Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving in our family means food, football and family.   Or if you ask Dougie, it’s football family, and food, in that order.

 We have celebrated some unconventional Thanksgivings.  One year our “turkey dinner” was in fact turkey hot dogs served at Texas Stadium while watching the Cowboys (see? football before food).  Another year, actually a few years in a row, we attended the traditional Oklahoma UniversityUniversity of Nebraska Friday-after-Thanksgiving game.   We had a good friend who played for Nebraska, and another dear friend who is a HUGE Oklahoma fan, so it was always good times.

 Another year, we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner while blissfully floating in the Caribbean, no snow, no football, no worries, mon.   A few years back, we had the very exciting opportunity to stay in New York City for Thanksgiving, and enjoyed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, fulfilling a childhood dream of mine; in fact I still get choked up recalling those memories.


Of course we’ve also done the traditional meal, with aunts & uncles, cousins, in-laws and more.  One year, very early in our marriage, we went to my aunt’s house, and I believe there were easily 25 or more people there.  That’s the football-watching side of my family, so I knew Dougie would fit right in.  It also happens to be the side of the family with a couple of mildly developmentally disabled cousins, but they’re cool, they’re family, and the fact they’re a little different just is, ya know?  However, remember this was early in our marriage, and Dougie didn’t really know much of the family yet.   Doug’s pretty social, and I wasn’t at all worried about him finding a group of my cousins to bond with, so I just kind of turned him loose and gravitated myself to the kitchen.   It also did not occur to me to point out anyone who was special or different.  Again, they’re just regular folks to me.   A few hours later, I found Doug, who had found the TV, some football, and a group to bond with – Wayne and Larry.   He was on the couch smack dab between the two, neither of whom shower regularly, and both of whom were so excited to be the first cousins to really get to know Doug well.  I think the stack of Coors Light cans on the table in front of them helped the Cowboys/Packers/whatever win that day!    It was a very endearing scene, and the memory of it makes me love Dougie even more.


So for 2008, we are excited to be at home and sharing the day with some very dear friends, who are practically family to us.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and a few others will grace our table.  Including pecan-gingersnap-caramel-pumpkin cheesecake that is in my fridge right now, just begging me to have one. little. taste. Resistance is futile!

 When I get up early Thursday morning, I will think of my dad, who always made a turkey to take to Grandma’s.  I remember coming downstairs, rubbing sleep from my eyes, and seeing Dad at the kitchen table reading the paper, keeping an eye on the Turkey.

 I also remember the first Thanksgiving I ever hosted.   It was my mom and dad, and Doug’s folks, at our house in Cedar Rapids.  I was nervous at hell, but everything turned out and nobody got sick, so I guess it was fine.  After dinner, Dad and I went on a nice long walk in my neighborhood and he shared some great stories and told me he was very proud of me.  That was the last Thanksgiving before Dad’s stroke, and a memory I cherish. 


In football news, our household was honored to host the Varsity team last night for a pasta party.  Their final game of the season is tonight.  I lost count around 28 young men, but I think almost the entire time attended.   And man can those boys eat!   They were incredibly polite, cleaned up after themselves, and were in and out of the house by 6:30 pm.  Wait a sec, so some nights I can’t get dinner on the table for my own family before 8 o’clock, but I can feed ~30 hearty eaters as early as 5:30?   Whatever, I have issues ok?

 I am so proud of NKB for his football accomplishments this year.   Doesn’t he look great (#21)?


 Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.  – Erma Bombeck


Happy Thanksgiving friends, kk

Friday, November 21, 2008

The very first “From the Round Oak Table” ever:


November 21, 1974

I have a new appreciation for anyone who has ever built a new house and must make all the endless decisions about all the paraphanelia [sic] that goes into a project of this magnitude.

