Archive for the ‘Tammy Hinton’ Category

Since Herb and I hadn’t had a picture taken together since 1999, Christmas 2016 seemed a great opportunity to order photographs for our family. I called and made an appointment with a local photographer, sent the blue dress I loved to the dry cleaners, and pondered what else I could do for a fresh new look.

With immense trepidation I walked to the bathroom. The mere act of examining my face in the ultra-magnifying mirror that lunged in my direction from a cold metal arm bolted to the wall near my sink, tortured my very soul. (Warning: This in-depth examination is not recommended for pre-teens or females under the age of thirty as it destroys a fragile self-image.) Every line or blemish shown twenty times its actual size, which is still a good 10 times smaller than it appeared in my mind. (In your mind it is the size of a saucer and a flashing red light draws everyone’s attention to the imperfection.) A simple answer lay in the bowels of my computer, UTube.

I have used Merle Norman cosmetics since I was nineteen year old and although I have used many other eye makeups, I still use Merle Norman foundation and blush. My color is so “fair”, a polite way to say anemic, that they don’t carry it in stock and it has to be special ordered. (How white are you? Well, remember in the 1980’s when we went to the consultant to have our color done. You wore no makeup and covered up your hair and then she told you what “season” you were. She told me, “Honey, there’s so little color you could be anything.” I digress.)

UTube provided several resources on how to reshape my eyebrows. “Choose the shape closest to your own.” That was easy. Each time I had my make-up professionally applied the makeup-artist chose “oriental.” (Why are they called artist? Is our makeup really troweled on as thick as a Picasso?) As a teen, my mother did not allow me to shape my eyebrows. We had to go “natural”. In my own mind my brow beheld a hairy earthworm reclining across my forehead. While I had tweezed my brows before, they were in sore need of attention. As the UTube lady suggested, I got out my longest eyebrow pencil and marked where the brow should start, arch, and end. Yahoo! Just connect the dots.

I chose to forego the cat eye or Smokey eye fads and just stay with the “I’m way too old for that” look. (We did the cat thing back when Liz Taylor was Cleopatra and we called it “the Cleopatra.” Sorry, I digress again.) Dust the lid with powder. Shadow should be light and contouring as dark would only make them appear smaller. Since my husband already referred to my green orbs as “beady little eyes”, smaller was not the look I was going for. Eyeliner needed to be thin lines on the lid so once again I made dots and connected them.  (Notice a trend there.) A little mascara  and a quick crunch of the eyelash curler, and I was done. A Q-tip took care of any imperfections. Actually, it took me a couple swabs, because too much came off and I had to reapply. You know what I mean.

It was time for me to master the art of face sculpting. It started with concealer. I’ve used this many times before under each eye, but they suggested a large swath going from each corner of my eye and down to mid-cheek. And speaking of my checks, until I sucked in my cheeks like the lady in the video, I didn’t’ realize how high my cheekbones really were. Bones appeared above full creamy cheeks that had filled in my barely visible dimple. With a steady hand I daubed on the Sugar-Melon blush. Since this was just a practice round and I didn’t have any contouring makeup I used my taupe eye shadow and filled in along my jaw. Then the UTube lady said, “Use your sponge and blend to define and accentuate your features”. You can see from the photo of me, I certainly needed something to finish my “new look”. I chose instead of a makeup sponge to use Dial soap and a wash rag. Rub, rub a dub, dub.

On the day of our appointment, I wore my new eyebrows and left the “new me” as just a humble memory. They can all love me just the way I am.



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A recent exchange on Facebook reminded me of a fond memory. Although my parent’s bedroom was their inner sanctum, sometimes after knocking, I was allowed in to drape across their bed and look through my mom’s pink jewelry box. It sat in a nook on her headboard.

Our family had been part of the Army of Occupation in Japan following World War II. Being a member of the Air Force, Dad flew all over the Far East and brought Mom home lots of wonderful jewelry from India, Siam (Thailand), and Hong Kong. Dad replaced Mom’s original wedding band, which had been purchased from Woolworth’s Five and Dime, with a band that sparkled when the light hit the row of shiny diamonds. Mom laughed when she told me the history of her original band, “I bought my own ring so people would know when I started showing “there was a bun in the oven”, that I was a married woman.” Mom promised I could have her ring when she was gone. “Don’t bury me with anything of value.” She urged.

