|As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney
Since school has been out, some of my girls that work for the school,
have been able to spend more time with me...sorting through things and
trying to fatten me up. Daughter #5 and I were talkin’ one morning about her
youngest, Jacob, soon going off to church camp. He is my baby grandchild and
this is his last summer camp, as a child, since he just graduated high
school in May. Anyway, it got me to thinkin’ of when our kids went off to
It was early on a Monday morning, my kids always went to Lake Lavon, and I
had not “lost my cool,” regardless of the impression my actions may have
given. It was “take off” day for church camp, and I kept having these awful
visions of one of ours being left behind.
But, there was little need to worry. For one, they were up at the crack of
dawn. Before anyone could offer assistance, Daughter #5, the baby of my
seven, took off down the street, much too early, luggin’ a suitcase in one
hand and draggin’ a plastic clothes bag in the other.
Despite the fact that I had look forward to the respite with mounting
impatience, it did something to me when our youngest reached camp age;
especially when she left without a backward glance, except to tell me for
the thousandth time to be sure and feed her guppie!
Gettin’ ready for camp takes a lot of preparation, in true teenage-style,
Daughter #3 waited ‘til the eleventh hour, and then managed to depart with
the utmost composure, leavin’ me and the house in complete shambles. At the
zero hour, Daughter #4 changed her plans altogether, and decided to spend
the week in Shreveport with the love of her life, her nephew, Toney.
At least one of them had been workin’ for some time toward havin’ things
ready. Not too long after camp the previous year a big paper bag appeared in
my youngest son, Dwayne’s closet, along with his instructions, “Leave it
alone – it’s very important.” I did, but that didn’t keep curiosity from
growin’ through the weeks, as I observed it being filled with what appeared
to be mere scrap paper!
Remorse filled me Monday mornin’, as I watched Connie Hyde, in the role of
patient and unsuspecting camp counselor, find a place for that familiar bag
in his bulging car trunk. With all the other boys makin’ sure it was loaded,
how could I confess, via the grapevine, I had learned that my son was the
self-appointed supplier of the year’s spitball material!
Finally, they were off, and I returned to the house. It was after I had
reached the end of the long hall that I suddenly realized I had not stumbled
over one single Indian or cowboy, or been forced to thread my way around a
tea party in progress. I turned around and made the trip again, just for the
sheer joy of it.
Julius was so overcome when he found a whole stack of clean washcloths and
towels right where they should be that he had to restrain himself from usin’
them all in one mad moment of joy!
The thought of being able to carry on a conversation without interruptions
had struck us dumb, so for the most part we just sat and stared at one
another! What on earth do you talk about when the kids are not around to
furnish the necessary topics?
Things were so quiet at our house that when we did speak, hushed tones
seemed appropriate. A person can just stand so much. I’ve always felt it
took a special person to be a successful camp counselor, and I’m not at all
sure I would’ve qualified, but I sat there thinkin’, “come next year, my
name will head the list of volunteers.”
As I Was Saying, my girls have been tryin’ to fatten me up and I’m thinkin’
they were successful. I’ve gained almost seven pounds this past week and I’m
wonderin’ if they need any camp counselors this year!
View From Here
By Katherine Veno
Colors say a
lot about us...
A decade or so ago everything was about personal colors. Books were
published on the subject, and talk show hosts interviewed color “experts.”
Personally, I have always been interested in the way colors make me feel.
For example, a red room makes me feel warm. I envision a fireplace burning
in a deep red room with dark furnishings. The color yellow makes me think of
daffodils and summer flowers. In my mind’s eye the colors of yellow, lime
green and orange evoke the lightness of spring and summer.
But colors go much further than a simple paint job. Certain colors can help
our body react and beat stress. Recently I read an excerpt from a book by
psychologist Carol Ritberger, Ph.D., titled What Color Is Your Personality?
She identifies four major personality types, assigning each a specific color
based on their reaction to stress. When you identify your color on the
stress spectrum or a combination of colors, you learn your relaxation Rx.
People who respond to the colors spectrum of green are usually outgoing and
social. Extroverted in everything, green types exude both energy and calm
connected to the color of life. Because they are social, a green can feel
anxious when they cannot find anybody to interact with about a problem. The
color doctor suggests people-watching, relaxing on a porch or in a park.
These types of exercises will relax you more than watching a show on
television, whose pretend environment can trigger more frustration.
If you are super-organized and detail-oriented, you certainly are not me. I
tend to skip the details. A red personality prefers to plan things out,
never is comfortable winging it, and always tells the truth. Reds are so
good at solving problems it is almost scary. Having the confidence of the
boldest color in the spectrum, reds are born leaders, and take the reins at
home, at work, and in just about any group. But with this responsibility
comes a fair share of stress. The doctor cautions that reds often put work
before play and while that says a lot about admirable character, it leaves
little time to unwind.
A red is a do-er, so for them it must be physical activity to relieve
stress. A brisk 10-minute walk or a few minutes on a treadmill can release
tension taming endorphins. Since researchers have proved that endorphins
released during exercise flood the decision-making part of the brain, the
reds will really benefit.
If you tend to mull over ideas for a long time, and value intelligence over
most other attributes, you are a yellow and can usually think ahead. Over
thinking triggers your stress, and dwelling on a subject has been shown to
physically alter the brain, so not thinking so much really is good for you.
