Please click on Posts by Topic in navigation to read postings and columns about the many humorous (in retrospect) events encountered by my family, friends and me. The above drawings by son Greg (way over qualified for that task) illustrated a couple of my books. You may click on each to enlarge if you wish to see more detail. And, yes, I really did hit an owl on the highway and unknowingly drive all over town with him hanging from the grille.
Click on the cover to buy or read excerpts from the book.
Rosie the Riveter meets Elvis
Yesterday, Bob Lockwood, my friend and classmate, and I went to the home in rural Topeka of Katie Sherrow, 102, and Pat Martin, 91. Bob, who is a talented Elvis tribute artist, serenaded these two energetic and appreciative ladies for more than an hour, presented them with "Elvis" scarves and one of his CDs. He was casual Elvis yesterday, sans wig and sideburns, wearing a puffy shirt, flared pants and white boots, but they absolutely loved his living-room performance and occasionally sang along with him.
It was a long-delayed performance. Initially, Ray and I had planned a big 100th birthday party for Katie. We rented a venue that would accommodate 120 guests and Bob had agreed to perform in full Elvis regalia with his live band. Invitations were ready to be mailed and then Covid reared its ugly head and shut everything down. Bob has heard so much about the ladies and has been anxious to meet them so yesterday we made it happen ... finally.
Ray and I were fortunate to meet Katie and Pat when I was commissioned to write a magazine article about Katie, who was a Rosie the Riveter during WWII. Katie and Pat are hard-workers taking care of 12+ acres (Katie mows with a John Deer riding mower and weedwhacks while Pat mows the fields with a Ford N tractor). They are kind and sharp as tacks. I hope they live forever!
For 15 years, I wrote a humor column, Jest for Grins, for the Journal-World. Several of those columns featured snakes because of my frequent encounters with those reptiles. The links below will take you to two columns. In the first, I document the necessary (call it self-defense) killing of a snake. I wrote that it had to help the snake gene pool that Ray dispatched the aggressive water snake that came after him when he was carrying a hoe. In the second, I mention a nasty email I received from a guy who was irate that the snake had been killed and said we should pave our yard if snakes weren’t welcome. In the second column, I mention that nasty email and my husband Ray’s reaction to it.
Click here to read “The Joys of Spring.”
Click here to read “Guppy: a Fishy Name for a Truck.”
Someone posted a video of a little boy with Down Syndrome and it made me think of Ray’s Aunt Jeanetta who also had Down Syndrome. Back in the 1920s and ‘30s when she was school age, she wasn’t allowed to go to school and had no opportunity to learn. When her mother—with whom she lived—died, Ray’s parents built a couple of rooms for Jeanetta onto their home in the country. Ray’s mother Christina taught Jeanetta how to read and write at the age of 36. Jeanetta was capable of learning; she just hadn’t had the chance.
Christina may have seemed an unlikely teacher because she was forced to quit school in third grade and go to work to help support her large family. But she was intelligent and an avid reader and she educated herself. She surprised me on many occasions about how much she knew on a wide variety of subjects. I am posting a photo of my amazing mother-in-law above.
When Ray and I were expecting our first child, I worried about Down Syndrome and learned that heredity is not a factor. Most babies are born with 46 chromosomes, but babies with Down Syndrome have a copy of Chromosome 21. It can happen to anyone at any time. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had a daughter with Down Syndrome and Dale wrote a book about her titled Angel Unaware. That little girl died very young; Jeanetta lived to be 65.
I am glad that today’s children with Down Syndrome can attend school and learn as much as their ability allows.
I should have had the above photo of Ray with me in a Dallas hospital and spared him the frantic MRI that showed he did not have a stroke. He had just returned to SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit) after an almost day-long surgery to successfully repair an aortic aneurysm and was coming out of anesthesia. He made sense when he spoke to the nurse and me, but he was slurring his words.
My sense of humor sometimes causes trouble for me; this time it caused trouble for Ray. He rarely drank alcohol so my first thought of saying, “He sounds like he is drunk, doesn’t he?” did not seem appropriate. Instead I said, “He sounds like he’s had a stroke.”
“Stroke?” questioned the nurse. “STROKE!”
“No, no,” I corrected, “I was just joking.”
Unfortunately, she wasn’t, and called CODE STROKE despite my protests that he had slurred his words coming out of anesthesia after a previous surgery. The room filled with medical personnel, including several from neurology. The big concern, in addition to slurred words, was that his smile was one sided. I told them that was not unusual, that he often smiled that way. I continued to say that he was fine, that I had been joking, to just give it an hour and his speech would be normal, but they hurriedly wheeled him in his bed to Imaging for an MRI.
They returned to report that the MRI was normal and he had not had a stroke. The records also state that fact as well as this notation: “The wife was not concerned.”
For 15 years, I wrote a humor column titled Jest for Grins for my local Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World
newspaper.While I stay busy with speaking engagements, writing articles and books and serving as editor and primary writer of a newspaper for a non-profit agency, I really miss writing about the funny things life throws my way. This website allows me to do that.
I freely admit to being a control freak who wants to do things on my own, but my good friend Ruth has been a tremendous help to me. I kept trying to make this website perfect before publishing, but finally decided that was like waiting to have children until you can afford them: it will never happen. So here it is; you'll get to watch it improve.
If you develop into a frequent Jest for Grins visitor, you'll quickly become familiar with my usual cast of characters: husband Ray, sons Ray, Jr. (aka Butch) and Greg, daughters-in-law Linda and Valerie, grandchildren B.J., Gabe, Sammi and Zoe, sisters Lesta, Bette and Vicki, as well as a host of family and friends (not one of whom is boring). If the topic has the potential to be embarrassing to them, be assured that they read it and gave it their OK (otherwise, sister Lesta has threatened to sue me).