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Friday, June 13, 2014

Hiatus

This blog will be on temporary hiatus until I can figure things out both mentally and physically....which may take some time but don't give up on me entirely.
Thank you :-)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Celebrate & Remember

(Thank you in advance for reading this very long plea for “help")

Earlier this week, I had the privilege and honor to attend a red carpet premier of the documentary film, THE HORNET'S NEST, with some members of the 101st Airborne and the director, David Salzberg.  I was not prepared for what I witnessed.  It is real battle footage that shows a father/son photojournalism team as they embed with US troops in Afghanistan.  Our news suppresses a lot of what we see and hear from other parts of the world. 
This movie brings it straight forward and politely dumps it squarely in your lap.  Our military endures more than most of us would. Ever. They afford every luxury we sometimes take for granted and they sacrifice for us.

By the end of the screening, I couldn't stop crying. Grown men in the audience were crying. These were their brothers on screen. Some did not make it home. The film doesn't show grisly effects. It very eloquently and respectfully honors the fallen soldiers without any of the gore that we all know exists. 

They say that every person on earth has been touched in some form by cancer either themselves or a close friend/family member. I think the same can be said about the military, too.  We all have someone in our family who has or who is currently serving our country. Serving. What a word.  Our military is solely all volunteer now.  We have no draft. Every person in our military is there to do a job. They don't fight solely for democrats or republicans. They do their job to ensure the guy next to them gets to go home to his family. SEVERAL OF THE THOSE WHO DIED, APOLOGIZED FOR DYING BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO FULFILL THEIR JOB. 

I feel so ashamed of my government for every penny they waste when our troops need equipment and resources available to them when they return . I don't hate my government. I hate the agendas they force that do not support our troops. Most of the Afghanistan war is being fought with explosives (IED's) and our guys are getting blown to bits, pieced back together (if they are lucky) and sent home to make do. "Carry on. Thanks for what you did but we cannot afford to help you anymore. I have a $1,000-a-plate dinner to host to raise funds so I can get someone else elected so we can send more people out to get the next wave going." THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. The Department of Defense is cutting military funding again. Why????
We turn a blind eye and keep on going. There has to be an end.

Mike Boettcher, one of the journalists of the film, said it best: "It is dangerous for a democracy to become disconnected with our people we send out there, in our name, to protect us.

We have to see what is happening. We have to see what OUR soldiers are going through. 
WE NEED TO SEE WHAT WE ARE TRULY THANKING OUR SOLDIERS FOR. 

This film does not have big-name actors or a big studio to promote it or push it into every theater in the country. It needs our help. 
Please.....share this: IT IS WORTH EVERY PENNY.

To every veteran: I THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

Please listen to the interview at the link below with Mike Boettcher about the film and his experiences: 

http://www.spreaker.com/user/arroe/mike-boettcher-the-hornets-nest





Thursday, May 8, 2014

Toast or No Toast

As I was dancing around in the kitchen this morning, it dawned on me that I had not danced in a very long time.
I am not certain if it is because of my newly found lack of coordination or the awkwardness of my body still moving around after I think I have stopped moving that has prompted this decision.
I should incorporate more movement into my life.  I took 9 years of tap, ballet and jazz dancing so I think I have some rhythm somewhere.  I save the baton twirling skills for impressing unsuspecting acquaintances at dinner parties.  I am glad my Momma taught me to dance and forced me to take these lessons. Having this knowledge is a good secret weapon to have in your back pocket. I hope.

In talking about dating and such with an old friend, it occurred to me that we have a really hard time opening up and selling ourselves. Dating websites have you fill out questionnaires and we (I say this collectively) have the ability to just write down anything with no actual validity to it.  We should work on selling our true selves better.

Up until today,  I have never liked my sandwiches toasted.  I have no idea where this came from but if given the opportunity, I would order them on bread....plain bread. I have eaten my last soggy sandwich.  I am one of those weird people who only eat cheddar cheese on sandwiches too. American cheese is not real. It is orange snot.  I am sorry. I hate to break it to you like this but it is true. The Americans did not section off "American only" cows and make cheese with their milk: it was cooked up in a time of military rations.  I'll wait here while you google that bit of info.

