Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's All In The Directions

I’m not sure how long ago I may have mentioned my washing machine and it’s being on its last leg, but I can tell you this, it stood on that one leg and washed the heck out of some clothes for almost two full years! Not to say that it didn’t shake, rattle and roll – at times I thought that end of the house would just come apart, but it still did its job, so we ignored it.

Last weekend however, it finally went belly-up. It was a couple of days before New Year’s Eve so I was trying to get all of our clothes washed-up; you know, because of the old, ‘it’s bad luck to wash clothes on New Year’s Day’ deal and all.

Which quite frankly, I think is ridiculous. The whole point of those particular superstitions is that you don’t want to do anything on New Years’ Day that might determine how you spend your year going forward. Well folks, I will ALWAYS have to wash clothes, mop floors and clean toilets, so I don’t really get the whole point. Matter of fact, I’m gonna straight-up call that an inflammatory lie – because NOT doing any of those things has never made my life any different.

Or has it? Don’t even get me started on wondering how different my life could be had I ignored those superstition’s and washed clothes anyway.  Things to ponder another day.

Regardless, I’m washing two days before, and I hear the washer coming to a stop. I know this, because it’s sounds like a helicopter is about to land on our house. I go into the wash room to do the change-out from washer to dryer, and the floor is a puddle of water. This is a rather quick discovery, as I now have soaking wet sock-feet.

Fast forward – now we’re at Stewart’s, our local appliance store, picking-out/buying a washer. My husband decides he can install it himself so we loaded it-up and headed back to the house with a new washer.

With some assistance from my youngest son and his buddies, all seemed to be going well, when my husband announces he’s about to go under the house to make the connection. The boys wander-off outside and suddenly I hear my husband woo-hoo’ing back-up through the hole in the floor.

I hollered back down asking him did he need something and he said in a tone loaded with sarcasm, “well yeah, I needed someone on stand-by to make the connection on that end”. Well you know, full directions are always helpful.

Side story about full directions – I have a vehicle that auto-starts with the key-fob. No matter what I did I couldn’t get it to work. Frustrated I asked my husband one day when he was at home, to show me one more time. Turns out, no matter that you locked your vehicle the night before, it won’t crank until you lock it again. Hence, why I didn’t “follow his directions” of “lock the vehicle then push the start button”, because in MY rational mind, the vehicle was ALREADY locked.

Yes sir, for wives and children, fully explained/sentences will help every time!  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Bright Light of Happiness

I’ll be the first to admit I’m as crazy about Christmas lights as my kids always were when they were little. So when they have to come down, out of the trees and off the bushes outside, it’s kind of sad. I can no longer see my house from up the road anymore; it’s no longer distinguishable in the dark by its sparkling white lights that guide me home.

I used to feel a little refreshed when January would roll around, but that was when I still had my children at home, or at least both of them living nearby. Now once the holidays are over, the youngest who lives on his own now, stays busy, and my oldest lives 2000 miles away in Vermont.

January was always about second chances and new life graces, peeling back the layers of regret’s and starting all over again, with a new attitude and a little extra pep in your step.

But now it’s about people leaving, people that I may not see again for another three hundred and sixty-five days which seems like a lifetime to me when I say it out loud.

So many changes can happen in a year, so many life changes or changes to people from life and happenstance in general. We all start off with such hope, but when you get a little older, you already know, that there will inevitably be some sadness that comes with that happiness as well.

Remember when you were younger?  I don’t think I ever thought past the minute I was living in. And if I did, it was only about the next sleepover, or the cute new boy I saw moving into our neighborhood before winter break, wondering if he would be in any of my classes when school started back.

I sure as heck didn’t worry about much of anything else. I didn’t go borrowing trouble before it came to find me. It seems kind of like we spend a lot of our time doing that when we get older doesn’t it? Borrowing trouble I mean – worrying about things that haven’t even come to pass yet, and may not ever.

That’s the pit-falls of being an adult, already knowing all the realities, because even if they haven’t happened to you, they have happened to someone you know, so it’s like we just sit, and wait for it happen to us too.

