Friday, March 24, 2017

Depends On How You Look At Things

It’s been quite a week. No quicker than Daylight Savings Time snatched an hour away from us for the Spring rotation - another cold snap came through Florida making the likes of our prior “winter” seem like a joke. We had more days of what would seem like winter in that one week than we had in any one month before.

The day-time temperatures barely reared their head above the 60’s and the morning temperatures dipped low enough to put harm to most everything that was already in blooming formation. After two nights, back to back, of freezing/frost temperatures, I had damage foliage all over my yard.

The jasmine that covers my front yard swing is burnt across the top just like a fire had been lit to it. My lantana beds look pretty much the same way and my Amarillo’s stems and canna lily stalks are lying flat on the ground from the brunt of the cold attacking it in the early morning hours.

It’s too soon to tell what all will recover from the damage and what may have to be replaced. Granted my yard situation isn’t nearly as dire as some of the farmer’s and their worries of freezing crops – but just the same, it hurt my heart to see all that brown in the days after, where there once had been the promises of soon-to-be blooms.

But then Friday came, and a trip to my hometown that had been planned for weeks, was about to happen. The Albany Pink Walk for breast cancer awareness was scheduled for that next Saturday morning, and many of my girlfriends and I would be walking once again for our friend Darla, as she is once more in the fight of her life.

I arrived at my folks’ home late that Friday afternoon, and would spend the rest of the day and evening with them which is always an enjoyable time for me. That next morning, they would rise early with me, make me a nice breakfast and some much needed coffee, then off I would go to the walking site to meet my friends.

The event was as packed as usual – women and men dressed in pink as far as the eyes could see. Friends running up on other friends that they hadn’t seen in a while and many times, making new friends as well. We were all there for a common goal – supporting our loved ones, supporting the survivors, and respecting the ones who had sadly lost their own fight.

For this old gal, it was quite the moment when my friends and I finished at the 3 mile marker; having to deal with 2 bum knees in the span of 12 months has been zero fun for me.

But as we all gathered for lunch afterward and discussed our aches and aliments – I thought to myself – wow – we’re really NOT 25 anymore. But the loud laughter coming from around our table was in denial that mother-time had found any of us. Getting up out of our chairs an hour later, would be a different story.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Talk Is Cheap - Become the Change

Harriet Tubman was an African-American civil rights activist. She not only fought to save herself and her family from slavery, but risked her literal life almost every single day rescuing others as well. She took beatings no one could ever imagine, she suffered injuries from those severe beatings that were lifelong and would eventually contribute to her death. Yet while alive, she raged on in the fight for freedom of her black brothers and sisters with pride, grace, dignity, and strength. 

Anne Braden was a Caucasian anti-racist activist. In the period of time in which she lived, there was rarely even such a person heard of – much less as fundamentally active as she continued to be until her death. The lengths in which she was willing to put herself out there to obtain justice for all was incredible. She and her activist husband raised four intelligent children, all of whom in some form or fashion would follow their parents’ footsteps for equality for all – this including developing the PUSH Rainbow Coalition and staunch advocates for LGBTQ rights in their later years.

Rosa Parks, another African- American civil rights activist. A strong female who was determined enough to one day risk being arrested in order to have her rightful seat on the city bus – the public city bus that should have been open for anyone to sit anywhere. But nowhere in all of that did she kick, scream, or shout obscenities; again, she moved the world forward with dignity and grace.

All the women above, and many more, took action that created change: foundations, safety homes, the Underground Railroad, and programs that would in turn unify and bring attention to, change. They risked their LIVES doing these things – and they didn’t use abusive language and ugly poster illustrations. Do you think that by using the same terms that your abusers/attackers/racists use against you is a solution of positive progression for you?

Immigrants have been coming to America for years and so many of them worked so hard to be a part of our American fabric. Their stores, deli’s and bodega’s ran the streets of New York City in a proud fashion that represented nothing but hard work and their pride to be here, to be a part of our freedom; they insisted on WORKING for it.

