Monday, November 20, 2017

a time to rest...

A fire roaring in the fireplace, the Bloody Mary bar is set up and so are the brunch snacks.  We are waiting on a friend that is also starting her vacation today to come over and visit.

Hubs and I have a lot of chores on our to do list, but we are trying really hard to balance it out this holiday vacation time.

I have really been enjoying this down time.

I officially started vacation on Friday.  I had a few things that needed my attention in the city of Friday, so I drove in and parked at my old building.  I wanted to take advantage of the walk and the opportunity to savor my adopted city.

She's an interesting old girl.  If you listen to the news, you would see us as a gun riddled, high crime area.  Where there are bars on windows and everyone is afraid to go out by themselves.  The real city is much more complicated and layered than that.

I won't deny that there are challenges.  Can someone please share with me any city occupied by humans that does not have challenges. It was a dreary, blustery, cold day.  Most of the streets seemed to be vacant as a result.  During my walk over to city hall I was feeling a bit torn.  Not at all in a bad way, just in awe at what I saw around me.

Our city is a mixture of the old past, many buildings well over 100 years old, interspersed with signs of rebuilding, renewal and decay all happening in the same space.

Given the dreariness of the morning, it only made the sight of the homeless cowering in doorways and against makeshift shelters harder to witness.  I have been around it for a decade.  The homeless population is just as crazy a mix as everything else in this town is.  Some of them genuinely do not want to change their lot in life.  The lack of things holding them down is exactly what keeps them foot loose and fancy free.  No bills, no commitments, I have known these people.  The "adventure" is how one described it to me. I'd be lying if I said I understood, I don't.

The far greater number lies with those that are either struggling with mental health issues or dependency issues.   The ones that don't truly understand how they got where they are, nor truly how to survive it.  I felt guilty wrapped in my warm wool coat, dressed all fancy for the meeting at City Hall.  Again my brain turns to things that might make a difference, and realizing I truly don't know where or how to even being to address it.

I silently watched a young man struggling to walk, his hands full of take out from somewhere. I wondered briefly where he was heading.  I am a watcher, I rarely engage in conversation with strangers, beyond polite please, thank you, have a nice day.  By the time I had crossed the street I saw that he'd found a bench in the park to eat.  I could feel pieces of my very soul freezing, it was far too cold to have a picnic.  Far too windy and biting cold to eat any meal out in the wide open.  My heart broke.

With leaves whipping around my feet, the sights and sounds of our small big city enveloped my senses. I was going into a meet and greet with the very people that could make those changes.  To see how we could support their vision and efforts. Very few met with us, although I did get a chance to visit with the Sheriff and treasurer.  Making those in roads is brutally difficult.

I don't have the answers, I don't know who does.

The blustery weather only got worse on Saturday.  Hubs thought of going out on the bike, but the wet roads and heavy clouds insured that was not a solid plan.

So Saturday ended up being a day of errands.  Hubs and I ran all over, not sure we really accomplished much.  Mostly just us time.  A few minor tasks were checked off the list.  We didn't want to get too engrossed in things, we were honored to attend the wedding of one of a member of my team that night. It was so beautiful! Watching a young couple start their life together made both of us feel thankful and blessed.  We know the joy that comes from being with your soul mate.

Sunday blew in clear, bright and crisp.  Was it really 70 degree's Saturday morning?  Had the day truly ended almost 40 degrees colder? Brrrrr

Hubs and I had a surprise date at the Fabulous Fox.  He's a huge Gloria Estefan fan, having met her she holds a place in his heart.  So off we went to see "On Your Feet".  We ended up with Orchestra pit seats, row one.  Not only was it an amazing show, but we didn't miss so much as a bead of sweat.  It was incredible. No one in front of us, clear view.

Followed by an amazing dinner at a local Turkish restaurant, Troy, it's family owned.  Mom and Grandma are the cooks the daughter waits tables and works with guests.  They actually serve on beautiful glass dishes, brew the tea from leaves, it's such a wonderful experience.  Sitting there listening to the voices surrounding me, I felt so blessed to live where I do.

The couple behind us sounded like they were Arabic.  The group across the room was carrying on a spirited discussion over a couple of bottles of wine in rapid Turkish.  They were all seniors, probably in their late 70's or better, they reminded me of living in Europe.  Where meals and friendships were treasured times. The group at the front was large and joyous.  Having a celebration of some kind, that actually involved the gift of fresh flowers and song.  The ages ranged from young to senior, laughter and chatter was filling the room.  It was toward the end when the soft songs started filling the air.  I have no idea what any of them were talking about, it didn't matter.  The joy of being with friends and loved ones can be heard regardless of the languages spoken. The tone, the looks, the laughter...

It was a great break to working on chores.  And trust me that chore list is LONG!

We started on painting the ceiling before the show, it's needed it since we moved in. I've been insisting that it's like someone dusting it with powder since the first few months. Once we started on it, and trust me it needed it.  There was the leak and whatever those huge spots in various places were.  It looked bad.  Once we started painting, we discovered exactly how bad it looked.  Either the previous owners were smokers or the ceilings had not been painted in 20 plus years.  Ewww...

Which winds back to waiting for our friend to join us for Bloody Mary's and brunch.

It was so nice to spend time laughing and sipping Bloody Mary's.  Noshing on boiled eggs sprinkled with sea salt infused with truffle oil and pastries from a little french bakery near her home, and random other treats. When she suggested that we should make it a vacation tradition I definitely could not disagree.

I am terrible at building friendships.  My natural "alone" nature often gets in the way.  In fact most of my best friends, the people that mean the most to me were the ones that kept me from sliding back into myself.  It's always a joy to spend time with people that have a natural gift of being wonderful!

After a day of laziness, it's time to get back to work.  That silly ceiling isn't going to paint itself and my boy will be home before I know it...  

Or... maybe it's time to go for a motorcycle ride...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

treasure the moments...

I'm snuggled up in one of my favorite chairs, it's dreary and drizzly outside (perfect fall weather!) and all that remains of last nights fire are the wood scraps that hubs dropped on the floor and a few ashes.

