Friday, December 23, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Get a Christmas Gift that will...

...last the whole year AND aid wounded soldiers.
$10 each, includes Shipping.

Visit the CWWAF website
or
Crossroads Wounded Warrior Archery Foundation on Facebook
for more info.

Giving twice...just by donating once. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Not Gone...just kinda tired

Yep.  He's cute. 
And curious.  
And has a set of teeth on him that would make Dracula proud.
As the official blood donor and preferred chew toy, 
I'll be glad when the puppy teeth fall out!

Having a puppy again is like having a baby around:
the world revolves around his schedule as we try to teach him
the basics of "Sit", "Shake", "Stay" (yeah, right) along with a healthy dose of, "Hey, that's MY shoe...give it back!"

When he was 9 weeks old he weighed 18 pounds.
At his 12 week visit: 26 pounds.
Yesterday: 15 weeks....37 pounds.
And he's all muscle.
(And teeth).

 But he's also a lot of fun.
And on the two nights we actually had cold weather,
he snuggled up next to me on the couch and kept me warm.
My feet...and my heart.

So I'm here.
But Bourbon believes he is the center of the universe
and the computer isn't something he can chew
so he drags me away.

I'll be back.
He has to sleep sometime...right?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Looking Up

Well, the house has a new roof and the neighbors are trying to help us prune the Old Gal in an attempt to push her back upright and stake her to see if she can live again.  Wish us luck.  :)


 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricanes and Heartache



       Hurricane Hermine visited in September.  She nibbled on our roof, spit it out and moved on after snapping a few branches.  Last week marked the one year point from our “1,000 year flood” experience. Friday night, Hermine’s big brother, Hurricane Matthew, stopped by…

…and broke my heart.

Hurricane Matthew arrived Friday night with lots of rain and some wind.  As the wind increased, the ability to sleep decreased.  I kept getting up, looking out the window to check on the 200 year old pecan tree out front.  I joke that we bought the tree and it came with a house.  I’ve always called her “The Old Gal”.            
 “Hang in there girl,” I’d whisper, knowing Hubby would laugh if he heard me.  “You can do it.  You survived Hurricane Hugo.  You’ve survived ice storms and Hermine.  One more time. Just hang in there.”

Saturday morning arrived with the smell of garlic bread at 6 a.m..  Weird. It’d been days since I’d cooked that.  I fumbled to the bathroom, but when I stepped into the hall, the smell intensified.  It’s pollen season.  My nose works on a part-time basis.  I walked up and down the hall, trying to locate the source.  Then I recognized it.  Burning electrical wire.   I spun around and made a beeline for the guest bathroom, where the breaker box is located.  Entering the room, my foot landed in a puddle.  Half asleep, I thought it might be the toilet, only inches away.   Flipping on the light switch, there was a sizzle.  I looked up to find water dripping down through the light fixture onto the floor as bulbs popped.  Turning off the light, I jumped back and yelled for Hubby.  It’s amazing how fast you can go from asleep to wide awake disaster mode.  I tossed a towel on the puddle and got a bucket for the drip while he checked the breaker box.  Something was humming.  Our house is 136 years old.  The electrical wiring has been updated more than once.  Unfortunately, the newest breaker box, housing the Main switch, was outside, keeping company with torrential rain and a 35 mph wind. 

Hubby was cautiously looking for additional leaks as he flipped off the breakers, one by one.  We mused the ceiling leak was probably from Hermine’s previous roof nibbling.  We’d already signed a contract with a local roofer, but we were number nine in line.  As Hubby got to the last three breakers, water suddenly dripped down, causing a spark, then a small flame which he mercifully put out before it could cause a fire.  After all the breakers were off, we’d later discover a mouse had chewed the insulation off a wire, causing a raw spot and potential fire hazard. Oh the irony…that breaker is for the dryer. 

So, disaster one averted. 

A half hour later, as the wind roared, we heard an odd thumping on the roof.  Hubby’s hip has been hurting, so I went upstairs to the unfinished attic rooms to check.  It sounded as if someone was beating on the roof with a baseball bat.  Glancing out the window, I saw a shingle fly by.  Here we go again, I thought.  I shifted my gaze to the Old Gal quivering in the wind. “Hang in there girl,” I muttered.  “You can do it.”      
From downstairs Hubby yelled, “How many shingles can you see on the ground?”   As I came downstairs to answer, the power went off.  We live in the country.  No power means no water.  Then the phone went dead…something it had never done, even during Hurricane Hugo which had been a Category 3-4 storm.

