December 2007


31 Dec 2007 04:55 pm

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Yes, Virginia, I ought to be wrapping presents. Occasionally I need to retreat from all the hub-bub of this busy season to collect my thoughts. Thoughts of Christmas present and past. So many memories are inspired by the present. Nowadays, I am hoping someone will take me up on my request for socks for Christmas. When I am asked, that is my stock answer. I have everything. A loving husband, a home, food, healthy children, a grandson, and one on the way. I have collected too many things in my life and while some have their place and create sentimental memories I am always willing to pass them on to my kids if they ask.

christmascabinet.jpg

Getting back to socks. I remember the Christmas Eves spent at my paternal grandparents’ home. Included were my parents, my two brothers, sister and me, our Dad’s brother, Uncle Max and Aunt Jeannine and their four children, and occasionally, my Aunt Imy and Uncle Eddie and their three sons.

My grandmother always took people under her wings. For quite a few years, Vietnamese immigrants, Yon and Kim shared in our celebration. My cousin’s Jeanne and Junior sponsored them when they arrived at Fort Chaffee. Yon had been a doctor in Vietnam and Kim was a very intelligent and beautiful lady. Eventually, they moved to New York and Yon was able to practice medicine.

My great grandmother, Kate was always present at Christmas Eve at my grandparents. She lived a long life and died when I was nineteen. When I was little, I remember unwrapping the packages from “Grandma Morrison” and being somewhat disappointed to discover socks. Knitted socks made by hand. I didn’t appreciate the handiwork and the love knitted right into them, although I did wear them.

How wonderful it would be today to receive socks knitted by my great grandmother.

grandmasanglemantle.jpg

When I was in my twenties, my grandmother gave me Grandma Morrison’s angel. It still plays Silent Night and looks like my sister, Lucy, when she was little.

My great grandmother lived in an apple orchard in Rogers, Arkansas on Walnut Street. When we went to visit her my siblings and I loved to go out into the orchard and play. The orchard hadn’t been cared for in many years and was full of tangled vines and limbs, making it much more of an interesting place to be. It was like the Secret Garden before Mary Lennox tamed it.

Grandma_Morrison_and_great_grandchildren.jpg

Here we are visiting my great grandmother. My back is turned from the camera. I think I am watching my cousin, Jeanne cut up. She was my idol back then. Actually, she still is.

So, memories of the past are entwined with the present. They come to my mind at odd times, enriching the day. I was late getting the trees up and the house decorated this year. I wanted to do the whole house this year to celebrate our son and brother’s safe return from Iraq.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007.

I still didn’t have time to do the Christmas card. One day I will. Last night my daughters were at odds with one another. My oldest daughter is great with child and my youngest daughter just had all of her wisdom teeth pulled. They love to help get Christmas ready and have been shopping. It’s making them too tired. There is a baby shower for my daughter today.

katesbabyshowerdiapercake.jpg

A diaper cake. Almost pretty enough to eat.
.

Later.

My mother arrived home from the shower and was tending to her nineteen and a half year old cat, Toni, giving her a pill for her cold, and she died in her arms.

tonigoodforpappy.jpg

Toni came along right when my Dad had open heart surgery. We were home that June for my Dad’s surgery. Toni was a stray kitten born in my parents’ back yard and my children played with her and my son named her. At first we thought she was a male and her name was Tony. When we discovered she was female we spelled her name, Toni.

Monday, December 24th, 2007, Christmas Eve.

We went over to my parents this morning to help bury Toni. My brothers arrived about the same time and we were there to comfort and help. My son dug the grave near where the late great cats, Bear and Esther were buried. My mother carried Toni outside in her little bed, and I helped her to place Toni in the box. My youngest brother said a blessing. It was all a spontaneous visit. None of us had to coordinate with each other as to when we would go over to my parents house. We just all showed up. It was a clear cold day and a sad occasion.

Bless little Toni. I really believe she had a lot to do with my Dad’s recovery from heart surgery.

Christmas Eve, six pm

We always go to my oldest brother’s house for the family Christmas Eve celebration. Last year was the exception. We didn’t go last year because he was in Kuwait and other plans were made. But this year, we will all be there. The big question is, how late will my parents be? That is now a tradition.

christmaseve2007wahwashouseoutside_1.jpg

My brother and sister-in-law’s home in all its glory.

Later.

My parents were fashionably late this year. We had a great time together as a family. I got an interesting gift from “my friends at the DNC.” When I have time later on, I will post a picture of it.

Now it’s time to wrap some presents and fill some stockings. (Just to help Santa)

Christmas Day, December 25th, 2007

I was up early. My daughter (who is great with child) came over with her husband before anyone else. We decided to make a breakfast casserole. I had planned to do it the night before but ran out of energy. We opened a can of big flaky biscuits and flattened them in a 13″x9″ casserole dish. I made a white sauce while my daughter whipped eggs with some milk. I fried some bacon, about ten pieces. I added a little nutmeg to the white sauce. My daughter added some shredded swiss cheese to the egg mixture. We combined the eggs and white sauce and poured it over the flattened biscuits. We sprinkled the crumbled bacon over the sauce. We crushed some crackers and added melted butter to it and sprinkled it on top. My daughter wanted to place some cheddar cheese on top so I did it under protest.

