Author: JoAnn


A Dog Named Spot


                            

One morning, my mama sent my older brother down our long steep driveway to check the mailbox.  My brother came back into the house with excitement, explaining he had seen an animal in the woods.  He wasn’t sure what kind of animal, but it was laying in the thick brush across from our mailbox.  We all wondered if someone injured the animal.  My brother went back down the driveway to check things out further.  When he returned, he informed us that the animal was a dog.  But he couldn’t get her to come to him.  

My mama was concerned that someone had “dumped” the poor dog at the end of our driveway in hopes we would take her in.  Thinking she may be sick or injured, my mama told us to stay away from her for now, for risk of being bitten.  She would send Daddy down to investigate.

You are probably wondering why we didn’t rush to the poor dog, offer our help, take her to the vet if needed, etc.  But this was the early 1960s, and we lived in a very rural area.  This was not the first stray animal to be left at the end of our driveway.  There had been several cats and dogs over the many years my parents had owned their property.  It seemed people were more apt to dump animals in rural areas because it was faster and cheaper for them, and in hopes the animals would have a chance of being taken in by farmers.  I know it is sad and disgusting, but that’s just what folks did back then.  I still live in a rural area, and unfortunately, this practice is continues.  

The next day, Mama sent my brother to check on the dog.  She was still there.  He again gave her something to eat and some water.  She responded but did not move from the brush.  The third day, my brother checked on her again.  This time he came running back up the driveway.  When he got to the top of the drive, he happily exclaimed, “She’s got puppies!”.  Of course, my sister and I were ecstatic!  PUPPIES!  I had never seen or held an actual puppy.  It felt like Christmas morning.  

Even though my mama was concerned about this stray dog, and all the problems bringing it to our home could cause, she couldn’t deny how it made her feel.  It pulled on her heart strings and she just had to see the mama and her pups.  It took some coaxing, but finally, the mama dog allowed my brother to lead her up the driveway to our front yard.  

The beautiful Collie mix was white with black spots.  Mama immediately named her “Spot”.  I don’t remember exactly how the puppies made it up the driveway, but I do remember there were a lot of them!  And they all looked just like their mommy.

My favorite memory of the puppies was when I would sit in the cool, thick clover patch on the side of the hill in our front yard and my daddy would let them loose from their pen.  I would call for them and they would come running to attack me with puppy kisses.  I often wondered if that is what Heaven is like for a dog lover.  I sure hope so.

The puppies grew fat and happy and were soon ready to be weaned from their mama.  We kids understood from the beginning that the pups would eventually have to find homes.  One Saturday morning, Mama told us that people would be coming by to look at the puppies.  One by one a car would arrive and yet another stranger would get out.  They would look at the pups, talk to daddy, take their pick of the litter, and leave.  It was so sad to see each puppy go, but we knew the importance of each one having their own loving home.  Spot seemed sad too.  I’m sure she felt a little lost without her energetic brood. 

Spot turned out to be an exceptionally sweet dog.  She was a very good girl.  We had the blessing of loving her for many years to come.  Much to my delight, Spot even brought another litter of puppies into our lives the next Spring.  Mama and Daddy were not so delighted and made sure that was the last puppy litter to adorn our yard.  I remember thinking that puppies running around the yard were so much better than chickens!

                        …JoAnn  


Deflated Santa…by JoAnn


This week, all around the neighborhood, many people are just now getting to the job of packing away their outdoor holiday decorations.  I had to chuckle when I drove by one house where this tremendous blow-up Santa lay deflated.  He was lying on the ground, with a gentle breeze blowing across him as if it were trying to resuscitate new life.  Nearby were Santa’s trusty inflatable reindeer, also flat as pancakes.  These characters gave so much joy for a few weeks, now to only be burdens.  Fun to display and entertain neighbors and passersby.  Now a headache for the owners to pack away neatly and find a place to store them for another eleven months.  No one ever seems as excited to pack up these bad boys as they were to display them.  

I too usually feel a little deflated after the holidays.  Some years I have felt very deflated.  Wishing the good cheer and cozy feelings of Christmas could last forever.  But this year I was eager to get to the last chapter in the saga titled 2020.  Ready for a brand-new year, with new hopes and dreams to fulfill.

