It’s been a lovely weekend

Friday it occurred to me (again) that #4 is graduating from high school and it’s the turn of a page to a new chapter in my life. For the past 25 years (!!) I’ve been getting kids up at 6, feeding them breakfast (I honestly can’t remember if they ever got cereal. I’m pretty militant about a Good Breakfast), packing lunches (ok the first 3 got school lunches until they finally got around to tellimg me how nasty they were, then we moved to Georgia where the school lunches were made in-house and were so good people actually came in to eat there. Fer real.)(so I only really packed lunches for #4, because he went to a completely different school 6 grade and up), monitoring homework, making sure everyone was tucked in bed and lights were out by 9. Summer relaxed, of course, but by mid-June I was kind of over Summer and ready to return to sweet routine (and no one else in the house for 7 hours). #4 graduates at 7pm Friday night. He has no school tomorrow (Monday), as it’s Field Day for the school and he’s going to claim Senior Privilege and go to the local coffee house to study for the 2 exams he has on Wednesday. I don’t know what he’s doing Tuesday, but probably it will be at the school, maybe cleaning out his locker and schmoozing with the teachers.

And then…he’s on his own to get up in the mornings. I will no longer be policing the electronics (well, I will a little bit but not to the degree I’ve been). I will not really care how late he stays up as long as he gets himself to work on time. Nor will I be paying out an allowance. He will start paying rent, or doing certain tasks in exchange for living here. (Above the regular chores, that is). If he wants something he will have to figure out how to get it for himself, whether it’s deodorant or software or or whatever. The extent of my responsibility is to let him have a roof over his head and necessary food.

All this change has me a little bit dizzy, once in a while. I’ve been planning a graduation celebration in his honor- a big Southern style BBQ with smoked pig and assorted sauce-laden carbohydrates (which totally count as vegetables around here), cold beverages both hard and soft, and possibly music if it can be arranged. All casual of course, as befits someone like him. I’m not even writing out invitations or anything. Purely word of mouth to whomever crosses my path and I think would like to come by and have a bite of pig and pat him on the back.

I spoke to someone at church this morning about the whole thing and she said *I* needed a graduation party as well, since I was finishing up 25 years of shoving other people through their education. Another person heard that and said “TOTALLY! We’ll have it at my place the Saturday following!” Which sounds like an excellent plan. I have very good friends.

It does certainly feel like I am staring at the end of a particular road. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has never been dull.  I am certainly proud of how all 4 of my kids turned out. Each one has chosen their own particular path, and each one has turned out to be a solid, decent, and kind person. What more can you ask for? I would never have wished for them to lose their father when they did. Generally you imagine something like that happening when they’re 50 (or older), not when they’re 20’s (or younger). I have no idea what sort of impact that event will have on their lives, long term. But like I said, they’re solid, decent young men, kind and generous in their own ways. Some of them are tidy, some are messy. All are good cooks. Sometimes they take paths that are all twisty and weird and uncomfortable to watch, but knowing that eventually the path will straighten out, and that the twisty and weird are where learning experiences come from, makes is possible to watch and be confident that everything will be all right.

Goodness knows I’ve had my own twisty-and-weird, some of it (ok maybe most of it, which qualifies as “some” because it isn’t “all”) of my own creation, and all of it contributing to learning and growth and an occasional “ok that is not to be repeated”. I have a few, maybe several and possible almost 12 but that has yet to be decided, months to work on the next chapter, of getting used to all of them being out of the bounds of my full responsiblity, and of getting The New house ready to live in (gradually). Then I’ll move and a whole new chapter starts all over again.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Well, for those who didn’t hear my shouts of disbelief and request for verification that I wasn’t hallucinating, I passed the math. With a B. Even with making a 40% on one part of the final and completely forgetting another part of it and WHO KNOWS what I made on the written in-class part. I am still shaking my head over that one. The instructor assured me it was legitimate but I can’t see how. I’m no longer questioning.  My GPA is now 3.93, thanks to that completely undeserved B.  I’ll take it and be joyful. And yes, I did email the instructor asking him to verify that I wasn’t hallucinating. He did, and I wasn’t.

