Saturday, February 22, 2014
Sunday, August 7, 2011
While having a nice visit with my niece a few months ago, our discussion gravitated to how difficult it is being 13 years old. Even at my age (shutup), I can still recall that difficult period in life -- too old to play like a child; too young to act like an adult. In my smooth manner to try and make her feel more at ease, I related a story about my dilemma when I was a tween.
My friend Kim was more like me. We never played with dolls really. We enjoyed imagining we were in a great adventure. I recall one day we were in our back yard and were using the concrete table on my dad's smoke pit as the auction block that was used for selling slaves. Yes, Kim and I were Indians who were captured by the cavalry and were being taken to the fort to be sold. As we stood on the table with our hands tied behind our backs, I envisioned us to look beautiful and something of a damsel in distress. The poor Indian girl being sold as a slave! Something like a picture you would find on the cover of a romance novel. Naturally, I escaped from the soldiers and promised my Indian princess sister that I would ride like the wind to where the tribe is and inform Chief Yellow Eagle of our plight and bring the entire Indian nation to re-capture our dear sister. Once I found my horse, I was off so fast. Actually, I was running (or galloping) down the alley behind my house. About three or four houses down, there was a young elm tree growing in the alley. That was my tee pee. In my excitement running to get the tribe, I was yelling out "Yellow Eagle! Yellow Eagle!"
I guess the thing that stopped me in my tracks was the snickering and laughter from the five or six neighbor boys (all a couple of years older than me). They were all sitting on a fence from an opposing yard and witnessed my entire drama developing near my tee pee! (I mean elm tree.) It was sickening how they could not contain their laughter. At me! They were mocking me and calling out for Yellow Eagle too. They had no idea Kim was tied up at the fort waiting to be auctioned off. No, they were content to just make fun of me. I pulled a "Pee Wee Herman" and said something like "I meant to do that." or "Now, just where could that Yellow Eagle be? I must continue to keep looking for him" (since that would be the normal thing to do).
I was SO completely humiliated! News of this sort would spread through the entire 7th grade class in no time. I'm willing to bet that to this day, if one of those boys recalls that memory, he would burst out laughing at me one more time.
Some of them should have known about me though. I have always made up things. Usually to those neighbors younger than me, I told many that I was born in an army tank; or that I had a twin sister who was born two hours after me; or that I was going to be a twin but, as an embryo, I ate it. An imaginative mind was prevalent in my family. My older brother had an imaginary friend and my little sister told everyone her name was Sam. My older sister convinced me once that our grandmother took her intestines out through her belly button and put them in a jar by her bed every single night. So, the pressure to come up with a good story has been on since I was a wee little gedel. Just exercising my right as a Texan to exaggerate a story.
I enjoyed reliving that memory with my niece (painful that it was). I'm thinking that being a big dork and maintaining that age of innocence is a good thing. The awkwardness of that age can be diminished by nesting in play and imagination until it becomes more comfortable. Could it actually be that my nerdiness ended up being a good role model?
Recently, I had the privilege of reuniting with all of my relatives. This time I took great delight in observing my son, nieces and nephews and their children. My niece was getting married and my granddaughters were the flower girls. The blessings were so great, my cup runneth over.
However, in the last moments before the wedding, Tommy and I ended up driving to the church all by ourselves. Once we left the hotel, we both realized that we really did not know exactly how to get there. Since we are married, we immediately began to argue profusely. And I have to admit, Tommy had the right idea all along. If he had not followed a couple of my leads, we might have driven there quicker. But, we just got off track once and when we were taking our next, best guess, I prayed to my angels (and Tommy's) to help us get there on time. Just then I saw two golden eagles. I know they were gold in color and I could not recall such a color on a hawk. I didn't know but since I was in Colorado, the chance it was a golden eagle was great. I know it was our angels' message because we turned where they were circling and made it to the church in time to hear the most beautiful music ever written and see the most beautiful ceremony in existence.
