Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Christian Values, Coping mechanisms, Kids, perspective, responsible adult
It’s been a while, hasn’t it. Sorry ’bout that, but between the malware/adware/underware o the computer that makes it nigh upon impossible to do anything without cursing and wanting to throw things, and the cold that morphed into bronchitis that turned into a raucous and debilitating cough, and the EXCITING NEWS about #3 and his sweetheart deciding to get married, well, I have been busy. Either coughing or cursing or cheering or researching lace options because….
#3′s sweetheart asked me to make her wedding dress. Or rather, #3 told her I could and she, being practical and recognizing the financial advantage as well as the cache’ of having a one-of-a-kind couture wedding dress for only the cost of the fabric, thought it was a fine idea.
In the mean time, the very idea that one of my sons is getting married has been emotional. I mean, this is the little kid with the long blonde curls and the big blue eyes and the charm and wait, isn’t he still 7 and likes mac and cheese from a box? Since when has it been acceptable for 7 year old boys to get married around here? Ok yeah we tend to marry young in the South but even here 7 is pushing it.
He’s not READY to get married!! But really, who ever is? Himself and I were 21 and 20 when we got engaged, and married just 6 months later. Were we READY? He didn’t have a good job, nor did I. He was a student in college and had no money, I was a steak-house waitress and had only what I made in tips more than he did. He lived in a shoe-box and I lived with my parents.
Now I look at #3 and his sweetheart. He’s 22 and she’s 20. He lives in a shoebox and she lives at home with her parents. He is a student and she works in a veterinarian’s office. When you put it all side by side, we were no more ready than they seem to be, and we have been solidly married for 27-1/2 years.
But who is ever ready? How much is enough money? When is it convenient or expedient or The Right Time? Some of the best times of our marriage were the times when we were down to $8 in the checking account, because it meant we could go to the Pizza Hut buffet. The prettiest Christmas tree we ever had was bought at half price because it was Christmas Eve, and it was very much the sad Charlie Brown type. The best gift he ever gave me was the box shaped like a button, made from scavenged materials because we had no money for buying gifts that year.
Struggles are important. They are the stuff memories and relationship muscles are made of. If everything is always wonderful, if you start out with the perfect house and the new furniture and shiny fabulous car and all those clothes, where is the struggle of scraping by and how do you learn to lean on each other when there is nothing else to lean on? I know my
child kid son and his sweetheart will struggle. I don’t fear for them with that.
Learning to live with someone, figuring out their habits and weirdnesses and noises are all apart of the learning curve. I firmly believe the learning should happen within the confines of a sanctified marriage relationship, one that makes it too difficult to get out of if you decide you can’t live with the aroma of the bathroom after the other one has been in there. Or the way s/he chews. Or farts in their sleep. Not that any of those things have ever been a problem here. Just examples off the top of my head. I remember when we had been married about 2 weeks. I woke up to find Himself changing the sheets on the bed, with me still in it. He was asleep. A couple of days later, I woke up in the night to the aroma of bacon and eggs. Himself was in the kitchen, cooking breakfast. At 1am. And he was asleep. Fortunately I assumed he had a very valid reason for those nocturnal activities, even asleep, so chose not to be terribly concerned. Eventually the nighttime stuff settled down and hasn’t happened for many, many years. I figure (in retrospect) it was the anxiety and stress of being newly married that caused it all. It could have been cause for a walkout, but it wasn’t. We were married, and the very idea of walking out wasn’t in our realm of thinking. Thank goodness for that, because several years later he would have his own reasons that would have had many men riding off into the sunset.
I am not a believer in ‘trial runs’ or ‘practice marriages’ or whatever you call it. Living together “to see if we’re compatible”. That’s nonsense. Like I said above, if you are living together to make sure there are no irritating habits, then you don’t have much of a commitment. If you want to live together in order to get whatever- regular sex, or share expenses, or someone to watch movies with- then be honest enough to say that. Don’t call it a practicing or a trial run, because marriage is not something you can take on a test drive, any more than borrowing a baby to see if you want to have one is a trial run for parenthood.
Anyway, the emotional roller coaster of realizing I might be losing a son, or I might be gaining a daughter, or maybe something in between, has been kind of rough. Mainly because I have no idea what to expect. The thought of one of my
children kids sons embarking on a…whatever you call it…my brain keeps comparing it to Magellan’s Voyage…is very exciting. I know it’s not like that because no one had ever done what Magellan did, and lots of people have been married, but it’s the first time HE has ever been married (and hopefully will be the last) and for him, that is a Magellan’s Voyage.
