Searching for… Hope

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by Jarred Dobbs

Another New Year has come and gone, and we are steadfastly headed down the pathway of 2017.  I always make resolutions at the beginning of each new year.  Some I resolutely work on until I reach my goal, and others linger around until they come to completion.  Then there are those that somehow slip through the cracks and don’t make the cut that particular year.  On occasion, and more often than not, they get put on the burner again at the beginning of the next new year.

So far this year my resolution schedule is behind only a tad.  That hasn’t been the case in the previous years.  The drawing of the kitchen with an Aprons&appetites plaque is by my son.  He drew this several years ago.  I am just now getting this one on here.  There is another one simmering on the burner somewhere, and someday it will make its way to the blog table as well.

What does all that have to do with hope-blog?

All those New Year resolutions keep me pressing forward, keep my goals in front of me.  hope-blogThey are carrots spurring me on, giving me the prize if and when I finally get to it.  The methodical doing and ticking off of items on my list gives me a hope that transverses from New Year resolutions into daily life struggles.  “I got this accomplished, so maybe that can happen, too!”

Over the past few months my hope gauge has been broken, and that has left me with question upon question upon question.  In the search of some way to mend my state of mind, raise my hope quotient, I am reading a book entitled The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston as well as The Question That Never Goes Away WHY by Philip Yancey.

The carrot is before me.  I feel a twinge of hope.

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Rewards Are Just So Nice

If I have heard it a hundred times, I have said it two hundred: Poor people have poor ways.  I am not talking about destitute; that is a whole different animal.  Their ways are unique and sad and so very difficult, and I could use a thousand adjectives.  My mother grew up in the Great Depression, so I have heard stories of destitution.  If you have never read Grapes of Wrath, get a box of tissue and get the book.  I still cry when I think of that book.  I cry when I think of people who are destitute.  And I cry as I am spurred to do something tangible for these people.

Pictures of the Great Depression:

Pictures of current situations:

But this blog today is about poor.  About the perception of poor.  About really being poor.  And I have to confess, I really don’t know.  Not personally.  What I know is only because my mother was poor at one point in her life.  But that point in her life made a dramatic impression for all of her life, and she passed those impressions down to her children.Grandma Madeline and Mom 1925

That is Mom around 1925, maybe a year or two later.  She was born in 1920 and doesn’t look too old here.  Although the official date of the Great Depression is 1929, Mom’s family was already poor.  The ensuing years were to bring even harder times.  And those times are why she and her sisters and so many others who went through these poor times did so many of the very frugal things they did long after they were established in nice homes with good incomes and money in the bank: saving and reusing the wax paper from cereal boxes; only running enough water for the task; making their own clothes; growing big gardens and canning; hanging clothes on a clothesline with a clothes dryer sitting in the utility room.  That’s just a few.

And the older Mom got, the more she worried about having enough money to be able to take care of herself, so she wouldn’t turn on the lights till she absolutely had to and kept the heat down low and the air conditioner blowing warm air.  She would sit in her thin gown with her leg thrown over the chair arm in the 90+ heat while we who were taking care of her tried to cook and clean.  We finally rebelled and made her wear clothes as we turned the AC to a cooler setting.  Water was used sparingly.  Fans and air conditioners were turned off at night.  Food was bought on an as-needed basis with very little kept in the cabinets or the freezer.

And she would say “Poor people have poor ways.”  So even though I am not rich, neither am I poor although my upbringing has trained me to think that I am.

Which is why I love reward cards.  Which is why I shop where I get a little extra for my money (I love getting that 10 cents to a dollar off my gas at Kroger).  Which is why I use coupons.  Which is why I love Shutterfly (I have gotten so many cool free items from there).  Which is why I bring my loyalty card to be punched at CurleQ when I get hair cuts or buy merchandise.

No, I don’t need to use coupons or the reward cards.  But it is nice to be rewarded for my spending money at a certain place of business or being loyal to a certain business.  Even though I realize and understand those businesses are keeping close track of everything I purchase with that reward card, I don’t mind.

