Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 How Did I Do?

Last year, I decided to make (hopefully!) simple, realistic resolutions. So, how did I do? 

Much like socks, I have decided that I will never find the mates (lids) to all my Tupperware bowls. I did find a few, so I am going to consider this one fairly successful.

I DID have total success in finding the perfect pencil sharpener. This little Prismacolor sharpener not only sharpens my graphite pencils without waste, but my colored and watercolor pencils as well. It was about $10.00, but has been totally worth this price. 

One thing I did not have as much success with was seeing movies in the theater with the hubby. It is hard to find much we really even want to see these days. We also tend to have different tastes in movies, so it can be hard to find something we both want to watch. Netflix has been wonderful, because we can usually find a TV series, documentary, or occasional movie that we both enjoy. Right now, we are hooked on Midsomer Murders.

Thanks to Lacey of Neat Freaks Organizing, I have found quite a few of those things that I put in supposedly safe places. She helped me de-clutter my office and it has been nice to feel like I can breathe in here again. 

I can't say that I have made more art, but I have done some decent quality work this year. After Lacey helps me de-clutter my art area, I hope to do more this coming year. 

 I did manage to hug some grand trees! A large oak in front of the otherwise disappointing Beauvoir in Biloxi made the entry fee worthwhile.I hugged crepe myrtles, dogwoods, Bradford Pears, even a couple of pines. I love trees. What more can I say? 

I am trying to decide if I want to make any resolutions for 2017. I have a feeling staying relatively healthy and sane might be as good as it gets. I still have a day to decide. Stay tuned! 






 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

No Shopping Zone

I tend to shop like most men. I go in, get what I want, and get out. I don't have any desire to look at, touch, or try on everything. 

When I do shop, I try to patronize brick and mortar stores if possible, particularly those locally owned and operated. Unfortunately, much of what I need simply can't be found locally. Decently priced plus sized clothing is in short supply. Specific electronics are not always available here. And the makeup that I am actually not allergic to (and can afford!)  is not to be found in Vicksburg. 

When I go to Jackson for doctor's appointments and allergy shots, I try to do necessary shopping while I am over there. I knew today might be a busy day due to customers returning Christmas gifts, being off work, etc. But, my external hard drive decided to die on Christmas Eve, I ran out of makeup, and I wanted to have lunch with my sister, so I reluctantly made my way to Flowood. 

First I went to JC Penney to the Sephora section for makeup. After waiting 15 minutes (I always get behind THAT customer) a second salesperson came up and helped me. We were able to find one of the two items that I needed. Check.

Then I made the mistake of going to Ulta to look for make-up item #2. I was using my walker and I was absolutely flabbergasted at the number of people who bumped me trying to squeeze past me instead of going around. After a salesperson did it, I left without even asking about the potential purchase. Fail.

I went across the street to Best Buy to look for the aforementioned external hard drive. I got my walker out of the back seat and headed across parking lot (I was in the marked crosswalk) when a car (driving too fast for this situation) hit his brakes to avoid hitting me, then zoomed behind me so fast that the customers coming out of the store were shaking their heads. This actually happens to me all the time in Flowood and Madison. 

A trek to the back wall of the store revealed that there were no suitable hard drives on the shelves. Another Fail. 

I came home, got on Amazon Prime, (I start at Amazon Smile, where a portion of the proceeds from my purchases goes to a charity providing clean water) and in 10 minutes had my makeup, hard drive, and a couple of other things on the way. No almost being knocked over, no futile and exhausting excursions to the backs of large stores, no almost being run down in the parking lot, and no being behind "Miss Thang" who thinks salespeople exist for her sole pleasure. 

The WIN in the situation was having lunch with my sister at Amerigo. Next time, I will just go to lunch and do my shopping at home!

 

 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Where There's Smoke...

As I anticipate a Christmas which will most likely include my wearing capri pants, sandals, and short sleeves to Christmas dinner, I remembered one of the coldest ones I have ever experienced. 

Bill and I were talking today about one of the coldest Christmases we could remember. It was 1985 and we had been in our house just a few months. It was about 4 AM and I heard Bill urgently telling me to wake up. The house was filling with black smoke, and, although we saw no fire, we figured we better call the fire department. This was before cell phones, so we had to call 911 from our house phone. I grabbed a coat to wear over my pajamas and we went out in the front yard to wait for the fire truck. It was 9 degrees that morning. Fortunately, the problem was a (only) central heating malfunction. No fire, but also no heat! 

I am sure that the neighbors were probably not happy to have their Christmas sleep so rudely interrupted! No one ever complained, that I recall anyway.  

After the house had aired out for a while, we went in, put on some warm clothes, and headed down to Hazlehurst, to my grandmother's house. We were cold and tired, but thankful that our house, albeit smoky smelling, was OK. 

I have had several friends lose homes to fires. I feel for them. I remember those few, heart stopping minutes in 1985, when I thought we might be among them. And, every Christmas, I pause to give thanks that we were not.  

 


 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Suicide Isn't Painless

Yesterday there was a situation in the parking lot of our local Kroger store in which a gentleman of my own age (57) had a gun and was threatening to commit suicide. 

