Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Jennie Llew had her apartment fixed elegantly. The blue she chose to paint the wall was the same blue that colored the walls of her graceful home on Wateree Avenue. Pat's apartment also reflected his home in Macon. GA. They both had managed to take much of the ambiance of their longtime former residences to their new dwellings. I noticed that Jennie Llew had her old chandelier hanging in her new place. I didn't feel the loss for their former residences. They brought so much of it with them. Home is where you make it - and they made it.
What I did miss, or should I say, who I did miss was my Uncle Murdoch who died this past Summer. Being with my remaining aunt and uncle made me think of the others that are no longer on this planet. Sitting in Jennie Llew's parlor as we talked made me think how nice it would have been for the rest of clan to be there to join in the conversation. I can see Murdoch sitting in a corner chair with his hand on the side of his face - looking around the room - waiting to make a light teasing jab at a sibling. Rutha would have been there sipping a coke from a small glass. She would be making corrections regarding family stories and histories being told. She was the eldest and knew the most. Florence - I remember her smile and laughter the most. She would tuck her chin down, looking up to you with her eyes, an authentic school teacher look if there ever was one. She had many years of practice at teacher looks because she was a retired teacher from Greensville. They were never bad looks mind you, she was jovial and her kindness was in every syllable spoken. Wofford would always drop by during visits - not remembering him to stay for hours, but his personality was very bright and always very dashing - as if he were a movie star from the old days of Hollywood. Wofford was a commercial artist by trade and a great illustrator. Once asked by Walt Disney himself to be a Disney artist, turned it down so he could do his own brand of art. He was a dashing fellow at that - a fellow who's imagination and mind was always busy. There were so many varying personalities and characters in that room.
So many Finlaysons with only minor skirmishes. You can tell one of my Columbia kin if they are taking a sibling on. Even though they were all different, each begain a good scolding by calling out each other's name (in a disappointed or outraged tone) before making their point. I know - you had to be there. Once, back in 1977, my aunt Rutha thought that I had a friend that she believed homosexual. Rutha looked at me and said, "D-A-V-I-D, you need to kiss that man goodbye." You should have heard Jennie Llew and Florence respond with a loud and disgusted tone - "R-U-U-U-T-H-A! I looked at Rutha and assured Rutha that I would be glad to kiss him good-bye next time I was with him. Rutha took me seriously and tried to explain to me that "to kiss someone goodbye" is a figure of speech. While Rutha was trying to qualify and clarify her comment, Jennie Llew and Rutha were also talking over her - accusing her of having made a terrible influence on me - as if her comment about kissing that fellow goodbye had encouraged me to like boys instead. I know I was young at the time, but knew even then that I wasn't that impressionable.
but I digress..
So during visits - if I was in the next room - I couldn't follow the conversation in progress but I could always clearly hear some one exclaim AHHWOOO! A-I-N-S-W-O-R-T-H!!! Probably the most common was M-U-R-D-O-C-H! because Murdoch was the big tease in the family and was gotten onto more than the others. I think they all had more practice saying Murdoch's name in such complete disgust because they had more practice at it. I think that Rutha was the second runner up. RUUUUH-THAAA! Even though she had a short name - it could be drawn out and quartered nicely. Simply emphasis and carry out the RU until you feel like you need to take a breath and then breath out with the THA! Now the Westbrook kids were taught respect and knew not to play a roll in this. We had no role in this other than to be young spectators. Now I don't recall Jennie Llew or Florence's names being called out like that. I think that they were the ones that did the most name calling.
I was told on several occasions that back growing up in Cheraw, that my dad W-E-S-T-B-R-O-O-K! once hurled a knife at Murdoch after being teased beyond tolerance. I've never seen dad get riled enough to toss a knife at anybody before. Dad said that he was on crutches and couldn't chase his older brother, and Murdoch took full advantage of his legged advantage. It was told that the knife stuck into the door frame as Murdoch made his fast exit and as Papa entered the room. I never heard what happened next. I am sure both brothers were properly disciplined.
