Saturday, December 13, 2014

Beautiful Sentences, Favorite Sentences, Most Meangingful Sentences

I know what one of my literary projects for 2015 will be.

Jennifer Schaffer at BuzzFeed Books published an article called "51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature,"  a poll, pretty much, of BuzzFeed readers' favorite lines from literature. It's a subjective list, so I think I'll compile my own subjective list. 

I'll set myself the task of choosing one line for every week of the year. I know that it will be a very personal thing because some of my favorite lines that I can think of off the top of my head are from books that are not bestsellers or classics; many are from rather obscure novels -- just not obscure to me. They are favorites for their rhythm or for the way they made me feel when I first read them or because of something going on in my life when I first read them. I think this will be a nice thing to compile and leave for my kids to ponder on when I'm gone.

* Nope, didn't work. I tried to do this each week but only made it to week #6, so I quit. I even deleted all but two of the posts. I just didn't have the time to do it or, to be honest, the inclination. There is too much going on right now to do this kind of blogging, so I guess I'll stick with just updating and writing whenever the urge comes upon me and leave it at that.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"I Don't Know Anything About Football"

And she said it with a straight face!


We are not a sports family. Not really.

I don't have one of those husbands who watches sports all the time, (he's always said he'd rather be out there playing than watching), although he can enjoy watching the Super Bowl with me or the NCAA tournament. The rest of the year, he really doesn't care.

He played a bit of basketball and ran track in school, and he loved playing football with friends.  The high school football coach, seeing how fast he was, tried very hard to get him to play, but he held down a pretty good job all through high school and wouldn't give that up. Andrew ran track for a while, but really wasn't all that into it.  

I'll get to the main story of this post soon -- I really will, but some background first.

I follow college basketball teams only when it's getting close to NCAA Tourney time. Well, I sort of have to. I'm from Kentucky.  In Kentucky, when I was in school, there were days scheduled into the school calendar to take off for the state's Sweet Sixteen Tournament. In Kentucky you had classroom discussions about the Sweet Sixteen Tournament. In Kentucky if you had any kind of basketball program at all, you knew what other schools were in your region, who the top rivalries were, and how many times your school had been to the semi-finals and the finals. You knew what years your school's team won the state championship and who the star players were from that year and where they went after high school. In Kentucky your gym teacher was likely to have been a member of one of those championship teams. I went to my school's basketball games. I even went to the football games (I actually prefer watching football in person, and basketball on TV), although football took a really way-back back-seat to basketball. And you don't go to school in rural Kentucky without learning to pledge your allegiance to one of Kentucky's top basketball colleges. I chose UK. I think it was as much because my Dad was a UK basketball fan as much as anything else, and I really enjoyed watching the games with him. Even after I was married, we would call up each other during tournament time and discuss how UK was doing. I was the only child he had that he could do that with, and even if I hadn't enjoyed it -- and I did -- I would have done it.

I'm getting there, I really am.

Not long after Thomas and I were married I watched with a small smile on my face as Dad led a rather in-depth conversation about how well UK was likely to do that year, including critiques of certain players, where they were likely to run up against problems, and so on. Thomas, ever respectful of my father, listened attentively and made appropriate comments. Dad was pleased with his audience and held forth on the subject for quite some time.  When the conversation was over and he had left the room, I leaned close to my husband and whispered, "Are you ever going to tell him that you have no idea what he was talking about?"  He never did.

And that brings me to my children. Andrew has never cared one way or the other which local college team is on top. When he was younger, he'd go to his school's basketball games once in a while, but it was more of a social thing than a sporting thing. I'd take Eler Beth to games, too, when she was still in public school.  And she became a partner to me in my ritual of taking an interest in college basketball during tournament time. I taught her well, and she is continuing the UK fan tradition. My father would be proud.


No one in the family likes professional basketball. I do not like to watch them play. There is too much grand-standing. There is no heart, in my opinion.  I am not emotionally invested. I know names of teams and names of famous athletes and which teams they play for because it's hard to escape that knowledge, but I don't follow them. And neither does Eler Beth.

But today she went to work wearing a Bulls stadium jacket.

She works early-morning, part-time hours at FedEx, and in the winter that can get a bit chilly if you're a package handler. The past few nights our lows have been in the 20s, and she realized that the jacket she'd been wearing to work, despite layering beneath it, wasn't keeping her warm enough. And she didn't want to wear one of her nice coats because she didn't want to take the chance of getting it messed up, which is entirely possible. So Thomas pulled a Chicago Bulls jacket out of his "tote of coats."

