Help! I need a translator

Language

Facebook is full of Do You Remember pictures.  A lot of them start off with “Do you remember this in your grandmother’s kitchen”.  My response frequently is well duh, and right now it is in my kitchen.  In fact, it was a wedding present.  Ouch.  Another reminder that I am not a spring chick anymore.  Which by the way, what in the world is a spring chick?  Don’t chickens have little chickens all year round?  And what makes a spring chick special.  Do you ever wonder about sayings?  It’s funny, now that I am of that certain age, I catch myself using more and more of the old terms.  I say it is because I can’t bear the thought of the dialect of my youth dying out, but mostly, it’s because they fit the situation best.

I am a Hillbilly Girl.  I used to think that I was a Southern Girl and held on to that elusive description because of the beauty and romance associated with that name.  Once I met and married Nort, I found out that different parts of Arkansas have different terms and sayings, but I still thought of myself as southern.  Then, we moved to Mississippi.  Pretty hard to get much more southern than that.  Here I found out that I’m not really southern.  I didn’t understand half of what people said and I seemed to confuse people as much as they confused me.  I found out that while I speak Arkansawyer and can converse well in Oklahoman and some Texan, I didn’t speak Mississippian.

Of course I knew that different parts of the country had different ways of saying things, I mean, I have known people from other states.  Once we got Dee in the family, we learned that the people in Utah have strange ways of speaking.  I think she nearly killed us all talking about the “dungarees on the davenport.”  Kind of rolls off the tongue don’t you think?  In that case, it was just her sounding different in my home place.  And by now, she sounds just like one of us, well, most of the time anyway.

Now I am the one having trouble understanding the natives.  For instance:  I went to a fast food eatery and placed my order.  “Thabyal” the counter person asked.  Huh?  What?  I stared blankly at her.  “Thabyal” she says again just a little louder.  Again I stared.   What is she trying to say I think.  “T..H..A..B..Y..A..L.”  I had to say to her, “I don’t understand.”  By then she was really frustrated with this idiot customer.  “I sayed, Will. That. Be. All.”  Ah, I see, and at that stage of the game, oh yes, that was all.

And then there are “Nabs”.  I first heard this from a co-worker who said he was going to get some “nabs” and wanted to know if I wanted any.  Since I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about, of course my answer was no thank you.  Didn’t think anything more about it until a few days later Nort comes home from work and enlightens me.  He also had wondered what in the world “nabs” meant but didn’t want to ask and look even dumber that he already seemed.  A person had come in his store to pay for gas and had put a package of cheese crackers on the counter saying, “Might as well get some nabs for later.”  A light came on, “nabs” meant cheese crackers.  This worked for a while until someone bought a candy bar saying they needed a “nab.”  Back to square one.  We have finally learned that a “nab” is a snack food of just about any sort.  And no, WE don’t call them nabs, we are just not that Mississippian.

I do love how they use the honorific of Ms. (always pronounced Miz) and Mr. here.  I grew up using the Mr. or Mrs. to an older person until given permission to use their first name.  And there were/are people I would never call by their first name, but always Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So.  I do find the Ms. (never Mrs.)  disconcerting some times though.  It just feels weird to have an age related or older than me person call me Ms. Linda.  People I’ve worked with for a year or more now, call me Ms. Linda.  Nort’s clerks call him Mr. Norton, but most of them are younger than him.  He does have two that call him Norton, but they are his age and older.  And it’s funny, there are some people I call just by their given name and some get the Ms. or Mr.   Some people do use my given name solo sometimes and sometimes I get the Ms. from them.  I think that unless you are a native, you will not be given the secret code to the usage of Ms. or Mr.

Which brings to mind, do you remember when we first began the usage of the term Ms.?  Back then, we called women we were not on a first name basis with either Mrs. Smith or Miss Doe.  Then, horror of horrors, Women’s Lib came along and introduced us to Ms.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Society was going to fall and there would be panic in the streets!  I can remember my grandfather just having fits.  I also remember older women being offended by the Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss.  Didn’t I know that they were/were not married?  How long had I known them?  It was MRS. SMITH or MISS DOE, thank you very much.  Flash forward to the present day.  When was the last time you called someone Mrs. Smith?

Have you ever tried to explain to your south-west Arkansas born and raised husband just what it means when you say that someone is “funny turned”?  It means that someone is funny turned, what else describes that condition?  I spent thirty minutes trying and finally gave up.  You either know what that means or you don’t.  Same way with the time I had the flu (the real, horrible, stay in bed for a week flu) and I told him I felt like I was “nigh on to dyin”.  He kept asking if that meant I felt better.  Now if you felt like you were near death (which is what it means) would that mean you felt better?  I don’t think I was very gracious when he asked again even if he meant it well.

I must say he is getting better about not understanding me sometimes, or he covers his amusement better.  After all, he has his own weird way of putting things.  I never know what he means when he tells me it is “Fifteen of one” when I ask what time it is.  I just nod and say thanks.  Then I go look at a clock, much easier than trying to figure him out.

Some day, just for fun, drag out all the old things you heard your grandparents and parents say (though you worked so hard to learn how to get the point across properly) and use them.  Go to the store and ask for “warshing powders” and once you have purchased your laundry detergent tell them “oh honey, you don’t need to put that in no poke.”  Such fun!

Wait, where was I, oh yeah, all the cool stuff I have in my kitchen……..

 

We march to our own drummers

We sang

Have you ever felt like you were the only one marching to the drummer you hear in your head?  You know the one I mean, the one that tempts you with what could be considered inappropriate actions.  Now I’m not talking about really bad stuff.  Well, if you gave in and decided to finally streak thirty years after the craze ended and you are showing the whole world your older, less than buff body, that would be bad.  No, I mean things like  joining your daughter  at her Zumba  class in your  1980’s Jane Fonda work out gear you bought to use the last time you took an exercise class (bonus points if it was Jazzercise).   Or trying out Karoke with your version of Walk on the Wild Side (the only one I will do and it still takes more than one or twelve beers to get me to do it, but when I do, I ROCK).  Just the tame things that made your children and now your grandchildren roll their eyes and play like they don’t know you.

By now we should be used to making young ones wish the floor would swallow them up.  If you were a typical parent, you embarrassed your children on a regular basis.  Not that the little precious ones EVER did that to you.  When Amanda was just a wee child, maybe twoish, I took her to see the Easter Bunny at Central Mall and have her picture taken.  She was so darn cute and dressed in ruffles like we did back then.  She was so excited and I could just envision the great photo I would have.  We stood in line and she was perfect.  Then, we got up to EB himself and she had a complete and total melt down.  Jumping up and down and screaming.  She was not scared, she was not shy, she had seen other kids cry and get fussed over so she just thought she would do it to.

Well my mother had certainly taught me better so I grabbed her little hand and removed us from the area.  Boy, did that piss her off!  Her audience was gone so the tantrum just got a little bit worse.  There we were with people walking by and glaring at me (we did that back then because parents were supposed to control their children not like today but that is a whole ‘nother thing).  By now she was laying on the floor doing the classic whirling around in circle fit and shrieking like a banshee.  I stepped into an open store and sort of hid from her.  Of course I kept an eye on her but no one in their right mind would have grabbed her, most people just moved by a little quicker.  When my darling daughter noticed I was no longer standing there ready to give her what her heart desired, she got real quiet and still.  I came out, picked her up and we went home.  That was the last fit she threw in public.  I am still mortified thinking about it.  Oh the condemnation of other mothers.  Humiliating!

