Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NYE and getting ready to travel again--at the last minute

As if it was not enough we travel to Memphis tomorrow for my Belize departure Friday morning at 6 a.m., we went yesterday.  Yes, had to get dog food as they would be closed tomorrow. :)  Once we go, we just stock up on wine, Crabtree & Evelyn (I left my shampoo at mom's) and doggie treats and toys.  It was a pleasant day in the upper 60s and we enjoyed having the sunroof open.  Normally, we would also eat at our favorite Italian place, Grisanti's, but Rand wanted to get back in time for the women's basketball game against Rice.  I opted not to go in the face of all I still have to do, and my favorite former player, Armintie, who went pro last year was there and sitting right behind Randy in our season ticket seats.  Ah, well...

Today, I had to get my pre-Belize pedicure.  The things we won't do--I am walking around in flip-flops with bare legs in winter here, so I can look good in Belize Friday.   I got to the office to finish up the grad class comprehensive exam my chair needs by tomorrow, and there was Kim, my fellow Belize traveler--in her flip-flops with bare legs as she had just gotten her pedicure.  Now we don't even go to the same person and did not communicate about this, and have the almost exact same shade of polish.  Won't we look like the Dork Sisters.  LOL  I am not taking any Ole Miss tee shirts, so that should help.  I am, however, taking a pink "Peace" tank top in solidarity with all my sisters the world over for January 2.

And as my friends know all too well, "if it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done" so I have not even started to pack.  I just put in some laundry, and have to now go dig through the summer clothes closet to find the things I need to take, plus track down the research items I need for work.  Thank goodness my personal computer/photographer dude, Rando, will get my laptop and camera loaded and make sure I am ready to go with all the techno gadgets that I will need and I will just have to focus on clothes and research tools.

I am so fortunate that I can combine my love of travel and meeting new people and new places with my work.  Though I could have and did go down many other paths prior to this one, I just cannot imagine a better, more satisfying and fulfilling life than the one I have had, whilst still having the absolute best time with travel and seeing new things and learning about different people.  When I think about how terrified I was of my first trip to New York City, or how scary it was to go to Quebec and not understand or speak the language, I can hardly believe how much I embrace new adventures now, prepare as much as possible, and then just go immerse myself in the opportunities.

Jane, Sherri, Jimmy W, I feel a road trip comin' on!  

Happy New Year to each of you who might be reading this, and I hope the next post is from Belize...although knowing the Memphis airport, it might be pictures of me and Kim sitting in the Memphis airport waiting for our plane.  But the good news is, I will have extra time to work on that article due January 9 that is not done yet.

Cheers, fireworks, and most of all, be safe, be happy, and remember, "It is what it is" which is kind of similar to "People do what they do and don't do what they don't do" and "You either will or you won't."  Gotta love philosophy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Little Things

It is a beautiful sunny day here finally, after weeks of rain.  It is a little on the chilly side at 52, but I will take chilly dry over wet.  I love the rain, but after a steady diet of it, I am ready for some sun to lift my spirits.  It was nice most of the day yesterday, so I was able to wander out in the yard and the woods a bit, and enjoyed a fire in the chimenea, once I located enough dryer wood to keep it going.

Libby was so happy to see me come home after I had been gone for a week.  She is usually in here with me, with or without Rex.  They are my two homebabies.  Although there was still a tad of space on the end of the bed when I first got home, there is now no place for her to lie, so she is in the floor.  I have suitcase and travel things scattered as I start to pack for my Belize trip.  It's finally almost here!  My friend, colleague, and fellow traveler Kim is coming over tonight for me to help her set up a blog.  She will be there for 5 months, so will have a lot to share.