All in all, it's a perfect Sunday morning.  We bought some cranberry orange scones for breakfast yesterday.  That flavor combination might very well be one of my all time favorites.  Hubs is already finished with his breakfast and is down in the man cave listening to music. I'm a bit slower this morning, I feel like I might be fighting the cold that everyone and their brother had a week ago.  I don't intend to let it win, I never do.

This morning walking the boys was such a delight for the senses.  Our neighborhood is always slow to rise on Sunday, so it's a very peaceful time.  In fact it always reminds me of Christmas mornings.  It's quiet, there are very few lights on, no cars (excluding that darn paper delivery woman that flies through here), there are no other dogs to navigate, no walkers or runners either.

It's like everything is in slow motion and it feels fantastic.  No place to rush off to, no pressing work, nothing that needs my attention.  Nothing except the boys and Hubs.  Some mornings we get to see the stars and planets, other's - like today - it's like the world is wrapped in a heavy well worn quilt.  The only sounds breaking through are the rustle of leaves as the boys rush through them.  Both of them seem to love swishing through the leaves just like children.  The cracking of acorns under our feet and in the distance there are small birds chirping back and forth.  I often imagine them telling each other to hurry, there is colder weather coming and they need to prepare.

Can't you just picture the little bird wife telling the little bird husband that they have drafts in their nests and they need to patch them tight?  I know, I'm being silly.

I also love hearing the scampering of the squirrels, I know that they are busy putting away their stash of acorns and seeds, stocking up for the winter ahead. We don't see so many of them on the deck anymore, we loved feeding the birds as we have some beautiful ones here in our little piece of woods. Sadly, we had more squirrels fighting with them for their food.  No matter what we tried, those squirrels are quiet industrious and clever and were constantly emptying the feeders.

Last night while walking the boys we were delighted by a young buck - already shedding the little bit of antler that he has and a doe.  They were so close to us, only a house away at any given time.  I know the city of Manchester was holding a meeting to figure out what to do about the plethora of deer roaming around and causing challenges to cars and landscaping.  I couldn't go, probably a good thing. Because my answer is maybe the drivers should pay attention and drive defensively instead of offensively and don't plant landscapes that they find as addictive as candy.

It bothers me that we humans feel our needs are the only ones.  There is a small herd that live around us, the most I have ever seen is 6 and that was just after the babies were born. I really don't know why we can't work around them.

Today is already shaping up to be a lazy day.  I think I need it.  I am wrapping up two little hats that I started yesterday and then heading up to my sewing room. I don't believe we have plans to go anywhere.  Although that could change.  I had Hubs drive yesterday while we ran errands, I needed time for crocheting and simply didn't feel like dealing with crazy.  Usually I drive, he spends so much time driving during the week, I don't. Seems fair. I almost completed one of the little hats on our journey.

I also need to make our to-do list.  Little things that need to be completed before the boy finally comes home. For 11 wonderful days he will be here next month.  I need nothing else.  I will have both of my children with me for my favorite holiday.  I want the room he will sleep in to be comfortable and cozy. We have some general household repairs that we've been putting off and of course fall cleaning.

And if I am being completely honest, it's killing me to not drag all the holiday decorations upstairs and start now.  It feels like if I do it will bring him home quicker. I'm not going to, but it's going to be difficult.  Transitioning into adult Christmases has been difficult for me.  What traditions do you hold onto and which do you let slide away?

Well, turkey day has not arrived yet, so I believe that I will worry about that later. For now I am going to treasure this fall day.  I have cookies I want to make, we will have homemade tomato soup for dinner, I will crochet, clean (a bit), work on a quilt and who knows I might even squeeze in a batch of soap.  I love the smell of freshly made soaps.

Today, I choose to slow down.  Relax and savor life.  I need it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

flipping the switch...

I needed a moment to step away from the anger and fear that had been welling up inside me.  Watching the clip of Ms. Norma from the news did not make it better.  I know that tough old gal really well, I saw the fear - something I thought I would never witness.  I saw the glassiness of tears in her eyes.

I'm still upset.  I'm still questioning the stupidity that seems to be overwhelming our neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and our country at large. I feel an overwhelming need to hide.  I know I can't.  But I am sure that there is somewhere in this big, vast nation that stupidity is not the common denominator.

As I was struggling with the news about Ms. Norma, the closed group on Facebook that is our subdivision started blowing up.  Cars and garages were being ransacked and stolen from.  A few people had consequential losses.  A few lost a few dollars in change. Others simply suffered from general disarray.

Next I start getting emails from our local "Nextdoor" app, seems all the surrounding neighborhoods are getting hit also.

For a moment or two, I savored the fact that Hubs is obsessive about light and locks.

He keeps our home lit up at night.  It helps that we are by the main street light, but he also has super bright LED at multiple points out front. I often tease him about the brightness.  I prefer semi-darkness. My eyes are not overly fond of brightness.

I'm sure that prevented them coming near our home.  On the flip side, he is equally as obsessive about insuring that both of our cars fit in the garage, no matter how tight of a fit, that is where he wants them at night.

Why is that something we should be worried about?

"Nextdoor" for the community near my work is riddled with robberies, gun shots, car's being stolen and damaged.

This is all local.

All within miles of my front door.

And I am struggling with it.  Was it always this bad?  Was I too wrapped up in my own world?

I mean, I know kids will be kids.  They will test their boundaries.  That is part of the growth process.

It appears to me that our society as a whole has some serious issues. Have parents given up on the golden rule?  Is life far too easy now?  Do we not care anymore?

I am terrified that the last one is the root of it.  It seems that we have a bunch of self-centered, spoiled brats running around.

It seems that we've become a "me" culture.  Even parents are not putting their children first anymore and kids seem to be emulating it.

I don't know if any of you watched that video clip that I shared last time.  It's probably the most powerful video that I have seen to address our society today.