Wouldn’t it be so much healthier for us all if we could just enjoy the days as they come. Be glad for the good ones, the ones without sickness or grief, the days that only bring laughter and happy tears of joy.

I’m fifty-four years old now and I’ll be the first to say, it’s hard to change old worry-wart habits. But I sure would like to be that young girl again, the one who wakes up smiling, with no aches and pains, and greets the world with nothing but excitement instead of wariness of what’s to come.

And to always see – to always imagine - the sparkling white lights in this world – even when there are none. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year Wishes!

Every year, after the “main” event, I am left looking at and listening to, the same ole’, same ole’ words. The same promises, all made with as much earnestness that can be conjured-up year after year of saying the same things. The same heartfelt lines that fill the papers that some believe will make the words have more meaning if you put it in writing. And the same meal cooked with wise and wishful hands, which follow the old wives tale that promises wealth, luck, and good health.

The thing is folks – we all hope and wish for just too darn much. We all need to make our list short and attainable. We need to make that list with words of reality, not fantasy, and we sure need to know and understand that cooked greens of any kind will not bring us a fortune anytime soon – only hard work can do that.  

I understand the need for tradition, I truly do. I too, cook the baked ham, turnip greens and black eye peas, adding some ham hocks to both my peas AND my greens; you know, for good measure and all.

But as for my list – there isn’t one anymore. I don’t talk about or write about, or make promises to, myself or anyone else, that I feel like I may not keep. I have enough disappointments in my life from other people, and just life in general, without me adding to them on my own.

So I try to decide one thing – just one – that I think I can achieve. One thing that I believe I can do better than I’ve done to date, one thing that I truly know, if I try my hardest, I can be proud of myself at the end of another year, instead of disappointed.

I have tried that new method for the past couple of years and I have to say, the outcome has been so much more encouraging for me. You know, it stands to reason, that if you make your goals reachable and doable, that your morale has to be better as well.

So I suggest stay away from the usual suspect of lists like:

A. Losing 50 pounds. Instead just shoot for 15 pounds and manage to keep it off. The next year shoot for another 15 and repeat.
B. Don’t run out and buy a piece of exercise equipment that will become a clothes rack in two months. And don’t join a gym whose doors you won’t darken after 3 months. Walk. Just walk – it’s free.
C.  Don’t empty your cabinets of all sugar products, bread and pasta. If you love it, you’ll never just stop cold turkey. Just cut back, try and make your needs and cravings manageable. Make them a treat for yourself instead of a regular meal-time addition.
D. And for all you shopper addicts, you buy one get one free so you have to – freaks; I don’t know the solution. If you all figure one out – let me know!

Remember manageable, obtainable goals making you the winner is the key. I hope you all have an especially safe and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

In The Spirit of Christmas

As I exited my vehicle, I turned to the door behind me, laid my hand on the handle, and opened it wide. The sight before me looked much larger and less manageable than when I first placed them in my backseat.

It was finally the day to mail all the packages, and there I stood, looking at four good sized boxes and two larger than average mailing envelopes that were also a tad heavy; trying to figure out how in the world I was going to get them from the backseat of my truck, into my arms, across the parking lot, and into the doors of the post office, without scattering it all across the pavement under my feet.

The four boxes alone, stacked all together, were over my head and blocking my eye-sight of anything in front of me. Then the two larger envelopes tucked under my arms – well nothing about that felt controllable at all. In my mind’s eye, I could picture all the boxes, the two envelopes, and very possibly me, sprawled out on the pavement the first time my toe hit a stray pebble on the concrete.

As I stood there contemplating my dilemma, another car pulled up beside me and began maneuvering to park.

Now I am not one to ask people/strangers for help. I don’t like imposing mostly, but also, I absolutely hate admitting I can’t do something. Nonetheless, I knew on that day, proceeding with common sense instead of false pride was the ticket to achievement.