The whole making of the wedding dress has me in a loop as well, because 10 years ago I resigned myself to being The Mother Of The Groom, wearing beige and having nothing important to do, wedding-wise. Himself’s only role was to be signing a check for the rehearsal dinner. But now, I get to make The Most Important Dress she will ever wear, and that is a big responsibility. Yes, I am up for it, and am looking forward to it. I get to be a real part of this ceremony, not just the beige wearing mother-in-law. How cool is that?
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Coping mechanisms, Disease and infirmity, Home and hearth, perspective
What is it about familiar things that brings such great comfort? Comfort food- never anything fancy, rarely made of expensive ingredients or from something hard to come by- usually something warm and creamy and probably rich. Macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, maybe chocolate pudding (the cooked kind, eaten while still warm because who has the patience to let it cool?). Food for the soul, sometimes it’s called that. Being sick means not having much of an appetite. I tried some tomato soup and gave up after a couple of mouthsful. Tuna salad and crackers, usually a guaranteed palate-pleaser, also didn’t cause much excitement. Tangerines are about it, the only thing that really tastes any good these days. Thank goodness they’re in season.
Since comfort isn’t coming in a bowl right now, it has to be found in other ways. Books seem to work. Not just reading them, but the real, honest, books. The kind that kept me company when I was growing up. You know, BOOKS. With pages that you turn and can flip back when you realize you missed a part. The kind where you stick a piece of paper to mark the page when your eyes get too heavy and you realize it’s 1 am and you have to get up in 4 hours to get the day going. Those kinds of books. It has been a while since I sat down with a real book and actually turned the pages.
I have never been able to keep up with bookmarks. I like them, the pretty ones with tassels or maybe the fancy metal ones with a doo-dad at one end or a little can of copper clips. But I never have one when it’s needed, so resort mainly to whatever is closest, a scrap of paper or perhaps that string from a set of earplugs. Whatever works. Right now it’s a post-it, folded in half so the sticky part doesn’t stick to the page.
Himself got me an e-thing for Christmas a couple of years ago and it has been a right handy e-thing to have. Instead of schlepping a massive Bible and it’s Oxford Intellectual SmartPerson Reference, when going on trips, the e-thing tucks right into my purse and still has all that stuff, and weighs much less. Nice, huh. I have heard that with the e-thing people can read books that they don’t want anyone else to know they’re reading, but I haven’t tried that one yet. But the e-thing, useful and practical as it is, lacks the charm and comfort of a real book. I use to for getting the stuff that’s free, the out-of-copyright old books, or maybe the books I want to read once but won’t particularly want to read again later. Mysteries and such. So I like it well enough, it suits for reading on an airplane or whatever.
It’s the familiarity of a book, the tactile comfort of actually holding this hefty chunk and turning page after page, that is so important. For me, all that with a book that I know like an old friend, one that I’ve read so many times the cadence of the author’s words are familiar like a family member. I like knowing that just a few pages more and Jane will have her Mr. Rochester, or that Christy will open her eyes, or that Scarlett will indeed return to Tara. These are books I’ve read so many times I know exactly what will happen, and there is great comfort in those familiar words.
Oh sure, I like to read new things. I like to try new foods as well. But when I am sick and wobbly and whining, I don’t want the newest thing on the menu at Emma’s featuring scallops or truffle butter. I don’t want to wonder who’s going to die or what sort of distress the latest Stephen King novel will heap on an unwitting Maine village. I want chicken and dumplings, and the safety of Christy and David and Cutter’s Gap, and I want food in a bowl and words on a page I can turn.
The turning of pages acts like the turning back of time, somehow. When I am reading a book that was first read as a much-younger person, it feels like I am back there, somehow. Instead of being 48, it feels almost like I am 12 again, sitting on my bed, or under that big tree, with my nose buried in the book. I am back in the world of the book, and the setting is wherever I was the first time I read it. I like that. It’s like a vacation of sorts. Time stops, sets itself over to the side while I get reacquainted with old familiar friends.
Do you have books that you return to, time after time?
Here are some of the ones I love:
Christy, by Catherine Marshall
Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Big Fisherman, by Lloyd C. Douglas
All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot (also the sequels)
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Coping mechanisms, Disease and infirmity
When I was a kid, it was called ‘having an epizooty’ or maybe ‘the creeping crud’. I remember how much fun it was to be sick for a couple of days, getting to lay in bed and drink hot jello and eat chicken soup from a can. I don’t remember feeling horrible. i don’t remember aches and creaking and the way even the softest sound is magnified and bangs around in your head like pebbles in a tin can. I don’t remember even eyelashes hurting, or fingernails, or the hairs on the back of my hands.