If you’re outraged about immigrants being deported – do something about it. Create programs to educate them so that they can pass the citizenship test to stay. Start a movement to create programs in schools that will help them all the way through and let that be a stipulation of graduation. Create a foundation to help the older people who are here and can’t read or write – set-up centers/tutors to help them learn. 

Do positive WORK with your intelligent minds/education – become community leaders, state/county
representatives, governors/senators. Use your voices for true progress and positive movement. Put down the signs with degrading words/illustrations. BE the change you want to see and use your strength in ways you’d like to be remembered for – or in the pictures your seven year old child will see one day.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

As The Generation's Turn

Evolution is absolutely amazing isn’t it? The changes that come with each generation of people, the levels of what is acceptable and what it not, and more importantly, the degrees of what is expected of us and what is not – are all constantly changing.

When my grandparents were growing-up, to finish high school was rare, and college, well that was even more of an unknown unless you were fortunate enough to have “come from money”; most men went directly into the service as the draft was in effect and there was a war going on.  Men and women got married as young as 16 and 17 years old,  were having children almost immediately after, and most women did not work.  

Then my parent’s generation came along, they didn’t get married quite as young, most all finished high school, a few who already knew what they wanted to do went to college; but still a huge amount of  men were signing up for one branch of service or another. They had children, both mother and father worked, they took summer vacations, and life moved on.

My generation got married between 20 -25, children shortly after, and we mostly became dental hygienists, nurses, admin secretaries, office workers, hands-on-men work, and of course, some went to college to become doctors, lawyers, and businessmen.

My youngest son’s generation – well they are 22 years old. They are almost all college graduates/or graduating. They are most all professionals of some sort, and they are all on the biggest adventures of their lives – a few married, but for many, it’s a distant thought.  They are traveling to Argentina to bird hunt’s, Arkansas to duck hunt’s, golfing on the weekends, fishing/frog gigging on Friday nights, and going everywhere and doing anything else in between that you can imagine.

They are living life large, working hard, playing harder. They’re a smarter, more politically involved generation, they are liberal and they are conservative, and they are loud and proud of whichever affiliation-slot they may fall into.

They’re already buying homes, making financial investments, and making their way into this big wide world, head-strong and feet-first, breaking all boundaries and crossing all borders. There is nothing that they can’t do, and not much they wouldn’t consider trying.

As I am one day away from my youngest son turning 22 years old, I can’t help but wonder who I would have been in this generation. Would I have been an activist? A world traveler? Would I have been straddling the fence between liberal and conservative as I do now, or would I have been strongly and staunchly, one or the other?

Would I have married so young? Would I have had children as soon as I did? Or would I have been just me, spend my time finding me and all that could possibly mean?

I don’t guess it really matters does it? It’s not going to change anything. And besides – I’m kind of doing all those things anyway. Second-hand living you might call it – I’m living through the eyes of my children – and that’s some exciting sight-seeing most days!  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

And Fourteen Cautions Later........

It’s Thursday night, somewhere around 7:15pm, and I’m gripping the television remote trying to get ready for my night of viewing. I know that I will have to tape/DVR some of my shows, as too many good things come on that one night, spreading across all the different stations. I no more get my finger set to hit the guide button that scans the channels, than my husband practically screeches at the top of his voice “What are you doing with that remote, do you know what comes on tonight?!”

Well, yes, actually, I do know what comes on television tonight and as I began to recite all of my shows – he looks at me like I have lost my ever-lovin’ mind. He asks me (or sternly suggested) to hand him the remote, and as I hand it over, slowly his breathing begins to regulate once more, the coloring comes back to his face, and I feel like it’s now alright to ask him what in the world HIS problem is?

DAYTONA FLORIDA. That’s what his problem was – flippin’ Daytona Florida and the first race of the season was about to come on television. HOW?! How could this be happening to me again so soon? It was just yesterday that racing season ended and I got my husband back! I mean seriously, there is NO OTHER SPORT that lasts almost 10 full months every year! Well baseball runs a close second in its length of over-all playing time, but I LIKE baseball, so that doesn’t count.

