I live right off a fairly busy highway in my town. I have noticed in the last week that the city is tearing down a row of unsightly houses along the highway which, if were not condemned already, I think they should've been. I have no idea if they were indeed condemned or if they are making way for new construction of some kind. The sad part of it is that people actually lived in those houses up until the wrecking ball hit, and I sincerely hope they all were able to relocate somewhere safe and sound. I think perhaps someone in one of those particular houses was raising chickens because there were always a few hens hanging out on the side of the highway, just threatening to come a couple of feet too close to the oncoming traffic and take their place as the latest roadkill.
I guess this area of our county is still considered somewhat rural because we have had our fair share of deer lately that don't make it across that highway safely, and various other critters as well. My husband and I have more than once come into our neighborhood at night and had to brake for deer crossing the street and, in case you didn't know, there is always more than one. So we slow to let the one cross and wait for the other one or two that follow. Thank God, and knock on wood, I have never hit one. I know plenty of people who have and it is not a pretty sight for the deer or their car. But I must say I am glad the chickens are gone because I hate to see any innocent creature get needlessly smashed. One day I passed a man who had stopped in the middle of the highway (in a turning lane, but still...) and who was out of his car kneeling on the ground looking under his front bumper. I just know he hit one of those chickens and was examining the damage. He was beyond crazy to do it in the middle of a busy highway, though, because just the right truck at just the right time and he too could've been road pizza.
So these chickens that teeter on the side of the road got me to thinking about my sweet daughter-in-love and her chicken experience. Several years back when my son and his family were living in this area, she was working in an equally rural town and hit a chicken with her car. Now, that in and of itself is nothing new but what followed was hilarious. Unable to deal with what she was going to find, she didn't get out and inspect the damage but drove the car all the way back home (about 25 miles) to let my son take a look at it and, yep, you guessed it, she had ridden all the way home with the poor chicken, still alive, stuck in her grill. Now they truly were in a dilemma. They collaborated over what they should do, and my son was able to release the chicken from its incarceration between the bars of the car's front grill. It was around the holidays, so they were headed to Florida in a couple of days to visit relatives, and they absolutely couldn't travel with a chicken stuck in the grill...that much they knew. It of course would've been inhumane and, secondly, my daughter-in-law would've been freaking out the entire 500 miles. So they placed the half-dead chicken in the empty lot next to their house and further discussed just what part they should continue to play in the situation unfolding before them. After all, it was an accident. They decided to leave him (or her) there, hoping that it would somehow heal enough to wander away and become someone else's concern. But not until my son first presented the chicken with a frozen corn-on-the-cob for nourishment that he fetched out of the freezer, in the hope of speeding the chicken back to good health. After all, a good meal helps everything! He cracks me up. However, upon returning from their trip, the chicken had met his demise, in spite of their best efforts to save it.
Even if you live in an urban area, you may know people who raise hens. Hen-raising has become a popular hobby in recent years and it is not uncommon to find a chicken coup in the backyard of some fine homes. People in the city find ways to indulge their country inclinations and living in the city will not deter them from trying their hand at raising chickens. I have several friends and even my niece who raise chickens for their eggs and for eating. I'm sorry, I would have a hard time thinking of going to the back yard fetching a chicken to slaughter if my kids had named it Lucy. Just don't seem right. Plus, who is gonna clean it and dress it? Certainly not moi. There are different laws regulating the raising of chickens however, depending on the town, and it's a good thing. Otherwise we would have an overrun of chickens, and an overrun of the other smelly thing that comes along with chickens and I say no, thank you. We have enough of that from the Canada geese that inhabit our neighborhood pond.
I will continue to buy my eggs at the local Publix and my chickens as well...already cleaned, cut up and ready to plop in the pan, on the grill, or in the slow cooker. After all, we are living in the new millineum, you know, and why would I want to go back to the 1800's? I mean, really.