As the lady exited her car, I began to size-her-up to make sure she would indeed be able to help me, and that me asking her for help wouldn’t cause her any undo distress. She appeared to be a few years older than me, but certainly capable of carrying a couple of boxes should I ask her.

I swallowed my pride and called out “Ma’am?” Once she turned around I began to lay-out my predicament for her, and asked her would she terribly mind helping me get my packages just as far as inside the door, and then I could proceed from there myself.

Much to my relief, she was so kind, and more than willing to help me out. She took two of the boxes from me, and I carried the other two and the large envelope packages. I backed into the door – letting her follow in behind me as I held the door, and then once inside, near the actual counter for weighing and checking out, I sat them all down and thanked her profusely for her help.

I knew I would be a bit of time checking my own things out, so I told her step-ahead of me in line. She got her two stamps, which bless her, was all she had planned on doing at the post office that day anyway, and turned to leave.

I thanked her again and was once more, silently grateful for this small, considerate and kind town that I call home; the same place that Christmas spirit is alive for more than just a day.

Blessings/safety for all holiday travelers and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shop At Your Own Risk!

Hands in the air - who all participated in the Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving? Did you start at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, when many of the stores opened their doors? Or did you start at midnight, crashing through lines of people to get to the biggest sales on earth – first?

How many of you have trampled/scratched-up heels, bruised elbows and toes from all the pushing and shoving from the other half-crazed, eyes-glazed-over folks?

How many of you had folks at home sitting on stand-by with bail money; just in case situations over the newest Play Station got out of control in Toys R Us, because somebodies mom thought they had their hands on the last one first?! Not that I would know anything about stuff like that.

And how many of you are now sitting at home with a pile of stuff (pretty much anything you could get your hands on) that you bought at 75% off, plus your additional $15 coupon to boot – that you have absolutely no use for now in the light of day? But HEY! Dang what a deal it was in that half-crazed minute when it was between you and three other same-crazed-looking folks and you dived-in on top of that rack and made the catch of the day first by golly!! Those victories cannot be denied people – as they were all for the sake of THE WIN.

And let me tell you, the yard sale re-sells of all that unwanted/needed merchandise will be for sure at least the dollar value you spent or maybe if you’re lucky, even some profit. Unless of course you’re that “hoarder” that stashes stuff like that away, because some day you or someone else might need it, but in reality, it will most likely stay until one day your children are cleaning out your house, because you have gone on to bigger and greater places.

Lawd, the talk about me when that day comes will be tremendously funny, and I hope that my spirit is allowed to hang around for a while. My children are absolute comedians and that show will not be one that I would want to miss out on. They will leave nothing unsaid and no feelings will be spared as they discuss all my saved treasures, memories of past conversations and prior words from my mouth that will never die, even though I am now gone.

At any rate, hopefully that’s a long time away, and my original discussion was about Black Friday. Well, I’ll tell you folks – I did participate – oh yes indeedy I did! But I did all of MINE, from right here in the comfort of my own home, in my recliner, with no other knees and elbows in my face, and no one was grabbing anything but me and my fingers on the enter button of my laptop! Plus I did not seclude my shopping to Friday only, oh no, I blew the doors off Cyber Monday as well!

If you all did it right, hopefully your Christmas shopping is about over, and that’s the brightest Christmas light of all! 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Twas the Month Before Christmas

The limbs glisten like snowflakes shining by the light of a full moon, the jewels hang from front to back to side, dangling and bursting with many-prisms-of-color; and sometimes they twist and turn when the least bit of air catches beneath them, just enough to seem like tiny ballerina’s dancing on a stage.

The colors of red and green spread throughout as well, draping shelves, lining table runners, and lounging on the backs of chairs and couches. Holiday blankets begging to warm your feet and pillows of the same to rest your head, as you close your eyes for a short winter’s nap dreaming of Christmas’s past.

The family will all stand and stare, arms linked with one another, admiring the warmth and beauty of the sights before them – and then turn and gaze into the eyes of the loved one standing next to them, remarking about how lucky they all truly are to belong to one another.

