Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas on Call

Every year when I sing for Christmas Eve at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, I am reminded of a Christmas several years ago when I was still working at the mental health. I was on call this particular Christmas and, to my dismay, my beeper went off about 30 minutes before the service was to begin. 

I called our answering service and was connected to "Jay", one of our clients who was constantly in conflict with his sister. Upset with her about something, Jay proceeded to make threats against his sister. Of course, I had to take these seriously. I tried to get Jay to tell me where he was, so that I could get someone out to check on him and pick him up if necessary. 

Jay knew the drill. If someone came out and believed that Jay was a serious danger to his sister at that point, he would spend Christmas in jail or the local psychiatric facility. Instead of telling me where he was, he asked me if I thought he was crazy. His sign off was "Fuck you bitch!" Then, perhaps thinking that greeting was a bit harsh, he added "And Merry Christmas!" 

After hanging up, I immediately called the sheriff's office. They were able to pick Jay up, calm him down, and take him safely home. 

I have not seen this man in years, but I still crack up when I remember his Christmas greeting. Merry Christmas, Jay. Wherever you are. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wild Week

This week was quite a roller coaster of activity and emotions, ranging from the low of being afraid I was going to lose another "mama" right here at Christmastime to the high of our lovely chancel choir cantata this morning. 


In between was a great time at a book signing and art exhibition at the local library. Each vendor pledged a certain amount of proceeds to benefit the local Child Abuse Prevention Center. We also had place for attendees to donate on their own. Over $200.00 was raised for this very worthy cause. 


Next week will be somewhat busy as I make some last preparations for Christmas and help Dad with Sara when she gets home. But, Lord willing, it should be a calmer and less emotionally intense week.


Did I say that out loud?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ICU and Lipstick

As I was walking into the hospital yesterday to take my shift sitting with my stepmom, I saw my dad coming out carrying Sara's things. One look at Dad's face told me that the news was not good. Sara's blood pressure was too low and they had moved her into the intensive care unit. Her diastolic (the bottom number) pressure had gone down to 17. The last time I saw a pressure that low was when my mom was dying. My heart just sank.  


Three pints of blood, constant monitoring, and some medication juggling later, she seems to be out of the woods. She is still in ICU, but felt well enough this afternoon to ask for her powder and lipstick. I knew she had turned a corner as I dug through her train case and helped her fix up a bit. You know a Southern woman is going to make it when she asks for her lipstick!



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Surgery

Tomorrow, my sweet stepmom, Sara, will have surgery to replace her hip. This thing has really been slowing this 80 year old lady down the past few months. It has been frustrating for her, because she is used to going and doing as she pleases. 


Hip replacement these days is fairly routine, but there are concerns. She *is* 80. She has some problems with a blood disorder and blood pressure. Her lungs were damaged by hydrochloric acid years ago and effects linger. However, none of this has slowed her down much. Just this hip. 


So, tonight I am praying. For personal strength and energy to be able to help my dad and her sons care for her. For my dad to be able to get the rest *he* needs during all this. And for the surgeons and hospital staff to be at their very best. 


But, most of all, I am praying for a positive outlook, freedom from fear, smooth surgery, and a swift recovery for Sara. 



Wednesday, December 01, 2010

TSA

I have been following the recent events surrounding body scans, pat downs, etc. with some interest. Many "average" travelers are now dealing with things that I, as a disabled person, have been putting up with for the past 10 years. 


On a trip to a Myasthenia Gravis gathering in Cleveland Ohio, I was being transported through the airport in a wheelchair (this was before I got my scooter). I had my C-Pap with me. I was stopped, pulled out of line, and questioned about my machine. They would not allow me to open the case and show them what it was. They called in a bomb sniffing dog. I missed my flight and had to wait about 6 hours for the next flight. I had to load my luggage on the wheelchair and take it all with me every time I had to use the restroom. I was unable to walk far enough to get a meal or visit the shops. This was pre-iPhone, so it was pretty boring. 


Pat downs seem to be pretty much routine for me when I use my scooter in an airport. They make me drive my scooter off to the side, but won't allow me to go back through the scanner. It also takes time for them to examine my scooter and my biPap. Some even make me remove my medic-alert. 


I do realize that all this is a necessary evil and not likely to change. But for you "normal" folks...welcome to MY world. 



Monday, November 29, 2010

Missing Mama

This Christmas, my mama will have been gone 20 years. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been that long. It seems like just yesterday that I spent Christmas in the waiting room outside of the ICU praying that mama could beat the odds just one more time. 


Christmas was mama's favorite holiday. We would cook and make goodies for the people who helped keep her going. Precious pharmacists, doctors, friends, and neighbors. Her tree was always beautifully decorated, often with my handmade ornaments. We would sing "O Holy Night" together, my soprano blending perfectly with her wonderful, rich alto. 


