Monday, May 28, 2012

Hurricane Beryl

Bands of wind and rain.
Had Nor'Easterns that were worse.
Electricity out for a few hours last night.
Good for sleeping. As if I needed any kind of sleep aid.
Dog doesn't like to get her feet wet.
The pool is about to overflow.
Johnson and Maizey made two trips to the beach to check things out. You know the kind of crazy people you see standing behind the news guy getting pummeled by blowing sand and rain telling people to stay home. He's a grown man but still driving his mother crazy! With this much rain he's sure to be called to work.

I'll keep you posted.

Merry ME

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Rant or A Rave?

Memorial Day ...
 a time to remember the people who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom.
Memorial Day ... 
a time to fly a flag, salute a flag and remember what it stands for.

 I was raised by a military man whose actions, more than his words, instilled respect for and in our country.  I never fail to stand up and put my hand over my heart when a flag passes by or the National Anthem is played. The sound of a marching band sends shivers down my spine. A man in uniform makes me weak in the knees. Like my mother I shed a tear at the first few chords of "Eternal Father." And like my father I want - no expect - the red, white and blue colors of my country, the flag that has been carried into every battle by all men and women who ever fought for the things it represents, to be treated with respect.


My father could recite the all rules of flag etiquette. I learned from him that if a flag is going to be flown round the clock, it needs to be illuminated during darkness.  I know the rule, but don't get bent out of shape when it isn't followed to a tee. However if there is one thing that really ticks me off it is seeing a flag (or flags) surrounding a used car lot, or other business establishment, that is faded and tattered.  My uncle, a retired Marine, carries boxes of flags in his car. When he sees a flag that needs to be replaced he asks permission first, then ceremoniously, with honor and respect, lowers it and replaces it with a new one. The old one is disposed of per flag etiquette. I'm not a Marine, but I've been known to turn my car around to right a downed flag pole.


It's hard to see some ratty old piece of cloth that was once a proud American flag hanging forgotten as cars and people whisk by without even noticing. What, I wonder, do the soldiers who come home from war think when they see the way their standard is being treated by the ones back home? What does a parent think when they pass by the ragged  flags around Joe's Used Cars as they look out the window from the limo that is taking them to the cemetery to bury a son or daughter who lies under a flag draped coffin? And how do spouses left behind to keep the home fires burning, explain to their children that the flag their daddy wears on his uniform needs to be saluted, not forgotten?


I frequently drive on a major street in Jacksonville that passes by a large piece of property that used to be a foster home for troubled boys. The facility has been closed for a few years. I think the buildings are being used for administration or storage. One or two horses still stand in the pasture. (Do they wonder where all the boys have gone? ) At the center of the property, near the street stands a lone flag pole. Like others I paid little attention to the flag because it seems like it's been there forever. I failed to notice that it was never lit up. Until, the wind and rain and sun finally ruined the flag and left it dangling from a single worn out rope. Then, every time I passed it, I recoiled at the sight. I knew I should stop and do something, but I never did. I knew I should call someone to fix it, but I didn't know who.
Instead, I got mad every time I saw it.


I put myself in the same category of people who just didn't care. Caring calls for action, doesn't it? Knowing what should be done and not doing it is pretty close, in my book, to ignoring.


Then one day I noticed something different. The flag had been neatly folded into a perfect blue triangle, and attached somehow onto the pole so it would no longer be at risk of lying in the gutter.  I cried when I saw it, and I cry now writing about it.


I wonder who that good Samaritan was. A soldier? A father. A student? A wife? A Boy Scout? A veteran? Someone who was born in this country, or one who came here looking for a new home in the land of the free? I'd like to meet that person and say thank you.


Wishing for you time to remember,
Merry ME

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Growth

Yesterday was the 3rd end of the year recital for my writing group -  Chat Noir Writers Circle. There is much to be said about celebrating one's growth and accomplishments.

The first year our leader told us we needed to learn to be storyTELLERS as well as storyWRITERS more than a few us vocally rebelled.  I may have been considered one of the ring leaders. Then, as now, I understood the theory behind the whole show thing. Learning to address and make contact with an audience is a confidence booster. Its also a good marketing tool - for our authorship as well as our manuscripts. But I still wanted no part of it.