Roadie, that's not a kong!
Rex, looking for a clear spot for him, Mr. Blue Bear, and Mr. Chicken.
"What do you mean I can't have the toilet paper, Mom?"
Now here is an example of an experiment gone wrong.  Someone got the bright idea to introduce kudzu to the south as erosion control.  It was not indigenous to the area, so one has to wonder why we would deliberately bring something in to the area that would grow so prolifically.  Whilst it is pretty during the spring and summer, in the winter, the landscape is a great gray mass of dead and/or dormant kudzu.  Actually, since it is about the only thing holding up my fence at the moment, I guess it is kind of handy.
Mary keeping watch over the front yard.  She was a present from Jimmy W many years ago, and traveled with me to Mississippi from Texas, where she used to reside in my Peace Garden.
The moss is another prolific thing in my yard.  There is so much water in the hill constantly draining down that moss is here year round.
Some type of parasite in one of the many huge trees in my yard.
The woods next door.  It's a great trek for my chimenea wood--pieces that fall out of the trees are usually just the right size.  The deer who live here also come over to snack on my grass, eat my birdseed, and when I can find it, eat the corn I put out for them.  There are slim pickings around here in winter, so I enhance their diet a bit so they will stop eating my birdseed--and the birdseed feeders.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Sauce.  This is my favorite southern food, created by Chef Kelvin from Lenoir Hall.  I like to think of it as a vegetable with protein enhancement.  Chef Kelvin published his recipe in the special edition of the Daily Mississippian as a Christmas present to all us fans.  I finally got this rich dessert (I had no idea how many calories were in it till I started tossing in eggs, heavy cream, and butter by the cartons.  No wonder I love it.)  I think while Chef K--who is personable and entertaining and often comes out to sit with us when we are dining--passed on his recipe, but not some little secret somewhere along the line that is his unique signature--like maybe that he uses only Mississippi Vardamon sweet potatoes, or only French butter, or Madagascar vanilla.  Wait, I only use Madagascar vanilla--that can't be it.  While it was delicious, and definitely sinfully full of calories, and the pecan praline sauce was superb, the pudding just did not have the same taste nor color as Chef K's.  It did have the same texture, I might add.  Ah, well, I guess I will just have to make it again, this time wearing a poofy chef's hat and white coat with my name embroidered on it and see if that makes it work better.
Mine and Rando's Christmas present to ourselves--the new flat panel TV, not Rambo.  I have turned into a couch potato after all these years.  And if you are going to watch TV, you should watch a really good TV. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Unplugging Christmas: The Story of Threes

When I was a child, we always celebrated Christmas three times.  The first would be our traditional visit to my mother's parents for Christmas Eve on the farm at Elbert.  My uncle Jimmy always had to work until noon, so we would impatiently wait for their car lights to turn down the lane to Mama and Papa's as the arrival of my city cousins signaled the start of Christmas.  After a big dinner that evening, we would open the presents. I remember one year sitting on the couch and reaching across to plug in the lights to the tree while Papa took movies.

Sometimes we would spend the night at Mama and Papa's and go the next morning to my dad's parents--about 10 or so miles away.  I only remember spending Christmas Eve at Grandma's once.  At times, we would drive back home to our house and spend Christmas Eve.  The routine was Daddy would go in the house to "light the fires" and we waited in the car with Mother.  Amazingly, Santa Claus had come while we were gone to Mama and Papa's.  Of course, it would be many years before we would catch on that Dad was doing something other than lighting the fires--which of course, he never did any other time of the year before we were able to go into the cold house.  So Santa coming was the second time.

Christmas Day was always at Grandma and Grandpa's.  Christmas at Grandma's always seemed full of tension, and often one could count on something unpleasant happening.  Some daughter-in-law would get in a tiff over something Grandma said that upset her, or there would be some kind of issue over a present, or an unflattering photograph would end up in the family album.  Personalities were strong-willed in this side of the family, to put it in the kindest way.

In later years, we would have Christmas Eve at mom and dad's and both sides of the family would be there.  As our family grew and our grandparents aged, it was a solution to the need for a larger place that was central in location.  One favorite memory was the year we decided to have Christmas night dinner and make Mexican food.

The first year we unplugged Christmas at mom's was the year that my aunt, my grandmother and my sister decided the celebration should be held at my aunt's house in Abilene.  They called to tell my mother and she said she and my dad would not be able to come; if they left, my dad's parents would be alone.  They thought she would relent at the last minute.  Instead, she took her Christmas tree down, deeply hurt, and vowed it would be the last year she put it up.  For over 20 years, there has been no tree in their house.  Though presents may have been exchanged, it was never the get together that it had been in the past, with everyone there.

This year, Mom made plans for a big family get together and everyone planned to come.  It would be a long (12 hours) drive for me, and the timing was terrible with my work, but I thought it important to go.  I said I would, if we could put up a tree, and a real one at that.  After a very pleasant and fun 4 days with my parents, shopping, going to the grocery store, taking pictures, having coffee with dad each morning, watching movies, and just hanging out, I went to get the Christmas tree.  It was fun with my dad and my brother and I trying to get it to stand straight--we never did, and my brother impromptu singing a song about 'westward leaning' and we all laughed.  We put it in the breezeway as there was really no room for it in the den, and the smell filled the little room.  I sat out there a while and enjoyed the lights.  Though it was not Christmas Eve yet, I was excited about the next day, which would be our pseudo Christmas Eve, and after all, what difference did the day make?

