Family


08 May 2011 10:22 am

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My Mother has always been there for all four of her sons and daughters. She spent her life teaching us to love each other.

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She once told me that she and my Dad didn’t really know what true love was until they had had their children.

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My Mother encouraged and helped all of us to be the best at whatever we chose to do. She read to us, had nightly prayers with us, taught us to shine our shoes, fold our clothes, take care of our pets, crack the eggs, put the bridle on the horse, and show us where middle C was on the piano.

She also pulled the horse out of the ditch when it was flooding, faced down the burro when he cornered her in the shed, killed a Water Moccasin that came up out of the ditch, chased me down with a switch when I needed a switching, comforted me all night long when I had a broken heart, watched over us when we had high fevers, protected us when a crazy man was stalking our home, took in our cousins for a year when their parents needed to leave to stay at the hospital in a distant city with their critically injured daughter. So much good our Mother has done in her life that it would require a book. (which might be a good idea)

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I know Mother must have been exhausted with so many little ones so close in age but I never saw it when I was a child. I didn’t realize it until I became a Mother myself and I was up all night with my own babies.

Mothers don’t cease being Mothers when their children grow up. They have their ways of keeping in touch. My Mother calls me everyday if I don’t call her first. She has learned how to use her cell phone but hasn’t yet perfected the use of voice mail. (or maybe she has)

When she leaves me a voice mail message, she pauses a little while, I hear all the static and sounds in the background and then, her voice, “This is your Mother,” then, after a while, maybe another word or two, then, click. Another variation, is, “It’s your Mother calling.”

There’s the love in the voice. Always the love.

Happy Mothers’ Day Mother.

I am blessed.

21 Nov 2010 11:18 am


My niece, Marlane Barnes made her first appearance on television Friday night. She played the role of Tina in iCarly, iStart a Fan War. I admit I am biased but I think she was a smashing success.

Marlane graduated from the University of Texas (Austin) in May this year with a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting and moved to LA in June. By July she had been cast in iCarly.

She moves on to Twilight this December when she plays Maggie, an Irish Vampire in the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

We all wanted her to go to law school but instead she went to Hollywood. Marlane is following her dreams and more power to her.

28 Nov 2009 12:18 pm

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Art by Laura Lee Donoho

It’s a quiet morning. Nothing is on the schedule today. There are leftovers in the fridge, enough for a week. Peach praline pie and coffee for breakfast. Almost everyone was together for Thanksgiving and the weather was beautiful.

It was a blessing just to watch everyone sitting together or spread out around my brother’s house sharing stories and food. My husband pronounced my Thanksgiving dressing as being as good or better than his grandmother, Mama Wera’s. I’ve been striving for that declaration for twenty years. The dressing was popular and none is left. My son called me yesterday asking me about my recipe. He made some more dressing yesterday.

My sister-in-law, the perennial hostess of our Thanksgiving dinner, is known for her beautiful aprons and Thanksgiving decorations and she didn’t fail to please again this year.

New Thanksgiving cooks made their debut this Thanksgiving; both of my daughters made something delectable. One made cranberry sauce from scratch and the other has perfected her sweet potatoes.

I noticed big smiles on my brother and sister-in-law’s faces when they were talking about or holding their grandchildren. It was a blessing to have my father and mother at the table, gracing us with their presence and funny comments.

No one watched the news on Thanksgiving Day. The roads were very quiet. It seems that most people in our city had somewhere to go to share the bounty of our land.

Thursday night we enjoyed more of the feast and watched our grandchildren in their various states of growth, crawling, walking around shutting doors and running and jumping through the room. Tears came to my eyes while watching my six year old grandson sing Hey Jude along with Paul McCartney in concert.

My Dad told me that he had written a new song.

Only a few of us had plans for Black Friday. My youngest daughter and I decided to go on a search for pine cones instead. The tree is in the house and will be decorated tonight.

My daughter-in-law’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, she abhors the rush of Christmas crowding out the celebration of the last Thursday in November. I am beginning to understand what she means.