Emotions tend to run high at this time of year. Statistically, Christmas is not the most likely time to commit suicide. It is not even the most common time of the year for depression to surface. Suicide rates actually increase in January. 

Maybe it was just coincidence, but when I was working in mental health I usually volunteered to be on call over Christmas. I had no small children at home to get ready for Santa Claus. My contribution to the family gatherings was usually a tray of deviled eggs, which were easy enough to prepare. So, I took call. 

Sure enough, when I was on call Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, a suicide threat (and sometimes a homicide one!) would inevitably come in. I usually sang for Christmas Eve services somewhere, so the timing of these was sometimes dicey. It always worked out. One time I had to have someone call the sheriff on one phone while I was talking down the person on another. Thankfully, the person was always picked up and taken to get help. 

Always take a suicide threat seriously. And if you are suicidal, I know from personal experience that things are truly darkest before the dawn. There is help out there. Get it. 

Here is a list of hotlines for suicide and for other issues that don't go away just because it's Christmas, such as drug abuse and domestic violence. 

http://www.crisistextline.org/textline/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAyuPCBRCimuayhb3qqvwBEiQAgz62kU2p6tigqzufxXDsb25EYOH9aZUyrkQ-cd-6CvT2nVcaAiSy8P8HAQ

Suicide is not painless for those who love you. 
 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Still Missing Daddy

This is one of my favorite pictures of me and my Daddy. It was taken about 3 years before we found out that his prostate cancer had returned and metastasized. He was remarried, happy, and feeling pretty good. 

Tomorrow will be 5 years since he died. Some years I miss him more than others. This is one of those "really miss him" years. I am concerned about so many things. I just wish I could hear him tell me there is no use worrying about things I can't do anything about. Telling it to myself is not nearly as effective!

He loved hosting his annual Christmas Eve party. Eventually it changed to Christmas Eve Eve as everyone had different Christmas Eve church service schedules. It was when my side of the family exchanged gifts and got to be together. He was really in his element with the small children who came. It was hard to tell who was having the most fun. 

As much as I am like my mother, I see a lot of my Daddy in me as well. I am a perfectionist. I have to have things organized, and if possible, done as much in advance as is feasible. I can't just let problems go without trying to find a solution. 

Now, if I could just get this not worrying thing down! 



 

 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Finding my Voice

This Christmas night, it will be 26 years since my mama died. She always told me to say she DIED. Not passed on, not gone on to the great beyond, not expired. She had no patience for pussyfooting around! 

Mama was larger than life and was the dominant force in any and every situation she found herself in. For the most part, I was happy to sit back and let her take the lead. 

However, after mama died and I crumbled like a house of cards, I realized that I had never really found my own voice. I had to find out who I was apart from my mama. This took a LOT of therapy and a lot of work on my part. But, I found my voice. And, once I found it, I vowed never to lose it. 

It may have been a Facebook error, or even an error by a reader, but when my blog post was blocked the other day, I was furious. The thought that some unseen "friend" could, with one click, silence my voice absolutely floored me. 

The older I get, the more outspoken I become. Sometimes I inadvertently put my foot in my mouth. Sometimes my words are not as eloquent as I would wish. But, my voice is here to stay. 

Until I die! 

 

Not Silenced

Recently, I was quite shocked to find my blog post had been reported as abusive and blocked by Facebook. I have no idea why someone would have done such a thing.

Even on my blog, I am careful not to give specifics if I am writing something concerning an interaction with another person. I don't give age, sex, times, dates, etc. And, if I think someone might recognize him or herself, I don't post the link on Facebook. In this case, the person is not on Facebook, nor are any of the other parties who might guess who it might be. And, I know that none of these folks follow my blog. 

My blog is my way of recording events in my everyday life. I post them because sometimes other people may be going through the same things I am going through. It can help to feel like there is a kindred spirit out there. Sometimes I need a reality check. Sometimes, I just need support. Sometimes I just need reassurance that I am not completely crazy for feeling the way I do about an issue.

I am too old and cranky to be silenced.


 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Phone Calls

In this day and age of texting, tweeting, email, messaging, and chatting, I don't get a lot of phone calls. We still have a land line, and most of the calls on that one are either my husband's family or friends, or the dreaded telemarketers. The older I get, the less I like to talk on the phone unless the callers are family or close friends. 

After receiving a phone call recently where the caller (who I truly thought was a friend) proceeded to berate me for some real but mostly imagined sins, I got to thinking how something as simple as answering the phone can make or break a few minutes, an hour, a day, a week, a year, or even a lifetime. Most of the time, I can look at the caller ID and have a pretty good idea of what I am going to get. But I can, occasionally, be blindsided. 

I have to admit, I have let this one affect me far longer than it should. Coupled with not feeling well, having my annual December funk because I am missing my Dad, Father-in-Law, and Mama, who all died during this month, and concern for the future of my ability to receive good healthcare, it was all a little bit too much. 

A few days have been "broken" but I am determined not to let this phone call affect me any longer. Life is just too darn short. 

If this person calls again, thank God and caller ID, I will know not to answer. 



 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Missed Adventure

This is where I was supposed to be this weekend. Vermilionville is a place I have wanted to visit since I heard of it and this was going to be a 33rd anniversary celebration weekend. 

