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:
1
.         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! 





Saturday, July 22, 2017

Change is Good

I spent the first part of my life learning how to be a good person. Listening to endless discussions/lectures on how to be responsible, but most importantly, a humble and respectable person. And above all, I was taught to take care of myself, to be strong, to follow my instincts and to learn to create my own diversions when the wrong paths were calling my name.

The second part of my life was spent teaching my children these same values. And I have to tell you, if you thought the listening part was hard, irritating and even boring; geez Louise, the teaching it / preaching it part is so much worse. You have the behind-your-back eye-rolling, the wondering if it’s really sinking in, and of course, the part where they won’t speak to you for a week; or until they really need something or they’re hungry, whichever comes first.

But every so often in your lifetime you will also be faced with the job of being not only the teacher, but the student. You will find yourself having some serious Come to Jesus conversations that no one is participating in but yourself and hopefully the mightiest guiding light that exists.  You will fight within, you will weigh-out the pro’s and con’s and you will slowly and carefully come to a conclusion that will hopefully be a better one for you and what makes life work right for you.

And at some point you will probably have to make some changes. Now I don’t know about you, but I tend to find my comfy spot and I let myself get rooted there and I’m not real fond of changing that. 
But I go back to my raising's and I remember what my Daddy tried to teach me for years and years, and paraphrasing, that was basically this: ‘only you can be the change, only you have the strength to make it happen, we are solely responsible for our destiny’s, try to make the best choice the first time’.

And that’s how I am coming to you today as you read this – I decided to make a change. I love talking to Gadsden County folk about my life here, my family, my thoughts, the things that make me happy and the things that disappoint me from time to time. I like knowing that something I have to say can make someone not feel so alone or isolated in their thoughts or their struggles.

Life is hard folks, it just really is and all we can do is the best we can, from one day to the next, to make it as easy on ourselves and the ones that we love, the best that way we know how. Make the best choices in the moments we are given, stand strong in our beliefs, and steadfast in our hearts and souls. I truly appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself and I’ll see you all next week!






Friday, July 14, 2017

Still Going Strong

By the time ya’ll are reading this, my husband and I will have celebrated our 11th year of marriage and our 19th year as a couple. It’s of course, not the first marriage for either of us, but we both promise it’s the last.

There’s a lot of lesson-learning that goes on in a 19 year span; I cannot even accurately express just how many lessons have really been learned. We have both expanded our level of patience, him probably quite a bit more than me, and we’ve both learned that neither one of us is always right, me probably more than him.

I came in riding a wave of a red hot temper, combined with a head as hard as stone. He came to me with a habit of driving off when things got tough, and pretty much being only concerned with what worked in his favor/his way, because that’s the way he was used to living.

With both of us being Type A personalities, we learned pretty quickly, that neither one of us was going to put up with the foolishness of the other. It was figuring out how to make everything else work along with our own special brands of behavior that would be the real job at hand.

But we did, and we’re still here, stronger than ever. He helped me grow as a person and I like to think I did the same for him. He helped me raise my two children who are now both intelligent, and very successful adults.

We’ve come a long way from our first date, our first fight, and our first break-up. We’ve crammed a lot of real life into those 19 years. We made it through a cancer scare with my husband – barely two years into our marriage. He’s been cancer-free for 7 years now and we count our blessings every day.

We were both a part of a somewhat traumatic job transformation just about 4 years ago this month of July. We were 20+ year employees for a company that closed down. To have to find yourself all over again at 50 and 61 years of age respectively, well, I can’t begin to tell you what a life transformation that was for us both.

But we both found our footing, got back on the horse, and we’ve continued to move in a positive forward motion, because that’s just what you do in life when you get knocked down. You get back-up and figure it out.

I find myself thanking all the stars above that I found such a strong man to finish out the second part of my life with; a kind and gentle soul to walk beside me on the rest of my journey here on earth. We know one another inside and out; there are few surprises and even fewer disappointments.


