Nov 062011
 
Some of my fondest memories as a child are of spending time with my grandmother. She lived such a simple, simple life.. she was poor, even by the poor’s standards. She didn’t even having indoor plumbing until she was in her fifties but I thought going to her house was exciting because she was always happy in her heart and she shared her love generously.

Mammaw -- As A Baby

She was born at home, lived in the same house for her entire life.  It was the same house in which my mother grew up and the one in which I would visit her until she passed away at the age of 72.  It was a shot gun house when first built but changed form as the years went by and they added extra rooms with their own bare hands.  Not a one of them was a carpenter by trade so the house wasn’t up to the highest of standards but it had an only slightly leaky roof and the boards only creaked when you walked across them.  It was up on brick pillars in the front because the land wasn’t flat enough to rest it completely on the ground.  It was a shack really but always full of love and laughter.

I remember that the hunting dogs they owned would come out from under the house baying loudly at anyone that drove up in the yard.  It was also under those steps of the front porch that we were allowed to play in the summer because the dirt was cool and the shade was a welcome respite from the oppressive summer heat.  In the wintertime, the cold would settle beneath that space under the house and the floors would be ice cold.. socks and shoes were a must.  The rest of the house wasn’t too warm either because she only had a wood stove in the living room and used the stove to heat the kitchen when she needed to cook.  Yet winter was my favorite time to visit with her to spend the night.  We would make hot chocolate with big marshmallows and watch her 13″ black and white television.  I would sit beside her in that old brown plaid recliner she had directly in front of the wood stove because even just across the room on the sofa, it was too cold to be sitting by yourself.

After dinner, she would boil water (that came from the water well outside.. complete with an old piece of welded stovepipe to bring it to the surface) on the stove and pour it into a number 2 washtub and mix it with cold water for me to take a bath in. The tub was in the kitchen because then she didn’t have to walk so far with the boiling water. She would let me play in that tub until the water was cold and my teeth were chattering and then she would wrap me in a towel and tote me to nearby the stove to warm me as she dried me off. I didn’t care that my teeth were chattering, we would laugh about it as we struggled to put on my flannel pajamas. Then she would turn off the heat from the stove and we would go to bed.

My Grandmother and Her Brothers

She kept her bedroom door closed off because the house was old, not really insulated and quite drafty from the winds beneath the house. That meant that when you walked in her bedroom, you could see your breath it was so cold. She had so many quilts on her bed that once you got climbed in the bed and under the covers, you couldn’t move, the weight was so heavy on you. It never fails though.. somehow during the night, I would manage to find her under the covers and use her soft, flabby belly as a pillow. To me, it represented warmth, softness and the very persona of her love.   She also had a crack in her wall near the ceiling and you could see daylight peeking through as you laid in the bed before getting up the next morning.  As I said.. she was poor by the poor’s standards but it didn’t matter.  Love don’t cost a thing to give or receive and it is more valuable than some of the palatial homes that I can drive by in the town by where I live now.

Our lifestyle today is a lot different from what my grandmother lived but I can’t help but feel as though she wouldn’t have enjoyed how we live.  I’m certain that she would have enjoyed the creature comforts in her older years so she wouldn’t have to work so hard but the fast pace, the never having time to sit down and truly enjoy a nice big mug of hot chocolate (right down to the marshmallows) would have likely made her uneasy.  I hope that in her afterlife, she is enjoying that mug of hot chocolate, still finding laughter in the smallest of things, a pile of quilts on her bed to keep her warm and the peek of sunshine streaming through the crack near the ceiling in the mornings to greet her.

As I Remember Her Most

Oct 302011
 

In this day and age, we all worry about identity theft.  And who wouldn’t?  With the economy being like it is, most of us depend on each and every penny just to make ends meet.. the idea of somebody stealing those hard earned coins is threatening.  But you take precautions, try to be prudent and then hopefully.. you just live your life and the idiots leave you alone.  That’s not what I mean though.  I am talking about my identity.. the hats I wear, the way I describe myself or introduce myself to others.  The layers of personality, my environment, what I do that gives me purpose.. my contribution to the world.

My husband identifies himself as a Captain in the fire department.  It is his main sense of how he is represented.  It’s how he views himself.  He is also a husband, a brother, a son and a friend but in his mind.. he is first and foremost a firefighter.  I have known this about him since the day we met because that is how he introduced himself to me:  “Hi, my name is Bob.  I’m a professional firefighter.”  It’s more than just what he does for a living.. it’s who he *IS*.

If you ask me about my identity, I will tell you that I am a mother first and foremost.  It is my most important job and it has been my career throughout my adulthood.  I no longer work in the public sector but when I did, I worked in the medical field.  Yes.. I contributed to the world in a way (hopefully a good way) but my children were more important than any job, any patient, any other humans.  I am a wife.. and I think i’m a fairly decent one.  There may be days when he would beg to differ but  I love my husband and I am loyal to him.  I will defend his honor and protect his reputation.  I will care for him and nurture him in sickness and in health but I am still a mother first.