We used to take the kids and their friends sledding every year or on some other late winter, very cold outing, and there was always -- ALWAYS -- some kid who had not dressed warmly enough. So Thomas started picking up the odd coat, sweat shirt, hat, scarf, or pair of gloves cheaply at yard sales or thrift stores and stashing them for the stray, under dressed kid who might be going fishing or sledding or skating or whatever with us. He'd get various sizes and keep them in a large tote, and once at a yard sale he bought this really, really nice Bulls coat, that would probably be worth some money to someone. So this morning he pulled out that jacket for her, and it fit perfectly. It's an older Bulls jacket, with, I guess, an older version of their logo on it. We've had it forever. It won't matter if it gets messed up at work because it was just an extra coat anyway. As she walked out the door I said, "Someone's going to notice, and I bet she doesn't even know what the Bulls are."

Here are two conversations from her work morning, during the pre-sort meeting:

Co-worker: "Nice jacket! So you like the Bulls."
Eler Beth: "I don't really know anything about football."
Manager Mark, mouth dropping open, speechless for a full 30 seconds: "Hold on...hold on...wait a minute here. The Chicago Bulls are a basketball team."
Eler Beth shrugs apologetically.

Later, another co-worker: "Wow! Nice Jacket! Where'd you get it?"
Eler Beth: "It was my Dad's." (Why go through the "tote of coats" explanation?)
Co-worker, obviously impressed: "That's a really old coat!"
Eler Beth,not really impressed: "Yeah, my Dad has a lot of old coats."

No, we're not really a sports family. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dance With Me!

No knee surgery for Thomas!! The ortho doctor thinks wearing a knee brace and some physical therapy will help with the problem he's having and that he's too young to look at knee replacement right now.  So that means no bored hubby at home for two months and no scrambling to come up with projects to keep him busy and occupied. Phew!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Post Inspired by Donna

I wouldn't share this on Facebook -- unless I hid it from certain family members -- but Donna's post has inspired me to write about a lapse in memory I had yesterday that really freaked me out.

I am FB "friends" with a first cousin once removed on my father's side, Allison.  Her father and I are first cousins, and she had posted some vacation photos of her father and mother. They were very nice pictures, and I was marvaling at how good my cousin, her dad, was looking at his age. I wanted to leave a comment that included a message to her dad, but I couldn't get his name to come to me. So I made the comment without using his name, but it really bugged me that I couldn't get his name to come to me. Sure, he's quite a bit older than I am -- not like we "grew up" together -- but I was the kind of kid who knew ALL of my first cousins' names on both sides of my family (and that was more than 60 first cousins) by the time I was six years old, even ones I didn't associate with much.

So I was sitting at the computer, counting on my fingers, and naming off all the siblings of this first cousin, trying to get his name to come to me. I was muttering and fussing and actually clutching my hair in frustration. Thomas was no help at all. I started reciting this cousin's sibling's names out loud, hoping it would help me remember.

"Okay, so Jerry's the oldest. The other boys are Roger, Dean, Bobby, and Stuart. And there are the girls, Bonnie and Joan. But who is this one!?! What name am I leaving out!?!" 

Then I'd say the names again in a different order. "Jerry, Bonnie, Joan, Roger, Bobby, Stuart, Dean! Who is the other one?!?" 

Then I tried a different tactic. I threw in my aunt's and uncle's names to see if that might work. "Okay," I said to myself, patiently. "Uncle Burton and Aunt Vera's kids were...Jerry, Bonnie, Roger, Joan, Bobby, Dean, Stuart, and...." But that last name just wouldn't come to me.

I was seriously, seriously beginning to get worried about the state of my mind. This family lived just down the road from us. Yes, I grew up with their children, not them, because of the age difference, but these were cousins I saw on Sundays at my Grandmother Dowell's house. Their father was one of my dad's brothers closest to him in age; their mother was a first cousin of my mother. There was interaction and socialization between the two families! I saw them at family funerals and reunions! This particular one I'd had a very long conversation with at the last family reunion I'd gone to a few years ago, and he'd introduced me to his newest newborn grandson and told me how much he liked that his daughter had given the baby "Dowell" as a middle name. I could remember how this cousin and his brother Stuart looked when they were teens, about the same age as my brother Alton, and how I really admired their side burns! I was determined that I would not call my mother to ask her the name of Aunt Vera's son, Allison and Neal's father, and I said as much out loud to Thomas!