Another ring captured my interest. A piece of carved jade about 1½” long a beautiful shade of green. My imagination worked overtime envisioning a Chinese carver searching for just the right s002-2tone to make this exotic ring. One day while strolling through the Perkasie flea market I found its twin. I bought it and grinned like a Cheshire cat.


Dad had passed away thirty years earlier so it was time Mom downsized from her farmhouse. I arrived three days early to help her get organized. On arrival I was flabbergasted. She hadn’t done a single thing.

“I mentally know what I want to save.” She replied.

“That won’t help the auctioneers when they arrive and they have nothing to hold up for bidders.” I replied more in frustration than anything else.

Soon she left for the supermarket to get every box she could fit in her van. Van? Yes, the lady sold on the flea market and to antique dealers. Her home consisted of a farmhouse with a basement and three floors, a barn, milkhouse, and several out buildings jammed with her stock. Friday night I collapsed on the sofa with a glass of ice tea.

Mom asked, “Do you want your dad’s coin collection?”

That jade ring visualized in my brain. I replied, “No, I would like a piece of jewelry.”

“Get something out of that drawer.” Dang! That drawer was where she kept her flea market scraps, with an accent on “crap”. A lot of the pieces were gold, but the majority of the items were pieces no one would buy so she kept them to sell the gold wholesaler. There in a box I found her wedding band. Two of the diamonds had fallen out and not been replaced.

“Mom, why is your wedding band in here.”

“It’s not.”

I showed it to her then climbed the stairs and put it in her pink jewelry box with the jade ring. That’s the last time I saw them. I took a piece of costume jewelry from the 1950s and a faux pearl necklace.

The years went by and Mom and I each had our own health challenges. Mom needed twenty-four hour care. My brother found a wonderful place for her. They allowed residents to bring their own furniture and what was left my brother stored in his basement.

Years later on a visit he asked me to see if I wanted anything from the basement. “No one else wants this junk so it’s going to be dumped.” He stated. There sat a cardboard box full of what appeared to be odds and ends. I begged my husband to make space for it in the car so I could take it home and look through it.

Six months later I had time to get into that box. What joy! Yes, the jade ring and Mom’s old wedding ring were thrown into an old mess of junk jewelry.

There were WWI letters from my great-uncles to their mother and an old postcard that my Great-aunt Margaret received from her beau, my Great-uncle Leo. He said he “loved” her. At a time when no one made public their feelings, Uncle Leo addressed his love for her. Being a postcard you know everyone in the county knew Leo loved Margaret before the postcard reached her. A stack of old pictures sat at the bottom of the box.

It’s funny but I never saw Mom wear any of the jewelry Dad brought home. An ivory set of a ring and bracelet from India and a silver belt with Siamese dancing girls on enamel went to my niece. Another niece had the same initials as my mom and my Great-great-grandmother Emma L. Thorn. Erin made the gold brooch into a necklace.

My daughter will inherit Mom’s two rings when I’m gone. Since I now had two jade rings that were twins, I took them to the jeweler’s to have them sized and the missing diamonds replaced in the band. He mentioned the stone I was sending to Trish had a better quality of jade. No matter. The one I kept Dad bought for Mom.

Some ancient Chinese carver picked out just the right stone for this striking ring.

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When the project started I really had no idea how it would morph into a binder containing over 600 pages, most double sided. It started innocently with a conversation with my grandson over American History being his least favorite subject. Horrors! My favorite subject. American History and PE were always an easy “A.” I heard myself saying, “Memorizing names and dates is not the way to learn history. I’ll put something together for you that shows how our family played a part in the history of our country.”

Since I am a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), I knew I had lots of ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War. Being obsessed by genealogy I knew that one of their fathers had also served in the French and Indian War. After researching this branch I found their line fought in King Phillip’s War in 1675-1676.

Massachusetts has such wonderful records that I found the name of the militia group my ancestor fought in. This helped me determine the information to be contained in each chapter. First, a couple of pages on the causes of the war. Service units and battles they fought in followed. Some general information, like who started using gas warfare first or the occupation of Berlin and Japan after the war, which would probably not be taught in a classroom. At the end of the chapter was a genealogy report from that 8th great-grandfather down to my grandsons.