I've been thinking about our weekend trip through out this week. I wish I had my recorder going. I wish that I had a better and more accurate memory for the stories told. I wish that my relatives were nearer - spend more time - hear more stories - share more breakfasts with them. I know we are a peculiar clan with lots of deeds and misdeeds - but I love where I came from - I love those living and those gone. It's a good life and we all know Who to thank for that. G-O-D!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As each Christmas passed, a new ornament or two would be added and now we have so many ornaments that I there is never enough room on our tree for all of them. We don't have to use all the ribbons and bows to fill in the gaps of a tree like we used to. This year I ran across a couple of the lace bags of wedding potpourri that were on our first tree earlier in the month. We had a lot of those little potpourri bags that first year. The tree in this picture reminded me of the years that had gone by since the Christmas we just celebrated. Our tree now has beau-coup trimming, especially with all the ornaments that were made by the little hands of our children.
We'll be taking down the tree within the next few days. All things pertaining to the season will be packed in boxes and put under the stairs until next time round. I wonder what events will transpire over the course of 2009. New memories and new ornaments will be added next to the old. What will our family tree grow look like in Christmas to come?
Monday, December 29, 2008
A real highlight of the trip was encouraging both Jennie Llew and Pat to talk about our ghosts of Finlaysons past. So many stories - peaks into yesterday. Listening across the table at Brunches, was like peering through a knot-hole in a fence into their youth, my father's youth. We could only see so much through that hole - but each glimpse will be fondly remembered and retold down through the years.
The best story was the one about my grandfather Burruss and my dad Westbrook.
My father grew up in a home filled with music. My grandmother was a piano teacher and pretty much all of the Finlayson children were trained to sing "properly". I remember years back when many of them came to visit us on a trip to Gadsden while we still attended Bellevue United Methodist Church atop Noccalula Mountain. During those visits, the Finlayson aunts and uncles were lined up in the pew like a row of canons - with their hymnals held high and bifocals aimed. When the hymn would start - those vocal canons cut loose across the unsuspecting flanks. It might have been me - but I felt as if their voices boomed above the sound of the entire congregation - including the choir.
Back to the knot-hole-
Proper - opera-fashion - that was music and the only kind that a serious singer or musician should give attention to - at least that was the law back then. I guess you could imagine what my grandfather thought of Westbrook's dance band venture back in those days. As you might recall from my earlier posts around this time last year, my dad formed his own swing band - H. Westbrook Orchestra. He wrote, arranged, conducted, and crooned his way in and around the Carolinas and beyond. Papa wasn't very happy with Westbrook. Jennie Llew and Pat recalled the big Columbia newspaper article that came out about his son's orchestra. It was that spread that Papa proudly unfurled to display the accomplishments of his talented son Westbrook to all his fellow tradesmen friends at the watering hole. That article proved a turning point that validated Westbrook's music with his father.
It might not mean much to anyone else, but Brook and I appreciated the brief glimpse. I might have missed a little of the story, so Brook can fill in, add to, correct, or comment if he'd like.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Someday I'd like to go back there again with my girls. Maybe spend Christmas holidays up there. After 12 years, I don't know if there's many familiar faces left and I've heard the place has grown by leaps and bounds. I'd like to go up there during the fall or during Christmas never the less. I can't believe it's been that long since I've been back. I loved life up there so very much.
One of my favorite all time animations is The Snowman. My favorite sequence is this flight with music sequence. I love the visuals and I love the song Walking In The Air.
I bought it on DVD several years ago to replace the well worn VHS copy I had prior. I show it to my girls every Christmas. This year, Kelsey became absorbed in it. I have a small stuffed snowman that Cindy gave me years ago. I use it as a tree ornament - but this year I took it off the tree and let Kelsey hold it while the show played.
You can watch it on youtube but the quality of everything I've seen here leaves much to be desired. If you have a kid in your household - go buy it - it's worth every cent.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Mexican beauty queen arrested in gun-filled truck
By ARTURO PEREZ – 2 hours ago
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — A reigning Mexican beauty queen from the drug-plagued state of Sinaloa was arrested with suspected gang members in a truck filled guns and ammunition, police say.
Miss Sinaloa 2008 Laura Zuniga stared at the ground, with her flowing dark hair concealing her face, as she stood squeezed between seven alleged gunmen lined up before journalists. Soldiers wearing ski masks guarded the 23-year-old model and the suspects.