And that did the trick. When I said, "Allison and Neal's father" it came to me. Blindingly. Embarrassingly. 


It was Bobby!

There was no missing sibling. Just a missing brain. Mine! I'd put him in the list and searched frantically for the one I was missing when there wasn't one missing. And I felt very, very foolish.

I have a feeling I'd better get used to that feeling.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Autumn? Already?!?

I have absolutely nothing to write about. Actually, I do, I'm just not in the mood to write. I think of things to write about almost every day and certainly once a week when my snail-mail letter comes from Barbara, but I never want to sit down and actually compose anything. Maybe next week.

But since I'm here...

Everyone is doing well here. I don't know where the summer went. I didn't do everything I wanted to do, and yet I still feel like I did too many things. It was a busy summer without accomplishing what I personally wanted to accomplish. I think I did too many things for other people and not enough for myself. Well, no, not really. I enjoyed what I did that others wanted to do and won't call that doing too much for others; I just wish I'd done more of what I wanted to do as well. Selfish, aren't I?

Thomas is going to need knee surgery, so we're trying to plan it for January. That will be after deer season and during the coldest part of the year. I need to look into his disability benefits at work to make sure we do everything correctly.

Eler Beth is LOVING her job and staying busy. We gave her a big graduation party in August that was a hit.  Andrew and Alexandria are still a couple and doing well. I'm fine. Mom will be 91 in December and is doing well. 

And that's about it for now. Happy Autumn!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Just a Nothing Post

I wonder when I'm going to start posting interesting things again.  I wonder when I'm going to start posting regularly again.  Ah well....

Let's see. I made the Cheesy Ham Pasta dish, and it was well-liked by all. Eler Beth asked me yesterday if we could make it again soon, so I guess it'll stay in the recipe file. I used less basil than the recipe called for because Thomas doesn't like too much basil, and I used a bit more cheese than it called for because it just didn't seem like enough to me. I also used baby portabella mushrooms because  that's what I had and what Eler Beth and I prefer. We had it with corn on the cob and some nice flaky crescent rolls. I need to pick out another new recipe from my list to try this week.

I've started planning Eler Beth's graduation party for probably the last part of August. I'm still checking with a few people to make sure that will work for them. I really want it to be special for her because she's such a special girl. Andrew chose a trip over a party, so I didn't really get to do this for him, and I actually enjoy organizing big parties. 

Eler Beth is looking for a part-time job right now that will work with her schedule. She'll be continuing her classes in the fall and also beginning her ministry work. She's a very busy young lady. The past two days she has been taxiing me around and running errands for me because my tendonitis has been acting up, which makes it very hard for me to drive, not to mention walk. 

Andrew just got a promotion at work, and he and Alexandria are still dating. I think she's the one. We already view her as a daughter, and my family loves her too. My sister P.J. asked that if it ended up not working out between her and Andrew, could we keep her anyway. They complement each other very well. They've already had a few stressful things come up that they've had to deal with, and they've worked through some disagreements and misunderstandings, and they've done it in a very mature, considerate, and loving way. They are very open with each other. They are good for one another, and I hope maybe by next year I'll be helping to plan a wedding. And I guess that's all I'm saying about that because they both like their privacy. I'll only take the Mom Privilege so far. lol

And I guess that's about it for now. Oh yeah, we celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary on the 20th. Took all three of the kids out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday and then went to the movies. It was a simple and very enjoyable way to celebrate the day.

And I guess that's all folks.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Just Plain Silly

I was cleaning out and organizing files on my computers lately and realized that I have so many new recipes saved in various files but have tried none of them. That seems like a pitiful waste of effort. So one of my goals for this summer is to try as many of those recipes as I can. And if I keep skipping over one, then no matter how great it sounds or the picture looks, chances are I'm never going to make it, so I'll delete it. 

I'm going to let the family choose between two for this week, either a Cheesy Ham and Mushroom Pasta, or Roasted Pork Loin With Cider and Chunky Applesauce, because I happen to have a beautiful pork loin in my freezer AND some nice, chopped ham.

It's just plain silly to have hundreds of recipes saved and never give any of them a try!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Sister Looks Good For A Hundred Years Old!!

April began with Thomas in the hospital, and May is beginning with my sister Lois in the hospital -- for knee surgery, nothing serious.  She had the surgery yesterday, and she is doing very well. They got her up first thing this morning, and she walked from the bed to the door of her room and back. Then she sat in a chair for a couple of hours. She'll be in the hospital until Saturday.  In a few months she'll have the other knee done.