To me, there is nothing better for putting things into perspective than a day all alone, completely by myself. Since my husband and I are both self-employed, he has actually been working in our home office more than me lately and I find it a rare thing to have the house all to myself now. I finally got that opportunity today and it has mostly consisted of tying up loose ends, doing laundry, catching up on housework, working on a craft project that I've been wanting to do, and writing about how nice it is to have a day completely to myself to do those things (which I happen to be doing right now). Not that I'm complaining. The last two weeks having my daughter and her family here have been amazing and I have cherished every single moment. But since I could not convince them to stay and move in with us permanently (haha), I accepted the fact that things must return to normal and I have made the best of it. There are several things that get me into an obstinate state of mind where I sometimes find myself, and one of those things is not having enough time alone. I start to feel stuck and get anxious, and that results in seeing things not quite like they are but from a skewed perspective, if you know what I mean. Things look bigger, things look scarier, things look way too complicated. Then I get just plain negative, which is a very good sign that I am in need of something more, because by nature I am a very positive person. In fact, most people do not even know when I'm down because I am almost always (even when I'm down) positive. I suppose that is a good thing, but people are shocked to find out I have been struggling because I hide it so well. Except for my my best friend and my brother; they always know.
So for me, time alone with my thoughts is essential to good mental and physical health. I firmly believe that everyone needs alone time, just to have that block of time where no one is demanding of you, asking you for yet another thing, or trying to influence how you spend your day. Time alone cleanses the mind... makes it clear once again to see things with the right perspective, much like your nose feels when it finally(!) clears from a head cold. You can eat all the same foods that you eat before you get a cold, but with a cold they taste totally different -- in fact, much of the time there is no flavor at all. Same with your mind. When it is cluttered with the congestion of life, crammed with things you've not had time to sort or feel or make peace with, your mind like your nose doesn't process life as it really is. But time to sort through, reflect on issues, and have a clearing of the mind is the medicine that brings healing -- sort of like antihistamine for the brain!
As a young mom I craved alone time which, like most young moms, I rarely got. However, on occasion when I'd had a really trying day, my hubby would come home from work and push me out the door to go and have uninterrupted alone time to clear my mind. I will never be able to thank him enough for those times. Sometimes I would just get in the car and drive. I'd stop by my favorite fast food restaurant and order food and just sit in the car all alone in the quiet. It did me a world of good. I know young moms today are busier than ever and pressed for time, and to have a quiet moment for them is a luxury. If you are a young mom, those times are rare now but you will get them one day. There will be a time when all the little ones will be grown and the grandchildren will come in but also go out, and you will find yourself more often having moments alone (as you think about your children and grandchildren). I guess it's one of those little rewards of life that you work for when you're young and you enjoy when you get older. I know I not only enjoy it, but it's a must for me to feel complete and fulfilled. It's during those alone times that I re-set my internal clock.
So one craft project later and with several laundry loads under my belt, I am feeling much better. Not so much because of the actual tasks completed but, by completing those somewhat mindless tasks, I have found solace in my mind because my mind has been emptied and renewed and filled again with hope that comes only from being quiet, new inspiration and, last but not least, the smell of clean laundry...which always makes things right in the world.
If you are one of the very few who doesn't like a little "alone" time, you be cra-cra indeed.
For not the first time in recent months, I find myself wide awake at 5:00 a.m. on a day that I could sleep in till at least 8:00. My mind is swirling with the activities of the last month when my daughter and her family first arrived back in the states. Every day I have spent with this sweet family has been beyond what I dreamed before they got here, and a whole lot more. The laughter of my little Preston resonates in every part of the house as she moves about her daily business, which is flitting from room to room like a little butterfly who has nothing more important to do than to be beautiful and spread joy to those who will but take a look. She is a tiny little package bursting with fun in everything she does. Her mother, on the other hand, has a generous amount of "fret" over her, as mommy makes sure that she is given all the right things that fuel that enormous amount of energy. She day after day, night after night willingly and patiently showers her with the love she needs to be such a confident being at the ripe ol' age of two and, as a result of that, creating in her the firm foundation needed to grow her into a sound human being on planet earth. It's totally evident by Hollie's demeanor that this little angel baby is the center of her life and caring for her is her greatest passion. I am so proud. My son-in-law mostly stands silently by placing his solid, strong mark on the family, quietly making sure his girls are safe and sound and protected...I am sure his mind is reeling on how he can make their life better, safer, more stable...until his private thoughts are interrputed when the little one pounces upon his head, turning his heart to her delightful squeals and her demands for attention from her knight in shining armor. He is more than happy to oblige. He is a good man.
As our time together this visit draws to a close, I am already dreading the moment when we arrive at the airport and, within minutes of saying goodbye, they disappear into the international terminal with their fifteen million suitcases. In a mere 3.5 hours, they will be far away and I will be home once again, missing them like a blubbering fool. As soon as I'm northbound on I-85, I begin to give myself a pep talk. It won't be that long till I see them again...Preston won't change that much before our next visit...At least we can Skype and talk on the phone...They'll send me pictures... It is a totally necessary and regular procedure every time they leave, those pep talks. It's the reassurance I need to get through the next few weeks, as life without my daughter and her family nearby returns to the normal. The normal for me is going about my daily life, as I wholeheartedly plan for the next time I will see my kids.
