1halffull's Blog

Biscuits, Milk and Gravy?
April 11, 2010, 12:35 am
Filed under: Biscuit World, Food, Humor, Life, Memories, Waffle House

Today was a beautiful day.  Sun shining, flowers blooming, trees in full bud.  A gorgeous day.

We headed out to buy ‘biscuits, milk and gravy’ as my husband said. 

“Gravy?” I questioned?  “Are you thinking we should go to Waffle House?” I continued. 

“Not really. Why?” he volleyed back.

“Because, you just said we were going out to go buy biscuits, milk and gravy,” I responded. 

He chuckled, shaking his head at what he’d said.  “No, I meant dog biscuits, milk and juice.” 

We laughed, then he asked if I wanted to go any place first.  I elected Kohl’s as I’m still looking for a dress to wear to our nephew’s wedding next week.  Plus, we needed to get cat food and litter for Mr. Finicky and the pet store is in the vicinity.  It didn’t hurt that Waffle House was on the way.  All the talk of biscuits and gravy had given me a taste for it, but I didn’t want to be obvious, so I figured I’d wait to see if Dan would get the same idea.

As we got closer, suddenly he said, ‘Well, hey.  Do you want to get a waffle?” 

I know it’s called Waffle House, but after all that talk of biscuits and gravy, how could he even think I’d be looking for a waffle?  “Actually, I was thinking biscuits and gravy after all that talk earlier.”  So we pulled in, each of us with our own ideas for what Waffle House might provide us.

Suddenly it brought back a goofy event also involving, well almost anyway, biscuits. 

Back in 1989 my brother-in-law decided to get married in his home in North Carolina.  I won’t bore you with all the details of that very interesting event, although if I did, you seriously wouldn’t believe it!  I’ll just get right down to the biscuit part. 

We were on our way home.  I was driving our van with my sister-in-law riding shot gun through the hills of West Virginia.  Dan and her husband were in front of us driving with the kids.  That part was quite happy for Judi and me.  Anyway, we decided we wanted something to eat.  In particular, I wanted ice cream.  We were getting close to Charleston and began looking for a place to stop when I spied signs for Biscuit World.  The moment I saw it, I knew that Dan would be drawn to it if I didn’t do something to take control of the situation.  I began to apply the pedal to the metal and sped ahead of him. 

“What are you doing?” asked Judi.  “You must be going 85 miles and hour!” 

“87.  But who’s counting?” I responded.

“But why are you going so fast?  Are you trying to kill us?”

“No, I’m not trying to kill us.  I’m trying to find someplace that sells ice cream before Dan has a chance to head off to Biscuit World!” I exclaimed.  “If we don’t find someplace fast, we’ll find ourselves eating biscuits and grits instead of ice cream with hot fudge.”

We did manage to outrun him and missed out entirely on Biscuit World.  Of course, all involved looked like they’d gone through a wind tunnel thanks to my preference for speed.

Today’s adventure to Waffle House got us both what we wanted but only after Dan nearly didn’t get a waffle, because the waitress forgot to turn in his order.  Instead, he ended up getting two for the price of one because the waitress felt bad for messing up. 

We both enjoyed the meal and no one looked like they’d been through a wind tunnel when we were done.


The Surprises of Life…
April 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Change, Dad, Friends, God, Happiness, Humor, Jesus, Kids, Legacy, Life, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents, Travel

For the average person, there are very few really big events that take place in our lives.  You’re born – but you probably don’t remember that.  You learn to walk – don’t remember that either.  Your first day at school – maybe.  Your first visit from the tooth fairy – yep, pretty sure you remember that.

 The first date…the first kiss….the first ‘real’ boyfriend.  High school graduation then college.  Getting engaged then the big (or small) wedding day.  The birth of your first child, and every child after that.  The death of your mom, then your dad; your grandmas and grandpas if you were fortunate to know them at all.  There goes your favorite aunt and suddenly you’re so much older than you’d have thought you could get when you were 20.

