Is time passing fast for you, too?

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Ah, more fun stuff from my sweetheart’s visit to an auction.

There are a lot of things I haven’t done.

I haven’t: seen the ocean; seen a major-league baseball game; been out of the country; been to Maine – something I’ve yearned to do seemingly forever; taken a cruise; published a novel; been to a circus (I’ve reported on one being opened and saw the elephants raising the Big Top, but that was it); well, there are too many more things to mention.

I have done these things: had children; lost a child; become a widow; attended the kids’ and grandkids’ baseball games; had over 20 jobs; baked pies completely from scratch; gambled in Las Vegas; run for city council (and lost); written short stories, novels, poetry; created, edited and published two magazines; again, too many other things to list.

A bucket list has never appealed to me. Maybe the motivation isn’t there, or maybe it’s a fear of the unknown. What if I get beaned by a foul ball? (Although, I would take that risk if I could attend the game next year at the Field of Dreams.) What if I get to Maine and refuse to come back? What if I go to the circus and a trapeze person falls to the ground? What if I went on a cruise and was seasick the whole time?

As far as publishing a novel, well, I’ll keep plugging away.

I’m not disappointed in the life I’ve led. I’m not thrilled with some of the decisions I made along the way, but I think we all have those thoughts.

I don’t know if you agree with this sentiment or not – Luke Bryan’s song, “Most People Are Good”: “I believe that days go slow, but years go fast.” As they say, truer words, right?

What I am trying to do, after slacking off since Gary passed away, is to make every day count for something. For me, it’s about making people feel good, praying to control my mouth, choosing not to be offended or panicked or angry; in other words, I’m trying to become a better person, friend, sister – whatever – every day.

Oh, one more thing. I’m reading as many books as I possibly can while I can.

It’s a personal mission.

 

 

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A dog, an oddly lovely day, and a friend bearing gifts

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I think tomorrow I’ll have tea with my Junior Mints. It’s weird, I know, but that’s me.

I had an argument with myself this morning. Should I go to work? Stay home? Set up a ride for tomorrow to go to the store?

Going to the store would have been a great idea. My fridge has nothing in it but a whole lot of white space. There’s a quarter loaf of bread, a few drops of half-and-half, three hamburger buns and condiments. The freezer has some hamburger patties and pork chops. So, though the fridge is empty the freezer is not.

Thing is, fresh stuff is always nice. Eggs are nice. Fruit and veggies are perishable, yes, but nice to have around.

Before I left I made the last of the loose hamburger into chili (sans beans – I was out). I set the crock pot and left. I’d decided on going to work after all.

I did my usual stuff, then went into the courtroom for preliminary hearings. Today’s schedule was not in the least boring (really hasn’t been very often), but the highlight of the afternoon was when a state trooper brought his K-9 unit in because it was too hot for him in the squad car. Once I saw the pooch, my mind could think of little else. I wanted to pet him and hug him and gaze into those beautiful brown eyes. I miss having a dog.

Eventually my mind returned to the job at hand. Now and then, during breaks in the action, I would think about the chili cooking at home. I wasn’t in the mood for it, but it would have to do. And I wanted to freeze some for later – much later.

I had an interesting riding mate on the way home – can’t talk about it, not here, but my mind was spinning until he got off in town. I let out a sigh and the driver took me home.

Not long after I got home, the phone rang. You know, there are some folks who call at just the right time with exactly what you need. That’s no accident. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Want to know why? Because, without me saying a word to anyone but God, I now have watermelon, a bag of salad mix, ham loaves, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Junior Mints. In. My. Fridge. I have something to look forward to and that makes my heart happy.

I’m thankful I went to work today. I’m thankful for dependable rides to and from work. I’m thankful for my job. And I’m thankful for the friends God put in my life. I can only hope I am that kind of friend to them, too.

Can you cry with your eyes closed? Yes.

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Seeing a cardinal always reminds me of him.

Yesterday I had one of the best Saturdays I’d had in a long, long time.

Two sweet friends – husband and wife – came by with blueberry pancakes, bacon, coffee and more. We hadn’t met at my house before and we made up for that.

Even though we visited for almost four hours, I’m positive we didn’t cover everything we could have. The food was delicious, the company, well, it did my heart good.

We talked about funny memes we’ve seen on Facebook, and when we got to talking about hugging, I remembered a favorite meme of mine. I know this isn’t exactly the way it was worded, but it went something like this: “I want a hug that will put all my broken pieces back together.”

At that moment, on that Saturday morning and afternoon, I didn’t feel broken. I felt light-hearted, happy, content. (And when I found an extra piece of bacon hiding under my napkin, I was ecstatic.)

