Saturday, June 17, 2017

Front Porch Swinging and Sweet Tea Drinking

I’m a firm believer that front porches are made for plenty of rocking chairs, gliders, swings, and people. Decorated with clay pots full of flowers, beams that support beautiful green ferns, a hummingbird feeder or two, and some wind chimes making music that would challenge the finest of symphony orchestra’s.

The right front porch is also made for sitting undercover while watching the pouring rain and talking about how all that rain is turning everything so green and sending the grass and flowers into a growing frenzy. For telling tall tales and drinking even taller glasses of sweet tea.

And the front porch is the perfect place for aching backs after working in the yard, away from the sun that has been scorching your skin, and causing you to break sweat like a waterfall as it travels down your face. All of which brings the kind of tired and weariness that can only be satisfied with some ice cold water, or for some folks, an ice cold adult beverage.

It’s also made for quiet, serious talks that require darkness to create anonymity and a silent listener who gives the unspoken promise of keeping a confidence and passing no judgement, and only contributing when prompted from the other side of the swing.

But mostly, it’s a wide open space, inviting any and all, with the high expectations of lots of laughter and smiles, family and friends alike, and the subjects that change as fast as the folks swatting the gnats that seem to take over the South in the summers with a vengeance strong enough that I swear to sugar somebody should have long been rich from creating something to prevent them!   

This past Friday night was little pieces of all of the above as my husband and I made our way out to have a seat on the porch, sometime between 7 and 8pm, and settling down to about an hour of nothing but me and him, giggling neighborhood children in the distance, and the lightening bugs.

When I first met my husband he smoked those big, fat smelly cigars, and I didn’t mind them so much because they reminded me of my Pa Pa Josh who left for heaven when I was just a little girl.  My husband quit smoking them years ago, but he also used to occasionally smoke a little, skinny cigar with a plastic tip on it called Black & Mild. Now that cigar, and that sweet smell, would send me into sensory wonderland. 

A couple of weeks ago when were in South Carolina visiting family, I had bought him one, but we never got still anywhere long enough for him to smoke it. So Friday night, when he walked out onto the porch with that little cigar, and between that old, sweet familiar smell and the conversation/memories it brought back, well it was a wonderful hour on our old porch for sure.


Here’s to hoping all you fellas get to share your family-time on a love-filled front porch somewhere, and that you all have a very Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Whirlwind of a Week!

Who would think in a weeks’ time, one could pack in so much?! Well let me tell you folks something, it can be done. Starting with last weekend which was Memorial Day weekend, when my husband and I headed out for Turbeville SC, back to my husband’s home, the place where he grew-up.

And again this year, as well as trying to make sure our schedule of events and stops included everyone within 3 counties, we had another grandchild graduating from high school, which makes two years in a row and that meant we had another graduation party to attend!

So we actually got to see almost one whole side of the family at once – in one place – which was not only convenient but loads of fun! And BONUS! We were able to see our grandson who lives in Miami and is in the Coast Guard – along with his new wife, and be witness to the announcement about their new baby that will make its entrance into our family come this November! Along with the news that their station point is about to change from Miami Florida to a nice, small town in Oregon – a town with a population of 6,000 or so folks. Talk about downsizing!

But my adventures didn’t stop there; Wednesday evening after work I drove to Marianna, Florida to have dinner with an old friend Tammy Carr, from our previous work place. About 8 years ago now, she and her husband moved to Neosho Missouri, and it had been about 3 years or so ago, since I had seen her last. A couple of hours later, after dinner, some selfies, and lots of laughter, we felt caught-up enough to last us until our next visit.

Then yesterday which was Saturday, I struck out to celebrate one of my closest friends’ birthday. Actually her day of birth was several days prior, but I was out of town, and you know, you HAVE to celebrate or didn’t happen!

We spent the afternoon shopping and strolling through nurseries, taking pictures, and having lunch. It hadn’t been but a month or so since I had seen her last, but regardless, there is always catching-up to do which for us, always brings hilarious laughter and stories.