Luke was no better.  I took him with me to buy groceries.  He was so darn cute.  I had dressed him in his hillbilly best, flannel shirt (must have been winter), overhauls and the cutest little work boots you had ever seen.  Now this grocery store was in Fort Smith, the big city, not the little store in Mulberry.   I had a fully loaded cart and was in the check out line unloading.  I can’t remember what I put on the conveyor belt now, but Luke asked what that was for.  Why, it’s such and such for dinner tonight.  In a very loud and clear voice he complained, “But I want ‘possum for dinner AGAIN!”  Every head turned, looked at him, then at me and kind of shrugged.  I know they went home and told their families that there was a woman in the store who routinely feed her family ‘possum.  Cringe.

Children only can really embarrass us when they are really young and we are young and unsure of ourselves and our ability to be adults.  You will notice that grandparents are never embarrassed, they just look on in amusement.  That’s because they have seen it all before.  Fortunately, kids eventually lose the ability to embarrass their parents and they become the victims.  I had a friend who loved to juggle and was quite proud of his skills.  Anytime he took his daughter to the grocery store he would have to get vegetables or fruit of some sort.  Did he really want to buy it?  No.  Did she really want to go to the produce section with him? No.  Did she have a choice?  Again no.  You do see where this is going don’t you?  Look he would say, I can juggle two oranges!  And watch this!  I can juggle three potatoes.  Wait!  I’m going to try four onions!  I don’t know if she has recovered yet, or if she has taken up juggling produce for her daughters now.

Those of us who were impressed by Monty Python and some of their skits would sometimes engage in Silly Walks (no I never did this) when out in public.  You would see some Adult Who Should Know Better with a pre-teen or teenager trapped with a parent in public (the worse fate ever) and said parent would be taking huge, high steps or waddling like a duck.  And if the poor kid was really unlucky, the supposed adult would use a really bad fake accent.

Now what you might ask brought these fun memories on?  I’ll tell you.  I was in Winn-Dixie hunting and gathering and minding my own business.  You might have noticed now that grocery stores (not Wal-Mart, but actual grocery stores) have the best piped in music.  I usually sing along but just to myself.  But not that day.  The oldie goldie Gale Garnett song We’ll Sing in the Sunshine was playing.  Now how long has it been since you’ve heard that?  Ages and ages.  Do you remember every word?  Well of course you do.  So here I was, happily strolling down the beans & rice aisle, singing out loud,

I will never love you
The cost of love’s too dear
But though I’ll never love you
I’ll live with you one year

When I was joined by another female voice chiming in,

And we will sing in the sunshine
We’ll laugh every day
We’ll sing in the sunshine
And I’ll be on my way

And even better, a deep male voice joined us,

I’ll sing to you each morning
I’ll kiss you every night
But darlin’, don’t cling to me
I’ll soon be out of sight.

Yes, we had a trio!  We were singing out loud in public! In a grocery store!  You can be sure that in other aisle grandparents were singing along also and mortifying a grandchild or two.  I can’t wait to take Maddie back to Winn-Dixie, preferably with one of her friends.  I bet there will be a song I can sing along to and just watch her play like she doesn’t know me.   So who wants to join me?  Or can you think of something equally fun?  Share!

A Twenty Year Celebration

Lukes quote

This is a post I’ve thought long and hard about doing.  I’ve put it off, reconsidered, reviewed and revamped it so much.  It is a hard subject for me and it is no way like anything else I’ve done or expect to do.  You see, it has been twenty years this month since my son’s devastating wreck.  It has truly been a life time ago, even though I can remember it so clearly.  The past two decades have been such a journey, not only for me, and Luke, but his sister, our family and friends who have traveled with us.  There are so many people I wish I could go back to thank and show them what has become of that very broken young man.

Luke has surpassed all expectations and then some.  While my Luke of today is not the Luke I had the early summer of 1995, he is the one I have and I love him with my whole heart.  Yes, he is a challenge and there are days I want to shake him until his eyes roll, but by all rights, I should not have him at all.  Unfortunately, his story is a common one in so many ways.  Too many young people are killed and maimed in vehicle accidents, and he is but one of them.  However, our story is not common in just as many ways.

If his wreck had been five years or even one year before, the outcome would have been so different.  In all probability he would not have survived at all.  He is still a wonder and in some ways, an experiment.  People with his injuries just did not survive and if they did, they were so severely damaged they could not live a “normal” life.  There was not a road map telling us what to expect five, ten or twenty years down the line.  We are just now understanding what the future can hold for traumatic brain injury survivors like him.  And thank God we do have the Lukes and all we have learned from them over these years as more and more brain injured young men and women are returning home from military duties.

Funny how none of our kids had a broken bone in their childhoods.  That would include three rough and tumble boys and four equally active girls.  Then Luke had to break his head.  Fortunately, he did break his head as his skull fracture allowed for the brain swelling.  Even though it allowed bacteria in, that was important.  For the longest time he was such a disturbing sight.  All the tubes running in and out of his head and body, numerous IV drips, one eye completely swollen shut and the utter stillness of a coma.  But Amanda and I climbed in his bed there in the ICU and talked to him and read to him and laughed because while she has always loved her little brother, what sister does not tease.  I think he heard the laughter, because how could he not hear that sound?

I find it interesting that looking back and feeling back, what I feel is deep, unreserved love and comfort.  I was surrounded by my family, who grieved with me but also celebrated his life and what the future could hold.  I was wrapped by the arms of so many friends who loved me and supported me.   I don’t remember the fear and the pain, just the love and peace they gave me.  I found strength and comfort in my faith that I’d never needed to before.  And believe it or not, there was humor.  I come from people who love life so much we laugh in the face of adversity.   So we whistled in the dark.

Then he woke up.  And there was still so much of Luke there.  Granted, it was a different Luke.  Amanda calls him the Walk In Luke.  I love that the only person he knew was his sister.  He never hesitated as to who she was.  Well, her and Reba McEntire.  She was the first one who heard him speak and at first we had a hard time believing he spoke to her as he would not make a sound for anyone else.  Then when he would speak, it was just to her.  It took several months before he knew who I was, but that was okay, I knew him.  When he was at Baylor, he called me Mrs. James, and said he knew that was my name because Mrs. James is nice.

There is a world class rehabilitation center specifically for brain injuries in Arkansas called Timber Ridge.  The nine months he spent there were incredible.  What they are able to do for people is nothing short of miraculous.   He learned to walk, eat, take care of himself and thrive there.  The staff spent a lot of time with the families too, explaining and teaching and trying to prepare us as best they could for what we could expect.  But that was such a difficult task, because it was so hard to know what to expect.  As I said before, there were few people who survived the injuries that just a short time ago would have been fatal and that were functional.  There just were not that many long term survivors of Luke’s type of injuries to go by.   In fact, we are still finding out new things as each year goes by.

