Friday, October 31, 2014

Winter Snarling By Me

My last sibling group pictured here the other night, adopted almost ten years ago.  When I said I'm done, I meant it.  I'm done adopting, not finished with parenting of course, and these four have been a pretty darn good group of kids, the usual acting out issues common in both adoption and in parenting teenagers, some tough times, some challenges, but kids who wanna succeed.

I'm in no way aligning myself to the shrewdly brilliant  Diane Von Furstenburg, never insinuating any level of comparison, but I loved a couple of her thoughts, plus I deeply admire her business acumen.  Two things she'd stated as I scrolled around this morning, 1) Disdaining small talk, and 2) needing chunks of solitude.

I'd just been talking to my own mom about those facets of life, making sure she doesn't feel lonely rattling around in her side of the house which is quite large for one person.

"No," she answered, "I'm not lonely nor bored.  I've never been bored."

Ohhhh.  That's where I got it from.  Both my brothers and I are loners by nature, our late sister not so much, she was socially gracious and very thoughtful, but she too could lose herself in her own personal interests as well, none of us ever depended on others to entertain us.

My greenhouse is very small, maybe 8' X10', yet as I worked within it yesterday, I felt as if I could spend hours there, making it exactly like I wanted it to be.  Enveloped in sunshine, the warmth emanating from the brick path on an already warm day, the humidity within all combined to put a smile on my face.

I've never liked Halloween for a host of reasons.  I don't like to be frightened, I'm appalled by ghoulish displays, and I'm disinterested in candy.  But the main reason is that it abruptly and rudely signals an end to summer and then the crappy slide into cold weather that hurts my bones.  I don't like hoodies and sweaters, coats are bulky slow downers to me, and cold weather is insulting.

But back to Grandma since I get asked about her after Grandpa died, a "How's she doing?"  Between playing Bridge several times a week at her Senior Citizen's Building at the soccer park, her many activities at church, and the demands of my family, she's very busy and satisfied, plus she still, at 84, does a great deal of yard and garden work.  She's very independent.

Tabby wants to paint her room a specific shade of bright pink paint, to which I've agreed, even after explaining to her that most girls grow out of that color right fast.  She'll soon be 12, not ready to shun pink yet.  Well okey, dokey, I'll do it for her.  Winter is my time to paint and repaint.  Repairs piling up, time to do major indoor chores.  Oh boy.

My Golden Years still include tasks like my ongoing Every Spent Cent Campaign, as I track every single stinking penny spent here, trying to make it all work each month, six and a half more years of parenting school children, a weird way to spend one's 60s, but, hey, I signed up for this.

For the school years 2020-2021 you will find me hightailing it to Florida the first of December, see you at the end of January.  No mo' cold for this old bat.  Instead I'll be beach walking barefoot and happy.  With less kids even now at home, I'm getting my winter garden chores down in record time, I will be able to be gone for two months each winter, returning in time to plant in early February.

I apologize for my grouchy tone, I just already feel the dread for the cold weather.  Tomorrow morning Nando has a soccer game 9:30 a.m. in the Atlanta area, weather in the upper 30s, freakishly cold for this time of year.  Soccer, and life, is best enjoyed in T-shirts, shorts and flip flops, not constrained by bulky garments.

In the meantime, gotta sign Nando up for Rec League Basketball, at least it's played indoors, no need for coats, but I also have that inner battle, that dread of enclosed spaces with stale air and no sunlight.

On the plus side, our days will still be quite warm through November, and even in February we have nice days.  I can do this.  I kinda have no choice.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Early Voting

This early voting is convenient as possible.  I took Martin with me, there was a sample ballot on the wall.  I told him how I was voting and why, he can choose his own way obviously.

We'd had a difficult evening.  My one heavily diagnosed kid has had a tough time and went missing, Tony went searching without my permission in the rain and hydroplaned, some possible small front end damage, and then the missing one reappeared, not having left our property.

This totally messed up my initial plans to get the other kids to church early for their different obligations, Yolie taking Scotty, Sarah took Tabby, then to add to the mix, a call from a grown kid with another issue for me.

Again, y'all, I can't fix what is messed up by bad choices.  I can only advise the next appropriate step.

All of this as i was trying to fix supper, I ended up leaving 14 year old Jack sautéing the peppers, Grandma came to help him, I was then way too stressed to eat, but eventually everything calmed down.

