The Children of the Children

The marriage of Helen Simpson and me produced three offspring: Boh, Todd, and Robin. Each of these three gave birth to one child: Luke, Gracey, and Carli. All arrived about the time that I had given up on having grandchildren. Now all three are well on their way to becoming adults. I don’t see them often, but I thrill to the stories of their activities. I also gasp every time one of them appears as a screen saver on my computer screen. Luke is into sports and competition. Gracey is musical and has already been in several local theater plays. I have seen her performing twice. Carli is our “mermaid” who lived for several years in Ecuador with her parents. All three are healthy and happy young people. Although they don’t all live in the same area, their parents get them together as often as possible, and I get the results via pictures and videos. What magic it is to see them growing and making choices. I thank God that, while our marriage did not last, the product of our relationship produced these three wonderful grandchildren who are growing fast and becoming themselves.

grandchildren 2017

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Words, Words, Words

As time passes and progress ensues, our language is changing. Many new words and items were created during the astronaut years when NASA was experimenting with how to care for things in outer space. Dustbusters and memory foam came into our language during that period. I remember when I began hearing the term “blogs,” and I asked someone at the public library to give me a definition as I could not find it in a dictionary. I still have not mastered an understanding of exactly what memes are. I think I now understand vetting which seemed to have come into existence only for the past three or four political campaigns. One of the newest words in my vocabulary is the word buffering. I know it has to do with computers and wi-fi, and I know that, when the little circle is circling, I lose movement in the picture on the screen. I just looked it up and learned that buffering has to do with an area of memory used for the temporary storage of data when a program or hardware device needs an uninterrupted flow of information. But, where did the word come from? What is its etymology? Our language is forever expanding.

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The Return of the Heinous Piano

For some reason, I grew up with very little self-confidence. If I were unwilling to do something, Mother would do it for me. Why try? Early in my life, my family learned that I had some musical talent. Perhaps I could show self-confidence there, and I did. My parents bought a piano for me, purchasing it from a widow lady who was eager to get rid of it as was her spinster daughter. Who could have known that my mother would die, my dad would marry the “spinster daughter” who would come to dwell in our home where she had to put up once again with the heinous piano. That piano was both my bane and my blessing as I suffered the pangs of ridicule from those who were athletic rather than musically talented. In my little southern home town, a young man HAD to participate in sports. Sports held no interest for me. In order to avoid teasing, I was allowed to be quietly interested in music. In order to prove myself, I went out for every sport and excelled at none. I went to the wrong huddle once on the football team. After basketball practice, we had to shoot so many hoops before we could leave. The coach would finally say, “Cooper, go home.” Occasionally my musical talent would be recognized, and I would be spotlighted. However, in my mind, I was never good, ignoring the praise of my piano teacher and my band director, for whom I eventually played the clarinet. Even when I was selected to go to the All State band and was awarded first chair clarinet in college, I knew my limitations. When it finally came to a choice between becoming a hermit in the college practice rooms or having a social life, a social life took precedence, and I dropped my music major. Now in my senior years, it is so nice to enjoy sports on TV while playing the organ and piano occasionally in church. No one ridicules me for not playing football now.

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Big, Bad John (revised)

I have a friend named John who has a pet peeve. He cannot stand for someone to use the phrase, “going to the john,” when it refers to using the bathroom. His being upset by that usage is reason for him to be confrontational, even to the point of embarrassing someone. I have humored him, trying my best not to use the phrase accidentally although it has certainly been part of my phraseology since childhood. I have tried to argue with John that the Brits say they are going to the loo (although they don’t spell it Lou) and that he has no fear of someone using the term “dick” to refer to a penis. Nevertheless, he has remained adamant regarding that usage. Because of his opposition to exercise, he probably resents people going to the gym, since it sounds like “jim.” This cartoon will probably drive him crazy.


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Shopping with Mr. Coupon

My children used to say that my name should be Mr. Coupon, instead of Mr. Cooper. Now I am married to a man who is even more coupon-conscious than I am. One of the products we both consume regularly is Frosted Flakes. Advocates warn that no one should purchase cereal without a coupon as cereals are frequently over-priced and coupons are ubiquitous. When checking on the latest weekly flyers, Dimitris noticed that Family Dollar had Family Size Frosted Flakes on special plus he had a $3.00 off coupon if we bought at least five boxes. So, we headed to the Family Dollar. We bought the last six boxes of the cereal on the shelf plus we also purchased a bottle of fabric softener. When the clerk gave us the discount and then scanned in the coupon, we owed $11.16 for the seven items. The young lady clerk who has begun to recognize us when we come to shop remarked, “Wow, you guys don’t need a woman.” I took that as a very nice compliment.


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S&H Green Stamps

In 1955, I was working as a cashier at Dixie Homes Store in Clinton, SC. Our store employees were invited to attend a meeting in Spartanburg regarding a new program that would provide an incentive for shopping at our grocery store–S&H green stamps. The program was explained, and we were instructed to immediately begin giving out the stamps. The cash value of these stamps was .50 cents per 300 stamps. Customers were informed that the value of purchasing the merchandise was significantly greater than the cash value. People went crazy and embraced the new program enthusiastically. Conversations among shoppers soon included reports on the number of “books” they had accumulated and what their goal was for purchasing a certain item. Although the “green stamp” program is gone, many ideas have followed such as gas perks and BOGO: buy one, get one free.


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The Excited Planter

Reader, I don’t know what you do for excitement, but one of my joys is planting flowers. On Father’s Day, my partner gave me something he knew I would enjoy–flower seeds. There were marigold, cosmos, and zinnia seeds but no nasturtium seeds. I will certainly add nasturtiums to my seed collection soon. I finally pushed myself out the door Sunday afternoon and began clearing an area in the front yard where flowers will add to the feeling of a happy home. I had bought two large bags of soil a week ago so opened one of them and began spreading the dirt. I put down a layer and then covered the seeds, added another layer after I spread more seeds. I usually am too sparing with seeds and end up with a meagre plot of flowers that is anything but spectacular. This time, I hope I’ve done myself proud. The seeds should start coming up within a week if the warm weather holds. Now that I’ve started, perhaps I’ll add another several areas of flowers from seeds, including some nasturtiums.


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