Dec 31, 2011

The Violent (though natural) Death of 2011


Oh my dear God. 

 I just got the dogs fed and my second cup of coffee and went out to my front porch to see how nice it is today. It's been about 50 degrees here and that's about 30 degrees warmer than normal: SCORE!

So I go outside, I drink coffee, I am looking around thinking it's going to be another gorgeous day, and I notice I hear Cardinals making their peeping noise.  A lot of Cardinals.  I think how cool this is.  Before it can cross my mind that the peeping noise is their alarm sound (oh, sweet obliviousness of early Saturday morning!), three of them fly over my house from behind me, all peeping, in the direction of the house across the street.   They were beautiful!  At this time my face had a smile, and I was thinking what a wonderful way to start the last day of this horrifying but never boring year.

Swiftly following this millisecond of peace, a small hawk flew right after them, two soared over the neighbor's house and on past, but one got caught up under the eave of the neighbor's front porch.  The hawk dove right after it.  At this point, my face had a horrified, wide eyed stare.  I was already telling myself that the hawk was a good, strong hawk, who was just hungry, and his amazing hunting skills were being displayed for me in all their glory, while at the same time the peeping got worse, and that hawk did not kill that beautiful, violently peeping bird for what seemed like a long time, but was probably only about 5 seconds.

At this point my face had a resigned, sad, kind of mad look because I knew the bird was not going to get away, that this was that bird's day to take it's place in the circle of life, but for God's sake hawk, FINISH IT!

The hawk did.  I couldn't make myself look away.  There was a mantra repeating in my brain that went something like "this is life.  this is natural.......this is life.......this is natural........"  and that was all.

During this time it occurred to me that I should film this but didn't have my phone with me.  During this time it occurred to me that this may be a sign.  Of what, I remain unsure.

This is what I have boiled it down to:

1) What you thought was a magical moment quickly turned into a hard but perfectly natural event in the life of any animal, and you were severely disappointed to have to witness it.

2) Illusions have a cost.  Not that they aren't worth it, just sayin.

3) Reality must be faced and dealt with.  There really is no time off from that.  You can run, but you can't hide.

4)  I am so glad that this year is over.  It has been one violent shock after another, I swear!  

I am speaking politically and, I believe, for the entire world, here.  Honestly, I cannot ever remember, in my entire life, being sad to see any year go, and that probably says a lot more about the age I am getting to be than my actual life, but I am actually looking forward to 2012.  

Whether I am just believing in the illusion that things will get better, or just standing on the cusp of another violent death (metaphorically ((I hope)) speaking) I am ready to get it over with.  

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, here we go and come what may, 2012 is upon us.

Now I have to deal with the reality of getting in the shower and going out to buy groceries.  In between those two things I will probably go over and clean up a bunch of gorgeous feathers out of my neighbor's driveway.  Unless the cats in the neighborhood have kicked in by that time, you really can't deny that everything in nature works together for the same good cause.  

Let's hope that humankind can find some illusions they are willing to pay the cost for in this coming year.

God Bless us all..........

Dec 26, 2011

Being Home.....

There is no time sweeter to me than Christmas these days, simply because that's the only time all my kids are ever home at the same time anymore.  

I never thought much about it when they were all home and I felt like I was drowning in kids all those years, and the quiet is welcome, but every once in a while, this old house takes on the rhythmic routine of days gone by. It's like being able to go into the past, only everybody is older now.  There is none of the anxiety that hounded me for so long.  For decades I was stressed over things not being "good enough".  Now I find comfort in the fact that nothing can hurt this house.  We have seen it all, from bees in the walls to fountains of water pouring out of the wall in the shower. I am telling the truth when I say that it would take a doozy to throw us off now.  We have practically been through basic training with this house.   I like it much better this way.

 For the past few days I have:

     - spent the majority of time in my pajama's or an apron, or both.

     - met one or the other of my older "children" coming in at 4 am, and not been upset with them for missing a curfew.

     - visited with my pretend daughter and noticed that of all the people in the house, no one said a word or remarked in any way when my pretend grand baby serenaded us with her version of a song on the piano.  Not too loudly and not for too long.  I was so proud nobody told her to stop.  We are a mellow crew at my house, I am inordinately proud of this.

      - felt the boys trying to gauge how awake their sister is, trying to make the choice between sleeping a little later or getting in the shower before their sister, as there is a long wait for hot water after girlfriend gets done.

     - heard the voice inside my head ask "are you really listening to your brother and your son have a seemingly casual conversation about AR's, which I am pretty dang sure are assault rifles, and both of them sound pretty knowledgeable?" and answered the voice inside my head "Yes......yes, yes I am."  and then smiled.  We are a family who can protect ourselves and those we love or are prepared to die trying.  I am most definitely proud of that.

       - divided up left over ham while my sons bring a table into the house by way of taking off the back door, and then the weather stripping, until they achieved success and kept me from having to turn around and sell a great table and benches that I bought second hand.  Without measuring my doors or the top of the solid tabletop, just in case that was not self explanatory. ;)  I have raised men who rise to a challenge, not to mention perform miracles with nothing more than a pipe fitter's wrench, a tape measure, and 7 flat head screwdrivers of varying lengths.  What a relief.

      - watched while wringing my hands as my sons tried and failed to get the old table down the stairs, as the "new" table would not possibly fit down the basement stairs.  This did not deter them either.  We just switched out the sets and now I can do puzzles on the table in the basement while my youngest baby plays video games with his friends and asks me to "please do not be a part of this conversation, Mom".  Something tells me this could be a game changer.  The basement has been forsaken by me for several years, for reasons having to do with testosterone and dog hair.  No more.  Muahahahahahahahahahaha.

    - watched one of my mother's dearest friends see the Rock Star's tattoo, (which is his grandmother's name right over his heart), tear up, hug him and say "I am so proud of you", which is pretty much the same thing that I did when he showed me, and the LAST thing I ever could imagine saying when presented with any of my children's first tattoo............of which I had adamantly insisted there would never be any "as long as I live".........  I can eat crow like nobody's business, having had quite a lot of practice over the years.  I think I have learned that you just never know what a day will bring, but that it will probably be all right, whatever that is.  I needed that.

