Saturday, September 16, 2017

Orchestrated Chaos

As I sat at her dining table that is square in the middle of the kitchen, I was never any more sure than I was in those few minutes, that it’s not the measurements, the ingredient’s, or the recipes that necessarily make a dish or meal turn out perfect – it’s the cook.

From the time she picked up the first utensil, her hands moved gently and methodically from one place to another on the stove, even though she was operating three dishes at once. Each movement was seamless and steady, and never once did her fingers falter or her hands move in any kind of erratic motion during the preparation of those dishes.

Never did her body sling-around from one direction to another; she actually seemed to glide from one place in that kitchen space to another, never stirring the air with anxiousness or the feeling of nervousness.

It all came back to me in that few minutes, that what I was watching was a well-oiled machine at work, just as I had watched for years and years prior, but never really seeing – only taking for granted, thinking that one day, that was how it would be for me.

Well, it’s not. I am here to tell you it just is not. No matter that I try my best to prep beforehand, by having all the ingredients and anticipated artillery lined-up on the counter, it doesn’t matter. I’m herky-jerky at best, ever-questioning myself as I go, becoming rattled at the first thing that doesn’t seem to be developing like I think that it should.

So as I watched her, I thought to myself, why? Why after all these years, does that ease not come as naturally to me? And then I began to think about my children, both of who learned to cook at early ages and both of whom love to both cook and eat good food. And somehow, one of them learned the art that my mother perfects so easily, and the other, goodness bless him, has inherited my scattered way of cooking instead.

Me and the youngest – we’re snatchers. We’re requesters, and we need assistance A LOT. We prefer to have someone close at all times, to wash this, get that, and to “hold it right there, for just a minute.” We’re erratic, we’re messy, and we’re all over the place, and we do not look like ballet dancers while we’re doing it. There is no easy-flow-motion, only cabinet doors and refrigerator drawers/doors being jerked and slammed at intervals throughout the entire process.

My oldest – he is my mother. He is systematic, he cleans as he goes, he is thoughtful in his process, and even cutting up vegetables, fruits, or onions – he’s like a smoothly skilled machine as he slices and dices with a huge knife as if it was made into his hands from birth.

Maybe one day I’ll grow-up and be just like them; in all probability I will not. I’ve kind of gotten used to the chaos that feels kin to a Lucy & Ethel episode, and I’m not sure my food would be as good without it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Who Would YOU Be?

I was watching an episode of the Today Show and the crew of newscasters that is the usual for the morning part of the episodes were sitting around the table as they do every morning.

As is also usual, at certain times of the morning, they do particular segments that happen every day at a certain time, so I know that if I am watching from 8am to 8:25am each morning I am going to be viewing the “what’s trending today” segment of the show.

During this particular space in time, all kinds of subjects are broached, but this particular morning they were all discussing who they would be if they could come back to this world and do it all over again. The conversation went from serious to silly in a quick minute as you would expect it to, after all, there are many different personalities sitting around that table at any given time.

However, that broadcast continued to stick with me for the rest of that day. It’s actually pretty complicated, for me anyway, to decide who I would really want to be in another life, as I have so many ideas of how I really wish I COULD be.

I’d like to be gracious and loving with words of ultimate wisdom like Maya Angelou. I’d like to be as funny as Ellen DeGeneres – but also knowing I have a sassy/salty side - so there would have to be some room for a little Wanda Sykes or Richard Pryor. I’d like to be as worldly-intelligent as retired General Colin Powell, as financially-wise as Steve Jobs, or as charitable as Bill and Melinda Gates. I’d like to be as brave as Harriett Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart; but I would also like to be as insightful as Helen Keller even when I could not see.

Now of course physically, I would have to be a mixture of elegance like Lena Horne, Rita Moreno and Meryl Streep, have a body like Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock and Kerry Washington, and a laugh with huge resemblances to Lucille Ball and Melissa McCarthy.

But in reality, to come back again, to have the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing other than to learn:
.         The ability to have more patience, more kindness and more understanding when it’s needed.
2.       To make more of the best decisions the first time, instead of having to learn from mistakes.
3.       To always remember that no matter the situation, it should be met with empathy and compassion,  and an out-stretched hand to help someone up – or a hug to pull them in.
4.       That bickering and arguing never resolves any situation as quickly as teamwork, respect, and  consideration.
5.       To take better care of myself, my body, sooner.

It turns out it’s not such an easy decision to make, but if we could each simply take a step back, and figure out what we would like to change about ourselves, to make ourselves better people, well now, wouldn’t that be a grand place to start.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Meltdown In Motion

While some are still green, many are wilting and have already began to turn a funny hue of yellow and are hanging less staunchly than they did a month ago. And some leaves are already letting loose and free-falling to the ground, scattering and drying in just a matter of days from the heat. Soon they will be brown and crunchy and will lie among the straw that has already began to fall as well.

My flowering plants are struggling to still bloom, their coloring not as near as magnificent and bright as before, and my canna lilies have been taken over by wasps as they are every year about this time, causing the leaves to look as if something much bigger has gone through their bed, chomping on the leaves as they go, leaving behind a look of massacred foliage.