They just send me more appropriate coupons.

I’m No Angel and Never Will Be

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Snapchat is such fun!!!  I have been having a ball posting those short videos to Facebook about the deer committing suicide (deer season) because they wait on the side of the highway until a person gets right up even with them, and then they bound out either in front of the vehicle or smack dab into the side of it.  W.E.I.R.D.

My deer motto:  Kill them all!  Eat hearty!

There is a reason I dislike deer so very much.  Too many people have died as they tried to avoid these animals or from the result of hitting them.  My friend, Bob, an Indian motorcycle enthusiast, was killed by a deer doing one of the things he loved most:  riding his Indian motorcycle.  It came out of the trees as he cruised along one morning and either ran into him or right in front of him.  He laid that beloved motorcycle down trying to get away from the deer.  But the deer won.  The trauma was too much for his body.

Now, here is the whole purpose of telling you about Bob and why I will never be an angel.  Bob was a believer and a follower of Jesus the Christ as am I.  He struggled with stuff as do I and most other believers that I know.  Those things range anywhere from saying something we know we shouldn’t to you name it.  Those things break the good relationship, the good friendship, the joyful association, between Christ and us unless and until we acknowledge that, yes, that was sin, and we are sorry.  It does not, however, take away my salvation nor take away my assurance that what Jesus did for me, and what I accepted as truth and embraced for eternity, can ever be jerked away.

God the Father, our adopted Dad, forgives and gives us peace about making that wise choice.  God the Son is joyous that his sister or brother has made a leap in her/his faith and walk with him.  God the Spirit breathes easy for his work was accomplished, that nudging to recognize sin as sin, no matter how large or small.

And so, you see, when I die, I will be in Heaven with Jesus.  I will be walking by his side and talking with him and enjoying in the most profound sense his essence, his glory.  I will not be an angel.  I will not gain my wings.  As a believer and child of God, I will be so much more than an angel.  Scripture says believers will judge angels for we are the sons and daughters of God.  Only we human beings are made in the image of God; not angels.

If you have someone who has moved to Heaven already, as I have, then you can rejoice in your great sorrow because you know without a doubt that they have surpassed getting wings.  They are in the presence of Jesus in a very close and personal way as we cannot experience here on this limited earth.

And sometimes… perhaps those now unfettered by time or space people we love check in on us now and then.  Or perhaps they send angels to do that job for them.  Either way is fine with me.  I just know that someone is.

And when they are not, this little angel is:  my Ava.

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My little angel

 

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May you have a happy new year!

Open Letter to Mr. Warren Buffet

This little blog doesn’t make much difference in the world.  Not like your billions can.  All those billions you are dedicating to philanthropy.

Will this money go to better schools and universities?  I’ve read where some of your club members — for that really is all your giving pledge group is, a club for billionaires to pat themselves on the back that they aren’t really keeping all that wealth –have already given to the sports programs at universities.  I’m sure their name is on a building somewhere as it rightly should be.  They did give the money to that sports program.  I’ve also read where some have already given to Harvard for molecular causes of disease research and another to Cornell for medical research.

Will this money be given to the arts?  Perhaps to the schools in rural counties that can’t afford any type of art program, or music program, or dance program, or, well, any program except basic classroom classes.  Will there be a head honcho who decides who is in more need of these pledged billions?  Say, Harvard or Gallatin County K-12?

Will this money go to provide a stronger foundation of learning where it needs to be strong:  In the elementary schools, in the poor communities in dire need of funds,  in the high schools in these same types of communities?  These areas are where you will find your future Americans that will one day buy the products and use the services that made you the billionaires you are today.  Perhaps one of those industrious persons will become a hedge fund manager themselves someday and boost their rags to riches stories.  Anything can happen when one is given opportunity and has a drive for the bigger and the better.

The word “opportunity” is why I write this open letter that you will never see.

