Monday, February 26, 2018

Hundreds of Helpers

In this day and age of technology coupled with social media, it's remarkable how our communication channels work.  This afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table talking to my mother as I sent a text to my brothers in just a quick second.  I find communication important in all walks of life.  It's easy now and there's no excuse not to do it....Then I digressed back to earlier days when I lurked near the single telephone hanging by the front door of our home, just in case someone called.  Especially in the summertime when I hoped one of my friends from school would call to break up the boredom.

Also in those days, it wasn't possible to communicate with someone automatically like I did today as soon as I wanted to.  In 1982, it might have required a bit of patience if a neighbor was already occupying that one line the four households 'shared'.  I smiled to myself and  consciously thought about how great my life has been and how good youth flies by.  I wished for simpler times like those telemarketers, no spam (other than that meatlike stuff in a can), no cyber-bullying, no Facebook posts about whatever it is I am trying to ignore....

Later today when I logged on to catch up on my email and Facebook notices, I was overwhelmed.  Absolutely overwhelmed....HUNDREDS OF MESSAGES and NOTES from friends offering condolences, kind words,  and thoughtful reflections about the tremendous loss of my father this month.  I made an effort to acknowledge each one because every single one was so meaningful to me.  Some were from people I haven't seen in months, years, eons.  Others were written in states I may never get to again but where people care about my sorrow.

Social media can be dark, evil and mean but so can people.  But it doesn't have to be.  It can also be such a positive tool to help a fellow human, one who chooses to grieve publicly,  in times of sadness.  And, it's right at the fingertips.  It's like being a wizard with the superpower to make a difference, to brighten someone's day, to acknowledge a beautiful sunrise - all the while right where you are sitting comfortably in pajamas and fuzzy socks (and the pointy wizard hat if you do).

Thank you.  My sincerest thank you, to all the hundreds of helpers.  You know who you are and you mean the world to me.  Lots of nice things have been said about my father's character.  I've heard some fun stories about my Dad from people who knew him in a different way than I did.   Some things made me laugh; others brought a tear to my eye.  I needed both.  Much love to my online friends.  ๐Ÿ’‘   I appreciate your social media gestures...Keep waving the magic wand, my beloved hundreds of helpers.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wheelchair No More

When I learned some five years ago that my father had cancer, I didn't cry.  I agreed completely with his plan of treatment (no surgery) and all of us sort of went back to our normal way of doing things.

As the disease progressed, I began to see him in pain.  I saw my mother trying every possible thing to help Daddy.  I didn't cry about it or say much.  Although I did cry out to God above....I asked for that pain to be transferred to me.  I was willing to make a deal, strike a bargain, whatever it took to relieve my parents from what they were facing.

I told a friend about my prayer.  I think I can handle it if I know it matters.  She said 'it doesn't work that way'....and I knew she was right but I continued to pray that my Daddy wouldn't hurt.  He was so good and gentle to the world.  I went through a stage where I compared his illness to people beating the drills of cancer.  But my friend again said 'it doesn't work that way'.  And she was right.   Some things I just don't understand.

Finally, I realized I could not will a change, control the process or make a bargain that would matter.  I began to try to spend as much time as I could making memories.   Memories that I know are getting me through from day to day.

The last time I took Daddy to the doctor at Five Rivers, I had a good plan.  I backed the car up right by the sidewalk and went inside the medical building, got a rickety wheelchair and rushed out to get him.  We were at a slight incline but after a few minutes we were loaded up and ready to head toward the doctor's office.  I wheeled the chair around from the car and turned a corner upward to the door. And then it happened....

That rickety wheelchair (which I hope has now been disposed of) came apart.  At least, the handle grip came off the handle.  I was left standing on the sidewalk holding only the plastic handle and my Daddy was rolling downhill fast into the concrete jungle.  I yelled "Daddy, stop".  He chuckled back "I can't" as he skidded sideways out of control.  I threw myself between him and the car to cushion the crash and luckily a man came out and saved us because he saw our plight....we've laughed about that so much.  I can only imagine the look on my face...Daddy wasn't angry, he didn't show fear (if he had any), and after that we got our own wheelchair for future use.  Well, wheelchair no more.

As I talked to Mom on the phone tonight, we agreed that it's indeed a good thing the man we love so deeply doesn't need a wheelchair anymore.  He never deserved that horrible illness that settled in his strong, capable body.  Some things I just don't understand.

Now in grief, I can cry when I want to and sometimes when I don't want to.  I am unsure how it helps me other than to clean my tear ducts.  It's true my heart has part of my father in it.  But, it also has part of my mother there too.   There's a section up high in there, a shelf perhaps, where she will always be on a pedestal for her loving attention to my dad.  Many people would have abandoned the cause, would have said it was too hard, but not Mom.  Some things I just don't understand.  Like love that never gives up and how those damn Chinese wheelchairs come apart at the least opportune times.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dating @ Wal-Mart on Friday

This morning I brought my Daddy's parakeets home with me from Muddy Lane.  I hope to find a good home for them (so if you're reading this and would like to adopt two sweet little birds, message me) where they will be enjoyment to someone.  Daddy kept them about two feet away from his recliner and he really did enjoy watching them and listening to them chirp a bit.  Although, I'm fairly sure he couldn't hear them much.  The TV was always up too loud...

On my way home, I had to dash into Wal-Mart for some bird seed, Fritos and bananas.  I ended up adding some Reeses candy, a pineapple, gum and a 12-pack of beer.  I avoid Wal-Mart in protest because I don't think they pay their employees enough - but sometimes I realize I can't be so spiteful to the point that I totally inconvenience myself.

So, I'm waiting in a long checkout line and the sweet little manager directs me to Line #2 for quicker service.  I head that way and see a very small woman wearing dark sunglasses finalizing her transaction.  Right behind her is a regular-looking guy with a frozen pizza and two other things.  I'm feeling good about the situation.  Gotta get out of here as soon as humanly possible.

