My Mama Bear…

Had to wake up a little early this morning to go to the elementary school graduation and while I was still under the warm, fuzzy blankets on the bed, I looked through my email on my iPhone… only to find a message I’d been dreading to see.

My Mama Bear passed away on the 14th.

It’s possible that a lot of people would read the sentence right above and think I’m referring to my grandmother, mother or another female relative.  Well, Mama Bear was not a blood relative at all, but that’s what I’ve called her for as long as I’ve known her.  (Since I was four, if my memory is correct.)  In the city where she lived, most people called her Miss Martha and a few would say Mrs. Fletcher, but to me… always Mama Bear.

Mama Bear was an amazing woman!  She was giving and kind, always had a smile on her face and always had positive things to say about the people around her.  She was a wonderful cook, an excellent writer, an articulate speaker, could make any craft which exists under the sun… and actually she taught me how to cross-stitch.  (I still have the very first thing she taught me… a small panda bear.)

There was one story which she would tell that I LOVED… the story about the big mouth frog.  And no matter how many times I heard her tell it, even if it was three or four times consecutively, I would laugh until my stomach hurt!  I wish I could tell it like she did… actually, I wish I had a recording of her telling it.

Anyway, the story of the big mouth frog was one with a moral:  it’s not good to be too nosy or too curious.  It went something like this…  (Try to imagine this being told by someone with a very strong Southern accent.)

Once upon a time, there was a big mouth frog.  The frog was hopping along and met a cat on the path.

“Hello, Mrs. Cat.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The cat replied, “Well, I feed them milk and meat… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog kept hopping along and met a cow in a field.

“Hello, Mrs. Cow.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The cow answered, “Let’s see, they drink milk and eat grass and hay… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog went on and happened upon a bird in a tree.

“Hello, Mrs. Bird.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The bird said, “I give them seed and worms… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog kept hopping along and met an alligator in the river.

“Hello, Mrs. Alligator.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The alligator smiled and said, “Well, I feed them BIG MOUTH FROGS!” to which the frog replied…

“Well, thank you veery muuuch…”  🙂

Oh, how I will miss Mama Bear… as will many, many more people out there.  May she rest in peace…

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A Steak Lunch and Songs from the Past…

Well, it’s another rainy day here in northern Kyushu.  Saturday was the only day in the last week and a half that was actually nice and sunny.  Yesterday, rain.  Today, rain.  Forecast for tomorrow, rain.  Not great weather when one needs to get laundry done.  (And, no, I don’t have a clothes dryer.  They aren’t common like in the States and other countries.)

Yesterday, I got a call from a good friend of mine.  She knew the weather was going to be bad today and asked if I could take her around to the ¥100 shops to look for pieces and parts for handmade jewelry.  (This girl has more talent in the tip of her pinkie than so many people around me put together!  I’ll have to write a post about all the things she can do one of these days…)

So, we drove around to several ¥100 shops (or Dollar stores) and she found what she needed.  Seems she’s going to be teaching a class about making resin jewelry and needed supplies.

Once that was done, we decided to go and get a bite to eat.  We did the usual, “Where are we going to go?”  She and I tend to go to the same four or five places, which doesn’t bother either of us in the least, but today, she said she wanted to eat steak and had heard about a rather good place nearby called Western.

One step inside Western was like taking a step back in time.  There were empty beer bottles on the window sills.  There were American flags hanging here and there… wagon wheels were used to divide sections of the restaurant.  Framed photographs of cowboys and Old West towns were hanging on the walls.  The only odd thing about the place was that the utensils we were given were chopsticks, which my friend and I giggled about.

And the background music was mostly, of course, country and western music.  🙂

We ordered lunch specials and waited for our food.  As we chatted about this and that, I realized I recognized the melodies of every song.  My friend asked what the titles were and I told her I didn’t know.

“That’s unusual for you.  Plus, you’ve been humming along to almost every song!”

Then it struck me.  They were all familiar because my dad had known them!  🙂

I told her that so often he would hum or sing around the house, whether he was cleaning his desk (or more like rearranging the piles on his desk 🙂 ), chopping firewood out in the yard, checking on the veggies in the garden, or organizing receipts for the month.  And it was a very, very wide variety of music, everything from jazz standards to country & western to barber shop quartet songs to traditional hymns to music I listened to on the radio!!