Most of the giving of the $373.25 billion dollars in private giving is given by U. S. citizens.   (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/cpid/42)

The giving per income level and amount given may rival your mighty pledges.  The boasting of your wealth sickened me from the very first media outpouring.  The fact that you are proudly giving your money away to charity also sickens me.  I and my friends give to charity.  With our paltry earnings we give substantial sums to charity.  We will never have a wing of a university with our name emblazoned on it, but we may have given a child in our local school system a chance to go to Washington D.C.  We may not be able to help with finding a cure for a dreaded disease, but we may have helped a family who has someone with that dreaded disease to eat and pay the bills.  We may not be able to provide opportunities for those in the arts to progress and sell their wares so to speak, but we have provided those who have lost their jobs with smaller, less-paying  jobs to provide for some of their needs.

This country needs less of your charity, Mr. Buffett, and more of your ingenious money-making ideas that will benefit its citizens, not just you and your chosen few. My first thought when I heard of your glorified club was Why doesn’t he take that money and provide incomes for people?

Build factories wherein  you don’t make one dime, but the people working in it do.

Provide those gum-selling opportunities where people are given the chance to sell their wares with less risk and more gain.

Give children the chance to learn well: The chance to use new books instead of the hand-me-downs of classes and classes before them; the chance to see the world with a field trip that’s beyond the public park; the chance to embrace those arts you speak of so highly with an arts program in their school.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  A man with your mental acuity, your influence on your billionaire buddies and their mental acuity, and all those billions you all are just eagerly waiting to give away should be enough to create jobs as well as promote all those things you want your billions to promote.

We need jobs, Mr. Buffett.  Can you and your cronies not come up with this fantastic Giving Pledge to constructively help the backbone of America?small town 2

You want a museum in which to give a billion?  Visit any small community whose coal mines are closing and businesses have dried up and blown away.  Visit any river town whose docks are closed and boat traffic floated off.  Visit any rural county.  Visit any rural school.

I thought this article by thedailybeast right on point.  I’ve been thinking this sentiment ever since your high and mighty giving pledge.

“Perhaps the most troubling issues posed by the Gates-Buffett crusade is its potential to intensify the inequities that exist both in the nonprofit world and in the rest of society.” wrote Pablo Eisenberg, senior fellow at Georgetown’s Public Policy Institute, in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy column. “Foundations, corporations, and other forms of institutional philanthropy tend to favor the nation’s most-privileged citizens and neglect the neediest people and organizations.”  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/06/buffet-pledge-where-the-billions-will-go.html

my sis and her stickie self

My sis has a selfie stick.  She got it last year and tried perfecting her selfie skill while we were in Hilton Head.  So we got all kinds of cool selfies.

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She got really good at it by the time we left as evidenced by the above pic with our bikes.  It was rather hilarious on the first selfie shoot though.  Notice the subtle differences from beginning to end.IMG_0916 IMG_0917

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You would think we were a bunch of old grannies trying to figure out some new-fangled gizmo.  And how did Mom get in that picture?

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I think she gave up after this one.  The kind waiter snapped these of her valiant effort to accomplish a miracle.  She could do a mean two-gal selfie, though, by the end of the meal.IMG_0925

And now I think she should go selfie pro!  Look at this shot:IMG_0932

 

A Delightful Day

It’s not often I can get the wild ones to hold still for a photo or two.  Ava usually cringes and puts her hand in front of her face.  Kate shows me her, um, backside.  So when we accidentally wondered into the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique in Disney when we were down there in May, into the Photo Opportunity portion of the Boutique, the girls lit up.  This wasn’t any old picture-taking by their old granny!  This was the real thing!

There was a photographer there (older than ME I might add) and a fainting couch to pose upon with a blue backdrop.  Oh, yeah.  They had hit the big time.  So they posed and smiled and never once acted like they did not want their picture taken.  And being the good granny that she was (I am almost certain) the photographer asked me to join them on some pics.  And they were actually happy to have me in them.

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I guess this was the highlight of my trip!

Girls hugging I mean… they even HUGGED!!!

Posing.  Unbelievable!

The new plan is to get me a vest like the ones they wore in Disney, hang my camera around my neck, and see if I can’t get them to do this for me.