I’m human.  I make mistakes.  I’m so far from perfect that I can barely spell it.  But in the midst of my mistakes, I have a perfect love for my children.  Even when THEY make mistakes.  It’s really hard when you do what you feel is right and still get judged for things not being perfect.  I can’t do perfect, remember?  But in that perfect love, I make hard choices, sometimes say no when i’d rather just take the path of least resistance and roll with it.  I can only hope that someday, my children will recognize that every choice had a reason behind it, every mistake I made originated from a good place and I did my dead level best to teach them responsibility, compassion and respect for others.  All while accepting they also have flaws but are worthy of being loved in spite of them.  See.. my most important job.  Ever.

But now my children are young men.  Grown up.  No longer need a “Momma”.  I get that we never outgrow our mothers because I still wonder what mine would think or how she would handle a situation i’m dealing with.  I trust her and I trust her judgment.  She was and still is a wonderful mother but I find myself making choices without her input or wisdom.. trusting on myself and the ability and confidence she helped to instill in me to do that while she was still mothering me.  I know my day has come, just like hers did to lay down the role of “Momma” and just become the woman that gave my children birth.  “Mom” instead of “Momma”.  It’s much easier said than done though.

It is my identity.. the way I perceive myself, my most important job, my purpose.  And it has been stolen from me.  Stolen by time.  Time I can’t get back.  There is no daylight savings in this job.  No extra bit of daylight to get the things done I missed out on.  I got one chance and I can only pray to God that I did a decent enough job that my children will someday recognize the same things I see in my mother:  kindness, gratitude, graciousness, imperfectness, fierceness, loyalty and most of all.. love.  I pray for strength as I move forward into the next phase of my life and as my children move forward into their own.  I am lost without a purpose most of the time but I am finally trying to find new purpose and ways to again contribute to society in a positive way.  But even when I find that additional purpose.. I want my sons to know, they will ALWAYS be the source of my greatest joy, at times my deepest sorrows, my extreme pride and the best way I could have ever improved society as a whole.  Your “Momma” as well as your “Mom” loves you from the depths of my soul.  Now and forever.  Please don’t forget that “Mom” is here but “Momma” lurks just beneath the surface, you only have to ask if you need me.

 

Blake & Spencer

Oct 202011
 

Growing up in Louisiana, the Fall season was my favorite.. probably because it was my Mother’s favorite.  The weather got cooler after the brutal summers, the leaves turned pretty and my Mother loved to rake the leaves and I would run and jump in them.  Then we would pile them all back up, burn them and have a weenie and marshmallow roast.  Fun times and I have great memories of it.

Living here in South Florida, we don’t get real changes of season.  We have hot.. and sweltering hot with a large side of humidity.  I hate South Florida weather.  Between the weather and recent life changes, I haven’t felt much like writing.. much less anything else.  My husband recognized that the walls were closing in on me and did one of the sweetest and most loving things he could do for me.  He took me away from it all.  To Maine.. a place where I have wanted to visit ever since becoming an adult.  In anticipation of the cooler temps, I got excited but apparently, we took the warm weather with us.  Thankfully it wasn’t overbearingly hot except for one day and I ended up going and buying a couple of short sleeved blouses to wear when it was too warm.  Oh well.. shopping is always a nice way to lift your spirits too, right?  We took along some traveling companions to bookmark a few places that we stopped along the way.  You will meet SpudBob and TaterHaven on arrival in Boston below.

We flew into Boston and rented a car.  It was unbelievable how long the lines were to rent a car there, even with a reservation but then we realized that it was a holiday weekend!  DOH.. no wonder everybody was out and about.  We assumed that it would be much better since school was back in session and the summer rush was over but apparently this was the last hurrah before settling in for winter.

We found a Starbucks immediately after procuring the car and headed out for Maine.  We were staying just outside the Portland area the first night and needed coffee for the drive.  Since we are MAJOR coffee drinkers, we brought our own espresso maker, packed it well and checked it as luggage for travel.  Thankfully, it arrived ok but we were depending on the local Bux to get us through until we made it to the hotel that night.

