Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Winter's Solstice

Some of us write

Some of us dream
Some of us sing
Some of us see  through the flash
  of a camera's lens.

Some of us view
  the sun rise
Some of us marvel
 at the sun set
Some of us listen to the chirps
 and clucks in nature's songs.
Some of us listen to winds whistling
 the changing of seasons.

Some of us greet each day with a
  sun salutation.

Some of us bow our heads in
  Thanksgiving for another day.
Some of us count our blessings in the
  love of friends,
  the beauty of God, and
  the nurturing of our family.

Some answer, "I do."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ice Cream for Birthdays

Ice Cream is perhaps the single most deliciously satisfying food  available most anywhere within walking distance in the Midwest.  When I coached high school girls golf in Oklahoma I could always find the golf course and after 18 holes of competitive golf I could sniff out  a Braums or Dairy Queen without a map or GPS.  So, yes, ice cream soothes the soul ever so sweetly.  Black Friday found the Watt family celebrating in Madison, Wisconsin in an ice cream store filled with colorful containers of pinks, oranges, turquoise,  and green ice cream, along with a few traditional flavors such as Moose Tracks and Rocky Road.  
Isaac loves his colorful ice cream.

Jack's big birthday weekend with his sons was a delicious celebration for all of us.  In our attempt to practice for retirement we slept late, at least till 7am, and took it easy gathering ourselves for the day.  A long walk through the tree laden streets of Madison with Isaac, Ann, Mike, Matt, gave us an excuse to take a second walk up Midvale to a corner shopping area where we first enjoyed pizza and followed it up with ice cream, of course.  
Matt, Jack, Mike

To top off a big birthday our evening was spent enjoying the lights of downtown Madison with the capital building lite up like a white castle.  The restaurant was called "Grazzing" or maybe that just what we did?  After our sons tugged and pulled then "picked up the tab" we walked again.  This was a lazy walk around the square peeking in windows and bundling ourselves against the cool winter breezes and thinking about retirement in another short year of our lives.  What will it feel like?

If it hadn't been for Alleen and Albert Watt delivering a tiny bundled little boy into this world on Thanksgiving Day 1946  this birthday celebration during Thanksgiving with Papa Jack, his sons and grandson, Isaac, would not have happened, and six happy people wouldn't have been eating ice cream and making more memories.  So a thank you to all of our parents for giving us this life.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Family Thanksgiving

Lucy wants me to write a story about her trip to Wisconsin, even though it is our story, but I'll let her know she's in the story, too.  The story is also about a big step we took in practicing retirement.  Jack actually took several days off work, just practicing, you understand, how it would feel to wake up and spend time with family and friends.  Lucy wanted to go along for the ride.

So off we three went to Madison, Wisconsin for Thanksgiving.  Going North in the winter is against my nature because it's cold.  I've often asked our two sons, "Why didn't you move south where it was warm?"  I just get that look.....  Ok, I will travel to the North to see our family, through blizzards and rainstorms, just like I did when I walked to school back in the old days.  

A ball just dropped at my feet while typing to remind me to describe Lucy's trip, too.  She had the entire back seat to herself with a furry bathroom rug covering the black leather interior of our white Lincoln MKX.  Night one we stayed in West Des Moines, Iowa,  in a motel for people, not dogs.  Poor Lucy.  She spent the night in the car, alone and cold.  (Actually, I don't think she even knew it was cold.  Her little body has plenty of hair to keep her warm, and remember she did have a furry bed and pillow.)   We were thoughtful doggie parents and made sure all of the food was removed from the interior of the car since she has a keen nose for foods, especially donuts, but that's another story.  The hotel did have a nice yard and walking path, but golly who wants to walk when it's dark and cold?  People with dogs, that's who walks when the temperature is frigid.

We awoke Thanksgiving morning to sunshine and a warmer forecast than expected.  Yeah!  We allowed plenty of time to travel through Iowa, it's a big state if you've never noticed.  I just love to cross the Mississippi at Dubuque.  The bridges and views are fantastic, even Mark Twain would agree.  Up into the highlands we meandered through Platteville, Arthur, and Livingston on our way to Montford, Wisconsin for baked turkey, dressing, desserts of delight, and family.  Ah, relief sighed Lucy, land land land.  Mark and Tracy live in the hilly dales with views of trees, farmland, water, deer and more deer, and one dead deer lying in the pickup bed in the drive way.  That grabbed Lucy's attention and mine.   Three children met us at the door, Ellie, Luke, and our grandson Isaac plus our daughter-in-law Ann.  Hugs and more hugs, how wonderful.   Once the running of the wild dog was complete and the deer was deemed dead and not a threat, we went inside, leaving poor Lucy in the cold car only after she'd had some cold dry dog food and water.  It was then that I learned that Ellie had shot the deer (a buck).  Congratulations Ellie, I was impressed! 
Isaac, Ann, and Mike

The children played while the adults talked and watched a little football on TV (big Packer fans here).  Our two sons arrived shortly after we did.  I looked at the three children running around the house and then at our two sons and felt a yearning tear.  Oh, not so long ago they were the ones playing Star Wars and hide-n-go seek.   Michael and Matthew, or as we say in the family Miatthew or Maicheal, had traveled in together from Madison because Matthew was making the loop of friends from Chicago, to Quincy, Ill, to Madison, Wisconsin.  Isaac and Luke played rambunctiously up and down the stairs.  I watched.  Being distant grandparents sometimes has a touch of loneliness to it, but I know with Isaac to watch and wait.  He warms us on his own time.  

So now our families gathered to give Thanks for another year, for love, for good health, for friendship, and for years to come.  This year the turkey seemed to be in charge of the dinner time, how can that be you ask?  In reality, perhaps, it was the broken thermometer that set back our dinner time not the cooking turkey, but no matter what it was imagine the delight as fourteen of us sat down for a feast of turkey and pheasant with dressings galore. All this time poor Lucy sat in the car looking forlorn out the back window!  With our bellies full Luke and I went out to play fetch the stick and toss the ball with Lucy.  Isaac, much like his uncle Matt, was an observer when it came to Letty and Lucy.  