One of the things I was told to expect, is that Luke’s emotions would be dampened.  That meant that he would not feel extreme emotions at all.  He would not get really angry nor would he get really happy.  It was possible he would not laugh much, but then again, he would not feel deep sadness either.  A curse followed by a blessing.  Some of this has held true but not all.  He can get very, very angry (usually at me, but then isn’t that how it goes?), but it does not last long.  It is almost impossible for him to feel embarrassment.  He does feel sadness to a point, but not to the depth of other people.  And that I consider a good thing.  He did feel sadness and grief when his grandparents died, but it was short lived and he dwells on fond memories.

But what I hated the most was not hearing him laugh.  I had always loved the sound of him giggling.  He would get so tickled and had the funniest “hee, hee, hee” laugh you have ever heard.  Watching Tim Allen’s “Tool Man” routine would send him into gales of laughter that was as funny to watch as Tim was.  The thought of not hearing that sound again hurt.  Then, about a year after the wreck, a friend was over and showing me a book she had bought for her son, “The Stinky Cheese Man”.  Luke was with me for the weekend and she was reading it to us.  I laughed, she laughed and Luke grinned.  Then, slowly he began to chuckle, then giggle and then came the “hee, hee, hees”.  He laughed until tears rolled down his face and he had to hold his stomach.  And oh how I laughed and cried.  He still doesn’t laugh as much as he did, but he can really get wound up and it is such a joyful sound, my favorite sound in the world.

Today, most people don’t recognize that Luke is damaged.  So many of the things we expected to happen didn’t.  He didn’t have the great personality changes so many have had.  In some ways, he became more of what he was.  He was always gentle and kind, he still is.  His patience with the elderly and infirm is amazing.  He loves little children (unless they are too loud or crying, that upsets him).  He does not judge, but that can be a problem sometimes.  His best friend is an elderly black man across the street.  I love seeing them head off to drink coffee.   While his speech and mannerisms are more precise in many ways, he has to be reminded sometimes that there are some things that just are not appropriate to say.  Basically, when one first meets Luke, one feels something is “off” but can’t quite tell what.  Nort never knew the Before Luke, just this one.  And he loves him and has more patience with him than I do most of the time.

Do I wish this had never happened?  Hell yes.  Do I think it was unfair?  Hell yes.  But I have my son and I love him so much and that is something that some people don’t get to have.  I don’t play the What If game, ever.  I do forget sometimes to remember the What Could Have Been and when I do, I’m brought to my knees.  I could have lost him, and I didn’t.

So, this year we mark a milestone.  Twenty years.  Wow.  And if that is not cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.  I am pretty sure that when I ask Luke what he wants to do to celebrate, he is going to say, “Go eat some seafood!”  And you know what, that’s exactly what we will do.

 

Only her hairdresser knows for sure

PicMonkey Hair

Like most women, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my hair.  Mostly  I love though.  I love how there are so many things I can do with it.  I can grow it, cut it, curl it, dye it, braid it, twist it, and cover it with a hat.   How about you?  Over the years I’ve done just about anything  one can do with hair or I’ve had someone do it for me.  I’ve never attempted to do a self-perm  and I’ve only had a couple of those done at salons.  My hair just doesn’t like to really curl up.  Once though, sometime in the early eighties, I had this killer perm.  I had a friend who would go to hair shows and then come back and play with my hair.  I figure as long (pun) as it is not permanent and forever, I’ll do anything once.  If it is horrible, well, let’s just say I do have a really nice hat collection.  Anyway, I had shoulder length hair and got a relatively tight perm.  Now this is during the “use a pick for ringlets” period.  Well, we didn’t do that, heck no!  I brushed that mess and poof!  I looked like a white Diana Ross.  I loved it, but it was not a hit with anyone else.

Most of my life my hair was straight, straight and straight.  I can remember being a little girl and mother making spit curls at night with bobby pins so Laura and I would have curls in the morning.  And yes, spit curls were exactly what that sounds like.  Ewwwww. Gross.  During the ’60s my straight hair was really an asset.  I never had to iron my hair.  In case you have forgotten, when we ironed our hair, it was not with the fancy flat irons of today.  No, it was a real iron that we also used on clothes.  Jana had long beautiful blond hair, that was really straight as I remember.  But that didn’t stop us from ironing it anyway.  Seems like I remember an ironing session that went wrong, resulting in some scorching, but surely not.  We were never that silly I don’t think.  Oh, and let’s not forget using orange juice cans for rollers!  Don’t see that anymore.

Clairol, of the does she or doesn’t see fame, used to make a product called Loving Care.  It came in basic colors and would wash out over a period of time.  Laura and I were allowed to use it when we were in junior high school (but not the hard stuff, that was for older people).  It was great for a shade or two change, but would not bleach hair.  At that time, my hair was a very dark brown, but I wanted it black.  Very black.  This was when I first developed the dyeing bug.  I just knew I was a dead ringer for Cher.  Long black straight hair and bangs that pretty much covered my eyes.  The parental units hated it, but who cared.  I looked very mod.

Laura and I also had wigs, hair pieces and falls.  Long ones, short ones, blond, frosted, red, brown and black.  I loved how we could go to school with hair one color and style, then cheer at a ballgame that night with a completely different look.  I don’t know what eventually happened to them, but more than once I’ve wished for a collection like we had then.  If I could find a fall or hair piece of the quality and type I had, I would snap it up in an instant.  The clippy and hair band things are just not as good or versatile as the ones we had then.  But really now, what is?  That is one of the joys of this age.  We get to complain about how much better stuff was back in the day.

Hot rollers came along during this time too and they were a wonder.  Now, instead of rolling hair wet (and coated in Dippity Doo, remember that slimy pink stuff?) and sitting under your own personal bonnet hair dryer or the portable one with the plastic cap for ages, you could just heat the rollers and ten minutes later have beautiful curls or waves.  That is if you didn’t make a terrible rats nest and have to cut the roller out.  The original hot rollers had a metal core with a hard plastic outer cover.  The little spikes were hard plastic that LOVED getting tangled up in hair.  And did I mention a metal core that got really, really hot?  So not only did your hair get hopelessly tangled, but you could give yourself blisters on your fingers trying to get the little @#!$^%& out.

After a while, I graduated to the more serious hair dye.  Frosted hair was all the rage at one point and of course, I had to frost my hair too.  Must say thinking back on it now, that was  probably not a good look for us do-at-home types.  I have a sneaking suspicion we looked more like speckled pups than fashion models, but that didn’t stop us.  Laura let me frost her hair, screaming the entire time that I was killing her with the crochet hook.  I might have been just a little too zealous digging around for hair to pull through the holes in the cap, but she is the one who let me.  All these trials at a formative age may have been what made my friend Teresa  into the hair stylest she is now. (Move closer Teresa, I need you!).

There were years I had no idea what my true natural color was.  Once roots started showing it was time for another color.  (I don’t understand the style now of serious rootage.  Just looks lazy to me.)  By this time my hair usually stayed shoulder length or shorter so I didn’t  have the  dreadfully damaged ends coloring can cause.  I learned that I was not a blonde and they didn’t really have more fun, so I stuck with various browns, deep auburns and black tones.  I some times ventured into the mahogany colors,  but they faded too quickly and left my white streak I’d had for years pink.  And this was way before colored stripes were cool.

