When I frequent very large gatherings (which isn't very often if I have anything to do with it), it amazes me at how many different individuals you can see at one time in one place. And the part that truly fascinates me? It is highly likely that I don't know one and have never before seen even one of those persons. The next day I could go to another venue with an equal number of people and the same thing be true. But even more thought-provoking than that is: If you do see someone in the crowd that you know, you recognize them immediately and maybe even from a good distance away. What is it about the people we do know and recognize that sets them apart? How is it that from 30 or more feet away we can see our child, husband, friend, or acquaintance and know without a doubt it is them? It might be their flaming red hair or their gait. When it comes to faces, most every person's face is generally the same -- two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. How God can take the same body parts and make every single person so unique has always been a mystery to me. It is said that even identical twins are not truly identical; there is some marking or variation in each one that makes them exclusive and like no other. Add to that the mannerisms a person develops, their specific coloring, and things like race and ethnicity, and maybe it's not too hard to understand. I mean really though? Three general features on everyone's face, and we all look so totally diffferent. When a baby is born, we might say, "Oh, she looks just like Aunt Mae" or "She has her father's eyes and her mother's smile." But as the child grows, we see features that are unique only to their little face. Some people have recognizable features, like Barbra Streisand's nose or Julia Robert's big toothy smile or Sadie Robertson's big ol' dimples. I think it's quite good to have a face that is unique and sets you apart. I tell my daughter to be proud of the small bump in her nose, that it gives her character (she doesn't agree). At any rate, the combinations of eyes, noses, and mouths are quite endless, wouldn't you say?
I have also heard it said that everyone (even if they are not a biological twin) has a twin somewhere in the world. We all know people who "look like" someone else we know or a famous person perhaps, but I seriously doubt anyone has a real twin when it comes right down to it. I mean, sometimes we think we see someone we know or someone who appears to look just like another, only to get closer and realize it is not who we thought. We see their face is similar, but somehow different. One time I even thought I saw myself driving along in another vehicle when I was out running errands (yes, I really did just say that). I mean, I knew it wasn't me, because I am me and I was in my car, not hers, but it was a lady that even I thought looked like me! My parents told a story once about being on vacation out west and seeing a woman in a restaurant that reminded them so much of me, they ended up apologizing to her when they left because they couldn't keep from staring. Maybe that girl is my twin! Maybe she is out there somewhere! I think I really just have one of those faces that everybody thinks looks like somebody. Hmm, not sure that's a good thing.
Recently I've noticed that it's getting more and more common for me to go into a store or restaurant in my own town and not see one person I know. Maybe that's really not uncommon in a town of 15,000, which is considered I think a small to mid-sized town. But it's totally bigger than, say, Lost Springs, Wyoming with a popluation of less than 20 (according to Google). And my town is tiny compared to a metropolis like New York City with over eight million individuals. Do those people ever randomly run into folks they know? I seriously doubt it. But it is possible because, just like Southerners, those Yankees are creatures of habit...they frequent the same places much of the time. But here's the thing of it all that truly gets me to thinking. Most people I do see when I am out in the community or a neighboring town (or Disney World for that matter) are people I have never seen before and will probably never see again. That thought has really gotten me to thinking lately. It may be the one time in my life that I see that person and the one time in life that they see me. This little tidbit is something to ponder. Is there a greater reason for which this person's and my highways have intersected or is it that we both just happened to be in the Target check-out line on the same day at the same time by coincidence? We will probably never know.
But just in case there is a higher purpose in seeing that person at that exact time on that exact day of the week in the very same location, and just in case fate has truly brought us together, I will make it my goal to be kind and polite. I might be the good word or the encouragement they need for their day. I might be the smile in the crowd that they never forget. And to me, this is a very daunting responsibilty. Because there is a good chance this may be my only opportunity to come in contact with that individual. In fact it is quite possible, and very highly likely indeed, that our paths will never cross again.