       - comforted and reassured my sister in law that it really wasn't a problem that my nephew left the door open and the dog ran in with big muddy paw prints all over the kitchen, because a) This happens all the time!  Really! and b) I bought a carpet cleaner for this exact reason!  You know those commercials where the kids make a terrible mess and the mom just smiles and says "that's OK" in a sing songy voice?  Well, I am now that mom.  It took 22 years and a Bissell but baby, I am finally there and I have to say, it feels good!  It really is OK!!

      **It should be said that if you want to be "that mom", (and you do!!  Trust me, you do!!)  you should be very careful not to replace your carpet or fix anything that happens to your walls for a couple of decades.  This process will erode the part of you that cares about your house looking "good".  This is crucial, not to mention freeing.    At the end of the 20 years, you will not give one single flying flip about another stain on the carpet, OR another hole in the wall, for that matter.  I didn't say it would be easy, I said it would be WORTH IT.  In other words, give up now, give up and relax and just enjoy those kids while they are still there.  The other stuff you can fix or remodel later, or not........ 

I hope you had a great Christmas and some down time to just "be home".  It isn't easy to accomplish in today's world.  You have to really make your priorities count.  And if you are one of those people who are still caught up in getting everything perfect?  Give it up, now, while there is still time.  If you can't drop everything and have a child, at least borrow one for a while, or get a dog.  There is still time to save yourself.  I have often said of children, "they save us".  They really do, not in ways you would recognize as "saving" at the time.  It's in the looking back that you see how the hardest  things were the best things, in the end, and marvel that you wouldn't trade them for anything.

It's nice to be reminded of that once in a while, even at 4 am.

To my kids, you did a really good job with me.  Thanks!  


Dec 24, 2011

Christmas Present......

 All those years I waited and waited for them to go to sleep so I could get started.

Now they fall asleep on the couch at 9:30 watching It's a Wonderful Life.......

I knew this day would come.

I always thought I would be happier about it......

Oh, well.  That's life!!

I will just treasure the moments I get to watch them sleep.

I find it just as mesmerizing as I did when they were babies.......

....and to all a good night!!

Dec 6, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere.....Pt3

A lot of the ornaments on my tree are actually the kids' now.  Every year I get them at least one, all alike if I can find them.

That says "Mom's Favorite!" under First Born, but don't worry........

Everybody got one.  The girl even had red hair!  I was thrilled.

The undisputed favorite of the kid's is Santa in his hammock.  They used to fight over who got to put it up but in later years have settled for quietly moving him around to their own personal preference, without saying anything about it.  It's become our version of Find Waldo.

It's not a very good picture but you get the idea.  He's on vacation and has probably been drinking Mai-Tai's, so this focus is representative of Santa's own!  He's watching All My Reindeer on his little TV on his tummy, so focus isn't so important.  It's always easy to catch up with soaps even if you are blind drunk.

This is one that the kids always make a point of looking for and locating also.  It's kind of out of focus also but Santa has lost his clothes.  It happens.  I hear stories.

As long as Santa's on vacation and "fuzzy", I guess it's understandable that he might find himself naked except for his hat?  lol

Here is one of the more ritzy ones I have gotten for the Beautiful Redhead.  A a child, the more bling the better.  She was always partial to crystals and I found this one when she was 4 or 5.  The red and white striped ball to the right is from Chuck and Chirpy's December wedding years ago, and this year they are expecting their first child!  You can hang a tree with enough memories to last a lifetime.  Every year it just gets a little bit better.

I admit it's getting a little crowded.  But very soon, the Rock Star is going to need his.  He just got a great job.  Annnnnnndddd he's 22.  Sob..........

One last shot.  This features several wooden ornaments,more "hand" painted ones and the one that says Merry Christmas I got from my co-workers at Walsworth when I left there.  Also on the right there is a train.  We have two of these.  They were gifts to the twins and if you pushed something on them they actually sounded like a train.  Because of the loudly irritating sounds these made, they were very popular with the twins when they were small.  They were just as unpopular with the rest of us for the exact same reason, and this was the biggest game of all for a couple of years, as the twins were a little defensive about it and would throw screaming fits if they could not locate their "choo-choo's".  I forget who we got them from but I highly suspect it was probably my brother, who took his long awaited revenge upon me by buying my children noisy toys for years.  Before he had children of his own and I was helpless to retaliate, not that I would ever be so cruel.  Even he drew the line at noisy toys, though.  I should take this opportunity to thank you, dear brother, for never gifting my children with pets.  

It took about 6 years for the "choo-choo" batteries to finally wear out.  No one in this house would ever dream of replacing them.  We have the memories of that sound and it is enough.  More than enough, until such time as we should have to suffer through it again with the grandchildren.

So ends my post about the "altar" of the Christmas tree.  

But I have other altars.  Everybody does.  They might not be called altars, but that's what they are.

Dec 4, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere....Pt. 2

I was the first grandchild on my mother's side.  For three years I ruled the kingdom and during this time I proclaimed my grandmother "Big Grandma".  This was not because my grandmother was big.  In fact, the first time I called her that I can remember how she laughed for a very long time and finally asked me why I called her that.  She didn't seem especially touched by it.  I had two grandma's that lived in her town, as I thought of it, her mother lived there also, my great-grandmother.  The only explanation that I had then, and the only one that I still have to this day, is that my grandmother  was taller than my great-grandmother, ergo, "Big" Grandma and "Little" Grandma.  Little Grandma didn't seem especially pleased by her name either, but it seemed completely obvious to me.  I, being naturally shorter than either of them by quite a distance, did not know that they were both actually very small women.  Be that as it may, they were both referred to by those names from that day forward.  Nobody argues with the first grandchild, I tell you.  Nobody.

Big Grandma always had a bird nest on her Christmas tree.  She said it was good luck for the next year.  I can remember her getting excited about finding small abandoned nests.  She sprayed the holy living crap out of them with Lysol and put them in trash bags, to "kill all the bugs", for weeks and then shellacked them.  Probably to seal in the bugs, just in case any survived.  Or laid eggs that could hatch.  She did not suffer dirt, she put on a whole uniform including a scarf over her hair and attacked it mercilessly. 