Proof: I told Kathy while flower-looking about me telling Darla, another friend of ours, that I was confused about how those strawberry planters work. I mean after you put all the dirt in there, and then the bulbs/flowers, how do they know how to find their way to those holes and grow outside the pot? Do they follow the light? I was quickly and hilariously “schooled” on how it works, and yes, I felt pretty DUMB.  Even funnier, did I buy one? No. Because I’m still not completely convinced they’re right!

And finally today, June 4th, my parents are celebrating 57 years of forever-together. That’s a long time of compromises, tender-feelings, different sides, and love. But I think it’s safe to say, they’ve got it wrapped-up from here on out!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

GOALS

I have had to “work at” my weight most all of my life. I was a chubby little girl and I was a semi-chubby teenager. It wasn’t until my late teens that I learned how to keep my weight under control. And by “learned” I mean, by just not eating, by starving myself.

I can remember getting headaches, the horrible kind of headaches that make you sick – from not eating. All for the sake of being attractive to some boy, or to feel like I fit in.

I’ve always been a picky-eater, and still am to this day. There are so many “healthy” things to eat that I just do not like. I have tried them again even as an adult, and unfortunately, though many have said their appetites and taste sensory’s changed with age – mine did not.

I WANT to like salad, I really do. I see them all decked out with chunks of meats and cheeses, but it’s all the other stuff that gets in the way. You know, the healthy stuff like lettuce, kale, spinach, radishes, tomatoes, and onions etc.

And so, as is glaringly obvious, I still have a huge problem with my weight because I like foods that don’t like me, or that aren’t good for me. And starving yourself doesn’t work as you grow older. It only makes you “hangry” and difficult to work with and live with.

I was having a group text conversation the other night with some friends of mine who suffer from the same disease of loving to eat. One of them was saying it only took her two weeks to overcome her addiction of bread, pasta, potatoes and chocolate. Once she got past that two weeks – she no longer even thought about it.

To the first friend I said this: I will NEVER not love bread. I will NEVER not want bread. And that while I am sure that I would feel better if I could shed myself of that addiction, I probably never will – so much so that even from my grave, I would snatch a sandwich right out of your hands should you have a picnic around me one day when I’m gone.

Another friend told me in that same conversation, that you could eat bread on the weight watcher’s food plan. And to my second friend I said this: “Not three baskets of Texas Roadhouse yeast rolls you can’t”. And she said, “Well not all at one time.” And I replied, “And there within lies the problem”.

In case you’re wondering what prompted these latest conversations and my conversation with you now; I saw a picture that was taken of me the other day, and it was not flattering in the least. It made me want to cry, but mostly it made me want to have my eyes checked because I must be blind not to be able to see myself like that in the mirror every day. So my new goal is to take it one day at the time, do my best to do better, so that I can live longer.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Little Boys to Men

From the age of three they made a quick, forever-lasting bond. Just out of diapers and training pants, somehow they knew what some grown people cannot seem to understand now – that they would be forever-linked and forever-friends.

Of course they would laugh and fight, and be buddies again before parent-pick-up at daycare. They would stand by one another through kindergarten, first little girlfriends, and peewee football. Then would come grade school, followed by middle school and then the real test of a true friendship – high school. When boys become men, their opinions become stronger, and their hearts start to separate and share in different directions.


But all the shenanigans in between would be what would strengthen that bond between the two boys. Sleep-overs, sneaking out of bedroom windows, and as I learned just this past weekend, doing a lot of others things, “Mama” would never know about.


And in high school, one was the center and one was the quarterback – the ultimate positions for trust and good old fashioned mind-reading. They worked together like to and fro, ying and yang – and even today as they both sat here in my living room, one stretched out on the couch, the other slouched in a chair, they were finishing each other’s sentences and laughing before the last word was said out loud.


