Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Long-Lost BFF

During the summer of 1977, my family moved to Big Spring, Texas. I started school at Kentwood Elementary a few weeks later. That's when I met Lori.

Lori remembers exactly how we first met and became friends. Which makes me feel kinda bad, because I don't. I just remember starting school and then we were friends. Lori lived a street or so over from me and I have many, many memories of us playing/spending the night at each other's houses. Her mom and my mom were our Brownie troop leaders. Life was sweet.

This was the late '70s, and Lori and I loved all things John Travolta. We could list all the movies he had been in (Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy and some romantic thing he did with Lily Tomlin called Moment by Moment. And don't forget the small part he had in Carrie.), even though we weren't allowed to see any of them. Lori was lucky enough to get her hands on the Grease soundtrack, however, and we spent hours making up dances to the songs and making our parents watch them. We talked on the phone for hours, sharing crushes and talking about which one of us might marry John Travolta. We also hung out a bit at the local TG&Y, where Lori's dad was the manager. (The coolest job ever for the dad of a friend to have. We used to walk around in there like we owned the place.)

We must have also spent some time at a swimming pool in Big Spring, because every time I've heard Blondie's "Heart of Glass" during the last 30 years, I have a flashback to hanging out with Lori at a pool with a bunch of other kids. I guess the song used to play over the loudspeaker there.

I had other friends in Big Spring, but Lori was up high on a pedestal above all the others. She would have been my top friend on Myspace, if it had existed back then. Then something sad happened -- something that would probably be the most traumatic event of my childhood. My family moved away at the beginning of third grade. I knew why we had to move, and as a minister's wife now, I understand it even more. The church where my dad worked as youth minister was not working out so well. But it was a difficult move nevertheless.

As fate would have it, Lori's family moved in right down the street from our house the very week we moved away.

I made friends in the new town, but none of them were like Lori. McDonald's came out with a commercial around that time called "Best Friends" and it showed these two girls doing everything together and eventually sharing a sundae at McDonald's. The girls reminded me of Lori and me. I hated that commercial. It just reminded me of the fact that I no longer had a best friend I could hang out with every day.

Lori's family moved around a lot for a few years, and for a short time she lived 20 minutes away from me. I think that picture is from that time. I broke my arm the summer after fourth grade and it looks like we're at Lori's house. We got together when we could, but then they moved again. And my family moved far away to Beaumont, Texas.

I did see Lori again a couple of times, the last time during the summer after 10th grade. I found her again in the late '90s (this story is starting to sound a lot like what she wrote about us on her blog a while back) and just recently, found her again. She's now my Facebook and Myspace friend and I talked to her on the phone the other day. It was so great to hear her voice and listen to the same laugh she's had since first grade.

Lori lives in Boston now. We're hoping someday soon we can get together again. I'm pretty sure we're both over John Travolta, but we still have a lot of other things in common. Hey, maybe we'll even get matching clothes again!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oh, Please

I saw a TV ad for a local church yesterday. Apparently, the church is pastored by a married couple who prefer to be addressed as "Bishop" and "First Lady."

I'm so tempted to call up this church and ask, "Excuse me, but who do you think you are?" I grew up in the Church of Christ, where titles don't really exist. Back in the old days, we would attach a "Brother" or "Sister" at the front of older people's names but other than that, we were pretty first-namey. That's one thing I really appreciated about the Church of Christ. Here's part of the entry describing the Church of Christ in the 2003 Associated Press Stylebook:

"The ministers do not use clergy titles. Do not precede their names with a title."

Church leaders are supposed to be ministering to church members, not elevating themselves above them. The Church of Christ gets that. The non-denominational church we're working with now also gets it. But if you want to call me the High Priestess of Target Bargain Shopping, you won't hear me complain.

Speaking of which, my endcap bargain find for the week: glass apothecary jar filled with sand and seashells for six bucks. I didn't exactly want the sand and seashells, so I dumped them into a glass bowl and put it on the counter in ocean-loving Julia's bathroom. "I love that...whatever that is in the bathroom!" she said later.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008


We had a great time in Memphis. It was so great to get to see old friends at the wedding and then at the reception. The reception was at the Peabody Hotel, which is famous for its ducks who live in a penthouse at night and splash in the lobby fountain during the day. The ducks are ceremoniously marched to the fountain at 11 a.m. and marched back to the elevator at 5 p.m. every day. And this is a BIG DEAL. We were in the mezzanine at 5 p.m. Saturday and well over a hundred people had gathered to watch the ducks make their exit.

After spending a few hours at the reception, we headed out of the hotel to walk the two blocks to Beale St. Beale is so much fun. It's like Bourbon St. in New Orleans, but not as icky. (Meaning no strip clubs or prostitutes. At least that I noticed.) Instead, the street is lined with jazz and blues clubs. We hung out at B.B. King's before heading back.

And YES, we were going to stop by Rendezvous -- it's down an alley right across from the Peabody. But after stuffing ourselves at the reception, we decided it wouldn't be in our best interest to add BBQ to the mix. Hey, there's always next time!

A confession: we did not seek out a church to attend Sunday morning. But I think we found something better. What better place to think about faith and sacrifice than the spot where MLK was assassinated more than 40 years ago? Chad and I stopped by the site of the Lorraine Hotel, now part of the National Civil Rights Museum, for a few moments this morning.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Engaged! Finally...