Just before my friends showed up, I had another visitor who brought books. My kind of books. They’re still in the foyer, in their container. I will take them out one by one, look them over, then find places to put them. It turns out you don’t need wall-to-wall bookcases to hold all your books (though I would not turn that down). I will find flat surfaces and stack them. It’s my house and I can “decorate” however I want.

So, yesterday was fine. Then, this afternoon, I plopped into my recliner, slapped on the headphones and turned on my playlist. There was a song on there that hadn’t played yet. Just as I was waking up after a too-brief nap, I heard the lyrics to, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and I lost it. I tried to stop the tears by shutting my eyes.

Have you ever done that? Cried with your eyes closed? It’s easy enough to do but eventually you have to open your eyes and all those tears are released, flowing down your face and onto your neck. As those fell, new ones came as the words found their way through the still-healing cracks in my heart.

So, I had a mini meltdown. It happens. They don’t last as long as they used to, though they remind me that even after all this time the heartache is still fresh. I still miss him.

I still love him. Death didn’t stop that love. It can’t. And now that meme comes to mind again – I need a hug to put the broken pieces back together. Until the next time.

Oooh, look. More books!

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Can one have too many books? I think not.

I couldn’t believe my ears. A good friend was telling me he had bought a bunch of books, and he may have said John Grisham’s name first, but when he mentioned, “a lot of Stephen King books”, well, my mind went off in one direction: I. Want. Those. All of them.

He went on to say that these were really nice hardback books, but beyond that all I could think of was how to get them to my home.

Well, folks, today was my blessed day. (I’m not one who believes in “luck.”) And I know it sounds weird to put Stephen King and blessed in the same story, but there it is.

I received pictures of what was available, and I did read the titles. I asked for all of King’s, Grisham’s, and more. Then I waited, my mind still spinning.

They’re here now, safe in my home. I want to go in the other room, take them out one by one, and simply be thankful. I’ve always read a lot, but I read even more now. I like to be taken away into a story with characters I identify with, and those I don’t. I travel places I’ll never visit here on Earth. I can get out of my own mind for a while.

Plus, reading gives me ideas. Oh, yeah, I get them from other places – dreams, TV, work, songs, out of thin air.

I remember something I saw once on Facebook. I’m paraphrasing here: “Those who read live thousands of lives; those who don’t live only one.” That’s what I believe.

I tried to influence the kids to read when they were young. Our oldest was definitely not into it. Our youngest did a fair amount of reading, and even wrote some short stories. Both sons turned out to be intelligent and artistic, which I think is a beautiful combination.

I think tomorrow, when my strength is at its best, I’ll mosey on into that other room and peruse that glorious box of books.

Thing is, and I’m not joking around here, I really need more bookshelves. Lots more.

Block? Unfriend? What I did, and why

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This was such a peaceful place. I loved it.

 

This entry is a toughie.

Throughout life we find ourselves sometimes shocked by how a relationship ends. Maybe someone betrayed us, ignored us, verbally and/or emotionally attacked us – something that ended the friendship.

I’ve had those, too, and each one was different. As I look back I can see my own part in the break-up, and I don’t blame the former friend. I used to shoot off my mouth about people, probably because I thought it made me popular in others’ eyes.

I’ve ignored people, too many times on purpose, convincing myself that they should know why I was upset with them. It’s a trait I learned at my mother’s knee, so to speak. She used that tactic on Sis and me throughout our lives. It hurts like the dickens.

I’ve used words, mostly written ones, that ended up hurting others. It hurts my heart now, knowing what I did, and I pray I never, ever do that again.

So, where does the title about blocking or unfriending someone come in? It’s really a kind of passive-aggressive way to treat a person. (And I’m a pro at being that way, too, thanks to Mom.)

Since losing my sweetheart last year, my emotions have been all over the map. One day I’m wondering why Gary’s brothers haven’t kept in contact, and then I can go for weeks without thinking about them. At first it deeply bothered me when neither of them checked up on me, especially on special days or during life-threatening weather. Didn’t they care?

That feeling used to burrow itself into my heart and brain. I know they both know their Bible, and there is scripture that deals directly with how we are to look after widows and orphans. Technically, I’m both, but I focused on the widow part. And we’d been married over 45 years – weren’t they concerned, even a little bit?

I went from blocking them on social media and my phone, to unblocking them, and back again. (My emotions, remember?) I’ve unfriended them on Facebook. I figured that they know where I live and if they really wanted to tell me something, they’d come over.

I can’t remember the day it happened, but it did. I suddenly realized that each of us is following a path. My path, and theirs, are different. We’ve never had a close relationship. That’s not a crime. We just don’t “click”. The way I look at it, we don’t much like each other here on earth, but once we’ve gone on to Heaven, we won’t remember any of that. No anger, fighting, arguing, hurt feelings – or hurt of any kind.