I'm still dealing with another situation with a grown kid that has droned on for 14 months.

I'd also been trying to rebuild my Quicken and balance my pitiful checking account to the penny, after I'd lost the last hard drive, it's been tough plowing.

All morning I'd been pulling up several hundred feet of pea vines that the deer had eaten, leaving chomped down root systems for me to toss in the compost pile.  About 1/100th of an inch of rain fell, Lord Have Mercy, I nearly counted each drop.

By the time I got up to my bed last night, firing up the heating pad for my aching back, I was whooped.  Emotional stress exhausts me way more'n when I'm just digging and hauling.

I had, however, also received some truly wonderful blessings in the form of Medicaid for my most troubled one.  They even made it retroactive for six months, but not to cover bills I'd already paid which so far amounted to nearly $5000.  I had to pay it, not knowing if Medicaid would be approved, since I'd already initially been turned down.

If I owe it, I will pay it.  I'm built that way.  And in this case it cost me to have so much integrity.  Oh well.  I'd rather be honest and broke than otherwise.  Call me old fashioned, I'll own it.

A lady working on the appeal called me four times with questions yesterday, then finally to let me know the good news.  This should, at least, begin to save me nearly $300 a month on meds and therapy.  This one will need a lifetime of treatment.

JoJo called, still homesick but also still doing well there.  "I'm starting to show them my goofy side," he solemnly informed me.  I thought that was his only side, it's all I've ever seen.  I miss that goofiness so much.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Restaurant Supply Store

Even though we've enjoyed lovely weather in the low 80s, it's fixing to change.  I picked a passel of peppers yesterday, no doubt jarring up my last two containers of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, and I have green tomatoes to bring in as it's looking like some temperatures in the 30s within the week.  That first fall frost always making me sad.

I'd had to go to a restaurant supply store because my kitchen sink faucet had been dripping, the threading stripped again from overuse.  I marveled at all the cooking items there that sure would've made my life easier years ago when I routinely cooked for so many people day and night, but, oh well, we made it, didn't we?

The lady there completely intimidated me with her plumbing knowledge. "Honey," she stressed, "I can do this in my sleep, you've got this!" She'd sold me the parts inside the handles, telling me there's no need to get the entire system.  I came home cowed, wondering if Emmit would come help me do this job.  He's offered before, yet I never wanna impose and thus I generally don't call folks.

My Tony again saved the day, shutting off the water and getting the job done, even with our pitiful and raggedy tools.

Oh my.

He often has a dogged determination to make something work properly.  I'm super impressed.

I read yet another article this morning on grandparents raising grandchildren, bearing an enormous financial burden at a time when they (we) need to beef up their retirement savings.  No kidding, and a very big DUH to that.

I'm certainly blessed to have the Teachers Retirement System, but it's way less than my salary ever was, by this time in one's life, factoring in child raising costs shouldn't have been an issue.  I'm blessed to have raised these three kids now 18, 17 and 14, but it hasn't been easy financially.

Three trips in two days to a tire store in a marginal neighborhood in town, trying to save a buck, Martin accompanying me, we finally accomplished what we'd set out to do with Allen's Jeep repair.  He was of no help since thankfully he'd found a new job, but mission accomplished.

However as Martin bent to get up under the Jeep, I noticed a shining silver hair there brightly contrasted in his thick dark hair.  Whoa son, here before your 21st birthday you're gonna go grey on me?

"I'm just glad Mexicans don't go bald," he responded.

I don't discuss my political beliefs very much, mainly because I'm irritated with many political races, but our county is holding a referendum on Liquor By the Drink next week,  I'll just go ahead and flat out admit my ultra conservative stance on that.  In my opinion, we don't need it.  I saw a sign on the highway, "Alcohol on the ballot.  We can do without it."

I'm clearly over-reacting since likely most folks drink responsibly, but I'm parenting children damaged by alcohol and it isn't pretty.

That I don't ever purchase alcohol, sodas, candy, cigarettes, meat, or ever many brand new items, shopping used instead, one wouldn't think our finances would be so severely stretched out, but living beneath the Federal Poverty Guidelines means every single stinking penny must be examined carefully, and I do like the challenge of doing so, even though I'm often simply frustrated.

One of my sons had a fender bender, I handled the insurance for him, explaining every step of the way, hoping his rates don't go up.  It was his fault technically, but it seemed inevitable as he'd slid into another car due to weather conditions that day.  I'd been an eyewitness.