Then I quit.  I don’t know why now.  Maybe I just got tired of the whole process or too lazy to do it myself and too cheap to have it done.  I got my hair cut short and all the dyed parts finally gone and found out my hair color had completely changed.  I still had brown hair but now also had beautiful silver sparkles scattered here and there, mostly around my face.  I loved it.  Laura calls it glitter.  We are fortunate that we have truly silver sparkles rather than gray or even pewter. Not that those colors don’t rock, they do.  Just not on my coloring.  And to top it off, the silver hairs were almost corkscrews!  Now, I have wavy hair and if it is short enough, fairly curly hair.  How much fun is that!  A whole new world of hair looks opened up for me.

This lasted for about 15 years (?????)  I started a blog called Age of Gray because that is what I am and eager to embrace aging gracefully.  Then I got really, really lazy and just never got around to getting a hair cut.  So my hair got longer and longer.  And yuck, what was beautiful silver glitter in short hair just made my long hair look drab and dull.  I began to long for the fun “old lady” colors.  Lavender, pink, blue and peach.  But they no longer make the “hair wrench” wash out colors like sweet little old ladies used. (Remember when the only people who had those colors were old ladies?) The dye colors now are bright, wild and wacky.  And if you know me, you know that I am anything but bright, wild and wacky.  So I just whined a lot.  Then Nort found a box of Burgundy hair color at our favorite store, Treasure Hunt, for just $1.00!  How could I not do this?  Beautiful burgundy hair! It was glorious!  I glowed in the sun!

Then it started growing out (see above for my opinion on roots) and since it was probably an old, expired product, began to fade and wasn’t pretty anymore.  So, time for a decision.  What shall I do?  Nort is enjoying the long hair which he had never seen on me before, but he doesn’t like roots anymore than I do.  And the color was a funky tone now but not in a cool way.  So tell me, what would you do?  Do you keep your natural lovely  gray, white, silver, salt and pepper or do you “tint” your hair?  Long or short?  Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we don’t have choices to make.  As for me, I headed to Sally’s Beauty Supply.

As I was looking at the fun colors, a woman of my age was looking also.  She had a lovely milk chocolate skin tone with fairly short hair and was looking at the various black shades. She asked me, “Do you think I could wear this and not look ridiculous?”  It was a beautiful navy blue black.  I held up a swatch next to her face and Oh. My. Goodness.  It was spectacular.  Perfect with her skin tone.  I asked what she thought about the color I’d decided on.  She pronounced it perfect for me.  We had a giggle over what we were about to do, and what our children and grandchildren would say, then we each left the store very happy.  I do hope I see her somewhere and we can compare hair colors.  Oh, what did I pick out you ask?  Right now, this very sedate, serious baby boomer is totally rocking a wonderful dark brown PLUM.  It is glorious.

 

Not all who wander are lost, but usually I am

PicMonkey Alice

I come from a mixed marriage.  My mother had unerring directional instincts.  Plop her down in the middle of nowhere and she could find her way out.  This was a very good thing since she was a botanist and was always out looking for elusive wild flowers.  (I was a complete embarrassment to her since on her wildflower trips with her colleagues or students I only wanted to look for frogs and frog eggs).  On the other hand, my father only knew two directions, up and down.  Oh, and left and right, so I guess he really did know the four major directions.  His directions went, “Go out of town, turn right at Dewy Dean’s house (Dewy hadn’t lived there in years).  Go down the road and turn right where the mules are.  Then keep going until you get to the road with the cattle guard and turn into it.  If you hit the slough bridge, you went too far.”  Guess who I take after.  I may look like I know where I am going, but in reality, it’s all show no substance.

I blame it all on grade school.  There was always a big map of the United States on the classroom walls and west was to my left, east on my right.  If I looked up that was north (therefore I always face north) and south was down.  (The only way I can remember that California is on the west coast is California is on the left side of the map and “Go west young man, go west” refers to going to California.  New York is on the east coast because it is opposite of California.)  Nort actually told me when I was helping him on the car the other day, “no, no, a little more west.”  I must say, we both had a good laugh over that one.

I was talking to my sister a few weeks ago when we were taking The Precious Child to see Nort’s mom and meet up with Amanda.  We have a certain route to Arkansas and as we were approaching our turn off, the whole lane and turn off was blocked for construction.  I said something to Laura about how were we going to get to Arkansas.  She said, well you do know the way.  And then laughed because she assumed we would get lost even though we had been traveling this route for eleven years now.  Yes, I have that kind of history.

I have “skunk paths” that I always follow which is why not being able to get off on the right exit is a problem.  Skunk paths you say? A little known fact about skunks is that they are very nearsighted and have developed this sense that they follow a certain path on their nightly excursions.  This is one reason they get squashed so much.  If an object is put in their path, the poor little skunk will probably run into it.  Once.  Then the next time they run their path, they will make a detour around the obstacle and then resume the regular path.  We had a pet skunk, Daisy, and she would go tearing around the house in her little routine.  We would put something, usually a tissue box because we didn’t want to hurt her, in her path and pow! Smack dab into it.  Then on her next trip she would make the cutest little detour around the box and keep on trucking.  Hence, skunk paths.

I would like to say I only have one good story about getting lost, but in actuality, there are so many I will just have to pick the best ones.  There was the time I headed to Tyler, Texas and ended up in Dallas.  Or the time Bambi (she is as bad as me) and I attempted to get back to Fort Smith from somewhere in Oklahoma and ended up taking an extra two hours (but we did get to see a fence with cow skulls on each post and a tree full of cowboy boots).  And then there is the time I went to Jana’s (a place I had been many, many times) and managed to get lost in the fields, in the dark, in the rain and had to get a sharecrop family  to call Gary (way before cell phones) to come find me.

But the one I’m most famous for is a shopping trip to Tulsa.  A friend and I decided to go to Tulsa to do some Christmas shopping.  Now, I have been to Tulsa many times and it is pretty darn near impossible to not get there from Fort Smith, Arkansas.   So one Saturday morning we set out.  Robin and I were really compatible and just talked and talked and laughed and laughed.  We made it through Fort Smith.  We made it past numerous little towns.  We were on the Interstate, how could we miss.   Time passed and miles flew by.  Soon we started seeing evidence that we were getting near a major Oklahoma city.  Tell tale signs such as billboards touting restaurants and and various stores dotted the roadway.  “Oh,” Robin said.  “We have that restaurant in Oklahoma City (she used to live there), I loved it.”  Hmmmmm, this did not look familiar.  Then we went past Tinker Air Force Base.

From: Fort Smith, AR To: Oklahoma City, OK

Now, when I was a girl, we lived in Oklahoma City and I remembered Tinker.  It was just outside of Oklahoma City.  It was not near Tulsa.  We were in Oklahoma City.  It would not have been so bad if she had been driving and was just following a familiar path, but nooooooo.  I was driving.  Somehow I had completely missed the turnpike turnoff.  I insist there was road construction that had it blocked but I’m pretty sure there was no such thing.  Well by golly, we were going to shop in Tulsa!  So after lunch at one of Robin’s favorite places, we drove the additional two hours to Tulsa.  We had a great time.