Unfortunately, the new year had a vast variety of baggage to drag into 2021.  Not ideal at all, but it’s not always how you start the race, but how you finish.  So, my hopes are that by the end of this new year, that old baggage from 2020 is taken care of and can rest in its rightful place.  I too hope to take care of some unwanted issues this year and end my race next December victorious.    

Under the circumstances, I feel okay about how I ended my race this past year.  I reached new growth as an individual, which is my goal for every year.  No matter how perfect you may think you are, I can assure you, there is always room for improvement!  I got through a pandemic which I had never experienced before.  We can all pat ourselves on the back for that one.  My body, mind, and soul are still intact, and in fairly good working order.  And there is still plenty to be thankful for!  Not a bad way to end a year.  Especially one like 2020.

How have you begun your new race for this year?  I hope it is with fresh eyes, plenty of faith, and good health.  I hope it fills you with the eagerness of all things newly birthed and can see a lot of light in your future.  I hope you do not allow the plights of this world to slow down your personal race this year and that you can keep your personal vision clear and strong moving forward. 

We all have a brand-new year to share.  Start with yourself to make it the best year you can.  With that, you will share it in a positive manner with others. 

I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all of you that have read my posts in the past, and especially to the ones who continue to come back to read more.  I am grateful for each one of you.  For those that are generous enough to take the time to leave a comment for me, thank you!  Your kind comments humble me and give me more joy than you can ever know.  You encourage me to continue writing.    

                           Happy New Year!  JoAnn       


Give Me Coffee


By JoAnn

Just say the word coffee and my mouth waters.  What is it about this dark brew, made from a little bean of all things, that has fans at its beck and call every morning?  

I, like millions of others, love a good cup of Joe.  There is no better way to start the day than with the aroma of a fresh pot of coffee brewing.  That smell is so adored, even candle makers have tried to duplicate it! 

Coffee has been around for centuries and is considered a staple all around the world.  Did you know the coffee bean is actually the seed of a fruit?  Producers refer to this small fruit as a coffee cherry.  When the seed is removed and roasted, you get the coffee bean that we all know and love.  

Who in the world would have thought to take a pit from a small fruit and roast it?  That appears to have been a man in Yemen during the 15th century.  Coffee seeds were first roasted in Arabia and brewed similarly, as we do today.       

On the top 5 list of reasons to drink coffee, you will find its caffeine content what most coffee drinkers crave.  A nice little pick me up first thing in the morning is a pleasant way to get the day started.  I for one cannot tolerate the caffeine in coffee, but with today’s technology, I have found decaffeinated coffee that tastes just as good as the regular.  So, I can still enjoy my favorite hot beverage.   

So how do you like your coffee?  Hot is definitely the majority win, but there are many iced fans out there as well.  When I was a younger adult, I liked a little coffee in my cup of milk.  Now as a seasoned adult, I prefer it piping hot, with a small amount of half & half added.  No sugar, please.  Although a lot of fans love sugar added to their Java.  

There are many, many ways to prepare coffee.  The fad now is the single cup brew machines.  I do not taste a good cup of coffee from these fancy little pods.  To me, it does not compare to an old-fashioned brewed coffee.  I also am not a big fan of the Mr. Coffee style pots.  The flavor is not pure enough for me.  When I was growing up, my mother had a stove top percolator.  I have graduated to a stainless steel, electric percolator.  Living alone, I purchased a simple 6 cup pot for under $35.  It’s easy to use, takes up very little counter space, and makes a delicious, brewed Joe.  

If drinking coffee is not your thing, but you still like the flavor, I have added coffee to a long list of recipes.  From ice cream, to chocolate cakes and brownies, it seems we can add coffee to hundreds of recipes.  There is even a technique that coats a steak with coffee grounds before cooking.  It seems the coffee rub acts not only as a tenderizer but also enhances all other flavors added.  

My favorite of course would be the classic Italian dessert of Tiramisu.  The coffee-soaked sponge cake, filled with rich Mascarpone cheese and sprinkled with a thick layer of cocoa, is one of the best deserts in the world!  The word Tiramisu means “pick me up” or “cheer me up”.  It lives up to its name.  

Whatever way you like your coffee, rest assured you have millions of other fans in the world to keep you company.  Whether you prefer to drink at home, your favorite little diner, or fancy coffee shop, sip slowly and savor every drop.  Drink a cup for me! 