Armed with coffee, we headed out for Maine.  We decided that since we had plenty of daylight left, we would take the shortest route to go up I-95 which turns into the Maine Turnpike once you cross state lines.  Prior to getting into the Portland area, we knew we had wanted to see the Cape Elizabeth area as we had read good things about it.  We made a detour and found The Two Lights Lighthouse near Two Lights State Park and some really beautiful homes that surrounded it.  I can’t imagine how amazing that has to be to look out your front window and see those craggy rocks and the waves crashing on them.. hearing the dull sounds of the fog signal when the seas are rough and watching the light spin around at the top of the tower.  That first day in Cape Elizabeth, the temps were quite cool so we didn’t get a chance to stand down at the waterside too much but we had just enough time to take a couple of pictures, enjoy the view and drive onward.  As we were leaving the lighthouse area, we drove around the park just a bit and stopped to take a few more pictures.  It was there.. in that place, that I had a most profound moment of clarity and wave of calm to start filling me.  I can say nothing more than as the tears flowed, it was truly a spiritual moment.  I plan to share more of this experience in another post but it deserves it’s own space.  When it’s done, i’ll come back and edit this post to add a link but it will most likely be my next entry.

After leaving Cape Elizabeth, we drove toward Portland.  I wish we had gotten there just a bit sooner because they were having a street festival in the middle of town and it would have made some interesting photograph opportunities but I wouldn’t have traded our time in Cape Elizabeth for ANYTHING.  It was there that the healing started and I will be forever grateful.  We drove to the other side of Portland to the Brunswick area and stayed the night.  Small town, comfortable room.. set up the coffee pot and made coffee for the next day (and a little for the moment as well!).  Got things together for the next day, took a shower and crashed early as we were heading out to Bar Harbor the next day.

Up early so we could get on the road and pray for a little daylight once we made it to Bar Harbor but it seems we found ourselves stopping here and there along the way and taking pictures.  One of the detours we HAD to make was in Camden, Maine.  What an amazing place.  I had done research on Camden years ago when I was contemplating a trip there and fell in love with the pictures.  The reality of it did NOT disappoint.  It was amazing.  We spent a few hours strolling around the area, had lunch and took several pictures.  If it weren’t so cold there in the winter, I do believe I could live there.  The quaintness of the town, the harbor, the pace of life.. it was all appealing.  Truly a peaceful place and thankfully, my mind was absorbing that peace and storing it in my heart.  More healing as we went along.

 

          

We got into Bar Harbor late and found our hotel.  Unpacked the car as we were staying here for two days.  Very nice hotel.. everyone is so friendly here!  Yes, they depend on tourism as the Acadia National Park is here but the friendliness seems so genuine.  Even when we had to stop in at the local Wally World to pick up a few things for the room that we hadn’t packed, they were so helpful that we wondered if we had actually went into another world, not just another state.  Trust me when I tell you, Florida is sorely lacking when it comes to the people being hospitable.  I loved that part about Maine.. it reminded me of when I lived in Louisiana.

 

That night, we went downtown and drove around the town of Bar Harbor.. exploring the night life and visiting the area around the harbor.  Quaint shops, friendly droves of people, melt-in-your-mouth home made fudge that threatened to put me into a carb coma.  Early the next morning, we got up and went for a drive through scenic Acadia.  The rolling “hills” weren’t nearly so frightening as when we went to Yosemite last year.  I was white knuckled all the way through those mountains fearing we would go sailing over the edge of the mountain and deep into the ravine.  In Maine, it was much less intimidating and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the park.. stopping to take pictures along the way.  Nature has a way of reminding you just how small your problems are in the grand scheme of things and it was calming to my spirit to be surrounded by beauty and the love of my husband.  Obviously, he knew exactly what I had needed to mend my broken heart.

 Food is never a bad place to mend the belly either and boy did we eat good while we were there.  Of course, you can’t go to Maine and not eat the LOBSTAH so eat lobstah we did!!  Every night in fact.  The freshest, best prepared lobster i’ve ever had.  We drooled as we smelled it cooking, drooled some more as we saw other people’s plates pass by in front of as we were waiting, grunted and moaned while we were eating it and then sat back with a big sigh and a greasy smile when we were done.  Dee-licous!  In fact, I can almost imagine the taste of it now.  Fortunately, we went just in time because the lobster pounds close for the winter season and don’t open back up until they’ve had a good thaw in the spring.  In fact, some of them were already closed but we managed to find some of them still open for business and cooking mighty fine on the cheap!

On our last day in Bar Harbor, we puttered around and then drove back down to Portland to spend the night again.  On our way down, we happened upon a few of TaterHaven and SpudBob’s cuzzins and stopped to sit a spell with them.  They were of the mindset to just hang out and didn’t talk much so we didn’t stay long and headed on toward Portland.

When we got there, a political rally was in full swing and tent city was set up to “Occupy Maine”.  I’m not a political person so to try and explain it, i’d only show you just how ignorant I am when it comes to those sorts of things.. so, better left as is.  We explored the area and took some pictures, met some folks at the local fire department and had a leisurely evening with yet another of the finest lobsters you could introduce to your belly.  Made an early night in the hotel and then got up the next day headed back to Boston.  Since we arrived in the evening, we found a nice restaurant to eat in outside the city limits and decided that one more time was not being too greedy to have a lobster dinner.  Boston lobster was good.. but not as good as in Maine.  Hmmmm.. wonder why?