I watched a most amazing, quirky movie yesterday. I like quirky. It suits me well. I embrace it like an old friend. We laugh at inside jokes and innuendos that I think no one else understands. The Grand Budapest Hotel is not for everyone. I just fell in love with it. I do that often: fall in love with movies I view at certain times of my life. I do the same with photographs. They imprint a feeling or message somewhere in my brain. I recall standing at a museum in DC and being bored to death with paintings they were telling us were great works of art but falling totally in love with a postcard at the National Theatre there. I purchased it and kept it on my bulletin board for years. It had a small unicorn on it and, for some reason, it just spoke to me.  I purchased two copies and mailed the other off.  No one else even noticed him.  Funny how things happen that way.

When my Momma passed away we began cleaning things out. I found her pictures of Pinky and Blue Boy.  They hung in our house my whole life. Sometime during the last 5 years or so, she had taken them down. I figured she sold them at a yard sale but no. They were tucked quietly away in the closet. Just waiting.  I look back at old photographs and can embrace a moment with love, laughter or anguish. It takes a strong person to not remember their rebellious youth without some hint of pain.  I was always one of those people that if you told me I couldn't do something-I would prove you wrong.  ...no matter the cost. Foolish me.

I was afforded many luxuries I never knew other children didn't have. We grew up going to the beach each summer. Our last few summers at home were spent staying in ocean front vacation houses. We swam in a pool all summer. We played golf and tennis. We rarely went without. One summer, my Dad announced we could not afford to go to the beach for vacation. It was 1976. Instead we went to Nashville, Tennessee and we stayed with my aunt. We toured Cherokee, The Grand Old Opry and other various tourist attractions. I have no idea why we went there because adding up the money for fuel and such, it seems ridiculous thinking it was cheaper.  I remember riding in the way, way back of the station wagon facing backwards. And drinking a Dr. Pepper.  And laughing at people stuck behind us.  Good times, good times!

I think that is an essential key to good parenting:  Never letting your kids see the ugliness of life. They will face it soon enough on their own.  Teach them to dance. Teach them to swim, golf and throw a football. Teach them to paint, sew and cook.  Even if you don't know how.  Either take lessons with them or fake it.
It is time spent with family creating memories that will help them get through the worst of life.......even when they don't know it is the worst.






Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moving Things

Last weekend was spent moving things around. I have a study in the basement that I use for a bead studio.  I accidentally opened an old journal.  It should have stayed buried.  In it, someone else lives. She used to draw and paint. She used to make plans for things that were never going to happen.  
Have you ever been in the heat of making plans only to realize they were coming to fruition as you spoke?  It is a little weird. 
I had small children back then. I had lots of hopes & plans for them.  Just getting the oldest graduated was really all I saw sight of.  Now he prospers.  
I think gardens grow the same way. We work the soil and prepare the ground. Place the seeds carefully just so deep and then wait.  We look and water. Water and wait.  Then one day, when we just glance around: flowers.  Everywhere.  An occasional weed sprouts here and there but you cannot have good without bad.  
People tend to be the same way. 
Compliments given usually fall on deaf ears.  People have a hard time believing that someone could see anything except what they believe in themselves.  We tend to believe the negative over the positive.  Human nature, modesty & ego.  It's like a powerful trifecta of trouble.  
It is hard to let go of old feelings and to decipher what you are actually feeling, hearing and are capable of.
Lately I have found myself being less of a friend to some.  I am not sure if it is a survival/defense mechanism or what. I am tainting the well and I do not like it.  
Re-prioritizing and overthinking is what I do best.  Apparently.
I cannot get a handle on just being quiet.  I have to keep poking it with a stick until it is a mangled mess.  Just walk away.  Quiet the voices and keep your head down.
That is what I will strive to do.  
Wish me luck.






Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Long Time Gone

Since the first of the year, my schedule has not really been my own.

