Friday, April 30, 2010

The Phone Call

this_week_on_atwt A recent phone call from my 86-year-old mother made me realize just how far she has come in embracing technology.  These phone calls started years ago after she and Daddy got their first VCR.  They were both working at the time, so the VCR was programmed to record As the World Turns.

Unfortunately, every time the power went out, which happens frequently in Arkansas during the spring storm season, the VCR would lose its memory.  So I would get a phone call and walk them through reprogramming the VCR so they wouldn’t miss an episode of their soap opera.

Although Mother now has a DVD player, she does not have a DVR, so she still uses the VCR to record TV shows.  I’m not even sure if she’s still watching As the World Turns, but I know she records Dancing With the Stars so she can also watch American Idol which airs at the same time.  The good news is that she can now program it herself, so I haven’t had a VCR help call in years.


However, a few years ago we decided that Mother would enjoy having a computer so that she could email her children and grandchildren and we could share photos of the great grands with her.  She’s also been able to use it to keep up with the scores of Atlanta Braves games.

Atlanta_Braves Mother started following the Braves when most of their games were on TBS, and she has continued to be a fan even though most of the games have moved to SportSouth or Peachtree TV.  We set her up with a Yahoo account and Yahoo as her home page.  There on the left hand side is a sports score module where she can check in on the Braves score.

This brings me to the recent phone call.  She had gotten online to check out the baseball score, but it wasn’t there.  My brother had visited recently, so I assumed that he had logged in to his own Yahoo account and hadn’t logged her back in.

This has happened before, especially after the grandchildren have visited.  Most of them have Yahoo accounts for fantasy football and baseball, and they are constantly logging in to manage their teams.  Most of the time they fail to log Mema back in to her account, and I will get the phone call to walk her through the steps.

After painstakingly taking her through the process of getting her home page back, she still couldn’t see the Braves score, so I decided to log into her account on my own computer to see just what she was seeing (or not seeing).  Sure enough, the Braves score was right where it was supposed to be.

That’s when it hit me.  The screen resolution on her older monitor is lower so in order to see the score module, she needed to scroll down.  It seems that Mother was on her home page all along, and all she needed to do was scroll down.

product-wifi Hunter recently suggested that we get her an iPad and a wireless router so that she can watch all of the Braves games.  I’m not sure I’m ready to go there.  Although we’ve come a long way from VCR’s to computers, until she can master scrolling, I don’t think she’s ready for an iPad.

And did I mention that she doesn’t know how to type!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Here Comes the Bride

bridal wreath 006 A few years ago, I planted a border of Bridal Wreath Spirea along the natural area in my backyard.  Since childhood, I have loved its arching branches that are covered in mounds of snow white flowers in the spring.

I grew up in a neighborhood of small wood-framed houses in Camden, Arkansas.  Love Addition was built to house the influx of veterans returning from World War II.  My parents, my younger brother and I lived in a two-bedroom on Crestwood Avenue.  After my sister was born, we moved to a three-bedroom two doors down, and we lived there until I was in sixth grade.

scan0002 Landscaping was minimal in most of these yards.  The grass was whatever grew that was green and could be mowed—a combination of Bermuda grass, crab grass, clover and other assorted grasses and weeds.  Shrubbery was minimal, but our yard did have at least one or two bushes of Bridal Wreath in addition to the common junipers that I liked to call "bag worm" bushes.

Most of the time, I loved these bushes, but on the rare occasion when Mother or Daddy decided I needed a spanking, I wished I could cut them all down.  Instead of getting out the belt or hairbrush, Mother and Daddy would send us out to the yard to pick a switch.  Raked clean of leaves, the long thin branches of Bridal Wreath made perfect switches.  They never spanked us hard, but it surely did sting, and it must have made an impression if I still remember after all these years.

bridal wreath 003

In spite of that, I still love Bridal Wreath and have especially enjoyed its beauty this year.  Although we had a cooler than normal early spring, we didn't get a late freeze, so my Bridal Wreath border was covered in flowers.

bridal wreath 002

FAVORITETHINGSBUTTON Now come join me over at Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie where everyone is sharing their favorite things.  Hope your Saturday is a good one.  It's thundering, lightening and raining here, but we need the rain for all the beautiful things and especially to get rid of the nasty pollen.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Have You Ever…

Debbie started a blog tag at Arkansas Bloggers as a way for all of us to get to know each other better.  Frankly, I don't know how she could possibly come up with 100 questions, but here goes.

