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!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Depends On How You Look At Things

It’s been quite a week. No quicker than Daylight Savings Time snatched an hour away from us for the Spring rotation - another cold snap came through Florida making the likes of our prior “winter” seem like a joke. We had more days of what would seem like winter in that one week than we had in any one month before.

The day-time temperatures barely reared their head above the 60’s and the morning temperatures dipped low enough to put harm to most everything that was already in blooming formation. After two nights, back to back, of freezing/frost temperatures, I had damage foliage all over my yard.

The jasmine that covers my front yard swing is burnt across the top just like a fire had been lit to it. My lantana beds look pretty much the same way and my Amarillo’s stems and canna lily stalks are lying flat on the ground from the brunt of the cold attacking it in the early morning hours.

It’s too soon to tell what all will recover from the damage and what may have to be replaced. Granted my yard situation isn’t nearly as dire as some of the farmer’s and their worries of freezing crops – but just the same, it hurt my heart to see all that brown in the days after, where there once had been the promises of soon-to-be blooms.

But then Friday came, and a trip to my hometown that had been planned for weeks, was about to happen. The Albany Pink Walk for breast cancer awareness was scheduled for that next Saturday morning, and many of my girlfriends and I would be walking once again for our friend Darla, as she is once more in the fight of her life.

I arrived at my folks’ home late that Friday afternoon, and would spend the rest of the day and evening with them which is always an enjoyable time for me. That next morning, they would rise early with me, make me a nice breakfast and some much needed coffee, then off I would go to the walking site to meet my friends.

The event was as packed as usual – women and men dressed in pink as far as the eyes could see. Friends running up on other friends that they hadn’t seen in a while and many times, making new friends as well. We were all there for a common goal – supporting our loved ones, supporting the survivors, and respecting the ones who had sadly lost their own fight.

For this old gal, it was quite the moment when my friends and I finished at the 3 mile marker; having to deal with 2 bum knees in the span of 12 months has been zero fun for me.

But as we all gathered for lunch afterward and discussed our aches and aliments – I thought to myself – wow – we’re really NOT 25 anymore. But the loud laughter coming from around our table was in denial that mother-time had found any of us. Getting up out of our chairs an hour later, would be a different story.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Talk Is Cheap - Become the Change

Harriet Tubman was an African-American civil rights activist. She not only fought to save herself and her family from slavery, but risked her literal life almost every single day rescuing others as well. She took beatings no one could ever imagine, she suffered injuries from those severe beatings that were lifelong and would eventually contribute to her death. Yet while alive, she raged on in the fight for freedom of her black brothers and sisters with pride, grace, dignity, and strength. 

Anne Braden was a Caucasian anti-racist activist. In the period of time in which she lived, there was rarely even such a person heard of – much less as fundamentally active as she continued to be until her death. The lengths in which she was willing to put herself out there to obtain justice for all was incredible. She and her activist husband raised four intelligent children, all of whom in some form or fashion would follow their parents’ footsteps for equality for all – this including developing the PUSH Rainbow Coalition and staunch advocates for LGBTQ rights in their later years.

Rosa Parks, another African- American civil rights activist. A strong female who was determined enough to one day risk being arrested in order to have her rightful seat on the city bus – the public city bus that should have been open for anyone to sit anywhere. But nowhere in all of that did she kick, scream, or shout obscenities; again, she moved the world forward with dignity and grace.

All the women above, and many more, took action that created change: foundations, safety homes, the Underground Railroad, and programs that would in turn unify and bring attention to, change. They risked their LIVES doing these things – and they didn’t use abusive language and ugly poster illustrations. Do you think that by using the same terms that your abusers/attackers/racists use against you is a solution of positive progression for you?

Immigrants have been coming to America for years and so many of them worked so hard to be a part of our American fabric. Their stores, deli’s and bodega’s ran the streets of New York City in a proud fashion that represented nothing but hard work and their pride to be here, to be a part of our freedom; they insisted on WORKING for it.

If you’re outraged about immigrants being deported – do something about it. Create programs to educate them so that they can pass the citizenship test to stay. Start a movement to create programs in schools that will help them all the way through and let that be a stipulation of graduation. Create a foundation to help the older people who are here and can’t read or write – set-up centers/tutors to help them learn. 

