Now and then I recognize/remember/grok (10 points to the first one who knows what that means) that I’m solidly middle aged. 53 years old. In my head, I’m MAYBE 27. AT THE MOST. I mean, other than the double handful of pills every night and specialist physicians who are younger than I am. But other than that…totally 27. Except for the pre-10pm bedtime. And the avoidance of pepperoni. Or anything else digestion-disturbing. Totally 27. Only I’d rather watch a cooking show than Big Bang Theory (or whatever it is that whippersnappers these days watch on their tiny hand held electronic whatsits)

I do love me a cooking show. British Baking Show is awesome, mainly because they’re so darn POLITE to each other! Loaning tools and helping with timing the cookies and offering suggestions.  Bizarre Foods and all the other Andrew Zimmern incarnations…he’s so SWEET and will literally eat ANYTHING. Of course, I would have watched that when I was 27 but we didn’t have TV back then. I mean, we had *a* tv but all we could watch were videos and back then that meant Thomas the Tank Engine nearly all the time. It was how I was able to indulge in personal hygiene.

Where was I?

Oh yeah…being old(ish). It isn’t a bad thing, really. I don’t have to care about stuff like body parts that wobble more than is socially acceptable for a 27 year old. That’s kind of a relief. It ain’t like this body is going to cause anyone to sin, so I am being comfortable with how I look and wearing what I want, even if it means the shorts I would have vehemently avoided due to a lack of self-confidence. That’s another thing that has happened with age- self confidence.

Image result for old woman cigar

I’ll do what I want.

I remember at 27, with small children and a husband on that upward career path, wanting to make sure I did it RIGHT….whatever it was.  Whether it was making sure they all ate right or Himself had a good lunch and a hot meal (or cold drink) when he got home, getting it RIGHT was paramount. I am pretty sure I didn’t get it all RIGHT, but I did the best I knew how.

But at 53, with the kids all grown (for the most part. #4 start college in a couple of weeks and that is sort of a different thing) and doing their own things, getting it RIGHT doesn’t seem as critical. Not in the way it meant 25 years ago. But that’s life, right? A constantly evolving system that can happen so slowly when we get to a point we hadn’t really thought about, it surprises us and we go “Wait….what?” and I’m ok with that. Being 53 doesn’t bother me except for the cognitive dissonance of being 25 years older than I thought I was. It doesn’t even bother me that I have a Grandpunkin. (except that it means the son I think of as maybe 7 and he just bunjee-jumped out of the maple tree in the front yard…true story…is married and has a child who likely will bunjee jump)

So 53 isn’t as old as I thought it was. In fact, once I turned 45 I realized that “old” isn’t actually a definite set thing…not like, say, the first day of Spring or Christmas.. It’s purely relative and based wholly on when you think it is. For me, it’s 25 years older than whatever I am. Young is….I don’t know…25 years younger.

Now I am starting all over again but without the nerves. I have found someone who will make a wonderful companion for my later years, and hopefully I will for him. He’s a (slightly) younger man…about 14 months younger. (Not enough that I qualify as a Cougar, thankfully). The whole process has been utterly different this time, seasoned with the confidence of 35 years of adult experience and a knowledge of who I’m looking for.  I think I can be good for him, and I know he is for me.

But now, once in a while, like when I get a touch of intestinal megrims from eating something spicy and pork, it hits me that 27 was a long time ago. Then when I realize I’d prefer the Early-Bird special and be done with dinner before 7 and I get a discount for being over 50…kinda hits and I wish I’d not been so serious about life when I was younger, and had some fun while I could do it without digestive consequences.

Pass the orange Jello!

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I have been hearing a whippoorwill lately. It’s in the woods behind the house and every evening as it gets dark, and in the mornings before light, I can hear it’s call. It brings back a lot of memories, and creates a desire to sleep on the porch so I can hear it all night. There were always whippoorwills and chuck-wills-widows (kin to a whippoorwill but with a slightly different call) in the woods and their calls remind me of warm, humid Summer nights, fragrant with honeysuckle, and of box fans in the windows, set on high, glasses of ice water on the bedside table, and only a crisp cotton sheet for a cover.

We lived in a neighborhood that backed up to a couple thousand acres of woods, with a swamp and a river and all sorts of wildlife that had it’s own language after dark. Foxes and their eerie scream, rustling of raccoons and possums, owls hooting and Mom identifying each type by their hoot. Whoever coined the term “quiet country life” never actually lived in the country. Sure, there’s no honking car horns or sirens all the time, but it ain’t exactly quiet.

