Monday, December 23, 2019

The Great Christmas Cookie Disaster

Sometimes pictures tell the story better than words, and sometimes things get in the way of a well planned blog.  I couldn't quite get organized in my head to send out a Christmas story with our Christmas cards, so I thought I'd write a blog about our year. This morning when I awoke, I must have hit the panic button when I realized that I had only two full days to write the blog, bake the cookies, fix the bean soups and the pasta salads, and whatever else popped up.

After the grocery list had been made I decided to first bake the GF Pumpkin cookies that I dearly love, then spend a few hours compiling our year in pictures for the blog. Three hours later I created a mess that even my friend, Terri Street, couldn't help me out of. 

The recipe called for:
1 cup softened butter
1/2 sugar
1/2 brown sugar
No problem. I put these ingredients in the big red bowl and set them aside.

Next, I blended one egg with a can of pumpkin.  

Then I got in a hurry because my mind strayed to my blog, and I wanted to share an especially funny story from our trip to Scotland, where we learned that "there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing." That was our first lesson in the cool wet climate filled with pasture land, rugged hills, and breezes off the great northern waters. How many layers of clothing can you wear and still walk, climb castle stairs, and play golf?   

I turned to pick up the Pamela's Baking Mix that is gluten free, forgot about cooking, and smiled remembering our Weaver cousin family reunion that we hosted in October.

We are all shining examples of Baby Boomers. I was born in 1947, Tom in 1948, Fred 1949, Dana 1950, Jonya 1951, Patty 1952, and Gary 1954. Sadly, our youngest cousin Gary died in 2007 and I inherited his lost and lonely little dog, who has become our vibrant  Lucy dog companion. Most of our children were able to attend and these cookies that I was about mix were a big hit with a family of 2-3 who eat gluten free foods.   

The buzzer on the oven reminded me that I needed to bake the cookies. So, I plopped the pumpkin and egg mixture into the 'uncreamed' sticks of butter and piles of sugar and brown sugar. Still not thinking about cookies and steps in the cooking process, I used my trusty hand held mixer to mix the cookie dough.  ACK!  

The mixture turned out with tiny yellow butter bits the size of couscous mixed with the pumpkin.  I stirred and stirred to no avail. In desperation I called Terri Street, my friend who knows how to cook like a chef and will laugh with me not at me.  She suggested I put small portions of the lumpy dough into my blender and see if it could save the dough.  If had remembered her exact words "small" I might have been successful. Instead, in frustration I dumped it all in the blender and hit MIX.  At that point I realized it was mixing only the bottom inch or

two of the blender. I start screaming in my head, where is the off button.  I dished out the top 3/4 of the mixture, took out the well blended part, and hit mix again. At last, I took my wooden spoon and tried stirring the mixture down into the blender, only to hear the blades go thunk thunk thunk when they hit the spoon. With the thunking and the lid off, I felt the pumpkin mix hit my cheek and saw the spots on the my glasses.  I punched the off button and sighed. 

By now I felt like a wild young scientists trying to save an impending chemical reaction. What more could go wrong. Do I dare go take the clothes out of the dryer and take moment to relax? Why not?  Leaving the kitchen with pumpkin from the floor to the cupboards I walked to the laundry room and promptly removed the jeans and sweatshirts all of which were covered with static cling Kleenex that flew through the air and stuck on me.  Finally, I giggled and picked up scattered Kleenex and shook out the sweatshirts in the garage. Now the garage looks like it snowed.  

At last I finished blending the mix and even feeling a hint of success with the mixture blended and not lumpy. I took a moment to clean up the area, foot mopped the floor all sticky with pumpkin, and to wash dishes. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the wooden spoon and noticed, for the first time, that the end of the spoon had been cut to shreds by the blender. My eyes scanned the horizon for pieces of wooden spoon, and then the realization hit me.

The slivers of wood were in my cookie mixture. Defeat!

I truly did run out of the house with spoon in hand yelling for Jack.  

Such love and admiration I have for my kind and gentle husband, who reassured me that I was not crazy. At his suggestion we threw out the orange blob I suggested that we go to buy two dozens assorted cookies from Fancy Cakes and then relax over lunch at 
la Baguette. 

