If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Dad, Bob Hasty

Given the time, I could most likely write a book about my dad. Much has already been written about his baseball years. We have three, large, filled to the brim, scrapbooks that my mother kept. I used to almost know them by heart because we were allowed to look at them anytime we wished as long as we were careful with them. There was so much more to Bob Hasty than baseball, however.

I did not date much in high school so by the time I was dating in college, guess Dad was fairly comfortable with it. He liked for guys to come inside for a few minutes and chat with him and they always seemed pleased to do so. We had a porch swing on the front porch and that darn swing literally screeched. When I asked Dad to please oil its chain, he said, ”Nope, as long as I hear that swing I can sleep just fine. When it stops I wake right up!” His bedroom was just above and to the left of the porch. He answered the one downstairs phone if he was anywhere near it. One summer, I dated three guys named Jim. He didn’t hesitate to ask who was calling and was good about giving me messages. However, he took great delight in asking, “ Now which Jim are you? Oh, Jim Smith, is it? You are the short/tall/redheaded etc. one, right?” It took a sturdy soul to date me that summer! Also, I was working and going to Georgia State as well. Back then, it was not unusual to date more than one person at a time.

Both of my parents were very conscientious about proper nutrition. Back then it was still the seven basic food groups though I don’t recall their calling them that. We always had some kind of meat or chicken for our main meal but also lots of vegetables, fruit, milk etc. My earliest memories are of them canning in glass jars. Just tonight, Dee had made corn muffins from scratch, and told the kids how delicious the cornbread tastes when crumbled into a glass of milk. Both of us had to smile at the memory of my dad teaching Dee to do that. Dad and my Bruce used to raid the fridge at bedtime when we’d had an early dinner. They were not above finishing off whatever dessert we’d had but often it would be cold vegetables. I found them having a grand time with a bowl of cold collards and cornbread, one night. I really credit my dad with lots of my children’s good eating habits.

Dad neither smoked nor drank alcohol of any kind. He didn’t even drink coffee and we were not allowed to drink coffee until we were nearly grown. He did eventually start drinking coffee, I’d guess maybe when he was at least in his fifties. We were allowed to drink iced tea but he usually cut it with lots of fruit juice. It was delicious.

On Sundays, I often sang in churches around the Atlanta area, mostly during my college years. We had several family members living in Acworth, Ga. I spent weekends there, every chance I got, with my Aunt Hazel and Uncle Gan. My uncle had a rule that if I was there on a Sunday morning, I sang in his First Baptist Church. My grandmother’s sister, Aunt Willy, played the piano for the services, there being no organ, back then. She preferred that I just sing a pretty hymn so she could work in her own musical arrangements - which I often suspected she made up as we went along. It was pretty good training for me I guess because I learned to sing under all kinds of conditions but I never did have enough breath to hold notes long enough for her to play all her trills up and down the keyboard. One Sunday, my dad went with me though he didn’t normally go to Acworth with me. As I stood to sing my solo, I noticed Dad’s face being very red and Uncle Gan grinning from ear to ear. Then, I noticed lots of the folks sitting near the front giving me big smiles. I’d never thought “The Old Rugged Cross” was even mildly funny, to tell the truth. After church, they told me what I had done. There was no air conditioning in the church so I had not bothered to wear hot stockings but had worn very high heels. So before I sang, I’d kicked off my shoes but failed to notice that the little skirt around the choir loft was only about eight inches long. Thus my red toenails and bare feet were entirely visible to all sitting near the front. They teased me about that but always said I could sing barefoot for them anytime.

Last October, my son was fifty years old, really hard to believe! Even more so since I was only ten when he was born! At any rate, his birth triggered lots of conversations about raising boys, between Dad and me. He and Mother did a fine job with their sons and I wanted all the pointers I could get. We talked at length about Little League baseball which he thoroughly disapproved of and did not want Bruce exposed to. He had a number of very sound reasons for this and was totally disgusted by the competition and parental emotional involvement he observed. It seems that he and some other granddaddy friends had watched some of the little boys play from time to time at Piedmont Park. I am sure he would be totally horrified at the young age children are being pushed into organized sports these days.