17 Jul 2009 11:37 am

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My cousin, Nancy took a spill and her dog, Sir Cecil tried to comfort her.

10 May 2009 08:56 am

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Oh, motherhood. Here I am in the midst of it, holding my youngest daughter, Charlotte while my oldest daughter, Kate holds my cousin’s baby, Molly and I try to assist her. It’s obvious from the photo that Charlotte did not appreciate the idea of my giving any attention to the new baby. She wanted to be the baby.

Motherhood is the most wonderful role in the world but it is not for the faint-hearted. When you step on the rollercoaster, put on the seatbelt. The ride will be wild and it never will end as long as you live. But it’s the best ride in the Park of Life.

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Happy Mothers Day to my own, Mom who continues to be the dearest and most wonderful mother in the world.

Thank you Professor Reynolds for the Instalanche! A very nice Mothers Day gift that I highly recommend!

14 Mar 2009 01:38 pm

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We almost lost the yellow house with the bad perspective a week ago last Thursday.

I was out, and had an art substitute who was teaching for me in the “new” artroom which is inside the school. The elementary school has been undergoing a big renovation in the past two years. Many new classrooms, new offices and a lovely new cafeteria with a large stage have been added. The old auditorium has been divided into two parts and I have the largest part and the music teacher will have the part with the stage.

The reason why I was not at school a week ago last Thursday is because my daughter-in-law and son were experiencing the birth of their first daughter, (and my husband and my first granddaughter) Marlee Michelle, who weighed in at 8lbs, 1oz.

It was a joyful and most wonderful day.

Not so at my dear elementary school, which is the school that I went to as a child and the school I love and want to help. When I went to school there as a little girl there was no integration. The school was all white. There were no art, music or P.E. teachers. The classroom teachers taught everything. There was no air conditioning, we had windows around every room. We had prayer in school, a Jewish boy read the story of Luke when we performed the Christmas program. We were allowed to walk home for lunch and walk back to school afterwards. If we were in trouble with our teacher we were in trouble with our parents. My teachers encouraged me to write, draw, and create scenery for plays which we performed ofen. We ran track and were always the number one school in town for track meets.

The demographics at my old school have changed radically but the school is still beloved to me. The students are still the same at heart. They are like I was, with the same hopes and dreams and I am there to help them succeed at them. That is my personal goal for my school and so many of my fellow teachers feel the same way. I’ve heard my principal say often that our school has the hardest working teachers in our school district and I agree. I see them in action and I know that to be true. No one can count public education out when you walk through the school where I teach art.

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I taught in this sunny mobile art room for the last three years.

Our grand Open House is coming up soon and everyone has been scrambling to get moved into their new classrooms. The moment the classroom teacher moved out of her temporary digs which was the half of the old auditorium into her new classroom I asked the principal for permission to move into the school from my mobile classroom outside. It was a wonderful place to teach for three years but truth be told, much too small and always worrisome when the children needed to go to the bathroom. I had to stand at the door to watch them go into the school and send another child along with my key to get inside the door to the school and hope the child didn’t drop it along the way, especially in the bathroom.

But I had lots of art in the room and I hung the yellow house chalk drawing along one wall and had glorious art prints along all the other walls and I made art history bulletin boards featuring wonderful artists who helped to make our world a more creative place to live. All around the room were the names of the great artists that I wanted the students to remember done in good calligraphy.

I am a neat-freak so I always had things where I wanted and that worked out well in such a small room. I only had one small bookshelf so I had to keep my books moving on a revolving basis and when the principal gave me permission to start to move in the big auditorium half the first thing I took with me were my personal artbooks. (too bad I wasn’t able to move the bookshelf)

Since most of the first grade, second grade and kindergarten teachers were also moving their rooms with only the help of the two school custodians I knew I was more or less on my own so during every school break I was heading back and forth to the old room, grabbing art supplies and paper, some art prints and miscellaneous.