Zuniga was arrested shortly before midnight on Monday at a military checkpoint in Zapopan, just outside the colonial city of Guadalajara, said Jalisco state police director, Francisco Alejandro Solorio.
Zuniga was riding in one of two trucks, where soldiers found a large stash of weapons, including two AR-15 assault rifles, .38 specials, 9mm handguns, nine magazines, 633 cartridges and $53,300 in U.S. currency, Solorio said Tuesday....
Immediately when I read the headline - I thought, "There's a Warren Zevon song in that story." I wonder if somewhere in that stash of seized weapons, one might find a Thompson that was once owned by a mercenary named Roland.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Katie and Kelsey and I drove out to Eddie Floyd's shop to give him some money toward fixing the VW. He's going to keep it a little longer - fixing what I thought was fixed a few months ago. We then drove over to Shoney's and had breakfast together. It's so nice to have so much time to be with them.
This afternoon Katie and I spent a few hours in the kitchen making a Party Mix for the Finlayson family gathering in a few days. We made oodles and oodles of it. Katie asked where the directions were - I haven't used directions for party mix in ages. We just got the biggest bowl we had and started dumping ingredients in:
Wheat, Rice & Corn Checs, Pretzels, Cheese-its, and other odd little crackers. Peanuts, pecans, cashews, and a can of mixed nuts to boot - lots and lots of nuts.
I made a concoction out of olive oil, one stick of melted butter, Worcestershire and Dale sauce, season salt, garlic powder and onion powder. We poured the concoction over the mix and baked - stirred - baked until it was ready to pull from the oven. We couldn't cook it all at once - pan after pan until the big bowl was finally empty. I've got lots of it - LOTS OF IT I TELL YOU!!!!
It's been an busy day - but an eventful day spent with my girls. I am enjoying this Christmas season already. I am sure a lot has to do with the fact that I am not at school.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We returned home around 8:00pm and I built a nice fire. Katie and I sat downstairs and read. Last year we read about three of the Chronicles of Narnia books. Last night I started reading The Magician's Nephew. We read three chapters last night and I'll be reading as often as I can. Gina and Kelsey came down for a while and listened to the reading. Kelsey seemed to be enjoying the moment. Gina said that Kelsey was enjoying the together moment more than anything.
I slept on the couch by the fire last night. I had a big one burning last night. I woke up this morning and built it up again. I told Katie that she can sleep by the fire and lit tree tonight. Dan dropped by this morning. He stood by the fireplace to warm himself and we talked a little bit. It's always good seeing Dan.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Okay, I don't own a Camry - it just made for a good title. We own a hand-me-down 1990 Mazda van that I love. Paint is peeling on the hood - but it runs like a top.
The girls are getting ready as I speak to go do some Christmas lights drive-bys. We're going to stop by Pizza-the-Hutt and eat first. Last year Gina was sick and we went - but it wasn't as fun with a groaning mom on board.
Tonight will be much better. The sun is going down as I write. I hear the girls scampering up stairs. It won't be long.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The movie is about a platoon of men that find themselves between a rock and a hard place - facing the SS on the front, and a cowardly/dastardly officer over them. Lt. Joe Costa (played by Jack Palance) knows the score from the beginning of the movie. He's followed orders of his captain before, with high casualties, now he's being ordered back out, with guarantee his commanding officer won't leave him hanging in the wind. That's the set up of the story - I don't want to spoil it for you.
This was originally a stage play called the Fragile Fox. The cowardly Captain Cooney played by the late Eddie Albert (that's Mr. Douglas to you Green Acre fans). Eddie does an incredible job of acting in this movie. Why to see him quiver and cop out on his men - you'd never think that in real life, during WWII, he earned the Bronze Star during the Battle of Tarawa. BTW, I just read where Jack Palance was disfigured during the war while trying to bail out of a B-24 Liberator while training in Arizona. His rugged hard looks didn't come from his professional boxing career prior to the war, but from all the reconstructive surgeries he had to undergo from the burns suffered from the training mishap.