Due to the gray, rainy days we have had recently in the metro area, we've had to postpone our annual photo shoot until yesterday when the conditions were pretty much perfect. The sun was out, the temperature had warmed into the seventies, and we finally headed out to make it happen. Even though I have photographed many children and many sweet families, nothing gives me greater joy than when I get to photograph my own family. Nothing gives my heart more pleasure than to hopefully give them a legacy of beautiful images that will tell their story and remind them of my love long after I am gone. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy work that brings me such satisfaction, and to share that fervor with my kids.
So until next time, sweet ones, take care and be sure to eat your veggies and wear your sunscreen in that hot adopted land you call home. Laugh together a lot, take care of each other, and love each other unconditionally. Until we meet again, the images will have to keep me, the memories will have to hold me, the pride I have in you will have to strengthen me. And never forget this...I love you to the moon and back, and that's a lot of love. Because, well, the moon is a long way from Georgia.
The gloriously pure, vitamin-D giving, mood-enhancing sun graced us with its presence today in my neck of the Georgia woods. That's it, plain and simple. I sing hallelujah!
I try not to let the weather affect my mood. For someone who was once diagnosed with clinical depression, the weather can set off low moods, but really not so much with me as with others I've heard, even those who do not have the disease we call depression. People just seem to fare better on a sunny day. I think I do pretty well overall making it through the short, sometimes dreary, days of winter. After all, what's better than curling up with a good book by the fire or under a quilt (or both!) as the rain beats down outside and the temps slide solidly into the forties. That's a recipe for cozy for sure. But when the days of drizzle and gray skies turn into weeks of drizzle and gray skies (or has it been months?), even I begin to wonder if the weather is to blame for my less than cheerful countenance. The month after the holidays is always a downer for me anyway because, just as a person comes down from a sugar-high after ingesting large amounts of sweets, I come down from a holiday-high after ingesting large amounts of family, laughter, and good cheer at Christmas.
The more I talk with folks who are not from around here, the more I realize Georgia with its changing seasons and overall mild temperatures is a great place to live, and my 50+ years as Georgia resident prove it's the state for me. My daughters and I love New York City, but anything north of southern Virginia is a little too cold, too snowy, too "iffy" for my bones in the winter. And as much as I absolutely love the beach, I'm not sure I'd want to live there year round because I would miss the spring and fall seasons experienced here that are pretty much non-existant in Florida. In the past my son has called me and bragged about his attire of choice on Christmas day -- shorts and flip flops -- and the 85 degrees he happens to be enjoying in Tampa Bay. As good as that sounds right about now, I wouldn't trade the sweatshirt-donning weather of a Georgia fall, followed by the nippier temps that accommodate jackets and boots and cute little crocheted caps and scarves as winter takes her turn here in the south. And, I'm sorry, but Christmas just ain't Christmas if it's 60 degrees or higher outside. In my opinion, our worst winter day is better than the best day up north, and our most brutal summer day is a walk in the park compared to temps recorded out west come August. The great State of Georgia takes care of its own in a mighty fine way when it comes to climate.
Even though the sun returned today after many days of playing hide-and-seek, I know that winter has really just begun. So despite the brief interludes of great weather, we are still in for some cold temperatures and maybe even some snow and freezing rain in our near future. Last year, if you remember, Georgia was graced with two rounds of snow within one month. I love a beautiful dusting every winter, but nothing that will keep me housebound more than one or two days. After that I begin to get a little stir crazy! I did, however, capture some beautiful images of everything covered in white and always do enjoy the one light, barely-there snow we Georgians seem to get yearly. But that, my friend, is all the snow I need in my life.
So tomorrow the sun is predicted to greet us once more as she peeks over the horizon, warming up the air just a wee bit more, prompting plans to head out to the park for a much-needed frolick on the playground with my little Preston -- with my camera in tow, of course. I will revel in every sun-filled day that the Good Lord chooses to send our way as we inch closer and closer to spring in the southeast. First, however, I'm afraid we must endure February and March with their winds that so often howl through during their visit. But come April, when the daffodils push their tiny little crowns up through the soil, we will be reminded once more that winter is only for a season.
Come spring, come.