All that had been left in the old auditorium was a tiny old oak desk, five small rectangular tables, and chairs. I had talked the principal into giving me the old teacher mail boxes since we now had a new office and it included a new mail center so when he said yes, I could have it, I was elated. It works well as a place to keep all my classes work and has cabinets below I can use for storage which is a good thing, considering what happened on that fateful Thursday a week ago.

While I was out rejoicing over the birth of my granddaughter, a big truck pulled up behind the school, and stopped in front of my old art room. In to it walked a bunch of men who began to carry out my art cabinet, desk, file cabinet, (full of art history videos) and everything else in the room. Our school custodian saw what was happening and asked them if they had been in contact with the principal and the head man said no, but he had been ordered by the official in charge of buildings and grounds to get the mobile building ready to be moved away so the school would be ready for the Open House on March 15th.

Our custodian informed them that the teacher hadn’t completely moved out of the room and needed the items so they needed to stop and leave the room alone until it could be emptied. But they didn’t stop. The custodian started to move things that he knew I would need such as the rolling art text book cabinet out of the room. One of the fifth grade teachers also saw what was happening and organized her students to get in the room and save the art prints, the art supplies, the white board, the yellow house chalk drawing, The Mona Lisa wall hanging, and many other important art items. The students hand carried all of the art text books (2nd grade - 6th grade) from the old art mobile building into the new room.

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A lot of happy art happened in this room.

All this chaos was happening while the art substitute was teaching the students. She told the fifth graders where to put the saved items and luckily there was plenty of room for them at the end of the very large room. My computer was saved. That was a lucky thing as I had just recently gotten it and hadn’t even been able to install it yet. After five years as an art teacher I had been able to finally scrounge up a used computer and almost lost it.

The next morning, a Friday morning, as I was pulling into the parking lot, I noticed that the mobile building no longer had it’s steps. As I got out of the car and walked towards the school, I saw that the doors were open and the building looked empty. My heart started beating harder as I walked over to the building and looked inside. It was completely empty.

As I walked into my art class inside the building I saw a pile of items inside the room. I sighed a breath of relief when I saw my big black art cabinet sitting in the middle of the room. I looked for my desk and file cabinet and book shelf and art cart and other items but they weren’t there. They had been carried off and stored in a warehouse. Will I get them back? I have been told that I will. I won’t hold my breath.

I returned to the pile and began sorting through. On the table at the end of the room was the Yellow House chalk drawing folded neatly (it’s just made from butcher paper) and it had no damage done to it. I found the Mona Lisa wall hanging and my computer later on that day on the stage in the music room.

I know I can count myself very fortunate to have finally found myself included (along with my fellow music teacher) in a school which honors its art and music. We have a place now, not in closets, not on carts but in rooms of our own. We are also blessed with a fifth grade teacher who has always honored our efforts at our school (along with many other teachers) and in my opinion she elevated her students and taught them what a good deed really is. They did a lot of hard work by saving all the Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and O’Keeffe prints (and many others) oil pastels, water colors, paper.

In a very small way the fifth grade students were re-enacting a race that took place during World War ll when the Nazis were destroying and stealing the great art in Europe. No, there were no stormtroopers rampaging through the parking lot at our school but the entire contents of the artroom would have been taken had the men not been stopped. At the very least, the students, their teacher and the custodian stopped a bureaucrat’s wasteful destruction.

The film about rescued art of WWII, The Rape of Europa, tells the story in documentary form about the heroic acts of individuals to save the art of our past, our art lineage, from defilement and destruction by the Nazis. I am going to try to find this film to view it. I hope it is being shown in high schools. For some reason, I am not extremely optimistic that it is, although it ought to be.

