My People

My People
My People - Cosette, Austin, Oliver, Cody, me & Ryan. Just think, had I not lived, these people wouldn't be on the planet. They are my whole heart!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reasons to Love Being 45

Despite a headache, a gloomy Monday and all the things that make any work day difficult (but I'm still stubbornly trying to work)... a birthday is all the reason I need to LOVE this Monday. Instead...  let me tell you all the reasons I love being 45.

I used to think that 45 was old. Now 45 seems like a glorious reward for not giving up.
45 means being old enough that people respect - and sometimes even ask for - my opinion.
45 means that I survived all of the bad relationships, bad choices, tough times and sadness of the past.
45 means that I carried all of my babies through to adulthood and can be here for them as they navigate the turbulent waters of being grown ups.
45 means that I have peeled myself out of toxic friendships and have created for myself a circle of friends who sustain me and encourage me and make me stronger.
45 means a lack of tolerance for drama.
45 means having fabulous memories of scandalous adventures in my misspent youth.
45 means treasuring the older women in my life who show me how beautiful the "second act" can be.
45 only means "middle age" if you plan to live to 90. And I do.
45 means watching my brothers and sisters-in-laws and cousins and other similarly "seasoned" family members achieve career success and being thrilled for them.
45 means, for me, realizing that my "career" years are behind me. It means celebrating every day that I can work, even a little bit.
45 means accepting the limitations of my body, even if they're very different from most people my age.
45 means that my peers, the people I grew up with and went to school and church with, for the most part, have matching sets of china and grandchildren and gorgeous, well decorated homes.
45 means loving that I get to live in my parents' converted garage and in my parents' basement and since I am 45 it doesn't bother me to be that cliche. I am where I am by divine design.
45 means preparing myself for the inevitable loss of the people who were the adults in my life when I was a child.
45 is a time of peaceful acceptance for what life has brought.
45 means admiring the long, silver streaks in my hair as God's way of hanging tinsel from my scalp. This must mean that I am decorated like a Christmas tree. It's a celebration! Not a reason for hair color. Yet.
45 means that I no longer have to wear high heels to try to impress anyone. I can wear whatever shoes I like. I can even wear white before Easter and after Labor Day if I want. I can wear flipflops without a decent pedicure, if I want.
45 means that I am growing into the role of eccentric Southern woman and loving every minute of it.
45 means not needing to be partnered to feel like I am complete. I am enough all by myself. Some would say I'm TOO MUCH.
45 means loving being the old maid crazy cat lady.
45 means having beautiful nieces and nephews to adore both from close up and far away and accepting that geography and other things that get in the way can't change my love for them.
45 means shopping online as much as my little budget will allow.
45 means hours and hours of computer games and blog reading and tv watching and basically doing whatever the heck I want, whenever I want.
As I said, 45 is a reward for not giving up.

I'm so happy to be who I am and where I am. I'm so grateful for all of you who made it happen and I'm grateful for those of you who make it worth it. It may be MY birthday but a lot of us have reason to celebrate.

Love and hugs and much thanks, y'all.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Balancing Act

It's a rainy Sunday and I'm here alone with four dogs and three cats.

I have a new pain (yay, me!) in my left hip. 
I hate new pain. 
I mean, honestly, I hate all of it but the ones that I have grown accustomed to are ... well, bearable.
New pains make me scream out to the universe, "haven't I suffered ENOUGH?"
And the universe silently responds with "apparently not".
Which has me a slight bit short tempered today and has made me really unhappy with having to scream myself hoarse at an old dog who is determined to eat cat poop. 
I frankly don't care if she eats cat poop but when she accidentally drops some of it in the middle of the bedroom floor for me to step on in the dark (as happened this morning) then I'm unhappy.
I have unassisted doggie duty (teehee... makes me think "doggie doodie") because my parents are at the hospital with my Uncle Charles who is going home tomorrow after so many weeks in the hospital...
But it's not a happy homecoming.
There is more cancer and this is inoperable and he is going home on hospice for the rest of his life, which is measured in weeks likely, months at most.
And I just don't quite know how to process it.
It seems that all of my life there has been Uncle Charles.
Although it hasn't, he met my Aunt Linda when I was a few years old.
He lived next door to us in Oxford House apartments. 
Oxford House was located where the newest runway of the Atlanta Airport is now. 
Long since gone but where so much of my family history began.
Linda was pregnant with Cousin Kevin and Kevin's dad had pretty much abandoned them.
So Linda lived with us and met Charles who had Andy (who now goes by Andrew and I always forget).
And they got married and had Cousin Russell and lived happily ever after.
In Augusta for awhile, where I spent one miserable week (no offense to them, they had three boys plus my brother and me and I was the only girl and it was just no kind of fun).
In Drake's Landing in a house across from the lake that froze up too thin to walk on.
We know because we tested it.
And finally to Ola, just south of McDonough, in a place that used to be nothing but cow pastures and now is nothing but subdivisions.
He was a plumber. And then they owned a daycare together. And now he's retired.
And ... this is it.
Linda is the youngest in mama's family of seven siblings.
No way were we prepared for the husband of the youngest Pennington to be the first to go.
Our family isn't great about getting together. 
There are about a hundred descendants of C.B. and Flossie Pennington and we're mostly all in the Southeast but not as close as we should be.
Yesterday we needed to call Uncle David to let him know of Charles condition and I had to look David up on whitepages.com.
It's surreal to only have the number of your mother's brother by stalking him on the internet.
Uncle Bill and Uncle John are on Facebook and we communicate occasionally. 
Uncle Al doesn't do the internet thing but his wife, Aunt Edna does and his daughters, Melissa and Sheila do.
And I'm Facebook friends with a couple of Al's grandchildren so I could find him if I need to.
And I'm in close contact with Aunt Ginger and Uncle Carl and one of their daughters.
My Cousin Kevin is the only one who has editorial access to my ancestry.com account (which is a huge, huge thing for me). 
Kevin's son Devin who has always been Austin's "best cousin", (even though they are really second cousins), will go down and stay with Linda and Charles for now.
Kevin and his wife Tobie live in Cleveland so we crossed paths more often in the past few years than I did with Charles' other sons, AndREW and Russell. 
As I said, it's hard to process.
He's not part of my every day life but he is my Uncle and he has always been around. 
I don't quite know how to say goodbye. 
And for me.... this pain thing has so greatly hampered where I go and who I see that the normal guilt about not seeing people as often as you should doesn't really apply.
I can't really hold any vigil for anyone, I can't sit in hard hospital visitor chairs and I can't walk down long corridors and all of that.
I can dog sit though. 
So that's what I'm doing. 
While a storm rages outside and Lady tries to eat poop and Oscar is glued to my right hip and I feel sleepy/dizzy/nauseated from the meds I took to take the edge off of the new pain and to wage battle with the old pains.
Grieving in the only way I really can. 
While still being grateful for a childhood that included so many relatives... 
And an adulthood that includes so many more thanks to social media. 
Yesterday I went to the thrift store and bought two new skirts, a new dress, three new pairs of pants, a tank top, a brand new (tags still attached) warm Winter turtleneck, two really girly lovely blouses... all for $40.
This was instead of buying three pieces on zulily.com for the same amount.
I know it's a total change of topic but that's how I deal with it.
I'm sad therefore I shop.
Actually, the shopping came before the sadness but the telling of the shopping is to balance the telling of the sadness. 
That's how my life works... it's always a complaint balanced with gratitude. 
And rain to set the mood.
Love and hugs, y'all. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Week in the Rear View Mirror

It's been such an odd week with Mama and the dogs up at the mountain house and Cody out of town. Pop went up to visit Mom on Tuesday night and it ended up just being me at this house and Marquee at her house (but of course I didn't mention it then because I didn't want to put us in the path of danger). Mom was staying up to get some things planted and to be up there for the Homeowners Association work day tomorrow (which looks like it's going to be rained out).

I've been a homebody as usual this week. I worked on Monday and Wednesday with the option of working today if I was able - and I'm not. I'll work the same schedule next week. I had a discussion with my Office Manager on Wednesday and let her know that I'm filing for disability (if my former neighbor will get back to me with the name of the attorney she used... ) and she was very supportive and willing for me to keep working whatever I'm able and offered to help me with any paperwork.