Powerful storms not only make you feel small, they make you feel helpless.  We could only watch as shingles sailed by and the Dogwood tree near the house beat against the porch as if trying to get inside the house.  Sitting in the living room across from each other, Hubby and I were mirror images of pain as shingles beat against the roof before taking flight.  In frustration, I even yelled at the storm to leave my trees alone and move on!  We’re situated on a hill so the estimated 8-9 inches of rain at least wasn’t encroaching the house.  As the rain began to slack off,  I heard the oddest sound.  I told Hubby it sounded like someone had a baseball bat and was beating against the side of the house, in the room behind me.  The wind was blowing so hard, he asked me to repeat my comment.

We got up and headed toward it. It didn’t sound like shingles, which slapped overhead.  It sounded…odd.   Hubby glanced out our bedroom window and said in dismay, “We lost the pecan tree on the side of the house”.  I stood next to him, amazed to see the 75 year old tree uprooted.  Being short, I had another view. 

“The one behind it is gone too!” I told him, backing up so he could see.  Then that baseball bat landed in the pit of my stomach.  Racing across the room, I threw up the blinds to look at the Old Gal.

It’s odd, but I can still hear my own voice scream, as if it wasn’t even coming from me, “Nooooo!!  She’s gone!  Our girl is gone!”  And, being an adult, I promptly burst into tears.  Not just tears.  Gut wrenching sobs, as if I’d just lost my best friend.  All Hubby could do was hug me, a pained expression on his face.  I finally mumbled, “I know.  It’s just a tree.”

To which he replied, “No, she was part of our family.”

When it finally stopped, we went outside to survey the damage.  All the pre-storm prep had been smart: everything we’d carefully taken down, like bird feeders, the porch swing and rocking chairs, were safe.  We sent text messages to check on family members, who were all okay.  Ironically they all live in the next county.  They experienced the equivalent of a bad thunderstorm.  Our place looked like WWII after a bombing run.  We got in the truck and went towards the end of our dead end road.  We only made it halfway.  There were huge trees across the road, some laying on power lines.  Two popped lines twisted down from the poles to sway in the air.  From past storms, we know we’ll be one of the “last” places to get power because only two families live on our road.  We returned to the house and loaded all the food from the fridge/freezer into coolers.  Every time I looked out the front window at the Old Gal, I teared up.

Sunday morning we went into recovery mode.  Another round of texting family and friends, all of whom were safe, if without power.  Hubby checked to see if anyone had a contact for a generator.  Living in the country, no power also means no water.  Sure, I’d gone into “disaster mode” on Friday, filling the bathtub with water in order to flush toilets. I always keep 6-8 gallons of bottled water in the pantry. A friend 3 hours away found a generator and offered to purchase it, then meet Hubby on the road.  Hubby and his friend David, who was also out of power, went to get our generator.  By the time they returned almost 7 hours later, David’s power was back on.  We were still in the dark.

While the guys were on the road, I needed to feel less helpless.   I went outside and picked up the shingles, filling up two garbage cans (like you city folks roll to the curb) plus another container.  When the roofer arrives, he can take them away.   Taking a deep breath, I began picking up pecans.  I reasoned this was the Old Gal’s last gift to us and it wasn’t going to go to waste.  After a while, I marveled at the strength (and size!) of her roots.  I was awed by the power at which she’d struck the ground, driving into it so hard she raised mounds of dirt.  As I stood there, trying to fathom her sheer size, I heard myself whisper, “You tried, Old Gal.  I know you tried.” 

I wasn’t the only one disoriented by her passing.  A Flicker (looks like a red headed woodpecker) which lived in that tree flew in and out of it, as if trying to find the door to its home.  A Wren finally peeked out of the shrubs out front.  Seeing the Flicker encouraged her to perch on my car mirror and timidly glance about.  After the roar of the wind it had become deadly silent.  Now the birds began to call to one another, as if checking to see who had survived.   Suddenly I remembered I’d taken down the bird feeder.  Ten minutes after I put it back up, it was surrounded by happily chirping finches.   

The generator arrived, meaning we could power the fridge, freezer, pump and television.  That’s the weird part of disasters; they hit you hard, people all over the world see it, shake their heads “Oh my”…then get on with their lives.  You get left behind as the world races on.  Ironically, when we finally got a chance to see the news and find out what was going on in the world, all they were showing was this political nightmare of a Presidential campaign.  Hubby didn’t say a word, merely turned off the news and found an old “Star Trek” rerun to watch.  A touch of childhood…a reminder of “normal”.

Monday we worked in the yard: Hubby mowing and me gathering pecans like a squirrel preparing for winter.  At one point, I sat on one of the Old Gal’s limbs.  And the tears came.  Hubby saw me and rode the lawnmower over to see if I was okay.

