Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Mother's Name

I called her "Mom." My sister, Jonya, called her "Mimz."  The kids all knew her as Mrs. Stapp.
Mom visiting Washington, DC

Her friends called her Helen.

Golfing acquaintances called her "The Pro's Wife" and his "Better Half."  They were correct about the later.

The teachers called her "Letty's Mom" or "Jonya's Mom;" the PTA President and the Brownie Scout Leader.

When she died I heard her referred to as the "salt of the earth", as "lovely," and as "gracious." Sincere words that described her, but I only wanted my "mother."

Yes, she was and is all of those things to me, and I miss her everyday. It has been twenty-nine years, two hundred and fifty seven days since I last held her hand and cried when the hospital buzzer called "code blue."

Our hearts broke at 9:00 am that day when her heart stopped beating.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Younger Longer--Water for Life

Here is a glass of water from my well.
It tastes of rock and root and earth and rain.
It is the best I have, my only spell,
And it is cold, and better than champagne. 

From May Sarton's poem 'A Glass of Water'

As a child growing up we often played adventurous games in and around Tar Creek in Miami, Oklahoma. (Yes, home to the worst environmental disaster.) But it wasn't that way in the '50's and '60's. The cool stream protected by trees and acres of farm land bubbled up from the ground, and we drank from it in cups made of folded tree leaves. With our clover necklaces we pretended to be princesses who wanted to hide from the world where Atomic Bombs from Russia couldn't harm us. 

Tributaries from various creeks flowed through the golf course, through Lou Newell's horse farm and into Tar Creek. I spent nearly two decades of my life playing golf, practicing, swimming, and simply playing with friends in and around these creeks. Our fresh water for drinking on the nine hole golf course (holes #3, #5, #8) came from wells deep down in the ground and within sight of Eagle Picher, the highest of the chat piles built with chat from the lead and zinc mines of Northeast Oklahoma during the forty year boom from 1910--1950. 
Remaining chat piles around Cardin, Ok. 

The most painful memory I have from those years was the day I didn't drink enough water to walk, talk, or think. By the time I reached the cool inside of the golf shop I passed out and barely missed falling into the glass case displaying golf balls for sale. I only remember waking up to dozens of people pouring cold water on my head, wrapping me in wet towels. It must have been a Thursday, men's night for the CS Club because Dad and Doc Jackson, Doc Ford, showed up. I thought I was in trouble for sure, since they had to leave their golf match, but they merely sighed in relief that I was fine and made me drink water until I had to go to the bathroom. 
Miami Country Club  1963.

To this day I fear passing out from dehydration whether gardening, walking, playing golf, or sitting in the sun and watching OU football. One of the most often spoken rules on the golf course for women is, "never let a bathroom pass by without a visit." My rule is, "never let a water jug pass by without adding water to my cups." 

Water with lemon and cucumber .
My water consumption stems from that experience, but also, because I sweat so much more than glistening as many people say. Even as child I preferred vinegar/oil on my salads, dill pickles at the movies rather than chocolate or candies. My system prefers dill, sour, and salt over sweets. I think this is important to know what your system needs to sustain good health. Therefore, I also drink "Pickle Juice" that I purchase at Academy Sports, and I drink packets of electrolytes called "Smart Styx" that I order online.   

We often talk about getting the 'dummies' on the golf course or at home from over working in the yard. The 'dummies' are a direct result from mild dehydration which leads to negative performance and weakened endurance.  As much as I know to drink water, I don't always follow my own advice. The easiest rule to remember for how much water to drink is called 8x8, drink 8 ounces of water 8 times a day, and it is calorie free. Luckily, I like plain water, but there are so many other options for drinking fresh water, such as: adding lemon, pineapple, orange, cucumber and lemon mixed in a filtration jug, or add a splash of various fruit juices like cranberry juice.  I carry jugs of water most everywhere I go now, and do my best to finish them before coming home.  

For more information on the benefits of water this is excellent article: The value of drinking plenty of water.

The benefits of drinking water make it drink for life. Our brain is mostly water and drinking it helps by improving concentration, maintaining memory function, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain (so important as we age), helping to flush out waste, regulates body temperature, and lubricates the joints. 

