Well, Aunt Janet, if you’d just pay attention…

Mother told me that she needed to go to the insurance company TODAY (12/31/15–New Year’s Eve) and talk to them about her slightly higher premium. I offered to call them for her and found it odd that she didn’t want me to do it.

As we drilled down into the REAL problem, the truth is that she lost her payment envelope and she wants to get out of the house today, but she’s been listening to all her elder friends talk about their premiums. So, while she’s over there in Lake Jackson paying her bill, she’s going to talk it over with them so they know she’s paying attention.

Paying attention? I reminded her of a holiday season of the past and she laughed…she always does.

Over 40 years ago (when Mother was in her early 40s) my cousin Larry was a little fellow. We were sitting around my Aunt Jo Ann’s table for a holiday dinner. Mother (whose name is actually pronounced “Jeanette” because my grandfather said so) kept interrupting everyone and making them repeat what they’d just said.

Little Larry, still small enough to sit on a catalog to reach the table, said quietly in his precious East Texas twang, “Way-elllll, Aint Ja-nay-ett, if you’d just pay attention and listen the FIRST time, you’d know what everybody was saying.”

We all sucked in our breath not knowing how Mother was going to take it (because she had been known to throw a high fit at a holiday dinner when she perceived an insult) but she loved Larry and broke up in laughter. The rest of us breathed, the holiday was saved…and to this day, Mother laughs when I say “Well, Aint Ja-nay-ett…” because LARRY said it.


If you grew up in Texas, you can’t help but love this book.

My brother-in-law has bedeviled my sister repeatedly reading excerpts to her and she finds herself laughing until she cries.

My full review is at the link.

The Ole Man – Episodes of the Heart by James Killingsworth

The Warren & Janet Show

Being 50 plus means you have a parent or two (if you’re fortunate) that’s about 80 years old.  My mother is 82.  She has a boyfriend named Warren.  They are a hoot!

Below is a little YouTube video from my mother’s 80th birthday.  Conversations with Mother and her boyfriend Warren are hilarious (as long as you don’t have to really deal with an actual problem!)

My mother has become a little bit famous on Facebook because I post our conversations.  Here are a few of the favorites.

Brenda & Janet in July, 2014.

Brenda & Janet in July, 2014.

Hemingway could turn a phrase, couldn’t he?

I have never read more than a few pages of Hemingway’s books, but he was quite a character.

I have heard more than one person with a daily drinking program say that he or she  drinks because he or she is smarter than average and other people bore her or him.

They have to drink because the rest of the world is so utterly contemptible and mundane.

Hemingway said it nicer…that man could turn a phrase, couldn’t he? He made being a raging drunk seem almost understandable!

Hemingway on Drinking Alcohol

Fun with scheduling eye appointments

Sometimes you have to laugh!

I have an appointment with Dr. Cataract Surgery (ophthalmologist) to plan for getting my implant (lens) cleaned up. I know it needs doing–he knows it needs doing, but in order to squeeze out as many appointments as my insurance will pay for, we have to plan ahead for it by having a pre-appointment to assure what we already confirmed in my last appointment.

I called today to ask Dr. Optometrist (same office) to get an appointment for an exam on the same day so I could get more contact lenses. I am nearly out.

“We’re sorry. Before you can see Dr. O, you need to have an all clear after a yearly eye exam…you’ll have to get a clean bill of health. That’s not what your appointment is for on the 3rd. We’ll need to make another appointment for that. Then you can see Dr. O.”

[We went through this 3-4 times.]

Finally I said, “I j-u-s-t need a contact lens prescription within the next two weeks.  Now, if we can’t do that there on the 3rd or before, I can go to a different optometrist tomorrow who will not care if Dr. Cataract Surgery gives me a clean bill of health. I just saw Dr. Retina three weeks ago. He said my eye is in great health. Oh! And, HE GAVE ME A VICTORY HUG because his retina repair work looks so good.”

