Afternoon Refresher - A Brand Spanking New World
It has been a tiring past three weeks or so. For all that we relaxed and enjoyed our trip to the mountains, we have worked hard back home. I took a car load of stuff to donate, I've listed quite a few books for sale (my Ebay and Half.com name is Hawksridge2). I've got a stack of books to list this week and am debating the viability of listing the Victoria magazines. As Pam questioned, is it really worth it? They aren't selling at flea market but I sure don't want to list anything for less than it will cost me to list it either. So we shall see.
I have to say that all the hard work has been worth it. The house feels lighter, looks neater overall and has a more serene and peaceful aura. A friend and I were discussing this the other day via email. We've both been in a lovely cabin in the past month. Both places were furnished with the basics and both were super easy to keep clean and neat, unlike home where 'stuff' abounds. We both agreed that gave us the incentive we needed to cull our belongings, which worked perfectly with the Decluttering Challenge we've entered into for the month of June. I shall never be accused of minimalism but I do appreciate the spaciousness and peace and calm that seem to abound in a less cluttered home. I'm trying to find the balance between too much and barren, in all areas of my home.
It's not all been terribly hard work. I've had fun decorating the back porch, rooting out items to use on the front porch plant table, put up new curtains in the bedroom. I really like the lighter, shorter curtains in that room but did need to find two more of those panels to use I searched hard on Thursday at all the stores in the area where I was traveling that day and found one. I told Mama I was on a quest Monday and she understood perfectly the art of tracking down the exact item needed to complete a project. So we went a littler far afield that day to visit more of the Dollar stores in nearby areas. Funnily enough, I was on my way to another Dollar store when I happened across one on a corner and there right at the front of the rack in the bath area was the needed fourth shower curtain. Now to sew a rod pocket into those two. Mama generously donated two white flat sheets to use as liners for the curtains which should give nice weight to the curtains.
We went to see the new grandchild on Friday. John and I didn't get as early a start as we'd hoped. He had to work late that morning and that's just how it goes. We left nearly two hours later than we'd planned, which meant we never got to see Katie at all, who apparently went in to work late that day. I was much amused at one point. John stopped at a peach stand in their area so that I could buy peaches. I'm not sorry at all that he stopped as this place had white peaches...I'll talk about those in a moment. While I was peach shopping, he was texting with Katie and he'd told her we were near the main road into their city. Well we weren't. I was the one who'd told him we were and I was dead wrong. When he stopped at the gas/convenience to buy ice for the peaches, I texted her the correct information, saying that we weren't quite so far along. Her immediate reply tickled me. "What?! Are you two lost again?"
I don't know why on earth it panics her and Sam so much for us to be lost. You'd think we were toddlers strolling about volcanoes or something they way they act. John and I don't LIKE to be lost but we DO get lost. As it happened we didn't get lost at all that day...well not on our way TO the hospital anyway. We saved it for after leaving the hospital, lol. We corrected our error and discovered it wasn't us as much as some missing signage on the opposite side and then we promptly took another wrong turn but that had a happy ending as we avoided the big interstate highway and headed right back into the road we needed to be on in the first place. So there.
So we made it to the hospital just fine, just not in time to visit with Katie. Pooh. I would have given much to see and hug that girl of mine. I've had far, far too little of her this year. In fact, I have only seen her twice. I hope her new job proves to be another positive change for her and we can coordinate some sort of visiting here and there.
It was so good to see my youngest son and his fiancee and their obvious delight in their child. We stayed a few hours visiting and enjoyed their company and holding the wee one, admiring feet and hands and other features. It was amazing to realize that these two young people who were a couple just the day before were now parents, a family in their own right and we saw the dynamics of their relationship changing before our eyes. John is one of those rare men who is completely at home with a baby in the crook of his arm and is fully relaxed, so much so that babies immediately snuggle in and snooze. Apparently Sam is the same way. That was so good to see. Bess was so sweet in her complete and utter amazement and devotion to her child. She's already a good mother and will be a great one as these years go by.