         “I know it’s just a tree,” I croaked out.  “But when we first looked at this place, I remember arriving here from work before you and the realtor.  I drove up under this tree and in my head I heard a voice sigh contentedly, ‘I’m home’.  You told me later you felt the same way.”  He nodded in understanding, then calmly asked why I was sitting on a lower limb. 

         For the first time in days, I laughed.  “Well, I always wanted to climb this tree.  Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out how high up I would’ve been.”  Hubby shook his head with a smile.  Reassured I was okay, he cranked the mower and went back to work as a power line crew pulled up.                
       When Hubby explained only two families lived on the dead end road, they were surprised.  After leaving to do a survey, they came back and advised it would take another week to get all the downed wiring replaced.  But since our wiring was intact, the driver said there was no reason for us to wait.  I thanked him and he eyed me oddly.  I smiled and said, “I’m guessing you’re being met with a lot of grumpy, frustrated people taking it out on you.  We’re grateful for what you do. So, thanks.”  He smiled, agreeing that we were the first people to use those words.  (Hubby had already thanked him before I walked up).  The crew went to the end of the road, rewired and an hour later, we had power.

         As we finished up the last of the yard work we could do that day, a grey and white blur flew past my head and took up residence in one of the other downed pecan trees, chattering in my direction.  It was Walter, our resident Mocking Bird.  Walter’s favorite perch is the top right corner of the roof, where he calls to me when I leave for work and sings when I get home.  If Walter survived out in this storm, we’d be fine.  I wonder how he’s going to like the new metal roof? 

The photos below tell the tale.

Two 75 year old Pecan trees on side of house.  Those black things are shingles.

Everywhere you looked...shingles.

The Old Gal...down for the count.
Those aren't landscape timbers...they're railroad ties.
The were tossed around like sticks. 

 The Old Gal

The Old Gal...my perch during lawn clean up.

The Old Gal...power of nature. 
Where she fell drove into the ground so hard, it lifted a mound of earth next to it. 

A final gift.

Mother Nature's sense of humor...
that Hydrangea was on the other side of the house and landed at the Old Gal.

At the end of our driveway...even the sign is leaning.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Here we go again

Hurricane Matthew is headed our way.  
So if I get quiet on Saturday, 
he's the unwanted guest who showed up on my doorstep.  
I did speak to Sav and she's safe so far.

Monday, September 26, 2016

I'm Positive. Okay, I'm Trying

Like most little girls, I wasn't a fan of the "Three Stooges".  But Baby Bro was and even six year old boys need their television fix.  Back then there were basically 4 channels to chose from and we had to wait our turn to choose.  I recall thinking the Stooges were the dumbest group of adults I'd ever witnessed and wondered why anyone thought slapstick was funny.  And yet, one of their stupid routines got stuck in a corner of my brain.  To this day if someone says, "I'm positive" I hear this in my head:

                         Moe: "Are you sure about that?"
                         Curly: "I'm positive."
                         Moe: "Only fools are positive."
                         Curly: "Are you sure?"
                         Moe: "I'm positive.

Sigh. 

That makes me think the only thing I'm positive of today...might change tomorrow.  I'd be foolish to live in my own little world and not see the big picture.  How it effects all of us.  Oh, I'm not talking about changing my core values: I'll still live by the Golden Rule and take the high road, even if it gets lonely up there from time to time.  But change can be a good thing. (Unless you work with Senior Citizens like I do and they HATE change).

Right now, this country of mine could use a positive change.  There's too much anger, ranting and raving...and by the way, if everyone's yelling, who's listening?  We need to embrace that kindergarten rule of taking turns when we speak.  That archaic social method of communicating called "conversation".  And no, I don't need to go first.  But I'd appreciate the chance to finish my thought...and have someone acknowledge it with more than a cursory, "You're wrong!  Next!"


Here's the thing.  For better or worse, we're all in this together.  Why not make it for better?  

I took this on my way home last week and it made me think: We need to learn to weather the storm together...not in boats of separate colors. Listen. Learn. Love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Here We Go Again or "Water World, Part II"

Her name is Julia.  So far she's just a soggy Tropical Storm.  Hopefully she doesn't get huffy.  After all, we're already waiting on a contractor to put on a new roof since her sassy sister Hurricane Hermine tried to keep part of our home as a souvenir on her tour of the South.  The contractor penciled us in for the last of the month.  Why?  We're #9 in line. 

In the meantime, Sav and I are in those lovely zones where Julia might share so much rain, we flood.  Again.  I'm thinking maybe I ought to invest in one of these.   