There’s pond peepers (frogs), with their rhythmic chirping and the bass line from the bullfrogs, crickets, night birds…and it goes on. Mix all that in with the fragrant flowers and the gentle heat, it’s a multi-sensory experience that, for me, is soothing in a way nothing else can be. God put all this together just for us to experience the world in a soft way that can’t really be replicated. Oh sure, we try, with sound machines and air sprays and climate control…but we all know it’s not quite the same.

After having lived in a town for the past 22 years, I’m back to living in the country with it’s myriad sensual experiences. And it is just that- sensual…something that makes you stop for a bit and recognize what you are sensing. Is that sweet aroma honeysuckle? Or scuppernongs? The warm soft breeze on my skin as I sip on cold water, the buzz of honeybees, the shadows under the trees during a bright full moon, all those good things so easy to take for granted in the rush of productivity and the worry about the life-things that probably aren’t nearly as important as we think they are.

All the memories of my youth are conjured up by these smells and sounds…Summer nights spent in front of a fan with a damp washcloth to help stay cool, or playing spotlight tag with the neighbors, spontaneous decisions to spend the night at someone else’s house, warm tomato sandwiches, pulling the stamen out of a honeysuckle blossom to taste the sweet nectar…sometimes all that gets lost in the need to pay the bills or send that important email, or make sure the kitchen is clean and the laundry is picked up.

Do you remember how, as a child, when you decided to go to bed, that’s what you did? You just…went to bed. Maybe put on some pajamas…but the process was short and simple. Now? As a 53 year old, there’s all this STUFF that has to be done first. Most of it is self-imposed, but there it is anyway. The kitchen has to be clean (can’t stand to get up to a messy kitchen). Dog crated, cats out, medicines taken…ad seemingly infinitum and nauseum. I just want to go. to. bed. Then there’s the stuff to get my brain quiet. Reading something boring. Listening to something quiet. Lay there in the dark for a while wishing my brain would shut up long enough to fall asleep. Did I remember to do this/fix that/send off the other/ohnoiforgottodothisthingonadeadline/more ad nauseum…

Then I hear the whippoorwill and I’m reminded that God’s got this…He makes the world turn and the birds sing and  the flowers bloom…and He’s got this all in hand and I can go to sleep now, and deal with all that other stuff in the morning.

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Catharsis…or: The Day I Rented a Dumpster and Nearly Threw Out My Back

This weekend The Fella and I rented a 12 yard dumpster and Cleaned Up. Yes, that needs to be capitalized because it was more than just “let’s empty this closet so I can make room for the new (thing I bought at Macy’s because it was on sale and the colors match what we’re doing in The New House). No, this was a serious major kick-in-the-pants cleanout of all the broken things and this-might-be-useful-one-day things so we can have a fresh start. It’s all about the household combining, folks.

When we discussed what size dumpster was needed, we both thought 12 yards was plenty generous. I mean, that’s a LOT of room for a LOT of stuff!

It was difficult for me to get going. The first 30 minutes had a lot of angst.  30 years worth of collecting of things, each one with a “I remember why (when) we got that.” had to be followed with “Do I still want that?” and “Can this be used?” and “Will it ever be useful to anyone?” Also, I’ve watched that Hoarders show enough to know how the psychologists and professional organizers tackle the mental issues behind keeping useless things. Mind you, I’m not a hoarder, but the difficulties behind the desire to keep things that have mental attachments are universal. I had to make a lot of decisions. The Fella was most helpful in that regard. He recognized what was useful and what wasn’t. He was able to see what would be a duplicate of something he had, and which one (his or mine) was in better shape or higher quality, what could be repaired and made useful (a lawnmower), and what was simply junk and needed to be pitched.

Once the rhythm got going, it was incredibly cathartic. He took one shed, I took another. He asked about this or that, and was very respectful of what I knew my sons would want, and what they wouldn’t. A few things were big question marks, and those were set aside for a later decision. The end result of it all was a dumpster that was slam full, and a back yard and 3 storage sheds cleared out, swept, and no longer an embarassment.

That backyard and those sheds were the biggest hurdle for me, the part that scared me the most about cleaning up and packing. I had NO idea what to do with them or how to start and the thought of having to do it often had me in tears, or running away and refusing to think about it. Now, I honestly feel like packing up is do-able. I truly feel like I can do one room at a time and have the whole thing done in fairly short order. Not that I *will*, mind you. Between being there, in Alabama working on The New House, and in South Carolina working on his place, there is a lot to be done and it will take a while.

