It’s snowing in the South.

I slept in this morning.  When I went to bed last night the snow had stopped but was predicted to restart at about 3:00 a.m.  It didn’t happen.  The wistful little girl in me felt a wave of disappointment.

photo-12 At ten o’clock this morning I was having a second cup of coffee when the world was suddenly quiet and I knew the snow was back.  All was right with the world. What is it about snow that calms all my beasts?

Even though I know this one is supposed to be a doozy and I will probably consider the snow itself to be a beast if it stays around long, for today I am serene and relaxed and happy.  And I love the snow.

It snowed for a long time yesterday but the accumulation was not significant because the ground temperature was warm.  That is not the case today.  Within a half hour of starting up again the street in front of my house was well covered. It’s supposed to continue for hours.

I’m on the line of the front that is expected to get freezing rain on top of snow.  I won’t likely enjoy that. photo-13 That’s when the greatest risk of losing power exists.  I’m a fickle snow adorer.  I want my snow with all my modern conveniences at hand.

My photos look as if they are black and white.  I like the look.  But I didn’t photo shop. The day is that gray. If you look closely you can see some hardy children trying to sled in their yard.

I won’t enumerate all the difficulties of being without power.  You know what they are.  I am fortunate to have gas logs.  That means I can stay warm. And Lulu the cat helps with that.  She’s also good company.  Well, most of the time.

Now I think I will bake some oatmeal muffins so I can have breakfast if the power goes down.

How’s the weather where you are?

A day in the life…

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7:00-7:30 a.m.  Scritch, scratch.  Lulu is at the bedroom door.  It isn’t her feeding time.  She doesn’t go outside.  So, what does she want?  Company.  Me.  Sometimes I get up and let her in to snuggle for a while.  Other days I get up straight away and go downstairs with her.

Almost every day I get out of bed with an “itch” to write.  As regular readers know, I haven’t written much in the last few months.  So if I get up with a desire to write, what’s keeping me from doing so?  In part, it’s because I’ve been as busy as a honey bee in a bed of clover.  There was a while that I couldn’t write because I was seriously depressed.  That is no longer a problem, thanks to antidepressant medication which has worked a not-so-small miracle in that regard.

My upbeat mood and new-found energy have given me a joie de vivre that I haven’t had in a very long time.  I’m finding my schedule almost over-booked these days simply because I feel like doing things and seeing people.  Who knew there were so many entertaining endeavors waiting for me?  Well, I did.  But I couldn’t get past the lethargy that depression causes.  I’m grateful for another chance to live my life, and to enjoy doing so.

In the past couple of months I have been walking regularly with two of my neighbors.  (It’s lots more photo(19)fun when you have company.)  I’ve attended numerous grandchild functions:  a pre-prom photo session, an elementary school graduation, a high school graduation, two engagement parties, a gymnastics celebration banquet (the end of a rather lengthy gymnastics career–happy and sad), and more that I can’t remember at the moment.

In addition to the fun stuff, I have taken on a front yard project.  I’m wondering if my meds have made me a little more wacky than I normally am–not an easy feat since I’ve always been pretty wacky. As some of you know already, I don’t grow grass very well, so I decided I should construct some around-the-tree gardens in order to have less weedy grass to mow.photo(16)  I started by digging a v-shaped trench around the tree.  My research tells me this is a Victorian edge.  I didn’t want a brick or stone edging because it makes using the weed eater a bit fussy.  I thought the digging would be the hardest part, but abundant rain had saturated the ground and digging was a breeze.

The next step was to cover inside the circle with newspapers.  The newspaper kills weeds and unwanted grass in the finished product.  Then I spread four (or so) inches of soil on top of the newspapers.  Next came a nice thick layer of mulch on top of the dirt. Viola. The garden is ready for some shade-loving plants.photo(20)

I took this photo shortly after I planted.  We’ve had a great deal of rain and sunshine since then, so I’m able to see growth almost every day.  Only two more trees to go.  My neighbors are waiting patiently.  I’m still a little surprised (and proud) that I was able to do this by myself.  Gave me a nice sense of accomplishment.

Things I ponder as I walk.

Are cats vengeful?  I used to have a lovely African violet sitting in my kitchen window.  It has thrived there for a couple of years.  Enter Lulu.  Lulu the Cat loves to sever the leaves.  Sometimes she chews them; sometimes she discards them.  I surrounded the plant with other items in order to leave no space for said cat.  For a time it worked.

This morning Lulu was playful.  I heard her bouncing all over the kitchen and den.  I eventually went in there to join in the fun.  I quickly started to feel more hostile than playful.  There on the floor were about eight or nine violet leaves as if they were trying to compete with the shedding tree outside the window.  All the bouncing had apparently been Lulu jumping up to steal a leaf, losing her balance and dropping back down, taking a leaf with her.  Grrrrrrrr.  Poor, poor, pitiful plant.  See all those sad leafless stems?

I have now done what I always did when I had small children: I put the plant where the cat can’t get to it.  Behind closed doors.  In my bedroom.  Lulu’s not allowed in there because of my allergies.