The fact that sweet Ms. Norma is still working is a testament to her love of her family and her strong need to take care of them.  She'd barely come out of surgery yesterday when one of the B's checked on her for me as I was still in meetings.  She wasn't concerned about herself. She wasn't worried about the fact that at 81 she'd had to have surgery to remove a BB pellet that was lodged in her jaw bone, because of some selfish little brat.

Ms. Norma was worried about the fact that the holidays are fast sneaking up on us and here she was out of work for a bit to heal.  She was losing money that she needed to care for her loved ones.

I assure you that Hubs and I will do without anything for our children or grand children, and I watch my daughter do the same.  It's how we were raised, I've watched my parents do the same.  It's simply what you do.

Or is it.

I personally know parents that do not check on their children, that leave them to their own devices.  So many times we go to dinner and look around at children being completely ignored while mom and dad stare at their phones.  They don't talk to their children, ask them about their day, they ignore the fact that they are acting up (or are they simply trying to be seen?).

On national news, heck international for that matter, its a long string of allegations of sexual assault of some kind or another.  Often against powerful people, or rather people perceived to have power. I have to stop and wonder about it all.  How did it get missed when they were young children or worse was it seen and ignored? How horrible to have that happen and feel powerless to call for help.

I'm afraid the devil is winning.  And I don't believe in the devil.

I believe in free will.  But without a consequence to actions what good is that?  I do believe that each of us has the ability to make some really horrible choices.  What are we deleting in our own makeup that is eliminating the ability to feel guilt.

Are we spending too much time worrying about people always feeling good, without spending equal time or doing and being good?

Can it be fixed?

Today is Veteran's Day.

I come from a long line of Vet's.  By birth, family, marriage, life in general.  I don't know how many generations back felt called to serve.  I guess I could find out, I have aunts that have records going back generations.  What I do know is that as far back as those that have lived during my lifetime, I have been surrounded by veterans.  People for whom the call to service was powerful. People with the willingness to sign that blank check up to and including their own lives for our freedoms. My list of friends that has served makes me so proud to be able to call them all friends.  They unselfishly have given parts of their lives for others. It wasn't a paycheck.

I wonder if it would make a difference to some of these wayward people to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Last I heard in Germany you serve 18 months active duty or work for an organization like the Red Cross, after graduation.

I struggle with mandates for peoples lives, to me that feels too much like an abdication of free will.  I wonder though.  Might it help?

Does community service need to become something we are doing from grade school on?  Back when I was a kid you were part of the scouts.  Do we still have vibrant scout troops?  Are we still teaching right from wrong? The only time I see scouts now is when they are selling over priced cookies, popcorn or Christmas trees.

Last I read both the boys and girls scouts were tackling bigger challenges than how to build the perfect fire and sewing on buttons. Maybe we need to step it back.  Maybe we need to simply stop for a moment and go back to letting kids be kids.

Stop dragging them into our insanity.  I hear so many conversations that include children that frankly shouldn't be part of their lives.

What I don't hear is laughter on the playground.  Children running around chasing fireflies.  Playing chase, hide and seek, pretending.

It's been forever since a young person has knocked on my door wanting to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, wash my car or shovel the snow.  Working hard to raise the money for a treasure they either wanted for themselves or a loved one.

I remember begging my Dad to let me take on the job of "lawn boy" back in Germany.  I wanted to have my own spending money. It was hard work, but it sure felt good on payday.  Kids don't do that anymore. I would much rather pay a preteen or teen the $30 a week that I am paying a professional company for yard work.  I would love to be part of developing their work ethic.

It's been so long since I have been part of a community clean up day.  I know that I am a military brat and "base clean up" was simply part of every day life.  Here is my question, why isn't it part of every day life everywhere?  Days were organized, tools were gathered, extra trash hauling and composting ordered.  And for four or five hours we all worked together.  Everyone.  The officers and their families were no more important than the enlisted and theirs.  In the fall we picked up trash, we raked leaves, painted benches, things were fixed, trash cans emptied, brooms were pushed and sidewalks edged.  Our community came together to make it a better place to live.

Our community gathered, served and then fellowshipped when it was done.  The moms with small children divided the tasks of watching the little's and fixing snacks and hot chocolate to be enjoyed when we were done.

When did those things disappear?

Again, I ask... when did we stop caring?

Today Hubs and I will run a few errands and do a few chores.  On my list, buying food to donate to the food drive all of our Y's are participating in.  Knowing that some of those families and individuals that will be fed are Veterans.  I will clean out closets, looking for gently loved coats to donate to the Winter Warm Up that we are also hosting at the Y.  Because I know there are far too many in our community that risk being cold this winter.  I have hats and will buy a few pairs of gloves to donate also.  No one should be cold.  I will be buying a gift card to donate to Ms. Norma, so that she and her family will be able to have a nice holiday despite these current challenges.

Later today Hubs will go out and mulch all the leaves in our yard.  He will take care of the leaves for our neighbor also.  He will do it, because helping others is in his DNA.

I firmly believe that helping others is in all of our DNA, it's part of the core of who we are as humans.  I am simply afraid that we've forgotten how. That we are all so busy being wrapped up in us, that we've forgotten to be generous with our hearts and hands.

I can't change the world.  Not even willing to try.  I don't think any of us really need to.  We are all getting caught up in politics and things that divide us.  We are allowing external forces, money, and pride to get in the way of doing good.  Of teaching our children to do good, of modeling those behaviors.

Can you imagine a world where we didn't allow that?  A world where we didn't care who you voted for, what high school you went to (yep, I finally figured that one out), what street you live on, if you have a nice car or ride the bus, what your skin tone is, who your partner in life is, what prayers you said or didn't say, and there are a million other dividers.

Can you imagine a world where "we the people" saw a need and filled it? I'm not a big fan of government.  They've been destroying us for a long, long time.  But I am a strong proponent of the power of love.  Of communities coming together to help each other.  Maybe if we could master that on the smallest level, within our families, sub-divisions, streets, etc... soon that movement would be expanding exponentially.  Maybe then a Ms. Norma wouldn't be afraid to go pick up her chili supplies at night.  Because the lights would be bright, the parking lot clear, and people wouldn't be afraid to say the names of people that have harmed them.  Because united the criminal would be afraid of the victim, not the other way around.

