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My Childhood is Being Torn Down Bit by Bit and I’m Not Mad About Some of it.

This year is a tough one for the places I went to school.  The high school that I loved with all my heart and graduated from is being torn down because the district is combining my school with the other high school in the district to create one mega school.  My elementary school which I loved is being torn down, and right next to it, the school I went to for junior high is being torn down.  These two are being replaced by a park.  It is the junior high building that I’m going to write about here.

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It was in this building that I learned the most about life.  I moved into this building in the fourth grade, and it’s where I began to learn that standing out in any way could be bad. A couple of my friends and I wrote a play and with our teacher’s permission, performed it for the class.  Mistake.

In fifth grade, I had Mr. Hudie (pronounced Huoodeye) and I lost so many of my teeth in his class that he finally just started motioning me out of the room when I would raise my hand at inappropriate times.  He also turned bright red and spit when he’d get mad and yell, and boy was he a yeller.  It was funny and terrifying all at once.

It was also in fifth grade where I began to learn that sticking up for a friend could cause you a lot of trouble with other kids.  It’s where I began to think about myself before thinking of others. It’s where I began to learn that people you’d been friends with all your life couldn’t necessarily be trusted.

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Seventh grade was a big deal because we moved to the top floor. In seventh grade I learned that the tall boys always wanted to date the short girls and since girls grew up first, my 5’6″ (at the time) self started looking at older boys.  Mistake.

I also learned in this grade that sometimes teachers liked mean kids better than nice kids and they were perfectly capable and willing, to egg on the mean kids.  I also learned that making really good grades could get you picked on, but if you let the straight A’s go, the crappy mean kids would leave you alone, at least about that.  It’s also where I learned that sometimes when people thought they were insulting you by calling you Farrah when you got your blonde hair cut into feathers, that they were actually comparing you to one of the most beautiful women of all time (remember that red bathing suit poster anyone?) and instead of cringing because of it, I should’ve tossed said blonde hair and laughed at them. Ahhh hindsight.  Seventh grade also taught me that genuinely short men, under say 5’6″, hate and despise tall women and will make fun of them and give them shitty nicknames. To that guy I say, dude, you looked like a chubby leprechaun and I hope you’re still short and I hope you got genuinely obese. And bald.

Eighth grade introduced me to lecherous teachers. A nasty, child molesting asshole, who a few years later lost his next job and maybe his teaching license for his disgusting ways. It’s where I learned that there was a big difference between a teenage boy telling you that you looked nice in a pretty dress and a 40 year old teacher pulling you out of music class to tell you that you look nice. It’s where I learned that if you forgot a book in your locker, you should always take your mom into the empty school with you to look for it; because when you go in alone, you might discover that you didn’t forget your book, your pervert science teacher picked up your book when you went to the bathroom in his class and he was standing at the top of the stairs with it in his hand waiting for you. It’s also where I learned that you can back perverts off with a loud voice, a threat of violence, and a hasty retreat sans book. It was on my desk the next day when I went into his room. He never spoke to me again, gave me an effortless A in the class and disappeared to a new school over the summer. It’s when I learned to tell my mother EVERYTHING.

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I learned about voting in that school because when I was little my parents voted in the basement.  In genuine voting booths with American flags across the opening for privacy. It’s where I won a talent show with my fantastic patriotic tumbling routine when I was little and where I won a couple of Halloween costume contests. It’s where I learned about jealousy, both mine and that directed at me. It’s where I learned that I really loved performing and began to want to be an actress. It’s where I got my first on-stage laughs because I refused to kiss my co-star so we rewrote the script and put in some physical comedy (falling off the back of the couch together and kicking our legs around like we were making out, and going in a closet together, with me coming out with his coal black wig on top of my very blonde head to imply more making out; it was supposed to be his black mustache, but he forgot it) that made the high school principle come up to us after the play and tell us we should consider acting as a profession. It’s where the seeds of the cruelty and bullying that would cause me to change schools, lose my friends and the only life I’d known were sown.

I’m sad about my elementary school and my high school being torn down, but I’m not sad about this school being torn down. I have some good memories there, but the majority of them are unpleasant, heartbreaking, sad, scary, infuriating, and unfair. The things I learned in that place made me cautious, suspicious, and untrusting. In a way though, I guess I wouldn’t trade it, because it made me tough. It gave me an edge that I otherwise would not have. It made me a better person and a ferocious mother. It taught me about human nature and character or lack thereof. It gave me one of the best bullshit detectors known to man, and it’s protected me because I will take no crap. From anyone.