Play solitaire or watch a guilty-pleasure television show to relieve your
If big baskets of ripe oranges bring you pleasure, you tend to be a
peacemaker and rarely lose your cool. Oranges can get along with new people
and are popular personality types. They are nurturing and epitomize warmth
and kindness. But they are so loving they tend to put themselves into
anybody’s shoes and can get themselves in trouble. They take on the
emotional needs of others and forget about themselves, so they tend to carry
around a lot of worry.
The doctor suggests a few minutes a day of self-care. Read a magazine or
paint your nails. Oranges are good at stretching an emotion, so for them, a
quick timeout feels a lot longer and can soothe them for hours.
No matter what color you like, summer is a good time to sit back and
reflect. Today could just be the day your dreams come true, and worrying
does not work. Hope does. It is always a good time to believe in miracles.
Where you go from here is up to you. Things are going to be better than all
right. They are going to be great because you are smarter and stronger than
you think you are.
|Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy
In memory, my summers were golden. Boys’ baseball teams played near the
Trinidad lake. Spectators sat on their cars, pallets, maybe a few benches.
Large trees outlined by the lights on poles and the lush grass, watered
often, made a perfect setting in a perfect, although, brief time.
Hopefully guys would want to take girls home from the games and share a good
night kiss or talk about any subject we wanted. Somebody’s house would have
a concrete patio, and we learned to couple dance with the Big Bands playing
Churches had revivals and special programs. City cousins made arrangements
to visit for a week or two. Holidays were celebrated. Had a train not run
through town quite often, we might have been momentarily on another planet.
But a few miles east on Highway 31 were two family centers - Dodd’s Lake and
a skating rink. This lake had a diving tower, even a grassy beach. By the
way, when that train stopped, we peaked inside, even climbed inside.
Then the summer heat begin to make an impression. It couldn’t have been as
hot then as now. Daddy said “If you buy a car, you better make sure it has a
good heater. Don’t worry about the air.” Now I would want the reverse. In
the houses, windows and doors let the outside in. I simply loved being
Like Reba McEntire’s song, my dad was “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” He
was my hero, taking a nap on the floor at noon before returning to TP&L to
work, sitting in a chair behind a newspaper often chuckling to himself,
taking me to the pasture to feel the belly of a cow with calf was my lesson
on sex, chatting on the attached dining room phone to his cousin/friend
about work and laughing so hard.
Dad lived long enough to see my children, especially enjoying making the
adopted one special. She had my parents in the palm of her hand and knew
it.She was living with them, commuting to the community college, when Dad
suddenly experienced a coronary thrombosis and died in the ambulance. His
first atttack was at 46; now he was 69. I had to drive from the hosital to
tell this daughter and then on to my home to awaken my children while my
husband stayed with Mother.
Dad loved my mom better than the desserts he wanted with every meal. They
met on a blind date at Paris Jr. College. He could not believe this tall
beauty liked him, a boy milking a cow every morning for nourishment before
heading to classes. She was his everything.
They flirted the day he died in front of me as he and I discussed the
upcoming TECAT for teachers. We discussed the cartoons that afternoon and
laughed at many.
Daddy was from a big family; he and Mom had only two children. He told us
“when you go to college....” He said college was the best life insurance a
woman could have. My brother and I didn’t mind. Daddy sold cows, and we
went. We were certainly not rich but had standards.
Dad wasn’t perfect, just nearly. He helped people secretly, never bought a
new car, wouldn’t go to school to defend us without asking, “Is that the
same story I’ll hear up there?”, liked sports, could preach on layman’s
Sunday, adored his own parents, was on boards for the school and church,
named his cows after people, wasn’t keen on travel, but thought my brother
and I should see famous places in the summer.
We were camping before others were taking up this once-again venue of seeing
If we stayed in a motel, Mama had to check out the room, while I tried to go
through the floor of the back seat in silent embarrassment.
Oh, Daddy, I’ll always miss you. I remember your anger as we crossed the
Swanee River in Georgia, my brother and I fighting in the backseat and you
threatening to take off your belt to make us look at this historical river.
You never hit us, but you would ask that question a few times which as I
analyze it, would sure be hard to answer, “Do I have to stop this car and
take off my belt?” Then the man I married used the same expression.
I liked to be around you although we didn’t talk much, not enough. Your two
children are finally much alike, but my mischivous brother almost drove you
and mom nuts as we matured, while you made me, unaware, an overachiever who
lived for a bit of praise. It was difficult to do wrong and look into your
deep blue eyes to confess.
When you told me out of nowhere you liked “that ole boy I was probably going
to marry,” I went somewhere private and cried.
I hope you and Mama are together now, and you still say “My love,” to her.
I’ve found some of your love letters to her and your college diary. You were
truly a nice person although you could chase an errant animal with a
language of your own. And how hard it must have been to keep your promise,
“We won’t fight in front of the children.”
When we took in a foster child with intent to keep, you leaned into my side
of the car one Sunday afternoon and said, “Have you given any thought to how
you’ll feed all these kids?” I couldn’t imagine what he meant. When the four
were teens at the same time, driving, wanting special shoes, needing
something every day, his remark hit me hard.
I should have insisted on knowing you better. I have a long list of vital
questions I’m having to figure out myself. That was your intent, wasn’t it.