But, the situation was weird.   Small woman only appeared to be finishing her transaction.  She has longer fingernails than I've ever seen and is getting cash back from her credit card.  She doesn't like the bills the cashier gave her so she decides to switch twenty dollar bills for fives....all the while talking with regular-looking guy who says something like this:
"I'm actually from New York.  I'm a professional logger.  But I like Arkansas because you can buy a house for $5000.  I'm looking for a lady friend but these Southern women down here are just hard to get along with.....I'd like to have a woman to spend my money on....yeah, I'm about to go to probate court because my Dad just died and I'm getting $4.3 million now.  You'd think that would help me get a nice lady.  But, I guess I'll have to go back to New York to find a good woman."

Small lady says "I'm originally from New York" and finally walks away with professional logger....the  cashier tells me the woman comes into the store often enough to be known for calling the employees 'dumb hicks' and usually claims to be from Florida.

Dating at Wal-Mart might be about as effective as but I'm standing in line with my less-than-20-items wishing these people would take their chit chat and go anywhere but in my way.  I guess I live in my own little world too much.  I had two little birds in my Tahoe that I needed to get back to!

My mother often says that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round.  And that's her way of explaining situations like my weird experience at Wal-Mart.  I have always admired how she loved her job as a door greeter at the Pocahontas Wal-Mart.  She really did look forward to standing at the entrance to the store and welcoming people for hours on end.  To me, that would be pure torture.  (I'm one of those Southern girls that's just hard to get along with although regular-looking guy had no idea how I was biting my tongue.)  To Mom, it was natural.  She loves people.

I think I'll stick with the birds.  The smaller of the two is green and yellow.  The other's blue mostly.  Actually, I'm a little blue myself.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Birds of a Feather Flock Together on Muddy Lane

Going through the process of planning a funeral probably varies from family to family.  As we sat doing just that last week, I imagined disagreeing, arguing, fighting and other escalations by people who'd sat in the chair I was sitting in.  Meanwhile back in reality, my mother had no hesitation about the fact that my father did not want to be embalmed.  It was in her words, 'the last thing I can give him that I know he wanted' so neither of my brothers or I had cause to disagree, to argue, to fight or to engage in other escalations.  We had zero reason to do that because we stick together.

The pastor who officiated Daddy's service is my mother's friend and church leader.  He genuinely cares about her and came to talk to her in person about the funeral.  He offered support.  He prayed with her.  He asked us if we wanted him to mention anything about our Dad.

One thing I could think of:  Daddy loves birds.   Always has.  He raised all kinds.  Quail, ducks, wild turkeys, parakeets and parrots...peacocks most recently.  Dad fed the wild birds as a staple and enjoyed that so.  He cared for sick birds with gentle determination.  It was his way to marvel at the beauty of nature.  But perhaps his favorite bird of all was the rotisserie chicken we would carry home from Sams Club.

Driving to the cemetery Friday, we noticed a pair of Canadian geese feeding along a pond bank in a field where I remember riding around to 'count cows' with Dad.  The pastor mentioned seeing some wild turkey flocked adjacent to the cemetery as he made his way down Muddy Lane.  A neighbor brought some food and she raved about how they love when Dad's peacocks visit their yard.  Birds...birds....birds.

I can remember lots of bird-related lessons.  More than I could ever write on a blog.  A bird caused Daddy and me to have that talk about life and death.  He recalled his mother sending him out to catch a fat barnyard hen when family came to visit so she could prepare a 'good meal'.  Another bird story reminds me of how Dad would doctor up sick animals, creatively trying something that might solve the problem.  The two of us actually performed a 'surgery' on a juvenile turkey one afternoon with needle and thread.

One of the major qualities of my character involves a bird.  A killdeer.  When I was probably in third or fourth grade, Dad found a killdeer nest in the pasture by our home.  He took me out to see it and we had a long discussion about how that particular species of bird nests on the ground unlike the robin in the tree or the bluebird in the box.  He explained how the mother bird attempted to lure us away from her nest when we approached.  (Look it up if you don't know how that's amazing.)  Anyway, I saw the tiny eggs and while walking back to the house he told me not to go back and disturb the bird.  I said I wouldn't.

The next day after school, I couldn't wait to go look at the bird eggs.  I went out into the field and walked and walked but my elementary brain couldn't remember the exact spot.   I watched the mother bird's ritual but she did not succeed.  I kept looking. And then it so happened that my foot located the bird nest. I stepped on the eggs and they broke.  I ran back home and felt terrible but said nothing to my mother.

Later that night when Dad asked me if I'd been to see the killdeer nest, I lied.  He asked me again.  Again, I lied.  He said nothing more but slowly stood up and unbuckled his belt.  And I got it.  A spanking.  The last one I've had up to this point.  And, then Daddy said "I'm not punishing you for the bird nest.  I know you didn't mean to do that.  I am whipping your butt for lying. You have to take responsibility if you do something wrong.  And you don't lie."

You see, a bird of the most influential lessons of my entire life.  If you know me at all, there may have been (or will be) a time when I say something to you that you do not like.  I may give you an answer that you find unpleasant.  But it will not be a lie.   I can sugar-coat with the best but I value the truth more than being fake.   And I owe that to my father's way of teaching right from wrong.  And to a killdeer bird that randomly built her nest one summer near my home.

After retirement, Daddy enjoyed birding as a hobby.  Oh, how we have laughed about him hunting for an ivory-billed woodpecker when that story came out in the news.  He would sit out and watch all the wild birds fly in for sunflower seeds.  He had conversations with his parrots.  He'd sneak around and follow turkey hens and the peahens to find where they were nesting in the spring.  It was a challenge he enjoyed because the hens were secretive and he'd anticipate the hatching of the chicks for each mother bird.  It often took him several days to find the location, but he would stay determined in his searching because he wanted to keep an eye on each nest.

