My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Opinion On Lots of Things

After a 1am visit from Lily, the old dog who cannot climb stairs... that required Austin to walk her around outside in the pouring rain while I ran upstairs to unlock the doors to let them in... and caused me another way too late night and far too little sleep... I woke up at 8am to my happy child whistling while he worked outside in the garden. Because he doesn't work well with others... and doesn't process things the same way that the rest of the world does... he ended up highly upset about an hour later and today will be another that he sleeps away.

As a parent you're only as happy as your saddest child. I feel such a huge burden to be Austin's ambassador to the world and the world's ambassador to Austin that I truly fear what will become of him when I am no longer able to serve in that capacity. Things can go from whistle happy to slamming doors and cursing so very quickly. It's heartbreaking to witness.

So I'm somewhere between exhaustion from not getting enough sleep this week and sadness for my child and pain from all the things in my body that don't work like they should. It's a battle to stay positive and not be overwhelmed by the emotions of being me. My favorite distraction is Ye Olde Internet and I have worn out the surfboard today searching for anything and everything ELSE to focus on besides riding the waaaa-mbulance. It's much easier to sit around and pass judgment on other situations and I thought you might like to hear what I think about random things.

Like... high heeled shoes. Why purposely make your feet hurt? They are supposed to make you feel sexy but they make me feel like I'm tiptoeing on broken glass. I hate them so much (as I shared with my friend Gina this morning) that I can't even stand to see those little high heel cupcakes that everyone keeps pinning.

The whole mess with the VA hospitals infuriates me. We are paying for sex change operations for prisoners but let our nation's heroes die on waiting lists for treatment they have earned through being willing to die for all of us. I have a dear friend whose father died at the VA in Atlanta due to malpractice. Our VAs are the worst medical delivery system in our country when the people they serve deserve the best. And how in the world can anyone watch how things go down at the VA and think government involvement in health care is a good idea???

Global warming baffles me. I know now that the politically correct term is "climate change" because things aren't that warm after all but when I hear nonsense like what I heard out of Bob Beckel on The Five the other day... that the oceans are going to rise by fifteen inches in the next fifteen years due to polar ice cap melting I think, seriously? Do people really believe this?

And speaking of politically correct... last night I had a great time watching the National Spelling Bee but it was really odd how the commentators never discussed that 90% of the finalists were of Indian descent. Obviously there is something about that culture that results in exceptional spelling ability but everyone is so afraid to point out anything unique about one race or another for fear of being accused of being racist. How did we get so wound up about race that we can't even say GOOD THINGS about one race or another?

Kimye - the whole Kanye West, Kim Kardashian marriage. First of all, this is a man who has publicly spoken about his dislike for white people and he marries a white woman? He is a huge narcissist who has no self-control. and she obviously has impulse control issues considering her last marriage lasted only 72 days. How long until the headlines are about their divorce and custody battle?

I am generally publicly neutral about other people's path to spirituality. I mean, I may have opinions about certain things like snake handling and Jehovah's Witnesses not celebrating holidays but for the most part, I keep those things to myself because hey... my path to enlightenment and yours may not be identical. However I'm pretty sure that Scientology is a stupid, brainwashing cult and I automatically subtract points from anyone who is caught up in that nonsense. This means that I can't watch Tom Cruise movies or listen to Jennifer Lopez sing. I'm delighted that Leah Remini (a character actress that I really enjoy) left the cult before her daughter reached the age where she would begin undergoing "audits". Honestly. Any so-called religion that is harmful to children is not a religion, it's a cult. That's all I'm saying. Say what you will about evangelical Christians but I had a safe, happy, sheltered childhood with many happy memories of church experiences, not post-traumatic stress from being audited.

I'm still enjoying my book on Huguette Clark and still binge-reading travel blogs featured on Rick Steves' website. Both are allowing me to experience life as others have lived it and that makes me very happy. I'm splitting my reading time between those two interests.

Have you heard the news story about the baby who was horribly burned in a drug raid gone bad? That happened in the next county over... very shocking and sad. The sheriff in that county is a friend of a former co-worker and I know he's good people. I have just always felt that when you associate with people who are doing bad things, you expose yourself to things that might not otherwise have happened. This family, unfortunately, had lost their home due to a fire and was having to stay with family members and I can imagine that this might not have been their first choice for a place to raise their kids. My oldest son was once caught up in a drug raid at his grandmother's house (not my mother). He was in the shower when the police barged in and pulled the shower curtain down on him. He was ten. His grandmother's husband was heavily involved in drugs although I did not know it at that time. From that point on my kids never spent time at her house. I would have been glad for her to spend time with them away from her home and her husband but that did not happen. Relationships are important, family ties are important but exposing children to drugs is too big of a risk.

Celebrities that make me roll my eyes in disgust: Rhianna, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, the aforementioned Kimye, Brad Pitt, Alec Baldwin... and others to be named later. Celebrities that fascinate me for a variety of reasons: Jim Parsons, Mayim Bialek, Neil Patrick Harris, Ina Garten. Celebrities that I'm on the fence over: Tori Spelling, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon.

And... it looks like it's going to rain. With that... I'm officially out of topics to discuss. Hope you have a happy, safe weekend. Love and hugs, y'all.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Holiday Haze, Lost Track of Days

Weeks that begin with a Monday holiday screw my internal clock up, even now that I live in a household where nobody works or goes to school. I've just felt like I was in some sort of time warp all week. Not the fun kind, like in Rocky Horror, just a weird floating feeling. Or maybe it's the meds.

I joke. I only have two meds that are mind altering and I try not to be under the influence of either for any longer than necessary, especially not all week.

I got out and about yesterday long enough to pick up the family's weekly prescriptions at the pharmacy and make a quick stop at Ingles. I'm very much addicted to caprese salads and have to make sure to keep stocked with fresh mozzarella. We have a nice basil plant on the deck outside of my parents' bedroom. We don't have any tomatoes yet and I swear, I always feel a little ashamed to purchase tomatoes from the grocery store in early Summer. It's like everyone is judging me for not growing them myself or at the worst buying from a farm stand. I think within a week or so we'll be set for tomatoes for a little while and I can caprese to my heart's content without having to go through the humiliation of BUYING tomatoes!

We're also still dealing with an ice issue. I have lost count of how many times the appliance repairman has been here trying to fix the ice maker but it's often enough that he knows the names of our animals. The plumber had to come last week because the water to the ice maker sprung a leak and still, it's not working. We're back to waiting for the repairman to come back. There should be a lemon law for ice makers because this sucker is not even two years old. I need my ice. I gave up coffee about a year ago. I gave up Little Debbies about six weeks ago. I rarely drink adult beverages because of the possible interaction with my meds. Ice is my vice. I need cold beverages on hand at all times (except when it's cold and then I need hot beverages on hand at all times). So I had to pick up a bag of ice at the grocery store yesterday. It's heavier than what I should pick up and I have paid for it ever since.

Yesterday was also Cody and Marquee's 4th anniversary. It's hard to believe that much time has passed already! I talked to Cody last night. They are planning to come up here with some friends the first weekend in June to go tubing. The Chattahoochee River winds through Helen and it's a big tourist attraction here to "shoot the Hooch" on an inner tube. I've never done it... I'm not really a fan of soaking my seat in cold river water... and I always worried that I would scrape the bottom or get my butt stuck in a tube or something equally embarrassing. The kids love it though and I'm excited to see them and my granddoggie Sammy.

