Friday, May 25, 2018

Raising Children to Remain Children

I read an article the other day, and then later that night, I watched the actual televised story about that same article on the evening “big” news. The story was about a high school in East Hanover, New Jersey that experienced a parental disruption and outrage because their daughter was not chosen during the cheer-leading squad tryouts.

Long story short, it was decided that anyone who tried out for the cheer-leading squad would automatically be chosen and if that was not the way anyone wanted to handle it – there would be NO cheer-leading squad at all.

People, I am worried for this world. I am so very worried about what is to come, and as many days as I wish I was 25 years old again instead of the 54 years of age that I have reached, I stop and think again how glad I will be that I probably just won’t really know how most of this is going to turn out.

When children are small, and by small, I mean ages 4-8, I understand to a degree, the wide range trophy giving – in my opinion it’s used as an encouragement tool. It’s used as an example that everyone participated and everyone tried their best.

I do understand that a lot of teachers and coaches may not think the way I do, but I believe in incentives for smaller children. I believe at an early age, they need to be encouraged in any way possible to keep their faces out of the television and participating in more activities outside, that will teach teamwork, sharing, participation, respect, and the ability to follow simple directions and even leadership.

But here is where I draw the line; once you become any age that is trying out for school sports, cheer-leading etc., there are going to be disappointment’s. Everyone cannot play. Everyone should not be chosen. It’s not about the prettiest or the most athletic looking person (or should never be) it should be about who is the readiest for the task/position at hand.

I’m just not sure when it stops. What will happen to our need to compete, to be better, and the strive to be the best if we’re already, always “equal”. I believe in working for what you get in life and I’m completely convinced that the way we are proceeding down these new paths is only going to ensure – no one ever has to really try at all. What will happen when that almost 16-year-old child/young adult has his first job interview and is not chosen? Will Mommy still call and complain?

I raised my children to believe in themselves AND to expect to be disappointed sometimes – but to also TRY AGAIN. That if they really wanted something, to work harder, work faster, and work smarter; and slowly, as they grew older, they learned to set goals for themselves.

This new trend is not helping to create self-sufficient adults, it is crippling them. We are teaching them that everything is free – and I can promise you this – in the real world – IT IS NOT. Life is WORK – and in real life, things are never simply handed to you just because you showed-up.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Southern Peace, and Comfort

#89 David Glenn Underwood 

As we pulled up to the house, the lawn was full of every type of motor vehicle one could imagine. Admittedly, I am not the best driver, so, finding a spot that I can fit my truck into, that I won’t get blocked in or have to squeeze back out of when I’m leaving, appeared to be the difficult task ahead.

Finally, I find the perfect place that I should just be able to roll in or out of once it’s time to go, we park, and began to unload our bags to take inside.

When I moved to Quincy, almost 20 years ago now, I would say the only funerals I had ever been to at my then age of thirty-five, were those of elderly family members. Since moving here, unfortunately, I cannot even tell you how many services have been added to that list count, none of them blood family, but most family just the same.

We entered the house and it was of course, packed inside with as many people as cars were parked outside. With each step I took, so many familiar faces were spotted, hugs given and taken, and from the front of the house all the way to the back, as I made my way with the bags, there was nothing but love and compassion on every single face I saw.

Just inside the doorway of the kitchen, women were bustling in every direction and the smells were like you had just stepped into the best country diner in the world! They were laying-out and arranging all the food that had been brought in, getting it all ready for anyone who’d like to come back, grab a paper plate and a plastic fork, and taste some of the best food prepared by southern cooks.

Before I moved here, I ever never seen the likes of such. City folk don’t seem to carry that tradition around in their pocket. The first thing that starts happening when any death occurs here, are the phone calls, and folks trying to decide who will bring what food, and who is in charge of the paper goods.