Do positive WORK with your intelligent minds/education – become community leaders, state/county
representatives, governors/senators. Use your voices for true progress and positive movement. Put down the signs with degrading words/illustrations. BE the change you want to see and use your strength in ways you’d like to be remembered for – or in the pictures your seven year old child will see one day.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

As The Generation's Turn

Evolution is absolutely amazing isn’t it? The changes that come with each generation of people, the levels of what is acceptable and what it not, and more importantly, the degrees of what is expected of us and what is not – are all constantly changing.

When my grandparents were growing-up, to finish high school was rare, and college, well that was even more of an unknown unless you were fortunate enough to have “come from money”; most men went directly into the service as the draft was in effect and there was a war going on.  Men and women got married as young as 16 and 17 years old,  were having children almost immediately after, and most women did not work.  

Then my parent’s generation came along, they didn’t get married quite as young, most all finished high school, a few who already knew what they wanted to do went to college; but still a huge amount of  men were signing up for one branch of service or another. They had children, both mother and father worked, they took summer vacations, and life moved on.

My generation got married between 20 -25, children shortly after, and we mostly became dental hygienists, nurses, admin secretaries, office workers, hands-on-men work, and of course, some went to college to become doctors, lawyers, and businessmen.

My youngest son’s generation – well they are 22 years old. They are almost all college graduates/or graduating. They are most all professionals of some sort, and they are all on the biggest adventures of their lives – a few married, but for many, it’s a distant thought.  They are traveling to Argentina to bird hunt’s, Arkansas to duck hunt’s, golfing on the weekends, fishing/frog gigging on Friday nights, and going everywhere and doing anything else in between that you can imagine.

They are living life large, working hard, playing harder. They’re a smarter, more politically involved generation, they are liberal and they are conservative, and they are loud and proud of whichever affiliation-slot they may fall into.

They’re already buying homes, making financial investments, and making their way into this big wide world, head-strong and feet-first, breaking all boundaries and crossing all borders. There is nothing that they can’t do, and not much they wouldn’t consider trying.

As I am one day away from my youngest son turning 22 years old, I can’t help but wonder who I would have been in this generation. Would I have been an activist? A world traveler? Would I have been straddling the fence between liberal and conservative as I do now, or would I have been strongly and staunchly, one or the other?

Would I have married so young? Would I have had children as soon as I did? Or would I have been just me, spend my time finding me and all that could possibly mean?

I don’t guess it really matters does it? It’s not going to change anything. And besides – I’m kind of doing all those things anyway. Second-hand living you might call it – I’m living through the eyes of my children – and that’s some exciting sight-seeing most days!  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

And Fourteen Cautions Later........

It’s Thursday night, somewhere around 7:15pm, and I’m gripping the television remote trying to get ready for my night of viewing. I know that I will have to tape/DVR some of my shows, as too many good things come on that one night, spreading across all the different stations. I no more get my finger set to hit the guide button that scans the channels, than my husband practically screeches at the top of his voice “What are you doing with that remote, do you know what comes on tonight?!”

Well, yes, actually, I do know what comes on television tonight and as I began to recite all of my shows – he looks at me like I have lost my ever-lovin’ mind. He asks me (or sternly suggested) to hand him the remote, and as I hand it over, slowly his breathing begins to regulate once more, the coloring comes back to his face, and I feel like it’s now alright to ask him what in the world HIS problem is?

DAYTONA FLORIDA. That’s what his problem was – flippin’ Daytona Florida and the first race of the season was about to come on television. HOW?! How could this be happening to me again so soon? It was just yesterday that racing season ended and I got my husband back! I mean seriously, there is NO OTHER SPORT that lasts almost 10 full months every year! Well baseball runs a close second in its length of over-all playing time, but I LIKE baseball, so that doesn’t count.