I've been trying since yesterday to conduct a mandatory phone interview with the food stamp people. It's really annoying. They call you and say, "I'm agent number 2034 and I'm calling to conduct your scheduled interview. Please hold while we connect you with an interviewer." And then you hold until you think your ears will bleed from the hod music and then get disconnected. When you call the number they tell you to call if you get disconnected,  you press the right buttons and nothing happens except sending you back through the phone loop over and over again. After about thirty tries this morning I finally got through and it said that the system was overwhelmed. The frustrating thing is that if I can't complete the process -- even though I've done everything I'm supposed to do as far as going to the local office and filling out paperwork on time -- if I don't get this interview done within the time limit, I lose my food stamps. It's not that we will starve but honestly, that little bit of money every month is the only tiny bit of financial freedom I have. Since the Social Security office takes a year to eighteen months to schedule a hearing for me to be able to get the disability that I've paid into for 27 years and I can't get what I'm due that way... since the fact that I live in a state that isn't participating in Medicaid expansion that would allow me medical care that I desperately need... I feel like this small sum of money is the least, the very least they can do. All things being equal things are not equal. Ok. End of rant.

My brother and several members of our church left this morning for a mission trip to Kenya. He's an old hat at this but I do have some friends that are going for their first time. I worry (only a little bit) about the normal travel risks and I worry (a little bit more) about political instability and terrorists and that sort of thing but for the most part I am immensely proud of the work my brother and friends do over in "deepest, darkest Africa". It's a huge deal for my sister-in-law to be a single parent while he's gone but fortunately she has her mom and my parents and me to help out with the girls. I worry more about Angie here at home than I worry about Jim over there in Kenya and I'm glad we're close by.

My brother is such a hands on dad... I never had that... when my kids' dad wasn't around our lives were no different than when he was around. It was actually easier for me for him to be gone because then I didn't have to worry about waking him up in the morning (which was ten levels of Hell) or finding him passed out drunk somewhere embarrassing (like the time a friend stopped by early in the morning to let me know he was passed out in the garage naked - with the garage door open - or the time he woke up passed out in the lobby of a Kroger store and had no idea where our car was). Anyways... it's completely opposite with my brother in every possible way and Angie and the girls really, really miss him when he's gone. It's a huge personal sacrifice every year for him to go but I know he makes a huge difference for the people there.

I had a few days with no evil gut pain but it is here today, uglier than ever. I wore my favoritest, prettiest dress and worked extra hard on my hair and makeup so that I would look good even if I didn't feel good.

Austin started his day by making muffins for us all and cutting the yard. He's been in a huge, huge funk lately over his breakup with his girlfriend and has been pretty much worthless. Before I even knew he was upstairs baking this morning I prayed that God would give him a good day where he would be productive and feel better. I was relieved to see him motivated and productive this morning. His finger is looking a little infected which has me worried. He's not the cleanest fella.

When Austin came in from cutting grass this morning Little Kitty was walking beside him begging for attention and Austin didn't notice him and stepped on him. Little Kitty cried out like I've never heard him cry before and went and hid under my bed. I laid down on the floor trying to coax him out to check on him and hurt my knee trying to get up. The good news is that the cat is fine. The bad news is that my knee is KILLING me. Such is life.

Anyways. I've been your ears (eyes?) long enough. That's what's happening around here. Hope your week is speeding along happily! Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Spoke Too Soon

No sooner do I bemoan my perfectly boring life and my kid trips in a gopher hole while holding hedge trimmers and slices his finger! Pop rushed him to Habersham hospital and they glued him back together.

They weren't even out of the driveway when I hollered up for mom to throw me down some trash bags. Dishes have been dwindling and I knew it was time to do a recon mission in Austin's room. It's very rare for him to be gone from the house for long so I knew this was the perfect opportunity. I'm sure this detracts from my points toward "mother of the year" for my kid to be bleeding to death and my first concern was cleaning his room. That's just how we roll. My mom came down and joined me in my quest so she loses points (or gains them!) for grandmother of the year as well.

Austin has a serious hoarding problem. I say that without any exaggeration. You would have to see it to believe it and I would be humiliated to let you see it. I don't mind clutter as long as it's not invading my space. What I mind is his grow your own antibiotics farm. And it makes me feel horrible that my parents, who do so much for us and sacrifice a whole floor of their house for us to have a place to live have to scrounge around to find enough forks for dinner because my kid has them under his bed. It's a serious problem.

Mom and I barely made a dent but we did find a lot - UH LOT of dishes. The kid is mad and frankly my dear, I don't. I really don't. He's complained multiple times since and my answer is always the same, "don't make it so that we have to go in there and we won't."

I'm not a clean freak by any stretch of the imagination. I have a few obsessive habits that make things tidy - I cannot leave my bed unmade, I wash dishes as I cook - things like that. I don't vacuum - hurts too much - and I don't sweep or mop for the same reason. I have a habit of trying on several things and/or wearing things more than once between washing that results in a pile of clothes accumulating from time to time in my room but my room is clean and organized. Things have a place. I know where stuff is at pretty much all times. I've never asked my kids to keep their environment spotless but I draw the line when their mess interferes with my standard of living.

Anyways. So that was more excitement than I bargained for yesterday. Today was an appointment at the pain clinic. It was uneventful except for being able to verify that nothing they're prescribing me could be leading to the elevated liver enzyme issue. I don't know what that means in terms of what could be causing the problem or even if it's a problem. I have a faster than usual heartbeat but that doesn't matter as long as the rhythm is normal so this liver thing may just be not a big deal, too. At least I don't have to feel guilty for causing damage by taking pain meds. Or by drinking because I hardly ever do. A couple times a year, maybe, but never much at a time.

No pictures to share of the kid's room or of my doctor's visit so you'll just have to use your imagination. And that's all I've got for today... so far.

Happy Tuesday. Love and hugs and all that.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Status quo: ice tea, caprese salad, my handy dandy remote control
It drives me crazy when my favorite bloggers go MIA. I check their instagram accounts... their facebook... see if they've posted to Pinterest... because although I am every inch a Southern Baptist I become a full on Jewish mother when people aren't following their standard pattern of behavior. In the absence of information I make stuff up... which is why *in my mind* if people aren't where they are supposed to be they must be dead on the side of the road - there is no other option. And while I wouldn't presume to think I'm anybody's favorite blogger, I know that if I don't check in from time to time y'all wonder what's going on.

tomato, radish, avocado, basil, fresh mozz, olive oil, balsamic vinegar 
Nothing. That's what's going on. It's late Spring/early Summer. My pain hasn't been TOO bad over the past few days - better than usual - up until today and today it's not good. It's one of those days where I need to hang upside down because it feels like my spine is collapsing on itself. I haven't seen anything terribly noteworthy on tv. I'm slowly reading the twelve books I have open on my Nook (twelve may be an exaggeration but not by much). I haven't been to the library. I've been eating basically the same thing every day. The kid is lazy, the cats are cute, the lake is gorgeous and it's all basically the same old. I mean, really, there's nothing to share.

I'm not complaining. I don't like change. I don't like challenges and roadblocks and rant-worthy blog topics. I like things to chug along at a predictable pace. It feels like the days are long but the weeks fly by. Sometimes I get frustrated with the repetition, feeling like I don't accomplish anything new or interesting. However, I have to remind myself that this is a season of waiting. I knew that the disability process would be a long, long battle so when the weeks go by quickly, without any new crisis looming, it's a good thing.