Lee Marvin is also in this picture (a Marine who was actually wounded on Saipan), as well as Buddy Ebsen (served WWII in Coast Guard). Most of that generation served in the military in some capacity - few cared to draw attention to it. I once saw Lee Marvin's grave at Arlington National Cemetery. His small white marker is among the ranks of countless other small white markers there.
It was the entire cast of the television show combat that were honored to have Lee Marvin on their show. They watched his every move during his guest starring appearance - and made mention of how they learned a great deal from the way he carried himself - and carried his M-I.
But I digress...
Attack! was not a big budget picture. The battle scenes are not all that believable, but the movie is great in spite of it's production qualities. Robert Aldrich was the director. You may not have ever heard of the movie Attack!, but you may recall Aldrich later directing Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen.
So go to Hulu and watch the entire movie for free! Hulu also has Between Heaven & Hell. It's another great war movie. Buddy Epson has a great roll in that flick as well. Go on now - go watch'm - that's an order!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It got to early to sleep so I went ahead and showered and dressed for the office. I purchased Sysmantic Norten for three of the computers. Mom's computer workstation somehow has a trojan virus. I hope I took care of it today.
Eddie Floyd called and asked if I'd pick up a heater cable from Ed's for my beetle. I drove it out there to him. Eddy has had it since Friday - doing little things. Dome light, left tail light, new horn - little things. There's a rusted out hose running from the engine to the exhaust. He's got a line on a good German made exhaust system. The bug should run a little quieter after that. That's all I am going to do for now. I want to do things here and there to bring the 73 super beetle back to her former glory.
I'm making spaghetti tonight. I a can makka da goot spaghetti! Got to go pick Katie up from the tutor and then throw Kelsey in the tub - then get to cooking. I wish I were in bed - but that's going to be a while still. It's been a good day even though I am dog tired.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
After arriving, Josh even gave us an hour or so to study before the test. I tried - but couldn't. I felt the more I looked at the notes and the cards - the more apt I was at confusing the information. Instead, I walked out into the misty night and joined my instructor. We talked about fatherhood, husbandhood, economics, and politics. Josh usually has the side door wedged with a shard of cement so the door won't lock on him as he steps outside to smoke. I like talking to Josh - actually I listen more than I talk. I'll throw in enough kindling to keep the conversation burning. We stood out there until a classmate stuck her head out and begged for him to go ahead and give us the final. He looked at the last inch of his cigarette and smiled, "I'm almost finished, I'll be in in a minute."
I went inside and took my seat. I wasn't nervous, just ready to get the thing over with. I wanted to do good. Josh earlier in the evening said that I could walk out on the exam and still pass. Of course I wasn't. I wanted to see what I could do. Josh came in the room a few minutes later with the test - laid one on my desk face down. The discussion questions were the last three questions on the last page. One was a bonus. I started with the last page and wrote all that I knew. I was concerned that I would forget names, examples, a step in a process, confuse characteristics with functions - but it all flowed. The discussions were involved but it all seemed to pour out of my brain and through my No. 2 as the data was needed.
I then flipped over to the front page and nailed the terms. We all are required to learn the terms from the chapters, all of them, study a hundred just to be able to match 10 terms to definitions. That was the easiest part of the test. There were other questions that I had to think about, put the answers in the right place - easy to get mixed up. There was a question that I answered partially and meant to go back - I knew there was more and thought I could think of it once I finished the rest of the test. I forgot to go back.
I was the last one to finish. Everyone had handed theirs in and went home quietly. I looked over the test when I had no more questions to answer. I looked it over and laid it on his desk. He quickly graded it - after all the time it took to take it - and said with a smile -"you made a 108!"
I got half credit for the question that I didn't go back to. I made a 108. I called Gina with the good news - she was tearful. She knows my past and my old wound. This particular class has been healing for me. The first test, the 105, resurrected Lazarus, that kid that was forced through the cracks those many years ago. This 108 was God winking. I thanked Him tonight. I thanked Gina for all of her daily sacrifices so I can study instead of being at the office working. I called mom and thanked her for her prayers. Cindy called me on my cell and said she had read the blog and prayed. Brook and Jose' prayed too. It was hard, but so great to have prayer support. I can't express my thankfulness. Most of you know me - where I'd been. It's good to have family - and dear friends. Thanks.