We still say I love you before we hang-up the phone and every night before we go to sleep, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

And The Rain Came Down......

And so the disagreement begins with - the dreaded water bill. The water bill reflects a doubled number and of course, so does the septic. Because what comes out of that hose, most go down somewhere. But honestly, that’s something I’ve never understood. The sink in my home, yes. The toilet in my home, yes. But not the water hose in my yard that disperses water OUTSIDE, not down a drain.

But I digress, the water bill comes in with our electric bill since we are within the city limits. I can always tell what day that bills arrives, because upon entering my house from work, on whatever afternoon that happens to be, I can see my husband slouched down in his recliner, the color in his face drawn and pale, and he looks like his last friend as left him.

But then he sees me and suddenly he comes to life. It’s like a bolt of lightning has entered his body as he approaches me clutching that wretched sheet of paper that portrays LIES, LIES I TELL YOU, about how MUCH I have been running that outside water. We stand nose to nose, he tells me the amount, I deny, deny, deny, and the circle of stories that begins then is for someone smarter than me to untangle.

But the bottom line for me is always this: we bought all these pretty flowers, plants and bushes to make our outward home as attractive as the inside and I refuse to let it all die, just because we are currently in the middle of a drought.  So YES BY GOLLY, I’m going to run that water hose as much as it takes to keep it all alive; and then I feel defeated and promise to cut-back to every other day.

However, this promise is made with my fingers crossed behind my back – because the first time he goes out of town, you know that water house is going to be set on high until he returns! I have to get in all the “extra” I can while he’s gone because I’ll be back on water-distribution-restriction when he gets back!

But FINALLY, we find ourselves right smack in the middle of a recreation of 40 days and 40 nights. Well, not literally, but it feels like it. Everyone’s moods have shifted and we are all about to believe the sun will never shine again. But you can bet your sweet bippy our lawns and gardens are as green as they have been in months!

Now if it will just hold off another few days for the Fourth of July! The local kids have potato sack races to win, watermelon-eating contests to fill-up on, pies to cram in their mouths, and bike races around the square.


Come nightfall, everyone will stand with their hands over their hearts and sing loud and clear, the song that unites us all and we’ll watch a beautiful display of colors bursting into the sky, representing the best of what it feels like to be a proud American.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dreamwork = Teamwork

I swear to Suwannee, when I get something stuck in my craw, I’m like a dog with a bone ( I know that’s like a double metaphor), I can’t let it go until the problem, the contemplation, or the idea/plan has come to fruition.  And sometimes, it’s not just a matter of days or weeks before everything gets decided and comes to a head, sometimes it can be a year or so. And that my friends is where the misperception can come in – that is where other folks (like my husband) can get confused and act like they don’t really understand what is happening when it all comes slamming down to the final moment of action.

I guess I tend to think that if I’m still thinking about it, planning it, etc., then everybody else is just going to be on board when it gets time to get down to it – whatever IT is. Well let me tell you my sister planner’s – everybody is NOT always on board. Not at first anyway.

For quite some time I’ve had in my mind to expand my Canna Lily bed. And by expanding it I mean, making the bed quite a bit bigger and finding the right color/fit of bulb to blend with the bulb colors that I have now.

Now I know perfectly well that all of my “ideas” are going to require muscle/help. I’m not able to operate a tiller anymore, and hole diggers and shovels don’t like my lower back very much either. So I also have to put into my configuration of plans, “leading” my sweet husband down the same idea-path as myself. Explaining to him with heightened enthusiasm and imaginative/descriptive words just how beautiful it’s all going to look once “we” have it done. 

So Operation Canna Lily Bed Expansion started last weekend with a Face Book post asking if  any of my friends wouldn’t mind sharing canna bulbs with me – and let me say this – what a success that was! I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people who were willing to help me out, but unfortunately only one or two had the strain/color I was looking for. But after some back and forth, it was agreed they would send them to me and the idea was now moving along at full speed.

