Of These My Children: Expecting Danger

Teaching has been my great honor in life–especially in this small private school which emphasized green living, the basics, and kindness before it was fashionable.

In Social Studies the students learn about history and their world. The guys especially love macho stories. We were reading about a fortress. One goy read excitedly that townspeople went into a fortress “to expect danger.”  I had to slow him down a bit to “escape danger” right then and there!

On Mondays we share current events. Over the weekend we were captivated watching TV news of a terrible tsunami. The story mentioned a tidal wave.  An eager young lady asked, “What title do you put on these waves? Like a title of a story?”  Ahem, and you thought teaching was easy!

I have the students tell about a news story they saw or read about to clear up misunderstandings. Several heard of the plane crash that “injured two pirates.”  I quickly rescue the conversation, returning it to the pilots!  We could discuss pirates another day.

Soon it was time for Math in the Morning. I reminded the children how important math would be in their lives, as they would especially need it for money. A gal was agreeing, “Yeah, in bouncing your checkbooks. My mom did that last night!” I decided to get a balance scale out of the Science closet to include in tomorrow’s lesson , but for now I just wiped the smile off my face:-)

As the kids learn about their community I try to let them be in control when possible. One young scholar loved to be in charge so that day I handed him the Teacher’s Edition to hold so he could tell others if their answers were correct. It was going real well until we had a discussion question. When a gal gave her answer he emphatically quipped “No.” I intervened and he showed me, “The book said Answers may vary.”   All I could think was “Is is time for lunch yet?”

Lunch under the sweet gum tree outside brings stories of weekends, summer vacations and other trips, etc. One child yelled, “I rode a roller coaster at Dizzy World!” For a moment I felt dizzy, but I managed to clear it all up a moment later.

Once the kids knew the topic was Disney World, another guy said, “I even saw Library Square.”  It took me a minute before I began to talk about Liberty Square.

A sweet gal mentioned her parents had gone to a funeral. She became frustrated when her mom said the deceased was in a better place. “I don’t get it! Who would WANT to go to heaven? It’s mostly full of old people and sick people. The only old person I like is my grandma.” 

Music is my favorite time of day. I didn’t really expect to be gently shocked into a giggle when one boy belted out, “Where the deer and the cantaloupe play…” I’ve read about the secret life of plants, but quickly decided to start our animals unit with antelope pictures. Maybe we could even sort plants and animals including both antelopes and cantaloupes.

That afternoon was the day for Free Reading. A new student asked me how much it would cost on other days?!!!

It must be time for recess cause my brain can’t take much more. In between running around, one guy dropped his jawbreaker and went in to use soap and wash it off. Then he was shocked as he hollered, “It tastes funny now.” Guess he didn’t rinse the soap off.

As I watched the kiddoes leave, I mused that I’d better head home to get infused with supper before this day gets me any more confused!

Copyright 2019 by Hildra Tague.  Obtain permission for use in print or online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Honeysuckle Air Meditation: Beans for College

My mother hadn’t made it home yet on the bus from the Woolworth store across town where she worked, so I started laying out some things to help with supper. I was about 16 years old and looking toward the end of my high school years.

In the evening stillness I began to wonder how I could possibly go to college since it would cost lots of money. I knew my parents barely made it hand to mouth as it was, so there was to be no help from them.

I had worked now and then but had not been a serious saver, using the proceeds for school or choir expenses. Soon thereafter I got a job and began to put back money but it was indeed a steep climb!

In the twilight I suddenly had a bright idea! I noticed a sack of beans only cost 19 cents so I sat down and began to figure. (Those were the days long before calculators.)

Did I mention I was a rampant idealist? I held strong goals and beliefs and was willing to put muscle behind them to make them happen.

College as a path had never even been thought of at home. However, the librarian and several teachers spoke to me of it often.

The school counselor even came by the nurse’s office once when my arm was hurt (my family didn’t go to doctors unless the world was ending!)  The two ladies talked in the doorway–as if I wasn’t even there with my ears pricked–and discussed how bright I was and my elevated test scores.

They seemed surprised to find that trait in a “country girl” like me. Guess they thought that country hicks were behind the door when the brains were passed out. (That was a favorite expression of my mother’s.)

My arm wasn’t much better afterwards although the ice helped some. But while my arm was on ice, my future was being declared. These women seemed to be in cohorts with the librarian as to my being “college material.” I wasn’t much of a seamstress, so I wasn’t clearly clued in to their exact connotation, ha. But I knew right then I had support for my crazy idea of going to a university.

