Friday, December 26, 2014


I love puns and food so any of these might suit me!


As a mother I learned that our kids go through phases. Our baby girl was on an overdose of John Candy in her adolescent years.  Katy could quote and act the entire script of Uncle Buck. 

I can even identify with him in this scene, saying the exact thing you try desperately to avoid saying.

Katy gave equal memorization time to Chris Farley's motivational speech. How I wished she'd had the same propensity toward her homework.


I'll not say it had no merit.  Katy did finish college after all and did not end up living in a van down by the river.  I'd prefer to think Doug and I had more influence in her wise choices, but who actually knows.

Memory and merit aside, I do remember one very definite influence this 30 second scene from Uncle Buck had on our daughter.  Meet the toothpick guy.


It was Katy's birthday party, a sleepover, with girls giggling all night.  As I served them breakfast she decided to try the toothpick trick and show off a bit.  Something went wrong, terribly wrong. It broke and part of it went down her throat.  It got stuck there.  

"Doug!  Better come to the kitchen!  Katy has a toothpick stuck in her throat."

We wondered would it be better to go up or down.  We fed her some bread, forcing it down. I'd heard that worked with fish bones.  Only after it went down, we wondered if a piece of wood could pierce her stomach or intestines. Don't all parents wonder such things?  We called Poison Control.  They'd never had a call quite like this one! Finding no answers in their book of remedies, they suggested we take her to the Emergency Room.  

"Girls!  You all need to call your parents to come pick you up.  Now!"

"Awwww, Mrs. Henderson, can't we go to the ER with Katy?"

"Umm, no."

"Man! This was the coolest birthday party.  We'll never forget it!"

Neither will we.

Needless to say, it did no harm and the trouble soon passed.

Katy matured beautifully, leaving her comedians behind.  But I do remember when they both died, she grieved a little, asking, "Where are all my fat friends going?"  

Wrong.  They went very wrong.

Glad you went right, baby girl!

Friday, December 19, 2014


The title of this post might lead you to believe it's about dogs.  However, if you asked one of our piano students, they'll gladly explain both acronyms.

Every year we have a Christmas party at the house and our students play Christmas songs. It's our Finger Food Festival.  We had it on Monday and I heard from a few former students on Facebook, as they reminisced.

Before performances we talk about mistakes. "Never stop playing or draw attention to your error.  There are NO perfect musicians!"

"Even you, Mrs. Henderson?"

"Especially me!  Just FIDO. . .Forget It and Drive On.  When you do, you show PUP. . .Poise Under Pressure."

I teach many but I also learn from them. One former student, Amanda Coker, who is now married and in med school, wrote back saying she didn't get to play as often as she'd like to these days but added, "I still live by FIDO though."  She knew I'd understand.

Amanda years ago as a student is on the back row, last on the left.

I thought about that advice beyond music.  Amanda is right.  That's a pretty good life policy too.  So many folks get hung up on the past, a hurt, a failure, a loss.  They become stuck in grief, frustration or anger. Learning to let it go, forgive, drive on, frees us from our pain, mistakes or failures.  That's redemption and is why Christ came!  When we learn in life how to FIDO, we certainly show poise under pressure that only grace reveals.

Thank you, Amanda, for taking my little lesson and giving it back to me in a larger form.
More recently, Dr. Coker (also a pianist) and his daughter, Amanda. . .soon to be a doctor herself!

Thursday, December 11, 2014


We get manuals and more instruction with our microwave than with our kids when they're born. About the time we figure some of it out (mostly by our mistakes) they graduate and leave home. I guess we at least keep psychiatrists and family counselors employed, untangling our messes. Maybe we should have included this shirt in their graduation gift bag.

This blog is not about rearing children.  There are plenty of books on that, which can equally lead you astray. 

My thoughts here are far more trivial. From our empty nest I have a pretty good view of both our failures and our good choices.  

Mothers are supposed to be self sacrificing.  I'm not sure I wear that label very well.  But I did do a few things purely for the kids. Here's my short list.

* Dusty -- He was our dog.  He came as a puppy, hidden in a box in a car trunk. We had other dogs but this one was special. I'm not a dog lover, but I love my kids.  And they dearly loved Dusty.  Mother love.

* Putting Dusty to sleep -- When he was hit by a car and lost a leg, the kindest thing we could do was put him to sleep.  It was the kids' hardest day, saying goodbye as we took him to the vet.  It was one of my hardest too.  I love my kids.  When they hurt, I hurt. We all cry. Mother love.