The problem with being The Mom, is that in order to have someone to wait on me hand-and-foot the entire day, I have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, Himself does everything he can but he has a job to go to, and the kids are at school, so while I lay in the recliner under a pile of blankets and moan, eventually if I want a glass of cold water or a mug of hot tea, well, it won’t get itself. I suppose it is indeed a very good thing that there are no little kids in the house, only dogs and mischevous (however you spell that) cats.
I remember many years ago, having a bad epizooty and 3 preschool children, including a small infant. I remember laying on the couch surrounded by a pile of Thomas The Tank Engine VHS tapes, and handing them to the oldest, who was 4. He was very proud of himself, for being in charge of the tapes. Cereal boxes provided sustenance, and Himself made up a bunch of bottles for the baby, and the 3 yr old was in charge of fetching them as needed. One works out systems when one must, I reckon.
Today, tho, and yesterday and beginning the evening of the day before that, I have been laid out flat with the bronchitis. A cough invited itself to stay, like the weird aunt who smells of old cheese and won’t take a hint, right before Christmas. The cough stayed on but I didn’t feel bad. Until the evening of the day before that. Thanks to an hour of walk in visits to the Dr’s office, an antibiotic was prescribed, because he determined that the Aunt That Smelled Of Old Cheese needed to go.
I still feel like crap. Achy, painy, whiney-baby and I just want someone to be here and wait on me, with hot tea and lemon jello and ice water and an occasional back rub. I don’t want to be 48 today. I want to be 8.
Filed under: Uncategorized
It’s 8 days into the New Year. I don’t do resolutions, as they are a big open door to failure (for me, anyway). All that “lose 20 pounds by Easter” and “exercise 3 times a week” and “call my mom every other day”…it won’t happen. It just won’t. Oh sure, 20 pounds by Easter would be lovely, but not if I have to exercise. I have chose to exercise my mind instead. Right? Right. Thinking burns calories, so I’ve heard. I am also trying (though not actually RESOLVING) to Clean Up My Act. No, I am not giving up the Mystery books, but I am taking up some Brain Food books as well. Food wise, maybe throw a vegetable in there now and then. Fruits aren’t appealing, really. All that cutting and chopping and you would think someone who likes to cook as much as I do wouldn’t mind that, but there’s something in there that looks at a fruit and says “I’d rather have some cheese.”
I *am*, however, determined to finish the 3 projects sitting in the sewing room before starting another one. I am going to do it. The red coat needs buttonholes, and a coat with that much effort into it requires good buttonhole, welted ones hand sewn. So there is that. There’s the black skirt made of obnoxiously expensive fabric that requires buttonholes as well, and a blouse about half-made that will look nice with the skirt. See, finish those things and there will be a whole new outfit. So why am I stalling? I like making welted buttonholes and they can be done whilst watching back episodes of something that doesn’t need to be watched closely, or while listening to a sermon, maybe….see, edification AND buttonholes. Win-win.
Right now we are on the second day of that Epic Cold Spell that even made the BBC news. I was listening to it yesterday and they prefaced the bit about it with “normally we don’t care about the weather in the USA but this is big enough to make the news today.” While I do think it is very interesting, even better is the universal reaction to Cold, well, Southern reaction anyway. The run on bottled water and canned stew, the panicked purchasing of parkas and wool socks, which won’t be remembered again until the next Epic Cold Spell, 20 years hence, remembered but not found, as they will have been given away to Goodwill 3 years from now, with commentary about “why did we buy this”. As for me, I stay inside, thermostat set on 65 so a sweater is comfortable, and prepare warm filling meals like Chicken and Dumpling (no, not plural…somehow what was meant to be dumplings coagulated into one big dumpling) last night and vegetable beef soup tonight. Barley or taters? To Be Determined. By tomorrow the cold will have subsided, and people will creep outside, with sighs of relief and weeks of conversation regarding How Best To Survive and “Sure was cold! It got down to 16!” and people trying to outdo each other with stories of how cold it really was.
Here’s a story told by Himself’s uncle: Why, it was so cold that when we walked outside there were all these little green blobs, like tiny frozen clouds, on the ground. I picked one up and when it warmed up in my hand it went “PHBPHBPHBT” in my hand and disappeared with a stink.
Yes, I am a 14 year old boy in a 48 year old woman’s body. Why do you ask?