Fancy Cakes is closed on Monday.  Amy Cakes is closed on Monday. No panic here. Their signs say open Tuesday.  Lunch as La Baguette soothes me and cheered me up with Christmas delight as I saw several friends. Just in case of closures Jack is shopping for more sweet ingredients to make either "Dawn's Ranger Cookies" or the memorable "Pumpkin Cookies."

I Am Woman, hear me roar.  Maybe Helen Reddy was not that good at cooking either. 

Merry Christmas, and Most Joyous Wishes to all.
Letty, Jack and Lucy 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Vanity is Sanity

Dance Recital at the Coleman Theater.

All these many years my legs have pulled me through the
  times of growing pains and comparisons.
A Twiggy or Brook Shields I will never be.
When pimples and body fat appeared on my body,
  I winced and groaned as I looked in the mirror.
Sighing heavily, I shaved my legs while humming:
     “What the world needs now is love sweet love.
     It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…”

                                 Lyrics by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
                                   What the World Needs Now (click to hear the music) 

USGA Jr. Girls Championship. 

Through childhood and college years these legs kicked and danced in recitals and drill teams.

They walked golf courses and campuses supporting golf clubs or books.

During the decades of raising kids, it was my legs that pushed me forward,
  that withstood days when I felt like buckling.
Our family Saturday outings took us to the Duck Pond where we jogged
  around the workout/walking path or ran the track,
Teaching our children the importance of commitment to fresh air and
My legs glistened in the summer heat,
  reminding me that they held me fast to the ground, like roots of the trees.

Watching a lengthy downhill putt on #6 at Oakwood CC, Enid. 

For a decade I wore short skirts, just to show off my legs,
  a mere glance at my vanity. 
The next few decades I wore mid-length skirts and shorts, but by my fifties
  my knock knees caved inward, my feet gave out
  with arches falling and toes twisting.
What’s a girl to do?
"Vanity is sanity," the older women told me when I was young.
 I began to understand.
I dared myself in my sixties to wear skorts on the golf course,
  and sometimes felt self-conscious when I bent over to line up a putt.
I looked around and gained confidence watching women carry themselves
  proudly on the golf course in stylish clothing.
Vanity is sanity, I began to see it in their faces and posture.
Letty and Dawn laughing and posing in
 Bitch Wings at Belmar CC. 

One day, as I danced a step of joy after making a lengthy putt, my left heal 
  kicked my right shin bone, oh ouch!
It bruised immediately showing a bold blood red and purple splotch. 
  What happened?
Another day my dog pawed me with affection leaving a streak of dark
  red bruising down my leg, the next day it was my arms that bruised.
The decades were showing signs of aging, my skin was no longer lush 
  and rich with collagen. 
Don't they make a pill for this, I screamed in my head.
  It was pills for back pain that thinned the skin!
Vanity is sanity. Now I understand.

No defeat for a woman who walks with confidence.

     “I am woman hear me roar….
      You can bend but never break me
      ‘Cause it only serves to make me
      More determined to achieve my final goal
      And I come back even stronger
      Not a novice any longer
      Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul.”
                                             Lyrics by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton
                                               I Am Woman (click to hear the music) 

There are clothes for this:  fitted pants still show the legs but not the scars.
These legs of mine stand strong but bruised.
  I work them out regularly at the gym keeping my posture upright.
Then treat them with tender loving care and lotions galore both night and day.
Vanity is sanity. Now I understand.

MHS Class of 65, Letty and Donna dancing the golf rock and roll. 

How long these legs will carry me, is one of the mysteries of our lives.
I can't prevent the effects of aging but I can love who I am.
Heading into the grays of the approaching winter days and decades,
  I am proud to be a Baby Boomer breaking in another decade.
Now I understand. Loving yourself is not vanity, it is sanity.
Glancing out to the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tribute to Trees

I stand by the windows watching natures winter wrath. 

Such chaos in the midst of fierce bitter cold winds
slapping trees from side to side;
slashing leaves before they hit the ground;
swallowing all colors remaining in the mums.
I imagine the metaphoric words from Robert Frost
'nothing gold can stay,' and Kilmer's poem of "A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray. 
I am thankful that poets write the words to describe the feelings and pictures that I experience on this dismal fall to winter day. 

