Monthly Archives: November 2009

Part 4 of- God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

Yes, the day was perfect for a stroll with Charlie.  Together they walked down the street with Charlie stopping every few minutes to sniff the next  bush or flower along the way.  I think I should get you a treat at Bow Wow’s.  You deserve one for being a good dog with Dr. McGrath.  On the corner, Bow Wow’s was Charlie’s favorite spot to stop because he knew that Minnie would buy him his favorite peanut butter mini-cookies.  Next they would go ‘round the corner to the Key West shop and Minnie would buy herself a frozen key lime cheesecake on a stick.  It could be freezing outside but if Charlie and Minnie were downtown a stop at Bow Wow’s and the Key West shop were a must.  Sitting down on a bench by the Key West shop; Charlie jumped up to meet Minnie’s gaze and wag his tail in pure excitement for the cookies he knew were for him alone.  And Minnie would sit quietly eating her frozen key lime cheesecake on a stick; saying nothing but quietly remember Brian as she looked at the railroad tracks.

Mom, can Stupid Mikey come and stay for supper tonight?

Brian, you know full well that I do not allow you to use that language in this house.

Aw Mom, that’s just his nickname.  All the fellas say it.  We don’t mean anything by it.

Nevertheless, it is not acceptable and you may not call him Stupid Mickey or Stupid anything for that matter.

Yes, ma’am.  Can he come over tonight?  And spend the night too? 

Yes, dear it’s fine with me.  Don’t forget to wash before dinner.

Yes, ma’am.  May I please be excused now?

Yes you may.

OK.  And with that Brian swung open the back door by the kitchen and yelled, “Hey Mikey!  Stupid Mikey!  She said it was OK!!!”  And running out the door while it slammed behind him Minnie couldn’t get a word out before Brian was gone.  Poor Michael she thought to herself.  Poor unfortunate little boy she thought to have a horrible nickname.  A skinny little boy with slick back hair, thick glasses, and sad little cow eyes.  Michael looked up to Brian and Johnny because they both played baseball so well.  Michael was made for running that was for sure but not for hitting balls very well with a bat.  And so, after so many misses at bat their coach yelled one day in a fit of frustration, “Hey Mikey don’t be so stupid and just hit the damn ball!”  And from that point the nickname stuck.  But Michael never seemed to mind it coming from Brian or Johnny.  From them it was a badge of honor that they even let him be their friend.  Days in the Florida sun were filled with fishing on the lake, going down the Wekiva River on inner tubes, and best of all, orange grove fights. 

 Ah yes, there was nothing like a good ‘ol orange grove fight to make your mother angry from all the juicy wet rot all over your clothes.  It was the same every time:  Frank and Arthur being the oldest were against Johnny, Brian, and Stupid Mikey. Now the key to a good orange grove fight was to find the most juicy, smelly, rotten oranges; grapefruits were even better on account of their size.  Then, piling up one’s ammunition was key as well as finding the best spot behind a tree to hide while catapulting rotten oranges at your enemies.  The winner was the one who hit the other the most right on the chest.  The head was technically off limits but this never stopped Arthur from aiming at Brian and smashing the most gooshy of his oranges in Brian’s face so that juicy pulp dripped all in his hair and face.  Coupled with the strength of the Florida sun; the stench became even stronger.

 Frank Jr. would announce the start:  OK boys.  Now remember let’s make it a fair fight and may the best men win.  One, two, three, fight!

 And with that the boys would launch into a veritable citrus war that would soon see poor Johnny down almost immediately as he raced from tree to tree only to be pummeled by Arthur and Frank Jr. 

 You’re out, cried Frank Jr.

Aw geez.  Sorry guys, and with that Johnny would walk back to the house and sit on the steps by the back door next to the kitchen to watch the remainder of the citrus war games by the side of the house. 

 And then came the strategy:  Let’s get Brian.  Stupid Mikey can’t defend himself against us and will most surely surrender.  OK Arthur.  You’re on.

With this the two older boys began their orange assault on Brian that left him stunned and sticky on the ground.  Poor Mikey didn’t know what to do so he climbed up a tree and tried to hide in the branches. 