But something else happened this weekend that I can’t say has ever happened before. Saturday afternoon I found myself sitting in a church gym, surrounded by a bunch of other women and watched a three year old sit beside a beautiful young woman and open one present after another, after another.

At some point I distinctly remember leaning into the young lady sitting next to me and asking her how in the world did we get here so fast? And honestly, as I was asking her that question, I was also remembering her as not much older than three years old herself – just yesterday.


One of my youngest son’s best friend’s is about to get married. I attended his and his future bride’s bridal shower this past Saturday afternoon.  As he was opening the gift that was from me and my husband, a slow, sly smile started to cross his face. He said, “Miss Michelle, you have one like this at your house don’t you?” It was a slow-cooker/pressure cooker and I said “Yes, but not quite like that one”. He said, still smiling, “Remind me after this is over and I’ll tell you a funny story about yours, and what me and Zach did one time”.




Well the story WAS funny, NOW, and he was right, I never knew. They’re probably at least a dozen more stories that I don’t know about. But that’s okay, I kind of like finding out about them this way.

Come the end of September, Dustin Watson and Brooke Meadows will be married and Zach, along with two other long-time buddies, McLane Edwards and JD Jones will be some of his groomsmen.  It still feels pretty unreal, and I still say, three year old’s are too young to get married.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Time Keeps Moving On.....

It’s been a wonderful weekend spent with family celebrating Mother’s Day. Then later today, as I was looking at the calendar trying to decide whether or not a trip to see our South Carolina family was going to be able to happen at the end of this month, all of a sudden I realized – IT’S ALMOST SIX MONTHS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

I can remember when I was growing-up it took SO LONG for time to pass. To get from one time to another; and now, it seems like everything moves at the speed of light. I’ve become to believe that’s why I have such a problem remembering anything anymore, it all happens too fast!

And I don’t remember families being as active when I was growing up as they are now. The parents went to work, and the children went to school, and everyone came home. They had supper, did homework, watched a little television and then everyone went to bed and got up the next day to do it all over again. The weekends were made for chores, lawn work, and riding bicycles in the neighborhood until almost dark.

These families now are involved in every single activity you can imagine! Tee-ball, ballet, baseball, soccer, and ALL of those activities are now weekday/night events – not just Saturday mornings. Kids belong to all kinds of clubs that have year around activities and someone is always running in one direction or another to get folks where they need to be.

It’s no wonder we can’t keep up with time, it’s stretched so thin, it’s about to snap in two. I don’t know how these young parents do it – I truly just don’t. When I get off work in the afternoons, it takes all I can do just to drive myself home some evenings. I DREAM of what my recliner will feel like when I collapse into it. I can remember some days that have been particularly bad that I jokingly said, “I wish I could afford a driver, I’m so tired I don’t even want to push the gas pedal.”

Real life story – one day last week:
I got home one night from my after-work hair salon appointment and as usual I was tired and starving. I was talking to my husband on the phone, as he was still driving and on his way home from a load. I'm telling him I don't even know what I want to eat, because I'm not even up to opening a can of Spaghetto's because I don't want to stand there and dig out the meatballs (I don't like them, and the cans without them taste different - weird I know).


He sat there quietly for a minute and then he said "Well baby, if it's that bad, do you think you're even gonna be able to chew once you figure out what you want to eat?" And we laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

I know that has to sound familiar to people in “my age group.” But the scarier question is – when did I start referring to myself like that?!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother to Mother

Do you ever wonder if the day will come when you’ll stop looking at them misty-eyed and in amazement when all you’re doing is having a simple conversation about their jobs, their plans, or their life? Or when you’ll stop imagining the soft, squishy arms and legs from their childhood? Because when you reach out as you walk by, as they’re sitting at your kitchen bar shoving Tostito chips and salsa into their mouths like they haven’t eaten in days, and you give their arm a little squeeze, but all you feel is firmness and strength.  