I think/move in earnest and random thoughts. I never look at things the same way most people grasp daily life. When I was younger, I didn't make mud pies. I really never saw the point but I did make houses out of things that were unorthodox.  Grass clippings. Boxes. Junk. I wanted to build a tree house but we didn't have enough big trees to support anything.  I recently drove back through my old neighborhood trying to find some semblance of my former life.  The house I primarily grew up in is still standing and I am always tempted to ask if I can take a tour but I know better.  I also secretly wonder if my sister's bracelet is tucked inside the air intake where I stuck it after she and I had a fight.   I had a screw driver. I could have retrieved it but I'm still a little ticked off at her about it.  So no. It will stay there. If it is still there.  Just waiting.

I have not had a real dream (until recently) about my momma since she passed away.  The dream I had was real enough but it gave me a sense of calming. It was a message from her. I think this way because I know she would not cause me grief or anguish otherwise.  I have my days where in the moment I will grab my phone and think "I need to call Momma and tell her Hotsy did such & such"....only to remember seconds later that she isn't there. That the phone call isn't necessary because she already knows what has brought this thought on.  And it causes me pain because I miss her so.  I am trying to learn this new life but it isn't without it's pitfalls.  Especially late at night.

I learned early on that my life was not going to be plain and ordinary.  I came from extraordinary circumstances so it is up to me to rise to that "idea". My biological father was from Burma and the village he was from held me in high honor.  We never know our place in this life and when someone says they feel like they have met me before, it is a little unnerving. Was I nice to them before? I hope the encounter was pleasant.  We walk along different paths and bump into each other here & there. The least we can do is make each others travels a pleasant trip.
As I try to heal from this I hope you don't give up on me. I don't love lightly or often.  It is another emotion, like jealousy, I cannot afford.  I give it 110% no matter what the consequence are to my soul. That is my curse and my cross to bear.  People who love me know this.  In the less-than-handful of people who know my true soul, I show my true self.
That is just me.








Thursday, January 16, 2014

Banana Pudding

Growing up in the South, making banana pudding from scratch is a rite of passage.  So is learning to make biscuits from scratch but we won't dwell on that.

On New Year's Day, 2014, my Momma made dinner.  She insisted.  My sister was angry because Mom didn't feel like eating after she prepared the meal but we were all together for the most part. That was all that mattered to my Mom.
She sent leftovers home to everyone.  In the days that followed, we would open the fridge and there would be the food she made.  Her banana pudding.  It is ridiculous to think that the sight of banana pudding could bring me to tears, but it did.  It is my Dad's favorite dessert.

My parents grew up poor.  Learning country cooking was the only way to cook. I must confess: I have NEVER cooked pinto beans from scratch.  I never will.  I will eat them but this is not something I set out to do on purpose.  As a child I would ask "Are we not having any meat?" on pinto bean/cole slaw/macaroni & cheese/french fry/cornbread night.  This meal occurred once a week.  Mom would either cook some fatback or fry up some weenies.  I put so many onions, ketchup & chow chow in my pinto beans, there would barely be any room for beans.  This was perfect.  Once every week we would have this conversation while I was growing up.  With Mom's passing, I told my sister that this meal was her duty.  I will never cook this combination. Never.

While cleaning out our Mom's kitchen, we revisited so many childhood memories.  So many parties that she had for us or for the community.  There was always something being made or planned.  If you were at our house at dinner time, you got fed.  The kind ladies of the church brought food after the funeral. It was nice.  Good friends came to partake in the meal with us. One of the ladies of the church had sent deviled eggs.  The eggs had been made with spicy mustard and other "things". Definitely not like my Mom's.  My friend said it was almost sacrilege having those eggs in my Momma's house.  Something I thought but never said.  Luckily our Momma shared her recipes with us before she passed.  Even though we have the recipes, things will never taste quite the same.

The utensils she used. The methods and manners.  There are so many nuances that go into making things "yours".  I will never be able to eat banana pudding again.  Someone said that I will and it will make me smile to remember her.  I reserve doubt.  My sister had a hard time throwing the last food out of the fridge.  It is ridiculous. As if we validate her existence on earth with the things she touched, did,  or loved.  I find old friends who we grew up with offering compassion because they have either lost their loved ones or they remember the parents we had in our youth.  These are the ties that make us who we are.  We live through memories.