Well... I guess I am babbling.  I am trying to sort out too much in my head.  And if you've read this, you are probably feeling as crazy as I feel right now.

Maybe we just need to flip the switch.  Start an avalanche of good.  Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

getting angrier...

I can't say that I am any less angry today.

I woke up to more calls for gun control.  I have my own theory on that, but guess what, it wouldn't have helped Ms. Norma.  She was shot with a BB gun.

Another one of my friends wrote that we need to discover the root.  The cause of the "evil" and "mental illness".  I don't disagree at all.  I'm wondering if we as a society are ready to rip those scabs off long festering wounds?  Are we ready to have an honest conversation?

Sadly, my faith in us as humans is not that strong right now, and my rose colored glasses seem to have developed a large crack in them. A few years ago on her birthday, one of my friends attended a ball game with her children.  One of her boys was shot, he will never walk again.  This week Ms. Norma was shot in the parking lot after doing some shopping.  Okay, it was a BB gun, and after surgery she will physically be okay.  That doesn't address the pain, suffering, mental anguish, the feelings of fear that will forever be there.

When will we as a society be ready to address the problems that are leading us down this road? When do we quit accepting the lies fed to us, to distract us by the media, politicians, etc?

My friend posed the question what is causing some of this? " What has changed in our society that people think it's okay to kill others? Is it a lack of personal responsibility, entitlement, the you're always right mentality? When did it start? Is it drugs, gmo's, too much processed food? I really think it is more than just saying the shooter is evil or mentally ill, what is causing this change in so many people? We need to look for the root of the problem."

I don't disagree with her.  I've watched this country change and not for the better over my lifetime alone.  How many times have my friends and I played the "remember when" game.  Most of the time we are joking around. Laughing about the things that we cannot believe have changed.  Remember drinking from a garden hose, remember staying outside until the street lights came on, remember your dad whistling to call you home, remember laying on the back of the car seats on a long drive.

Maybe it's time to examine those things?  Maybe it isn't a joke.  Maybe just maybe all of the changes and rules and regulations have had a deeper meaning.  Maybe it isn't about personal protection.  Maybe it was the start of laying the foundation for abdication of personal responsibility.

We live in a time where no one is held accountable for their own actions any longer.  From minor things, say getting into trouble at school.  When I was younger, you didn't get into trouble at school.  It was a guaranteed butt whooping from your parents. The question was rarely posed what did someone else do, it was "what did you do?" That's not to say that when facts were revealed you weren't believed if you were innocent.  The presumption simply wasn't that you had no part in drama that had befallen you.

I held true to that with my children.  They weren't innocent simply because they were my children. Yet, I would fight like the lioness that I am if you were ugly to my babies and they'd held no part in it.

But working in schools a few decades ago, I witnessed a shift.  It was subtle at first.  Then it became blatant. No longer was little Johnny or Suzy responsible.  They might have beat a child up, but surely it was the teachers fault.  The teacher didn't teach them the golden rule, the teacher didn't supervise them adequately, etc.

Is that when it started?

I read an interesting study the other day, it was about brains and how they form.  The studies have proven that a baby cradled and loved from day one developed better.  That children that were ignored, not cuddled of stimulated had less brain development.  Are we more focused on our phones and less on our families?

Is that part of it?

Look at the food we eat, look at the obesity problems in this country (others as well).  Is that part of the cause? I fear that when a grocery store had to start having an aisle labeled organic, that we crossed some scary lines.  I long for gardens and farmers markets.  I long for the days of herb gardens outside the door and knowing where your food came from and what happened to it.  I mean seriously, we raise our chickens here in the US and send them to China for processing.  I can't even wrap my head around that.

When we started to rely on welfare as a career?  Did that contribute?  I remember when I was younger over 40 years ago, hearing the words "I'd rather work, but I make more on welfare", over 40 years ago. Are we taking away a person's will to provide for themselves? Thereby killing their self esteem, and if so, why? I believe that when a person achieves for themselves they also feel good about themselves. I would rather work multiple jobs as opposed to feeling that I am being "taken care of".

I think that is one of the reason's I am so angry.  Ms. Norma is one of the hardest working women I know.  She's 81, she still rides buses and walks to work 5 days a week.  You will NEVER catch her sitting around, even when she shouldn't be doing a task for safety's sake, she will try if no one else is doing it.  She is so darn independent and strong. Frankly, I want to be just like her.  I want to make my kids worry that I am working too hard at 81.   And I want them to be proud of me as a mom and provider.

I could go on and on.

Children having children without the skills to raise them up.  Now that one is interesting, when you consider in the not so distant past if you were 16, unmarried and without children you were definitely bound for being labeled an "old maid" and destined to become a teacher.

At what point did we stop teaching our children basic life skills from the time they are little.  My oldest grand daughter is 11. If you were to meet her, you'd never believe it.  She is old beyond her years.  I credit my daughter with that.  She knows how to cook, clean, care for her animals, help with her baby sister, she understands money (and will host a lemonade stand or sell her possessions to purchase something she wants).  She shops in thrift stores and makes a game of saving money and still getting what she wants.  Oh sure, there are moments when the modern preteen sneaks into the picture, needing the coolest phone, dying for the perfect outfit, or her need to have her hair dyed wild colors.   In her short little life she has experienced some very traumatic things, if she wants her hair dyed, well so be it. The point is her mother is teaching her serious life skills.

We could go the route of drugs in our society.  But that is a far deeper conversation than I am prepared to have at this point.  One of my B's lost her precious son to that demon heroin.  Too many today are. My question, one that I often ponder, is the greed of pharmaceutical companies the starting block for where we are today?  I watched dear sweet Hubs struggle desperately a few years ago.  The pain was unreal, there was absolutely no relief for him, while the doctor that caused the problem did everything in his power to deflect from it and prescribed stronger and stronger opioids in  an attempt to mask the cause.  I picked up prescription after prescription, fighting with the doctors the whole time.  Terrified that I would come home and find him dead, simply in an attempt to kill that terrible pain. During the course of 9 months my share of the prescription cost was almost $1000, and I had great insurance that covered the bulk of the cost.  Let that sink in.