Recently my husband told me that he'd never realized how veiny my hands are. Well, thanks, honey, that's just what every woman wants to hear. I resisted the urge to repeat all the things coming to my mind that I knew my hands had done for him. But since your hands have certainly done the same, we'll go over it together. My hands have: Cared for three children and changed at least 12,960 diapers (that's six diapers a day for three kids, two years for each kid...probably under under-estimating). They've washed, folded, and put away an undetermined number of laundry loads. My hands have cooked at least 12,000 meals (dinner for most nights of 35 years of marriage) and washed at least a million dishes. Then there are the trillion other jobs my hands have had over the years. I could only guess the number of times they've dressed little bodies, packed lunches, rubbed backs, bandaged skinned knees, and dried tears. And if you, like me, have worked hard in your life, you'll agree that this is just a small dent in the very huge bucket of chores women's hands face in a day. The truth of the matter is my hands are indeed veiny. My mom had veiny hands and my granny's even veinier (is that a word?). I can't say that any woman in my family would win a hand-modeling contest but, hey, hands are the hardest working tools we possess. And I am completely sure that my days of sun-worshipping as a young adult didn't help my hands one iota. I know that because of the wrinkles they now bear. Funny how men can notice the veins in your hands, but not notice the brand-new top you have on. It's a mystery.
My hands have gained somewhat of a reputation in my lifetime as well for some not-so-pleasant maneuvers. I'm sure my children remember them for popping their mouths a few times. When I was a young mom, I had great patience with my children -- that is, until they talked back. Talking back and being sassy would get them a pop in the mouth quicker than anything. Whatever you do, do not be disrespectful. My son will tell you a not-so-happy story about how I ruined the Christmas of '87 (or thereabouts) because I would not let him stay overnight at his grandparents. No, he ruined Christmas by telling me to my face that I had ruined his Christmas -- the mother who had worked her rear-end off (and her hands) to make sure that his Christmas was the best one ever. That is the way it happened. I had popped his adolescent mouth in a New York minute before he even realized what had happened, bringing about the deadliest silence I have ever experienced in a room filled with all my relatives. Now, I'm not suggesting that popping a child in the mouth is always the right thing to do, but I'm also not suggesting that it is never the right thing to do. It worked for our family, and I happen to have three grown children who know what it means to be respectful. I have also been the recipient of a reprimand for wagging my finger at people. I have been told this is not a nice thing to do. Uh-oh.
But I hope more than the mishaps, I am remembered as a mom who had loving hands. I hope my children and grandchildren can remember my hands gently bathing them, stroking their hair, holding a book as I read to them, and taking them into my arms for great big bear hugs on a regular basis. When I think of all the things moms, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, best friends, and every woman on planet earth do with their hands every day, I am amazed that they don't just drop off from severe overuse! We could not even begin to count the endless tasks for which we use our hands but, if we could, we would understand why those hands begin to look a little weathered somewhere around mid-life. If this is making you think a manicure might be in order for your near future, go for it -- you deserve it!
The above picture is one I snapped of the sweet lady I sit with every week. She is playing with her newest great grandbaby (at that time) and I thought it such a sweet and gentle image. Today Grace is fighting a battle with advanced-stage Alzhemer's. Her mind continues to slip a little bit deeper every day into the throes of this horrible disease. She can no longer form her words clearly or put together sentences that make sense. Sometimes she has trouble swallowing. She has lost control of so many of the things we take for granted. But one thing is sure. Even though she can no longer use her hands to create those wonderful biscuits she once made, she knows a loving touch and can return the gesture. She understands the gentle stroke of a hand on her hair, telling her everything is gonna be okay. She can also remember how to wack you on the arm if you press her to do something she doesn't want to do!
Even though they are still young women, I think of my daughters and how their hands are such a crucial part of their professions. As a nurse, Hollie's hands see many things in a day as she cares for sick people and her own little mini me, Preston, as well. Abbie uses her hands as an artist to mold clay at the potter's wheel and to paint and draw. When I look at their hands, I think to myself my girls have hard-working hands. They use their hands to bring about good and beauty and hope. And then I think that most assuredly they will one day be veiny just like their mother's. But that's okay. Mature hands are a sure sign that you have been fully involved in life, that you've used them to bring about good, that you've mixed up a meat loaf or two, and that they've been used occasionally for a pop to halt sassiness. But more than anything, hands are not meant to be idle; they are meant to be used. And used especially in the giving and receiving of love and the many tasks the act of love bears.