So, I'm fine. Everything is fine. The weather is fine. The cats are fine. It's all fine.

Here are a few pictures from the backyard to make up for my lack of content. Happy Memorial Day! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Youth Group

When I was in sixth grade we moved our membership from First Baptist Church of Red Oak in East Point, Georgia to Valley Hill Baptist in Riverdale. Valley Hill was much closer to our home making it a better fit for me and my big brother as teenagers. I'm sure that's not the only reason we changed churches but it's the one that mattered most to me. Most of my teenage years were spent either at church or with kids from church. I had friends at school but only one or two of those were the "spend the night" kind of friends. The kids in my youth group were my sisters and brothers.

Thirty years later and although I haven't seen most of them in decades, our bonds are still tight. We have reconnected through the magic of the internet and they mean more to me than I can begin to explain. Nobody else understands the utter emergency involved when the preacher's bible is moved to the upper corner of the pulpit (it meant that the teenagers were in trouble... big trouble!)... nobody else understands the danger of DooDoo Lake in Myrtle Beach or the absolute grossness of a Wahine or Mahine (our rugged toilet system at camp without running water). These kids... now middle aged folks... are the very foundation of who I am.

I had a lot of close friends at church. There was Susie and Andrea... and Andrea's neighbor Kim... we had many zany adventures such as the Madonna concert or watching the VCR at Kim's mom's modeling studio (nobody else had a VCR back then). We hung out with the preacher's son... I remember one night where we all sat and worked on a thousand piece puzzle together while the preacher and his wife were in the Holy Land. The puzzle was a cover for less honorable activities that I am not at liberty to discuss... (it wasn't THAT bad) and when a church member stopped by to check on us we were hard at work on the puzzle. My friend Stacy was two years older and would check me out of school when she got out for work/study program. It saved me from riding the bus. Teresa and Debbie were two sisters I spent a lot of time with. Teresa was my age and she made the drill team at her school the same week that I made cheerleading at mine. We were bonded by our newfound potential popularity.

Then there were Barbie and Kim... Kim was this ethereal creature who was always dreaming of a guy in our youth group that she was crushing on... Barbie had the coolest basement bedroom with it's own exterior door that made sneaking out at night WAY easy. We were able to walk to the store to buy toilet paper and walk to someone's house to roll their yard and sneak back in completely undiscovered. The three of us were close to a young girl who visited our church just a few weeks after having a baby - at 13 years of age. Our youth minister and his wife adopted the baby. Barbie and I used to go to the mall and pretend we were buying dresses for a special occasion and try on the fanciest prom/bridesmaid dresses in the bridal store. My Aunt Ginger was brave enough to have me, Barbie and Kim spend the night with her... especially brave when you consider at that time they only had my cousin Christie who was a baby and had no idea how insane three teenage girls can be.

We all had such big plans... college wasn't as big a deal to us, at least not in my circle of friends as it was to be a wife and mother. We all wanted to fall in love and feather our little nests and have babies. After high school graduation Barbie and I both found our "Prince Charmings" and went to work at Life of Georgia's home office (now ING) and my mom kept our babies while we worked. Neither of us had marriages that lasted. I don't know if Kim ever married but she never had children.

Kim died a few years ago... it was very sudden and unexpected and although I hadn't seen her in years, the world without Kim is different from the world with her. She was just a precious soul... maybe she was born to be an angel. Her brother has a little girl and every time he posts photos of her I think, "Your Aunt Kim would LOVE you so much!"

Barbie battled breast cancer five years ago, just a few short months after losing her mom and grandma to cancer. She went through 8 rounds of chemo and 33 rounds of radiation and she was cancer free. Since then she has lived life in a way that amazes me... she does more in a day than I do in a month... she owns her own business... she wrings everything out of every day. A few months ago she developed  a numb spot in her jaw. Today she found out that the breast cancer cells have metastasized to her jaw. Now she begins the battle all over again... testing to see if there are any other spots of cancer... knocking this cancer out of her jaw... and I'm just so sad for her. I know she can do this. I believe in healing. I know God is big enough to get her through this but I hate that she has to go through it.

The thing is.... the mortality and frailty of your peers makes you acutely aware of your own mortality. Just last Friday sweet Juli-Ann who was a few years younger than me but such a trooper as a kid... she has hearing loss and was the reason my brother learned sign language, to be able to interpret for Juli-Ann. Last Friday she had heart surgery. I'm used to my childhood friends going through the heartbreak of divorce and financial struggles and over the years we adapted to deal with those things. Dealing with illness is relatively new and I don't like it. I can handle my own suffering because that is under my control. I can't do anything for anyone else but pray. The good news is, the biggest bond we all had growing up was our faith and for now, that's the biggest weapon in our arsenal.

Anyways... many of you pray and so I would ask for you to remember Barbie. Just... every time you see a Barbie doll, think of our Barbie and ask God to give her strength for her journey and heal her, once and forever.

I re-read through this and I know I've left out a bunch of people who were also good friends at church. I hope you'll forgive me and chalk it up to old age and fatigue. I love all my old Valley Hill friends. You're a part of me... nobody else knows what it's like to drive all night on an old church bus to get to the beach... or remembers Mrs. Batten's inspirational lessons on abstinence... or understands the rite of passage involved with getting the "Hilton" - the biggest tent at camp. I'm thankful for the people I grew up with... and I am thankful to know you now.

Mom went to the neurologist today and neurologically she is good. They are concerned about her blood pressure dropping when she stands up so there will be further explanation of that situation. The doggies and I got through a long morning together and it turns out that my doctor's appointment isn't until Tuesday so tomorrow will be a true rest day for me. Happy Memorial Day weekend! Safe travels, love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Long, Long Day

Remember how yesterday started rudely at 7:30 am with a dog breathing on my face? A dog with a very fickle bladder who had already had an adventure getting to me, therefore I knew I had to hurry-scurry her to the backdoor? ... Then this morning started rudely at 7am with my hadn't-been-to-bed-yet kid saying, "Mommy... time to get up". I had an appointment for lab work at 8:30 am... you know, early, because it was fasting blood work. And today was shower day so I had to get up early enough to shower and dry my hair. And straighten it. And put on makeup. I set my alarm for 7:30 and then promised myself that if I woke up before then on my own and/or my kid happened to be awake and could wake me up, I would do the full glam routine. He was awake. I glammed.

After two days in a row of waking in the 7 o'clock hour can I just say, respectfully, that I'm not a fan? I know I used to be up before the dawn but back then I was also asleep before sundown. I'm tucking myself in around 2am and this five hours of beauty sleep is leaving me lacking in many ways.

At some point while I was in the glam process my mom got up to take Lily (the old dog with the fickle bladder) to the poop pen out front and somehow, for some reason, passed out. This had to have happened during the shower or during the hair drying because I didn't hear a thing.

SOOOoooo while my parents were trying to get the doctor on the phone I headed out the door to be on time for my lab appointment because I'm prompt and courteous like that. I arrived in town STARVING (which is weird because I don't normally eat much by that time of day anyways) about ten polite minutes before my appointment time and proceeded to warm a seat in the uncomfortably warm lobby for over an hour. If I wasn't already a little out of sorts by the pre-8am wakeup call and the lack of food in my belly, this large man with a larger cough planted himself RIGHTBESIDEME. Doesn't everyone know the proper seating etiquette for a waiting room? If possible you never seat yourself in a chair beside anyone else. There was a section of three seats side by side available and he planted his tubercular self right next to my highly susceptible to respiratory illness lungs. For an hour. Remind me of this when I'm complaining about having pneumonia in a week.