So back to my Thursday night viewing – not only did I NOT get to watch all of my shows, I didn’t get to watch ANY of my shows; I had to DVR every single one of them. How To Get Away With Murder had its two hour season finale that night and I STILL have no idea who killed Wes!! And who knows what kind of high jinx Red from the Blacklist got himself into that I also missed! I’m just waiting on social media to ruin it with some spoiler article!

And yes, I know I said I DVR’d them all, so why you might be asking, have I not watched them yet? Well, I’ll be glad to tell you. February Daytona racing is a FOUR DAY EVENT! There has been racing on my television since last Thursday night. Right this minute it is 4:45 on Saturday afternoon and I’m begging you to ask me what is on my television!

Tomorrow will be Sunday and at 1pm – racing will be on again. I just do not understand the fascination with this sport, I truly don’t. Over the years I have tried to increase my interest in it, I learned the rules, I learned who the drivers were, but it is still just not my cup of tea. I just don’t care anything about watching people circle a track 300 hundred times, trying to see who can finish the fastest.

I’m in day three of a ten month hostage situation. Can you see my white flag from where you are?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alternative Weather

I’m not quite sure where this year’s ground hog came from – the one who decided we still had six more weeks of winter – but his credentials need to be checked. We’ve had exactly two days of what would qualify as winter weather, since the day he climbed out of his hole and announced his predictions to the world.

While parts of the world have been coated with 10-15” of snow, my front porch has been left with thick layers of yellowish/greenish powder that is blowing-up my sinus’s and creating the perfect storm for an early sinus infection.

Teeny leaves are already forming on all of my drake elm trees, the azaleas are blooming like it’s a week from Easter Sunday, and my grass is GREEN! My canna lilies and lantana keep trying to bust through the beds of pine straw, and the birds are eating-up the feed like crazy! We’ve refilled those bird feeders twice a week for a month now!

And while I’m on the subject of bird feed – let me tell you about the new feed I discovered last summer at our local Bell & Bates store here in Quincy. The birds liked it so much, I bought it again a couple of weeks ago, two different bags, one labeled Coles Hot Meats and the other Coles Nutberry Suet Blend. I’m telling you, I have seen a much larger diversity of birds eating that feed than you could imagine.  Bell and Bates has a whole section devoted to the Coles Bird Feed – if you’re a bird follower/lover – you won’t be disappointed!

I looked at the weather channel this morning and for the next two weeks, all of our temperature highs are in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s! That my friends – is NOT what I call winter weather.

Somehow or another, I, and all of my fellow cold-weather-friends, have been gypped. I don’t know what has happened, but this year, the summer to winter ratio is totally out of whack. It was warm at Thanksgiving and it was warm at Christmas! Heck, my kids went to the beach in the afternoon of Christmas day, sporting shorts and flip flops!

And the annual boxing-up of summer clothes/winter clothes – well that never happened. One day I’m wearing long sleeved shirts and the next day I’m sweating in a thin-sheathed short sleeve shirt.  My A/C unit here at the house has gotten quite the workout! The heater running one day, the air conditioner running the next, and a lot of neither in between. You would think I would have seen some difference in my electric bill, but I’m here to testify – that didn’t happen.

Oh woe is me, how unfair this has turned out to be. I understand all you summer/heat lovers, but all I’m asking is for some equal opportunity weather! I wanted a REAL winter, one that would make me appreciate the endless summer heat a little more, or at least, be able to tolerate it better than I do.

I wonder if somehow I missed the signing of another executive order – BEWARE - FAKE WINTER IN FLORIDA.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Music Unites Us All

Forty-five plus years ago, I was with my family, visiting some of our Alabama family in Gadsden, Alabama. It’s crazy the things I do remember opposed to the things my family thinks I should remember. I have no real memory of what we were doing there or the purpose for that visit, but I distinctly remember a television show coming on that would change my life forever.

That night in Gadsden, Alabama, the Grammy Awards was on television. For whatever reason, I was allowed to stay up and watch with all the grown-ups; and oh my gosh, the music, all the different kinds of music that was played – what an exciting night for me.

Even further back than I can remember, my parents have recited their own memories to me of my love for music. I know that when I was five I had a little record player and that one of my first records was the theme to the Jungle Book. I, of course, have no idea how much I loved it then, but I do know to this day, when I hear that song, it makes me want to tromp the living room, just like those elephants did through the jungle, swaying from side to side with the joy that the music brought.