Is it time to move beyond awareness October is breast cancer awareness month.  I wrote about this last year, in a very positive way, I think.

I don’t take awareness lightly.  It’s the first step toward eradicating a problem.  And breast cancer is a major problem.  As are all cancers.

I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors.  And one dear friend who didn’t survive.  I recently asked my closest friend L, who is a survivor, “Are you sick of all this pink ribbon stuff?”  Her immediate and unequivocal response: “YES!”

I think it’s safe to say that the “pink ribbon” has become the universal symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness, and there’s the rub.  L’s concern, and mine, is that it is being misused to make money, to make a profit, by companies and/or individuals who have no intention of contributing to the cause.  I don’t know how prevalent this practice is, but I do know I’ve seen many tacky items with some cheap version of a pink ribbon, and I simply couldn’t believe they were legitimate.

Whenever I think of charities I always return to March of Dimes.  Is anyone else old enough to remember what that organization did to polio?  They funded research which resulted in the development of both the Salk and Sabin vaccines thus eradicating polio.  With that mission accomplished, they turned their focus to the prevention of birth defects.

When I was in elementary school we had “dime” drives with cards that held dimes.  We children collected dimes at a time when, for many, they were hard to come by.  Everyone was in on this fight.  Even parents (mine) who couldn’t afford to give to charity contributed a thin dime or two to the card of their child.  No child wanted to take in an unfilled card.

My family didn’t understand the full significance of the March of Dimes until my baby sister contracted polio at the age of two.  The doctor sent her to a hospital in another city.  Fortunately her case was mild.  She spent only a month there.  Imagine my parents’ surprise when the hospital administrator told them the bills would be paid by the March of Dimes.

I don’t really know whether it’s fair to compare these two charities.  Times are different.  There were most certainly some who “cheated” March of Dimes, but I was too young to know that.  I do know that many played fairly because we were committed to a very important cause.  And we delivered.

I’m idealistic enough believe that cancer research can be streamlined and standardized and we can beat it.  Franklin D. Roosevelt started the March of Dimes.  Maybe what we need is presidential prodding.  Cancer is nonpartisan.  When we seriously focus on a problem we can be nonpartisan, too, and we can accomplish anything.  Let’s do it!  Maybe one day we will have a cancer vaccine.  It could happen.

To Momma.

Today is my mom’s birthday.  If she were alive she would be ninety-two years old.  She died three years ago just days shy of her eighty-ninth.  Mom loved pretty things, most of all flowering baskets to hang on her front porch.  One of the last gifts I bought for her while she was still living in her house was baskets for Mother’s Day.  She would love this one.

In Mom’s honor I went around the house and yard this afternoon looking for things I knew she would like.  It was a good exercise for me as it helped me to recall many of the sweet memories I have of her.

I think she would enjoy this colorful bookmark.  She loved to read, and her favorite color was blue.  I prefer to remember her when her vision was still good enough for reading and jigsaw puzzles.

The photo on the right is a beautiful wind chime my daughter gave me.  When I moved to this house four years ago it became a tangle of colors and glass and keys.  I guess I didn’t do a very good job of packing.  It’s waiting patiently for someone to untangle it and free its lovely song.  If Mom were here she would sit on the deck and carefully straighten every strand, restoring it to its intended artistic state.

I have a profusion of chives growing in my unkempt, weedy little garden.  She loved growing things so I know she would enjoy the flowering chives.  I don’t think she would be too pleased with the weeds but she wouldn’t scold.  She stopped that years ago.  I can imagine her saying, “Well, it’s just to hot to do much weeding down here, isn’t it, Honey.”  She and I are, after all, mountain women.  We don’t do very well in hot weather.

There’s a new little tree asserting itself in the back yard.  We’ve had “extra” rain this summer.  I’m sure it has achieved additional growth because of the rain forest conditions.  I’m rather proud of it.  I know Mom would be, too.

If I could, I would give this sweet jeweled box to Mom.  I think she would put her favorite earrings in it.  And maybe a ring or two.  When she was a young mother she couldn’t afford nice jewelry.  Hopefully we (her children and grandchildren) made up for that when we started to earn salaries of our own.

I especially like this afghan.  I made it with scraps of leftover yarn.  I think Mom would appreciate my attempt to be frugal by using what I had on hand.  I would like to give this to her, to keep her warm.  Of course, she would let her dog Odie sleep on it, too, but I’m finally mature enough to give with no strings attached.  Did I say strings?  Aren’t afghans made of strings?

This sentimental journey has made me cry a bit.  Okay, a lot.  I would like to leave you with a chuckle.  My caption for the photograph below is “Even my cat is voting for Obama!”  So would Momma if she were here.

All in the family.

For the better part of last week I had a family — here, at my house.  My daughter’s air conditioner gave up the fight and they had to get a new one.  During the wait and installation they lived with me.  Some days we had three of the children, sometimes we had only the youngest.  (The oldest was at gymnastics camp in Pennsylvania.)  Oh, and the cat!  I forgot to mention the cat.

