Yesterday, we returned from a wonderful get-together with 62 of our extended family in Tupelo. However, while we were there, we also saw firsthand the terrible tornado damage the town suffered this spring. We were shocked! Our old neighborhood was a mess with hundreds of huge oaks uprooted, tall pines broken off, roofs everywhere covered with blue tarps, and several churches, hotels, and restaurants severely damaged. One place really caught our eye!

Our young friends, Jane and Karl Hansberger, own the franchise to Steak Escape, a small restaurant on Gloster Street. It was completely demolished! Before leaving town this week, we dropped by Baskin Robbins, the other store the Hansbergers operate, to see how our friends were doing. We were so thankful to find them both okay, but Karl told us a harrowing story.

About 2:40 on Monday afternoon, April 28, no customers were in Steak Escape, but Karl and one of his employees were still working. Suddenly, darkness enveloped them, and he heard and saw  an electric transformer out front explode. They ducked into the men’s restroom in the back of the store. The walls around them were shaking and bulging, he said, and when the roar stopped, he had to shove the door hard to push it open.

The rest of the place was gone! Karl’s car outside had all the windows blown out, and it was covered with dents from the flying debris. Somehow, he managed to drive it out to Baskin Robbins at the mall to let Jane know he was okay.

The Baskin Robbins store wasn’t hurt, but they were without electricity for four days, so they lost all their refrigerated items, including dozens of Mother’s Day cakes they had already baked. It was quite a blow for the two of them! Fortunately, insurance covered most of their losses, but they are still dealing with the paper work. They don’t plan to renew their Steak Escape franchise. They’ll just work at Baskin Robbins. They do have a great business there. In fact, they said they’d baked almost 400 cakes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since the tornado!

Jane was a high school student at Belden in Lee County when Robin was principal there in the 1970s, and Robin was like a mentor to her. The two have remained close friends, and Jane continues to send him a birthday card every year. She calls Robin her “adopted dad.”

Now we hope our “adopted daughter” and her husband will have a safe and happy summer!

Today I’ll brag on my man again. Robin shot his age in golf yesterday– scored an 81 on Cortez Golf Course. That means his name will appear in the Village Voice—right there in the “Ageless Wonders” column. : ) He came home a happy man!

This exciting achievement is a great way to end the week because he’s been dealing with some other much less happy things the past few days. For one thing, the deer got into his garden while we were out of town last weekend. They chomped down several of his tomato plants and ate almost all of his bell pepper plants. So this week he’s had to rig up a way to try to keep out the intruders. He went to Village Home Center and bought some tall metal stakes and some bird netting, and he spent all Thursday afternoon getting that strung up around his garden.

Before fixing his “fence,” though, he had an appointment with his hearing aid specialist. However, she couldn’t test his hearing because she discovered both of his ears were plugged with wax! She suggested he go see his doctor, so he left there and went to Mercy Express Care where the nurse practitioner flushed them and cleaned out all the wax. However, in doing that, she irritated his right canal, so she prescribed some antibiotic drops, and now he’s been treating that four times a day.

When he came in from golf, though, he grinned. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling so discombobulated that I was able to play better than usual.”

Could be. : )

We hope all of you have a happy weekend.


Happy Easter! This is always such a glorious day. I hope you have enjoyed it.

One year in Sheveport, our young family had an experience that still brings a chuckle.

Our oldest son, Steve, was a happy, healthy seven-month-old, and I was still breastfeeding him. However, he wasn’t nursing as often as during the earlier months. So when my dad (whom I wrote about in my last blog) asked if I would help him with the music at our community’s annual sunrise service, I agreed. He would lead the crowd in all the familiar Easter hymns and also a musical rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” and I would be his accompanist on the piano.

Robin said he’d be glad to babysit while I was gone. When I left the house before dawn, all was quiet.

It was a beautiful morning, and the service at Centenary College amphitheater was well attended. Young people reenacted the roles of the women coming to the empty tomb on that first Easter morning, and as the sun burst above the horizon, the angel announced “The Lord is Risen!” The congregation joined in singing, and everyone left the service, smiling and full of joy.

After hugging my dad, I headed for home, pulled into the carport, and entered the kitchen. The house was dark. Walking down the hall, I glanced into Steve’s room. His crib was empty. Back in our bedroom, our bed was empty too. Where were my husband and son?

Suddenly, Robin emerged from our walk-in closet with Steve in his arms. “This is the only place I could get where he would stop crying! It was dark, and he couldn’t see anything.”

Steve took one look at me, scrunched up his little face, and tuned up again. “Oh, dear. I guess he was hungry!” I gathered our son into my arms, and we settled down.

My husband laughed. “Happy Easter, Momma! Welcome home! Now we will all have a happy Easter!”

Today, April 11,  I’m thinking about my dad. Since I wrote about Mom on her birthday last November, I thought today I’d share a few memories about the man whose “larger-than-life” personality dominated my early years and whose loving example still influences me today.

Marion Edmond Mischler (everyone called him “Misch”) was born in Vincennes, Indiana, on April 11, 1911. Today’s date is also significant, because on April 11, 1992—Easter Sunday that year—my sister Cathy and I scattered Daddy’s ashes in Caddo Lake, north of Shreveport, Louisiana. This was a favorite fishing spot for Dad, who would row out onto the lake every chance he got, pull in a couple of nice bass, bring them home, clean and filet them, and pan fry them for supper.

