Monday, January 30, 2006

Now Available in Russellville!

Hey, all you west-central Arkies! Thanks to my dear friend, Dede Wilson, my book is now available in Russellville at Heart And Soul, a Christian bookstore located on Main Street. Stop in and see Pam Palonek and pick up a copy! Thanks a million, Dede, for getting me in the door!

I've sent a copy of this book, along with a proposal, to Current, Inc., the stationery company, hoping they will pair it with a card assortment and carry it in their catalog. I also sent a proposal to Abindgon Press for my daily devotional book for teens and young adults. Please pray for God's will over these projects... hopefully He will want to see both of them well-received! Thanks for your prayers and support!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Let's Hear It for Jelly Roll !!!

I know I am feeling better when I start to get hungry! It happened last night... a craving for sweets, and nothing whatsoever in the house that fit the bill. What would really taste good, I thought, was a jelly roll. I don't know about you, but I grew up on jelly roll. My mother made them often... probably because they were fast, easy, and cheap... important factors in a family of five on a budget! As an adult, I set out a jelly roll alongside more festive, and complicated sweet treats at a party one evening, and my cousin, Ed said, "Jelly roll!!! I LOVE jelly roll!" Who knew?! Now, I take him one often, and it's always filled with grape jelly -- nothing fancy like preserves or marmalade or as exotic as say, strawberry jam... no sir, he wants plain grape jelly! And I think maybe he's on to something!

So this morning, I made a jelly roll...from my mother's recipe (which was probably my grandmother's and/or my Aunt Altha's at some point!) and we will enjoy every morsel. In case you want to make your own jelly roll, here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet will do, as well)

Beat 4 eggs until white and thick.

Add: 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well, and pour into jelly roll pan/cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. Remove from oven and invert onto a dampened kitchen towel. Roll up, starting at the shorter end, and let sit for several minutes. Unroll and spread with jelly (I find it works best if you use about 1/2 - 2/3 cup and whip the jelly until it is smooth and spreadable.) Re-roll and slice into 3/4" slices.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Stayin' Alive, Layin' Around...

Here we are at the start of "week two" of this junk. We ARE better... but still coughing and hacking... Grandma Robus has had it, too, so we are definitely the family that shares! (She, too, is better!) C'mon now, SOMEBODY feel sorry for us!*LOL*

At least we had a good rain over the weekend, and it was a beautiful day today. Our yard is full of daffodils and other bulbs that are shooting through the soil, and there are even a couple of buds that should pop open soon! What season is this, anyway?!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Still Down

Yes, we are still "down for the count" here at the "Robus Infirmary." Now we both have this "bronchial bug" ... things are so bad that Mabel and Lucy have turned to each other for comfort! They almost never lay together like this any more, and the first part of the week, they stayed in bed with me nearly all day every day. By Wednesday, they started finding other places to snooze during the day, and last night, Greg found them both in the piano room in this chair! Poor babies... hopefully their parents will both be well soon and they can get back to their normal routine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Some Really Good "Maxines"

I love Maxine... here are some really good ones my cousin sent me. I've been in bed since Sunday with a bronchial thingy... obviously I have too much time on my hands if I'm posting Maxines, huh?!*LOL* That makes the "cheese and whine" one most appropriate, don't you think?!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

We had SNOW today!

I kid you not... for about an hour around noon, this band of snow passed through here... never stuck, but was very pretty and soft... now the sun is shining! Winter in Arkansas... go figure!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Caitlyn's Doctor Report

This from Caitlyn's mother, Cindy... We saw the plastic surgeon today that did the stitches on Caitlyn. He said things are looking good. We will see him again in 2 weeks. It is amazing how fast she has healed. She looks good!


Meet Sean, aka Murph. He has been in my Sunday School class since 8th grade... he's now in 10th. I would have to say that of all the kids in Sunday School, Murph is the most faithful... he almost NEVER misses. I think that's pretty awesome! And actually, he's just a really cool guy. He also knows quite a bit about the Bible, and he likes to ask me questions that make me think and send me digging for answers!

Murph is into poetry. Some is happy, some is introspective, and some is dark. But it's all good. Here's one of his poems:

My heart fears to be hurt again, with all the tears that it's bled.
All the scars that it has to take.
My heart's been broken, and sometimes thrown around like a puppet that is just being used.
My soul feels weak from the people making fun of my belief.
Tell me who or who not to like, as if I choose that person, it would be a sin.
Why do humans ask "Why" and not just do.
Why must we think we can choose who dies or who lives... who is cool or who is the loser.
Who gets together or who will be alone.
The truth is that we are all blinded by the darkness that tells us to hate and how to think.
Who to look at and who to leave alone... who to kill and who to not.

