Thursday, August 30, 2018


4th Grade Mt. Eagle Elementary, Alexandria, VA

 5th grade Mt. Eagle Elementary Alexandria, VA

My fictionalized story about our move to Virginia when I was in 4th grade:
       Jo held down her skirt so the wind wouldn’t whip it up as she pounded down the cement sidewalk on her way home from school.  The heavy schoolbooks bounced in her backpack and long dark braids swung and wisps fell out around her freckled face.  Dust rose in clouds off the blacktopped street as cars sped past.  While she waited for a break in traffic she kicked the “Welcome to Fairfax County” sign post.  Virginia was such a bummer. 
       Jo yelled as she shoved open the front door of the brick duplex in Jefferson Manor where she lived with her family.  “Hi mom I’m home.  I gotta get out of this dumb skirt.” She kicked the door shut.  Up the stairs to her bedroom she bounded.  Ugh!  She hated this house with nothing but bare grass around it.  In Alaska they had a river boat they cruised on the Chena River.  She didn’t have to worry about cars speeding by.  There was a lot less traffic.  And that smelly cow farm down the road made her sick to her stomach.
Into her room she ran, dropped her books onto the rollaway bed she shared with her sister, and slammed her room door.  She yanked off her blouse, skirt, and slip and slid into her comfortable blue jeans and T-shirt.  Whew!  That’s better, she said to herself.   I’m glad it’s Friday.  I don’t have to wear that stupid skirt again until Monday.
       Skipping down the stairs she found her mom in the family room changing her brother Sam’s diaper. “Mom, I can’t stand wearing skirts to school.  My bare legs stick out like tooth picks.  Why can’t I wear pants like the boys?” 
       “It’s the school’s dress code, Jo.”
       “Well I hate it!  I wish we were back in Alaska.”                                                  Mom sighed.  “When your dad got transferred from Alaska to Virginia I didn’t realize there would be so many adjustments and changes.  You could wear pants to school in Alaska because it was so cold.  But here it doesn’t get as cold.” 
       “People are too uptight here,” Jo said.  “Nothing is the same in my life. I think I’ll pack my suitcase and move back to Alaska.” 
       Mom smoothed vaseline on baby Sam’s bottom and didn’t say anything.  
       “What’s wrong with these people?  I can’t play kickball in a dress at recess.  I end up staying inside and playing computer games.  I don’t get enough fresh air because I have to wear a dress all the time.  I hate the weather here too.  It’s so hot and muggy.  In Fairbanks it never got muggy.”
       Mom shrugged and left the room, calling as she headed for the basement stairs, “Watch Sam for me, please, the laundry’s done.”
       “Okay—can we have blueberry cobbler for dinner though?”
       “Blueberries are too expensive here,” Mom said.  She disappeared down the stairs.
       “Oh no,” said Jo disappointed.
       She lifted Sam and plunked him down in his high chair in the kitchenette. Then she washed her hands with dish soap, pulled the built in bread board out from the slot over the silverware drawer, snatched the peanut butter out of the refrigerator, and grabbed two slices of bread.
       “You understand, don’t you Sam?  You’re an Alaskan baby!”  Sam grinned up at her.  His nickname was Sourdough Sam after the sourdough starter everyone had in their refrigerators on the last frontier.  Jo made her sandwich and talked to Sam.
“Remember those giant blueberries we used to pick when we camped on Mt. McKinley.  Yum!  And sleeping in our white Eskimo tent with warm down bags. I remember waking up with frost on our eyelashes.  Sam watched her intently as he chewed on his teething biscuit. 
“Can’t you just smell the campfire?  When the sun melted the frost off the berries we picked buckets full.  Oh and those Alaskan king crab legs.  Smoked squaw candy, I’m drooling.”  She tickled Sam’s cheek.  “You’re drooling too Sam!”
Sam laughed and watched Jo carefully; his big blue eyes staring, and his mouth open as if he were anticipating a bite of the sandwich.
       Jo continued on her rant. “In Fairbanks we could stay up all night and play softball if we wanted to because it was light all night.  Everything’s different here in the south.  None of my favorite foods.  And skirts, skirts, skirts for school.  Well, no one said I had to wear skirts places anywhere besides school.  I know, I’ll wear my new blue and pink striped sweater and new jeans to church on Sunday.”   This idea cheered her and she happily munched her sandwich and fed a bite to Sam.