UPDATE: Well, Miss Julia fell apart.  She wandered out to sea, wandered back our way, then got confused and had a nervous breakdown.   May this clip art scared her.  :) 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering

No, this isn't going to be a long 9-11 tribute piece.  More like a reminder to enjoy life and not take it for granted.

Yesterday, Sept. 10th was the date my Dad died...21 years ago.  It somehow doesn't seem possible it's been that long.  I still find myself occasionally thinking, "I need to ask Dad...," only to realize that would be a r-e-a-l-l-y long distance call.  Yesterday, I had the oddest thought.

"I'm glad Dad didn't live to see 9-11."  

Not the Sept. 11th of 1995, but THAT day.  Because as horrified and baffled as I was, he would've been more so.  His parents were of the "Greatest Generation".  He'd served his country for four years.  That someone would come into the U.S. with such destruction would've been unfathomable. 

Oh he understood evil and what it entailed.  I'll never forget sitting in a hospital room with him as he got yet another chemo treatment as we watched the Oklahoma City bombings unfold on the t.v. in the room.  He sat there, shaking his head and mumbling, "Those poor people!  Those poor people!"  With the equivalent of poison running into his veins, Dad mused how one deranged soul could do so much damage.  I could only nod, amazed at the compassion of someone so ill.  Little did I know I'd lose Dad in five months.

I was glad Dad didn't live to see what happened to the Twin Towers.  I'm glad he got to remember the New York of his youthful visit as a sailor.  I can still hear him telling the story of going up the Statue of Liberty and standing on the torch to look over the city. (Yes, at one time they allowed you to do that).  For a man from a small town, that must've seen miraculous.

So today I will quietly think of those who gave their all trying to save others fifteen years ago.  And I'll be grateful that Dad lived in a world where trouble didn't so violently strike us where we live.  No, he lived in a world where you told your daughter stories about wonderful places and people who lived on the other side of the world.  And I believed him.

In spite of terrorists, I still do.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

She Wasn't A Lady

Sav and I had the misfortune of being visited by one Ms. Hermine, she of the hurricane family with no manners.  I know Sav asked her to leave Georgia by way of the sea, but Ms. H. decided wandering up the coast to South Carolina was more to her liking.  I'm not sure of our rain totals yet, but it's 5-7 inches.  I work in local government and THEY were worried enough to send us home at Noon on Friday.  Which was good...the driveway at work was flooding and beginning to look like a lake.
 
Bottom line: lots of limbs to pick up and a chunk of roof to repair.  Like I told Sav, you never comprehend the sheer power of wind until you have to PULL an embedded shingle corner out of the ground.  She might've spared the Old Gal out front (150 year old pecan tree) from splitting in half, but she lost a lot of limbs and a TON of pecans which were still green.  You know what's fun?  Trying to pick up limbs while your feet slip and slide over small golf ball size pecans, still in their green husk.  We picked up for an hour this morning before Hubby had to go to work and a-l-m-o-s-t got all the limbs up under the Old Gal.  She has three children and her cousins, the Paper Birches, got in on the act as well.  Only total tree loss wasn't on our property but on the bordering field: China Berry uprooted and fell in front of the trailer I'd suggested we hook up to the 4 Wheeler to aid in gathering limbs.  Oh well.
 
Good news is we're fine.  Interesting news is we get to meet a new friend in the next day or so: the Insurance Claims Adjuster.  I'm hoping he's friendly because we've never filed a claim in the 19 years we've been here.
 
Hope everyone has a relaxed Labor Day weekend.  
 
 Just for perspective, Hubby is 6 feet tall.  
The pile is growing steadily: the tree which uprooted itself is in the background.  
That "dead" tree on the left?  
It was ONE branch off the Old Gal from a storm a couple of weeks ago....
a single limb the size of most trees.
 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Run!

There's been a lot of logging going on in the country this morning.  

I don't know about you, 
but I think this guy on the left is trying to make a break for freedom.


 

Friday, August 19, 2016

National Photography Day

Saluting Kim Ayres and his fellow photographers 
who capture life's most interesting moments.  

Who knew there were perks?   :)
 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Visitor

People are creatures of habit.  People with pets are creatures of that pet's habits.  I could set my watch by Bou's time table of life.  Come in from work with Hubby, he'd greet me like I'd been gone for a month.  But if I sat down after that, he'd come lift my hand with his head until I got up and fed him.  The evening joke was my asking, "You need to go out?"  Bou's reply would be to lay down on his bed.  Yet as soon as I sat on the couch and got comfortable, he'd approach with that Elvis grin of his to let me know he wanted to go out.  When he was done, he'd literally body slam the front door so I'd let him in.