Naturally, I had to share my angel story to my family members. So Sunday morning, we were all packed in the car to go have breakfast and I told them about Tommy getting lost (lol) and how the golden eagles showed us the way. Praise the Lord.
Then my niece asked, "Was it Yellow Eagle?"
Sunday, May 30, 2010
If laughter is the best medicine, I consider my talent for walking like an ostrich as medicating many wounds throughout the years. I'm not certain exactly when was the first time I walked like an ostrich but I'm guessing that it would have been sometime in the early '60s while I was horsing around with my younger brother and sisters. That MCS (middle child syndrome) meant that any time I garnered attention, I would milk it until it was dry. I could really make those siblings laugh... especially if it was at me. I can remember running through the living room to the kitchen and around and around with my awesome ostrich walk, leaving my audience in tears.
One of the best moments was sometime around 1980. I was working at the data center for a downtown bank. The area for the data entry clerks was along a busy street that had tinted windows all along the block. One could not see inside as easily as one could see from the inside out. As I was returning from lunch one day, I decided to give the clerks a good laugh. As I walked by their area, I broke out in my famous ostrich walk. It is a guaranteed knee-slapper and this round was no different. As I went back to their area, they were still laughing at how someone would be so stupid as to walk funny down a busy street. Anything for a laugh I would always say. But about an hour later, I received a curious phone call from my mother. "Why do you walk down the street like a duck?" she inquired. Astounded that she would confuse an ostrich walk with a duck walk left me speechless but to ask what ever did she mean. She went on to say that she was returning to the recital hall at the college to begin the afternoon of judging piano guild auditions in the Permian Basin. She had the president of the National Guild of Piano Music with her, as well as couple of area high-profile music teachers and they were also returning from lunch. As they were stopped at a red light, my mother noticed that her daughter was walking down the street. She pointed me out to the others in her car and then became horrified to see me walking like a duck! I then had to endure a litany of how embarrassed she was in front of "those people" and it occurred to me that perhaps they completely missed my name, but they will ALWAYS remember Dorothy's weird child (or one of them).
One year I went on a retreat with several of my church friends. Our return trip had our conversations very engaged in the many enlightenments we received that weekend. Not thinking it odd when I found out that one of my spiritual gifts is my hospitality, I quickly wowed the group during one of our drive-to-the-bushes potty break with my famous ostrich walk. I felt it was divine intervention when I was able to make a person laugh who was so consumed with her problems and how to solve them. She hadn't had that much fun since her teens -- and she was in her 60s. I love it when a plan comes together.
Even as my immediate family gathered one year to celebrate my mother's 94th birthday, as we were leaving the restaurant I displayed the famous ostrich walk just so the grandkids could see a part of history. Right there in front of Pappadeaux's the ostrich tradition was sealed in their innocent minds. Actually, the older I get, the funnier it is. I'm not sure why that is.
I'm proud to be such a simpleton eager to be the jester before the court. A good chuckle is worth a hundred times inspiring words. And I'm just glad to help dish it out. Now, I'm thinking that an ostrich walk is much funnier than a duck walk. There are many people who naturally walk like ducks, but an ostrich? Now that's funny!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I love the energy created when loved ones come together and my sister Diane's trip during Spring break week has confirmed it.
Just the excitement of planning the trip promotes feelings of joy and enthusiasm. I phoned Diane the night before she was leaving to fly to DFW. All we have to do is our funny laughs and this goes on for a couple of minutes. Her daughter, Emily, hears one end of the conversation and remarks that we don't even need to speak words. No, our bond is so great, our laughs are stronger than words. When she arrived we hugged and held each other which fills our hearts with joy.
Our trip was planned to tour the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, TX. The memorial for World War II is for the 36th Division (Texas National Guard) which is the outfit our dad was in. We have several items of my dad's that we are donating to help provide more history for others viewing the museum. Our younger brother, Bob, was driving up from Houston to join us. His wife Kathy and son Andrew also joined us. We regret that the youngest sister could not attend, but a much needed family retreat with her daughter and husband called her to Florida. But she was there in spirit (and cell phone).