1. Started your own blog
Well, duh.  I wouldn't be sitting here answering these questions if I hadn't.  I started Life in the Slow Lane over a year and a half ago.

2. Slept under the stars
On at least one occasion that I can recall.  I've camped lots of times, but always in a tent.  However, when I was a student at the University of Arkansas, some of us slept out on the roof of the Kappa house one night.  I remember being pretty damp from the dew the next morning.

3. Played in a band
I played flute in the band when I was in high school.  I wasn't very good, but I tried hard and had a ball.

4. Visited Hawaii
No, but it's on my "to do" list.

5. Watched a meteor shower
When we were visiting Durango, Colorado, about the time I started this blog, we took a day trip up to Ouray.  On the way back, we pulled off the road and just stared at the sky.  I've never seen so many stars.  We saw several shooting stars, but I don't suppose that qualifies as a full blown meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity
I'd like to think so, but probably not.

7. Been to Disney
Nope.  I'm sure my boys feel like they've been deprived because we never took them to Disney World.  Guess we'll just have to take the grandchildren.

2598759093_6a46984c14_o 8. Climbed a mountain
I climbed Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock when I was eight months pregnant with my second son.  That should definitely count for climbing a mountain.  That's Pinnacle Mountain just to the left of the setting sun.

9. Held a praying mantis
I never liked bugs too much, so unless you count the dead ones that I helped my boys collect for their biology bug collections, then my answer would be "no."

10. Sang a solo
The only solo I ever sang was in 6th grade when I tried out for chorus.  I didn't make it.  Turns out I can't carry a tune.

11. Bungee jumped
Nope, and I have no desire to do so.

France trip 257 12. Visited Paris
Yes.  What a wonderful city.  Hope I can go back some day.

13. Watched a thunder and lightning storm
You can't live in tornado alley and escape watching a thunder and lightening storm.  I also remember watching Tom Bonner standing along I-30 between Little Rock and Benton waiting for the tornado which was moving up that corridor.  Meanwhile, my sister and I had our boys in the bathtub with the baby bed mattress over them.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
I've taken lots of art lessons—everything from oil and water color to tole painting and folk art.  When I lived in Texarkana a friend and I had a shop where we taught folk art and fabric painting.  However, the only thing I ever taught myself was ceramic painting.  Back when I started building houses, lots of clients wanted hand-painted tiles in their kitchen backsplashes, so I experimented and learned how to used ceramic paints and fire the tiles.  I even hand-painted tiles for several friends.  Recently I helped one of those friends re-do her kitchen, and we tore out the tiles that I had painted when she built the house.

15. Adopted a child
No, but I have three cousins who were adopted as infants.  All of the other cousins were always so excited as we anticipated the arrival of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe with the latest addition to their family.  We'd climb the mimosa tree in my grandparents' yard to see who could spot their car first.

16. Had food poisoning
When I was in college I went to visit a friend who was working at a counselor at the Girl Scout camp near Mena, Arkansas.  We ate dinner at some hamburger drive-in, and I was up all night because of the onion rings.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
I think I probably rode to the top when I visited the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables
I've never planted my own vegetable garden, but I used to help my daddy with his.  I've picked and shelled lots of purple hull peas and butter beans in my day.

France trip 102 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Yes.  This is a must for anyone who visits Paris.  What's even more amazing is that they let you take all the pictures of her you want.

20. Slept on an overnight train
I used to ride the train to visit my grandparents in Lewisville, Arkansas, but it was only a short trip, so no overnight.

21. Had a pillow fight
I have a brother and sister.  Of course we had pillow fights.

22. Hitch hiked
I was raised to avoid hitch hikers and hitch hiking.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
When I was teaching school, we called them Mental Health Days.

24. Built a snow fort
Yes, on the rare occasion we had enough snow.

25. Held a lamb
Pigs, calves and baby chicks but never a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping
I was too modest for that.

27. Run a marathon
I'm doing good to walk two miles every night.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
We'll be visiting Venice in October, so I hope to get the chance then.