On our last day in Boston, we had to catch our flight back mid afternoon so we got up early and headed out to see a few sights around town.  There was precious few things that we really HAD to see there because to me, a city is a city for the most part.  Other than landmarks that are synonymous with the area, one building looks pretty similar to the next.  I will say though.. many of the houses in downtown Boston were quite charming.  Little row houses with pretty front stoops, all decorated so pretty for fall.  Lovely and inviting in the Beacon Hill area.  We did go to the Boston Commons.. went to the Cheers bar while in Beacon Hill and saw Fenway Park as we drove by it.  Bob visited a couple of fire stations so that he could get a feel for the people there and got him a couple of souvenir tee-shirts.  My favorite part of Boston was in the Public Gardens.  Beautifully manicured lawns, well laid out pathways for strolling, huge weeping willow trees and mounted police.  Nestled back in one corner were my most favorite part of all.  The bronze duck statues in honor of  the children’s book by Robert McClosky, Make Way for the Ducklings.  I had a chance to feel them come alive from the story book right under my hands.  It was a wonderful way to end the trip.  We waved goodbye to Boston and winged our way back to Palm Beach.

Tired but with a renewed spirit, we flew back home and were greeted by the face of a friend and a house full of furries that were very excited to see us!  We sat and talked for a while about our trip and then found solace in the bed.  As fun as it was.. home didn’t feel nearly so bad to come back to as it did when I left it a week before.

The following day, I went to pick up the twins.  The twin coffee pots that had been at the coffee doctor while we were gone out of town.  They had been tickled, pampered, given a nice soak and made to feel like new again.  Who knew there were spas for coffee machines just like for people?  They were also eager to get home and SpudBob and TaterHaven gave them a test run to be sure all was in working order when we got them home.  Since all was well, they are packed away for when the time comes that necessity brings them out again.  Man.. there truly is no place like home.

 

Oct 062011
 

For those friends of mine that tend to walk the paths with me when I celebrate, when I laugh and even when I cry out in horrible pain.. I want to say THANK YOU.  Each of you bring a little something different but as a collective whole, I am reminded of how truly, truly blessed I am.. even in the midst of the crisis i’ve been struggling with of late.  One of my friends posted a video on my Facebook wall and as I listened, the tears started to flow and then it turned into the full blown “ugly cry“.  The symbolism of how far and wide my friends are spread paralleled the distances traveled to make a video in which I was not involved.  Yet no matter how far the physical distances.. love and support transcends across it in less time than it takes for light to travel.  And they are standing beside me.. respecting my need for space to sort through my thoughts yet near enough to remind me that they care.  How amazing is that?  How can I ever repay you?  There are no words that come close to relating how this makes me feel.

If you are in touch with your emotions (or like me, you feel them in technicolor), you are likely familiar with the ugly cry.  I have been trying to tote this load on my own.. my emotions are so strong and sometimes so scary that I am afraid to share them.  I figure that my true friends will accept my idiosyncratic behaviors at times and even embrace the wacky side of me but i’m not really sure that I can accept how scary my thoughts have been lately so I certainly can’t expect others to understand.  I am afraid to share them.. they are dark.  And terrifying.  I don’t know that I would act on them but they are in my brain.

NO.. don’t start calling 911 and say i’m threatening suicide.  I’m not.  It’s bad enough but i’m not ready to take a dirt nap just yet.  I am struggling.. my identity is questionable.  It’s a frightening place to be when the only real purpose you’ve known is gone.  Yes.. i’ve been here before but somehow it is different.  I’m alone in my head with my thoughts and escape seems futile.  But escape I am seeking in other ways.

I will be leaving town for a much needed break.. time to reflect, time to get away from the very walls that such a short time ago seemed to wrap me with love.  They are closing in on me and I feel as though i’m suffocating yet I know that in the recesses of my mind, i’ll be taking it with me.  But for the next several days, I am putting MYSELF first.  I have taken the steps necessary to secure the welfare of my animals and for at least a short time, I will do my best to focus my mind in a different direction.

I have much to be grateful for and I plan on practicing it until it becomes a habit.  For all of those that have surrounded me with love and compassion.. I am going to count you in my reasons for having an attitude of gratitude.  I am proud to have such wonderful friends.  You are all amazing and I love each of you.

 

 

Sep 282011
 

A friend of mine on Facebook (and in real life as well) quoted some words of Maya Angelou.

The greatest gift you can give others is the truth. Sometimes being your true self does not meet with expectations of the crowd…..DO IT ANYWAY.

There’s a lot of wisdom in the words Teresa shared.  A lot of truth.  The truth isn’t always easy to face, isn’t easy to swallow and can certainly test your faith in others, self and in the reasons for living.