But, it isn’t overwhelming anymore. There is something about someone else, who maybe doesn’t have the emotional associations, coming in and being able to say “this needs to go” and “We can fix this”. Being able to allow an objective person (who also happens to be ridiculously high energy) to kick-start the process is the best thing I could have done. And having that person be respectful about it, and able to see when I’m about to have a melt-down and declare it’s time for a break and a beer, is priceless.

At one point during the spool-up to a melt-down. I started apologizing for the mess and said it was very embarrasing. You see, I sort of have this unreasonable fantasy that my place should be looking like something from Southern Living, forgetting that even the places in Southern Living don’t look like that 99% of the time. This place looks more like people who live there enjoyed living there, and did a lot of things, had a short enough attention span that there were a lot of half-finished projects, and lacked the patience to clean up well afterward. Now, it is spanking clean with a 12 yard dumpster full of shi…I mean…stuff soon to be toted away and forever lost to history.

In fact, the process was SO cathartic, I may very well rent the dumpster again and attempt to fill it up one more time. I am not sure there is that much stuff left to discard, but I didn’t think it would get filled up the first time.  Homes have been found for a lot of stuff we don’t want- patio furniture, kitchen stuff, and the like. I have 2 closets full of things I don’t use at all- I know I don’t because those closets haven’t been opened up any longer than it takes to stare at the contents and close the door back.  The Fella has a couple of closets like that as well. I, however, shall not be the decision maker on his closets. But there aren’t very many closets at The New House (that was intentional) so a lot of purging and culling will need to happen if our respective properties are going to be combined.

One of the things he said while hosing off the driveway was that it is so much easier to help someone else with their stuff than it is to make a decision about your own. He’s certainly right about that. I can be at his place in South Carolina and make quick decisions about it, just like he did at mine in Georgia. That, however, is a job for some other time down the road. One place at a time is all either of us can manage right now.

But shedding a 12 yard dumpster full of useless junk was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time. There’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s still more golf clubs that any reasonable person ought to have (I’m going to offer them to My 4 Sons first), but the process is less daunting and scary now. I’ve figured out getting rid of junk isn’t the same as getting rid of the memory, or the person, or the dreams. It’s shaking off clothes that don’t fit anymore and weight that isn’t necessary, and that is a very good thing indeed.

Once the extra stuff is gotten out of the house, we can make some interior repairs and get the place on the market. It needs a few licks of fresh paint, some moldings put in (never got put back in after getting new floors….in 2014), possibly some floor refinishing (but only it if will actually help the value of the house), and that one room that used to contain a teenager de-funky-smellified (maybe just washing the curtains and mopping with Simple Green and throwing out the mattress?)…I don’t know. One thing at a time.

But I tell you what…I am sure grateful to The Fella and his high energy sensibility and compassion and understanding of what was needed. His ability to say “one of your sons might want this” and “This won’t every be repaired” and “I think you could sell this on Ebay” at the pile I would look at and panic then ignore was a real Godsend.


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What’s on my mind?

Lately, with the watching of my children from a distance and waiting for their brains to kick in fully (well ok, 3 of them seem to have had that happen, 1 of them notsomuch. But I said i wouldn’t write about them like that so I won’t.), waiting for things to fall into place between The Fella and me, waiting…waiting…waiting. My problem is that when I make a decision about something, I want it to happen right away. The decision was made, right? Time for it to happen. I don’t wait well.

However (you saw that coming, right?), often God has other plans. Often, He says “wait.” I am so impatient. Waiting is not my default setting. Life is full of them, though, so wait I will do. In the mean time I can fantasize. So I do.

Right now, it’s about the beach. It’s cold here at the moment. Ridiculously so, about 30 degrees colder than normal and it’s getting on my last nerve. I can only imagine how the folks up north feel, with all those one-right-after-another blizzard things. I know I keep having to wear sweaters and it’s irritating. We went to the beach recently and I had to wear long pants to be comfortable and who wants to do that? So, while I sit here sipping hot beverages and wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, fantasies abound.

Here’s the setting: A warm beach in a place where the temperature is never lower than 55 and rarley tops 85. White sands, blue-green waters of the sort where there’s a long stretch in it before it drops off too deep to swim. There’s snorkling opportunities (or, if you’re The Fella with his scuba stuff, fancier sort of swimming underwater), and plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas and a big delta kite tied to the back of my lounger, taking advantage of the constant ocean breeze. Next to my chair is a cooler full of beer, nicely iced down, and a tote bag full of salty snacks. A small radio is playing Carolina Beach music. The Four Tops are on, and The Fella and i are dancing to it, because at our age we aren’t self-conscious about it.  I’m wearing green Pelagic board shorts and a matching top. He’s wearing day-glo orange shorts and Costa bifocal sunglasses (he’s fancy like that).  Both of us are turning into those leathery old people you see at beaches.

spring break party GIF

Around the time the sun starts nearing the horizon, one of us announces that we’re hungry, and we pack up and head toward the house (because in my mind, we live right there.). After depositing the gear and changing into something a little more formal (but not much. Maybe a cotton sundress and flat sandals for me, seersucker shorts and a Hawaiian shirt for him) we make the 5 minute walk into the little town where there’s a dive bar that serves grilled fish straight off the boat.