That’s what we do in these times of grief and sadness, we feed people. We feed them, we gather round them, and we talk about most everything but what brought us together that particular day in the first place. We laugh and tell old stories back and forth, and we visit. We visit with people we haven’t seen in forever and a day, because life gets busy and we don’t seem to have the time, until something horrible happens, that makes us stop and recognize what the most important thing of all is: family and friends.

This county lost a young man this past week, David Glenn Underwood, way before he reached his prime and far too early for his Mama and Daddy; that is just not the way the cycle of life is supposed to work. The entire Underwood family has always been so good to me and mine, so I continue to send love, and prayers for them to have peace and comfort to get through the days ahead.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Kindness Leaves A Legacy

What feels like a million years ago now, a woman and her two children moved to Quincy Florida all on their own. The company that the woman worked for told her they would take care of getting her and all her belongings moved, to not worry one little bit.

As the time grew closer for her to move, she noticed that no one was saying anything about hiring a moving service to pack-up her things and get them from Albany Georgia to Quincy Florida. So, a week away from the time scheduled for her to move, she finally asked, just what was the plan to be?

She would soon find out that a couple of fellows from that same said company would be moving her and all her belongings here – not a moving company. They would rent a big U-Haul trailer, and they would  help her pack and load.

The man heading up that group of “movers” was Ricky “Big Rick” Gleaton. He drove to Albany Georgia with a U-Haul truck and a regular truck and small trailer hooked behind it. To this day, I know he was not prepared for the work that was before him once he arrived.

Ricky and I, and his other two helpers worked all day, boxing and loading that U-Haul. Sometime around 3 or 4 o’clock I was finally brave enough to tell him that I wanted to also bring my smallest child’s swing-set. He said no problem, they dug it up, as the poles were concreted down, and loaded it on the back of the open trailer.

Then I showed him my front yard wooden swing attached to wooden posts that were also concreted into the ground. Right after my divorce, my daddy and my children built that swing together. My daddy said my little family needed to somewhere to sit and talk about our days, and that’s exactly what has happened; for about 22 years now. The swing itself has had to be replaced, but those same wooden posts are what sits in my yard today, holding another swing filled with conversation history.

Ricky also dug up that swing/poles, and you won’t believe this, but I told him I wanted to bring my two crepe myrtle trees that sat on either side of it, as they hadn’t been long planted. Without blinking an eye, he asked did I have a shovel and proceeded to dig those up too!

By the time we made it to Quincy that evening, it was almost dark. We decided not to unload until the next day. All we took inside my new house was a lamp and my mattresses; at first. Which was fine with me! But nothing would do until the bed frame was set-up and the mattresses on it. Ricky didn’t want me sleeping on the “floor”.

Ricky Gleaton is gone now, but that’s who that man was; to me, and everyone else he ever knew. His little girl and granddaughter got married this past weekend; Susan was a beautiful bride and I know she made her Daddy so very proud, and I know he was watching from the best cloud in heaven.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Days Gone By

As some of you may already know, mostly because I haven’t been able to stop babbling about it for over a week now; I’ve recently discovered the television series Downton Abbey. I will admit, I am very late to the game so to speak, but my grand, I have enjoyed it immensely.

I made several jokes last week that I have begun to hear myself speaking British in my head-voice whenever I would read anything. And then much to my surprise, and probably my husband’s dismay, I also began “speaking” in that tone as well.

Most Saturday's are the day for linen's to be washed. Today was no different. We may not be like most though, as we wash and re-bed with the same sheets each week, never changing unless they are worn out. This is not to say I don't have extra's as I do, I have three unused sets still in their original packing - should I need them - all bought on sale of course.

Well, today was the day for "the change". We've been using the same set for almost 2 years now, week in and week out. As I'm telling my husband I'm about to open a new set and we'll be discarding the others, he begins to argue the point that we should change out every other week so one pair won't get so worn.