Sometime after dark the cars were loaded with families leaving for homes.  Michael and Matthew followed by Ann and Isaac drove back to their home in Madison.  Jack, Lucy, and I drove to Middleton, WI (Madison actually) to a hotel that took people and dogs.  The new Residence Inn in Middleton even had a place for "doggie check-in."  Really, for an additional charge your dog, cat, bird, gerbil, hamster, pig, etc. could stay in the room, enjoy the outside doogie playground, and walk the community jogging path.  So along with many other grandparents our age we proudly took our "Pet in Room" magnetic sign along with our Lucy dog on a lease to our room.  That night we all three slept soundly. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Eat, Walk, and Write

Once upon a time I co-authored two books:  Developing Learning Skills Through Children's Literature Vol I and II.  During the time I wrote volume I with Dr. Mildred Laughlin I married Jack and we moved our three teens into a tiny little house.  Liters of Dr. Pepper kept me energized  daily so I could work, cook, write, and spend time with our new family.  Weekly I'd visit Mildred and within a year and half the book was done. I never slowed down long enough to put on weight in those years.   Book two I wrote with Terri Street, and by then our kids were in stages of leaving home and returning.  We'd moved to the country and I was teaching only part-time. I found myself walking and daydreaming instead of meeting deadlines, so I came up with a major "motivating" agent--Red Barron Pizza.   I ate my way through volume II, and managed to meet the deadlines, and it only cost me several cases of Dr. Pepper and pizza plus an extra 10-15 pounds.  It was a good plan, but it had flaws.

Here I am once again in a revising rewriting stage of my first solo book about growing up as a golf pro's daughter in Miami, Oklahoma, and I'm down the to the weight I was twenty years ago!  I truly do relax and enjoy the writing process of just getting the story out on the page.    I am learning every step of the way thanks to an online writing class on Memoir from Lisa Dale Norton.  For those of you who know me, it does not come as a surprise that my mind is jumping all over the time period from 1956-1968 with stories.  There is no order, yet, but I know it is coming.    
1960's Women golfing.
I have stories and notes hidden throughout the recesses of my mind's eye and in notebooks and scattered papers in my shelves of journals.  I never know when a story might jump into my mind.  One day I was at Dillons grocery and enjoyed a flashback to Bob Hill's corner grocery.  Being afraid I'd forget that story I pulled out my cell phone and wrote it into my notepad.  Whether I ever use it or not isn't the point, it is just one of many memories I've collected from growing up in Miami, Oklahoma.  So now I keep a spiral notebook and note cards with me at all times.

This week I'm rapidly approaching a revision deadline of only 4000 words.  It really is simple to write that many words, but I want them to have meaning.  In our class we have turned in five episodes or installments to our memoirs, now it's time to fill in the spaces with more dialogue, reflection, thoughts, time period postage marks, and details.  By 9am this morning I had already taken one fast paced walk with Lucy just to clear my mind and energize me.  As I walked through the garage into the house my eyes fell upon the case of Dr. Pepper.  I didn't even bother to open a can, I walked right by, and as for the pizza, there's none in the house and there won't be for this book.  Maybe when I finished those 55,000 words I might reward myself with a Papa Murphy's veggie pizza, or better yet, fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico while relaxing in the sun with Jack in Biloxi, Mississippi.  But first I must write, or go to the garage and pop open a Dr. Pepper.

Letty Stapp Watt
storyteller and historian

Friday, November 11, 2011


Leaf Fall.
As the light mist floated up from the hot tub this morning, I breathed in the healing moisture, smiling and licking the wetness off my lips.  The sun played hide and seek with me from behind the barren tree limbs, while colors changed from dull muted browns to glistening golds and waxing greens before my very eyes, when the sun set its mind to glowing.   I think it was the warmth of the water that set me at ease; I felt composed of a light airiness.  Today like so many I simply floated around in the water, calmly; not turning on the bubbles, listening; not stretching my aching muscles, watching.  Perhaps I'm more relaxed on the days when the winds are calm and gentle.  

A leaf lingered in the air above me, hesitating before dropping into the water.  One by one the leaves fell this morning, and I was there to watch, to listen:  for the sound as one drifted into the water;  when one skidded on the frozen grass still green with hope;  when several leaves layered together awaiting a gust of wind.  I was too early for the birds and their swooping, chirping, pulsating early morning flights.   I was there for the leaves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A few days ago a friend posted pictures on facebook of Walden Pond.  My immediate response was N-V.  I just wanted to run to Walden Pond, which of course is along ways from Kansas, sit, relax, be calm and pretend that the world was safe and beautiful for everyone.  Shortly after I had made that comment online, I took a deep breath and another and another, until my head cleared and my heart slowed down.  Ironically, it's the rush I've created myself that so frustrates me.

Then I stepped outback with Lucy and opened my eyes to the beauty and the colors of my own world.  I spent several days unwinding and practicing prayer while in touch with nature.  One day I awoke early to workout and with a plan to take pictures of the colorful contrast to be found in fall.  We headed out to Prairie Dunes before the course became flooded with people.  Lucy zoomed around a few hills while I practiced my saunter and turtle crawl.  Everywhere around me I found serenity, color, peace, beauty, and all thanks to God in Nature's hand.

If it hadn't been for the early morning sunshine and reflections on the water I might have missed Walden's Pond.  Sadly, we call it the pond on number eleven, not too creative but functional.  I think there is already a Walden II Pond so I'll have to come up with something new.  There I stood, I had come to the pond and found the moment of serenity.  My breath was calm, my heart pounded with excitement like I'd discovered a new land a new place, a new peace.  So I sat.  I sat on the dew touched grasses; I watched a few ripples as turtles crawled into the water; I watched the birds overhead zoom, flitter, and float like the leaves in the air.  I listened to the stillness and heard the grasses rustle, the black bird caw, a woodpecker knocking, the UBB's (unidentified brown birds) chirping at one another, a lone meadowlark in the field behind me singing.  No longer will envy fill my heart when I see what others have, I just need to reflect, to see, to gather from my surroundings, to know I have all I need right here in the middle of Kansas.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Henry and Alba

Today the weather the acts like it wants to rain, we need it to rain, but I suspect it won't rain here.  Once again I hook up Henry and Alba each at the end of a very long garden hose.  This year since April they have been criss-crossing our huge yard doing their dead level best to sprinkle our dry Kansas soil.  Normally, I suppose, people don't name their sprinklers, but I come from a family who nicknamed most every critter, car, or device imaginable.  Consequently, a few years ago I observed the one yellow cast iron steel tractor follow the hose until it decided to skip away and take it's own path.  How nervy I thought of a plain yellow garden tractor just to go where it wanted.

It just so happened that we bought a second yellow tractor for the front yard and it, too, has a mind of it's own.  It was  during that summer three years ago I read with great fascination a book called The Time Traveler's Wife.  Oh wow, what a great imagination the author displayed in her writing.  I was completely taken by her idea of time travel.  Even the movie was well constructed, but of course, didn't compare to the depth of the characters in the story.  In no time at all I had named our water tractors Henry and Alba for the two time travelers in the book.