 For me, most of that happened in the first 30 years.  It was a lot to pack in there.  They were all a big deal at the time….some remain a big deal in my heart, my head, even now.

 Someone once said that it’s the little things that sneak up and grab a hold of you.  They were right.

 Some of my ‘little things’ include, in random order….

 Going fishing with my dad and catching more fish than him.  He let me.  I loved the lake.  Still do.

 My friend deciding that I wouldn’t be able to deal with a club meeting when I got home after my dad’s death.  She put herself in my place and took care of it so I didn’t have to.  A little, but thoughtful thing.

 My dad poking his head into my room, handing me a $20 bill as he told me that he knew all I’d been doing around the house to help out.  Demonstrated appreciation that meant so much to me under the circumstances.

 Aunt Betty who invited me to visit her in the summers and allowed me to see myself as a valuable person like few others did.

 Learning that my friend Avis daily sang ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ in the final weeks of her life.  I’d always hoped she would.

 Playing a game of ‘keep the car moving till the light turns green’ when taking kids home from church – it’s a fun game – you should try it.

 Having a mother-in-law who patiently listened over the years, didn’t butt in, and has spent hours on the phone with me, talking about anything and nothing.  If we were running the world, it would be a much better place.  Thanks, mom.

 Going to the beach with the whole clan; all the kids playing together; sunburns radiating.  Sea creatures scurrying out of the bucket of sand while one child screamed and the others all laughed.

 My sister-in-law and I in the ocean – without our contacts in – screaming at ‘jaws’ coming for us then laughing our faces off when we finally could tell they were just shadows.  Another time laughing ourselves silly so hard in the card section that a man ‘just had to come see why we were so hysterical’.  “There are two sides to every divorce” the outside of the card said.  “Yours and the s— head’s.” (not my words – but how we howled and promptly sent it to a sibling who may still have it today)!

 Two little faces pressed against the window waving and calling ‘bye mommy’ as I’d pull out of the driveway on my way to somewhere else.

 The surprise 40th birthday party my husband gave me where I was totally surprised.

 The kids so excited to sleep in the van the night before a vacation started.

 All the Christmas videos we made that could be Christmas any year except for the changes in sizes, hairdos, glasses and voices.

 Howling at the moon from the causeway with my daughter.

 Taking my son for his first tattoo.

 Oh, the list goes on and on and is my way of saying, let the little things grab on to you and you hold on tight to them.  In the end, they’re really the only things that matter.

The nostalgia of love
July 21, 2009, 12:35 am
Filed under: Death, Friends, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents

This past week has been filled with nostalgia for me.  It came from a strange place – Back Yard Bible Clubs, or more accurately, the kids who participated in our church’s Backyard Bible Clubs.

The theme was ‘God Always Wins’.  The homes the clubs were held in were just typical houses where some kids lived.  Those kids invited their friends and some friends of friends.  All told there were about 60 kids attending each day.

The clubs made an impression on many of the kids.  One little boy, Rhys (pronounced Reese) talked his dad into delaying the summer parental visitation with him so he could continue to come to the club.  He even gave up his camping trip with his dad so that he wouldn’t miss a day.

I wasn’t there daily to witness what went on, but  I was there on Saturday night.  All the kids gathered with some of their parents at our church for the carnival wrap up event.  We served food and then everyone got together for an awards presentation to all kids for the good things they’d done and experienced during the week.

What turned me nostalgic was their singing.  It wasn’t just singing.  adam-godIt was an expression of joy.  They were singing about and singing to, Jesus.  They were exuberant as they sang, hands, arms and bodies experiencing the music through the motions they’d learned during the week.  All their voices joined as one happy chorus to the God who always wins!

It reminded me of another time, 42 years ago.  My mom died in March; I was 16.  I’d met this girl, Becky, in my science class.  We’d become friends between September and that fateful March.  I’d never been to her home; never met her family.

One day, after I’d gotten home from school, Becky came to our door.  She brought her mom, Glenda, with her.  At first I thought it a bit odd but quickly got over that.  I already liked Becky and it wasn’t hard to like Glenda.  She was warm and caring; they both cared about me and wanted to express love to this girl who was bereft.