The sweet nurse who, like everyone who staffs the clinic, is a volunteer, apologized for my long wait and explained that they try to get the diabetics back first. Apparently I looked like I could live off the fat of the land for awhile. The blood draw was painless and my blood pressure was lower than it's been in ... my lifetime, I think - 100/76 - which is ironic because my mom's blood pressure has been riding a roller coaster all week, which *may* be why she passed out.

On the plus side... I never watch Good Morning America but this morning I sat through a large chunk of it and was rewarded with the Dancing With The Stars recap. I also got to see half of Live With Kelly and Michael.

I had three library books due back today so I stopped and dropped them in the outside bin. I guess the library season has come to an end for now... at least until I catch up on the dozen books I'm in the middle of reading in my Nook.

I stopped at the grocery store to buy the necessary items to recreate my fab salad from yesterday (pictured here)

. By the time I got home I was about to drop between the pain from sitting and the hunger from fasting... I quickly put together a salad and settled in to some bonding time with my laptop.

Then... all too soon but I'm sure not soon enough for her... my mom and dad had to leave for mom's doctor's appointment and I was on dog duty. Not just dog duty but stressed out because we know something's wrong dog duty. I made no fewer than six trips upstairs in the next three hours to refill water bowls and let dogs in and out. Oscar swore he needed to poop and he will only poop out back so I let him out the back door and he promptly ran up the stairs and scooted off up the driveway. I almost let him run all the way to Cleveland but decided that my parents would miss his rotten little self so I chased him down.

And then Little Kitty aka Killy brought me a gift...

A dead, bleeding gift. That I couldn't bring myself to pick up, even with a wad of paper towels and a plastic bag. I could still feel the carcass. I had to get a shovel and scoop him up on the shovel and dump him outdoors... screaming the whole time... which trust me, doesn't do a lot to comfort nervous dogs.

Then I climbed the stairs AGAIN to go pick up my nieces from school. Pop usually gets them on Wednesday but since he was at the doctor with my mom, I was called into service. I absolutely love hanging out with my girls so believe me, this was not a burden in any way but it was so hot outdoors that even with the a/c going full blast I was covered in sweat by the time I got home. Of course it was worth it to hear Sarabeth casually describe her career presentation as a "prezzy" because she's almost a middle schooler, you know.

My parents were home when we got back from school. Pop fixed the girls a small bowl of ice cream for an afterschool snack and the girls and I watched My Little Pony together. (because she's not THAT grown yet!)

They left to go to the library and church and Austin asked for a ride to the store which made me roll my eyes and curse. I'm so exhausted, y'all. I mean, I could go to sleep now, even though it's before sunset.

There's no explanation yet about mom's black out. They did some blood work and told her to get a walker for her injured ankle (did I mention she hurt her ankle in the process?) and she goes to the neurologist tomorrow. My up all night kid needs to dog sit overnight so she doesn't have to get up. Lily usually starts stirring around the time Pop gets up and goes upstairs to the computer room in the morning or leaves for the golf course. We can't keep the dogs down here because there is no pen for them to go out to down here and you can't just turn them loose in the dark out here - there are too many creatures in the night. Plus, we're so far out from civilization that there are no street lights so when it's dark it's very, very dark. Three dogs wandering in three different directions in the dark would be a bad thing.

Anyways. The devil is a big ole meanie. It's no coincidence that the two mornings I have woken up to my really amazing, encouraging sign (see yesterday's entry) have been not-so-great mornings. But... I did have a nice long text-chat with my cousin today and gave my nieces their end of the school year gift (knee socks of all different varieties, they love knee socks).

Someone asked in comments how I prepare and recover from busy days. I just try to not schedule activities on consecutive days. I allow myself a little leeway with other things (I didn't make my bed today and that NEVER happens). I try to not have to do the glam routine when I have to be up and at 'em early - that was a fail. There are just some things we can't predict and prepare for... and in that case I just suck it up and rest the next day. I'll rest tomorrow (other than dog sitting but Austin promised to help) and hopefully be recovered in time for my doctor's appointment in Gainesville on Friday. That involves a long drive so it's a little more demanding than a blood draw but the good news is they never keep you waiting. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Goodnight y'all.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mornings and Stuff

I made this! Ok... really, Austin stained the boards and my brother helped him attached them with some nifty woodworking tool he has and I just did the lettering but y'all, the lettering was hard. The words are from a song that has always been particularly calming for me. The idea came from something I saw on Pinterest. It's now hanging on my bedroom wall so that when I wake up in the morning and EVERYTHING hurts and it's tempting to start the day feeling sorry for myself... this will remind me that I can do this. I can get up every day and be grateful for what I have and not worry so much about what I'm missing. I used Sharpie paint pens for the lettering, btw. They work on wood and fabric and... pretty much anything... I can see myself using them for making Christmas ornaments and... whatever other craft projects I find inspiration to endeavor. I'm the girl who goes to craft fairs and doesn't buy a thing because I think, "I could do that"... and I never do.

Anyways. This morning started out rough with Lily the old lady dog (who is still alive - a full year after her thyroid cancer diagnosis) breathing in my ear at 7:30. She squeezed past the gate blocking the top of the stairs and came down looking for... what I don't know. Fortunately my mom was awake and instead of walking Lily around outside like I've had to do several times before,  I was able to open the back door and tell her to "go find Mawmaw" and holler upstairs for my mom to let her in. I intended to just go ahead and start my day but when I sat down on the bed to figure out what to wear I ended up laying down and falling back asleep. Just another hour but it helped. I had about a fifteen minute nap this afternoon but honestly, I want to sleep about 24 hours straight. It will never happen with my one hour bladder but a girl can dream. Or not... if she doesn't sleep.

Austin had a rude awakening... or rather was RUDE when he was awakened. There was a new water mark on the ceiling right outside our bedroom doors and my dad was up on a stepladder trying to determine the source while I banged on the floor upstairs so we could figure out whether it was a bathroom or kitchen leak. I mean, I'm sure that's not a pleasant way to wake up but it was nearly noon and it was a time sensitive situation. He's had a rough time lately. His girlfriend very abruptly broke up with him and he's really bummed about it. He's going through some "not growing" pains. Everyone else in his life is moving forward and going to school or having babies or working and he's just not doing much of anything. Part of me wants to be compassionate and part of me wants to extend a little tough love so that he will be motivated to do something with his life.

Tomorrow will be an early day because I have an appointment at the clinic for lab work since my liver enzymes were elevated last month. I think they're trying to see if that was a fluke or consistent. I do lab work again in July and then see the doctor to review it all. I don't really know what it all means or if it has anything to do with the evil gut pain but it's free so I'll play. I go back to the pain clinic on Friday and then I'm done with them until August. Good times.