Of course, after weeks and weeks of no rain, the Heavens decided to open up on this of all weekends. This tour requires a lot of "outside" time and we were advised to wait for more clement weather. Coupled with my touch of a bug, it was a no-brainer. 

Hopefully, soon, we will be able to take our trip. I love history and this place sounds fascinating. I want to meet the Golden Girls (Sophia the hinnie, and Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy, the sheep) who spent several harrowing weeks camping out on the porch of one of the buildings during the flooding. And, I want a hug from my old theater buddy, Brady McKellar! 

Go check them out! 

https://www.facebook.com/Vermilionville/

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Sonic

Yesterday, I unwittingly began a bit of a firestorm on the Vicksburg Facebook page when I posted the hourly wage of the Sonic employee. Apparently, they used to make minimum wage, but now they make a paltry $4.00 an hour. Much like sit down restaurants, they rely on tips to make up the rest of their income. Sonic employees do fare a little better in the hourly tipped wage department that their sit-down restaurant counterparts. In Mississippi, restaurant owners can get away with paying their wait staff as little as $2.13 an hour

Although group rules prohibit bashing local businesses, subsequent posters began a litany of complaints about poor service and bad food. Some expressed their dislike of the tipping system in general. People who had obviously never waited tables or worked fast food  considered these jobs "easy." Some folks began the familiar chorus of "these jobs are not meant for careers, just for people to get through college, etc and get REAL jobs." Ideal, yes. Realistic, no. There are huge numbers of good people who simply do not have the ability either financially or intellectually, to pursue higher education. 

As one who has worked both fast food and table waiting, there was nothing "easy" about either job. In fact, I think it would be great for society if everyone had to work at food service for at least a week. Sometimes, poor service may be due to the store being shorthanded, new people in training, or, in a recent case with one of my personal carhops, being upset over her brother being shot! I almost always get good service. I say please and thank you when I order. I always smile and thank my carhop when he or she brings my food. 

And, I always tip. 





 
 


 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Grief

When I was counseling, I used to tell my grieving clients that there were no shortcuts through grief. It pays to just go ahead and deal with the emotions as they come up, rather than trying to stuff them down. Stuffing just delays the grieving process or causes emotions to manifest via unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, drinking too much, engaging in risky behaviors, etc. 

This year has been a time of overwhelming grief for so many people I know. A dear friend lost her (too young!) mother recently. Other loved ones have had to grieve inevitable life changes and moves. Still others are grieving for things that might have been, hopes, and dreams. I lost an irreplaceable friend this past Summer. I am still grieving his loss. 

Being jeered at, sneered at, and told to "just get over it" only complicates the grieving process. Everyone grieves at his or her own pace. Grieving can became complex if it goes on for an extraordinary period of time. But, it is not realistic to expect the grieving process to be over in a week, a month, or even a year in some cases. If someone is allowed to grieve in his or her own time, it will get better. Just be patient and love them through it.  

 
 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Gunters

I was privileged to attend a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for David and Trudy Gunter yesterday afternoon. 

I can hardly remember a time that the Gunters were not in my life. Trudy and my mother met when Mama joined the Newcomer's Club shortly after we moved to Vicksburg in 1968. David became our vet and took care of many of the Nelson dogs over the years. I remember babysitting their children, sometimes being treated to pre-performances of the girl's dance recitals or terrorized with some fake, but real looking bug by Tony. 

The Gunters have stuck by each other and my family through thick and thin. They stayed in the ICU waiting room with us the Christmas that my Mama died. They were there for my Daddy when he was dealing with his final illness. Dr. David was the one who came to the house and talked with my husband when he was facing surgery for lung cancer. Friends like this are rare and to be cherished. 

The Gunters also have three terrific kids, who are bright, accomplished, and have hearts not only for themselves and their immediate families, but for the wider world as well. They learned this from their parents, who are always helping people. 

The world needs more Gunters. May they have many more anniversaries. 

 

 





 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

57

On October 12th, I will be 57 years old and I am perfectly OK with that. I am alive. I have a home and family who loves me. I have enough money for my needs and some of my "wants." I have some pretty awesome friends. I can sing and I can paint. I have my faith. I try to remember to be thankful every day for the things I have and the people in my life. 

My birthdays are always a little bittersweet. I miss my parents most on my birthday. I miss the phone calls from Daddy singing his version of Happy Birthday to me. I miss Mama making me my favorite birthday supper of hot biscuits, tomato gravy, and lemon meringue pie. 

This birthday is a particularly sobering reminder that life can be short. At 57, I will be the same age that my mother, my grandfather, and my aunt all were when they died. Although I deal with some chronic illnesses, I have the advantage of having NEVER been a smoker. They all were. 

I am planning to make this a really good year. If all goes as hoped, I want to go to Virginia and find some of my Nelson roots. I am finally going to get rid of some of the stuff that is weighing me down and cluttering my house. I have actually hired a professional organizer to help me with this and we begin this weekend. I want to learn some new songs and new art techniques. I hope to actually go out occasionally as a lay speaker for the United Methodist Church.  

Most of all, I hope to see 58! 

 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

End of an Era

This Saturday, I will sit and watch my first LSU game in many years without the presence of Les Miles. It is going to be odd. 