Some Christmases are more difficult than others. For some reason, this season is already beginning to get to me. I got teary eyed singing some of her favorite carols at Hanging of the Greens. Three friends have lost loved ones in the past two weeks, and their grief brings mine back, even after all these years. 


But, I am my mothers' child. I may feel sad at times, but I will get through the holiday with as much joy and grace as I can muster. Goodies will be baked, solos will be sung, and my tree will be exquisitely decorated with the ornaments she gave me. 


My memories ensure that mama lives on. 


In me. 







Friday, November 26, 2010

27 Years

Twenty seven years. Where does the time go?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flare-Up

I have spent the day on the couch after falling twice this morning. My myasthenia is trying to flare up and I don't have time for it. I have tried to pace myself over the past few weeks, but sometimes this is just the way it is. 


MG seems to love to pick my busiest times to knock me down. I just don't have time for this right now. Even though I have pared holidays down considerably, I still have things to do. 


The things that are weighing on me most right now are the church choir cantata, which wears me out even when I am at my best, and concern over my sweet stepmom's hip replacement surgery timed for the week before Christmas. I want to be well enough to help her and my dad out while she is convalescing. 


I have been having my annual "Pre-December" panic the past few days. Now it is time to make a plan, pace myself, and get a grip. 



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Godiva

I was introduced to Godiva chocolate years ago my by friend, the late, great Elizabeth Ann Myers. She admired this candy not only for its creamy taste, but admired these candies as "works of art" as well. Ever since, I have treated myself and friends to this luscious treat on special occasions. 


On a trip to Office Max today, I began getting a bit lightheaded and realized when I looked at my watch that it was past my lunch time. I looked around to see what they might have in the way of edibles to get me through until I could finish my mission and get a proper lunch. A familiar name caught my eye and I nabbed a small bag of Godiva milk chocolate truffles. I took it over to the Copy Max counter where I was waiting for job to be finished, opened the bag, and savored one of these sweet treats. 


I struck up a conversation with the young gentleman in line behind me. I asked him if he had ever had Godiva and he admitted that he had not yet had that pleasure. I offered him a truffle and loved the look of satisfaction that crossed his features. I gave him a second one for good measure. 


I asked the nice gentleman waiting on me if he liked chocolate. He had never had Godiva either. I quickly remedied that situation. My next converts were the cashiers who had also never tasted this lovely chocolate. 


I left the store with a nearly empty bag. Spreading the "Gospel of Godiva." 


It was a beautiful thing. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Shopping

I have to admit that I do not do a whole lot of Christmas shopping. My family has pared down quite a bit over the years. But there are a few things that I need to pick up, most of which I cannot get in Vicksburg or online. 


So, the little red scooter and I are going to Jackson in the morning to try to get it done. There is no "Black Friday" deal good enough to get me in the stores that day.  I do not Christmas shop in December. That is a sure fire way to lose my Christmas spirit!



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Voice Update

Today, I went to my throat doc for another laryngoscope. The good news is that the vocal cords are finally free of irritation. The bad news is that most of my trouble is now caused from the easy muscle fatiguability caused by Myasthenia Gravis.  Add to that the crushing general fatigue I often experience that is connected to my autoimmune disorders in general, and I don't have the ability to sing for very long at one time anymore. 


Basically, I have to start thinking differently about my singing. A song or two as opposed to a "program." A Sunday anthem with the choir, but maybe not the Christmas cantata. This is a really hard shift in thinking for me. I was always an extremely reliable singer who could pretty much do it all. 


The doc also cautioned me to continue to limit phone conversations and to be careful of raising my voice to be heard by elderly friends and family members. This is especially difficult as my father and my husband both have hearing loss. I am going to have to find more effective ways to be heard. 


Many thanks to all who have prayed for the restoration of my voice. 


Now I just have to use it wisely. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Success!

The Senior Center Art Show went better than I could have ever imagined! Donations of art works totally exceeded my expectations. Help was plentiful, with two of my young friends coming to help set up. I was able to mostly sit and direct traffic,  which worked very well. 


Attendance was quite good, considering we were not allowed (by the city) to put an advertisement in our local paper.  Word of mouth and posters sufficed. And we made enough money to ensure that art programs continue, even if our budget faces the axe. So far, we have been able to offer these programs completely free of charge so that anyone who wishes to "do art" can participate. 


I was totally humbled by the number of my personal friends and family who stopped by. Not all of them bought paintings, but they were interested in seeing what we do. And fourteen of the 18 paintings that I donated sold. And not just to my friends! :)



Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Senior Center Art and Craft Show

This painting is not mine, but the work of Connie, one of my talented students at Vicksburg Senior Center. She graciously donated a high quality print of this refreshing scene to the art sale that begins this Friday. 


