Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

One of the things Mom said was “two wrongs don’t make a right.”  In working with children, inevitably there is a “he said/she said” saga that goes something like this…..”She hit me first.” Which is immediately met with, “UH-UH! He spit on me!” While the rhetoric and actions may differ with subtlety, the idea is the same.  One action doesn’t justify the other, no matter who acted first.  I would further add to the wisdom of my mother that there are ALWAYS, at the very least, two sides to every story.  Those who witness a quarrel of any magnitude will see it through their particular lens, including the angle at which they stand;  each individual lens is highly affected by their current--and most especially their past--environment.

Like many, I have witnessed from a distance the growing tension in our country.  I have demonstrated peacefully in my youth with government actions I disagreed with.  Peaceful demonstrations do not include looting, destruction of property or threatening behavior.  Further escalating these actions are those who “stir the pot” such as Al Sharpton and Eric Holder.  When there is a rush to announce action or a verdict before all facts are known, mistakes are inevitable. Big mistakes.  Limited even further by my own lens, I am probably foolish to attempt even one facet of the discussions.  Nonetheless, I am my mother’s daughter and I will rush in where angels fear to trod.

1)      Yes, there are definitely corrupt and evil law enforcement officers but they are rare.  Attempting to make all peace officers into “bad guys” is tantamount to saying that you can’t fly on a plane because there have been plane crashes. 

2)      Crimes are committed every day and often by those who have a previous criminal record.  Human nature is such that if I take one cookie without any repercussions, I can possibly trash the kitchen without anyone stopping me. I will make no assumptions about the cookies or the color of the hand in the jar.

3)      There are bad people. There are good people. There are angry and bitter people who have allowed their souls to be consumed by that negativity like a cancer.  There are positive and adjusted people who refuse to allow the past to ruin the future. My Dad believed that you find what you’re looking for (if people at your church are hateful, maybe you should start by taking a long look in the mirror rather than jumping churches. Again.) You make your own choices and chose the color of your lens as an adult.

4)      Slavery was a horrendous and unspeakable evil.  It still is.  There is still prejudice in our country, by too many folks of ALL colors. Period.

5)      There are some people who believe themselves competent leaders but in reality are only successful in creating a new crisis to use as their soapbox. 

You simply cannot say Michael Brown was innocent when eye witnesses and a camera verify his behavior.  When protestors change from carrying signs to chanting death, it begins to sound more like a conspiracy and they lose much of their credibility.   It is little wonder to me that two police officers were murdered by yet another person who has a criminal record.  Where are those who decried the actions in Ferguson? Those who whipped the crowd into a frenzy last week, actually demanding dead cops? And like so many, I wonder….if there were to be a crime against Al Sharpton or Mayor de Blasio, who the heck are they going to call if not the very police that they have demonized?

Just maybe it’s time to get new glasses.  Change the lenses, even at the cost of letting go of the pretty carrying case for the glasses or the tint that is too dark.  Or maybe, just maybe, some of us need to wear glasses to see the current situation accurately.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Christmas Card Tradition

This morning I was transported back to my childhood and the traditions passed on to me by Mother ...without speaking a word about what I should or would do as I grew into adulthood. There are multiple layers of tradition in this picture and, my heart like an onion or artichoke, harbors many layers. The stronger and sweeter the memories as you peel away to the heart. 
The needlepoint manger scene on the mantle was made for me by the wonderful choir at FUMC Somerset and I believe there is love in every stitch.  For many years when our furnishings were sparse, it was displayed year 'round.

On the table is a card file full of addresses of life-long family and friends, the same way my parents kept the addresses of esteemed friends at their fingertips.  The table, handmade by the late Orville Harner of New Vienna, Ohio, was used many times in my parents living room for just such activities. Yes, my folks had a fireplace and that was where my Mom hovered in the winter because she was always freezing COLD.  In her later years, she would be bundled up in 3-4 layers and gloves inside the house!
A few of the Christmas cards I used this year were ones that my Dad had crammed into the furniture before shipping it to Georgia. While not necessarily the sentiment or picture I would choose, it surely reminded me of my Mother ...who had definite ideas of what the cards should look like and what the sentiment should convey. One of which was that Christmas should be fully written, never abbreviated, especially as "Xmas".