Back to those beans: After some careful math I decided I could buy one bag a week and have enough food to survive on. I could walk to work and save everything I made for my bean budget. That was the end of my weekly cherry coke and Reeses peanut butter cup habit.

Later in the year I was called to the office. I was scared since that had never happened before. There was a huddle of other students standing around when I got there. We were told to dress nice on Friday for the Awards Ceremony. That night I laid out my “store bought” wool skirt with matching knit sweater, but I still didn’t know what was happening.

Friday finally came and I was granted a scholarship for part of the costs of the college I had chosen in another town. It also paid for cafeteria food so the “bean money” could go toward books and other expenses. The local Tulsa University gave me a much better award, but due to what was then called “a private family matter” (now referred to as abuse) I chose to get out of town. To clarify, private meant no one wanted to hear about it and no one would help you.

I worked three jobs, and was able to give myself a Reeses peanut butter cu every week or so. Heck, when we girls were feeling wild we hit the Student Union at closing time after 10 .m. and had a hot Dr. Pepper as a reward for an evening of studying. Once we all wore raincoats since we were too tired to put proper clothes on!

College worked well for me, although I probably overworked a bit to survive. I learned to study hard for 50 minutes, then use 10 minutes for a drink, a short walk, and a mini-nap. By doing this, I was able to avoid “all nighters” since I could never quite accept something that stole a good night’s sleep.

I still have beans–several kinds–in my kitchen. But I fix them every month or so, not every week! And they cost a bit more than 19 cents.

However, the lesson for me is that if you want something bad enough, keep your eyes on the beans, er the prize, till something better than beans comes up.

Yet if nothing better had surfaced I truly believe I would have journeyed on with my original plan. One thing for sure: I wouldn’t have been interrupted by too much social contact since I’d have an aromatic odor to protect me.

Later, I used the same type of thinking to spend a summer between semesters in New York City, working and saving by eating Ramen noodles. But that’s another story:-)

 

 

 

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Honeysuckle Air: Preface

This book is kinda like my life. It goes in fits and spurts–connected only by the cytoplasm of my experiences and passion. I share them as vignettes, moments here and there, which go together to paint a picture of my long and lovely life.

I have inherited who I am now from all the events of my path. In good times and bad the Honeysuckle Air was always around–somewhere–in all its beauty and aroma, teaming up with the rest of nature to delight and encourage me.

I consider myself a lucky person to be a Honeysuckle Heir!


Being the first in my family to graduate from college, I felt I was exploring a bold new world. In fact, neither of my parents even graduated from high school, although my mother–who spent part of her childhood living in a tent on the banks of a river–went back to finish her GED in her retirement years.

She always urged me and my older brother and sister to get out education because “no one can ever take that away from you.”

From the dirt floor in the bottom land where my grandparents on my dad’s side lived, to the rats who liked the taste of biting me while I slept, my life has been a series of adventures.

My parenting years were a high spot in my life. My sons and family decorated my life through the years, more than I could have expected. Teaching taught and inspired me more than I could ever imagine. Then retirement brought both the gift of time and the challenges of caregiving.

Yet I’ve found meaning, sparkles of happiness, and humor, even sprinkled among deep sadness at times. I hereby share with you bits of what I hope has jelled to become wisdom at unexpected moments.

No matter what life has offered on any particular day there was always the Honeysuckle Air, with its breezy scent of air and hope, inviting me to another day of my journey.

Coyright 2019 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use in print or online.

(maybe use Kindle Create?)

(cover of book or ch. 1 – use picture of me pulling Ray, Ronnie, and Sissy.)

 

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Honeysuckle Air: The Pickle Money

It was time to move, to retire, to simplify my life in order to be a full-time 24/7 caregiver for my hubby.

My house was on the market and I had found a fine condo in Florida, close to a son and his partner as well as medical care. Next we had to agree on a purchase price. Real estate prices were still running on the low side, lucky for me. So I scraped up all my remaining retirement savings which were left after raiding it for cancer copays, blood transfusions, and the odd and sundry expenses of chronic illness.

The agreed-on price kept edging up till I had to put my foot down. I had already stopped trips to the grocery store–what else could they want?!! Even then, I was several thousand short. So I began to sell off stuff with a vengeance. I had multiple garage sales and burned up the web with my offerings. Great friends helped by taking photos and helping me connect with buyers.