Daddy also applied that same gentle determination to love for his people.   He kept an eye on us.  He was undeterred in his ways - a simple life in the nest, a cheerful disposition to handle the changes of the weather and a firm appreciation for loyalty to the flock.  I now realize that my family like is a flock of birds.  We are going to stick together and take care of the Momma Bird.  I love you Mom!  Everything's gonna be just fine.  Your sons are remarkable for they have their father's ways.  Your baby birds didn't fly too far.  They're right on Muddy Lane!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Subliminal Hearts & Twinkle Lights on Valentine's Day: To Daddy 2018

Is subliminal a word?  My brain is so scattered that I truly don't know.  My mind is mush.  My life is different than I've ever known it to be.   Oh, and my heart...not just heavy.  It's gone.

As I write, it is unseasonably warm for February (77 degrees Fahrenheit) in Arkansas.  Wind howls this afternoon.  So, I build upon the load of worry.  I anticipate the weather forecast section of local news.  Will it rain on my Daddy's grave before we get him in it?  Will it storm at the service tomorrow?  Are people going to be uncomfortable?  Gale force winds perhaps? Will we all be wrapped in the velvet from the funeral home tent somewhat like Scarlett O'Hara when she fashioned a green dress out of parlor room curtains?  The humor is helpful momentarily but the sad returns.

Oh, my heart.....where are you?
When are you coming back?
There's an empty space in my chest.
You can't stay with Daddy because I need my heart back to go on.
I need a heart to live and laugh.
My heart makes me love and share.
I want to go whole-heartedly like always, like Daddy said to do.
Strive for peace of mind, with all your heart, he said.

Will it take a force of nature, a storm of sorts, to position my heart back in place so I can breathe and do? Time to get back on track.  Oh, my heart....where are you?

My sweet uncle pointed out to me today that my father was historically considerate of others, and I know for a fact he was  - to the point of his very own inconvenience at times.   For example, when he gave haircuts on Saturday nights to a Vietnam Veteran who'd been shunned by the 'town barber' for drinking.  When he got up all sleepy-eyed in the middle of the night to rub my little tummy if it hurt.  Maybe, when he offered a warm welcome at the front door to a convicted felon who needed a bit of hope to move forward.

Or  perhaps when he wore this silly party hat for his grand-daughter's birthday party?  Or the time he stuffed a billy goat in the trunk of his car to save it from being hurt on the highway.  Said goat politely hopped out of the Impala and ate my mother's rose bush then proceeded to destroy several articles of clothing crisply drying on the line.  This was because of his heart....the very heart that stopped beating inside his body on Tuesday.

I believe my heart skipped a beat at that same time and I am no longer synchronized with what I know I have to do.  My heart will not beat as before; it simply will not.   I have attempted to will it so.  I have tried meditation, medication, massive amounts of caffeine and denial.  You see, when Daddy had to go, he put me in charge of a different heartbeat.  As always, with his last act, he challenged me to have a better heart.  I have to adjust myself whether by jolt of  thunder and lightening at a grave or jolt of realization that what is happening is very real and true.  If the storm is literal, or only living in my heart, I know I can bear the shock if I square my shoulders and walk with the storm for a minute.  My dad went right into the storm with heart.  I have to go inside and find it.  I shall learn from him still.

My current heartbeat won't sustain.  It jerks from time to time with a shrill pain of loss.  It slows down and wants to just crumble.  Then, it feels a hopeful tug from joyful memories and laughter, simple smiles and glances. The clanking sound of the spoon stirring a dab of sugar in the coffee cup.  My sweet Daddy only needed a slightest dab of sugar.  Karla avoids it these days on purpose.  But, she does know she can't go on at this pace.  Her family needs her heart to sync back up to her peace of mind.

The heart ...being such a fragile and critical thing, tender yet strong, essential yet unseen and damaged can still beat.  Elsewise, we would not know love and loss.  My father's heart knew.  Mine will too.  I have to follow the twinkle in his eye, the light from his love, the familiar beat of his heart.

Daddy, I'm getting there.  I realize you protected my heart so much with your own for 51 years.  I believe I can get that new rhythm lined out.  And, I think my tiny insignificant heart has been touched by so much love and respect for  your gigantic and wonderful heart!  I love you Daddy....I do still feel the love from your heart.  I hear you say my name.  I can see right into your eyes.  And, when I focus, I understand your message.  We will keep it about the 'heart'.  No need for more words.  Subliminal all the way.  Rain or shine,  we will honor your life from now on.

So, when is my heart coming back?  When I recall your laugh.  If I think of your favorite songs.  Every time I choose not to care what someone else thinks of me.  Encouraging honesty and integrity where I can.   Whenever I remember your groovy straight silver hair.  Sharing stories of good days with my family.  By telling of your deeds and your gentle way of living.  Maybe when the twinkle lights come on, my heart can blink itself back to where we can beat on subliminal time.  Lucky for me, my brothers are in charge of the twinkle lights!  They learned how to be real men from you Daddy...

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Mean and Green - Jealous Again

Remember 'green with envy'? of those old catch phrases that implicates a beautiful color as something other than naturally wonderful.  Green should remind us of springtime pastures, tree frogs and crisp sugar snap peas.  Green should not connect us to a bitter angry feeling about someone because they have something we don't or because they are someone we are not.  Green is about growing, thriving, new sprouts. ๐Ÿ’š

I was talking with a friend about jealous behavior this week.  It's laughable at times when people display that green tint of jealousy.  But, at other times, it's infuriating.  Jealous envy is destructive in every way.   It's downright mean.  There's nothing good about feeling negative toward someone because they have done something you haven't or can do something you can't.