It was fun being part of a family again.  I missed them when they moved back home.  While they were here, I found myself relaxing into the chaos that having children entails.  There’s almost always one who’s hungry, one who needs a ride to somewhere, one who needs a little extra attention, etc.  Multigenerational families are a thing of the past in our American society.  After last week, I can see reasons to bring them back.

There are times when moms and dads can’t stop what they’re doing in order to give extra attention to the child in need of it — even acting out to get it.  But Grammy can.  My little boy entertained himself for a long time after I snuggled with him on the couch and taught him to play Solitaire on my tablet.  Granted, times are different.  I learned to play by watching my dad play with a real deck of cards.  Still, F and I had some quality time and he knows a new game.

I’ve written about my youngest grandchild S before.  She’s five.  She, of course, has a personality like no other.  She constantly fascinates and entertains me.  I can’t decide whether I should call her my “bag lady” or my little “pack rat.”  She borrowed an empty purse to put her “finds” in, but quickly decided it wasn’t big enough when she discovered one of my large canvas grocery bags.  She took her bag and went about her days accumulating “stuff.”  It seemed harmless enough to me.  Occasionally she would show me one of the treasures she had in her stash.  No problem, right?

After “little missy” went home, I found her bag in an upstairs bedroom.  I picked it up.  It was heavy.  How on earth had that small child carried it up the stairs?  And down?  And up?  As I emptied the bag, I was able to solve many mysteries .  The Earl Grey tea we couldn’t find for breakfast?  The entire package was in her bag along with the missing place mat, a partial set of coasters, a flying pig doorstop, a modern-day version of the Bible, a book of positive quotes to start your day, some cocktail napkins, a bar of soap — I could go on and on.  How I wish I had taken a picture of her mountain of goodies.

They have gone home now to their once again cool house.  I miss them.  I’ve been thinking as I write that it certainly was fun having someone to “blame” when I couldn’t find things.  And guess what!  Even though they have moved back home, I’m no longer alone.  I have a cat!  That’s right, they left Lulu with me.  I’ve adopted her.  We’re getting along very well, adapting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  It seemed the natural thing to do.  You see, Lulu doesn’t do well with children.  She’s getting less nervous every day.  Maybe I am, too.

Birthday fun on April twenty-one.

April 21st is a special day in our family.  My eldest daughter whose birthday is that day gave birth to her son some 27 years later on the same day.  Double the reasons for a family party and this year was no exception.  We started with “Ronnie’s Chocolate Sheet Cake” which is our family’s favorite special occasion cake.  (One day I’ll tell you about Ronnie.)

As the younger generation grows up  these parties start to have more significance than ever before.  Two of our family had to drive some distance to be here for the festivities.  We very much appreciate their effort.

It’s fun to watch the gift-opening and to read the funny cards.  Often in our family we say “I love you” by finding the funniest card in the store and trying to make the celebrant laugh.  Does your family do that?

My birthday grandson gave these lovely cut flowers to his birthday mom because he knew they would make her smile.  They fit right in with the quirky colors on the cake and we didn’t even compare notes.  ( You probably noticed in the top photo that I’m not a decorator of cakes, just a baker.  To make it look festive I find candles and ribbons to fake it for me.)

Here you see the honored birthday folk with smiles on their faces right after blowing out the candles.  (They are deliberately in shadow because I failed to get permission to publish them.)  May all their wishes come true.

Meanwhile I’ll pack up the 9 x 13 cake pan and look forward to June when we will have another cake that will look eerily similar to the one pictured here.  But more important than the sameness of the cake will be the sameness of the faces and the laughter and the silliness and the dogs and the children–our family!  How lucky we are.

Dogsitting.

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.                   ~ Andrew A. Rooney

This slightly fuzzy photo is Gus.  He didn’t really want to pose for me and that’s my excuse for the less-than-focused image.  I had the privilege of caring for Gus over the weekend.  He’s my neighbor’s dog and his usual “sitter” wasn’t available.

I could tell that K was a little hesitant to ask me to keep him, but I’m betting my enthusiastic response quelled any concerns she may have had.  “Of course, I would love to have Gus for the weekend!”  Here’s the deal–I’ve thought about having a pet again because I sometimes get lonely.  This was just the opportunity I needed to make up my mind.  Do I want a dog?  Or not?

For two nights Gus slept on the floor beside my bed.  He was a very good boy.  No noises during the night.  He doesn’t need to go out during the night.  He gets two meals a day, morning and night.  He will play fetch as long as his human will, but when the human gets tired and says, “OK, Gus, sit.”  Gus sits.  And grins.  And drools a little.  Of course he doesn’t sit for long because he wants to get as close to his human as possible.  He even tried to get in my lap once or twice.  Not a good fit, though.  Still, the effort on his part is endearing.

You’re probably thinking by now that I’m getting a dog.  I’m not.  Having him next door is just enough of a doggie fix for me.  He helped me to realize that I truly don’t want the responsibility and the inconvenience.  I can visit Gus when I want.  I can visit my granddogs Wilson and Charley.  And I can get up and go whenever I choose and don’t have to worry about vets and kennels, etc.  I can also change my mind at a later date.  For now, I choose to remain pet-less.