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So you beautiful old building full of ghosts, adios. After you’re gone, I’m going to come walk through the park that will replace you and I’ll gather up the little ghostly wisps of myself that are trapped there. I’ll incorporate them back into that little girl still hiding inside of me, and she and I will flip you the bird when we leave. Because that’s who you made us.

Be kind to someone today.  It’s a gesture that many are denied.

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PINK!!

When I was just shy of three years old, my parents bought a Victorian house in a small town. My mom decorated my room because I was just a tiny peanut, and she made it a girly paradise. One wall had wallpaper that consisted of various shades of narrow pink stripes on a white background, and the other three walls were papered with various shades of pink cabbage roses on a white background. There were pink drapes on the windows and a white eyelet bedspread. For my younger readers, a bedspread is NOT anything like the duvets etc. that you all are used to. They were the exact size of the top of the bed with a seam or a ruffle running around the edges of the mattress, finished off by a skirt that fell from the seam to the floor. It was beautiful and very, very, girly. That  house and that room instilled in me a love of old houses, toned down Victorian style, houseplants and of course, pink.

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I like to lean back against things with my camera and take upside down pictures. I have no idea why I enjoy this particular activity, but I do, don’t judge. This house is in New Orleans and it is clearly pink.
Ironically, my current home doesn’t have much pink in it, but I love pink flowers and shirts.  Everyone looks good in pink, just like I’ve yet to see anyone look bad in lavender.  Doesn’t matter what color your skin is or your tone is, pink makes you look healthy, and despite the rumor, redheads look great in it too.  You just have to find the right tone.  Anyway, here are some pictures of pink things.  It’s gray and blah and I figured everyone needs to look at some pretty colors.

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Here’s some pretty rock candy on a stick at the French Market in New Orleans. The speckled jawbreakers are pretty too.

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Tea Roses blooming at the Chicago Botanical Garden last summer.

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Some other kind of pretty pink rose blooming at the Chicago Botanical Garden last summer.

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Peonies putting on a show in Chicago.

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I think these were some kind of peony as well, but these were growing in George Washington’s flower garden at Mt. Vernon.  Obviously I manipulated this image. I don’t usually do that, but I recently got some software that lets me do this stuff and it’s kind of fun. They really were pink, I didn’t do that.

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My daughter’s prom dress and finger nails.

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A mountain top in Alaska last week.

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Sunset at Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva Islands Florida
I hope you enjoyed a little pop of pretty color on this winter afternoon! Have a great Saturday, stay safe and be nice! 😊❤

Well THIS Day Didn’t Turn Out Like I Planned…

It started out innocent enough, normal enough, as I was planning enough. After getting everyone to school and breakfasting with my husband before he went to work, I puttered around the house a little and decided it was time to go to the gym and run my errands, and that was the first part of things going awry.

We joined a gym a month and a half or so ago, and about a week into it, I lost my ID. May I say I didn’t just lose it, it completely vanished from a secure place, my purse. When I leave the gym, I get my card out of the locker thing and immediately put it in my wallet. Well I did that, and it went away. The same place that extra socks and pens run away to, so I ordered another card. It took three weeks for it to come. I did the same routine with it that I did with the vaporized one and it seems it has happened again. I got to the gym parking lot, got in my wallet to get my ID and low and behold, it was not there. Tore the entire purse apart, gone. In my disgust, I decided to skip the gym and just run my errands.

That went fine. Gas, JoAnn’s for fabric to recover some outdoor cushions, Meijer to return some outdoor cushions that didn’t fit my furniture. You know, regular mom stuff. Oh yeah, I ate lunch at McDonald’s because my family doesn’t like McD’s so I have to go there alone. I don’t mind. But I digress, I got the errands done and was heading home for an hour or so of putting stuff away, picking up junk around the house and maybe reading a little before it was time to pick up the kids when my phone buzzed in my pocket.

I had messages from both kids both sent at 12:25. Older kid – I am 95% sure I have strep throat. Message two – 97%. Younger kid – Mom, I am so sick to my stomach! My internal response? CRAAAAAPPPPP…

I was a half mile from the high school so I just went straight over. When I got there, I texted Older kid and said I’m here to pick you up. Took a few minutes, then left to go up the hill to get Younger kid. Once I had Thing One and Thing Two in the car, we went straight to Urgent Care. I let them know that Older kid’s boyfriend had strep last week, and after waiting almost an hour to go back to a room, discovered what I already knew, both are streppy. The good thing was, we came away with more valuable than gold prescriptions for Z-packs, which they offered to sell me for fifteen bucks each. We went to Walmart got the meds for 95 cents each prescription and came home to eat noodles.