Like May Sarton wrote: (A glass of water) tastes of rock and root and earth and rain (and it's better than champagne). 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Windows on Faith

Feeling my heart pump and tears filling my eyes, as I watched the spire fall into the flames at Notre Dame this week, I could only go inward and send prayers for the world of faith.  For each of us may see the same thing and interpret it quite differently, while in our hearts we experience the moment personally. 

As a young child of five I attended a Catholic school and services regularly during that one year. My only feeling of recall of that experience is that I continually had to look up.  I looked up at the nuns, the buildings, the adults, the alter, the trees, the sky, and the colorful stained glass windows. Then I was told to look down when praying. This made no sense to a child of tiny stature. I began to question religion quite early in life. Why not look up to the heavens when talking to God or Jesus or Mary? 

As long as no one watched me in church, I looked up to and through the stained glass windows sending my short prayers to heaven. I knew as a child that needed all the help I could get. 

Decades later and a life filled with sorrow, loss, bliss and love I still need help from above. In our sanctuary, at First Christian Church, I found peace and radiant colors of life and love in these traditional stained glass windows, and I discovered a new way of looking at faith through another set of windows to be found in our chapel. 

Our chapel glows with the colors from these windows on faith.  The six panels share a perspective on faith beginning with the first Window of the Beginning (not shown below)  Window of the Nativity, Window of Christ the King, Window of the Disciples, Window of the Trinity, and Window of Christ in the World (not shown below). Often I sat in Sunday school lost in the visuals surrounding me. 

Window of Nativity, of Christ the Kind, of the Disciples, of the Trinity 

The ribbons running through of blues and purple became my path for connecting the symbols. At last I asked a church member how the windows came to be and what some of the symbols represented. She explained that it was the church's intent that the windows be read and understood from any perspective (top to bottom, bottom to top, side to side in either direction) and singly or in any combination.  

Window of Beginning 
With the information in hand, I told myself to jump into the deeper meanings. Journeys take us in so many directions but always my eyes search for colors first. The blues in the panels represent water, sky, hope, truth, spiritual love, or God the Father. The purple ribbons that flow across the panels tell the story of endurance, sorrow, royalty, penitence, Advent, Lent, and God the Father. Green, the color of spring, represents nature, hope, faith, triumph of life over death, growth, victory, and the Trinity Season. A rainbow in the heavens can say so much.

In the first window, the Window of the Beginning the symbols are the Star of David, Alpha Omega, the Rainbow and the Ark, the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. The text words are; Covenant, Prophecy, Logos, Truth, and Lord.

The various crosses then came to life for me. They are: Celtic, the early Christian symbol taken from Ireland to Iona by Columba in the 6th C. The circle through the cross symbolizes eternity;  Tau, the first letter of the Greek word for God, theos, OT cross and Cross of prophecy;  Anchor, used by early Christians in the catacombs, less obvious than the Latin or Greek shapes stands for the Christians' hope in Christ as a sure anchor;  Greek, one of the two traditional forms of all arms equal or the vertical arm longer. It is also the ancient symbol of the four directions and four winds;  Crux Ansate, hieroglyphic symbol of life and regeneration, later adapted by Christians as symbol of eternal life. These are still picture stories to be seen, felt, and pulled into. 

In the last panel I felt our heritage expand and grow, but I have many windows to go to learn about faith. This is not intended to be a story of labels, instead I think it is another way to look at our world through the lenses of these symbols and the history of our faith world.

Window of Christ in the World (6) 

Here is where I found the keeping of the love of God in my heart as the Dove, the symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit descends upon us


and sits outside my writing window to open my heart and mind, reminding me to look upward and say, "Thank You."

*Thank you Lynne Levy for sharing history and meaning of these Stained Glass Windows. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Magnolia Sunrise

I stand beside hole #10 and see the sun everyday it shines.

Blood once flowed on this rich red Georgia soil where I took root. 
Some men fought and died on this land, other men saw
the beauty it offered with hillsides lined with color and the magnificence of trees. 
     Time past.
     Rains washed the soil.
     Sunrises brought new life.