We are redecorating one room – the kitchen.  Just about the time I think I’ve said all that there is to be said on the subject and made all the decisions necessary, the contractor brings up just one more point.  In the past few weeks, I’ve seen the insides of more wholesale and retail establishments then I ever dreamed existed.  And I’m not done yet.  I still have to find the right hinges and knobs to go on the cupboards.  This experience renews my resolution that my next home is going to be a Quonset hut, partitioned by curtains, that I can hose down each week to get rid of the grime and junk.


Took three of my kids to see "Benji" this week.  It is a good show… very definitely one of the flicks that all the "anti-porno" advocates are asking for. As I sat enjoying this touching story of a dog's love, I wondered why the theatre built for so many was only one-fifth filled. Why don't the people who yell about an X-rated film, yell louder about a movie like “Benji” so the theatre will really be filled.  Only when movies of this type are supported, will they be produced on a regular basis.


A friend of mine helped take a census of Altoona. Being the loving person she is, she not only took the census, but took the time to spend a few extra minutes visiting with people who seemed to need her presence. Result: She told the two gals she prays with each week about some of these people and they are now planning to visit some of the elderly in Altoona and Mitchellville on a regular basis.  Do you know someone in your neighborhood or community that would appreciate a visit from you?


Before we buy another car in this household, we will talk to the mechanic who maintains the car.  More and more I am finding out that the salesman is only told the good features of a car… never the bad; therefore he cannot be objective.  The manufacturer of the car I drive is no longer making it in ’75 because of the bugs it has and their inability to get rid of them.  Ugh!!!!! In ’72 when we bought it, the sales man was enthusiastic, but the mechanic hesitant.


Several people in Beaver Township were unable to vote in the November 5 election because of a rigid enforcement of a portion of the voter registration law.  It is sad that the instruction to the judges and clerks allowed no leeway.  Many people who had lived in Mitchellville all their lives were denied the right to vote by the election board because they had moved in the precinct since the last election.  The purpose of the portion of the law requiring voters to report changes of address is to prevent fraud… not deny a citizen his vote.


Reminisced this week with Mrs. Hibbs of the YWCA (on of Dog Ragan’s daughters) about many of you.  She is a lovely lady.  She still gets the local paper and so keeps up on many of the local doings.  She told me about the first winter they lived in Mitchellville.  Said her dad was going to school and her mom was busy nursing the three kids who had whooping cough.  She remembers really being sick. Isn’t it great to know that in this day and age we can inoculate [sic] our children against whooping cough?


We had our first snowfall of significance.  It looks so beautiful in the early morning or late at night.  But I always remember the year we were carrying papers and then it didn’t look good at any hour.  And I think of the school bus drivers who must have those yellow monsters on the road in the nastiest of weather conditions. And I think of the service station operators who get calls to start cards or pull them out of ditches. As the really bad time of year approaches, weather-wise, use caution and sense as you are on the road. And if you are lucky enough to be at home, say an extra prayer for all those who have to be out… especially those serving you.


A sympathy award goes to Dr. Ellen of our community who broke her leg recently. She is doing just great and has her own cast now, after spending three days on her living room sofa waiting for the swelling to go down with her daughter’s used cast and an elastic bandage wrapped around her leg.


The RAMPAGE from SEP that appears in our paper is quite well done.  Worthy of being read, with Chuck Platter of our community doing some good articles. Also notice that he is not afraid of getting into hot water.


If you’ve ever been involved in a heated argument, you will appreciate this joke:  A motorist and his wife had gotten into a violent argument and neither would change his or her side.  They had not spoken for miles when the husband pointed to a mule in a pasture and asked, “Relative of yours?”  “Yes,” she replied, “by marriage.”


Keep America beautiful… Smile.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From the archives, Round Oak Table November 19, 1981

Faithful followers, you all know that this site exists because my mom was the ORIGINAL BLOGGER, back before it was even called Blogging. Back before Al Gore invented the internet. Heck, back before e-mail, eBay and YouTube (gasp!). Mom’s weekly column, “From the Round Oak Table” was a lovely little snapshot into our daily lives, and into Mom’s perspective on life. Many, many columns are devoted to political events, encouraging folks toward activism, and even an occasional rant (as we call them today) on people/the government/JPK (Dad)/her lovely children (not me of course) doing one stupid thing or another.