I can't remember what I ate yesterday but today I've done pretty well. I had cantaloupe and cherries for breakfast... avocado, tomatoes & snap peas with basil over cubed french bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for lunch (it was soooo good!) and for dinner Austin made stuffed mushrooms and rice. No main dish, just stuffed mushrooms and rice but honestly, I was full after eating that so... good enough, right? I'm thinking about having some peanuts while watching the Dancing With The Stars finale. #TeamMaksandMeryl

I watched the premiere of the Bachelorette last night. I have never watched any of the seasons of Bachelor / Bachelorette because on the surface it seems like oversexed young people acting inappropriately on tv. This bachelorette is from Atlanta so I'm mildly curious. Just mildly but there isn't much on tv on Mondays other than random documentaries and/or Antiques Roadshow on PBS. It's also mildly interesting because one of the contestants died between the time the show was filmed and now. I realize I'm making a very thin case about why I would burn any brain cells on the Bachelorette but I really don't have much. It's come to this.

And that's about all I've got today. Usually if I'm quiet for more than two consecutive days y'all worry. No worries. It's been a better week than last week but not great. That's all. Love and hugs, y'all.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Getting Out, Book TV and Food

Last night I was up late watching the Barbara Walters special (much better than I expected) and playing kakuro on my Nook and the evil gut pain started flaring up and I thought, "I just can't do this any more this week". Mornings have been the worst and I have really been anxious about going to sleep knowing that at some point I'm going to be woken by pain. Knowing that my day starts with negotiating with my stomach about how much pain medicine I can handle... and how much I can't deal without ... has made this morning person anything BUT a morning person.

So I binge read some travel blogs (some really good ones are listed here on Rick Steves' website) and once it got too cool for comfort in the living room, I put a big comforter on my bed and snuggled under it with my gigantic biography of Queen Elizabeth I. At some point Little Kitty came and claimed his favorite spot (wherever I'm laying) and demanded that I pet him with BOTH hands until we both fell asleep. I woke up around 9am this morning WITHOUT the evil gut pain and the back pain was milder than usual. Sometimes I think God just knows when we've reached our breaking point.

I can't claim to have done anything even mildly productive today. I made an abbreviated grocery trip with the kid to pick up a few things on the never-ending grocery list that is kept in the kitchen. It seems to work best that as things run out or as we plan meals we add items to the list and then either Pop or myself, whoever makes a trip to the store, knows what we need. It works pretty well that way. I hate crowds and it was midday before the kid was ready to venture out (and it's his week to pay for stuff) so we decided to just pick up a few necessities. We ran into a dear friend (and blog reader!) in the parking lot so I scored a hug which is SO much better than anything I bought. I love my small town!

The hardest thing about going through a pain-filled week is the sense of isolation that it brings. I'm happy in my space and am fortunate to have my parents upstairs and the kid here in the Whine Cellar and all the fur babies to cuddle and love from my nieces but sometimes you just need to feel like there's life outside these four walls. Getting out was a good thing. I do what I can to feel human when I don't feel like venturing out - I get dressed and about half the time I put on makeup. I step out on the patio for fresh air a couple of times a day. I try to vary my activities (although truly, it's all mostly screen related). It still gets to feeling very stale and redundant after a few days in a row of not leaving the house. I'm grateful that today was easier.

Usually once or twice a day I pick up Little Kitty and hold him over my shoulder like a baby (which he loves) and walk outside with him. He loves listening for birds and checking out the things that are growing in the backyard. If he wiggles or tries to get down we immediately go back inside. I always tell him that kitties have to be held if they are outside or bad things will happen to them. That's not just a scare tactic - there's a lot of various wildlife around here that would love to make a snack out of him. This morning he snuck out of the screened porch while Pop was doing something and Pop took off trying to catch him. Little Kitty is a loving cat but he will only come to me - and sometimes Austin. About the time my mom yelled down, "Little Kitty is out" I looked up and found him standing at the back door. He has been fixated on catching salamanders on the screened porch. They sun themselves on the patio right outside the screened porch and I'm sure that when the door opened he thought he was going to catch him one and then realized that he was OUTSIDE and panicked.  It's like he KNEW right away that being out was a bad thing because nobody was holding him and he couldn't wait to get back in the house. All of our trips to the backyard have taught him exactly how to get to Mommy. I was so proud of him for coming right home and not running away.

I've been watching Book TV on CSpan all day. The most interesting book I've seen so far is Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and The Spending of a Great American Fortune. Huguette Clark is a woman who died a few years ago at the age of 104 leaving behind a estate worth over $300 million dollars. Despite her enormous wealth she had spent the last twenty years of her life living in a hospital. Her fabulous properties had sat empty for as many as sixty years. I'm fascinated by her story and I'm thinking about using some of my birthday Barnes and Noble money to buy the book. Usually I only buy books that are marked down to a dollar or two on Nook. This one may merit a splurge.

Tonight I'm watching a lecture on Arab Winter Comes to America by Robert Spencer which also sounds interesting (but I've been interrupted a few times during this lecture so I'm not sure). It sounds like a very plain truth about how Islam feels about America (they want us dead). I'm not sure I would enjoy reading that book. I'm interesting in knowing ... but it's one of those life conflicts that I am powerless to change. I feel like I need to know enough to be aware but not so much as to have it keep me awake at night. I have enough to worry about with the evil gut pain and the unresolved disability case and starving children in Africa. Being a single mom teaches you to only accept guilt for things that are within your power to change.

I made caprese salad over french bread for dinner and Austin made a blueberry cream cheese cobbler for dessert. I had a late lunch of a ChickFilA sandwich that Pop brought from the Relay For Life. For breakfast I had a few vanilla wafers and a few pretzels and then a little bit later I had some baby carrots with hummus and then I had some yogurt. Weird food day... it happens sometimes.

It's still way too cool for May. I'm dressed in layers again today.

And that's about it for today. Happy Weekend! Love and hugs!

Friday, May 16, 2014

My New Bulletin Board

It's the sixteenth of May in Georgia and I'm wearing my warmest yoga pants and a sweatshirt - with a long sleeve t-shirt under the sweatshirt. On Monday my kid went swimming in the lake. It's just so unseasonably cool here right now and I am not a fan.

I haven't blogged this week because honestly, I hate hearing myself say the words, "I'm in so much pain today" again and again and again. It has been a rough week pain-wise and I'm completely exhausted from it.

I got a little birthday cha-ching from a sweet blog reader.  I used it to buy a big bulletin board to hang all my treasures that I've had tucked in books and drawers and stacked up on every available surface. I've been a lousy pen-pal lately (for the past year - when you would think I would have PLENTY of time for correspondence!) but I really appreciate the sweet cards and notes that you guys send. Nothing makes my day like having something in the mail that doesn't ask for money.

I hung it by the sliding glass door beside the pantry shelf in the "kitchen" area of my Whine Cellar. I can see it from my Nest but it's not actually in the living room. Because that would be weird, having a bulletin board in your living room. Not any weirder than having a lot of stuffed animals in your living room, I suppose. Eh. It's my space. Somewhere between dorm room and kid's bedroom and comfy den.

I also bought some decorative lights (Christmas lights meant for long term use) for my bedroom but they have not come yet.

I have been wasting many, many hours playing the new kakuro app that I bought for my Nook. I'm really, really good at it. Scary good. Like, if there were kakuro tournaments I would win. And I'm not that good at math so it's weird. I just quickly recognize patterns of numbers.

It was so cold last night that Little Kitty slept under the covers with his head on my pillow. Every time I moved a millimeter away from him, he moved closer to me. Guess he needed some body heat. By next week it will be ninety degrees again.