It wasn’t long until I was a regular hanging around their house.  Becky’s dad was a minister at the local Baptist church.  They invited me to come and I did go a couple times; I belonged to the Christian church already.  Becky talked to me sometimes about this relationship she had with Jesus.  She wasn’t pushy, just talked in conversation.

That summer Becky invited me to go with her to church camp.

I’d gone to ‘my’ Camp Christian every summer.  It was funny because my mom had told my dad after the previous year’s camp that I couldn’t go back there.  Something they said or did wasn’t to her liking.  My dad didn’t forget it, though, so when I asked to go back there, he refused.  But when I asked to go with Becky, he didn’t see why I shouldn’t go, so I did.

It was a great week.  We had a lot of fun with lots of other kids, playing sports, doing crafts, having morning devotions, swimming, just acting like kids.  The preacher that spoke to us at the evening service was amazing.  I’d never heard anyone like him.  He drew a big mural, illustrating his message, then awarded it to some lucky kid at the end of the message.  No, I didn’t get a mural.

On Thursday, Becky talked to me again about having a relationship with Jesus.  I remember telling her that I just wasn’t ready for that yet.  Little did I know.

That night, I sat with another girl from our church during the preacher’s message.  As usual, it was awesome; it really touched me.  When he offered the opportunity to come forward, I wasn’t going to go.  But my friend asked me to go with her; she wanted to go but was afraid to go by herself.

I felt drawn and I got up and walked her to the altar.  The moment I got there, I knew it was me that Jesus was calling, me He wanted to have a relationship with.  I said a big ‘YES’ to Him right then and there.  Becky came and prayed with me and we hugged like crazy!  I felt Jesus with me as I hadn’t experienced before.  I didn’t feel alone anymore.

That night was the best night of my life.

I have not lived a perfect life; I am far from a perfect person.  When I fall down, God is there to pick me up, give me a second chance.  Through the hard times, through the valleys, He has never left me alone.  When I am in the dark, He leads me home.  When there is a need, my kids are sick, there’s a worry about something, I only have to ask Him for help.  I know that He hears and answers every prayer.  He answered Becky’s prayer for me; I believe He’ll answer my prayer for you.

Automatic Bragging Rights? Or Not?
July 17, 2009, 2:31 am
Filed under: Bragging, Kids, Love, Memories, Parents

Here’s a question for you:  Do parents have a right to brag about and take pride in their children’s accomplishments?

From the kid’s point of view, maybe not.  After all, it’s the kid who is doing all the great things, not the parent.  Why does a parent think they should get to talk about it, show off and make a big deal even, about what their kid has done?  The parent should get a life and create something of their own to brag about, right?

Okay, so maybe parents are just plain lame.  However, as a parent, I have to say I don’t really think so.

Here’s my POV:  As parents, we spend a lot of time on and with our kids over the years.  It feels to us like we invest an awful lot of ourselves into their raising.  These kids don’t come out with a care manual in their little hands.  We do the best we can with what we know; we hope we don’t screw things up too badly for the poor unsuspecting little one.  We want, even need, reassurance.  Unlike getting a good grade on a test, which is instantly gratifying, there is no grading system that shows us how we’re doing along the way with this parent thing.

As a parent you’re constantly second guessing yourself; even after the kid is grown and out of the house, you’re constantly remembering and reviewing all the stuff you did and didn’t do that makes you pretty sure you were an idiot, to say the least and the worst parent ever, to say the most.

When your kid messes up, you blame yourself.    You’re sure it’s proof positive that you’re a loser!  You didn’t see they were hurting and help them.  You stopped paying attention for just a moment and down they went.  You beat yourself up royally and you rarely forgive yourself for what somehow slipped by you.

For some parents, the success of their kids is a form of redemption.  It becomes that good grade, the thing that says, in spite of me, they were able to do this good thing.  Regardless of how much I screwed up, they’re pulling through.  It makes us so happy that we want to brag, sing the song of praise, let people know – in spite of me, they’re making it!