It's not a real one.  It was a gift from my mother, in memory of the one Big Grandma had, for my own house.   It's the oldest tradition I have.

Big Grandma was very crafty, even artistic.  She was always whipping up something or other and there wasn't much space between us, which is probably why one year I made my own ornaments as gifts.  The Santa below is another of the cute wooden ones that move around, but to the left of it and below with the pink and blue swirl is one.  You simply buy an empty ornament and whole bunch of paint, pour it in, swirl it around, and waa-laa!  Beautiful ornaments that will last as long as you don't break them, but hey, that will just be the year you broke the pink and blue ornament that you made when the twins were small, and waa-laa!  There's a memory.  That's the way it is with Christmas ornaments that you know.  They never leave you.  This cannot happen with new ornaments.  Unless it's the only new ornament, in which case it will probably be special, in which case you could make a memory if you broke it.  But only if you cared about it. 

You can swirl any colors you want, in case you have a different "theme" going, or want to match your furniture or something.   However, if you make these please give them as gifts.  They will be treasured forever.  Unless they are sold at a garage sale.  

Another good use for the empty ornament is to put cute stuff inside.  Pictures, confetti, in this case golf tee's.... these are unique and one of a kind gifts, inexpensive to make, depending of course on what you put in them.

One of the Beautiful Redhead's, from her golf coach in high school and safe from garage sales forever and ever, amen.

If you knit, and I am ashamed that I don't, this is an excellent choice.  In fact, so ignorant am I that I do not even know for sure whether this is knitted or crocheted.  Probably crocheted.  Isn't that the one with all the holes?   Whatever it is, we should all learn to do it and I am pretty sure my Nana is rolling over in her grave right now because I would never learn this most basic skill when she tried to teach me.  I regret it.  It can't be that hard and I need to get that started.  It's been on my list for decades.  This one was given to me by a friend I worked with named Janet Turner in 1993.  I have put it on my tree every year since and I always stop and think of her.  I always thought I would do that for the kids every year, if I that stuff, but I've not gotten around to it.  My babies are 14.  I need to get started soon.

They say no two are alike.  That is just one added plus if you are nervous about making mistakes in knitting. Or crocheting.  Maybe by next year I can inform you further on these mysteries.

Dec 2, 2011

Little Altars Everywhere...Pt.1

Tonight I drug out the Christmas tree and got it up.  There are even presents wrapped under it.  After having been so efficient and on my feet so long I grabbed the camera and thought BLOG THIS!!

The Christmas tree in my life has never mattered.  I have had real trees and hated them, the trying to get them even, the watering, the needles dropping out, the getting rid of it.  I have had fake trees and hated them, putting them up and bending all those branches, the backache, the falling over the whole entire tree because it is never solid at the base.  In fact, in recent years I have been thinking of buying a fake fireplace just so I can throw up a garland, decorate it and call it good!

None of this matters a whit because the tree is merely the backdrop for the ornaments.  Christmas trees are altars, of a kind.  I have altars everywhere in my house.  You probably do, too.  The ornaments are one of the major things that makes it feel like Christmas for me.  I often received them as gifts growing up, and especially after I left home and had my own home.  I often give my children ornaments as gifts, and when they have their own homes they will already have a starter set of ornaments that have been with them their whole, entire lives.
This is the whole thing.  Notice the way the tree leans to the right.  

Christmas ornaments are tangible memories. Myriad memories of when you got them, times you have put them up, other ornaments this one reminds you of that got broken, and when, and by whom, and if mom cried when it happened.  There is the little ceremony of unveiling them.  Many of them you have seen just once a year, for a few weeks, since you were very small, and just a kernel of what you have become.  That kernel is still there, and you have put that snowflake on the tree as a child, the first Christmas after your Grandma died, the year you were home from college, and the first year you ever put it on your own tree. 
I got this ornament from my mother the first year I had my own tree.  Many of my ornaments are from her and my aunt Linda.  They favored wooden ornaments, often with moving parts.  Just as often Hallmark as Dime Store, back when we still had Dime Stores.  Should that be capitalized?  I'm tired.  These high energy days are about to kill me.

How you felt as sad as you did happy that year and how strange it was that you would be sad.  Telling yourself that it was just sentimentality when really in your heart you knew you were just mourning your old life because whatever happened from here on, and no matter how wonderful it would be, it would never be the same as it always had been before.  Some changes are irrevocable.  That's just life, but you should always take note and honor these changes.  They are the tapestry of your life.  (Why yes, Ms. King joined me this evening in taking measure of this year, as I performed the rituals that sustain us all from cradle to grave.  wink wink)
My first child's First Christmas ornament.  He got about 12, as he was born Dec. 1, and the other kids have always been jealous.  They say he gets everything.  I say it is not my fault.  But this is the first one I actually opened.  Is it not amazing that I remember that when I can't figure out whether to capitalize Dime Store or not?  You simply cannot get this kind of stuff with new ornaments every year.  

I met people at college whose families bought different ornaments every year.  They had, like, "themes".  Different ones every year unless they really liked them.  These people lived in a city, and I felt very sorry for them.  I asked what they did with the old ornaments and they said they sold them at garage sales.  I made a mental note to check out their garage sales, but I am still astounded to this day by this concept.  It doesn't sound like Christmas to me. Themes are not for Christmas.  Rather, Christmas IS the theme.  Nothing new here, same old story, same old ornaments.  At least, at my house this is how it is.  How it has always been.

Isn't he cute?  He made me cry,but in a good way, as did this post until I added the captions.  I figure this is a new "theme" for blogs.  Read the italics and laugh, read the straight print and cry, and by then you've had a full day.  If you are going through menopause you can probably go out into the world without embarrassing yourself, as now your emotional roller coaster for the day is complete.  Onward Ho!  Stride forward with confidence that you at least will not start bawling in public.  Probably.