At his best, Les made football fun. His gambles usually paid off. I could tell his players loved playing for him. Eating grass, clapping his hands, Les was obviously having the time of his life. 

I realize that in the SEC, winning really IS everything. There is simply no place for coaches who are not winning. My head gets that. It was probably past time to make a change. But, a piece of my heart will always be with Les. 

Godspeed Les. And thanks for the memories. 

 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Something's Gotta Give.

We all get to points in our lives where we feel like we have to give up or get rid of something in order to maintain our physical, mental, and spiritual health. The problem is in figuring out what that will be. 

My energy is limited by my neuromuscular disorder, as well as other health issues and medications. I don't get "better." I fight to maintain what I have. 

But, what goes? Watercolor classes? Church? Singing for a local nursing home? Bible study? Lay ministry? Not to mention the extensive preparation time that goes into many of these activities.

Seeing my 8 doctors is not really negotiable.  

I would like to have more time and energy to create my own art. I would like to have more time to make short trips to see family and friends. I would love to save my energy to go see movies in Jackson that don't make it here. I want to hire someone to help me clean and organize my house. I am retired and I don't have the time I want for any of this. 

I am burned out and tired.  

Something's got to give. But what? 

 



Sunday, September 18, 2016

Worth the Price

I have to admit it. I am exhausted. I am so sore that even my hair hurts. Holding up my head tonight is taking quite an effort and I am slightly dizzy. 

But, this weekend was totally worth the way I feel tonight and will probably feel for the next few days. I got to make a short trip to Memphis to see my longtime BFF, Teresa, perform in a cabaret style musical show. And, ladies and gents, she was a hit! 

Back when I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did quite a few shows at the Vicksburg Little Theater. Teresa would drive down to see my shows, even missing the birth of her niece to see me perform. Now, I get to return the favor. 


Of course, this show was on the same weekend as our Charge Conference at Hermanville United Methodist Church!  I came home Saturday afternoon, made a trip to Corner Market who "baked" for me, and finished getting things ready for our visit from District Superintendent, Stephen Cook. What a lovely, uplifting man he is. Still fatigued after only about 8 hours sleep in two nights, I was able to enjoy this morning's service. 

Yes, I am tired. I am hurting. I am going to have to get some rest. But, sometimes I just have to push it a little for the things that are worth it. 

And this weekend was worth it! 

 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Star Trek

I first watched Star Trek, as a 6 year old,  on a black and white Zenith TV. Said TV sported rabbit ears and was situated in the room that I, my mother, my brother, and my sister all shared in Russum, Mississippi. 

From the beginning, I absolutely loved it. I was too young and unsophisticated to be put off by the cheesy sets and painfully fake aliens. I was enchanted at the idea of people being out in Space. I loved Spock's exotic ears. I am pretty certain that the first Scottish accent I heard was that of James Doohan as Scotty. Sulu was the second Asian I saw on TV, the first being Hop Sing on Bonanza. But, Sulu was completely different. No pigeon English. No pigtail. 

Fifty years later, I am still a Star Trek fan. I watch TOS and the subsequent series during reruns on TV and on Netflix. I actually drag myself to the movie theater for any Star Trek theatrical releases. I still have some of my Star Trek fiction paperbacks. The Kobayashi Maru remains an enduring favorite. I chat with Trekkie friends and am delighted when someone greets me with the "Live Long and Prosper" sign. 

We have much of the technology pictured in the Star Trek series now. However, I am still waiting for the invention of a real transporter! Who knows? It could happen!

Live Long and Prosper!

 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Cafeteria Anxiety

Last Wednesday, I found myself having a case of "cafeteria anxiety." 

Cafeteria anxiety goes back all the way to my elementary school days. I was not one of the popular kids and most of my friends were in the grade below mine. I would start to sit down somewhere, only to have the person I was planning to sit beside plonk down a sweater or book and tell me I couldn't sit there. By junior high, I was taking my lunch and eating outside on the patio to avoid lunchtime exclusion. Fortunately, I had the same lunch period as several of my band friends, so lunch became much more pleasant. 

Later, as I attended church and other gatherings, usually alone due to my husband's work schedule, the old elementary school cafeteria anxiety reared it's head again. Chairs were leaned against tables, purses saved seats. Of course friends wanted to sit together. I finally stopped going to most things like this unless I had someone specific to go with. 

A couple of weeks ago, I began going to supper at First United Methodist Clinton and taking a study given by my former pastor. Like most things of this sort, some tables are sort of "saved." I spent too much of the day anxious about finding a place to eat and wondering if I should just go to the study and skip supper. But, I got there early, sat at a table that had been fairly empty the week before, and prepared myself to move if this was someone's particular table. 

Happily, I was joined by a lovely young woman with two adorable young children. She was fairly new to the church and was delighted to have someone to sit with (her words!). We struck up a conversation and found we had several things in common. Best of all, no one made me feel like I was intruding or in the way. I will probably sit in the same place this week and hope the nice woman and her children sit with me again.

Here's to new friends and new tables. 

 

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mike

I was shocked and saddened today to read the news of my friend, Mike's, passing at the age of 41. 