I feel like my head is a bucket filled to the brim with terms, concepts and processes. I've been over the notes over and over again and feel as if much of the information sloshes around and out as I walk about. I know I will do good - but hope to remember all that I've diligently tried to take in. 50 years old and my gray matter isn't as spongy and absorbent as those youngsters around me. I need all my synapses firing. I'm going to leave now - go sit down somewhere with my cards and have a hot meal for a change.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm going to hit the note cards again tonight - review the discussion questions after I take something for my head. One more test to go and then I'm free for Christmas holidays. I can deal with that.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The good news is that I've done pretty darn good in this class and the final won't kill my grade if I bomb. I am doing everything I can though to fly through it without losing too much altitude. I think I'll pass the final - not confident about a great grade. We'll see. Keep me in your prayers.
I made a 95 for Kinesiology this semester. I got that grade Wednesday night immediately after the final. I feel pretty good about that one. Here I was going into this program determined to take classes over again if I failed. I've done pretty good so far.
I am not real sure about the Lab final tomorrow. I've done well with the class so far but not sure about the actual final. I throttled back on studying for this particular instructor's tests about half way through the semester because the tests are often too vague or too broad. I've wasted too much time going in the wrong direction. Even though I've done well - I feel like I've been lucky to date. All I know to do is read over what material available to me prior to the test and jump in with both feet.
It's Tuesday's Anatomy and Physiology test that's in my sites. This instructor gives defined objectives and goals that are very hard to reach - yet never the less - obtainable. I spent about three days of last week working on the stack of note cards in front of me. I've spent just as much time prepping for studying than I have spent studying. Does that make sense? I don't have it all down yet - but still have some time left to give it plenty more attention.
I don't feel stressed before these tests. Years ago the stress worked against me. These days, I study the best that I can and go with it. Studying is the hardest part - taking a test is easy. I failed one test (in which the grade was dropped) in Kinesiology about a month ago. It was a test on the Erector Spinae Group. There was no real way that I could put that to note cards and had no idea how to study for it. It was just a tangled mass of information that I didn't know how to approach it. I studied and went in an failed it. I've don't memorize information well - but do well with actually learning. I was disappointed in myself but it didn't ruin my day. I've got to learn other ways of studying - other ways of learning. Glad that I came out of the class with an A average anyway. Even when we fail sometimes - we can still find pearls.
I knew that when I went back to school that there would be healing for me. There has been. I can't explain it much more than at. I went in to the commitment because I knew it was what I was supposed to do. Against all feelings or past experiences - I was to just go in there and do it and redo it until I got it. I wasn't going to let any thing stand in my way. I've knew that there might be personality conflicts that might arise. That too wasn't going to derail this train. I am committed hell or high water (a little of both).
I'm the old man and the only guy in the class. I've made some dear friends of some sweet people much younger than I am. We were all just a room full of strangers not so long ago. We've become good friends over the course of a short time. I hope and pray that they all make it through to the end and do well in life. I hope there are no more drop-outs. We've been told that the first semester is the hardest. I hope this is true. As challenging as A&P has been - I've got Josh again - and hope that his second semester Pathology class won't be as hard as the course of his I am currently finishing. He said it won't...should I believe him? He smiles - and that kind of smile isn't something someone should completely trust. He could be joshing after all.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am so very tired of that game. It's a game in which almost everybody wraps their re-gifts and fight over the few real and thoughtful ones. I feel as if I've done well if I walk away with a jar of Planter's Peanuts. You can't lose if you get peanuts. These days I try to avoid events that play this game. If it's a family gathering I go, I politely decline my personal involvement and find something to do in the next room until the grab fest is over.