After a light supper, and walk on the moonlit beach to watch the tide come in, it’s back to a small house for a long and lazy sleep under a ceiling fan with the windows open to hear the surf.

Now, I know this is a fantasy.  But it’s a nice one and (I think) pretty comprehensive. I can picture the whole thing. The house is small, and there’s an old Jeep parked behind it. Furniture is minimal, needs are basic, friends are close-by, and when the beach isn’t being used, time is spent doing something useful like….I don’t know. I guess I haven’t gotten that far with it. But right now, while I sit under a blanket with a warm little dog cuddled up next to me and a cup of hot coffee ensuring my hands don’t freeze, the beach and 80F sounds pretty good.

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Pollen Season!

Also, the Weather in this part of the world has it’s own mind about how to behave. I’m pretty sure it’s sentient, and laughs at all the plans.

For instance, yesterday was predicted to be sunny and warm. All the weather guys and channels and stuff said so. So, I did laundry. The dryer is a little fritzy so rather than depend on it, I use the Solar Powered Dryer in the back yard. We’ve had a lot of rainy days, so I planned the laundry for that day. Only, it was a little chilly in the morning (whatever.) But, the sun seemed to be trying to shine and I just ran with it. 4 loads of laundry all hung out and….here come the clouds. It wasn’t supposed to be cloudy. With a good sunny day each load can be done in about 2 hours. I was going to hang them, check hourly and as soon as they were dry bring them in, because….pollen. Who wants the crisp white cotton sheets covered with a coat of The Yellow?  How annoying. But the stuff was already washed and damp (thank you, Samsung, for the awesome spin cycle) and HAD to be hung out. What to do? Hang them out and hope for the best.

Image result for pollen season meme

Today, it’s raining. Tomorrow night it’s supposed to frost. Saturday will be in the high 60’s and sunny. Who knows what comes next? It’s snowed in March before. There will definitely be wind and a lot of it. More yellow. Some tan oak pollen. Then the privet blooms and more allergies. The photinia happens, and it smells like old socks. and hopefully by May it will all be done with and breathing can commence and headaches can stop and I’ll stop sounding like a 30 year 4 pack-a-day smoker baritone.

I want to be able to open the windows and get fresh air in here, without the whole inside taking on a yellow glow. Maybe if we lived in some place like…I dunno. A place with no oaks or pines. Does it exist?

Image result for pollen season meme

Right now, thank you for Big Pharma…antihistamines, decongestants, mucolytics, and coffee, hot tea, lemon-and-honey, albuterol because of asthma induced by allergies. I know, there’s all sorts of holistic homeopathics that probably eventually work but I don’t have time for eventually and I am sort of addicted to breathing. I’ve tried giving it up but never succeed. I like it too much. It makes me happy and keeps my skin looking clear and pink. I don’t have time to wait 6 weeks for homeopathic garlic, echinacea, and tumeric to deal with this. Ok, so I should go ahead and start and give it time to kick in. I may wind up smelling like an Indian curry (not sure how The Fella will like that) but by gosh, I will be able to breath.

Related image

Anyway, Pollen Season is here. It’s the price we pay for having a Winter we hope comes on a Wednesday so it won’t mess up the weekend.

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3 years later

Himself had his heart attack 3 years ago today. His body stopped working 30 hours later. This weekend will be difficult but I know that going into it and will deal with it as I deal with everything upsetting: by working hard. The garden needs some tending, as there are vines and mess and all that beginning-of-the-growing-season work. It’s a good thing. Throwing myself into it will be cathartic.

A lot has happened in 3 years. I’ve started school, and will finish in May with (Lord willing and my grades don’t change) a 3.8 GPA. I’ve met a wonderful man (The Fella) and plans for our future together are being made.  The boys lives are going in directions away from Home (a good thing, but still a big change).

I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am capable of living on my own, but don’t like it much. Do you know how hard it is to cook a good meal for one? Way too much trouble, and far easier to throw an Amy’s frozen meal (vegetarian, generous portions, and delicious) (The Fella gives me the side-eye and reaches for a steak whenever I mention them) in the microwave, or crack open a can of V-8 and call that a meal. (It’s vegetables, and vegetables are good for you. Practically a salad, it is).