So on Friday, 11/21/08, I will have a very special post for you. I found Mom’s first column ever, and I’ll be posting it Friday… which happens to be the 34th anniversary of the date that first column was published, November 21, 1974. It’s delightful! It’s delicious! It’s de-lovely! Ooo, I digress, sorry. Check back in on Friday for this piece of ROT history.

In the meantime, here’s a quintessential MMK column, from November 19, 1981. Mom talks about her favorite subject, me (just kidding sisters… I know Mom loves you too!), praises our local post office, the recession (THAT one, not THIS one), and offers some great advice on how to dress stylishly without breaking the bank… although the folks at LaCoste might not appreciate it.

As a side note, Mom’s columns often give me insight into things I never knew about her and Dad. There is also a bit in this column about the prison coming to our town. The facility had previously been a juvenile facility for girls, and was later converted into an adult prison. Now in my memory, the prison was not a bad thing, and in fact Dad and Mom volunteered many hours of ministry to the residents there. However, I never knew until exactly today that Mom actually opposed it, initially. I would like to point out that she did not oppose the prison on “not-in-my-backyard” grounds, but rather took the position that more services should be available for youth, to prevent the need for more adult facilities. Good position Mom, I’m proud of you for that one!


Without further ado, ROT Nov 19, 1981:

From the Round Oak Table
November 19, 1981

In an effort to understand
big numbers, the sixth grade
math class taught by Mrs.
Ruth Kerby, Mitchellville Elementary,
is collecting pop
bottle caps. Earlier in the year
the goal was 1,000,000 caps.
That has been shaved to
10,000 which is still quite a
lofty number. At this time
they have approximately 2,000
caps. It was Katie's turn to
count bottle caps the other
night and she involved the
whole family. Two thousand
caps weigh about 12 pounds
and fill a large grocery bag
about three-quarters full. Anyone
interested in contributing
to this math project should
contact a student in Mrs.
Kerby's class.
If you want overnight service
on first class mail, bring it
to Mitchellville. I recently
mailed a letter to Norwalk at
4:45 p.m. one day and it had
arrived at that destination by
10:00 a.m. the next day. In
contrast my folks, who live on
the west side of Des Moines,
were still waiting on Saturday
for a letter that had been
mailed Wednesday from a
friend on the east side of Des
Moines. Perhaps the river was
too high and couldn't be
forded last week . . . I don't
know. Anyhoo, our local P.O.
personnel deserve thanks for
efficient service.
Why a little alligator emblem
sewn on a shirt is so
"necessary" is beyond most
of us, since the cost of these
shirts is so prohibitive to the
ordinary family's budget. But
a group of enterprising young
people have found a way to
beat the cost. They discovered
that a pair of Izod socks is only
$3.00 and each pair sports one
alligator. By carefully removing
that alligator it can be
sewn on a discount store shirt
and thus one has a "preppie,"
"in" shirt at half the cost.
Now who said teens aren't
enterprising and imaginative?
It's hard to believe that this
country is in a recession and
times are hard when a major
department store advertises
women's blouses at $100 and
up. That is scandalous, hard
times or not. In the good old
days, J. C. Penney's in
downtown Des Moines was
the best place to buy blouses.
For $3.00 apiece we could
have an oxford cloth shirt for
every day in the week and if
we really wanted something
special, then $5.00 was the
going rate. By the way, this is
an excellent time to clothes
shop — some stores are
practically giving things away.
But as Katie said on a recent
mall trip as we scoured
through clearance racks
“I can see why these things are
on clearance and I hope
somebody named Clarence
comes along and buys them —
I wouldn't."
Governor Ray gave the best
argument in the world for
maintaining Mitchellville
Training School as a juvenile
facility. In a speech at a crime
conference he cited statistics
showing juveniles were involved
in a large amount of the
crimes committed in this
state. He didn't go far enough
and suggest ways to prevent
these juveniles, from becoming
adult offenders. Certainly closing
Mitchellville and turning it
into an adult facility doesn't
make a lot of sense to some of
us. Why not expand efforts for
kids instead of cutting? It was
nice of the Legislature to set
up a Commission to study the
best use of our facility; it was
nice of the Commission to
study the problem and listen
to citizens, but many of us feel
the futility of the whole effort.
We know that individual legislators
will still coerce and
bargain to protect their own
turf, disregarding what might
be best for the state as a
whole. It will take legislators
with vision to see things
long-range and do something
positive about juvenile criminals
becoming adult criminals/
Did you ever feel that
Iowa's criminal justice system
is similar to the dog that
chased its tail around in a
The big trouble with people
who believe only half they
hear — is that they usually
believe the wrong half.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A lesson from Thomas