There seems to be something about anticipation of big events that triggers the emotions of families, at least in mine.  And these days, with divorces and remarriages and split families, it goes without saying that holidays can be trying and difficult, in spite of our desires and hopes.  Friday night, I unplugged the lights on the tree, picked up my bags and headed home to Mississippi.  The whys are not to be shared--nor would any one really care--but it was a symbolic moment for me.  It was one of those things that leaves you wondering "how did this happen?" and feeling lost and bereft.  I understood how my mother could have chosen to take her tree down 20 years ago, and never put it up again, even though her mother and her sister have been gone from us for a while now.  She understood their decision to do that, but was wounded by it none the less, as it felt to her as if her presence and her wishes did not count in the decision making.  I suppose that is something of the feelings I had that prompted my decision to go--the feeling that the hurt that ensued would be insurmountable by the next day.  The unplugging of the lights was really about safety more than anything, but I kept thinking during the long drive home about unplugging Christmas.

I had unplugged Christmas--so to speak--many years prior when I stopped celebrating it either religiously or secularly.  After our son was born, we did begin to celebrate secularly, but we always told him his presents came from Mommy and Daddy, and that Santa was a pretend person for fun.  We also explained that some children thought Santa was real, so he should respect that belief and not say anything to them; that their parents would tell them when they were ready for them to find out.  He always seemed okay with that, and it was never an issue.

So, here I was, repeating the story of the threes at Christmas.  For the third time since I became an adult, here was a hurtful Christmas, coming unplugged, marring my deepest desires for a meaningful connection that apparently was not to be.  What could or should I make of it?  
When I was planning for the trip, I ran across some ceramic ornaments.  They struck me as significant for the way that I was feeling then and my desires for the coming trip and coming year.  The three ornaments (there are those threes again!) said hope, peace, and joy.

I do have hope, and I want hope in my life and hope in the world.  Hope is the first of the ego qualities we need to master as an infant.  Hope, that our needs will be met, and that the world will be a safe place for us.  I have always had hope, even in the worst of circumstances.  My brother commented on my "Obama ornament."  I did not realize what he meant at first, and when I did, I said, "Hope has been around long before President Obama was elected."  He made some comment that I don't recall at the moment about not seeing it where he was or something, and I replied, "then you are clearly not hanging out with the same kind of folks as I do."

The second ornament, peace, is my hope and prayer for the world, and for my family.  Now cognitively, I know peace will not come--period.  We are just too stubborn a people and too embedded in our sense of what is right to ever do the hard and necessary work involved in peace making.  But again, I can hope for it, and do some of the work in achieving it, and stand in solidarity with others who are engaged in peace work.

And, I wish us joy.  That in spite of the lack of peace, that hope seems sometimes an impossible and distant future, that I want joy in my life.  I want joy in the lives of the people--those I know and those I do not.  Somehow, the ability to have joy and to express joy in the face of the world today is essential.  How does one have joy in the midst of a war-torn country where you don't know from hour to hour if you will survive?  How does one have joy in the midst of a refugee camp where you don't know if you will be raped or killed or go hungry or watch your children die?  How does one have joy whilst lying on a cot or a rag of a blanket dying from AIDS or malnutrition or any other malady we can imagine? And how do you have joy when families sometimes say and do hurtful things out of their own hurts?

I find joy in my work, my family, and my friends.  Those are the things that sustain me, give me hope, and a sense of peace.  Yesterday, I walked through my yard, looking for a pine tree that would do for a Christmas tree.  I wanted to put one up, somehow symbolically signaling I would not let go of my hope.  But the more I looked, the less important the symbol became.  I called my mom, and talked to her and dad.  I cried; we acknowledged the fun of the few days I was there.  I said I knew the hurt was real for all of us, and that I had chosen to leave to avoid deepening the hurt for all of us as well.  I said I loved them and that I loved my brother.  

In due time, hope, peace, and joy, and an end to the threes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday morning walk

Dad has walked faithfully three times a week per his doctor's instructions since his heart attack in 1988.  Friday was his walk day, and he wanted me to take a picture of him and Mississippi--the dog he adopted from the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society.  Bless her little heart, she turned out to be the ugliest dog I think I have ever seen, but he takes care of her and she is a good walking dog.  He starts to walk while it is still dark, so I had to wait a bit before it was light enough to take a photo.