I say this so often that I know you're all sick of hearing it but having a work environment that is supportive and understanding is the one thing keeping me from jumping off a cliff at this point. They don't make me feel like a slacker or a loser. Everyone asks every single day how I'm feeling and they listen when I answer. It's such a simple thing but makes all the difference in the world.

I've had a little more housework this week with mom out of town. She's been keeping this house running for so long that "clean" just happens behind the scenes and you almost forget how much she does because she just makes it happen. I haven't vacuumed or mopped (not gonna risk it) but I've kept the kitchen clean and between Pop and myself we've made sure we ate. He made chili and pimento cheese for this week... I made a big pot of spaghetti. I was craving pizza yesterday so I treated myself to that... and he stopped on his way home from the golf course with an awesome smelling bbq sandwich (he offered to share but I was full since I had already eaten). I've been washing dishes twice a day - when the coffee is brewing and when I'm cooking dinner- and that's kept it to a manageable job.

The main chore that I've had to assume with Mom gone is cleaning out the litter box. It's not easy. It's heavy and requires a lot of bending over and all but I've managed to keep it under control. I need to check and make sure Pop carried the trash bag with the used litter out to the Herbie Curbie for me. He gets a D for trash management this week - Cody carried it out once and I'm not sure it's been carried out since and now it's overflowing. I pushed the heavy Herbie Curbie to the road on Wednesday morning and it was so stinkin' painful that it brought tears to my eyes. It's one of those things that Mama just seamlessly makes happen. She's a Domestic Goddess.

I taught Pop how to do laundry yesterday. I could have probably done it for him but you know that old adage "if you give a man a fish he eats for a meal but if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime". Chances are good that for the rest of his life he's gonna have either me or mama around but it doesn't hurt for him to add something to his domestic skill set.

I also had to tell Mama how to cook a roast in the crock pot this week. It's surreal. All three of my boys could do their laundry and cook a decent roast from the time they were 12. That really shows you the way that a couple that has been married for 47 years takes care of each other: Mama keeps the laundry done and Pop keeps Mama fed and they never worry about learning how to do what the other does. As a single mom with three kids, everybody had to be able to do everything. My boys are the most capable young men you'll ever meet. They can do anything. They're even good shoppers having spent hours and hours shopping with me to costume shows. They are talented decorators. They inherited a mechanical skill set from their dad and they absorbed a domestic skill set from their gay dad and me. They're very well rounded young men.

I'm just glad that my parents need me and glad to be a part of a family again. All those years that it was just me and Austin... he and I made a lot of great memories... but teenagers are at the stage of life that they're working hard to get away from their parents. He hated hanging out with me. My mom, on the other hand, loves hanging out with me. She seems to want me around. And I have missed her so much this week! All those years that I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders trying to raise three boys and keep a roof over our heads... I don't carry those burdens any more. I still want to (and need to) be able to contribute to my own financial needs but I'm not going to starve and if I'm not able to clean the litter box, I know my mom is going to take care of it. I know there's a loser stigma attached to "living in your parents basement" but I'm ok with it. I was one of five kids. This is the first chance I've ever had to be an only child.

Anyways... so it's been another week of nesting for me... it's been lonely and quiet but I've had my little Sammy granddoggie to keep me company. Little Kitty keeps looking for Mawmaw every time the laudry door is open (he thinks that's her room) and he meows loudly when she's not in there. I tortured Sammy yesterday by saying the two words that always stop him in his tracks, "wet food"... I can't figure out how to post it here but I made a video of him reacting to "wet food"... so you'll just have to venture over to my facebook page to see it. It's hilarious!

Since I'm spending most of my time nesting and watching tv... I'm getting bored with my normal shows and websites that I use for entertainment. I'd love some suggestions of tv shows, movies or websites to check out... feel free to share your favorites with me, either here or via email or on facebook. (Audience participation time!).

Also, I did a little research on making this little blog a source of income in the months and months ahead with little income and no health insurance. Basically, you need to have about 500 followers and 100,000 hits a month to get the big ad companies interested. I'm still a long way from that but if you find my blog entertaining or interesting, would you share my link and encourage people to follow me? I'd be happy if I could be self-supporting. Are there topics you would like me to blog about? I want to play to my audience *wink*.

Anyways... better post this before the cat walks across the keyboard again. Happy Friday, y'all. My Yabba Dabba came on Wednesday afternoon but I'm still happy for you 9 to Fivers! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Random A.D.D. Tuesday

Went to sleep late. Woke up early.

Arthritis really bothering my hands today. This is somewhat new for me and so, so frustrating. Numbness and pain at the same time. My fingers are so swollen it feels like they're going to burst out of the skin.

Not working today. I'm on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule that suits my situation well. I know y'all are tired of hearing this but I love my job. I love the way they accommodate people with all sorts of situations. And I love that sweet Miss Carol is making a birthday cake for me for next week. She asked what I wanted and I told her I loved her truffles that she gave me for Christmas and Valentine's Day. She said that was hard to make for the whole office so I told her I would be happy with a coconut cake or rhubarb pie. Coconut cake it is! I can't wait!

Yesterday we celebrated Donna's birthday with german chocolate cake. I ate my slice on the way home yesterday - not easy to drive and eat cake but I managed and it was so. good!

Haven't contacted the disability lawyer yet. On my to-do list for today but it makes me really anxious.

Have to run to the Pharm today to pick up and drop off. They knew me without me having to give my name on Sunday. Not sure if that's a good thing. I'm a bit of a minority here in Riverdale so I guess they don't have a lot of frequent fliers of my race. "Here comes that crazy white lady with cat fur all over her again." It strikes me that if I spent more time on the farm I would need less time at the pharm. The more I'm in the mountains, the better I can concentrate on that.

Trying to time it to go before my grandpuppy Sammy comes over for Doggie Daycare today. He's so depressed that the other dogs aren't here. I put him in the crate when I went to work yesterday and when I got home Pop had just gotten here. I asked if he had let Sammy out... he didn't even know Sammy was there and Sammy - who normally has this ear-piercing sharp bark when he's excited - didn't make a peep. Bless his heart. I do love my grandpuppy. He has just started cuddling me - he randomly comes up to me and lays his head on my shoulder - and I give him a little hug back and then he's down and back off to Tigger bounce his way through the house. He won't go out to potty without the other dogs and I fear that he's found himself a little wee-wee place somewhere indoor but I haven't seen a puddle anywhere.

I made one pot spaghetti last night. That process fascinates me and makes me wonder why I didn't think of it sooner. You just brown your ground beef, drain grease, add sauce, water and chicken broth. I know, chicken broth? Trust me, it's yummy. Once the sauce is boiling, you add the noodles and cook until the noodles are tender. I thought it was genius until Austin said, "you mean like making Hamburger Helper". Oh yeah. That's right. Same process.

I'm concerned with being a good steward of the money from my tax return. I need a nest egg to carry me through if there is a period of time with no income or medical expenses. I'm not good at asking for help even though the people in my life are very good at giving it.

I'm also trying to address all the foreseeable needs and that leads me to consider putting my little kitchenette in the basement. Mostly I just need to have the plumbing set up for a little sink, a microwave and a mini-fridge and some sort of cabinetry. I would just do a little cabinet and counter where the sink is and then maybe put some shelves above the counter to neatly stack dishes. Ideally we would have flooring that is more conducive to meals than my beautiful carpet (which I fear will be less so the longer that Austin makes my Whine Cellar his Love Nest) but really, for the time being, a little area rug could serve the same purpose without as much renovation involved. I think if I'm frugal, I can do this for less than a thousand dollars, the greatest expense likely to be the plumbing. The spot where we want to put the kitchenette is directly below the kitchen on the main floor so there's not a huge amount of plumbing but still...

As far as Austin and his roommate go... we have a lot of work ahead to transform them from teenagers to good tenants and neighbors. When we got to the house last Thursday, granted, unexpected, there were clean clothes in the dining area... dirty clothes in the pantry... both sides of the sink overflowing with dirty dishes... counters that were not wiped down... dishes in their bedroom... a little blind doggie that is not being adequately supervised... and the downstairs utility room has been converted to a smoking lounge. I feel like I spent my three days there "coaching" (nagging) about these things by saying little things like, "mawmaw really likes a clean kitchen... please clean it right after you finish eating" and "I would prefer not to see a bra in the dining room" and "the basement is your little apartment... please try not to leave a footprint upstairs"... "we don't appreciate finding dirty socks in the upstairs powder room or on the screened in porch".

