It’s been 2 months….

Well, almost two months since I last blogged. A lot can happen in two months! There was our trip to New England, then a couple weeks later, we dropped our daughter off at college, then a couple weeks later, we moved to another home across town! I think my head is still spinning. Since I don’t have all my pictures on this laptop, I’ll have to blog more about some of this at a later time.

Our trip was wonderful, as always, minus the drive, of course. I wish teleportation was real, sometimes, but there are always a few good memories made on the trek up and down, which the instantaneous nature of teleportation would not afford.😉 A couple weeks later, we took our daughter off to college and spent a few hours getting her all settled in. I teared up a little, as I drove away, all by myself. (My Southern Man had already left in a separate vehicle. We needed two because of the dorm fridge.) BUT–I didn’t cry! I was actually a lot better than I thought I’d be…until 1:15 that morning. Then I sat in the bathroom and silently sobbed, so as not to awaken my Southern Man, who had to get up early. Fortunately, my sister-in-law is even more of a night owl than I am, so I messaged her and our little chat helped me get a hold of myself.

I was fine the next day (minus the puffy, ugly-cry face aftermath), until my Southern Man returned from his archery tournament. It took place within a half hour from the college, so he had visited our daughter, again, at her request. When he got home, he gave me a hug from her and I fell apart. However, as I was telling a friend just last week, that was it. I hadn’t cried, since. Too busy. That and I am sometimes quite adept at pushing emotions to the back of my mind–or at least the thoughts that would evoke them. Until two days ago. I was watching a show and there was a lot of crying and sadness, which almost always gets to me. So I joined in and then started crying a bit more than usual at a mere tv show. Yesterday, I was petting our older dog, Nala, and started crying, again. Poor Nala is going on fifteen and although she still has pep, she’s also losing weight, not always eating all of her food, and I know it’s just a matter of time. Later that night, my daughter and I were texting. When I told her I’d had a couple of emotional days, she asked me why and I replied, “Just stuff that catches up to me. Homesick, missing family and friends, wanna get away, Nala’s gonna die, etc.” She chuckled at that last part, not because our dog dying is funny, just how I said everything.

This empty nest thing is harder than I thought, even with the phone calls, texting, and Facebook posts. Of course, we also have a new nest, smaller, but no rotting or mold issues and far more efficient with regards to insulation and utilities–thank God for that! I’ve hardly had any allergy issues–hallelujah! It makes a huge difference when you actually feel well and don’t have headaches and watery eyes, more often than not. The house is smaller, but in a nicer area, backed up to a cow pasture with the Talladega National Forest within sight. Nice! The dogs don’t care for it, though, with our younger one being terrified of the cows. This is amusing, considering she’s half-Blue Heeler–a cattle dog, for those of you who don’t know. Apparently, other than running circles around you and occasionally stepping on your heels as she follows you, she has no other Blue Heeler character traits! We will have to build them a pen, as we do live on what can be a busy road with people driving faster than the 45 mph limit. Eventually, I will see if I can train her to a wireless, electric fence. That should be interesting!

So that’s why I haven’t blogged much. Just plain busy! I’ve still got some unpacking to do, but it’s mostly organizing and sifting through “stuff” to either pack up for the kids or get rid of. I don’t know about you, but getting rid of stuff–simplifying, downsizing, whatever you want to call it–feels really good to me. Donating it also feels good. I could probably make a few bucks having a yard sale, but I honestly don’t feel it’s worth my time to sit for hours from 7 or 8 in the morning in 80-90+ degree heat, just to haggle with strangers who want to pay you a quarter for something you’ve asked $2 for. No, thank you! So off it goes to a local place that could use that quarter, although hopefully people aren’t as cheap and don’t haggle when it’s for a good cause. Granted, I’m not getting rid of everything we have, but I am letting go of some things I’ve held onto for no real good reason other than pure nostalgia.