As you may guess the American Revolution and the Civil War were the easiest to write. During the Revolution we had people from New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few. Each soldier had a very different experience. All went to war to claim bounty land in a country they were risking their lives to establish.

During the Civil War we had relatives on both sides. One Yankee died at the Battle of Chickamauga, while a Reb survived the North’s death camp, Camp Douglas, Illinois. He and two other grandfathers left Georgia after the war and came to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Granddad Elder survived a POW camp to be shot in the back of the head by a neighbor and her brother in Chickasha, OK.

Not surprising the hardest for me was Vietnam. It’s hard to be neutral in the telling when it was a defining moment in my life. I still cry when certain events are shown on television. Volunteering for the National League of Families by selling POW/MIA bracelets still means a lot to me. As of this date my MIA has never been found. I often goggle him to get an update. John McCain is a hero in my mind. Jane Fonda will always be “Hanoi Jane.”

My brother and his wife supported Iraq. Yes, his wife. Women played an important from that point on. Ellen juggled serving while also being ‘mom” to a toddler. Sacrifice has many faces.

Our society has a way of re-writing history. Take a moment and write down your impressions and experiences for your family. There’s nothing like a first-hand account.John Owens

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One of the reasons I joined the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) was to be of service to my community. How I could do that was not defined. When the opportunity arose to salute veterans of the war in Vietnam it pulled at my heart.

The Vietnam War changed my life. Within a year I was no longer the young teenage girl only interested in fashion, dating and having fun. Young men my age were being drafted and sent to war in a nation most of us weren’t aware existed. Our generation never asked why. The government made that decision and you served. It wasn’t until later that the anti-war movement organized and men went to Canada rather than serve.

The face of war became that of Lt Cdr. Richard A. Stratton, an A4E pilot and the maintenance officer of Attack Squadron 192 onboard the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA. On January 4, 1967, he launched in his A4E “Skyhawk” attack Aircraft for his 27th mission over North Vietnam. He remained a POW at the Hanoi Hilton until 1973.

It was his likeness that was on the bumper stickers and pamphlets that I distributed as a volunteer for the National League of Families. The sale of the POW-MIA bracelets paid for the League to keep their stories alive in the press and to be able to lobby North Vietnam officials in France.

Every night with our evening meal the national networks fed us films of helicopters unloading body bags of our young men. Body counts of the enemy dead became important news to offset our losses. How could it be that so many young warriors were dead and yet we weren’t gaining any ground? The army that beat the French was about to send us home defeated in mind and spirit.

There were no parades. No one cared if a soldier had developed a drug problem to ease the pain he carried inside. Take off that uniform and blend in. Don’t talk about the war. Move on.

The U. S. Department of Defense has declared 2015 as the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. After 50 years the grateful hand is being extended.
The DAR is honored to salute our veterans. Thanks for your service. Welcome home.

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Writing for me does not flow as a gentle wind. It’s more like a fierce storm than rages and then calms leaving this sailor adrift for days at a time. As you may know there are many suggestions from other writers on how write and how to get organized.

To bolster my writing I bought a book on POV (Point of View), character traits, two on master plots, and… you get the picture. One common theme in them is to know your leading characters. Know everything about them. Do they play well with others? Does he or she drink or swear too much? Know them as if they were part of your family. There’s so much more information in the books from well-known authors with beautiful covers that sit on my book shelf unread. I wish I had the time to read all of them and digest their contents, but I’m writing.

If you have ever attended a workshop or writer’s convention, you’ve heard about using note cards to plot out each character and scene. This seemed a logical way to keep from reaching the magical middle of a book and run out of ideas on which way to proceed to the crescendo. With my Staples rewards (no, I don’t get a kick back) I bought some 3×5 cards and a Dry Ease message board with magnets and started plotting my story. Within the first 100 pages of writing I was moving the cards all around until they no longer reflected anything I had written, but I’m writing.

I’m not complaining, after all both my fictional novels have won awards. I just wish something in my life would just be easy. You know like eating a box of chocolates.

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Hinton Family WWII

Hinton Family WWII

My husband and I went to the Armed Forces Day Parade in McAlester last Saturday. We had heard how small it had become over the years. The local fire departments would be out in force and little else. It may have been small and yes there were lots of fire engines, but the people that took the time to attend really enjoyed seeing our veterans, young and old, men and women, getting some love.

