the holiday season is over, I won’t be watching Food Network as much, so I’m already reading more than I did in the fall. I tried some Solzhenitsyn (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) and Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), but those are books I didn’t finish. I’ll eventually get back to Solzhenitsyn, but the only thing I liked about The Jungle (it’s a really gross expose on the meatpacking industry) is that it has caused me to eat less red meat! I think the problem with Denisovich is that I’ve read too many concentration-camp books (I had the same problem with the movie Schindler’s List); maybe I’m desensitized to the issue, or maybe it’s that nothing on the subject comes close to my all-time-favorite book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (“No pit is so deep that the love of God is not deeper still!”). That is a book that I’ve read several times already but could read every year and never get tired of it. I’ve loaned my copy several times and just told the friend to keep it, then I go buy myself a new paperback copy. The tale of God’s light in a sea of darkness never gets old.
  • I’ve decided – officially – that Naps are a Good Thing. Because I finally have a job that allows me to take actual holidays off (I may never get used to that!), Bruce and I have spent a few long weekends at Mom’s lately (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s). Thanksgiving weekend, I took a long nap (really, a short nap but a long rest) every single day. At Christmas we were busier, so not so many naps, but New Year’s I got a couple of good breaks in, with the exception of the day that Mom was noisy in the kitchen and I got up cranky at her (don’t worry; I apologized). Just goes to show how important naps have become to my mental health. I turned 47 in November, so I am not a spring chicken anymore. For sure, Naps are a Good Thing. (I’m thinking of trademarking that expression.)
  • A soft bed, a warm puppy and a good book – who could ask for more?
  • I have written a set of “goals” – not New Year’s resolutions – for 2010 (it will include naps, although not in so many words). I didn’t get them posted by the time we rang in the new year, so it may be March before you seem them here! Or I may post them tomorrow – just depends on how tired I am when I get home from work.
  • And of course I’m supposed to be reading my accounting book!

This concludes another portion of our semiregular feature, Random Thoughts. Tune in again, when you may hear Suzy say, “Has it been that long since I posted?”

Share this post:
Share

Salsa killed the Easter Bunny

We found the Easter Bunny (or perhaps one of his offspring) on our back patio this morning. Dead. There was no basket of brightly colored eggs, marshmallow Peeps or other evidence of tomorrow’s happy holiday. Just a dead baby rabbit, lying there with its eyes open. So maybe it wasn’t the real Easter Bunny. But the timing is awfully suspicious.

Bruce doesn’t think Salsa did it – this time (remind me to tell you about the other time). I’m not so sure. She was the one who had been out running around like a demon before Bruce got up. And she has killed before.

It doesn’t matter who did it. The important thing is that we discovered it before it started to smell like a dead bunny. I don’t know if I would have been able to scoop it up if it had been stinky. I am known to gag at such atrocities.

But it was fresh yard-kill – so fresh that I was half expecting it to move when I touched it with the shovel. Its eyes were wide open, after all. Thank the Lord, it didn’t move.

I triple bagged it (hey, there really is an appropriate use for plastic bags!), knotted the bags tightly, placed Little Bunny in the car and took him to the local animal shelter. The woman there didn’t bat an eye when she came to the door. I said, “My dog killed the Easter Bunny,” and she simply replied, “I’ll take care of it for you.” She took the bag, I expressed my appreciation, and she closed the door.

Thank you, North Little Rock Animal Shelter Lady. You spared me a lot of unpleasantness.

So was it the Easter Bunny, or one of his family members, in that plastic bag?

Report back to me if your colored eggs don’t show up tomorrow morning as expected. Then we’ll know for sure.

Share this post:
Share

Random thoughts

My fans (all three of you people who read my blog) have been admonishing me to publish something. I haven’t posted in a while, but not for lack of wanting to. I’ve just been extremely laz — err, busy.

So, while I wait for my mom’s tax return to finish printing, I’ll grace you with some of the fascinating things I have been doing, thinking or saying lately:

  • After two weeks of working on it in spurts, I have finally finished Mom’s tax return. No, you cannot borrow money from her. Because she helped her children so much last year, there is nothing left to loan. Thanks, Mom. We owe you.
  • I chopped off my fingernails the other day to get better at the little game on my new cell phone that I am obsessed with (the game, not the phone), and it didn’t make one bit of difference. Even with nails cut to the nub, I am still pitiful at batting a little ball with a paddle at a bunch of electronic bricks.
  • I make up little songs, sometimes to amuse Bruce, sometimes to amuse myself. Frequently these little ditties are about the dogs. Almost all of them are about what I happen to be doing at the time I sing them. If Bruce isn’t amused, he doesn’t let me know it. He makes up random funny songs, too. We’re weird together.
  • I would love to be in a musical. Like South Pacific, The Music Man, Oklahoma! or my favorite, Camelot. Or how about The Sound of Music II: Suzl, the Forgotten von Trapp? I would be great in that! Not that I can sing.
  • Although Saturday night was an exception (I went to bed at 7:30), I have been staying up until nearly 10:30 lately! (I don’t think I’ve adjusted to daylight saving time yet.) Still, unless you’re my mother, my brother or my husband, or you’re bleeding from both eyes, don’t call me after 9 p.m., even on weekends. I will be mad at you.
  • It’s spring! And I pulled weeds this weekend (both days). And when I got tired of pulling the little suckers, there were still a BUNCH of them left. Today after I got tired and decided not to pull any more weeds, two neighbor boys rode their bikes up to my driveway and asked me if I had any work for them. Now I’m $10 poorer, but my rose bed looks a lot better. They want to come and mow the lawn in a few days. I think I’ll let them. (Note to self: Restock the Popsicle stash.)
  • I LOVE seeing kids take some initiative and get out and earn some money instead of sitting on their bee-hinds in front of the TV or a computer.
  • The dogs finally got baths today. This hadn’t happened since (don’t tell anyone) November. Salsa didn’t like it, but she didn’t bite me once!
  • My friend Lynn, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago (yikes, it’s been nearly three months!), is going to share the Basket-A-Month with me this year. Next weekend is the pickup. SPRING VEGETABLES! FARM-FRESH EGGS, HOMEMADE PASTA! SOURDOUGH BREAD! I’M YELLING BECAUSE I’M DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY!!!!! And Lynn said she’d bring me some of her asparagus and a couple of good recipes. Double happiness!
  • Baseball season is almost upon us, and I’m thinking of Travelers and sunshine. And hot dogs, which absolutely must be consumed at baseball games, no matter what.
  • I’m reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which I started reading in college but never finished. My favorite journalism professor recommended it, although it was not required reading. I didn’t do a lot of extracurricular reading in college. I was too busy with the school newspaper and reading for classes. But I’m enjoying this book once again, and I’m determined to finish it this time.
  • I have new flip-flops. They’re black. Well, they’re sort of brown now, because of the weed-pulling.
  • I’m supposed to be making a blackberry-jam cake for my neighbor, who’s going to pay me for it, but she didn’t give me a deadline and I keep putting it off. It’s the pressure. She had one at a friend’s out of town, and it was to-die-for delicious, and I’ve had to Google to find a recipe that seems to approximate what she had. So, pressure. Which makes me procrastinate.
  • More pressure: My church is doing a 25th-anniversary cookbook, and I’m supposed to provide a recipe for my “signature” dish, and I can’t decide whether to share my recipe for carrot cake, which I make money from, or be selfish and keep it to myself. My other cake recipe that gets rave reviews is from Paula Deen, and I want to make sure we won’t be violating any copyrights before I share it. It’s called White Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling. It’s lick-the-bottom-of-the-pan good. I don’t think I’ve shared photos of it that I took when I was making business cards year before last. So let’s end this on a happy foodnote:

white_chocolate_cake1

Click the comment button to share some of your own random thoughts.

Share this post:
Share

Merry Christmas

mom-tree-closeup-122408_small2

Merry Christmas, world!

I’m sitting at my mom’s back window, looking out at the beautiful, crisp, clear morning. The sky is blue, the trees are green and there’s still frost on the ground. It’s a beautiful winter morning.

Last night I got sleepy at 8:15, and Mom said I couldn’t go to bed yet (she’s mean). She said if I stayed up with her, she’d get up early with me. I told her there was no need for that because I love having the quiet morning to myself before everyone (except Salsa) gets up. I take the girls outside for their morning potty break, lift Pepper back onto the bed (where she crawls under the covers with Bruce), and then come back in and savor my cup of coffee, all before the sun comes up. (Mom finally let me go to bed last night at 9:45, when she saw me lying on the floor half-asleep). This morning, Salsa and I did a quieter-than-usual version of our morning wrestling match. We played tug of war with a toy — no running around like fools before everyone gets up.