Sometimes, we also hope it means that we just might have done something right.

Baseball has been vedy goooodt to me….
July 7, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Baseball, Cleveland Indians, Memories, Travel

That’s what a number of our imported players have to say about the game as they get their paychecks and hit the field to hopefully knock a couple out of the park.

It’s been fun for us as well.

Last Saturday I got a text from my sister asking if I was awake.  It was 10:40 p.m. so it was considerate of her to text rather than call and chance waking me up.  After a text reply, the phone rang and she told how she and Dick (her husband) had just won some great seats at The Jake (I refuse to call it Progressive Field) for July 4th.  Five rows behind home plate!  AWESOME!

As if that wasn’t enough, they also had passes to the Terrace Club to share as well.  To coin a previously movie-coined phrase:

Looking out at the Jumbotron

Looking out at the Jumbotron

“Is this Heaven?”

I thought it would be fun to surprise Dan with this fun evening as part of his forthcoming birthday gift which meant I had to keep it all a secret.  So, I spent the week dodging his constant attempts to plan out what we’d be doing and where and when we would meet up with Pat & Dick on Saturday.  It would have been infinitely simpler had I just told him and been done with it.

Saturday came and I hid all the stuff we usually take to a game, including his new shirt with Colavito on the back, in the back of my car.  Next thing you know, he’s tromping through the house hunting down said items.  Not finding them (because they were in the back of my car) we left in a huff.

We met Pat and Dick, got them into our car and commenced with a prefabricated story about how Dick had to go find this place in Cleveland where he needed to pick up a load on Tuesday (he’s a truck driver).  When we got close enough, Dick handed Dan the parking pass and said, “I think you need to go here.”  Dan didn’t get it, then all of a sudden the light came on and he realized what was happening.

Big as life - Grady Sizemore

It was a lovely evening with dinner in the main dining room of the Terrace Club, window seats.  Because it was July 4th, they were serving an upscale version of picnic type foods.  I’m not a big rib fan, but theirs were scrumptious!

Big as life – Grady Sizemore

After we’d feasted ourselves full, we went down to our seats where we learned that the players are actually as large, if not larger than we are instead of the usual two inches tall you see from the upper decks.

It was a beautiful night for baseball!  Not too cold, hot or windy.  Just right.  We could hear every sound – the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the umpire clearly calling the strikes, the crack of the bat.  The cotton

Score keeper

candy vendor actually came to our row – he never does that when we’re in the upper deck – and Slider shook my hand!  Howfun!

Pat and I took reams of photos of every sight visible including one of the actual game scorekeeper who sits in section 157 and keeps the score of the game!  I never knew about him.

Unbelievably, our Tribe actually won their second game in a row after having lost five games prior to this series with Oakland.  As if that wasn’t the icing on the cake, there were wonderful fireworks following the game, complete with musical accompaniment.  I don’t think we could have asked for a much better night!

Thanks to Pat & Dick for sharing this evening with us.  It was grand!

The Jake 080

Remembering My Dad
July 2, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Dad, Death, Love, Memories

July 1, 1981. I was 29 years old, living in New York with my husband, my two year old and my 30 day old son.

It had been a busy week but something nudged me that I needed to get all our clothes washed and dried. I’d been working on the laundry all day. I’ll never forget it. I can see it in my mind’s eye as clearly as if I was there this moment.

It was about 2:00 p.m. I just finished folding the last load of wash. I heard the porch door open, then the kitchen door. It was Dan. On a work day. In the middle of the afternoon. The horrible look of pain on his face began the nightmare as he walked toward me.

“June,” he said, full of emotion. “It’s your dad. He’s been killed in an accident.”

The world stopped and my mind ran amok. What did he just say? “Your dad is dead,” he said again. No. Impossible. Not again.

When I was 16, I was getting ready to leave the house to go to a basketball game when the call came. It was my dad. He called to say I needed to stay home; my mom had been in an accident and she was in the hospital. After three roller coaster days, she died.