* Driving a wood paneled station wagon -- If we ever were cool parents, it ended with this vehicle.  Later parents felt the shift from cool to parent vehicles in their vans!  But the kids had more room and loved to sit in the back seat and watch where we'd been.  I loved my kids. . .especially in the way back seat.  Mother love.

* Tent camping -- We made great family memories around a campfire.  And I did love the S'mores.  We now do them in our fire pit when the grands come home.  But the sleeping bags, bugs, and musty tent-smells were never my thing.  Now days my idea of camping would only go as far and black and white TV and for that, last just one day! But our kids loved it and I love our kids.  Mother love exists in a tent.

* Hamsters, gerbils, cats and a rabbit--pets I never really wanted.  Funerals I never really wanted.  Pets killing pets. Mother gerbils eating their newborns! Dusty destroyed the rabbit one dark night. We thought they'd bonded but apparently it was a fake, only-by-daylight friendship on Dusty's part. But it taught the kids about care giving and grief. And I loved the kids. 

But they're grown and gone now.  It's my turn! Know one of my favorite things about the empty nest?  It's empty! No dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, tent camping or station wagons.  

Kids, enjoy your pets, camping and dorky vehicles!  The best is yet to come!

Friday, December 5, 2014


Does all this technology today make us socially connected or socially isolated?   Attention spans grow smaller while friend lists grow longer.  Are we deluded, accepting a cheap, easy counterfeit for the real thing? This video raises some excellent thoughts on the subject.

My generation is now the largest users of Facebook.  A precious lady at church, in her 80's, came to me recently and proudly asked, "Can you believe it?  I'm on Facebook now and love it." She was a great grandmother, proud to be current, trendy. I was proud of her too for learning and growing.

Some say it's mere self absorption, a shallow way to affirm yourself and activities. I've heard others say one finds self worth in the tally of others' responses and that it replaces actual friendships.   These are blanket statements and, while might be accurate in extreme cases, I'm not so sure it's warranted.

Like most tools, the Internet can be used for both good and evil.  When the Guggenheim press was invented, naysayers predicted much the same and offered similar warnings. God's Word is preserved forever, whether in hand-written scripts, printed press or Internet.

My take on social media is somewhere between evil, addictive self-absorption and a tool no one should ever be without.  Just like food. If one is obese, food addiction may be at play.  If friends tell you to, "Put down your phone and talk to me!", you may be addicted to electronics. Addictive behavior in other areas may be an indicator here too.  

Moderation is the key.  If I neglect my face-to-face conversations or find myself unable to enjoy a meal without my iPhone or iPad, constantly checking, responding to every beep like Pavlov's dog, I may need the warnings that I've gone too far. 

I've been with friends and felt that. It's quite insulting. When I mentioned it to a friend recently, her response was, "We all have our addictions!" She went right on texting!

On the other hand, when our family has needed prayer or encouragement, it's been a wonderful way to reach out.  Likewise I can encourage my real friends.  It's a good way to "see" family living far away too! But I can do this even going online once a day or less.

I admire some who recognize that they may have become extreme and dependent so they sign off, unplug and say so long for awhile.  Parents who limit their children's screen time also get my applause. Temperance and self-control can triumph over self-obsession!

So it might be wise to avoid labels and broad statements that make generalizations about others.  Might be wiser to check up on myself and monitor my own usage.

  • Do I have boundaries?  Are there ever times I choose NOT to be connected?
  • Do I master my technology or does it master me?
  • Does it serve me or am I enslaved to it?
  • Do I own my phone or does it own me?
  • Do I answer or check every time it calls?

True, we're all out of balance in some areas but that should not excuse us from finding balance, kicking addictions! Fine line between use and abuse.  That's my two cents' worth for free!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


My love for my grandkids, music and puns all come together here.
How do I pun thee?  Try to count the ways!

It's not always black and white but knowing your priorities is key. Please note my grandchildren come first in this blog post. That's a fact, hands down!  I love them more than trumpet players love themselves and that's a lot!

Music and humor tie for second but may be inverted at times. Music puns are the first sign of madness.  I could find myself in treble here but it all comes down to living life in one accord with my beliefs. To B# and not fall flat in life, timing is crucial. You can't beat learning early in life how to B natural!  

Sadly, I had a friend long ago who was a treble maker from the start.  He found himself under a rest because of the stress that marked his life. If he had known the Messiah, he could have handled it all better.  But he majored on minor things and lost his rhythm in life.  He needed to scale back on the racial slurs too.  