I can't begin to describe my my delight in how this sale has come together. Some of my newest students are already able to paint well enough to offer work for sale. Their efforts and donations will help ensure that the art programs at the Senior Center continue next year. 


It has been a joy to see my students take what instruction I am able to give (and I am no professional!), practice, and develop their individual styles. It is fun to help budding artists realize that it is NEVER too late (my oldest student is 78) to learn a new skill. And this show gives them a chance to both show and sell their work. 


Local art lovers, come enjoy!


And don't forget those wallets!



Saturday, October 23, 2010

3rd Place!

Tonight I received quite a shock when my friends came up to me at the Vicksburg Art Association Fall Show and told me I had won a ribbon for one of my watercolor paintings. 
I am honored for my name to be among those who have won many ribbons at VAA shows. Watercolor is always the category with the most entries and it is very tough to place in. 


Adding to my excitement was seeing two of my students from the Vicksburg Senior Center sell their first paintings tonight. I am so proud of them I could just burst! They have only been painting for about a year and to see their work sell at this show is just amazing. I don't know who was more thrilled, them or me! 


Next up, the Senior Center Art Show and Sale!



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beauty Shop

For the first time in his life, my husband had to get his hair cut at a "beauty shop." 


The longtime "old man" barbers in town, Monte and Mr. Clark have either retired or will be retiring soon. Long hours on their feet are just no longer possible due to age and health issues. These barbershops were more than just a place to get an "over the ears" cut or a flattop. They were social gathering places where men could get together and talk football, politics, and whatever else was on their minds. 


The shop I go to is not a "fussy" beauty shop. There is not a dab of pink anywhere. It is staffed by  "down to Earth" ladies who are quick and efficient. It took a bit of persuading, but I finally got my husband to let me make him an appointment. 


Turns out, my husband used to skate with the father and aunts of Amber, who cut his hair today. And he went to school with the older brothers of the beautician in the next chair, Rita. It was practically "old home week." 


Nothing will ever replace Monte's, but the transition does not seem to be as painful as I feared. And his hair looks terrific!







Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Crash

I have had a lovely birthday week and now I am paying the price for overdoing!

Of course, overdoing is relative. I have gone from the woman who drove 160 mile round trip to and from Monroe, LA for three years to get my Master's in counseling, to the woman who has to come home and sleep half the afternoon after teaching a 2 hour watercolor class.

I have had an activity outside the house every day since last Saturday and now I pay. I have done little but sleep and watch football all weekend.

Ah well, this is my current reality and I deal with it as gracefully as I can. Even if my inner two year old is pouting!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Birthday

My 51st birthday has been one of the nicest ones I have ever had. It began with a overnight journey with my longtime BFF, Teresa to Greenville, Mississippi to pancakes at Jim's Cafe. While there, we also drove over the new Mississippi River bridge, a quite impressive suspension structure. http://www.greenvillebridge.com/, partook of pasta at a wonderful place called Shermans, and found a KMart. Yes, there are no KMarts anywhere close to me, so finding one is a treat. 


My second celebration was with my dear friends Norma and Denny Allman at the FrogHead Grill in Clinton. We shared cinnamon bread pudding and took the scenic route of old Hwy 80 on the way home, reminiscing about car trips on 2 lane roads taken in the "old days." 


Today began with my husband bringing me chocolate donuts for breakfast while I read dozens of wonderful birthday greetings on Facebook! Then we went to the Salvation Army Soup and Sandwich fundraiser for lunch. Afterwards, I told my husband that what I really wanted for MY birthday was for HIM to get a new laptop. The tiny AsusEEEPC that he has been using is excruciatingly slow and has many problems. So, after some protesting on his part, off to Jackson we went to Best Buy where we found him an HP laptop. 


While I was setting up the new computer, the rescues of the Chilean miners began. A perfect ending to a perfect day! 


And there are more celebrations to come!





Monday, September 27, 2010

Corpus Christi

Wednesday, my husband and I are off to Corpus Christi, Texas to visit his oldest sister and her husband. I have never been to this city or their home and I am both nervous and excited. 


Hopefully, I have covered all my bases. I called Southwest to make sure I would have no trouble with my scooter, my BiPap,(bi-level positive airway pressure)  or my many medications. After my experience in Cleveland with my BiPap I am gun shy! I missed my flight while bomb sniffing dogs were called to make sure this device that helps me breathe at night was not an explosive device! 


So, I am praying for smooth airport experiences and enough energy to be able to enjoy this trip. 







Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Silent Song

Two months have passed since I have been able to sing. It feels like a vital part of me has been ripped away. There is music I cannot bear to listen to when I am unable to sing along. 