Last night was the season finale of The Big Bang Theory and Grey's Anatomy. TBBT was kinda dull. Grey's Anatomy was it's usual shark jumping self. I'm just glad they didn't kill Cristina off. It seems like nobody leaves that show alive. I'm not looking forward to the Summer drought of decent television, with the possible exception of Big Brother which... hasn't really captured my interest over the past year or so.

I haven't gone to the library this week, part of that whole, "not feeling good" thing. I have a gazillion books on my Nook that I need to read. I started reading one last night about Queen Elizabeth I. It's 616 pages so it will take me awhile.

And I guess that's about it for today... hope your week was lovely and that your weekend will be all you hope for it to be. Love and hugs, y'all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nothing To Talk About

I don't have anything exciting to blog about so I thought I'd share a few photos. I posted these on Facebook already but some of my blog readers aren't on Facebook (and some of my Facebook friends don't read my blog). I was in a pretty pickle yesterday with pain but I didn't want to miss my nieces' first boat ride in Granddaddy Pennington's fishing boat. Granddaddy would have loved those girls... he died when I was ten so (of course) my memories are limited but most of my memories are of him being outdoors. Even after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and they had moved into a little apartment, he would sit out on the back porch and grin at me turning cartwheels in the yard. I've got to think he would have loved the crazy antics of these adventurous redheads. I know they keep me amused!

A few more photos from the lake yesterday:

This girl LOVED the boat. Sarabeth wasn't a fan. I think something about putting her life in crazy Cousin Auggie's hands... but Jamie would have stayed out there until dark.
 that grin... I love that grin!
Selfies with Sarabeth on the dock - that awkward moment when your 11 year old niece has to hold the camera when you take selfies together because her arms are longer... check out the reflection in my sunglasses of her long arms!
 Sarabeth bailing on the boat ride
Jamie dipping her toes in the water

All of a sudden I'm having trouble going to sleep at night. I've been up past 2am the past two nights. I still wake up around the same time (thank you, Little Kitty) so I've been sort of groggy during the day. It's just about impossible for me to nap during the day because inevitably about the time I doze off there's some sort of activity here in the Whine Cellar that wakes me up. Being woke up from a nap is much worse than not taking one at all. Part of it is pain related as I'm having a hard time getting comfortable. Part of it is my highly animated roommate who hits his stride around 11pm and wants to chat. I try not to be unsociable too much. His Basement Clown Posse has moved on to parenting and other adult roles and he's feeling a little lonely. He's also mostly enjoyable and I don't want to miss this time with him. He might leave some day and I would miss him.

I'm not doing as well with food this week. The whole "big meal in the middle of the day" hasn't matched up with life. I'm still trying to pick healthier food choices... snacking on peanuts instead of pringles, chocolate covered strawberries instead of Little Debbies... and I still find myself unable to eat huge portions. I want more food than I can comfortably eat and more often than not, I stop eating before I get full. That's progress.

Today I tripped over the garden hose while going out to get an ice cream for a snack. Eating poorly can hurt you in more ways than one. I didn't hit the ground but I had a big jolt which is never good.

Mother Goose and Father Goose have been MIA for the past week or two. They came back today with five little goslings! I couldn't get very close and my camera doesn't really have any sort of telephoto close up magic but you can see the beebies in the grass.

In other wildlife news... there was a cute little bunny sitting right beside the garden when I got up this morning. I always pick Little Kitty up and hold him where he can see out the window in the morning. When I said, "do you see the bunny rabbit?" He purred like it was his job. I don't know if he thought it was a friend or thought Mr. Bunny would taste good or what but he was sure glad to see it. We finally got Little Kitty to allow us to put the harness on him and tried walking him on the leash. He didn't quite get the hang of it... he just wanted to sit, like it paralyzed him.

The windows downstairs have a very narrow windowsill, too narrow for him to sit. He goes through all kind of crazy maneuvers trying to see out. Of course... he could just go stand at the sliding glass door and see the whole wide world...  but I guess the windows offer a better vantage point.

 Kitty standing on his hind legs in the window so he doesn't miss anything... he's got some sturdy hind legs. He could walk upright if he really wanted to.

"walking" on a leash

I was really stressed out watching Dancing With The Stars last night because it looked like Maks and Meryl were going home which is RIDICULOUS because she is the best one on there. My sentimental favorite is Candace Cameron Bure but let's face it... she's no Meryl. She has white girl hips... they don't lie. Tuesday night TV includes the Duggars, the Little Couple and their adorable adoptees and Tori and Dean's train wreck. Maybe it's the tv watching that's giving me insomnia this week. Not sure.

I downloaded a kakuro app on my Nook today. Kakuro is sort of a crossword puzzle with numbers. You're given the total and you have to figure up the digits that make up that sum. Digits can't be repeated in the same line. So if you have 3 as your sum with two blocks beside it, you know your digits are 2 and 1 and you just have to figure out which goes where. I've mastered sudoku so well that it was time for a change. Have to have something to keep my mind stimulated with all the reality tv I watch.

Anyways... that's all the "nothing to talk about" that I have for you today. Happy Tuesday! Love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

There is so much beautiful sentiment floating around Facebook today that one can't help but feel somewhat... well, sentimental. I adore all the photos of moms in their youth... the "mommy and me" pics... the happy families. Say what you will about social media but it does my heart good to feel the love that's out there.

There is also a palpable ache from those who never had the chance to hold their own little one in their arms... those whose mothers are no longer with them... those who haven't known the love of a happy family and I share in that grief, too. Not because it has been my experience but because nobody cries alone in my presence! Just like Valentines Day leaves us single folks out... Mother's Day can be exclusive and I'm sorry for that. I know what it's like to not be Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

For me... I got up this morning and put my rarely used cellphone on the charger in anticipation of phone calls from my long distance children. Ryan called first and Cody checked in just a few minutes later. They're so similar in so many ways - even when to call Mommy on Mother's Day. I had a nice chat with Ryan about what books he's reading - he's a big bookworm like his mom. Cody was planning a trip to Oakland Cemetery with his wife's family so I got to share from my historical knowledge of this old Atlanta cemetery. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind is buried there. And then when Austin got up - noonish - he wished me a Happy Mother's Day and fulfilled my one request - for a pitcher of sweet tea.

I was really shocked when I heard the dogs going nuts upstairs and realized that we had a delivery ON A SUNDAY! It was a dozen Shari's Berries - these amazing huge strawberries dipped in different chocolate toppings - from Cody and Marquee. I snagged a picture from their website - they are gorgeous and taste SO good! I had one for breakfast and one for lunch and just as soon as the two pieces of Papa's Pizza that I had for dinner settle down a little, I'm probably going to have another one and wash it down with my sweet tea! The berries came in a box that the kitties are really enjoying so it's a gift that keeps on giving!

Other than those indiscretions... I had pancakes with strawberries (not dipped in chocolate) for breakfast and cantaloupe for lunch. The evil gut pain is worse when I have a full belly so I try to eat smaller meals - a nibble here and a nibble there - but that's not possible with pizza. I just. can't. stop!