Lastly, the rocking chair, my very favorite part of the picture. The rocking chair, pictured, and its matching straight back are my most prized possessions.  They belonged to my Mother's parents and sat in my own parents living room for as long as I can remember.  It is my hope one day to restore them through some tender loving care to their original 100+ year old glory---at least that is what I estimate for their age. In my imagination, Lucie is rocking her baby of three children, my mama, in that chair. I remember seeing my own children rocked there by my Mother. 

One day I dream of having my own grandchildren and being able to rock them in the same chair and tell them of their great grandparents and great, greats. If that rocker could speak, oh, the stories it would tell! In the meantime I will keep the tradition of writing Christmas cards to friends far away (I don't send local cards....go ahead, call me "Scrooge"....but that is another tradition my Mom kept). As I write, I take a moment with each to remember the best of memories. Then I say a prayer as I seal each envelope,  that God would enfold them in His loving care.  He surely has enfolded me with His blessings, many of which began long before I was born.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Most folks have never heard of hamloaf.  It seems to be a regional thing and I grew up in Ohio.  Mom was a gifted and opinionated woman.  She loved her family, she was passionate about God, politics, travel and reading but not always prioritized in that manner.  You notice cooking did not make the list.  By the time I'm old enough to remember (as the youngest of 5 kids and Mom was over 40 when I was born), cooking was not even in the same zip code as her priority list.  Cleaning?  That's a whole 'nother blog post but I don't want to make Mama roll over in her grave.  Hamloaf is the subject at hand.  While I've never seen her recipe, I've played with others to attempt to get close to hers.  Here is my latest and it's pretty close to what I remember:

2lbs ground fresh ham (not'll probably have to go to a butcher shop to get it.  All the hams at the big box chains seem to be pre-cooked or smoked)

1 sleeve round butter crackers (Ritz if you want the name brand)

12 oz tomato juice or something that resembles it

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 large squirt mustard

1 small-medium jar "designer" mustard (optional), set aside

Combine all ingredients and press into a square or rectangular pan.* Bake at 350 for approximately 60-90 minutes. Smear designer mustard on top before popping into the oven.  The one I used most recently had Champaign or something like that in the name, I think.   Pair with real, fresh sweet potatoes (not the processed ones that look like hocky pucks and doctored with cinnamon and brown sugar that kids might actually like!) and as many green vegetables as you can humanly find.  If you ever visited my parents home, you realize the enormity of this statement.  All meals were accompanied by milk, lots of milk.  Beets are good, too.  Mama loved beets.

*I've baked this in a 9x13 pan and it ends up dry and over done.  I suggest a slightly smaller pan or even square.  I like it best when the edges are almost nearly burned and the center looks "dry".  Again, it's a regional thing!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The day the turkey didn't roast

I couldn't tell you exactly what year it was that Thanksgiving, only that I was old enough to drive....and to fully understand my mother's panic.  A new oven with a time bake feature (standard on many now days) gave Mom the luxury of popping the turkey in the oven and setting it to heat, roast and the behemoth bird golden brown well before our traditional lunch time feast---simply by putting it in the oven when she went to bed.  

The first sign of trouble: there was no magnetizing aroma of turkey to pull me from my sleep on Thanksgiving day.  Mom had not been up long and when I entered the kitchen; there was mumbling about the turkey still being raw.  Dad, in usual fashion, had gotten up at the crack of dawn and had gone to work in the yard to plant trees, another tradition.  I don't remember the exact chain of events in the interim but I was sent to Wilmington to retrieve Mrs. Blanche Matthews, a family friend who came to share most holidays with us, from Extended Care.  By the time we returned to the homestead, plan B was well underway:Turkey roasting in the oven and hamburgers ready to be fried.
I can still see the square patties on the griddle Mom used to make grilled cheese or french toast.  The turkey was finished cooking in time for an early supper and made for an interesting day, the rest of which has slipped from my memory.
What did I learn that day?