Once the weather cools down and I can open windows–which actually do open at this house and keep nature out, for the most part–I will be painting the inside of this house. The way the weather has been, I figure that may be in November. It’s been ridiculously hot, considering the time of year. It’s Alabama, go figure. Still, I miss my cool New England autumn weather, which is already starting, up there. Those crisp nights! The nights here have been beautiful, though, especially with the moon waxing to full and being exceptionally bright over the fields. The air has been quite balmy, with a light breeze. If we had a screened in porch, I’d be out there every night, but…bugs. That will be another one of our projects. This home is just another rental, but the friends to whom it belongs told us we could do whatever we want. So, perhaps a back porch or at least deck or patio. Maybe a gazebo? I guess time will tell.

For now, I’ve got enough on my plate! All these changes. Change can be good, but it can also get tiring. Moving so many times has become tiring. Another friend of mine called me the other evening and she said that she didn’t know how I have done it, all this moving. She and her family recently moved into another house for the first time in many years and it’s not easy. Since I’ve been married, we’ve moved at least ten times. You’d think we were a military family. Granted, sometimes it’s only been across town, but it’s still moving. I won’t even tell you how many times I moved after leaving home to go to college until I got married. Let’s just say, it’s been quite the nomadic life. Granted, back in college I could fit all my worldly possessions into one vehicle; not so much, anymore! Speaking of which, I suppose I should get a little something done, today. I have hundreds of books to pore through and either save, display, or donate. There’s also a housefly in here that keeps buzzing my head. Quite annoying. The hunt is on…now, just where is that fly swatter?

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Associations

Here are more photos I took of items from the Calhoun Pickers place. I’m posting these because we are going on another road trip to New England, shortly, and many of these items remind me of things from my New England heritage, whether it be of family or the area. Also, I haven’t written anything in ages, so….

First up is this old Singer sewing machine. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother. She died just a few years ago at the ripe old age of 102! Imagine all the changes she witnessed throughout her life–technology, travel, health care–too many to name. There were many changes she was resistant to, though, including microwaves (never owned one), cell phones (she still had the one old rotary phone on the wall, as far as I know), computers (fogettaboutit!), coffee machines (had a glass, stove-top percolating coffee pot–I have one, too, that I occasionally will pull out and use in her honor–plus they’re cool to watch and hear), new furnishings (she had the same furniture all my life and it was probably there well before I was born), new fashion clothes (she always said that new clothes were very cheaply-made–who could argue with that?), and the list goes on…which brings me to this sewing machine. Grandma was an accomplished seamstress and also crocheter of afghans and lace doilies. While I never witnessed her using her old Singer in my lifetime, it was always on its cabinet in the little hallway right outside her bedroom, by the stair well and although in pristine condition as far as I could tell, it probably had many, many hours of use. It was a beautiful machine, more like a piece of artwork than this more industrial-looking model: a glossy black with gorgeous gold filigree and other vivid colors painted on the body–just beautiful. I have no idea where her machine is now, but every time I see an old Singer, I associate it with Grandma and hers.

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These next two photos are of cookie jars. Cookie jars remind me of my maternal grandmother, the one who lived on the Farm. While both of my grandmothers always, ALWAYS had food available, she would have cookies and numerous other sweets for the offering. (My other grandmother usually had either tapioca pudding or maple walnut ice cream.) Obviously, the barn jar reminds me of the Farm and the lighthouse reminds me of Coastal New England.

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Is there anything more to be said of these lighthouses? I doubt you can find too many homes that are on the coast of New England or any coast, perhaps, that don’t have some homage to lighthouses. They’re just fascinating structures, aren’t they? I’m sure you’ve seen the incredible photos of gargantuan ocean waves crashing up and even over lighthouses and yet they remain standing–solid, unyielding and ready for the next challenge. Being a first-hand witness to that must be amazing, as well as a little scary. I wonder if any of the lighthouse keepers ever got used to it? Probably not.

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Having already mentioned the Farm in other posts that I’ve written (it’s capitalized on purpose, as it was such a huge part of my life and deserves a proper name status), is it any wonder that I am and always will be intrigued by tractors, especially old ones, and even toy ones such as you see below? You know the old saying “they don’t make ’em like they used to”? Case in point, here. Imagine the little child that was the recipient of this adorable, pedal tractor all those many years ago. They were probably just as excited as Ralphie was when he got his Red Ryder BB Gun in the movie classic, “A Christmas Story”. Well, maybe not quite as excited.