Anyway, school starts back on Monday, May 15. At the end of each semester I’m DONE with the school. I feel like saying “OK THAT’S IT.” Because I’m 52 and What. Ev. Er. I want to grow potatoes and take a cruise and pick roses and make throw pillows. I don’t need a degree for that.  But I also want to be somewhat gainfully employed in a year and all the ads for jobs that are of the sort I’d like seem to require (at LEAST) an associates degree. And many seem to require several years experience, which I am still puzzled as to how one gets that. I am wondering hard if Housewifery, Husband-and-Child management (I managed to keep 4 of the 5 people alive, you know, and the one that died PROBABLY WASN’T MY FAULT).

However, in the interest of some sort of experience and upon the advice of a couple of instructors, I’m Gainfully Volunteering. I’ve done stuff like this in the past, so it’s not completely foreign. It will also fill some days and get on a radar or two of people who can give references. And, it’s fun. I like being useful and it will keep me from binge-watching Dr. Who.

And, now that The Final Child is graduating on May 26…oh my word. My last child is graduating. Pardon while I have a moment.

……..

………

………..

ok. I was dizzy for a second. That’s right. The sweet little tow-head boy in overalls, shoving around a tonka truck full of pinecones and perpetually requesting chicken fingers at restaurants is graduating from high school. He’s excited as am I, though I am a wee bit anxious about the big change.  I mean, other than the having to wake him up at 6, 6:15, 6:20, 6:25, 6:30 and then loosing the dog on his bed to lick him awake…I won’t miss that.  He has a good plan: an apprenticeship with a metal fabricator who is certified to teach and test him in welding, then work for a couple of years, then college. He also has another job at a local restaurant.  He eventually wants a degree in organic chemisty. He will stay here when I move to The New House in another state, and I will miss him, but am also quite comfortable with his desire to stay here. There are a couple of brothers and many friends (including adults who can help him in a pinch) so he won’t be out there dangling alone in the cruel, cruel world.  Sigh. My baby. Not only is he not 4 w/Tonka trucks, he has sideburns and a truck of his own and can cook. He is a kind and decent young man with a strong moral compass and gorgeous dark blue eyes.  Another sigh.

I am ready to start back with the formal education. 2 weeks is plenty of break for me. I’m taking 3 courses this Summer: Business Ethics, Performance Management, and Team Project (which requires volunteer work, and that’s the ONLY thing I know about it other than there’s no textbook, and it’s one of the many reasons I’m volunteering now). All 3 courses are strictly online, so I only have to go to the school for the proctored final exams.  This will allow me the ability to travel to The New House for longer spells, and get some real work done on it. The cabinets need making, there’s 2 rooms left to paint, and all the tiling (2 bathrooms and a laundry area). Other than the math, I’ve done well with online courses, and thanks to advanced age and mental (academically speaking) maturity, online has worked just fine.  I can take my laptop with me and do the work anywhere.

It’s another page-turn to a new chapter in my life. I’d like to say I’m getting used to it, but I’m not. Even though page-turns happen to all of us, I’m still anxious a bit as I see the end of a chapter approaching. It seems like as soon as I get comfortable with the plot of my life, God says “complacency is unbecoming.” and changes things.   I don’t know why I complain about it so much. If there’s one constant in my life, it’s change. Everytime I start thinking “Wow…things are going pretty smoothly right now.”  there’s some sort of bump or existential flat tire or tsunami or tornado throwing me around and God sticks down a big finger for me to grab onto, and that doesn’t lessen the intensity of the event but it is definitely a stabilizing anchor that keeps me from drowning. He’s good like that.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

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fºg±ln17⁄2x³y²=3 solve for why

The frustrating part of the math course I took was that no matter how hard I tried (maybe because I tried too hard?) I couldn’t retain the information long enough to take the tests. I’d do the homework and would think “Oh right! I get this!” and then the test would come along and it felt like I was reading something in a whole ‘nother language. And not a language with the same alphabet, but like Greek or Thai or something. Then I’d panic. And the panic led to high blood pressure and wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and Biblical things like heaping ashes on my head. Then I’d have to walk away from it for a while and do something about which I KNEW I was competent. Make biscuits or something. Roast a chicken so I could have comfort food because Lord knows I needed comforting.