I had a humbling moment this week, involving a special person I barely know, and it’s weighing heavily on my mind. I think this is God talking to me, trying to teach me a lesson, and I’m working hard to understand it.

Several weeks ago, on a Sunday, I learned that the 8 year old son of an acquaintance had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. On Saturday, the day before. This seemed so sudden and strange and wrong. The kid woke up with a bad tummy ache Saturday morning, they took him to the walk-in clinic, and BOOM cancer. Wait, is this how it goes? One day your life is perfect, your kids are perfect, you’re worried about the economy and the election and mowing the lawn before rain, and then BOOM life is suddenly altered. Candidates, carpools, the weather forecast, your checkbook balance – who gives a crap?? Your baby your BABY is hurting and suddenly nothing else matters.

In August, I did a two week gig as Sunday school teacher, and sweet Thomas and his older brother were in my class. I was instantly captivated by Thomas’s blond curls and easy laughter. Our lesson involved drawing a picture of what makes each of us special. Thomas drew a very excellent ping pong table, and in describing it to the rest of the class he had just a hint of sarcasm to his humor that I loved! Once I put two and two together and realized I knew his mom and dad from the choir, I picked him as my guy to razz a bit – having him demonstrate the “dance” we were doing for the rest of the class, and making him my line leader. Nothing major, but just something a little special.

Just two weeks after that, we learned of his diagnosis, and each Sunday since have continued to pray for Thomas and his entire family. But for me, it’s not just on Sundays, I can’t stop thinking about him. At the grocery store, I wonder if I can pick up his favorite candy bar? In the car on the way to soccer, I think “is he well enough to play outside?” Helping with homework, signing a note to ride the bus home with a friend, sending in treats for a class party, I pause each time to think about Thomas’s life now.

Earlier this week, I had an eye problem that caused severe stay-awake-all-night-in-pain pain for a few nights, and my thoughts again turned to Thomas, at times praying for rest from my own ache and other times offering up my suffering in exchange for Thomas’s. But most of the time reminding myself that what I was going through was nothing compared to what Thomas is dealing with.

I went through the drive-up lane at CVS yesterday to drop off a prescription. I got in the lane, second car back at 5:07. After several minutes, I remarked to BB that those folks in front of us should have gone inside, since they were tying up the drive thru for so long. Several more minutes later, at 5:18 (11 minutes, sheesh!!!), I expressed my impatience by inching up just a bit, and my daughter and I were mutually complaining to each other about the long wait. I’m sure that other driver knew I was back there, and was probably feeling just the right amount of guilt for making me (ME!) wait.

Just one minute later, the CVS clerk handed out a very large shopping bag to the driver of the car in front of me. As she reached forward, I saw her face reflected in the mirror, and realized it was Kate, Thomas’s mother. I could see his tow head in the back seat. I was instantly humbled. MY troubles, MY eleven minutes… they’re nothing in contrast. I am an ass, and God showed me first hand yesterday. I think that’s what He was trying to tell me.

Still searching for answers. Still yearning for guidance. Still praying for Thomas. Won’t you join me?