I am thankful that I at least have my art to help fulfill my need for self expression. It does help fill the empty place that not being able to sing creates. 


Maybe by this time next month, I will once again be able to raise my voice in song. 



Friday, September 17, 2010

Off to Four Corners

Tomorrow morning, my 78 year old Daddy and almost 80 year old Stepmom are getting in their Chevrolet Impala and heading out to the Four Corners. This is where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona all meet. 


They have no set itinerary. They are just going to drive as far as they feel like driving until they get there. I admire their spirit of adventure. I tend to be a "planner." I want my motel rooms booked and a route firmly mapped out. 


I admit, I am a little nervous as the 'rents go off on this adventure. I have the make and model of the car and the tag number in my cellphone. I made sure they had every number they might possibly need in THEIR cellphone and that Daddy knew how to find said numbers. They do not have a car charger, so I reminded them to plug that phone in and charge it EVERY night, no matter what. They are supposed to call one of the 5 assorted children every night to let us know where they are. And they are supposed to be in a motel by dark every night. 


I feel a bit like a nagging parent. I am both nervous and excited for them. As they become more limited by their health issues, I know that the adventures will be fewer and farther between. 


So I will be praying for protection and safe travels. And hoping they have the time of their lives. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Cricket Box


This week, I was invited to speak to a group of retired teachers about watercolor painting and teaching at the Vicksburg Senior Center. It was a bit intimidating to look out into the faces of some of those who taught me many years ago. I was tickled to have a chance to say "thank you" to some of my old teachers and for them to see that I did "turn out" OK.
 
While at this gathering, two of the retired teachers came up to me and offered me and my art a place at their new consignment gift shop, "The Cricket Box." I promptly rented a wall space and am now making it my own with my watercolors. 

Rent is only $25.00 a month, along with the owners receiving a 10% commission on sales. This seems extremely fair to me. I signed on through December, so I am taking a $100.00 gamble on myself. 

I think I am worth it. Time will tell. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Secret Garden

Bill and I attended a performance of "The Secret Garden" last night. It was a amateur theatre performance, but quite nicely done. Sets were quite imaginative and the mostly young cast did a nice job.


I always loved this Frances Hodgson Burnett story. It struck a chord in me from the time I read it in third grade. I envied Mary having her secret garden to escape to. I longed for such an escape as a child. But, for me, no place felt really "safe." 


When my niece was little, she loved this story as well. I remember her causing her father some distress by going around making the declaration "My father hates me!"  And, if I recall correctly, she locked her little brother (casting him in the role of Colin)  in his room at least once. 


This story was first published in 1910. It is now 2010 and the story seems as timeless and popular as ever. The belief in the healing powers of love, the mind, and living things is powerful and never grows old. 



Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Mad!

OK, I have to rant a bit. 


My niece, who just started college, is having oral surgery today to fix displaced teeth and a cracked jawbone. Why? Because of a stupid dorm initiation ritual that had the freshman girls walking through a field, blindfolded. 


This is the 21st century! Isn't it time for this kind of stupidity to stop? Now, instead of attending her first day of class, young Julie will be sitting in an oral surgeons chair and will have her mouth wired almost completely shut for the next 6 weeks. 


Being the tough kid she is, I know she will deal with this with humor and grace. I just hate that she has to. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Difficult Sunday

I spent most of this morning in church fighting tears. For the 4th Sunday in a row, I was unable to sing in the choir or join in my beloved hymns.  I have not really been able to sing effectively in almost 2 months. 


We had a guest singer, Maura McIntosh, who has a lovely alto voice. She is doing what I had hoped to be doing someday, traveling and singing at different churches and gatherings. 


Despite vocal rest, my throat is more sore than ever. I am beginning to despair that my voice will never again be truly reliable. What begins as a minor cold can take me out vocally for 2 to 3 months when the inevitable complications set in. 


I try to wrap my head around what it would mean to no longer be a musician. This is an identity I have had for most of my life. I cannot ever remember a time when I was not singing, and getting attention for being good at it. It is such an integral part of the way I see myself and the way others see me. 


Who am I, if I am not a musician? It looks like I may have to find that out. 



Friday, September 03, 2010

10 Things (Good and Bad) I Have Learned This Summer

1. I can live just fine being online less.


2. "Blame the victim" mentality is alive and well.


3. True friends don't make me fit in a box.


4. Physical challenges have made me more creative.


5. The husband's retirement is not a bad thing, especially since I got HIM a computer. 


6. Now that I get "Lifetime" I see what all the fuss about Project Runway is about.


7. I can still connect with old High School friends and we pick up where we left off 33 years ago.


8. I am basically a mellow person, but can and will defend myself if attacked. 


9. I am smarter than I think I am.


10. I am blessed beyond belief. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

After Katrina

After Katrina


This photo is of one of the two bridges over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg. I was never so proud of my small city as I was after Katrina.
Our people opened shelters, hearts, homes, and wallets. Local merchants would refuse to take money from evacuees for goods or services. Quite a few of our guests liked Vicksburg so much that they chose to stay and become part of our community.
Although Katrina brought out the worst in some, it brought out the best in many more.