  • Things rarely, if ever, go according to plan, so be flexible.  The turkey wasn't ready for lunch..... but it wasn't the end of the world.
  • Caring for older adults is important and worth the effort.  Both Mrs. Matthews and my (Uible) grandmother were older, but we looked forward to having them on special occassions and gave no thought to the effort it would take to bring two aging women with walkers into our home.  When Grandma Uible got to the point where she used her wheelchair more and more, she did not let that hold her back.  And, more importantly, my parents never complained or acted as if it was an inconvenience to get her to church each Sunday or out to eat or to a Doctors appointment.  That's just what we did....because it was the right thing and EVERYONE deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.  

In hindsight, God used this lesson not only to help me learn how to interact with Sr. Adults but to prepare me for the challenges of a handicapped husband.  While Don didn't use a walker or wheelchair for many years, when that time came there was no fear of how to do this or how to handle that.  It just simply was.  Period. The main thing was to offer as many possibilities with as much kindness as possible. And, stay flexible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Wet Blanket

While Mom worked as a children's librarian at the New Vienna Elementary school for many years, she was equally active in community organizations. Burned into my memory is how she would return home after a meeting of one of these clubs grumbling about someone and consistently would say, "She's a WET BLANKET".  As a child I had no clue what it meant but I could tell from the tone of voice and facial expression that it was NOT a compliment. The website gives several interesting definitions, among which are: A person who seems determined not to have a good time and refuses to play or interact with others. Someone who generally has a negative attitude. Someone or something that could have utility but chooses not to. This is from the idea that a blanket could be a wanted item, but is no longer wanted when wet.

We've all been in situations where people have great ideas.  Risky ideas. Fiery ideas! Inevitably the "wet blanket" of the group---and you are fighting a long, uphill battle if there is more than one to deal with---tosses out their negative barbs. "We've never done it that way." "That's not a good idea."  "It's impossible, can't be done."  A wet blanket will smother a smoldering fire before it fully ignites.  Wet Blankets not only smother fires, they initiate NOTHING.  They accomplish even less.  Fires can be good and even productive, albeit hot. Don't give up when some well mean soul heaves a wet blanket on your fire.  Instead consider the mighty sequoia forest: when tested by fire, it drops new seeds onto soil that has become receptive because that which would choke out the seed previously was fried.  The sequoia stands tall and, because of the fire, actually reproduces better because of it. 
Or how does a fine craftsman remove dross from the gold or silver?  Yep, you guessed it.  Put a fire under it to make the impurities easier to remove.  

From my own experience, each Sunday as I lead worship, there are wet blankets.  As I sing and encourage others to do the same, there are those who refuse -- with a vengeance.  Not only do they not even attempt to open their mouths, they scowl!  But many years ago I decided not to be deterred by these persons:  actually it makes me more aware of how blessed I am to be God's child and be able to lift my heart and voice to praise Him.  When I think of all He has done for me, how on earth can I keep from singing?!

It is not a case for us of if but when some well-meaning soul will throw a dripping, wet blanket on the fire.  We can choose to give up and willingly let the embers die.  We can learn to be miserably comfortable, living a life of boring mediocrity. Not me!  I am going to pray that God, who is a CONSUMING fire, would set all of us ablaze with His holy love, in much the same way He did so for Moses in the burning bush.  In so doing, may we burn brightly with the light of hope that tomorrow can -- and will -- indeed be a better day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to The Adoring Husband

April 3, 1948
"Peaches and Cream" and "Luscious": pet names Dad called Mom on a regular basis.  I don't ever remember her calling him other than by his name, "Harold".  As children we were tremendously embarrassed when Dad would kiss and put his arms around her after every meal....maybe she was too because her reply was often, "Give me a towel!"  And my husband wonders why I'm sarcastic.....
2000 Cleveland at their first apt.