During my junior high school days I can remember a lot of my girlfriends having pictures of Shawn Cassidy on their walls – I had the Bay City Rollers. A British group that came through the United States in a whirlwind wearing their patchwork clothes and touting their spikey hair and a different music sound no one had heard since the Beatles crashed here in the 60’s.

In high school I would alternate musical tastes between The Bee Gees, Alabama, The Eagles, Prince, John Denver and Conway Twitty – and sometimes my favorite music of all were the older albums that belonged to my daddy like The Box Tops. There was no real rhyme or reason for where my ears would take me - but every different stage in my life was directed in the background by whatever musical artist and their words fit at the time.

The only time I would completely drop country music from my repertoire of choices was right after my divorce. For two solid years I would listen to nothing but rock music, and many times, what the younger generations would call “head-banging” music. The louder and harsher the better – nothing soft or sentimental.

Later, I would meet my future husband and my life, my thoughts, and my heart would soften and melt back into a calmer, more mellow me and country music would enter my life once again.
My parents love for music was passed down to me, and in turn I passed mine own down to my children. They too like all kinds of music – not limiting themselves to any one genre.

Tonight, I’m once again watching the Grammy’s in amazement at all the differences that still capture my heart and rock me to my soul; music – will always be the international language.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Real Life = Real Love

As you grow older you soon come to realize that what you thought was the definition of love when you were 15, 20, or even 30 years old is no longer even close to your definition of love at age fifty-three. It’s not so much about you being in sensory-overload, or the sight of a good-looking young man or woman who also finds you attractive, funny, and hopefully interesting – but about all the other ways in life that love can present itself.

It’s when tornado rips through your hometown, and the people who raised you, loved you, and cared for you all of your life, are sitting in a house with no power, no heat, in the dead of winter, and no real way to get in and out of their home, for days on end – that you feel a love that runs neck and neck with heartbreak.

It’s when your husband and your child, take turns traveling the road to get to those same people who raised you, because now those people belong to them as well, and the worry and love is also theirs, and you see them, without a second thought or hesitation, load-up all the supplies needed and head in that direction, as many times as it takes.

Or the pure love you feel when just as many hometown friends send messages and offers of help, food, and whatever else you may need them to do, for those people that raised you, just because they care and they are willing to do anything they can to help.

It’s when one of your best childhood friend’s has received word that in less than a year – the cancer that she fought for a solid year prior – is back and once again – the devil must be battled and beat down. Immediate love fills your heart, and you know that all you can give is time/words and hope that with both, the love you feel will build a bridge to her heart by the simple miracle of transference.

It’s when your oldest child moves 2000 miles away, the same child whom you never thought would stray that far from you, but he does, and he blooms and thrives all over again. He finds his tribe and learns to survive again, on his own, in his own way.

But the biggest surge of love is when your youngest child is giving a grace at a meal, everyone’s head is bowed, and suddenly he begins to describe all the ways he has grown; his newfound appreciation for the opportunities afforded him, admitting his selfish ways of the past, taking us all for granted, and his gained recognition/respect for the family that has always loved him more than anything and his determination to now give that love back.

For me, those memories determine the definition of love as this: loving unconditionally, loving when you’re tired and worn out, and loving when sometimes you feel the least loved. Real love, true love, always comes full circle. Take the time to discover what the real meaning of Valentine’s Day is to you.   

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Art of Doubling-Down

Radium Springs, where I grew-up, was a beautiful place for children to live, outside the hustle and bustle of the city limits, but certainly populated enough that the area claimed it’s own elementary school and junior high school, although not quite large enough for a high school.
It was safe most anywhere you wanted to go. Parents felt no fear in their children walking to and from school every day, or as we got older, even a mile or so up the road to the local curb store for an evening Icee.

Right across from that store was the beautiful Radium Springs Casino and its freezing cold, blue water springs directly behind it. When I was growing up, the casino itself wasn’t used anymore – but those springs – man alive at the people who came in and out of that place during the summer months!