Her mother wants to give her a puppy for her birthday. A puppy. On my beautiful new carpet and Grandma's gorgeous Tiffany blue rugs. I encouraged them to consult their "Landlord" before bringing a new puppy home. They called Pop while he was on the golf course. You could get Pop to agree to donating both kidneys while he's on the golf course. He'll agree to ANYTHING. At any rate... some of these things are due to age and not having clear boundaries... and some are just a lack of consideration. My parents worked hard to be able to have this house and I'll be danged if those kids are going to disrespect that, even if it causes tension between me and them. I'm ok with being the bad cop. We love Lulu and want to be able to give her a stable home environment, something she has not had much in her life. And I so greatly appreciate how kind she is to Austin. AND you all know how desperately I want to know that he is safe and sound. But there are limits.

I guess that was not so much random and more of a rant. I apologize. Just still fresh on my mind.

And ultimately, I think the kitchenette will need to wait. The idea is for me to be set up to not have to climb stairs much and to prepare for when I'm no longer able to climb stairs.

Mom is still at the mountain house. I believe she is homesick as this is the longest time (I think) that she has ever been away from this little house in Riverdale and the longest she has been away from Pop. He is going up there today after work and will commute from there in the morning so hopefully that will help. The homeowners association is having a work day on Saturday and they (mama and the dogs) will all come back to the 'dale after that.

I'm starting my new muscle relaxer today, baclofen. This is most commonly given to people with multiple sclerosis which makes me feel like it's more hard core than the flexeril I've been on for the past two years. Dr. Matt says it's less sedating but drugs.com says the side effects include drowsiness AND insomnia. I'm going to take it during the day today while I'm alone with no real responsibilities except letting Sammy out (which he won't do) and no real requirement to interact with anyone except my daughter-in-law. I'm still feeling a little drowsy from my meds last night - which is weird because I didn't take the ambien last night so you would think I would feel MORE awake. Again... I need more farm and less pharm in my life. So once that drowsiness wears off, I'm doping up.

So it's drug testing and nesting for me today. Hope y'all have a much more exciting Tuesday ahead of you! Love and hugs!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reasons To Love Monday

Little Kitty decided that even though I don't go to work until 11am today, I needed to be up and at 'em at 7am. Ugh. So here I am. Awake. I'm conscious of the fact that I've been slacking on the whole "Reasons To Love Monday" thing and since it's super duper quiet here minus Mama and the dogs, I may be able to complete a blog entry without my train of thought derailing. Here goes:

1. Though he can be annoying, I love having a sweet Little Trouble Kitty who is so - well, human. He's a great little companion and I would be lost without him. Mama's attached to him, too. She wanted me to leave him at the mountain house with her this week. No dice! He's my baby!

2. I watched a great show yesterday, "Alone In The Wilderness" and it really resonated with me. This guy retires in his early fifties and goes out into the Alaskan wilderness and builds a cabin and lives there for the next thirty years. His woodworking was amazing... he would say, "and now we need to build a lock for the door... no metal available so I'll whittle something up..." and he did. He was like this crazy wilderness MacGyver! But the best part was the animal sounds you could hear in the background. The cats were obsessed. They laid side by side at the end of my bed staring at the tv. They looked like two little kids sucked into their favorite show. It was so cute that I'm willing to allow you to see the corner of shame in my room where all kinds of random things wind up.




(Stubby was busy grooming his stub when I snapped the photo so you'll have to take my word for it that he was watching too)

3. My lame obsession on Monday nights is C-SPAN History channel. They're doing a series of lectures on the First Ladies and they bring in different historians who have researched each one and ... I greatly enjoy it.

4. My tax return has processed and is expected in my bank account this week which is about a week and a half sooner than I expected and will allow me to get the rest of the medicine that I was not sure I would be able to afford until the end of the month. It's not like I can go on a spending spree - I'm doing sensible things like paying off my balance at my doctors office and getting new tires and getting this thing fixed in my car that I've been putting off. No room for fun money at all although I will admit that I did do a little airline surfing yesterday imagining an agenda that takes me to see all the folks I love and miss... and then I did a little surfing about the historical sites that I'd like to see...and honestly, I likely won't do any of that. My relatively peaceful, restful, uneventful trip to the mountains drained my strength last weekend and took all day yesterday to recover. I can't imagine navigating an airport and having any sort of enjoyable visit anywhere. So I put that whole idea out of my head.

5. Today I have 11 Facebook friends with birthdays. I have a co-worker with a birthday, a former teacher, a couple of former school mates, my fourth son Joshy, a girl I used to go to church with, Baby Dessa's Mama... lots of folks. It's absolutely insane the number of people in my life who are born in April. I wonder if I subconsciously am drawn to people who are astrologically connected. (not that I really buy into all of that, just curious).

6. My birthday is in ONE SHORT WEEK! I'm not ashamed to own up to the fact that I will be 45 because in my mind there is no way I could possibly be 45! It almost feels like an out of body thing. When I was young I dreaded this age - this whole middle age downward slide - but I just feel so comfortable in my skin. I like who I am at almost 45 much more than I liked me at 25. Even though my abilities are declining, I am so very much enjoying watching who my friends have grown to be at this point of our lives... they make such awesome grandmas... they take fabulous vacations and have beautiful homes and do amazing things. They have purses designed in their honor-and don't think I didn't flirt with the idea of buying a Beth Bag even though it is way,way,way too expensive for me. I'm just so proud of my home girl! I'm not fluent in converting pounds to dollars but the cheapest one is 900 pounds which, unless that converts down to about $9 US, it would be too indulgent of a purchase for me. Pictures snagged without permission.Sweet Beth is on the left in the bottom photo.



7. Last Monday was such a tragic day in Boston. Then there was that devastating explosion in Texas. And then flooding all up in the Midwest. Lots of people whose lives have been interrupted in the past week. It's a new week and I pray that it's a very boring news week. Lord have mercy on us.

8. Little Kitty is convinced that we are about to leave for another trip to the mountains at any moment. He insists on keeping his "go-bag" in sight at all times. Pop and Cody loaded some things in Pop's car last night and although he doesn't always voluntarily climb into it, Kitty was GLUED to his bag. He doesn't want to be left behind.



(dontcha love the blue tape on the carpet?)

9. Every time I see the video of Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park, my heart swells three sizes too large.

10. Reese Witherspoon arrested for disorderly conduct... what is this world coming to? It's not a Reasons to LOVE Monday but it does provide some...snarky interest... for me. My prediction: this new hubby who got popped for DUI that made Reese go all haughty on the cop, this hubby is not long for her world. Once a man starts dragging you down to the point of acting a fool, it's time to let him go. Not that I believe that marriages are disposable but... if you're routinely dealing with a drunk, your behavior will be out of line with your normal character. That's all I'm sayin'. God bless her.

11. I found out yesterday that a sweet lady that used to regularly employ me to babysit her son (who is now 30. Yes, I'm old) found my blog awhile back and has been reading! I'm telling you... this was the best babysitting gig ever because they would feed me before they left... whether it was taking me to dinner or ordering a pizza or whatever.. they made sure I was all set. I'll be honest: I wasn't a fan of babysitting and once I had my little laundrymat job, I stopped accepting babysitting jobs but not for these folks. They also have the distinction of being the people who introduced me to Sonny's BBQ which has brought me hours and pounds of enjoyment over the years. This is what makes blogging so rewarding for me... connecting with other people on a level that we rarely have the opportunity to do in real life, especially if you rarely leave the house, like me. I'm so honored that anyone is interested at all in coming here with any regularity and reading what I have to say because I know that about 90% of the time that it's just a bunch of whining nonsense. I'm glad so many real life friends and family read here... and I'm glad that those of you who never met me read here.

12. I'm working 11-2 today. Short day but likely still painful. I'm grateful for every moment that I can go and do and be gainfully employed and relatively productive.

SO there you go... lots and lots of Reasons To Love Monday... I hope you have a few of your own and it would make my day if you would share them with me! Happy Monday y'all.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Catching Up

I would provide you with your usual photographic journal in lieu of recap of a week of missed blog entries (ok, it's been five days, not a week, is it a surprise to anyone who has ever met me in real life or has read my blog for more than a hot minute that I exaggerate? I didn't think so.) but the only photos I have to show for the past few days is an out of focus sunset and a picture of the cone behind the Dish truck parked in the driveway at the mountain house.