She scheduled an appointment with Dr. Optometrist for me on the 3rd.

Apparently, there were super powers in that victory hug!

Janet’s Version of the Brazos River Rising

[Written in May, 2015]

Since the heavy rains started this spring, I have tried to connect the dots with Mother and explain that Southern Brazoria County might see the Brazos River rise as high as we did back in the 90s, and that it could be higher.

I might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher…”Waah, waah, waah.” Janet is trying to spin the imminent river cresting into some kind of mismanagement of government funds. She thinks it’s got to have something to do with “they,” “them,” or “some of ’em” and what they are doing wrong, or maybe even “them” raising her taxes.

Mother is an extremely smart woman, but this cresting of the river business has nothing to do with what’s important to her–for instance, things like her playing the piano, who she went to Center High School with, whether Warren’s eating too much ice cream, what she is going to take to church for potluck next Tuesday, or bluegrass music. It’s hard to pin her down on a reasonable question regarding the Brazos River or to a straight answer on how the river looks.

Admittedly, I have a bit of an obsession with the river as it is back home during floods and coming out of the banks. My dad’s grandmother drowned in the river as a very young mother and I’ve always had a fearful respect for the Brazos. Since, I am not there to look at it now, I can’t help but ask Mother how fast and high that muddy red water is running. She could not care less to discuss it.

I remember it coming out of the banks in the 90s when the National Guard was posted along Hwy. 35, the cattle standing in water in good pastureland out on FM 521 and Hwy 35, homes and businesses flooding out on Hwy. 36, the panic of getting cattle out of places where it was possible to get them out of. I’m concerned and I am trying to figure out who I can put in charge of keeping an eye on her next week so she doesn’t tell Warren they need to go driving around looking for bluegrass music and wind up in a cow pasture.

However, when I ask about the river, she just wants to shut me up. When I inquired about how it looked when she crossed the Brazos river bridge today, I couldn’t get a straight answer. Of course, she hadn’t paid a bit of attention, but she didn’t want to say that. Here’s what she said…

<<You heard it here first,folks>>

“Well, you can tell SOMETHING is going on. Brazoria is one of the LAST STOPS THAT WATER MAKES.”

You don’t say.

Yeah…I’d better call Warren’s son tomorrow…because, I’m going to a wedding. Russell, it’s your turn, little brother.

Movie Picks by my Mother, Janet

Okay, Jan-fans. Here’s the latest.

Her: There’s a new movie out. It’s called or “Splash” or something like that. You know it….Ooohhh. What.Is.It? [She scoffs at me because I, like the rest of the world, am holding back on her and not giving her the instant response she demands.]

Tell me the name!

Me: Mother, I don’t know it. What’s it about?

Her: I KNOW you KNOW! A blind football player– Huckabee said it is about a football player who wants to play football real bad and they figure out how to let him play.

Me: Okay…let me find it for you. [I am scurrying around on the internet to avoid another disdainful scoff and searching for “blind football player movie Huckabee”]

Her: It was on Huckabee…try words that rhyme with “splash.” It’s REAL popular and EVERYBODY knows about it.

Me: Except me. [Because *everybody* in the U.S.A. and China watches Huckabee except me.]

Her: WHAT IS THAT NAME? Crash? Mash? Slash?

Me: Looking as hard as I can!

Her: Well, I just thought you would know about it..

Me: Eureka! Here it is! Movie tells story of blind Kentucky football player…

Her: That’s it!

Me: The movie is “23 BLAST.” Let me see if it is an early release on DVD. I will have it sent to you today.

Her: NO! Don’t do that!

Me: Okay….what then??? [I start laughing…]

Her: I don’t know! [She’s laughing.] Huckabee said it would be inspirational; I thought maybe you needed to see it, then I said, “No, she’s too busy.” Maybe somebody you know…

Me: Hmmm…okay, I’m not really interested…Mother, this is “a Janet Classic moment.” You have me searching like a fool for something we don’t want to watch.

