Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Change

I’ll admit it snuck up on me a little bit this year. It was already happening to me, affecting me, in ways that I hadn’t even acknowledged yet; much less truly realize it was happening.

It began with the first cold “snap” or even more accurately the first mild freeze. With that came all the things I have been waiting on since the last time I was sick of it in April – warmer clothes, less need for air conditioning, folks talking about the first bonfires of fall, and looking up recipes for new soups and stews to cook.

I don’t mind telling you folks that even though it wasn’t what weathermen would call a ‘big freeze’, it was adequate enough to kill-off a good bit of the golden rod that is lining the roads and filling the woods around here. That in itself was a huge help for many, including myself and my allergies.

It was the first official running-of-the-heater here in our house since the last time I forbade anyone to run anything but air! And believe me, it has to get below 68 degrees in my house before I even begin to consider turning that switch from a/c to heat. And then it’s only during the waking hours – no heat runs through my house at night; that’s what blankets are for!  

But back to my original point – about 4 weeks ago now, I began to crave soup. I think I have had it for lunch at least 2 days a week ever since the craving started. I didn’t think much about it at first, but then the cold-snap came and I began to put it all together.

And all of that thinking only got me even more excited about the next big change to come our way – Daylight Savings Time! From the time it changes in April every year, I am waiting on it to change back again in November. I never have been, nor will I ever be, one of the ones who you hear whining about how dark it is so early, or feeling like they need to be in bed by seven o’clock.

I love everything about it. I like that the sun goes down earlier, and that it rises even earlier in the mornings; suits me just fine! I cannot stand to have to get out of bed when it’s still dark outside!

I love being able to be in my bed clothes at 6pm if I want to and my house-blinds already shut for the night. And the only thing I have to say about the time difference itself is that I gained a whole hour! 

That’s right, another whole hour to sleep-in the morning of the change! Who the heck wouldn’t be excited about that? Seems to me when they snatch-back that hour in the spring is when you all should be so upset!

I’m pleased as punch about the early darkness, the colder weather, the warmer food and guilt-free evenings not spent watering lawns and flowers for an hour every day. Bundle-up – cause’ it’s here for a while! 





Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Good Ole's Days are Gone

You know how when you get older, and you sit around and reminisce about how things used to be when you were younger, that if you could just re-live those things again, how happy you would be?

The neighborhood I live in is an old one, and by old I mean, there’s very little youth that lives around here. Therefore, no one comes knocking on our door for Halloween hollering Trick or Treat anymore.

The first year after I married my husband and moved here, which was about 11 years ago now, he tried to tell me that. We were shopping in Walmart and I was loading-up my buggy with candy and he was gently trying to tell me, that the candy would just get wasted, because his house didn’t get that kind of foot-traffic anymore.

Three weeks into November, and five bags of candy later left, I had to admit he was right, and I for once was sick of chocolate or anything that even looked like it was sweet.

So last year when my youngest son would be spending his first Halloween in his new house in a neighborhood that was swarmed with children every year, I got beside myself with excitement and prior planning for the big candy-hand-out night!

He said he wasn’t necessarily interested but told me I could knock-myself-out, he’d be in the house if I needed him, and to just have a ball.

I’m not about to tell you how much I spent on candy, my husband reads my stories and I like to sleep indoors, but needless to say, I had enough to operate for about 2 ½ hours and a half a million children!

But I have to say this, it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. It wasn’t even really like I remembered it being when my kids were younger, or when I myself was a trick-or-treater once upon a time – and yes, I can remember that far back into time.

I had grown teenagers AND adults alike, without even an attempt of a costume on, grabbing and digging for candy, bumping and running over the little ones to get to the bowl first. Many asking for bottled water because they were hot, wanting to go inside the house and use the bathroom, and letting me know which candy they did and didn’t like.

And when I did see adults in costumes, some of the women looked like they were auditioning for a spot on Project Runway. Adults do dress up for Halloween and that’s fine, but how about make it kid-friendly, or keep it contained to adult costume parties please.

It’s my opinion trick or treating is for children and it was my mother’s as well. Once upon a time when I was about 14 years old, my best girlfriend and I wanted to go out, not costumed, toting a pillowcase so we could get candy. She shut that idea down quickly, described all the reasons why, and never have I understood it as well as I did last year.

Nothing ever seems quite like you remembered it does it?



The Downhill Slide

How many times in our lives do we say or think “If I knew then what I know now…..”? There are many endings to that statement; that we wished we had made better decisions, taken a different road, respected that detour sign, or at the very least, maybe listened to our parents/elders a little more.

Every new year that I’m granted an extension to be here, to be a part of this world, to be a part of my family – I am thankful. But do I have wishful thoughts – yes, I have many.

I wished I hadn’t been in such a hurry. To grow-up, to be completely responsible, to be an adult, to be a partner in a bread-winner situation, to be a parent.

I wish I had enjoyed life as a learning adult a little more, traveled to more places, experienced more life, and met more interesting people.