I am going to tell on myself now. The last time I played Dirty Santa was at a company party that we were invited to. Most of the gifts were of course re-gifts (or scented candles, a Rudolf coffee mug or the like). Gina and I took a power tool - a decent gift for such an occasion. I didn't know that we were going to play the Dirty Santa game. We were just asked to take a gift. The gifts were so terrible and I did a terrible thing. I happened to be fortunate enough to end up with the last number and I got my cordless drill back. I still can see the look on that poor slob's face as I got the tool back. No one after all knew who brought it to the festivity- so I decided I'd leave with it. I know - that was terrible thing to do. Two Christmas' later and I still feel kind of bad about it. Even when I win - I feel aweful. The game has lost all appeal to me I tell you. I can't stand it when someone has a "great idea" for their Christmas party and say, "Hey, I've got a GREAT IDEA - Let's play Dirty Santa!"
Let's not. Why not we just get together and forget the gifts. Let's just eat finger sandwiches, tell jokes, be with each other, and enjoy each other's company without the stupid selfish game. It was a game that was fun the first few times around - now it is the Christmas game from hell.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
learning to see
that the brain like a muscle
what He has given me
my choice what i do with myself
down to the cellular level
this life defined
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
I am sharing this because this is the only thing about the movie Spy Hard (1996) that I thought was funny. Weird AL Yankovic did the intro for this silly spy spoof. For those of you that have watched a James Bond movie or two down through the years - you might enjoy this - then again - you might not.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It's not the massages I mind - I like giving massages - it's the time.
Gina was more upset about it because she was counting on me taking care of the girls while she knocks out paperwork at the office. She is terribly behind and hates it that I won't be able to help free her up. She's okay with it mind you - got to do what we have to do. This all happened because I was trying to accommodate a need for the massage program. Gina said that I don't need to be as accommodating next semester. I know they didn't do it intentionally. Stuff happens. Lance - one of my instructors just left me a Myspace message that he'd see what he could do about getting me out of it tonight. He can't make any promises but I do appreciate his effort.
My feet this past week have been in continual discomfort. Most nights this week I have had difficulty sleeping because of it. A few pain killer pills seems to take a little of the edge off. I am wearing socks to go to bed. The discomfort is worse when I lay down. I am sure it is because of the lack of blood circulation while in the horizontal position. Diabetes. The discomfort has been causing me to lose sleep.
We've got finals around the corner - all of them big tests. Two of them (Kinesiology and Lab) being involving every things we've learned (or supposed to have learned) through out the semester. Anatomy and Physiology is another biggy - but that isn't until the week after next. That was a relief. We didn't really have much to do last night. Most everyone left early. I decided to stay on for a while to make flash cards from the study material. It was quiet, warm, and well lit at the conference table - I took advantage of it and worked until I got to the point of making too many mistakes. I drove home and got to talk to Gina for a little bit.
Gina is slammed with work - not patients mind you - she's backed up with documentation work to do. She'll more than likely be working at the office late Friday night and a good bit Saturday. Life goes on. I've got some time to study - time to relax a little before the Final Exams tsunami wash over me. I am here in my little office studio today - it's raining outside and very quiet. The house is cold but I don't mind.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I do care. I really do care. That's one thing about massage that you can't hide - it comes out in the session. We are taught that what's inside will work it's way out during massage. I enjoy giving massage and quite honestly - want the client to have a the best massage possible. For her to tell me that meant a great deal. She enjoyed the massage.
Now if she'd only go back and give me an A for that darn case study. :)
Yesterday I had a leisure day. I did a little more work on the house - changing out some light switches that were bad. Figured I could do that without bothering poor Jose'. Bruce at Cooper A-1 should have the parts for the Speed Queen washer by today or tomorrow. The clothes are piling up. We need that machine soon.
I'm going to be doing some studying today for the finals next week. The Anatomy / Physiology test is going to be the big one - but I'm going to have a lot of time to study for it. Thanksgiving break was the break I needed to reset my mind. I'd been running on fumes for the past month. So close to the end of the first semester. I have been told that the next semester won't be as intense...so I am told.
I have been thinking that when I get out of school that I'd like to learn how to play piano. I've tinkered with it down through the years - but would like to get serious about it. I already have a nice simple style - I'd like to take some lessons after I get licensed in massage. One day I'll get me a digital piano. I know I will be writing even more songs once I get some piano learning under my belt. Every time I sit behind that grand at church and tinker - it only makes me want to know more. I've never felt that way about piano. It's an instrument that I know I could play well. We'll see.