Fishing was a lifelong hobby. Before moving to Shreveport in 1953, we lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and I can remember many a Sunday afternoon, he’d load all of us into our 1939 Mercury and off we’d go to Prairie Lee Lake. Mother would rest and read, and Cathy and I would play around the picnic grounds while Daddy stepped down to the lake with his rod and reel.

Daddy was  a Y.M.C.A. executive his entire career. As a youth, he became active in the “Y” in Chicago during the late 1920s where he worked in the community with other young people who were caught up in street gangs. Daddy talked about how he often met with Al Capone, even in his home for dinner, where Dad would discuss how particular programs and sports activities sponsored by the “Y” could help the boys escape their dangerous life on the streets. Al was hospitable and supported Dad’s efforts.

When we moved to Kansas City, Dad served as the Northeast Y.M.C.A. executive secretary. I remember he would take me on field trips with the young boys to exciting places like Swope Park Zoo. I would be the only little girl on the bus! I wondered if he sometimes wished he had a son, but he always seemed quite happy to have his daughter along on these trips.

My dad believed in strict discipline—he only had to tell Cathy and me one time to stop our quarreling or to come home from playing with our friends at a certain hour. If we disobeyed, he would spank us—never with a belt or a switch, but with a firm hand as we bent across his lap. However, Daddy played with us, too. We would go bicycle riding together. I can also remember he would help us construct homemade kites, and our family would have a great time flying them high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.

Dad was a faithful elder and teacher in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. all his life. He had an outgoing personality and often played a strong leadership role in the church and in the community. People looked to Dad for wisdom and strength.

In his later years, he took charge of Mom as she dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease, structuring her day and attending to all her needs. With his guitar, Dad loved to lead group singing at local nursing homes, and he would take my mother along. Amazingly, she remembered all the words to the “golden oldies,” and he seemed delighted that music could help her find enjoyment when all else seemed so bleak.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  I will always love you.

If I’ve counted right, we’re shivering under our sixth blanket of snow and ice this winter! Highly unusual for us here in central Arkansas! Our narrow streets, winding up and down hills and around sharp curves, are slick with ice. Robin and I will stay holed up again today.

I think about all the creatures outdoors in the woods around us. These wintry “blankets” must be wearing thin for them as well—deer hunkered down under brush piles, coons and possums buried in frosty piles of leaves. Soon they will venture out to forage for food to satisfy their gnawing hunger.

In our homes, we humans stay snug and fed, but only if our electricity stays on and only if our cupboards are full. If not, then soon we will share the same struggles as our creature cousins.

Right now, our outdoor thermometer says 16 degrees!  Today’s high is predicted to be only 28 degrees.

Stay warm and safe today, my friends.

Do you know folks who are always on the go? They’re usually juggling three or four projects at a time, and they’re always busy, busy with rarely any time to relax. I mentioned this to a friend in an email this morning. “I don’t think many of us who are retired like to go at that franatic pace anymore.” Then I laughed. I meant to say “frenetic,” of course, but “franatic” may be an even better word. It’s like “frantic” and “fanatic” rolled into one.

At this time of life, I enjoy working on projects, and I do plan my day to accomplish things. But I still need my down time—time to work my crossword puzzle, read the paper, answer my email. And I still need plenty of sleep each night. I worry about people who are constantly running from pillar to post, pushing themselves. Why do they do it?

Perhaps they only feel good if they’re out and about, always engaged with others. But running on fumes without a full tank of gas can be hazardous. That lifestyle can lead to stress which can cause poor outcomes on projects, friction in personal relationships, and problems in health.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy a day balanced with activities and quiet times, be thankful for that. You’ll have a much happier life than your friends who are living at such a “franatic” pace.

Mr. “Fix-it”

My husband, Robin, isn’t blessed with too many handyman skills. He can do basic things, like change bulbs in high ceiling light fixtures and replace batteries in smoke alarms—he still has good balance on stepladders—and he can use a screwdriver and hammer just fine. Beyond that, we usually have to call in an expert.  But today he proved he’s a genius!

A few nights ago, while reaching for something under the kitchen sink, he accidentally leaned on the top of the cabinet door. That extra bit of weight broke the top hinge right in two. Of course, that meant he had to remove the door completely until he could replace the hinge. No problem. He unscrewed the broken hinge and the bottom hinge and set the door aside. Now our usually out-of-sight trash can was exposed, along with all the other paraphernalia under our sink, but that was okay—I knew it was only temporary.

This morning, we carried the good hinge he had removed to our local hardware store to buy a replacement. The clerk led us to an aisle where all the cabinet hardware was on display—rows upon rows of cubbyholes full of brackets, hinges, and screws. He and Robin tried hard to come up with a match, but the style of hinge closest in size to our hinge was still a little too large. Looked like we might have to try Lowe’s or Home Depot, and that would mean a longer trip to get what we needed.  Disappointed, we headed for home.

Then Robin got an idea. Why not replace the broken hinge with one taken from another cabinet in our home?  We had several cabinets that used top, middle, and bottom hinges. Maybe he could remove one of those middle hinges and use it on the under-the-sink door.

Sure enough, the hinges on all our cabinets were the same. We found a three-hinged door that wasn’t used too often on a cabinet near our back entry.

Now Mr. Fix-it has removed that middle hinge, replaced the broken hinge, and we’re back in business! Hooray! As Robin’s wise old daddy used to say, “You can’t beat that with a stick!”


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