Preserving our Memories

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Years

Today I finished the Memory Book I was compiling for My Favorite Domer (aka my son or College Guy), and I must admit it looks great!

Now don’t bother reminding me I’m not supposed to be “laboring” on the Sabbath. I know that!

However, no way do I consider scrapbooking “labor.”

Nope, unless you call it a labor of love, which it surely was!

I have countless friends who are into the hobby of scrapbooking. They spend lots of time — and money — browsing craft stores for just the right binder, colorful inside pages, cutesy decorations, stickers, fancy scissors, bric-a-brac, etc. Then they spend equal amounts of time cutting things out, gluing them down, measuring and re-measuring until the finished product is a work of perfection.

They love scrapbooking and wouldn’t consider giving it up.

I never thought I’d join them — not until my son’s senior year in high school, when one of his teachers had all her classes do a Memory Book.

On a regular basis throughout the year the kids had to compose an essay on a certain topic (My Favorite Vacation, A Person I Wish I Could See Again, My Early School Years, Middle School, My Family Tree, My Special Gifts and Talents, My Future Plans, and so on). These essays were to be grouped (with photos, ticket stubs, and other treasures) into a Memory Book.

It had to look nice because it was for a grade.

Wise teacher, huh? She probably knew kids that age wouldn’t bother unless there was something in it for them!

Anyway, because much of the information to be included was stuff my son didn’t know, I had to help.

What started out as a labor became a labor of love and a really good bonding tool. We spent countless hours poring over photos, reminiscing over his early years, and enjoying each other’s company. I still get misty-eyed over some of his essays, particularly the one he wrote about his grandpa (my dad, who passed away in 2008).

When my son became a College Guy, I instructed him to save everything. Ticket stubs, pictures, programs, honors, awards, everything.

He’s a bit of a pack-rat, so that was no problem; however, he drew the line at writing more essays or cutting or gluing or organizing.

Those jobs (minus the essays!) fell to me.

He now has three Memory Books, one for each of the last three years. He says he’s glad I’m doing them, but I know he’ll be even more glad several years into the future. Time has a way of erasing things that photos, songs, and stories help us recall.

What are you doing to preserve the past so you can relive it in the future?


It’s a sobering thought when you realize how close you came to possible death from someone’s carelessness. Let me explain.

This morning I was driving My Favorite Domer (AKA college guy) around town on a few errands — some for him, some for me. Now, at age 20, he’s perfectly capable of driving himself, but since we both had errands to run, it just seemed the sensible (and frugal!) thing to go together.

And it was my car.

I was traveling east along a mostly residential, tree-lined street when suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw a white bus lunge forward from a Stop sign on my left.

This was one of those “senior citizen” buses the county operates, something they use to pick up the elderly and disabled and take them to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and other places.

Since there was nothing immediately behind me, I stopped my car and SAT on the horn, waiting to get the other driver’s attention.

Eventually, she must have noticed because she, too, stopped — after crossing the westbound lane and nearly touching the center line of the road I was on.

You’d have thought she’d been all apologetic. After all, it was her mistake.

But no.

She started screaming at me, flailing her arms in an angry manner, and making all sorts of ugly faces.

At me.

Okay, you didn’t expect me to take it without a fight, did you?

I screamed a few choice words back at her — nothing my son hadn’t heard before! — then promptly got out of her way.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became.

So after I got home, I picked up the phone and called the agency responsible for those buses and drivers.

A dispatcher, hearing that I had a complaint, transferred me to the director, and I gave her a blow-by-blow account of what happened. I assured her I didn’t want to be responsible for someone losing her job in this lousy economy; neither did I want to see a bunch of old or disabled folks killed from the carelessness of one of their bus operators.

You did the right thing, the director told me. We can’t correct a problem if we don’t know about it. We’ll take it from here.

I hope so. I really hope so.

Tell me, what would you have done?

I’m Finally Fishing!

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Chinese proverb

My Favorite Domer finally got tired of my inane questions yesterday and told me he was going to teach me how to fish.

This all started about a month ago, when I purchased a new MP3 to replace one that was barely limping along.

The new one didn’t come with a manual. Everything I needed to know — or so its advertisement claimed — was available inside the player itself.


Not particularly.

I’m more of a visual learner. I rather like wading through instruction manuals, testing out the features for myself and learning which buttons control which functions.

Not my son.

Give him a gadget, any gadget, and he’ll immediately start punching buttons, trashing “folders and stuff you don’t need,” hooking up accessories for immediate use!

So during the past month, any time I’ve had a question about Mr. MP3, I’ve wailed for my son: “What does this button do?” “How can I make it….?” “Why won’t it shut off?” Etc.

Yesterday he was on his computer when I had to beg for more help.

“Okay, mom, I’m going to teach you how to fish,” he said.

He sat at my computer, moved music from one folder to another, copied it to Mr. MP3, and said, “There you go — all done!”

