Coffee Chat - February Gloom and Cheer
Come in, come in...It's time for a good hot cup of coffee once more. Do have a seat.
It's so nice today, the windows are open once again, but there's cold weather on it's way. Not complaining. Cold weather has it's place just as hot weather has and February is the proper place for cold weather, at least in my hemisphere. I always thought it quite odd that other parts of the world would have summer in February and then I gained a pen pal in Scotland who moved to Australia and we complain daily over the great heat in her area and the great cold in mine all through these months and come summer we'll complain just the opposite. I'll grumble over hot weather while she mentions huddling over a heater trying to stay warm. At least we amuse one another when one side complains the temperature is too hot and the other replies that it's far too cold.
How about a piece of Italian Cream Wedding Cake to go with the coffee? It's birthday month in our home. Not that we celebrate all month long but there are many birthdays crowded into this month for us. Three birthday presents down...
Birthdays have never been huge big deals in our home. We tend to be more moderate in our celebrations, and were when the kids were at home. I leaned towards the 'doing is better than buying' idea for birthdays. We normally greeted the birthday person right away first thing in the morning with good wishes. A favorite meal for breakfast, a favorite meal of choice for supper, a favorite choice for cake (which nine times out of ten in our house was pie or pudding for the children). A sentimental card, sometimes a group of homemade cards, and a modest gift...that was our way of celebrating. Not fancy or expensive, but at the end of the day, a life had been celebrated and our connection to it and to me that seemed the most important of all things we could give. AND most important of all was that on a birthday a brand new, just received gift NEVER had to be shared. A friend of mine argued quite strongly against me on that one rule of mine, but I felt and feel that nine times out of ten the NEW of any present belongs to the one receiving. They should have opportunity to most thoroughly enjoy it first. It is after all, the birthday boy or girl's day.
These days birthdays are usually celebrated with a gift or gift card and greeting cards and singing phone calls, but it's all still a fairly moderate affair.
February...can you believe we've sailed through January so quickly and have ticked away the first WEEK of February and are working on another as well? I think I missed most of the last month. I'm not sure where I lost it either. I didn't do well with my monthly goals hitting less than 50%. I didn't get a lot of genealogy work done or crafting or deep cleaning or thrifting. I truly cannot fathom where last month went. So February has to count, especially since it's such a short month already. And isn't it funny that losing just 2-3 days can make this month seem so terribly short?
Last Coffee Chat when I said the promised weather was a non-event? Well it turned into an event later that evening (and incidentally I found at least one weather forecaster who knew his stuff!). January went out in a flurry of ice and snow. This is a photo taken from my front porch Tuesday morning, January 28. We had snow in the yard until Friday morning. The temperatures plunged down into the single digits which kept the snow well for a day or so before it began to slowly melt.
The back deck had a thick layer of ice underneath the snow from the freezing rain we got first. Since it is on the north side of the house and gets little sun this time of year. I was glad that deck snow lasted a little while, because my youngest grandchildren and their parents came to visit that weekend. Mind you when they arrived on that Friday it was fairly warm. Daniel played in the snow and never had on a jacket...That's Georgia for you. I'm glad they came in on Friday because it was all gone by Saturday at noon.
I didn't get a single photo of the grandchildren through that weekend and for good reason. They weren't still long enough! Every single time I thought I'd get a good picture they'd run across the room. That's what happens when they are mobile. There wasn't much of the open area of the house that didn't get explored. Hailey was fascinated by the plants in the breakfast area. I found her stroking the ivy leaves, watched as she ran her finger over the Christmas cactus and softly said "Ow!" each time, though there wasn't a thing to stick her. Someone left a big kiss mark on the dining room window. I can't tell you who, but they were about 2 feet tall...We're still picking up toys that went under furniture in the mayhem that comes when the toy basket gets turned out and toys get scattered hard. I was duly impressed that not only did Daniel clean up but Hailey and Zach pick up toys quite nicely and in just a few minutes time they have all put away. It was fun having them here and went far too quickly.
I went to my first ever Big Game party on Super Bowl Sunday. And yes, I watched the game and the commercials. It wasn't a great big hoorah on either score. I confess I've watched far more football this year than you'd might suppose what with the 4 days a week it's televised during the season, between pro and college games. Honestly? I've seen far better action on less important games. Do I understand all about football? Not on your life, but I do know awesome plays when I see them and there were none of those...yawn. Loved the company, and the spread of food was awesome, too. Just sad that the final game was such a sleeper.