I spent a little time Googling “Successful people who suck at math” (well ok it was worded a little differently but that’s the gist) Thing is, I don’t have any desire to become a famous inventor or the next Bill Gates, or a CEO of a corporation. I just want to find some fairly rewarding work for the next 10 years (or so). Sigh. What I would REALLY like is a clear explanation (that makes practical sense) as to why I need to understand ln17²±fºg, when f(x)4x+127 and g(x)7x³. I know, I know, it’s meant to help me learn to solve problems but I figure if I can solve the problem of 3 toddlers dancing on the roof without panic, or figure out how much pork to fix to feed BBQ to a crowd of 20 (8 of whom are teenaged boys) and have leftovers for church potluck the next day, then I know what I need to know about algebra. And yet, as I have repeatedly told my sons (and I’m eating these words now) “There are hoops through which one must jump, and this is a hoop.”

But I also don’t think I should have to medicate myself in order to do math. I can do all the other work- the Marketing (which, by the way, I totally rock at that), the Literature (the instructor likes my writing), the Art (yes indeed). All the business courses- human resources, ethics, law- all of those I understand and retain so easily. But the numbers…oh man. Tests are all :

Image result for thai writing

That’s right. My tests look like that ^. Almost. I can parse out things along the lines of “oh ok, that’s a 2, and if you add another 2, it makes 4.” Sometimes I can even go so far as to say “Ok, to find the square root of a number, you mash the purple button on the calculator that makes the square root thing function, then you mash some more buttons to get the number in there and hit enter, and the calculator will tell you what the square root of something is.”

And truthfully, the final exam? I panicked. I panicked so hard I forgot to take 1/2 of the online part. Like just straight up forgot. My kids will tell you I panicked. One of them offered to take it for me, I was panicking so bad. I refused his kind offer, because the timing would be such that I would be taking 2 tests at a time from different computers and I thought that would be kind of obvious. Otherwise I’d totally probably thought about maybe taking him up on the offer.  Even as dishonest as that would have been.  I wrote the instructor an email, throwing myself at his mercy and admitting I’d panicked. I said I’d take the horrible grade like a Big Girl and perhaps the second time around wouldn’t be as bad.  But, having to take it a second time moves graduation from December to May of next year, and I don’t want to do that. So, I’m going to have to think about it and consider the options.

When the son (who offered to take the test for me) looked at the problems I was having to solve, he said “Mom. I don’t do math like this. What the (beep)?” And he’s a senior in electrical engineering so yeah. There’s that. Man, my blood pressure is going up just thinking about it. I’m going to go do something soothing like eat a buttered roll and get ready to meet with my Prayer Group. We do that every Wednesday. I’m going to ask for guidance for my future. If I’m meant to be an algebra-deficient non-degree-ed something, then so be it. If God wants me to have the degree, I’m hoping He’ll make that abundantly clear.

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The wandering train of thought

I turned on the A/C today. It just seemed like it was time. Also, I succeeded in guilting a couple of people into cutting my grass. In exchange for cutting someone else’s grass, the someone else loaned us his lawnmower. for some reason the one I bought last Summer isn’t working. Another person, who knows mowers far better than I do, has promised to come by and look at it, for which I will fix him a loaf of bread.

The lawn-mower-looker-atter person is a recent transplant from New York City, and is all a-wonderment at the way stuff is done here. He’s learning that food is an actual form of currency, and that people don’t hide behind bulletproof glass everywhere, and in fact many people who aren’t criminals or law enforcement actually own guns legally.

I haven’t taken the guns out and shot them in a long time. I’ve been too busy dealing with marketing, math, and buzzards. The final exams for this semester are next week. I’m not as worried about them as I probably should be. Truly all I want to do is pass the math class. The other classes, my grades are high enough I could pass if I skipped the final exams entirely, but that isn’t going to happen. I might have done something like that 35 years ago, but age and experience have given me a better work ethic and someone has to show those darn whippersnappers what old people are made of.

I finally figured out why I hated shopping for clothes: they cost too much. And I can never find exactly what I like, but mainly they cost too much. Mind you, I have no problem with other people paying full price (or even sale price) for stuff and I don’t look down on them for that, because eventually those things they buy are going to get donated to the Salvation Army, where I am going to pick through them and find just what I want. That’s right, I have learned the fun of it and coming home with 2 sacks full of periwinkle-blue polo shirts and Talbot’s Irish linen shirts and embroidered skirts for under $20 give me a certain thrill and is kind of addicting. Also…the furniture there. Holy mackeral. Stuff that needs refinishing to be sure but I LOVE refinishing furniture and I got a mid-Century end table like the one everyone’s great-aunt had for $15 and it will be perfect in my new sewing room to put next to a comfortable chair and keep my hand sewing goods in it. Some fresh paint and a pretty stencil and it will be lovely!