Hubby used to say Bou trained me. 

One part of the nightly ritual was what happened when Bou went out.  He'd stand on the top step, survey his kingdom, then go down the steps.  We live in the country and are surrounded by fields.  Fields often filled with deer.  Yet Bou was never interested in chasing them.  Every evening he'd go out and 5 minutes later I'd hear a bark.  Not one of warning.  Or danger.  Or annoyance.  And every time I went out to see what was going on, there she was.

A Doe, standing in the field, just looking at Bou.  And Bou, looking at her.  Wagging his tail.

After a while, it appeared they were friends.  While other deer would scatter at the sound of Bou's voice, she would always stand still, look at him for a moment, then saunter off.  Never running.  Just strolling.  When she had fawns, she didn't rush them on at the sound of his baritone.  No, she and the kids stood there until Bou wagged his tail, then they moved on.  This wasn't a one time thing...she's come back for a couple of years now.  There's a hedgerow* at the end of the field where she has her fawns each year, where they'll be safely hidden.  More than once I'd witnessed Bou lie in the front yard, waiting to see her before wandering off to do his business.

It's been almost a week since Bou crossed the rainbow bridge.  Hubby was mowing the lawn yesterday (our 36th anniversary) and when he came inside, he was quiet.  I thought it was because of how many times he had to pass where we laid Bou to rest out back, which borders a field.  (Remember, we have 5 acres in the country).  After showering, Hubby said, "Come with me.  I need to show you something."

We hopped on the golf cart and headed toward "that spot".  I thought maybe he'd marked it as a way of dealing with the loss...after all Bou did go to work with him every day.  As we approached he said, "Bou's had a visitor".

My heart dropped.  All I could think of was coyotes had come and disturbed the grave.  My eyes searched for signs of digging, but there were none.  Then my eyes followed where Hubby was pointing.  In a dainty line around Bou's final resting place were a set of deer tracks.  The size of a doe's.  The trail walked all the way around the spot and never over it.

"There are no other tracks," Hubby offered, pointing out the patches of dirt in the surrounding area.  Just here, then back into the field."

It seems we're not the only ones who miss the ol' boy.   




*Hedgerows, for you city slickers, are those blocks of trees or brush you see down the middle of a field which serve as a wind break to protect crops.  The one above is a small block of trees at the end of the field.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Dear Angry Woman on our doorstep.


I understand your disappointment when you arrived with your two teens at my husband's business, only to discover it was closed.   Through the window, I saw your expression of shock turn to anger.  Yes, the Shop was suppose to be open by that hour.  Anyone else might've huffed a little or called to leave a message.  You did not.

My empathy ended the moment you sent your son to our front door.

If it was up to me, no one would've come to the door.  But Hubby wanted me to be fair, to explain the closure was temporary and he'd be back to normal hours tomorrow, even if he didn't feel normal. Plus having just gotten out of the shower, he wasn't fully dressed and I was.

I opened the door to find a young man with an earnest and hopeful expression.  I softly asked if I could help him.  His answer was, "I saw the sign on the door and all.  But can't you just open up for an hour?"

I replied in a calm, slow manner, because honestly, I didn't have much strength left in me after the morning we'd experienced.  I politely replied, "No, I'm sorry.  He's sick.  There's nothing I can do for you." 

Junior stared at me, as if I hadn't heard his demand in the form of a question.  Then he turned to look at a woman who I assume was his mother.  Great, I thought.  Mom will talk him through it.  Great teaching moment on how we can't always have what we want.

Mom glared up at me and screeched, "We drove three hours to get here!"

I hadn't slept well in two nights.  I was emotionally exhausted.  Hubby had thrown his back out the day before and so he had my problems plus one.  Again, in a voice soft and weary I repeated, "I'm sorry.  He's sick.  There's nothing that I can do for you."

Before I could offer the reason for Hubby's illness, she screamed at me sarcastically, "Yeah, I bet you're sorry!"  As she stormed off, she began punching a number into the phone in her hand.

Junior looked from her to me.  I shook my head sadly and simply closed the door.

Hubby heard it all.  He was shocked, but told me to let it go.

Fifteen minutes later the Shop phone rang and Hubby answered it.  While the vehicle was gone, he figured it might be the family trying to reason with him, since I was useless.  It was Dad.  In an incredulous voice, he shared that his wife and children had come to make a purchase, but he'd been told the Shop was closed.  Tears in his eyes, Hubby calmly explained that while he knew the man's family was upset at their "wasted" trip,  we'd just had to put down our wonderful Lab of 12.5 years and he was simply too distraught and distracted to be in the Shop.  (The one where the dog went to work with him, every day).  Hubby added, "We'd literally just come in from burying that dog out back when they arrived."

