Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year Wishes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 23, 2017

In The Spirit of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shop At Your Own Risk!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Twas the Month Before Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, November 24, 2017

Let Us All Give Thanks


 It surely seems the older a person gets, the more he/she has to be thankful for, and the list of thanks is not what it would have been years ago, which still surprises even myself at times.

I’m thankful that this past year didn’t require a lot of doctor visits for me and my family, and for the ones that happened – all news was primarily good and everyone is reasonably healthy. People say it a lot, but it gets truer with every year that passes – everyday that you wake-up is another day blessed.

I’m thankful that I haven’t personally lost anyone to heaven this year which also becomes a larger possibility with each passing year.  

I’m thankful that I have a job, that everyone in my family who needs a job, has a job, and that we’re all living self-sufficiently and independently of one another – which means a lot to most folks. No one wants to have to rely on anyone else to have the things that life requires and whatever it is that they need.

I’m thankful that I can contribute to causes that need attention, and that I am able to give, however small that amount is, monetarily to raise awareness for subjects that need extra attention and focus. And I’m both proud and blessed whenever I am asked and able to give my time as well.

Our family is growing by leaps and bounds, and much of my family now are bonus , and I am thankful for new great-grandbabies, and great-grandbabies who are growing into beautiful little people.

I am thankful for the teenage grandchildren and young adult grandchildren who have almost all graduated from high school, some are enrolled in college, and all making their way through life with confidence and determination. And I am extremely proud of their parents, our children, who raised them to be that way.

And I am thankful and proud of my own children; they are both successful human beings, striving to make a dollar, helping people along the way, and doing good in this thing we call life.

I am thankful that I have a husband who is always willing to pull his weight and then some. He still works full-time just like I do, doesn’t mind washing and folding clothes, making a bed, or doing anything else around the house that needs doing. He’s a not-so-good-cook, but he can wash a pot and pan like nobody’s business!

And lastly, I am thankful to live in a community that looks out for one another. A community that bands together in times of need, and makes meals for folks, runs errands for folks, and simply comforts folks, in times of hardship or grief. If one person leads, we all pick-up our part in the load and follow. The compassion in this town is like no other.

My hope for you all is a safe and happy Thanksgiving and that you’re able to spend it with friends, family, and with people that you love, who will love you back. Because life just doesn’t get any better than that.




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

Ah-CHOO!

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:
1
.         The ability to have more patience, more kindness and more understanding when it’s needed.
2.       To make more of the best decisions the first time, instead of having to learn from mistakes.
3.       To always remember that no matter the situation, it should be met with empathy and compassion,  and an out-stretched hand to help someone up – or a hug to pull them in.
4.       That bickering and arguing never resolves any situation as quickly as teamwork, respect, and  consideration.
5.       To take better care of myself, my body, sooner.

It turns out it’s not such an easy decision to make, but if we could each simply take a step back, and figure out what we would like to change about ourselves, to make ourselves better people, well now, wouldn’t that be a grand place to start.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Meltdown In Motion

While some are still green, many are wilting and have already began to turn a funny hue of yellow and are hanging less staunchly than they did a month ago. And some leaves are already letting loose and free-falling to the ground, scattering and drying in just a matter of days from the heat. Soon they will be brown and crunchy and will lie among the straw that has already began to fall as well.

My flowering plants are struggling to still bloom, their coloring not as near as magnificent and bright as before, and my canna lilies have been taken over by wasps as they are every year about this time, causing the leaves to look as if something much bigger has gone through their bed, chomping on the leaves as they go, leaving behind a look of massacred foliage.

The lawn growth is beginning to slow down, but the smut grass has begun to take over in both my yard and the flower beds, causing your legs to be striped with black seeds in between mower cuts, while the grass itself is still low to the ground. The more I seem to pull from my flower beds, the more that seems to come and take its place.

And the birds, bless the birds and their weariness from the heat. They no longer feed in frenzies but almost seem as intolerant of each other’s presence as humans seem to be of each other these days. Instead of lighting on the feeders and eating, they cut each other off in mid-flight, often all but colliding in the air, and fighting for branch-space in the trees. They perch languidly from those branches, but still with their heads held high, as if they are daring another to come and inhabit their space.

And the humidity, which is normal in our region of the world, seems to be at an all-time high; so much so that it literally takes your breath the minute you step out of the door. It drips from your brow without any real exertion taking place and your clothes are damp and soggy within minutes of outside exposure.