I’ve not wanted to face my truths of late.  They are painful.. both in the physical sense as well as in the emotional sense.  I have hidden these truths from others because I haven’t wanted to face them myself.  It seemed easier at the time to just “stuff” them and while I know you can never truly run from your reality, the decision to put these truths in a closed box seemed safer at the time.  Never fear.. they ALWAYS break out of the box, always come to the surface and must always be dealt with at some point.  The time frame isn’t always the same as i’ve sat on painful truths for years and turned a blind eye.

I’ve done a lot of self work over the past years, trying to find a better, healthier way of dealing with issues i’ve had since childhood.  Now don’t get me wrong, I was blessed with a wonderful mother and a step father that could do no wrong in my eyes but I carried a lot of scars from my biological father not wanting me and my brother.  I suppose my brother has either stuffed his feelings about it or perhaps it doesn’t bother him like me.  Either way, this is just about me.. especially since my brother doesn’t wish to have a relationship with me.  He makes it obvious that he feels he’s a better person than I am and perhaps he is but I already knew I was damaged.  I didn’t need him to point out what was glaringly obvious.  I suppose if that helps him cope with his own feelings by shunning me, more power to him.

I have had a lot of changes in my life, some of my own doing, some not.  Some changes made in fear, some made out of anger, some from boredom/stupidity and some from a sense of personal discontent.  Some of those changes have been for the good, others have left me with a sense of pain and loneliness.  When they are choices of my own doing, I know I have to live with the consequences and I do.  I may not like them but I own them.

My greatest fears are failure and being alone.  Many times the two of them are so deeply entertwined that I cannot separate them.  Yet when i’m in pain, especially if I feel i’ve failed at something or i’ve failed someone.. I become reclusive.  It feels much like a dog, wanting to lick it’s wounds without having others sniff at them and wonder how those wounds came to be.  I don’t like having my failures displayed out in the open.. becoming fodder for other’s amusement, giving someone a chance to yet again feel superior to me or sometimes (even worse) save me from myself.

I do love myself. I think that is what makes my failures so difficult.  It’s hard to love yourself yet be honest with your own shortcomings and failures.  I don’t always love the things I do.  I am not making excuses, I own my mistakes but I also realize that in the middle of my mistakes, I recognize I am human.  I make mistakes and then I have regrets.  The regret isn’t always about the action, it can sometimes be the regret felt when the sting of the consequences bite.  Yet I have to own those consequences, even if I don’t like them.

I can tell that i’m getting older.  The very behaviors I used to think of as being ridiculous in my mother or my grandmother, I see myself doing.  I’ve become less tolerant of crap.  I want to get the same respect I give.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  I find that maturity can mean patience is often greater but tolerance is often shorter.  Yeah.. I know.  That sounds like an oxymoron.  And none of this likely makes any sense to anyone else because I haven’t labeled the issue that has caused my downward spiral.  So here it is.  My baby son has moved out.  Again.

This time it was over an argument in which I ended up asking him to go.  Repeatedly, we had conversations in which I asked him to just be a little more considerate of us.  Maybe I was asking too much?  I don’t know.  I wanted him to call if he wasn’t coming home so that I wouldn’t worry.  It didn’t FEEL like it was too much to ask.  Yes, I know he’s 21 years old but no matter the age, I worry.  I am a mother.  It’s the only job I have known consistently throughout my adult life.  It has been my greatest achievement yet likely my largest failure.  I don’t mean that my children are failures.. that is the furthest thing from the truth.  They are both incredible in their own right.  It is ME that feels like a failure.  I’ve failed to communicate respect enough that they understand how important it is.

 Now that he’s gone, I miss him terribly.  I knew I would.  This isn’t the first time i’ve known the sting of an empty nest.  It nearly killed me the last time.  I can’t really talk about it with others..  it is too painful.  So i’ve dumped it here and this is as much as i’m capable of doing for now.  Suffice it to say, my heart is as empty as my nest.  And no matter where the blame is placed, the emptiness feels the same.  Please be patient as I struggle to get back to a place where I find joy in small things, laughter in unexpected places and pride in watching my children go their own way.  It’s so far beyond hard that I cannot begin to explain.

 

Sep 232011
 

I know this blog is still a baby and I swear, I wanted it to be upbeat, funny and just downright endearing enough for folks to come back and read.. maybe even share with others.  I haven’t been feeling too funny of late though.  Life isn’t always kind, even if it results from us not being kind to ourselves.  Ain’t much funny about that.

I’m in a world of hurt.  I haven’t spoken of what’s ailing me and I haven’t wanted to speak of it.  I’ve only just scratched the surface of it with my therapist and I don’t keep secrets from her.  I’m just not sure i’m ready to deal with my pain but it’s there.  Bubbling.  Screeching.  Threatening the core of who I am and how I cope.  It feels tangible and much like the top of a pressure cooker.. sizzling away and allowing small amounts of pressure to be released but the threat of it blowing the top off is imminent.