A long time ago I learned a valuable lesson about this....and it was presented to me because I worked in a building where offices were made of modular walls-the kind of walls that didn't reach to the ceiling therefore affording little to no privacy.  One of my coworkers was possibly less than diligent about staying busy.  Another coworker was extremely diligent about monitoring the other's lack of productivity.  It was not a fun situation for me to say the least.  It began to grate on my nerves until finally, this conversation happened:

Coworker (whispering) - Doesn't it just drive you crazy that Joe Bob talks on the phone all the time instead of working?  He does this every day and nobody seems to care.
Me - I don't think I'm responsible for what Joe Bob is doing.
Coworker - Well, we have to pick up the slack.
Me (not whispering) - I'm pretty busy minding my own business over here.  But apparently, you aren't getting that much work done either if you have so much free time to watch him all day long.
Coworker - Well.... (huffy face, back turned, walked away)

Now, what I hadn't said at the time was that yes indeed, I had noticed what was going on but I didn't find it worthwhile in any way to compare myself to my coworkers.  And, I realized then how everyone has their own definition of what hard work means and mine was the only one I had to live up to....what a valuable lesson that still guides me to this day.

I feel the same way about success.  It's highly personal.  If it's not, it won't feel good.  Maybe there's a possibility that envy, jealousy and bitterness will come into play.  Then, who's really successful and who's really not minding their own dang business?

There will always be lesser and greater situations.  Always.  But, what a waste of energy to compare.   It makes sense to me to applaud those who excel in certain ways and encourage those who struggle in others.  We all get a turn to be kind and helpful or to be jealous and bitter.  That's within our control every single day.  The rest may be up to fate...I don't know.  But I don't want unhappiness in my heart because someone has something or someone that I can't say I have conquered.   Only I can define my success and I choose to be happy for people who have what they have.  (That doesn't lessen my chances of a good life.)   I choose to be hopeful for the people who need hope.  I try to avoid green envy with the ugly greedy head and nasty attitude.

And the moral to this little story is that Joe Bob seems blissfully successful these days and Coworker Complainer is probably jealous again somewhere whispering but has fallen completely off my radar.   I don't have time for that in my life....

I'm no role model or standard measurement for anything short of a graying old lady with a smart mouth and a sassy frame of mind.  I admit I have fallen into the jealousy trap a few times; I know what it feels like to crawl back up to level ground.  So, truthfully, if you're defining my worth by the car I drive or the size of my bank account, you might be better than me.  But, if you compare my worth by the love in my heart for my people, be careful there.  It might be hard to match me in that category.

To each, his own.  And, that's why being jealous is such a waste of good green!๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Friday, February 02, 2018

Life's Little Irony At A Funeral

Today was filled with was so thick I could've cut it with a knife.  Elephants in the room...

So many of my fellow classmates and friends gathered today to show support for the family of Jeff Witt as he was laid to rest.  There's no doubt he was loved.  But, I saw tons of ironic things and not just people interacting but situations also.

It's impossible to explain without long drawn out stories but here are a few quick examples:

1.  It was cold, but the sun was so bright and sparkly.  Totally misleading...
2.  I'd worked a lot to get my accompaniment music downloaded for a song at the service.  I said several times yesterday that I would not give up...I would not be defeated.  I lost that one.  My music didn't play as planned.  I gathered up my pride and did what I could.  Jeffrey would've laughed about it.  I know he would've.  It wasn't about me.
3.  People who were unkind were kind.  I hope that trend continues.
4.  My multitude of shared hugs are engraved in my memory.  It was honestly a happy time to see friends I haven't seen in years.   But, incredibly, I remain sad.  I didn't want to leave those embraces.
5.  Friends drove many, many miles to honor their relationships.  Mark came from Florida, Randy from Texas, Cindy from Pocola and so on.  Yet, people two blocks away didn't darken the door.  We all deal with loss in our own way.  And, that's okay.
6.  A family member thanked me!  Me....I didn't do anything.  It was me who needed to be thankful.  And, I am thankful.  And, I am heartbroken.
7.  My friend who loves the warm climate is working mostly now in the North.  He deserves a beach.  He deserves the tropical relaxation of the beach STAT.  Hell of a good guy.  One of my favorite people on Planet Earth.
8.  My mother baked a cake for the meal her church was preparing for the family.  She used two farm fresh eggs from a dozen she'd been saving for me.  I'm amazed how her love motivates her.  And, I have only ten eggs now to put away in my fridge.  That's sharing!
9.  All the funeral talk about heaven made me very acutely aware of my own mortality.  I don't think I fear death as much as I do losing those I hold dear in my heart.
10.  Perhaps the most ironic of all is that I don't really like people.  But today, people sustained me.  People banned together for a common purpose and helped each other.  Why can't it be so simple for me every day?  Um, I'm a Leo.  I'm a product of my own devices.

Some things in this world just don't make sense.  Say what you need to say whether it will be popular or not.  Tell people if you love them.  If you don't, just pretend they're not in the room.  Take the opportunity to go back into glorious things of the past even though you are ever-presently trapped in the current situation.

Irony can be quite simple or vastly complex.  It can go unnoticed.  But, it might provide answers to some of the things in our world that doesn't make sense.   Break out the butter knife and slice into the irony if you dare.  Either way, love is real.  People are too.  My friends are still the same people and I love them for the same reasons I always did.  The ironic thing is perhaps I am changed.  It's taken me a lot of years to pretend someone isn't really in the room.  Maybe I'm the elephant...

Thursday, February 01, 2018

My friend Jeffrey got his angel wings this week...

Way back in 1984, the faculty at Sloan-Hendrix High School honored me and my classmate Jeff by choosing us as Mr. and Miss SHHS.  I looked at the yearbook my mom keeps in the file cabinet back in October and snapped this photo of a photo on a page (using my new iPad).  I hadn't looked at the yearbooks in a long, long time....