But my financial issues seem so petty compared to those in the path of the lava flow in Hawaii.  I can't imagine that level of stress.

I'd gotten a phone call yesterday from YCA where JoJo is happily ensconced, my heart stopping, immediately afraid something had happened, but fortunately it was minor, needing documentation for him, no problem, but it's the trauma that amps me up so quickly, leaving me having to work diligently to bring down my blood pressure that had surged in response.

Jack had a hard time on Saturday saying goodbye again to JoJo.  It was the exact day four years ago that we'd lost Grandpa, and Jack had spent many a day since playing video games with JoJo.  Jack didn't, or couldn't, hold back his tears, and JoJo acted appropriately, slinging his arm around Jack, "Dude, I'll be home in a month for Thanksgiving.  You'll be OK."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Alone Fearlessly

Several days ago I'd gone to a man's house whose hobby seems to be raking up every spare pine needle immediately as it falls, me then dragging home 13 tall, bulging sacks of pine needles for free versus $4.50 a bale.  I tucked 13 bags into this small bed of camillias and winter daphne that'll soon bloom fragrantly, piling it very high and thick, knowing it'll turn to dust by this time next year.

Mid 80s yesterday, my favorite temperatures, yet I spent not a minute in my gardens due to grown kids' demands.

On the plus side, it also dawned on me that most of my fun times involve the company of my grown kids.  Examples: Braves games, beach times, or other outings.

Allen, 19, started a new job thankfully so he can repair his Jeep's tires, but it entailed me getting him to work and having Martin accompany me on what should've been a quick trip to a tire store recommended to him.  Instead it stretched into a 4 hour ordeal in which I still have two more stops this morning to complete the task

An article entitled "The Irrational Fear of Being Alone" caught my attention, as being alone is a desire I've long had, knowing that hours spent alone in my gardens is an extraordinarily attractive prospect for me.

The reason for this resistance lies in outer identification. We've been told through movies, music and literature that we're incomplete if we're alone. Only the presence of "another" can alleviate the void we feel inside and make us feel whole. In actuality, we feel the void when we're not aligned with ourselves.

I do not feel incomplete, on the contrary I feel I best tame my own inner noise in order to find peace.  I feel there's too much of me too often, leaving no room for anyone else.  Just as I've often felt that I'm too intense to just have one kid, I'd smother them likely with all my intensity, it's best to have doses of me rather diluted.

I have too many opinions, too much conviction regarding ideas and paths, and way too much fervency and vehemence overall.  Just as I feel I wake up with so much physical energy that needs to be dissipated throughout the day, so too do I feel as if I have too much determination and drive regarding each day's plans.

How enticing the belief that someone else will be the balm to soothe us and the cure to our discontent? And how sad the realization that no one can provide solace for what we lack, inside.

To me, being alone is as necessary as is water to a fire, in that a bunch of the intensity needs to be tamped down daily in order to simply not overheat and become internal combustion material.

No outer force that can sooth inner discontent. 

I know how simplistic this may sound to nonbelievers, but filling my mind with gospel music, with praise music is both soothing and invigorating.  For me.  I'm not telling y'all that it'll work for you, or that if you're not doing this, then this or that will happen, because everyone needs to find their own inner solace and their own level of mental peace their own way.  My blog merely states what works for me with my own inner constitution.

That it seems square, or boring, to some, is of no importance to me.  I'm strong within in how I feel about life.  I do know what works for me.  Hauling free pine needles works for me yet'd seem so stupid and boring to others, but I'm OK with that, neither of us are right nor wrong.

The fear of being alone is far greater than the real doing of it. Taking time to be alone with ourselves can be the greatest journey of a lifetime. The discovery of what we like, what we feel, what we want and who we really are is liberation at its finest.

When actualized, one discovers the delight of a freedom far greater than imagined. After all, the worries and projected fears have passed, there comes the unexpected ah-ha moment -- we are fine. Our former avoidance seems ridiculous in hindsight. There is peace and contentment. Then, joy.

We realize we have ourselves as good company. We begin to value the life we have. 

Women of the world often feel frustrated or even useless when their kids are grown, wondering what to do next with their lives.  Or single women who wait for a relationship before buying a house or choosing a city in which to launch their careers, thinking they need a partner and thus stagnate their own selves while forever waiting.

