Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Good Ole's Days are Gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing ever seems quite like you remembered it does it?

The Downhill Slide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hang On! Here Come the Holiday's!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

You Just Have To Believe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Knowledge is Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Nature ~vs~ Nuture

As we raise our children, nobody really knows how to be a parent, it’s a guessing game for the most part. It’s a memory rendition of how you were raised yourself, the things you were taught, and how much of that you actually retained.

But some things are just a given and can show themselves out of the blue and remind you that your children absolutely did come from you, you absolutely did “make” them (or part of them) who they are today, and for those times, there is just no denying it, even if you tried.

My oldest child sent me a text a few nights ago at about 9:45pm, which isn’t really that late, but for us to begin a conversation, we would normally start earlier.

He began by telling me that if I ever had any doubts that he was my child, he was about to explain to me just how clearly that could be proven. He had just gotten home from a night out, was tired and ready to settle down and go to bed when he discovered that his box fan that he keeps near his bed was not working.

Nothing to do but to find himself inside a Wal-Mart in Brattleboro Vermont at 10:20pm, trying to locate a fan. Because Vermont is already well into their fall season, and at night, people are wearing sweaters and coats. So naturally a box fan is not anything that would still be out in a local store.

Luckily, they had been stored in the back, so there would be no sleepless night without the soothing noise of the air circulating in the room as the box fan hummed.

As he’s telling me about his fan and his late night victory – he tacks a note on at the end that said: bonus - the fan is PURPLE! Double-win! As purple is one of his favorite colors.

Immediately upon receiving that last text I rose from my chair, stepped into our spare-bedroom and opened the closet door. The same closet door that would conceal many stored things, one of them being my own box fan – one that I use on every vacation/time away from home. I stack that baby up on the luggage cart with my suitcases and hanging clothes, and roll right up into any swank (or not) hotel I may be rooming at for the night – because shame – I have none.

Because you see, I too, must have the whirring noise of a box fan (or an a/c unit in a window) to be able to fall asleep each night. The rumbling noise that ensures that I will fall asleep MUCH faster and in my case, MUCH cooler than I would otherwise.

As I opened that door, I snapped a picture of mine, and I sent it to my child – to show him that just as much as we are very different, that yes, we are very much one and the same at times. Because I too have a box fan addiction, and my favorite color is purple, and so is MY box fan.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Her Name Was Irma

I’ve lived in Gadsden County for almost 20 years now and the very first three months of moving myself and my children here, we had a hurricane scare.   Now I was from just over the line in Georgia, but even still, that 90+ miles north makes a difference in the matter of what is a reality concern and what is not.

All my growing-up life in Georgia, I don’t remember any huge discussions about the hurricanes in Florida. We might have had a few windier days than was usual, and a little more rain than was the norm, but there were no tornado scares, no hearing of trees down on homes, and certainly, no extra days out of school or work.

So back to my original point, we moved here the first of July, and that following September we had three hurricane’s in a matter of three weeks come through: Hurricane Earl, George and Hermine; talk about a Welcome to Florida, How Do You Do!

Everyone at work was slamming me with advice and safety instructions:
1.       Get your swing and sitting chairs off of your front porch!
2.       Take all your wind chimes and hanging baskets down!
3.       Make sure you have plenty of gas, water, bread and canned goods handy.
4.       Make sure you have flashlights and batteries because the power WILL go out.
5.       And if you have to hunker down, pick the room with the least windows or a walk-in closet.

Now I had a 3 and 12 year old and I was single mom; so to say I was a bit overwhelmed, and that I was feeling like Dorothy who wasn’t in Kansas anymore would be an understatement!

I can’t remember now which one of those storms was the worst for us here locally, but I do remember having no power during the night of one of those storms, and me and my children all three of us were huddled up in the middle of my bed, listening to the wind roar through the trees and seemingly slamming against the house windows, all night long.

In the years since, the preparation has been a lot more by remote and experience, but the anxiety that each storm brings is never reduced; mostly because no one ever really knows what a storm will or won’t do.

So for Irma, we did all the usual things. I have a different house now, but another big front porch with all the same things that had to come down: gliders, wind-chimes, bird feeders, hanging flower baskets, rocking chairs, and anything else that the wind could possibly pick-up and put through a window.

We regained power, internet and cable late last Monday after Irma came through early Monday morning and all day. I am hoping and praying that by the time you all are reading this, everyone in our area is safe, with power and somewhat back to normal.

The devastation we’re all viewing from afar is both sad and pretty scary, so for our friends and family in the whole state of Florida, prayers continue for a full recovery for everyone.

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:
.         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!