When our children were growing-up, we spent so many days and nights praying for what we all have now. Children with decided paths, strong and positive points of views, and children who are finally independent and perfectly capable of surviving without us should they have to do so.

From toddler to teen and beyond; we cheered, we cried, we were disappointed and proud. And we all said at some point, “Gracious, I cannot wait for the day they’re all grown-up and I don’t hear Mama called a hundred times a day!”

But you know, that never turns out quite like anyone expects it to. The quietness is stifling. The amount of un-need and lack of attention we continue to receive is devastating.

If we’re lucky though, it all comes back when you least expect it to. And amazingly enough, it’s somewhere around the time that their lives are beginning to have big changes. Weddings, babies being born, their “baby’s” first day of school, teen angst, and “children” driving vehicles.

But what is more amazing that any of that is this: those misty-eyed looks, and soft, sing-song voices; now they come from somewhere else as well. It doesn’t happen every time, but probably one out three times that I call home during the week, my own mother will answer the phone and I can hear her telling my daddy in the background who it is on the phone. And when she says my name, it rolls off her tongue so soft and sweet, it’s how I imagined her to have said when I was a baby. And many times now, when we are talking face to face, her eyes will become misty as we reminisce about one memory or another.

I wonder when my children hear me speak now, if they translate that softness into what it is, or if you have to be a certain age to even understand that it exists. Kind of like those whistles that only dogs can hear; I wonder if only grown children can began to hear that softness again that was certainly used in their first days/years of life. That softness reserved for the people we brought into this world, for the people that we love the most.


Because that is the same softness that will reverse, and be used by children for their parents as those roles also change through the years. The cycle of love between children and parents is ever evolving. Happy Mother’s Day to all who help keep it going. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

There's No Place Like Home

Sometimes the things less prepared for turn out the best. I love Quincy Florida, and I’ve lived here almost twenty years now, and for the most part it seems the like home. But there’s something to be said for the place where you grew-up to feel the most familiar at different times in your life.

This past week, on the spur of the moment, I decided a trip home was necessary – for my peace of mind and mostly because I needed the fellowship. I needed the sisterhood of all those girls, now women, that I grew-up with; I needed those same faces to remind me that this is exactly how life is supposed to feel right now.

So Saturday, as I pulled up at the decided restaurant in Albany Georgia I was so excited about all the faces I was about to see, and how much better I would feel when it was all over.

But let me backtrack a bit and tell you about what happened BEFORE I arrived at my destination. I saw a CVS as I passed by on route and I decided to stop and go in. I had about 30 minutes to spare and I was hoping they would have what I was looking for. First, I needed a new orange-colored tube of lipstick to go with my outfit as the one I had wasn’t quite the right shade of orange, and secondly, I wanted to purchase a selfie-stick.

I had wandered around a bit before I decided I might as well ask for help, so finally I approached two very young women who were behind the pharmacy counter, and asked could they tell me if they even sold those selfie-sticks. Just that one question sent these young ladies into gales of giggles. I stood there confused and trying to figure out why. I mean, is that not what they were called? Was that just a fad and they didn’t even sell them anymore? Or was it that they had never had a 53 year old woman wearing orange lipstick ask them a question like that?

At any rate, I found the selfie-sticks at the front of the store, paid for it and my lipstick and headed out to my original destination. And just as I knew it would be, it was a day of laughter, old stories, and hugs – many, many hugs.

The only thing was, not a one of us “old” gals could figure out how to hook-up that dang selfie-stick and make it work. No one could read the fine-print paperwork, half of us were pulling out our “readers” from our purses – EXCEPT for the daughter of one of my most treasured friends who had joined us that day. In a snap – Tiffany had that thing hooked-up, angled in the air and we were all smiling for memories. Maybe THAT was what those other young girls at CVS already knew was going to happen – and that was what all that giggling was about.

Home Sweet Home: you never really know how true that is, until you become just a visitor.