Routines are different here at Mom’s. She doesn’t have a fence, so we can’t let the girls go outside and potty by themselves. We have to leash them and walk them until they decide to do their business. It’s usually pretty quick with Salsa — when she needs to go, she goes. With Pepper, we have to let her walk around a little, then turn her circles and find the exact right spot — all the while saying, “Go potty … go potty … go potty.” It’s not as fun when it’s cold outside.

So, while I wait for my family to get up (my brother’s house is within hollerin’ distance, and I can see from Mom’s window that they’re still not stirring), Salsa and I will go sit and watch the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon. (Oh, and someone may have already cut into the chocolate pie for breakfast, but I’m not saying.)

Yes, this Christmas is much more relaxed and wonderful than last, even if last year, in my somewhat-depressed state, I still tried to remember the reason we have Christmas in the first place.

Please, as you go about your day, remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born simply to die for us and give us a better way to live.

I love you, Jesus.

Share this post:
Share

Tuesday hospital update

The anticipated CT scan hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the doc hasn’t been in yet to order it (it’s nearly 11:30 a.m.).

With the big bag of “food” on his IV pole, Bruce’s blood sugar shot up last night and they had to give him insulin. The second time they checked it, it was OK, but the pharmacist was in a few minutes ago and said that if it shoots up again, they can inject the insulin directly into the bag. Oy.

What’s worse (in my opinion) is the pain when he goes to the bathroom. With all the undescribable things going on down there, he said that when waste tunnels through the fistula (yes, he has another fistula), it feels like acid being poured on his skin. Down there. The nurse was telling us about her hemorrhoid surgery several years ago and commented, “Can you imagine how painful it is to have a shot in your rectum?” And Bruce replied, “As a matter of fact, I can.” (Several times a day, he can.)

Yes, it is extremely painful. And it’s really scary. He also thinks another abscess has formed, and that’s not the same as a fistula. Different problems, both difficult to treat. And he has ulcers in his mouth, not to mention a yeast infection (also in his mouth — thick, furry coating on his tongue, causing him to eat less) brought on by antibiotics used to treat infections. Some of the medicines he takes are ones that counteract other ones. All a big fat hairy scary mess.

So please keeping lifting him up in prayer. We thank you for all the prayers you’ve already said for us.

On a side note, Bruce wanted me to say something we’ve been wanting to tell people for several months. We have thanked you face to face or by proxy at times when you’ve given us food, money, visits, lawn mowing, TLC to our dogs (Mike Tyler especially loved on our furbabies during his visits), etc. And we’ve e-mailed you in groups or individually to say thanks. But we haven’t done what Miss Manners would have us do, and that’s send actual thank-you notes — through the mail, not electronically.

It took us a long time just to get most of the notes written, but we still haven’t gotten to the next step and addressed the envelopes. They’re sitting on the table downstairs. It’s not just a matter of having the time to do it, it’s that anything nowadays is an emotional (and physical) drain. Both of us have fought low-grade depression, mental and physical exhaustion and the accompanying inertia, and have put off way too many things in the past several months, although I suppose that’s a subject for a post on another day.

But to those of you who have helped, in ways big and small, know that your thank-you has been expressed in our hearts — even written on a card — and someday we might actually mail it.

Suzy and Bruce.

Share this post:
Share

Happy birthday, Dad

Bennie Lee Taylor was born July 11, 1938, in Izard County, Arkansas, the second of four children born to Joseph Benjamin and Tressie Lee Hinson Taylor. He died Dec. 23, 1997.
x
He would have been 70 years old today.
x

I had in mind to write a long, glowing tribute to my dad, but time (and my eyesight) has gotten away from me today. So I’m going to try to capture some of his life in pictures and not write all the things that are in my heart (it would take too long this evening).

First up, some photos from when he was a boy. (Descriptions below.)

Dad as a boy with family, 1930s and 1940s.
Dad as a boy with family, 1930s and 1940s.

In the photo at top left, he’s the baby, with his mother and his brother Tom. Top right, he’s the boy on the left. That’s his mom behind him; the other woman is one of Grandma’s three sisters, Retha. In the middle is dad’s sister Joan (pronounced JoAnn), and on the right is brother Tom. In this photo, it seems Grandma is pregnant with Uncle Carlos. Below left is Tom, Joan and Dad. In the last photo, below right, is Grandma, Aunt Ednora (another sister), Uncle Tom, Aunt Joan and Dad. (And, gosh, after staring at this picture for hours, I just noticed two babies in the arms of their mothers. I was so focused on Dad and his siblings! Grandma is probably holding Uncle Carlos, and Aunt Ednora — or “Aunt Gobb” — is probably holding her first born, Janice.) I assume all of these photos were taken in Izard County.