I was shocked (and still am when I think about it) that I was chosen for this honor.  I didn't think I was motivated to meet the expectations of 'success'.  Nothing about me was special or represented the kind of student with potential for leadership or civic duty.   I was a big Miss Nobody.

But, I wasn't surprised Jeffrey was chosen.  He was kind to everyone, played basketball, helped work at his family's business and still had time to build things in shop class.  I did think my friend was going to be successful in life....and frankly, I expected we would live forever at that point.

Anyway, this trip down memory lane last fall was a chance for me to reflect on whether or not I had turned out okay.  I found a poem I'd written about graduating and the yearbook adviser was kind enough to suggest it be printed.  I laughed at some of the pictures of what our hair looked like in the 80's and fashion (such as it was).

How was I to know that in 3 short months, my lifelong friend would be getting his angel wings??!!  Needless to say, when I heard about his passing on Tuesday, I went searching through the hundreds of digital photos to look at this one.  And, I kept looking at it over and over.  And, I cried all day long and some too since then.

Jeffrey Allen Witt was important to me.  We didn't see each other a lot but I have no doubt he knew how much I loved him.   We had lots of fun growing up, being teenagers, and recently just telling stories and talking about life.   Our paths went different ways and I don't honestly even know all the trials he went through.   In 2017, over thirty years since graduation from high school, we had reconnected.   Few card games on Fridays, couple of road trips searching for drivers' licenses, and some times I worried about him even.  When I talked to him last week, he said he felt kinda bad but then put a positive spin on the conversation, probably just for my benefit.

Jeff inspired me this past year especially with his faith, his willingness to forgive and his compassion for other people.  He literally was the guy who would give away the shirt on his back.  I know for a fact he's done that.  I know he gave cash to people who looked distraught, when he really didn't have much to share.  I know he loved his kids with all his heart.  He loved his little terrier.  He cared about my family too just like his own.  Fine humor allowed him to laugh at the irony of life.

I will never forget you Jeffrey.  Thank you for the gifts of your time and respect.  That makes me feel like I lived up to the expectation of Miss SHHS.  I'm selfishly sad that should I text you to check in and say "I love you friend", there would be no response - but I'm so proud for you.  Heaven's where you can sit again with your Mom and help her watch over things.  Don't be up there carpentering mansions 24/7.   Save up a few 'religion jokes' for me, enjoy those angel wings...
And, P.S. Your Christmas present is still in the back seat of my Tahoe.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Clean Sheet Day

While Congress is ramming major tax reform through with some self-imposed urgency, yet even while the bill is still somewhat handwritten in part, I am giving up on the news for the more important issue of Clean Sheet Day.
Yes, I can't remember how long it's been since I changed the sheets on the beds.  That's too long!  I have read a bit about the different types of sheets and that thread count isn't necessarily the only indicator of a nice comfortable sheet.
One must also consider the type of cotton (sateen for example is softer but less durable than percale in most cases).  Then there's flannel or cotton jersey or silk? Color or print?  Maybe just plain white, which coincidentally is a popular choice; thus, the namesake for White Sales at stores peddling home goods.
My clean sheets consist of eight-year old solid copper cotton percale, an ivory quilt circa 2008, the green tartan electric blanket and as many different pillow cases as pillows (5 to be exact).
Clearly, my bedding makes about as much sense as what the Senate and House has been doing with  their half-assed organization of legislation that will impact basically every American in some way.  Allegations of bullying, even sexual harassment, against leaders are swirling.  The White House is constantly under suspicion because everyone there is related or have had something to do with Michael Flynn.
At least I have inventoried my sheet collection and I know I have two too many sets of full size sheets and need to order a new set of king size.  Also, as a bonus, I found a brand new set of ivory queen size sheets in the packaging...
Nobody else is affected by the linens on my bed.   My dirty laundry is my own. Therein, the difference.  And now, I've that made my bed so I'll go lie in it....may our elected officials do the same.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Night - Anxiety Revisited

Welp, the holiday anxiety continues.....but first, let me tell you the good news!

This morning my husband prepared a terrific breakfast buffet for us, including a cantaloupe (Kim and Judy-you know this is a big deal)....we ate and enjoyed conversation with the kids.  Then we rushed over to the Ashlock place.  We rush because we are Rushes. And because we were late....for lunch.  ๐Ÿ—Absolutely amazing turkey, homemade rolls, mega desserts ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฎand all kinds of other dishes to enjoy.  Mom invited a friend who had just moved to town and didn't have anyone to share Thanksgiving with.  Rock on Mom!  You're the best.  You always show the spirit of giving and helping others....that kind of example I still need even in my 'golden years'.

My anxiety was escalated by the busy schedule of the day and the fact that I knew my sweet potato casserole wasn't quite as good as in previous years.  The Sweet Tater King who sells produce in town gave us a bum box of spuds.  Hey, I can only work with what I've got.... ๐Ÿ   These need a few more weeks to do whatever sweet potatoes do to be less harder than rocks.

Further, we were  absolutely late; I regularly chew people out for that or bitch behind their backs so my husband says.  So, being late made me spastic to the point that I had to apologize profusely to everyone even remotely involved.  It was like eating crow....thankfully, I'd had a light breakfast.

The sun was gorgeous, the company was more nourishing that all the terrific food.  I have stepped on my scale to weigh before bed.  Either it's aware of my volatile state of mind or the battery is dying.  My weight now (after breakfast, mid-morning crow and a nice lunch)  is still  just barely below the limit I keep for my personal BMI rating.  Dang Body Mass Index.  Sends a girl to bed without her supper....