       On Sunday morning Jo appeared downstairs ready for church dressed in her favorite jeans and sweater.  “Are you sure you want to wear that to church, Jo?”  Mom asked.
       “Yes, I’m absolutely sure,” said Jo.
       “Well, okay then.”
         The family arrived a bit late for Sunday school and slipped into the back pew of the sanctuary for the opening exercises.  Soon it was time for their individual classes.  The boys and girls went to separate classes and the adults went to their class.
         When Jo joined the circle of girls her age she stared at them and tried not to giggle.  They all wore a-line dresses with shiny glitter or velvet trim, clunky sandals, and nylons, like they were dressed for a wedding, or something.   Jo felt very uncomfortable and self-conscious.  I bet they LIKE to wear dresses, she thought as she glared at them.  I must be the only girl who likes to wear pants.  Even my sister likes dresses.
       Mrs. Smith began the lesson.  “The scripture for today is Philippians 2:14 — “Do everything without complaining or arguing.  What does this mean?” asked the teacher.
       Jo thought about how she had complained since the move.  She picked at her cuticles so she could keep her head down and avoid eye contact with anyone.
       “I think it means I should feed my pet goat and not complain when he butts me in the rear when I turn my back,” said a girl named Sandy.  Everyone chuckled including the teacher.
       Kimberly said, “I think it has something to do with getting along with other Christians.”
       “Those are good answers,” said the teacher.  “It also means if we complain about changes and hardships in our lives we are complaining about God’s will for us.” 
“You mean we shouldn’t complain about where we live or our families?” said Amy.
“That’s a wonderful way to put it,” said Mrs. Smith.  “And it’s hard to do, isn’t it?”  All the girls nodded in agreement.  Mrs. Smith continued, “I catch myself complaining and being impatient when my children don’t take care of their clothes.  Then I remember God is patient with me when I don’t do what is good.”
       Jo didn’t say anything because she realized she was complaining about EVERYTHING. She thought about Philippians 2:14 and the teacher’s words.  Did they apply to all the changes in her life she complained about? She prayed silently, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for complaining.  Help me to be able to wear a skirt happily, and to accept all the changes in my life.  In Jesus name, Amen.” 
       After church everyone stayed for a potluck fellowship.  Men and women bustled and set up tables.  The food was placed in bowls and platters and wonderful smells came from the kitchen as casseroles were warmed.  The girl named Sandy walked up to Jo when the table was spread with all the food.
“Jo want to sit with us?” Jo looked at Sandy’s velvet trimmed dress and the tiny flowers in her pierced ears.  She hesitated.  Then she looked at Sandy’s friendly face. 
  “Oh, sure,” she said.  “Is it all right Mom and Dad?”
“Go ahead, find us afterward,” said Mom, and Dad nodded.
Sandy and Jo slid plates off the pile and stood in the food line.  There were some foods she recognized like fried chicken and potato salad but there were strange looking foods too.
“What’s that?” Jo asked Sandy pointing to a bowl of beans with black dots on them. 
“Black-eyed peas.”
Jo swallowed hard.  “And what about that?”  She pointed to a bowl of slimy looking green stuff.
“That’s okra.”
Ugh!  Oh how she missed all the good food in Alaska, especially the hot sourdough rolls.  “In Alaska, we…”  Sandy was watching her face and Jo stopped.  Okay, maybe now was a good time for her to practice that scripture and not complain so much.
“What were you going to say?” Sandy asked.
“In Alaska we don’t have such yummy looking fried chicken and potato salad.”
Sandy grinned.  “My mom made the potato salad.  Try some it’s really good.”
Jo walked behind Sandy and put tasty looking food on her plate while she talked to Sandy.  Inside she felt warm and happy—the best she’d felt since she’d moved here.  Giving up complaining felt great—maybe she’d keep it up.
She looked at Sandy and grinned.  “I might even try the okra.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018


My son is a drummer/ percussionist.  I was interested to hear the review of this 2013 documentary about a small town where some of the worlds best music was born.  This is from a Christian perspective.  Click here to listen or read the review.