I've never put an H or an A on either one, but each year when they come out of storage it only takes a few days for my husband and I to know which one is Henry and which one is Alba.  Alba, like her namesake in the story rarely leaves the track.  I can nearly trust her to follow the green hose to the end time after time.  Henry, however, always begins with good intentions and then somehow just takes a turn.  Even the neighbors can tell us which one is Henry.  One day he went so far off track that his front end hit the fence and the spokes that turn and send out the rain were jammed.  But Henry continued to churn his wheels digging a sizable hole where the two back spiked wheels dug in.  He had mud splashed everywhere, "Henry, I declare.  If you followed the green hose you wouldn't find yourself in so much mud and muck!"  He didn't listen.

Now the season is ending but once again Henry and Alba are fast at work, doing their best to keep our fescue grass green and fall flowers blooming.    

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Things I Wanted to Say

After my daughter drove away my mind and heart were filled with things I wanted to say, to do, to show, to share.  So many miles and years between us.  So many little things about her life, about my life, gifts and memories.  So many little things that add up faster than the yeas go by.  "Here, Sweetie, these are the opal earrings and necklace that your dad gave me the year before you were born.  And this, the fragile 1960's daisy earring tree,  I bought  in Killeen, Texas the first year your dad and I were married."  
China hands made in Japan before WWII.

"I wish you could have met my grandmother and Aunt Della.  They collected the China hands that now fill the antique case.  Grandma always kept her hands busy with crafts, sewing, and quilting.  Della was an artist down in her soul, but poor health and hard work took her life too soon.   Photography was her love, she'd even met Margaret Burke White in Taos.  (But would I want to tell her that heavy social drinking stopped so much creativity in her?)  The black and white lithograph in the dining room was purchased decades ago from Birger Sandzin a well-known artist in Kansas and acquaintance of Della's.  Her artist community spread from Wichita, to Denver and Santa Fe.  She made several trips to Taos and Santa Fe with her striking red-headed friend, Murphy Doodle (the only name I recall she had).  I've often wondered if Della knew Georgia O'Keefe since that is where she met so many artists.  I have a copper necklace that came from New Mexico.  It hung on Della's frail chest and looked so elegant.  I wear it from time to time and it always makes me feel special.  The ring with tiny diamonds and blue sapphires was designed by Della.  I wore that, too, attached to a wedding band, but now it hangs on a sliver of a silver necklace."
Hand pieced quilt by Grandma (Stapp)  Oursler.

Divorce leaves empty gaps and all these many years later I still try to fill that void.  But on Katy's "40th" birthday we merely went on doing all I know to do, creating more happy memories for the both of us, and for the men we share our love with from day to day and throughout the years to come.  Sadly, we forgot to take those photos of our time together.  Della would have made it a special event.  Hopefully, we will both remember the walks with the dogs, a round of golf on a nearly perfect Kansas day, a very special meal served with rich cheeses, shrimp, potatoes, and asparagus called "Raclette" complimented with delicious wines, and topped off with Dark Chocolate Fondant.  We all laughed when the candles tipped sideways on the soft liquid chocolate center of the fondant, so 10 candles represented the 40 years of love, happiness, adventures, and memories.

Ironically, I've been waking Katy (in person or by phone call) on every birthday at 7:11 in the morning since that is when she came into this world.  On a morning when she was in our home, I hesitated and left her sleeping, or should I say I left the dogs sleeping.  
Two-Bit the ferocious dog.
Three possessive dogs under one roof made a lasting impression of hilarity on our minds, and that day I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.  Happy Day, every day Katy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Miami Memories: Tick Tock

One of the saddest days of my life occurred on a hot summer Monday at Elk River in Missouri when I about ten years old. Our family had enjoyed a relaxing day of swimming, light fishing, meals of campfire hot dogs covered in mustard and relish, and baloney sandwiches with dessert of roasted marshmallows on gram crackers (the chocolate Hersey bars never lasted till evening). My sister and I had spent hours in the cold waters of Elk River trying to catch perch in our summer sand buckets. Oh, those wise parents of ours, who convinced us that we could catch them in tiny little buckets! What we caught, in the end, was a good night's sleep. Our little dog Ticky accompanied us on our Monday outings and never strayed far from our campgrounds. Late in the afternoon with the campfire roaring and sticks ready to grill the hot dogs our little dog failed to appear.

Ticky, our pet, had found us one summer evening a few years before, and I knew in my child's heart he'd find us again. This stubby short brown haired dog with the face of a pug that had been pushed out from the inside appeared in our backyard one night on E st SW about the time Dad hauled out the homemade trash barrel BBQ grill. The grill must have smelled like a dozen nights of steak and hamburger drippings. This nameless stray dog plopped himself down by the grill and watched Dad's every move.

Mother reached down to pet the little stray just as I picked him up. Then I heard her screech, "Ticks." Too late. I carried the dog in my arms over to my dad, who was now seated in a lawn chair with a beer in hand. On the ground beside my father I placed the little dog like an offering to a God, all the while my mother screeched in the background, "He's covered in ticks, let him go." At my dad's feet, this little dog began to scratch his belly and with his bucky teeth tried to clean himself before the man who might have a hand out. Even dad's hand jerked away when he saw the revolting ticks on the dogs back. Then we realized the poor little dog was covered head to toe in ticks.

Dinner was delayed that night as a team of surgeons went to work on the dog. Dad put some gasoline in the bottom of a coffee can, then Jonya, Dad, and I sat down and pulled ticks off and dropped them in the can. The fat ugly ticks squirmed in the gas until at last they sunk to the bottom, dead! Mother stayed in the kitchen. The stray little dog waited and wiggled patiently as we worked to clean him up. At long last the poor dog was somewhat presentable to mother. When at last dinner was served the little dog was rewarded with table scraps of hamburger and a steak bone, and our little dog, Ticky, had found a home.

But now time was ticking away for our lost little dog.

But now time was ticking away for our lost little dog. Mother and my sister, Jonya, who had the melodramatic voice of a heroine tied to the railroad tracks, yelled for Ticky, while dad and i walked to every camped area asking and calling for our ever faithful companion. It wasn't like Ticky to leave Dad's side, he was a daddy's dog. The four of us choked down our hot dogs that night between tears. After dark we'd given up hope, and I saw tears stream down my dad's face as we packed the station wagon for home.

We all gave one last tearful call for Ticky and then two little girls, crying their hearts out, were loaded into the station wagon. With windows down we screamed, "Ticky, Ticky, Ticky," all the way to the highway. Just as the dirt road stopped at the paved highway, the headlights of the car spotted a little brown dog sitting off to the side of the road watching every pair of headlights driving by. I've never seen my father so jubilant and teary eyed as he jumped from the car, nearly forgetting to put it in park, and picked up that forlorn little brown dog with dark woeful eyes. Happiness flooded our car that night as we sang "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window," and every other happy song my mother could remember. Truly that was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Letty Stapp Watt
storyteller and historian

Friday, August 5, 2011

Play Each Shot As If It Will Only Happen Once

Alexa Osborne and Letty Watt
This past week I had an opportunity to play some of my greatest golf shots and to enjoy and follow up on many awesome shots played by our youthful Kansas Fore State team. I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to play golf at Prairie Dunes Country Club (Hutchinson, KS) and to be acquainted with the cleverness of Perry Maxwell's golf course architecture. His par 3's can humble the best of players either with gaping bunkers lining the front and sides of the holes; lakes beckoning the golf ball to cool off; tall prairie grasses that offer permanent shelter to wayward golf shots; winds that blow the balls off course; or trickling creeks and out of bounds stakes defining the direction the ball must fly to reach the undulating greens.