I may have said it before on this blog, so forgive me if I'm being redundant. After my 6th grade valedictory speech, when I thought I was as close to being my all time best as I could ever possibly be, I was put back in my place by my father's cutting words. 50 years later I'm pretty sure he was not overtly trying to hurt me, but most of his words cut like Wilkinson steel. Pride and embarrassment switched places that day. I was a little girl. What did I know of demanding a retraction, or standing up for myself? I decided it was better not to put myself on display if I had a choice. Staying in the background, as far away from the limelight as I could get, hiding in the shadow of others became the place I felt most comfortable.

Don't get me wrong. I've had achievements in my life. I just never gave them much credit, tried not to brag (even in private), convinced myself it was a mistake, or not really meant for me. [As I wrote that a memory came flooding through me - of being selected for the National Honor Society in high school. In order to be inducted into the group (even though my grades had already gotten me there) my fellow honorees and I had to undergo a hazing ritual. As hazing go, it was pretty mild. Maybe the smart people didn't know how to do the really mean stuff. But for me, wearing my clothes backwards and rolling a peanut down the hall with my nose, was pretty mean. It was demeaning, humiliating. Not funny at all for someone like me. What was the point, I ask myself now? And I still don't have an answer. ]

Fast forward a bunch of years. I got active in the church and became a lay reader. That's right. The girl who didn't want to be seen, elected to stand in front of the whole church and read from the Bible.  Maybe elected isn't the right word. May it was more like being led by a power greater than myself.  By reading/speaking in church my comfort zone expanded. And I learned that people I trusted thought I did a good job. Even my father on occasion told me I'd done good. I think the adult me could accept the  compliments, but the child me still wanted to hide.)

All that to say, that this whole writing and performing thing has been a giant leap for Little ME. When people complimented me yesterday I was able to say thank you and let the comment sink it instead of batting it away.  How's that for growth?

Wishing for you acceptance of your own talents,
Merry ME

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Updates

Gracie's not coming.
Who would have thought there would be legalities involved when a baby girl wants to spend time with Grammy?
It will happen soon enough.
I'm a grandmother. Aren't grandmothers supposed to know how to be patient?


Sweetie's back is healing pretty well.
Except that it turns out he's allergic to adhesive so his 4" incision looks like it got hit with a hot frying pan.
Surprisingly it hasn't bothered him much. The itching has subsided thanks to steroid cream and good nursing.


Suzi shows no sign of a sore shoulder. She can romp and play with the best of them. I'm glad for this but my wallet not so much.


I haven't been blogging much due to the fact that my writing group end of the year recital looms large on the horizon. Along with hunting for something new to wear, I've been revising my story. (Both equally difficult) I think down to 1000 words and it's still too long. The reader's digest version is definitely not as funny in my mind. But what do I know?  I need to learn to read slower, project my voice and/or hold a microphone while I'm holding my papers - while my hands shake like I have a palsy, use some props, AND connect with the audience somehow.  Yeh, right. Note to self: DO NOT drink 5 glasses of water before the show.

At the risk of sounding like a record stuck on the same song, it hit me this morning, once again, how hard it is to think of Dad's house as my house. I went upstairs to check on Maizey. The stairs are covered with dog hair, dust and roofing tools. On my way down, I thought I would sweep them off. And then I thought about the whisk broom I always used to use. The whisk broom that dad kept in a compartment in the back of the van. And then I had to tell myself that we don't even have the van anymore so no telling where the broom is. Then I thought how weird it is that my mind can travel these back roads of my memory in a flash but I can't remember the very last line of the story that I have typed at least 30 times.  There's really no reason to be sad over a no-longer-existent whisk broom but every time I have one of these longings, I have to remind myself that everything has changed.

I think I'll go to the mall and hunt for something new to wear.  I saw an ad for some shoes at Anthropologie that might be some of the cutest I've ever seen. High heels, covered in bright flowers, for a mere $158.00. Good thing I know myself well enough to know I can't even stand up in high heels anymore. But it might be fun to try them on!

Happy Saturday to you.
Wishing you happy memories and a comfortable shoes,
Merry ME

P.S. I hate the new blogger.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feeling Kind of Crazy

A few weeks ago one of my writing buddies challenged the group to words get up early and write at least 300 words. Thus the Spartan 300 club was formed to remind us that victory goes to the well-trained.