People fall into two categories. Those who bumper stick and those who don't. My husband and I, for two, fall into the latter. We stick (no pun intended) with the philosophy that a vehicle is a major purchase in life and why would you want to mess it up with stickers all over it? Stickers are for sticker books, envelopes you send in the mail, and to alert people to something they need or want to know, such as Past Due or Happy Holidays or whatnot. Bumper stickers are just unusually large stickers that people use to tell the world (or mostly the guy trailing their bumper) what they believe in, who they really are, or what they would like to do to you if you follow too closely. Then you have the ones who wholeheartedly place the campaign bumper stickers on their cars in order to promote the candidate they are wholeheartedly following and who never remove them even if their candidate wholeheartedly loses. You can be pretty sure they are still pulling for that candidate and refuse to accept they have been defeated. Romney followers? He lost over six years ago and Obama won. Not what I wanted either, but time to remove the campaign stickers. I've seen cars with presidential campaign stickers several campaigns back -- eight to twelve years old!
Then there are those people who perhaps think it is rude to brag to your face, but see no harm in doing it with a bumper sticker. My child is a Straight A Student at (such and such Middle School). Or If you think this is a great car, you should see my Jag (a blatant lie!). And there are those with the jealousy problems. I don't care about your Straight A Student or My dad can beat up your dad or something ridiculous like that. By reading a bumper stick on someone's bumper you can learn all kinds of things about them:
If they are Democrat or Republican or like their politics with Tea
If they believe in God or in the theory of evolution (remember the little fish eating each other? The eater depended on which side of the fence you were on...)
If they are married, have children or pets (the little sticker families lined up on the rear, starting with the dad and ending with the kitty?)
If their child is a cheerleader or on the football team
Where they attended high school or college or where they work
Their membership at a local church or where they like to eat
If they are in the military or have a loved one serving
If they believe in guns or think guns are the end of the world as we know it...
The list goes on and on. And we are living in a day where sharing your beliefs on the rear of your car might not be the best way to share, what, with all the road rage around. It also could possibly give the police a heads-up to your brazen or arrogant personality, making it harder for them to be non-biased. That is just asking for trouble in my opinion and you best beware.
But here's the real thing about bumper stickers. They are much like tattoos. Once you get one, you have a tendancy to want another one. Now, I am not against tattoos. My son has several and my daughter has a couple. But somewhere down the road your interests and beliefs might change or evolve or you may no longer be in the military or love that person whose name is permanently inked inside a heart on your arm and you just might regret it ever having soiled your body. Ditto for the tattoos that you stick on your car. They are much harder to get off than they are to put on. Then, as the years fly by and you get a little age on you and the car gets some age on it, the tattoos as well as the bumper stickers just might be the remnant of a past that you no longer care to remember. Just sayin'...
The picture to the left represents something significant to me. Actually, it is not a picture of something, but a picture of the absence of something -- an image of "nothing," in other words -- as in, there is no Christmas tree now where from around November 24th until yesterday it stood in all of its glory in this corner of my living room. But, alas, the Christmas season in all its festiveness and chaotic madness is over. And for that, I think I am glad. I do hold, however, that Christmas can live on in our hearts if we only allow.
Everyday life as we know it is back to normal. The holidays are quite like birthing a baby. You plan and plan, you try to be as prepared as possible, you look forward to it with great anticipation, and then one day you say I gotta birth this baby -- I can't deal with it any longer! So Christmas with all its planning and preparing and shopping and wrapping and the glitz and the glitter and the pondering and the good wishes begin to wear on even me as the season marches on -- and I absolutely love Christmas! But on December 25th or thereabout, it is over and life returns to normal just like life after having a baby returns to normal (sometimes you think it will never return to normal, but it does; it's just a lack of sleep telling your mind that). And year after year, when I finally put away all the decorations (sometimes not till January 6th or 7th), I feel a kind of euphoria...a clean-ness... a feeling of being organized, if only for the one day when the decorations actually come down. I even pare down a bit from the way I had things before Christmas. Less on the dining room table, less on the kitchen countertops maybe, just less -- less is more, simplified and quiet, unlike Christmas as it shouts Hey, look at me, I am dazzling don't you think? However it's quite likely that I will enjoy this tranquility for only a few days, because very shortly my daughter's family will "move in" as she puts it for two weeks. Yay, I truly cannot wait for that! My peaceful, clean abode will be somewhat short-lived, but that is okay indeed because I live every year for their month-long visit at the holidays. When they arrive in a couple of days, in come the suitcases, an accumulation of gifts they have acquired over the season along with the essentials needed for a small child, and suddenly the house becomes a chaotic mess again. Little Preston pulls out all of the toys and drags them all over the house and leaves her precious little mark on everything. Then, once again, the serenity of a straight house descends upon me after the kids leave and, even though the calm has returned, the source of the chaotic joyfulness has returned to her home in another country and her bigger-than-life presence is but a mere memory once more.