For instance, the ornament above was given to me by my friend Louise, when I lived next to her.  I turned it over and thought of her and she was close to me as if she was standing right next to me.  I thought of those days when we were just one house away and all our children were still home.  Everything has changed so much!  Almost all our kids are grown and she already has grandchildren and mine are yet to come, but I know they are coming and I think of them already, especially when I hold these ornaments.  

She made these by hand and they still smell like gingerbread.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the twins tried to eat them that year. They are not toxic. ;) We ended up putting the Christmas tree inside a playpen, and I moved all the ornaments up for a couple of years even after that.  It made for some strange looking trees, but all the ornaments were close to eye level.

Nov 28, 2011

....When You Least Expect It......

Expect it.  Isn't that the old fashioned advice?  Pure gold, as usual.

The many days of Thanksgiving were over, everyone had gone back home, the house was still relatively clean, and I was sound asleep in bed thinking I was "ready" to get back to work and get the boys back on a normal schedule with school.

Suddenly, I hear the shower start, which is normal, as my Oldest Baby takes his shower at night.  I registered the sound somewhere in my mind.....and it seemed somewhat louder than usual.  I was in that heavy sleep that you go into about an hour after you go to bed, and I pushed the wondering away, for about 9 seconds.

Next I heard cries for help coming from the bathroom.  This is not usual, and the shower still sounded really loud.

I hear my Youngest Baby rumbling up the steps and going into the bathroom, presumably to "help" his brother.  The next thing I heard was bickering between the two of them as to how the other one is doing things wrong, and still the water is running like crazy!  By now I am no longer in any kind of sleep.  Instead I am tearing myself from my warm, soft, quiet, heavenly bed and trying to make it to the door without killing myself.  It sounds like a freight train is in the bathroom, possibly running over at least one of my children, maybe both!  

I stumble into the bathroom and the scene that greeted me was, well it was crazy, but nothing you want to get up out of your deepest sleep for.

Water was shooting out of a hole where the hot water knob used to be and both boys are trying to stop it, one fully clothed, and the other one bent over double in the shower.  I ask what happened and they both start yelling at the same time, not because they were mad, but because they had to yell over the sound of the water shooting out of the hole like a fire hose (!) and hitting the back wall of the shower when it's not hitting my naked Oldest Baby and then splashing all over the bathroom.  He pivots toward me to yell his version of the story and I notice that he is still bent over double, and at this point it dawns on me that yes, he is naked, but he also 14 and in the "MY MOTHER MUST NOT SEE ME NAKED OR THE WORLD WILL END" stage, and so I dive for the hole and tell the boys to go turn off the water to the house.  They both leave.  To do what, I do not know because now it occurs to me that they don't know where the turn off to the water is.  I yell for help.  Water continues to shoot mostly down my arms and between the walls to the downstairs bathroom.  I must say, my bathroom floors have probably never been quite THIS clean before.....

And then I throw caution to the wind, throw the shower curtain as shut as I can get it as fast as I can, ( I am not at my best at 11:30 pm after an hour and a half of sleep, I freely admit) and run as fast as I can downstairs to turn off the water.

The silence was as welcome as it was deafening.

I drag myself back upstairs to find the twins looking for tools.  Yes, I laughed too.  In fact, I laughed for about 20 minutes solid, once my legs stopped shaking and I could be trusted to stomp on towels all over both bathroom floors.

Then I start wondering who to call about this.  Thank God for one of my Angels, who was even up at midnight.  AND returned my call.  If you do not have this worked out already, you need to make a list in your head of people you can call at midnight who will not only answer the phone but will answer the call!  This list should be added to periodically, I would say at least every 5 years, because as the years go by the list gets shorter;  people die, and the ones who don't get old too.  Don't let that happen.  You will pay for it in the end, or maybe sooner, and I can guarantee it will not happen at a convenient time.  We must be vigilant.

The next morning I scooped water out of the back of one of the stools, boiled it, and set up a little station by the kitchen sink.  We washed our hair (sort of), our faces, and brushed our teeth.  We felt like pioneers.  Or prison inmates.  Prison inmates and at privately run prison, not those fancy places that have the computers and spa days.  You get the picture.

So, this was Monday after a week's vacation.

It was quite a week.

Going back to work was a piece of cake, if you know what I mean. 

Nov 24, 2011


Due to the kid's being gone today, I have been able to spend the morning lazing around with the Rock Star and the Beautiful Redhead.
Instead of peeling potatoes and checking on the turkey, we threw a chicken in the crock pot and assembled an enchilada casserole for later.  Maybe tomorrow.
My house is clean thanks to a week of "vacation" spent cleaning.  I have discovered that I hate dusting more than anything.  Whether that is due to it not being "important" enough to me or to the incredible amount of dust that my house seems to constantly recycle, I do not know.  What I do know is that in putting off dusting the other day, I decided to instead apply more rubber cement to the pane of glass that has been rattling in my front door.
During this exercise, it occurred to me that the Rock Star was coming home and would like nothing better than to help his mother with this project.  Stupidly, and in true Melinda form, I decided to just "press on".

Well, the good new is that I no longer have a pane of glass rattling in my front door.  

The bad news is that I have no pane of glass in my front door.

I plasticised over both the inside and the outside of the hole where the pane should be, ordered more glass that won't be here until next week, and still had to dust.

I bit the bullet and got the rest of the house clean.  I had to.  And do you know the twins didn't even notice there was no glass in the door?  Gotta love those boys, huh?  I mean, as long as there is food, nothing else really matters or even registers with them.  It used to drive me crazy as a "girl", but as a mother I count on it.  I have even become comfortable with it.  So comfortable, in fact, I have come to rely on it, and do you know, it seems better this way.

Anyway, with all that cleaning done, it left yesterday free to watch Gone With The Wind several times, as it was on continuous loop on AMC yesterday.  

I must confess, watching Scarlett always makes me feel better about who I am.  Also, I don't really get why Clark Gable was considered so good looking.  I guess maybe you had to be there.  But in the end, when he tells her he doesn't give a damn?  It really doesn't get any better than that.  It is kind of sad because she isn't a completely terrible person, and at that point, she could actually be kind of a good person, but of course by then, it 's too late.  Just like life.  Karma gets Scarlett too, and boy does she ever have it coming.