When I was the size of a door frame our nursery grew by adding plants, trees, bushes of colors, shapes, and sizes not seen before. Some spoke another language and told of giant bodies of water and forests of deep greens.
     Chinese Fir and Juniper
     Tea Olive and Holly
     Redbud and Dogwood


Green is my favorite color, along with my sweet silky white bloom. My saplings have now spread throughout our land. Far beyond me, other plants sprout and thrive in the Georgia hillsides.
     Azaleas and Camellias
     Golden Bell and Yellow Jasmine
     Firethorn and Nandina

Too pretty for words to describe.

As new plants arrive, grow, and fill our hillsides I grow even taller and wider and stand as a proud parent who is the protector and storyteller for the future. 
Animals scurry under the bushes, birds nests in our trees, and make music for our leaves.
     Warblers and sparrows
     Rabbits and chipmunks
     Hawks and woodpeckers

One day noise and shaking comes to our lands. Paths were carved up and down the hills, trees moved, saplings planted, seed spread where there's been none. I watched.
     Time past.
     Rains washed the soil.
     Sunrises brought life. 

Amen Corner hole 13, azaleas

Now mankind brought a new life to our lands. Spring was no longer ours to enjoy. Our beauty shared by others who walk by us, some touching us, nodding, and respecting; others who never noticed.
     Carolina Cherry trees, pampas grasses.
     Flowering Peach and crab apples in full bloom.
     Tiny hummingbirds and bees.

Our stately size offers grandeur to those who pass us by. Once again the masses of people have arrived. They dot our landscapes like our nursery once did, in various shades of color, sizes, and shapes. A few are privileged to walk our lush green paths carved in the old nursery. Others, like me watch. 
     Ladies and gentlemen.
     Gardeners and cleaning crews.
     Saplings of white, brown, black and red.

Bryson DeChambeau hole #13 (2018)

Still I stand the protectorate of the lands, all these one hundred and fifty-years. Regal magnolias we are.
     Time passes.
     Rains wash our limbs and soften our soil.
     Sunrise brings new life and graces these old gnarly limbs. 

A year ago this week my husband and I were fortunate enough to check off a Big Bucket List dream, to visit the Master's Golf Championship. We were only there one day and the sun shone through from time to time, but we didn't care. The hillsides are truly lined with splendor given to us by nature and man's hand in arrangement. It is worth the visit, and maybe someday we will return. 

For more information about the golf course click on this site: The Golf Course



Monday, April 1, 2019


I did not plan
                to slice my ring finger
                and bloody the dish-washing water, 
But I did.
                So my husband bandaged my finger
                and finished washing the dishes.

I did not plan
                to break a glass vase filled with water
and  ivy plants,
But I did.
                So now my ivy sprigs are potted for spring
                and my floor is mopped.

I did not plan
                On winter staying till April
But it did!
                So now I wait and wait and watch
                for the green green grasses  of spring.

I did not plan
                To dry and comb a wet muddy dog
while in the house
But I did.
                So now the carpets have been vacuumed.

I did not plan
                to break my reading glasses
                hiding under the newspapers
But I did.
                So now I will buy a new pair of glasses.

I did not plan
                to arrive at church on Eastern Standard Time
But I did.
                So I walked around the neighborhood 
enjoying that time zone.

I did plan
                to write all day
But the sun came out
                and I went out to play.
                I am no April Fool.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Younger Longer--Monster Walks

Monster Walk
Making time to stay healthy is difficult, so I look for shortcuts to building strength in my body. Between church and my afternoon plans I thought I'd walk over the hill and back to refresh my mind and legs, but time ran out. Rather than spewing steam and frustration my inner driver remained calm and directing me to the blue band sitting on the floor. Within ten minutes I walked forward backward and around the yard wearing my blue monster band. My heart rate went up and my legs felt fresh and ready to go. But it's not always that easy.

Thank you Tom Thaves for recognizing the importance of becoming active

This week  Frank and Ernest stepped into to create laughter which is something I often experience as a direct result of  my inability to perform some stretches or strength training. This winter during the 'cold' days my muscles felt like a frozen rubber bands, and I realized that my body needed professional care. Thanks to Therapy in Motion in Norman, I immediately found a shred of hope and the return of some muscular activity. As I age my muscles seem to shrink and loose elasticity, so much that I set my New Year's goal to stop groaning, moaning, and whimpering every time I moved! The positive attitude and picture of good health along with a dynamic workout program has me moving more gracefully. 