That's Dog in the background.  He came wandering up one day with no tags.  Dad went all over the neighborhood asking about him, and up to the animal shelter, and could not find an owner.  He called him LD for a while, for lost dog.  After it appeared he was not going to be claimed, dad just shortened it to Dog.

It was a foggy morning and mist was everywhere.  He walks in a pattern around the house now, as he almost got hit by a truck years ago.  About a half/block from their house was a long stretch of empty road and he would walk over there, past the back of his land.  However, one morning a speeding truck veered off the highway in that half/block stretch and since then, he confines his walking to the area around the house, which is large enough once he makes enough circles.
Sunrise in the fog.
Looking across the pasture behind the house, I could barely make out the windmill for the heavy fog.  When we first moved there, the windmill was the source of our water supply.  It was my and my brother's job to go over to the windmill every afternoon after we got home from school, prime the sucker rod, and start the windmill to pump the tower full of water.  Since you never knew if the wind would blow, or for how long, it was important to keep the water tower full, as well as conserve water.  To this day, when I am brushing my teeth, I turn off the water until I am done brushing, and turn it on to fill a cup, then turn it back off instead of let it run.  Not long ago, I was staying in a hotel with a colleague while we were traveling and she left the water running while brushing her teeth.  Without even thinking, I reached across and turned it off, then had to explain to her what had prompted me to do that.
After the walk, dad rests with Tinka.  She is allegedly my mom's dog, but if dad is in the house, she is sitting by him.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome to Newcastle

Bearsville, on the way to Newcastle from Graham.  Bear Young--several years ahead of me in school purchased this area and seems to have a penchant for old items.  I am not sure what else he does here.  I do recall his driving a tractor to high school once from their ranch outside of town.
I can--of course--remember when we got gas at little spots like this, from pumps like this.  Even worse, I can remember going to get gas at Manual's Fina station in Elbert, Texas, where my mother's parents lived, and he still had those "old-fashioned" gas pumps with the glass tops that worked on gravity.  Not the "modern" pumps like these.
We lived outside of Newcastle (on the other side) when I was a small child.  There was an old combine like this one (used for harvesting wheat) on the property in front of our house.  Though it was "off-limits" to us, we often sneaked over there to play.  I was 3, my sister 5, and my brother 2.  One time, my sister got down in the section where the chaff blew out, and I just knew I would never see her again.  That same time, my brother fell off the top part and cut his head on the metal band that was made to hold a water can.  (Also made of metal in those days.)  He had to go get stitches and still has a scar on his scalp.  I am pretty sure we got a spanking for that, after my brother got his head stitched up, that is.

A little further up the road (down the road?  out the road?) and I am in Newcastle.  My dad went to high school here, and I went to first grade here when they moved back from out on the Plains after my brother was born.  

Newcastle was named after Newcastle, Pennsylvania when they discovered coal here.  My dad's family were from England and John Wooldridge came to Virginia from England as an indentured servant (blacksmith trade), and eventually owned coal mines per the recorded family history.  From there, family migrated to Arkansas where my grandpa was born (there is still a Wooldridge, Arkansas in existence) and his parents moved to Proffitt, Texas (just out of Newcastle) when Grandpa was a child of 8 in 1908.

This was the house we lived in once we moved into town for my sister to start first grade.  It was a block from school.  They raise goats in the front yard there now, and as far as I can tell, the house has not been inhabited in a while.
Our neighbor across the street was Norene Johnson.  Once my brother and I went over there and told her Mom needed to borrow a cup of sugar, a cup of flour, and 2 eggs.  We were making mud pies.  I don't recall, but I suspect we got a spanking for that one, too, when Norene asked mom how the cake turned out.  It, too, has been vacant for years.
Up the street from my old house, Shetland ponies munch on some hay.  Wonder what happens when the top finally falls down?