I'm always so grateful for feedback from you guys and I try to respond as best I can. I *try* to be honest and transparent here and I try to keep things positive because nobody likes a Gloomy Gus. It's helpful for me to look for highlights of my life to share with you because it helps me look for the bright side of things. And when things aren't bright and shiny it helps me to articulate my thoughts and feelings. I started blogging to share the trials and victories of weight loss and I continued blogging to share the trials and victories of life as a single mom. Along the way some of you got interested in my life and some of you who knew me but didn't always know what was going on in my life have been able to know more about what's going on. That's all hugely valuable to me - I mean, life altering, life sustaining stuff for me. I can't emphasize enough how much YOU matter to me. Every thought you share is important to me and I want to validate your questions and concerns as best I can.

I say all that to explore a little more deeply some of the thoughts I brought up in the post from the other day about "Getting Through Saturday". The idea being that the followers of Jesus spent the time in between the crucifixion and resurrection not really knowing what was going to happen. Not to elevate my problems with His sacrifice in any way - but to identify with the fears and doubts and frustration of being in the midst of the unknown. I was asked the following:

1. what happens to you when you think the thought 'i'm impotent'? how do you treat yourself? how do you interact with others? what is your life like with that thought?

-who would you be without the thought 'i'm impotent'? just for a moment pretend you can't have that thought in your life. what would it be like? at home, with family, with friends, in the world. how would you act different?

When you feel impotent it's hard to justify any expenditure on your behalf. I really struggled with the expense of going out to dinner for my birthday because my parents have been so generous to me already and I didn't want to cost them any more money. In the past I've seen celebration meals as a reward for hard work. I'm not working hard. It's a huge adjustment to go from single mom working two jobs and juggling all that entails to being someone who has very few responsibilities. I had my first baby at 18 - being a mom was what I did, my identity. It just happened that my kids came to adulthood at the same time that I became unable to work. Everything that I had used to identify myself went away at the same time. It's hard to know how to define myself in this stage of life. It's hard to know what role I fill. 

All that being said... I DO know that I'm an awesome aunt. I know that my girls value their time with me and enjoy being around me. I had aunts who made me feel special and that's how I treat the girls - like they're special. Jamie told her mama that she loved me because I'm "caring". I do care about them and love spoiling them and watching tv with them and hearing about their lives. I know that when they're grown they'll remember our time together because I remember my time with my aunts and how they went the extra mile for me. 

At some point, whether or not my disability claim is approved there will be a next chapter. I think a lot about how I can sustain myself and not be a  burden on my family even though there are very few things I can consistently do. Sometimes the question isn't so much if I am disabled, to the definition of Social Security as whether or not I'm employable. Because there are so many things that potentially sideline me - headaches and respiratory issues and all the back stuff - it's hard for me to do anything consistently. I have to find ways to contribute to my world that don't require me to make any kind of commitment to a deadline or time clock. 

Here's the second part: a burden to your family you say you are. have you asked them if they feel you are? for someone so burdensome they appear very happy around you, wanting to celebrate you. have you considered that you give them much greater things than lifting heavy boxes?

My family will tell you that I'm not a burden but yet there are real expenses that someone has to pay if I don't pay them. My food stamps don't last a full month. My prescriptions cost around $75-$100 a month. It costs money to keep my car insured and for me to visit the pain doctor and I don't always have money to cover those things. Somebody keeps the lights on here and makes sure we have toilet paper and so forth. Nobody here is bitter or resentful. My parents are generous people and they take good care of me and always have. It's hard for me to ask for help and I will never get past the mentality that I'm an adult and should be paying my way. Do I give them greater things than physically being able to help out? In some ways, yes, but also I've got to say that a lot of times I struggle to be cheerful and don't feel sociable. When you're in pain it's hard to be Little Miss Sunshine. I'm not good company most of the time. 

Lastly, and relationships, many many single parents there are out there like us. this is not bc there is something wrong with you. are all single ladies defective?

Are all single ladies defective? Aren't we all, in some way, carrying some sort of baggage? After my first marriage I was less aware of issues that myself and other folks had. I didn't hide my head in the sand but I was willing to overlook a lot. My second marriage was the first time in my life I had really been exposed to someone who was mean just for sport. My first husband was passive and uninvolved but he was rarely mean and never really TRIED to hurt me. Being raised in a loving family as the only girl sheltered me to a degree. I thought that people who loved each other just accepted each other's faults. What I went through in my second marriage made me less willing to enter into a relationship if I couldn't be above reproach. I got picked apart for everything I did and everything I was. I've been broken emotionally before but this is the first time I've had to deal with being broken physically. I don't trust anyone to be able to carry those burdens. In this time of uncertainty I can't risk any more variables in my life such as wondering about the state of a relationship. I've seen a lot of folks make it work in their second or third marriage and I'm happy for those happily ever afters. I'm just not open to that in my life right now. 

So that's it. It takes a lot for me to dig deep and articulate the things that hit closest to my heart. It's healthy and good to think about these things and I always find that I'm not alone in my thoughts and experiences so it's worth it to share. 

Hope you've had a lovely Mother's Day and a great weekend! Love and hugs, y'all! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dogs and Frogs and Life on the Lake

It's a gloomy day here at Cedar Hollow... overcast and dreary... this alone makes for a painful day.  I also had an adventure last night and wandered down to the water's edge and am feeling the repercussions of that today. The lake is not FAR but the hill back from it is steep. The unstable parts of my spine cannot handle any sort of incline - this is what makes climbing stairs so painful - it squishes the bulging discs and gets things all inflamed. It also started a newly intensified evil gut pain that is beyond description! It really takes my breath away.

All that being said... it was nice to be down at the lake watching Austin and Pop launch my Granddaddy's old fishing boat into the water. Granddaddy Pennington died in 1978 so the boat is old, practically an antique, but she's still seaworthy. We have to replace the battery for the trolling motor because it isn't holding a charge, some small holes had to be plugged and Austin had to clean a bird's nest out of the hull but overall, not bad for an old boat.

Since dachshunds don't make very good swimmers Oscar has to wear a little life jacket in the boat. He was not a fan but he was so cute! I think he would have enjoyed the boat ride if Mawmaw had gone with him. He can't stand to be away from Mawmaw, even when he can see her. Especially if he thinks she fishing without him. He is Mawmaw's fishing buddy. He searches the water carefully to watch for fish and gets excited whenever Mawmaw catches one. He's particularly fond of sushi. She caught three fish from the dock last night (after I had gone back to the house) and Oscar got to snack on one of them.

We also managed to get Little Kitty to wear a collar last night. He loves being outside but I don't want to just let him wander because there are lots of creatures out in the wilderness around here that love little cats - for dinner. I typically hold him in my arms and we walk around the backyard while he sniffs and listens to all the various birds and frogs and such. He really wants to be able to walk around and I would love for him to get to explore - a little - so we're trying to train him to walk on a leash. The biggest hurdle was getting a collar on him. It's taken several weeks but we finally got him to submit to a collar. We took him out last night and he captured a spider carcass (already dead) and explored the corners of the storage shed. This morning he was not having any part of being hooked to a leash. He's super curious but doesn't like anything new.

One of Austin's friends brought his new girlfriend over on Wednesday night. It's sort of a rite of passage that his friends want to introduce their ladies to the cats and the lake and all the fabulous-ness that is Cedar Hollow. This girl was adorable but really, REALLY dumb. She picked up Invinci-Frog and he peed on her. She came inside and asked me if she would get warts from a frog peeing on her and I said "no, I don't think so..." and she went to scrub her hands. When she came out of the bathroom she said, "it's TOADS, not frogs that cause warts, right?" I said, "I think you will be fine." *eyeroll*  Later she became really shocked when she realized I was "the mother". She said, "I thought you were about twenty". That's why I keep the lights low, friends. My two best lights are candle and moon. Also, she was really dumb.