Remembering Katrina

Remembering Katrina


Although I was 3 1/2 hours inland, the day Katrina hit was one of the scariest days of my life. Big trees fell all around my house, but, miraculously, none of them landed on it.
My sister was the first to get electricity, so we were 14 people, two dogs, and 1 cat all staying in her modest house. We could not get gasoline, fresh food was in short supply, and terrifying stories of people doing harm to each other for supplies were all over the news.
Fortunately, after about a month, my life pretty much returned to normal. My heart goes out to those still waiting.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mixed Blessing

Yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the improved hand control and vision I experience when I am on a higher dose of prednisone. Using my new Daniel Smith DuoChrome colors, I was able to a paint a "tone on tone" negative piece. The differences in these colors are subtle and harder to see than the brighter colors I normally use. 


A scan does not entirely reflect the richness or shine of these colors. They are proving to be a lot of fun to work with. Thanks to sales and free shipping, I can afford to splurge on some new art materials to play with. And the fun is just beginning!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Voice Verdict

Thankfully, I have no nodes or calluses on my vocal cords. But, my cords and voicebox are extremely inflamed. I will not be able to sing for several weeks. I will have to severely limit my speech as well. 


The worst part of this is actually the isolation it causes. As a speech therapist once told me, silence is not the way of our world. Writing notes is cumbersome and awkward and not always feasible. I am going to try to have my watercolor classes, because I can show them what to do without a lot of explaining. 


Prayers for healing and the restoration of my voice are appreciated. 


This too shall pass. 

Off to the Doc

After a month of coughing and sore throat, I am crying "uncle" and going to my wonderful ENT to get my vocal cords checked out. 


I want to sing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sermon Notes

One of the many neat things I have been able to do on my iPhone is take sermon notes. I am not able to write in longhand quickly or legibly enough to do it any more. So, when I saw the "notes" application on my phone, using it for sermon notes seemed a logical thing to do. I have been doing this since last October. 


Now, sermon notes are not for everyone. But, for me, they keep me focused and I like being able to go back and recall the things that spoke to me that day in particular. 


This morning, I was kindly taken aside and told that some church members are distracted by my use of my iPhone and think that I am texting or surfing in church. Apparently, some of our members do not think it is possible for this 50 year old woman to use her iPhone keyboard quickly and efficiently enough to take sermon notes. 


Back when some of us tried to take sermon notes in longhand, we were criticized for writing in church. It is a no-win situation, I suppose.  I could try dragging my church into the 21st century, but that is probably futile. 


Since I am the person who loads the sermons on to the church website, I guess I can listen again and take my notes at home. 


But, it is just not the same. 







Friday, August 20, 2010

Asthma, continued...

I guess I was hoping to be further along after three days of high dose steroids. Breathing is still something of a struggle. I am still coughing. And I am tired. 


I have not been able to really sing for almost a month and that is getting me down. It seems like the times I can sing are getting fewer and father between. Is singing really all but over for me at age 50? I know people who could still sing beautifully into their seventies and even eighties. I had always hoped and prayed to be one of them.


This has been a particularly hot and humid summer. Many of my asthmatic friends are complaining of the same difficulties. I am not alone. But, most of them are not singers. 


When my hands cooperate, art is helping to fill the void that not being able to sing leaves in my soul. 


But my soul needs to sing again. 


Soon. 



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Zone"-ing

After 3 weeks of constant, not always effective use of my rescue inhaler, I have finally bitten the bullet and let my pulmonologist increase my prednisone to see if I can get this pesky asthma under control. 


Increased prednisone is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it gives me more energy, I have less chronic pain, and I breathe so much more freely. The downside is the feeling of being "hyper", sleep disturbance, and weight gain.  And I get pretty cranky when I wean back down to my normal dose. May have to send Bill off camping for a couple of days. 


But, since breathing is pretty important, I will take the bad with the good and do the prednisone dance. 



Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pennie

When I began a counseling internship at the local mental health agency back in 1998, one of the first people I met was Pennie. 


Pennie had not been out of school for long, but she was an excellent counselor. Pretty and vivacious, she helped keep things loose in a job that could have extremely tense moments. I could go in Pennie's office, close the door behind me, and let off some steam. She always knew she could do the same. 


We worked together through the breakup of her first marriage, the suicide of one of my friends, my grandmother's death,  Pennie's remarriage and the birth of her son. 