When she was having the blood work done last week, she was sitting in the waiting room when a nurse came to the door, looked around the waiting room and called, "Lois Dowell?"

Lois held up a hand and said, "That's me."

The nurse's eyes widened and her mouth puckered up. In a deep voice she said, "NO WAY!!!"

A bit timidly and very confused, Lois said, "Um, yes. I'm Lois Dowell."

"What's your birthday!?!"

Lois told her, and the nurse laughed.

They had her month and day right on the chart, but they had the year as '14. That nurse thought there was a centenarian in the waiting room.

She said, "I thought you looked pretty good for a hundred years old!" 

Can you imagine a one-hundred-year-old lady being in such good health that they would do knee replacement surgery on her?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Beginning A Bit Dubiously

First the good:  We had such a nice and busy weekend. We were in Indianapolis all day long Sunday. Eler Beth was baptized, so it was a very special day. She made her personal dedication to God last year and now has symbolized that dedication with water baptism. She is still walking on air. She wants to eventually be a full-time minister. She has set her goals and has started along that road. Thomas and I are very proud of her. She and I will share in the auxiliary ministry this month, so she will get a chance to work on her schedule and make sure she is capable of meeting her goals. She will be finishing up school in a few months and getting a part-time job to help support herself as she continues her education, secular and spiritual. I'll share some more pictures on here later, if she doesn't mind, but for now, above is my beautiful girl on Sunday morning.

More good: We went out to eat afterwards with a group of friends. She got to pick the restaurant -- and the friends, haha. We went to Applebee's in Greenwood which was on our way home from Indy, and she had most of her closest friends with her. Thomas and I had the mother of some of the friends, Andrew, his girlfriend and her mother, and a good friend of Andrew's who is married to a close friend of Eler Beth's.  I thought I was going to miss the KY/Michigan game, but they had it on so I got to see UK progress to the Final Four (yay!!). So that was good.  Here are a few pics from dinner.  (You can't see much of Thomas in the second one, but he's there beside me. I have a better one that I haven't uploaded yet. I'll post it later.) And below is a good one of Andrew and Alexandria. I really love that girl, and I hope they stay together. We got stuck in construction and NCAA traffic heading out of the Indy area and it was 1 a.m. Monday morning before we got home!

And now the bad: Thomas has been feeling a bit nauseated for a few days now, but he thought it was just allergies. But Sunday he really couldn't eat much of anything. He couldn't get any breakfast or lunch down on Monday. He'd be hungry, but after two bites he'd know he couldn't swallow another one. Well, you can't work without eating, so he scheduled an appointment with his doctor for after work. He thought it was probably a stomach bug or flu. The doctor did an abdomen x-ray which showed an obstruction in his intestines. So he sent him right to the hospital. 

They did a CT scan Monday night. The CT scan showed nothing. So perhaps it was a temporary obstruction that flushed out on its own, or perhaps an intestine was twisted and it got straightened out. Who knows? But to be sure they are doing a colonoscopy in the morning. 

He will probably get to come home tomorrow. I am exhausted, though. Thomas is not. lol He has been getting a lot of rest at the hospital, but he's ready to come home. And he is NOT looking forward to the colonoscopy, although he knows the worst part is over -- taking the prep solution. But I'm really tired. I have had about 5 days in a row now of constant running to do this and running to do that with not a little stress and worry thrown in, because you can't hear "obstruction" and keep your mind from running on down those "what if" corridors. And I can't do more than a day or two in a row of that kind of going and stressing without it seriously affecting me. My brain has been in a fog all day today, and I have felt my "operating system" shutting down. If I hadn't had Eler Beth to do all the driving today, I don't know where I'd have been. Haha! I just re-read that last sentence and realized that I'd made a joke, although not on purpose. "...all the driving...don't know where I'd have been." Get it?!? Yes, I'm going to bed now.

But I'll get some sleep tonight, and I don't have to be up too early in the morning. I will go by Thomas' work to get the FMLA paperwork to fill out, get out to the hospital about when he's finishing up the test, and wait around to see what the doctor says. 