So for a few days I stayed up after putting the dog out and tried to think of things to write about. Then I got this brilliant idea to make a program for our end of the year extravaganza and the creative juices flowed through me like adrenaline. Seriously I was at the computer for almost 24 hours straight. I couldn't turn my mind off even when my fingers and back cramped. I amassed way more than 300 words so I had plenty to spare for my dry days.  I'm not finished with the program because I'm still waiting for a few people to send me the information I've asked for. Nothing curbs a creative process like asking for permission or waiting. But I understand how that works so I'm trying to be patient.


Okay, I haven't been patient at all. I've asked, begged, nagged, co-erced and bribed. I think nagging worked the best. Plus I wrote some of my best emails ever which turned out to be epistles, not just emails. So I added to the word account.


After awhile the adrenaline rush wore off and I've gone back to reading into the wee hours of the night and sleeping til the sun is directly overhead. A terrible habit to get into or try to break.  Especially with a baby coming to visit. I doubt Gracie will want to sleep while I sleep. And if she does, her mom isn't going to like the new schedule.


Well last night/this morning, I had a disturbing dream about Jack and my father arguing. I'd wake up, try to shake it, roll over, then get right back into the mix. My body was reacting like it always does, shutting down/getting depressed, even though I was asleep. Weird.  When the woman called from the silver store and told Jack I needed to pay $20.00 to have the silver that has been in her possession since Feb. sent away to be resilvered, I stormed out of bed with an attitude. Psychologically speaking, a displaced attitude, but grampy ass, sharp tongued attitude nonetheless.


I flounced into the shower, washed my new short hair, dried and tried to style it into cuteness that wasn't there (and why I thought it would be is beyone me). I clomed around the office, opening and slamming drawers looking for the receipt that said I'd already paid the twenty bucks. Sweetie and Suzi sat back and hoped the storm would whirl by without too much collateral damage.  We left the house, went to the bank, headed in the wrong direction, I yelled, got gas, and Sweetie asked what was eating at me. I really didn't know. Is it possible for a $20 mis-communication to make a person as undone as I was?


We get to the silver shop. I'm ready for a battle with my check stub in hand. Thankfully before I could get started on my rant, the lady smiles at me, explains not only that the phone call was meant for someone else AND my silver was ready to be picked up. How convenient that I was there! She went in the back, came out with a brown paper bag, pulled out a tissue wrapped silver mirror and comb that glistened like the sun on a quiet blue-green ocean.


And I began to cry.


You see the mirror and comb were pieces of a dresser set my father had given my mother - either as a wedding present or 25th anniversary present. They sat on her dresser for years, then in the drawer, then packed away in a locked box. I doubt they'd been used much. I had them fixed and polished to pass them on to someone who might use them. A great-granddaughter, maybe.


When they were unwrapped I saw silver, but I also saw my mother and realized Mother's Day is coming up and remembered my mom is gone and well, you get the picture. And I thought about Dad, whose birthday just passed unnoticed, giving mom the set, and how he was, to me, the epitome of light and dark swirled together like a Hershey's Hug.


I think the anger, sadness, memory and tears got all rolled up together.  And I think that's going to happen on occasion.  And I think I'm not crazy even when it feels like I am.  And I think Sweetie is right when he says I don't have to hold on to certain memories - the bad ones.


Thanks for listening,


Merry ME

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baby Fever



Gracie's coming to spend the summer with Great Grammy and her GPa.
How cool is that?
No more staying up til 3 am and getting up at noon for this nightowl.
Did I say, I'm doing the happy dance?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Charlie Webb, Joseph, Ellis, Claude, Frank and Berlie Webb


My grandmother was born 120 years ago today. Oh how the world has changed in those years.   Grandmother had 10 brothers and 1 sister. Her mother died when she was just a toddler. This picture of my grandmother, her father and some of her brothers is always a stark reminder of where I came from. Tennessee mountain people. Poor. Motherless. Some prone to drink. Others to meanness. But with hard work and determination each made something of themselves. Today many Webb descendants still live in the Smokey Mountains, the place where my youngest sister now lives - sinking her feet back into the soil my ancestors tilled.  As you can imagine, with 12 kids in one family, that makes for a lot of grands, great grands, etc. We're kind of all spread out now.