Nort insists that he NEVER got lost and NEVER had to turn around and backtrack to get to the correct exit/turn.  I have ruined him.  It is now a regular occurrence when we travel together.  In fact, I am infectious. We were on a charter bus to go see the Lady Eagles play in Memphis. It was a rollicking good time.  We were with friends and new friends and going to see a good ball game.  All was well until we got to Memphis.  For those who don’t know, Memphis is a really big city, especially if you are from a smallish city.  The bus driver had never driven in Memphis, something we didn’t know until we hit the city limits.  “Where are we going,” he asked our leader.  She stared at him.  Uh, this was unexpected.  Fortunately one of the fans knew and gave directions.  Except, things had changed over the years and yep, we were lost.

So we saw a friendly police officer who gave excellent directions to the college.  Then we couldn’t find the gym where the game was being held.  Finally we saw a student who very nicely hopped on the bus to lead us to the gym  after hearing our story.  Sure enough, there was the gym, the student got off and continued on her way.  We unloaded, still excited even though we knew the game had started.  And, since the game had started, the doors were closed and no one was outside to tell us how to get in.  We fanned out looking for an entrance.  Finally someone found an open door.  Yea!  We all rushed in.  We could hear the crowd, we could hear the announcer, we saw only classrooms and trophy cases.  Still lost.  We followed the noise until we made it to the game.  Just as the half-time buzzer went off.  Nort looked at me with a grin and said, “You are contagious.  You manged to get a whole bus lost!”

 

Make new friends, but keep the old…

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Lo many years ago, when I was a Girl Scout, one of the first scout songs we learned was Make New Friends, But Keep the Old.  We sang it with gusto (some of us with more gusto than tune) in a round.  I think it was Mother’s favorite.  As a kid, making new friends came easy and we took them for granted.  Friends came, friends went, some came back, others left.  I had Girl Scout camp friends that I only saw at summer, but during those camp days, we were best of buds.  I had friends that I met at other types of events like cheerleading and Rainbow Girls.  Growing up in a small town, school friends were also neighbor friends.  We had packs of boys and girls that morphed and changed as we grew older and developed new interest.

Mother taught us more than the song, she taught us how to value friendships.  She was an only child and while she a some cousins, it was her friends that were her siblings.  Until she died, she lunched regularly with her high school friends, The Nifty Fifty.  Her colleagues  at Arkansas Tech were cherished as friends and family, not just work buddies and her RV women friends were held as just as dear.   She instilled in Laura and me that we were not only sisters, but best friends.  And Laura is my most beloved sister and friend (remember that when I piss you off).

I met my very best and longest friend in grade school and even though she moved off, our friendship never wavered.  Jana and I would spend weeks at each other’s house in the summer and sometimes other times of the year.  Her parents were parents to me and mine to her.  She got pregnant and by golly, so did I.  My Goddaughter Shannon was my daughter’s first friend.  We had them together as soon as I could travel with Amanda.  They didn’t have a choice to be anything other than friends.  To this day they are still best friends and Lord willing, their kids will always be friends.  I cannot imagine my life without Jana and her family.

Over time I have had so many friends.  That is not bragging, it is actually uttered in some bit of amazement.  How did I get to be so lucky?  Some friends are as close as family for a season, some as close as family now.  All my best stories and times involve friends as well as family.  Friends in some ways form us as much and sometimes even more than family.  I’ve often read that friends are the families we give ourselves.  My friends have made me so much (for better or worse) who I am today.  Now, Nort, Luke and I are in Mississippi far from our families still in Arkansas.  But you know what, we have found dear friends here and created a Mississippi family.   We share birthdays, holidays, victories and failures with them.  What would we do without them.

Thanks to the internet and social media, High School friends remain close to me and I love that I get to follow their adventures even though we are miles apart.  And there is such a trill when someone from the past, that your conscience mind has forgotten pops up with a friend request.  Wow!  I remember you!  I know that there is the perception that Facebook friends are not “real” friends, but I disagree.  While it may not have the physical touch of sitting in one another’s house neither does the telephone or a letter.  These school, sorority, former co-workers and former neighbors are my friends and I cherish each and every one.

And now, I get to make new friends.  The internet brings people from all over the world together.  Need someone to explain a fine point on a wooden boat  you’re building (like my husband), there is a guy in Norway to help out.  Need support for some rare disease that is threatening your child, you have support any time of the day or night.  And no matter what anyone tells you, these people are your friends.  Now, I would be remiss if I did not point out that not everyone is who they appear to be on line.  But we are adults here and have learned a thing or two by having been around the block at least once.  Just as we do in “real life” with potential friends, we should do in “internet life”.   Don’t get into a car with a just met “friend” for a road trip (especially if it means traveling a dark, lonely road) and don’t send money to a web friend (especially if they are a deposed member of royalty).

I have found some bloggers that although I don’t actually know them yet, I am planning on them becoming my friends.  I am awarding them the Liebster Award because  I think these are really great people.  Or at least their blogs make me think that.  These are people that made me want to come back and read more and even more important, thought that you, my very discerning followers, would want to read.  Tanya of Tanyas101 thought this of me (see my response here).

Jennica.   I dare you to read this post and not laugh out loud.  How can I not love this woman and want to be her friend.  She has such a great out look on life.  And, she lives on a horse ranch!  I want her to invite me for a visit.  Jennicaspeaks.

Amanda.  I have a very soft spot for anyone named Amanda.  While this Amanda is way young, she has such a delightful out look and I see such potential for a wonderful mature adult (cough, age of grayer).  Her take on ballet exercise programs is pretty darn funny.  Whoaskedheranyway.

Lora.  What a great outlook she has and I want to be friends with anyone who likes to travel.  And share pictures. And cook.  And have fun.  Maybe if I ask real nice, she will hop in her RV and come to Mississippi.  Shotsfromtheroad.

Mary Grace.  I really didn’t want to like her because I am so jealous.  She has a boat.  She gets to go places on that boat.  Her pictures make me want to run away.  Oh, wait.  If we are friends, maybe she will let me go somewhere on her boat.  Okay.  I like her.  Helialetitbe.

Andrea Marlene.  I really, really want to go to Canada so I need to make a friend there.  And, I just loved her post on Facebook fights.  She is so right on.  It is good to see a sane voice on the World Wide Interweb.  Also the name of her blog is just great.  Bumblebirdblog.

As a winner of the award, there are certain responsibilities; answer eleven questions, give eleven facts about you and award your own Liebster Award to five fellow bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  (Google it for better explanations) So, here are my questions for them.  I am so looking forward to reading what they have to say in response to the questions and their eleven things about themselves.  And I bet you will too.

1. What do think is your greatest strength?

2. What are the  things your spouse/partner/significant other says about you?

3. Where do you go to find comfort?

4. What is your favorite thing to wear?

5. What are the first three things you would do if you won a million dollars (or the equivalent )?

6. Who is/are your hero(s)?

7. Book then movie or movie then book?

8. Why do you blog?

9. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?

10. What was the best piece of advice you have been given.

11. What are the top three things you like to do?

Okay now.  Let all give each other a great big group hug and be friends!

Even better than an Emmy or Oscar!