I feel sort of back on track, but now all I want to do is sit on my butt and read, but the stupid dog is whining to go out again after just coming in from going out and the laundry is calling my name. Oh well, I’ll think about that laundry tomorrow, because after all, tomorrow IS another day. One that will stay on track. I hope.

Have a great day 🙂

New Year, Different Life

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I am not a maudlin New Year’s person. I don’t generally reflect too much on the last year, and I don’t usually have huge high hopes/resolutions for the new one. I try to live life one day at a time and take it as it comes, but this year is different. For the first time in my life, I am going into a new year alone. I have a beautiful family, a wonderful husband, and beautiful, healthy, smart children, but the family I was born into is completely gone now.

After an eight year struggle with dementia, my mother died on June 3. We had a small family to begin with, I am the youngest of two children, so I really, truly knew all along that barring a wayward truck or piece of space junk, I’d be the last one left. My brother had a falling out with my parents when I was fifteen years old and I never saw him again, but found out that he died in 2008. My Mammaw died when I was a senior in high school, my Dad died in 2005 and then my mom got sick. Even though she was physically and mentally ill, she was still here and I was not alone. Sadly, by the time she passed, it was a relief. A relief from watching her suffer. A relief from knowing it was coming.
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As I approach 2014, it dawns on me that this will be the first year of my life that there is no one on earth who knew me when I grabbed hold of the bar in my closet and my feet left the earth. I got stuck and hung there screaming until my mom and brother, laughing, rescued me. No one but me remembers when I sat in my doll stroller and again got stuck, and sat there screaming until my mom and brother, laughing, rescued me. No one but me remembers the Halloween my mother sat on the porch roof under a sheet with a flashlight turned on, weaving slowly back and forth to scare me, while my brother, laughing, pointed out the “ghost” on the roof. I tried to run, and likely would have run to the next town, but Billy grabbed me, and he and my mom, laughing, showed me that it was her, and then he took me upstairs and helped me climb out on the roof and under the sheet with her, while he went back downstairs and outside and ran around the patio screaming, and falling down in fake terror to make me laugh. Nobody but me remembers how happy and proud it made me when my huge dad with my tiny hand in his giant one introduced me to the firemen at the festival as his “girl.”

I am, for the first time in my life going to start this new year fresh. I am going to try to continue to heal family rifts that were not created by me, but that have profoundly affected me. I am going to use my mother’s things and think of her every day. I am going to continue reminding my son that the Boy Scout ax that he has and loves so much belonged to his Uncle Bill. I am going to remind my daughter that she looks like my mom. Every time my husband fixes something, I am going to remind him that my dad taught him how to do all that stuff. I am going to try to stop crying over everything. It’s time to be myself. It’s time to be the grown up generation in the family. It’s time for me to be happy and content all the time, not just some of the time.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, Happy New Year. Put the old behind you and embrace the new. Keep moving forward and be kind to one another.
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The Joys of Christmas Break

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Well, it’s been a year since I last posted on my blog. In that intervening time, my mother lost her battle with dementia, I found out that the depression she suffered from for as long as I knew her was actually much, much more and I am finally starting to recover from the eight years of handling everything.

In the interests of my recovery from the severe stress I was under, I’ve started doing yoga, and I’m taking time off from substitute teaching. I just don’t think I can handle too many needy people right now and if you know anything about school kids, they can be pretty needy.

Even though I am not teaching right now, doesn’t mean that I don’t need and love Christmas break. Or winter break. Or holiday break, or whatever you want to call it. We call it Christmas break and it works for us. Unfortunately, we don’t get a full two weeks, but the week and a half that we ARE getting is beautiful. I’ve been sleeping about twelve hours a night, I’ve seen three movies so far, and I got another pile of books to add to my to-be-read stack that I am convinced will someday fall over on me and crush me to death.

I am becoming even more live and let live than I was before and I am beginning to feel my muscles relax. I am keeping tabs on the events of the world because I don’t like to be taken by surprise, but I’m trying really hard to block out a lot of the buzz. I’m binge watching House of Cards on Netflix and catching up on movies like The Conjuring and Dark Shadows. I think I might add a category on here for reviews of books and movies and such, since I think that would be fun for me to do, and maybe fun for you all to read.