I'm not saying you do, or don't, need a partner.  I'm saying take control of your own life and its paths.  Make your own decisions and choices, move forward your own way.

I'm not a very creative person, but I have found my own interests.  I've realized what I'm capable of, what I enjoy doing, and equally what I don't wanna waste any time doing, or trying to do, knowing that's not my gift.

My empty nest is 6 1/2 years away if everyone does indeed ever move out.  I'm way too old for the empty nest syndrome, most moms are done raising their children long before I'll be finished, thus after 48 years I'll happily welcome the cessation of demands.

Just as I never, as a child, dreamed of wedding, I also didn't dream of being a mom.  What did I dream about?  Usually my mind was filled with the characters of the many books I read.  Reading back that sentence I realize how bookwormish that sounds, yet I'm still that way as I read farming or homesteading memoirs, always relating to the authors.

But I know this about me.  I own it.  I'm comfortable within myself about it.

"I don't wanna die alone," one of my older sons told me yesterday after bemoaning that he felt single women in his peer group preferred rich guys.

After first reminding him that he was handsome and lovable, that he'll find someone, I thought about his statement.

We were present with Dad when he died, yet he literally died alone, as it was his spiritual journey, we just observed it.  We couldn't accompany him.  We had to let him go on alone.

I don't have a fear of dying alone, I don't fear being alone.  To me, being alone means more garden time, and my love of gardening has only increased, not abated after all of these years.  But also quite possibly, the knowledge that I have so many family members to accompany me on any jaunt at any time also frees me from any fears of aloneness on some level.  Or also that knowledge drives me to crave my alone time too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Daniel Threw Us A Party

Some days are simply fun.  Fun and rewarding, times when I'm so happily proud to be the mama, when my kids emotionally let down their guard and trust life enough to just have fun.  My teenagers were a little wary of our afternoon plans to go to the Braves farm team field and watch retired Braves play against military personnel.

"Watch old men bat?" one asked in disbelief.  Gonna be 80 degrees, just sit there?

Daniel had gotten us all tickets.  Sarah's family, Yolie's family, and Marcela's family all included, game time 3 p.m., but the gates opened at 12:30 for autograph signing, a home run derby, and then the game.  If you know me, you know I wanna be there at 12:30, which we were, of course.  Why miss any fun?

We'd already been to church, came home to eat, to stuff ourselves, knowing food at a ballpark is pricey.

Scotty and I immediately jumped in the autograph line, I had my Chipper Jones jersey with me that already had numerous autographs on it, folks surrounding me with baseball cards and other paraphernalia, Daniel took everyone else to spectacular seats behind home plate from which we sat and yelled all through the afternoon, all of my teenagers rather silent in contrast, kinda surprised at the mouths on the rest of us.

Hey y'all I yell at the TV during a game, do you think I have no opinions at the ballpark?

Mainly players from the 1990s when Yolie, Marcela and Daniel were kids at home, the living room TV turned every night to the Braves games.  A very controversial player, Otis Nixon, who was also very good, ended up being one of Yolie's favorites, and he was there yesterday, waving to Yolie as she hollered, "We love you Otis!"  Below is Ray with Otis Nixon.

Marquis Grissom, who'd caught the last out in the 1995 World Series was on the roster. John Rocker, who is also a rather dicey character due to a rant years ago, lately of the Survivor TV show, set the entire thing up for his foundation that helps Homeless Veterans, plus other very well know players Glen Hubbard, Kevin Millwood, Greg McMichael, Johnny Estrada, and Brian Jordan.  I was in Hog Heaven.

When it was my turn, after having convinced Sarah ready to use Ray as bait for a picture, Jordan was super accommodating, so I got in the picture.  Sarah pitched a lovely hissy fit, and I have no filter, so I immediately asked him to make a picture also with my daughter.  So much fun, I was completely beside myself.  Tabby caught the picture below.

The better photo is of Sarah and Brian Jordan a minute later:

The Braves team played oh so goofily, the Army Team professionally, and therefore winning the game.  The Braves sent in kids as base runners, kids whose parent had died in combat.  It was fun and heart warming at the same time.

Buck Belue of UGA and sports radio fame was there as well, I got a picture of he and Marcela at one point.  His UGA National Championship Game happened the year I was living in New Orleans.