So is it drugs?

Is it a giant mixing bowl filled with all of the things we want to look past?  Is it a chicken and or the egg situation?

Do kids join gangs because they want to be important?  Or do gangs form because basic skills are not being taught and basic needs are not being me?. Do kids not get a quality education because of the system not providing schools or funds?  Or are teachers that could make a difference afraid? Is the result those same children are not able to get good paying jobs because the skills are simply not there?  Or is it the cause?

Are they using guns, drugs, gangs, violence because they don't know another way to survive? Or because it's the easy way? Or did they get tired of being hungry, cold, doing without, not knowing how to get what they need... oh the list is endless.

Has anyone spanked their butts out of love?  Or simply anger and aggression?  Have they been taught respect?  Have they been taught patience, love, doing for others?

I know my silly little blog is never going to solve all or any of these things.  I know that I cannot fix the world.  I hate that I am using my blog to pose more questions than any of us can answer.  I want to blog about the silly hats I made my youngest grand daughter.   I need to clear my heart first.

I hope this will start conversations.  I pray that Ms. Norma will be a starting point for a brighter future. A future where kids are outside when the firefly's come out and a future where 81 year old great grandmothers can go pick up fixings for chili after work without a fear of being run over or shot.

I know there are more evils in the world.  Heck in my own town and  country.  But I can't tackle them all.

I am blessed to work for a wonderful organization.  An organization that wants to make a difference in this world.  Last night at our kick off event, while worrying about Ms. Norma I saw our latest video for probably the 10th time.  Each time it gives me goosebumps.  Last night I almost cried. If you haven't seen it, I challenge you to watch it. The Y: US.

And finally I challenge all of you to please remember the golden rule "do unto other's as you would have them do unto you".  Each of us holds the power to work together to make a difference.  To change the narrative.   Are you strong enough?  That isn't judgmental at all.  I don't know if I am strong enough.

I am willing to try.  Are you?  Can we keep the conversation going?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I'm pissed off...

In an instant things change.

A peaceful, beautiful fall day can quickly become filled with sadness and dread.

I'm sitting at the car dealership.  Hubs thought he had them detailing the interior, they are really detailing the exterior.  I'm okay with it either way.

Brought my chrome book, and several portable projects to work on.  Was chatting with Hubs, planning holiday gifts and meals, when I got the call.

It was my boss, so I wanted to be sure to take it.  As he wouldn't call me on vacation unless it was important.

It was.

I don't have details. I don't know the circumstances.  I am scared, worried and angry.

One of the sweetest women I know was somehow shot in the face last night.  She's the most dedicated, loving, tough woman I know.  She's in her 8th decade and still takes buses and walks to work, never missing a day in years, unless she was in the hospital.

Somehow, she was shot in the face last night.  From what I've learned she is okay, I guess as okay as you can be with a bullet still in your face.  They are waiting for the plastic surgeon to remove it.

I have more questions, fears and frustrations that I can even think through today. Who in their right minds shoots a tiny little lady?  Who raised that heathen?

I just finished talking to one of my B's.  She spoke to our dear sweet Ms. Norma.

I am even angrier now.

I intended to write about the projects I'd worked on, the beautiful fall day, teasing the guys at the dealership.  But I can't.  Having the details makes me livid!

She was shopping.  That was all, at the Family Dollar.  As she walked to her car, some jerk almost hit her.  She made an innocent comment, guess he plans on hitting me - or something like that, and some jerk in the back seat rolls down the window and shoots her.


Who does that?


She's over 80, she's barely 4 feet tall and probably weighs 90 pounds sopping wet with rocks in her pockets.  She's a pistol.  Her personality is probably 6 foot tall, but she is definitely not bullet proof.

Now she's sitting at home, waiting to go see the plastic surgeon to try and remove the bullet lodged just above her lip.

I've been told twice how worn out she sounds.  Ya think?

Incredulous does not being to describe my feelings.

I'm tired of it, I'm tired of hearing of all the shootings and gun crimes.  I'm sick and tired of hearing ban guns.  Excuse me?  Anyone that needs a prime example of how fantastic that works needs to check out Chicago's stats.  We all know they are a "gun free zone"... I'm guessing all their homicides are happening via squirt guns?

It's not a gun problem.  That damn bullet did not hit that precious woman because a gun decided to go off on it's own.

We have a serious humanity problem! And people need to quit with the "gun problem" mentality.  That little punk has a morality issue, no doubt a mental issue (sane people do NOT shoot other people for the fun of it), and I'm doubtful he has a conscience.

There are far too many people deflecting from the real problems that we have in our society.  Trying to blame inanimate objects for the failures of society.  And frankly, I am really pissed off right now.

Is anyone at all paying attention to what is going on?  It isn't about democrats and republicans, conservatives or liberals, black, white, brown, yellow... heck polka dots.  It's about human beings being well human.

At what point are we going to stop being blind?  We can blame it on a lot of things.  But until we start each owning our own failures in life, until we hold people accountable, until we all say enough is enough.  It isn't going to stop.

I heard the words... that is how things are now around here.

I felt crushed. I felt the air rush out of my lungs.

I feel for the man that was shot by the police officer.  No one needs to lose their lives.  Was it worth the protests?  I don't know.  I wonder when all the protests are going to be for other victims?  Is anyone going to protest that a sweet little old lady is not able to go to the store without being shot? Is it even going to make the news? Is it changing anything?

They keep talking about how arrests are down since they've been protesting. Fantastic.  Unfortunately, the murders and shootings are higher than ever.  Are they down because crime is down?  Or is it giving carte blanche to the gangs, thugs and jerks?

Where I am sitting right now, it looks like the officers have no desire to engage the criminals.  So the ones suffering are the innocent victims that are trying to go about their daily lives.