Coming home, John took his time and for good reason. It's all woods and farmland between the hosts' home and ours. I spied 5 or 6 deer in a small field near the road. When the headlights hit them their eyes shine red at us and I counted the eyes. We could just make them out as we got nearer, nice large deer, looking very well fed. It was enough to make us even more cautious in our travels. It was a clear and beautiful night, mildly warm. We drove with windows partially down...
Yes, this is February in Georgia. Less than 10F just four days before and here we were with weather mild enough to ride home with windows down after 10pm just four days later. And to give you a further clue of how schizo our weather is, we huddled over the heater as it refused to go above freezing and then sleeted on us four days after that on Thursday but Friday and all through the weekend it was warming up into the low 70's all over again.
Perhaps it was weather, or too much weekend, but I had the most awful dream early Monday morning. When John woke me I sighed deeply. He apologized, thinking I was upset that he'd disturbed my rest, but I thanked him. It was one of those dreams where you spend more time sobbing over the situations and less moving on. Ugh. I woke later with that special sort of hungover feeling that bad dreams and tense nights bring. And nope, I didn't have so much as a soda the night before at the Big Game party, nor rich foods, so I can't figure where that bad night came from. I didn't have any energy at all when I woke but I pushed through. For one thing, I'd posted that the previous week I'd failed to tend to the majority of my To Do list. Sometimes a little pride does increase incentive.
I didn't tackle any of the To Do list Monday morning either, but I did work a Monday routine through the house, setting it to rights. It was a hard push for me, and I don't mind telling you so. I wanted to sit down, piddle about on the computer, send John off to town for frozen pizza, take a nap or three, etc. Well, I didn't do any of that, but I didn't work really hard either. I got all the Monday routine accomplished and didn't mind taking a few minutes to sit and rest in between tasks. By dinnertime the house was all done and I had the afternoon free to do nothing if I chose. I sat down before the computer and worked a bit, but I kept thinking of that To Do list. After a couple of hours of quiet work, I was up and at it again. I cleared all the bathroom cabinets and straightened them up, then tackled my costume jewelry and the house clothes drawer. It took me a bit over an hour and a half to do it, but I felt much better for getting something accomplished. Which was great because that Tuesday? That was like a repeat of Monday only worse.
Cue in the whole bad horrid dream thing and waking with a tension knot in my shoulder and a headache and emotionally wrung out so I cried at the drop of a hat. Loathe.those.days. Truly I do. And no amount of push made me want to work or accomplish a single thing. It was Harvest morning and I had to get myself underway.
Normally Harvest goes fairly smoothly, but there has been an ongoing problem with a math equation that we must work out each pay period during this season of the year. I know how to do this but it's a little bit of a struggle each week. I get it all figured out and every single pay period John assures me I'm all wrong because he struggles with it, too. The first week I agreed I must be wrong and undid the right work. Then the second pay period I figured out I was wrong in agreeing I was wrong and we straightened it all out for both pay periods. Of course, this week we had a repeat, sigh, and I let temper get better of me which made me weepy. Ugh. We soon had the matter all worked out to our mutual satisfaction and moved on with the routine work of tithing and bill paying which went very well from that point, but I felt very much that I needed to be quiet, shelter myself away from humans and just do my best to get through the day.
Because it is birthday week, we had to buy our car tags on Harvest Day. Of course, I couldn't help but contrast picking up tags this year with how it was once upon a time. In the early years we had to take the money from our savings. That was where the insurance renewal fees came from and the property taxes, too, and sundry other things that arose throughout the year which weren't exactly emergencies, since they were all routine, but it was the best we could manage. It was frustrating to have saved all year long and watch the balance dwindle and it seldom left us feeling secure since we knew that money was at best a very temporary security net.
When we determined to become debt free, one of the first things we did was to set up monthly payments with our insurance company. We do pay a wee bit more each year for that but it allowed us to hold onto a portion of our savings each year. Paying that bill monthly meant we had to tighten our straps a little harder at first. We saved a little less and we cut our other expenses a little deeper in order to manage those monthly insurance payments. Truly it seemed the last thing we needed was another monthly bill at the time but we knew it would pay off in the long run.
As we paid off our smaller debts we snowballed most of the money into the larger debts, but we took one portion and allotted it to a monthly amount that would cover car tags and property taxes at year's end. As our larger debts were paid off, the money we gained was put directly into savings and we had fewer reasons to withdraw it for anything except real emergencies. When we managed to become debt free (mortgage and all), we began to set aside small sums each month for house and car maintenance work. That much less needed to be withdrawn from savings.