I was getting close, working 3, even at times 4 jobs to keep us afloat during the transition. I subbed in the daytime, tutored in the afternoons, and wrote were articles in evenings or during the night. Then I delivered flowers on weekends and other available hours. I knew in my heart I had to keep nourishing my soul, so I continued singing in two choirs and going to a support group. And sometimes I slept, arggh!

Looking back, I am amazed that I somehow made it through while caring for a sick husband and weaving my way through a seemingly impossible undertaking.

But it wasn’t enough. Every bit of extra cash went in a jar since I had no time to make bank trips.

The day finally came and closing was imminent! I went to the bank with my big jar of cash. I had gotten used to it, so I didn’t realize what a furor it would cause when they opened the pickle jar! The lady yelled and other employees rushed to see the drama. It seems the fragrance of pickles had infused itself into each and every bit of the cash!

I sheepishly explained that was the only jar available to use, rocking between embarrassment and hilarity. The tellers were kind and understanding but they couldn’t avoid wrinkling their noses at the many pickle flavored bills. As they patiently counted the money, it was obvious they were trying to hold their breath!

We all had a fun time, albeit a bit unusual, and the closing progressed as planned, to the penny! Saving money in a pickle jar made me quite pleasantly infamous that day. I can assure you each of the folks at the bank had a story to tell at the supper table that night!

And, oh, to be a fly on the wall as people opened their billfolds to a pungent pickle smell. Must have created quite a rush to spend those bills so someone else could deal with the twinge of pickle in the nose!

Since I’ve always felt life has much to teach us each day, I would have to say the lesson of that day was in my funny bone. Perhaps the best medicine for hard times and impossible tasks in life is found in humor. So smile, giggle, laugh, chuckle, or even cackle as my midget grandma used to do. But that’s another story:-)

 

 

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Meditation: It all Started with the Chocolate!

Some time after Hurricane Irma I lit a candle at church with a briefer form of these comments:

 It all started with the chocolate.

The sound was deafening–high winds roaring past my window, the street acting like a researcher’s wind tunnel turned up to high.

It wasn’t just the noise that caused hair-raising fear. It was the complete persistence of it all. There was never, I mean never, a break in the horrendous roaring.

Once in a while I would feel intensely claustrophobic and dare to open the door of my inside closet space to see if it had begin to die down in any minute way. This brazen risk always ended with a mad dash back to the relative safety of my closet/bathroom area.

At other times I relieved my anxiety by snacking on my hurricane supplies. An eternity or two later I realized I’d been cooped up for far more than 24 hours, napping just a bit now and then. Each time I dozed off, I aroused to the disappointment that the intense wailing was still in full force.

Eventually I awoke the next morning to the strange sensation of silence. As I surveyed the damage, I knew I had been lucky. Yet food was spoiled, ice was melted, and my water supply was dwindling. And all this before the roads were clear.

Then I remembered I had some dark chocolate squares in my silverware drawer. They tasted so good and gave me the quick energy to figure out what to do next.

All too soon reality began to knock me in the knees. Upon checking I found that my husband’s wonderful Assisted Living place had no power and the power company said they were not on a priority list! They were using generators but as the days went on, it did not solve all their needs.

Although I’ve never really considered myself an activist, but when my power returned and theirs didn’t this seemed so unfair and I simply had to act. I stayed up most of the night and fired off over 50 emails to literally every local, state, and national leader I could think of.

The next morning as I was dragging myself up I got a call from a local TV investigative reporter I knew. He asked if I could be there in 5 or 10 minutes. I gulped and said 10. He was sending a helicopter to the scene of no electricity, and several other news agencies responded to my call for adult care homes to have priority when a blackout lasts several days.

I never knew all the details, but was glad to hear they got power back quickly then, and I continued to lobby for adult care places like this assisted living to be on the same type of list hospitals and schools enjoyed the next time it happened.

Now the urgent issue was me. AC was back, but I was out of money and afraid to venture out so I took stock: most food was spoiled, and I was running low on non-perishable food. I was traumatized and feeling really bad, and hunger was ever present. To top it  off, I seemed to be getting a UTI!!! I was lucky to have some urinary pain meds I could start but I knew I’d need a doctor soon.

Then in my confusion and discomfort I again remembered the chocolate! It got me through that evening till I could get medical services the next day.