Not to harp, my main pitch is simple.  The best chord for life is Gsus.  If you sustain that relationship you'll be ready when He comes Bach. I may not be clef-er but this is my theory for life. You don't need a staff around you because people may not measure up.   

Resolve to love God first, family next and find your true passion!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014


A few weeks ago I had one of those rare nights.  Actually it's nearly 3 AM so it's technically morning.  After 2 hours sleep, a quick trip to the bathroom leads to this!  Hours awake.  Experience has taught me that watching the clock does not induce sleep.  So I get up.

Straighten a closet. Eat some pineapple.  Mend a dress,  Play Scramble with Friends, even though they're probably sound asleep. Read. Pray. Finally found an old college friend awake when she just "Liked" a blog I posted. So we chatted briefly on private message via Facebook.

By nature I'm a night owl.  Rearing children or working regular hours didn't allow for that.  But now my lifestyle lets me stay up late and sleep in.  Teaching piano begins mid afternoon, so like a second shift worker, my body clock finally matches my schedule.

But INSOMNIA is different.  It discombobulates day and night, sleep patterns and rest.

As I sit here, however, a part of me likes it. The quiet is deafening.  Clocks tick.  The refrigerator hums. That's it.  Darkness surrounds me and the house is cool. Alone is good. I know the doorbell won't ring.  The phone won't either. No piano student will walk in.  I'm comfortable in the cocoon and mystery of insomnia.

David found a meaningful purpose in sleepless nights.

Psalms 119:148
My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

I'm not alone after all.  God is here.  With me.  Insomnia can be a good thing.  Like most things in life, it all depends on my attitude. I love to read in bed so maybe I'll grab my Bible and. . .

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Veteran's Day this week I posted a picture of Daddy and me.  Confession: I actually cropped out Bert, Ricky and Mama.



I mentioned his 32 years in the Navy and in describing him I wrote, "A man of honor." Later that day those words kept cropping up in my thoughts.  I wondered what actually makes a man honorable.  I knew it described him so well.  Two specific memories came back to me that reinforced it.

One summer at Emerald Isle, NC, during family vacation, Mama and I sat chatting on the porch rockers of Uncle's Bill's house. Our family spent a week there every summer for over 20 years. 

Daddy was long retired but she shared some thoughts from his sailor days. "When he'd ship out, I'd have to do it all back home.  When Bert was little, Daddy was gone for 18 months during the war."

"Mama, did you ever worry about him?"

"Sure, it was war. But I also knew God had His plans for us, so I trusted Him in those times.  So many wives didn't have that.  They didn't even trust their husbands so far away. A lot of men cheated on their wives."

"Did you ever worry about that, Mama?"


"Why not?"

"Well, Honey, I guess because I knew your daddy so well.  He wouldn't even bring home a Navy issued pen or paperclip from work.  A lot of men did though."


"Sure.  But not Daddy.  And I knew if he was honest in little things, he'd be faithful to me. He's a man of honor."

Another time Dad quietly verified honor in his life was at a crossroads right after retirement from the Navy.  He had both experience and years to give.  His career was in food services as a Naval supply officer.  He managed commissaries (grocery stores), mess halls (cafeterias) and galleys (kitchens.)   Daddy was not a cook per se, but an excellent manager of food services and supply both on bases and aboard ships.

He and Mama discussed what the next years would be. "Kathryn, I want to give the Lord these years.  I'm going to put in my application at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, TN.  I'll wait until a certain date and if I've not heard from them, I'll assume the Lord is leading another direction."

My brother, Bert, was an alumni and I was a high school senior heading to the same college in a year.  So it seemed like a perfect fit, a perfect plan but

God had other plans.  The deadline date set by my father for his dream job came. . .and went. No response from Nashville.  Meanwhile he had another offer to work in food services at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.   

But then just days after the self-imposed deadline, he got that offer from the Bible college. He turned it down, even though it was his heart's desire.  Why?  "Because if God wanted me there, that offer would have arrived earlier."

So we moved to North Carolina where he worked under an experienced man for 2 years, learning much about college food industry.  

Then the school in Nashville came back again with the offer. I was a rising sophomore there by then. My brother was on staff there.

Dad accepted.  "Those two years trained me for the shift from Navy to academic life in my field. I'm better ready now." At ECU he morphed from "Swab the deck." to "Please mop the floor."

