Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Birthday Club

I have a lovely group of friends whom I adore. We get together monthly for “Birthday Club” to celebrate the lucky girl who adds another candle to her cake that month. There are 11 of us – one for each month, except November. My dear sweet DB often claims that HE is Miss November, since his birthday actually IS in November. I let him play along, but really, no boys allowed.

We usually get together for drinks and food, at a restaurant or someone’s house. We try to spice things up a bit – bowling, going to a movie (that was a very bad idea), music in the park, manicures/pedicures, ceramics and more. I like it best when we everyone can make it, and when we have opportunities to “share.” “Sharing” for me is a grown up version of the ice breaker games we used to play at summer camp. Topics range from “how’d you meet your husband,” to most embarrassing college story to child-bearing and more. We don’t really have formalized “topics” anymore, because we all know each other so much better than when we started four years ago. Now, “sharing” is deeper and more meaningful discussions about life and love, raising teenagers, living healthy lives, taking care of aged parents. We have different backgrounds and different perspectives, and no one is afraid to share their opinion or give advice. This is the stuff of life, and without these dear friends, these sisters of mine, I would be adrift.

Now that sounds all serious and all, and it is, but really at our core, we’re a bunch of women who like to have a lot of fun! When we go to a restaurant, we are loud – borderline obnoxious? We like to talk and laugh and tell stories. And when you get 11 people in one place – men or women – they’re gonna get loud! Sometimes it’s near to impossible to get a word in edgewise. But we do all seem to manage somehow!

We had a wonderful time last night, with several of us first going for a walk/hike along a nature preserve in our town. Our path followed a very swiftly flowing brook, and at several points we were astounded by the beautiful rapids it produced. We were also amazed to see a few homes along the path – places we never even knew existed, and marveled at how lucky these folks were to live in such a peaceful setting. We ventured just about as far as possible, toward the end climbing over and up moss-covered rocks and fallen trees. We skipped rocks (or is it “skimmed” rocks?) like a bunch of kids, and I could have stayed there forever. But the mosquitoes were a-bitin’ and the rest of our friends (and wine and food!) were a-waitin’ back at the restaurant. It was a great way to burn off some calories (approx 491 for me!) before loading up on a big meal.


A shout out to my sister Liz in California, who’s undergoing major surgery today. I love you sister, and I know you’re in good hands. For anyone out there who’s a praying woman – pray for Liz today. For the surgeons who will heal her. For her daughters who will take care of her. For Pat who loves her. Amen.


"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend."
- Albert Camus

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What's the Round Oak Table?

When I was a kid growing up in small town, USA, my mom wrote a column in the weekly newspaper. It was the only newspaper that covered the six small communities that made up our rural consolidated school district. The column was called "From the Round Oak Table." I suppose the name originated from the idyllic view that Mother, in her spare moments, using fountain pen and personalized heavy-weight stationary, would sit at the kitchen table and jot down sweet musings on the comings and goings of our family, our community and the world. Yeah right.

In truth, the Table was generally covered with the mail, school notices, newspapers, a dish or two, the phone book, some laundry, art projects, and more. Amazingly, the Table was cleared and set for dinner every night - all the stuff piled back on after dinner. Mom's column was composed on her trusty IBM Selectric (or a Selectric II - new machines appeared often), which sat on a rolling typewriter table, which got wheeled around the kitchen and dining room on an as-needed basis. The typewriter table was littered with lift-off tape, ashtrays, spare typeballs, white-out, and scraps of paper representing future columns. Her column was due on Monday mornings, so this generally meant staying up very late on Sunday nights typing, then rushing into town early the next morning to get it into the drop box.

From the Round Oak Table chronicled our family's life and so much more, a sort of pre-historic "blog" if you will. She preserved our privacy, much like today's bloggers - Dad was JPK, sisters and I identified by first name only, and Mom signed off as MMK. But everybody in our small town and the surrounding towns knew who we were. As a kid, I never thought much about Mom's column, it just was. Mom started the ROT in about November 1974, when I was four years old. She retired from the ROT earlier this century. That's 25-plus years of life, opinions, activism, history, and love.

The Round Oak Table covers a wide range of topics: raising a family, living in a small town, local and national politics, taxes and the economy, citizenship, faith, maintaining a household, the weather and much much more. We may even have a few guest writers on occasion.

From time to time, I'll give you a repeat from Mom's archives, but mostly you'll get my 21st century perspective on what's happening 'round the Round Oak Table.