Mikey, it’s ok.  You can come down now.  Just say you surrender and the game is over.

Never.  I won’t.  You’ll have to come and get me!

Mikey.  Now really.  We promise not to hurt you.  Don’t we Frank?  That’s right Mikey.  Arthur and I won’t lay a finger on you. 


Scouts honor. 

OK.  Well, then I guess I can come down now.  And with that Mikey climbed down and landed on the ground.  Just then Brian and Johnny ran up behind Mikey and before he knew what hit him they had him; Brian by the feet and Johnny had grabbed him around his waist and together the two had picked up poor unfortunate little Mikey and were dragging him over to the dock.

Let me go!  Let me go now!  What are you doing?  I was on your side!

Frank Jr. and Arthur stood smiling in silence as the younger Poppe boys threw Mikey into the lake with one heave hoe. Splash!

There they were: the four Poppe boys standing on the dock looking down at poor Mikey all skinny and drenched in the lake reaching around in the muck for his glasses. 

Now that was not necessary!

Frank Jr. calmly looked at the skinny little boy and pulled him out of the water.  Aw come on now Mikey.  They didn’t mean you any harm.  It just means you’re one of us now.  Alright.  Let’s all go and get ready for supper.

Minnie loved to cook for her brood of boys and Frank. Tonight would be a family favorite:  fried chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes with gravy, and apple pie.  Nothing pleased her more than to sit and listen to the boys share stories about their day.

Mother, the boys are ready for dinner.  Frank Jr., would you please say grace?

Yes, sir.

For this meal we are grateful, Lord. Please bless the ones who grew the grain for making of this bread, for all they had to do. Bless those who made and cooked this food, whose eyes and hearts and hands Show vision, love and laboring that each one understands. Reveal Thy Word to us, O Lord, for it is just and good, and walk Thou in the harvest fields. Give us our daily food.  Amen.

So, what did you boys get into today?

Without a breath Mikey started, “Well first they had me covered in rotten oranges and then when they promised me that the fight was over Johnny and Brian threw me into the lake and I didn’t do anything!”

Minnie looked over at the guilty parties, “Is this true?,” she smirked as she asked this.  Poor unfortunate Mikey.  He somehow seemed to be at the center of all the family practical jokes. 

Yes, ma’am, admitted Johnny. 

Well then you must apologize you two right now.

We’re sorry Mikey.  Yeah, said Brian.  Just then Frank nudged Brian, I mean yes, we are surely sorry for what we have done. Amen.    Frank could not help but give Brian a look that said to stop laying it on so thick.

Michael, I am sure the boys meant no harm.  They have a particular way of showing that they care for you that’s all. Do you understand?

I guess so Mrs. Poppe.  Mrs. Poppe?

Yes, Michael?

Do you think we could go into town tomorrow and get ice cream?

I don’t see why not?  Frank, are you alright with this?

Sure Michael.  It’s fine with me.

The next day after lunch the Johnny, Mikey, and Brian started down the road on foot toward the ice cream shop.  Turning down to the railroad tracks the boys decided to walk length of the rails and look for snakes and various other rodents that live along the tracks. 

Do you think you can jump the tracks when a train comes by?

Shut up Mikey.  I’m not playing your stupid game. 

What’s the matter Brian, you afraid?

No, what’s the matter Mikey, you stupid?

Stop that! Stop calling me that. 

With this the boys were on the ground fighting and pawing at each other like bear cubs.

Good god you two!  Stop fightin’ or you’ll be found out and we’ll never get to go into town alone!  To further get their attention Johnny kicked dirt in their faces.

Coughing with dirt covered faces the two boys get up and continue walking along. It was about two in the afternoon when the train came by.  Before they could say anything Brian took off running.  Mikey and Johnny didn’t know what to make of this so they just stood still and watched as Brian ran ahead of them.  It was at that instant that Mikey knew and yelled, “No Brian!  You’re not doing it right! Stop! No! Don’t jump!”

The telephone rang as Minnie was finishing up her ironing for the day.  Hello.  Yes this is Mrs. Poppe.  Who is this?

Mrs. Poppe, hello this is Officer Barry. 