Recently, I've been contemplating the simple but also complex act of kissing. Watching a really good romance movie with lots of (appropriate) kissing gets me to pondering this most basic show of affection like most women. We gals are motivated by the perfect kiss. But many times, even my hubs and I have conversed on this subject, giving our personal opinions on kissing and why this action stimulates so much talk, controversy at times, differing opinions, and almost always passion (that is, a good kiss does). It is truly profound to us as to why a kiss is so enjoyable, talked about so often, and a completely baffling mystery.
There's the nothing kiss and the everything kiss. The nothing
kiss involves two people simply placing their lips upon each
other's, holding that pose for approximately five seconds, and
then letting go. Pretty boring for the most part. Then there's the kiss where either the guy or the gal look like they're gonna jump down the other's throat, and these are the kind that can bring on some discomfort for the onlooker -- I think they call this too much PDA, if I'm not mistaken. But movies run the gamut on kissing -- beginning first kisses, random and unexpected kisses, kisses that lead to more than just a kiss, and so on and so forth. Most people kiss before marriage, but there are some who think kissing should be reserved for your one and only after marriage and that kissing before marriage gives a part of yourself away that should be reserved for the wedding day (The Duggars, anyone?). That is a close-to-impossible feat to master as kissing is as natural as eating and sleeping. Others believe anything goes, and they allow themselves to go way beyond kissing before they even really get to know the kissee, sometimes leading to before-marriage shenanigans that they later regret. In my beliefs as to the "kissing act," I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't believe it to be harmful (before-marriage kissing), but do believe it behooves all involved to limit kissing to somewhere between the nothing kiss and the everything kiss. Most remember their first kiss and most have heard that ol' saying "Sweet 16 and never been kissed." I think 16 years old is the perfect time to receive a first kiss. But it should fall more into the "nothing" kiss category at that age. Then there are some, like my dear son, who admitted to his first kiss with a little girl in preschool (on the lips and under the table, no less). I don't even remember my first kiss which is pretty sad, but I don't know if it was because it was a nothing kiss or it's just been too darn long.
This weekend I saw a new romantic chick flick just out at the theatre. It's the most recent book-turned-movie by Nicholas Sparks. I haven't read many of his books because I feel they're predictable (sorry, Nick) and a bit shallow at times (sorry, again, Nick). But they are clean for the most part, I like Nicholas Sparks the man, and I don't mind giving to his cause when a new movie comes out. The Longest Ride was quite good -- in fact, probably his best since The Notebook. It had multiple layers in the plot, a few surprises, and lots of good kissing by a young couple who had great on-screen chemistry! It's worth going to see. (This movie critique is free of charge). But romantic movies (at least for women) give us that charge for romance that we all hope to find in life and, for a brief moment, make us feel that the movie is our very own life being lived out on the screen. Who hasn't pretended to actually BE Cinderella? Come on, you know you have! And even though most romantic movies are far removed from what most of us call real life, I see no harm in indulging in them, as long as they are overall clean and have a decent story behind them. (My opinion is also free of charge). You are very welcome.
The above famous picture of the sailor and nurse kissing after the war ended is one of Hollie's favorite pictures. So since she had just received her nursing degree when she became engaged, she wanted to try and duplicate this famous picture in her engagement photos. Dressed in her old-fashioned nursing dress (in real life she wears scrubs), and donning Adam with a sailor's hat, we attemped to recreate this most-loved photo. The image below left is the "dip" before the "kiss" with Hollie flashing her ring. The image to the right is the kiss after being pronounced husband and wife.
So what the heck is it that makes kissing -- just the tiny little action of placing one's lips upon another's -- so life-changing and at the same time scary and exhilarating? I believe, first of all, it's because we as human beings place much emphasis on this demonstration of affection that has been around since the beginning of time. How many times have we asked someone "Has he kissed you yet?" or "Is he a good kisser?" and various other questions that solidly place kissing as the beginning factor of a relationship that goes beyond mere friendship. Secondly, I believe the lips are like hands...we can move them in ways that convey either I like you, I like you a lot, or I'm ready to take the relationship to the next level. But mostly I think just the warm, spit-swapping, tongue-touching process of giving and receiving a kiss is the first and foremost primitive act of love. It's giving a part of your most intimate self to another. I don't understand it, but I like it.