My last hurrah at 2011 Fore State came on the par 3 hole 15 at Hardscrabble Country Club (a Perry Maxwell design). I was one down and Sidney's tee shot was sitting pin high on the green to the right. I inhaled the humid Arkansas air, smiled at the beauty of the hills, the trees, the lakes and green grasses then starred down the par 3. "Perry Maxwell," my focused words spoke, "you can't scare me." My tee shot took dead aim at the pin and dropped eight feet short of the hole leaving me a simple uphill putt to win the hole and go even. Sidney missed her birdie putt. With focus and confidence I stroked the ball toward the hole. My head stayed down listening for the rattle of the ball in the cup, that didn't come. My birdie putt strayed slightly to the left and sat there peeking at the empty cup. I thought I heard an old man's voice chuckle, "You didn't see that tiny touch of an uphill break did you?" "No, I didn't," I thought in reply, "but it was a hole well played." And then my 63 year old bones and back began to quiver with exhaustion. Hole 16 passed in a blurry tie.

Next, I found myself on 17 still playing and thinking I could win. After dunking my tee shot in the water to cool off, my next shot landed on the green pin high to the right. I needed to make the putt to tie. For one brief moment in time I tied the match on the 17th hole, but the putt had been hit with too much authority. I saw the blood drain from the young Oklahoma player's face, as she, too, thought I'd drained the putt. "Hit the HOLE, " I yelled. And it did, hitting the bottom of the cup and then bouncing out. In that hop the hole and the match were lost.

I could only smile, proud that I'd played as well as I could. She beamed with delight as we shook hands, and I congratulated her on the win. Her Oklahoma team eventually won Women's Fore State 2011 that day. Our Kansas team returned the trophy from last year's win and walked away standing tall, with pride, spirit, grace, and youthfulness, knowing we'd all done our best.

Twenty-four hours later I was sauntering through the field north of our house with Lucy, when a cool gentle breeze stirred a vivid memory.

The Women's Oklahoma Golf Association State Championship was held at Oakwood Country Club (a Perry Maxwell design) in Enid, Oklahoma in June 1967, and I was a competitor for the championship that week. In an early round of match play I played against an "old gray haired lady" who nearly beat me, a youthful strong determined 19 year old golfer. We tied our match at the end of 18 holes which meant we had to continue on until someone won the match. On the 19th hole of "sudden death" I finally chipped in to beat her, doing what she'd done to me all day--chipping and putting like a pro. She smiled and walked toward me with pride and grace that day. In her firm handshake of congratulations she let me know age was not a hindrance for a determined mind.

I could never image at age 19 that I would be standing in her shoes on the 17th hole at Hardscrabble Country Club at age 63 shaking the hand of a 19 year determined college student.

So to those who've gone before; the golf course designers, the dreamers, the club pros, the parents, the coaches, and especially the women amateurs and professional golfers who've given us their best, who've laid the groundwork for our programs and tournaments today, I bow my head in silence and say thank you. My hope is that through our continued dedication to the game of golf that some young girl golfer may write the sequel to this story in another forty to fifty years.

Picture of 2011 Kansas Fore State team--front row: Krista Peterson, Katy Nugent, Letty Watt, Lauren Falley, Jennifer Clark, Alexa Osborn; back row: Becky Tetrick, Hannah Martin, Kelsey Jensen, Michelle Woods, and Capt. Julie McKinnis.

Kansas Women's Golf Association
Women's Oklahoma Golf assocication
Missouri Women's Golf Association
Arkansas Women's Golf Association

Monday, August 1, 2011

Miami Memories: Sisters

I have a younger sister who is a truly deeply loving and beautiful woman, so it brings a giggle to my lips whenever someone asks her, "Are you older than Letty?" She has our father's blue eyes and curly gray hair while I have our mother's olive green eyes and blond, brown, graying "Lady Clairol" hair. We both love to learn whether in classes or just venturing out into new elements. In golf she is a natural. Her smooth rhythmical swing helped her win tournaments during her teenage years while I have grit, tension, and a swing that requires practice. Her relaxed and focused "head game" in golf and life helped her win a state tournament and become a beauty queen. My "head game" required maturity; I was fifty before I began to win golf tournaments.

Little Sister Jonya
We are both December birthdays, but school separated our lives by five years. I began school at age five in a Catholic school (Mother said I was a precocious child. I think I was a pain.) Jonya began at age six. She was just a baby when I left home early each morning giving her quiet time with mom.
We walked to school together only one year. I was the all wise sixth grader holding the hand of a shy first grader. One day during her recess time she ran around the corner of Roosevelt school in Miami, OK to peak at me sitting inside Mrs. Murphy's sixth grade room. Had it been Mrs. Murphy in the room there would be no story. Instead, our principal, Miss Hamilton was teaching class. Miss Hamilton walked to the window and scolded that little girl for disrupting the class, then she went out to the playground and scolded her again.
There was fear in my heart at that moment, knowing that we'd both be in trouble with dad that night. I spent the afternoon daydreaming about how and where we could run away to and avoid getting in trouble again. In the end we walked home together shedding tears in anticipation of the trouble we'd be in with dad. In the end our parents somehow agreed that what Jonya's little spying did no harm and so we were free to play outside that evening with the neighborhood gang.