I think I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear,
a nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.
                                                                                           by Joyce Kilmer             in 1913

 NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY   by Robert Frost in 1923 

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day,

Nothing gold can stay.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Good Enough

"Don't let perfection stand in the way of good enough.
From centuries of well-spoken thoughts by Voltaire, Confucius, 

This quote has been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks, after it linked up with another random question about how the drive for perfectionism affects my golf shots, blogs, storytelling performances, and daily life.

Arlo & Janis 10/29/19 Norman Transcript

Nine years ago when I began blogging my writing wasn't perfect, and my stories and grammar still are not perfect. I realized that in my first few months of writing that IF I wrote/rewrote, then edited/reedited my hand would never push the 'publish' button and my blog would go empty.  By taking a deep breath I discovered I could hit the publish button. 

My purpose of writing the blog, originally, was to write stories that I could then tell in public for paid performances. A few years later, I felt like my stories contained value. Though not perfect they sounded good enough to me. 

     "Yesterday, as we walked, the muted fall leaves scurried like little mice across the streets, under our feet, around the corners, and down from above.  Still it was quiet and the animals in the neighborhood slept on. My mind, too, was quiet, until suddenly a yard sprinkler system came on full blast. Shivers crept up my wet side as I danced to the right and out into the center of the street. Lucy was faster and never a drop touched her fur."

This story became stinkier the longer I walked that morning with Lucy, and it could most certainly stand a revision. If I had waited on perfection the story,  Dancing in the Breeze, might have been neglected and eventually forgotten due to time restraints and frustrations, and this delightful memory lost. 

In the last decade of playing golf, working out, going to physical therapy I discovered that I could not hit the ball with the efficiency and perfection I once knew; I could not work out as long as I demanded of myself; I could not
Dornick Hills cliff hole #16 where I could not hit my 8 iron over it from 100 yards.
perform some of the exercises they gave me.  All of these could
nots finally stung me with needles of anger and frustration. One day in early spring I began to say to myself "that shot wasn't perfect but it sure didn't hurt me (both literally and figuratively)."  I made a tally mark on my scorecard of the shot that was good enough.  

In the beginning, I found myself critical of what constituted a 'good enough' shot. On a scale of 1-10 (think of Bo Derek) I expected a shot to be an 8,9,10 which correlated to 5-8 shots out of 45 being good enough. 
It's amazing how happy I can be when I realize that the good shots out weighed the bad. 

"This is not a test," I reminded myself. It is a game, a pleasant reminder of life. So...The next few rounds of golf became more relaxed and more tally marks appeared. Week by week I began to find more positive things about my golf score, and transferred that positivity to my work outs. Some of which I found that just finishing was good enough. 

A close friend from years of teaching, writing, and performing designed a t-shirt for the OU/Texas game this year and gave them to several friends.  When she posted her design on Facebook she made the note: It's not perfect but it is done.    

Sunday, September 29, 2019


A body in Motion
Stays in Motion.

A body in a Recliner
Stays in a Recliner.

It doesn't take a great mind to figure this out, but it does take a young couple in their '70's  longer to recover from a two week overseas trip.
The Golf House Club at Elie

There we stood on a rather flat lowland tee box looking left over our shoulders at the Firth of Forth with white caps splashing on the banks of the golf course. Straight ahead and looming skywards stood a grass covered cliff  that a goat might thoroughly enjoy climbing and munching on the luscious green grasses. To the right a small white building housing the pro shop to Ellie Golf Course where the starter now uses an authentic submarine periscope to look for the foursome over the hill, making sure they are out of the way of our tee shots.
(Click here to see the slide show and history of the Golf House Club of Elie).  Behind us stood a row of homes built centuries ago, and there out of sight a single car road leading down to the rocky shores of the expansive clear blue waters of the Firth of Forth. (NE Scotland) 

Jack and I dressed for cool temperatures and possible rain showers which didn't let us down. Neither did our bodies. Being simply overwhelmed with the landscape, the cool winds, and history oozing out of the rocky fences protecting old lands, I barely managed to hit the ball, while Jack's tee shot flew upwards but not nearly enough to fly the edge and roll downhill. Pushing a golf cart with borrowed clubs we set off on our first Scottish round of golf. After three holes we had climbed a cliff, walked down the hill proudly as our shots did roll on the fine grasses, then pushed our trolley (holding our golf clubs) slowly up hole #2, took a deep breath and walked over the ridge and played a daring side hill, down hill par 3.   