“The Rape of Europa” (based on the eponymous book by Lynn Nicholas) is a film that needs to be seen by every high school student, college student, history teacher, history buff, art teacher and museumgoer worldwide. It is not about the famous allegorical painting by Titian (1487-1576); it’s a riveting documentary about the theft, destruction and miraculous survival of many of Europe’s artistic and architectural treasures during World War II. “Europa,” by Richard Berge, Bonnie Cohen and Nicole Newham, elicits a visceral weeping for what could have become a total holocaust for Europe’s art and for its national treasures. The film details the race against the Nazi-programmed destruction and theft — mitigated by acts of heroism, sacrifice and determination — that underscores one of the film’s truisms:
“Art is what makes us human.”

28 Feb 2009 02:38 pm

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Charlotte on a wooden bowl

My maternal and paternal grandmothers played important roles in my life and I’m lucky my parents let me spend lots of time with both of them. Looking back there was never enough time. Something I heard last night touched me and got me thinking about roles that grandparents play in the lives of grandchildren.

I was talking to my fellow co-conspirator and friend, Myra who is also the grandmother on the maternal side of my grandson, Aidan. I am his paternal grandmother. Myra is his maternal grandmother. How lucky Aidan is to have her.

We had a good time last night spending the last (hopefully) Friday night watching Aidan being an only child, reminding him of that fact and watching carefully (and sometimes painfully) his poor mom who is in her last few days of ordered bed rest.

Our little girl’s room is all ready. Pray, God, that the doctor and the sonogram is right and she really is a girl because there is just too much pink, rose, rosebud-red and lovely sweet little girl items to return and it wouldn’t be fair to a newborn little boy.

Getting back to our little five year old boy, Aidan who told his grandmother, Myra a story the other day as she was taking him to school. He informed her that he remembered what it was like in Heaven before he was born and came to earth. Aidan said that he was in a series of rooms and they kept moving him from room to room. He said he met different people in these rooms. One person he remembers meeting was the first president. “The first president, you say,” Myra said. “Who was that?”

“Well, that was President George Washington!” Aidan said emphatically.

Sitting around with Myra and watching our grandson play is just the best. I wish she lived here but she’s a steel magnolia from Louisiana. She will stay for a month after the baby is born so I will be having more than my usual share of coffee for the next month with one of my very best of friends.

15 Feb 2009 05:49 pm

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Yesterday’s celebration of Valentines Day was sweet and savory for the females in our family. It was a sweet day to throw a shower for my daughter-in-law who is expecting our first granddaughter in early March. They say that it’s proper to give showers for first time mothers only but this second time mother is expecting her first daughter this time. Little girls can’t wear their big brothers’ hand-me-downs. (even in these supposedly gloomy times)

My sister, Lucy, daughter, Kate and I love to talk about all-things-party: color, theme, feeling, design, menu, and budget, so as we mulled over our plans for the shower I looked into some of my albums to find my collection of antique Valentines. These Valentines tend to be less pink and more red, violet and vibrant in their presentations. None of my children or grandchildren or my childrens’ spouses are pastels in any sense of the word, all are rich and vivid, colors as individuals. Lucy, Kate and I all agreed there would be little pink in this Valentine Baby Shower.

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The Valentine Baby Shower would have as it’s basic theme, antique Valentines.

The most romantic of all poems makes little use of the word, pink. I would never suggest that the color be banned, perhaps just lessened. We used just a little of the pink in some of the napkins and fluffy paper to soften the edges. I had fun going shopping at The Now and Then Shoppe where I found the beautiful red and white vase and at Target where I found the heart trees. I would say that I’ve done my share in helping to boost the economy in our local area.

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My sister, my oldest daughter and I took on the happy task of putting the party together. Lucy helped Kate arrange the flowers and the two together went out early in the morning to find the best and tastiest selections for the table. The cake was an Italian Creme purchased from Sacred Grounds, a fun little coffee shop-Italian deli located in downtown Fort Smith. The punch was made of cranberry juice and ginger ale. We had creme puffs, fresh strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce, almond flavored heart shaped cookies and for the savory: two kinds of crostinis: artichoke and chicken fajita, mozzarella puffs with Marinara sauce, and little parmesan cheese straws.

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The light’s fantastic, as Sissy Willis would say.