The water was ice cold and the people poured in by the hundreds! They had a giant diving board that was so high, when people would jump, it seemed as if it took them forever to reach the water; most of them hollering and screaming, all the way down! I had heard so many tales of how deep the blue hole went in that area, I was too terrified to jump myself. I was always so scared I would never come back up!

I spent many a hour trying to talk myself into taking that first step into what seemed like an ice-bath, then standing there shivering in the sunshine, laughing and talking like it was perfectly normal to want to want to experience freezing to death. Our lips and finger tips would be practically purple when we would climb out, running for the nearest towel to wrap-up in and back into that glorious hot sun beaming down.

Never once did I ever think about that place no longer being what it was; that it would one day close-down, and that there would be so many people who never get to experience any of that. Nor did I ever think that one day, the road directly in front of that casino, Holly Drive, would be virtually wiped out by a EF3 tornado, just weeks after a an EF1 went through another part of my hometown.

More homes were destroyed last weekend and this time, lives were lost. People/children are still missing. Last week they drained a pond and searched for days for a two year old little boy that has to be found.

Nothing about the place that I grew-up in looks the same. Descriptions of a war zone are nightmarishly accurate. People/citizens have been working for almost two weeks straight, but even today when new pictures were posted on Face Book, the sight of it all, still sends a chill through my soul.

But the people of my hometown, once again rallied, and are working together as one, gathering the pieces, and trying to make things right. My thoughts and prayers go out to all – and bless the city that had the tenacity to pick-themselves-up and carry one another once again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's Time To Come Together

The morning began just like any other Friday that I happen to be off work. I’m actually very fortunate in that I only have to work every other Friday, and even that is only until noon. But this last Friday landed on the Presidential Inaugural Day – so although it started out the same, with a fresh pot of coffee and some cinnamon toast, it certainly wouldn’t compare to any of my other Friday’s off in a long, long time.

I turned on my preferred news channel of NBC – as I like the commentators from The Today Show the best. And if I was going to spend my day listening to someone report every word and action to me, minute by minute, it would have to be the people that I like to listen to the most.

So here I sat with my toast and coffee, Matt Lauer and a host of others, as I watched the day’s events unfold. At some point that day I was asked a question. I had made a post on Face Book earlier “reporting” my whereabouts and what I was doing, so I was asked why was this the first time I had watched an Inaugural (which was a statement in my post) since I had been in high school? More specifically I was asked more than once, why I watched neither of the Obama Inaugurals but yet I was watching this one.

I took that as I was being called out – and I have to tell all who don’t know me as well - don’t do that unless you’re prepared for an honest response. I never lie down; especially when I feel like someone is using an accusatory tone in order to challenge me to get a response.
I was watching this particular 45th Inaugural because number one, I am an American, and number two, I was home that day and not at work, with access to a television.  I am sick to death of word bullies: People, who hide behind their keyboards and spew hate, disregard for anyone else's opinion, rudeness, and clear intolerance; just because their opinion/view is different.

Right now we could all use some enlightenment.  It’s one of the most under-used words - we need to use it more and LIVE IT more. I have a whole brain - not just a half - and it can hold MANY different visions at one time. I am fully capable of understanding, even when I don't agree, and remain respectful at the same time.  It’s time for us to all stand together as people, as Americans; not political foes.

I hope and pray for unity and for success. Because any failure will belong to ALL of us - will affect ALL of us - his failure is our failure - and why would anyone want that to happen - if just to prove your point that he is not the right one for the job? Get it together people - and stand together for hope, love and prosperity - God knows we need a fresh dose of it all.

Friday, January 20, 2017


As I told you all last week, there was a debilitating tornado that came through Albany, Georgia. I say debilitating with extreme seriousness, because there are some people who STILL do not have power. 

And as I also said, my folks themselves were without power for six long days, and even though power has been restored, they still do not have cable or internet accessibility.  They were told by Media Com that it could be two weeks or two months before it was restored.

So, for the last week, every time that I call to check on my parents, my calls are made with the full realization that although they do have warmth, light, and the ability to now cook – they are also very cut-off from the world. They are retired now, have been for quite some time, and when you’re retired you watch a LOT of television and do a lot of internet surfing. Since their retirement, they have practically become medical doctors and professional on-line shoppers; Google is King.