I continue to be impressed by my friend Northern Girl, who lives in the wilds of North Dakota, and shrugs off that ridiculous -60F wind stuff like it’s old hat, which it is to her, I guess. I would probably die…maybe not, but I would want to. Or at least never leave the confines of a down comforter and a pile of dogs. She has Facebook posts about going here and there yesterday and today. I mean, actual leaving the house and getting in her truck and going places just as cold as where she left. I’m impressed, as I have managed to only leave the house once in 2 days and that was for about 30 seconds. I have this Cough that is aggravated by the cold, and being out means having to pick my lungs up off the ground and blow off the schmutz, which is problematic when you’re in the line at the post office. Most people don’t really understand and might have an adverse reaction. So I stay inside where the floors are (relatively) clean and no one is disturbed by the alarming barking sounds.
Anyway, this First Post of the New Year didn’t really have a theme, I just started writing what was bouncing around in my head. Next time, I am going to write using the iPad, with the Autocorrect that I cannot figure out how to turn off. Nor do I want to because it can be pretty interesting. Then you can have the fun of figuring out what I meant to say.
And for your viewing pleasure, A slinky
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Christian Values, Home and hearth, perspective
It’s almost 8 am. We’ve been up since 5, which is the Time To Get Up On Christmas Morning. All the stuff has been opened, the wrapping paper gathered up, the cinnamon rolls (from a can, as the skies didn’t open up and God didn’t give me ambition last night) baked and (mostly) eaten. 2 pots of coffee have been perked and consumed. Each one of us is doing something quiet and peaceful. Himself is napping, with soft commentary from #1 about how much of a blessing it is to be able to fall asleep so quickly. #1 is messing with his new smartphone. #2 is also napping, wrapped in a soft new bathrobe. #3 is in Alabama, probably eating something strange that Gran made, and #4 is on the computer, messing with his new game. I am, obviously, tapping away on the computer.
Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
I love Christmas. Every single part of it. I love the singing of carols and the sermons about what-all was going on leading up to Jesus’ birth. Sunday the sermon was from Luke 2:19, about Mary pondering what was going on…I ponder that too. Pondering is more than just thinking about something. It’s looking at it from all angles, holding it close to your heart, mentally chewing it over and over. He (the pastor) talked about how much Mary had to ponder, from the very beginning when God told her she was going to have a baby, right up to the end when He was crucified. I ponder on that too. I think about my own kids, and how far I’d go to protect them, how hard it is to let them go off and be men, how much it would hurt if I knew they would die a horrible death, even if it were for a very good reason. It’s that whole “I’d jump in front of a bus to save them” sort of thing. How did Mary feel about all that? I mean, she KNEW that Jesus was the Son of God, sent here for a very real purpose, but she was also His mom, the woman who changed His diapers and bandaged a skinned knee and fixed His favorite food on His birthday. How fast did His life go by, for her? In my mind, even though my kids are all grown men, I can still see them with diapers and skinned knees and asking for every fried food there is for their birthday dinner. How hard was it for her to know her Son was going to live a hard life and be despised so much He’d be crucified? How hard did she have to think about it? As a mom of sons, who thinks about what kind of mess they’re going to get into next, I understand pondering about them. I also understand being proud of them, being amazed by the stuff they’re capable of, and being surprised when they do something beyond what I think they’re capable of. Imagine how Mary felt when Jesus outsmarted the rabbis in the temple when he was 12-ish. I remember being surprised when my kids would say something wise beyond their years…and proud too. She was probably smart enough to know He was more God’s Son than her own, but that mother thing was still there. Luke 2:41-52 says He wasn’t with the crowd when they left Jerusalem, and Mary kinda freaked out and fussed Him up a bit, and then He behaved Himself after that. I know my kids would be better for a while after a freak-out and fuss-up.
Anyway, for me, Christmas is a time to ponder. I know that it’s got all sorts of pagan stuff, with the trees in the house and yule logs and stuff. I don’t care. I know that it has become this commercial juggernaut with catalogs and ads telling us to buy more so people will know we love them. I don’t really care about all that. Sure, I love stuff, who doesn’t? But really, here lately (like the past several years), it’s a good time to ponder stuff. Introspection, treasuring up the incredible gift God gave mankind…the whole of mankind past, present and future…because He wanted to, not because we deserved it or anything, that’s what Christmas is for. That it’s near some pagan day of celebration, I don’t care. It’s a good time to break up the school year. It’s right there in half of it. It’s winter and cold(-ish, hopefully), (if you live in the Northern hemisphere, or smack in the middle of Summer if you don’t)…so it’s a good time for a party. So I like the pretty decorations, the lights and wrapping paper and getting up at 5 a.m. to see what sort of fancy thing Himself got me…I’d be lieing (lying? the one where you tell a lie, not the one where you’re relaxing on a chaise in the sun…you know what I mean) if I said I didn’t like all that. But it’s also a great time to consider and remember what God did for us, and continues to do for us, and will keep doing.