I wished I had known more about myself before I tried to set-up life with another human being. I am sure it probably would have worked out a little better the first time around. And I wish I had known more about life before I decided to create one.

I wish I had grown up in a time when a secondary education was just expected and seemed less a choice. I don’t know who I would be right now, but I certainly hope that I wouldn’t be a fifty-something year old woman trying to find myself again at this stage in my life and wondering some days how in the heck I let this happen to myself.

In a few days, another year representing another number will have come and gone. And I will adjust and shake-off the small bit of sadness that always seems to accompany a higher number each time it presents itself.

But oh for the days when the numbers seemed to take forever to climb that mountain of time. It seemed we were never old enough for whatever it was we could not wait to do.

And now, I’m on the other side of that mountain and the numbers seem to fly right before my eyes, so fast, that some years, I think I may have skipped a number or two.

Wishes I have many, regrets I have none. So many things in life make me question that saying “everything happens for a reason”; but I also believe in it pretty much of the time.

I was made to be a Mama, and that I became one earlier than maybe I should have, well, that’s okay too. I have loved every minute of it, good and bad, sad and exciting – and I wouldn’t trade those life experiences for anything in this world. Especially now when they are adults – our conversations as almost equals and friends are priceless.

And even though I still feel like I’m trying to find my way, that’s okay too; because I’m finding it with one of the best partners in the world.

So I’ll see you all on the other side of a higher number of fifty-something – and I’ll be loving every minute of it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hang On! Here Come the Holiday's!

Oh, the craziness this time of the year brings! Because not only does the changing of the flags come about, so do the house decorations! The dining table, the kitchen bar, and everywhere in between will be covered in fall and the likes of colors orange, yellow and brown.

But first – all of those things must be found! After all, those pretties have been stored away for a whole year and I don’t know about you – but I know what can happen in my storage space in the span of 12 months’ time – everything! 

Just as I begin my yearly ritual of change-over conversation, the faces start changing into scary carved pumpkin faces and the groans sound like the witches and ghosts from the movies. My husband begins to transform into a very frightful rendition of himself which is to say, he is not ever pleased that any of these things are about to happen, nor does he understand his presence being a requirement.

Well it is – mainly because I can’t climb hurdles of STUFF like I used to and let’s face it, he’s the one who piled it all like that last year when the said events were over. 

Now before, when my youngest son lived at home, it was a toss-up as who was responsible for burying what and where; but, alas, now it’s just him, even though he still tries to claim no guilt or prior participation.

So, the fussing and carrying on begins, like it’s the trial of the century to have to do these things so I look at him with all the calm and reason I can muster and say, “WHY must we do this every year – this annual questioning with the why’s and the what difference’s does it make? It’s going to happen, we’re going to do it, and we’re both going to live through it.”

The look on his face says one of us might not live through it, but I’m betting we do. Mainly because in about 45 days, it will all have to happen again, on a much bigger scale.

And I don’t even want to begin to tell you what the Christmas decorating entails! Oh my, that ruckus begins in the house and spreads to the outdoor shed and every neighbor from here to yon can hear the grumbling, mumbling, and fussing that is going on!

But for now, everything is pretty and decorated in all that is pumpkin, and a weekend or so ago, my parents came down and we all ate Sunday dinner at that beautifully decorated table with the corn cob candles that rest in my iron sunflower candle holders.

So today I end with a learned lesson from year 2013 via my Alabama born, very (and that r in very is rolled) southern mama: when you decorate a dining table with candles, you don’t necessarily have to burn them then, BUT, they have to have at least been lit once. New, unburnt wicks is not how a southern table is set.

Now ladies, put your game faces on and supervise that decorating! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

You Just Have To Believe

When I was growing up, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with death. My extended family was fairly young and healthy, and it would be after my teenage years before I would really know what the grieving part of losing someone you loved would even mean.

My PaPa Josh died when I was seven years old, at a very young age, of brain cancer on Christmas Day and all I can really remember about that happening was that people were sad, people were whispering and I was scared.

I was scared because even at that early stage I think I believed that somehow when people died, they still saw you, might even still be “with you” and I’m still not sure how I came up with that theory so young, but I did.

The next person to pass would be his wife, my Sara MaMa, when I was twenty years old. By then the feeling of being scared was gone, and sadness, regret and grief took its place.

I can remember being at work right after it happened and discussing her death, and death in general, with a wise older woman with whom I worked. At some point, I was saying that I would see her again, I would see them “all” again one day and my co-worker said yes, you will, but the bible says you will not know them as your grandmother or your grandfather, but you will be happy and you will see them again.

That conversation I can hear today as clearly as it was like a blow to my stomach way back then. In that one minute, my thought process of how it was all supposed to end, what we are all here waiting for, looking forward to, didn’t even exist.

I didn’t just want to be happy and pain free, I wanted to be reunited with my family, as I knew them, not as strangers, or just people who meant nothing to me. That didn’t make me happy at all, and that was what the real idea of heaven was supposed to be to me – the ultimate happiness. What you work so hard for all of your life – your reward for being a good human being.

