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.