So, why bother getting my knickers in a bunch over such things? I can tell you this: Now that I’ve seemingly come to my senses, I feel a peace about the whole business I never would have thought possible. I only want the best for them and their loved ones.

Life is too short for such nonsense. I realize I was dealt one of the worst kinds of shock, and my heart ruled my head for most of the last year and my heart was shattered. No wonder it wasn’t working right.

I didn’t want to share this, but I’m glad I did. If it helps someone else let go of anger, then maybe some good came of it. I hope so.

Hallelujah, the Sound of Silence and more

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Mom and me, standing outside Mom’s Cafe in Annawan, Illinois

 

I have some weird music on my country playlist.

First of all, I have to have music in my life. According to my mom, my dad was in a band and I think he played the accordion – definitely not one of my favorite instruments. Turns out he was in that band for 40 years.

Mom wrote music. She claims she wrote the lyrics to I Can’t Stop Loving You, sent it off, and it was stolen by someone and recorded. Back in those days she wouldn’t have had any proof she did it unless she somehow made a copy or did something to prove she wrote it. It would have been in the mid-1950s.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a popular song written and composed by country singer, songwriter, and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it on December 30, 1957, for RCA Victor Records. It was released in 1958 as the B-side of ” Oh, Lonesome Me “, becoming a double-sided country hit single.

Well, the timeline sounds about right, and for personal reasons, the date seems even more so.

So I’m guessing my love for music (and my sister’s) comes from Mom. Sis leans toward soft rock, and I’m full-on country, even though today’s country sounds nothing like it used to. I still love it.

I did add some odd songs to the playlist because I didn’t want to switch between them. One, “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix is there. So is another one by them, “The Sound of Silence.” That rendition gives me goosebumps. That was a favorite song of mine for years.

Stand By Me is there too – and when I hear it I remember the night we all went to the movie of the same name. We lived in Tucson at the time and that story simply stunned me in all kinds of ways. The boy who wanted to be a writer; parents that weren’t really “there” or, maybe worse, they belittled their kids; bullies; secret passwords, and all kinds of other kid stuff.

I remember when the movie ended I was sitting alone. The guys had gone out, but I didn’t want the night to end.

Okay, here’s one more: The Git Up by Blanco Brown. I guess it does go in the country list, but my main reason is I fell for it after watching umpteen videos of The Git Up Challenge on Facebook. Oh. My. Gosh. I do hope some folks here in town will get in on that – I’d love to see it. Maybe some of you could get the word out?

Well, it’s almost time to switch off the TV and turn on the tunes. See you all tomorrow.

That little home, full of memories

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Ah, Atkinson Street.

It’s the weirdest thing: I can remember every room in that house. Memories are so stunningly clear, yet I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday.

Through the front door is the living room. To the left was our bedroom – for all three of us.

The dining room was off the living room, and the bathroom was on the right.

The kitchen. Well. The tiny table folded up against the wall beneath the window. The stove was in the corner. There was a big, black furnace of sorts – we had LP gas, when we could afford it.

There was a back porch off the kitchen, just past the sink with the water pump. And off the back porch was a stoop. Down from there you could find Diane and me digging dirt under the big tree, making mud pies.

In the summer, boxelder bugs covered the front door. From a distance I could see hundreds and hundreds of them, and I couldn’t make myself go into that door. Diane, even at so young an age, didn’t seem to have a fear of bugs like I did; in fact, if I ticked her off, she chased me with one kind or another and threw them at me.

Summers were heavenly. We played outside all the time. Some nights Mom popped a roasterful of popcorn and we headed next door to Clara’s and Amy’s house to sit around outside. The grown-ups talked, we chased lightning bugs – the only bug I would handle.

Winters were brutal. Mom closed off the house room by room until all we had was the kitchen. The heat would go out, the oven would go on, and the three of us would huddle together, in our coats, on a rollaway bed. I remember one day when a straw stood straight up in a frozen Pepsi bottle on the little kitchen table.

As I look at the house now, through the photos, I can see the back porch is gone. The trees are absolutely enormous – and beautiful, to me. The good memories far outweigh the bad ones, and for that I’m thankful. All of those will go into the memoir – for my sister and me.

The mulberry tree, the bunnies, the dolls, the bathroom Mom put in by herself, the little red wagon, Grandma Daisy (and Jack), the couch with the Very Bad Spring, the fried chicken, eggplant, and pineapple upside-down cake with cherries.

So there you have it. I think of this tiny home in that small town as the house that built me.

Thanks for reading.