As with most personal remembrances, perspective changes as we mature.  What embarrassed me 30-40 years ago I now find endearing, even a precious treasure.  We grew up in a small town where folks got married and had children (in that order) and stayed married.  Divorce was unheard of:  or at least my romantic memory does not remember it.  All my friends lived--- by all appearances--happily with both parents in the same home for their entire childhood.  Idyllic? Yes.  By today’s standards? A fairy tale.

2006 Shenandoah Nat'l Park
With my parents, though, it was real.  Devoted.  Respectful. Committed to each other.  They traveled the world to six of seven continents, experiencing things most people only dream of or read about.  We all have dreams.  I have been blessed to live a dream where my parents cherished and adored each other. They didn’t agreed on everything and sometimes they even lost their temper.  But it meant they kept working.  Kept loving.  Kept honoring each other.  Kept caring for each other.  Even when dementia laid final claim to Mom, Dad cared enough for both of them and kept her alive much longer than she would have chosen.  63 incredible, indelible, inconceivable years they remained together. 

In the physical absence of the woman he loved best and misses most, we say, “Happy Birthday, Dad!”  We love you and thank you for the gift you have given us of yourself and especially the example of adoring and honoring your wife, our Mom.  You are one amazing man!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Expiration Dates and going with plan B

Guilty as charged and today was proof of it.  Have you ever purchased multiple cans of something only to arrive home and realize that one of the cans is NOT what you planned to buy?  I did that awhile was a can of soup and I figure for $1 +/- I will find a use for it. eventually.

Mom was not one to be sidetracked, which I could prove with multiple stories....but that is for another day.  If you're making a recipe, find something comparable to use and move on.  There's only two times that has not worked out so well in the past 25ish years of marriage: banana pudding made with pineapple and beef broccoli stir-fry made with hamburger.  Both were burried deep in the garbage and never resurrected to be cooked again.

Today I'm trying a new recipe.  I flat refuse to cook recipes that require more than 10-15 minutes prep time and all recipes must have 6 or less ingredients.  I cook to live, not to my mother.  The new recipe met both of my two stringent and highly selective criteria.  It called for cream of chicken and fiesta nacho cheese condensed soups.  Upon scanning my pantry the chicken soup is non-existant so I substitute cream of onion;  bear with me: it matches 2 out of 3 words on the label with "cream" and "soup".  Next I dig around to find the cheese soup, the one that I mentioned above purchased not so recently.  It's not fiesta nacho, but once again a 2/3 match: "soup" and "cheese" are direct matches on the label.  It's close enough.

First can of soup (the cream of chicken which is now cream of onion) was emptied into the mixing mixing bowl.  Second step, I open the cheese soup and think, "The color of this soup is odd. Reallllly odddddd." As I start to scoop it out of the can, caution lights start going off that  the soup doesn't look right.  It's kind of shrunken and dried looking.  "Hmmmm, where is the expiration date?  Canned stuff never" and before I can finish this sentence I spot the date.  If it had been a month or two past, I would have gone ahead and used it. I hate to waste money or food but that little can went straight to the trash.   Should I really admit the expiration date? April.  2009.  Five years is too long, even for me.

Why does this make me think of my mom?  She NEVER wasted food.  We still talk about the day we went for a picnic at the lake nearly 20 years ago and she brought ketchup/mustard and mayo packets left-over from fast food places.  They never used condiments but brought these extras for us to the picnic.  When we attempted to use the mayo, it came out gloppy and beige.  The was pretty much dried up.  At the time I was flabbergasted that my Mom was trying to "poison" her new son-in-law. Now we laugh about it.