Last weekend we cleared/cleaned out the expansion of the bed, tilled up all the grass, and there it sat waiting on the bulb shipments to arrive. The shipments arrived toward the end of last week, and today, my husband and I put them in the ground and finally saw the project to the finish line.


The outside of the bed is flanked with Liriope grass to pull the finished-look altogether and while the bulbs/plants themselves look a little pitiful and droopy right now, I’ll give them plenty of TLC for the next couple of weeks. Then when the soil/bulb acclimation takes place, they’ll grab ahold on their own and all that will be left is to wait for the beautiful blooms to blossom. Dreams really do come true.

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.






Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mostly A Miss

The grass is brown, crunchy, and it’s patchy like a sad old dog with a case of the mange. The blades are practically stretching to their limits as if getting closer to the sky would bring the rain.

We were “promised” a good rain-day today, but that certainly didn’t come to fruition. And of course, when we heard about this rain a ‘coming, all 80% of it, we went racing outside with the first sign of cloud-cover to put the ferns, all eight of them, where they could get fresh rainwater.

We got just enough of a sprinkle to make us both sprint to the front porch, practically tripping over one another and our own feet to see what real rain looks like again. We could actually stand there and count the drops as they hit the hot concrete and dried as fast as they seemed to land. Then my husband looked at me and I looked at him, and we both looked out in the yard at the ferns strewn about, and we just turned around and went right back into the house.

We came back inside, turned the television to the weather channel for what would seem like the 47th time today, to make sure we were at least watching the weather predictions for the right county! And I’m telling you all, it still says we have a 90% chance of thunderstorms tonight! I’m just not seeing that happening.

Now because of all this non-rain we’ve had in the glorious month of “April showers bring May flowers”, I have been watering my yard with the water sprinkler. Funny story about that: our faucet that we connect the water hose to has been “leaking” for about two years now. At first it was just a dribble, then it became an irritating spew. But this year – it became an all-out hostile fireworks water display.

And even though you know how far and wide it’s going to spray because it’s already happened MANY times, and you turn your head to prepare; well you just can’t. It gets you every time anyway. Not only do I have to bend-over, one foot on the ground for balance, and one leg up in the air behind me like a ballerina’s pirouette, half of my face is almost touching the dirt, and the other half is dodging the limbs on the bush that is right next to the faucet so I don’t poke my eye out. So I’m trying to balance, not fall-over and scrape my face upon the side of the house, and dodge the water all at the same time.

After three separate nights of being drenched from my ankles to my ENTIRE FACE, I decided to take charge of getting that dang faucet replaced. I called a local plumber who had done some work for us before. Eighteen total minutes of work and $130 later, I had water that only came out of the bottom of the faucet.

With that kind of work/time to dollar ratio – how my parents didn’t insist that I become a plumber is beyond me!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Truth Will Set You Free

I remember it like it was yesterday. So many questions would begin to whirl around in my head. How good at it would I be? Could I even do it? I had never even baby-sat or changed a diaper. But I was soon to learn about all of those things – because I was going to be a first-time mother.

That nine months would fly by as fast as a speeding bullet, just as some of those days would seem like they took forever to turn into the next. I don’t think I completely understood at the time the miracle that was growing inside of me, but I knew enough to know, that this would be one of the most special and precious times of my life.

When my baby was no bigger than the size of a pea, I could already feel an unexplainable connection. I would sing, I would read, and my hands were constantly making contact with the vessel in which I was carrying my first born.

And then my baby was born. And for years and years, I made all the decisions. What clothes looked best, the ways in which to fix the hair, and the shoes that went on each foot. Never really thinking about the day that would come, that none of those things would be my decision any longer. And certainly never knowing that the way I looked at my child’s life, my child’s being, may not be the way that my children would see their own reflection.

