Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Sounds of Silence

It’s not that moments of inspiration to write have ceased to find me, it’s that I deny myself the time to indulge in them.  It does seem, though, that the moments come at the most inopportune times – such as (mostly) when I am working, driving, playing with the children, or visiting friends.  Times when it is either inappropriate or impossible to jot down notes of inspiration.  Jotting down notes is crucial. There is no doubt  I will forget what it was if I don't jot it down.  This is a certainty.

Because of intermittent bouts of insomnia, and the habit of going to bed late (why bother going to bed, if I can’t go to sleep?), by the end of the work week, I’m pretty much in full sleep deficit mode.  So sleeping in on Saturdays is not only something I look forward to, pretty much it's a necessity.  I’ve stopped having the kids come for Friday-night sleepovers, because Corey gets up with the chickens, and is ready to start the day about the time I’m entering serious REM sleep.  It works much better to have them come on Saturday night, since I’m getting up for church on Sundays anyhow.  Depending on how bad the lack of sleep was the prior week, I’ll get up somewhere between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Yes, it is sad.  Sleeping away my one free day of the weekend.  But at my age, I have found it absolutely necessary.  The only thing I really hate about this is that I miss my Saturday mornings on the deck with DJ.  That has become a tradition through the years, and I seriously miss my girl time with her. 

In an attempt to create my own little personal sanctuary, I’ve been working on a little patio project of my own.  Even though it’s not the same as being on DJ’s deck, there is no reason that I can’t still enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors on the patio at The 409. 

This morning was an “early” morning, as I got the day started about 9:45.  Though I have tons and tons of chores to do today, I decided to treat myself to a little “me” time.  With my coffee, cold bottle of water, and my phone in hand, I stepped out into my little retreat-in-progress to enjoy the late morning. The bright sunshine wasn’t conducive to much activity on my phone, so I simply put it down and sat.  

And watched.  

And listened. 

The big puffy marshmellow clouds overhead were floating off to places unknown, and the critters were enjoying the warm summer sunshine. The neighborhood kids were still indoors, and there were no lawn mowers, leaf blowers, or weed eaters to disturb the silence. An occasional car driving down the street was the only noise I heard, besides the sounds of nature. The bees were busy feasting on the clover in my yard (do they know I’ll be cutting it down a little later today?), and another buzzing insect came by to investigate the fence panel I had installed to better define the sitting area.  The birds were all trying to outdo one another in their loud chorus of chirping.  Some were obnoxious.  Some were subtle.  Further up the street, in the woods behind DJ and David’s, the neighborhood owl, not wanting to be left out of the concert, added in his very distinct “whooooo” every now and then.  Three crows flew back and forth between two trees on either side of my yard, casting a mid-flight shadow over the grass as they flew.  It wasn’t even necessary for me to tilt my head to know they were flying… their squawking racket and the quick shadow let me know that they were once again on the move.  Beneath my feet, the earth trembled slightly as the rumbling sound grew closer, and then the shrill sound of a whistle pierced my ears as a morning train chugged its way through town.   Normally I wouldn’t even have noticed.  Trains are as much a part of our town culture as anything else, and after so many years, they are hardly even noticed any more.  (Unless of course one is stopped on the tracks, and you have to drive down the road until you find an open place to cross. And this only happens when you’re in a huge rush, like if you have to pee, or are running late. It’s just kind of a law, or something.) 

As I was enjoying the moment, I was compelled to write about it.  But I knew if I came inside for my laptop, I’d get distracted by all the chores inside that needed doing, or the kittens would distract me with their adorable frolicking, and entice me to play with them. 

So I didn’t.  

I consoled myself about letting the moment of inspiration pass by reminding myself that if I became so engrossed in writing about enjoying the sights and sounds of nature in my own back yard, I’d be too busy to enjoy the very thing about which I was writing.  So I took a chance that I’d still be able to remember some of the thoughts I had while sitting outside in the stillness.  And that I’d somehow find the inspiration later on to write them down. 