For our first round of Scottish links golf we found a few things that confounded us. One, being people near our line of ball flight. Didn't they know they were in danger of being hit? Two, I saw people standing immediately behind the green I intended to hit with my golf ball. Luckily, my gut said wait because my shot rolled over the green, through the low area and found a home on the next tee box. Looking around I saw people on every hole and very nearby. I smiled, and the sun peaked through the clouds long enough for me to say that it was a sunny day in Scotland. 

A Note on the Scorecard reads:
Players are requested to be aware at all times
..of other players and people walking near or over
the course, especially when playing the 10th and 
12th holes where the path to the beach crosses

these holes

The greens rolled more smoothly than any I had ever played on, but not a flat place to be found. Each green rolled like the waves on the ocean. A quote on the Elie website says, "If you love links Golf, you will love Elie's close cut fairways with firm, fast, true greens. A memorable and enjoyable test for golfers of every ability." I personally loved their velvet undulating greens twice the size of Prairie Dunes. 
The greens rolled on and on, and my eyes drifted to vistas and castles, all in the same breath.  

Hole #10 challenged us to hit not only straight up, but over rocks and bushes. Only a serious Swiss mountain goat would find footing on the approach side of this rocky mound!  Just the fact that I found my ball on a ridge made me proud.  I felt more like a mountain climber than golfer, as my second shot hit the top of the ridge and bounced back! Once again I hit the ball and this time my 8 iron sailed up over the hill and disappeared from sight. Jack's tee shot sat proudly on top of the hill waiting on me. The reward came swiftly when I realized that my third shot rolled forever down the hill and left me a putt across the green. I beamed with pride that I'd conquered the cliff, but oh, I had yet to me my biggest challenge at Balcomie Links, a few days later.

The uniqueness of Scottish golf reminds me so of my childhood in the 1950's playing golf on courses that offered drinking water out of the ground, rough raw nature at its best, and walking golf on terrain that kept the weight off all golfers. At Elie there is an old ship bell near the bottom of the 10th hole, sitting right on the water's edge.

I rang the bell with the spirit of a child then looked back up the hill and suddenly began to respect the game of golf as it is meant to be.  From tee to green the course for women to play is considered 5,768 yards, add to that wearing two layers of clothes, pushing a heavy bag and two wheeled trolley sideways, up and down, then flat out on lowland side, I beamed with pride.  The winds seem to carry that gritty spirit it takes when one is challenged and focused. 

I teed off hole 14 and proudly found the middle of the fairway with my tee shot, but my ball lay very near a stonewall (by the rules it is called an integral part of the course). Puzzled, I laughed, "How do you play a stone wall?" 

"Carefully" came a whisper in the wind. "Be careful." 

Greed is a part of golf and like in life greed takes away what smart has played. I could have played a short club and gotten the ball over the wall, but I didn't. I played a 5 wood out to the left of the fairway, and never saw that ball again. It seems the stone fence continued down the left side of the hole, as the fairway weaved through an opening in the fence. Did the wall act as a retaining wall against the water, to keep the sheep in or out, or as a wall for keeping golf balls? 

We finished our 18 holes in four hours. After having only made one or two proud putts all day, I managed to sink the last putt of the day, a 20ft. putt on hole 18 in front of a gallery of men. I was ready to clap for myself when they took up the cheer. For a brief moment a tear fell down my cheeks, wishing the old pro, my father, could be here to celebrate. Because of his love of the sport we, too, have come to love this game, where men and women take on the links, the weather, the terrain, the challenges. Where in Scotland your walk alone with your thoughts, your ball, no fancy carts to take you place to place, no food or drinks to order at the turn. Where a player is truly one with the game. 

hole 14 with a magnificent backdrop 

Where do I begin to say thanks to our hosts, Niven and Lesley Hunter, for arranging tee times, safe travels on the narrow curving roads, expeditions to castles, Queen's views, a feeling that time had gone backwards, fabulous drinks and meals every night, and for sharing their time with us. The Solheim Cup, another highlight, didn't let us down. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Younger Longer: Hamstring to Damnstring

 When it hurts it is horrid
 but when it works it's glorious.

In one simple bend or squat my older body can go from agile and flexible to humble and bent. Perhaps a more humorous outlook is to call staying healthy as we age "a real pain the butt!"