You rock, Murph! Way to go!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Marla Ann and My Old Neighborhood

My niece, Jasmine, e-mailed me and said I needed to update my blog! Ha! Here is a picture of her with her boyfriend, Braeden, taken Thanksgiving Day. I told her I really didn't have anything new to tell, but here goes...

Our niece, Caitlyn, is apparently doing fine, according to her "Poppy" Bruce. I think Cindy told me she goes back to the plastic surgeon this week for a checkup. See below for an explanation of what happened to her over the weekend.

Monday was my cousin, Eddie's birthday, so Greg and I paid him a visit. I took him a jelly roll... his favorite. If you haven't had jelly roll, you've missed an old-fashioned treat! It's basically a very light spongecake, rolled up with jelly inside... YUM! Eddie has Alpha1, which in a nutshell is a congenital disease (meaning he was born with it) that manifested itself about 5 or 6 years ago. Generally, it affects the liver in children, and the lungs in adults. In Ed's case, he first had liver problems, followed by lung... so he is battling to get rid of a 2-year+ lung infection, in order to get back on the liver transplant list... the ultimate cure for Alpha1. We keep praying that this will happen. We had a good visit yesterday, and we talked about old times and the way things were when we were kids in the 60's and 70's.

Today is the birthday of my childhood friend, Marla Ann, who is 4 years older than I. Marla Ann lived "catty-cornered" from me, and I thought she was amazing - I still do! She lives about 4 hours away, but we revived our friendship in earnest about 10 or 12 years ago, and we stay in touch as best our busy lives allow. I miss not having her close by.

My neighborhood was unique... at least to me... in that within a 1-block radius, nearly every person in every house was either related to me by blood, or may as well have been! Most families were older... friends of my grandparents, in some cases. There were my mom's parents a block away, alongside my Aunt Altha, then the Edwardses, whose kids were older, Mr. Morris, an elderly couple on the corner, and I cannot recall their names (their house is gone now and the US Bank drivethru occupies that corner). Then, on MY corner, there was Mary Butler; the Shelbys -- Prudy, Ray and Martha Raye; the Baileys -- Barbara, Bill and Bill Baker (later the Davises -- Inez and Lovard and Annabelle -- now State Supreme Court Justice Imber!); and across the corner, the Bakers -- Maurel, Blanche, and Marla Ann! Marla has a sister, Mary, who is near my mother in age, so she was already out of the house when I came along. Mary lives in Paris with her husband, Arthur, and when I was a child and she was single, she lived in New York. I always thought she was so exotic... and her visits to our little neighborhood were always exciting and special. Hey... we knew someone who lived in New York City!!! When you are a little girl in a small town, THAT is SOMETHING!

Marla Ann is tall and stately, with the best posture of any woman I've ever known. She got that from her mother, Blanche, a schoolteacher FOREVER... she even taught my mother's friends! Marla has beautiful NATURALLY blonde hair, and she rarely wears makeup, but doesn't need it... don't you just hate people like that! (only kidding, Marla). Marla sings like a bird, and she married a very musically talented man, Bill, so often they sing together... for parties, friends, etc.

Marla's mother, Blanche, loved to sing and play the piano. Her dad, Maurel, loved to whistle. When I was a kid, we didn't have central air, so 3 seasons of the year, you would often hear Blanche playing and singing, and most days we heard Maurel wandering around in the early morning hours outside, whistling away. I learned later in my adult life that he possibly had some "liquid encouragement" on some of those days, but hey... as a 10-year-old kid, what I didn't know about those things contributed to memories of some lovely early-morning wake-up calls from a whistling neighbor!

Maurel and Blanche doted on Marla Ann when she was a child. She had a little motorized car that you could actually drive around the block. Since it was the 60's, there was no plastic in this car... it was all HEAVY metal! It held 2 people, and sometimes I was lucky enough to get to ride down the street in it with Marla! The Bakers loved my sister, brother and me, and they were always so kind and thoughtful of us. One summer, Blanche decided my sister and I needed a project, so she bought us both an art activity to finish... mine was a paint-by-number picture of the Lord's Supper! My sister got a mosaic, made with those little colored gravels like you see in fishbowls. We both finished our projects, and Blanche hung both of them proudly in her house! Amazingly, not so many years ago, the mosaic was still hanging in Marla's old bedroom!!!