Of course, they do a lot of other things: they clean-up what little mess two grown people could possibly create, do their own yard-work, cook meals, and they check the mail every day at 5pm when they hear the thud on their foyer floor, as the mailman shoves it through the front door slot. 

Some weeks they have doctor appointments that fill some of the daily time slots, and a grocery store visit or two, and on the first Monday of every month, my folks travel to Columbus, Georgia where my mother meets some of her high school classmates and they all have a birthday’s-of-the-month lunch and gab about what’s going on in their lives.

But back to my original point, after all their daily activities are done each day, they are still without television or the internet, therefore they have no other punctuation in their lives; nothing else to tell them what time it is.  You know, like it’s 6:30 pm, so it’s time for the national news. Or it’s 3pm and The Ellen Show is on. They are literally walking around with clocks and calendars in their hands so that they can keep up with the rest of the world.

Which brings me to my real point: for the last two weeks, the internet service at my place of employment has either been down, or spotty at best, as well as our phone system as it’s connected to all of that. I CANNOT stress enough how the internet/my phone effects EVERYTHING I DO.

So, while intelligently, my mind knows that there are much worse things happening in Albany, Georgia; i.e.; people still have full size trees in their homes, and many are still without power - it’s been difficult not to feel sorry for my parents and myself, accompanied by some whining. I have been ready to pull my hair out of my head most days, as it pounds with frustration, and they, I am sure, are feeling a huge void like no other. We are addicted captives to technology – is there a pill for that?

Friday, January 13, 2017

A City Re-born

Last Monday, January 2, 2017, an EF1 Tornado ripped through more than half of Albany, Georgia, my original hometown, and left it with dangling wires ripped from their poles, wires that would be wrapped in and around limbs that would combine themselves as one as they draped across roads and homes. Huge trees upended from their four foot wide roots, more trees that would land on top of homes and vehicles, crushing the life out of everything around it, but somehow leaving the people to survive. Somehow a miracle came out of all of that, and no one was injured or killed during that storm.

But there were many more miracles that also occurred that everyone would be witness to in the days to come.  As a city that is often as identified has one of the highest in crime, unemployment, and racial strife – it somehow woke-up on Tuesday, January 3rd and came together as one for all and all for one.

So many businesses were closed because power was out city-wide. Were all those people, all those employees sitting at home, watching television and laying around in their pajamas all day, taking advantage of the extra time off? Not even close.

Those people were loading up their personal trucks, with their personal equipment, i.e.; chain saws, tractors, backhoes, and ladders, and they headed out to find the first place they came to that needed help and began their own version of community clean-up, self-survival, and rescue.

They were using their own money, asking for nothing in return, as day after day, they moved from one disaster area to another, trying to slowly release the pressure valve that was building by the second. For the first 24 hours, people of the community would already be set in motion as the city would try to gather a thought process about how to organize help and where to start.

At some point, they would all be working together: the local and out of town churches and schools, local businesses offering free shelter, food and water and help, the city receiving offers of assistance from so many other counties, and the people, the everyday people, the average citizens; they would all start in the mornings at dawn and work until dusk/dark, every single day, all striving for the same result: to bring their city back to life, and to bring relief and help to the families/citizens in need.

My parents were in the middle of all that, and though they were blessed that their home was not structurally compromised, they did have many trees down in their yard, and they were without power for six days; as well as my worry would be doubled as I now live two hours away.  But the offers of help were many and my thanks and appreciation go to all the people who offered them help, food and shelter.

Albany, Georgia has struggled with its reputation for years. I think that maybe, finally, they have stood-up and shown that they’ve earned the words in their motto – maybe they really ARE The Good Life City after all. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Another New Start

By the time you’re holding this paper in your hand, we will have already rung-in year 2017. Many will have already made their new resolutions and some will have already broken a few.  And some, well some won’t even bother making-up fantasy plans in their heads – plans that they know full well probably won’t come true and if you don’t promise it to yourself, the disappointment won’t be as hard.