I firmly believe we have systemic problems in society today.  And even more firmly believe the system is exactly what has created them.  The government has created the problems that every day people are stuck dealing with.  They control without caring.  They create wastelands and wastrels.  Idle hands have always been the devil's playground.

I'm going to apologize now, I believe we are all entitled to our own opinions and I strive to keep some of my stronger ones to myself.  I don't for a second think I am entirely right, nor do I think I am entirely wrong.  I believe we are all just an open and honest conversation away from meeting in the middle. Each of us comes to the conversation with our life lessons and different lenses.

But, today I am angry!  Today I want to go wrap my arms around a woman very dear to my heart and hold her close.  I want to protect her.  I want to find the punk that shot her and harm him in ways unimaginable (but give me time... I'm pretty darn creative).  I want to find his parents and friends and try to understand what creates that kind of a monster.

Mostly, I want to comfort that sweet woman. No one had the right to harm a hair on her precious head. She has earned love and respect.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


It's been a busy few days.

Sitting here listening to the usual sounds is soothing. The washer is running, the boys are curled up on their respective sofas and I am sure that the cat is somewhere destroying something.

And I'm curled up in my beautiful old wing back chair in front of the bay window.  It's dreary and wet out.  The sunshine and warmth that we enjoyed in Alabama, far away.  Most of the trees are starting to be barren, while we were away the neighbor's tree shed a ton of leaves.  I know this because they always end up in our yard.  If they weren't such a vibrant red, that I find so cheery, I'd probably be upset at the additional work.

I still have two days off, I'm burning up the vacation that I was too busy to use earlier in the year. Hubs used a bit of his, so he had to go into work.  While I enjoy spending time with him, I am looking forward to the peaceful day ahead.  I've already pre-warned him. I'm not doing anything I don't want to do today.

"she said this as she carried laundry downstairs, because all of his work pants are dirty..."

Okay, so maybe I'm not that selfish.

Actually, what I want to do today, is get caught up.

I am going to head up to the sewing room shortly.  I have one more quilt that I have to finish.  I want it done before I go on my next vacation days starting in two weeks.  I have been so busy that there is so much not getting done, as evidenced by the lack of attention I have given to my blog.

Writing again has reminded me how much I cherish this small bit of time to clear my thoughts, reason through things that are puzzling me and basically sort things out.

On the drive down to Alabama I had a few hours that I wasn't driving and that it was light out.  I used that time to work on a hat for my youngest grand daughter.  I am going to get it finished and delivered today.  She's sadly a bit hairless still and it's a bit cold.  And I might just be that bratty gramma that will make silly hats to bring a smile.

I'd forgotten how much my fingers loved the therapy of needlework.  Watching the fiber wrapped around my fingers, feeling it glide gently with each stitch.  It's calming. It seems once you've learned it, you simply don't forget.

I picked a soft darker brown.  I wanted it a bit darker, but couldn't find it where it wasn't jet black.  I don't know that her hair will be jet black when it finally comes in, and since it's a cabbage patch hat, I wanted it closer to her own color. As I was putting the "curls" on the brim, I was daydreaming about the color ribbons I would use.  I am leaning towards a pink or white, so that it will go with most of her clothes, but I might touch base with Mom to see what she'd like.  I didn't finish it, because I didn't want to try to make the long loops for the pig tales while we were driving.  I am going to finish that up shortly.

Hubs felt it wouldn't be appropriate to knit while we sat and visited.  My own family is very used to this from me, in fact there are many times that several of us have sat around working on projects while we chatted away the day.  I do believe that he often forgets that I can do two things at once. But it was his vacation trip and for a change I was willing to simply sit still (because that does not happen often).

As a result I'd only brought one more UFO with me. It's a pair of socks that I had been working on for about two years now.  I sure got a lot more stitching done when Hubs and I carpooled. I didn't start working on them until the ride home.  He'd wanted to drive us out of Birmingham.

I was nervous, what if I'd forgotten the pattern or couldn't remember the last stitches I'd taken on those sweet little socks.  What if my fingers had forgotten how to knit?  So many what if's... I opened the bag that held the treasures twice.  Looked inside, felt the apprehension and self-doubt rising and zipped it back up.

Maybe it wasn't the right time.

We'd changed our plans at the last minute and decided to drive back into Helena.  Hubs needed another hug from his Sis.  He needed to feel that connection.  He's suffered so many loses where family is concerned.  His parents, brother and brother-in-law have all gone on.  His girls... well never mind.  All he has of flesh and blood are those three people living in Alabama.  Who in the world was I to say no?

His smile, her smile, the little 2 year old smile.  Definitely worth the trip down the two lane road behind multiple school buses. Family is priceless.  You can fuss with them, be semi-neglectful, you can hurt each other unintentionally (or sadly intentionally) but that blood always knows.

I wished I could give him even more time to visit.  On the drive over we had cooked up the thought to bring his Sis but to Missouri, even if for a short weekend visit. We will work that out.  We'd love to have her visit our home, all of them, but we do realize that people have lives and work. I'm not sure if I saw a glimmer or excitement or doubt in her eyes when he told her that is what he wanted.  I'm hoping excitement.

As we pulled away, Hubs was a bit quiet, especially for him.  No music playing.  He silently chewed on his cigar. He looked sad.

I asked him a couple times if he wanted to talk about it, he said he was "concentrating on the road". I've long since learned that is code for needing time.

Left with nothing to do but look at the tail lights ahead of us and get stressed by the traffic in an unfamiliar area, I decided to open the bag again.  Shoot if I was dealing with uncertainty, I might as well send myself into a total lack of coffee, claustrophobic tail spin.  Right?

I pulled out the unfinished little sock, immediately catching one of the needles and pulling it out of all 18 stitches carefully lined up on it.

Panic! I'm in a moving car and those are some tiny needles and stitches to slip it back into.  Sucking my breath in sharply I started weaving the needle back in.  Suddenly thanking the good Lord, that I'd been too busy to play for far too long.  That yarn was molded perfectly from sitting so long on those metal needles.  It slid back as easily as it slid out.