Grandmother was partially raised by one of her brothers in Washington, D.C. She went to teacher's college and taught a few years of school before getting married. Her husband died when he was fairly young from complications after that Flu epidemic back in the 1920's. My daddy was only 10 years old, his brother 8.  Grandmother wasn't one to sit around and cry about her lot in life. She had sons to raise. She taught school for most of the year, then continued college during the summer. She never remarried. The Methodist Church, her sons and teaching were enough for her.  


When I think of my grandmother I think of love, red birds, dogwood trees, quilts, the 3rd grade, writing letters, reading out loud, making chocolate chip cookies, Vespers, Sepulveda Blvd., false teeth, pillowy soft bosoms, the Bible, Newport, TN, white polyester pants, the way she said my father's name, and the feel of her hand when she patted my cheek.  I don't think there are many cheek patters left in this world which is kind of a shame. 


 Happy Birthday, Grandmother.


Wishing for you roots and wings,
Merry ME

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Look Who's Engaged

There are all kinds of special times in the lives of moms and daughters. Weneki and I have celebrated birthdays, graduations, new babies (in the family), and weddings. We've also shared some sad times that made our hearts feel like Swiss cheese. Tonight, I'm thrilled to announce that my brown-eyed baby girl got engaged last week while in Texas visiting her dad.


Weneki isn't a traditional girl by any means. Her wedding will be low key without a lot of the fuss her mother might like. If there is one thing I cannot picture, even with my vivid imagination, it is my converse tennis show-wearing daughter getting all dolled up in satin and lace. I asked if she'd consider joining me in Atlanta for a "Say Yes to the Dress" mother/daughter moment but she declined. No real surprise there! I guess when her baby girl has entered  middle age, a mom just has to sit back and let things go her way.  Not to mention that I'm 3000 freakin' miles away from the planning committee. Perhaps things like this are the reason the Internet was created.


Insert cute photo of the engage couple
which for some inexplicable reason
Blogger will not upload from Iphoto
even though I can clearly see it sitting 
there mocking me. 

Anyway, I'd just like to say a big WOOHOO! to Weneki and her future husband. May love surround you like tulips in springtime.




Wishing for you happy surprises,
Merry ME

Permission Slips

A couple of years ago when my father was dying and I was trapped in the body of a caregiver, I found a blog friend who was going through the same thing. Only the man she was caring for was her husband, not her dad. There were a lot of similarities in our situations, but a lot of differences too. Needless to say there are common caregiving woes and Patty and I were up to our eyeballs in the thick of them. I loved reading Patty's blog, but I also looked forward to the days she felt like painting and sharing. I was amazed at her ability to transcend her emotions and lose herself in a world of paint. I tried to do the same with words, without the vibrant colors.


In the early morning hours, a short time before her Michale died, Patty pulled out her journal of permission slips to "find something positive to hold on to." Funny how your mind words at 2:00am - if it works at all. Patty realized that there must be others sitting in their beds, or chairs, at the kitchen table, or by their loved one's side, who also need "permission." And then she did the bravest thing I think an artist can do. She asked StoryPeople to publish her collection of permission slips. It you are aware of the StoryPeople, then you already know it's a perfect fit. If not, think fun, bright colors, sayings from the heart and more. That's what StoryPeople is all about.


I haven't had much experience but I do know that after you send a query letter out to publishers there is a lot of waiting to be done. Sometimes you hear back, with a polite no thank you, sometimes you don't hear back at all. And great jumping Jehoshaphat sometimes you get a letter that says, "we love your book and want to publish it." From there it just gets better. I'm sure there is a lot of work and legalese somewhere in between start and finish, but the end result is this:




In case it's too small to read, it is the notification that today is the official release date of Patty's book.


I got my copy a couple weeks ago and sat right down to read it. I think there is something so much juicier (a SARK word) about reading a book by someone you know.  A writing buddy told me recently that I have a "wonderful talent and gift to be able to get excited for others when they have success." I can't think of a better compliment. And I'm hear to tell you I've been pee in my pants excited for Patty.  So I'm here today to tell you to give yourself permission to pick up a copy. You'll be glad you did. 


Permission Slips for Your Heart and Soul
by Pattricia J. Mosca


Wishing for you permission to dream big,
Merry ME