Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Farm

I've been going to The Farm for 36 years now. I think I was 15 the first time I went.
The Farm is now the home of Jo and Sid...(aka my in-laws). Before it was their home, it was the home of Ron's grandparents, and before them, it was the home of Ron's great-grandparents! So you can see, there's a lot of family history at The Farm.

Back when we were in high school, when Ron's grandparents lived on The Farm, there was only cold water in the kitchen and only hot water in the bathroom. (Or was it the other way around?)Um? A slight dilemma! Not too much of a problem...somehow Meme still made unbelievable meals in that cold-water kitchen. She was an awesome cook! Grandpa would sit in that kitchen and stir MOUNDS of sugar into his ice tea. He lived to be...I think it was 96? Sugar must be good for you!

The Farm gets HOT! Thank goodness for the trees, lots of pecan trees. Of course, there are other trees there too, but I love the pecan trees. I love pecans! Sid use to sit out in the garage, with the oscillating fan blowing and the transistor radio playing, and 'pick pecans'....I loved being the recipient of Sid's Picked Pecans! He doesn't pick them as much anymore. Jo loves to cook with Sid's Picked Pecans. I love to eat what Jo cooks with them, of course, we all do. Jo's a great cook too! (Especially barbequed brisket...and my favorite - BLACK EYED PEAS! They taste best with one of Sid's onions!)

The Farm has always been a place of great fun for the kids! Joshua and Gabrial use to ride the tractor all over The time they shot Sid's mail box with bb's (Sid wasn't thrilled with that one!)..and there's the creek - Onion Creek ("crick"). Sometimes it has water and sometimes it doesn't. Doesn't make any difference, the kids always loved going down there.

The Garden...oh my, what a garden! Ron remembers eating cantelope and corn on the cobb practically every day for every meal (a slight exaggeration!) for months at a time because there was so much of it in The Garden. My favorite, of course, are the BLACK EYED PEAS! Everytime we're at The Farm, Sid sends me back to my mom's with whatever is in season. Saddy loves to be a recipient of The Garden! One summer, I think it must have been in 2003, Sid took me to a HUGE black eyed pea patch (the "Pea Patch") and he and I picked black eyed peas. Sid, at 80 years old, outpicked me. It was a pretty hot day, and there was a small breeze blowing the plants and the grasshoppers were jumping everywhere....oh, I loved doing that.

Cousins...another reason to love The Farm! Larry's girls - Brenda, Lissette, and Ashley - and our kids - Joshua, Gabrial and Lindsey - grew up having fun together at The Farm. They're really close in age which added to the fun. Joshua is 30, Brenda is 29, Gabrial is 27, Lissette is 26, Lindsey is 25, and then 'Baby Ashley' is 20. Many games have been played around the kitchen table and just a lot of general farm fun. Now their spouses are joining the bunch.

Then there is Paul's Barn. It's just an old barn that you can't believe is still standing, but it is. I've painted a picture of it and we all take pictures of it. It sits on part of the property that belongs to Paul's family. Paul was Sid's younger brother who died about 8-10 years ago (I'll have to ask Jo). Paul's family lives in California, but it's still Paul's Barn. The cats like it.

Cats at the farm have unique names. There's Yellow Kitty and Grey Kitty. Um? Guess that's not too unique, but then again, how many people name their cats by their color?

The Farm...

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I've seen courage in a whole new light since I've known Camilla.

Camilla is a beautiful 11 year old girl. She and her family are close friends of ours. I first met her when I had her brother, John, in my class. Camilla, who is 3 1/2 years younger than John, would bounce into our class with her curly hair and inquisitive mind whenever her mom would be helping us with parties. That was how I first met Camilla.

Fast forward 3 Camilla is in my class. She's so very bright, so very social, so full of promise, so very happy. The fevers start...the pains in her leg...the sluggishness. Her doctor can't find anything wrong...but her mom is worried. Camilla isn't the same, she never has fevers. They kept on running tests - and then they find abnormal cells. Camilla has leukemia. This was in January. I think the for-sure diagnosis was February, but we knew in January.

Courage - well, the day in January they found out she had leukemia, Camilla was highly concerned about the spelling test her class had taken to see who would be in the class spelling bee. She could barely sit up, so obviously hadn't been at school. She had no energy to even comb her own hair. What did she want? She wanted me to come over and give her the spelling test. I did..she aced it. She was one of our spelling bee partipants.