Below is an interview of Muscle Shoal's "Swampers"--  the percussion section.  Those of us of a certain age will know where "sock it to me" came from:

Friday, August 17, 2018


Chris, Roberta, and friends in front of L'Opera Paris

In the late 90's Chris and I were in Paris during one of his business trips.  Being the anti-litter bug person that I am, I looked for a garbage can somewhere on the street to throw away wrappers from sandwiches we had eaten. There were garbage cans on the street but the lids were fastened down.  We thought that there must have been bomb threats which were dealt with by stopping the use of garbage cans.  

Napoleon's Tomb

We saw soldiers in the airport in Rome carrying automatic weapons.  It dawned on us that this world is now a more dangerous place. 

Thus the U.S. Congress deadlock on our immigration policies.  Many would like to immigrate to the U.S. as our country is safer from threats than many.  The problem is that we are fearful of illegal immigration.  In my opinion the solution would be to have more legal entries and more judges to vet the people wishing to come in.  How difficult would it be to build the wall, open Ellis Island, or in some other way increase entry points and hire judges?  

Eiffel Tower
Here is a 23 minute speech by Steve Russell, Congressman from Oklahoma.  He explains what our Founders intended for our immigration policy.  Click on the link to watch the video.

Thursday, August 9, 2018


1982-- no people on the beach with us in Biloxi.  We found out later that the locals did not swim in the Gulf as it is polluted.  Both kids broke out in a rash from contact dermatitus. We stuck to the swimming pool at our apartment complex after that.

We left Seattle in June of 1982 for Mississippi.  Chris would attend a 5 month school after he reenlisted in the Air National Guard.  On our way through Hornbrook we dropped off our dog and cat for Grandma and Grandpa to care for while we were gone.

Wayne came through Biloxi on his way either to or from Africa.  He helped Jes with his swimming lessons. Heather took this one.

Chris took this one.

We did some sightseeing.  Here is one of the mansions we visited.

My high school classmate and her family came to visit us all the way from Florida.

The kids played on the playground equipment at Keesler.

We visited New Orleans.

I tried a mint julep.  I was surprised that it wasn't green.

Chris was NCO class leader.  He was in charge of having the room cleaned.

Chris was an honor graduate.

As a direct descendant of veterans who fought on the side of the north, in the Civil War, I was a militant yankee.  The war was over-- the south lost--get over it, was my thinking.  But when we moved to Biloxi, (pronounced biluxi), in 1982, I began to feel some suspicion from some neighbors who were not in the military. (One neighbor caught herself saying that "he swears just like a Yankee.")  Apparently Yankees were not very good people in the minds of these southerners.  How could this have been carried down through the generations?  Oh right, I was the same way.  (Grandpa said we were Scotch, Irish, Dutch, and Yankee, and mostly Yankee.)

So what are our rights?  Is it the right of the Union to force the southern states to give up slavery?  Is it the right of the southern states to build monuments of Confederate War heros?  We are told in Mark 8:34 "And (Jesus) calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

So, as Christians we must ask this question--Is this spreading the gospel and making disciples?  Well, with slavery abolished there was more freedom to teach the gospel to all.  Confederate statues are just a reminder of what not to do.  One city council member in Richmond, VA said that plaques could be placed by each confederate statue explaining what happened so that we will not repeat the bloodshed.  

Are you still fighting the Civil War?