Ok. You twisted my arm. Here you go:



Maybe I had that backwards. It's an out of focus photo of the DISH Network truck and a decent photo of the sun sort of halfway setting. It would be an exaggeration to say that it was a sunset but you can tell it's going to happen soon.

I took the photo of the DISH truck because a) we finally got satellite tv at the mountain house! and b) do they really have to put a cone to warn - nobody - in our driveway at the bottom of a hill that you can't even see from the private road that is off the dead end that is off another dead end off of a road that even at the highest peak of tourist season is still not so busy that you ever worry about traffic that their truck is there? That DISH truck hasn't had less of a risk since it was in the assembly plant. Furthermore... the cone was between the truck and the house. 

Anyways. Neither of those really captures my life over the past week but, then again, they do. My life is that boring. I mean, relaxing. *wink* 

On my drive home today, one hundred blissful miles of me alone in the car with my thoughts and a very quiet cat, I thought of a really great blog entry or four. Those all quickly dissipated nine miles away from home when some caravan of losers decided to foul up traffic by using their hazard lights to indicate that they were together - that, and the fact that they were driving ten miles under the speed limit and not allowing traffic to get in between them in the few miles of interstate where you have the option to exit for the airport. If you're not from Atlanta you will never understand this - ok, maybe if you're a licensed driver from anywhere other than Hooterville (or anywhere with paved roads) you would understand why it would create a problem on a major interstate just south of a major city to play follow the leader blocking traffic in a lane that people HAVE to transverse to get from the two left lanes to the exits for a major metropolitan airport. It's 2013, people. Use your GPS  to get there and your cell phone to find your buddies. There was a brief moment where I was certain a guy in a Fresh Express truck was going to bust up their caravan by landing a few of them in the Grady Memorial Trauma Unit. (which you won't get if you're not from Atlanta).

See? Six hours later and I still can't stop thinking about it. For the record, I would have testified on behalf of the Fresh Express truck. 

However, we all know that this week has been about more than my road rage. (By the way, Purple Michael does a really funny impression of me singing along to Contemporary Christian radio with road rage... "Jesus loves you... YOU DUMB %$#"  but funnier when he does it.)  This week people, normal, average Americans were interrupted from exercising their hard won freedoms by two young men who hate Americans for being... well, American. I've watched about a gazillion uninterrupted hours of FoxNews (thanks to Mr. DISH!) and shed a tear or two watching other people shed a tear or two. I think I got the most emotional watching Neil Diamond lead the crowd in "Sweet Caroline" today because... more than anything else, I get sports. (And if you've never really understood the Sweet Caroline thing, or any of the Boston Red Sox traditions, you should watch the movie Fever Pitch with Jimmie Fallon and Drew Barrymore - really, really sweet movie!) And I can't help but think... two brothers aged 26 and 19 would be like my Ryan and Austin. I can't wrap my mind around the two of them planning and executing such a horrible crime against humanity. Because they wouldn't. And if they did, they would never be caught. Because never in the 26 years I've been a mother have any of my kids ever owned up to anything they have done.

Anyways... my three chores for my trip to the mountains were to renew my car tag, renew my drivers license and to see the pain doctor. These cost $65.45, $20 and $115 respectively and took ten minutes, HALF OF MY BORN DAYS and half an hour. The first was super easy. The second was the most painful thing I've done since UNMEDICATED CHILDBIRTH. The third was ... productive, I guess. 

I had a lot of witty things to share with you about the DMV, most of which I've long since forgotten but you should know that I wanted to stand up and yell, "BINGO" when they called my number but I was halfway afraid that it would make me go to the back of the line and that was an hour and a half I didn't want to relive.

At the pain doctor we discussed the burns to my back from the heating pad. He has encouraged me not to use it ever, ever, ever again because, as it turns out, people with nerve damage shouldn't use heating pads. He thinks, based on the scarring, that I had a huge (heating pad sized) second degree burn. Any wonder I've felt like poo the past two months? He encouraged me to use the TENS unit instead. That's like an electronic device for shocking the muscles and he reviewed with me the best way to use it. And he changed my muscle relaxer so I'm not dealing with the muscle spasms that I get when I'm away from the heating pad for more than an hour. And he said, again, time to hang up the cleats, which, if you're not sports minded, is another way of saying he encouraged me to quit working. He was glad that I've drastically reduced my hours (I'm not, being broke sucks especially when you have to renew your tag and your drivers license and pay the doctor, but of course being in pain sucks worse) but said when we think about "quality of life" that I will be better off once I'm past the disability process. He recommended that I obtain a lawyer at the start because almost everyone gets denied the first attempt and with an attorney things happen faster and often will get approved the first go-round. He listed for me the diagnosis' covered in my records with them and he said several of them by themselves would qualify me... so there's that... it still makes me anxious but at least validates my pain, if that makes sense.

Otherwise... the only other thing I wanted to be sure to blog about was to let you guys know that google reader is going away soon so if that's the way you keep up with my blog... and you want to continue to know when I've blogged, rather than having to just check back... that you will either want to friend me on facebook (if you haven't already) or there is a place you can sign up to get email updates when I blog... on the left of the page. Let me know if neither of those is working for you. If you care one way or another. If I might not recognize your name in a Facebook friend request, would you leave me a comment here or email me at heathernancine@gmail.com to let me know to watch for it? 

So that's it. Except for one more thing. I've previously mentioned a friend that is without transportation. Her situation has become exacerbated in the past week and ... picture it this way, picture me, with three kids still at home, no car, no income, no family support and having to walk everywhere. Her health is just as bad, if not worse, we have a lot of similar medical issues. And she has nobody. So if you would, please remember her in prayer. Something has to get better for her. 

That's it. Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Unwritten Blog Post

Have you ever had something on your mind that you don't put into words?

Sometimes it's just something unkind or unnecessary to say - I used to always train my kids by saying, "fat people know they're fat, ugly people know they're ugly, smelly people know they smell - there's no need to say it in front of them".

I also used to train my kids to not blurt out everything that comes to mind by saying, "we can discuss anything you want when it's just us but there are some things we can't say in front of other people". In the privacy of our car or at the dinner table (which we never really used - it was more of a dinner living room) any subject could be discussed (and with three boys, trust me, I've heard it all!) BUT NOT in the middle of the sanctuary in the middle of Sunday Morning Worship Service at All-Holy Saints Baptist Church (not a real church, but that really happened).

We all have skeletons in our closet. My closet is stacked to the ceiling and pushing against the door with stuff I would never discuss in public, on the internet or with any other human being. Ever. So don't ask. If you don't already know from having lived through it with me, we sure as heck ain't talkin' about it now. I've made some bad choices and lived through them and have, by the Grace of God, put the consequences in the rear view mirror.

As my back has progressively gotten worse and my mobility has decreased more and more, I've had to dig deeper and deeper to be positive and optimistic and grateful. Having been raised in the Bible Belt among a family of faith, my answer for every problem is the Almighty. Pollyanna Protestant, always knowing that God had a plan.

When my first husband got lost in alcoholism and stopped coming home and then eventually left.
When he avoided child support over and over again.
When my boss told me to choose between my children and my job and I walked out the door without another word.
When the man that I loved married someone else.
When I struggled with raising three kids alone in a double-wide trailer and never enough money.
When my youngest began showing symptoms and then was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
When the car quit working.
When I was in a wreck in my brand new car.
When Cody drove the recently repaired car into the house.
When our car was vandalized in our driveway. Twice.
When I fell in love again with someone who wanted to keep our relationship on the "down low".
When I met Prince Charming who turned out not to be.
When I moved three times chasing the "stability" he promised.
When I ended up neglected and abused and discouraged.
When I had to rebuild my life from the ground up, without a job or a home or even a bed to sleep in.
When I spent Christmas alone.
When I spent New Year's alone.
When I spent Valentine's Day alone.
When my son got out of control.
When I became smitten again. And again, things didn't work out.
When my house caught on fire and we had to move. Again.
When my back pain started. And continued. And got worse.
When I accepted the fact that I will probably always be single.
When the prognosis for my back was (is) discouraging.
When I lost my job.
When I again was about to be homeless.
When I had to leave my kid behind.
When I lost my health insurance.