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daughter BB recently launched a discussion of the word “Antidisestablishmentarianism.” It’s now a staple in her vocabulary repertoire and she’s using it regularly in her school work and social interactions.

Ok, not really. We did discuss the word in the context of taking a really hard vocabulary word and breaking it down to the root word. Anti – dis – establish – ment – arian – ism (English majors out there – I’m quite aware that this probably isn’t properly decoded, thank you very much. Works for me.) This lead to a very interesting discussion of “the establishment.” And boy-howdy are her ears ever alert these days for any references to “they,” as in “the powers that be.” As in “they are tearing up Buckingham Park” or “they rearranged the organic foods section at Stop-n-Shop” or “they added more songs to Rock Band 2.”

So this discussion has caused us to pause and think about who “they” are – to challenge a speaker to define “they,” to question the group-think effect of what “they” say, and to find new ways in our own language to avoid use of an omni-present, all-knowing, Big-Brotherish “they.” For my part, it has caused me to be more thoughtful and precise with word selection.


On the subject of choosing your words wisely...

Many moons ago, when the world was still flat and DB and I were preparing for marriage, we had several lovely pre-marriage counseling sessions with a sweet little Italian woman who’d gone to high school with my mother. Mrs. Cacciatore talked us through communication and commitment, Myers-Briggs personality testing, and shared some sage advice from both her professional training and from her many years of successful marriage and parenting.

A few things stick, even after all this time. First, Dougie is outgoing and social and needs lots of human interaction. I prefer great book or movie and a warm fire. Dougie is energized being out and about with a crowd, while it drains me. The exact opposite is also true – my batteries are recharged by a night in and DB needs an extra boost to make it through. We also learned that the smell of bacon cooking does strange things to a pregnant woman. Don’t ask.

Mrs. Cacciatore also taught us something very interesting about one particular word – YOU. She issued a challenge. Try to make it through an entire day without using the word YOU. You’d be surprised at how hard it is (ha, caught me there, huh?).

Nothing wrong with the word, but in the context of learning to communicate well with a soon-to-be spouse, sometimes it can come off as accusatory, preachy, divisive. Especially as a couple is navigating through their early days.

Did you move my keys?

Are you listening to me?

You’re not listening to me!


I wonder where I put my keys?

Am I speaking loud enough to be heard?

I’m not sure I’m expressing how I really feel.

It’s a challenge, friends. Try going for a day… an hour even, finding OTHER ways to express yourself (dang, did it again!). It might not lead to elimination of the word YOU, but it will help you to think carefully before you speak.

By the way, thanks Mrs. Cacciatore! Still going strong after 17 years!


I don’t know who to thank, or all the mechanics of whether or not it’s a good thing for the US economy, but I’m sure happy to see gas prices that start with $2, rather than $3 or $4 or more… I recently had to get a new vehicle, and the sales person said I should only go with the middle grade gasoline or higher, otherwise it degrades the performance of the engine. Whatever. I’ve only had to get gas once so far, and I did go with the middle button on the gas pump thing, but prices go up again and I’m right back to the low-end stuff.


A huge thank you this week to Dr. P and the makers of Zymar, Vigamox, Polymyxin B-TMP, Cyclopentolate, and Diclofenac eye drops. As a contact lens wearer for more than 20 years, I never had a problem until this week and then WHAM!!! Corneal ulcer. I slept in my contacts – BRIEFLY – on Sunday afternoon, and by Sunday night was in excruciating pain. Under treatment now, but man alive was I ever uncomfortable Sunday through Tuesday. My friend who had this same problem many years ago compared the pain to childbirth, and I totally agree… agonizing, toe-curling CONSTANT pain.

It’s going to take some effort to put contacts back into my eyes – I’ll need to psych myself up for it. In the meantime, get ready for my new KK-does-Sarah-Palin look, friends! I’ll try to avoid the FLDS upswept hair, however.


Big Brother is watching… look busy