The next phase of his life shown here is high school. Here’s his senior portrait. Wasn’t he handsome?

Dad senior portrait
Dad senior portrait
Dad was VP of his and Mom's senior class

In this photo of the Class of 1957, Cave City, Arkansas, he’s in the bottom row, third from the left (he was class vice president). My mother (with the same last name, coincidentally — they weren’t married yet) is the first person in the second row (Dorothy Taylor). They got married on Nov. 7, 1958, and she didn’t even have to change her name.

Dad loved his family, and here are a couple of photos of us with him.

Mom, Dad and J.T., Christmas 1960

First is Mom and Dad with J.T. on my big brother’s first Christmas, 1960. J.T. would have been just under 3 months old. And the next one is quite possibly my all-time-favorite picture, because …

Dad and me in his favorite chair
Dad and me in his favorite chair

… it reminds me of one of my favorite memories of Dad. I inherited my chocoholism from him, and when I was little (OK, even when I was big), Mom would serve us chocolate ice cream. I would hurry and gobble up mine out of my little blue plastic bowl, then climb into Dad’s chair with him and, ever the little helper, join him in finishing his ice cream. We don’t have photo evidence of this nightly ritual, but this is the place where it all happened.

A big part of Dad’s life was cars. He was a mechanic but also knew how to restore classic cars inside and out.

The photo above is dated June 1963 (when I was 6 to 7 months old), but we have lots of photos with dad and cars. I simply didn’t have time to go through all of them last weekend when we were at Mom’s. This photo was probably taken in Coalinga, California, where we lived then.

As for the two photos above, Dad built this car from a kit just a few months before he died. I’m going out on a limb here, because it’s a little too late too call my mom tonight (and even too late to call Uncle Carlos in California), but I think it’s a 1929 Mercedes Gazelle. I had it in my head that it was a 1937, but I found a 1929 one online that looks just like this one, and 1929 now rings a certain bell in my head. I typically wouldn’t publish something until I was sure, but I want to post this on his birthday. I will straighten out the details as soon as I can. (You would think that after watching Dad and Uncle Carlos work on so many cars in my lifetime I would be better at identifying them.)

I probably should have showed you the shop first. He built it (with the help of older brother Tom — and me, on one of my trips home from California) specifically for working on cars and puttering on his many projects. He had “retired” in his 50s because of a 30-year-old injury and heart problems, but he certainly couldn’t sit idle inside the house. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he loved to be outdoors when he could. The shop was out back behind our house in Batesville. Dad could fix anything — from a broken record player to an old lamp. Besides mechanical stuff, he could do carpentry and electrical. A Renaissance man. His mind never seemed to stop, and he could answer almost any question I had for him, whether it pertained to politics, the economy, agriculture, the Bible, sports, physics or just about any subject you could name (except maybe pop culture). Most of it was self-taught.

These three pictures show three phases of construction of Dad’s shop:

Barely started …

… well under way …

.. and complete.

I mentioned in a previous post all the work Dad put into the piece of land where we lived. Below is a segment of it. This was the best picture I could come up with in a short time.

I can’t close this without mentioning Dad and our dogs.

In the photo above is Dad with my dog Mesa (a mix of four breeds) and his dog Chance, a miniature Pinscher (a larger version of our Pepper). Chance, named by my nieces after some cartoon character in 1994, was Dad’s little buddy (mine, too). That photo was taken by Barney Sellers in Barney’s yard across from my parents’ house in Batesville. The bottom photo is of Dad and Chance on the deck that he built in the 1970s. My sweet Mesa and little buddy Chance have been gone from us for years now, but you know you will be reading more about them whenever I write my dog tribute post.

This last picture was taken on the deck of my Uncle Tom and Aunt Willa’s house in Batesville when Uncle Carlos and Aunt Judy were visiting from California. (I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but Uncle Tom was a carpenter. Of course he built the deck).

Front row: Ben Taylor, Bruce Oakley, Suzy Taylor. Back: Tom Taylor, Dorothy Taylor, Carlos Taylor, Debbie (?), Willa Taylor and Pam Taylor. Not pictured: Photographer Judy Taylor.

The photo was taken on Oct. 4, 1997, the day Bruce and I put our wedding rings on layaway, and less than three months before Dad died.

For now, this is all I can share in pictures, although the memories of my dad are still fresh. For those of you who didn’t know him, I know you would have liked him, and he probably would have liked you.

He was my hero.

Share this post:
Share