Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I am quitting. I have quit many times before, only to allow myself to cave in to the addiction, the camaraderie, the breaks. But the longer I smoke, the more I smoke.

I don’t consider myself a smoker. I just always knew I would quit one day, since I've done it in the past. But quitting has become harder and harder. As I smoke more, I find myself getting ill more often, battling bronchitis a few times a year and coughing year round. My clothes and car stink. If I smoke in my house---which has only happened a few times---I feel guilty for giving my dogs second hand smoke.

I have developed a slight cough, and when I laugh I can’t breathe. I can’t talk or sing for long without taking a breath. A coworker coughs so hard on a regular basis that I fully expect to see a black lung land on her desk one day as she coughs it up. Splat! I am surrounded by smokers at work.

My niece was making a coughing noise the other day, and my sister asked, “Are you choking?” “No mama, I cough like Kristi.” Tina started laughing, and I did to. But the seriousness of the comment wasn’t lost on me. It made me ashamed.

I have tried over and over to quit. My coworkers have made it hard to quit, by talking me into smoking with them. But I’m easily swayed. This weekend I went to San Antonio and couldn’t smoke the whole trip. So it got me through the first 3 days of non-smoking.

Now I’m on day 5. So far, so good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I’m not an outdoorsy kinda gal. I want to be. I love the idea of carrying a backpack through the mountains. Nature shows the beauty and creativity of God. But I’m allergy ridden, and I hate insects. Crawlers, flyers, scurriers—I hate them all.

I have had my house for 7 years, and for a few of those years my dad mowed the lawn. He hated to see my glands swelling in my face and neck each week. He began reporting snake sightings to me after mowing, and it scared me. One time he was taken back by the size of one and it scurried away before he could nail it. He threatened to begin mowing with a machete, but became ill and couldn’t mow anymore.

I’ve been mowing again for about 3 years now, and snake sightings are typical in my yard. The first time I saw one, I immediately went online to find out the danger I was dealing with. It was a typical garter snake that only leaves an itchy place if bitten (and they usually don’t break the skin). I decided that if they can’t break my skin, it’s doubtful they are getting through the hair of my dogs.

Last year Leroy is the name I bestowed upon the snake living under my shed. He was small, and poked his head out periodically as I pulled out my mower. I haven’t seen him this year, yet. I have learned to not fear them so much—especially the smaller ones—after killing a few with the lawn mower, weed eater, sticks, etc. Now, I give them a chance to slither away. Why?

They eat mice. They eat insects. They eat frogs.

As I was mowing last night, I suddenly saw a snake up ahead. He was the biggest yet. Not in length, but in girth. I had that moment of “what to do? He’s in the path of my lawnmower . . . . “ when he slithered away at amazing speed, through my chain link fence and into the neighbor’s yard (which is rarely mowed). I hope he comes back and feeds on mice and insects. On a side note, it’s really cool to see them suddenly slither away at such speed.

I wonder if my dogs have had meetings with the snakes. Probably so. Sidney is curious enough to try to catch and play with one, but she also has a husky coat to protect her. Sam would run if one raised its head at him.

I’m not saying I’m a snake lover. Not at all. I have a good dose of fear and have no interest in “petting” a snake. But I’m learning to respect their role in the ecosystem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grandma's Birthday

Today would have been my grandmother’s 102nd birthday. Happy Birthday Grandma! My dad reminded me today, with a tear in his eye, that she would have been 102.

She was born Elsie Mae Cooley in Blackgum, OK. She was raised at the bottom of Tenkiller Lake, before it was evacuated and flooded in order to create a man-made lake. She married her childhood sweetheart , Richard Davis. That began a long, hard journey of marriage, kids, grandkids, war, and poverty. They were Okies who headed west to California in order to find work. They returned to Oklahoma and bought a piece of land in West Tulsa, and lived out of a tent with their children until their house was built.

My grandfather was a machinist. My grandmother was a stay at home mom, giving birth to 10 children who lived past infancy and into adulthood, and possibly 2 more that did not make it past their first few months. Grandma was a Pentecostal woman, with a deep faith in God. Grandpa was an alcoholic who knew that no matter what he did, he had a faithful wife waiting at home for him. He may not have been faithful, and he may have been abusive at times, and he may have been a scrapper, but she loved him.

She became pregnant with my dad, her youngest, when she was 42. Ashamed at being pregnant yet again at such a ghastly age, she tried to keep the pregnancy very low key. Dad was born April 29th, 1950, right after she turned 43, a preemie weighing under 2 lbs. Both nearly died, and both spent the years following with health issues. My grandmother had a weak heart, and my father grew up in fear of losing his mom.

Grandma was a rock for my dad, and she shaped who he is today in so many ways. By the time my dad was born, my grandfather had mellowed with age. Grandpa died in 1970, when my mom was pregnant with my sister. Grandma died after my sister was born, in 1971. My dad was 21 and had lost both of his parents.

I was born in 1972, so I missed out on ever seeing my grandmother. But I know she sees me. I have heard so many stories of her, and I am filled with admiration for her. She held her head high, through some horrific circumstances. She always had faith in God. My mom loved her almost as much as my dad. When I was a kid, age 11, I remember suddenly being overwhelmed with a feeling of her presence. It was a hard time for me socially, and I remember just sensing that she was near and watching over me. I never discussed it, because I knew it sounded weird. I just knew in my heart that someone very comforting was with me.

So, happy birthday grandma!