Apparently, Dad and his siblings were not read to as children nor did they have children’s storybooks. That was my mother’s theory anyway. I do know that they were farmers and worked awfully hard. They were not poor but he was born in 1896, and so many conveniences we take for granted were simply not available back then. At any rate, he enjoyed reading to us and got as big a kick out of the books as we did. His favorite was “Swiss Family Robinson” and he even took us to that movie when it came out. Normally, he did not approve of young children going to movies. Both my parents read Bible stories to us and to my children when they were small.

My parents visited us fairly often, especially after he retired from Lockheed. They came to visit just after we moved to Knoxville. There was absolutely nothing around the house Dad couldn’t do or fix. Thank heavens my son has that talent also. On this particular visit, Dad decided to build a bigger doghouse for our dog, George S. Patton – a small, mixed breed mutt. Until then, he and Dad had been pretty good friends. But on this cool morning, I heard a commotion and rushed downstairs and out to the back yard to see Dad and George in a tug of war. It seems that George had been slipping up and grabbing the tools and taking them out to the back fence hut his snitching Dad’s good hammer was just the last straw. Dad was fit to be tied. He said,” Can’t the dern fool see I’m trying to do something nice for him!” That was as close to cussing as Dad would ever come!

I am so grateful that my kids knew my parents and felt close to them. I would only wish that Dad could have known Dee’s son, Michael. They’d have been great friends.

This is Mother and Daddy with Dee and Bruce. Dee was about 2 and Bruce 4 or 5.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home Making

Today, as I walked through our formal :0) living room, this is what I saw along with sofas, chairs, tables, buffet, piano etc: a card table, 4 mismatched chairs, another chair piled with Mike’s various outer wear, and stacks of music and music books on top of the piano. The card table was covered with what appeared to be an ongoing Monopoly game with the bank all set up. There was another stack of box games on a small table.

This is kind of a “rainy day central”.

About 5 feet through an entry hall and the bottom of the staircase, is the family room,. Here, we find a wall of built in book shelves, a very large fireplace and mantle, a large TV and shelves of movies, two more sofas with five afghans and pillows, chairs, a large coffee table, end tables, my grandpa’s antique chest of drawers, the kids’ computer desk, the door to the patio, the door to the garage and my part of the house, and French doors to the lanai out front. Up one step is the breakfast area containing Grandpa Hasty’s antique table that we use when it is just the four of us as there is no room for all the table leaves. The kitchen joins that room.

I’ve probably left out something but you get the picture. We combined Dee’s spacious two bedroom two bath condo and my five bedroom large home. We gave away enough of everything to furnish another house when we moved in together. We’ve continued to take lots of stuff to Goodwill. The house does not appear to be crowded but it is.

BUT this, my dears, is what is called a home. I’ve never been much of a house cleaner but I’ve always said my house is clean enough that you are not apt to catch anything. Dee is a much better housekeeper than I am, especially since I’ve gotten old. I was a 50’s and 60’s housewife, where every room in the house was supposed to be spotless, clutter free, and look just like a picture in Home Beautiful. Those were the years that formed my idea of the perfect home. No, of course I never achieved it but maybe 50% on a good day. One was supposed to rear a family and be a perfect wife in a house that looked as if no one lived in it. Oh, I almost forgot, one was supposed to be a gourmet cook as well.

One place where we lived, we were invited to the bank president’s house fairly often. His wife appeared to me, to be the perfect wife, perfect cook and obviously perfect housekeeper. One of the happiest days of my life was when, while seated in her living room on a rather low chair, I happened to look up under a tall lamp shade and noticed that it was just full of cob webs! I always felt so much more comfortable when she dropped in at my house after that. How silly! I’d bought into the propaganda.

Some time after that, we moved to Knoxville and it was wonderful. The first Saturday we were there, we went to a big store kind of like Walmart. We bought jeans for everyone, me included. This was before women wore pants very often, still into skirts. We also got everyone fitted in boots. Mine were Wellingtons and I loved those boots. It was really cold and snowy that winter and we had a wonderful fireplace and a load of wood. I can still smell that wood fire and it really put out lots of heat too.