Officer Barry?  Is everything alright?

No, ma’am I am sorry to inform you that there has been an accident by the railroad tracks…

Minnie could never remember the rest of the phone message.  All she could remember was the sound of screaming.  Her own voice screaming…. Frank!

Frank had been called at work too and came home to find that Minnie had passed out by the phone table.  Gently he picked her up and took her upstairs to place her on the bed.  Better that she should stay here.  Frank called his sister Eunice to come and stay with Minnie while he went downtown. 

Oh no, Frank.  I am so sorry.  How awful. How is Minnie?  And Johnny? Have you told Frank Jr. and Arthur?

Yes, they know Eunice.  I am meeting the boys downtown.

I’ll be there straight away Frank.

Thank you, Eunice.  I love you.

I love you too, Frank.

Frank leaned over his Minnie and gazed at her tear stained face.  I love you Minnie.  I love you so much. Gently he kissed her, turned away, and walked out the door to get into his truck.

Death was not something that Franks’ boys had yet known.  The three of them sat with Mikey on a bench at the hospital.  Mikey ran up to Frank, and choked so hard to get out his words; Mr. Poppe… I swear I didn’t tell him to do it!  I didn’t know he would jump! I was just playin’ I didn’t know he would jump!  Please sir, I didn’t mean for him to jump!  With that Mikey buried his head into Mr. Poppe’s chest.  Frank put his arms around Mikey. 

I know that Michael.  I know.  

Quietly, Frank was lead into the room where Brian’s body lay.  Was this Brian?  How could this be my Brian?  He leaned forward and could only shake his head to say to the doctor that it was his boy that lay there on the cold metal table.  My boy.

Minnie had just begun to wake.  Eunice leaned over her, My darling I am here.  Eunice.  Can I get you anything?

Brian.  Frank.  Where is Frank?

Dear, he went to….to see about Brian. 

Frank and the boys came home a few hours later after dropping Mikey off at his home and meeting with his parents to discuss what had happened.  Nobody was at fault.  It was an accident.  They all knew this. Mikey was not to blame.  But they could not convince him of this and quietly he went to his room to be alone for awhile.

The funeral was of course a somber occasion but Minnie and Frank tried very hard to keep the mood gentle so as not to upset Johnny too much.  They were especially close; Johnny and Brian. Afterward, Johnny and Minnie walked along the lake and up to the dock.

Johnny, the thing is, everybody dies.  I’m going to die.  You’re father is going to die.  Even you someday. But thing to remember is what a life we had with him and how lucky we were to have him with us; even for just a little while.  Do you see?

I’m trying to but I don’t understand why he had to die now.  I miss him.  With that Johnny’s eyes began tear up as he looked out at the lake. 

I miss him too my darling.   Very much. But remember dear, God is in the trees.  Look up and now you can see Brian with Him too.   Isn’t that wonderful?

Yes, that is…..

Minnie finished up her key lime cheesecake and looked over to see that Charlie had fallen asleep next to her on the bench.  I miss you Brian.   But then, she looked up at the trees and smiled.  I love you so much.

Come now Charlie.  It’s time to go back home.  Charlie jumped off the bench and back down the street walked the two to find the car and drive back to the lake, the house, and finish the rest of their day together.

To be continued…..

| Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Part 3 of – God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

Getting ready for the day was always Minnie’s favorite part of any outing.  As a force of habit she would choose the proper outfit for the occasion, decide the colors to fit the mood,  lay out her jewelry, stockings, lingerie, and shoes the night before.  Minnie carefully undressed and happily walked about the bedroom in the nude.  How delicious the cool morning air felt on her skin.  Poor Charlie was not so much a fan of the cold and decided instead to scuttle out of the room to find his warm bed by the bookcase in the hallway.  There he dug himself into the little blanket and made sure the only thing showing was the end of his long poochie snout. 