A man from Daniel's office was sitting with us, probably rather surprised at the utter wild and unbridled silliness displayed by Daniel's family.  At work Daniel is massively professional, earning his rise to Captain.

Several well known football players from the Falcons and the UGA Bulldogs were also on the Braves team, "That's on you Green!" Daniel had shouted as some runs came in. My teenagers, CW, Allen, Scotty and Nando, sitting behind Daniel were visibly marveling at the afternoon's rowdiness coming out of our family.

A photo of the in-laws to end the afternoon, Daniel's wife Megan, Sarah's husband, Preston and Marcela's husband, Curtis.
And this Abuelita?  I took no photos of my own grandchildren, except of Ray in tandem with a player.  I was so absorbed in the game, the ball players, and the displays, but fortunately Tabby took a ton which she'll share with me later.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

YCA Family Day

JoJo is doing splendidly at Youth Challenge academy, indeed I was completely blown away by the very positive change I've seen in him in just the past month.  Chuy, Vanessa and Evelyn bailed on our trip at the last minute, but Fabian, Joe and his girlfriend, joined Martin, Allen, Scotty, Jack, Tabby, and I for the 200 mile round trip yesterday, while CW got Nando to his soccer game, staying there to cheer in my place.

It was also Allen's 19th birthday.  His celebration included getting to see his emotional twin, JoJo, plus getting a job at a grocery store, putting a beaming smile upon his face.

I got to end the day with my BFF, Emily, eating hot boiled peanuts at the Firehouse Fall Festival, catching up with each other about what all is going on.

I'd originally thought that when I had less young children I'd have more free time, not comprehending that grandbabies would take all of that supposedly extra time.

I have an equally wonderful afternoon plan for today after church.

Friday, October 24, 2014

More Than You Did Yesterday

What rambled through my mind the most yesterday, as I cleaned out the greenhouse, was Mark Bittman's latest brilliance.  Improving one's diet and one's health can be as simple as just taking two steps.  Stop eating junk food and eat more plants than you did yesterday.

A huge amount of women want to lose weight in order to be healthy, and I believe it's as simple as taking the above two steps.

I'd add ditching the soft drinks too, which is clearly a junk food, the more I read about the pitfalls of sugar in one's diet, the happier I become over my summertime decision to work on eliminating it completely from my diet.  I can't claim that I've instantly felt better, I doubt if I've felt any different at all.  What I refer to as my sweet tooth is still niggling me at times, but I'd wager that's part of a sugar addiction I was unaware of until I quit that sucker cold turkey.

Sugar also ages a person, something I didn't know until I'd read of it this week.

I'd read Sugar Blues many, many years ago.  I was then very impressed by the information, but I made no changes.  I certainly wish I'd done so, but I didn't.

Dr. Mercola wrote a fascinating post on depression, something that is seemingly rampant in today's world. The central argument Duffy makes in the book is that sugar is extremely health-harming and addictive, and that simply making one dietary change -- eliminating as much sugar as possible -- can have a profoundly beneficial impact on your mental health.

Mercola probes the role of exercise, a lack of Vitamin D, gut health, and sugar addiction in their relationship to depression.

Stop eating processed foods are loaded with sugar and other detrimental chemicals, switch to fruits and veggies that build our health.  Simple enough.

But not really, as the food industry, as laughable as it is, has permeated our subconscious level into accepting crap for food.  Now it seems as if everyone's fighting a weight problem or health issues as as a result.

Yolie'd sent me a great article on uncluttering, but what I really liked was this woman's take on her own personality.  By her own account, Marie Kondo was an unusual child, poring over lifestyle magazines to glean organizing techniques and then stealthily practicing them at home and school, confounding her family and bemusing her teachers.

Unusual?  Or a budding genius?  Why are young girls who wanna be a princess considered regular and this one deemed unusual?  I played in creeks, crawled through the culverts to see where they went there in the DC area, climbed trees, and played kick the can.  I was too uncoordinated to be a tomboy though, athleticism stumped me. I didn't dream of weddings, princesses, or fashion - did that make me odd?  I felt that way sometimes, but I'd wager everyone feels out of place rather often.

And Darin tagged me on Facebook with an article that's gonna take a great deal of pondering, regarding childhood trauma and ADD.

I'll get to that later, I have a super busy three days ahead of me.  I get to see JoJo tomorrow, and I wanna use an exclamation mark, but emotional restraint overrules.