The point here, to me, is that we were far away from the small place that was Tony’s hometown. Knoxville was very different from Augusta. In Knoxville, his customers, old women with their drivers, did not drop in on me in the afternoons. I rarely even met or knew his customers. No one insisted that I work on every charity event or volunteer for everything, as had happened in Augusta. It seemed to me that finally I could enjoy my family and our house became more like the home I’d wanted to have in the first place. We still had folks over for meals and parties but I could relax and enjoy my guests.

I’ve thought a good bit about homes in recent years. There can be all kinds with different families but a few characteristics seem to prevail where with one or two people or a large group.

Faith in God and the ability to pray has truly kept me and my family going. Whichever church one attends, or does not attend, is not nearly as important as a sure knowledge that the Lord is always with you. This is why I object to that e-mail that says something like, Jesus stopped by to say hello, today, but then left for Whoshotlizzieville. Folks, my Jesus is always with me, never leaves!

Love coupled with respect and genuine kindness is really what it is all about, isn’t it? None of us is perfect but most of us do try. My dad was a big man. He used to say that lots of jobs around the house were just easier for him than for a smaller person. Of course sometimes he kind of went overboard. When Teflon first came out, he scrubbed it all out of my aunt’s new frying pan she brought us something in. Another time he scrubbed all the remaining copper coating off an antique pitcher I’d bought for Mother. She just shook her head over her new tin pitcher.

This, then, is where we talk about laughter. How could one stand to live so closely with other people, without a sense of humor? I mean, let’s just be truthful here. Most naked people are just funny looking! Have a look in the mirror and tell me I’m wrong. I’m dead certain my parents wouldn’t have had such a long marriage nor would Tony and I, if we couldn’t laugh at most anything. One night around midnight, when my parents were visiting us, we heard a loud crash in the guest bathroom. We jumped out of bed, terrified at what we were going to find. When I threw open the door, my 6ft 4in dad, clad in his red striped pj’s, was climbing out of the bath tub. He said he’d tried to close the door before turning on the light, and when he reached for the light switch with his right hand, his entire body just kept going until he fell into the tub. Even with his arthritis, he was not hurt and we all returned to bed. Then we heard him and Mother, the rascals. He would retell the story and they would just hoot. I went to sleep that night listening to them giggle, on the other side of the wall.

Have you ever noticed that everything is so much funnier when you are in a place where you are not supposed to laugh? In our family we’ve done that any number of times. My husband was not bad about it but my brothers were awful. Weddings are bad enough. Once at a family wedding in another state, my sister in law, then I, then Dee, were wedged between Tony on one side and his brother on the other end. Unfortunately, we were just seated about three rows back from the front. The organist turned the wicked organ on and off constantly during the ceremony. Each time, it made a great big noise like one would imagine an elephant passing gas. I was good the first few times but repressing the giggles caused tears to stream down my face. Then I felt SIL shake on my left, then Dee on my right, and I just lost it. Every time I got myself under control, SPLAT—it would happen again. That seemed to be the longest wedding I ever sat through.

Another time, just before the funeral of my aunt, a distant cousin asked where Dee was working. I said she was Paralegal at an Atlanta law firm. “Oh,” said my cousin brightly, “I have a friend whose son is a Paraplegic.” I told her that was nice – and fled. During the rather long funeral, my brother Bob whispered to me and asked what our cousin had said to me. He said he’d noticed my face as I left the viewing room. When I told him, which was a big mistake, he barely caught himself from laughing out loud. That time I was able to keep tissues over my face to hide the giggles. Later, at the cemetery, my cousin Frank sidled over and asked what Bobby and I were so tickled about? When I told him, he DID laugh out loud. Fortunately, people were headed back to their cars by then.

When I think of houses that seemed homelike to me, over the years, I recall delicious smells. Anytime I walked into my mother’s home from late morning through the rest of the day, and smelled fresh coffee brewing, I knew she was expecting someone important. My husband used to sniff the air when he came home from work trying to decide what I was cooking for dinner. If it was time for him and I hadn’t started dinner, often I’d just boil a pot of water and drop spices or onion powder etc into it so the house would smell good to him. His Uncle Jake was in hog heaven when he came to visit and discovered I was cooking collards. At Thanksgiving, I love to smell turkey dressing baking. Holidays at home just smell too delicious to waste by eating in a restaurant.