Old Newcastle bridge over the Brazos River.  My dad used to take us "swimming" here when we were kids, but it was really like wading as the river was not deep unless there had just been a rain.  There was quicksand, and he was always careful to make us stay right near the edge, though I recall he would float out and show us the "dead man's float."
The Proffitt Cemetery, where I spent much time with my grandma, taking care of family graves.  Once, after my grandpa died and I took my son there (he was about 4) he asked me if this lamb meant a little lamb was buried there.  I had an impromptu lesson on "the lamb of God" and noted I had been negligent in his religious education. :)
I was named for my great-grandmother, only my mother insisted on spelling it Carolynn.
A common site in the area is "stock tanks" which were used to water cattle.  Basically, you just found a spot with a clay bottom and dug a hole, and waited for rain to fill it up.  Seeing ducks or geese on the tanks was common.  In winter, they would freeze and we would sneak down there and "skate" in our shoes.
Whiskey Creek, behind Grandma's house, where my dad learned to swim.  At least, when it had more water in it than now.
Grandma's house.  It has been a number of years since I actually went up to the house, since you have to undo the gate and no one has driven up in so long, the road is all overgrown.  I used to go out there fairly often, and get the rocks she had collected to build her flower beds.  She told me I could have them before she died, as she knew I was the only one who cared much about things like that.  I have the "best" ones with me here in Mississippi, along with some brackets that were in the house, and a few odds and ends I found.  I would have like to have had the mantel, but left it in honor of my grandparents and my father's wishes, and then some one stole it anyway.  I said if I had known that, I might as well have stolen it.
Cattle grazing next door.  This land once belonged to my great-grandpa.

Winter wheat field.

Proffitt Baptist Church.  My dad's family were Methodists, but sometimes as a child, I would go to Sunday School and Church here with Grandma when she did not want to drive to Newcastle.  The Methodist Church of Proffitt had long been discontinued by the time I was a child.  The building was still there for a while, and I do have a faint memory of some cousin or uncle or my dad's dying and our going to the funeral at the Proffitt Methodist Church.
Cactus--extremely common across this part of west Texas.  In hard times, the ranchers burned the stickers off them so the cattle could eat the pads.  The pads are called nopales and used in southwest and Mexican cooking.

Longhorns, that apparently have been cross-bred with Herefords.
Proffitt school, where my dad went to school as a young boy.  It was just up the road from Grandma's and he would walk to school--barefooted in the warmer months.

The cornerstone shows O.T. Wooldridge, one of my grandpa's kin. 
It had been a number of years since I made the community drive-through--at least 2003, which was when I moved to Mississippi.  Prior to that, I would often slip down there from Abilene to reminisce, stop at the cemetery and chat with Grandpa, or pick up a few rocks from Grandma's garden.  No matter how many times I go, or how long in between, it always feels like going home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traveling down old highways

After spending the morning running errands, I took the afternoon to visit a few places that held significance during my early years in Graham.  First stop was the old courthouse arch down on the Square.  It has been there all my life, and as a child, I recalled standing there looking at it, and trying to imagine the building that once surrounded this arch.  
I do not know if this is still true, but at least at one time, Graham held claim to this "honor."  The Square is really like two squares within a square.  In the center is the courthouse and across the street, another "square" area with the old post office, the jail complex, and the Chamber of Commerce.  The inner streets went around that part of the square and cut through the two blocks with a road by the arch.  On the outer area was the regular street, with the businesses on all sides.  Because it covered a two-block area, it was larger than the typical square in most towns.  As a child and young woman, I recalled walking around the square many times, and the old businesses that were there that have--of course--long since disappeared.
The old post office (the one I remember from my youth) is now a museum.  This metal art work is new since the last time I was down there.  The old Goodnight-Loving cattle drive trail went through the area.  (Loving, Texas is a small town a few miles from Graham.)  The art pays tribute to the history of the area and the influence that the early cattle industry had on the area.
The first show I remember going to see at the National was "Journey to the Center of the Earth" starring Pat Boone.  My grandma took me.  The National went through a 'seedy' era for a while, with most folks going to the other theater (now no longer there except for the building) or the drive-in--popular for the obvious reason that one watched it from inside a car. :)  As an adult, I went to a movie here in the 70s with my then-husband, but I have no recollection what it was.  I recall it still being pretty seedy looking at the time, however. 
I headed out to Fireman's Park to visit "the Red Hoopie" but they have moved the opening to the park.  (The Red Hoopie was a merry-go-round type of 4-seater that my friends and I used to use.  Just wondered it it was still there.)  Searching for a place to turn around, I headed down the Power Plant Road.  When I was in high school, this was known as "Tesco Village" due to the houses located there for the management of the power plant staff.  Tesco stood for the Texas electric "something" company.  I used to wonder what it was like for the people who lived under those electric lines, towers, and so near the plant.  Allegedly, the village was moved due to some concerns about the inequity of providing housing for some but not all.  (Housing in gasoline camps, power plants, etc, was quite common during that time.  My husband grew up living in company housing in the gasoline camps of west Texas as his dad worked for Phillips 66.)