So many years I have lived without knowing this holiday anxiety was nagging at me.  Now that I have discovered it's here, I'm trying to find out why and face it down.  Does anybody know the Grinch personally?  I'd like a consultation from him for suggestions on growing my heart?  Comment here or message me direct on facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Eve of Thanksgiving

Today I hopped up and made coffee☕ to anxiously await the arrival of my granddaughters Annie and Emma.  Since school break began today, and since their parents had to work, I was able to spend the day with two sweet girls.  They are adventurous and fun.  Smart and sassy.  Sarcasm is strong with the young one :)

We shopped a bit and met up for lunch with GranDad after a lengthy discussion about the attributes of sushi. ๐Ÿฃ  And, we stopped by the park and made friends with a chubby dog.  The dog must be a local park pet....she even would climb up the steps to the slide with the girls.
We ate a pineapple๐Ÿ, yes all of it.  We baked a rum spice cake and watched a few cartoons while we finished some laundry.  Nothing special but yet again-everything special.

After they went home, it was time to prep for Thanksgiving meal.  I didn't want to do it....I thought of every excuse I could; I even took an hour long nap.  So I had to step back and ask: Why am I not looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow?  Is it because today was so good?  Maybe I'm worried my house isn't clean enough?  Whatever will I wear? ๐Ÿ‘š๐Ÿ‘ข๐Ÿ‘– Did I put too much rum in that cake?

I have Thanksgiving has nothing to do with being thankful.  I know how to do that.  I'm probably ungrateful at times but overall I know I have a wonderful life.  When things aren't going my way, I can always find something to be thankful for.๐Ÿ’“ Every single day.

My daddy says "From the day you're born until you ride in a hearse, nothing's so bad that it couldn't be worse."  He says that a lot more nowadays than he used to.  There's the source of my Thanksgiving anxiety.  It doesn't matter what I wear or what I baked.๐Ÿฒ  I just want to see my family together.  I want to make memories with people I love. 

On Thanksgiving Eve, I am so very thankful for my family.  I feel fortunate that we've had so many holidays all together.  I need to dump this 'anxiety' and stop worrying about the 'hearse'.  Being with family makes me glad to be alive....Annie and Emma especially.  I miss them after we have a day of quality time.⌚

Lucky for me, they'll be back in less than 12 hours!!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

One Size Fits All?

Ever been shopping at a store or online and find those leggings or a tunic you just have to have?
You flip through the display or click online to see if this item is available in your size, only to find that dreaded "One Size Fits All" tag!

Excuse me, but one size does not fit all.  It never has and it never will.  The very idea of that concept implies laziness and narrow-minded thinking.  I've thought about this a lot.  It bugs me.  It bothers me.  It is disturbing to me.  Maybe because I'm not a tiny size two Barbie.  But, those leggings will not reasonably fit someone who needs a larger piece of fabric to cover their butt. 

Maybe the fashion industry is catering to society, where people feel embarrassed to shop for something bigger than Size SMALL.  Some clothing brands actually make items larger than average and put the SMALL tag on them, just to make buyers feel good about themselves.  I do believe it's a marketing gimmick to sell stuff. 

The fact remains, one size does not fit all.  Why would we want to all be the same anyway?  Who cares what the label says....unless it says One Size Fits All.  I don't like that.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Your Favorite Song - Day 30 of 30

Wow, I made it to the end of thirty days of consistent blogging (online journal writing)!

For the last day, the prompt is simple - what is your favorite song?  Seems simple but oh, not for this music lover girl.  I could break this down into eras, genres, songwriter/singers, bands v. solo artists and in many other ways.  But, I suppose that would not be in the spirit of this exercise.

Really, I have hundreds of 'favorite songs'.  My favorites playlist is about as varied as it could possible be.  So, I have to just go back to my roots and pick one of my first memories of music as a child.  My Daddy introduced me to good music from the beginning of life.  I remember loving the melody but not really knowing the significance of the heartfelt lyrics.  And, then I can re-certify that memory with a 2000-ish remembrance of same song being played by a one-man band in a tiny restaurant.  It gave me chills just to recall how easily I related to the words forty years later.   The song I am selecting is also one that my husband likes too which is rare.  We like different music mostly.

This song meets all my major criteria.  It's written and recorded by the same artist.  It evokes emotion because the lyrics are so relate-able.  It's timeless as proven by the fact that people still play it now even though it was recorded in 1958.  And, even re-recorded again with Bob Dylan in 1969 when I was three years old.  Thanks John Cash from Arkansas for many, many musical gems but especially for I Still Miss Someone.  It's a bittersweet love song I never get tired of hearing.  If you aren't familiar with this song, read below.  Look it up online and give a listen.  Your heart will beat in time.
<3 p="">
At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind will come
Sweethearts walk by together
And I still miss someone

I go out on a party
And look for a little fun
But I find a darkened corner
Because I still miss someone

No, I never got over those blue eyes
I see them everywhere
I miss those arms that held me
When all the love was there

I wonder if she's sorry
For leavin' what we'd begun
There's someone for me somewhere
And I still miss someone

Friday, October 27, 2017

Day 29 of 30 Days of Me

Day 29 - In the last month, what have you learned?

I admit to peeking ahead yesterday and despite looking at this prompt a day ago, I have no idea specifically what I have really learned in the last month. 

So, let me just say that I believe in lifelong learning.  I've worked with people who think they already know everything there is to possibly know and those people are not fun for me to be around. 

I am not as diligent as I should be about learning new things but I don't hide from knowledge necessarily. 

Just today, I read about the process of making apple cider vinegar.   I plan to try that next time I peel and core apples for a pie.  Normally, I deliver the apple peels to my horse but with 1/4 cup sugar and a quart of water, I can turn those scraps into vinegar for all sorts of uses.

I learned that the local volunteer fire department can respond to our house in less than 15 minutes (thanks to the other person who lives in our home) and I studied the 2018 Maroon 5 tour schedule to see which location is most feasible for me. 

And, finally today, I read an interview with Jordan Spieth (pro golfer) about his recent golf outing with President Obama and I loved the casual humor there.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Day 28 of 30 - A Picture from This & Last Year: How Have You Changed

Day 28 - Post a picture of you from this year and last year.  How have you changed?