Lining up a putt at Quail Creek GC.

I have enough difficulty sitting that is simply inborn in me, but when I sit to write or sit to read and my hamstring is tight it pinches my sciatica and butt! Sitting and bouncing in a golf cart can be surprisingly painful. All the more reason to walk, now that we have survived the 100 degree days. Most of all the shortened or inflamed hamstring pulls on my back. When that happens I cannot rotate my hips properly. Often the painful hamstring causes me to sway instead of rotate allowing my arms and shoulders to take over.  

My thinking is to never let pain be in control of my life.

My mother taught me that WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY.  

So, once again with the help of physical therapists and exercise options, I now incorporate "the pigeon stretch" nearly every day.
Step One! bend at the hips, not the back. 
 Step Two! Reality test.  Stop when it hurts.
It will get easier. 

Another step to keep the body young and agile is to learn the flapper step. When the quadriceps or hamstrings are tight the dance step is short and slow. 


When the quadriceps and hamstrings are agile look what can be achieved, if you can laugh at yourself and be proud.

 Letty's version of the flapper dance.

Most importantly keep moving, wiggling, giggling, and kicking.

The Dancing Flapper Girls  Click on this link for a flash back in time.

And remember the words of George Bernard Shaw:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used
for a purpose recognized by yourself
as a mighty one...
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the
community, and as long as I live, it is my
privilege to do for it whatever I can. 
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die,
for the harder I work, the more I live."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Two Little Girls

Helen, Letty, Jonya, Johnie Stapp c. 1953 

There were two little girls
  A blue-eyed beauty
Who danced like a whirling gig and sang for the folks.

There were two little girls
  A green-eyed child
Who galloped like a horse and pretended to be a circus flyer.

Letty Stapp with Sherry Cantrell  c. 1955 on E. st SE, Miami, Ok

There were two little girls
   One blue-eyed little girl
Whose dark curly dangled and danced all over her head
She smiled and giggled and brought
  Joy to the world.

There were two little girls
  The other a green-eyed little girl
Whose light brown hair bounced like a butterfly.
The sun and heat graced her face
  When she pretended to be Tarzan.

Jonya, Dad, Letty  Long Beach, California c.1961

There were two little girls
  One with curls
Who loved playing with dolls; paper dolls, Tony dolls, and rosy cheeked baby dolls.
  On the stage they felt no fear.

There were two little girls
  One without curls
Who raced little cars through dirt and sand, and
Built houses out of blocks and furniture out of sticks.
  Through competition they learned fear and accomplishment.

Letty and Jonya, Prairie Dunes c. 2010

There were two little girls whose lives drifted apart
One learned a new language and found beauty in Spain
  And her calling in Spanish, a teacher she became.

Jonya in Antigua, Guatemala 2018

The other discovered books and traveled the world through words
   And felt the call of a library, a storytelling teacher she became.

There were two little girls, curious little girls
Together they bounced through roaring streams and ocean currents;
  Gathered sea shells, rocks, leaves, and baby bunnies;
  Chased fireflies and listened to the evening echo of locusts.
Their curious love of nature centered their lives.

There were two little girls maturing through adventures,
  Through pain and loss.
Jack and Letty at Texas State Fair, 2017

Families they raised and shared their hearts with loved ones.
One year they lost their parents, and old secrets lost their hold.
Their worlds spun but not without control.
  The blue-eyed brunette grew to fairy tale stature with
  Flowing curly hair the color of arctic ice,
Shirts of every color danced around her feet.
Her radiant smile and lyrical stories charm those around her.

Bill and Jonya cruising 2017

The green-eyed sister changed glasses by color and shapes,
  Much like her Miss Clairol hair.
She loved the laughter of children and people at play
And turned to the golf course where she lost her worries among the trees.

Letty c. 2017

There were two little girls, aging like good wine
  Who, one day, found themselves looking in the mirror
Laughing as curls the color of silver and ice danced and dangled around their faces.
And right in the middle of their foreheads curls bounced as they giggled at themselves.
Their hearts filled with love, a passion for life, thanks to their parents and the world that raised the two little girls.

Jonya and Letty, c 2016

**Dedicated to our parents Helen and Johnie Stapp who died August 26, 1989 and October 21, 1989 respectively, and to our families and friends, past and present who helped to raise two strong women.