Ah…the feeling of being young again.  In her mind’s eye Minnie was still young and vibrant and all firm flesh and rounded hips and breasts.  Still, she knew that the image on the other side of the mirror would betray her and show the truth but Minnie never cared.  This body has seen and felt so much life.  As she gazed into the full length mirror hanging over the back of the door Minnie smoothed her gray hair and smiled.  There are the stretch marks that announced the beginning of a new life growing inside her.  My goodness that Brian was a huge child.  You would have thought I was going to birth a baby walrus for the size of that boy.  All nine pounds of him came out with fists in the air and a defiant firmness in his lips.  And my son never changed his ways from that first introduction into the world.  Frank Jr. was the easiest.  Just like his father, Frank Jr. didn’t make a fuss; just passed into the world with eyes wide open, very quiet and sure of himself with an expression of an old man that seemed to know Minnie the moment he laid his eyes on her waiting face.  Johnny and Arthur both wanted to snuggle and cuddle up to Minnie and suckle the most milk possible. Minnie always laughed to hear Johnny’s sucking noises and then watch him lay back his head on her arm and make puppy noises because he was so happy.  How she loved her boys.  Each one in his own way loved her back; always protective of their Mom. 

Minnie, are you going to wear my favorite dress tonight? 

Which one Frank? 

You know, the white one with red dots on it.  I love that dress on you Minnie. It shows off your figure and makes me a proud man to know you.

Frank Poppe you behave! – Of course, Minnie had already put the dress out to wear because this was Frank’s favorite dress and Minnie knew this.  How his eyes would spark when she wore that dress.  -Perhaps this is why we now have four boys.

Yes, that may be, and it was fun making them too.  Why I believe I could go for four more Mrs. Poppe.

Frank!  Minnie blushed and laughed as Frank came up behind Minnie and held her tightly around her waist; kissing her warmly on her left shoulder. Standing together quietly with Frank’s head leaning on her shoulder and standing behind her Minnie asked:

What jewelry would you like to see on me tonight? 

Ah…I have a surprise for you.

With that Minnie spun around and pushed Frank away with a joyous laugh filled scream began to clap her hands and said smiling, A surprise?!  For me?! Where? Where?  Oh boy! What is it Frank?

Minnie never stopped behaving like a little girl at Christmas no matter how many times Frank would surprise her with trinkets.  Although they were not often, Frank tried the best he could to make life fun for Minnie by giving her little presents here and there.  A crystal blue bracelet from Chase’s, a rhinestone broach in the shape of a rose for her Sunday coat, and today was the most special of all:  a pearl necklace.  Not just any pearl necklace but a real one.  Frank had a heck of a time secretly putting money aside each week for a year to pay for it but he knew that Minnie had always wanted one and could not wait to see the look on her face.

Turn around. Close your eyes.  Close them Minnie.  I can see you looking. – Minnie could not stop herself from giggling and wiggling for the excitement of what could possibly be her new present. Gently from his pants pocket Frank pulled out the pearl necklace and from behind he began to work the necklace onto Minnie’s neck.  Instantly Minnie felt the cool pearls on her skin and grabbed Frank’s hand and stopped him to turn around.  Her eyes filled with tears.  She knew they were real. Knew the sacrifice they meant.  Knew how hard Frank had to work to save up for that necklace.

Frank this is too much.  We can’t afford this.  We can’t.

Minnie Poppe I love you too much for you to say no to my love trinket.  Now, please put this on so your husband can see how beautiful you are, he whispered into her ear and kissed her gently on the neck.  With tears of joy streaming down her face she quietly clasped the necklace and adjusted it to lay about her neck.  Without a word she kissed her beautiful Frank and there they stood in a warm embrace neither one moving; just breathing together; arms tangled about each other.

Minnie turned from the mirror and went to the bathroom to take a nice hot shower.  Charlie liked to come to see her then because the steam filled the room and he liked to poke his nose through the shower curtain to see what Minnie might be doing in there all wet.  Climbing out very slowly Minnie dried off and then covered her body with talcum powder.  She smoothed her hair into a smart chignon and carefully made up her face always remembering to play up her mouth with a warm red lipstick.  It was funny to Minnie to see that her mouth had not seemed to age like the rest of her body.  Everywhere else she was wrinkled.  Not so her mouth.  Still full and round like her younger more saucy days.  She had to wear red lipstick she told herself because it matched her red patent leather pocketbook.  Perfect.  Now to put on her pearls and then to dress.  Minnie liked to do things her own way. She found something alluring and rather dangerous about preparing one’s face and hair in the nude and putting on one’s jewelry before dressing.  Maybe this is why we had four sons….hhmmm…