And I can't say any of those statements without following up with the solution that God delivered. Always. Over and over again... cars got repaired, children fell into line, we always had a roof over our heads. Someone brought home grown tomatoes from their garden when I was facing a weekend without groceries. People were generous to me beyond what you could ever imagine and certainly beyond what I deserved. Sometimes the answer was no. Sometimes the answer was having peace in the midst of a storm.

But the unspoken whisper in my head for the past year has been, "what if He isn't real?" What if all these divine coincidences are just a glimpse of human kindness that has nothing to do with a Creator? What if the intelligent atheists I know are right? What if the foundation I built my life on - faith - crumbles, just like the spine that is supposed to hold me up and isn't.

And this has been an Unwritten Blog Entry because I'm SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE. As Christians we identify ourselves as "Believers". I'm not supposed to ever have doubt, right? I mean... if there is a hell, isn't that punching a one-way ticket there if you have even the slightest doubt ever?

There is evidence of answered prayer coloring every single step of my life. For every misstep and hardship, heartbreak and frustration, every. single. thing. was answered with a blessing. Even the things that were unchanged. Just in the past month I've had two friends that I have prayed for FOR YEARS that they would find a marriage partner because I knew that  was the desire of their hearts... two friends found two spouses and married just in the past month! How does that happen?  I see the evidence of a Force that is Greater all around me... even in the branch of wisteria that my mom brought in so that we could enjoy the aroma even when we don't feel like going out... in the sunsets and mountains and oceans... I've always felt a Power that is greater than anything man could do.

The thing is... pain is an island... even when you can see what's happening on the "Mainland" (thank you, internet)... you know that you don't have a boat sturdy enough to make it to shore. My heart overflows with joy looking at the celebrations - the birthday parties and the prom pictures and the wedding pictures and the vacation pictures and the blog entries and the facebook updates - they mean the world to me! But when I leave my island, I sink to the bottom like there is an anchor around my neck. The hours at work get shorter, the reasons for leaving the house get fewer, the ability to do things diminishes and even going out to eat - something I've always LOVED to do - becomes too painful to enjoy. The places where I've always FELT the presence of God - nature, church, bible study, in the presence of cherished friends and loved ones - those places are far too often beyond my reach.

And to be honest, I feel an enormous amount of guilt for not having the intestinal fortitude to "gut it out" and go to church, even when it hurts. There are martyrs all over the world who do anything it takes to be able to worship, people who risk their lives everyday for the Gospel of Christ. My sister-in-law tells a story about a woman in Kenya who for some reason was unable to walk and so she CRAWLED several miles to get to church, wearing those cheap one dollar Old Navy flipflops (not sure they were Old Navy, but you get the picture) on her hands to protect them. I mean, what is my pain relative to that?

The truth is that when I do "gut it out" whether it be by going out to eat or going to work or going to the grocery store or whatever, I am so distracted by the pain that I am not me. In other words, the person who leaves the island is not the same person who used to walk among you. I feel like my IQ drops off by fifty points (making me average... LOL!). Every smile feels forced. Every statement of faith feels hollow. I may still believe that God has a plan but let me tell you, I'm not a fan of the plan.

The isolation of this Island of Pain means that other than via the internet, my interaction with others is greatly diminished and just like there are friends that I haven't seen in a long time, at times it's hard to feel the presence of God on this island. And then, like yesterday, I have that yearning for His presence and I hear a song on the radio that reminds me that He is always with us and never leaves us and no matter what we are going through. He. Is. Here.

And so, although my Evangelical Christian upbringing makes me want to never, ever, ever, say anything at all about doubting that God exists, doubting His presence, doubting His goodness or mercy or grace, I know that there is somebody out there who feels this too... In my mind, my greatest character trait is transparency. (Not to be confused with complete disclosure because those skeletons are staying put!) I know this because in the times that I write these brutally honest posts, I get a dozen "me too's" from y'all. I just know that there's someone out there afraid to say that they are not Job and they don't understand why they're suffering and if this is what He has to offer, they aren't interesting in joining the club.

Because *if* there's a God, how could He allow things to happen like what happened yesterday in Boston?

And *if* there's a God, how could He allow ME, His child, who has believed in Him all of her life, to hurt this bad and lose so much and be here alone on this Island of Pain?

Because I'm not alone.

I look around from time to time and realize that I'm not alone on this island. There are a lot of people in similar/worse circumstances who have the same unspoken questions and who need reassurance that He is here with us. I am the spokesperson for this Island. And He is strong enough to allow us to ask those questions. His love is greater than our doubts. When you seek Him, you will find Him. Here.

And so the unwritten blog post is written.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Time Passing

Confession: I read a lot of young mommy blogs. I don't know why, exactly. I guess it's being able to witness that transformation from non-mommy to mommy. For me, that was the moment that I really understood what love is: when they put that first boy in my arms 26+ years ago and he blinked hard and studied the room with his always present curiousity. I always tell expectant mothers that it will be magical, that moment. I remember so clearly that first pre-school program when my heart was so full of pride that my little man could learn and perform and be a part of something other than our little family. I cried so hard the videotape shakes with my hiccups of tears. Watching these precious moments in the lives of others brings me much joy.

I'm not sure if that means that I'm living in the past. I do love history and genealogy and antiques and old people. My favorite part of my job is when I meet with old people, especially old people who have lived their entire lives in the same place. They become living history books for me. Come to think of it, I also enjoy old people who have moved around a lot and have diverse knowledge and experience of many places. Maybe I just really love old people period. I fully believe that there will be a point in my life when I look back to these days as "the good old days" just like now I look back on those young mommy years that were so, so difficult at the time.

I should also confess that I finally filed my taxes today. Although I will receive a substantial refund, I suspect that much of it will go to debts and living expenses as my hours have been drastically reduced out of necessity. How blessed am I to have an office manager who works very hard to make sure that I can make a little money with as little pain as possible? I appreciate it and still I mourn the loss of ability and mobility. I can't say that it's been a dramatic change, this reduction in hours, in that I have accepted things stoically without having the emotional breakdown that I thought this would bring. It's as if I prepared myself, I've already cried all the tears I'm going to cry about this premature decline in ability. I just try to focus on gratitude for the roof over my head and the food in my belly and a place to clean my pajamas (that I seem to live in lately) and cable tv. I'm disappointed but I'm not devastated and that tax return will surely help so the timing, although it seems to have been procrastinated, is truly, just right.

I finally located my Georgia Peach Pass which allows me to use the special designated lanes on I-85 in Atlanta for a small fee. I rarely, hardly ever find myself in traffic in Atlanta but I had prepaid for this some years ago and have a balance of about $30 that I wanted to be able to use. I really only drive through town on the way to the mountain house and I try to time my trips to avoid traffic but in Atlanta, its impossible to one hundred percent guarantee missing traffic. It is a safety net of sorts, this "get out of traffic free" (or for a small fee) pass as time behind the wheel greatly aggravates my piriformis syndrome.  I try to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. One hundred miles exactly from driveway to driveway - mountain house to Riverdale house. Sometimes as little as an hour and fifteen on the clock. Sometimes way longer.

I have been living very frugally lately, as frugal as possible. My last decent paycheck mainly went to getting Austin and Lulu settled and comfortable at the mountain house. I haven't been working much so I haven't been having my workday stops for a little java on the way to work or a little lunch on the way home. I ran out of hershey's kisses with almonds and have intentionally not bought more because I'm so terribly addicted to them. I have to detox from sugar because although my weight has stayed steady for the past year, I am still terribly overweight which is not good for my back at all. When you are in a lot of pain you tend to just eat whatever is handy and my candy jar is far too handy. I have filled it with cough drops and chapstick and random little treasures instead of candy, hopefully as a deterrent. This has been true for the past two days and I'm hoping I can hold strong. My name is Heather and I'm a sugar-holic.

The weather is warming up here in Georgia and although I love the lush green and the beautiful colors and the sweet, sweet smell of wisteria blooming, I so very much dread the heat of Summer. It gets too hot too soon here. Since I'm in the addition to the house - a converted carport - my cooling system is a window unit and it's noisy and irritating. It's either too hot or too cold all the time. At the mountain house I'm in the basement and it's deliciously cool and comfortable even on hot days. I look forward to spending more time there this Summer.