In moments like those, it is easy to believe that all is right with the world.  No matter the turmoil that simmers just beneath the surface of everyday living over every job, every bank account, every marriage on the rocks, every worry over the future of a wayward family member, the fear when facing health issues, the pain of loss,  moments like this seem to soften the edges of worry and anxiety. It is easy (for me), to push aside the thoughts of all the wickedness and evil in our world, the greed and theft, the lack of integrity, and the downfall of our nation.  I think about how billions of people all over the world fall into the light of the same sunshine as me, and gaze at the same stars as me.  Do they think these thoughts, too?  Do they wonder why there can't be peace on earth and good will to men all year long, as I wonder?  But just for a few moments, in my tiny little corner of the universe, all is right with the world. 

Of course, all is not right with the world, and we know it.  However, in moments like these, before we stir from our reflection and once again assume the mantle of “being human”… if we are quiet, and listen carefully, we will hear it.  “Be still, and know that I Am God.”  And there is hope.  

"Hey Y'all" (And Other Stuff Paula Deen Says)

Let’s be real.  If you were born in the south, and you are over the age 20, I’d say chances are about 99.9% that you have used the “n” word at some time or another in your life. 

I do not consider myself a racist.  I have many friends of African descent, several of whom are on my FB friends list.  I’d just as soon sit down to dinner with them, or invite them into my home as I had any other person with whom I am friends.  And this is coming from a girl who grew up before integration, and lived through the turbulent years that followed.  

When I started 1st grade, there were separate schools, separate water fountains, separate waiting rooms, etc. for black folks and white folks.  During my 2nd grade year, the process of integration was implemented, and I remember distinctly the first few black children who came to our school.  I am still friends with many of them, and see them occasionally around town.  I was just a little kid, and it didn’t matter to me.  I was too young to understand how difficult it was for the older kids, and what I am sure was a nightmare for so many.  I remember the times being unsettling... the George Wallace thing, and the Martin Luther King thing, and some of the social upheaval that followed.  Back in those days, though, my school went 1st through 8th grade, so by the time we were in the 8th grade, we were all used to each other, and coexisted quite nicely - at least in my memory. I do remember in high school there being tough times, and a good bit of disparity, but then, we were out of our comfort zone in our little school here in town. 

I believe that every person is precious to God, and the soul inside knows no color.  The soul inside learns the culture of the home and family in which it is raised, and we all would agree that there are cultural differences among different ethnic groups. "Different" does not dictate "better", or "more important than" someone else. I believe in the equality of all mankind with respect to the value of a person.  However, I also expect every person to be a productive member of society, regardless of race.  Every. Person.  Granted, all people are not born equally into opportunity.  Most people have to create their own opportunity through hard work and determination.  Every person is born with potential.  

Paula Deen is just a woman who loves to cook, and has made tons of money with her shows and her books.  I’m not a fan, but I don't NOT like her, either.  I don’t watch her show (haha… how funny would that be…) and when I do venture into the kitchen, I certainly don’t cook like her.  (and I use the word “cook” very lightly here…)  My closest encounter with Paula Deen was to stand amid a throng of people in the store on Black Friday to help Whitney get a set of her cookware.  

Today, though, I find myself feeling a little badly for Miss Butter.  

The thing is, back before I was ever even aware that blacks and whites didn’t get along, it wasn’t  considered a “bad” word.  The acceptable word to describe a black person was “Negro”.  Which, to my mind, seemed a bit more sophisticated than “colored”.  Apparently it was a much more sophisticated word than most southerners cared to pronounce, and it evolved to the “n” word that is now hated by so many.  To say someone was a “n”, back in those days, just meant they were of African descent.  I’m not sure at what point it became so objectionable.  Well, I guess when it began to be thrown at them with a tone of disgust.  You can pretty much make any word sound hateful if you want to. It wasn’t that long ago that someone said “I love you”… and while those are the words we most love to hear… I was insulted.   In many cases, it’s not “the word(s)”.  It’s the intent of the heart, the actions of the person, that make the word(s) good or bad. 

 I've said it.  And you've probably said it too.  And while I maintain that back in those days I said it in the innocent way - in the way of identifying an ethnic group, I also admit that I have said it in a hateful way.  THAT was also our culture.  No excuses.  It was wrong.  They called us hateful names, too. Doesn't justify any of it, but you know... it just was what it was. 