The lawn growth is beginning to slow down, but the smut grass has begun to take over in both my yard and the flower beds, causing your legs to be striped with black seeds in between mower cuts, while the grass itself is still low to the ground. The more I seem to pull from my flower beds, the more that seems to come and take its place.

And the birds, bless the birds and their weariness from the heat. They no longer feed in frenzies but almost seem as intolerant of each other’s presence as humans seem to be of each other these days. Instead of lighting on the feeders and eating, they cut each other off in mid-flight, often all but colliding in the air, and fighting for branch-space in the trees. They perch languidly from those branches, but still with their heads held high, as if they are daring another to come and inhabit their space.

And the humidity, which is normal in our region of the world, seems to be at an all-time high; so much so that it literally takes your breath the minute you step out of the door. It drips from your brow without any real exertion taking place and your clothes are damp and soggy within minutes of outside exposure.

Everyone you pass appears to be in slow motion, their feet moving so sluggishly as if trudging through mud, and their body language screams for some relief that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

September 22nd is the last official day of summer, though we all know, being from these parts, that we’ll still feel heat, humidity, and uncomfortableness for another couple of months to come. I can’t wait for the evenings to be cool enough that a noisy, front porch fan blasting in my ear is no longer necessary to enjoy watching the sun go down.

Until then, all we can do is stay hydrated, wear as close to nothing as is presentable, keep dodging the mosquito’s that seem to be out in full force, and pray for an unusually early, and much cooler fall than we’re accustomed to having. Because I for one, could stand to feel a little chill in the air for a while.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

And They Will All Come Home

A couple of weeks ago,  I may have stated in print what others are never really comfortable saying out loud, regarding my opinions on this community’s non-participation in new businesses here in Gadsden County.

And I loosely use the word opinion, because if I were to take the time to name all the businesses that have come and gone in just my 20 years here; well that would not only take quite some time, but it would also certainly prove my point.

But this week I want to tilt the table a bit and give my thoughts on what keeps people here in Gadsden County.

There is a reason that people stay here. There is a reason that children who grow-up here, move away and swear that they are never coming back – do indeed come back here. Back to that same place that they felt like smothered them, held them back, and kept them from seeing all the things they thought they needed to see.

Before I moved to Gadsden County I lived in Lee County Georgia, a small unassuming county back then, right outside of Albany Georgia where I grew-up. Little did I know – practically two minutes after I would gather my children and move to Quincy, Lee County would explode and become a metropolis. Which in my mind, took away all the beauty of why my children and I lived there in the first place.

In 1998 I transferred with my job to Quincy and I will tell you now, the house-hunting phase was one of which I hope to never experience again. I had worked here in Quincy for about 4 years prior, driving back and forth from Albany to Quincy twice a week. So, I already knew that Quincy was a very small town and I especially knew what a culture shock it would be for my children.

But in my search for a home to raise my children, nothing about Tallahassee pulled me in and made me feel like home. However, with all its inadequacies and absences of convenience; Quincy pulled me in so tight, I just knew this is where I needed to plant our family seed.

The many lakes, ponds, and land to fish, hunt and explore here in Gadsden County provide an experience for children that is like no other. The close-knit community, with its special brand of manners and the way they address adults, young and old, with a Miss, Mrs. or Mr. in front of their first name, pulls everyone together on the same common ground of love, decency and knowledge that family comes first, and neighbors such a close second that they feel the same.

My children not only grew-up and thrived here, they found love here and they found that special magic that only small towns can provide; and folks, that magic is what holds this county together.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Time Flies When Your Flyin.....

For years when I was growing-up I would hear older folks talk about it getting away from them. About it being here one day and gone the next. About it slipping through their fingers and sometimes, sadly, even sleeping from their minds.

I can remember thinking to myself – what world do these people live in? They couldn’t possibly be existing in mine, because it seems I counted every hour of every day at times, to no avail, waiting for it to pass, to move on, or to magically change my life as if it really held that kind of power.

And now, I see it all, good land do I see it all. I’m here one day and then all of a sudden, it’s three months later and I am left trying to unboggle my mind as to where it all went and what happened to it.

Time just marches on, doesn’t it? And the higher on the ladder of age that you climb, the more frighteningly out of control, the speed at which it moves, seems to get. Just this morning I told my husband that I couldn’t believe it was already August! In less than 3 ½ months from now, I’ll be putting up Christmas decorations! As a matter of fact, last week while I was having the bushes in my yard professionally trimmed, my main process of thinking while trying to schedule the next appointment, was to make sure the last trim would occur in early November so I wouldn’t be hanging lights on out-of-control untrimmed bushes!

I haven’t personally been to Hobby Lobby yet, but I know the fall and Halloween decorations are already on display, as I am seeing people posting their recently purchased goodies on Face Book. How in the world is that happening when people in my neighborhood are STILL popping off fireworks!

But to get back to my original point about the differences in time; about a week or so ago my youngest son and a group of his friends flew to Argentina for a week of dove hunting. He got back a week or so ago and came by the house last night to tell us all about his trip.