The mountain house is slowly becoming less of a weekend place and more of a home with the addition of a washer and dryer and the soon to be added satellite tv. We've been entertaining ourselves via the Roku that allows you to stream internet to tv - such as Netflix - but that's more labor intensive than we would like. On one hand I look forward to being back to the mountains full time but on the other I will miss my Cody so very much that I can't imagine being away from him again. I love his little visits after work and so does Trouble kitty who rarely meows but always does when he wants Cody's attention. He loves Cody so much that he will sit in the windows on the side of the house that faces Cody's house and watch for him. But the mountain house has my Auggie who has shared my life longer than any other human being and I miss him terribly when I am away from him. And then there's the job that I love and the co-workers that are the kindest that I have ever had that makes me not want to pick the mountain life over the "mean streets" of Riverdale. (When you go out as rarely as I do, the crime rate is of little relevance, although I suppose someone could break in at any time, but that could happen anywhere.)

Either place, this is a season of transition for me. But... ultimately aren't we always in some sort of transition or another? I spend hours and hours and hours tucked into my nest, doing my best to avoid pain. Although in many ways it feels like time is standing still, I know that the sands are quickly dripping through the hourglass, even when the view doesn't change.

My Uncle Charles is still in the hospital recovering from his surgery for esophageal cancer. It has been many, many weeks there and he will transfer from hospital to rehabilitation before going home. This is that sand through the hourglass thing that I talked about, seeing family members and loved ones who are suffering from illness and for whom mortality has become all too apparent. It's surreal to realize these people who have been in my life, all of my life, are approaching a time when they no longer will be. Even though hours spent in the hospital go slowly, life seems to have flown by. There is a sweet family that I came to know through theatre whose father has been in the hospital and then rehab for many, many months. They have spent so many hours tending to his needs, hours in places they would rather not be trying to get him healthy enough to return home, just like Uncle Charles.

So, anyways... I'm watching C-Span3 and then The Masters today. Laundry is done and put away. Cats are napping. A soft Spring rain is falling. And that is all I have to say today. Love and hugs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Day in the Life of A Couch Potato

Here's what my Tuesday looked like... 

Shows I watched:
Fox and Friends
19 Kids and Counting
Biography - Leonardo DiVinci
Make Room For Multiples
In Session - Jodi Arias Trial recap from yesterday
Maternity Ward
a few episodes of Infamous Murder
How I Met Your Mother
HLN - Jodi Arias Trial with a gazillion commercials
The Five
Jane Velez-Mitchell
The Big Bang Theory
Nancy Grace
19 Kids and Counting
Dr. Drew
Preacher's Daughter (this show is hilarious and it's not a comedy!)
Showbiz Tonight


Shows I couldn't bear to watch:
True Hollywood Story - Snookie
I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant (because that's just stupid)
MSNBC - ever.
The 700 Club
Home Shopping
Infomercials
Live From The Masters on the Golf Channel

Things I Ate:
Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Bar
a handful or two of Hershey's Kisses with almonds
leftover Poppy Seed Chicken over Rice
Starburst Jelly Beans
Grilled steak (that I shared with two dogs and a cat)
Green beans
creamed corn
half a pear

Things I Drank:
Coffee
Crystal Light Pink Lemonade

What I Wore:
Blue and purple plaid pj pants that are about twenty years old
Long sleeve hot pink tshirt
Short sleeve navy blue baggy tshirt
Hair in side ponytail/braid
No makeup
No socks or shoes (because they make Oscar think I'm leaving him)
All day.

What I Did:
Took care of the furbabies while mom went to the doctor to have her foot checked out after she dropped a board on it yesterday.
Played internet games
Watched a lot of tv
Read my favorite snark website
Blogged
Caught up on my favorite blogs
Took my highest tolerable dose of pain meds so that I could have a break from pain for a few hours
Browsed Pinterest
Checked out curbed.com - it's a real estate website but not a sales site, it gives a lot of inside details on homes for sale, lots of design photos and a lot of great history.
Broke up a fight between Trouble Kitty and Eddie Cat.
Turned on the ceiling fan to offset the heat of the heating pad and warmth of Oscar snuggled up in the nest beside me.
Regretted taking the highest tolerable dose of pain meds because of how dizzy and out of sorts it makes me.
Responded to a facebook message from a blog reader
Checked Amazon.com to see when my nieces stamp pads were to be delivered - found out they were delivered last Saturday!
Studied up on Mad Men on Wikipedia. Any time I start watching a new show I like to get the background info. I'm just a tv addict that way.
Fed leftovers to the dogs
Coached my granddoggie to agree that I'm his favorite grandma
Visited with Cody and Marquee
Shared a photo album of pictures from The Masters with my dad
Laid down trying to get the dizziness and nausea to go away
Went to sleep

How I Felt:
Sleepy / Groggy because of meds
Pain in mid spine
Pressure in lower spine (where the bulging discs are)
Muscle spasms in lower left side of back
Nerve pain (piriformis syndrome) in my right butt cheek
Sharp pains in lower left abdomen
Arthritic pain in right wrist, fingers on both hands and feet
Numbness in left leg
A few blissful moments without pain
Stinging pain/itching in the patches of burst blisters on my back that are scabbed up and healing
A bit too warm at times
Earache in my right ear
Sorry for mom with her poor bruised (and hopefully not broken) foot
Dizzy
Headachey
Itchy all over (this happens after I take the "strong" meds)
And then as the meds wore off and the pain returned...
Miserable
Frustrated
Exhausted
Swollen
Defeated
Sleepy but unable to sleep
Overwhelmed
Nauseated and even more dizzy
Short of breath

Random Things That Crossed My Mind:
If it's true that all teacup breeds of dogs are unhealthy.
If it's possible to take a nap while supervising seven animals.
Did Oscar go poop somewhere in the house while my mom was gone to the doctor?
When will Zynga get the Castleville gifting glitch worked out?
If dogs really enjoy my singing or interpret it as some sort of off-key howl.
It really bothers me when things that are sold on tv for "four easy payments of.. " because I worry that people will be confused and think the price is one payment.
It also bothers me when they say things are only available on tv and I know I've seen them at Walmart.
How will I manage the rest of my life at this level of ability or less?
Why is my son planting so many varieties of peppers in his garden?
How did they do in the Kiwanis Talent Show? (Jamie took second place in her division)
Why am I so dizzy?

Today is a work day so it won't be as excited (!) (?) as the day described here. That is... if I can drag my dizzy, nauseated, aching self into the shower and manage to pull it together. I have to leave in an hour and twenty minutes and am still too dizzy to drive. Not sure if it is from the pain meds yesterday or what my deal is. I would say, "never a dull moment" but... you see the list... my life is nothing BUT dull moments!

Happy Wednesday, y'all!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reasons I Didn't Share Reasons to Love Monday Yesterday

I had a few Reasons to Love Monday that I meant to share yesterday...
but then I fell back asleep until 8am since I am now more of a night owl and can sleep late. Not teenager late but much, much later than I used to.
And then it was time to get a shower and get ready for work.
And then it was time to go to work.
And then I was super busy but not as busy as some days so I got to chat with my sister-in-law's mother - it was insurance related but still very good to hear how well she's doing.
And then I got home and was wiped out so I took a nap.
And then I was grumpy because a dog woke me up from my nap.
And then I watched the Jodi Arias trial.
And then I ate cheetos so my fingers were too orange to type.
And then my granddoggie wanted to sit with me for a split second (he has ADD).
And then my middle son stopped by to pick up his doggie.
And then my oldest called for a little chat.
And then Pop brought me my dinner and I went into guard my plate from dogs mode.
And then I wanted to catch up on my online games.
And then the CSPAN History channel series on First Ladies came on - this time on Sarah Polk and the two that followed her whose names escape me at the moment.
And then my night meds kicked in and I was drowsy and I'm afraid of drowsy blogging so I went to bed.
And then I watched the Kardashians on Chelsey Handler's show which was the depths of depravity.
And then I tossed and turned and saw every hour on the clock because of the pain. Some nights are like that.
And now I realize that all those things above, most of them anyways, are Reasons to Love Monday.

So now it's Tuesday and I'm off today. This week I'm working Monday, Wednesday and Friday which suits me fine.
I'm in a stinkin' ugly amount of pain today, which I mention just for the sake of record keeping. Hot, cramping pain on my left side, muscle spasms in my lower back, a little bit of burning from the heating pad which I'm stubbornly using this morning because the muscle spasms hurt worse than the recovering burns. That's just how it works.