Even though I don't remember my very first kiss, I remember my very first kiss by my husband. It was our first date. It was gentle and sweet, somewhere between nothing and everything, and the beginning of millions of kisses waiting for me in my future. I will never forget that one.
This weekend finally arrived bringing with it my annual (most of the time) spring trip to one of my favorite places in Georgia -- the docile and highly charming town of Blue Ridge. I've posted before about my girlfriend excursions in this little piece of heaven bordering the north Georgia mountains. As much as I enjoy the area in the fall, I take equal pleasure in the beauty the early spring paints upon this bustling little town and the surrounding area. Everything was bursting forth into glorious splendor -- the hardwoods, the red buds, the dogwoods, the crab-apple blossoms, the azaleas. On the drive up to meet my BFF, the rain fell all around me most of the trek from my part of the state but I didn't mind because the green countryside dotted with horses, cows and baby calves trailing their mamas looked even more majestic through the glistening wetness. I made it a point (ha!) to leave the rain behind however before I arrived in Fannin County, and the rest of the weekend was perfect for being outdoors. By the time I reached my destination the rain had ceased, the sun was trying to peek through, and I announced my arrival bringing good weather with me. I took the credit for it all!!
Not much inspires me more than a good road trip, even if that trip is a mere 100 miles down the road. It's amazing how the scenery, weather, and way of life can take a major about-face just really (in the total scheme of things) a short drive away. We woke up to 49-degree mornings and people embracing a much slower pace of life. A small town nestled in the foothills is the perfect place to unwind, eat some delicious food, and just chill out and relax -- or, better yet, CHILLAX!!
So what arouses my senses about these road trips I've been taking to Blue Ridge every fall and spring for the last 20 years? Did I mention the slower pace of life? People who are ready and willing to "chew the fat" with you if you but get the conversation rolling, and sometimes the locals will even do that for you. Another motivating aspect of life in this community is there are many who have left the big city behind in order to pursue their dreams. Most of the shop owners in the small downtown area have migrated there from other parts of the state and beyond to practice their art -- whether it's jewelry making, leather working, boutique clothing, or fine dining. I consider shopkeeping and food-creating art in and of itself no matter what you're selling or what dishes you're creating -- whether it's handmade articles of every imaginable medium, homemade fudge, or the best hotdog around -- the people sell what they are passionate about. Some of these people are doing what we call "living the dream" -- practicing what they love in the place of their choosing and in the time frame of their choosing. Some shops do not keep the traditional 10:00 to 6:00 workday, which is fine by me. When we're there, schedules hold absolutely no power over our day!! Except maybe to catch a matinee in a nearby town. Going to a movie in this area of Georgia is also like a step back in time. We took in a top-rated movie on its opening day, complete with popcorn and diet Coke for a whopping $10! Now, that's a bargain, wouldn't you say? I feel for families who try to make an outing of going to the movies around Atlanta and other big cities. Between ticket prices and concessions, a family of five could drop $100 easily! But that's a whole other story for another time.
Another great pleasure (probably the greatest) we enjoy in the 'Ridge is the culinary experiences! If we allow anything else to control our schedule (which we really don't), it's making sure we get in all the wonderful meals. Nothing takes precedence over eating, and it's a good thing we walk a lot because of all the amazing food we consume. Don't even think about missing a meal! Just ain't gonna happen. We are never lacking for great places to dine and, if you're willing to venture out to neighboring towns, the choices broaden even further. We have our favorites that we regularly patronize but we are always willing to try new places.
But above all, probably the most memorable experience we've had in my adopted home away from home is the porch-sitting/story-telling/latest news-revealing we share. I honestly think we could sit for hours on that porch and never run out of things to talk about. That old porch high on the hill has heard many a tale, long before I started sitting on it, and maybe long after I'm gone. But I hope and fully intend to visit many more times before I leave this earth, the Good Lord willing.
Posted by CC
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