29. Seen a total eclipse
Not sure of the date, but I remember watching one with my students when I was teaching at Pulaski Academy.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
Oh, yes, and I've got the pictures to prove it.  Here's one of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

California 337

31. Hit a home run
Nope.  I'm not the athletic type, but I do love sports.

formal night 32. Been on a cruise
Went on a three-day cruise with my Bible study group, fondly known as the Bible Babes, a few years ago.  Here we are all dressed for dinner.  LBeau and I also took a Rhine River Cruise from Amsterdam to Switzerland.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
Another "to do" thing.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
Does Warren, Arkansas, count?

35. Seen an Amish community
I've been to Bird in Hand, Paradise and Intercourse, Pennsylvania, all in the middle of Amish country.  Beautiful farms and beautiful people. 

36. Taught yourself a new language
I took Latin in high school and German in college, but I've never taught myself a language.  I wish I knew Spanish because a lot of my subcontractors are Hispanic.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
I have way more than I ever dreamed I'd have, but I think it's in our nature to always want more.

Italy 197 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Saw it on a trip to Italy a few years ago.  The setting was beautiful but not what I expected.  Somehow I had always thought it was in the middle of town.

39. Gone rock climbing
When my oldest son was a baby, we used to do day hikes at Devil's Den near Fayetteville.  On several occasions we climbed Yellow Rock with Hunter on LBeau's back.

scan000140. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
We spent several days in Florence on that same trip to Italy, so we got to see David then.  Although you weren't supposed to take pictures, I did observe one man attempting to photograph some of the "strategic" parts.  I played by the rules and bought a postcard.

41. Sung karaoke
See #10.  I don't sing in public.

42. Seen Old Faithful erupt 
Yes, indeed, and he is faithful. 

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
No, but I did buy a stranger coffee at Starbucks one time.  Someone did that for me once.  When I got to the drive up window to pay for my order, I learned that the gentleman two cars ahead of me had already paid for my coffee.  It made me feel so good that on a couple of occasions I've done it for others.

44. Visited Africa
I'm hoping that the Arkansas Alumni Association will offer another trip to Africa soon.  There was one a few months ago.  I've seen pictures, and I'm really jealous.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
Several times. 

46. Been transported in an ambulance
Thankfully, no.

47. Had your portrait painted
Not that I know of.

48. Gone deep sea fishing
Not unless we went on one of my childhood trips to Dauphin Island or Biloxi.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
Same trip to Italy.  We packed a lot into a week.  This was another "no picture" place, but that didn't stop some tourists.  I played by the rules again.

France trip 062 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Visited the Eiffel Tower on our trip to Paris, but we didn't go to the top.

51. Been scuba diving or snorkeling 
Nope, and it's not on my Bucket List. 

52. Kissed in the rain
I would be surprised if LBeau and I hadn't managed at least one kiss in the rain in our almost 40 years together.

53. Played in the mud
Loved making mud pies as a child.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
We had two regular movie theaters when I was growing up, but we also had a drive-in.  I can remember watching several movies at the drive-in.

55. Been in a movie 
Only the home movie variety. 

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
Also on my "to do" list.

57. Started a business 
I started my construction business in 1991, and I'm still at it. 

58. Taken a martial arts class
My middle son took Tae Kwan Do, but I only watched.

59. Visited Russia
Another "to do" trip.

60. Served at a soup kitchen
Yes, and a friend and I also spent the night at the women's homeless shelter.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
I'm not sure Girl Scout Cookies were around when I was a Girl Scout.  Since I have three boys, I never did that as a mom thing.

62. Gone whale watching
I hope to take an Alaska cruise some day and do some whale watching.

63. Got flowers for no reason
The only time I ever got flowers from LBeau was for no reason.  He bought me roses from a street vendor in St. Louis.  I think he paid 50 cents for the whole dozen.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
I'm chicken.

65. Been sky diving 
Not on my list of things to do.

66. Visited a concentration camp
No, but I did tour Anne Frank's house when we were in Amsterdam

67. Bounced a check
Not that I would admit to.

68. Flown in a helicopter
I think that would be so much fun

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
I used to have the Parcheesi game that we played with Jeannie when we would visit my grandparents and aunt in Lewisville.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
Yes, and it is certainly impressive.

71. Eaten caviar
Nope, and I've never had sushi either, unless you count the Redneck Sushi that we served at a party last weekend.

72. Pieced a quilt
I have quilted pieces and made pillows from them, but never a whole quilt.

73. Visited Times Square
More than once I took high school students to New York for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Convention.  We always stayed very close to Times Square.