As the music in the restaurant changed to the next song, my friend and I looked at one another as we both recognized the song… “Tennessee Waltz”.

“I’m sure he used to sing this one… right?” she asked.

I nodded and started to get teary-eyed.  (I still miss him something terrible…)

She smiled and said, “You’re so lucky to have had such a strong relationship with your dad.”

I nodded again… because I completely agree with her.  Memories of him are ones I would not trade for anything in the world!  🙂

That Yummy, Fluffy, Puffy White Stuff (^^)/

What is something (an edible something) that you could not live without?  Some type of food that if the doctor told you, “I’m sorry, but if you keep eating (fill in the blank), you will experience major health issues!” you’d continue eating it anyway?

For me, it’s POPCORN!!  🙂

That Yummy Fluffy White Stuff

That Yummy Fluffy White Stuff!!

I have loved popcorn for as long as I can remember!  Growing up, my mother made popcorn every Saturday night.  From 7:30pm, we’d be watching a show called “Quiz Derby”.  It was a 30-minute quiz show that we’d watch as a family every week.  It was a show like this…

At about 7:45, she’d go into the kitchen and start cooking.  You could hear her shuffling around, the “clank” of the lid on the popcorn pot (which was actually a tempura pot that she used for popping popcorn) and a few minutes later, you could hear pops… a few at first and then continuous stream of sound.

The quiz show would end and, just like clockwork, my mom would walk into the living room, sit down on the floor next to me with a BIG bowl of popcorn and our favorite Saturday night show would begin.

In my mind, it was like this:  popcorn = “Hachi ji Dayo! Zeiin Shuugou!” (“It’s 8 o’ Clock! Everyone, come together!”) and vice versa

For those of you who grew up in Japan, here’s a nostalgic clip for you.  For those of you who grew up in other places, this is the variety/comedy show we watched every Saturday night at 8pm.

So, through the laughter and singing along with the top-selling hits of the time, you could smell that wonderful warm smell and hear the crunch of popcorn!

Nowadays, there are so many different types, so many different flavors.  But for me… put it in a big bowl, just sprinkle a little salt on the top and… perfection!  🙂

Do you have a popcorn story/memory?  What’s your favorite flavor?

Snowy days and memories of Daddy…

Writing a blog on a regular basis is an interesting thing.  (Okay, okay… I sound like I really know what I’m talking about and am only truly on Day #3!)

Anyway, as the day proceeds, things happen and you see various things around and think, “Oh, I could write about that!”  Today, the topic was going to be singing commercials for local businesses and/or writing about one local studio in particular or the snowy weather we’ve had in Fukuoka today.

Then I saw a particular post on Facebook… a friend’s father passed away today.  With that single and simple post, everything that had happened during the day vanished from my mind and one thought remained… I miss Dad!

My dad passed away suddenly in August of 2005.  He hadn’t had any particular health problems that anyone knew of.  My parents had just moved to a small city in Tennessee from the big city of Tampa, Florida.  (Dad was going to pastor a small country church there.)  They were there about a month and, one early Sunday morning, he was sitting on the couch, telling my mother he didn’t feel good.  She called an ambulance and less than two hours later, he was gone.

Being Daddy’s little girl, mere words are not enough to express the devastation and loss I felt when I heard the news.  The void in my heart is still very much there and I still miss him immensely… but we’ll talk about that at another time.

During the afternoon and evening, different memories of my dad passed through my mind.  Then while I walked the dog tonight, cold wind blowing, snow falling, I remembered a song my dad used to sing to get me to laugh.

He LOVED to make original jokes and to do play on words and change lyrics to songs.  So, in his beautiful baritone voice, he’d start to sing.  ♬♪ People… people who eat people… are the luckiest people… in the world ♫♩ (Of course, it’s actually “people who NEED people”.)  Yet, no matter how many times he’d sing that (and I knew exactly what word he was going to sing), I’d giggle incessantly!

So many years ago… and what I would do to hear that soothing voice again!

As I walked with the dog under the dark gray skies, both of us being bombarded by big, fluffy snowflakes, my dad’s voice was singing that line in my mind… and without really thinking about it, I giggled out loud.

Oh, how I miss him…