In later years, Marla's parents declined in health, and Blanche was moved to a nursing home. Maurel filled his days with ordering "sweeptstakes rewards" -- one of those magazine scams that frequently plagues elderly and lonely people. His house was filled with his "rewards" and magazines, and occasionally Marla would try to wade through it, clean it out, and try to get the Attorney General to put a stop to it. On at least 2 occasions, Jasmine and I "shopped" at Maurel's with Marla, as I attempted to help her clean things out and reorganize. There was so much stuff that it literally was piled higher than the top of the bed in one bedroom! While much of it was cheap, useless junk, I still have a hummingbird feeder and an outdoor thermometer I got there, and they remind me of Maurel each time I see them. I remember fondly his melodious whistle, his loving spirit, and his every-present kindness.

Today, my mom and Mrs. Edwards are the only two "originals" living in the old neighborhood. The old saying "things just ain't what they used to be" is certainly true. But as I drive around the block, I still can recall a slower, seemingly simpler time when we ran in and out of each others' houses, stopped in for coffee in our bath robes in the early morning, and enjoyed a mid-day song or an early morning whistle, courtesy of Blanche and Maurel.

So, Happy Birthday, Marla Ann!!! Remember the "good ole days" today... and consider how lucky we were to have had such a wonderful stomping ground!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Caitlyn Update

Here are the latest photos of Caitlyn...

Here's what Caitlyn's mom, Cindy, had to say... "It was/is a terrible accident. It is the grace of God her eye was not injured. On the way to the first hospital (they took her to Sikeston, MO, first, and then a plastic surgeon in Cape Girardeau), she asked me why I was thanking Jesus. I know exactly why and will continue to do so. We had smart doctors and great nurses, just like I prayed for, too! She is has been a real trooper. I believe it will all be okay!"

Caitlyn's "Christmas Present"

This is our great-niece, Caitlyn, and her baby brother, Chase. Caitlyn is in kindergarten, and she will be 6 in March. She asked for a puppy for Christmas, but the puppies weren't born until just recently. The family went to view the Golden Retrievers yesterday, and to allow Caitlyn to choose her puppy.

Apparently, Caitlyn ran ahead of her mother, Cindy, to see the puppies, which scared the first-time mother of the puppies. These are the results:

The plastic surgeon says there will be minimal scarring, if any. These photos were taken Friday night (Jan. 6). Today, Caitlyn's right eye is swollen shut, and Cindy and Charley say the bruising is worse. They say she has NEVER cried... she is MAD because she didn't get to choose her puppy!

Friday, January 06, 2006

My Cousin Betty Rhea

This is a picture of my cousin, Betty Rhea Fall. Her mother (my Aunt Altha) and my Grandmother Ramsey were sisters. Pictured here with Betty are two cousins, Tommy and Marilyn, on the left, and her son, Eddie, and my mom's sister Diane on the right. I'm guessing this was taken about 1956 or maybe 1957 (the year I was born!).

Betty had been in a nursing home for about 9 years, due to a debilitating stroke. She passed away on December 21, 2005, and her funeral was December 23. Greg was a pallbearer, and I was asked to sing... "In the Garden" and "Beyond the Sunset." Our pastor also asked me to say a few words about Betty, since he really didn't get a chance to know here before the stroke. Here is what I said...

There’s a little frilly baby cap that hangs on the wall in my piano room. I’m told it was the first gift I received – hours after I was born – brought to the hospital by Betty and Leo. You see, Betty Rhea and Leo Fall were part of my life even before I was born.

Ours is a very tightly-knit family, so every holiday or special occasion most certainly included the Falls. Only 10 years older than I, Eddie became a big-brother figure to me and my sister Suzanne, and we spent many fun-filled hours with him and his parents. I still remember the big snows winter brought in the 60’s, and watching out the window for their big white car or their truck to drive up. That signaled the onset of many hours of sledding! Eddie and my dad would take us down some of the most treacherous hills in the Heber Springs city limits, while Betty stood at the top and shouted, “Pull down your coat! Tighten that hood!" And most frequently, we’d hear just a big, “Oh my Lord!” Leo would meet us halfway down - or up – the hill, in his old truck, and drive us and half of Heber Springs back to the top to do it all again. This would go on for days… as long as the snow and ice held!

Betty always loved children, and it seemed we almost always had a little one around for her to dote on. When Suzanne and I were little, we had long hair that drove my mother nuts. So, Betty and her friend, Mickey Rector, would come to our house and give us those famous Toni Home Perms. They would roll us all up and get the solution on, then take us to the park to play, and probably to Whitaker’s for a cherry lime, while it set. Then they would bring us home and finish the perm. Later, they sat through endless piano recitals, Little Miss Cleburne County pageants, church performances – whatever we were in, they seemed to be there. After my sister, brother and I were older, a little red-haired cousin filled the gap. One Christmas, Betty and Leo covered their Christmas tree in individually wrapped candy canes – all for “Little Brent.” They couldn’t wait for him to come and fill himself silly with them – and I’m sure he did.