I very much am loving this photo from Sunday from my friend Natalie's wedding. As I've mentioned before, Natalie's first husband suffered from bipolar disorder and tragically committed suicide several years ago. He was my brother's best friend. You can find out more about sweet Natalie at her blog site www.natalieflake.com . The Lord has greatly blessed Natalie, all these years later with a Godly man, Jeff, who I haven't met but who seems to have won the hearts of those who love Natalie and, more importantly, Natalie herself. That's my big brother performing the ceremony and he doesn't take that responsibility lightly. He won't marry a couple who hasn't gone through counseling with him. And that's my sweet bonus niece, Jorjanne, to the left of the photo looking very, very grown up. I love her like she's my own.
And how much do I love my brother's smirk in this photo? He had a marathon day on Sunday. Our Pastor's mother died Saturday so Bubba had to preach in his place and then perform Natalie and Jeff's ceremony. He is a worker bee so he took it all in stride. He used to be the shy one of us and I used to speak up for him in the same way that Jamie used to speak up for Sarabeth although lately, Sarabeth has found her voice.

Keep my girls, all three, Sarabeth, Jamie and Jorjanne in your prayers this evening as they perform in the Kiwanis Talent Show. Soooo very much wish I had the "get up and go" to be able to stand the quick round trip to the mountains and sitting through two hours or more of Talent Show. I can't but I know there will be someone out there who posts videos and/or photos of my little super stars. Thank you Facebook friends for enabling me to see things I would never otherwise see and go places I am unable to go. I brings me more joy than I can tell you. Here are a few more photos that warmed my heart from Sunday's ceremony. (I am using these photos without permission but hoping it's ok to share with you.... )

Compare this sweet girl with the photo on the left border of my blog. She's grown so much... and she's grown so lovely!

















I have known Natalie for many, many years and have never seen her smile so bright. That, my friends, is proof that God can bring healing to our hearts and I am greatly encouraged by the miracle He has brought to her life. Her book, Tears to Joy,  is still for sale and you can find a link to purchase it on her website, mentioned above. There are only a few people who have crossed my path over the years who I felt truly modeled the Love of Christ in their lives and she is one of them. She is the one who introduced me to the term, "Singles Awareness Day" for Valentines Day... and I am thrilled that she will no longer be celebrating that bittersweet day. I prayed for her, almost daily, for many, many years that God would bring a life partner into her life and grant her the desires of her heart.

For me, God has changed my mind about the need for a partner and so my prayer has changed accordingly. I have prayed for peace in my heart to accept what He has designed for my life and I truly have it. I no longer have the desire to find a man and I have to tell you, it feels like being released from chains. And honestly, from shame. There is a shame and sadness that comes from being single, feeling alone and rejected and I know some of you have wrestled with that. There is so much peace in knowing that it is ok to be single, if that is what God means for you.

I love how this brings Natalie full circle. And I love the healing that it brings for my brother... who hurt so much for Natalie as her husband Michael struggled with his issues... and who comforted Natalie in her grief when Michael took his life... and who, himself, had to work through the grief of losing his dear friend. For Bubba to be able to stand up there and bless Natalie's next marriage... well, that's a beautiful story if you ask me.

So if you are single, this is my message to you today: Seek God's will for your life. If it is meant to be that you will have someone to share your life with, begin praying for him or her today. Trust God's timing. Don't force a relationship as I did, more than once, accepting less than God intends for you, allowing hardship and heartache to be a part of your life.  Wait. Rest. Know that God is sovereign. Know that God loves us more than we love ourselves and know that He prepares a perfect future for you.

There was a time in my marriage with Michael that a mammogram came back with some questionable results and further testing was necessary. When I poured out my fears to my (then) husband, his response was, "Oh great. I marry a girl and less than a year later I have to deal with breast cancer." He. had. to. deal. Not me. He wasn't concerned about my fears, just his inconvenience. He even called his mother and had her comfort me because he didn't have it in him. Was this God's will for me? Not the loving image of the God I know. In the end, everything came back fine and later I found that he was already involved at that time with someone else.

I have pondered many times over the past few years about how well he would have accepted my real medical crisis' that I have dealt with, knowing that it wasn't in him to share that part of the vows - "in sickness and in health". I am so grateful not to have to carry the burden of guilt for being a burden to him or anyone else. And I have rejected several requests for dates over these past few years knowing that I am not willing to risk that kind of response to any further deterioration in my health. I am not willing to trust that someone else can bear that burden with me. It IS a burden. I AM a drag. I DON'T go far or do much and I would make a terrible life partner now.

And this is why I have peace about my life. I am where I am intended to be for this season in life. That's not to say that God won't change my life or my heart in the future. Happiness is finding peace where you are and I am grateful for the peace He gave me.

Praying that you all have a wonderful Tuesday! Love and hugs!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

This Week

In the past week I've been to the Mountain.

Actually, it was more of a mountain (lower case) and it was not exactly life altering but it was scene changing and that was very good for me.

I took Little Kitty with me and that was good... I miss him when I'm away from him since I am. that. cat. lady. He spent most of the first day under the bed or behind the couch but eventually began to explore and greatly enjoyed going upstairs to the top level of the house which is completely empty except for an air mattress and a shower curtain and he enjoyed the basement which has many, many nooks and crannies to explore. He was, however, terribly afraid of the sliding glass door on the basement level because it makes you feel like you are outside and he's never really been outside. On the last morning he stood beside me, my little shadow, watching the mist rise from the lake and listening to the geese greeting each other. Later, while I was in town, he went out on the front porch with my parents. His little world is expanding! He did much better on the car ride home than he did on the way up because my mom figured out he would be happier at her feet in the front seat than in the back seat between the two big dogs (who kept sitting on top of him, not realizing that inside that soft little pet carrier was a soft little pet).

Austin and his girlfriend, Leanna have moved into the basement there with her little blind dog, Dudley (who I absolutely adore) (I mean the dog but also the girl.)
Snagged photo used without permission.

They're adorable together. She works hard and takes good care of him. Her family life was less than ideal and Austin makes good "family" because he's loyal as all get out and needs to be taken care of. Ultimately, I believe she'll be daughter-in-law number two and I'm ok with that. We enjoy her and are glad she's there. Of course, it meant that I spent a lot of time over the visit to the mountain house giving commandments for them to live by, "don't let the dishes pile up in the sink" "keep your random stuff from the common areas of the house" "don't leave a footprint" "don't dump grease in the kitchen sink" and so on and so on and so on. Austin is supposed to start work this week with a flooring contractor, a worthwhile skill for a young man to have. It's hard work and I'm not sure he'll last long but the money is good and he enjoys money.

I spent way too much money while we were there, especially after only making a tiny little paycheck last payday and with many, many things that need to come out of the next paycheck such as my car tag and a visit to the pain doctor and my very expensive meds but the kids needed things and I needed to know that they had what they needed. Pop went out yesterday and bought a washer and dryer for the mountain house because the kids need it and... well, it was something we were going to need up there eventually anyways. My parents are generous and charitable and those traits pass down to me and also to my kids. Austin would give the shirt off his back to someone in need.

And how handsome is my son? Before I had kids I wished for girls but I am so glad that God realized that I was going to be able to create, with his help, some really good-looking men who are also good partners and incredibly generous to the girls they love. Ryan with Sara, Cody with Marquee and Austin with Leanna (who we call Lulu). A wise woman once told me that mothers of sons get their daughters when their sons get married. I'm proud of the daughters that I had to wait so long to have. They are 23, 21, and 19, my daughters. My sons are 26, 22 and 19.

I ended up making several trips into town for food since Pop, our usual hunter/gatherer was not at the mountain house until Friday afternoon and had a conference call to take and then many chores to perform and items to purchase. I dealt with a good bit of pain while I was there and a couple of the trips were painful but peaceful. I love my little nest in Riverdale but the mountains are my home. It's where I draw my strength and where I feel the presence of God more acutely.

Pop's projects this weekend, with Austin's assistance were to get the porch swing hung and build a box for a raised garden bed and other little odds and ends. The electrician had come the weekend before so we no longer have to use a lamp in the basement bathroom (which was a little creepy, having a shower in dim light). The basement lights are fluorescent and needed some work.

Mom pulled down/cut down some small trees that are in the wooded area at the front of house. Austin helped.