That said, I totally agree that to use the “n” word in today's world is inappropriate, and offensive. (Unless you are an African-American person.  I’ve never understood why it is so acceptable, popular, even, for them to call each OTHER the “n” word, but for someone of another race to do so is considered highly insulting and unacceptable.) Example:  Earlier today I read a comment on Ms. Deen’s FB page from a mom who says “…my children didn’t learn the “n” word from Paula, but from two African-American kids referring to themselves to it in the park”.  

Just sayin’ … seems to me if a group of people (ANY group) does not wish to be identified with any particular label or name, they shouldn’t go around calling each other that which they find so offensive coming from another group of people.

Things had changed drastically by the time my daughter reached school age, and now even more so with my grandkids.  We’ve really come a long, long way.  There definitely still exists prejudice and racism, especially in the south.  But to be fair, it’s not just against black people.  

I expect that if mankind still walks upon the earth as we know it in another couple hundred years, the definition between races will be so fine it will be difficult to tell ethnicity without a DNA test. As generations die out, and as more and more people cross racial lines to marry and procreate, then one of these days, we’ll all be the same. 

May I also add that while I do feel badly for Ms. Deen about this absurdly ridiculous lawsuit, and the ensuing media frenzy, I kind of also feel that her apology has more to do with trying to save her business than it does with saying something offensive 20 years ago.  I see the image of Jimmy Swaggart crying rivers of tears on television confessing that he was wrong.  Others come to mind as well.  I just kinda think that if these people truly felt badly about their behavior, they’d be crying long before someone exposed their sin, or filed a lawsuit against them. 

And at the risk of sounding like I am a racist – to the person who is bringing this suit… REALLY?  This is your classic case of - "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."  I’m just so sick of all the PC crap in our world.  Everyone wants to stand up for the First Amendment and speak their mind – until they are offended by something someone else says.  I guess what really irks me is that the media, the public, the movie stars, the ACLU, the *important* people in our culture will fight to the death against anyone who says a negative word about LGBTs, Jews, African-Americans and most ESPECIALLY against Muslims.  However, anyone can say whatever they want to say about a person who loves Jesus. Yes, I totally realize that there are many Christians who are goobers and do stupid things.   I also acknowledge that there are a lot of believers who are haters, especially against LGBTs, and that is atrociously wrong (another subject for another post)… but people of faith are on the receiving end of jokes, ridicule, and downright hate, too. But that's okay, we really don't need the ACLU or movie stars taking up for us,  We have our own Defender.   Seriously.  People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  If you don’t wanna be talked about badly, don’t talk badly about other folks.  No matter who you are. 

When I offend someone, (and I do it far more than I would like), I do my very best to apologize and make it right.  As quickly as possible.  But is it necessary to apologize for something that was part of everyday culture even as late as the 50s and 60s?  In my opinion, no.  Those were the birth pangs for some very difficult times in our nation, especially here in the south.  My goodness.  If I had to apologize for everything I did wrong in the last decade (much less the last five and a half decades), I'd never have time to do anything else. 

If we could look in the closets of every CEO of every company, there is no doubt we'd find some skeletons.  Something he or she did in the past that they are ashamed of.  Do we strip them of their credentials and/or titles?  Heavenly days!  I don't see the E! network canning the Kardashians for their indiscretions. Rather, they are celebrated.  The highest office in our land was tainted by a stain on a blue dress - yet that incident (and the lies told to cover it up) resulted in less "punishment" than is being handed down to Ms. Deen.  What is WRONG with this world?

Instead of stupid lawsuits like this, that will end up costing probably millions of dollars, incite arguments and perpetuate feelings of resentment, I propose this:

Spend the money on a new textbook to be used by every school in every state no later than first grade.  Required reading.  Book reports and skits.  The whole nine yards. It will take some time, but eventually the message will be received, and as the older generations die out, the concept will become accepted.  The book?

“The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss

If you’ve never read it, stop what you are doing right this minute and either dig up your library card and go to the nearest library TOMORROW, or go toAmazon.com and buy your own copy.  Read it.  And read it again.  Read it to your children, and to your grandchildren. And if you're blessed enough to have them, read it to your great-grandchildren.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And Baby Makes Three!