Everyone you pass appears to be in slow motion, their feet moving so sluggishly as if trudging through mud, and their body language screams for some relief that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

September 22nd is the last official day of summer, though we all know, being from these parts, that we’ll still feel heat, humidity, and uncomfortableness for another couple of months to come. I can’t wait for the evenings to be cool enough that a noisy, front porch fan blasting in my ear is no longer necessary to enjoy watching the sun go down.

Until then, all we can do is stay hydrated, wear as close to nothing as is presentable, keep dodging the mosquito’s that seem to be out in full force, and pray for an unusually early, and much cooler fall than we’re accustomed to having. Because I for one, could stand to feel a little chill in the air for a while.





Saturday, August 19, 2017

And They Will All Come Home

A couple of weeks ago,  I may have stated in print what others are never really comfortable saying out loud, regarding my opinions on this community’s non-participation in new businesses here in Gadsden County.

And I loosely use the word opinion, because if I were to take the time to name all the businesses that have come and gone in just my 20 years here; well that would not only take quite some time, but it would also certainly prove my point.

But this week I want to tilt the table a bit and give my thoughts on what keeps people here in Gadsden County.

There is a reason that people stay here. There is a reason that children who grow-up here, move away and swear that they are never coming back – do indeed come back here. Back to that same place that they felt like smothered them, held them back, and kept them from seeing all the things they thought they needed to see.

Before I moved to Gadsden County I lived in Lee County Georgia, a small unassuming county back then, right outside of Albany Georgia where I grew-up. Little did I know – practically two minutes after I would gather my children and move to Quincy, Lee County would explode and become a metropolis. Which in my mind, took away all the beauty of why my children and I lived there in the first place.

In 1998 I transferred with my job to Quincy and I will tell you now, the house-hunting phase was one of which I hope to never experience again. I had worked here in Quincy for about 4 years prior, driving back and forth from Albany to Quincy twice a week. So, I already knew that Quincy was a very small town and I especially knew what a culture shock it would be for my children.

But in my search for a home to raise my children, nothing about Tallahassee pulled me in and made me feel like home. However, with all its inadequacies and absences of convenience; Quincy pulled me in so tight, I just knew this is where I needed to plant our family seed.

The many lakes, ponds, and land to fish, hunt and explore here in Gadsden County provide an experience for children that is like no other. The close-knit community, with its special brand of manners and the way they address adults, young and old, with a Miss, Mrs. or Mr. in front of their first name, pulls everyone together on the same common ground of love, decency and knowledge that family comes first, and neighbors such a close second that they feel the same.

My children not only grew-up and thrived here, they found love here and they found that special magic that only small towns can provide; and folks, that magic is what holds this county together.



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Time Flies When Your Flyin.....

For years when I was growing-up I would hear older folks talk about it getting away from them. About it being here one day and gone the next. About it slipping through their fingers and sometimes, sadly, even sleeping from their minds.

I can remember thinking to myself – what world do these people live in? They couldn’t possibly be existing in mine, because it seems I counted every hour of every day at times, to no avail, waiting for it to pass, to move on, or to magically change my life as if it really held that kind of power.

And now, I see it all, good land do I see it all. I’m here one day and then all of a sudden, it’s three months later and I am left trying to unboggle my mind as to where it all went and what happened to it.

Time just marches on, doesn’t it? And the higher on the ladder of age that you climb, the more frighteningly out of control, the speed at which it moves, seems to get. Just this morning I told my husband that I couldn’t believe it was already August! In less than 3 ½ months from now, I’ll be putting up Christmas decorations! As a matter of fact, last week while I was having the bushes in my yard professionally trimmed, my main process of thinking while trying to schedule the next appointment, was to make sure the last trim would occur in early November so I wouldn’t be hanging lights on out-of-control untrimmed bushes!

I haven’t personally been to Hobby Lobby yet, but I know the fall and Halloween decorations are already on display, as I am seeing people posting their recently purchased goodies on Face Book. How in the world is that happening when people in my neighborhood are STILL popping off fireworks!

But to get back to my original point about the differences in time; about a week or so ago my youngest son and a group of his friends flew to Argentina for a week of dove hunting. He got back a week or so ago and came by the house last night to tell us all about his trip.

To him, I’m sure that trip and his time there flew by like a speeding bullet; but for me, that was the longest 9 days I’ve experienced in a long, long time.

His flight was delayed on the trip to Argentina, so of course that seemed like an absolute lifetime to me. The days in between his arrival and departure, he was on land and enjoying himself as was obvious from the photo’s being taken, so I was pretty calm. Then the drama of his flight home, started the vicious cycle of time never moving again, waiting on him to be home, safe and sound once again.