If I had known we were walking into a photo shoot, we might have doodied up a bit.

Scooter Scandal

Kate on scooter

She flies as fast as it will go.  If it had a pedal, it would be on the metal.  I have a real premonition that she is going to take after her Gigi and her momma.  Kate has already received her first ticket from one of our observant and kind and considerate police officers  (which I must thank for doing such a good job) as  she was scooting around on the mall, being her nosy little  self.

Kate and ticket

The defendant looks like she’s been in the pokey all night!

Isn’t there some saying about being nosy getting one into trouble?!!!

On Being A Gigi

This past New Year’s Day, almost all the family was able to get together.  In a previous blog I wrote about that and let you see for yourselves with some pictures.  I had planned and prepared, everyone shared talents or enjoyed watching someone else’s talent, games were played, food was eaten, presents passed out by the little ones, and the day was just great.  All the wee ones were happy as well as the not-so-wee ones.

As the day progressed,  there were nine grands (ten if we count little Will who is just starting to say words — I claim them all) yelling “Gigi” for one reason or another.  “Look at this.”  “I have two talents.” “Thank you for my gift.” “Watch me.”  “Can you get me (insert anything you can think of)?”  “I have to go to the bathroom.”  “Can you help me (insert anything you can think of)?”  “How do you (insert anything you can think of)?”

Way back in 2002 I became a Gigi (pronounced geegee not jeejee) when my sweet Jack was born, my great-nephew.  I didn’t know I was going to be a Gigi; I just knew I loved that boy and he loved me and we were going to have something very, very special.

And we did.  So I began to search for a name for the special relationship, finally settling on Aunt Granny.  I saw it at Dollywood, a restaurant or snack shop.

Food =  Comfort = Aunt Granny.

Then my sweet Sam came along, and I fell in love all over again.  I had two sweethearts instead of one.

It was about that time that little Jack started trying to say things such as “Aunt Granny.”  Only it came out Gigi.  At least that’s how we spell it.  The two grannies in his life, his Aunt Granny and his great-grandma who everyone already called Granny were now Gigis.  His grandma, my sis, was to be called Mawmaw which worked out very well because he could pronounce that.

From then on I was Gigi, and when my sweet girls, Kate and Ava, came along they picked up on Jack and Sam calling me Gigi, and that’s what they called me as well.

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In the big teacup five years ago.

We are a close family and spend as much time as we can with each other (which was quite a lot at that particular time in my life) so it was very common for my grandgirls to hear the name Gigi often; thus using it themselves.

These little ones brought such joy to my life, and we played and played and played and… you get the picture.

Punkin People

My little-to-big Punkins

The Last Tide

my sweet nephews

Along came Charlotte, Owen, Maci, Henry, Nia, and now little Will.  Each one has enriched my life and brought me great joy.The Last Tide

I have had the opportunity to play with them, spend time with them, have lots and lots of fun with them.  We swim in the backyard, dance on holidays (or any time because I love to dance), play board games or make-believe and dress-up, make tents, spend time in the sunflower house, play tag or hide-and-seek, read books, have sleep-overs.  If I can’t think of something, they can.

Oh, the make-believe!  Jack has my fun, make-believe gene, and that boy can lead the pack in superhero play or make a jungle out of a blah backyard or create ninja warriors (girl and boy ninjas) or have an awesome hide-and-seek game.  Anything he starts, the rest of them follow.  Our own pied piper.  He is older now but still takes time to play with them.  And they all love him.  The superhero cousin.

He has all the makings of a Gigi.

At the end of all the New Year’s Day festivities, as we were all settling down, packing up presents and food, Maci turned to her Mawmaw and said,

“How do you get to be a Gigi?”

Maci and nails

 

 

Putting Together Memories

For Christmas, I went to Shutterfly to make a really cool Christmas gift for my brother and two sisters.  Since so many of our memories of Mom are surrounded by her cooking for us, I wanted to make a cookbook of some of our favorites of Mom’s cooking.  It turned out great!