I don’t know how to handle it yet and i’m still not ready to share but I just felt like I needed to stick a fork under the pressure regulator before I find myself plastered in little bitty pieces all over the wall.  Please be patient while I jiggle my safety valve.  And stay out of the way if you hear too much hissing and spitting.

 

Sep 162011
 

I woke up early yesterday morning and almost immediately had something on my mind that I wanted to blog about. I pulled myself out of bed and opened my laptop. It crackled, spit out a message at me that had faint sounds of evil laughter in the background followed by a very long pause of nothingness. My computer was DEAD. Of course, I went into panic mode wondering how I was going to survive without it. I had serious doubts that i’d even make it through the morning. I will admit I am a technology junkie and while I am six cousins twice removed away from being a geek, I literally wanted to cry thinking that i’d be cut off from the rest of the cyber world. Gone was the land of virtual shopping. Gone was that little black box in which my friends live. The place where Facebook resides and email exists had been eradicated in a single poof of fate. Ten minutes elapsed and I started hyperventilating.. wondering if I had gotten that special piece of spam that would have informed me that Ed McMahon wanted to give me a million dollars.  Yet another opportunity passed on to the one that had an operating computer!! I was doomed for sure.

My husband was still asleep and I fretted about how to handle it. Should I wake him? Should I suffer alone and try to keep the sounds of my cries muffled so as not to disturb him? Should I steal the neighbor’s Xanax from the mailbox? Should I call 911? After all, this was epic in my mind and certainly worthy of being called an emergency. I tried to make do. I got my tablet out and was pecking along with one finger, coping as best as possible. It finally became apparent that in no way would I ever be able to type out a blog post with one finger. No way would I ever be able to communicate in anything other than short, stilted sentences and one word responses. I would lose my card-carrying membership to the Webster’s Dictionary Glee Club. I’d be shunned by the Wordy Nerds Society.

I turned on the television.. thinking I would somehow pass the time until my husband woke up and I could convince him that he wanted to buy me a new computer. Nothing was on but early morning shows and the DVR list was empty. Of course that brought on the need to watch the Spanish channels at maximum volume.  No sense in not learning something new, right?  It never crossed my mind that the television at full volume might wake up my poor sleeping husband from his world of oblivion!  When I heard the crack of the door opening from the bedroom though, I immediately turned off the television and turned on the puppy dog eyes.  Surely he would appreciate how I let him sleep in?

Thankfully, he recognizes an emergency when he sees one. There are times it’s good to be married to a paramedic! He took a quick peek at my screen and resigned himself to the fact that he would indeed be purchasing me a new laptop today and started bargain searching on his fully functioning computer while I plucked away one finger at a time searching on my tablet for something that would appeal to my need for speed and his need for cheap. Trust me, there did not seem to be a meeting of the two universes but when we finally found a decent sale, I got dressed and was ready to head out the door. Of course, anything that is considered a “deal”, i’m always too late to take advantage of and all that was left was the super fast, super expensive laptops that sparkled under the fluorescent lights of HH Gregg, Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot. We came back home a few hours later empty handed and considered purchasing one from online.

It then hit me that it was nearly 4 o’clock on a Thursday and even if I placed an order immediately it wasn’t likely to be shipped until at least on Monday following. The hyperventilation and palpitations returned. I went for a walk and peeked inside my neighbor’s mailbox.. empty.

ZOMG!  BLIMEY!  CRAP!  OH NOES! 
 

I picked up my tablet again, started searching even more fervently and happenstanced upon a DELL computer from Best Buy that had not been in the store we had went to. I checked the availability for the surrounding stores in my area and found there to be inventory at another location a bit further of a drive away. I called them to check availability and after 15 minutes of being on hold with the most annoying elevator music ever, someone finally came on the line. I gave her the SKU, she put me back on hold but meanwhile I was double checking my makeup, brushing my teeth again so I wouldn’t offend the girl on the other end of the phone and tapped my foot in anticipation and hope. When she finally came back on the line, she informed me that they did indeed have ONE in stock. That was all it took to ramp up my fear into overdrive. I gave the woman my name and asked her to put it at the customer service desk on hold for me. I was on my way but it would take me at least a half hour to get there.

The hubby wasn’t too happy about the price tag but for what it offered in comparison to the other computers, it wasn’t a bad deal. More than he wanted to spend but by this time I was ready to start selling body parts to make up the difference. He relented (thank you, Honey!) and I walked out of that Best Buy clutching my new computer with a death grip. I could breathe again. All would be right with the world again. Facebook would not go into the land of nowhere like MySpace and leave me behind, twittering (or tweeting) my thumbs. I had another link to the outside world.