I haven’t done anything on The New House lately. It’s either been cold or wet or something every time I’ve gone over there. Come Summer, and online classes only, I’ll get over there more and (hopefully) Dad and I can get the kitchen cabinets and built-ins made. First the floors need to be finished but someone else is doing that.  Every night as I’m trying to go to sleep, I picture the landscaping- move bushes and trees around in my head. Or where the furniture will go. Or where I’m going to hang some quilts. I’ve about decided to paint the back porch furniture an aqua color, and look for some upholstery (to cover seat cushions) that has yellow and aqua (and probably some other colors) in it.

#4 went to Prom, and looked handsome in his kilt and Prince Charlie. His date was lovely and they looked wonderful in pictures. I don’t have her permission to put one up of her so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  He graduates on May 27. My baby will graduate from high school. My.  Baby.  Will.  Graduate.  From.  High.  School. He has solid plans for his future that involve technical training, working for a few years, then college when he’s maybe 24. Sensible lad realizes he’s been in school for 13 years and really kind of wants to not be in school for a while. I respect that. He isn’t planning to move to Alabama with me, but stay here. Given that we know lots of people, he has a solid church family, and a couple of brothers here, I am good with that.

And that’s all the news for now.

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Easter!

Let me be upfront: Easter, to me, that is the bit where as a Christian I’m meant to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, and all it implies with redemption and such…well, that’s a daily thing, not a once-a-year thing, so I tend to not make much extra of it except for deviled eggs. #2 deposited a carton of eggs on the kitchen table, acquired from someone with yard chickens, and those are getting the devil treatment later today. Because dadgum who doesn’t love a good deviled egg?

Anyway, for me, the Easter thing is more a page-turn of a sorts, leading into such things as “planting tomatoes” and “wearing white” (not at the same time!).  The rule here in The South, is that one doesn’t plant those Summer vegs until after Easter, no matter when it falls. Once, a few years ago, Easter was super late and I went on to plant the tomatoes, squash, and green beans when I thought it was ok to…a couple of weeks before Easter and wouldn’t you know it, there was a frost that killed them all. So no. I won’t do it. But now that tomorrow is The Day, I’m going to spend today (since I got the homework all done and have a Day Off) getting a couple of beds all ready for tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and green beans. That’s all I have time for this year. Maybe potatoes…those tend to be pretty self-managing. The problem is, once I start thinking of what I want, that turns into wanting ALL THE THINGS. Will I have time and energy to manage the whole garden this year? Probably not, probably should keep it small. That’s the whole point of raised beds, isn’t it? Manageability? We’ll see.

Another page-turn involves fashion. See, I am one of those Old People who thinks white should be worn After Easter. White linen, white shoes, that sort of thing, shouldn’t be out of the closet until then. Easter weekend is when the winter boots and suede, the black lace-ups and fuzzy socks and corduroy and wool should get packed away and replaced with the cotton and linen and eyelet and cool floaty skirts and lightweight lovely things so feminine and suitable for the heat of Southern summers. Since January I have been shopping at my favorite stores, looking for the perfect skirts and tops. Basically my entire wardrobe needed replacing because I’ve gone from a size 20 to a size 14 in the past 2 years. Grief does that. I’d rather be a 20 and have Himself here, but that isn’t the case. And, by “favorite stores” I mean the Savannah, Pooler, and Hilton Head Goodwills…why there? The people in those towns wear things once, decide they don’t like them, and donate them. Sometimes they don’t wear them at all and I can find Talbot’s, J.Jill, or Ann Taylor clothes with the tags still attached. I’ve found so many pretty things! The only things I’ve bought new are a couple of pairs of sandals (on clearance). (and the skirts and tops with the tags still on). Also Ebay- that’s a good place to find stuff. Granted, you take a chance, but knowing brands and sizes..anyway. I ain’t ashamed at all of buying used stuff. I used to DESPISE shopping and I blamed it on all sorts of reasons, but have since decided I hated spending the prices asked, knowing what markups are on clothes and all. It’s actually fun now, like a treasure hunt. Sometimes there’s nothing at all, and other times (like several weeks ago), someone with my taste in clothes will have donated a whole bunch of stuff and there is it, like a tree full of ripe peaches, an entire Spring wardrobe with my name on it.  and now that tomorrow is Easter, I can wear all the pieces! (but not at the same time). Some of today will be spent packing away the winter things into a tote with cedar chips, and hanging some in the other closet. Shoes will get swapped out, bedding changed into something with a Summer flavor.