I thought about getting out the directions, what if I needed them.  What if I couldn't remember what I'd done before?

Instead, I silently studied the work.  Thankful for Hubs' silent mood, needing the quiet to focus.

You don't forget.

It's a pattern I have made many times, I probably have three or four pairs in my sock drawer, and goodness knows how many I have gifted over the years.

In the comfortable silence that comes from being with your soul mate we traveled for around an hour. Hubs lost in his memories and thoughts while I worked on my socks.  Idle chit chat, pointing out beautiful and or interesting things we saw that needed to be recorded with a picture.  I kept repeating to Hubs that I was stunned with how my fingers and memory moved so quickly back into that routine. Seeming to not notice that I hadn't used them in that way for almost a year.

It's that way with family too.

We're back in our routine, Sis is back in her's.  But for a few days, it was like time hadn't passed.

Sis and his niece had conveniently planned all of his favorite meals.  Things I had heard him talk about for years.  Since I've known him I've always heard about the famous pork roast, and how no one on earth could make it as good.  I know it did his heart good to have her make the meal that he's often said was his favorite from her.   I am betting it did her heart good to have her baby brother surprise her.

I felt a tad guilty when one my own Sisters asked it the trip south would have a detour to Arkansas. Unfortunately, the miles were more than we had the time, or honestly the butt strength to tackle.  We aren't as young as we used to be.

I wish we were all a bit closer.  It sure would be wonderful to spend a few hours quilting with Sis and the Niece.  Or puttering around with projects with my sisters and folks.  But it's a treat not an everyday thing.

I am fairly certain Hubs and I will stay here in Missouri.  We love our house, the grand babies are here, and at least one of the kiddo's. Maybe down the road we will think about heading somewhere else.  If the girl takes the grand babies and moves closer to the boy.  We might have to go. But for now, it will be visits back and forth.

Who knows how many socks I will get finished? And how many times we will all pick up like time hasn't passed.  Each of us showing a few more years, little ones growing into bigger ones, and maybe a few more wrinkles.

But... love will still be there, those heart strings really do get stronger with time.  They just have a bit more stretch to them...

for this moment though... it's good to be home...

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I don't usually write twice in one day.

I feel compelled to do so tonight.

In the late afternoon sun, Hubs and I made our way to the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.  All of it happened long before I was born.  The horror of it still echo's more than 50 years later.

As I knelt beside the memorial at the back of that church, tears glistening in my eyes, goosebumps on my arms silently praying that those horrors would never happen again, I hadn't seen the news.

The power of that spot is almost electric.  You feel it through you very soul.

I was focused on paying my respects to four young girls lives ended far too young, in such a violent selfish manner.  I felt drawn there.  So much to see in Birmingham, and that was where i felt drawn to. I wanted to see the beautiful art in the park across the street dedicated to those sweet babies, barely older than my oldest Grand Daughter.

In silent awe Hubs and I wandered the almost deserted intersection.  A few homeless people walked around asking for change for a meal, citing Bible verses better than any Pastor I have ever heard.  A random assortment of young and old reading the memorials, saying prayers, speaking in hushed tones. We read the signs along the path of the march and spoke softly to each other.

It had the same feeling of reverence I always felt every time I went to Dachau.  It chills the bones at the same time breaking the heart and filling you with the hope of the Holy Spirit.

After taking a few pictures, Hubs volunteering to take pictures for a family trying to take enough of an assortment so that everyone was in the various shots, we started to leave.

The sun was starting to sink far lower in the sky and the feeling of discomfort that comes from being in strange city that is virtually void of people was starting to grow in me.  I work in an urban area, but it's my urban area, I know the dangers and feel comfortable there.  I didn't know the dangers of where I had led us.

As we started to leave my eyes were drawn to a beautiful stained glass window.  I didn't know why, but I wanted a picture of that window.  It's breath taking. I can only imagine the beauty that radiates inside. After snapping that picture we drove down the almost deserted streets, back towards the highway. There was very little movement, almost like a ghost town on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Hubs asked if I remembered the whole story, as I hadn't been born yet I didn't.  So he pulled it up and read it to me.  My heart breaking with each world.

The selfishness, the inhumanity.  It was obscene in it's very existence.  Pure evil for the sake of evil.

I still hadn't heard the news as I posted please let us never be this way again.

A short bit later, sitting around the table with family for the first Sunday dinner we'd shared in far too long, I hear the news.

A church in Texas.  Over 20 gone. Ranging in age from 5 - 72.

Yet again someone made a decision based in pure evil.

I am growing very weary.  It feels that people of pure evil are trying to cause an even deeper wound, possibly one that we cannot recover from.

I glanced at Twitter, pledges of starting a civil war, Antifa threatening to attack white conservatives, BLM, I think I even saw one with anonymous.

When does love win?  When do we learn from the lessons of the past.  How much gets erased? "Untaught"?  How many times do we allow this to happen?

It isn't dynamite - as was used in the 16th Street murders.  It isn't the guns, knives, trucks or any other weapons that are used that are the problem.  It is the heart of evil.  The soul that has ceased to feel that destroys. Minds that are taught hatred, that they are the only one right.  It doesn't matter the skin color, it doesn't matter the religious preference, no great weight needs to fall on education, orientation, location, etc.  It's a heart of evil.

I do believe in evil.  And I seriously feel it is winning.  When people of love come together we will win.

but... right now... as I get ready to lay my head down, I will say another prayer.  I will hold on to the faith I feel in my heart, because I know there is good and love in this world.

A song has been running through my head all day.  An ear worm of sorts.  My cousin posted about a powerful event at her church today.  And it's only gotten louder as the day has progress... the only line that doesn't stop is the one that says "I saw God today..."  I haven't heard the song its from in a long time, so that isn't how it got there.

But in the silent beauty of pink carnations on a black etched stone... more than 50 years later... I saw God today.


I'm only about 450 miles from my customary perch in my kitchen as I write this.  Hubs is snoozing with the boys so I decided to bring my chrome book out to the "garden" at our hotel and write for a bit.