Any time we get together, nothing goes how we anticipate. Some find this frustrating, we find it adventurous and typical. We of course got lost about three times before we found the museum. Then at the security gate, the guard checks our trunk. He asked if we were drinking the 5-6 bottles of wine we had stashed, and we had to explain that those were to last our whole trip... besides, wine is not sold in Breckenridge.
The museum is held in a hangar on Camp Mabry. Very few were visiting so we had the place almost to ourselves. We told the curator that we were first interested in the 36th Division section and he told us to go to the office and ask one of the volunteers, Vernon Barker, to give us a tour. Vern also served in the 36th Division. Here was this little old man sitting off to the corner and when he realized that these two women were asking for him, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. He was so happy to give us a tour. Vern was 16 years old when he joined the 36th in 1941. We heard his entire life story. Although I got antsy to look at the artifacts, I realized that my purpose was to allow this hero to divulge his incredible experience to us. We were in one room that held photos of soldiers from the 36th and thought that was all there was to it because we listened to Vern's stories for about 45 minutes. Once our little brother arrived, we discovered a great big room that held dioramas, film footage of actual battles, and lots more history! We all left that museum with renewed gratitude of the courage and sacrifices our dad and his buddies did for our country. I highly recommend this museum as it imparts a lot of knowledge and history.
Of course we were starving after our tour and were talking to the curator about a good place to go eat. He informed us that this was the SxSW music/film festival weekend (which was verified by the gigantic traffic jam once we left the Camp). So, my plan of finding the perfect spot on the river next to the old armadillo headquarters was nixed. There would be NO WAY to get there within 4 hours. So, I got us lost only two or three times before I found Chuy's on Hwy 71. I told everyone that this place came highly recommended. And it did not disappoint us. But hunger is not too choosy. I asked for directions to a nearby park so that my brother, sister and I could look through my dad's foot locker once again and become nostalgic. So I drove and got us lost for another 30 minutes just to find a park. We could of just found a shady part of any old parking lot because we never left the parking lot of the park! Oh well, it is still an adventure!
My brother and family had to get back to Houston, so we sent them off and Diane and I made our way to downtown Austin. Forgot about the traffic though. I only got lost once or twice. We were looking for the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn. We drove by it only twice before we found Waterloo Records and asked them for directions (which was go back to where we just were 30 minutes earlier). By this time, the sun was setting so our pic of SRV is not too bright or clear.
Diane had not been to Austin for about 35 years and did not know about 6th Street. She was very impressed! There were so many people (and it was only 8:00 p.m.). We looked like two old hags cruising in my town car gazing at the rif raff. Diane's frustration level was high because of my driving skills (or lack thereof). It is not easy being only 5 foot tall and try to see over the steering wheel of my gigantic vehicle. So, finally we thought it would be easy to get a nice motel room off highway 183. Have you ever had trouble going to a motel that is right by a razzle dazzle? (You know, a razzle dazzle is where there are about 8 - 20 freeway levels all crossing at the same spot.) So, add another 40 minutes of getting lost trying to get to our motel. West Texas is so much simpler with flat square blocks. You miss one turn, just turn at the next and make the block. But no, life can't be that simple at the state's capital.
By the time we checked into our room, we needed to eat again. Not wanting to waste another hour driving around the razzle dazzle, we walked over to Applebees for a quick bite. When I spoke with my little sister later that we just got back from eating there, she says, "With all the great restaurants in Austin, you picked Appelbees?" If there was a slap feature on the telephone, I would have used it. But the highlight was when we walked out of the restaurant, Diane says, "Why did they change the name of our motel?" She was looking to the north and our motel was to the west. She can get lost in her driveway.