Her: Well, you had those eye problems and it was on Huckabee.

Me: …but I can see now and I’m not interested in playing football if I lose my sight.

Her: Me either! DO NOT SEND IT to me. [She’s laughing.] I DON’T want to see it and Warren will insist on watching it — I don’t care for football and he loves it. It’s bad enough with him checking scores while my programs are on. He does that during the commercials.

Me: I know. You watch the Waltons while the Aggies are playing.

Her: Yes I do!

And, a Warren & Janet – Encore!!

One more from early today…I called Mother:
Mom, I got my statement from the West Columbia bank. I saw a deposit of X that you made for my birthday. Thank you.
Mother: No. It was only half that.
Me: I’m very sure it was X…let me check…yes, that’s right…hmmmm…you did make two deposits … on two different days.
Mother: Oh…Hxxxxx at the bank just made a mistake, that’s all. I’ll call them. [Ummm…yeah….because it’s 1962 and banks make accounting errors and missplace checks all the time…]
Warren: HUH??
Mother: The bank credited Brenda’s account twice for her birthday check.
Warren: No, dear.
Warren: I told you that you’d already put her check in the bank but you got pissy and hurt my feelings, so I just took you back over there and kept my mouth shut.

The Warren & Janet Show – LIVE in America, Texas, U.S.A!

Mother wanted an update on my eye appointment today. I called and gave her the bullet points, VERY brief ones for the woman who admits she has the attention span of a gnat.

Her response: <Chuckling.> Well, missy…did you tell him lotus or litus?

Me: <…pause…> Do what?

Mother: Lotus OR litus!??

Me: <blink, blink> Mother, I am completely lost. What do you mean?

Mother: <Scoffs> Well, THAT’s WHAT YOU SAID!!

Me: I swear I don’t know what you are talking about. Are you okay?

Mother: Hold on…WHAT WARREN? <Starts laughing uncontrollably. I can hear Warren ROF laughing his A O.>

Me: What??

Mother: Okay, okay…<She laugh-snorts…catching her breath…Warren is howling.>

Finally, she says, “I nodded off while you were talking. Warren said I was talking in my sleep. Okay! I’m awake now! Did you go to the doctor?”

Teach cursive? I answer a resounding, facetious “NO.”


No…no….no. I will teach it to MY grandchildren and they will teach their children and my boys’ children will become expert translators and highly sought for transcribing historical documents that are written in cursive and have not yet been transcribed into archived typewritten words floating in the digital cloud.

I dabble in the dark forces of genealogy. (I say “dark” because it’s as addictive to my kind as that smoky old dragon heroin is to all those Baltimore folks I’ve seen on The Wire.)  I am shocked to learn that young genealogist dabblers are frustrated to death because they cannot read the handwritten historical documents that ooze with clues about their ancestors. They often post death certificates and other ancient snippets of handwritten history in various social media hangouts. They need someone to help them translate into printed words what was written one hundred or more years ago in the Good Lord’s official version of Texas-English cursive writing! It’s true! I have translated a good many for these young genealogy enthusiasts.

So, NO. Let’s don’t teach cursive. Let’s allow all that fine hand of perfectly formed cursive writing to become deeply mysterious and cryptic so that my progeny will have more ways to shine…Granny will teach them an ancient secret…how to read the curly, scrawly words.

Seriously, though, before I realized how much of our history was curled up in beautiful penmanship (and the scrawling scratch of doctors), I didn’t have a good argument for keeping cursive alive. I am a typist; I write as little as possible because the keyboard is my preferred method of expressing myself.

But, this year, I have seen that if we let it go, we turn the beautiful, meaningful words written in cursive by our forefathers and mothers into a new brand of hieroglyphics, for lack of a better word. Perhaps we do not teach it as penmanship; we teach it as a required ancient art or language.