I think my favorite line/scene in that movie is where Scarlett is trying to get Mammy to pull her corset tight enough to make her waist 18 1/2 inches.  Again.  Mammy says "Now, Mz Scahlet, you done gone and had a baby.  You ain't nevah gone be 18 1/2 inches again, and there ain't nothing you can do about it."

That is the truth.  And furthermore, ain't nothin in this world where an 18 1/2 inch waist is gone help with, honey.  Lay that down and forget about it.  Plenty of more important things to worry about right in front of you.

I am no Scarlett, thanks be to God, but she wasn't all bad.  In fact, if she could have gotten the Southern  Lady thing out of her mind, she could have.....well, what couldn't she have done?

She is just the kind to have had enchiladas instead of turkey if she felt like.  We all need enough selfishness to do what makes us happy, regardless of what anybody thinks about it.

Embrace your self involvement, women, just don't let it take over your good sense.  Realizing what is really important is positively liberating, no bra burning needed.

In the end, I promise you the world won't stop spinning.  I also promise you that turkey and stuffing do not actually make it onto people list of important things.  Nobody will remember what kind of stuffing you fixed.  They might remember if you burnt up the turkey, or burnt up the house if you are the turkey frying kind, but other than some horrible catastrophe, all they will remember is each other, and the funny things that happened that day.  It's all that's important.  You should find that a relief, especially if you are a woman.

I wish for you today to be thankful for all that you have, even if that includes turkey.  But I hope that you have so much turkey comes so far down on the list that it doesn't even matter.

Don't be a Scarlett, never able to see what's right in front of you before it's too late.  Live every moment to it's fullest and don't worry about the mess.  It will be there when you are ready to clean it up.  I promise you that, too.

Nov 10, 2011

Speaking of Hot Toddies.....

This might be a God wink.  

No sooner did I mention Hot Toddies and confess that I didn't even know what one was, than an article appeared before my eyes.

If you can stand the taste of alcohol, here are a few recipes for your perusal.  Even if you can't stand the taste of alcohol, I often find that when one has a bad cold or the flu, it's a sacrifice worth making.  You can't really taste it anyway and it certainly does not taste any worse than some of the over-the-counter remedies I have spent money on.

They didn't say it had medicinal purposes for nothing, you know.


Nov 9, 2011

And the pendulum swings back.....

Today I was blessed with an upsurge.  Whether of hormones or hopefulness I cannot say, but hey, an upsurge is an upsurge, aye?  I always try to enjoy them, and they don't come along like they used to.  When they do come along these days, I say Tally-Ho!

Today I woke up to big, flat flakes of snow falling.  It was beautiful.  For the first time in years, well, at least a year, I was excited when I woke up the boys. 

 "Look outside!  Hurry!  You don't want to miss it!"
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing!  Hurry!"

And just like that, we were all not only up, but completely awake and happy, looking forward to the day.  By this afternoon it was beautifully sunny and not freezing.  A lot of the leaves are still on the trees and it was just beautiful.  The leaves have really taken their own individual sweet times this fall and I for one have enjoyed them IMMENSELY.  Also, it has conveniently made putting off raking more leaves easy, since they haven't all fallen yet and you'll just have to do it again.  *wink wink.

So tonight, having been in a mood to shed stuff anyway, I am going to drag out the Christmas decorations, and maybe put up some lights that can go as well for Thanksgiving.  

"The lights!! THE LIGHTS!!!  YES!"  That's the person inside my head, who cheers me on and keeps me on track.  Sometimes they are a bitter, jaded, sarcastic but realistic person that makes me laugh and rail against fate simultaneously, but not when it come to lights.  The other side of the coin in this person is that they also get up and twirl around (inside my head) and stuff, getting me excited enough to get up off the couch, put down my book and take up hammers and staple guns and do.......stuff!  I would take up a lot more than that but I can't afford power tools.  So sometimes I bake stuff instead.  There is no telling where this enthusiasm will take me at any given time,but here, on this day, the enthusiasm is for lights.  Which will segue nicely into the holiday season.  Which is upon us.

The lights always help.  I put up some inside also.  For some reason being in my warm house when it's cold outside, sipping a hot drink, baking, tending my home fires is SO MUCH more enjoyable with low lighting in the form of pretty little twinkling lights.  I'm going to pour some Kahlua in some coffee, finish making my list, listen to the music I love the most, and start wrapping what I've already got.  This is doubly exciting because I will be able to skip the step of hiding these things, guaranteeing me being able to skip that particular, horror-filled, terrifying step!  WIN-WIN!!

I can do this.  I can even enjoy it. 

I will journal about it and then, when the pendulum swings back into the dark, cold, please just let me go to bed and stay there zone, I will be able to remember this time, these feelings, this day and all that it included.

The older I get, the more I realize what a gift having your parent's words after their death is.  It's a gift that we, probably naturally, do not think about.  I have always kept a journal.  Many have been burned, you understand, but I finally got to a point where I didn't feel bad anymore about how I felt.  If, on the chance that someone read those words and got hurt by them, well, those words were not meant for your eyes and sorry as I am that you got hurt, you brought it upon yourself.  So be it. And now I feel just great about it.  Of course, now I live with people who respect other people's privacy.  It could be coincidence.  Whatever. 

I still keep my journals.  There my children will find the "real" stuff.  Hopefully when they need it.  

I often give journals as gifts, especially to new mothers.  I tell them that now their real life begins!  I encourage you to keep one, even if you only put in it what you want your children to know someday.  

If nothing else, it will be a load off your mind in anticipation of the day when you will no longer be with them.  Do it for your peace of mind.  Do it so you won't forget.  Do it for yourself.  Do it just to keep an accurate record.  The worth of an accurate is above rubies.  

You really are worth it.

And now, get ready for the holiday season and all the flour, sugar and twinkling lights that you can cram into it.

Here is one of my favorite songs that fits just such an occasion as tonight.  Enjoy!

Nov 3, 2011

Winter again.....for the next 6 months.......