It amuses me that Cody is the caretaker of the two houses here in Riverdale and Austin has adapted to being the caretaker of the mountain house. To have grown up mostly without the presence of their father who is incredibly mechanically inclined and also knows a little bit about how to do everything even though he, ironically, grew up without a father... and with the influence of their Pop who also grew up without a father... my kids have had a village of men who have influenced their lives and have picked up lots of little skills here and there. Straight men to teach them sports and basic knowledge of keeping a house running and how to find things in Home Depot (a place where I break out in hives, it is that far out of my element.) Gay men to teach them style and culture and how to find their way around a shoe store. Godly men to expand their spiritual lives. It's interesting to me the skills that they have by nature, instead of nurture, having had a grandfather that they never met who was an amazingly skilled individual .. and a great-grandfather that they never met who was an interior designer.

But I digress. We really made our mountain trip about three days too early. It was rainy and cool the first two days. Today my friend Natalie gets married... seven years after losing her husband in a tragic suicide... and we will miss the wedding. Tuesday Natalie's daughter Jorjanne (who is my bonus niece and featured on the sidebar of my blog page) and my biological nieces are participating in the local Kiwanis Talent Show. Little Jamie is singing Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables and I cannot remember what Sarabeth is singing nor can I remember what Jorjanne is singing. I would hate to sit in the hard chairs in the high school auditorium but I would find a way to make it through their performances if we were there. I am hoping for videos from their performance. I am scheduled to work Monday and mama is planning to go relieve Aunt Linda who is still at Uncle Charles bedside... he is recovering but it is a slow process and I've lost count of how many weeks he's been in the hospital... maybe four? Anyways, it was impossible to extend our trip to be present for those events, unfortunately.

The timing of our trip was determined by the opportunity to keep the girls on Thursday and it was wonderful to just soak up all the wonder that is Sarabeth and Jamie. Austin taught Sarabeth how to play Minecraft (I think that's the right name) on XBox 360 and Jamie played computer games with Mawmaw and shopped online with me. She's very fashionable, that one and squealed with joy when we found a cheetah print, one shouldered one piece swimsuit with adorable pink ruffles. Unfortunately it didn't come in her size or Aunt Heather's budget but it gave me an idea of how to shop for her. We loved spending time with them.

Mama and I watched several movies as we still don't have satellite tv hooked up at the mountain house but we do have that little Roku deal that allows us to stream our Netflix account on the mack-daddy awesome tv that my brother gave my parents for Christmas. We saw The Boy in The Striped Pajamas. If you haven't seen it, you must. And we watched Gifted Hands, the story of Dr. Ben Carson, a very talented neurosurgeon who has been prevalent in the news lately by his strong statements at the National Prayer Breakfast against Obama. We watched some other things that don't stick out in my mind. I started trying to get into Mad Men as it is time for me to pick up another show. I tend to wait until a show has been on for several years before I try to watch it so that I know that the story will be told in enough detail and longevity to be interesting. However, Mad Men was a little more sexual than I had realized and it was not what I wanted to broadcast in our happy little living room.

Austin's friend Logan came over. Lulu's cousin came over with her boyfriend. My brother dropped off the girls and my sister-in-law picked them up. I visited with Nancy at the bakery. And so, even though we didn't get out much, other than my brief trips into town, I did get to enjoy the company of a few faces that didn't have fur or whiskers.

I've had a lot of pain, lower left side, mid spine, muscle spasms, piriformis syndrome giving me literally a pain in the butt and I've had a few not-quite-migraine-but-still-distracting headaches that made me a little less sociable than I wanted to be. I don't want my pain to be a part of every blog entry I write but truly, pain is an every day part of my life and if I'm transparent on my blog, and if I intend to write the story of my life here, it has to be said because it is here. This is the story of a middle aged woman living with chronic pain. It just is.

And I've had a little heartache over the past few days, sadness for a friend who is really struggling without transportation. Lots of people go through tough economic challenges, it's everywhere. Few of us are untouched by little interruptions in our life. But for this friend, she really doesn't have the kind of safety net that most of us have in the way of parents (hers are deceased) or close family members who could help her out. She is a single mom of three, her kids' dad has really gone off the deep end. Although her life that had challenges while she was married because of her ex-husband's issues, she now has insurmountable problems with her health, her finances and just basic transportation. Her car was totaled in an accident and she didn't have insurance coverage for physical damage and so she has no car. I don't mind being poor except for times like this when I just want to write a check and fix it for her. Instead , I am using the one power I truly have which is prayer and I am praying that she will be able to get a car. Somehow, someway, she needs a car. Two people that I prayed for daily for years and years that they would find a life partner have gotten married in the past few weeks and so I know that God hears my prayers. He can do this. I know He will.

So that's about it. I'm a bit melancholy. My pain meds have kicked in, had to use the strong one this morning and it is starting to work. I guess I've given you a good summary of the past few days. Hoping you all are safe and happy and enjoying life. Closing this with love and hugs and a few pictures from the past week.

Cats napping on my bed

Cats napping in my nest
Cat stealing french fries

Still stealing fries

Licking salt off his paw
The view from my nest, part one











The view from my nest, part two. 





 Austin and Lulu's room

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Random Tuesday

It turns out that I was scheduled to work Monday and Wednesday this week and not Tuesday and that's ok.

It's not much cha-ching but yesterday was painful and I was needed at home today anyways so that mom could go sit at the hospital with Uncle Charles who is in step-down and really needs someone to be with him and my Aunt is really, really tired. If mom's not here there's no one to take care of the fur-babies. They were by themselves for about five hours yesterday and you could tell that their little bladders were about to bust by the time I got home.

Oh, and I woke up with blisters on my back from burns from the heating pad. Which I have since put away because even though I have MISERABLE muscle spasms away from the warmth, it's become obvious that I have too much nerve damage to safely judge the appropriate temperature. Of course, the nerve damage means that the blisters don't hurt that much. I noticed them because I was scratching my back (out of habit more than because of an itch) and my back felt wet. I checked it out in the mirror and realized it was a blister that I opened up by scratching and that the blister had several friends.

I am so sick of my "woe is me" blog entries but I have to tell you what's happening because the three-dimensional people in my life are so sick of hearing it. I mean... they haven't said that but in my mind that's the case.

I am also sick of saying, "WE DON'T EAT POOP" to the four dogs here that think the litter box is their candy dish. It's like when my kids were little and I used to have to constantly say, "STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE" and "QUIT TOUCHING YOUR BROTHER" and "WE DON'T EAT POOP!!!". What is that saying? Same... stuff... different day.

Work yesterday WAS good. I so very much enjoy being there, I enjoy doing what I know how to do. And even though I haven't been able to work as many hours as I would LIKE to work, I know that God put me in that place because if my working years had ended where I was a year ago that I would forever doubt my abilities and I would forever struggle to overcome the lack of kindness that ended my career. Instead, I'm in a place where they care, they are supportive and encouraging, they pray for me (and really pray). I even got a really sweet card and a bag of Easter goodies from the girls in the office.

When these people ask how I'm doing, I know that it's from a place of genuine concern. There is no bitterness or anger toward my restricted schedule. There is no guilt handed out for how busy they are when I'm not there. They respect and appreciate my efforts. I feel validated. We don't always get that in this life and I'm a big enough girl to know that just because others may have agendas that won't allow them to validate you doesn't mean that you aren't deserving of this validation. However, the truth is that this final gasp to do whatever I can do would not be possible in the least if I didn't have the kind of support I get from my co-workers. They are simply the best. I could not have dreamed of a better work environment. Trust me when I say that I don't take that for granted!

So... tomorrow I'll work and then we'll pack up the car and head to the hills. Other than that one night in February I haven't been to the mountains in three months. Crazy, isn't it? I think that's the best way to determine how I'm feeling... the fact that I haven't taken advantage of my time away from the office to be in the mountains. I just don't feel like moving a muscle. But... we're going up tomorrow - me, mom and three dogs -  and Austin and his girlfriend are moving in... and we're keeping my girls on Thursday (and we are SOOOO excited!)  and fixing a birthday cake for Austin's girlfriend and grilled chicken for dinner with rice from the rice cooker (I almost typed that as grilled "children"... LOL!) and the bakery is open so I'll stock up on treats and just enjoy springtime in the mountains for a few days. I go up again later in April for a long weekend and doctor visit where we'll have to discuss this increased nerve damage.

And then... later this month...  I turn 45 which doesn't bother me as much as feeling 85 does.

The washer stopped. Time to put the clothes in the dryer so I can finish up packing today.

Love and hugs, y'all.