The first trick is to get the band on the ankles
without falling over. 
My number one exercise for recovery (for me) is walking forward and backwards with an elastic band around my ankles. This is called a "Monster Walk" I think because my body looks like a gorilla walking slowing front and back. What are monster walks? (click here for a professional explanation)

This exercise can be done daily, starting slowing with a lighter band then gradually working up in tighter bands and longer moves. Keep the feet and hips facing forward and in alignment. Step forward diagonally maintaining bent knees, athletic posture, and wide stance creating tension. Moving methodically and slowing; keeping the tension on the band is critical. Slowly stepping allows the band tension to build muscle in my legs and glutes. (Notice my left leg is the weaker hip and glute. It tends to point outside rather than straight ahead.)

Why perform the "monster walk"?
*it activates the hip and glute muscles
*it helps with stability in standing and moving
*the squat position creates activation the core, hips, and lower body
*glutes, hamstrings, hips, and outer legs are strengthened by feeling the burn with each movement

One lesson I seem to relearn every few years is that my older muscles atrophy when not used, and that HURTS. Consequently, I now have monster walks as a daily routine inside our outside. I am up to the blue band and walking forward 30 steps, back 30 steps, and repeat. Please realize that I am the active learner not the doctor or therapist.
Therapy in Motion (professional site)

*Note a word of caution. There is another name I call this walk and it's not pretty.

Notice the posture in a monster walk needs to be similar to the photo above with the knees bent at a 45 degree angle. In golf or tennis terms this means stick the butt out, use athletic stance, out or pretend to sit on the bar stool. Herein, lies the biggest embarrassment of performing the walks, which I renamed the "Fart Walk." Without any warning, I can be totally focused on balance and moving slowly in the gym or outside and then, like a child's lips pursed together a long buzzing sound oozes out of my body causing me to  bolt upright with my face turning shades of pink. I learned an old geezers trick from my father--when the toot or whistle occurs immediately look at someone else in the room as if he or she is the guilty party. Pets work especially well with this trick. 

The benefits of monster walks are amazing.
*reduce the risk of injury from falling
*tones the rear
*helps with balance and coordination
*creates strong muscles 
*burns calories

 I consider myself a "perennial" woman, and as a results of this exercise my rear is toned, my core is stronger and my posture is straight. I have lost a few pounds but most importantly my clothes fit nicely, and I feel like life as returned...a true perennial.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Dog Salad

I almost said in the beginning of my blogging career that I would NEVER post a recipe, but luckily I didn't say that.  Instead, I said that I probably would never write about a recipe that everyone might enjoy. But, So.....

On a clear bright but cool winter's day I sat down after lunch to write. Being totally focused on writing I forgot to put the beans on for dinner. So I rushed into the kitchen around 3:00 and plopped a bag of pinto beans in the slow cooker along with ham and cooked onions.  I knew we wouldn't have beans for dinner, but I might at least have tomorrow's meal. I do plan ahead, sometimes.

Near six in the evening Jack walked into my art gecko room and asked if I had any plans for dinner tonight. "Yikes, I forgot," I cried. I hit save one more time and raced into the kitchen. 

Pulling out the 'mixings and fixings' for a light tuna salad I thought of something I needed to do that night, so I wrote it down on a nearby pad. Then I continued to set up mayo, ranch dressing, sweet relish, mufaletta olive spread, celery salt, two cans of tuna, lettuce,  and one can of dog food because the dog was standing under my feet between me and the kitchen counter-top. 

Into the bowl I added relish, olive spread, mayo, celery salt, and a dab of ranch dressing. Just then I heard the weather forecast coming on the television so I stepped away from the counter to find out how "cold" it would be tomorrow. Warning: do not react to Oklahoma weather forecast while cooking. 

After muttering a handful of dastardly words I managed to shake off the forecast for frigid ice and winds and returned to the counter with the dog pawing at my leg. With my left hand in the air like the lady at the cross walk who is saying STOP, I said, "Ok, Lucy I'll fix your food!" I promptly opened her can of dog food and dumped into my salad mixings and fixings. 