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I love lots of old things, not just classic toys, but also clocks and radios. This was a big floor model that was from the glass tube era. I think I may already have written about an old clock radio I had when I was a kid. It was that pale pink that I despised, with gold accents, but it worked and I loved to turn it on and watch the tubes light up, get warm, and hear the crackling and popping as I listened to the old A.M. stations. If I had to guess, I’d say this one is from the 1950’s, although I’m no expert. It has more metal as opposed to glass on the inside than my little pink one did. I prefer the even older ones from the 1930’s that were more unique in their shape, like cathedrals, as opposed to this more boxy design. Regardless, they’re both pretty neat to see, when you come across one. So different from today’s technology.
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There’s always such an array of odd things at this place, Calhoun Pickers, including dolls. Granted, some are gorgeous, but many are just creepy. I found this old timer sitting up on a shelf next to another doll, an old gal who, based on her red hat and purple dress, obviously represented the Red Hat Society. This old guy, with his hat, overalls, and work boots, reminded me of any hard-working old man you might see out in the country. His face isn’t creepy, so much as wizened and of a gentle, humorous countenance. He looks like he’d have a lot of interesting and entertaining stories to tell of his life. Assuming he was a real man.Which he isn’t. He’s a doll.

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The last picture I will post is of this Asian print. I’ll assume it’s Chinese, but what do I know? I laugh every time I see one of these or a similar tattoo, because unless you do research, do you rrreally know what it says? I imagine that there is some company overseas that is putting them out with a grin, because it says something like “Foolish Consumer” or things much worse or perverse that I won’t post here in case my mother reads this. Perhaps it really does say “friends”. We’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

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And what does this remind me of, especially with our upcoming trip? That I will have access and finally be able to eat good, quality Chinese food, complete with my bottomless pot of complimentary Chinese tea! You have no idea how excited I am for the culinary delights I shall foolishly consume! Lobster, steamers, good Italian cooking that’s not a chain, amazingly delicious, full-fat, creamy ice cream, and whatever else I can get my teeth into. Don’t worry, I won’t be a glutton, but I am going off of my “trying-to-adjust-my-horrible-cholesterol-levels-through-diet-manipulation” diet for a week or so. I will be sure to share some of the photos of our trip, including the food, at some point after we return. Don’t hold your breath, though, because there will be a whirlwind of crazy activity in our lives when we get back that includes wisdom teeth removal, moving into a college dorm, moving into a new house, and so on. Until then….

 

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Elephants, and tigers, and…stuff.

There exists a lull in the United States during the spring and summer months, specifically in regards to…football!! Regardless of the absence of live games (there are plenty of game reruns), one cannot escape whatever rivalry exists in your state or area of the country. Here in Alabama it is, of course, The University of Alabama vs Auburn University. Alabama vs Auburn. Crimson Tide vs…Tigers. Roll Tide vs War Eagle! There are also probably some derogatory terms that each side “affectionately” labels the other, but I don’t know of many and wouldn’t go there, anyway. So even thought it isn’t football season, you never truly get away from it. Reminders, should you need them, are everywhere. Ev.Er.EEE. Where. You see people wearing hats, shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops. You see the license plates, car stickers, car flags, yard flags, and so on. There’s even one house I know of that has a giant Alabama “A” in its front yard, made of white pebbles.

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Ground-level view, courtesy of Anniston Star.

And the satellite view:

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Alabama “Nascar” Lines😛

Is that not impressive? And maybe just a little strange? Pretty cool, regardless. If this house ever sells, I wonder if a stipulation is you have to be an Alabama fan? It probably goes without saying.