San Francisco - that's where she went for treatment. It was grueling...long trips when she wasn't feeling well...needles, needles, and more needles. Chemo, transfusions and tests...Camilla wanted to know everything going on. I have photographs of her pushing her own syringe into her lines. How did she do that? She became so weak from all the chemo, the chemo her body couldn't take. Again, courage....resolve...perseverance. She didn't want to miss school so even though she wasn't in the building, she participated. She was part of her 'California Missions' group. Cody, Dana, Ryan...we'd call her in her hospital room and her group would talk over questions with her. She aced all her school work even though she could barely stand up!

Treatment wasn't was a horrible time and we didn't know if she was going to make it. Fortunately, circumstances led to Camilla being accepted into St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Off they went, Camilla and her mom moving to Memphis. John and his dad here at home.

It was so difficult to go, but there was no other choice. A bone marrow transplant was the goal. John was the perfect match...too perfect, come to find out. It was grueling treatment leading up to the transplant...chemo - heavy chemo, energy, no appetitite - but we have to remember this is Camilla. Give up? No way. Courage? Definitely. She didn't want to have courage, didn't want to NEED to have courage...but it's in's who she is.

The transplant came through remarkably well. After 100 days, Camilla came home to great fanfare at our airport. A huge crowd was there at 1 a.m. to greet her.

The end of August signals the beginning of a new school year. 6th grade for Camilla, middle school begins. She wasn't suppose to go since her blood counts were still recovering from the transplant. Her hair still hadn't grown back in. Remember this is Camilla. She went to school wearing her mask. Courage! She eased her way back in - staying a little longer as time went on. You would never have guessed that this 6th grader had basically missed most of her 5th grade year!

Life became pretty normal again. School assignments, school dances, hanging out with friends. But then her knee started hurting...her mom was suspicious, worried, scared. After a time, the worst was confirmed. The cancer was back. Tears? of course! Scared? of course! Courage? of course!

Now life is back in Memphis again...chemo, radiation...another bone marrow transplant. Camilla has been able to come home to visit twice since she's been back. The last visit, she wanted to go to school. She had just had heavy chemo...but she wanted to go to school. She put on one of her new adorable shirts, a little make up...and off she went. A hat to cover her beautiful head? No way... this is Camilla ... accept me like I am.

'Camilla' was a mythological warrior princess...the Queen of the Volscians...or so her dad told me. Warrior princess? Yep, that certainly fits the Camilla I know and love. She IS a warrior, she's fighting for her life. In the 3 years I've known her since she was in my classroom, she has taught me so much. She has shown me a whole new meaning of courage, of perseverance, of determination. She's opened her world up to me...the fears, the hopes, the dreams. She has become a special part of my life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sad Sack

My mom decided a long time ago that she didn't want to be called 'grandma'...she said it sounded too old. So the search was on for what she wanted to be called when she became a grandma!

Well, it started off with my cousin, Ray. All the adults on our street would sit around outside in someone's yard in the summer and drink ice coffee. The kids played hide-and-go-seek and like that. Well, for whatever reason, someone told Ray to go over in the middle of the Ice Coffee Drinking Group and call my mom 'Sad Sack'. Again, for whatever reason, all the adults laughed and laughed and laughed. Ray probably thought he was a star since what HE had done got such a big reaction. So he called her Sad Sack again...and again...and the name stuck. I think my mom liked it because it was different.

Ray and his sister, Patti, both began to call my mom Sad Sack. Later, when my mom got herself a CB and would race around the streets and highways of Dallas, she used Sad Sack as her CB handle. "Race" is the key word in that paragraph.

Well, here comes Joshua...he's a baby...doesn't have a clue who Sad Sack is...but soon learns that Sad Sack is his grandma. We don't use the g-word...just Sad Sack. People probably thought we came from an incredibly wierd family to have someone named Sad Sack. Then here comes Gabrial...again, no g-word, only Sad Sack.

Lindsey...she didn't want any part of it. Apparently she didn't like Sad Sack, not the person, just the name. So she shortened it to Saddy/Saddie. Somehow through the years, Lindsey's brothers switched from Sad Sack to Saddy. My brother's kids call her Saddy...but Ray and Patti - they're diehards...she's still Sad Sack to them.
On the left is my niece Lissette, who is no relation to my mom, but still calls her Saddy. Then, in all her Las Vegas glory, there is Saddy/Saddie/my mom in the middle. Lindsey, the inventor of the name Saddy, is on the right.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Baby Names

When you are a new parent...or expecting to be a new parent, that's probably when you first realize how important a name is. A former student of mine just had a baby girl and is still debating, after over a week, how to spell her name. The name has been decided, but not the spelling. Evidence to the importance of a name.