Dad replied with a sarcastic sneer, "You're closed because your dog died?"

Ah, the Compassionate Family.

Hubby tried to apologize again, saying he hoped the family would come back another day so he could set the daughter up properly.  He got a grunt in reply.  I'm sure "Dad" thought he could talk some sense into Hubby.

Today Hubby asked me to help send an e-mail reply....to the woman who'd been so angry at our door.  I had to read it twice, then take a deep breath.  Not only did she proclaim her disappointment after traveling 2 hours (hmm, told me 3) she was furious that no one had thought to change the message on the answering machine.  Because she had called and the hours were listed.  The sign on the door didn't matter to her...we should've changed the message on the machine.  The kicker was, "And that lady at the door was so rude to us!"  (Um, that would be me.  The one who'd cried so hard she could barely speak above a whisper).

She'd sent the e-mail five minutes after leaving our driveway.  I have a feeling she thought we'd see it and change our minds.

Hubby took the high road.  He apologized, adding that we'd lost our beloved dog of 12.5 years and had been burying him not 5 minutes before they arrived.  That had taken a toll.  He's a better person than me.  I know "Dad" probably shared his call with Mom, and they both rolled their eyes.  Hubby added he hoped they would return so he could help the girl.

That's why I love him.  In the face of ignorance, he can let it roll off him.  Me?  My reply would've been different.

"Dear Angry Lady,

I'm sorry, but we just received your e-mail, 24 hours later.  Unlike most Americans, we do not have a cell phone in our hand 24/7.  When you arrived at the Shop, we had just laid to rest the best buddy man could have.  It appears you were fortunate enough to have children.  We were not.  Therefore that DOG was a member of our family.  He went everywhere with us.  His manners were impeccable and he charmed everyone he came in contact with.  The fact that he became ill so suddenly and the only "cure" was to let him go, was heartbreaking. 

We literally had just come into the house after burying our boy out back, next to his Dad, Smokey.  Now that's two former "co-workers" my husband has lost and whom he must pass every morning on his way in to work.  My husband, by the way,  threw out his back the day before.  So he had pain piled on top of pain.  And as we made our way to the house, he asked me to go turn the Shop sign to "Closed", so no one would wait for him.  I decided to add the sign taped to the front door, in case the one in the window was missed.  It took everything in me to write it out and honestly, a three year old could've done a better job with printing.  Changing the answering machine message never even entered my mind.

So when you sent your child to my front door, I started not to answer.  Hubby was just out of the shower and since I can't do his job, I didn't want to have to explain that and disappoint someone.  But Hubby wants his customers to be happy, so he asked me to answer the door.  For the record, I did that for him.  Not for you.   Had I known what was coming, I would've walked away and pretended I couldn't hear him...because I was crying.

But I wiped my tears and tried.  Granted, I was not enthusiastic.  But I was not rude.  Rude would've been to offer a verbal reply when you screeched at me...and oh boy, did I ever want to.  What kind of Mother offers up that kind of example when their child doesn't get his way?  I feel sorry for you.  Which is why I did what my loving husband asked and opened the door to you.  To explain.  Even when you didn't want to listen because it wasn't what you wanted to hear.  I feel sorry for you twice.  It's obvious that "Dad" the caller has no compassion either.  Sneering at someone who opens up about their loss while apologizing for inconvenience caused to you is not a man.  I hope your children will find some example of compassion in their young lives before they become demanding.

In closing, kindly remember.  Life is filled with surprises.  Some good, some bad.  We will be disappointed some days and victorious on others.  I hope you find some fulfillment in your choices.  I have.

I have the love of a good husband.  I had the love of a good dog.  That's what counts in life.


Sincerely,

The rude woman at the door whose heart was breaking but who tried to be kind anyhow."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sometimes Life Sucks

Today was hard.  

This morning we had to put our buddy Boudreaux to sleep.  Which accounts for the headline.

If you're not a dog or pet person, kindly walk away in silence.  I won't be responsible for what I say to the first person who offers, "Hey, it was just a dog."

Nope, he was my buddy and Hubby's work partner.  And today we are hurting.

Bou was almost 12 and a half years old...which is old for a Lab as big as he was.  But he'd started having "spells" recently, where he would stumble, then fall over.  It would take an hour to recover, but then he'd be fine for a couple of weeks.  This morning was different. And we knew when we left the house for the Vet how the story would probably end.  Worst part...it was a "sub" Vet, as ours was on vacation in Florida.  I bet his staff called him to share the news.  He felt bad when we called last night and he couldn't help us out.