We baked the casserole at 350 degrees for about forty minutes. It turned out great. Next time, I will stick with the swiss cheese and add a little more nutmeg to the sauce.

Soon all the children arrived and we opened the presents. When we were kids, my sister and I always invited our next door neighbor, Ellen, to come over to see our presents. She would bring over her favorite present too. We would play all day long. It’s sort of that way today. For the first time in my married life I got a complete set of red Kitchen Aid pots and pans. They are beautiful! I can’t wait to use them.

donohochristmasmorning44.jpg

Opening the stockings

Christmas is my absolutely favorite time of year. It’s hard to let go of the day. I try to slow the minutes on the clock but they don’t cooperate with me.

donohochristmasmornaidandrewknightswords.jpg

Christmas Future

Drew_Being_Knighted.jpg

Christmas Past

We watched our favorite Christmas movies, A Christmas Story and Love Actually and some of us dozed in our chairs.

Thursday, December 27th

I slept in. My husband was up already and told me of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. A really sad event. Yes, she was corrupt but also very brave to attempt to run again. I believe she wanted to help her country. I expect there will be some very desperate days for Pakistan in the future.

My daughters and I went shopping yesterday so the day was a blur.

Friday, December 28th, 2007, The Annual Fletcher Family Football Tournament is today!

This day will be very busy. We are putting together a spread for the football tournament tonight. We will have sweets and savory. Lots of bread, cheese, meat, smokies, dips and chips and baked beans. Deviled eggs, nuts and other yummy stuff. This is no night to worry about the weight. My sister-in-law, Lisa is bringing some Christmas Wassail.

Later

The tournament was exciting, intense and fun. There were 29 competitors and most played to win. This year we had my brother and son home. My brother, Bobby was the official official. Unfortunately, this wasn’t his year to win. In the single elimination tournament he lost his first game. I played my sister-in-law, Dorinda and led for most of the game, 10-0 but she came back the last half and on a football return, ran it back for a touchdown. I lost.

My cousin, Gary, a graduate of SMU, and former baseball player, won the tournament again this year. It was two o’clock in the morning when the tournament was finally over. Another generation of boys and girls are learning about football.

fletcherfootballtournament77garyjessica.jpg

Gary beat Jessica in the finals

Here’s a look at the 2004 Football tournament. The women prevailed that year.

fletcherfootballtournament27charmer.jpg

My gift from the DNC showed up at the football tournament. Look closely at the red tee shirt. As I have said, when my children ask me for anything, they usually get it.

fletcherfootballtournament65.jpg

My cousin Jeanne made it into the semi-finals and she laughed all the way.

December 31st, New Years Eve

We are getting ready for New Years Eve. The family is coming over for pizza, games and later, a little champagne. Tomorrow? Blacked eyed peas and cornbread.

Happy New Year!

22 Dec 2007 04:54 pm

donohochristmasfrontdoor.jpg

“Merry Christmas”, one of the most treasured phrases in my life, is not on the wane after all.

blueswedishlucy.jpg

Walmart and other corporate entities are allowing these two happy words, Merry Christmas, back into their employees’ lexicon.

Even the pols are donning their gay apparel.

Where I live, the words were never forbidden. We don’t have a Target in our city, and as much as I can, I don’t shop at Walmart anyway. I simply don’t like the crowds.

But even here, it seems the Christmas spirit is especially bright this year. The children at school have been wishing Merry Christmas to each other and their teachers since after the Thanksgiving Break.

donohodiningrmchristmasfloor2006.jpg

Perhaps my strong perception that this is a special Christmas is due to two other treasured sentences:

Aidans_Dream_come_True.jpg

My son is home from the war.

Fun_at_Work.jpg

My brother is home from the war.

Unlike Time Magazine’s choice of Vladimir Putin as Person of the Year, there is no doubt in our family. My brother and son are our choice for Men of the Year. General David Petraeus should have been the choice for Time but the minions of the left always prefer the KGB types.

But there is no bitterness here. Life is too sweet and immediate for a family who collectively held their breath and said their prayers 24/7 for the past two plus years.

Merry Christmas

07 Dec 2007 06:35 pm

monalisachristmasdoor.jpg

Mona Lisa’s Christmas Tree

monalisawindowdecoration2007.jpg
I placed the drawing of Mona Lisa I did several years ago in the window of the door. We are required to cover the door windows for security purposes so I used the old drawing which announces that the old mobile building is the Art Room. Part of the drawing is faded from the sun.

schwibbogen2

When we lived in Germany I fell in love with Schwibbogens, decorative, arched candle-holders, usually made of wood. I loved going into our local Kathe Wohlfarts in Heidelberg to shop and I was always tempted to buy one. Many Germans place these Schwibbogens in their windows during the Christmas Season. Since I didn’t make it home with one I decided to make do with paper cutting. I made some symmetrically cut paper Christmas trees. The students are learning how to draw with their scissors.

artroomwindowdecorations.jpg

The Art Room

christmastreewindowanddecorations2007.jpg

When no one’s looking, these Christmas trees dance.