Then came Natalie and Franklin. I don’t know of any two children who were loved more by their grandparents than these two. Who else gave you ice cream and M&M’s for breakfast – because that was all you would eat. Who else taped “Days of our Lives” every day and watched it with you on the weekend?! Who else could you call in the afternoon and say, “Gran, the basketball bus leaves at 2:30, and Angie and I would like a chocolate pie, or a pizza (or whatever it was!)" Who else got a bright red Camaro for Christmas before their 16th birthday in April, or a really cool, nearly-new Chevy 4x4 pickup truck when most boys had to drive their parents’ vehicles. How many of you had grandparents so cool that your friends LOVED to hang out at their houses with you.

Did I mention that “Granny Betty” was a marvelous cook?! There probably wasn’t anything she couldn’t fix, but one of my favorites was her chocolate cream pie. Nothing could touch it…hers was definitely in a league of its own.

Until a debilitating stroke and the accompanying ills of aging started to sap her vitality, Betty was a bright, bright spark of joy and laughter in a world that often wasn’t so fun or funny. You see, she knew a secret… Betty Rhea didn’t dwell on unpleasantries. She lived in the moment. She knew what – and who – was important, and she made this her number one focus.

In the Bible, Paul tells us to learn to be content in whatever our circumstances, and for me, Betty took that to a whole new level. She took things in stride, and to the rest of us, her world was filled with joy, friends, bridge games, fishing, the Razorbacks – whom she referred to as her “boys,” cherry limes at Whitaker’s and many friends at her bank window, good food - and yes, a good smoke… and above all, her family. I know, too, that she was, and is, a child of God, and until they were physically unable to attend, you would find her and her mother, my beloved Aunt Altha, sitting in church most every Sunday at First Baptist.

Betty had such a big heart, and one of her favorite sayings, was “Well, God love him or her.” I know that hearing the name Betty Rhea makes me smile, and I am pretty sure it makes you smile, too. She would be so proud you came today to celebrate her life. So, “God love you” for coming, and God love Betty Rhea.

Have You Read My Book?

Okay... here's my shameless promotion for my book, What to say and Do...When You Don't Know What to Say And Do. Everyone who reads it likes it and says how helpful it is to them. I hope you will get a copy and see for yourself... and tell all your friends! All of the proceeds presently go to Hospice, so it's all for a good cause to boot!
If you live in Heber Springs, you can get it downtown at "The Christian Bookstore." If you live out of town, e-mail me at and I'll tell you how to get a copy by mail. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Here Kitty, Kitty...

These are our cats (Lucy on the left, Mabel on the right). They are 6½ and absolutely the rulers of the house! I love this picture of them sunning in the front door. Since they can't go outside, this is sort of their "window on the world." Posted by Picasa

Christmas Fun...

This is me with my niece, Jasmine. We had a great Christmas together. We did all sorts of fun things, like baking, making Christmas gifts, and watching "The Polar Express" with Uncle Greg. We even painted our fingernails Double Decker Red with iridescent sparkles to be especially festive! Posted by Picasa

Happy New Year!

Welcome to my blog! I hope you will find my posts interesting, and that you will visit often! My husband, Greg, and I recently sold Workamper News, a business we developed over the last 18 years. Workamper News helps thousands of "great people find great jobs in great places" -- most of whom live at least part of the year in an RV. We publish a bi-monthly magazine, as well as our website (see the link on this blog to It's been great fun and a lot of work, but it was time for a change, so here we go!!!! We are still helping with the transition to new ownership, and beyond that, we don't really know what the future holds. I'm sure you will learn more about it here!

My future will certainly include more time with family and my church (First United Methodist), where I am a member of the Praise and Worship Team. I am on sabbatical as the Sr. High Sunday School teacher, but I feel sure that this will probably be short-lived, as I miss "my kids" terribly! I also write contemporary Christian music (and a couple of secular songs so far).

I am forever a writer at heart, so I have completed two books -- and published one of them... What to Say and Do When You Don't Know What to Say and Do. The other is a daily devotional book for teenagers that I hope to have published soon... maybe this year! I have ideas for other books... now all I need is TIME!!!

Why Firecracker Baby? I came into this world with a bang on July 4, and some say I've been a "firecracker" ever since. I love Heber Springs... the town and it's people, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. My husband says to be careful who you talk about in front of me... I'm related to most of the folks in this county! That used to be true, but as time has flown and the area has grown, things have changed a bit. I hope you will visit this blog often... maybe I'll introduce you to a few of the characters who give this area so much flavor! Thanks for stopping by, and may God bless you.