The “C” in Christmas by JoAnn


Some words should never be misspelled, and Christmas is one of them.  I have few pet peeves, but the one on the top of my list has to be the big “X” used to replace Christ in Christmas.

As a Christian, to see someone replace Christ’s name with a big ole X, is offensive.  I say the “o” word cautiously, as I know that in this day and time, people can be offended at the drop of a hat.  But to replace the name of the one whose entire existence is reason for the season, really makes me sad, and a little angry.  

I understand Christmas is a lengthy word to place on a decorated window, or to write in a quick text.  But if you remove Christ, what exactly does XMAS mean?  If you are a believer like me, I can’t fathom it not hurting your heart to replace your Lord and Saviors name with a big X.  And if you are not a believer, then why are you wishing someone a merry anything?

Over my life, I have happened upon many an unbeliever.  It always surprised me when the same people who preached God to not exist, did indeed celebrate at Christmas time.  They would put up a tree, decorate their homes, send out holiday cards (careful to not include anything resembling Christ), and would exchange gifts on Christmas morning.  I never understood why.  I spent time in their homes, enjoying their holiday cheer.  But at the end of the day, no mention of Christ’s birthday was ever made.  I walked away wondering what exactly were they celebrating?  Their own Winter holiday?  I guess so.       

I imagine this debate has been going on for a very long time, and probably one of the reasons the sayings “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” came about.  I really don’t mind those two greetings, I find them cheery and respectful.  Just don’t X out my Lord.  After all, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  If you feel this to be a myth or fairy tale, please don’t disrespect His name by using an X.  Simply choose another expression of holiday cheer.  There is no need to offend people like myself, who hold the Lord’s name with such love in their hearts. 

I’ll climb down from my soap box now.  Merry Christmas! 


The Christmas Doll


 

💚Most everyone has a favorite toy they remember receiving as a kid for Christmas.  The memory of that beloved toy stays with them throughout their life.  Bringing back loving thoughts of Christmas, Santa Claus, and family. 

🧡My sister and I received a lot of beautiful toys growing up.  Our wonderful mother made sure of it.  She would save money all year long just for our Christmas gifts.  Toys and clothes, we thought Santa brought.  Now an adult, I realize it wasn’t Santa Claus, but a very loving mother!

We only received toys at Christmas in my house.  Only exception being if my sister or I ended up in the hospital sick or having surgery.  I didn’t understand why we couldn’t have toys throughout the year.  But now, I think my mama was onto something.  We ended up truly appreciating every toy we ever received and took excellent care of them.  And the suspense and excitement for Santa’s arrival was off the charts!  

💛No doubt my mother enjoyed this Christmas game as much as we did.  Sometimes, I wonder if she enjoyed it even more.  Mama grew up during the Great Depression.  I remember her sharing a story of how she always wanted a doll for Christmas and never received one.  Every year she would ask, and my grandma would sadly tell her that they could not afford one.  She told us that one year she asked for a doll that only cost a nickel.  Hoping that just maybe, a nickel could be spared.  The answer for a Christmas doll was still no.  

My mama’s sad story fueled her passion for Christmas with my sister and me.  Mama still loved dolls.  Now she had two little girls of her own that she could shower with the most beautiful baby dolls at Christmas time.  And with that came the joys of playing the role of Santa.  A role she took very seriously.  

💙Every year, the Sear’s Christmas Wish Book would arrive.  Mama would proudly hand it over to me and my sister Jeanie.  We would spend hours upon hours dreaming over the toys that book held in its pages.  Mama would often come around while we were studying the catalog and casually ask what we liked.  If it had been a particularly good year financially, Mama would actually tell us to pick out the doll we wanted Santa to bring.  That didn’t happen often, but when it did, the excitement was overwhelming.  Especially on Christmas morning when we would find the exact doll under the tree.  It made us feel a very personal connection to Santa Claus.  I can only imagine the pure joy it gave to Mama.

💜I don’t mean to leave my daddy out of this story.  He enjoyed very much seeing us receive toys.  But Christmas was just Mama’s thing.  I think he knew what she had gone through growing up and how much joy it brought her to play Santa and do all she did for us.  So, daddy let mama take the reins of Santa’s sleigh so to speak.

Do you still remember the special toy you received on Christmas?

Here’s hoping all of you have a glorious holiday season.  Merry Christmas!