I am one year older and one year wiser.  My heart has another year's layer of hardening and my mind is one year's less present.  But, my brain now lives next door to a new titanium stent that was placed in my right transverse sinus vein by a super-skilled neurosurgeon in April 2017.  Because of that, my balance is improved, my migraines are better and I am pretty sure I'm not going blind as fast as I was before.  Overall, I feel better than I did a year ago....

And, in other news, I've gained ten pounds.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Day 27 of 30 - Why Are You Doing This Challenge?

Great question, why are you doing this challenge Karla?  Do you love a challenge?  Do you feel like you have something to prove?  Do you want to share about yourself on the interweb (as my brother calls it)?  Are you bored?  Are you trying to prove you're not boring?

Do you really think anybody cares?  Do you care yourself?

The best question of all is what really motivates me in life?  I still don't have an answer to that.  I just know that I do what I want whenever possible.  Am I normal?  Not likely.  Am I crazy?  Perhaps at times.  But, why I decided to do this challenge was to revive my blog as a creative outlet for my writing.  I do what I want whenever possible.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Day 26 - Thirty Days of Me

Day 26 - What do you think about your friends?

My friends are strong, kind, honest and loyal.  They are patient and caring.  Truth and love are standards for them and for me.  My friends are not browbeaten by peer pressure, social norms or unethical practices.   They know who they are and we celebrate that together!  There is no room for arrogance or selfishness in our friend circle.  My friends are hugely influential in my life and I am dedicated to making friendship valuable and meaningful.  And most importantly, my friends are beautiful inside and out.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Day 25 - The Things Found In A Bag...

Here we are at day 25 on this Thirty Days of Me journal journey.  Today I am supposed to write all the things you might find in my bag.  Lordy me...this is somewhat revealing and sacred.  Even my husband knows that it's a bad idea to dig around in a lady's purse.  Oh well, I'm 24 days toward thirty and not stopping now.

For the past year, I have been lugging around an enormous leather bag that shows very little sign of wear which means I will likely be lugging it around for another year or so.  I can literally fit two pairs of shoes, my shih tzu,  the Encyclopedia of Country Living and a box of donuts in there along with all the regular things that are always in my handbag. 

In my bag, there will always be lipstick in 2 or 3 shades, Rodan lip balm, germX, sunglasses, reading glasses, two sets of car keys (unless one's in the car ignition), perfume, earbuds, little travel size lotion, gum, emergency medicines, band=aids because I take blood thinner, my iPhone, ten or so random receipts and pieces of paper, numerous ink pens and my wallet.

Now, in my wallet will be my ID, more band=aids, no money, the key to the mailbox and ten or so more random receipts that I need to relocate to the trash bin.

On occasion, I downsize to a lightweight crossbody bag for a concert, to go to Oaklawn Park (see Hot Springs) or other special excursion/occasion.  Then I just strictly carry one lipstick, Rodan lip balm, germX, sunglasses, gum, emergency medicines, band=aids (yeah, because I take blood thinner), my iPhone and my ID.  Never any money....never have any money.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Day 24 - 30 Days of Me

Clocking down toward the thirty days of me journal challenge I am doing on my blog.  Today is #24 and the prompt is : 3 books on your shelf

Lots of books have come onto the bookshelf and gone away.  A few are in storage - old textbooks, my personal copy of EDGAR (grantwriting reference) and a small amount of self-help books that didn't help me. 
But most books (hardback or paper) went to goodwill because my eyes are not what they once were.  This prompt on day 24 might be easy for most but for me, it sort of prompted flashbacks of eye surgeries, not being able to drive, massive migraines, etc.
Anyway, I do read now on occasion with a tablet.  Although I miss the actual process of turning pages, I have to make the font super big so I download books from Amazon.  However, in addition to my large print Bible, I do have a dozen or so real old-fashioned books so here's three I grabbed for purposes of this blog post:
1.  Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl - Amazing story by the author who was entrenched in life at Nazi death camps.  He describes how we can endure suffering if we can balance it with the conviction toward purpose and meaning in life.  It truly changed my way of thinking and has helped with my struggles personally.  Not only does this solidify the unjustness of racism, it also gives inspiration to find out how you can make a difference for the greater good and enjoy the happiness that comes from that instead of material things.  A must me!
2.  Killer Angels by Michael Shaara - This is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about Civil War times.  It sort of recreates the Battle of Gettysburg and depicts the key players as regular guys just living in the time they were born in.  I am about 50% finished reading this one.  The print is so tiny I had to put it away and it's on my e-read wish list.  In school, I didn't much enjoy history but at slightly past 50, I really do like learning about American heritage and family history too.
3. Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion by Frank Schaeffer - This book I purchased used but haven't read at all yet.  I found a recommendation for this one a couple of years ago when I was seeking fresh approaches to 'religion' and honestly I was desperate to dig up some compassion and tolerance for religious idiots.  I still haven't found much.  There's so much difference between having faith in God and propping up on "church" when it's convenient.  I do know enough to know that it's not my place to pass judgment on people....Perhaps I will add this book to my winter vacation reading list. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Thirty Days of Me - Day 23

Day 23 has this prompt:  Something you crave a lot

I crave dark chocolate salted caramels (the kind you can buy at Trader Joe's or its generic brother store Aldi.  I find no significant difference in quality and a large difference in price.)