God's timing was perfect.  Only a man of honor would not jump at the dream job because of a few days delay in the response.  But he'd prayed about it and kept his word.

A man of honor must first be so in little things like paperclips and ink pens.  Then the big things, like marriage and career, take care of themselves on his path of integrity.

Daddy.  A veteran and a true man of honor.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


"Doug, come see this one minute video."

He did.  We laughed then he spoke one word, "Kimberly."

In fairness to our first born, it's a genetic thing.  I was Jerry the Goat in my family.  My older brother, Bert, once noted, "Kathy, when you write letters to me in college, you use more exclamation points than anyone I ever met."   When I first tried wearing heels, he chuckled, "You look like an awkward antelope."  True. 

Others walk. We boing!  We're the Tiggers to the mellow Winnies of the world.  Seems to balance out.

Boingers bring fun to the party.  They also tend to find trouble.  Kimberly was a joyful child, so animated and full of life.  She never simply walked; she skipped, hopped, danced and frolicked her way through childhood.

Amused by her, one night at bedtime I challenged her, "Kimberly, I bet you can not WALK from the family room to your bedroom.  No jumping, running or boinging!  Just walk!"

Her eyes danced as she smiled at the dare.  Her body stiffened like a soldier at attention. She walked, though I sensed she wanted to march, past the sofa, past the TV, approaching the piano.  Eyes straight ahead she stepped into the hallway, almost to her bedroom!  Would she make it?  Just as she passed the piano, head not moving, her right arm flung out to the bass keys.  She hit two grand notes, fanfare style!  TA DAH!

There has to be pomp, even when we walk.

Happy birthday, my dear, dear Kimberly! Boing all you want, Honey!  Eat cake and blame sugar!

Thursday, October 30, 2014


My brother, Ricky, and I loved Halloween as kids.  Well, maybe we just loved candy. Back then we came home, dumped our goodies onto the floor and began the swap process.

"Oh! You got Reese Cups! I'll trade you an Almond Joy for it!"


By this age, Ricky grew out of it.

He grew up and out of it.  It took me a bit longer. Because I still love candy. Not an admirable thing for a diabetic to admit.  

College days in Nashville, TN


Oh but it gets worse.  My freshman year in college I volunteered to take some little kids around the neighborhood by our campus.  Their parents were friends and often asked me to babysit. Even went on vacation with them to take care of the children.

I thought, "If I'm going out anyway, I may as well get my own goodies."  But I knew I needed a costume.  Dorm room resources were limited. I spotted my pantyhose hanging on the bedpost. grabbed it and put it on my head, thinking I could pull it over my face to disguise me and my embarrassment!  

Now I needed a candy bag.  So I grabbed my pillowcase from the other end of my bed and dashed out the door. My roommates teased me about going Trick or Treating at age 18.  

UNTIL I got back to the dorm with my own private stash.! I love Halloween.


We enjoyed our own kids dressing up.  Kent, like me, enjoyed it way beyond childhood.  

After college graduation he was home with us, visiting one Halloween and got inspired to trick the kids as they came to the door. He dressed up like the Phantom of the Opera and pulled my keyboard to the picture window by our front door. Playing creepy organ music loudly, he ghoulishly scared the kids brave enough to ring our doorbell.

They peered at him playing and cowered as he left the bench to answer the door.  It took some brave kids to accept goodies from this disfigured musical genius.  Most trembled a bit, took the candy then dashed away.  

Except one little black boy, brown eyes sparkling. He watched the mad organist through the window and didn't flinch when Kent opened our front door.  "I'm not scared of you, Mister!" he chided.

Kent gave him candy then lunged, screaming at the poor child!  Brown eyes grew bigger as he involuntarily screamed back. He fell backwards, tumbling down three steps, terrified, but clutching his bag of sweets.  Kent gave his best menacing laugh as the child scrambled to his feet, ran toward the street, still declaring, "I'm not scared of you!" 

But he was.


One year, more recently, I forgot to buy candy.  Forgot it was even Halloween. Until the doorbell rang and I heard a muffled, "Trick or treat!"

Embarrassed once again, I quietly turned off all the lights (indoors and out), hid in the bedroom and watched TV with the volume very low, for several hours.

This year is different!  We'll be out at our friends' house.  We'll let them answer the door, while we watch TV loudly, in a well lit house!

Then again, THIS costume (video below) inspires me to go out one more time! Happy Halloween!