Gonna keep it fairly short today since I’m just getting my groove back, so you all have a wonderful, safe New Year and be kind to one another.

Why Do I Feel the Need to Decorate My House Like a Ski Lodge?

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Hi Everybody!  I know, I know, it’s been a while.  Still dealing with my mom and her house and bankrupting her to the nursing home.  BUT, it’s Christmas now and I’ve decided that I need to get back to doing some of the stuff I enjoy and writing stuff on this blog is one of them, so here I am.

I really like Christmas.  I don’t have the same love for Christmas as I do for that wildly pagan Halloween, but I really like Christmas.  I enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.  I like setting up my nativity scene under my tree and my mother’s antique one from Germany on a high shelf out of the reach of cats and dogs and visiting children.  I like going to all the local Christmas events and remembering my childhood.  I like watching the Cincinnati Ballet perform the /Nutcracker/.  I HAVE to watch /Elf/ and /The Santa Claus/ at least once per season.  I like going to church and hearing Christmas Carols.  Not Christmas songs, but the real, religious ones that they play at church.  I like the food.  I like remembering Jesus and teaching my children about the true meaning of Christmas, summed up best I think by Linus in the /Charlie Brown Christmas/ special, watch the scene here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA.

But the thing that I DO best? Decorate.  I love Christmas lights.  I like ornaments.  I like Santas.  I like pointsettias and quilted wall hangings.  I like Christmas trees.  So much in fact, that I have a nine foot tall one in my family room that I’ve had for two years that is finally, at long last big enough for my life-long collection of ornaments, and I’ve started my kids on the same path with 6′ trees in their rooms.  I also have a small one in my dining room. 

I also love the look of ski lodges.  I like big soaring ceilings and big soaring stone fireplaces and big soaring windows overlooking big soaring mountains covered with big soaring snow falls.  Unfortunately, I don’t live in Colorado or Montana.  I live in Ohio, so I have to make due.  Two walls of my family room are covered in really dark brown, rough, barn wood that was here when we moved in.  I didn’t like it for years, but I have recently realized that it adds to my Christmas decor.  I have a floor to ceiling surround on my fireplace and a hearth that can be sat on like a little bench.  Sadly, it’s brick and not stone, but hey, I work with what I have.

I am a red and green Christmas girl.  I like some of the other combos, but I’m a traditionalist and plus, red and green are warm and cozy and help me pretend I’m in a ski lodge somewhere else.  So the nine foot tree is on one side of the fireplace, greenery and Santas and a pretty sparkly, lit-up angel are on the mantel.  There is a poinsettia the size of a bush to the left of the fireplace with a quilted wall hanging of a Christmas tree made by my mother-in-law (done in reds and greens) hung above it.  With a fire in the fireplace and the curtains pulled shut, I feel like I’m in Christmas land and that when I look outside, it’ll be cloudy and very, very snowy.

In reality, it is 50 degrees outside and we might have to mow the grass again because apparently, we no longer have winter in southwestern Ohio.  But when I close us up in the house and watch old DVD’s of Bing Crosby Christmas specials or run across Rod Stewart’s new special on PBS, it feels like a different time.  It feels like a time when gas was 60 cents a gallon.  When my Mom and Dad where both young and alive and healthy.  When my brother was a little kid with me and alive in the next room.  When my Mammaw was coming with a big bag of presents.  When the world was a little more innocent and a little less scary.  When, if you sat quietly on Christmas Eve, you could feel the stillness and importance of the night.  When I heard Santa’s sleigh bells ring right outside my window just as I was going to sleep.  When all Christmas lights were giant colorful globes that burned your fingers if you touched them.  When people regularly said Merry Christmas to one another.  I guess that’s why I decorate my house like a ski lodge.  For a few weeks every year, I can revel in the beauty of the holiday and what it means.  I can spend lots of time with my kids before they grow up and go on their way.  I hope they decorate their houses like ski lodges and think of me happily some day.

Merry Christmas everybody.  Be kind to one another. 🙂

My Love Letter To Fly Over Country

On my way home from taking my daughter to school this morning, I heard a Jason Aldean song on the radio about two guys from New York flying across country to L.A.  They were talking about why anyone would want to live “down there” in the middle of nowhere.  I live down here in the middle of nowhere and I would like to answer that question.