I have made several comments that one can pretty much sell anything, down here, if it’s either Alabama or Auburn-related. I really think that’s true. I’ve seen the evidence and have the proof. On my last trip to Calhoun Pickers, I took all those pictures, remember? My Calhoun Pickers Pictures. Well, here are just a few of the things I saw that illustrate my point:

Obviously, that is the Auburn University collection. Here are some University of Alabama items:

Personally, I prefer the Alabama ones, partly because that’s who I root for and partly because I really like the “A” made out of the license plates. There are many more example of these types of crafts, including bird houses made out of either Alabama or Auburn plates that I saw on another visit. This particular visit was a short one and I only got through about half the building. You get the idea, though, right? It’s everywhere. My favorite that I saw on this visit, though, is this cute, little guy:

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Who doesn’t love little garden gnome statues? He’s just so adorable, isn’t he? Well, maybe an Auburn fan would disagree. Which brings me to one last thing–the latest meme on an Alabama Facebook page:

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Batty things.

Last month, I mentioned that while my daughter had a scholarship interview, I went to a place I like to browse around in: Calhoun Pickers, a warehouse set up with booths for people to sell vintage and antique items, treasures, and junk–basically just lots of STUFF. I can’t help but get all snap-happy with my cellphone, which can annoy my daughter, but she wasn’t with me, so….🙂 I have lots of photos on my computer from this and other antique-y places, but for today I will share only two:

Yes, a Bat Signal mug and, in a totally different booth, an old-fashioned phone that happens to be red. You know, like the Bat Phone. It’s not exactly the same, but still. I like old-fashioned phones, preferably even older ones that have the rotary dial. I haven’t had one of those in years! My grandmother still had one, if I am correct, right up until she passed away. You know the nice things about those? When you made phone calls to companies that have all the push 1 for this, 2 for that, 3 for the other, and 4, 5, 6, 7 for so on, they used to have the “if you are calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line” and you would be transferred directly to a live person! I used to pretend I had a rotary phone just to avoid all the waiting and aggravation with the button-pushing. Now, I don’t think they offer that option, so I just keep pressing “0” in the hopes that I’ll eventually get to a live person. It doesn’t always work, though.😡

Anyway, I was looking up Batman videos, specifically the theme and the Batmobile song and found them! Sometimes, videos I post disappear, so for now at least, here they are:

This song, one of my favorites when I was a kid, was hard to find. Someone in our family has a bunch of old 45s and this song is on one of them. Bring up any memories?

And, lastly, a tribute to the Bat Phone:

I have many other photos of things from Calhoun Pickers that I found interesting or amusing that I will eventually share. Until then….

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Letting Go

On Wednesday, my daughter and I drove to Auburn for her session of Camp War Eagle, one of eight orientation and registration sessions that Auburn University offers its approximately 5000 incoming freshman. We arrived a day earlier for a couple hours of the Honors College orientation. My Southern Man drove down Wednesday night and we all crashed at our son’s place. Thursday morning, we dropped our daughter off on campus; she stayed in the dorm Thursday night with the other students in her session. Late Friday afternoon, after waiting out an impressive lightning, wind, and rain storm, we went home.

While at CWE, we parents got to attend many different meetings of our own, where we learned much about the university, student life, classes, and basically everything a parent may need or want to know about what the next few years, especially the freshman year, will entail. The parents, separated from their children most of the time we were all there, were fed several meals by Auburn catering service and also got a couple free lunch passes so we could try out a couple of the other dining options. The first day, we tried out Plains to Plate, the nation’s first certified gluten-free, on-campus university restaurant. I don’t necessarily need gluten-free, but was intrigued because as much of the food as possible is locally sourced and the menu was pretty healthy–and quite delicious!

Anyway, the time we spent there was nice, interesting, and while I did learn some things (my Southern Man had attended Camp War Eagle once before, when our son entered AU), much of it seemed to be done to assure (and reassure and re-reassure) the parents that their children are now adults and will be just fine. Which brings me to what I really want to talk about: helicopter parenting.