ARG!  It's cold, wet and windy again. The dead limbs are blowing out of the trees.  The leaves are piling up.  And I have raked, blown, and burned twice already.

It makes me wish I had a roaring fireplace and a hot toddy. 

Not really. 

I don't even know what a hot toddy is, and the closest I ever got to a fireplace was a wood stove, which I loved dearly for the heat --but the cleaning involved!  Not really worth it.  Just my opinion.  You can't beat the heat but the clean up never ends.  Nevah!.

This morning the wind blew my umbrella wrong side out.

It's dark when I get up and will soon also be dark when I come home.

I hate this time of year. 

It's like being trapped in a dream ( of lethargy and apathy) unable to move (not that you care) while the whole time you can see Christmas (AGGG!  SCARY CHRISTMAS!!) bearing down upon you. 

I wish I was a bear. 

Mostly for the hibernation.

OK, completely for the hibernation. 

Also, they give birth to their cubs while they are hibernating.  After they have pigged out all summer and gotten really fat and soaked up all the sun and summer breezes.  Their cubs are born the size of walnuts.

 I think I could handle that. 

I know I could handle that.

Bears have good lives.  The rest of us have Christmas.

Can you tell I hate this time of year?  Nothing against Christmas but it's the pressure. 

The cleaning, the cooking, the hiding, the wrapping, the trying to figure out where you hid it so you can wrap it.  The not being able to stay in bed all day. 

The getting sidetracked in the crap that's been in boxes in the basement for the last 20 years while you look for the stuff that you bought and hid away.  You think you remember buying it.  You meant to buy it.  Maybe you forgot that too.  Maybe you dreamed it!

GREAT!  Now you don't have what you thought you had, or maybe you DO have it, but you just can't find it.  At any rate, it's just like the dream.  You know have to get busy, and yet you cannot move, frozen in dread.

Every year I start in on my Christmas shopping only to realize that I need extra stuff for the Rock Star because his birthday is Dec. 1.

I do not forget this.  NO!  I don't. 

I remember it but forget to get a gift bought.

Then, once I start buying every body's Christmas, I remember that  his birthday hasn't happened yet, that  I have simply been working ahead on that blasted list in my head.

And I skipped a step.  An event.  An event that needs a gift to accompany it.  That's when I  have to take a couple things out of the Christmas stuff  for the birthday gift. 

Because I looked over it in the pressure of Christmas.  Looked over, you understand? 

Not the same as forgetting.  Not.  the.  same.

And then he, poor first born child that he is, is short a couple of gifts for Christmas.

Why am I (and all mothers, I believe) obsessed in keeping everything strictly "even"?????  Because it's right, that's why!!!!

This is just one reason to keep some extra gifts around.  The Home Shopping Channel is great for these. Buy cheap anonymous stuff that would work for practically anyone by the hundreds, just don't forget where you put them. 

Last year I got him a crock pot. 

Sad, I know. 

Even sadder?  .............He liked it. That's how old and responsible he is now.

My little boy is gone.  Now I feel like crying.  Maybe it's the weather.  Maybe it's the menopause.  Maybe it's just that I'm not a bear.

I have to go dig my Kahlua out of the closet, pour some into a cup of coffee (that's as close as I get to a hot toddy), and surf the net for great deals with no shipping.  This is my life.  Eat your hearts out, bears everywhere.

Why do I keep my Kahlua in my closet, you may ask?  Well, ever since I found the Crown frozen in the freezer that's just the way I do it.  My liquor is now on the top shelf in an old purse, behind my memory book from high school.

And yes, I know Crown doesn't freeze.  Unless you add water to it. 

When boys are about 13 they don't think too far into the future, which is both is both their blessing and their curse.

Ok, my blessing.  Their curse.

It could be worse.  The other day they asked me if you smoked or snorted weed.  They both graduated from the Dare Program.  No comment on what they learned in it, but at least you can see why I do not just go to bed this time of year, much as I think I deserve it and would LOVE to.

 I have liquor to to guard and presents to find.  I think......

I hope I have enough energy for the next few years.  I do not think they are going to include much sleep.

It's that time of year.  Again........Yawn.  Hang in there.  

Nov 1, 2011

Respect: I Miss It!

This is a rant.  This is also my departed mother's birthday.  Perhaps that is why this hit me so hard. This is always a hard day for me.  That's all the apology I will offer up.

Today, I took a call at work.  It was a concerned daughter calling with very bad news about her father.  She was calling her ex husband, out of a VALID concern that her children would hear this bad news on the STREET, through the GRAPEVINE, and she wanted to stop this from happening, as they would be unprepared for it, and there is no GOOD way to hear that kind of news, and she wanted to come from a parent.

Now, I don't what the ex husband said before he left, but I sat the rest of the afternoon and watched gossips pass this information around, even calling people at home to alert them.  I mean honestly!!

I am not trying to take anything away from people who are genuinely concerned.

FYI:  People who are genuinely concerned call the PERSON involved, not EVERYBODY ELSE.  

I do not know whether the children heard it on the street, but it certainly is a possibility with the way people hurried to pass the news around.  Perhaps you have never had to deal with the GRAPEVINE when someone you love is sick.  If so, YOU ARE BLESSED.  Know it!  Take a moment and thank God for your blessing.

A great deal of people have genuine concern and sorrow.  Then there are the people who come to see your loved one only to rush off with the latest story of how bad they look, or how bad they are doing, what a shame it is for poor _______.  This makes the sick person's family want to go on a rampage where tongues are cut out.  Yep.  It does.

Dealing with a loved one who is facing death is heart rending enough without having to deal with all the stories that get repeated and distorted along the line.  This is the one aspect of a long illness no one ever talks about.  Indeed, a lot of people don't even think about it.  It's like a secret club.  The only people who dare to speak of it have been through it already. 

I once thought I was going to have to get into a throw down at Wal Mart with one of these people, who kept insisting they just wanted to come "one more time", "to say goodbye", when my mother had already drawn the line on visitors and I know for a fact that all he wanted was the story because in his small little mind, he could use that story as currency at the local restaurant.  I didn't have to get into a throw down with him, but let me tell you, I would have gladly grabbed a bat and busted his head with no thought for the charges that would have no doubt been filed against me.  And he would have had it coming, if you ask me.  I could have taken my chances with a jury in Linn Co. and probably gotten off.