School bands, horse riders, Shriners in their funny little cars, motor cycle enthusiasts, and all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces strutted their stuff in style. Vintage planes conducted a fly over. Small children laughed with glee.

Small towns remember how to celebrate. I still remember when I was in 3rd grade and President Dwight D. Eisenhower rode by in a convertible. What a thrill. I have since had the honor to visit his birthplace and farm. What a hero. Small town boy rises to be the war-time general of the Allies and then our President.

This is one way to teach our children the meaning of patriotism. Showing respect for our flag has become a lost art. Seeing it being burned in some third world country has become the norm. Do I care foreigners choose to burn the stars and stripes. Not really. They have no idea what it is like to live in a country where they have rights: the right to worship their faith, the right to vote, the right to speak freely, and the right to protect and honor the rights of everyone, even those who disagree with our local and national leaders. That’s America, land of the free, home of the brave.

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The Gift of Laughter

The light on the oven goes out signaling time to put in the lasagna, homemade of course. It starts with my special sauce that simmers for hours with just the right blend of garlic and spices. Four kinds of cheese are layered between the noodles and sauce in my largest ceramic pan.

“Wow, this pan must weigh twenty pounds this year. If the family keeps growing I’m going to have to go to two pans or wear my industrial strength back brace to put it in the oven.”

No comment is forthcoming from my mate who’s stationed in front of the television oblivious to everything that doesn’t wear purple and gold. Basically I’m talking to myself, which is not unusual in football season. The Vikings are lined up to score another touchdown so their number one fan calls out plays to the quarterback from his recliner in the next room.

Tonight’s our special night. The one we look forward to all year long. My three stepsons and their families will all be at the house for our annual Christmas celebration. Mike and Sandy will arrive first with their daughter, Hannah. Ron and Paula follow with Kyle and Kayla in tow. John, Kim, and the three girls, Ashley, Amber, and Abbey, always arrive last.

Outside is fresh snow, courtesy of the jet stream’s meandering down into Iowa. This dip allows frigid Canadian air to swoop in with below zero temperatures. Icicles that hang from the trees in the yard give the impression that Mother Nature trimmed them for the holidays. The pungent smell of wood burning in fireplaces fills the evening air.

Road crews had been out early to plow the roads so they are passable. My husband shoveled the steps up to the house several times during the day, and then applied a layer of salt to keep ice from forming.

“I hope there’s no black ice on the interstate overpasses,” I yelled from the kitchen.

Still no reply from in front of the TV.

Inside the house has been decorated with the traditional trappings of the holidays. A fragrant Douglas fir spreads out its limbs and welcomes the strings of multi-colored lights and ornaments. The ornaments are a combination of sentimental mementoes made by my kids throughout their younger years, souvenirs picked up on our travels, and purchases made from the many talented artisans in the area. The cherub-faced angel Herb and my daughter purchased our first Christmas together has taken its place at the top. The manger is placed on the floor at the center of the tree and lit with a white light. A reminder of what we are really celebrating.

Stockings with each child’s name are filled with trinkets and adorn the antique oak cabinet. Presents occupy the corner of the living room waiting to be opened by giggling children. Christmas carols play softly in the background.

My day started early in the kitchen baking sweets. First out of the oven, the traditional pumpkin pie requested by my husband. Some of the grandkids wanted apple, so apple pie rests on the cooling rack on the counter.

A nice mixed green salad, relish tray, and toasted garlic bread round out our meal. It’s a non-traditional menu, but the kids remarked several years earlier they look forward to having something besides turkey and dressing.

I looked at the clock for about the tenth time.

       Hmm, the kids will be coming soon.

“Honey, at half time will you please go out with the broom and knock snow off the wreath and throw some more salt on the walk?”

No answer.

I walked to the front of the house to get Coach Herb’s attention.

“Honey, at half time will you please go out with the broom and knock snow off the wreath and throw some more salt on the walk?”

“Sure. It’s getting close to the time the kids will get here. Anything else you need done?”

“No, it’s all pretty well organized.”

I returned to the kitchen to set up the buffet line. The counter that separates the dining room from the living room is arranged with the china, napkins, and flatware.

Strong arms encircle my waist and a warm kiss is planted on the back of my neck.