As a mother and a primarily stay-at-home one, I have had my struggles with various things over the years: occupation/income/money issues and parenting issues, primarily, and the guilt associated with them, wondering if I did enough or should have done something differently. When my two children were younger, my own mother encouraged me to let them do things for themselves that my generation seemed to just do as part of their job–making them breakfast and/or lunch, for example. Doing their laundry. Even playing with them. I remember Mom telling me that she rarely, if ever, played with us, that her schedule did not necessarily revolve around us all the time, and similar things. And I do, in fact, remember those things. When I was growing up, she didn’t wake me up for school or work, make me breakfast or lunch, tell me to do my homework or ask if I had, or constantly remind me of my chores and she didn’t have to; I just did it. She did do our laundry, but once washed, it was often my job to take over with getting the clothes out of the washer and, unless it was raining, hanging them out to dry. Yes, even in the frigid New England winters, I hung the clothes out to dry. They never dried completely, often froze, in fact, at which point I’d bring them in and wonder if they would crack as I stuffed them into the gas dryer in our cellar. (They never did, but I swear the jeans–dungarees, as we called them–came close!). So my parents, while as good a set of parents as any, were a bit more hands-off in their parenting style as were, I believe, most of their peers. Enter my generation….

After observing many of the AU students’ parents and hearing some of the stories that the AU faculty, administration, and counselors told, I had some thoughts. First off, while I enjoyed the session, I commented that it is SO different from when I went to college. Basically, one of my parents dropped me off and that was that. There were no cell phones, internet, social media, and so on. We were not in constant contact. My life was my business and they rarely asked about my grades, sleeping, eating, etc., and I even more rarely volunteered the information. Yes, the first two years they helped me get loans out and throughout college, Dad would occasionally call, ask what I was eating (usually spaghetti or some form of pasta), ask if I needed money (I usually said I was fine), and until I got my first boyfriend in my junior year, would send me flowers on Valentine’s Day (a sweet, sweet memory). When I moved to Alabama to go to graduate school, and quickly surmised that riding a bike in downtown Birmingham would probably cause my early death, Dad bought me a $1600 deathtrap of a cool car that I’d found. So there was some interaction and help from my parents. They did care. Perhaps if the technology we have now was available back then, there would have been more communication, but I kind of doubt it. My parents knew I had to grow up and I proudly and fiercely wanted to be independent and be able to take care of myself. Me asking my Dad for money to buy a car was an act of near-desperation and a major swallowing of pride situation. Asking for help is not and has never been easy for me and that’s not always a good way to be, I’ve learned.

What my parents did not do and what I have not done and will not do are: fill out my children’s scholarship or college paperwork, even the dreaded FAFSA, book them for their Camp War Eagle session, make their college schedules or hover over them and question them while they do it, choose, decorate, or clean their dorm rooms or apartments, log onto their academic college account, unbeknownst to them and for whatever reason, mistakenly take a test (subsequently failing the test and the student was not allowed a retake–true story), call or text them on a daily basis, call their professors, the housing office, or administrators when they are having academic or social problems–do you get the picture? Now, are we available to call or help if our children need and request it? Absolutely, especially if it’s advice…actually, mostly if it’s advice and I often give that whether they want it or not, but they and I both know that they can choose to follow it or not. Yes, we help in other ways, too, but we have brought our children up to be independent and they are doing a pretty good job, so far. Our son has had some challenges along the way, usually financial, and I’m sure our daughter will have challenges, as well. However, while we do try to help out when asked, we are not going to come running to the rescue every time they make or are about to make a choice that may not turn out to be the wisest one they could have made. We are not going to hover over them whether in person or via phone, text, email, Skype, Facetime, Messenger, homing pigeons, or whatever other form of communication is available to try to run their lives.

Unfortunately, many in our generation do not seem to be of the same mindset and as a result, some messages that were repeated to the parents at CWE were that our children are adults. We are to drop them off and LEAVE. They will be FINE. They have plenty of resources to help them and guide them, that they will figure things out and will be OKAY. If they need us, they will call us. All they need to know is that we are there for them, if need be. Basically, the message was: it’s time for your children to grow up–LET THEM. LET GO.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that I believe this part of parenting is the most difficult. When your children are born, people tell you that the colicky stage is difficult, then the walking stage, then the “terrible twos”, then it’s the tyrannical threes that no one warned you about, then they go to school and gain an attitude they never had before, then it’s the “tween” years, and everyone knows about teenagers! During most of that time, you are able to exert your influence and will on your child, if you so desire. No one really tells you that the hardest part of parenting is when the little birds leave the nest and you have to watch them learn to fly, unable to do much else but watch while they fall or fail, which they will do–many times. Giving them advice (that often goes unheeded) and praying for God to give them wisdom, discernment, and guidance is often all you can do–and it doesn’t require their permission or even their knowledge. What we as parents need to work on for ourselves and our sanity is having patience, understanding, forgiveness, and faith, all part of letting them go. It’s hard, very hard: an ongoing learning experience that has occasional backsliding. I still find myself starting to go into “Momma Bear” mode, sometimes, and I have to remind myself and force myself to step back and be the watcher and the prayer warrior. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s all part of life.