To him, I’m sure that trip and his time there flew by like a speeding bullet; but for me, that was the longest 9 days I’ve experienced in a long, long time.

His flight was delayed on the trip to Argentina, so of course that seemed like an absolute lifetime to me. The days in between his arrival and departure, he was on land and enjoying himself as was obvious from the photo’s being taken, so I was pretty calm. Then the drama of his flight home, started the vicious cycle of time never moving again, waiting on him to be home, safe and sound once again.

I guess it all depends which side of the clock you’re standing, when you’re trying to account for the speed in which those two hands move; and of course, your place on the ladder of time.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Small Town Survival

I moved to Quincy in 1998 and people still left their doors unlocked. People still left their vehicles unlocked, and crazily enough, many of those vehicles still had the keys in the ignition.

With the exception of the two major chain drugstores, we don’t have any more new businesses here now than we did in 1998. Matter of fact, several major corporations/buildings, that housed hundreds of people/employees – are also gone.

Now I grant you that the economy and recessions of past had a lot to do with some of these events happening; but these are new day’s, yet we are still living in the past.

We manage to maintain the same handful of eateries, but the newer ones, well, they come and they go. Sandwich shops that everyone raves over for a few months and down-home-buffet diner’s that seem to keep their tables full – until they don’t anymore.

Every now and again we hear some wild rumor that something fantastic and different is Coming Soon! But it never does. We have four places to eat fried chicken here, four plus places to get a  hamburger and fries, at least three barbecue spots, and a couple of places that serve “fish”, and I use that word loosely.

And now, as the news spread city-wide as soon as the sign posted into the ground, we are about to get yet another place that serves chicken in most any form that you’d like.

I have heard for years that this town doesn’t grow because we, or the powers that be, don’t allow it to grow. They don’t want a raised crime rate, they prefer to keep this town small, localized and safe.

The thing is folks, we’re still plenty small alright, but are we really so safe anymore? Every six months or so we have what they call on the local news, a rash of burglaries, in what used to be some of the safest neighborhoods in Quincy.

Vehicles are being broken into, stripped and robbed. More and more people are acquiring home security systems, and I don’t know anyone who keeps any door to their homes unlocked anymore.

I guess all of this pondering I’m doing now is about this: why are we not getting bigger, better and stronger? Why do small businesses not survive here? Why do small businesses open with such high publicity and panache, only to fold like an accordion months later when the community does not continue to support it with their patronage?  

Maybe we’re just meant to be what we are – a small town seemingly frozen in time. A town that has succumbed to the failure of large businesses which once helped it to thrive and a community that doesn’t know how to pull together to help it survive.

To be clear, I love this little town, and I love living here. But I want it to grow and I want it to survive and succeed for our children and grandchildren. So the challenge is: what can we ALL do together, to ensure that it happens? 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Miracles with Make-up

I had been looking forward to this event for weeks now. I love getting together with other ladies, who are sometimes, but not necessarily in my normal circle of folk, but most are whom I feel like I already know for one reason or another. It’s a small town – Quincy is – and somehow it just seems you know most everybody at any given time.

After I left work one night last week, I raced home and showered so I would be refreshed and I cleansed my face of all make-up. That’s right – you heard me correctly – I took all my make-up OFF my face to attend this event.  Crazy, right?! Because everybody knows that I don’t go much of ANYWHERE without my make-up on – especially not anywhere I expect to see people I know. 

Occasionally on the weekend I’ll slap the minimal amount on to do a duck-and-run through CVS or the local grocery store, but anywhere else calls for a full-face application.

So, as I am preparing to head-out my husband is looking at me side-ways, which is what he does when I’m not acting “normal” (whatever that is), as I begin to apply my lipstick. He said “I thought you had to wear no make-up to this deal” and I said, “Well we’re not, but I’m not driving down the street without my lips on!”

Funny side story here: I had my make-up bag in tow as we were asked to do, bringing the products with us that we normally use, and I also had my lipstick bag as well. However, my lipstick bag has THREE TIMES the amount in it that my make-up bag has – priorities girls – priorities.

I had the best time at the Make-Up by Spenser event! I have been putting on make-up since I was allowed to do so, which was about the age of fourteen. But back then I was told I couldn’t wear it until I plucked my bushy eyebrows into a nice thinned curve – while now at fifty-three – I am sketching the blank spots/grey spots in, and praying I have a full matching set when I’m done.

I learned all about sponge applicators versus brush applicators – which believe it or not makes a huge difference. But the BEST thing I learned about was “contouring” - you know that thing you do across your cheekbones. Well first off, I have no cheekbones now as they have been taken over by too many meals of pasta and bread. But it seems you can create the illusion of them, and it can take up to 10 pounds off of your face. I am now looking for that product in a 55 gallon drum, because I am going to need to contour my entire body if it works that kind of miracle!

But ladies - besides tutorial classes, Spenser Morris, a local talent in Quincy, also does individual events like weddings, prom’s etc., and her contact information is: Spenserlmorris@gmail.comI can honestly say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot of new tricks!