There was not a sound of humor in my voice when I saw the mixture. I simply froze in place and imagined my future in a 'home' for people who cannot follow directions.

staged this moment a few days later for laughing and sharing

Calmly, I removed the dog food and placed it in the proper dog bowl, set it on the floor and made Lucy happy. Then I walked into Jack's TV room and confessed that dinner would be even later than expected, and that if he wanted to call for pizza he could. I don't remember my tone of voice, but imagine that it was rather loud. 

Laughing already, he walked into the kitchen with me, and I explained how I made the  'dog salad.'  He laughed and then laughed even longer. Growling, I informed him I would laugh tomorrow but not tonight. 

We ordered pizza, I fixed a real tuna salad, stored it in the frig till tomorrow, then drank a beer or two with my pizza and relaxed.  Oh, my! I must practice multi-tasking more often.  

If you are afraid to follow my recipe then you might click on this link for a yummy tuna salad.  

  1. Add drained tuna to bowl and gently break up large chunks.
  2. Add mayonnaise, celery, red onion, mustard, parsley, salt, pepper and/or optional hot sauce, lemon juice.
  3. Gently fold in the avocado. Smash the avocados to your desired texture. ...
  4. Serve in a sandwich, with crackers or on a salad. Enjoy  
  5.   Tuna Avocado salad

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Presidential Adventures

The world is a book,
and those who do not travel read only one page."
St. Augustine

A complete wall in the George and Laura Bush Presidential Library is dedicated to reading, and this wall captured by attention .

How do we remember our presidents? As little child I heard and repeated this knock knock joke, and to this day it still makes no sense.

"Knock Knock."
"Who's there?"
"Eisenhower who?"
"Eisenhower late to work this morning." 

I may not have known the meaning or context of that joke, but I did know that he was our President and fought in World War II. My parents much admired him for his service and dedication to our country, and he also loved to play golf which kept him on my childhood radar. When dad talked about Eisenhower or Truman mother often brought up Maimie and Bess.  It seems relevant now as I reflect that the first two Presidential Libraries that Jack and I visited belonged to Eisenhower then Truman and there is no comparison between the two. 

On a cold February day we drove to Abilene, Kansas and toured a building that looked much like a vault, but oh, the glorious beauty that was hidden inside those concrete walls can only be compared to the Queen's jewels. The Eisenhower's were the last presidential family to receive  so many elaborate gifts that stunned my eyes. (No photos, sadly) The contrast of seeing his war stories displayed, the golden jewel studded gifts, and then his humble boyhood home compelled me to think of my parents and the respect they showed our 
Presidents. Eisenhower slide show
 Boxcar, the plane that dropped
the bombs on Nagasaki.
Air Museum, Dayton, Ohio

Our tour of the Truman library seemed very subdued, but perhaps it is the history stored there that causes that feeling.  I was teaching at Truman Elementary (1995) in Norman when a group of Japanese teachers spent a week in Norman and visited our school.  I will never forget the eye contact I made with the interrupter when she looked up and saw the name "Truman" on the front of the school. She looked right at me before she spoke. All I could do was nod, as fifty-three years of history passed before our eyes. 

A silkscreen done meticulously thread by
thread creating a 3D effect.
The art and honesty in the Jimmy Carter library captured our hearts, as it stated over and over the anguish men and women of a nation's leadership go through before making decisions that will affect the lives of citizens. He also gave tribute to those who had gone before him, and shared his family with us as we walked through. His library seem to vibrate with intelligence, distinguished people, and worldly issues. 

The layers upon layers of history are told bravely and orderly in the Clinton
library. To me, it showed the gut of history but not the heart of the Clinton's. Clinton Library

Such contrasts we found between the finely manicured landscapes of several libraries and the native feel and appearance of George H.Bush's landscape where country is captured in the city. It truly felt free and open with a strong reverence for nature. 
George W. Bush Library

Our hearts broke the day we visited the George H.W. Bush library for Barbara had died only weeks before, and we found ourselves drifting to the family cemetery on the library grounds. One by one families paid their respect to Barbara and the daughter we never knew. We stood at her graveside with respect and admiration not only for her and her family, but for their love of country.