One thing I have been “warned” of: when this next stage of life is over, when our children have successfully gone from our dependents to independent, and have started the cycle with their own families, the letting go doesn’t end. My Mom has said on several occasions, that watching her children raise their own children, her grandchildren, isn’t always easy, either. Perhaps we’ve done things that she wouldn’t have agreed with or done, but it wasn’t her place to do anything more than maybe offer her opinion–and pray. Then, there’s the grandchildren: even more loved ones to watch and worry about. She said that the concern/worrying never ends, if anything, perhaps it multiplies, but that is life. That is the price of loving others and it’s well worth the cost.

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Lemonade…that cool, refreshing drink. Sometimes….

Some of my friends and former neighbors may remember, I know my kids do, when we lived on South Main Street in a little NH town, and I would set them up with a stand so they could sell lemonade on Friday afternoons and evenings to all the passing drivers that were on their way home from work. We had a split beverage cooler that had spouts at the bottom and I would make homemade lemonade (cheating using lemon juice) and also brewed “Southern Peach Iced Tea”. (Remember, this was New Hampshire, so it’s “iced tea”, not “sweet tea”.) Because the beverages were a delicious hit, the kids were cute (of course!), and I set them up on a regular basis, including when we had a yard sale, they actually made some really good money for two little kids, that summer! I had them charge $1 for tea and fifty cents for lemonade, I believe. Granted, I didn’t deduct the cost of everything from their profits, but still, the profits were pretty good.😉

I was reminded of those times a few days ago, when my daughter and I were on our way back from a really nice afternoon spent at some Alabama shopping outlets with a friend. As I drove around a corner a couple streets away from our house, we noticed about 10 or so little Hispanic children, waving us down. Sure enough, they had a small table set up on the side of the road and were selling lemonade for fifty cents or water for twenty-five. Of course, I had to stop and order two lemonades, and paid a little extra as a tip. Well…you have to give them an “A” for their effort, entrepreneurial spirit–and cuteness. But, boy, that was some of the weakest, lukewarm lemonade I think I’ve ever had. If I personally knew them, I’d show them (or the parent) how it’s properly done. But you know what? Regardless of how, as I said, “somewhat horrible” their product may be, at this stage of the game, when their parents are trying to instill in these young children a good work ethic, in spite of the hot, ninety-degree weather, I will always stop and buy their beverages. How can one not, right?🙂

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Busy, busy, busy!

Since our younger daughter is graduating from high school soon, we’ve been busy winding things down. Add a friend’s son’s wedding and we are going to be running around a bit, but it should be a gorgeous wedding, weather included! Graduation evening, however, isn’t looking so good, which means the ceremony will be moved indoors, the class divided in half for two ceremonies (our daughter, as a top-ten student, has to attend both), and space will be limited. We’re praying the rain holds off!

Between the various ceremonies, my daughter also had an scholarship interview. While she was at it, I went to a favorite place of mine called Calhoun Pickers. It’s a huge warehouse full of partitioned booths that different people rent to sell…stuff. Some of it is really cool, some of it is probably rare, some of it is definitely old, and some of it is just pure junk. For example, one time I went, someone was selling a large empty pickle jar. Seriously. Nothing special about that thing. I wonder, though, if anyone bought it; you know what they say about one person’s junk being another one’s treasure or something like that.

Anyway, while my daughter was at her interview, I went the few blocks to the Pickers place and browsed. Many things caught my eye and I snapped a few pictures of some of them. Before I knew it, her interview was over and I had to go pick her up. I will post them at a later time, but for now, I will leave you with this one.

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See you later, alligator!

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