I'd like to say that Jonya never spied on me again but that would be a lie. Our next ten years together were sprinkled with many memories of a nosy spying little sister and strong stubborn defiant older sister. Then time sped up. I graduated and left home. Over the next forty-five years we only lived near each other for a few of them, separated mostly by time, distance, families, and complicated lives.
Jonya and Letty ready for the game.
We've spent more years apart than we have together, so when we get to spend an evening or a day together it's a real gift for us. A few weeks ago Jonya drove to Kansas and spent seven days in our home. That's probably the most time we've been together since the summer of 1968. It was a special week for us as we rested, chatted, laughed with friends, toasted a few glasses of wine, played golf together, took casual walks, and relished in the minutes our lives as sisters. Now we seem to think more alike, laugh out loud alike, hurt in the knees, shoulders, and hips alike, but our hair is still vastly different!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Miami Memories: The Pro

On Father's day I sat down to find a picture of my dad to put on facebook. Due to lack of patience with technology on my part, the task did not go as planned. In the moment of frustration I realized it was not the photo that was so important, it was the memories of the man who was my father, Johnie Stapp, PGA Professional at Miami (Oklahoma) Country Club, 1953-1977.
People might recall what a dynamic teacher he was when it came to the game of golf. He loved this sport and believed that it was a metaphor for life. It was his competitive spirit and tenacity to learn that significantly shaped the lives of his two daughters, Letty and Jonya, who would go on to become lifelong teachers themselves.
The Old Pro, Johnie Stapp

So much of the man he became was a result of a childhood accident that could have left him crippled for life. He was fourteen years old the first time the matches lit more than his cigarette. He was a curly dark haired boy with crystal blue eyes, who loved to keep his hands busy smoking or working on automobiles, one of his lifetime fascinations. He was working under a care when a dog came along and teased him. While working and playing tug with the dog his matches fell out of fa pocket and somehow were scratched, causing a fire to ignite on the garage floor. In his attempt to extinguish the fire his arms were burned from the finger tips to his shoulders.

The treatment for burned skin in the 1920's was nearly as painful as the burns themselves. Dad spent fourteen months in st. Francis Hospital, in Wichita, KS with his arms bandaged. However, being a good looking young man he charmed the nuns and nurses, and so as grandmother often chuckled, "they spoiled him rotten,"

The bandaged burns and several surgeries left both of his forearms drawn at forty-five degree angles, and his finger tightly curled inwards. It left him unable to hold a pencil, handle tools in the garage, or do much more than rake leaves. One of his doctors was a golfer and took an interest in his young patient. In the beginning, the golf was prescribed for therapy. The doctor taught him how to grip the club properly, which meant painful gripping and twisting to his hands and wrists. While still in the hospital dad practiced how to grip a cub, giving his hands and arms the muscles needed to once again become useful. When he was released from the hospital he would meet his doctor on weekends at a nearby golf course. Eventually, he learned to swing the club. While the recovery was painful, it also proved a new playground for the then sixteen year old. The pro at Sims Parks suggested that Johnie become a caddy, which would give him an opportunity to make money, and play golf one day a week.

Through perseverance and the guiding hand of a loving mother, my father's young arms and hands responded to the golf swing treatment. He became fascinated with a game that would provide a lifelong source of income, enjoyment, and success.
Like so many fathers of my generation, he was a World War II veteran, who rarely spoke of the battles in the Pacific, but he did share stories of the peoples he met throughout the war. He spent time in Japan after the war. Thanks to his friendly nature and genuine smile, he met and stayed in touch with several Japanese families for the next twenty years. This friendship provided the opportunity for me to share unique items, such as cards and handwriting in Japanese, during Show and Tell. During my childhood there were many adventures with my father: we drove and raced the mustard colored Muntz; dug a hole for a bomb shelter to protect our family; spent Monday's at Grand Lake fishing, swimming, skiing; traveled extensively to play in golf tournaments and take vacations. We met many of the great LPGA golfers (Marilynn Smith, Patty Berg, Mickey Wright) and the PGA pros (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player). Thanks to those experiences of my father, my sister and I learned to stand in front of an audience and tell stories.

My fondest memories are of the summer evenings we spent together shagging golf balls on the driving range. To make it simpler for us to pick up the balls he would place a half-dozen metal baskets around the range. My job was to go out and chip balls to the baskets. Over and over we would chip balls to the designated areas until they were close enough to shag, or pick up by hand. It was a special time for me, as I rarely got in trouble, and I learned how to share a job making it easier for everyone. I also learned to keep my head down and finish the job. I observed the forces of nature in the winds, clouds, the life cycle of animals, and I learned to whistle a tune, sing a song, and relax as the day ends. Wherever I went with Dad, there was always a lesson to learn or a story to tell. Thank you Dad.

Letty Stapp Watt
Johnie Stapp's daughter and historian

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Golf Gypsy Recipe

How to Shoot a 58
(A Golf Gypsy Recipe)

Mix together the following ingredients:
4 amiable and competitive women golfers
1-2 dozen golf balls for cutting corners
16 mulligans
2 long ball hitters
2 target golfers
4 putters
1 golf course to host a scramble for women
Before teeing off: apply sunscreen to exposed areas; biofreeze to stiff muscles; assemble snacks and drinks to be shared throughout the round.
Set temperature at 85-95 degrees with winds 5-10mph.
Select (if possible) a respectable golf course with a knowledgeable greens superintendent.
While playing the 18 required holes make sure teamwork is a priority and that high 5’s are shared for every great shot. Be sure to applaud and laugh out loud to ease any tension caused by a teammate who goes for it but misses a great shot. Remember that pars make you proud; birdies lift the spirits, while a pair of eagles might take you to the winners circle. Above all enjoy every brief moment with friends and walk away after sharing hugs.
Jayne, Terri, Letty, and Peggy at Southwind GC.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Golf Gypsy: Rest and Rehab

One week ago today I was on the Winfield Golf Course playing a respectable round of golf in the Kansas State Senior Amateur. Today I walked out of the doctor’s office after my 2nd round of acupuncture in an attempt to heal my body, quickly. In between these two extremes there was but “One” shot that sent me to my knees in pain. Now in reflection it probably wasn’t one of my better attempts at recovery, closer to one of my worst disasters.

Thanks to that one shot I have a new mantra complements of Harry Varden, “On par 3’s over water use one extra club to carry or two balls to finish.” He was right, and I added four unneeded extra strokes that day to my tournament score. Finding my ball across the water but still in the hazard called for a decision. Instead of taking my penalty and dropping behind the water and then hitting a premier shot onto the green, I decided I had the skills and experience to take a stance in the hazard and hit the ball, hard, out of the hazard. With my left leg on higher firmer ground than my right, which was nearly in the muddy waters, I wiggled myself into a solid stance and hacked at my pink ball nestled in the deep green grass of the hazard line. Ouch! The ball moved perhaps six inches, but my club dug into the mud bank and never followed through. The instant of impact sent lightning stings up my left side. With a deep breath I stepped up to hit the ball again, only then did I realize that my left leg would not, could not grip the ground without pain. Without thinking I hit again and a few more times after that till I holed out with a painful seven.

I’ve played in pain before, so this agony in my left butt cheek was nothing new. Not wanting my playing partners to know I was in pain, I continued to play. However, my friends (some of whom are certified “golf gypsies”) recognized something was wrong on the very next hole when my tee shot went very right and I performed the “Oh My Gosh that Hurts Hop”. Finishing out the 14 holes also required a few silent chants like, “Swing through.. stay the target.” My thanks go to Barb Gourlay, Debbie Christiansen, and Barb Bruell who were most gracious to me as I stumbled along finishing the holes, dragging that left leg and hitting the ball to the right, then to the left, and sometimes short down the middle. Many people would have withdrawn from the tournament because they are perhaps smarter than I am, but I had a goal and dream I was chasing, and it’s hard to let go of those dreams. So a few silent tears were shed that day as I felt myself shutter in pain with a strained or pulled piriformis or butt muscle.