I guess it all depends which side of the clock you’re standing, when you’re trying to account for the speed in which those two hands move; and of course, your place on the ladder of time.





Saturday, August 5, 2017

Small Town Survival

I moved to Quincy in 1998 and people still left their doors unlocked. People still left their vehicles unlocked, and crazily enough, many of those vehicles still had the keys in the ignition.

With the exception of the two major chain drugstores, we don’t have any more new businesses here now than we did in 1998. Matter of fact, several major corporations/buildings, that housed hundreds of people/employees – are also gone.

Now I grant you that the economy and recessions of past had a lot to do with some of these events happening; but these are new day’s, yet we are still living in the past.

We manage to maintain the same handful of eateries, but the newer ones, well, they come and they go. Sandwich shops that everyone raves over for a few months and down-home-buffet diner’s that seem to keep their tables full – until they don’t anymore.

Every now and again we hear some wild rumor that something fantastic and different is Coming Soon! But it never does. We have four places to eat fried chicken here, four plus places to get a  hamburger and fries, at least three barbecue spots, and a couple of places that serve “fish”, and I use that word loosely.

And now, as the news spread city-wide as soon as the sign posted into the ground, we are about to get yet another place that serves chicken in most any form that you’d like.

I have heard for years that this town doesn’t grow because we, or the powers that be, don’t allow it to grow. They don’t want a raised crime rate, they prefer to keep this town small, localized and safe.

The thing is folks, we’re still plenty small alright, but are we really so safe anymore? Every six months or so we have what they call on the local news, a rash of burglaries, in what used to be some of the safest neighborhoods in Quincy.

Vehicles are being broken into, stripped and robbed. More and more people are acquiring home security systems, and I don’t know anyone who keeps any door to their homes unlocked anymore.

I guess all of this pondering I’m doing now is about this: why are we not getting bigger, better and stronger? Why do small businesses not survive here? Why do small businesses open with such high publicity and panache, only to fold like an accordion months later when the community does not continue to support it with their patronage?  

Maybe we’re just meant to be what we are – a small town seemingly frozen in time. A town that has succumbed to the failure of large businesses which once helped it to thrive and a community that doesn’t know how to pull together to help it survive.


To be clear, I love this little town, and I love living here. But I want it to grow and I want it to survive and succeed for our children and grandchildren. So the challenge is: what can we ALL do together, to ensure that it happens? 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Miracles with Make-up

I had been looking forward to this event for weeks now. I love getting together with other ladies, who are sometimes, but not necessarily in my normal circle of folk, but most are whom I feel like I already know for one reason or another. It’s a small town – Quincy is – and somehow it just seems you know most everybody at any given time.

After I left work one night last week, I raced home and showered so I would be refreshed and I cleansed my face of all make-up. That’s right – you heard me correctly – I took all my make-up OFF my face to attend this event.  Crazy, right?! Because everybody knows that I don’t go much of ANYWHERE without my make-up on – especially not anywhere I expect to see people I know. 

Occasionally on the weekend I’ll slap the minimal amount on to do a duck-and-run through CVS or the local grocery store, but anywhere else calls for a full-face application.

So, as I am preparing to head-out my husband is looking at me side-ways, which is what he does when I’m not acting “normal” (whatever that is), as I begin to apply my lipstick. He said “I thought you had to wear no make-up to this deal” and I said, “Well we’re not, but I’m not driving down the street without my lips on!”

Funny side story here: I had my make-up bag in tow as we were asked to do, bringing the products with us that we normally use, and I also had my lipstick bag as well. However, my lipstick bag has THREE TIMES the amount in it that my make-up bag has – priorities girls – priorities.

I had the best time at the Make-Up by Spenser event! I have been putting on make-up since I was allowed to do so, which was about the age of fourteen. But back then I was told I couldn’t wear it until I plucked my bushy eyebrows into a nice thinned curve – while now at fifty-three – I am sketching the blank spots/grey spots in, and praying I have a full matching set when I’m done.

I learned all about sponge applicators versus brush applicators – which believe it or not makes a huge difference. But the BEST thing I learned about was “contouring” - you know that thing you do across your cheekbones. Well first off, I have no cheekbones now as they have been taken over by too many meals of pasta and bread. But it seems you can create the illusion of them, and it can take up to 10 pounds off of your face. I am now looking for that product in a 55 gallon drum, because I am going to need to contour my entire body if it works that kind of miracle!

But ladies - besides tutorial classes, Spenser Morris, a local talent in Quincy, also does individual events like weddings, prom’s etc., and her contact information is: Spenserlmorris@gmail.comI can honestly say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot of new tricks!