We sat together later, after the guests had departed and watched the baby having hiccups in Joni’s tummy. We examined the pretty little baby girl outfits that were given as gifts and we watched as the light of the day grew gradually more dim, and we savored the memories the day had given.

The days before a new female Donoho emerges into the world are full of anticipation, for her world will be a very different place than the one her grandmother entered fifty some years ago and even the one her own mother was born into twenty some years ago. This baby girl’s world will be starkly different but our hopes for her are not unlike those our own ancestors cherished for us. I hope our little granddaughter will have dark black hair and a milk white complexion like her mother and will be an honest and trustworthy individual like her father.

I hope she will grow up in a country that still values freedom and love of family and God. I hope she will come to know her Creator at an early age and she will make Him her best friend and guide.

Most of all, I hope she will be born healthy and that the birth will be a safe event for both mother and baby. That we are already celebrating before her birth should in someway tell her how we are anticipating her arrival and how welcome she will be in our lives and in our family.

04 Feb 2009 10:01 pm

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Love can teach you so much, especially when it’s as well reciprocated as it has always been with my Dad. I have always written about my hero worship of him, how I followed him around and watched him draw and paint and sing and play fast pitch soft ball and be a role model for my brothers, my sister and me.

Daddy turned eighty one years old the other day, on Ground Hogs Day actually, and he saw his shadow, a very long shadow indeed, and we, his children, walk in his shadow.

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I remember when I was learning multiplication in school. One day when we were out for a ride in Daddy’s black 48 Chevy, Daddy taught me my nines times tables just by explaining the patterns the digits made if you started from either end and added or took away from the ones or tens places and switched the digits.

For example……

1 × 9 = 09 -Daddy said, do the switcheroo. take one away from the ones place and put it in the tens place. Then we’ll have the answer to 2×9.

2 × 9 = 18 -He said, try it on this one too. Take one from the 8 and you will have 7. Add that one to the 1 in the tens place and you will have 2. Hence, 27. It works all the way down to 90.

3 × 9 = 27

4 × 9 = 36

5 × 9 = 45

6 × 9 = 54

7 × 9 = 63

8 × 9 = 72

9 × 9 = 81

10 × 9 = 90

He explained all of this to me while he was driving the car around town.

It’s not that my parents were the pushy kind of parents who insisted on their kids making straight A’s and stomped down to the principal’s office at the first hint of a B+. Not at all. Sometimes our lives were so busy and interesting that our doing our homework was the last thing on our parent’s minds but our conversations with our parents were always interesting, engaging and naturally educational. When Daddy taught me that interesting trick with the nines table it opened my eyes to patterns in numbers and made math much more interesting to me, which was something, unfortunately, none of my elementary teachers did.

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Daddy has always been an excellent artist. I find that I am just a pale immitation when I compare myself to him.

Watching Daddy’s kindness to people who were down and out was not an unusual occurrence to my brothers, my sister and I when we were growing up. Both of our parents were of one mind when it came to taking care of our neighbors, our friends and family who were in need. Daddy has a deep faith in God which should come as no surprise. I remember some calm words of faith that he offered me when I was leaving home for the first time to go to college. He didn’t have to tell me to be careful either. All he said was, “All my ships are leaving the harbor.”

When you watch your own father pray it makes it easier to believe.

Here’s to many more Ground Hogs Day Shadow Making Birthdays for my Dad. The love will just keep on multiplying.

03 Jan 2009 09:59 pm

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An old and worn but much loved edition of the great game we play every year.

Last night we hosted the famous, annual Fletcher Family Football Tournament. The football tournament has been a tradition for as long as I can remember but my husband and I have been hosts to it for the past eight or nine years. I have never won or even come close to winning and that tradition still holds. My youngest brother, Guy has also never won but he has come close to winning and that tradition still holds. My sister, Lucy has come close to winning before and last night she gave me a thumping that still makes my head hurt today. She beat me 23-0.