When Pennie left, things were never quite the same at the mental health. She lives in Texas now, but we have stayed in touch by phone, email, Facebook, and face to face when she comes to Mississippi to visit family.  We can still crack each other up with just a word or two. 


Last week, Pennie had a mild stroke. It has been determined that this was due to a hole in her heart. She has surgery to repair that in the morning.  


So, tonight I am praying for successful surgery, complete recovery, and many more laughs. 



Cold

No, unfortunately, I am not talking about the weather, but a nasty summer cold that has hung on for two weeks now. 


Complicating matters, of course, are my friends MG and asthma. And the extreme heat has played its part. I have had a couple of days where even my inhaler has not been very effective in restoring free breathing. That is when I get just a tad bit scared. 


So, I have spent the past two days on the couch. I am going to attempt to venture as far as church this morning, which will, no doubt, be followed by an afternoon of rest. 


Fall is coming? Right?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Mitch Miller

I imagine a number of people are remembering Mitch Miller today. And I have a feeling that our memories are going to be almost identical. 


I can remember being 4 or 5 and sitting in front of my grandmothers old black and white Zenith TV with the rabbit ears on top. Supper might have been one of those old Swanson TV dinners, served on folding metal TV trays. My personal favorite was the roast beef. That dinner, in itself, was quite a treat at the time.


Then, the entire family would sit down in front of the TV. And we kids would literally be IN FRONT of the TV. I don't  ever remember any grownup telling us to move away from the screen. And we ALL sang along with Mitch and followed that ubiquitous bouncing ball. "When You Wore a Tulip" is still one of my favorites. 


I have to wonder if ol' Mitch is up in Heaven, leading a chorus of angels, perhaps? 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cabin Fever

It is almost August in Mississippi and I have a bit of cabin fever. With temperatures hovering close to 100 degrees with high humidity, MG dictates when I can get out and when it is best to stay in my (thankfully!) air conditioned home. 


Heat this high is a hazard for anyone who is out in it for any length of time. And certainly miserable for most people just getting in and out of a hot car. With MG, this heat makes it dangerous for me to be out much at all. So far, the DVR, Netflix, Facebook Scrabble, and watercolor painting are keeping me from going any crazier than I already am. 


Maybe I should paint a snow scene. That could work. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carmen

Tomorrow, my niece and I are set to see another filmed MET performance. This time, the opera is "Carmen." 


I love this opera for many reasons. It is sung in French, for one thing. I love the way this language flows, especially when sung. I love the fiery passion of Carmen and her lover, Don Jose.


Most of all, I love this opera for the memories it brings back of my mother. She used to tell me about going to New Orleans with her music teacher as a high school student to see Risë Stevens in the title role of the doomed gypsy. This was a highlight of my mother's life. I think she wanted me to know that she had a life before she got married and had us kids. 


So, tomorrow I will share my mothers favorite opera with my niece, the grandchild my mother did not live long enough to meet. I like to think that Mama is smiling in Heaven as I share a part of "her" world with the next generation. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Disappearing Background

When I went to write my blog post this morning, I noticed that my "Cutest Blog on the Block" background was missing. I could not find my background on their current website, nor could I figure out how to put a new one on from the instructions given. 


So, I looked around at the Blogger choices and chose this one. It is clean, easy to read, has colors that I like, and reminds me a bit of some of the abstract art I have been doing. 


Change can be good.

Sephora Seduction

Yesterday, I found a candy store for grown women. It is called Sephora.

As I walked into this wonderland, I was greeted by a pink haired (seriously!) beauty consultant, who handed me a cute little basket and pointed me in the direction of the "Bare Minerals" products. I selected the product I had come for and added a new moisturizer as well. Then I went looking for a new lipstick.

Not particularly enthralled with the Bare Minerals selection of lip enhancers, I went wandering over to the Laura Mercier aisle. I found a lovely, bronze tinted lip balm that I simply could not resist.

I was able to navigate past the adorable sample-sized products at the checkout counter and get out before I had gone too far over budget. But, it took almost as much willpower as it would have taken to get me out of the Godiva Store.

I know that the economy is in a slump, but this was not evident in the crowded Sephora store. Whatever else they may have to give up, many women are going to do what it takes to look their best. Including me, I admit.

Thank goodness this "candy store" is a two hour round trip from my house! Otherwise this could be extremely hazardous to my wallet.




Monday, July 19, 2010

iPhone Adventure

Yesterday as I was taking the small elevator down from the third floor of First United Church (the kind that has the grill that has to be closed for the elevator to work) my iPhone fell from my fingers. Between the second and third floors it skittered through the grill and plunged down to what I thought would surely be its demise.