In my best imitation of Mrs. Hughes - Head Housekeeper of Downton Abbey - I said:
"you are most welcome to introduce another set of linens to be washed each and every week, ones that will also participate in the change out of linens, but you sir shall be fully responsible for the task of re-folding that horrid fitted sheet as well, as where my method, never ever requires such a dreaded duty a’tall".
As I spoke, the accent gradually came out as well as the words. And as you can imagine - with mention of folding that &%)^%$ fitted sheet - not another word was spoken! His face however reflected laughter, and maybe just a tad bit of fear.

I am almost at the end of my journey through London and will miss those characters and their lives. As a good friend of mine said so well, “it was one of the best series to ever grace my television screen.”

There doesn’t seem much use for rank and file these days, or respect for general seniority and authority for that matter. People walk around with imaginary masks, hiding their evil and hate. No one, and nowhere is safe anymore, not a church, not a school, not two deputy’s sitting in a restaurant eating lunch.

I realize it was a different time, and a different place, but the ideals were such that one would have never thought that the basic idea of it all would just die out. But they are indeed dying, if not already dead. I dare say I do wonder, what will be left of respect and honor in another twenty years’ time? I’m not quite sure we really want to see that far into the future; the present day is scary enough.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Waiting on a Woman.....

I know I’m what some would call an excessive person. I have excessive feelings and responses according to my children, I have excessive buying impulses my husband will say, and as some of my girlfriends will attest, I purchase certain items in excess, i.e.; tubes of lipstick of which I admittedly have every single shade from Amazing Apricot to Zesty Orange.

But I’ve never really considered myself as a high maintenance gal until the other day when I took one of those tests on Face Book. You know, one of those that works off a point system for all these things that you do, and depending on your score, it will surmise the level of your personal maintenance.

Now before any of you get all cranked up about me taking a test on Face Book and the whole world knowing my business – I think most of the free world knows a lot of things about me already. The test wasn’t intrusive and I didn’t share any “real” personal information with anyone. And while I’m all up in that subject of Face Book and Congress – I’ll just say this – Face Book was created as a social tool for people to get to know one another and to reconnect with those that they might have left behind. It was never intended, in my humble opinion, for many of the things it has become.

But back to my original point – I took this test and my grand – I was most undeniably in the high maintenance column once it was done.

Yes, I do joke about it a lot, but in all honesty, I do shave my legs every single day of my life; all the seasons of the year, all the time. I absolutely cannot stand for my legs to scrub on each other with that rough stubble that comes with a day or so of growth.

I also shower every day - twice. I know. It’s a thing. It just is. Leave it alone.

I put on make-up every day that I plan to make an entrance in public because I was not blessed with a face that wouldn’t scare all small children and some adults if I did not.

I do wash and “fix” my hair every day; and good gosh almighty, yes I do have it colored once a month as well. I’m not sure what this new craze is with “going gray” or “natural” but it’s just not for me – not anytime soon. My mother is 77 years old, born and raised in the state of Alabama, the home of sweet tea and the original steel magnolias of life; and I can assure you, her face will be “fixed”, her lips will be “on”, and her hair will be colored and fixed until her last days on this earth; I expect mine will be as well.

If just those few things threw me in the high maintenance category – well then – I guess that’s my lot in life. My thoughts are, if you’re sitting around waiting on a woman who still takes pride in herself, then it’s time well spent, and you ought to be mighty prideful as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Brings Fresh Beginnings

I took a few days off the week before Easter and a day or so of the week following. It had been December since I had taken any time off and I felt like I need something close to a resurgence in my life. A re-awakening if you will of energy, thoughts, and peace of mind. And almost as much as my mind and body needed all of those things, just as importantly, my house needed the same.

I don’t know how many of you can relate, but when the seasons change, my house and my yard are doing the same in their own ways.

The leaves on the trees are beginning to shine when the light hits them just right, the buds on some of the blooming bushes are just peeking forward, the grass is trying to change colors before our very eyes it seems; day by day the changes are clear and obvious.