It’s true.  I’m well on my way to becoming The Crazy Cat Lady.  And that’s just fine.  I seem to do better with the feline species.  I’ve always loved kitties, and except for a few very short chunks of time, my household has always included my four-legged kitty friends.  When we were kids, my brother and I would carefully consider the names with each new litter of kittens.  We quickly grew tired of the common names like Kitty and Fluffy, and branched out into TV Land for some of our theme-related names.  Example – one litter was Gilligan, Skipper, Professor, Ginger, etc., while another was Wally, Beaver, Eddie, Lumpy, (with no regard to gender) or another - Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Darla.  You get the idea.  It’s hard to imagine life without purrs and meows… oh, and cat hair on the furniture.  I saw a little plaque one time that said “No outfit is complete without a little cat hair.”  I suppose it’s time to hang one of those in my house. Because soon the cat hair will overtake the dust bunnies, and even they will begin to scurry for cover.  I have adopted two new kittens!!  Cooper is the sweetest, affectionate, most lovable kitty.  And while I do adore that sweetness, in order for us to eat and live indoors, I must sit at my desk and work.  As you may have seen in my many Facebook pictures, Coop loves to sit on my desk (on my keyboard, on my printer, underneath the little shelf that holds my monitor….).  He thinks he is helping, and he just wants to be near me.  Then when I’m unable to sit and hold him all day, he wants to bat at my fingers as I type, or chew on the multitude of cords underneath my desk.  I decided a while back that he needed a playmate.  I suppose it would have been better if I had adopted his sister back when I got him, but at the time, I was being selfish – looking only for a new critter to love, who would love me back, never leave me, and be loyal to me.  It was a tall order, but he met the challenge, and was a true comfort to me during a really rough patch.  At any rate, I only adopted him, and since then, it has been just the two of us.  Oh, except when the kids are here.  They adore Cooper, and he is such a wonderful, big ol’ loveable fella that he will allow them to haul him around like a ragdoll.  His foster mommy had children at home, so he became accustomed to having kids around from the beginning. 

Most all of my kitties have been strays, or taken from the litters of friends.  A few of them, though, were kittens with “papers”, (Himalayan or Persian), purchased from licensed breeders.  They were beautiful kitties, and I loved them very much – but no more so than my other kitties.  Years ago, Whitney and I adopted a flame-point kitty (like Cooper) from the Athens Humane Society, which was my first official rescue.  It felt really good knowing I had given a kitty a home that might otherwise have met his Kitty Maker through the stab of a needle.  That’s why they call it Rescue.  Cooper was my second Rescue Kitty.  I got him from Jackson County Humane Society.  The people over there were wonderful!  We communicated several times before the pickup date, and they were very helpful both before, and after the adoption.  The day I picked him up, I was a train wreck.  So very excited to get him, still so very shaken at the turn of events my life had just taken.  As soon as I laid eyes on him as I was walking across the parking lot, my eyes welled up with tears, and when the kind foster mommy put him in my arms, I just started weeping.  (They probably wanted to reconsider adopting him out to this crazy, crying woman…)  But then I told her in 10 words or less, what I was going through, and she got tears in her eyes and hugged me tightly, and said… “Then, you need Cooper as much as he needs you.”  It was truly a match made in heaven, and he has been the best companion!!

Fast-forward to now.  I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a calico kitten.  I’ve had a couple of calico kitties in the past, and there’s just something about that crazy color pattern that I find adorable.  I love all kitties, and would bring them all home if I could.  I’ve seen some cute ones these past couple of months since I’ve been looking, and considered one or two of them, but kept holding out in the hopes of finding a calico. I had found several beautiful adult calico girls, but I felt Cooper would do better with a kitten, than to bring another adult cat into his domain, of which he is the undisputed king. I had almost given up hope, and in fact, had scheduled a visit to the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter to check out two cuties at their facility.  