We realized early Monday that the SxSW festival would be minimal since a few people still work in this country. The weather was cloudy and we enjoyed walking the grounds of the old American Legion building overlooking Barton Springs. I had told Diane about the train car that had been donated to the Legion and it was still there, donated by France to the US soldiers for their effort in WW2. The train car was called the 40 and 8 meaning it was big enough to hold 40 soldiers and 8 horses. Kinda cool. Then a tour of the State Capitol was in store. The guard wouldn't let me stand in a certain driveway to take a picture (which was totally blocked by barriers anyway) but no security searching us or looking through our purses inside the Capitol. Go figure.
We drove around the UT campus looking for landmarks we would recognize when we were partying in Austin in 1974. It was hard to find something! Except for the UT campus -- and even that looks different! Diane wanted to see the new stadium, so we only got lost about 2 times before we found it. We were able to look through the athletic offices of the stadium and look at football history. Really cool stuff!
I don't know why Diane thought we would find the Rusty Nail (a really cool bar in 1974).... I had a hard time finding it back then! But someone told us that the Taco Flats was still there! Not that it was open, but they still displayed the old sign out in front of the new establishment. So we traveled to that very spot and the old sign says: Fajita Flats.
Not the same I think. I don't even think they HAD fajitas back in 1974. But we found an old beer garden over by the campus and enjoyed a burger and some Lone Star Beer before we departed.
I thought it would be easy to get to Breckenridge from Austin. I got a bill from the TX Highways for 60 cents for being on a toll road. I don't even remember getting on a toll road! But for about a mile (60 cents worth) I got on this road to get over to the old highway I remember traveling on back in 1974. After that we had a nice visit, stopped and got peanut patties and enjoyed our time talking about everybody.
Once we got to Tommy's lake house, the town was closing up for the night. It was about 6:00 p.m. We thought we would treat Diane to a local Italian place (the only one) but it was closed on Monday. So, the other Mexican restaurant was our treat. We would have had some more wine, but they don't sell any in Stephens County. But they do know how to re-fry beans.
So we showed Diane around the town and all the old historic landmarks - his grandpa's old rock house, the Buckaroo stadium, the Buckaroo florist, Buckaroo mural, etc. So that took about 10 minutes.
The rainy and cold weather prevented us from enjoying the sights at the lake, but Diane seemed to enjoy seeing Tommy's old and new stomping grounds. We made our trip back to Fort Worth talking about the old times (before Interstate 20) going through the small towns to get to the big city.
I invited a couple of ladies that I work with to my house for drinks and snacks and lots of chatting. The enjoyed it immensely and can't tell who is crazier - me or Diane. I vote Diane. She was crazy first.
We got a lot of things done, however. We looked through lots of boxes of music and memorabilia that my mother had saved. We had a new appreciation of her keeping all of these things. It was a wonderful to relive those memories.
As all good things come to an end, Diane had to go back home on St. Patty's day. Just getting to be with my sister was another treasured memory I truly grateful for.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Ended this decade on a difficult note. Tommy and I argue on Christmas Eve morning and I plan to drive to Ft Worth to give him his "space." But the blizzard forces me to a motel room. Christmas morning, I speak with Tommy and he is coming by to see me but wrecks (totals) his truck sliding on the ice, spins the truck around and he's on the opposite side of the road going backwards and hits a tree. So, we spend the better part of Christmas Day at the ER. Thankfully, he only has fractured ribs, and pneumonia. I go to the ER today, and I just have upper respiratory infection. So, with his loss of transportation and both of us recuperating from illness , I'm thinking God decided that we are spending time together! The wonders of His love, the wonders of His love, the wonders, wonders of His love.
Monday, November 30, 2009
This picture was taken Christmas morning in 1958. There were five Billingsley kids then; the sixth did not arrive until the next October. I was 7 years old and can remember that day vividly. My mom was the organist at the Catholic church, so setting up the things from Santa would not take place until after midnight mass. Think of it -- Lee Roy having to assemble 3 bicycles and 2 tricycles all in one night. I understand that he was up until daylight putting them together. No sooner did he finally lay down to rest, the kids came yelling for him to wake up to see what Santa brought! Boy was he grumpy that Christmas morning!