We did the right thing.  I hate suffering.  But the tears are hard.  And they'll be with us for a little while.  We had Bou and his Dad Smokey for a long time....between the two of them, there's been a chocolate lab grinning at us and wanting to go on rides for 17 years.

So if I'm quiet for a while, it's okay.  Everyone adjusts their own way.  On their own time.  Thanks for just being there and listening.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Amazing...Gracie

It's hotter than hell here and I'm not talking about politics.  (I will NOT be discussing politics today).  This morning began oddly, in a rather depressing way.  This hot weather has half my head and one ear clogged up: happens when I go from hot to cold and back again.   I haven't even read the news yet.  I'm almost afraid to.

This morning I turned on the water in the tub, got in and the water....quit.  It happened the other day to Hubby when he was in the shower, but he said after a few minutes it came back to life.  Living in the country with a pump and well, you're use to the occasional hiccup.  This morning, the water didn't come back on.  I didn't want to wake Hubby, as he has a horrible ear infection, is on antibiotics and not sleeping well.  Then again, I didn't want to be the reason the pump burned up if this was something else.  I dried off, got dressed and checked the breakers.  Nothing flipped.  But something was wrong.  So I tiptoed into the bedroom, stood near the bed and quietly called his name.  That only startled him awake.  I'm glad he didn't come out reflexively swinging.  He drug himself out of bed, went outside, checked the pump and went into his shop for tools.  I came outside to see if I could help.  He was shaking his head.  

Yep, the pump had kicked back on.  He put in a call to his friend the plumber to make it work.  A man with an ear infection doesn't need to stand on his head to fix a pump.

I got to work and was told a co-worker's wife had dropped dead at work yesterday.  She didn't feel good, went to the restroom, came out having trouble breathing and was soon gone.  Although I didn't know her well, we went to school together.  She's only 2 years older than I am.  

Another co-worker came by and asked me if I'd heard a local restaurant had caught on fire.  The same one Hubby and I were talking about Sunday, musing if we should wait another day because Sunday was a country buffet.  Odd for a seafood restaurant, but probably smart business wise.  He suggested we go eat there on our anniversary this year, which is next month.  It's where we went to eat the night he proposed to me.

I just checked a newspaper.  The restaurant burned to the ground.

Sort of in a "three strikes and you're out" mood, I jumped when the sound for a text rang out on my phone.  It was my brother.  The one who rarely answers texts and only contacts you if necessary.  I took a deep breath.  I realized I was wincing as I opened the text.

"It's official!  And heeeeere we go again.  lol."

Attached was a photo of him, his wife, my nephew...and the baby girl they've been working to adopt.  They took her home when she was 3 days old under an agreement with the mother.  When they'd adopted my nephew, he'd been one day old.  This year he turns 17.  Now, after the usual legal mumbo jumbo, the almost 5 month old "Elizabeth Grace" is now a part of our family.

I am the oldest.  My brother is the youngest.  We have an 8 year age difference.  There's now a 16 year age difference between my niece and nephew.  Fortunately, bro and I have the same sense of humor... and hope.  You see, my brother turned 50 in May.  Even after doing the math, they decided that baby deserved the life they can provide for her.  Lucky baby.  

Last week I bought a t-shirt for the baby for Christmas.  She won't be able to use it for another year or so, size wise, but the sentiment was too funny to pass up.  It reads, "My Daddy says I can't date until I'm 30."

Okay, so I didn't buy it for her so much as to pick on my brother.  When she is 30, he'll be 80.  That's funny.

Welcome to the family, Gracie!  You were the spot of joy this day needed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Southern Discomfort

It's an understatement to say the U.S. is going through a difficult time right now.  I've always believed that there is more good than evil in the world.  I'm not going to say the heightened agitation between law enforcement and it's citizens doesn't exist. Yet I'm not going to get pulled into a "them" vs. "us" mentality which accomplishes nothing. I still smile and speak to strangers, no matter their race or occupation.  After all, it doesn't take anything to be kind.

Yesterday, that smile got wiped off my face momentarily when I was thrown into a situation like I've never encountered.

As the Line Dance class finished and began leaving, one of the younger women came into my office.  Very hesitantly she said, "I think you should know there are a couple of cars outside the fence with some young men in them.  They're just....sitting there."

If you've ever worked with senior citizens you know they have two responses to young strangers just hanging around: (a) viewing them as a threat while clutching purses and scurrying to the car or (b) marching up to the individuals to demand an explanation while commanding them to get on their way.  Honestly, their Plan B scares me the most.  Coming from a generation raised to listen to their elders, they are not prepared to be ignored or scorned.  Or worse. 