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Wow.  This is not going to be the post I was planning on doing (don’t worry, I’ll get back to normal) since I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Tanya De Kruijff of Tanya’s 101 (click on her name to check her out).  So, you are wondering just what in the world is a Liebster Award.  I belong to an amazing group of bloggers and had seen where people had received this award.  Then Tanya said she was going to nominate bloggers who had less than 200 followers and that was me!  She checked my blog out and found me worthy.  (While I treasure each and every one of you, family and friend alike, there are not 200 of you following me.) Thank you so much for the kind words Tanya.  It means so much to me. The Liebster Award is an award given by a fellow blogger for an up and coming blogger.  As Tanya says, “It is basically a pat on the back.”  She gave us nominees eleven questions to answer and then we are to add eleven random facts about ourselves.  Then, I’ll nominate other bloggers.  It is a nice way to promote blogs that might otherwise not be seen by people who really would enjoy them.  So, here are my answers and facts.  I’ve tried to not sound too lofty but some of her questions are really deep!

1.  What do you want to achieve by blogging?

Hmmmm.  We Baby Boomers are the largest generation and are reaching this advanced age of gray (see how clever I was) in unheard of numbers.  I find us fascinating.  We have seen so many unbelievable things in our lives and we are still seeing more.  I want to share some of those memories and create more.  I want us to remember just who we are, how we got here and what we have done.  I want to grow older without being old.

2.  Which blogging achievement are you proud of most?

Why, being nominated for the Liebster Award of course!  Actually, getting the wonderful, heartfelt comments of my family and friends.  I love that my Aunt Bobbie is pleased with my my tales of my father and that my sister is not insulted when I write about her.  I love that my daughter and husband have passed my blog along to their friends.  It is so exciting that people find my ramblings worthy of their time.

3.  What does your perfect day look like?

Thanksgiving Day.  I love Thanksgiving and always have.  It was a High Holiday in my family.  I so miss the big day of my youth (especially the year of the sock hanging and missing the parades because we were polishing silver) and get all misty and weepy at least once during the day.  But I love the ones we have now, with friends and family.  I use real china (mine and my mother’s), real silver (mine and my husband’s) and if I do say so myself, set a beautiful table.  Add food and wine and you have a perfect day.

4.  How do you describe home?

Oh Tanya, what a question.  Comfortable and full of love and laughter.  Sounds trite, but that is home to me.  I was raised in just such a home  and strove to provide that for my children.  I love my house, it fits us. It is not big nor fancy and always need straightening.  Just about all of our furniture has history, from my parent’s first piece of furniture (original butterfly chairs from 1951) and his parent’s chrome dinette (same era) to my great-grandmothers dining set.  Most of all, I get to share it with my husband and son and our pets.

5.  If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Flight.  I love to travel and flight would make it so much easier.  I do love road trips, but some places I want to go are either through country I’ve seen so much I’d rather just get to my destination or too far away for road trips.  I want to see Europe, more of Mexico, South America, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and I just can’t figure out how to drive there.

6.  Write down the lyrics of a song which describes you today.

Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies.  (No, I did not first hear it in 1926, I’m not that old)

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

This has been just about my favorite song of all time for more years than I can count.  It has also always been basically my outlook on life, and on days I only see gray clouds, this song pops into my head.  It is the one ear worm that doesn’t drive me insane.  (Yep, singing it now).

7.  What’s your favorite book of all times? Why?

Although I have so many “favorite” books from different stages of my life, I think that would have to be the Secret Life of Bees.  It is one that I have passed around, given away and repeatedly read.  Each time I read it, I find something new.  I love the hope and optimism of the characters.  The language is just so beautiful.  Now, as soon as I finish what I’m currently reading, I must read it again.  Thanks!

8.  If you could make the travel of your dreams, where would you go?

No question.  Egypt.  It has fascinated me for so many years, ever since I was a little girl.   I was totally enraptured with the Ramesses the Great exhibit I got to see in Memphis, Tennessee (the Memphis in Memphis exhibit) and some day by golly, I’m going to make it.  If I ever win the lottery (highly unlikely since I virtually never play it) that is the first place we will go.

9.  Name five goals you want to have achieved one year from now.

(1) Be a better wife.  I’ve too frequently made my poor dear husband feel like I don’t appreciate him. (2) Do a better job of keeping up and staying in contact with people I love.  I’m just too lackadaisical and rely on good intentions instead of action. (3) Be more patient with my children.  Even though they are grown, I’m pretty prone to feel like I have to put my two cents in. (I see a blog on that, hmmmm). (4)Take better care of my spiritual life.  Such an important part of life somehow seems to end up getting shoved aside. (5) Improve my blog and reach out more.  I want it to be a fun place to visit.

10.  What is your most important life lesson so far?

When I was in High School a couple of hundred years ago, a friend and I found a poem somewhere that had a line that just resonated with me and made me feel so sophisticated.  Funny thing though, it has stayed in my mind all these years and I find myself thinking it often, especially when I’m feeling really weighed down.  It comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life. It goes, “Life is real! Life is earnest! and the grave is not it’s goal”.  That’s it, life is life and meant to be lived.  Heavy, huh?

11.  Which dream are you planning on achieving?

To live a long (but not too much past 100) and useful life.  To have people remember me with fondness and leave a positive legacy.

Now, here are my eleven facts about me, in no particular order, just as they popped into my head.  Some are not surprises to those who know me and those who don’t will find some of them just too weird, but here goes.

1.  I have a very deep and abiding faith in God, his love and grace.

2.  There is a certain color of blue that scares me.  Totally gives me the creeps and I just can’t stand to be around it.

3.  I come from a long line of deep sleepers and can go to sleep at the drop of a hat and sleep through anything.  I slept through a big fire in my apartment complex.  Never knew until the next day when I could not get past all the fire trucks to get to work.  Sort of scary.

4.  I can literally list on one hand the things I will not eat.  I have a great relationship with food.

5.  I am probably the world’s worst singer but sing with gusto at every chance I get.  (Just ask the people in front of me at church).

6.  A friend’s husband called me either the most naive person in the world or the stupidest.  I prefer to see the best side of things.

7.  I love very, very deeply and am very loyal to my family and friends.

8.  I love to laugh and am basically a very happy person.

9.  I am nurturing and supportive.

10.  I am in reality a slug and have to force myself to be active.  Give me a good book and a place to sit and I’ll not move for hours. (Fell out of a tree one time reading and forgetting where I was).

11.  My very favorite creature is a frog.  They just make me laugh.

So, there you have it.  I am going to nominate five bloggers and ask them some questions so do come back for the very exciting nominations.  I encourage you to check out their blogs since I’ve found something in them that speaks to me and I of course have excellent taste.

Fashion, really? That’s a style?

PicMonkey Quote

Now this is going to make me sound like an old fuddy duddy, tongue clicking, head wagging, matronly old lady,  but what in the world is wrong with the young people now days?  Do you ever have that thought run through your mind?  Where in the world did the fashion industry go wrong.  Have they all lost their minds?  Please tell me  I am not the only one who thinks that.