Charlie let’s get in the car.  With that he ran down stairs and bounded out the door for the car in the driveway to see Dr. McGrath.  She was the best vet in all of Mount Dora and well worth the drive into town to see her.  And besides, Charlie loved her.  Driving down main street through the town was an easy drive today.  Not that many people here during the week. It was on the weekends that people came from all over to see lovely Mount Dora.  My how the town had grown from the small community Minnie had known.  But something about its’ charm seemed to enchant people who came to see her Lake and walk along it’s downtown shops and restaurants.  Minnie turned the corner to Grant Street to find parking near Dr. McGrath’s office.  Parking the car, Minnie opened the passenger door to let Charlie out and the two walked together into the vet to see the doc and decide what to do about his skin itchys.

Hello Mrs. Poppe.  How are and Charlie doing today?

We’re just fine, thank you Elena.  Just an itchy issue with Charlie. 

Alright.  Here’s a treat Charlie.  I’ll let the Doctor know you’re here.

Thanks.  Minnie and Charlie sat for a moment and waited for Dr. McGrath to appear. 

Hi Charlie. Hi Minnie. How are you?  I’m so glad to see you both.  Come on in here.

Minnie followed behind Dr. McGrath into the examining room and suddenly Charlie remembered this place and began to shake and try to hide behind Minnie.

Now don’t be silly Charlie.  You know Dr. McGrath.  Come on then.  Let’s get up on the table. 

Placing him on the metal table Charlie decided nobody would see him if he hid his muzzle under Minnie’s arm.

It won’t work darling Charlie but if that helps you that’s fine with me.  Now let’s see…yes. It looks like allergies.  See how flaky his skin is under the fur?  It looks like dandruff.  See? 

Minnie thought she would be sick at the sight of dry flaky skin but she soldiered on only to seem brave in front of Charlie.

I need  you to bathe Charlie with this oatmeal shampoo once a week and then put this moisturizing spray on everyday until the condition improves. 

I think I can do that. 

Great.  Well, everything else seems to be ok.  Ears look good.  Weight is just right. Teeth look good.  Great.  Alright I will see you in a few weeks if you need to. Otherwise I will say goodbye for now as I have a moody cat in need of my help in the next room.  Bye Minnie.  Bye Charlie.

Thank you.  Bye for now Dr. McGrath.  After the visit to the vet Minnie decided to take Charlie for a stroll downtown before heading back to the house.

To be continued…..

Categories: God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Part 2- God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

“Come here Charlie darling. It’s time for your treats as well dear.”  Who knew dogs could have Epilepsy?  Minnie thought he had thrown out his back the morning of his first seizure.  Poor thing would just stare straight ahead not moving. And then the seizures.  Horrible seizures. The last and most difficult part for Minnie was watching poor Charlie flop like a fish on his side shaking for many long minutes.  She could do nothing but sit helplessly on the floor next to Charlie and hold his head while his little black and tan body rumbled and rolled. He was her fifth child wrapped in fur she liked to say. A Dachshund rescue with Epilepsy; little Charlie required his meds each morning and each evening stuffed in his favorite chewy treat. Carried by his Toulouse Lautrec legs and happy always to see his Minnie Charlie lifted his front paws to Minnie’s knees to lean on her and eat the tasty chewy treat he knew to expect before each meal. 

   After breakfast the two went out the back door by the kitchen to face the Lake and greet the new day. There really is nothing like the beauty of the morning sun as she dances up over Lake Dora. Even the morning air is sweeter. Minnie took her tea to the yellow Adirondack chair Frank had made for her and placed under her favorite tree.  It was the family Wishing Tree.  Here by this tree was where Minnie and Frank shared their first kiss, where Frank proposed to Minnie and she thought he was joking and said no the first time, and where each boy was named:  Frank Jr., Arthur, Johnny, and Brian.  Minnie eased gently into her chair and watched as Charlie bound about on the dock.  He was never allowed by the water’s edge.  Not in Florida as gators like to make a tasty morsel out of dogs so Minnie had to teach Charlie to play on the dock and lay there in the afternoon when he felt the need take a nap outside.  The Lake was exceptionally calm this morning.