And even though he muttered about it, I have no doubt the manticles knows that if he hadn’t ponied up to get me a new computer, he would have paid dearly for it. I would have not shut up about it nor would I have given him a moment’s peace with his own computer until I had my own. For his own sanity, he chose the lesser of the two evils. I guess that means it was a good deal for the both of us!

Now.. about that other blog post I had intended to write? It’s still rambling around in my head but it’s a heavy one. It will come later. For now, I need to check my Facebook status.. it’s been at least 15 minutes since somebody replied!!

Sep 142011
 

When I was a kid, I remember my Daddy watching that silly TV show, Hee Haw. It was a goofy, canned laughter filled sort of variety show that invited you to forget about the world and it’s problems for an hour. You sort of had to like country music in order to watch it though because they would sing (and sometimes wail) until the dogs would howl. In fact, I used to howl with it as well. My biggest howls would be during the segment called “I’m a pickin’ and I’m a grinnin’ with Buck Owens and Roy Clark. They would play their guitars and tell jokes. As I kid, I thought they were funny. I’m sure i’d think differently now but it’s nice to remember that segment with fondness.

As I grew older, I migrated away from country music and leaned more toward pop, rock and even threw in a little rap from time to time. The rap was just to grate on my mother’s nerves, I wasn’t really that into it. For most of my adult life, I continued to listen to rock music.. it was just my preferred genre. I was content to listen to the same music that my children were listening to with the exception of metal and some of that rap we talked about earlier. Now my kids were listening to it.. perhaps just to grate on MY nerves!

However, life has thrown some huge changes in my way over the past few years. My children left home (one has since returned), my husband has been ill, I have been diagnosed with a few medical conditions of my own that have altered the way I do things and i’ve been out of the work force for the past six years. It’s been a tough row to hoe. A few months back, I was channel surfing on the radio because my I didn’t like the song on my normal channel. It landed on a country music channel and I stopped to listen. I found myself tapping my fingers on the steering wheel as the rubber met the road. Listening closer, I could hear some of my life’s woes lining up in parallel fashion to the words of the song that was playing. The lyrics spoke to me and I found myself relating to music in a way I hadn’t related in a long time.

A few weeks ago, the Manticles and I went to his first country music concert. We went to see Rascal Flatts. We enjoyed the show but we were really looking forward to the show we had tickets to later. This past weekend, we went to see Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Jerrod Niemann in concert together. I was excited because I couldn’t imagine having that much eye candy to look at in one place and to hear them singing to me.. well, that was a big ole bonus! Can I just say how much I LURVED that concert?? I tapped my feet and sang along off key.

Jerrod Niemann was up first and I can’t believe I sang along with him as he belted out One More Drinkin’ Song. The strongest thing I had to drink was a Coke. This boy was a cutie pie and he put on a short but worthy performance.

Up next was the tall drink of water, Blake Shelton. I know the man is married and so am I but he is so hot and I admit, I lusted after him when he was on stage. He has those boyish good looks, those cute dimples, tall with broad shoulders and plenty of good ole boy charm. And that was BEFORE he opened up his mouth to start singing. I could have looked er, listened to him all night. Sadly, he wasn’t cut out for our South Florida summers and he just melted into a big ole puddle of sweat and headed for the comforts of his air conditioned bus after about an hour. I can’t say as I blame him, I was longing for a change of clothing and a shower to wash off the grime myself! I guess that’s what you get when you go to an outdoor concert in the hottest part of the summer.

After Blake finished his set and while the stage was being set up for Brad to come on, we were entertained by the bevy of drunken cowboys stumbling around, dancing to the music heard only in their heads. We also got a chance to meet Big Head Brad. I guess all that fame went to his head and the drinking turned it into cotton. When you get to the bottom of the page, you’ll see what I mean. His 100 gallon hat could have fit even the biggest of egos.

When Brad took the stage, I was so excited and sang along missing only a few words here and there. I love, love, love his music. He even sang his new single Remind Me that he does with Carrie Underwood, thanks to some really cool holograms and piped music. My husband nearly came out of his chair when she seemed to just walk out on stage. Total freakout as we both love her music as a standalone. To pair her with Brad Paisley is like the best of country music today. I loved it and would have gone back the next day if he’d have just stuck around to do it.

I was quite surprised to see how cool under pressure that Brad stayed. He never broke a sweat and for August in South Florida, that is nearly superhuman. It could have only been better if he’d been wearing tights and a cape. He really got out into the audience and even went to the middle of the crowd in the sound booth and sat there to sing for the folks in “the cheap seats” (his words, not mine). On his way back to the main stage after singing for them a spell, he walked right in front of my seat. I nearly crapped my pants, I tell ya. That wouldn’t have been good on any level but just imagine a big ole sweaty, pheromone emitting middle aged southern woman with a doody in her pants.. well, let’s just say the visual is bad enough. o_O

It was an awesome show and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even the manticles had a great time and as we soaked up the air conditioning in the car on the way back to the house, we speculated who would be coming to town next. We’re hoping that sooner or later, Carrie will find her way this far south. From where we were sitting it was a challenge to get decent pictures but here are a few that Bob took. It was too far to get close ups but the sound worked great!