With that said, take a moment and think before you pass on gossip.  I don't care if it's true or not.  Any kind.  Take one moment and consider the privacy of the family.  There might be people they would like to be notified first so that they don't hear it on the street.  They might want, oh, maybe 1 day, or two, to deal with bad news privately, as a family.  They might not thank you for spreading their sorrow before they have had time to wrap their minds around it.  They might even not consider it any of your business to even know it, let alone spread it around as fast as possible.  They might not thank you for throwing it in their face as soon as you see them when it's all they can do to get their god forsaken groceries bought without crying.  They may have trained themselves to only cry in their car, because it's the only privacy they have where they will not upset their children.

Your words have power.  They can cause hurt that you may never know about, but can never make up.  I once watched a movie called DOUBT that had a scene where a woman confessed to gossiping to a priest.  He told her to take a feather pillow to the top of her building, slit it and let the feathers go and then come back the next day.  When she came back the next day she said she had done as he instructed.  Know what he said then?  He told her to go gather them all back up again.  In other words, there was no way to take back what she had done, no matter how hard she might try.  It was a quite brilliant movie, I thought.

It's not like everyone isn't going to find out anyway.  It's hard enough without having to make sure you have your "game face" on before you leave the house. 

If you are really CONCERNED, have some RESPECT. 

I don't think some people even know what respect is.  They certainly do not seem to have any respect for themselves.

Much hurt is done with gossip.  It seems to be the one sin no one ever feels bad about or any need to feel contrite for.  Think about that for 1 minute.  And in case you are under the impression that you are looked up to because you told it first?  Not exactly. 

Everybody already knows exactly what you are.

Oct 28, 2011

Karma, baby!!

There is no escaping it, not for any of us.

I hope you've read my post on Feminism. It mentioned Madonna's influence on what an entire generation of near sighted, admittedly self-medicated women decided to call "liberation".  Where all you ever had to think about was yourself and what you felt like at that very moment.  You were worth it.......etc. Not to look at it as a systematic destabilization of the world as we knew it, but as blazing new paths into the world of working, and leaving your children with, well, your mother.  Or someone.  Someone you would pay to watch your children so you could get a job and make some money.

Shortsightedness is the first thing you give up when you become a parent.  Also, selfishness, sleep and gray areas, but I'm wandering again.  These things will be stolen from you in the night when you sleep.  You don't even realize they are gone until you start to throttle someone who doesn't sterilize the pacifier/bottle/toy properly before they give it to your newborn baby.  And it only gets worse from there.

I, being just a little younger than Madonna, was over her after I tuned into her HBO Special for her Blonde Ambition tour. I had just become a mother, and found myself, for the first time, on the side of the "parents" instead of the "children".  It was horrible, but it was also one of the necessary steps into parenthood.

Even though I only had an infant, I could not abide having him in the same room where an American woman would subject her viewers to simulated ( I think it was simulated) masturbation, let alone accept the fact that I would pay to see it. Frankly, I simply didn't feel that I had ever done anything to deserve being treated in such a way. To take that thought just a bit further, I was hard pressed to imagine what could have happened to Madonna in her life that would make her have to stoop to such levels. I knew her mother was dead, but still wondered what kind of family would be able to brazen this kind of thing out. It cannot be denied: no matter what they had or had not done within their family, it didn't look good.  I pitied them. I pity them still.

Consequently, it was also the end of my HBO subscription. I've never looked back. I don't spend a lot of time doing that. It's kind of a rule of mine.

I couldn't help but share this, which caught my eye today:

Now, I can vividly remember learning that Madonna was pregnant. I was standing in Trenton Missouri's Hy-Vee and saw it on a magazine cover. I immediately laughed out loud. The lady in front of me, a stranger, looked around to see what had caught my eye and we had the funniest conversation about how poor Madonna was probably frantically trying to buy up copies of books, magazines, CD's, you name it, in preparation for becoming a mother. "How would you explain that??!!" we howled. The clerk chimed in that there was no way she would ever get it all back.  

Obviously, that was true.  What she did instead was try to isolate her children from the world.

When I think of her these days, I wonder if, like all parents, she thinks far enough down the road to wonder at what kind of positions her own children will put her in?  How much responsibility does she take for the world they live in?  I pity her.  I pity them.  The circle is complete, but circles never end.

Oct 22, 2011

Nana's Funeral

My Nana was 92 when she died.  She had a long, wonderful life and we were all expecting her to pass.  Many of us woke up that morning at 5 am,the exact time that she actually passed.  This is not unusual in my family, and so none of us were surprised.  Nana went to heaven just a couple of days before a huge ice storm hit Southern Missouri, the effects of which would be felt for weeks afterward.

The twins and I had left before the ice storm hit, so we were safely ensconced at my Uncle Melvin's house, which had not lost electricity and was heated by wood,when the storm started getting bad.  Some of us would not be able to make it if they hadn't already left, and my two older kids were in that group.  I was too afraid they would have something bad happen to them to have them risk leaving then.  I felt lonely without them but I was so glad to know they were safe.  Northern Missouri hadn't gotten it as bad as we were about to get it in Southern Missouri. On the other hand, I have never seen my Uncle Melvin so happy as he was that weekend, stuck in the country with a house full of family and firewood and food.  Odd to feel so safe and warm when you should be mourning, but that is the way I remember it.  He just kept bringing in wood and smiling.  The kids were all playing and my generation, the "parents" now, talked, cooked and stayed up late.  It was, in short, wonderful, even with the circumstances.