Joshua was my first baby. I knew his name before I was even pregnant. Once I became pregnant, everyone would ask me, "How's Joshua?" That's all he was called...not 'the baby', just Joshua. I had no proof he was even a boy...but I knew. Joshua was a name I picked from the Bible. He would be strong, he would be a leader, people would follow him. Now, Joshua is a United States Marine. He's definitely strong, he's definitely a leader, and people follow him. He's more than that though.

Gabrial was my second. We mulled over his name, just KNOWING, although we didn't really know, that he was a boy. I planned on spelling his name Gabriel, the usual spelling. Well, Ron didn't know that and he put Gabrial on the birth certificate. My first thought when I saw it was that Ron had spelled it wrong! We left that spelling and now I'm so glad we did. It's a special spelling for a special guy. He was going to be the angel. Well, something happened when he hit about two years old and sometimes his personality certainly didn't fit the angel description. That didn't last that long, thank goodness. We weathered that stage...and I said NO MORE KIDS!

No more? Never say never. Here came Lindsey. She wasn't expected, but oh, what a gift! I remember feeling that this baby was a girl...but because I so wanted a daughter, I didn't want to be disappointed if she was a he! Plus, Ron is one of three boys, so I thought we may have the same. We had trouble deciding a boy or a girl's name through this pregnancy. More girls names came to mind, but Ron and I weren't agreeing. I wanted Rebekah...he said she'll be Becky and we already have a Becky. I wanted Bonnie Jo, after our mothers, he didn't like it. Then one night I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream about a LINDSEY. I woke Ron up and told him I had thought of the perfect name...Lindsey. In his groggy state, he said he liked it, went back to sleep, and that was that. However, as history repeats itself, I had planned on Lindsay, which I think is the more common spelling. Ron wrote Lindsey on the birth certificate...I don't remember my reaction when I saw it, but we left it and we love it.

Joshua, Gabrial, and Lindsey... the three most precious names for three of the most precious people in my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I count myself lucky...blessed...fortunate to have my group of girlfriends. We've been close friends for...geez, about 13-14 years. We can't remember exactly how we all got together, but however it was, I'm thankful it did.

We all work together as elementary school teachers. Actually one of us, Anne, is a middle school teacher. Jake and Lora teach 2nd; Sandi, Terri, and Elaine teach 3rd; Pam and I teach 4th; Lynne teaches a 4/5 combo; and Terry teaches 3, 4, & 5th (special ed).

We've been through the joys and trials of raising our kids (15 between us), some bumps in the roads of marriage, and of course the general path of life. We get together once a month, usually at someone's house, and we all bring food, wine, and dessert! In the summer, we always try to take a trip together. Our most memorable ones have been on a houseboat at Trinity Lake. Imagine, 10 women who are so dear to each other, a lot of books, great food, wine, a blender... a great speedboat and driver - Terri - .... what a ride!

We decided long ago that when we got 70's old...that when we got together, we'd allow about 10 minutes (maybe it was 15) to talk about our ailments...then that would be the end of that discussion. would I be without them?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stepping into the 21st Century

Here I am, 51 years old and attempting to set up a blog. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't have a clue what this was. Running into a former student, Stephanie, changed all that. What a great idea. So here I go.

I received my first letter from my granddaughter, Thalia, yesterday. She is 6 years old and absolutely precious! She calls me Mimi...which makes me melt. Joshua and Erica are her parents....Joshua being our first child. Being a grandparent is wonderful! Thalia told me we were the best 'gand perence'.

Emily, one of my daughters-in-law, has just finished the credential program at Sonoma State. She has a job interview today....GO EMILY!

Our daughter, Lindsey, and I are taking a trip to Europe this summer with a wonderful group of high school students from the bay area. We are traveling with a student ambassador program called People to People. We'll travel to France, Monaco, Italy, Sicily, and Malta for 3 weeks. More on that trip will be coming.

We just had our nephew, Addison, and his girlfriend, Kasi, visit us for 9 days. They flew out here from Texas. What a trip! We spent 4 days in San Francisco doing all that tourists do...cable cars, Chinatown, Alcatraz, biking from Fisherman's Wharf to Sausalito, Giant's Game, watching the Bush man scare tourists on Fisherman's Wharf, a free Los Lonely Boys was great!