And he left.

Realizing that he’d done the same thing for a month — and I wasn’t one bit wiser — I pulled out some CDs, ripped them to my computer, copied them to Mr. MP3, and organized them into category folders.

All. By. Myself!

Feeling all techy and smart by then, I told him that if you’re going to teach a man to fish, you need to know what his learning style is. Some of us can’t simply watch while our mentor puts a worm on a hook, tosses a line into the water, and reels in the catch-of-the-day.

We’ve gotta do it ourselves!

An End-of-Vacation Surprise

Guess what I found when we returned home from vacation??

Blooming Crepe Myrtle

Ta-Da! One of the three Crepe Myrtles we planted a year or so ago has decided to bloom!

I was stunned, to say the least. Sure, we’ve had ideal weather for it — hot and dry — but I never expected it to produce flowers this soon! And in my favorite color, too!

You can’t really tell from this photo, but there are buds literally all over this plant. It’s going to be spectacular soon and, if it holds true to others of its species, it will stay gorgeous right into Autumn!

Before I forget, here’s an update on the Crepe Myrtle I’ve been babying since the landscapers snapped off the solitary green shoot it was producing at the beginning of this season:

"Baby" Crepe Myrtle

Yep, no blooms (yet!), but its foliage looks healthy, don’t you think?

The third plant looks much the same as this “baby,” though I think it’s a bit taller.

We all complain about the heat, but I guess it’s been good something!

Beating the Heat

Staying inside the air conditioning and away from the sizzling heat isn’t my idea of much of a vacation.

Nevertheless, because the temps were so high (mid-90s, at least) and the humidity matched, that’s just what we did during our recent trek to south Mississippi.

We in the Midwest region of this country are familiar with high temps and humidity. We suffer through them for a few days, then joyfully praise the Creator when a welcome cold front slams through, reducing the heat and stickiness.

But some sections of our land haven’t been as fortunate. People in Texas and Oklahoma have endured weeks of heat; in fact, the entire South has had day after day of scorching temps, punctuated by popup thunderstorms, which refuse to cool things down or dump the prayed-for rain.

Makes for drought conditions, leading to things like wildfires and a ban on fireworks. Bummer.

There’s something refreshing about our Midwest summers. Sure, daytime temps get up there in the 90s, but like as not, the evenings cool down. People can talk walks after supper and even open their windows at night!

South Mississippi wasn’t like that. Far from it. We’d go to bed at night, and the temperature would be in the 80s; waking up the next morning, it was still in the 80s (and if it’s that hot at 7 a.m., you know it’s going to be unbearable by noon!).

It’s the kind of heat that sucks the breath right out of you the moment you venture outside and drenches you with sweat by the time you go back in.

My poor Sheltie in his long, silky coat, truly suffered. He’d go outside to potty, then race back in, claiming a spot on the cold tile floor or next to the bathtub or in front of the air conditioning vents.

He’d give me the look that begged, “C’mon, Mom, find the blasted zipper in this fur-suit and get it off me!”

I noticed a lot of people on the beach near the Gulf waters, where at least a nice breeze makes the weather more tolerable. Swimming pools and shopping malls also are welcome diversions. But not for dogs.

Somebody should build them a water park!

Celebrating Crepe Myrtles

Right now, I’m having a mini love affair with crepe myrtles.

It started a couple of months ago when we had some landscaping done, and the workers accidentally broke off the emerging shoot from a newly planted crepe myrtle on one side of our house.

No big deal, they assured us. It’ll grow right back.


I wasn’t taking any chances. Frantically, I fertilized and watered it, checking daily to see whether it would produce another shoot. At length, I saw a tiny speck of green, which grew and multiplied into what’s now an almost-foot-high plant!

There are lots of varieties of crepe myrtle. Some are hardier for cooler climates; some are shrub-height, some are trees. When they bloom, they do so in a variety of colors, including pale pink, watermelon pink, lilac, coral, and white. Crepe myrtles love lots of sunshine and summer heat; they do best in Zones 7-9, which encompasses the southern region of the U.S. from about Cairo, IL, south to the Gulf of Mexico.

While I’m farther north than that, the store where we bought this plant assured us it would do just fine. I hope so because I can hardly wait to see its predicted watermelon pink blossoms!

On a recent trip to South Mississippi, I enjoyed a profusion of crepe myrtles along the highway medians, in people’s yards, beside office buildings. Oddly, the farther south we went, the fewer the explosion of flowers (probably something to do with the coastal region’s wetter weather conditions).

Anyway, I captured a few photos of some crepe myrtles for those who (like my blogging friend Wendy over at Herding Cats in Hammond River) aren’t familiar with this gorgeous plant.


White crepe myrtle

Lilac crepe myrtles

Pink crepe myrtle

Crepe myrtle bark

More crepe myrtles in lilac

Watermelon pink crepe myrtle