I casually walked outside with the woman, mostly to reassure the pair of women hovering anxiously by the door.  I watched them get in their cars and called out a friendly, "Have a good day!" loud enough for our uninvited guests to hear.  Because now there were three vehicles and four guys glaring at me.  I went back inside to advise the remaining women I'd walk out with them...mostly so Plan B didn't get put into play.  My presence made the women act normally, even though the men scowled.  I stayed there until each car made it's way out the drive.  Why?  Because our center is surrounded by a fence with one way in...and the same way out.  The men, while parked outside the fence, had chosen spots on either side of the driveway.  The way they looked at each car clearly showed an attempt to intimidate the drivers.  As the last car passed, I heard them laugh.

In the past, I would've called out, "Can I help you guys?"  Obviously not senior citizens, there was no reason for them to be there.  Yesterday, I did not.  Because, as much as I hate it, the world is not a nice place right now.  Too many people are angry about too many things.  As the guys surrounded one vehicle to bob up and down to music which had some pretty vulgar lyrics, I went inside without a word.

About five minutes later, I went out the back door to put something in my car.  I noticed one of my seniors had yet again manipulated the chain on our parking row, pulling one section toward the ground in order to step over it rather than walk down to the entryway.  As I tugged it back in place, the music was turned up louder, this song worse than the first.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw three of the men turn towards me as they screamed in unison, "Kill that bitch!  Kill that bitch!"

Sigh.

One of the first things I learned from law enforcement friends is when NOT to engage.  Pretending I hadn't heard them, I simply turned and calmly walked at a normal pace back into the building.  They wanted a reaction. I wasn't gonna play.

Back in my office, I glanced out the window, which gives me a semi-obstructed view of the front gate/drive.  Two of the men were now marching back and forth across the driveway, pointing at the building.  One kept pulling his shirt up over his head, then down.  Repeat and march.  Their expressions reminded me of a kid smiling as he pulled wings off of flies.  My inner voice, the one my law enforcement pals always said to listen to, was clearing it's throat.  I know, I huffed back at it.  I needed to at least tell my Dept. Head what was going on, even though I was safely locked away in my building.  In the past I would've simply asked what they needed, then politely advised them to move along.  But I didn't.  I hesitated.  Not because I was white and they were black.

Because I didn't want to cause trouble.

My center is the only truly integrated one in our system and we jokingly refer to ourselves as the United Nations: black, white, British, Irish and Scottish.  (We use to have Cuban and Filipino, but God needed them back).  Our center was built in 1956 as a school for black kids; a monument on the front lawn testifies to such. I've even got a photo of the original school posted on the hall bulletin board. My seniors have lived through WWII, the Civil Rights movement and worse.  We've learned from each other, had discussions on how to make life better.  The bottom line is, no matter what they've faced in life,  all have come to the same conclusion:we're in this together, so we need to work together.  I agree.

No, I hesitated because, for better or worse, I feared asking a Deputy to join us might be like adding a match to gun powder.  Six officers cover a shift, meaning only one would be driving into a dead end to confront four guys with an attitude.  

There's too much anger in our world right now.  Though purposely taunted,  I had the the choice of refusing to respond.  I called my Dept. Head and calmly related what had been going on for the past 20 minutes.  He was shocked.  I heard concern in his voice.  He chose to call our contact at the Sheriff's Department. 

I went back to work, wondering how in the world we fix this country.  A few minutes later, the men starting yelling at the top of their lungs and racing their car engines.  I sat at my desk.   I felt tears burn my eyes.  Not ones of fear but of frustration.  What the hell is wrong with people?

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself  how many GOOD people I know.  How they vastly outnumber the four idiots outside my window who thought yelling at a short white woman made them big, powerful men.

The group revved their engines once more and were gone.  Ironically my fear for the Deputy's safety didn't pan out.  In fact, I waited an hour and never saw a Deputy.  Then again, maybe he'd driven by trying to locate our building, which is set back off the road, and they'd seen him, causing them to move along without a confrontation.  

If you'd told me 10 years ago I'd have to attend a mandatory training on "What to do in an active shooter situation", I would've suggested you see a doctor for your paranoia.  Instead that training reminded me that we do have a choice when thrown into an odd situation.  And sometimes non-confrontational silence is the best one. Some will view that as cowardice.  I see it as refusing to stoop to someone's level when they try to intimidate.  

So today I will continue to see the glass half full and believe most people are good.  It's my job to be vigilant and keep my seniors safe while they are at the Center to have fun.  Yesterday, as uncomfortable as it got, I did my job while keeping my dignity.  And everyone went home.