Mom's cookbook

Mom was a really good cook and cooked for whoever would show up for lunch, or she would bribe us with fried chicken and dumplings to come on weekends.

Surrounded by grandkids at Christmas 001 Her utmost joy was derived from feeding and caring the best she could for her children.  And her grandchildren.  And her great-grandchildren.

She might mutter and complain about Jillsurprise party 1972 with Jill 002 not knowing what good food was as she made her the requested grilled cheese while bowls of delicious food (mashed potatoes and dumplings and home-canned green beans and Mom’s  coleslaw to name a few) sat on the table ready to be gobbled up by the rest of us.  Just her way of saying, “I love you.”

Those were hard words to say by a little girl raised in the depression to become the hard-working woman who didn’t have time for frivolity.  Not often anyway.  Every once in a while if we begged she would get up and do what she called “The Shawneetown Stomp” with my older sister.  It was great!!  She would laugh and dance, and so would we.  At least try to dance.  Mom was a great dancer.  So is Tish.  And they looked awesome together!

Mom used to tell stories about growing up in her family, the hardships.  As it does most people, that upbringing weaved its way into who she became.  It caused her to worry about having the money for a home and food.  She was frugal, very frugal.  Yet I still had a beautiful dress for prom and homecoming that she made from royal blue velvet material.  We still managed to get high school class rings, probably wanting us to have one because she didn’t make it through high school.  Each of the girls had piano lessons, something she would have been good at considering her lovely voice when she sang and her rhythm when she danced.

And, of course, the only boy in the family received a really cool car on his 16th birthday.  (No, I’m not mad about it anymore.  Not that I ever was, really.  Well, maybe a little.  But not anymore.  Hardly.)

A few of Mom’s recipes, most in her own handwriting, were included.  This dumpling recipe was from the sessions Mom and I had as she tried to teach me how to make them.  She was too weak by then to roll them out, but she sure enjoyed sitting there teaching me, smiling ear to ear.Mom's Dumplings 001

There was a little bit of history of Mom’s family because they were a close bunch of sisters.  And like my own family, one boy in all those girls.  (Did I mention that my brother wrecked that really cool car by jumping over the levee and breaking it right in half?”  Not that that bothers me or anything anymore.)

So along with pictures of kids and grandkids and recipes, I included a few pics like this one:Logsdon Siblings circa 1930s 001And just so we wouldn’t forget that once upon a time our Mom had a Amy & Churnie 1947 001real life, a life with laughter and flirtation, I included some like this one.

Being the middle child in a family of four children, my characteristics and qualities have been woven in ways such as those that made my Mom into who she was.  And that is why on the back of the book I put a really good picture of me and a not-so-really great picture of the rest of them.

My brother is the one in the silly birthday hat.  And I only used that picture because it was one of the best I had of him.  Not at all because I may still be just a tad incensed by the fact that he got a car on his 16th birthday, and I did not. Mom's cookbook back

If you want a free book, here is the link for you to get one.  https://invite-shutterfly.com/x/SOm1IE

Noaming

No, the title is not supposed to be “roaming;” however, it is sort of like roaming.  When we go a “roaming,” we learn all sort of things, discover wonders, revisit once-discovered favorites, learn something new, see something we haven’t seen before… the list is long.

So as I have moments of time during this day, I plug in my earphones and listen to/watch Noam Chomsky.  I may or may not agree with all he says, but listening to his perspective and educated opinions causes me to question some of the opinions I may have had or bolsters some that I still have.   Those opinions that we make based in feeling, tradition, or the biased/ distorted media.

Here is just a little sample:

One video leads to another to another to another.  And from Professor Chomsky, I then want to see the opinions of other learned people, people that really, truly know what’s going on in the world and know  who is/are making the decisions.  I want to find out just exactly what the decisions are that are being made and how those decision affect the world.

I will warn you:  It’s addictive to watch these types of things that inform and develop independent thinking, perhaps provide a thought outside the box of memes on Facebook.

But so worth it.