Well, all this newness, and the beautiful sunlight and warmth that brings it to our attention, comes some other things that this newfound lightness brings to notice: DIRT.

There’s a reason I’ve heard it referred to as “spring cleaning” all of my life. As that one term can cover SO MANY activities that are about to happen in one’s life.

From, warm clothing being boxed up and stored for another season far away, to cleaning and scrubbing your home down from the inside out.

Clearing the cobwebs from carports and front porches that have lain dormant for months from little to no activity at all. Wiping down the front porch rockers that have a combination of both dust and now pollen mixed-in, that needs to be cleaned so that family and friends can sit down for a spell, have a glass of sweet tea, and pick-up where they left off last January when it was too cold to visit outside.

And my windows, oh my goodness at my nasty windows! How in the world was I going to be able to see all that beauty outside if I couldn’t see through my windows?!

And with the cleaning of the windows came more clear, and concise sunlight, shining on those dusty baseboards and dull carpet from months of tracking in dust and such from outside to in.

Well, as you can imagine, I saved up a day for most ALL of these things to happen at once – a shared day off between my husband and myself. I had the carpet cleaned, he did the same to our yard, and we shared the inside duties of cleaning together.

Now as I stand at my big double-window at the front of my house, the glass is shining from a fresh cleaning and I can see all the beauty, far and wide, across my yard. Every single color is as vibrant as if I were standing next to it, and the view of my birdhouses is clear enough that I can practically see the food in their beaks as the birds land to eat.

Just as much as anything physical you might imagine; spring cleaning is good for the heart, the soul and the mind.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hard Work Brings Blessings and Beauty

As promised, I’m about to tell you about the bulbs that were boxed-up and hiding in my shed, ready to be planted. Now I’m gonna stop right here and tell you that my husband was NOT prepared for what he would see when he opened that box. Inside, were bags upon bags, labeled by color, and numbered with the quantity of 10 on the outside of all 10 bags.

Now before all of you lose your breath from gasping out loud, or hyperventilating like my husband did, you need to know that I had a plan. A good plan, and that plan did not include digging 100 holes with a hole digger as his expression seemed to reflect or explode – as either adjective works.

Back in October, before I got ready to order my bulbs for spring, I was Face Book conversing with a friend of mine who owns/runs a plant nursery.  I was telling her about the difficulty I have with some of my flowering bulbs, as in once they bloom, the tops are heavy, and they can’t seem to stand on their own.

Last year we went to Lowes and bought some plant holders, which seemed especially made for that. It worked, but also made my garden area look cluttered with other things besides pretty flowers.

During this conversation my friend Sissi told me how to avoid all of that. Even as she was saying it, I thought, WOW, how did I not figure that out on my own!? She told me the secret was to plant at least 4-5 bulbs all in a cluster together in the ground. The weight of the group bunched up, would help hold each other up once they started to bloom. And actually, when I thought back to all the pictures I had ever seen of these particular bulbs/flowers, that’s exactly what they looked like – bunched into a cluster.

So, nothing to do but create my plan and go forward with what I needed for that plan to succeed. I ordered 10 bulbs of 10 different colors, which of course equaled to a total of 100 in those 10 bags he saw once he opened that huge box.

Once I had my husband calmed down, his breathing became regulated again, and I could get a word in edge-wise, I explained how all of this would work. There would only be TWENTY-FIVE holes, not ONE HUNDRED, and nobody was going to die that day from over-excursion. 

We loaded it all up in our wheelbarrow, he dug the 25 holes, and I gathered one color from various bags to make-up a multi-colored bouquet for each hole.

Now you may be doing the math and know that mathematically it should be only 20 holes for 100 bulbs at 5 bulbs per hole. Well, I already had one bulb in the ground, which would be dug-up and combined with 4 others, making the 5 per hole, and 25-hole total.

I know. Nothing is ever simple with me. My Gladioli’s will not be blooming by this coming Easter Sunday, but when they do, they will be beautiful and worth the extra work!