It’s also a great excuse to eat too much.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Being Southern, Home and hearth, responsible adult
First, get this video going, and listen while you read. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve! The whole month…well…3 weeks, anyway…has been Christmas. All of it. From the planning of food to the singing of songs and going to church and decorations and What Kind of Wrapping Paper To Get This Year.
I like to get a particular sort of paper each year. Sometimes it’s all snowflake stuff, which is pretty much the only kind of snow we see here in Deepest South Georgia. Sometimes it’s plaid, any sort of plaid, sometimes stripes…whatever. Sometimes it’s Oh No I Don’t Have Wrapping Paper Quick, Grab The Nearest Roll. This year I got it from Target, and very nearly grabbed a roll of Justin Beiber paper just to see what would happen. We each have our own method of wrapping. I like to get fancy, with multiple colors of ribbons and curly things and homemade bows. The boys just jam on the nearest store bought stick-on bow, and Himself, knowing how much I love the fancy things, does the curly stuff with a stick-on bow. Somehow, it all works and is festive and wonderful. So it’s not a Southern Living Magazine quality thing, it gets the job done and we are all happy. Plus I think it looks like a big party, with everyone wearing a different outfit.
This is not my tree.
Also, not a fan of brown paper wrapping. Oh yes, I see the aesthetic advantages. I see that it’s pretty with red raffia or paper ribbon and I’m not knocking that. I just like shiny and bright stuff, that’s all. Brown paper isn’t shiny or bright or silly. Anyway, to each his/her own.
Ok where was I? Oh yeah…Christmas Eve. There’s a party tonight, for which I’m making sweet potato casserole, that Southern kind I used to turn my nose up to, the stuff with the brown sugar and marshmallows. Well, that’s what I’m making. After 27 years of stuck-upeddness about marshmallows and all that, it’s happening. Also, a spiral sliced ham and a smoked turkey from the store. Not homemade. Not fancy. Just warmed up a bit and on a platter. Go me. I refuse to stress about the food.
For many years the Christmas Day thing has been sweet rolls and coffee first thing (like 6 am), then a brunch and then grazing the rest of the day. I don’t know if we’re going to have brunch or not. The sweet rolls are from a couple of cans (reference previous paragraph about food and stress). The food for grazing will occupy that new 3-bucket crock pot and a plate. No stress there, either. A couple of dips, some of those cocktail sausages, a cheese log and crackers, and a bag of grapefruit courtesy my father-in-law. You want more than that? Fix it yourself and you’d better not leave a mess in the kitchen. I used to go all fancy and make homemade sweet rolls the night before, let them rise overnight, then bake while we opened gifts. They would be delicious, with caramel stuff and pecans and all yeasty and sweet. And, should the heavens open up and God grant me ambition tonight, that might happen. However, as a backup plan, there’s 2 cans of Pillsbury sweet rolls in the fridge. I might get all excited and make homemade buttermilk biscuits and fry up some of that amazing smoked bacon to have a tasty brunch. however, if that doesn’t happen, I expect everyone will be so busy with their new toys that they won’t notice. Or maybe someone else will have ambition and do it. No Big Deal.
When I was younger, like in my 20′s and 30′s, it was so incredibly important to Get It All Right. I had notions about what made The Perfect Christmas Day and if something didn’t get done, or turn out just right, or if a gift didn’t arrive on time (not really an issue back then, as internet shopping wasn’t quite A Thing yet), it was cause for great anxiety and crankiness. This wasn’t a good thing. Now, I’m approaching 50, and Christmas is totally different. I don’t care if the house isn’t perfect, or if the rolls didn’t rise or if breakfast comes from a can. I don’t care that there’s no ornaments on the tree (seriously, just lights…it’s pretty in a minimalist sort of way. Maybe I’m a closet Scandinavian?) I’m not even listening to that much Christmas music…a little, once in a while, if it’s Vince Guaraldi, but not much.
It’s much more fun with this laid back attitude. The constant quest for perfection is exhausting, and not very healthy. Of course, neither are sweet rolls from a can, but you have to have balance somehow. Somehow, I am pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t want me to get worried that the presents don’t match or the sweet rolls aren’t Alton Brown’s recipe. Not that He isn’t worth the effort, but He is the one who fussed at Martha for spending too much time in the kitchen.