When I bought this iPhone, my first ever, I purchased a case with a screen protector and had an Apple Store employee put it on before I so much as touched my new toy. I truly believe that my case is the reason my phone survived. It is the iSkin Solo FX, a silicon cover with a thicker screen saver that becomes a mirror when the phone is off. It was a bit pricey, but was worth every cent even before yesterday's plunge.

A lovely gentleman from the church fished my phone from the bottom of the elevator shaft for me. Aside from a few small pockmarks on the case, the phone works perfectly (except for the crummy AT&T service in my town right now, but that is another story!). Once again, I can play Scrabble, keep up with my calendar, Facebook, read, listen to music, and manage my Netflix queue while never leaving the comfort of my sofa.

The moral of this story? I will not try to walk and carry my phone at the same time.

Especially in an elevator.




Saturday, July 17, 2010

Like Family

Yesterday I found myself trying to describe to a friend who is "not from around here" how I feel about a number of people who are not "blood kin." These attachments largely come from a combination of having lived (except for going to college less than an hour away) in the same city since 1968 and the kind of person my mother was.

When we moved to Vicksburg in 1968, the first person we met was Miss Juanita, our next door neighbor, who came over and introduced herself with baby Todd on her hip. Since then, our families have been "chosen" family with each other. Juanita and her precious husband, the late "Mr. Don" were the kind of friends who would wake up at 3 AM and rush my mother to the emergency room far quicker than an ambulance could get all the way out to the county. Our families have eaten holiday dinners together, rejoiced at weddings and births, and mourned the deaths of my mom and Mr. Don. These people are family in every way that counts.

Another member of my extended chosen family are my sister's in-laws, whom we have called Granna and Papaw since my sister's children arrived. They have been part of my life since my sister began dating their son when they were both 14. My mom and Granna decided early on that they would have each other's entire families over for holidays. We still spend Christmas at Granna's house and Thanksgiving at the Nelson house. Granna is like a second mother to me and she and Papaw are family in every way that counts.

My friend Teresa is like a sister to me and has been since I met her in college. We have been there for each other through each other's joys and heartaches. Her mother "adopted" me long ago. I call her "mom." Again, she is family in every way that counts.

And because these people are "family", then the people they care about become important to me as well.

Added to my biological family, my extended family makes for a large brood sometimes.

But I would not have it any other way.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

La Bohème

I will never forget the first time I saw Puccini's La Bohème. Someone had managed to get student tickets for my friends and me to see a traveling production at our local city auditorium. Pam, Donna, Becky, and I all dressed in our Sunday best and one of the mothers (can't remember which) drove us. None of us had ever been to an opera and we had no idea what to expect.

By the end of "Che gelida manina", I was totally enchanted. I looked down my row. Donna and Becky seemed to be moderately enjoying Bohème. Pam was asleep and was actually snoring. By the end of the opera, I knew I would be a Puccini fan for life.

Tomorrow I will drive a two hour round trip to a Jackson theater to see filmed MET production of what is still my favorite opera. My 17 year old niece is going with me.

I wonder if she will come away as enchanted as I was all those years ago?

I hope so.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunflowers


Last Friday, I took my long awaited 50% coupon for Michael's and purchased a table easel. Many watercolorists do not use easels, but some do.
I decided to try it.

These days, I pretty much paint without any kind of guiding sketch, so I just decided I wanted to paint sunflowers and dove in. I was surprised to find that I did not try to grip the brush as tightly when I painted on my easel, so my hand did not get as tired or shaky. I also got a much desired "loose" effect that I have been striving for.

Response to this painting has astonished me. People on both my Facebook accounts have commented. And I have had lovely response from my Flickr watercolor group friends. One professional artist made my sunflowers a "favorite" which is quite an honor. Especially as I greatly admire her work.

My new easel is a success and I look forward to creating more paintings on it.






Monday, July 12, 2010

MG Monday

Looks like today is going to be an "MG" Monday. It is only 8:45 Central Time and I am already short of breath, have one fall under my belt, and sound like Otis Campbell on a bender.

Back to the sofa for me.

Bleh

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Answering Machine

I am about to buy my first answering machine. Bill and I have resisted having one for the past 26 years.

When I was caring for my mother, in the pre-cellphone days, I would let her know where I was going to be so she could call that home or business if she needed me. It worked out.

Once I got my cellphone, I just asked folks to call me on my cell if I did not answer my home phone. I could collect messages from that, if need be.

Yesterday, Bill and I were both away from home all day. And neither of us noticed the blinking light on the Caller ID until this morning. My sweet father-in-law had called. He was in a (thankfully minor!) car accident yesterday. He refuses to carry a cellphone and did not think to call MY cell number. Bill and I did not find out about the accident until this morning.

Since we are the only children in town for my dad and Bill's dad, it looks like we are going to have to get an answering machine and/or call forwarding to my cellphone.