I must share that I had the sweetest text from my boy Father's Day morning, after their first night at home. "How on earth can I care for this tiny little baby? I kept getting up all night long checking on him even though he was right there in the room with us, seeing if he was breathing, touching him, worrying over the things that might happen to him..." Well welcome to parenthood, dear. Welcome to sleepless nights fraught with worry and prayer and frustrations and delightful sweet thoughts, too. And, uhm, get used to it.
Shall we discuss white peaches now? I don't want to bore you to tears talking of the new grandchild nor the new parents, though I could!
When I was growing up my parents bought five acres out in the country at what was apparently an old farmstead. There was a huge barn, a few scraggly fruit trees and, as they discovered in later years, an old well that had been filled in which collapsed one summer day and left a big round hole in the front yard about two feet deep.
The trees proved to be apples, pears and peaches, specifically white peaches. I called them Cherokee Rose peaches and we ate them every year. White peaches were a rare thing then, not to be had just anywhere. My parents never sprayed a single branch with dormant oil or did anything like pruning, but those peaches produced most every summer. We only ever ate them fresh. Mama never canned or used them for jelly, partly because the flavor was delicate, not quite as acidic nor bright in taste as orange fleshed peaches. It\ was like eating a rose, which I suppose is why I called them Cherokee Rose, sort of a floral taste. I was sorrowful when that tree fell over in a storm after heaven knows how many years producing fruit.
White peaches are one of those heirloom things that are gaining favor once again. Several of the really big peach producers have started growing white peaches. These fruit early on, usually by end of May, which is part of the draw for the peach sheds. It extends their season that wee bit longer. A few growers have cross pollinated and created a white nectarine.
My youngest son doesn't like peaches except in cobblers...Indeed he seldom eats any sort of fruit at all, but he loves white peaches. So I bought white and yellow peaches at the fruit stand there near his hometown and took some to him. I'd had the young boy (about 10 years old) who sold them to me mark the bags so I could tell yellow from white, but by the time we got home the paper bags were damp from the ice pack and the bags burst as John picked them up. They got all mixed up.
It's been fun choosing a peach and wondering which I'm getting. I could cheat a bit and sniff to see, but there's no fun in that at all. I like the randomness of choice and the discovery that comes when my knife takes away that first bit of fuzzy skin. And yes, I am one of those who does NOT eat peach skins. They are not velvety and soft like apricots but have a bit more wiriness to them somehow. Not to mention I was taught by Granny to always wash my peaches well and peel them due to the spray put on them.
So we have had quite a long few weeks. We've both worked really hard, me mostly indoors, John mostly outdoors and came to Father's Day weekend weary as could be. It was not hard to convince us to keep Shabat as quietly as possible. No big fuss at our house for Father's Day either. We went to church, John chose what he wanted for dinner at the grocery deli, we came home. I did some light work but mostly planned out this week's tasks. We spent the afternoon watching a movie, "The Book Thief". Very good movie by the way, one I recommend. I am anxious now to find this in book form and read it.
I have yet to finish the latest and last Maeve Binchy book....
Shall I share why? The book is a mixture of character sketches and short stories about neighbors, not unlike her last couple of books, which are centered around Chestnut Street. Here and there I recognize a story that took shape as quite a different story or part of another book but most of the work is new. However, my disappointment is keen in the repetitiveness of the brokenhearted, love forsaken folks. I got depressed reading it. I just couldn't bring myself to finish it off, though I'm just a few short chapters ( 1 or 2 stories, really) away from the end.
Perhaps it didn't help that I was in a mood when I started it...or did I get in a mood after starting it? You see, there's the tangle. Fact is I was in a mood and I don't know if the book started it or not but it's all tied up together just the same. I was reading during vacation and I was mighty displeased at the time with a whole lot of everything and nothing all at once. So perhaps that colored my relationship (yes, I do feel I have a relationship with whatever book I'm reading...Don't you?) and I'll freely admit that. Or perhaps it was the other way round and the book colored my feelings about other things. I have said I had a grand time but it wasn't a grand time all the way around. I'll share a bit about that, too...but right now let me just say the book is a disappointment to me. Period.