Now I can't tell you that we didn't experience recession woes the past few years. We did. Our income stayed the same and prices went up. We had a child go through senior year with all the expenses (even a moderate minded child like our Katie) that entails. We had to buy a new car, so we borrowed from ourselves for that and we've been steadily sacrificing to pay it off. We've cut down the amount we put in savings in order to make ends meet, but other than the car loan, we've continued to manage on John's pay and we've covered all our needs on a cash basis.
Which is a long way around to say that it was awfully nice to go in and buy the car tags and not have that gut wrenching "Oh dear...Where will that money come from?" feeling! And a nice segue into the fact that this past Friday we went to the bank and made the final payment on the loan! Yes, this household is debt free once more. To celebrate we promptly took the sum of cash we'd normally put towards the bank loan and plopped it in savings. Does that sound anticlimactic? Believe me it was not! It felt good to find ourselves back up to our former savings level! As John said, when we left the bank, we'll likely end up using another loan at some point. A car will have to be replaced or work done on the house but in the meantime, we can at least have the satisfaction of watching our savings go up a bit more and not cut quite so deeply on those months when everything goes off kilter.
There was a movie John wanted to see when it was in theaters and for one reason and another we couldn't. Now it's out on Dvd but we don't want to buy it we just want to borrow it. One of the saddest days I experienced was when Netflix decided to stream instead of lending out Dvds. In our area we can't get the high speed internet needed to stream films.
I know RedBox is all the rage but we've never used one. We once returned a movie for our kids and had to ask for help to do so. But we decided that we'd try RedBox. We didn't get very far with the machine. Thankfully a little girl (all of about three) informed us the machine was 'fwoze' or we'd have worked ourselves into a frenzy, lol. We went into the dollar store on the off chance they might have the movie we wanted. They didn't. The little girl's mom who had kindly offered to help us novices at the RedBox had assured us there were some really good videos in the store. I wondered if she'd been delusional until I realized that there was a huge display of Dvds for sale in paper envelopes. I found the first season of Cranford, Hugo (a lovely film, highly recommend it) and Becoming Jane. I spent just under $20 but got three very good films for the money. I didn't look through all the Dvds because I couldn't afford to indulge myself any more! I'll be checking out those displays though in the other local stores and see if any more favorites come to light.
So we celebrated two birthdays last week. One was just as was wanted and the other had to be postponed but what a glorious day it turned out to be when it was celebrated...That would be my birthday that was put off and for good reason. We had to buy groceries and tend to a few other errands on the actual day. I was a little blue but that cake we're having now was my consolation from my husband, who knew I wouldn't have time to make the cake I'd planned to make.
Friday was the day we got to celebrate my birthday and it was a beautiful, blue sky, soft air, sort of day. It surprised me completely because we drove home in a sleety rain the night before from our last task Thursday.
Friday was pretty awesome. I knew what our plans were and had anticipated them greatly and swallowed down the big lumps of disappointment the day before when they threatened and reminded myself that Friday was my day. Despite the gorgeous weather it didn't appear to be my day at all at first. There was a slight struggle of temperament that had to be dealt with. I had my plans all set, but nothing was going to plan at all. John was tired and worried over another matter too and needed to put in some practice time, which I'd planned he'd do when we got back, having determined we'd have to cut the day short on that account. But no, he wanted to do it that morning and it was already late in my mind. And then Mama called before he was quite done and I had to arrange to go by her home. I owed her that as she'd asked to come out here on Thursday and I couldn't give her a time when we'd be home from our errands so that we could meet with her.
I fought with my temper quite a little bit, then I remembered something that worked for me in the past. I prayed. I gave up all my plans and all my ideas of how the day was going to be and asked God to just take it all and work it out in His way. Calmness settled upon me. We finally left home. We went by Mama's and I had another small struggle...John decided to stay and visit a bit. I'd planned to run in and run out again. John had coffee and chatted and I sat on my hands and said some pretty desperate silent prayers to not let my exasperation rise up, because after all I'd turned it all over. Of course, the test wasn't over. When we left Mama's, John said we had to run an errand right away, which was to go pay off that bank loan. Now I knew we were going to pay it off, but I couldn't for the life of me see why it had to be done that moment. We went to the bank and paid off the loan and then John stopped for a soda and at that point I did laugh out loud, because it was obvious a point was being made to me to live up to my own prayer. I did finally do as I'd said, and let all my plans go.