I met Mike years ago when he was waiting tables at Toney's. My father-in-law loved to eat there and Mike usually waited on him. Mr. Sanders was a widower and went there as much for the company as for the food, I think. Mike always paid Mr. S special attention and, no matter how busy, found a little time to chat with him. When you have an elderly parent, that kind of thing means a lot. 

When Mr. Sanders passed away in 2012, Mike was our waiter when the family got together at Toney's after the funeral. He joined in both our grief and our joy that our loved one was finally at peace. 

Later, Mike took a job selling cars for Atwood Chevrolet. I would go in and visit with him between customers. We had similar ways of thinking about a number of issues and it was just a joy to converse with him. When he lost his infant son, I stopped by with chocolate milkshakes on a regular basis to try to get some weight back on his skinny frame. 

Mike had his struggles with alcohol and was extremely proud of his sobriety. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He never failed to have a kind word and a hug for me. Ever. 

God rest you, sweet Mike. I'll see you in Heaven. 

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bumper Stickers

My husband does not like bumper stickers and will not have them on our vehicles. It is an aesthetic thing for him. For harmony's sake, this is something I just don't argue with him about.

I read stories this morning of not one, but TWO of the kindest, nicest people I know have been harassed by Trump supporters for their bumper stickers. Ironically, one of them had  "Give God the Glory" emblazoned in large letters on his back windshield. REALLY???

This is America. I may not agree with another persons choice of candidate, but cursing, harassing, and rude gesturing while driving is not only rude and uncalled for. It is UNSAFE, for crying out loud. 

I came very close to buying the bumper sticker pictured above at the Fair Trade Store today. Critical thinking is definitely not practiced nearly enough these days. But, on days like this, I could bypass the critical. I would be happy if people would just THINK. 

 



 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Russians

I don't remember Duck and Cover myself, but I can remember older students talking about it. As if hiding under a desk was really any protection from an attack by the ultimate Bogeyman of my childhood...THE RUSSIANS! 

The first time I heard the test of the Emergency Broadcast System, I was scared out of my wits. It took my mama some time to reassure me that this was just something they put on TV periodically so that people would know what to look for and what to do in case THE RUSSIANS really attacked. Oddly enough, I don't remember her offering any platitudes about how that would never happen. 

When the Soviet Union was dissolved, I forgot about THE RUSSIANS for awhile. Other things seemed to be bigger threats. I was busy caring for an ailing mother and being a young wife. I did not live in the kind of fear I did when I was a child. 

I born during the Cold War. With Russia very much in the news lately, I find myself instinctively feeling that childhood fear of THE RUSSIANS. How can anyone born and reared during the Cold War forget the fear of total annihilation we lived with? I am having to cling to my faith as never before, remembering the 21 times that Jesus told us to "fear not", "don't be afraid", and to "have courage." 

Giving in to fear is not the answer. At least, not for me. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHpEofHOdmQ

 

 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Let There Be Peace on Earth

I am certain that I am not the only one who is weary of turning on the television or logging into a news site and hearing news of horrific acts of violence all over the world. Ironically, yesterday, I was thinking not only of the USA, but Paris and Turkey as I chose this song for the anthem last Sunday. 

Until I got home from church, I did not know that yet another horrific police slaying was taking place right down the road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I began making phone calls to check on my loved ones there.  Thankfully, everyone was OK, but some of them were closer to the violence than I would have wished. 

I am so weary of the black and white, uncompromising thinking of today's world. Let there be peace, not just in America, but all over the world. 

 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Wedding

Yesterday I sang for a wedding. Not just any wedding, but that of my niece, Amy. I have no children of my own, so my nieces, nephews, and great nieces are special to me. 

The wedding was fairly short and sweet. Because it was not in a church, the "exit music" allowed for some creativity. Amy is a huge fan of the late Elvis Presley, and I cracked up as they exited the chapel area to the strains of "Burning Love!" 

The reception was fun. I got a kick out of watching the young people dance. This was not the lame dancing I remember from my younger days. These kids all knew complex routines to songs such as "Footloose." A tall boy with red hair was obviously having the time of his life as he skillfully dominated the dance floor. 

I must admit, I was extremely impressed with the young people in the bridal party. These kids are future medical professionals, teachers, lawyers, and scientists. They managed the wedding quite well and were unfailingly kind and helpful to me. My hope for the future was renewed as I interacted with these young folks. 

Of course, I think the bride is the most beautiful there ever was. And the groom is a keeper. He loves my niece, and I have gained a nephew. I know that he will take care of her to the best of his ability.

This one is going to stick. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Lessons

I have learned a lot about myself the week. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I found out just how angry I can get when sufficiently provoked. I realized just how much my art, such as it is, means to me. I have more of my mother in me than I thought. And I have come a long way from the totally non-assertive person who sat crying in a counselor's office 25 years ago. 

I don't want to become one of those perpetually angry and bitter people. You know the type. They are never happy with anything. I am working at not holding on to anger. But, I am learning to be at peace with being human. With losing my cool every now and then. With standing up for myself and what is right. 

Someday, I hope to be more comfortable with justified and properly expressed anger. I am not there yet, but I am working on it. I have many friends to thank for listening to me these past few days and the reassurance they have provided. 