Off to buy some peace of mind.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Breathe Out

When I got news this morning that my friend's pathology report after lung cancer surgery was good, I think I truly exhaled for the first time in weeks.

While I know there are survival stories out there, I personally do not know ANY long term survivors when it comes to lung cancer. And, ironically, it seems that the non-smokers died more swiftly than the smokers. One of those "life is not fair" things.

But, today, the sun is shining a little brighter, the birds are singing a bit more sweetly, and the "c" word is at bay in the life of my friend. At least for now.

I'll take it.







Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Favorite Star Trek Movie Quote

Kirk: Spock!
Spock: The ship... out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh...
Kirk: ...the needs of the few...
Spock: ...Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Spock: I have been and always shall be your friend.
[Holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute]
Spock: Live long and prosper.



Monday, July 05, 2010

Collage

In my continuing quest to find ways to "do art" I have turned to mixing collage elements with watercolor painting. I am experimenting with Japanese unryu and masa papers, as well as painted tissue to add interest and texture.

This works well for times when my hand control is not good enough to get the proper grip on my paintbrush. Subjects do not have to be precise, because they will be overlaid with textured papers.

The jury is still out on how popular these pieces will be. I have sold one of the three I have made and I was asked to place one in Fondren Art Gallery. They are definitely a bit off the beaten path. Most of all, they are fun.

Fun is good!




Sunday, July 04, 2010

Greatest American Hero Intro



I used to love this show. And this song. It sums up very much how I feel right now! :)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Lovely Day

Today has been a lovely day. First, I took lunch to my sister who is laid up from foot surgery this week. Then I found out that my 17 year old niece has discovered music from the thirties and forties and loves it as much as I do. We had a ball singing snatches of Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra songs to each other while my sis polished off her fried dill pickles and mozzarella cheese sticks.

I met up with my dearest friend, Teresa, and we saw the movie "Eclipse." It was a vast improvement over the first two "Twilight" movies and quite enjoyable. A trip to the Pie Factory for BBQ pizza and Barnes and Noble, where I found an amazing new watercolor book, rounded out the evening.

I know that tomorrow I will "pay the piper" for overdoing today. But, today was totally worth it. And I would not change a thing.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Grandma's House

While Bill and I were down in Hazlehurst on Tuesday, I asked him drive over to the street where my grandmother used to live. I spent many hours in that house on St. Charles street, reading books and playing with dolls that used to belong to my mother. Many holiday meals took place around my grandmother's table, served on china she got as a young bride. Pictures were taken in front of her beautiful azalea bushes and games were played on her front lawn.

It has been about 10 years since I last saw my grandmothers' house, but I was not prepared for the sight that met my eyes this week. Her house was unrecognizable. The once lush and well kept lawn was covered with trash and junked cars. Window screens were torn and shutters were sagging. Paint was peeling and the beautiful azaleas were gone.

I now fervently wish that I had not had the impulse to drive by. Honestly, it would have been better for the house to no longer have existed than to see it like this.

Thank goodness I still have my memories, and they are of a humble, but pristine white house kept with love.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Graveyards

My husband and I went down to Hazlehurst, Mississippi this morning to tend some of the graves of my ancestors. Actually, my husband does most of the tending now, while I give directions.

The stones bring stories, both good and bad. My maternal grandparents buried their first born daughter at the age of 3 days. Great Uncle Louis lost his teenage son Louis Jr., to leukemia, in 1952. Great Aunt Eula Mae introduced my parents to each other at Hardy-Wilson Memorial Hospital when she was a patient there under the care of my mom.

Aunt Belle was called "Little Aunt" because she was under 5 feet tall. I still have letters that she sent me, typed on her old IBM Selectric. That was her "handwriting" as far as I knew. My maternal grandfather died 5 days after my second birthday. My precious paternal grandmother passed away 11 months after my grandfather. All she wanted for those 11 months was to go and be with Papaw and Jesus. We could not be totally sad at her passing, knowing that this was what she wanted.

My husband I and I have chosen to leave our bodies for medical study and not be put in a cemetery. We have no children to tend our graves, and we probably would not want them to feel like they had to. Sometimes I have a pang of regret that I will not have any tangible reminder of my life out there to tell stories to future generations.












Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tangled Trees


Today, I finally finished a painting I had been working on for almost two weeks. It ended up being considerably more detailed than I anticipated, but painting it helped me work my way through the tangled emotions and situations I have dealt with lately.

I painted my way through hurt, anger, pain and rejection. Through Dad's heart catheterization, watching a dear friend deteriorate from Alzheimer's, and waiting with a friend for results of her lung biopsy, which, unfortunately, came back positive.

This looks more difficult to do than it really is. The main requirements are patience and persistence. Sometimes I get lost in my own forests.

But I always find my way out.