When John came to the car and said "We're heading on now," I suggested that since it was so late perhaps we ought to go eat first when we arrived at our destination. "No," he said. And I felt the last tendril of letting go occur when I said, "Ok."
We went to the mountain, that beautiful spot where we so love to periodically go off and pray. I won't share all of that today, but it was good prayer time and came from our hearts and we wept and prayed for quite a long while. And then we headed to the old Victorian house turned restaurant we like so well and had a wonderful meal...It wasn't too late to eat as I'd feared it would be. They go on serving all day long and despite it being nearly 3pm we had a lovely meal and an equally lovely ride home along that historic highway. We got home just in time to do some last minute housekeeping chores before Shabat time.
Our Shabat was a busy one on Saturday. John joined the worship team for the service that day and we had to leave extra extra early to arrive in time to have practice. Service was lovely and the worship portion went very well. When we got home I hurried to make dinner. I called out to John that it was ready and when he didn't reply, I found him sound asleep. He'd had such a busy week I hadn't the heart to wake him, so I put things in the oven to stay warm and settled in to read blogs until he awoke. He woke about an hour or so later and smiled at me. I said "Dinner is ready," and he smiled again and said "Nah, I'm good." and I knew then he wasn't fully awake. Sure enough in just a minute or two he was sound asleep again and slept another hour. I decided I needed to eat dinner without him, lol.
Sunday I went to Mama's. We had planned to go out to shop but our plans changed mid-way through our trip and we went instead to eat out and drive along foothill back roads and down again to that little village that fascinates me so with it's fascinating history and it's dead to the world look today.
Today as we came into town, Mama noted the old Methodist church, built in 1890. I pointed out that her relative once preached in a building built of those bricks, which also were used in the building that went up in 1832. We stopped and looked at the well that has been in place in that town since 1780. I said to Mama, "Just imagine...Your great great grandfather likely stopped and drank water there on a hot summer's day while he was working." I call moments like that 'telescoping time' when I realize that my feet are in a place where a long ago person's might have once been, my hands resting where another pair of hands once rested. It seems to me, in those moments, that I am just a hair's breadth from the moment in which they lived and in which I live. I feel the same when I handle a creamer or plate that has seen lots of use and was obviously well loved. I feel it when I walk into a historic home and my feet pass over the floorboards that once knew the feet of others.
I was so tired when I came in Sunday afternoon. The food and sunshine and the week past had all caught up with me. Mama's cousin passed away and the viewing was yesterday afternoon. I'd told her I'd take her to the funeral home but pleaded my lack of acquaintanceship with them and stayed in the car. The windows were down, the area was fairly quiet, the birds singing softly and overhead a woodpecker was gently tapping a soft rhythm that nearly made me fall asleep. I couldn't sleep there but oh my! I most assuredly felt my eyes getting very heavy indeed. Mama didn't stay long or I might have really had a hard time.
When I came in, I wanted to nap, but the house was frightfully mussed. I told myself I had to work at least an hour on the house. I got every single Sunday task done except for cleaning the sinks and drains. I forgot that and didn't realize it until I was doing Monday's work. About 6pm I took my simple supper out on the back deck and had it under a sky filled with cotton candy fluffs of pink clouds. My cousin's home is rented presently to a young family. The children were playing in the yard, chattering away. Maddie sat at my feet and begged for her biscuits and then for bits of my bagel. Peepers sang softly, and way overhead, too far up to see, geese honked as they headed northward once more. I fed the dog and cat a supper portion of food and came indoors. That solitary sunset supper seemed to just end the day off just right. I felt restored in a way I hadn't all through our busy Shabat day.
There was nothing extraordinary about this Monday at all. I cleaned house. I planned two weeks worth of meals. A friend donated more of her 'extras' to me for the flea market and I washed those up and set them aside. I tackled several items on my To Do list for this week and after dinner we did our taxes. We had the windows open once more. I found myself looking outdoors frequently wondering where the big ice storm predicted for the next day or so was coming from. I listened to John chatter away and I'm so glad I was listening as he said something terribly sweet and romantic. I won't share it but let's just say as far as I'm concerned there isn't a Valentine's Day card that could possibly say anything that would mean a tiny bit as much as what he'd said. I had a good report from Lori regarding a matter that had been much in prayer. I counted my blessings and they were many. They are many.
Well, time for me to get busy once more. I'm so glad you stopped by to join me. See you next Coffee Chat!