In later years, of course, we would discover the health dangers of living near these power lines.
I always thought the power plant at night was like a big old castle.  In December especially, the lights reflecting on the water of Lake Eddleman were so incredibly beautiful.  I intended to get out there and take a picture of it at night before I left, but sometimes our best intentions get waylaid by events we cannot control.  In the first house we lived in when we moved to Graham, just a short walking distance from the lake, one could go outside in the yard at night and hear the sounds of the power plant.  My friend from next door and I used to walk over to the lake a lot to look at it, and it was the scene of couples parking many a night.

The last loop I made was through the section of town that had been known simply as "Colored Town" when I was a child and growing up.  As a child of the 50s and 60s, of course I grew up in the segregated life of the south.  It was a fairly good-sized community for the size of the town, I suppose.  I remembered the many houses, churches, and a few businesses that operated there.  By the time we moved there, they had built the Lincoln School (the elementary school for black children) behind the neighborhood, and we could see the children walking to school as we rode the bus by.  The high school was integrated, though all of the black students except one always kept to themselves in their own groups.  One guy was in my class, and he was tri-captain of the foot ball team and all-school favorite my senior year.
I noted on the corner stone to the church his family name--Sedberry and wondered who he was in relationship to my class mate.  As I drove through the neighborhood, I noticed there is little remaining.  There are many empty lots, with little to indicate that a home once stood in that area.  There are still the two churches, but one is certainly overgrown with weeds (Mt. Zion Baptist) and I do not know if it is still in use or not.  This church had a schedule posted on the door, and a name change, so I guess some services are still held there.

The Lincoln School is now apparently a business, and was fenced off with trucks, etc, in the old school yard.  I was also surprised by how small the school really was, when in my memory it was much larger. :)  I saw one young man out working on his car, and he waved in response to my wave.  There were still houses, some appearing vacant and in sad disrepair, and others clearly inhabited with Christmas lights on them, and vehicles in the drive.  I wondered if anyone was inside, looking out the windows and wondering why a truck with Mississippi tags was slowly driving through the neighborhood.  I do not know if it remains a black neighborhood, but the sole person I saw was black.  I wanted to stop and ask him about the community, but he appeared so young I did not know if he would know, or think me strange--some middle-aged white woman with Mississippi car tags wanting to know about it.  In retrospect, I wish I had taken the chance anyway.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cowboy Church

Cowboy Church of Young County, Texas.

Pam singing. (Picture taken with my iPhone to impress my parents.)
Dad showing me the Christmas tree.

Pastor Will after service, talking to Joe and Jon.  Pastor Will is in the maroon shirt and black hat.  I rode the school bus with Jon.

My new best friend Joe.
Dad wanted me to go to church with him and mom Tuesday night, and asked me to bring my camera.  It is an arena-based church, thus the western theme.  They took an old metal arena building and have slowly done the work to turn it into a meeting place.  My dad, a retired contractor and carpenter, has helped with much of the work and he proudly showed me around, explaining all the things they had done.

It was a simple service, with singing a few songs, a prayer, and a brief message.  The topic was Jesus feeding the 5,000, but the point Will was making was that Jesus said to his disciples, "You feed them."  In a sense, it was about not asking if a thing was possible, but simply doing the thing.  That would come back the following day to me, in a way I will relate as I move forward through the week.  

I met a lot of folks--my dad must have introduced me to about everyone there.  A man who looks like Festus of the old Gunsmoke series came up and asked where in Mississippi I was from.  He had gone to college in a Mississippi school--a small town below Jackson.  I met Joe, one of dad's friends, who hugged me and happily posed for a picture.  Joe has lots of buggies that the church uses, and he had to take me over and show me the picture of his horse pulling one of them.  The horse, Buddy, is a breed that is Clydesdale and something, but I forgot what the something is.  It is like a Clydesdale, only not quite as large.  Joe has not missed a service since the church started, but he was going to have to miss next week.  He planned to come by, start the coffee, put out the cookies, and assist in the preparations so that he could still have "attendance."

I saw a man from my old school days.  He rode the bus with us.  We were among the last of the kids to get on at the pick up, since we were at the edge of town.  Jon was the first kid on the bus.  We reminisced about a few people we had known, and where they were and what they were doing.  I asked him about my first "love" who broke my heart when he dumped me for my best friend.  I told my parents "thank the lord for that now."  He is still living out on his "home place."