All of these things make a home, to me, but you may have a totally different idea. However, when all is said and done, home is where you feel safe and where you belong.

This is the family room in my present home.

Tony and I in front of our house in Tennessee, on the lake. We designed that house.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What I've Learned After 53 Years

On Feb.8, I will have been keeping house 53 years. Difficult for me to believe. There are hundreds of real household hints but everyone knows those, I’m sure. Today, I was thinking about various ways I have of solving mostly minor problems, and just general tips.

Seniors will find these most useful, but they could apply to just about anyone.


Keep one in every bedroom. Guests appreciate them and everyone needs them during power failures. Also keep one in the cosmetic case you always carry on trips. You should have one or two good, powerful lights plus extra batteries. We keep all batteries in a special box in our laundry room, so everyone knows where to get a battery. For all else, there are very inexpensive, small flashlights to be found in drug stores, dollar stores etc. Not too long ago, during an electrical storm in the middle of the night, I was in the bathroom, in a rented condo, when the power shut off. I was able to feel my way to my cosmetic case and my little flashlight, which eased my anxiety quite a bit.

In the 1990’s, Tony and I were on a cruise ship docked in Bermuda. We had eaten an early dinner and returned to our suite. At around nine or ten o’clock, the ship lost all power. We were fine and could see the lights of the city across the water. We had nice, wide windows. However, folks returning to our deck were really in the dark. I believe there were eight, maybe just six, suites on our deck, most occupied by “old” people. J When our butler came to check on us, I offered him my flashlight and he was grateful to have it. He told us that was the last time he’d ever be caught without a light.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I had a butler.

Preparation H

Go ahead and laugh then listen up. Trying to lessen the pain of an ingrown toenail, one night, I found a tube of Preparation H ointment, in the guest bathroom. Now this is what is written on the tube: Soothing Relief, Shrinks Swollen Tissue, Protects Irritated Tissue. That was exactly what I needed! After using for a couple of days, I just clipped the toenail.

A close friend, a surgeon, was visiting after that when I noticed him limping. Yep, he had an ingrown toenail but hadn’t had time to get it fixed. Well, when I told him my cure, he just hooted. However, two or three days later, he called to tell me it really worked. After that he liked to quiz me about my “doctoring” methods.

One Sunday, after returning from church, I found my tube of Prep H all chewed up. Knowing full well that our Basset Hound, Molly, had sniffed it out, I made an emergency call to our vet. When he stopped laughing, he had me read the ingredients to him. There it was among other things, shark liver oil 3.0%. Needless to say, Molly was not harmed but I did make her stay outside the rest of the day, just in case she needed to poop!

Years ago we heard a comedian joke that the Preparation H box actually says "Do not ingest orally." Someone, somewhere, must have done that! Molly couldn't read that warning, though...

Glove Box

We tend to check them for trips but should equip them for around town as well. Along with everything else, a small notebook , pencil, and pen come in handy. Because I often wait in the car while others do short errands, I keep a crossword puzzle book in mine. Of course, a flashlight should be there too.


In the south, we have snakes. A wise person once told me that snakes go where they can find food. They are meat eaters so it is a good idea to rid your property of insects etc. They are also bad to rob birds’ nests. If you notice birds swooping, dive bombing, chattering etc, there may be a snake out there. Snakes do NOT like sprays such as wasp spray so it is an easy solution. We prefer the kind that shoots about 20 feet! During a severe drought, some time back, a member of my family who lived out from town a bit, told me of a huge snake near her front door. I suggested she place a pan of water away out in her yard because he was obviously just thirsty. I held the phone away from my ear while she squealed that she refused to water the snakes!

Cell Phones

We may have been the last people in Atlanta to buy cell phones for our teens. But I’d have insisted on doing it sooner if I had realized the peace of mind it provides me --- to say nothing of the kids. A few months ago there were police choppers all around the house because some criminals had escaped and were in the area. Dee couldn’t call or text the kids to make sure they were OK, and that’s when we decided to just buy them cheap cell phones.


I have three long handled items that we call grabbers. I can pick up most anything without having to bend over. I keep one in my bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the family room. Most of the big chain drug stores carry them with their invalid supplies. No, I am not an invalid but my arthritis can cause bending to be painful. (Below is what one looks like.)