Vacation...Well vacation was needed that's for sure.
The cabin was very nice indeed and had the most beautiful satin smooth hardwood (real wood) floors. We walked barefoot on them and they were so cool and smooth. It was nicely decorated in an appropriate homelike manner that was not too cutesie wootsie (over the top beachy or mountain-y sort of themes are not my thing), nor overly elegant. It was heavily shaded there among the trees and the living/kitchen/dining area was shaded as well by a back porch and brown wood blinds. There were also brown walls and ceilings and granite and the lowest wattage CFL bulbs known to man in the light fixtures. I felt, by the time we left, as though I were coming out of a cave each time we left the property. John moved the lamp to the dining room table which was the best lit area in the house and we still barely made out words on the pages of our books, with every light in the room on. I even went out on the back porch and had to have a lamp on...at NOON! I like light, so this marred the cabin for me a good bit. However, note that being among the heavily wooded area leant and almost under water sort of quality to what light filtered through the leaves, which was sort of neat...if you weren't trying to read.
And the creek it was supposed to be sitting next to, the creek that was visible from the back porch? Not so much. Perhaps in the dead of winter it might be seen. We could almost hear it from the back porch. And then there was the steep overgrown looking pathway that meandered down to the creek and the little park like area that was community grounds there. Not very inviting or user friendly looking. So it was all a mix of lovely/not quite so lovely. I was disappointed. I admit that freely. I was disappointed. See? Perhaps my vacation colored my reading of the book.
There were positives and believe me I meant to find every positive I could: during the evenings it was so quiet, very deeply quiet and we slept like the dead in the big King-size bed with a four inch thick memory foam topper on the mattress. It was a bit of a leap and hop to get into bed but when you did, you were snugged into the most comfortable resting place imaginable. The weather was cool, too, not cold, but nicely cool, enough to sleep under all the covers at night and so cool we wore jackets inside the house and out in the morning hours. Early mornings were just as quiet as evenings, with nothing but bird song and the distant creek. The baths were tiled and the kitchen had granite but frankly, those things don't impress me, stylish though they may be. I LOVED the shower which was three or four times the size of my shower here at home. Gracious, I didn't even have to open the door when I dropped the soap, lol, so yes, the shower was lovely. There were lots of lovely things, truly there were.
But..I didn't have a clue where to go or what to do. Turns out beyond riding here or there not a whole lot goes on in late May in that area. None of the historical/sightseeing/antique/gift shop attractions even opened until Thursday and some not until Friday/Saturday/Sunday. We had no internet access, which was a blessing and only a very slight aggravation. It meant we weren't living tied to our computers and it meant we couldn't look up one single place to visit or see or find out where anything was. Cable however was available. That meant the TV was on just like at home. John did sit on the back porch a good bit and he did bring along his books for reading but like me, he couldn't see in the dim light. We were both agreed by the time we left that had we lived with kerosene or oil lamps we'd likely have not been readers.
I was restless as could be. With a book that didn't quite come up to snuff, and the darkness of the cabin overall, and the day time noise which was considerable as every man that lived in that area mowed, cut wood, scraped the drives into the place, hammered on something... sitting on the back porch after 8am and before 6pm was ridiculously noisy, except for what apparently is the siesta hour between 3-4pm.
So John came out on the porch that first day and sat down and went to sleep in the rocker. And I was so restless I could have just screamed but there was no place that wasn't steep as could be to walk up or down. I kept sitting in the rocker, looking down the steep hill towards the creek, wandering what it looked like, imagining cool water on my feet. I just couldn't bear, as nice as it was, to say, "I spent my vacation on the back porch of the cabin."
I thought about many things namely the regrets I have about not doing things simply because someone else doesn't care to do them, or they are physically challenging. Suddenly I jumped up and turned to the door. I startled John awake. "Where are you going?" "Down to the creek!"