Minnie, would you like to join my family on a picnic by the lake this Saturday? I know I would like that.  Frank was always direct in his requests with Minnie. 

I can’t Frank.  I don’t know how to swim.

Come now that can’t be right.  You’ve lived here all your life and you’re telling me you don’t know how to swim?  If I didn’t know better Minnie Collins I’d say you’re trying to beg off my invitation. 

No, Frank.  I really can’t swim.  I never learned. 

All the more reason to say yes as I will teach you to swim better than all the fish in all of Lake Dora Miss Collins.

You will. 

Yes. I will.

And if I say no to your invitation Frank Poppe?

You won’t. 

I won’t?  

You won’t.

Why not?

Because Miss Collins,  there is no one as sweet and funny and stubborn as you and nobody else I want to teach how to swim.

Minnie never knew what to say when Frank used his sweet words on her.  Blast that Frank.  Nobody else had that way of talking to me. 

Off to the beach by the Lake they went that Saturday along with Frank’s mother Gertrude, his father Howard, and his sister Eunice. Each took their part in setting up the picnic table: lay out the dishes, the cutlery, napkins, open the basket of cheese and butter sandwiches, set out the  bread pudding, carrot sticks, cucumber pickles, and lastly to sit down and say grace together:

For this meal we are grateful, Lord. Please bless the ones who grew the grain for making of this bread, for all they had to do. Bless those who made and cooked this food, whose eyes and hearts and hands Show vision, love and laboring that each one understands. Reveal Thy Word to us, O Lord, for it is just and good, and walk Thou in the harvest fields. Give us our daily food.  Amen.

Are you ready for a swim Miss Collins?

No, Frank. I am not.

Good.  Let’s go change into our swimsuits. 

I don’t want to.

Aw come on Minnie.  I promise it won’t hurt a bit. 


Minnie Collins, do you mean to tell me that a little ol’ thing like water is going scare the likes of you?  Why I suspect that right now as we speak fish are swimming away in fear for the knowledge they have of you coming in for a swim. 

I hate you Frank Poppe.  Fine. I’ll change. 

The water was cool on their feet as they dangled off the dock.  Minnie could not believe how easily Frank convinced her of things.  How sure he is of himself.  And so calm.  She suspected she might like this Frank more than she wanted to admit. 

Alright now Minnie just ease into the water.  I’ll jump in first and you come in and I will hold you.  With that Frank slipped off the dock into the water. 

Clumsily Minnie let herself slide into the water and Franks’ waiting arms.  He put his hands around her waist and explained how to gently float on her back. 

Don’t worry Minnie.  My hand is on your back.  Just breathe Minnie.  Look out at the trees on the shore.  God is in the trees Minnie.  Relax and just breathe.  It took no time at all for Minnie to trust Frank and before she knew it he was standing by her side; watching her float on the water.  Swim lesson number one.  Minnie remembered herself and began to giggle and lose her balance and stood up again. 

That was fun Frank!  I want to do that again. Please Frank, please?

Ok Miss Collins.  Now don’t get all excited ol’ girl.  We haven’t commenced to swimming yet, he said with a confident smirk on his face. Minnie splashed Frank with water and there they stood smiling, eyes shining each one taking in the other. 

Morning had fully arrived by the Lake now. As she drank the last of her tea  Minnie called out, “Charlie, come now darling.  It’s time to see Dr. McGrath.” 