So back to my Thursday night viewing – not only did I NOT get to watch all of my shows, I didn’t get to watch ANY of my shows; I had to DVR every single one of them. How To Get Away With Murder had its two hour season finale that night and I STILL have no idea who killed Wes!! And who knows what kind of high jinx Red from the Blacklist got himself into that I also missed! I’m just waiting on social media to ruin it with some spoiler article!

And yes, I know I said I DVR’d them all, so why you might be asking, have I not watched them yet? Well, I’ll be glad to tell you. February Daytona racing is a FOUR DAY EVENT! There has been racing on my television since last Thursday night. Right this minute it is 4:45 on Saturday afternoon and I’m begging you to ask me what is on my television!

Tomorrow will be Sunday and at 1pm – racing will be on again. I just do not understand the fascination with this sport, I truly don’t. Over the years I have tried to increase my interest in it, I learned the rules, I learned who the drivers were, but it is still just not my cup of tea. I just don’t care anything about watching people circle a track 300 hundred times, trying to see who can finish the fastest.

I’m in day three of a ten month hostage situation. Can you see my white flag from where you are?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alternative Weather

I’m not quite sure where this year’s ground hog came from – the one who decided we still had six more weeks of winter – but his credentials need to be checked. We’ve had exactly two days of what would qualify as winter weather, since the day he climbed out of his hole and announced his predictions to the world.

While parts of the world have been coated with 10-15” of snow, my front porch has been left with thick layers of yellowish/greenish powder that is blowing-up my sinus’s and creating the perfect storm for an early sinus infection.

Teeny leaves are already forming on all of my drake elm trees, the azaleas are blooming like it’s a week from Easter Sunday, and my grass is GREEN! My canna lilies and lantana keep trying to bust through the beds of pine straw, and the birds are eating-up the feed like crazy! We’ve refilled those bird feeders twice a week for a month now!

And while I’m on the subject of bird feed – let me tell you about the new feed I discovered last summer at our local Bell & Bates store here in Quincy. The birds liked it so much, I bought it again a couple of weeks ago, two different bags, one labeled Coles Hot Meats and the other Coles Nutberry Suet Blend. I’m telling you, I have seen a much larger diversity of birds eating that feed than you could imagine.  Bell and Bates has a whole section devoted to the Coles Bird Feed – if you’re a bird follower/lover – you won’t be disappointed!

I looked at the weather channel this morning and for the next two weeks, all of our temperature highs are in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s! That my friends – is NOT what I call winter weather.

Somehow or another, I, and all of my fellow cold-weather-friends, have been gypped. I don’t know what has happened, but this year, the summer to winter ratio is totally out of whack. It was warm at Thanksgiving and it was warm at Christmas! Heck, my kids went to the beach in the afternoon of Christmas day, sporting shorts and flip flops!

And the annual boxing-up of summer clothes/winter clothes – well that never happened. One day I’m wearing long sleeved shirts and the next day I’m sweating in a thin-sheathed short sleeve shirt.  My A/C unit here at the house has gotten quite the workout! The heater running one day, the air conditioner running the next, and a lot of neither in between. You would think I would have seen some difference in my electric bill, but I’m here to testify – that didn’t happen.

Oh woe is me, how unfair this has turned out to be. I understand all you summer/heat lovers, but all I’m asking is for some equal opportunity weather! I wanted a REAL winter, one that would make me appreciate the endless summer heat a little more, or at least, be able to tolerate it better than I do.

I wonder if somehow I missed the signing of another executive order – BEWARE - FAKE WINTER IN FLORIDA.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Music Unites Us All

Forty-five plus years ago, I was with my family, visiting some of our Alabama family in Gadsden, Alabama. It’s crazy the things I do remember opposed to the things my family thinks I should remember. I have no real memory of what we were doing there or the purpose for that visit, but I distinctly remember a television show coming on that would change my life forever.