On the day of my mother's funeral, it was bitter cold.  After all was said and done, the low temps broke a 130 year old record.  I had read an article earlier about blowing bubbles and watching them freeze.  So….on the day of my mother's funeral, at 7am in my jommers, I went out and blew bubbles.  No one was up in the house yet.  It was just me.  Crying on the porch, talking to God and blowing bubbles.    In a few minutes, the world would wake up.  I would have to face the reality that I would be leaving my Mother in a cold crypt in a cemetery.  I would have to get a whole house of people together to go to the funeral.  I stole those few minutes for myself.

If you are blessed to have children, you will understand my next line of thought.  As a small child, nap time was mandatory.  Before my sister was born, I would lay next to my Momma and bury myself up in the small of her back.  She sandwiched me between her and the edge of the bed.  I spent many afternoons in this position.  After my Momma passed away, we had to wait for Hospice to come get her.  I have been around dead people before.  I really don't have a fear. It is just something natural to me.  In the stillness of the room, I laid down beside my Momma one last time.  Her tiny, frail body.  It felt peaceful.  And it gave me a sense of closure I needed.  Like things had come full circle.
And I was very much alone.

There were so many beautiful gifts and things given and shown to me and my family during this very hard time.  Most of them given to me by my Momma. She knew how things would progress and how she wanted us to be able to handle ourselves.  She made certain we had no unfinished business or regrets.  She was larger than life itself.
Missing her is truly the hardest part.
The last picture of my Momma and me. 

Momma's garden angel 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

3 a.m.

At 3am, 49 year old me was ironing my shirt for my Momma’s funeral. In my head, 12 year old me was listening to her tell me how to do it properly. 
Momma had a lady named Myrtle do her ironing when we were younger.  I once asked why Myrtle couldn’t just do my ironing too and she told me that I needed to learn how to do things for myself.  Typical.

Momma also had a house lady named Marva.  We were not rich.  Momma hired these nice ladies because she enjoyed their company and the places they filled in gave her more time with us.  Even with Marva and Myrtle in place, we never got out of chores or duties.  Never.  She was the ultimate teacher.

So as I am standing there crying and ironing, I realized how much I was going to find myself reliving so many things she taught me.  Every time I cook, she will be there looking over my shoulder.  She could throw some stuff in a pot and it would be the best casserole ever.  She could never duplicate it again but that is the way it is with things and people like that.  We are all made of the same ingredients but different.

She permeated every aspect of everything.  I described her as Martha Stewart on steroids.  She cleaned with straight bleach.  She could make anything. She could make anything grow.  “Not doing something” was not in her vocabulary.  Momma grew up the life of a gypsy.  Our grandfather moved from place to place.  At one point, they lived in the old Sample House which now has fame as Latta Plantation.  They ran a boarding house and with 8 kids in one house at one time-boarding house rules ran the table.  She was raised to be a survivor.

And today, the bitterest and coldest of days, we have to tell her goodbye. 

Momma fought hard to go.  Even in her elephant-drugged induced state, she tried to talk, to do….to tell US how to do things.  She was stubborn.

When we were younger, we had an uncle who argued and fought with one of our aunts.  In true redneck fashion (so the story goes) Momma and our aunt jumped him physically.  They had had enough….one on his back-one on his front and they beat the crap out of him.  When the police arrived, he begged them to haul him off so Momma and my aunt couldn’t get a’hold of him again.

Momma could go from being the most compassionate saint in the world to being the most spiteful.  She was human.  She wielded the latter like a warrior.  Anyone who crossed her was not immune from her wrath.  When times get hard to deal with, I feel like I have an ace card up my sleeve.  She is the cloth from which my sister and I are woven from.  As my friend Kimball so eloquently said “Never forget: you are a thread from that same cloth and your children and grand children are too.”. 


We have so many stories of her life and so many memories to provide some comfort in the days to come.
Thank you for letting me share just a small part of her.