Ice packs do wonders.
This week my body and soul is most grateful to me for a divine week of rest and rehab. I’ve learned that rehab can be golden. After finishing the tournament I promptly called my massage friends at “Bodyworks Unlimited.” On Thursday morning at 9am I was ready for a deep muscle massage. That is not the kind of massage that makes you dream of sunny beaches and ocean delights. It is the deepest of digs that lets you know where each muscle hurts and in how many places. In the end, which is where she had to dig the deepest to allow those knotted tissues to relax and lengthen, I walked out feeling refreshed, and with just enough energy to drive home, drink some “Emergen-C” and take a golf nap. Luckily, a young man named Rory McElroy delighted golfers around the world for four days with nearly flawless golf shots.

After four days on the couch with ice packs, a few hours outside with vinegar iced packs, and a whole lot of water to drink, I then sought out acupuncture. Two treatments with the needles this week, and I’m ready to take another golf nap. I’ll watch replays of Rory or of Paula winning last year’s Open. After my nap I plan to pack for the next golf tournament. So ready or not world this “golf gypsy” is planning to play golf again this Friday and Saturday. Look out Garden City, a foursome of truly dedicated “golf gypsies” is about to arrive.

Letty Stapp Watt
historian, golfer

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rat There I Had It, Rat There I Lost It

A long time ago or just yesterday there were storytellers in this world. One young girl who loved to hear laughter and see delight in peoples eyes, decided to carry on the tradition of telling tales to anyone who would listen. So she began reading and learning folktales and myths from around the world.
Along the way she learned about the universality of the human spirit. She met truth and justice, good and evil, lies and greed, courage and fear, tasks and quests, wishes and dreams, defeat and victory in her stories. She also learned about the indomitable spirit of womankind and mankind to overcome great obstacles in their lives. Early on she leaned toward the more light-hearted trickster tales of Brer Rabbit, Anansi the Spider, and of stories where children trick or outsmart the greedy and wicked or overcome every day problems.
One day she told the Appalachian folktale "Soap, Soap, Soap" to a group of Rotarian's. It was the story about a little boy who needed a bath but his mamma didn't have any soap. So his mamma said, "Boy, you go into town and buy me some soap, and don't you be forgetten' what you're goin' for. You hear me?" Now the little boy started walkin' to town singin' "Soap, Soap, Soap," till he came to a slick spot in the road and fell. When he got up he couldn't remember what he was goin' for, so he began to mumble, "Rat (right) there I had it, and rat there I lost it." Now the little boy kept running into problems as he walked to town, not remembering what he was going after but he kept on singing various refrains until he saw a woman washing her kids down by the river. Then he remembered, "soap, soap, soap."
After she told the stories that day an older gentleman banker stopped her in the hallway, and thanked her for telling the forgetful little boy's story. Since one story always leads to another, she genuinely listened as he told his story.
"Once when I was a little boy my daddy sent me to town to buy three things: coffee, tobacco, and a sack of nails. It was a long hot walk to town, and by the time I'd found the proper walking stick, played in creek that ran along the road, and then stopped to nap under the big cottonwood tree I'd forgotten what I was going after.
I kept walking to town just knowing I would remember what I was going after, but I didn't. With my head hung low I slowly climbed the two giant steps to Purcell's General Store. "What's wrong Ronnie, you look like you lost your best friend," asked Mrs. Purcell. I showed her my money and said, "I come to buy three things for my dad, but I don't remember what they were. Can you help me, please." "Well, let's see how much money you have Ronnie, and then we'll begin to figure out what your dad likes." The Purcell's counted my money and then began to name things that my daddy might need. At last we had our list of coffee, tobacco, and a sack of nails."
"I'd long since forgotten that moment in my childhood, but your story took me on a trip back in time. I thank you for the memory and I hope you keep telling those stories." The storyteller was touched and knew she had accomplished what she set out to do.

The other day I was dressing to take Lucy for a walk and had all of my clothes in a pile, I reached for my tennis shoes and socks only to realize that I had no socks. I walked to the bedroom to pick out a pair, but when I got there I couldn't remember what I was going for. I studied the furniture and then my mind slipped into a long ago story, "Rat there I had it , and rat there I lost it." I paced around the bedroom to no avail, singing quietly "Rat there I had it, and rat there I lost it." No one came to my rescue, so I walked into the kitchen, picked up the paper and my tea and retired to the porch to relax and read. Before long Lucy nudged me and I jumped up. "Oh, yeah I was going to take you for a walk but I didn't have any socks.! Socks, socks, socks, I repeated until at last I was dressed and out the door walking my dog.
Sometimes even storytellers forget the tasks, but never the story. Socks, socks, socks!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Sometimes you just gotta laugh, in spite or despite the circumstances. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." This is one of the few Mother Goose rhymes with which I disagree. Sometimes words are intended to hurt or injure, so for those of us who take words to heart we have to learn to work through the stages of pain: soulful hurtings, followed by angry burstings, that finally settle into peaceful cravings, and at last the sun shines through the clouds opening the skies for laughter.

Today the weather is cool and my injuries are healing and my heart is laughing. I settled into my yard escapes watching the birds peck at the orange marmalade, the squirrels skitter up, down, and around the trees, and rabbits crouching hiding from Lucy whose nose is also exploring. I laugh inwardly and outwardly at some of the antics the animals enjoy. I explore my gardens looking for flowers in bloom and new ones brought in by the birds. In one garden I buried torn up pages from Alice in Wonderland that had been given to me nearly sixty years ago by my Aunt Della. It became yellowed then molded and I just couldn't keep it, so one day a few summers ago, I let it go. I tore it up and let it settle in my gardens, thinking that Alice, Lewis Carroll and Della would agree that was a proper burial.

This morning I found a corner of "Alice" still poking up through the mulch. About two steps later Lucy discovered a rabbit hole. Oh, my heart pounded because she so often brings me baby rabbits in her soft mouth, that is not soft enough. Luckily, this rabbit den was empty but we have so many more. I remembered the other day when Lucy went on the chase of a rabbit and it couldn't get out. (She's not one to kill or maim, she just chases to get them off her turf.) Th rabbit fearing for its life, kept pounding the fence trying to make it through without success. Lucy just stood and watched while I frantically opened the gate and hollered at the rabbit, "Here get out, here!" "Yea, I really did that." Guess it's just instinct. The rabbit ignored me and found another bigger hole and escaped leaving some of its hair behind. So for the next few days I left the gate open until today.