I tried being un-stingy (nicer people call it frugal) and have learned that seriously, it’s more fun to see just how cheaply I can live and still do/have the things I want. It’s like a game. And it’s fun. And I really am stingy.

I lost 55 pounds, and am having a terrible time with clothes. Even under the best of circumstances I don’t care much about them. However, The Fella didn’t like that I was wearing the jeans from 3 sizes ago, and just belting them in, or the shirts I’d had since 2007 and was content with, or all that black I bought (from Goodwill, refer to the “stingy” statement) right after Himself died because making decisions about what to wear was more than I could handle. “You’ll feel better wearing things that fit and YOU ARE NOT A SIZE 18 ANYMORE.” said he. I went through the closet full of pretty things I’d purchased last year, lovely lightweight skirts and tops in summery colors and I was so proud of myself for actually owning things with (what I considered) style. All too big. Dangit.

So the last 3 years have had more change in them than any in my life before then.  I’ve changed the way I think. I went from being in Wife and Mother mode, to being in Single College mode (only…at 52, the College Party Life isn’t for me.) (Except that now and then I’d get together with other women my age, drink margaritas and daquiris, and snort-laugh about our kids), or maybe A Single Woman of a Certain Age.  At one point I was fairly convinced that I’d remain single because apparently men my age were more interested in 25 year olds than women like me.

I tried online dating. That was weird and several times someone attempted to scam me into…I am not sure what…it never got far enough to find out.  I found The Fella online, but that didn’t happen until I quit looking for romance, and was just bored one night wanting someone to talk to for a bit.  The other night, he and I went out to eat, and a group of women sat next to us. They started talking about online dating, as one of them is a widow like me. We joined in and had a nice conversation about the pitfalls of the endeavor, exchanged a few dating horror stories, and gave encouragements about the potential successes. To be honest, at this point and at my age, I’d rather try the online thing than go to a bar or wherever.  At least with that, you know why you’re there and why he’s there (as long as you can weed out the Handsome Architects With Contracts in Dubai…it’s always Dubai.)

And now? 3 years later, I’m making plans for the future with The Fella. There are many possibilities, and both of us have learned from our histories that God can laugh at our plans and is going to do His own thing. The way to handle it is to roll with it and accept that, while we can make all the plans in the world, they don’t always happen the way we intended.  While I am never going to be thankful my marriage to Himself ended the way it did, I am thankful God had a plan for my life that included a couple of years on my own, a chance to go to school, and a new relationship. I miss Himself, and thinking about what might have been makes me melancholy, but I am also hopeful for the future, for myself and for my sons.

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A Difference of Opinion

Ok, so there’s The Fella and me. All’s good, I think we are both enjoying this whole Relationship Thing. Being 50-Somethings means we are both kinda set in our ways, but also both adult enough (I think) to recognize that and make accomodations.

Right now the thing I’m having to get used to is our culinary differences. He’s a Carnivore. Like seriously, “I was a body builder and it takes a lot of protein to keep this muscle functional I need meat because salads aren’t going to work.”  (to his credit I have seen him eating vegetables, but they aren’t his favorite thing)

On the other hand, I’m an herbivore like practially but not entirely a vegetarian. I’m content with a meat maybe a couple of times a week and bowl of chopped kale and pumpkin seeds the rest of the time.  I wince at the idea of cow constantly and he gets glassy eyed when I make noises like “chopped kale and pumpkin seeds.”

But on the other hand I have no complaints about all that muscle. It’s handy. Not to mention nice to cast my gaze upon. But definitely handy when something heavy needs moving. You know me, I’m all about what’s practical.

Where was I? Oh yeah…

Anyway….I’m figuring it out because he can cook a MEAN steak, and give me a little card-deck sized piece and I’m happy, and I can chop up all this shrubbery and not have to worry if there’s his favorite salad dressing and he’s content.  Neither of us are dessert eaters, so there’s that too.

Anyway, I’ve also figured out the local deli has this great gut-scrubber salad (well that’s not what they call it but it’s essentially chopped up brillo pa…I mean…curly kale…and brussels sprouts and other high fiber green things) that I can get by the pound and have for myself while The Fella eats his daily dose of cow and we both comment on each other’s culinary preferences.

The truth is, he keeps all that muscle functional by eating cows and I’ve dropped from a size 20 to a size 10 by eating brillo pa…I mean…kale, pumpkin seeds, and the occasional slice of cheese. Go me.

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