To be continued….

 mount dora


Categories: God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

6:30 am.  Up at the usual time. Minnie had always heard her mother complain about the fate of growing old; to wake earlier and sleep less.  She wondered if this too would happen to her.  True, as always Mother was right.  But then Minnie was never one to admit such a thing to Mother.  Because Mother was always right.   There’s a slight chill in the air this morning.  November finally feels right in Mount Dora.  Minnie slowly rolled cigar-like out of bed and slipped on a robe and shuffled in her bare feet across the wooden floors.  Most people put on shoes to warm themselves but Minnie quite liked the few months of cool in the air.  Summer was unbearable in Florida.  Now was the time to feel the breeze and enjoy the chilly willy weather of November.  What to do today?   Plenty.  Take Charlie to the vet again.  Dr. McGrath warned of the constant itching and said that Charlie may have allergies.  “Hmph, dogs didn’t have allergies when I was a child.  Clever way to squeeze money out of an old ladies’ red leather pocketbook. “ It must have seemed odd to see an old woman with a patent red leather pocketbook but Minnie never minded.  It was a gift from Frank.  

The one gift from Frank that Minnie treasured.  She kept it looking new and always polished and placed in a special velvet bag for safe keeping in the closet.   It was a gift from Frank you see.  Minnie had admired it for some time in a window at Chase’s downtown.  She could never think to buy such an extravagant thing like a red patent leather purse.  But Frank listened. He never said anything the day Minnie came into the shop crying because somebody took that purse out of the store window and bought it and now it was gone and Minnie could just die because she wanted to know who took her purse away.  Frank listened quietly and smiled.  “Aw Minnie, now don’t get so upset.  Just look up at the trees.  God is up there in those trees. Relax and take a deep breath.  I’m sure somebody is going to give that nice little purse a good home.”  Frank had a way of making Minnie breathe and relax.  His voice was pure and clean and she never once in their forty five years together ever see Frank anything less than cool under pressure.   And calm under pressure he was when he pulled out that very red patent leather pocketbook and sweetly handed the box to her on her birthday.  Red was Minnie’s favorite color.  Frank remembered and quietly stole into Chase’s that very afternoon he saw the look of love on Minnie’s face when she pressed her forehead against the glass of Chase’s window display.

This was a good thing too because Minnie could be a spitfire when crossed.  More than once Frank had to step up behind Minnie and whisper to her, “Just look up at the trees Minnie.”  This was their code.  A language invented between two young lovers that served well into the marriage they would build together.  And what a life they had.  Minnie had never imagined a family of four boys, a two story house; white with black shutters; living on Lake Dora with  orange and grapefruit trees on the left side of the property and enough land on the right for boys to discover mischief around the corner and play games all day drenched in sweat and covered with dirt.

Minnie had grown used to the quiet of the house.  It was just Minnie and Charlie now.  Not that she minded.  What a life they had.  Minnie smiled and looked out at the trees.  Time to go downstairs to the kitchen to make her morning tea and toast with orange honey and butter.  The usual.  So many things to do today. 


mount dora

florida oak trees

Categories: God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Miss Landers, Why are you crying? (All Saints’ Day and Ft. Hood)

As I wrote in a previous post, I teach 7th grade Spanish.  Today we celebrated All Saints’ Day Chapel at school.  Here the names of family, friends, and co-workers are remembered and honored.  It was a beautiful service; with a feeling of warmth rather than somber gloom in the air.  Wonderful.  Some of my 7th grade girls are in the middle school choir and came to me about a month ago to let me know how nervous they were about singing For the Beauty of the Earth.  They knew that I was a singer just like them and had sung the song years before in school.  They really just wanted moral support.  They were soooo cute just standing there with me in the Grille (the cafeteria) clucking like nervous little chickens.  One student thrust the sheet music in my face and we worked on site reading so she could harmonize properly.  It was fun to work with them.  And today, during their performance, I was so proud of my girls and how gorgeous their singing sounded.  They weren’t little girls standing on the risers in front of the entire school anymore.  They sounded like angels. Truly it brought tears to my eyes and I kept having to wipe my eyes because I was afraid that my make-up was running down my face.  After the service I told them they really moved me, we hugged and laughed and off I went to teach and they to learn.  Later that afternoon at the gym I looked up at the tv and saw the shooting at Ft. Hood.  And I started to cry.  What happened?  Why?  All my happy childhood memories of living on base at Ft. Ord in California came rushing forward.  Somebody has lost a child, a friend, and a lover.  Such a juxtaposition of tears.  First happy and then sad.

My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all the soldiers.

Categories: Hey Miss Landers! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at