“You know I love you even more for all you do to make this night special.”

“I know. I love having all the kids together, too.”

“I’ll go do the walks.”

Fifteen minutes later, as predicted, Mike, Sandy, and Hannah arrive. Boots are shed at the front door and placed on the vinyl tray to dry. Heavy woolen coats are thrown on the bed. Gifts are placed near the tree.

“Boy, it smells good in here. I see we are having our favorite, lasagna.”

Another ten minutes pass.

“Clang, Clang.” Ron, Paula, and kids ring the small captain’s bell we use for a doorbell. Outer wear are handed over to add a second layer to the stack.

“I can tell your neighbor is using that wood I brought over in his fireplace tonight. Apple wood has such a great smell.”

John’s family arrives only forty minutes late this year. Once more, coats, hats, mittens, and boots are shed. The shoe tray at the front door now overflows with melting slush, and the bed resembles an old Indian mound.

The first thing on everyone’s mind is a quick “hello” and “let’s eat.”

Out comes the lasagna to cool. In goes the garlic bread to brown. Salad and relish dishes make their way to the counter. Ice tea and milk are poured. Soft drinks are made available. We’re ready.

Everyone makes a circle and holds hands as Grandpa Herb says the blessing.

“Heavenly Father, we are gathered here tonight to celebrate the birth of Your Son. Bless our family…”

Kids are served first. They take their seats at the dining room table with instructions to let the lasagna cool or the cheese will burn their little mouths. Ashley is asked to put back some of the pile of black olives on her plate until others have a chance to get at least one. Abbey doesn’t want dressing on her salad. Hannah wants regular bread and not garlic toast. Kyle wants more on his plate – more lasagna, more bread, more of everything, as if he is afraid it will all be gone before he gets seconds.

The adults now have an opportunity to fill their plates and find a place to sit where they can balance their food without spilling on the new carpet. Ron and John pile on the food and still go back to refill their plates.

“I used to be able to eat like that when I was your age,” their dad remarks with a chuckle. “It’ll catch up to you when you pass forty,” he continues as he pats his full belly.

The main course is completed and the dishes are rinsed and stacked by the sink. Kids color in books with themes chosen especially for them. Barbie and the Power Rangers are the favorites this year. Kyle’s outnumbered by his sister and four girl cousins, but holds his own. Their conversation centers on the best parts of the new Disney movie.

In the living room the adults are trying to out do each other.

“I almost beat Dad this year atHudson. If I had sunk that last putt on eighteen he would have been mine.”

“Paula, what are you getting Ron for Christmas this year?” Mike inquires.

“You know I’m not going to tell you,” she replies with a big grin.

“Well, from where I’m sitting, I would suggest membership in the Hair Club for Men.”

This prompts additional jabs from the other males and Ron’s reply, “How far does a hairline have to recede, Mike, before it’s no longer a receding hairline and it’s called being bald?

One quip is followed by another. Laughter follows. It’s the invisible bond that brings harmony to the family. All earlier preparation is done in anticipation of this moment. It fills my heart with love and warms my soul.

       How many years of this are left for us before each son will want to move on and make family traditions of their own?

Time to open presents. The youngest grandchild puts on the Santa hat to help Grandpa distribute gifts. Bows are unceremoniously yanked from the box. Paper is torn off in shreds. Boxes are ripped open to free the toy inside.

Ten-year-old Amber gets a Bop It and is very patient as the adults take turns playing with her new toy even before she has a chance to enjoy it. Kyle gets a snow board, which will get a lot of use on the slope behind their house. Abbey sticks her Barbie horse under her arm so no one else can touch it. Clothes and board games round out the last of the grandkids’ gifts. We receive loving holiday cards containing gift certificates to our favorite restaurants from the kids.

Thank yous are exchanged. Boxes are stacked in groups to be loaded in the cars and paper is stuffed into a large green garbage bag.

“What’s for dessert?”

Pies are cut. Coffee is made. Milk glasses refilled.

Chimes from the clock signal nine – the evening soon ends. Coats are retrieved from the pile on the bed. Snow boots and shoes disappear from the tray. Hugs and kisses exchanged.

“See you soon. Thanks again for the…Happy holidays!”

The house is quiet again.

It’s only been a short three hours, but memories have been made that will last a lifetime.

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