I think we put too much pressure on the holidays. We expect our Thanksgiving’s and Christmas’s to favor the likes of an edition of The Saturday Evening Post. Everybody is all smiles, everyone loving one another, and no one having a difference of opinion and stating it. Every family being the picture of THE perfect family – when there just really is no such thing – there never was.

There has been dysfunction in families since the beginning of time. Old Aunt Lucy who drinks too much, Uncle Charlie who flirts a little too much, and children who take totally different paths than we ever dreamed.  Every family has something that makes their family picture not as perfect as they think someone else’s is – but here’s the thing: it’s all a mirage.

All those smiling faces and happy people you see every year about this time all over Face Book, Instagram, and other social outlets – let me just say, all that glitters is not gold folks.

I’m not saying that all of those people weren’t really laughing, weren’t really enjoying each other’s company, or weren’t really having the time of their lives. But what I am saying is this: people tend to take those pictures, those presentations at face value too much. To the point that they sit around wishing they could swap places, and swap lives with such and such.

Believe me – keep your own life, your own family, and your own smiles. Everybody has “stuff”. Everybody has seen hard times, low-on-cash times, can’t-make-their-children-behave times, don’t-like-my-job times, and wish-I-could-start-all-over times. But you can’t go backward, there are no do-overs, and your family is your family. Period.

So my plan is this: I just want 2017 to be filled with love. I want to love my family and friends, help them when I can, be there for them when I can, and hope I get the same in return. I want to dispense respect and I would like to receive it. I want to be able to express my compassion and my opinions and have them appreciated. I want to hold my temper when it’s hard to do so, and I want to possess the grace to apologize when I don’t succeed.

I want the world to be a better place. I want race, gender and sexual orientation to stop ruling our world, how we behave, and how we treat one another. I’d like people to be honest about their needs and their feelings, but respectful and understanding at the same time. And I’d like everyone to try a little harder and be more patient about things we don’t understand. I think anything is possible if we try.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Long Time Coming

I know I’m not the only one by a mile. I know many others live the same way, are affected the same way, and struggle with the same repercussions from it as I do. But knowing all of that, sure doesn’t make me feel any better about my own plight.

When my oldest child moved clear to Vermont almost two years ago now, I had no idea just how long 365 days could feel when you’re living them without access to one of your loved ones. At best, the longest we had ever gone without seeing one another was about six months. But as of this coming week, it will have been a whole year, and it has been one long wait.

And because of jobs and obligations, by the time you all are reading this, he will have been here and gone again. He and his partner are flying in the Thursday before Christmas, sometime a little before midnight, and they will leave back out around noon the following Tuesday after Christmas. Not a lot of time, but I’ll take what I can get and try and cram every fun thing in that I can in that block of days.

So today, which is only five days away from their arrival, me and my youngest son sat around trying to figure out what all would be happening and when.  Thursday it’s a given that not much will be happening considering the hour of night (midnight) that they get in. But Friday will bring some grocery shopping so we can get everything still needed for Christmas dinner, and anything they need to get the dishes they’d like to include.

They of course wanted some time set aside to meet-up with hometown friends while they are here, some of that might happen Friday evening or part of Saturday.

But Saturday night we will start a new tradition. My youngest son is hosting Christmas Eve at his new home, along with a planned smorgasbord of food and entrĂ©e-sides, music, and games. He’s dragging out the ole’ corn hole boards that he just recently refinished with another coat of varnish, which are sure to bring a lot of hollering and ultra-competitiveness out of my family!

Then Sunday, of course, will be Christmas Day, and my folks will come in from Albany and for the first time in a year now, we’ll all be sitting together, having a holiday meal, giving thanks and blessings for each other and the New Year to come. We’ll be frying-up a couple of turkeys once again, making more dressing and all the rest of the fixings that are the usual, and a combination of desserts that should satisfy everyone who needs something sweet to top off their meal.

But mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing my oldest child, face to face, because it’s just been too much of a long, long time for this old Mama and you can best believe I’m ready.  

Here’s to wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year, safe travels if that’s part of your plan, and blessings to all.