I've been a bit quiet this week, trying not to give away the secret trip we made yesterday morning.  I know his Sis might occasionally peek at my blog and didn't want to slip up. Several times over the past year he's brought up the thought to travel down here to Alabama.  It's been a rough year for me to travel, but I have offered to let him use my car or to fly.  Each time he's opted out.  He doesn't do well with leaving me to travel anywhere.

A few weeks ago, he asked if I was working this weekend.  I wasn't sure, anymore I have to look at my calendar for everything, but promised to look as soon as I got back to my office. He'd finally decided it was time.  He was ready to go to Alabama, with or without me.

It was a surprise trip to see his sister, her birthday was earlier this week and he wanted to see her. But he wanted to surprise her!

Sneaky man started conspiring with his niece, plotting the trip and what he would do to catch her off guard. He booked the hotel (he never does this so I knew he was serious), gave up a visit to his buddy for cigars and bourbon and helped me pack.

We left St. Louis yesterday morning before 230 am, he was wanting to be there by lunch time.

Somewhere around 5 am I found myself giggling as I drove through the dark night singing along (off key) to my country music and and the boys gently snoring.  It was 5 am, I'd crossed the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, Kentucky Lake and been in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.  It takes little to humor me in the middle of the night, I was simply waiting for Johnny Cash to pop up singing "I've been everywhere..."

For years I have been dying to go to Paducah, my quilt loving soul was finding the irony of driving right past a bitter pill to swallow.  I'd never realized it was so large of a city, nor that it would look so bright and modern under the darkness of night.  Knowing it is a relatively reasonable drive from the house assures me that eventually we will go back and actually visit.

It's been decades since I have traveled through Kentucky and Tennessee, I'd forgotten the beauty.  The softly rolling hills and beautiful silhouettes of  bridges in the darkness were intriguing.  Looking at the names and the historical markers along the highway had me day dreaming of more journeys east, with an intention to explore.

Hubs woke up a short ways before Nashville, and after a VERY quick stop for biscuits we were heading out again.  My country loving heart was pretty darn tickled at listening to an old Randy Travis CD as we rolled into Nashville.  Unfortunately, that is about the time all the trucks started to hit the roads and it was a very stressful drive through the unfamiliar city.

It is so beautiful, nothing in my memory banks prepared me for the journey through western Tennessee and Alabama as the sun was struggling to burn off the heavy fog.  In fact I've only been through Alabama once before that I can remember, and honestly, I don't remember it.  It was right before that time in my life that is full of holes.

The beauty is incredible!!  I could move south. Well at least this time of the year could find me cherishing those tall pines mixed heavily with all the beautiful changing colors of the deciduous trees.  I don't remember these hills, I guess I was further south, the lakes, rivers, beautiful out croppings of rocks.  The colors and scents.  Everyone is always plotting trips north to witness the beauty of fall and here it is in the south.

I want a week to just explore.  Maybe next time...

This is a rather quick trip.

Hubs had planned to sneak up to his sister's door and pose as a Gideon, wanting to share the good word with her.  He was too pokey going up the driveway and she spied him outside the window as she was cutting fabric in her sewing room.

He was all prepared with his speech as she whipped open the door before he could knock and said "I hope you're here to help cut this fabric".  I am sure neither of them was quite prepared for the moment.

Watching their hug I felt out of place.  Like I was interrupting a private, special moment between siblings too long apart. Both of them having endured things that needed the silent reassuring love that only a sibling can sometimes give. The love and happiness in their eyes and smiles was beautiful. It'd been about a decade since they'd been together. Time moves too fast and often leaves us behind as it's going.

Sis had a treasure for me as well, she knows I love quilting and old fabrics.  And she gifted me with a beautiful, almost perfectly flawless feed sack.   Scissors will never cut it, at least not in my possession, It will probably end up framed.  Yet running my fingers over the fabric delighted me on many levels, the history, beauty, the thrift and thoughtfulness all in one small treasure.

As we'd caught her unprepared for company we sat and visited while she got ready for us to go visit his niece and her family.  Hubs hadn't met his great nephew yet, and he'd seen that he carried the same cute dimple in his chin as Hubs.  A family trait for sure!

I marveled on the drive to her home at the quaint little town she lives in.  Enjoying the drive through the towns and past the waterfall.  If I had known that it was beautiful, I am fairly sure that I would have brought my good camera with me.  My phone hardly does it justice.

Sipping my jack and coke and watching sweet Hubs reconnect with his family made my heart soar. His laughter at memories that I have heard about many times, the smile in his eyes, the silly man he becomes around his niece that he adores.  The two of them have very similar personalities and I imagine could get into a world of trouble if left to their own devices.  Or maybe that should read have gotten into.

The boys handled the ride well, we weren't sure they would.  And have enjoyed the extra walks in the warm sunshine.  All the new sights and scents.  I wished we could take them up on the offer to bring them over with us when we go back in a bit, but sadly, those two are simply not that friendly and I would hate to see them get into it with their sweet old girl.  She is so precious and sweet.  Right now they are snoozing peacefully with Hubs.

It's time to go wake him.  Although I am hesitant to leave the  beauty of this little gazebo in the sunshine.  Listening to the soft rumble of distant traffic and enjoy the scents being carried in the soft breeze and watching the fall of brightly colored leaves.  I am loving the way the swirl carelessly past like a snow globe of shimmering colors.

Well, I just wanted to share a few moments and memories.  I guess I wanted to encourage everyone to take that trip, visit, enjoy the beauty and your family.  Life is short, grab up those minutes, and don't get trapped in the minutia of day to day living.

Eight hours is a standard work day, in that small amount of time we've traveled to family  Made more memories and forged tighter bonds.  Yet it often seems to be easy to say, that is such a long drive (it wasn't) or the boys will not be able to handle it (they did) or a hotel is so expensive (not so much, Hubs is a Senior now - hehe - and I am a member of the rewards club).

Excuses... cherish the moments...

have you tried...

I am learning.   It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back ...