That was the year we each got a new Christmas stocking. The doll on the middle bicycle was for me. She was the cutest doll! Her hair was red in a Dutch-girl haircut. I'm thinking that later on that day, I decided to wash the doll's hair and it never looked very good after that. Thank goodness we captured a picture of it for historical verification. Otherwise, you would have thought I made up the story.
Beverly was the youngest at 2 years. She got the tricycle and baby doll. Her stocking has the little kitty cat. The animal thing was a good call. Ole Bev brought home every stray dog and cat throughout the entire county. The doll was probably a waste though. Bev was a tom-boy through and through. That next summer she got ring worms and had her hair shaved very short. Then she told everyone her name was Sam. She pretended that she was riding a horse all the time. She walked like a horse trotting. She ran like a horse. If she was standing, she would be holding the reins and shifting her weight from leg to leg just like a horse does. It looked a little odd whenever she went for communion at church, but other than that, she was true to herself. Not sure if that broom was for her or not. It might have been because Beverly was habitually cleaning all the time. (She did not get that from me being a role model :-})
Bob was the next youngest and almost 4 years old. He had the cutest cowboy stocking and a ball. I remember him getting really good use from that tricycle as he was all over the neighborhood -- probably looking for someone's water faucet to turn on outside and play with the water hose. He already had a reputation. If he wasn't watering someone's yard, he was setting something on fire. He burned down mother and daddy's bedroom when he was just 18 months old. I remember that too. He(we) were playing with a cigarette lighter, and once it lit he got scared and dropped the lighter onto the nylon bed sheets. I can remember telling my mom that I smelled something burning. Bob crawled back into his crib (it was in the parent's bedroom at the time). So my mom had to dodge through the flames to rescue her baby boy. But the exciting day revealed how quickly the newly opened fire station would take to get to our house. We drew a crowd from about 50 blocks.
I think that my bicycle had training wheels, because I remember being embarrassed. But I quickly got the swing of it and was riding my bike everywhere too. I don't know what happened to that bike. I do know that the next year I was in the 2nd grade and was caught STEALING a bike. But I was going to return it! I just didn't feel like walking home from school that day and was going to happily return the bike the next morning! The next year I was sent to Catholic school for some reason.
Diane was the oldest girl and was almost 11 years old. Looking at her bicycle, it looks like it weighs about 200 pounds! Her stocking has a high heel and a hand with a ring on it. She was quite the modern girl! She was top of the class in tap dancing school and together we put on "shows" and charged the neighborhood kids to watch us. Some idiots actually paid us too! The two of us re-enacted "Queen for a Day" in our backyard. I can remember going into great detail of our make-believe hardships just to get a new washer and dryer. Nothing cool like a trip to Disneyland, but a kitchen applicance. Notice that the Monopoly game is divided between Diane and Dick's bicycles. They had to share.
Can't really tell what gifts my brother Dick got, but from the looks of that bicycle seat, you'd have to be about 6 feet tall to mount. Dick was 12 years old then and becoming too irritated to speak to the younger kids for the next 20 years. His bad mood that day could have been from having to help his dad assemble 5 bikes in 6 hours in 20 degree weather. He was already too cool to get a toy. I think he got a watch or savings bond or something. Perhaps that duffle bag was for him.
Notice that my dad got a suit for Christmas! And the Christmas tree looks pretty pitiful. We thought it was wonderful at the time. The TV wasn't new, but I notice the aluminum foil on the top of the antenna!
I now realize why all the relatives came to our house for the holidays. No one wanted Lee Roy and Dorothy to come to their house with their 6 kids! But, my dad loved to have everyone home for the holidays and I am eternally blessed with many, many fond memories. 1958 was just one.