Cruise Shoes

Several friends are going on cruises this spring. For me, the nicest help was my refusal to wear high heels on a ship. Of course, one wants to dress up sometimes and even wear formal clothing. I solved the problem by packing a couple of long skirts that essentially covered the tops of my shoes. I had gold, flat heeled sandals plus other dressy flat heel shoes. There is so much walking on cruise ships that shoes become important. Unlike a friend who swore he gained 20 lbs on a cruise, I gained nothing and may even have lost a pound. The big ships have wonderful seafood and salads and that saved me. I mean, who couldn’t live on shrimp cocktail and lobster?

By the way if your husband wears a tux, be sure he has at least two shirts, more if indicated. No point getting bogged down with laundry. Now here’s the fun part, when you return home, you can adopt the shirts.

Signal Horn

This is great to call someone in another part of the house if you need help. I have two of them. Often, it is easier to push a button than it is to yell. They are possibly found in sporting goods sections. My son bought mine, probably at Walmart.

Ceramic Heater

Dee bought me the cutest, little, electric, ceramic heater for my bedroom. It is just a tad bigger than a football (without the ends) and it puts out lots of heat, plus it can be regulated. My part of the house is kind of off to the side and sometimes needs a little extra heat. I’ve really enjoyed this and during those awfully cold nights, Coco snoozed in front of our tiny heater. I hesitated to use it at first because I had heard so many horror stories of fires and accidents with space heaters. This one is safe, though. It automatically cuts off if it is overturned.

Leg Cramps or Spasms

I have suffered from leg cramps for years, often coming in the middle of the night. Quick remedy – potato chips and/or tonic [which is just quinine water] – both are best. Longer term remedy- potassium pills, bought over the counter where vitamins are sold. I first heard of the potato chip remedy when I got painful leg cramps, on the Autobahn, in Germany. As soon as he could, Bruce pulled off and bought the chips. I don’t know where he heard of it. Now, most often, we buy a package containing several small bags of chips. They stay fresh and I can keep a bag in my room.

Dee and I are trying to teach the kids to cook and wash up properly in the kitchen, and here are some of the tips we have developed in recent years.

· Novice Cooks Take Note: Wash your hands frequently while cooking.

· When something is about to burn, move the pot away from the burner; adjust; then return carefully.

· Wooden spoons are your friends, wash them by hand.

· Wash knives by hand. Never soak anything with wood attached.

· Always PREHEAT the oven unless the recipe says otherwise. Cakes don’t bake properly when placed in a cold oven.

· Wash your hands with hot soapy water after handling uncooked chicken! Wash everything the chicken touched, too.

· Don’t serve food you have not tasted with a clean spoon or don’t be insulted when people grab the salt shaker.

· As you cook, taste. It’s the best way to adjust seasonings.

· Never talk on the phone or turn your back while: scrambling eggs, making a white [cream] sauce, or making gravy.

· When an item smells like it is burning, it probably is.

· Don’t leave the oven door open when you remove a dish to check for doneness.

· Always leave the oven door open a little at the top when broiling.

· Don’t raise the lid on a pot of rice until the proper cooking time has finished.

· Wipe off the bottom of any glass dish before putting in the oven, otherwise it might break if it’s wet.

· Rare beef will not poison you. Fake vomit sounds will result in your eating alone just before you give the kitchen a thorough cleaning. [gee, wonder what inspired this one?!]

· On the other hand, undercooked chicken is a no no.

· Elbow length oven mitts on both hands are not needed when putting a cold dish into the oven.

· My teeth are nearly as old as I am. Therefore, I will not eat anything that may cause them to break or remove a filling. (I have to remind the kids of that sometimes.)

· Do not stack china plates on top of glasses in the sink.

· Wash your hands before unloading the dishwasher.

· Do not place the sugar spoon in your tea then return it to the sugar bowl.

· Measure and place all ingredients for a recipe in one spot before starting to cook.

· Did I mention this before? WASH YOUR HANDS! With soap!

I feel so sorry for grandparents who are off on cruises and European trips. They are missing half the fun of hanging out with their grandkids, and those special good night kisses right after the dog has been smooched.

In the immortal words of Julia Child, Bon Appetit!