This morning I went to work to save the rabbits, one hole at a time! With enough tools I opened an escape route for the rabbits. So far I've only opened one hole but have future plans for
several more. After I cut and curled the fence wire, I laughed. "What rabbit is going to find this," I thought. That's when I made the sign. So simple, "Exit." Think they can read?

I think they can because Lucy's already reading the sign and has a clue. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Up the Tree (First Contact continued)

Our street ends on the North with a country road. As my friends who’ve visited here have noted, “You really do live at the edge of town.” It is on this edge that my dog, Lucy, and I frequently walk.
Because she runs along the hedgerow with her nose to the ground, we often stir up rabbits, quail, squirrels, stray cats, and some unpleasant critters. Only a few nights had passed since we’d
made “First Contact” with the new cat in town when “Lucy the flying goose” as we sometimes call her, disturbed a cat hiding in the hedgerow and caused quite a ruckus in the neighborhood. Molly the blond lab, Finn the golden retriever, Zoe and Gracie the pound puppies across the street often send out the word that Lucy’s on the run. Their barks cry, “Go Lucy Go. We’re your cheerleaders, wish we could be your backup J.
It was an ever so slight rustle in the bushes then suddenly, the chase was on. I’ve noticed that dogs
Cat is one jump higher on left.

bark with zeal as they chase, but cats reserve their energy for the climb or confrontation. This time the black cat found an old cottonwood with a low outstretched arm. With the grace of a sprinter the cat clawed its way up the tree and then stopped. At another “Y” branching limb with room to perch the cat turned to face the barking chaser.
One heart beat behind Lucy raced, while I jumped and ran with the grace of a cow. Lucy reached the tree barking, then circled it twice giving herself time to create a strategy. I stood a bush away watching and waiting to see how long Lucy would circle and bark. The black cat blended in quite well with the spring branches and leaves. The story might have ended here had the cat not risen on it’s legs, arched it’s back, and hissed.

The challenge was too great for Lucy to ignore. She leaped like a fox straight up into the first fork of the heavily barked old tree. From her new vantage point she could see the

cat. Forgetting that she was a dog she climbed that ‘Y’ shaped branch. Then like the cat a few nights before, she slid back down.
By now the corner neighbor ventured out to see what the commotion was about. “Well, I never seen a dog climb a tree like that,” he laughed. Over and over Lucy climbed, slid, fell to the ground and started again. The cat now in a perched position continued hissing tease and seemed to watch the show with glee.
My mind flashed back to a scene from Where the Red Fern Grows when the boy tried to call off his dog from the treed raccoon. I saw that determined look on Lucy and at last walked over to her. “That’s all girl. Let’s go. You did really well. I’m safe.”
Game is over.
She stopped barking. I put the lease on her collar. This time Lucy walked off with her tail wagging, leaving the cat to watch her swagger.

First Contact

Recently, one of our lazy wistful walks woke the neighborhood with barking that translated to “I’m here! I’m here! I’m here!” And hissing that screamed, “Stop or take a slash.” As if the poor black cat that was dumped on our country road didn’t have enough problems, he was now face to face with Lucy again. But this time we were on his turf.

Our first encounter with the black one came a few weeks ago at three o’clock in the morning. Lucy, our devoted Blue Heeler, woke me to warn me of an intruder in her backyard. The whining and abrupt cold nose on my arm roused me to the situation. Since she seemed so intent on saving me from the critter outside, I thought I could at least get out of bed and act concerned. Looking out the window into the moon brightened night I saw the rather large black animal crouched by the hot tub stairs. I checked for a possible white stripe or strange “tale” and saw none. I assured her that we were safe inside the house, but Lucy continued her pacing until at last I opened the door.

The chase was on with lightning speed until the large black cat could not jump or climb over the fence it had once casually crossed to enter our backyard. In a sudden turn of events the cat took a hissing swipe at Lucy then raced, not to the nearest tree, but to a large tall cottonwood tree toward the back of the yard. With Lucy on his tail I watched as the cat climbed straight up, and then in slow motion slide back down toward Lucy’s barking jaws.

When I realized that Lucy might actually catch the cat, I raced to the tree wearing my twenty year old Halston’s blue night gown, screaming nonsense garble like “stop, no, wait!” As the cat’s haunches hit the ground I dove for Lucy like a tackler downing the quarterback making full contact with the dog just seconds before first contact (the bite).

Poor Lucy didn’t know what hit her, and I certainly felt surprised finding myself on the ground. With three of us huffing, puffing, and hissing the chase had ended. The dog and I sat safely by the tree as the cat flipped his tail high and marched off like he deserved a round of applause.

Little did I know that Lucy would once again come face to face with the black cat, but that’s another story.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I've been wondering this week where inspiration comes from for people: writers, teachers, athletes, performers, students, for any of us. Yesterday, I was reminded that I need only to put on the tennis shoes and go for a walk with Lucy to find spiritual, personal, and light-hearted inspiration. As we walked casually along the dirt road, the old grandfather tree in the field north of us set me to thinking about "story." I took pictures and pondered mind full of memories about the field, the birds, the long runs with our husky, Woofer, the holding hand walks with Jack, the hide-n-go-seek games with Lucy, the winter walk with our grandson Isaac, and the delightful surprises that nature gives us.

The landscape of the field changed this spring with a "controlled" burn. I didn't try to stop it, but I certainly thought about running head-long across the field to ask the farmer, "Why, why are you killing our birds, the deer, the wild cats, the opossum and raccoons?" But I didn't. Last year a farmer with a tractor showed up in the field and began plowing the deep prairie grasses and pulling up saplings. With my faithful Lucy at my side I ran into the field that day to approach the tractor, which suddenly became extremely large as it approached me! What in the world was I thinking? the old man stopped, Lucy let him have it with protective barks as he walked toward me, scrawling. I asked first, "What are you doing?" His reply was simple and forceful, "Plowing the field for the government! It's CRP land that has to be turned over and all the trees removed." I actually tried to argue and plead my case for the wild animals. It did no good. He walked back too the two story tractor and started his engine. I had no effect, but luckily the rains came in downpours last spring giving CPR to the remaining prairie grasses.

It's been over a month since the acreage burned. The ashes, that didn't blow into our window sills, and under the tiny cracks in our doors, still blacken the land. But recovery and resuscitation comes in many surprising ways. The grasses are growing again in sharp contrast to the black/barren landscape. The coveys of trees and bushes stand frozen in time, not weaving with the wind like they once did. The grandfather tree in the far corner is scarred, bent, and broken from years of winds, rains, storms, and now stands blackened and
Grandfather tree like a statue in the wind.
crippled. One day, I'll stand at the field's edge and watch as the tree falters in a storm and falls to the ground. That tree knows many of my secrets, and I think those of passing children, too. For when I first came to the field there was a circle of logs around the foot of the tree where people had gathered.