Now it was happening again. How could this be?

Dad had been training a younger man on his route. He was a milkman for the Goshen Dairy. They were out on Rt.39 headed toward Coshocton. Dan said that dad had gone off the side of the road and overcompensated to bring the truck back on the road. He was thrown from the truck. The truck landed on him, crushing him instantly. Not a moment’s hope.

He was gone in a heartbeat.

I was dumbstruck. I called my stepmom. She had lost her first husband in a skiing accident. Now here she was, facing it all again. She was in total shock. Yet she had the presence of mind to talk about where tributes might be sent. I suggested they be sent to the fish in dad’s favorite Tappan Lake. The shock of it all made me stupidly humorous. It’s the dumb way I respond.

We packed the fresh, clean clothes and crawled into the car with our daughter and our baby boy embarking on the longest ride of my life. It was so fresh, so unbelievable. I kept thinking “Maybe they’re wrong.

Maybe it was the other guy that died.” “No,” Dan said again and again, “he’s in the hospital. It was your dad.” Then I’d cry and cry some more.

When we got home, there was mom, but no dad. I’d be in the kitchen and swear I heard his footsteps on the porch. I expected to see him on the porch swing. He wasn’t there.

My dad was quite well known in our town. Both mom and I had learned with our previous losses that we didn’t want a big wake. Dad had always said he didn’t want that either. We chose to just be able to go as a family the day before the funeral to see him, spend some time with him, then have a time before the funeral for visitors.

It was a time when I was expected to be strong, get everyone through it all. If I was going to be strong, I knew I had to go see him first, by myself. I was afraid of my own reaction. I knew that I needed that time alone. Our friend was also our funeral director so I called him. He didn’t think it was a good idea for me to come alone. I insisted, knowing that I couldn’t make it through the rest without this one precious moment.

Dick went in with me. There he lay in a suit when he should have been sitting in a chair in his green plaid pants with his red plaid wool shirt – what a combination that had been!

I commented that he didn’t look as bad as I feared he might. Dick told me about his injuries. They’d done a good job with him – except his hair, always shiny and warm auburn, now turned to straw. I didn’t like that. He wouldn’t have either.

I went home and told mom what I’d done. I told her, “He looks okay. You’ll be able to look at him okay.”

Our family visit wasn’t without drama that none of us needed. The morning of the funeral, I informed the culprit that should she behave like that at the service I would personally yank her out of there myself. If I had to keep a stiff upper lip I wasn’t about to tolerate crap from someone who was trying to make it all about herself.

Three hundred people came that morning. It was amazing. For the viewing, they had placed dad at the back of the room. After everyone was seated, they gave us a last moment before the service started. When it was my turn, I walked over to the casket and looked in at the man I’d loved as my father. There he lay, taking with him the grandpa I’d hoped for my kids; the man who had dealt with so much in his life yet managed to stay afloat. In that moment, I truly wanted to throw myself across his lifeless body, screaming in grief, crying until I could cry no longer. But I didn’t for the sake of the stiff upper lip. I’d have been so much better off if I had.

I don’t remember much about the service except the sense that it helped a little. The ride to the cemetery was unreal. It was a beautiful sunny, summer day. Life was taking place outside the car. I wondered why it hadn’t stopped the way my heart had stopped?

Leaving my dad at the cemetery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even worse than leaving my mom. I’d always had this idea that dad would be around till he was 85 and I’d end up taking care of him. I thought, having lost my mom, I was owed at least that much. Now he was gone at age 61.

dadToday, 30 years later, it seems so long ago and yet it still seems like yesterday. I can still see him on his hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor one Saturday morning when we were visiting, an impish grin on his face. Or the time he brought grandma and mom to see Rachel at six weeks old; he never got to see Michael.

So many more memories live in my heart and the eye of my mind. I treasure each one. I rest in the knowledge that some day, we’ll be together again, in a happier time and place. Till then, I still love and miss you dad – Robert Hayes Page – August 11, 1920 – July 1, 1981.