You can learn more about Schwibbogens here.

06 Dec 2007 02:21 pm

It seems I only have time to blog lately when the lack of time and stress work together to knock me out. I am home sick today and was able to view Mitt Romney’s speech in Houston on religion. Anyone who includes John or Samuel Adams in a speech will make me sit up and take notice. For the past year I have read every book I can on John and Abigail Adams. To me, they are the Adam and Eve of our nation.

After viewing the speech, I have a new found respect for the good man, Mitt Romney. He delivered the speech brilliantly, sincerely and with grave respect. As I watched the speech I could picture Romney delivering it from the Oval Office. Romney has always seemed to have all the right qualities and stature to be the Republican nominee for 2008 but for some reason came off a little too slick. He doesn’t now.

The best neighbors our family ever had were Mormons. We are still in touch with this wonderful family and because of my upbringing and our experiences with this particular group of believers I have never made the judgment that I would not support a man (or woman) because they were members of the LDS Church.

Unlike the Democrats, who haven’t much of a choice in their slate of candidates, (either Hillary or Hillary lite) the Republicans have an embarrassment of riches in their lineup of candidates. We have Rudy Giuliani, the candidate of a strong national security, John McCain, another strong supporter of the war on terror, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and the others.

I just haven’t, up to this time, made up my mind about which Republican I will support in the 2008 presidential election. I have wavered between Giuliani, Romney and McCain. Even though I am a native Arkansan, I am not inclined to support Mike Huckabee, the reason being, that he is not a center right conservative but in reality, a populist.

In a state as poor as Arkansas, Huckabee did leave us with a surplus but he didn’t fight hard enough against the Democrat majority. He favored giving instate tuition to children of illegals. He agreed to a tax increase for road improvements. Thanks to Huckabee, every student in Arkansas public schools now bring home report cards with a “fat index” on it.

Huckabee hasn’t been sufficiently strong on our national security which is the number one issue to me. Clarice Feldman has a detailed article about Huckabee’s deficiencies but the following quote sums up Huckabee’s weakness very succinctly.

These statements, to my mind, reflect that at heart Mr. Huckabee, likeable as he is, is a man too swayed by squishy sentiment and emotion to be determined wartime leader.

I do believe the former governor, Huckabee would fit better as a vice presidential candidate. He needs foreign policy seasoning.

But what has always bothered me about Huckabee is the fact that he is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. I am also a Southern Baptist. Usually, when pastors leave their churches, they take on a new form of ministry or become missionaries. Why did Mike Huckabee leave his ministry for politics?

Until today, I had a difficult time describing Mitt Romney. Did he take a strong stand on the war on terror, on American exceptionalism and for American values? In other words, is Mitt Romney a patriot in the best tradition of patriotism? Could he inherit the mantle of one of the greatest War Leaders America has ever seen?

With his speech today, Mitt Romney has answered my questions. Yes. He can and he does.

Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. ‘They were too divided in religious sentiments’, what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics. Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.

And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God … they founded this great nation.

In that spirit, let us give thanks to the divine ‘author of liberty.’ And together, let us pray that this land may always be blessed, ‘with freedom’s holy light.’

God bless the United States of America.

Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers!

01 Dec 2007 12:15 pm

bobandrearussians.jpg

Two cadets at West Point in the seventies

Back when my husband, Bob was a cadet at West Point he had many ways of combating the daily drill of class, formation, constant study and walking the area. (he was an area bird)

Bob and some of his fellow cadets in Company D-2 spent some time messing with the Army officers. One such instance was wearing Russian Army uniforms and taking a “tour” of West Point. Bob was able to acquire the uniforms for a report he had to do. He and his roommate, the great painter, Andre Reynolds posed in the uniforms. Afterwards, Bob put the uniforms up for safe-keeping. While he was out of the room, Andre put on the uniform and started walking around the grounds of West Point. When Bob discovered one of the uniforms was gone he started looking for Andre. He found him talking to an Army officer, bluffing his way out of trouble by using a Russian accent. The officer actually thought Andre was a Soviet Army officer and he asked Bob if he was supposed to be escorting him. Bob said, yes but he had gotten away from him. The officer dressed Bob down, telling him to do a better job.

Another successful bluff for Andre. Bob could never prove it but he suspected that Andre was the legendary “Fly.”

Today the Army-Navy game will be played. It’s the one game I look forward to all year, not because of the power and success of each team, because both of the teams’ records in recent years have been less than satisfactory. This game represents the best in football or what I think football should be. Each cadet and midshipman does more than practice football. They have to do their military training, and make the grade in their studies. When they graduate, they won’t be going to the NFL to play football, instead, they will be training to go to war.

sinknavy.jpg

This year Army is a 14 point underdog. This will just make the Army victory that much sweeter.


I love this video. Hat tip: Cassy Fiano

Army got the goat. Hat tip: Blackfive