As my Chocolate Energy surged a bit, I got on Facebook at once feeling blessed to mark myself safe, yet griping a bit about food issues. I mentioned, tongue in cheek, that all hope was almost lost since I was running out of chocolate. (My friends know the only reason I live on Planet Earth is because it’s the only planet with chocolate:-)

Venting to my friends seemed to reduce my stress levels so I went about the business of picking up the pieces of my daily life. But soon packages began to arrive from all over: food, snacks, paper towels, and blessed be, CHOCOLATE! Several had heard about my chocolate dilemma and brought some chocolate to my home. One fine friend even brought cheese and we had a shared feast then and there, topped off by chocolate of course.

Before it was all over, I had enough (given that I’d stick to my daily allowance of two squares a day) to last till Valentine’s Day! Then when that day arrived, a good friend from church slipped a box of chocolates to me as we walked into the service.

What the chocolate taught me is the amazing value of kindness. When friends sent and brought me goodies including chocolate it was jam packed with love and encouragement. And this was at a time when I was barely surviving on overwhelm mode.

So keep in mind how important acts of kindness–chocolate or not–can be in lifting a friend’s spirits when tough times come.

I will always try to include chocolate in my hurricane supplies, some for me and some to pass along to others.

May the Blessings of Chocolate always be with you:-)

Copyright 2019 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

 

 

 

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Honeysuckle Air: The Pennies Dreams

Having grown up in a small town, I never felt poor since there was one girl at school who was definitely more in need than me. But no running water and one or two light bulbs probably qualified me as rather poor.

Although I put on a brave face, I must have had some awareness of our limited financial state. I suspect this because of a recurrent dream. Sometimes it came in the night; other times it appeared when I fell asleep in the car.

I dreamed I was hanging, or floating, in the air above our house. I always saw pennies rushing by me but never could reach any. I contend that sometimes our subconscious mind knows things before we can articulate them. (Back then I’d never heard of the song Pennies From Heaven yet this dream definitely fell in that category.)

My dreams seemed to say I had some understanding that we were in the “have-nots” strata of society. Yet my reaching for those pennies spoke of a spark of hope that someday I’d find a penny or two:-)

Although I never became rich, or wanted to for that matter, I’ve lived a good life. I had all I needed and was able to contribute to my world by teaching and nurturing some who were underserved in their educational environments.

The dreams stopped when I started earning my own money at age 12 and 13–working in the school cafeteria for my lunches. This seemed to provide the empowerment I needed to slowly edge myself out of a victim position.;

Guess I managed to catch a few pennies after all:-)

Copyright 2019 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use in print or online.

 

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Honeysuckle Air: Mother Hearing Things in the House

We hear many sounds in daily living. However, some just seem to come out of nowhere. And some we choose.

Bird in the House, Deer at the Window 

I had a reputation for being right in some uncanny claims around the house.

One day I heard a faint flapping. I hollered from another room, “There’s a bird in the house!”

I was immediately told NO way!

Yup, as I went down the hall I saw it, opened the door and gently ‘herded’ it out the door.

Another day I sat up straight from a deep sleep in bed and said, “There’s a deer at my window.” Of course, it seemed silly, but sure enough, on looking out there indeed was a deer right there, eyeball level!

She Went Out and Bought an Organ

Although I could have been called a rather traditional wife, I was aware of the “new” concept that women should have rights, etc.

The realization hit me in the mid-70’s when a doctor almost refused to treat my son’s ER visit since his dad was out of town. After initially refusing, I finally convinced the Dr. that there was no way to reach the father and I begged him to go ahead and help. He agreed as long as I’d get a written permission to carry in case it happened again.

On TV I heard about women who had no credit if they were married. Women were being advised to establish credit in their own name as protection against life’s possibilities. So I decided I needed to establish some credit in my own name.

Before long I had bought a lot in a lake community called Walden which gave the family rights to the amenities, pool, etc. This was the beginning of my establishing my own credit–a must for any web-informed woman, then and now.

But of more significance was the new organ I bought at the mall. I love music but was not a competent pianist. But when I discovered a keyboard which would play chords or background in the left side while I fingered the melody with joy right I was thrilled.

However, I soon found I had to stand in line since the whole family vied to take their turn with it. We kept that bench warm as family members found it hard to walk by it without having a bit of musical fun.

Of all the sounds this particular mother heard in the house, the sound of that organ was definitely the finest!

Copyright 2018 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

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