No matter which library we visit, it is the touch of humanity, irony, reflection, and loss that seems to touch us the most.  Even though it is their history, it is OUR history, too. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Younger Longer--A Stronger Core

Modified planks. These do not hurt
 my wrist or shoulders. Be sure to 
tighten the core belly button to bra line
first then lift with the core, not back. 
Will Rogers often remarked, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there," or as I prefer to think, "Even if you are sitting on the right track, the longer you sit the sooner you age." Some weeks I steam along like a train engine, then one day I am slammed with a hitch in my get-a-long and look like an engine chugging till the gas runs out. Thinking the heating pad is all I need I sit and ache in comfort, until at last I stand up go to the gym or call the doctor and arrange for a Physical Therapy prescription.  These are the gray days when  I argue with myself about exercising versus sitting and napping. (Confession. I let the naps win, but not the sitting.) A stronger core is my new mantra for life.

Many of us who prefer to be called "Perennial" adults excuse our weak core muscles because of our lack of knowledge when we were younger.  I didn't know about sit ups until 9th grade PE. I didn't like them then, but now I know how to do them properly. For all I did right in the last 50 years by lifting weights, walking miles to seek fresh air, and playing golf, I rarely strengthened my jelly belly tummy muscles enough to keep my back in shape.

While I lived in Hutchinson, Kansas I joined a Pilate's program that serves as my ONE reminder that I can be strong again or stronger.  Like using technology, change comes our way and we can discover in any decade how to think with a clearer mind, walk with better posture, eat healthy meals, or to play a sport all with the help of a strong core because a strong core binds us like a bullet proof jacket stabilizing the spine, the lower back, and our vital organs. Sadly, we don't all have a bullet proof jacket stabilizing us internally so that balance and core go hand in hand. Younger Longer--Finding Balance

Research has shown that regular exercise can slow down the physiological aging clock and keep us young longer, what is the core?

Essentially, the core consists of everything within a person's center of gravity, all areas of the abdominal, the back, the glutes, and beyond. Exercising these muscles means to exercise an area that is part of the core musculature.   Core defined for conversation  

Notice that my hands are pointing to the area that I need to be conscious of tightening. I pretend my belly button and tailbone squeeze to meet each other. Then with the glutes tight and the lower back flat on the floor I lift my legs up and I hold them in a 90 degree angel for 30 seconds, three times. (leg curl) 

Now with a little more knowledge (from Physical Therapy) and a conscious mind set that draws daily attention to my core, posture, and gait I am moving with more ease. After three weeks of exercising thirty to sixty minutes a day three to five days a week, and stretching my old tight muscles or using a foam roller on them I feel physical and nervous relief. Attention to my mind set helps me create tension in my core, and I stand confidently taller. 

Why is it important to develop and maintain a strong core after age fifty? Through the working years of thirty to 70 sedentary adults may experience as much as 30-40% loss of muscular strength as a result of reduced levels of muscle mass making us prone to injury and illness. Strength Training Moves for Women over 50 


How do we create a stronger core at our age? My suggestion is to talk with a doctor or physical therapist first if pain is the issue. Otherwise, consider exercises such as, bridges, leg curls, and planks, every other day. My basic pictures show these exercises. 

As parents and grandparents we find ourselves needing a strong back (core) so we can enjoy lifting and hugging our grandchildren. For those of us who enjoy sports at all levels, gardening, walking, or running we do not need to be highly trained and fit athletes, but we do need a strong core to lift, twist, bend, walk, run, swing, or get down on the floor and back up gracefully.  The Mayor Clinic website offers the best options on core exercises beginning with the basic (easiest). Click on this link for pictures: Mayo Clinic Core Exercises 

The icy brown tones of winter. 
Winter is the deepest darkest time for me, and I tend to slip into anxiety over my aging body, asking questions of myself and my abilities to walk purposefully instead of hunkered over, will I be able to compete on the golf course, will the weeds win in my garden or will I be able to bend and pull them.  These are such minor worrisome issues, but they suck away my confidence.

Last summer I set a calendar reminder on my phone for 7:30 pm every night. It reads, "30 minutes of exercise or 10,000 steps." If I achieve my goal that day I delete the reminder and smile to myself.  At the end of each week or month I look back and count all the times I deleted the reminder.  It has become the best self-confidence and smile booster for me in the last decade.  

I believe self-confidence shows in how we walk and greet others and strong core strength doubles the confidence to help us stay Younger Longer. Good Luck.