I don't walk on uneven ground much if I can help it. It hurts me for days after if I do, but I went out the front door and met my first challenge in stepping down a steep area to the pathway to the creek. I held on tight to the railing and sort of dropped over the edge. Then I found a nice old crooked but sturdy limb on the ground which I grabbed up and I said "You will be my walking stick." Off I went. I think John thought I was kidding. About the time I passed down the hill in front of the cabin he realized I really meant I was going to the creek. And I did.
It was exactly the sort of path you'd hope it wouldn't be: slick with mud, roots sticking out here and there, rocks to make you stumble, pebbles to roll under your feet and not nearly clear enough to see really well. I was so relieved to find level ground at the park area. The creek was lovely, a nice musical bit of water that ran over rocks and was shallow enough to see the bottom of. The banks were not the sort you step down off and into the water however, so no soaking my feet. The photo makes the banks look more shallow than they are. In reality it was about 4 1/2 feet down with no place to step down gradually.
I'd been sitting on the bench admiring my own fortitude and the creek when John came down to join me. He said he'd been worried about me and decided he'd better hie down to see if I made it all right (and there you have more proof that the creek wasn't visible from the porch). And then he said, "Besides, I realized that if anything happened to you, I had no idea where we were, you're the only one who knows the address..." Comforting, isn't he?
And here you see another reason why I was having such a struggle...notice the gray hair? I'd decided to 'go natural' and the amount of gray was shocking, unattractive in it's haphazard showing and made me feel about 155 which is way off my age. AND I'd had no haircut. I was however, at this moment of photo, pretty much elated with myself for being brave and doing what most people can do without even thinking twice about it.
So then we went up hill. Here's me when we got to the top and I was safely on the back porch once more:
I was just as sweaty and winded as I look in that photo but, lord have mercy, those endorphins were racing around and I was ecstatic. The climb back up was easily three times as hard as going down. The slippery places were slipperier since they all pointed downward and we were going UP, the roots that helped keep you from skidding on the way down were like too steep risers on a stair and no help at all, the rocks more uneven on the up side of the path. It took a hand from John here and there to keep from falling backwards in a few spots. And that little jump down was nothing compared to the climb to get back up to the front yard level. I finally got smart and realized that putting one foot on the railing literally gave me a leg up onto the driveway pad.
I sent this photo to my kids, I was that proud of myself. I told John later that evening that really we should take up hiking. He chuckled, then sensibly replied that perhaps we should just start by walking to the mail box and back on a daily basis, a nice little half mile trek with a hill to climb on our way back. Now you know why I laughed so when John brought in my branch/walking stick when we came home from our vacation. It really does represent something major to me! It's taken a long time to overcome the effects of that long ago accident and it's good to feel I'm 'back to normal'.
Confession: I couldn't go natural with my hair just yet. I waited it out until we were home from vacation but the Sunday John went back to work, I colored my hair. I have conceded that I shall go lighter in color but I'm just not ready for gray at this point in my life. Perhaps when it's more all over gray and not patchy looking as it is now. I had such a struggle with it because my hair is going to be silver. That's a whole different shade to pair with makeup than the almost black hair which I've had all my life. I have to share, too, that I AM stronger since that trip, walking better and stronger than I have in years.
I've said a dozen times we worked hard after vacation. What I haven't said is how strong and healthy and capable I've felt as I've worked. Most days I don't feel anything near my age, least ways not until the end of the day! I didn't discover an elixir of youth nor have I implemented an exercise routine, but it does feel like the whole changes in our eating, vitamin regime I've been on has strengthened me, increased my stamina and overall eliminated some of the chronic pain symptoms I have experienced. Those are huge blessings, things John has prayed over me many times in the last few years. I haven't done anything terribly radical. We eat IN more often than not, generally have one-three raw fruit and vegetable daily and are more prone to watch portions. I added iodized salt back to my diet after using a Kosher salt for the past 28 years, began to follow a vitamin regime suited to my stage in life which includes a mega dose of Vitamin D3 and most recently Fish oil and Milk Thistle. The results are that I have more energy the majority of my days, less pain and greater stamina. There are still days when I am just plain tired and I've learned to give in and rest on those days but they come less and less often.
