Home of the Bellingwood Series – Nammynools


Of Grape Juice and Kitty Litter. Or Random Stories

They are promising 3-5″ of snow tomorrow in central Iowa. Don’t bail on me now, you crazy weather patterns. Bring it! Yeah, yeah, yeah … I know that you’re tired of winter and all that. Don’t hate me. I haven’t had a good blow-out blizzard in several years and it’s time.

(I’m including a series of photos I shot as a rather intense bath time was visited on Earl by Grey. He was tolerant for a while. I finally stopped them when he started whining and she wasn’t giving up.)

This weekend has been the weekend of random thoughts. Everything from my love for grape juice to laughing at the way my cats use their litter boxes. Seriously, they use one box for #1 and then hop over to the other one for #2. It’s the craziest thing.

While we’re on the topic of my cats and their litter boxes, apparently, this has become a social event in our lives. I clean the stuff out of them every night. All it takes is for me to walk over to that area and Earl is on my heels. He waits while I empty the first one and then climbs right in, scratches around, squats and pees. Are you kidding me, cat? Once he wanders off, TB comes over and he uses it. By this time, Grey needs to find out what’s going on and she’s sniffing around, waiting for TB to finish. Now yes, they use the things all day long, but why in the world is it necessary for them to be part of my cleanup process? Social little beasts. I guess they follow me to the bathroom, they just think it’s what we do around here.

I love grape juice, though I’ll never be able to separate it from communion. You know – us good Methodists – it’s what we drink up there at the altar. The taste of grape juice and little bits of bread together at the same time is as familiar as … well … water. I grew up with it.

So … at one point in my life, I was hired by a Lutheran church as their choir director. Things were moving along ever so wonderfully with the choir. We practiced and prepared our song for Sunday. I knew communion was coming and talked to the pastor about me partaking – he had no problem with it. A steward brought the tray to the altar and presented it to me as I knelt there. I took the little cup, drank, and all of a sudden, it required every single bit of my concentration to not react. Wine hadn’t even occurred to me. And it was horrid, bad-tasting wine, too. In MY ENTIRE LIFE, I’d never had wine on a Sunday morning. Remember: Methodist minister’s daughter. To top it off, my dad was the biggest teetotaler I’ve ever known. I have some of his sermons from early days and they were filled with fire and brimstone preaching on the evils of alcohol. Even some of the letters he wrote his father – another Methodist pastor – were filled with discussions they were having regarding how to preach against that awful sin.

So, that leads me to a couple of funny stories.

One evening, we were invited to dinner at the home of a church member. Nice evening, nice dinner … and then the woman brought out a lovely crystal bowl filled with fruit. She presented it to Mom. The fruit was part of the meal, but the crystal bowl was a gift she was sending to our home. Mom took a sniff and asked the question. Uh, yep … rum-soaked fruit. Heavily rum-soaked. She carefully doled some out to each of us kids and I thought she was going to lose it when she passed it to Dad, who not only was a teetotaler, but gracious beyond all measure. That had to be one of the most fun evenings I’d ever spent – watching him balance those two things. He made it through without falling apart, but the rest of us were completely entertained.

Then there was the evening we came home from being out somewhere, I don’t remember where. We must have been pretty young, because all three of us kids fit in the back seat of our VW bug. Dad had been given a gift – a beer bread mix, along with a can of beer so he could mix it up. Whoever the gift-give was had just discovered this wonderful recipe, and knowing that Dad didn’t drink, thoughtfully included the beer. Poor Dad waited until we were finally home, but he blustered about it the entire drive. He parked the VW and as we climbed out of that back seat, he snapped that can of beer open and poured it out in the gravel. Guess we weren’t having beer bread.

Mom was never one to let Dad get away with much. I remember when she discovered sparkling grape juice. Now what was he going to do about that? Well, he wasn’t too happy. It was bad enough that people might see her with those bottles in her cart and think she was bringing alcohol home. She laughed at him.

I’m telling ya – random stuff. My life was filled with crazy stories. Mom and Dad told them to us over and over. I think about oral tradition. Native Americans were story tellers. They didn’t write things down, they told their stories over and over so no one would forget. The Old Testament was delivered through oral tradition for centuries. People practiced and practiced telling and re-telling stories so they’d be without mistakes.

Some of our family’s stories have transformed and grown and gotten more entertaining as the years have passed. We’ve lost true details, I’m sure, but the heart of the stories remain in place.

We loved hearing stories of our births and the memories Mom and Dad had of us as we grew up. We loved hearing stories of their childhood and youth – the moments that stood out for them as they got married and started their lives together. We still love telling and hearing stories of each other’s lives – the crazy things that we do and that happen to us.

I have to tell you stories about my cats, because those little fur-balls don’t really understand when I tell them why I think they’re so cute. They just want to snuggle in my arms or pester me to keep their litter boxes clean and their food and water full.

What are some of your favorite family stories? Talk to each other as you share them!


Bits of Bellingwood Business

1. I’m nearly halfway through the manuscript for Book 21. Yep – not telling you anything else about it. Publication date is March 25. That just doesn’t seem so far away.

2. Remember – there is a map of Bellingwoodsketches of Sycamore House and its environs, as well as sketches of the Bell House here on the website (click on the links there). I know, I know … I should be working on more of these. There are so many things I should be putting out here for you. This girl is NEVER bored, let me tell you.

3. There’s been a great deal of noise about Facebook changing their algorithm again – eliminating things from our feeds. It’s frustrating as I try t figure out how best to interact with you. My website is the very best place for you to find information. The only limitation is that it isn’t good at personal interaction – FB is better for that.

The monthly newsletter (comes out on the 25th of each month) is the best way to make sure you don’t miss the big important things, but these weekly blog posts are another way to keep up.

Before I declared this to be a ‘thing,’ I wanted to make sure I could keep up. It looks like it will happen. I just have to keep it top of mind. Every Sunday evening / night, I’ll write a blog post. At the end will be a bit of business. You can subscribe to this and I will always post it on Facebook.

Thank you all for hanging out with me! I love you.


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