During this time, we "cousins" discovered a little secret about our Nana.  When we were little, there was no "favorite" among Nana's grand kids.  This subject was never even discussed that I remember.  I was always sure that I was her favorite.  Such was her genius and love that every single one of her grandchildren believed the exact same thing.  The way she accomplished this was to never treat anyone any differently when we were all together.  Instead, when she was alone with each of us, she would get teary eyed and hug you and say "You know you're special to me, don't you?" Then she would hug you so hard you couldn't breathe and had to beg for mercy.   This phrase, which I am positive was true for each and every one of us, allowed us all to believe she loved us best, without ever causing any jealousy.  We laughed so hard when we discovered that we had all had exactly the same experience!!  In all those years no one had ever let on to anybody else that she loved us best.  That, I dare say, is an ideal grandmother.  She was a woman who had all her babies at home and could whip up a 3 course meal out of a cup of dirt and some water.  For her, a fun week end consisted of having all the boys home with their wives and grandchildren and having music parties all night long, only to turn around and fix breakfast for everybody.  This was, to my Nana, a good time, in fact, the best time.  It certainly gave us lots of wonderful memories involving waking up with all your cousins strung all over blankets on the candy striped carpet of her living room, smelling biscuits already in the oven.

With the ice storm and all, I was pretty impressed that we planned to still have the funeral. The actual decisions were all made by our parents, her sons, who seemed not to doubt that pressing on with the schedule was the right decision.  So on we went.

My cousin Jimmy drove my van, with only me and twins as passengers, due to the Rock Star and The Beautiful Redhead being stuck in North Missouri because of the ice.  I was heart broken about this when we started out, leaving Seneca Missouri for Southwest City via Route 43.  Shortly into the trip I was thinking maybe it was God's plan after all, because this way at least two of my children would live!  If you have never traveled this road, I think you should get on Google Earth right now and take that trip in an imaginary van with two imaginary twin 10 year old boys and, this part is important, you have to picture it all ICE COVERED with limbs (see all those trees?) down everywhere.

I come from a family of fearless men.  Maybe that's where I get my sense of adventure, but even I, 15 minutes into the trip, was clutching my cousins arm and saying in a trembling voice, "Are you SURE we should be out in this weather??  No one will be able to come and help us if we slide off the road..."  He just shrugged and looked at me like I was nuts, pointing out that we were in a caravan with the rest of our crazy  fearless family.  So on we went.  Big pieces of ice catching the wind from the car in front and crashing down in front of us?  No big deal.  Huge ice covered limbs over the road?  Nothing a 4 wheel drive can't handle, just let the trucks go first......  I thought of my mother and how she had "nerve pills" for times like these and wondered why I hadn't gotten some such prescription by that time. Useless thoughts always come to me at such times.  I think it's a symptom of shock, focusing on the silly little details to distract your mind from blowing all it's circuits at one time.  It's odd, the thoughts that go through people's minds before a funeral.  They would probably make a best selling book if you could get people to tell the truth!  I remember that trip through the lens of terror, trapped in that van and just watching to see what was going to happen next.  It did not seem possible that we could just drive to Southwest City and have a funeral for Nana.  It seemed like something, something BAD was just about to happen.  Nothing bad did happen, but I felt like kissing the ice covered ground when we arrived.

When we got to the church, there was no electricity or heat, so we kept on our coats and lit candles.  It was actually the most beautiful experience I've ever had at a funeral.  And not just because I was so glad nobody wrecked on the way there, either.  The light was soft.  The singing was acapella, and nobody was there to see us cry but us.  It was pretty stress free, as funerals go, and I get the most comforting feeling every time I remember it.

Because only crazy people would head out in that kind of weather to begin with, there were only a few people who were not family that came. The preacher, of course, and the much beloved Frank McKee, who ran the garage in town are the only ones I remember.  There might have been a few more, but since I have been 3 years old, if Frank McKee was in the room he was all I ever could see.  He will be immortalized in a blog post all his own sometime.  He probably drove the wrecker, I forgot to look.  And he had his overalls on. Had we known no one else would be there (how could we not have known that?), we could have all worn overalls, and been just as warm with less bulk!  He was about 10 years younger than my Nana, I believe, one of her life long friends, and it would be the last time I would ever see him before he passed a few years later.  I know they are both having the best time in heaven now.

After the candlelit funeral we headed back to our cars in order to drive down the normally pretty, winding, and now ice covered lane to the cemetery.  Nobody had thought to bring boots any more than we thought to just wear overalls, and I should take this opportunity to make a public service announcement about the danger of dress shoes in ice covered cemeteries.  It's not a good idea.  Just don't do it. We all made it with just a few minor slips and slides.   At one point, when we were all huddled around the grave, silently astounded that we were still doing this (!)(at least I don't think I was the only one), some ice broke free of a tree in the distance, slinging the whole top of the trunk back and forth in the gray sky, ice showering down and making an interesting background for our frozen, surreal thoughts.  I know for sure I wasn't the only one thinking that was a sign from her that she was free.  A goodbye wave, if you will.  We all smiled.

After that we still had to get back in the cars and get back to where we came from.  For me, this was just the first step in a hair raising trip that lasted many hours.  I mark that trip as the last time I've ever voluntarily gotten in the car to drive anywhere in bad weather again.  I followed my cousin Jimmy back as far as KC with many stops to wipe off my headlights.  That was in the daylight.  Without him to follow I had no confidence but I just had to keep going anyway.  It was horrible, trying to see the white line under the snow blowing all over the highways.  We made it, but I will never forget that trip and hope never to have to anything like that again.  I also learned what "snow-blind" really meant.  In short, I learned my lesson.  Finally.  Some things take a long time, but that did it for me.

It certainly made for a memorable time, though.  Everybody in Southern Missouri sold out of gas generators and a lot of people didn't get electricity back for a week.  By the time we made it back to the other end of the state, home was never so sweet.  I was so grateful to be home, so grateful to be one of Nana's grandchildren, so thankful for my crazy, fearless family, and most especially I was thankful because I was always special to my Nana.

This was her legacy, to make every person feel like they were secretly her favorite, loved more, naturally.  There is no doubt in any of our minds that we were special to her, all for our own unique reasons.  It is exactly right for her, and so was her funeral.  She was always so welcoming, never stood on ceremony, and would never have been thrown by a little thing like no electricity.  She knew what really mattered and she never lost sight of it.

We should all be so lucky.