Then, one afternoon as I was about the walk away from the computer, I saw where AHS had just that very moment posted pictures of two new litters of kittens they were getting ready to release.  One litter was polydactyl kitties (extra toe – Hemingway kitties!).  I clicked to get a better view, and there… buried underneath the tangle of paws and tails, I saw the tiny little head of a calico kitty!!  Immediately I called the shelter, and they agreed to put a “hold” on her until I could come in the following afternoon to meet her.  (Good thing, because they have had many calls about her since then!)  When I went to meet her the following day, it was totally love at first sight.  We bonded immediately – and then one of her siblings kept peeking at me, and once I held him, it was a done deal.  They don’t release the kitties until after their spay/neuter, and they can’t do that until they weigh 2 lb.  On that day, Scout weighed 1.88, but Boo Radley only weighed 1.38.  Scout’s surgery was scheduled for Tuesday May 28th, and I picked her up the following day.  By then, Boo Radley had gained up to 1.76, so we are anticipating his surgery and homecoming this next week.  

Boo Radley
Since her arrival at The 409, Scout has been hanging out in the master bath.   She has done really well.  I was afraid she would cry all night, missing her siblings.  I put the shirt into the kitty bed that I had worn that day, to give her a familiar scent.  Before I left her for the night, she was snuggled in the kitty bed, had her tail wrapped around to her face, and was suckling on the tip of her tail, ‘making biscuits’ on the fleecy inside wall of the kitty bed.  Of course, I didn’t have my phone to video the insane cuteness, but trust me… it was adorable.  She did very well during the night, no crying at all.  Next morning, she had transitioned back into the carrier for snoozing.  I guess that felt a little safer, with the walls and such.  I had put a box with a towel inside it in the bathroom, in case she wanted to hide from the world.  The carrier seemed a better choice, though, as it has mesh sides, so she could still see out, yet feel somewhat more protected from the unknown dangers of my bathroom.  I will have to put the carrier away, though, because she’s using it as a playscape.  It’s probably good to have her scent inside, and maybe it will be a comfort to Boo Radley during his separation from the rest of the litter, and the scary car ride to The 409.  He should be very happy to be reunited with his sister! 

For a few minutes last night, I brought Scout into the living room so Cooper could see her.  He’s been sniffing my clothes and hands for the past few days, and he has heard her in the bathroom, so he knew something was about to go down.  They were pretty funny.  A couple of non-threatening hisses, but no growling or aggressive-type behavior, which was a great relief to me.  I think Cooper was more nervous than Scout!  He has been without kitty company for so long that seeing another feline was a bit new for him.  They sniffed each other, and crouched carefully a foot or so away from each other and played the staring game.  When one would move, the other would startle.  Too funny.  Then it was back to the bathroom for Scout, and bedtime for Cooper and I. Though I was afraid it would be a long night of howling at each other behind the closed door, Cooper wasn't interested.  He was probably just glad to have his mommy back all to himself, and it seemed he snuggled a little extra close to me on the bed.

This morning, Cooper and I went into the bathroom together to spend some time with her.  They were so cute! (Video below) They are still a bit wary of each other, but it seems that very soon they will be best of friends.  I’m so happy!  I’m not quite ready for Scout to have total run of the house, so I’m still keeping her confined, I left the door open into the bedroom to give her more room to roam, and time to acquaint herself with a little more of the house.  She’s still a little skittish, and there are too many places for a tiny kitten to hide throughout the house, so we’ll take it slow in that regard.

I'd also like to do a commercial for the Athens Humane Society. These people are amazing!!  Everyone is so kind and helpful. They do such wonderful work with the kitties.  Their attention to detail is very impressive, and the facility is immaculately clean.  They are very careful with the adoption process, and make every effort to make sure that their animals go to good homes.  I would totally recommend anyone considering adoption to check them out.  Scout and Boo Radley are coming from the Mars Hill shelter, which is in the same building with the medical clinic.  There is also a cat shelter out near the Athens Airport that also houses cats and kittens available for adoption.  I don't anticipate bringing any more kitties to The 409 in the near future, but if/when the time comes, I will definitely go the Rescue route again.  No more spending money to buy a registered cat, when that same amount of money could save the lives of many kitties!!  

So… The Crazy Cat Lady life begins anew.  And a warning to anyone who would visit:  Be sure to bring your lint-roller with you, because if you sit on my furniture, you’ll get up with cat hair.  >^..^< 

Here's a video of Cooper and Scout “playing” this morning.  Sorry about the messy bathroom.  The video was shot before chores.