One might foolishly assert that it would be easier and better never to celebrate anything or have family stay with you or have little munchkins who make messes. But I would venture to say that one has never reveled in the glow of the Christmas lights on the tree as they reflect on the gifts below. And most certainly they have never enjoyed a playdate with a granddaughter who magically makes Christmas and all those scattered toys come alive. But then, without her even knowing, she silently breaks your heart when she goes home and leaves those toys behind, sitting still on the living room floor. The calmness and organization I feel when things are in order pales to the joy of making a mess with my little ones.
So even though I love a clean, tidy house, even I can say that a semi-perfect home might just be overrrated at times. Because to have the absence of a mess is to also have the absence of people and the love of those people in your life. And that, my friend, is a deal-breaker for me. I have just three words for all the chaotic love in my impending future:
BRING. IT. ON.
Once again, I rang in the New Year snoozing. I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself, seeings how I'm coming up on the big 6-0 and the fact that I had worked all day long. But I think it's been quite a while since I've seen a glittery ball drop or a peach for that matter. Yep, while everyone else was shooting off fireworks and celebrating, I was visiting Mr. Sandman. Even as a teenager, I remember being the only one at sleepovers who wouldn't -- rephrase that, couldn't -- stay up past 11:00 o'clock. If I ever did so by some miraculous happening, I greeted the next day with a sick stomach, dizziness, and an overall ickyness that lasted until the rest I so desperately needed was obtained. This gal definitely needs her rest. Even today, lack of sleep will bring on the sickies quicker than being in a room full of flu victims (although I wouldn't wanna do that either). As for the New Year upon us, I would venture to say that, because of my amazing full eight hours of sleep, I might be a little more hopeful on this first day of 2015, unlike some others who are nursing hangovers this morning. Also unlike those same party goers, I have the benefit of knowing exactly WHAT I was doing at 12:00 a.m., even though I have no memory to prove it because I was deep in the land of REM.
One funny thing about the New Year that seems to reoccur each and every year is the fact that on January 1, I have all the same things to do that I needed to do the night before at 11:59. Beginning a brand-new year has nothing whatsoever to do with having the same responsibilities and duties one has as the day before. Hmmm...what will I do with this day... Today should be the day that I take down and pack away all my Christmas decorations. Not sure that is gonna happen. It is the day I should be cleaning and preparing for my sweet family to join us this week on the last leg of their trip before heading home again. Probably will NOT happen today -- after all, I can clean anytime, right? One thing that is sure to happen...I plan to cook a delicious meal, complete with greens and black-eyed peas for our New Year's dinner. I think we all are a little tired of the fast food we have slipped in over the holidays and a great meal would be a welcome start to 2015. But mostly, and without a trace of guilt, I may just spend a good part of the day sitting on my (un)royal duff and relaxing. Sounds like a plan to me.
But just like all who live to celebrate yet another new year (however they choose to do it, even if it's snoring through), I have hopes for a fresh new start as most do. New challenges conquered; new places seen; new personal growth spiritually, mentally and physically; better health; healthier lifestyles; more intentional living for the benefit of others...the list can go on and on for the things people resolve to do when a new year is upon them. I usually don't make New Year's resolutions because, if in fact I do, it's harder for me to keep them knowing that I uttered them out loud with my mouth. Just the thought of someone watching to see if I keep up with those resolutions is enough to make me fail completely! No, I just silently ponder the things I would like to see more or less of for myself, do better at, or just hope for. Hoping for better things and working for those things to be accomplished is the sum total of what life is all about.
So I wish for you this New Year's Day success. Success in all the things you hope to do and accomplish this year. Also success in the things you might not view as successes, but are as much a vital part of your life as those you do view as successes. It's in those mistakes made and learned from and those less than desirable events in our lives that we come to be the well-rounded, well-intentioned individuals we hope to become. May God take the total sum of your experiences -- past, present, and in the future, good and bad -- to weave you into that miraculous human being you are meant to be. Who could ask for anything more?
Happy New Year!
Posted by CC
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