Hmmmm...what else did I want to share? Oh yes, when we were about to go on vacation I'd been working on the genealogy notebook and I noted names and places as I went. The area where we stayed was in the vicinity of where many ancestors lived. I wished mightily for internet while there as I might have looked up a few graves or courthouse records. As it was, I didn't have a thing beyond a vague recall of few place names.
We didn't just stay at the cabin. We went for a long ride over mountain and down and up again one day. We ended up in Dahlonegha which is a college town, tourist spot of sorts and a small town all at once. The college in this town was where I dreamed as a girl I might go to college. As circumstances would have it, I've never been to college, at least not to earn a degree, though I've had both college level writing and business courses over the years. I felt a bit of regret when I saw the campus of the college spread out below the main town square. I haven't given up every hope of having a college education, but as I told John, these days it's not the degree I want, but the access to the knowledge I might have. Fortunately I have that opportunity every day via the internet or any number of books.
I am, admittedly, at a funny sort of place in life at present, and it's a place I'm struggling with just a bit, and that too might have added to my moodiness. I love my life overall, but I look at what I might have been and wonder if I am all I could be now. Does that make sense? However, I am a a stage of being that is neither this nor that. I'm no longer actively parenting (remember my youngest son's 'ex-parents' comment?lol), nor of child bearing years, not really in a nurturing role of any sort. I have resources just limited enough to hinder me from becoming deeply involved in community and recreational and hobby activities I might enjoy. We're not currently actively involved in a church and not likely to be now we're attending a mega church. I'm not young nor old. I have apparently reached the tweens of middle age!
It took years to get over the physical results of that car accident some 23 years ago, and to overcome the effects of a long string of poor health, but here I am now in better health than I've had since my 20's. There's sheer joy in having my own home, my family growing greatly (did I share that Katie is engaged?! And Sam, too... and Amie's fourth child is due in July), and pretty much being mistress of my own time, within the confines of John's work schedule. I'm enjoying the empty nest stage of life. John and I started out with a family and we enjoyed that phase of our lives. We're having our honeymoon sort of years at the backside instead of the front.
What is it that keeps me saying "but"? That makes me feel I've missed something, that I am not all that I might be and have no clue what to go about being? There's the thing. And hence the hard work of late, the attempt to try and wrest from my home some hint or clue about me. I even went through fifteen years worth of journals looking for some granule that might become a hint. Nothing there but a laundry list of ordinary days spent doing ordinary things and the occasional pity party in which I detailed my hurt feelings over some things that appears minor at this distance. No mention of the huge blessings, the triumphs, the answered prayers. I realized I didn't need the journals to detail who I AM, only to remind me of who I'd been. So they went into the trash, just so much more stuff that cluttered up my life.
In the end, it comes down to a few things. I miss my Granny fiercely. She was my grandmother, my safe harbor, my counsel and my friend. This is just another season, one I must get through, a stage of life that every woman (and for all I know every man) must come to. I do not want to go back to child bearing years, and I honestly do not miss that whole hormonal thing but these years of waning (or is it waxing? I've looked up both words and honestly I can't determine which I am as they both might apply in different ways) do have their own challenges. Mine seems to be a propensity to get moody and ponder the meaning of life, sigh. I have always been analytical by nature and am more so these days. It appears to be my lot to sit back and observe rather than participate. My Bible study reminds me that God had a purpose in mind for each of us. More people are called to lead ordinary lives than extraordinary. Yet that very ordinary life has purpose, too.
Well, I did get a bit deep there didn't I? But that's part and parcel of who I am, too. Now it is time for me to end my afternoon and get back to work. Do come again...