The middle of the country is beautiful.  I’ve been all over it and it boasts mountains, lakes, plains, forests and rivers.  Farmland spreads in some parts as far as the eye can see.  You get fed from that middle of nowhere.  I live in Ohio, so I feel that I can only speak with authority about Ohio, even though I have spent considerable amounts of time in other places.

Early spring from my grotto. And oh yeah, that big black dog is called Emma.

It is green here.  Right now in the spring, it rains at least some, almost everyday and a LOT on other days.  The grass is green, the leaves are green, the flowers are blooming and most places you go, the air has a slightly flowery smell to it.  The clouds and misty mornings make me feel cozy.  Sunny mornings put a kick in my step.  We have to mow our grass around here, cause it grows really fast.  As the season rolls on, the leaves on the trees will get bigger, the shade will get deeper, the sun will get hotter and it will be humid.

Full summer in Missouri, also in fly-over country. Also, this looks a lot like Ohio.

Summer is pretty much what you picture summer being.  Hot, humid, languid.  We celebrate flag day out here usually with patriotic concerts.  Parks have free concerts all summer long, usually once a week.  Farmer’s markets open and are something to do on a Saturday morning.  You can get the freshest, locally grown food available.  The Fourth of July is fun.  We have picnics and play outdoor games and go to fireworks displays or those patriotic concerts again.  It is old-fashioned.  It is American.

Little Red and her Wolf, getting ready to Trick or Treat.

Fall is my favorite.  The humidity goes away and the air is clear once again.  The sky is a kind of blue that humans try to duplicate but can’t.  Fluffy white clouds scud across that blue sky and once in a while, the air has a bite to it that reminds you that winter is on the way.  The warm afternoons and cool nights turn the trees to their fall colors, gold, red, yellow, orange.  We still rake leaves out here and even though we aren’t supposed to, we put them in piles and burn them just to smell our childhoods again.  We celebrate Halloween and we call it Halloween, not Harvest, that’s Thanksgiving.  We take our kids to pumpkin farms and buy the biggest ones we can.  We also buy gourds and corn shocks to decorate our porches.  We hang fake spider webs and prop up fake witches with silly brooms.  We make or buy costumes for our kids and take them Trick or Treating.  We take them to neighbors we know, and neighbors we don’t know.  We are not afraid of each other out here.

A couple of years ago, we had a little snow, then we had freezing fog. The result? Narnia, or as it’s more commonly known, my backyard.

Thanksgiving is technically in the fall, but around here, sometimes, its in the winter.  Some years we are buried in snow, some years, like last year, we never have to wear our super heavy winter coats.  We get ice and snow and blustery wind.  Christmas is especially wonderful if there is snow.  The outside lights get buried sometimes and the soft snow glow they give off is truly a thing of beauty.  Sometimes in the winter, if you go outside at night in the crisp cold air, and look up at a star filled sky bright with stars, you can almost hear them sing.

Then, you have the people who live here.  The folks.  Of course you have stupid people and mean people and people who just take pleasure in making things hard for others, but overall, the people out here are nice.  They are helpful to one another.  When we have natural disasters or tragedies, we don’t sit on our butts wailing and whining and waiting for someone else to come save our butts.  We dry our tears, we stand up and dust ourselves off and get to work fixing things.  We help our neighbors.  We have bake sales and benefit dances and festivals and give the proceeds to our friends in need.  If someone is desperately ill, we do the same thing.  We count on no one but ourselves.  We’ve learned a long time ago that ourselves are the most dependable people there are.  If someone is having a rough time, we do things for them without saying anything.  We invite them to dinner, or we buy something they need and tell them that we had this lying around and we don’t use it anymore, would they like it.  We don’t want to make anyone feel bad and we don’t feel the need to toot our own horns.  To do something nice for someone and then make a big deal about it is not the way we roll.  We are quiet, we are thoughtful, we are good people.

Yes, we live in the middle, but we are educated, we like the arts, the majority of us believe in God.  Lots of us have guns and go hunting.  We support the military because we understand that freedom isn’t free and those brave souls make it so we can sleep safely and in freedom.  What we are NOT is close minded and intolerant and selfish and racist, and with all due respect, we don’t like it much when people tell us we are because it’s just not true.

So the next time you are flying over from somewhere to somewhere and you wonder why anyone would live down there in the middle of nowhere, now maybe you have a hint of an idea why.  It’s beautiful here, the people are good and there is room to breathe.  Why do you live at the edges?

Have a wonderful day and be kind to one another. 🙂