How did the new recipe turn out?  Only I knew that it was not the original recipe.  But my family ate it and there were no complaints. That's about as close to success as I get.  No one left the table hungry.  Then again, it's not really so much about what we're eating as just being together.  And remembering to make the best of every situation.  I am my mother's daughter.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Knowing how vocal Mama could be, I'm absolutely sure that she said it.  "I'M TOO OLD."  If it had been me, I would have said, "JUST SHOOT ME NOW."

At first the signs might have been easy to ignore.  She was already "chasing" four yard apes between the ages of 5-14; I can only imagine her own mixed emotions of having turned 40, the disbelief of family, friends and those in our small community....even when words go unsaid, you can tell what people are thinking. Pregnant with a fifth child? Surely not!  When Don and I announced that we were expecting Christian (I was ONLY 33), a child of about 7 brazenly said directly to me, "Eeeeeewwwww! That means you've had SEX!".

I was always jealous of my older siblings; they got three things I always wanted but never had: braces, glasses and my parents young energy and attention.  At 50, my parenting is much more relaxed than it was at 30! I have come to realize that there are only so many hills you can die on.  If you fight every battle there will be no reserve left when the big things really worth fighting for arrive on the scene.  As a kid, I never had a curfew. They didn't wait up for me.  Don't remember getting spanked more than once.  Always had a car to drive and gas money handed to me.  I remember telling Mom as a college student that I wish I had received more discipline as a child and watched her jaw drop.

I didn't see the positive side, until I reached adulthood.  With the departure of older siblings, Mom was able to pursue some things that she couldn't before. We always had guests in our home because Mom loved people and had a genuine gift for hospitality.  I remember distinctly three women who visited on several occassions from Nashville and led meetings in our little church.  These women were so passionate about God and they prayed over our home and our family.  I never witnessed it firsthand, mind you.  Each time they visited, while Dad was busy at work, I was sent outside to play if I was at home.  The conversation and prayer would ensue.  If I was lucky I would peak in the back door and catch snippets of what was said before being shewed away.  Burned indellibly to my memory: how these women loved Jesus, loved us and made a huge difference in my life, because they befriended my Mama. 

I did not realize until the last few years that they were probably praying for the five very independent Uible kids with large personalities.....Praying for us to know the same Jesus who ever so gradually changed my Mama.  Some kids may have seen an about face in an alcoholic or abusive parent.  One who suddenly went from running away from God ran and u-turned so as to run to Him.  Mine was already going to church every time the doors were open.  Already reading the Bible each morning.  Leading the United Methodist Women.  The hard outer shell and biting sarcasm began to soften......not in hours or days.  It took awhile, but it came ever so slowly, ever so quietly.  She began to hug, smile more and really enjoy life.

By the time I was old enough to appreciate my Mom and her gifts, the dementia had begun gnaw away at the vibrant, active, fighting woman I had come to love.  So, Mama, in your honor I'm trying to become the best of what I saw in you: a warrior who passionately loves God, her family, her church and her community.  May your legacy live on through me!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chocolate.  She never said it but I think chocolate may have been as big a love for Mama as her love for God.  Maybe even bigger.  I found something last night at the grocery that I had to buy.  Sure she would have loved it but I am her daughter and addicted to chocolate, too.  Chocolate with icing? Definitely.  Over 50+chocolate+icing+fiber=just short of heaven!
In strolling down the cereal aisle and looking for something with fiber that doesn't look like it should be fed to cows (maybe there's a link there??), Weight Watchers has launched into the cereal market.  Peaking out from behind some impulse marketing thing dangling from the shelf was....TA-DA! CHOCOLATE shredded wheat with frosting. I nearly passed out: God had indeed heard my cry for something sweet! Paired with my favorite coffee (Dunkin Donuts brand) this morning, I was utterly delighted.  Thank you, God, for the very best: CHOCOLATE fiber.'s not just for breakfast anymore!