74. Toured the Everglades
Sounds like something I need to put on my list.

75. Been fired from a job
Thankfully, no.

London 071 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
Unfortunately it was raining heavily that day, so they didn't do a formal guard changing.  We did watch the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle, however.

77. Broken a bone
Not that I know of.

78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
Don't have any interest in riding on a motorcycle, even as a passenger. 

Grand Canyon 014 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Yes.  Twice.  LBeau and I went when we were on a trip to Las Vegas.  Then my sister, my sister-in-law and I took my parents for their 60th Anniversary.

80. Published a book
If you count digital scrapbooks.  I was also the yearbook advisor for several schools during my teaching career.

81. Visited the Vatican
Yes.  Same trip to Italy. 

81. Bought a brand new car 
Yes.  The first one was a Chevy Malibu that I bought in 1968 after I graduated from the University of Arkansas.

83. Walked in Jerusalem
Another one for my list!

84. Had your picture in the newspaper
Yes.  If you got married in a small town in Arkansas, you've probably had your picture in the paper.

85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
Yuk!  I don't think I've ever hung out with any strangers on New Year's Eve.

86. Visited the White House
Yes.  Years ago.  I don't even remember who was President at the time.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 
I've eaten lots of deer, squirrel and quail that my daddy killed, and I've watched the skinning and preparing, but I've never done the killing or preparing myself. 

88. Had chickenpox
A very mild case.  They had to look hard to find the spots.  My brother and sister weren't as fortunate.  I also recently got my shingles shot.

89. Saved someone’s life 
Thankfully I've never been in that situation. 

90. Sat on a jury
I've never even been summoned for jury duty.

91. Met someone famous
Former Senator David Pryor was my seventh grade Sunday School teacher.

92. Joined a book club
Once belonged to the Reader's Digest Book Club and the Book of the Month Club, but I don't think that's what you mean.  I do love to read, however.

93. Got a tattoo 
No, and not on my priority list either. 

94. Had a baby
Three of the cutest little boys you've ever seen.

95. Seen the Alamo in person
Oh, yes.  It was the Fourth of July, and I've never been hotter.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake 
I've stood on the banks of the Great Salt Lake, but it smelled so bad that I had no desire to even stick a toe in. 

97. Been involved in a law suit
Unfortunately, if you owned a residential construction company in Alabama in the 1990's, you probably built a house or two or more with EIFS, and if so, then you've been sued.  But I've never been personally sued nor have I ever sued anyone.

98. Owned a cell phone 
Got my first one in 1992.  It was a Motorola flip phone.  I love my iPhone. 

99. Been stung by a bee
We had lots of clover in our yard when I was growing up.  Went barefooted lots too.  Bees love clover, but they don't like bare feet.

100. Tell us where you were born
Camden Hospital in Camden, Arkansas.

Camden Hospital

Okay, so I’m tagging:

Nick at Malvie's Musings 

Marty at Elwing Pointers

Christi at A Southern Life

Joycee at Granny Mountain

Nanny at The Good Life 

I challenge y'all to answer these questions and then post your link on Arkansas Bloggers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some Things Never Change

Fayetteville 012 Last weekend LBeau and I traveled to Fayetteville for his annual meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineering.  While he was closed up with a bunch of other engineers on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I took the time to visit some of my favorite places.  While Fayetteville has changed a lot since I was in school there in the '60's, my morning trek around town was proof that some things never change.

My first stop was 430 Assembly Drive where we lived with our oldest son Hunter when LBeau was in grad school in the mid '70's.  We rented this stone house on the west side of Mount Sequoyah and lived there for a little over two years.

Fayetteville 001

From there I continued to the top of Mount Sequoyah where this cross overlooks the city.  I'm not sure when it was erected, but it has stood in that spot since before my student days.

Fayetteville 005

Fayetteville 007 The Farmers' Market on the square was my next stop.  Begun in the 1970's as a way for local farmers to market their produce, the Farmers' Market has expanded to included craftsmen and musicians as well.

On this Saturday, the square was crowded with hundreds of folks walking their dogs, buying produce and flowers, visiting with friends and neighbors while listening to a variety of music.  With an election coming up next month, there was no shortage of candidates, and I got to visit with a friend whose husband is running for judge.

Fayetteville 009

I continued on to the campus, first walking past the Kappa house where I lived for three years.  This house was brand new the year I pledged, and from the outside it looks pretty much as it did in 1965.