Related image

It’s also time to inventory the nail polish. I don’t do my fingers, but the toes, now that shoes are put away in exchange for sandal, will require some color. There’s this shimmery blue-purple that’s my favorite. It kind of goes with everything I own. Sometimes a glittery hot pink, when my toes feel like a 14 year old girl, and sometimes this metallic silver, which has garnered compliments from 30 year old artist-men wearing caftans.  I won’t be going to classroom school this summer (2 online classes instead) so the need for sneakers, wool socks, sweaters, and long pants will be minimal (no lie, they keep the thermostat set on “Meat Locker” there. I’d see people come in wearing summer stuff, then freeze and complain. I learned after the 3rd day to dress appropriately even if the 25 yard walk from the car to the building was uncomfortable)

So yeah, I can officially (and with the endorsement of anyone over 70) wear white, sandals, eyelet, and linen.

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I’m trying, #3, I swear I am trying.

So, I contacted Mr. Raptor Center Guy who gracefully slid the situation onto another guy (named Scott)  who said “wellll…tell you what, here’s anothernumberpleasecallhim(Idon’twantabuzzardohpleasenotthatanythingbutthat)
Guy# 3 (Carlton) said “ummmm….well…Here’s anothernumberpleasecallhim(Idon’twantabuzzardohpleasenotthatanythingbutthat)
Guy #4 said “Oh…well…We’re in Charleston, and we don’t really get birds from Georgia. <because we all know birds honor state lines.> Also, it’s nesting season so he probably has a nest in the woods across the street, which is why he isn’t flying, <but I have my doubts>and is coming over because (he pegged you for a sucker) you’re feeding him<or her>But call us back especially if <you’re suddenly overrun with baby buzzards> the situation doesn’t resolve itself in a week or two, and we will see what we can do. ”  He was amused that Steve made himself at home in my bonus room. He did say if Steve continued to make himself at home, they could send a runner over to pick him up. 
I tried emphasizing just how sweet a bird he really is, how he cooperates with my dogs, eats in a clean and delicate manner picking up all the scraps and such, makes no noise and for all I can tell, goes into the woods to poop (at least I’ve found no evidence of his doing his business in my yard). They extolled the virtues of buzzards, to which I wondered if he’s so fabulous, why is everyone reluctant to come get him? Probably due to the potential nest in the woods (apparently turkey buzzards nest on the ground, which seems kind of dumb given the number of raccoons and possums around here, but who am I to judge?)
In the meantime I am looking for someone who will buy a nice house with landscaping issues and a very peculiar looking (and large) yard-chicken with a naked head and potent aroma. For all those shortcomings, he’s quite a nice bird.  <Though I hear dog-food will take care of the Eau de Cathartes Aura.>
Also, from the “How to Scare A Vulture Away” website:
Tie shiny objects, such as blank CD disks, to helium balloons and their strings. Use string that is long enough so the balloons and disks reach near where the vulture’s perch is located. If you notice the vulture play with the balloons, take them down because they are not working as a deterrent. <ya don’t say.>
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Dear Mr. Raptor Center Guy

Mr. (Raptor Center guy),

A buzzard who seems unable to fly has taken up residence in my yard. I discovered him last Sunday, making himself at home in my bonus room (the door had come open in the wind). I was able to catch him by cornering him and throwing a blanket over him,and release him outside (the aroma was potent and he threw up on my foot, bless his heart he must have been terrified), and he is hanging around, making himself at home on my patio and in the company of my dogs and cats. No one seems particularly disturbed by this. He seems unable to fly, I have been leaving softened dog food out for him (probably why he is sticking around), in the hopes that it would make him easier for you to catch. I named him Steve. He hops around in the yard much of the time, or stands on the windowsill and looks in. I am honestly not bothered by his(or her) presence at all, but as I intend to put the house up on the market soon, I doubt a yard-buzzard will help make it marketable. Are you interested in a flightless and nearly-tame buzzard for the raptor center? It’s one of those red-headed turkey vultures. You’re welcome to him but you’ll have to come get him because I refuse to put him in my car.

Regards,

Rootietoot

There, I’m doing what I can to find Steve a loving home with people who know how to take proper care of him (or her)

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