My Baytown BFF got engaged! Sure, she got married 57 years ago, but when you date someone for only seven weeks before getting married, you don't really have time to get an engagement ring. So for an early birthday present this year, sweet Bill Snead gave his wife an engagement ring. If you know Lois, be sure to admire her new diamonds.

Some of you know about my Baytown friend Jennifer, who died of lymphoma in 2004. Not long before we left Baytown in 2006, Jennifer's husband Tommy started dating Heather. They are getting married this weekend in Memphis, and we are going! We are so excited about this joyful event -- especially after seeing Tommy and his two young girls go through the devastation of losing Jennifer. This is also my first trip to Memphis (and Tennessee, for that matter) and our first getaway (just Chad and me) since before Jenna was born.

And we're staying at the fabulous Peabody Hotel on Union Ave. We'll keep an eye out for Elvis!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thugs at the airport and other Little Rock fun

Yesterday I learned two things about our fair city.

1) Gangster thugs at the Little Rock airport may not react too kindly if you politely ask them to watch their language in front of your kids.

2) The people who work at Subway in Wal-Mart on Baseline Rd. may not react too kindly if you politely ask them to put pepperoni on your child's sandwich. (Yes, I know the kids' menu says only turkey, ham, roast beef or tuna. But my 3-year-old doesn't like any of that stuff, which the employees at both Subways in our small community just outside Little Rock seem to understand just fine.)

The truth is that Little Rock is full of friendly people. I just happened to find the few that aren't.

On a happier note, I've found two new products I love.

I bought these Vlasic roasted sweet peppers for a recipe I made last week (a salmon/fettucine/spinach thing, which was really good) and had more than half a jar left over, so I tried them on one of my veggie sandwiches. YUM. I probably ate seven sandwiches this week, just to have an excuse to eat the peppers.

Attention, all pickle people! (You know who you are -- you're the ones who polish off a jar of Claussen whole dills the day your spouse brings them home from the store. And you take sips of pickle juice from the jar when no one is looking. I do it, too.) These Pringles are for you! I've been trying to find dill pickle Lays in Texas, then in Arkansas, for years after I saw them in Colorado on a ski trip. No luck, but Pringles finally came through for me.


Friday, April 04, 2008


What a crazy night! We had several severe weather systems move through here last night, and a tornado left extensive damage at a car dealership and a mobile home park less than three miles from our house. This picture shows the huge fire the tornado caused at the mobile home park. We woke up this morning to find out the schools are closed, which is good for us since we didn't get a whole lot of sleep. We're still finding out what all happened during the storm, and we know a shelter has been set up at a church close to our neighborhood.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


Check out this gorgeous picture Chad took of this gorgeous tulip in our flower bed. They've been blooming over the past week and all the rain we've had have helped them open up beautifully every day.

We have lots of red ones...

With a few yellow ones thrown in to make for a lovely flower bed, if I might say so myself.

I've been watching for my hostas to start coming up, and just today, this one tiny leaf poked through the soil. In a couple of weeks, it will grow into this (last year's picture):

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bird's-Eye View

I was goofing around at TerraServer the other night and did a search for an aerial shot of our house in Baytown. The image is pretty grainy (which is why I didn't make it bigger), but something made me do a double-take. Our car is parked in the driveway. The photo was taken in January of 2002. We were still living there.

I think the car is our Taurus, which I drove until a drunk driver decided we didn't need it anymore in 2003. I stared at this blurred image for a long time -- trying to imagine what three-year-old Julia and I were doing that day. The image date is Jan. 27, which was a Sunday, but I'm not sure that's correct. I also found an aerial shot of our church supposedly taken on the same day, but the parking lot just has a few cars in it -- including one that looks like Chad's -- so the photo looks more like it was taken on a weekday instead of a Sunday.

At any rate, the picture made me think about how much I loved our neighborhood in Baytown. Lakewood was a beautiful, azalea- and magnolia-filled neighborhood that ran right up to the edge of Burnet Bay. David G. Burnet, who served as president of the Republic of Texas for a short time, purchased 17 acres in the area in 1831. Nathaniel Lynch, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old 300 colonists, owned a few hundred acres there, and Burnet ended up buying a lot of it from Lynch's descendants. Most of present-day Lakewood is contained within the land once owned by Burnet and Lynch. I loved living in such a beautiful, historic place. We could look between the waterfront houses across the street from us and see the San Jacinto monument against a gorgeous sunset just about every evening. David G. Burnet's wife Hannah is buried in an unmarked grave in what is now someone's front yard just down the street from where we lived.

Here are Julia and her best friend Meagan at the Lakewood neighborhood pool, which has been in continuous operation since the 1950s. Meagan's dad grew up in Lakewood, and she has grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who live there. Lakewood residents (except us!) typically don't move away. We knew several families who have lived there for generations and who go to church, work and school in Lakewood -- almost never leaving the neighborhood.

Here's Julia in the LONG driveway in front of our house. It was perfect for sidewalk chalk!

We love our neighborhood here in Bryant, too. And, after the fixer-upper we had on North Burnet Drive in Lakewood, I was nothing less than jubilant to move into our current house, which is only a few years old and needed no work done to it at all. But I'll always miss Lakewood. Maybe I'll retire there someday.

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