Even Jesus lost his cool with the money changers. Sometimes anger is the appropriate response. 

And that is OK. 



 


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

June (Off to the Races!)

I looked at my calendar this morning and realized the long awaited month of June had arrived. 

This is going to be an busy, exciting, and emotional month for me and my loved ones.

This weekend, friends arrive to attend a fiberfest and to sing at my little church in Hermanville with me. 


 Next weekend, we get my niece, Amy married off to her beloved Craig. But, not before days of making wedding favors, bridal luncheons, and rehearsal. 

Two days after the wedding, my husband and I leave for his family reunion at Lake Taneycomo, Missouri. As I am not able to be out in the heat to hike and fish, I hope to be inside my air conditioned cabin, painting. Hopefully, I will be able to lure the occasional person in to play a game of Scrabble. 

The weekend I return from the family visiting, We will be saying goodbye to our beloved minister at Hermanville UMC. I am sure that tears will be involved. The following weekend, we greet our new minister. As lay leader, I am working to help make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Looking forward to a crazy, busy, and hopefully, fun June!

 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Small Talk

I have seen this meme and variations on it a number of times. I would not necessarily want to talk about ALL of these things, but, they do beat what passes for much conversation now. 

I do not watch much network TV these days (by choice), so I know little about the popular reality shows. I don't like crime shows because they are too much like the news. I don't watch but an hour of THAT a day, either. My lack of a TV habit takes me out of many conversations. 

I don't like to tear people down, as a rule. Certain politicians can be exempt from this at times!

College football is my small talk "saving grace." I can usually hold my own when talking about my LSU Tigers. And, there is always the ever changing Mississippi weather. 

Conversation, of course, changes depending on the company. Fortunately, I have friends who enjoy deep conversations on faith, politics, music, art, history, psychology, literature,  advances in science and medicine, and finding ways to make the world a better place. 

Small talk does have its place. In many circumstances, it is the only appropriate option. With some, that is really all I want. This just makes me all the more thankful for people who want to talk about the things that interest them and me as well. I love conversation that challenges me. Conversation that educates and stimulates me. 

Give me more than small talk. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Closet Cleaning

About a year ago, I bought the Marie Kondo book entitled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I was not brave enough at the time to go "whole hog" on my closet.

I had lost quite a bit of weight since going on thyroid meds, but was still too scared to really weed out things that were several sizes too large for me now. With the help of my Fitbit, Synthoid, and being able to eat healthier since my gallbladder surgery, I finally felt confident that I could get rid of the "40 pounds ago" clothes.

My wire closet system was already in place, but burdened down with 4 sizes of clothes and shoes that were too wide now that my feet have stopped swelling. (Thanks again, Synthroid!) 

Monday morning, I took a deep breath, gathered my trash bags, and began the scarey job of emptying my closet. One thing that helped me let go of things I could no longer use was the knowledge that I could send my things to The WareHouse and help Lifting Lives Ministries. I took no prisoners as I got rid of anything I could not wear right now. 

Then, I organized the things I could still wear using the Marie Kondo method. I folded my sweaters, T-Shirts, and nightclothes into rectangles (I have very little drawer space), and put them in wire baskets one behind the other. Everything is easy to see and get to. 

Best of all, having my closet clean is giving me incentive to try to get some of the rest of my house in order. 

Stay tuned. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Shona Congo




Most of those who know me, know about my passion for Shona Congo. Four disabled, but absolutely amazing women sew beautiful bags that help support their families. These bags are distributed by a wonderful woman, Dawn Hurley, and the women get the fair profits of their labor. I guess my own mobility issues with my congenital myopathy just drew me to this particular cause.

Being disabled makes these ladies targets for those who would harm them. Two of them have now fled with their families.  Argentine and Mapendo have had to go to a refugee camp. This is not the first time these women have had to pack up and travel miles, often on foot, to seek safety.

The good news is that a non-profit organization, Athabasca Interfaith Refugee Sponsorship Society, is applying to sponsor them for resettlement in Canada. The money has to be raised before they can move to Canada, so that they have enough to live on for a year. This gives them time to start learning a new language and find jobs. Mapendo and Argentine already have sewing skills that will help them earn their livings in Canada as they will be able to continue sewing their bags there. 

I know money is terribly tight for most people I know right now, but, if you have a little to spare and a heart for the plight of people from Eastern Congo, every little bit will help. Make it a really early birthday gift to me or something!  

For more of their story, check out the Shona Congo website. You might even see a bag that you just can't resist!

http://www.shonacongostore.com/overview/ 

 

 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Musings of a “Cradle” Methodist



I was baptized in the Methodist Church when I was an infant. My great grandfather’s family built Pine Ridge (now united) Methodist Church in Kentwood, Louisiana back in 1896.

Since then, I have been a member of Redbone UMC, Crawford Street UMC, and now Hermanville, UMC.

Among long time members of a group like the United Methodist Church, there seems to be sort of a collective memory. We Methodists tend to love our routines and traditions. We know that when we recite the Apostle’s Creed on Sunday mornings, that thousands of other United Methodists are reciting it as well. We crave the opportunity to pray as a group. We love including our Weslyan hymns in worship. The Methodist tradition runs deep in our souls.