Explain to me why there is so much underwear on display.  And I don’t mean on just the ladies of the evening.  I have given up on my rants of the “sagging” young men (really, they want to be called MEN? Hah, I laugh)  Granted, I do know a grandmother whose grandson made the mistake of strolling/slouching/waddling  by his grandmother with a few of his friends who were also strolling/slouching/waddling.  She promptly pulled his pants the rest of the way down and gave him a good wallop.  True story.  She proudly told me of this and finished with, “He don’t do that now when I’m around.”  I could have kissed her.  But I digress.

Nope, it’s the “fashion” of wearing what appear to be multiple bras with all the straps showing.  Pardon me, but isn’t one bra uncomfortable enough?  So maybe they are camisoles, but I highly doubt it.  Not with all that is revealed anyway.  And, they aren’t even lacy, or pretty, or fancy, just plain old bra straps.   I saw a girl the other day who had on what was essentially a backless top.  Kind of like an extreme halter top.  It was a red top.  AND, her bra was black!  And I mean a basic Playtex type bra.  Not a brallet type of  thing.  A bra.  You did get that it was a halter type top didn’t you.  With a bra.  Huh?  Am I just that out of step?

So let me do my Rosana Rosana Danna bit here.  Another thing about the current under garment thing is: No nipples are allowed to show.  Not because they are actually covered, but because you can’t buy a bra that is not padded, for modesty sake.  Really?  Really?  Bras seem to be all demi-bras which are designed  to lift, push up, display and create cleavage to better show the girls off, (Bless you Stacy London for that, “Girls” sounds so much better than boobs) but they are padded so that no one will know that there are nipples on the wearer.

I am a DD, and I can’t find a bra that is not padded.  I have shirts that fit, until I put on that stupid padded bra, then they are too tight.  ARGH.  I saw a show with a fashion stylist explaining what color bra to wear under a white t-shirt.  Now, the model was a lovely young woman with a lovely figure.  The white t-shirt in question had a very, very, very scooped neckline exposing, you guessed it, the girls.  And this idiot (a man of course, as all stylist seem to be men) tells us to be sure to wear a “lined” red bra so that, and I quote, “there is no nipple slippage”!  If I could have reached him I would have slapped him.

Now I’m not suggesting we go back to the days of “bullet bras” that look like rocket ships under sweaters (although, in the old movies they sure do make one look rather shapely), but we have worked so hard to be allowed to look natural (see above) and now we are being told that real women don’t have nipples.  Heck, Batman had nipples, but that is another What Were They Thinking moment.  And, I will admit, that some of the more enlightened hippies who were seriously natural were apt to distress the older population (cough, parents) and are probably regretting letting it all hang out now.

Of course, when you take a walk around the mall (and why would any sane adult do that) you notice all the mannequins must be really cold (if you get my drift).  Other than being in the worlds worst posture, headless and weirdly proportioned, the mannequins look more natural than the sales clerks in the stores.  Those stores are cold but you won’t see a human nipple anywhere.

Oh, and what about the tights being worn as pants.  Not the very comfortable knit stirrup pants of the past or the equally comfy (and equally unflattering) yoga pants of today.  But what are called “leggings” but are in actuality tights/colored stockings.   These are usually topped with a too short t-shirt.  And, these things do not leave anything to the imagination, at all.  Depending on the shade of the leggings and the skin tone of the wearer, it can appear that the poor girl is naked from the waist down!  In fact, the internet is awash in photos of unfortunate women being seen in flesh colored leggings, and friends, it is not a pretty sight.

So, let’s recap this current fashion trend.  Leggings that show one’s appendectomy scar and a scoop neck t-shirt that doesn’t cover the belly button, lots of bra straps and no nipples.  Yep, that just about covers it.  Sigh, deep sigh.  And to think, I have multiple colors of undergarments so they don’t show.

So, what current trend has you wondering about the gullibility of today’s fashionistas?  Is there a style, or lack of style, that makes you want to scream?  By the same token, what do you think is something that should become a classic? I am more than willing to travel back in time to revisit some styles that were all the rage but did cause heads to spin.  Shall we discuss the 50’s poodle skirts with bobbie socks; mod Pucci print mini dresses of the 60’s; 70’s disco or the 80’s shoulders?  Leave me a comment and let your self be heard.

More lives than a cat.

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Have you ever wished that you had as many lives as a cat, you know, the proverbial nine lives?  When you think about it, apparently we do.  How else to explain the fact that we have made it to our age (of gray {have to throw this in some where}) without the extra lives.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tales of fun times that when I’m telling them have to wonder how I survived (now that is a convoluted sentence).   Please do share a good one with me since I’m regaling you with my mishaps!

I know that I previously mentioned that most of my husband’s stories about his college days end with, “And then we took Jerry to the hospital.”   Now this is not because they were running from the law or had indulged in Evel Knevel type behavior but were just big boys being big boys.  We all know that the male form of our species does not grow a brain until somewhere in their thirties.  In fact, Nort has a huge scar on the right side of his belly from delivering papers as a youth.  That sounds like a pretty safe thing to do, right?  Weeelllllll, it would have been had he (18) not been sitting on the hood of the car throwing papers while his little brother Barry (14) was driving and took a corner too hard and fast.  See, hadn’t grown a brain.

And girls can be just as bad.  When Laura and I were kids, one of the favorite school yard games was tether ball.  For you who don’t know what that is, imagine a tall metal pole embedded in the ground with a ball about soccer ball size tethered to the top of the pole.  The object of the game was to wrap the ball around the pole by hitting it with your fist while your opponent tried to keep it from wrapping on their side by hitting it back to you.  We loved it but Mother and Daddy thought it was way too dangerous for us to play.  So being very smart girls we figured out a way to make our own.  We found a skinny tree with no low branches and tied a rope on it.  Since we didn’t have a ball we could use, we filled a Clorox jug with rocks (it needed weight to swing properly) and tied that on the end of the rope.  It was great fun that resulted in some pretty awesome bruises.

We also have matching scars in our eyebrows.  Laura’s is on one side from standing behind a swing I jumped out of and mine is on the other side for the same reason.  Poor Larry has scars in both eyebrows because he just wasn’t as quick figuring this out until he was whacked a couple of time.  Really, jumping out of a swing, do you allow your grands to do this?  And who doesn’t have gravel under the skin somewhere on their body from bike races.  Oh we did live in a time when kids could really be kids.

Another way we use one of our many lives is becoming someone else.  I’m not talking about growing up and becoming more of who we are as children, but deciding we want to be someone different.  A wonderful thing about being human is the ability to recreate ourselves.  Some of us find out who we are early in life and stick with it, while others of us take a lot longer.   Guess which one I am.    Often we run into someone we’ve not seen in years and exclaim that they haven’t changed one bit!  If you are telling me I’ve not changed physically, depending on when you saw me last, I may either give you a big hug or burst into tears.  (Kind of running into someone you know at Wal-Mart in the middle of the night and not being recognized.  Always a good thing for me.)  But sometimes I want to scream, but I have changed!  I’m not the person you used to know.

Some time it takes moving to a different town and leaving baggage behind you.  There is something so liberating about being able to present yourself to people who have no preconceived notions about you.  They don’t know if you were the town thug, beauty queen, bad girl or bully.  They don’t care who your daddy was, what your son did or how bad a cook you are.  New neighbors don’t care that you used to have a dog that barked all night, all they know is that you have a friendly cat now.