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEECH – REWIND! Wait! You all didn’t think I was talking about me and mine did you? Oh goodness gracious no! That’s not how it goes AT ALL in our house.

The whole decorating “experience” is riddled with words that are neither holy or nice, mostly naughty and scary. It’s a trial and error event every year, and that any of us makes it through without having to be a material witness for one another is truly a Christmas miracle!

All of our decorations are out in “the shed”. I hope that sounds as scary as it always turns out to be. They are all stored on the top of the loft which means it takes two people to get them down. One to hand them off and the other down below to try and grab them without being crushed/annulated/or knocked unconscious.

This of course also requires a LOT of shouting, some mild cursing, and calling each other less than exemplary names. Sometimes the hand-off goes flawlessly, other times, the heavy-as-heck box in question will shoot right out of the loft-guy’s hands and shoot out over the top of the floor-guy’s head and sail through the air stopping only when hitting another object below.

Once all the decorations are down: the tree box, the light boxes, and all the inside decoration/pretties – the real fun begins. The tree is fairly simple to put together, the lighting of the tree however; well that turns in a major fracas, every single year.

No matter the meticulous wrapping of those lights when they are coming down after Christmas, they somehow manage to mangle themselves into knots over the summer and come back out the next year looking like the conniving Grinch himself has been into that box.

All of these things happened the weekend after Thanksgiving at our home. Everyone is still alive, most of us are still speaking, and while we did not hold hands and sing Silent Night after it was all done, we did smile a lot, and tell each other how good it always looks when we’re done, no matter the struggle.           

Friday, December 1, 2017

When I Grow-Up.......

So for some of us, there is always a certain amount of drama and uncertainty, coupled with manic chaos and sometimes, though not always, high-pitched whimpers – that accompany each holiday and it’s many varied food preparations.

I’ll just begin by saying, no matter how much I think I am prior-prepped, no matter that I have made a list and checked it twice; somehow, someway I am going to forget something and you can bet your sweet bippy, it is not going to be something small or minor, and it is not going to be remembered in time to prevent a full-out panic attack.

The night of Thanksgiving eve, I was preparing as much of the food as I could ahead of time. The pie was made, the sweet tea was done, and the onions and celery for the cornbread was sautéed as well. 

As I was about the wind it all down, I thought to myself – why not just go ahead and mix-up up/crumble-up the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing. I could add all the dry ingredients ahead of time, and in the morning, all to do would be to add the eggs and the broth.

I opened the cabinet to retrieve the condiments for seasoning and as I reached into the cabinet I realized what I had forgotten – chicken bouillon. I had cleaned out my cabinets the weekend before and my old container was expired. I had thrown it away and made a note to myself to make sure to buy another – as I would need it. 

WELL GUESS WHAT?! It’s 8:10 pm, I had no make-up on, I had been scrubbing around in the kitchen all afternoon – and now here I was, running up town to the grocery store – looking like I don’t know what - in my pink rubber (yard) clogs.

I climbed into my husband’s truck, as he had driven mine to South Carolina for the holidays. I had ridden in his truck before, but never actually driven it. It’s dark. I can’t see what I’m doing. First off, I can’t even find the key on the ring I have in my hand. Everything else is attached – but I don’t see a key. I have to call him to ask.

There’s a button on the key fob that makes the key “pop out” he says – the action itself is scarily similar to a switchblade. I apologize for interrupting his dinner with family and I hang-up the phone.

I crank up the truck, but can’t figure out how to turn the lights on. I didn’t even know they made vehicles anymore that the lights didn’t “just come on”. I have to call him back. Again. He is trying to explain to me where the manual switch is for these lights. I’m trying not scream out loud, even though my brain is screaming anyway – THAT I JUST NEEDED TO BUY SOME BOUILLON. WHY IS IT SO HARD?!

I will say, the rest of the meal went off without a hitch. And one day, I really am going to be able to cook just like my Mama; calm, cool, collected – and FULLY PREPARED.