I have occasionally considered leaving the United Methodist denomination. I visited other churches. But, there was always something missing. I always come “home” to the traditional United Methodist service. 


 




Sunday, May 01, 2016

Boundaries

This book was recommended to me years ago. I can't remember exactly who told me about it, but reading it was a life changing experience. 

Over the years, I have recommended this book to a number of people, including my own nephew, just this week. This book is written from a Christian perspective, which is especially helpful to those who have allowed fellow "Christians" to make them feel guilty if they say no to anything. 

Once I owned my feelings, I could manage them, at least most of the time. I stopped allowing people to disrespect me. I stopped allowing people to manipulate me through guilt. I stopped allowing people to emotionally abuse me, although they claimed it was because they "wanted what was best for me."

There will always be people who see those who are trying to set healthy boundaries as their personal challenge. They are the ones who will call at times you have already stated are inconvenient. These folks have no regard for your time or energy. They will create a crisis to try to get friends and family to drop everything and come running. 

I don't always succeed in my boundary setting, but practice makes perfect. And I intend to keep practicing! 

 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Empty Nest

It happened so fast. I thought I was going to have more time. Seems like just yesterday...

My baby bird has grown up and flown away, taking mama and papa bird with her (or him). In less than 3 weeks, she went from being an egg, to what seemed like a perpetually open mouth, to this adorable little fledgling. 

Then, suddenly, she was gone. The nest empty. The azalea bush bare looking without the bright red of the papa cardinal flying in to help feed the baby. 

I have been ridiculously happy watching these birds. It has been an amazing experience to watch the mama build her nest, lay her eggs, and hatch and feed the baby. 

They grow up so fast...

 

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Gift

No matter how much we think we are loved, the cynic in many of us occasionally wonders if anyone would REALLY care if we were no longer here. We fantasize about being able to somehow attend our own funerals and see who the true mourners are. 

This week, due to the sad passing of a woman bearing the same first and last name, and being close to my own age, I was given a bit of a chance to see how people would react to my passing. I have had phone calls from people with tears in their voices, telling me how glad they were that I was not the Karen Sanders who had passed on. I walked in Cracker Barrel where my longtime waitress, Nancy, looked at me as if she had seen a ghost. With tears in her eyes, she told me she had been crying for two days, thinking I was gone. What a humbling and emotional experience this has been.

Of course, some friends and family knew that the birth date under the name in the Riles funeral ad was not mine and were not worried, thank goodness.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Karen Cynthia Sanders. May she rest in perfect peace. 





Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Happy Wednesday!

Papa cardinal began showing up a few days ago. Mama was staying on the nest almost full time. I was officially on "baby watch." 

Yesterday afternoon, I saw the first little beak pop up above the nest. I was so happy that my husband joked that I must feel like passing out cigars! 

I can't see inside the nest, so I have no idea how many babies there are, but I am hoping to see more little beaks popping up soon. 

I woke up this morning feeling ridiculously happy. I spent much of my late night hours reading back over the life and words of Jesus. Luke 10:27 is one of my favorite verses and is the crux of who Jesus was and what he wanted for this world. 

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

I also woke up with this wonderful Mama Cass tune running through my head. Have a listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfQsngNoV7I 

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Madama Butterfly

Yesterday, I had the experience of seeing a Metropolitan Opera simulcast via Fathom Events at Tinseltown in Pearl. It was one of the most wonderful things that I have ever seen in my life. And, I have seen a lot. 

My introduction to opera was through my mother's recordings of Met performances back in the 1950's and '60's. One of these recordings was Madama Butterfly. Dorothy Kirsten was the soprano lead and Daniele Barioni was the tenor. I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with Puccini. 
However, I had never seen a stage production of Butterfly until yesterday. 

Dressed in my butterfly sweater and my "Un Bel Di" bracelet from operabracelets.com, I went to experience Butterfly. I was absolutely enchanted. The costumes were exquisite, the sets, simple, and elegant, and Kristine Opolais, and Roberto Alagna were perfect for Cio Cio San and Pinkerton. They are gifted vocalists who are also physically appealing enough to be believable in the roles. 

There is supposed to be an encore at 6:30 PM at Tinseltown in Pearl if you are interested in this amazing event. 

 

Friday, April 01, 2016

The Bird

I admit it. I have never been much of a bird person. I saw the Hitchcock movie when I was a child and it completely freaked me out. 

But, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a cardinal was building a nest in the azalea bush right outside the room in my home that I use for an office. She is probably not six feet from where I sit when I am working on my computer, albeit separated by a window and a screen. 


I became instantly fascinated as I watched her build her nest. She would bring in more twigs and leaves, then sit on the nest, changing positions every five minutes or so. I guess she was making sure that something she was going to be sitting on for a while was as comfortable as possible. She is spending a little more time in the nest each day. I have not seen her mate around, so she apparently has not laid her eggs. I hear cardinal daddies are pretty good at helping keep the eggs warm. Poor mama has to go start building yet another nest. 

Now, I find myself feeling a bit like a mother hen! I worried that this weeks storms and wind might harm the nest. I have been concerned about possible predators. Do I feed her or will that attract creatures who might do her and her babies harm?? My husband is not helpful in his "that's just nature" approach! This is MY cardinal! 