I may need to explain to my readers that this football tournament involves a board game that my Dad designed, developed and published in the fifties. It is copywrited and was quite a popular selling game locally but when Daddy contacted Parker Brothers back in the fifties they said thanks but no thanks to him.

That’s okay because our family and friends have kept this incredibly fun and addictive game our own carefully held secret, gathering together every year around Christmas, with my brother Bobby or my Dad drawing up a tournament bracket, and all the participants drawing numbers to decide where we will fall within the tournament bracket and to whom we will play.

No one wants to play my mother. She is called by one Champion The Intimidator. She will doom any player from the start of the tournament because she mysteriously calls plays that are never expected or logical and it always tricks the unassuming, unexpecting player. No one knows her playbook and no one can analyze it. Mother’s moving laterally when she should be line-plunging and she’s passing when she should be end-running. She beats her opponent so badly they don’t know whether they were coming in or they were just leaving and she puts them out of the single elimination tournament as easily as if she were saying, “Please pass the butter”.

The same sort of aura surrounds my father, who all the grandchildren call “Pappy.”

Last night “Pappy” played some great games, making it into the semi-finals, knocking off my sister, Lucy in a very closely fought contest. He held my son, Drew to a 10-10 tie. In the sudden death contest that went four quarters long, Pappy drove sixty yards down the field, scoring a touchdown, and winning by six.

Then he had to face Kate, my daughter, who had just come off a big win, beating former champion, Dorinda, my sister-in-law, winner in 2004 who in turn had just knocked off Gary Fletcher, my cousin, perennial winner in 2005 and 2007 and according to my Dad’s records a champ back in the sixties and seventies.

Even though Kate is the mother of an eleven month old son who will be a year old in three weeks and who is as rambuctious as the day is long, she helped me get the whole wing-ding ready, helping me to vacuum, prepare the food and even make a last minute run to Sams Club to get even more food but she still had the psychic energy that was required of a tough steely eyed competitor on and off the field to call the right plays and carry them out.

Kate beat my Dad. Not only that, she beat him in the very last few seconds of the game. That was some game.

But the story is not over. There is one player I have not yet mentioned, the eventual winner of the night. It was not my daughter, Kate. I haven’t yet mentioned my brother, Bobby Fletcher Jr., one of the biggest winning champs in Fletcher tournament history. He is the organizer of the tournament, having taken the mantle from his namesake, our Dad, the old man, Bobby E. Fletcher Sr.

Bobby, AKA, the Sargeant Major, was having a great night, beating all who had the unlucky draw of playing him.

The Sargeant Major had a great night, that is, until he played Mike, my son-in-law, husband of Kate, father of Noah, champion in the making. In Mike, the Sargeant Major met his match and fell to defeat, 14-7. Mike had beaten four other opponents before facing the Sargeant Major and after he put him away found himself in the finals facing his own wife, Kate, who tried to put some major psych-out on him but, unfortunately for Kate, Mike wasn’t having any of it.

Nothing doing. Mike wasn’t fazed in the least.

His defensive and offensive teams were finely tuned and well rested although this was Mike’s sixth and final game of the night. By the time Mike was playing Kate in the finals it was near the witching hour of midnight.

From the first kickoff it became evident that Mike’s team was dominating in punt returns, passing and rushing. He completely stuffed any attempts of Kate’s offense to take the field, much less make any first downs, defeating a tired Kate, 24-6 which was a crushing humiliation for her. Her team was simply beaten by a superior team, the best team of the year.

Mike now joins that exclusive pantheon of champions, one which I and two of my siblings have never been able to join, no matter how hard we have tried all of these years. There is always next year I suppose but there are those whose records have demonstrated potential and a great win/lose ratio that places them in a different category than the rest of us. Mike and Kate were edging up there the past few seasons and it was only a matter of time for them.

It was Mike’s time this season.

Congratulations Mike!

The biggest psych-out of the night? Both Kate and Mike wore their University of Oklahoma sweatshirts which was appropriate since both are graduates of O.U. Boomer Sooner!

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