Fayetteville 018

Fayetteville 011 Senior Walk is also proof that some things never change.  Starting at the front door of Old Main, Senior Walk winds for more than five miles through the campus and contains the names of every graduate since the founding of the University.  For years there have been rumors that the University was running out of places for Senior Walk and it would be discontinued.  Those rumors have proven to be false.

When I was a student, each time a new class graduated workers would pour fresh concrete and hand stamp each graduate's name in the walk.  In 1986, the UofA Physical Plant invented the Sand Hog, which etches the name of each graduate in existing sidewalks.

During my walk around campus, I located my name in the Class of 1968, along with the names of a couple of friends, one of whom reads this blog from time to time.  I also found LBeau's name as well as my sons' names.

Cherish Sample - Page 045

Every time I visit campus, I can't resist taking pictures of Old Main, which to most present and former students is the symbol of the University of Arkansas.  It too looks pretty much as it did during my student days except for the addition of a working clock on the south tower where blank faces once were.  Although the chimes in Old Main have rung every fifteen minutes for as long as I can remember, the clock was not added until 2005.

Fayetteville 022

FAVORITETHINGSBUTTON Fayetteville has always been one of my favorite places on earth, so I am linking up with Laurie on Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie.  It's always fun to read about everyone's Favorite Things.  Be sure to stop by and tell Laurie hello.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yellow Haze

2010 spring 022 I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

On the plus side, the weather has warmed up, the skies are a gorgeous blue, the trees are turning green, and things are blooming everywhere.  Last week, we took Walker and Lauren to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and I could have spent all day taking pictures of all the trees and flowers in bloom.

2010 spring 040

I think spring has got to be the prettiest time of the year, and I always feel a sudden surge of energy—that is until the dreaded yellow haze.  Here in Birmingham it happened almost overnight.  One day the skies were crystal clear, and the next day the city was enveloped in a ginormous yellow cloud.

I know I probably say the same thing every year, but I think this has absolutely got to be the worst year ever for pollen.  Maybe it's because the cold weather lasted longer, so suddenly everything is blooming at once—Yoshino cherries, Bradford pears, redbud, dogwood, wisteria.  It's a riot of color out there.

Not to be outdone, the pine trees have started pollinating, and they can't even redeem themselves by showing off a new coat of color.  To make matters worse, my house is getting a fresh coat of paint on the outside, and the painters are constantly having to open the windows.  My timing couldn't have been worse.

So for the next week or so, I guess I'll have to put up with the stuffy nose, headache and itchy eyes.  And no telling how many times I'll be doing a spit clean of my contact lenses.  Nevertheless by next January, I'll be anxious for spring once again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Eggs-tra Special Fun

2010 spring 030 While the grands were here this week, Walker and I spent time one morning dying Easter eggs. I had already purchased a PAAS egg coloring kit and had been saving eggs for several weeks.  "Saving eggs?" you ask.  For details on how to make these special eggs that are a tradition in my family, go HERE.

In Walker's own words, here are the directions for dying Easter eggs:

  • First, get out the "Tuperwares" (note: any plastic container counts as Tuperware)
  • Drop in the candy (hint: the tablets that come in the Easter egg dying kit)
  • Pour in the water
  • Stir it up
  • Dye the eggs

I told Walker to listen carefully for the dye to stop fizzing.  That would tell us when it was time to start dying the eggs.

2010 spring 024

He didn't seem to mind getting his fingers in the colored dye, and he was careful not to break a single egg.  Since these eggs are hollow, they are quite fragile.

2010 spring 026

In practically no time, we had dyed 16 eggs.  I had bought the 9-color PAAS kit, since it was the same price as the traditional 6-color kit.  The 9-color kit has a wonderful blue that is different from the traditional robin's eggs blue.  The other two added colors are a beautiful pale pink and a bright lime green.

2010 spring 031

Late yesterday afternoon Walker had fun hunting the eggs.  He was practicing for the egg hunt tomorrow at church.

2010 spring 034

He is using a basket that I painted for his daddy in 1988.

2010 spring 038

Happy Easter, everyone!  And happy egg hunting!

FAVORITETHINGSBUTTON Since good times with the grandchildren are definitely one of my favorite things, I'm linking up with Laurie at Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie.  Be sure to visit her to see what favorite things other bloggers are sharing this weekend.