Sep 112011
 

For most Americans, if you ask them where they were on a certain day of the week or at a particular time of day, they can’t tell you for sure. However.. if you ask them where they were at 8:46am on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, they will likely recall it with vivid detail. On the ten-year commemoration of that horrible day, many of us have rehashed the events that changed the world as we know it — reliving things we only wished we could forget. Everyone has a personal recollection, a gathering of poignant memories that are forever burned into our minds. Time has passed and while some of us only have the scars left to remind us, others are left with wounds that will never heal.

On September 7, 2001 I graduated from Flight Attendant Training School after having worked as a nurse for 10+ years. I had burned out in my chosen career path and needed a new direction that was fun and had less responsibility. My final check ride before being released to the job without supervision was scheduled for the morning of September 11th. It was just a short turn. In the world of aviation, a turn constitutes a flight from home base with only one stopover and a return back to base on the same day. That was great because I wouldn’t have to lug along my suitcase packed with a week of clothes, just a simple flight bag to carry my manual, an apron and my in-flight shoes. I was to arrive at Dulles Airport (Washington, DC) at 9:30 in the morning and would be home by 6 o’clock in the evening. I was looking forward to having the last step behind me but not eager at all about having to be in Fort Lauderdale so early in the morning. I lived an hour away from the airport, was required to be in the crew room at least two hours prior to departure and needed an hour to get dressed. I would be up long before the chickens were.

The night before my check ride, I got a call from crew scheduling telling me that the senior flight attendant that was supposed to ride with me had called in sick. I would not be going on my check ride after all. They said they would notify me later when to reschedule. Oh well, I figured i’d sleep in and think about it later. After all, I had been in training for months and didn’t mind getting a chance to sleep in. I was still sleeping in when my husband came in the bedroom, shook me into a state of consciousness and pulled me into the living room to watch the television. Unfolding before our eyes was the events of that fateful day. It struck fear in my heart when I realized that I had come so close to having such a different story to tell. I later found out that the plane I was scheduled to be on had been diverted to Ohio. Since the entire country was air grounded for at least five days following 9-11, I would have been stranded without even a toothbrush or a change of clothes.

But even though I was safe, we worried terribly about my husband’s aunt. She had worked as a flight attendant for 35 years for United Airlines and often flew between Miami, Los Angeles and New York on her routes. We tried calling her.. nothing. No answer at her house, on her cell and no return call from her husband. We were scared. Where was she? Was she safe? Had she been flying that day? Had she been on one of those planes? We left message after message on her phone and although we were tremendously relieved when she finally called us back, it was a bit anti-climatic. She was out of the country on vacation. What a relief but how dare she take a vacation without telling us in the middle of a national crisis??

For the next two weeks, I was glued to the television. I doubt this was abnormal behavior at the time but I do admit, I became obsessed with finding out each and every scrap of news related to this tragedy. I was immobilized. My husband sat right along with me, replaying that horrible day over and over. We were obsessed and in a very unhealthy way. I had just made the decision to “fly the friendly skies” and my husband was a firefighter. I questioned my decision to become a flight attendant, wondering if it would put my life in danger. He empathized with his fire department brotherhood.. they lost 343 of their own when the final tally came. His aunt was faced with the mixed emotions that affected her company as well as those passengers and their families. The future felt uncertain yet I decided to move forward. I went on my check ride about two weeks later and worked as a flight attendant for the next four years until I was injured on the job and turned in my manual.

If you think about it, there needs to be a strongly felt emotion to move thoughts into action. Very few things in this life, good or bad, are achieved without a strong sense of passion to motivate. Regardless of your race, religious beliefs, social stature or even your opinions.. that day is most cohesively known as being founded in hatred. The strength of that kind of hatred is a strange emotion for most of us to wrap our brains around. Indeed, we have all felt contempt for some bitter happenstance in our lives and perhaps even toward another human being that has wronged us but I don’t know anyone that can breed such a sense of vitriol toward a man or a woman without a face. A sense of hatred so deep that it blots out all manner of compassion. I cannot fathom those feelings but hatred was definitely the fuel that motivated the people behind the events, much more so than the thousands of pounds of jet fuel in those planes.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion (paraphrased) states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Love is the equal and opposite action of hatred. It has just as much power, just as much fuel power as it’s opposite. It can shed light in the darkness, be the presence of good in the face of evil. It can blot out the hatred and be a motivator for action just as hatred can. It can move thoughts into action but it is left up to us to choose what will motivate us. We can choose to hate or to love. And while it’s not perfect, I choose love. What about you?