A new job can be also be freedom, though part exciting and terrifying.  There is the fear that you won’t like it or can’t do it.  But there is also the chance to be someone new.  There are no black marks on your record from lipping off one time too many or showing up late every day.  My penchant for arguing a point (my first lawyer and I would fight for days over the correct use of its and it’s in a pleading [I won]) can be conquered and they will never know how stubborn I am.  For a while.  Prone to tell waayyyyy more personal stuff than you should and then have to be around the people who know all about you?  Move to a different position or job and have a clean slate.

And now fellow babies (as Venus Flytrap would say) we are at a point in our lives we can reinvent ourselves again.  I have gone from a life in an office to making paint at Lowe’s.  Sometimes I look at my business proper closet and sigh, then realize I get to wear jeans and tshirts.  How much fun is that?  Granted, when I went back to school for a career so I could wear heels and carry a briefcase, I swore I’d never sweat at work again, but here I am.

Now we have the chance to show our charitable side, we have time to volunteer.  Instead of writing a check, we can participate now.  We have raised our children the best we can and now is the time to play with our grandchildren and not worry that what we do or don’t do will ruin their lives.  Never had children, now you can be the sweet little old lady who spoils other peoples kids, be the grandfather to a child who doesn’t have one.

One of my favorite old ladies (she must have been all of 40) told me one time she had earned the right to wear red lipstick if she wanted to.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear red lipstick.  (Some how I missed the perfect point in time because now red lipstick just runs into my lip wrinkles.  Sigh.)  My biggest sale when I worked at Dillards was a woman who came in and bought a completely new underwear wardrobe, bras, panties, slips the works.  She had gotten a divorce and was starting all over.  I loved that.

You know what?  We have earned the right to decide who we are and who we want to be at this stage of our lives.  We can watch all the television we want and it won’t rot our brains (unless it is reality shows, they do rot your brain).  Want three different kinds of cookies for dinner?  Go for it, so what if it stunts your growth.  Never worn make up?  Hit a makeup counter and have a makeover.  Take up a hobby you always wanted to try.  Use the good china and silver anytime you want.  Embrace your bald spot guys and don’t worry about the gray in your beard.  Some of you know all the women I have been, some of you only know this woman.  This is my life now.  Which life are you living?

Happy Birthday America

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

The 4th of July has always been a special day for our family/extended family, in fact, the whole month of July was celebrated.  My aunt, Sister, was born on the 4th.  Actually, her name was Cora (as a child I thought it was the ugliest name I’d ever heard but now I think it is quite lovely) but she NEVER allowed us to call her that, only Sister.  Daddy and Sam called her Cora, but they were the only family members allowed to.  I remember calling her Aunt Cora once and her head spun like Reagan’s in The Exorcist.  I never did that again.

Now why I called her “Aunt” is beyond me because I never called any of my aunts and uncles by that  honorific, they were always just Lucy, Floyd, Bobbie, Stan, Elmer, Maggie etc.  Ooops.  Somehow I digressed.  Daddy, Laura and Ruthie’s birthdays were in the middle of July, one right after the other.  Since birthdays were cause for celebration you can see how it was just one big party after another.

Depending on our ages, and later, the ages of our children, most of the Big 4th of July Spectaculars were held around the pool.  From bright and early in the morning until time for fireworks, there would be a horse shoe game going. Daddy loved horse shoes.  None of those safety first rubber or plastic abominations either. Just real, hard, ringing horse shoes circling a real, metal stake.  The biggest draw back to his game was that the stakes never both seemed to be pulled from the ground until at least one toe was broken (or at least felt like it) from running into one or Mother fell over it.

There was shuffle board on the patio and a the ping pong table.  Depending on the year there was either live music because someone brought a guitar or records.  As usual, if there was music, there was going to be some dancing going on too.  There was food, dear Lord, was their food.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, slaw, potato salad,  real honest baked beans, other salads, cakes, pies, cookies.  Every one would bring huge bowls or platters of something wonderful.

As a kid, when Ruthie would make her world famous ice cream, and Sam was hand cranking the churn, we would fight over who got to sit on the towel covered top.  Sam would sneak us chunks of ice covered in ice salt.  Yum!  Now that I think about it, ewwww groossssss.  Bear in mind this was the man who was a dairy inspector for the Health Department.  He would not allow us to drink certain brands of milk because he had not inspected their dairy farms.  Nor would he (much to mine and Laura’s embarrassment) eat in a strange dinner without checking the health inspection certificate or if he was really unsure, the kitchen itself.  But ice cream ice covered in God knows what and salt.  That was a treat.

And the fireworks.  Oh. My. Goodness.  We were not city folk but rather lived on top of a hill with a long, long dirt driveway and plenty of safe area to stage a spectacular show (The hose was always on and out, just in case).  We had a family friend who always had a firework stand so you can just imagine.  And of course, everyone who came brought a load of fireworks too.  Depending on our ages and later, the ages of our children, there were firecrackers, rockets, fountains, sparklers and more things that go boom than you can imagine.  One year we had lots little kids.  That was the year of the snakes (oh my gosh did those things stink).  I would be willing to bet there are still traces of where hundreds of those nasty things were lit on the patio.  But boy were they ever fun to watch.

Speaking of firecrackers, there was the 4th or maybe before the 4th (I’m old, I lose dates sometimes), we were either on a lake or river somewhere (see above).  I must have been around 14 or 15 or there abouts.  Mother and Daddy and other adults were on the water and we kids doing what ever kids do, probably laying in the sun growing wrinkles and sun spots.  Mother had very carefully put the camera, her clothes and stuff on one of those plastic tubing & aluminum frame lounges so popular once upon a time.  Larry had been lighting fire crackers as little boys could do back then.  Probably irritating us as only little brothers can irritate their teenage sisters.  Then, tragedy  struck.  He lit a whole, huge  string of them.  In his panic at the thought of all of them going off at once, he threw the hissing mess away, with them landing under the chaise.   The bangs and screams of two girls quickly brought the parents back in time to watch lounge chair, clothes and camera explode.  Now you may think Mother’s first concern might have been, “Are you all okay” or at least “What were you thinking?”, but no.  “That was my new bra! (which had melted to the chair)” followed by Daddy’s “That was a new camera! (which also suffered serious damage)”  Ah, family memories.

But mostly, our celebrations were pure out and out joy.  Over the years, traditions and locations changed.  Faces changed.  People, including myself, moved away and can’t join in like we wish.  My brother and sister-in-law, Wesley and Dee, play host and hostess now.  There are a couple of new generations to play games, eat, swim and shoot off fireworks there.  We take Maddie to the coast for the Fishing Rodeo, Crab Festival and what not then fire works over the water.  It’s not the same, but it is our new tradition here in Mississippi.  I had to get all nostalgic the other day and cry a bit over celebrations past and the people I loved so much who were part of that and are now gone.  So I called Laura so she could cry with me and relive some of those days.  We wallowed in melancholy for a bit and then she cheered me up as only she can.  Her knee surgery has been so successful and rehabilitation gone so well, that she is going to do our famous Yankee Doodle Dandy  patriotic salute, high kicks and all.  I do so hope Libby has the camera handy.