I have named her "Mamacarla" in honor of a friend who has a nurturing soul. 

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Mamacarla and the babies. 

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Broken

The tragedy in Brussels today made me think about a lot of things. How tired I am of senseless violence. How tired I am of some of the reactions to the senseless violence. But, most of all, how sad it would be to have one's last words to a loved ones be spoken in anger. 

Thankfully, most of us have a chance to apologize to our loved ones after we strike out in anger. Tempers cool, more appropriate words are spoken, and things are at least a bit better. 

I know, that in my case, the words that people have battered me with hurt far more than physical blows. I still occasionally tear up when I remember things that have been said to me. "Sorry" didn't heal the wounds. That took time, and some of them have never totally scabbed over. 

In the heightened uncertainty of today's world, I would encourage everyone to think before they speak in anger. Leave the situation for a time. Write a letter expressing feelings, then burn it and write one that expresses them appropriately. Never assume that you will see your friend or loved one again. Try to part on terms that may have to last a lifetime.

 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Voiceless Again

Once again, Holy Week approaches and I am not able to sing. Unlike last year, my vocal cords are only severely inflamed due to being intubated and getting the crud shortly after. They will heal. I just have to have patience. If I behave now, there is a possibility that I might sing by Easter Sunday. 

Holy Week and Easter is my favorite time of the church year. I love the scriptures, contemplation, and music. It seems ironic that not just one year, but two years in a row, I should be unable to do what I do. Sing. Thankfully, I have much more of a peace about things than I did this time last year. Easter will happen, with or without my singing voice. 

Speaking on the phone is especially taxing. So, feel free to email, text, Facebook, or write me a letter. I will be resting these vocal cords. 



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nurses

Last week, I ended up in the hospital having to have a sooner than expected gallbladder surgery. Because I am a bit medically complicated, this "23 hour" procedure turned into an almost 6 day stay at River Region.

For me, hospital stays always boil down to one thing. 

The nursing care. 

During this stay, my nursing care was absolutely exceptional. First was Sharon, who worked to get me settled in despite not one, but two codes called that afternoon on my floor. The next day, as I was trying to get dietary to send up something I could eat, (Jello!)  the nurse I called "Sic em' Sheila" had the dietary manager come talk to me personally. Anita, who is not even a floor nurse anymore, came and finally got my new IV started after others could not get my notoriously difficult veins to cooperate. The day of surgery, I had a wonderful nurse, Mioshae, who knew firsthand what it was like to be on the "other side" as a kidney transplant patient herself. Nurse Debra stole me an extra pillow to help make that miserable bed tolerable. And it was quite easy to remember nurse Karen's name.  Saturday night, when the computers were down, I had the old school "dream team" of Sandra the nurse, and Barbara the aide,  who went back to paper and pen with no problems. 

I met many other wonderful people during my stay, but they will have to wait for another post. This one is for the the real hospital rock stars. Those nurses!
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Where Everybody Knows Your Name


Cheers debuted during my last year of (my first tour) of graduate school in 1982. I heard people talking about this show, but I never really had time to watch it. I did like the catchy theme song: Where Everybody Knows Your Name. 

I tend to choose the restaurants I frequent not only for the food, but for the personnel. I have my favorites. Nancy at Cracker Barrel has been waiting on me since they opened in Vicksburg. The folks at Martins at Midtown are always pleasant. The waitresses at Goldie's know what my husband is going to order before he orders it. Even the young lady at the Frontage Road McDonald's knows that I am headed to church when I stop there early on Sunday mornings to get my weekly McGriddle and sweet tea. My favorite place in Vicksburg to eat is Billy's. Brady,  Karen, Jessica, Sarah, Kylie, and TyAnn all take good care of me. I know that I am going to get consistent food and service. 

I am saddened when favorite restaurants change hands or staff that I am particularly fond of leaves. Toney's is not quite the same without Mike, who left to become a car salesman. I miss Brian at Martin's. Another favorite place has disappointingly changed ownership and personnel many times in just a few months. I guess I am just getting old and crochety. When I spend my dollars in restaurants, I don't want it to be like a box of chocolates. I want to know what I am going to get! 





 

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie

I was saddened to wake up this morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away from cancer at the age of 69. However, news of his passing brought back a precious memory of my mother. 

Betty Nelson absolutely LOVED to play Trivial Pursuit. She was a master at this game and almost never lost. One particular night, we were playing the Baby Boomer Edition. In this edition, the sports and leisure category was replaced with a category for pop music RPM. 

Mama was a Broadway baby. She loved classical music and show tunes. Her pop music knowledge pretty much began and ended with Barry Manilow and The Carpenters. So, when she ended up in the center one evening and the rest of the players were allowed to choose the category we thought would most likely stump her, of course we chose RPM. 

The question was "Which pop star played John Merrick, also known as The Elephant Man, on Broadway?" 

Mama just looked at us with a smug smile and hollered DAVID BOWIE! Unbelieving, we looked at the card, and, sure enough, that was the answer. She basked in that victory for years. 

Rest in peace, David Bowie, and thanks for the memories.