The number of books I have read in my lifetime might astound a lot of people. I don’t read as often now as I once did but I’m trying to re-learn to close the laptop and pick-up a book instead.

I’m also not a book reviewer, but I recently read and finished a book that lifted my spirits like nothing else has for a long time. The afterlife we’re all working towards, and the idea of what heaven must truly be, was described in such a way, that I have hope again that I will reunite with my people one day and live happily ever after.
                                                                            
The Whole Town's Talking written by Fannie Flagg – read it. It might not change your life or your mind about how the end really works, but it sure will give you hope that it turns out just like it should. 


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Knowledge is Power

                                                          
Every year in October I plead, beg and preach about the same thing. I give examples of neglect, I explain the seriousness, I describe the various outcomes, and I try my very best to give encouragement.

Because let’s face it, no one wants to do it. It’s not what anyone would describe as comfortable in the least, it’s a bit scary, and some would say, it’s just downright painful.

I have personally experienced all of the above emotions, but I still do it every single year. I still ramp myself up for the chore before me, make my appointment, and then I go and sit. I sit among chairs full of women.

Some of those women are there for their annual appointments’, some for second readings/more extensive testing, and some are there for things that none of us ever want to think about happening to us or anyone else that we know.
                                                                             
I have been to that place for two out of three of those things, many times now. It’s never any less nerve-wracking and it’s certainly never any fun.  It has always turned out in the favor of grateful and blessed, but my grand, at the roads it has taken to get there at times. Three or four weeks can seem like a lifetime when you are waiting on results.

So, we all sit and watch one another, trying to imagine our neighbor-woman’s plight; nervous and waiting for the unknown that always seems to go hand in hand with these visits.
                                                                      
And then a name is called, we look around anxiously to see who is the next to go through those closed doors ahead of us all, the doors that lead to all the places that can bring comfort as well as dread and the words we never want to hear.

I’m well aware of what the odds are – 1 in 8 women are at risk for developing breast cancer. In the great scheme of things that doesn’t sound like so much, but it also sounds like it will happen to many more women that you may know personally, than you could ever have imagined.

By the time I was 48 years in old, in five years’ time, I would personally know and be friends with, 6 different women who would have positive results for breast cancer. One would succumb to her disease, four would beat it and move on, and one is currently on round two of one of the most rare/deadly forms of breast cancer which is Inflammatory Breast Cancer and it presents itself in 1% to 5% of all women.
                                                                
So, I ask this/beg this/plead this as I do every year - get your annual mammograms. Every single year – never skip a year. Because if you have ever known someone who tested negative one year and positive the next, then you MUST know the damage that could potentially be done if you were to skip a year in between. Twelve little months, coupled with neglect, could challenge the chances of living a full and complete lifetime. 

Love  your family, but love yourself the most – and get tested. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ah-CHOO!

As we enter the season of bonfires, roasted marshmallows, sitting in tree-stands or window-blinds, falling leaves painted with the colors of change, hoodies and boots, and homes decorated with pumpkins and fresh mums – we also enter the season of hay-fever.

I’ve had sinus/allergy problems since I was a small child, complete with eczema break-outs on my skin as well. My allergy list is long and consists of just as many foods as it does trees, flowers, and other outside elements.

I’ve been to several different allergists in my lifetime, because as anyone who suffers as I do know that your body changes over the years, sometimes accepting of things it wasn’t before, and just as many times, adding more unacceptable / “can’t do” new items to your list.

One of the best things I came to love after moving here, was upon leaving work every day, I liked to take the back roads home in the afternoons. These roads were quiet, without traffic lights, often smelling of fresh cut fields / grass and absolutely FULL of colorful roadsides!

About a month into fall that first year I was absolutely miserable! I was popping one sinus medication or another every so many hours, sneezing my brains out and blowing my nose until it was raw. My eyes were pouring water like a faucet, and swollen like I had been in a 10-round fight with the likes of Muhammad Ali.

Sometime into that fourth week, my parents were down for a visit. I had taken my mom out for a drive to see the plant where I worked and I decided on the way back home to take her on the scenic route, the back roads, so she could get a feel about one of the reasons I loved my new county so much.

I had described to her before how much less stress I felt, and how every day when I would leave work and take that back road home, no matter what had occurred during the day, once I hit those roads and passed the fields of beautiful colors, all the weight of the world seemed to just drop-off.

Three minutes into the drive back to my house and my mom said “Honey, do you know what that stuff is on the side of the road?” And I as I slowly said no, because I knew something was coming, she began to tell me the story of a little girl (herself), long ago, who gave her mother a beautiful bouquet of those same “flowers” and how her mother was miserable for a week because of it – sneezing and blowing her brains out.

I can remember looking back her, and then looking at my car windows which were both rolled ALL THE WAY DOWN, and suddenly realizing, I had been slowly killing myself!

So, no more windows down for me until the first freeze that kills it all that golden rod off. I’ll just have to take my Saturday evening drives with the a/c on instead of the nice cool breezes of fall, and be satisfied to look at the beauty THROUGH the window.