Invinci-Frog is this frog that Austin swears has survived many efforts to eradicate him. Everything short of being burned at the stake or put in a blender... yet he still comes back night after night. Personally, I believe that there are many frogs, not one superior species but there's no convincing Austin of that. We have one fella that likes to come to our dock to go "frog-gigging" which is sort of like fishing but the prey is frogs. I can't allow myself to think about what they do with the frogs once they catch them. I don't care what you say... they can't possibly taste like chicken.

Anyways... lots more pictures of dogs in boats on my facebook page. Feel free to check them out. Maybe tomorrow if I'm pain-free I'll have a more in depth blog entry about some of the questions posed in my comments yesterday. I love feedback and I love the thought provoking questions but I just can't go there today. Today is a "just survive the day" day. Hope it's a good one for you!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Getting Through Saturday

I don't talk much about romance any more because in my heart, that issue feels settled. For so many years I thought I had to be part of a pair to be worth anything. I couldn't comprehend the value of a single person in today's world. Truly, there have been many trials in my life that should have been easier had there been "that guy" in my life. My last marriage showed me the ugly truth, however, that you can be with someone and still be very alone. Honestly, both marriages were like that for me. I have wasted so much energy in my life trying to find someone to be coupled with... and once coupled to make that person love me the way I wanted to be loved. It just never happened.

There came a moment that the searching and seeking became too much for me. After trying so many times, going on so many dates, striking up so many friendships with the hope of developing a relationship and being disappointed time after time, I realized that my heart couldn't take another let down.  I couldn't go through any more introductory emails... spend any more time waiting for the phone to ring... white knuckle through any more first dates... only to find out that he didn't like cats or whatever excuse was handy to let me know it wasn't going to happen. Again. Nor could I be put in the position of hurting other people... facing the choice of faking interest and attraction or coming up with my own equivalent of the "allergic to cats" excuse. At some point I just couldn't play the game any more. Once I decided that I was one of a rare breed of people who don't HAVE to be part of a couple, it felt like the weight of the world was taken off of my shoulders.

I have been unlucky in love - at least the long term, devoted, unconditional kind - but I have had some wonderful romantic adventures along the way. I don't share those stories here because I don't want to embarrass myself or my parents or my kids... but I could write a book, trust me! Not being in one lifelong committed relationship has helped to expand my horizons and exposed me to more than my narrow world would have permitted. I've had so many of those long conversations that you have during the "getting to know you" stage of a relationship that I could easily write a dissertation on the mind of the American male. I've also learned how strong and independent I am. I wouldn't be who I am if I had been part of a pair.

Knowing what I know now, the chapters of my life that have been revealed to me, make me understand why it was not a great idea for me to be part of a couple in this season of life. It's very hard to be coupled with someone who can't work or do much around the house or enjoy an evening out without pain. Who wants to sit around all the time with me? I have an active and curious mind which helps me stay entertained when the days all look the same but would a partner be as easily entertained? And honestly, there are times that even a gentle embrace is painful so you can eliminate a lot of the stuff involved in a healthy, happy relationship. I'm grateful not to have the guilt of disappointing a spouse.

Being a teen mom was hard but I'm glad I started early and was able to raise my children to adulthood before I became unable to be active. Austin's last year or two of school was hard on us both. He had to assume a lot of responsibility that teenagers shouldn't have but honestly, he couldn't do enough to make life bearable for me. As frustrated as I am with his lack of progress in getting an education or starting a career, I know that without him I would be much, much worse off. He does a lot of the lifting, bending, toting and climbing that I can no longer do. Sometimes he shuts down and stops cooperating but fortunately those times are fewer and farther apart as time goes by.

The point is that even though we don't understand these different seasons of life and may not understand where we're going or why we're going there, there's always a purpose. Can you imagine what life was like for the early followers of Christ on that Saturday between the crucifixion and the resurrection? They believed. They were invested. They had left their homes and families in many cases to follow him and then he was gone. They must have felt so frustrated and abandoned and disillusioned. They had no way of knowing that Sunday was coming.

That's how I feel. This season has stretched long and far and has had so many challenges. I feel impotent. I am a burden on my family and there is no way for me to change these current circumstances. It is the season of waiting and I am not a patient person. Things have not gone my way over the past few years and it's hard to remain optimistic. I play this game with myself where I think, "if the disability case isn't approved, what then? How will you provide for yourself for the rest of your life?" And then I follow up with a prayer that God will not allow that to happen. But I also prayed for many, many years for God to give me that special someone and eventually had to accept that was not His will for me. I didn't understand then but now I do.

I just pray that God gives me the strength to survive my Saturday... in between disaster and resolution... in between disillusionment and understanding. I pray that He will sustain me during my time of not knowing His purpose. And I trust that He will continue to expand my horizons during this season of waiting.

Ultimately all of us are in that position of not knowing the future. I once heard a preacher say that all of us are either in a crisis, just coming out of a crisis or just about to go into a crisis. It's inevitable that we face trials of many kinds. Just remember that Sunday is coming.

love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Cherries are in season and they are EXPENSIVE! Instead of flowers or jewelry for Mother's Day... get your mom some cherries. I spent $8 on a little bag of them. In the grand scheme of things... they are good for you (and good for easing pain) and people (meaning me) spend more than that on things that aren't as nutritious.

I picked up a few things at the store today. We've gotten into the habit (this week... two days in a row so far which equals "habit" in my world) of eating a big meal at lunch and then eating Special K with fruit for dinner. I'm not sure but I think I'm sleeping better without having a big meal later in the day. I've been eating fruit for breakfast - melon, grapes, strawberries. And I haven't been hungry - not even during my normal "snack times". For snacks I've been eating peanuts or red hots. Ok, red hots aren't nutritious but they last a long time. The important thing is that I'm eating better and eating less and I haven't seen Debbie in two weeks!

Pollen has been heavy lately. The weather has been really warm in the day but cool at night so we've been keeping the windows open. Last night I had to add an extra blanket but still enjoyed breathing the cool air, even if it was pollinated.

Jamie has improved her cat's cradle skills since Monday and has even taught her friends at school. We're bringing it back, y'all! She was proud to show me her "double witch's broom" this afternoon. She has a field trip coming up and she was explaining the politics of who is sitting by whom on the bus. In case you were wondering, third grade hasn't changed all that much since we were there.

We have the WORST luck with icemakers. When I got up yesterday morning there was a big chunk of plastic in my cup, leftover from the ice from the night before. I'm guessing that big chunk of plastic had something to do with the icemaker no longer crushing ice. The repairman was surprised that we had to call him back again... it's only been three months since he last fixed it. It's not like we're making margaritas or something... our ice usage is normal, I would think. We've only had the refrigerator for a year and a half.

One of Austin's friends came over last night with his baby - and the baby's mama. The cats were curious about this tiny human. Baby slept the whole time he was here. I told mama to go hang out with the guys and I would holler if if the baby woke up. She was nervous - she had never left him before and she didn't want to impose, I think. Honestly, he wasn't any trouble because he just slept.

The garden is growing... my fig tree has sprouted a few leaves... the sun rises, the sun sets and life goes on!

 the fig tree is the thing that looks like a piece of straw in the middle of the circle