Lucy let me know that the field mice survived the fires, but not so a cat. The birds are gone for now, but perhaps they'll return when the grasses grow high and deep again. Listening is not the same when the land is flat and barren of whispering grasses. I heard only a light crackling of limbs that day, no fluttering of quail in my face, no brushing of leaves, no pheasants screaming, no road runners chattering. I'm waiting on the killdeer birds to find new lands here for their babies, for the kingbirds and red-winged black birds to return, for the sunflower seeds to drift and settle and sprout. I can wait because there is always something out there, living, and changing. I don't own this land, but I love this land and all it provides. Mother Nature's healing effect on the land heals me, too, and offers me inspiration. Chief Seattle was right, "We are part of the earth and it is part of us."

Footnote: After I wrote this story I remembered a children's book that told the story so much better than I. What I found in my basement was a shelf of books dealing with nature. I must have kept all of the books that touched me deeply, as nature does. And so I'd suggest one of the best readings is Brother Eagle, Sister Sky (the words of Chief Seattle) illustrated by Susan Jeffers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Internet Terror!

While typing my latest story my computer shutdown! Now, that's usually a trick that my mind does when I least expect it. One seemingly innocent hot flash can shut me down and leave me wondering what I was thinking. Since my computer skills are minute I tend to panic when my screen disappears, especially when I can't even run McAfee protection. So rather than writing, posting, and adding pictures to my weekly story I went into panic mode and nothing was gained.

An hour with cox communications showed that I, my computer, had the problem. With no skills at computer problem solving I lugged it with us on our trip to Norman. My drive to write and post weekly was amazing. I had no idea that writing had become so important to me. Finally, this morning (Sunday) I made my way to Panera Bread in Norman, OK for Internet connections. Once again my heart sobbed as I could connect but bring up nothing. I made all kinds of promises to the computer gods....I promise I will back up my stories nightly, weekly, whatever it takes, if I can just find my stories. I was afraid to open Windows for fear of infecting it with whatever virus my computer had. (I know, go ahead and laugh at my ignorance and fear.) But alas, I do not give up easily, or at all.

Perseverance comes in many shapes and sizes and God gave me an abundance of perseverance. I looked around for a kind person on a computer and walked myself and computer over and pleaded for help. Guess what, a nice man named David was able to help me get into the Internet and blogspot through Google Chrome. Thank heavens for kind, trusting, thoughtful people in this world. I can write and share once again. Tonight or tomorrow I will finish my writings of last Thursday and add my photos. Then once again, I'll be on track for writing my blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Readings, Weavings, and Wonderings

Along time ago my daughter, Katy, and I fell in love with a book character named Gurgi, from Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron. The elf Gurgi spoke in timely rhymings. Gurgi begins by begging his master to take him on the quest by saying, "Clever valiant warrior Gurgi, who joins master to keep him from harmful hurtings." Whenever I had to apply bandaids for Katy's bloody wounds we wished that the harmful hurtings would heal soon. We laughed and cried aloud together as we read those fantasy adventure stories. "Woe and sadness," wailed the creature, loping anxiously to Taran. "Gurgi sees smackings and whackings by strenghtful lord..." For years Gurgi's words became our way of communicating in rhyming lines. We even wrote a fan letter to Lloyd Alexander explaining our passion for Gurgi and his elfish character charm. Mr. Alexander actually wrote back to Katy and the letter arrived on her 8th birthday.
Katy learning the steps of over and under.

This past February Katy and I enjoy a cold winter day, learning the skill and art of basket weaving, at Sandy Springs Farms in Hinton, OK. It was our first venture into the world of "over, under, over, under." As we laughed and giggled at our pea sized brains for having to repeat the weaving mantra of "over, under" my mind wondered in and out of time and memories of motherhood with my delightful creative daughter.

While the very advanced basket weavers sat on the crescent moon shaped side of our table formation, the two of us inexperienced weavers sat at a full table facing them. We felt really special receiving so much attention from our master weaver, Pauline Hogan Asbury. The fact is we needed all of the attention we could garner. Step one of a simple flat weave went well until we later discovered the importance of having the central flat reed turned good side up. Oh well, we had a master weaver in our mists who could manipulate our errors. All mistakes were forgiven and the basket began to take shape. Next, we learned how to make "chicken feet." Low and behold, our design really did look like the term "chicken feet." I began to wonder how many generations ago it was when nearly every woman could weave a basket, stitch the clothing for survival, weave or quilt a blanket, or cook for the multitudes. Did her weaving or quilting give her mind time to wonder?

In one of my wonderings I asked my daughter, Katy, "Do you ever finger weave anymore?" She gave me that look of "what!" I continued, "Don't you remember all those classes at the Firehouse Art Station when you spent the winter finger/hand weaving?" Suddenly, a child like smile spread across her face and her mother's heart beamed. "I do remember the classes, but I don't remember how to finger weave." Once again we were both lost in our own wonderings.

Sandy, the owner of the land, the barn, the buffalo, and co-hosts to some of our memories kept returning to our table to chat about "times gone by." She and I had both taught at Jefferson Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma during the '80's. Each trip by the table was a refreshing stream down memory lane for the three of us. One of the most special occasions was the day we both flew across town on the lunch/planning time and decorated Katy's birthday cake. We had a simple family birthday party that year, but Katy had a once in a lifetime hand decorated cake. Katy smiled and said, "You mean you two decorated it, not someone at the grocery store?" We giggled and I replied, "It was the Sandy Elf who really did the art work. I just filled the bags of frosting. We just wanted to make it special for you."

Then as if on cue I smelled food and Gurgi leaped into my mind. With all of the creative juices flowing I experienced "wiffings and sniffings." It seems as though our energetic hostess was preparing a feast for all of us to enjoy as we finished our weavings. Our fingers took on a new life as our "Muffin Baskets" began to take shape. The flat bottom suddenly had rounded sides. Our t-shirts and sleeves were damp with the squirt bottle in constant use, keeping the reed damp. Our style of hugging the upturned basket didn't look professional but then again we were beginners. "Over, under, tug, pull, fold, press, hold, hug...." the mantras continued interlaced with giggles and memories.

Completed baskets!

At last, with four hands at work, each basket was completed. Our hostess had filled the air with the aroma of "crunching and munchings." The collection of basket weavers filled their creative and tasteful desires that day. Friendships were renewed, memories recalled, and new stories created. When the last of the weavers left that afternoon another weaving of tales began. We were fortunate enough to be guests in that lovely barn for the night, sharing stories for hours with James and Sandy. A toast to another day of weavings and wonderings between mothers, and daughters, and friends.