It’s a hard thing the day you acknowledge and I mean truly admit to yourself – that as a woman, as a mother, you were simply the means to a beginning. You were nothing more than the vessel, but hopefully the one to be a guide for their educational, emotional and physical needs. It’s a startling realization to know that you never really were in charge of their destiny.  

Both of my children are very independent, intelligent, and open-minded. By the time they were both 18 years old, they had very significant and strong ideas about who they were and how their lives were about to proceed.

This may be the truest/hardest story I have ever written – for when I say – that my children’s favorite saying to each other was always “you’re not the boss of me” – it is now being silently said to me.

My oldest child’s story is not mine to tell. I already have my own story and it is in progress, and ever-moving. My children are but chapters in my story, just as hopefully I will always be contributing and continuous chapter’s in theirs.

Changes of major proportions are being made and it has been an emotional struggle for everyone involved. But this beautiful person will always be my child, and will always be loved. And I am the Mama that cannot be anything other than the same Mama I have always been.

Happy 31st Birthday to my oldest child, J.  May you progressively plow through this sometimes treacherous and scary world, and hopefully find comfort and peace within. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Angel Wings

Any of my neighbors could testify that I spend hours upon hours sitting on my front porch, on the right-hand side of our glider, because that’s “my” side; more times than not with a camera strapped around my neck. 

My name is Michelle, and I am addicted to bird watching. Sometimes I don’t even realize how much time has passed; until suddenly the sun has moved/gone down considerably from the time I originally planted myself and all my camera apparatus in my seat.

A few weeks ago now, I asked my husband to move our shepherd hooks (again) that our bird feeders hang on. I couldn’t seem to find the optimal location for them so that I could take my bird pictures in full view. We (he) had just moved them two weeks prior, putting them right where I asked him to, all the while telling me they would be too close to the front porch and the birds would be afraid to feed there. After another two weeks of no-show birds, I admitted he was right.

So when I asked him once again to move them, he never complained, he just went right outside and did it all over again for me. Now during this move, I’m perched up on my glider, giving directions (which you probably already knew) and he manages to get one of them in the ground, in the spot I picked, successfully. The other one, which I asked to be placed on the opposite of my jasmine-covered swing, is being stubborn about going into the ground. No matter which way he seems to move it, two inches either direction, it’s not going down.

I looked down at his feet (because he said his feet were starting to hurt) and he had on his rubber clog thingies.  So I said/suggested “Well, why don’t you go inside and put on your hard-soled boots to try and do that?” He walked slowly away from the hook, which is still half in the ground and half out, his head is down and he’s shaking it from side to side, and then probably counting to ten, he stopped. He looked back at me and said, like I’m the biggest ignoramus in the world, “Michelle, 200 pounds is 200 pounds, no matter what pair of shoes I have on – that hook ain’t going in the ground right there.”

Those hooks are now in a much better place, and my nightly/morning/feeding-time bird shots have resumed.

I post a lot of the pictures I take on Facebook and the other night a friend of mine who has recently

lost her husband, the love of her life, posted a comment that maybe he was one of the cardinals visiting my yard that particular evening.  And as broad and proud as the shoulders were on that one particular cardinal, I’d say my friend was exactly right.

I’ve heard all of my life that cardinals are angels visiting from heaven. Flying-high angel’s right here at Easter are both a beautiful thought and comfort, to myself included. Wishing Easter blessings to all.




Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Purge

I pulled the doors open wide, switched on the overhead light, and just stood there, pondering my next move. I don’t really know what I thought I needed to decide, I already knew what needed to be done. But it was taking that first step, making that initial move, forcing myself to either keep the things before me or give them up.

It’s hard sometimes to know just exactly what you’ve had long enough, what has served its purpose, and what you can now do without. And as I stood there with plenty of built-up energy and all-day-long for time, I knew I was ready to take the plunge.