So March finished up wonderfully, but, aside from the gorgeous day we had today, April has started off a bit dubiously. But it will get better, I'm sure. Just had to de-stress a little on here before going off to bed. Happy April everyone!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet Grandma Betty

I never saw any need for an Instagram account. I just knew I'd never want to post pics or videos on one. Even after I was forced to get a smart phone, I still refused to succumb to Instagram,  I don't have anything against Instagram, I just didn't think there was any particular reason to have one.

Well, now I have one, and it's because of Grandma Betty. If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, I shared her story from a local TV station, so you might have seen it my post there. If not, here's a link to the interview they did with her:

"Louisville Teen Dedicates Instagram Account to Ailing Grandma"

I enjoyed the pictures and videos that the article included, so I opened an Instagram Account to join in the fun with Grandma Betty. At this time she has 70,000+ followers, and, according to her grandson, it gives her great pleasure to find out each day how many more she has. 

I guess it's as good a reason as any to have an Instagram account.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"How doth the little Busy Bee...."

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I found out recently that a friend-slash-neighbor-slash-cousin used to read my blog, and I never knew! She saw a comment of mine on a post on a Facebook page for my high school and sent me a friend's request. She only lives a little ways down the road from my Mom's house and even closer down the road from her parent's house. She was a classmate of my sister Lois, is a second cousin once removed, and I went to school with her brother. So anyway, it was really nice to connect with her. I always thought she and her sister were two of the sweetest and prettiest girls I knew. She told me "I used to read your Dusty Pages and enjoyed reading about your family and learning more about my own thru your posts and pictures." I'm glad she let me know, and now I wonder how many other people I know or have known who might actually have stumbled onto this blog.

I am tired of winter! And I know I am not the only one. Traci DeSheles, a J-Land friend, posted a link to this funny US National Weather Service forecast for Nashville Tenn. today:
Enjoy the warm weather this week, Facebook friends. Nurture it. Cherish it. Remember it fondly. High temperatures at Nashville starting today and going through Saturday are expected to run 59, 66, 63, 70, 58, and 61 degrees. You could make the argument that since we were punished with such a long period of below normal temperatures, we now deserve the flip side. It's a legitimate argument. We do deserve that. But, alas, winter shall reassert itself at the start of next week. The ECMWF flashes the dread 1044 millibar high over South Dakota. The polar front jet slices through the southeast and lands just south of Tennessee at one point. And by this time next week, our flirtation with spring will be a vague memory. The fresh buttercups we clutch in our hands will frost over. We will be dragged back into winter like a hungry man invited to a feast and then asked to leave. We will wail and gnash our teeth. We will once again don our winter coats, our gloves, our big furry hats. And still, it will not snow."

That actually sounds like our own forecast, basically. I will enjoy it while it's here and try not to think too far ahead to the nasty weather we will probably once again have in a week's time.

As I announced on Facebook I'm trying to spend less time on that site, and, aside from playing Mah-Jong on there rather obsessively, I do seem to be doing well. I am not reading as many statuses, even family's statuses (I have the strangest urge to write "stati" as the plural of status!!!), and I am not posting as much or "liking" as many posts. 

I have so many things I want and/or need to get done in the next two months! Eler Beth is finishing up her high school curriculum, or at least she's supposed to be doing so. I have to admit that we have let a lot of things slide this year. As long as she can pass her test for her diploma, though, she'll be fine. She's making decisions about what she wants to do this summer and this fall regarding school and vocation. We have three trips coming up in the next several months for which I have to save and plan. And then there are things I want to do in my yard and to my house, inside and out.

I am going to try to do more writing in my blogs because I really want to. I am still working on the book I began in November, and I am leading the March discussion in the online reading group I belong to. So yes, my plate is rather full and I'm feeling pretty good about it. If only spring would come! In the meantime I'm all for clutching those "fresh buttercups!"

Friday, January 31, 2014

It's a Good Thing I Didn't Make a Resolution

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I do sometimes set reachable goals for myself at the beginning of a new year, but I also do that throughout the year. 

Anyway, it's a good thing I didn't make a New Year's Resolution to write more often in my blog, isn't it? Maybe I'll do better in February.

And it's a good thing I didn't make a resolution to diet in January because I have been eating anything and everything and as much as I want. It has been cold, and snowy, and yucky here, and I've indulged myself this past month. Maybe I'll do better in February.

My daughter is 18 years old now! I find that hard to believe, but I think she's finding it even harder to believe. But what's REALLY hard to believe is that I'll be 48 in a few months. Phew! How did THAT happen!

Okay, enough chit chat. I made a post for January. And maybe I'll do better in February.  : )