My first thought was COFFEE but I literally don't crave coffee.  I require it.  ;)

Beyond food, I crave purpose in life, good music and sunshine.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Day 22 - Thirty Days of Me

Day 22 - What Makes You Different From Everyone Else....other than the obvious (my DNA, my relatives, my past, my journey in this life, my fashion style, my driving skills) the thing that makes me different from everyone is that my future is going to be exclusively mine - based on my faith, my perspective and my obligations.  I am not a conformist.  I am not a follower.  So, I know my future will belong to me and no one else.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Day 21 - Thirty Days of Me

Day 21 - Post a picture of something that makes you happy
I acquired this horse when he was about five years old.  He's never done a wrong thing, the kids have bonded with him; and even though arthritis has plagued him in recent years, he's still a good boy and he loves to swim in the pond.  It makes me happy when he blows water bubbles out his nose. :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day 20 - Thirty Days of Me

Day 20 - Someone you see yourself being with in the future

I hope and pray I will be with people I love in my spouse, my family, a few friends and always a dog as long as I am able to care for one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day 19 - Thirty Days Of Me

Nicknames you have & why do you have them?

1.  Marie - only my Daddy calls me this, usually when I first see him.  It's a special greeting!
2.  Gram - I was so fortunate that my husband has three children and when the grandkids arrived, I became Gram.  One of my fondest memories is when my  oldest granddaughter said to me "You're the best Gram ever!"
3.  Sister - both my amazing brothers call me Sister.  I'm their favorite one (only one, but anyway...) and I call them both Brother.
4.  Old forgotten nickname is discussed on Day Two of this journal challenge (name of your blog).  Check it out if you are just joining in to read my online journal project.

30 Days of Me - Day 18


My plans, goals and dreams have often been sidelined by my unwillingness to sacrifice my values to accomplish something I thought I wanted.  For example, I have often spent money (on the credit card) that I didn't have, to buy something I thought would impress someone I really didn't want to be around anyway!
Why did I do that?  Peer pressure, temporary insanity...who knows.
Having somewhat of a 'grounded' attitude now after several health issues, my plans are to enjoy every day as much as possible. 
My goals include trying to be a better person tomorrow than I was today and the day before that.  First, by making a positive difference where I can and where I can't to just leave things alone.  And secondly, to be a good family member and friend.
My dreams...well, my dreams are often interrupted by reality.  I don't do that consciously anymore.  Big, crazy dreams might look something like a beach home on the east coast, a Corvette and enough money to take care of every stray dog I see.  A record company, a publishing company and an endless supply of butter pecan ice cream.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Seventeen - Thirty days of Me

The prompt for Day 17 says to name someone I would want to switch places with for a day and why.

This is a tough one.  There's nobody I'd rather be besides myself.  Not that I am better than anyone else; just that I have learned to live in my skin (with all the hidden hurts inside).

So, at the risk of alienating someone, I guess I'd be Donald Trump for a day.  And here's a list of reasons why:
1.  I would undo all the executive orders Trump's written simply because he was so hypocritical when President Obama did a few.  I don't even care what they say - undo them.  It's not the way to do business.  It circumvents the process.
2.  I'd  donate a million dollars to every person I'd sexually harassed during that lifetime, with a legitimate and sincere apology.
3.  My sons and daughters all need a good lesson on service to country - I'd ship them to do volunteer work in Puerto Rico for six months.
4.  Melania wouldn't have to frown all day.  We could shop, although Putin would be curious why I didn't check in.
5.  I'd apologize for calling NFL players sons of bitches on national TV.  And, I'd honor John McCain as a hero of our country even if I didn't want to agree with all his political views.
6.  There might still be time to get our servicemen out of Afghanistan and everyplace else that isn't home before Christmas.
7. Finally, I'd have my mouth sewn shut and my fingers sewn together so as to avoid future tweets and blowhard statements that are not good for my country.  And, I'd get the tailor to size me up for my impending straight=jacket.

Now, the reason that wouldn't work even for a day - no way in Hell I'm leaving my dogs alone with Trump unsupervised for any amount of time.  You can imagine how I feel about him being in charge of America.  Alec Baldwin is much better.  Maybe I'd rather trade that day with him.  #SNLpotus #4aday

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Day 15 - Post Random Songs from your iPod on shuffle

It's Eclectic!!!!

Kris Kristofferson - Sunday Morning Coming Down
GnR-Live and Let Die
Lori McKenna - Sometimes He Does
Bob Marley.Lauryn Hill - Turn Your Lights Down Low
Zac Brown.Chris Cornell - Heavy is the Head
Robert Cray - Phone Booth
Maroon V - Moves Like Jagger
Tom Petty - Break Down
Chris Stapleton - What are you Listening to?
Van Morrison - Gloria
Eric Church - Drink in my Hand
Sting/Police - Fields of Gold
Etta James - Sunday Kind of Love
Bob Segar - Main Street
Al Green - Let's Stay Together
Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You
The Band - Get Up Jake
Grace Potter - Joey
Johnny Cash - Mean Eyed Cat
Everclear - Wonderful
Gary Allen - Every Storm
Elvis - That's All Right
And, on and on....

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Day 13 - Thirty Days of Me

Day 13 - A Letter to someone who has hurt you recently

Dear Fibromyalgia,

You hurt me everyday but you will never win.  I am too fortunate to know love, too surrounded by people who care and too blessed in a gillion other ways.  I have learned to let myself rest and understand I can still be a useful person.  My doctors know who I am.  They help me manage you as does my loving family and friends.  When you bring all you have, I will be ready. 

Resistantly yours,

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Day 12-30 days of Me

Day 12 - How you found out about Blogs and why you made one...

I found out about blogging from my friend Kim (See yesterday's post for visual effect).  She was excitedly talking about it one day during work break.  It was fun for a bit and then life happened and I lost the connection.  I think three or four of us girls at the office started blogging about the same time, maybe in 2009 or maybe even before.

Since 'journaling' is now a big thing, as is paper day planners (the cycle never ends) and I didn't want to spend any limited cash on an actual journal books or supplies, I decided to revive my blog and do a bit of digital journaling.  So, twelve days in, I can say that I feel like this is part of my evening routine - to think for a minute or so.  To reflect on who I am and why, to study what makes me happy or not.

Stay tuned.  Day 13 should be real cool.

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