I’m just like every other female I know, I cannot seem to bring myself to give up any article of clothing – no matter that it hasn’t been seen or worn since two sizes ago, no matter that my body may never see the likes of those peg-legged pants again, and no matter that I cannot even remember when
I would have ever thought that style of blouse and the color of it, would have looked good on me.

But today I woke-up in a positive frame-of-mind. I had laid there still in my bed, in the earlier morning hours, making plans for how my day was to go. And this, this closet full of far too many non-worn clothes was to be my main project of the day. I made-up the rules in my head as I went along, knowing that I would have to be the worker-bee AND the boss today. I would have to be firm with myself, and MAKE myself part with things that had been hanging in that closet so long, they practically had “she knows full well I don’t fit anymore” signs attached to each hanger.

So out it all came, whatever I knew I hadn’t worn, or heck knew I hadn’t even SEEN in over a year, and it was put in a stack to go. Little by little I whittled the closet down as the stack on the top of my bed grew. I had bags set to the side so that when I was done, I would place all the to-go-clothes in those bags and I would immediately place them in my vehicle and take them to a drop point. Mainly, because I knew if I didn’t carry this act all the way out, it would never happen. There have been times I have ridden around with bags of clothes in the back of my vehicle for weeks, just because I was in denial that I really need to part with them.

My husband’s closets are next – and believe it or not – he has three to my one! But I wasn’t about to try and bag up any of his stuff – his relics – like some shirt he’s had since 1977 that he wore to a Nascar race one time when Dale Earnhardt Sr won. Oh no sir. I’d be digging those bags back out of the Goodwill box come daybreak! But his closets are next! I guarantee it!



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Christmas in Spring

For everybody that knows me, they also know that for me, Lowes is the home of devil. The everywhere-you-look-you-find-something-you-love –devil; especially this time of the year. It’s as if they find every single solitary color of flower, plant and bush they can and pile it all up at the entrance to the garden department. As a matter of fact, it is spilling out of all most every entrance orifice of the entire building

Bags and bags of dirt, every kind of dirt you could imagine to be bought is there and just waiting to jump on your cart. Plain dirt, dirt with all the stuff already in it to set your new flowers into pots without the fuss and mess of mixing it up yourself. Fertilizer’s set-up right beside all these stacks of dirt for anything you might want to boost for the highest expectancy of bloom.

And right next to all of that, the gardening utensils. Hoes, shovels, hand shovels, gloves, and gardening hats. Big floppy hats, stiff safari hats – the choices and colors are endless. They give you every opportunity upon arrival, to leave with everything you need to at least appear as a professional gardener, even if you really have no idea what to do with it all when you get home.

And the carts – they come in all sizes as well. The big heavy duty carts with rails are for the serious gardener who absolutely means business. The medium sized cart is probably best suited for the customer whose needs are more for a low maintenance lawn/garden. And the regular buggy carts – well in my humble opinion, those are meant for people who really didn’t come to get much of anything. They’re just lurkers who have wandered into that area, and really have no idea why they even ended up in lawn and garden.

We of course, had the king daddy dog cart – because I knew exactly what my mission was to be. We walked out of there with 8 green hanging-ferns, 2 planters with various flowers to fill-up my pots, and a huge bag of compost dirt with all the special stuff already mixed.

Now here is the best part – I got to the check-out counter and started flipping through my wallet looking for my debit card. I watched from a side-ways glance at my husband who had been quiet mostly, as I had previously piled all this stuff on my cart, but now appeared to be sweating profusely and frowning as he waited for the final price announcement.

When low and behold, I found a card in there that was a Lowes in-store-credit card! We had both totally forgotten about a wall heater we had purchased last fall that didn’t work as we thought it should, and my husband had returned it. Well, they don’t give cash-back, they give you one of those cards.

Santa Claus suddenly appeared right there in the sunshine of the lawn and garden center – my balance owed after swiping that card was $1.55! What a wonderful forgotten surprise and happy spring to us!