That night in Gadsden, Alabama, the Grammy Awards was on television. For whatever reason, I was allowed to stay up and watch with all the grown-ups; and oh my gosh, the music, all the different kinds of music that was played – what an exciting night for me.

Even further back than I can remember, my parents have recited their own memories to me of my love for music. I know that when I was five I had a little record player and that one of my first records was the theme to the Jungle Book. I, of course, have no idea how much I loved it then, but I do know to this day, when I hear that song, it makes me want to tromp the living room, just like those elephants did through the jungle, swaying from side to side with the joy that the music brought.

During my junior high school days I can remember a lot of my girlfriends having pictures of Shawn Cassidy on their walls – I had the Bay City Rollers. A British group that came through the United States in a whirlwind wearing their patchwork clothes and touting their spikey hair and a different music sound no one had heard since the Beatles crashed here in the 60’s.

In high school I would alternate musical tastes between The Bee Gees, Alabama, The Eagles, Prince, John Denver and Conway Twitty – and sometimes my favorite music of all were the older albums that belonged to my daddy like The Box Tops. There was no real rhyme or reason for where my ears would take me - but every different stage in my life was directed in the background by whatever musical artist and their words fit at the time.

The only time I would completely drop country music from my repertoire of choices was right after my divorce. For two solid years I would listen to nothing but rock music, and many times, what the younger generations would call “head-banging” music. The louder and harsher the better – nothing soft or sentimental.

Later, I would meet my future husband and my life, my thoughts, and my heart would soften and melt back into a calmer, more mellow me and country music would enter my life once again.
My parents love for music was passed down to me, and in turn I passed mine own down to my children. They too like all kinds of music – not limiting themselves to any one genre.

Tonight, I’m once again watching the Grammy’s in amazement at all the differences that still capture my heart and rock me to my soul; music – will always be the international language.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Real Life = Real Love

As you grow older you soon come to realize that what you thought was the definition of love when you were 15, 20, or even 30 years old is no longer even close to your definition of love at age fifty-three. It’s not so much about you being in sensory-overload, or the sight of a good-looking young man or woman who also finds you attractive, funny, and hopefully interesting – but about all the other ways in life that love can present itself.

It’s when tornado rips through your hometown, and the people who raised you, loved you, and cared for you all of your life, are sitting in a house with no power, no heat, in the dead of winter, and no real way to get in and out of their home, for days on end – that you feel a love that runs neck and neck with heartbreak.

It’s when your husband and your child, take turns traveling the road to get to those same people who raised you, because now those people belong to them as well, and the worry and love is also theirs, and you see them, without a second thought or hesitation, load-up all the supplies needed and head in that direction, as many times as it takes.

Or the pure love you feel when just as many hometown friends send messages and offers of help, food, and whatever else you may need them to do, for those people that raised you, just because they care and they are willing to do anything they can to help.

It’s when one of your best childhood friend’s has received word that in less than a year – the cancer that she fought for a solid year prior – is back and once again – the devil must be battled and beat down. Immediate love fills your heart, and you know that all you can give is time/words and hope that with both, the love you feel will build a bridge to her heart by the simple miracle of transference.

It’s when your oldest child moves 2000 miles away, the same child whom you never thought would stray that far from you, but he does, and he blooms and thrives all over again. He finds his tribe and learns to survive again, on his own, in his own way.

But the biggest surge of love is when your youngest child is giving a grace at a meal, everyone’s head is bowed, and suddenly he begins to describe all the ways he has grown; his newfound appreciation for the opportunities afforded him, admitting his selfish ways of the past, taking us all for granted, and his gained recognition/respect for the family that has always loved him more than anything and his determination to now give that love back.

For me, those memories determine the definition of love as this: loving unconditionally, loving when you’re tired and worn out, and loving when sometimes you feel the least loved. Real love, true love, always comes full circle. Take the time to discover what the real meaning of Valentine’s Day is to you.