Afternoon Refresher: Summer, Shopping and Surprise Thunderstorms
Gracious goodness! It's been a while, hasn't it? I didn't mean to let time slide past. Truthfully I've been ready to have you over for tea for quite some time now, but somehow, I could never get my time to meet my desire. And yet, I promise you that precious little shows around here for all the time I've spent! Come in, come in. Or better yet, let's stay on the porch. Iced tea coming right up.
It's just possible these afternoon refreshers are going to turn into coffee chats shortly. You may laugh but I've been warning you all that we'd have an early autumn. On our way to Athens area we saw many trees that were just beginning to get tinges of color. Last week I discovered blooming golden rod and mallow flowers. The Sweet Gum tree in the front yard is laden with gold stars amongst the green leaves. Yesterday the water from the faucet ran so cold that I didn't need ice in my glass to have a cool drink. Katie contacted me and shared her 'signs'. I went to sit on the back porch about 7pm one evening and then another sign made itself known. A sweet elusive scent that had me lifting my head and sniffing trying to remember just what it was. It was tea olive wafting across the field from Granny's house.
It hasn't been a harsh summer. We've not topped 100F even once this year though we've been promised such this week. The majority of our summer has been spent in the 95F range which is rather tolerable really if you have air conditioning and no need to work outdoors, lol. We've had plenty of rain, but not too much. It's meant plants and flowers have done very well. I bought two new to me plants though I've seen them in the nursery for years. A red begonia and a Penta. They have done so well and given so much color that I will definitely add these two plants to pots and possibly even a flower bed next year.
Two Saturday afternoons ago we traveled to Athens. I don't think John and I were quiet two minutes for the full two and half hours we drove. We chatted and laughed and talked and before we knew it we were in Watkinsville and more than two hours had passed. We went first to Sam's. Bess had dressed the baby in a tuxedo printed t-shirt. He was the most formally dressed one at the wedding besides Katie, lol.
I shared a photo from Katie's wedding last week at the end of the Frugal Friday/Living Well post. Last Sunday and this she posted several online though by no means all of them. I think this one is my absolute favorite. When I saw it tears welled in my eyes and then I showed it to John and tears welled in his. Photos are difficult for me. While I may love the picture, the truth is I pick it apart...or at least I pick me apart. I should have done this or done that, I ought to lose weight, I shouldn't have moved that way, etc. Let me just say that as critical as I am, this photo still overwhelms me with a sweet feeling.
The wedding was simple and lovely. It wasn't in the least bit fussy, nor expensive. Katie and her maid of honor made petit fours with marshmallow fondant and those were displayed on a tier server in lieu of wedding cake. A friend provided sandwiches, Katie purchased a fruit tray and a vegetable tray, someone brought dip and another one or two brought other dishes. There was tea and beer and water and wine, but not an excess of food or drink. It was intimate with just a very few people.
She was married by our dear friend and her self-proclaimed 'oldest big brother', Ken. The service took a whole 11 minutes to complete but it was packed with good wisdom and love. Ken spoke of seasons in marriage, of falling in and out of love, the importance of a God centered life and the absolute necessity of tithing. It was powerful, simple and to the point.
We drove home that night, leaving just before sunset and we didn't get home until 11pm. We had some sunlight and after dark there was heat lightning to brighten the landscape enough to see, so it didn't seem so terribly dark, which was nice because a lot of our ride is through National Forest with deep woods on both sides of the roadway. There was a minimal bit of rain and minimal fog, the sort that is wispy and sort of scurries at you and then disappears.
Fog is such a funny thing. I've seen it here on the property in a distant corner of a field, just a little smoky looking wisp near the ground and watched it grow and grow, much like dough with too much yeast in, until it's covered the field and yards and the fence and driveway disappear. I've seen fog that was only just so high so that you could clearly see blue sky above the wall of it. I've seen fog that was high up like clouds and some far enough from the ground that you could bend and see the distance beyond the covering.
The most spectacular fog I've ever seen was on a winter's night when we were in a small town. An old home with leaded glass windows and doors and a hallway light on shot fractured light into the fog and it danced in a million colored dots all over the roadway. Another evening, a friend and I topped a hill above the river valley. The valley was filled with fog but from our view point we could see the colors of the sunset reflected in the top layers of fog, giving a primeval, mysterious look to the river and forest. Yes, fog is a curious thing, but it can be lovely.
Evenings of late, I've been sitting in the living room with the curtains open in the westward windows. Not to see the sunset, though that's always nice, but to appreciate the shadows of leaves cast upon the windows. To enjoy the length of the shade of the tree that tops the house now and cools the rooms. I can't help but think of how shadows seem to be ancient, even if the trees are younger like my pecan tree.
I've continued reading. In fact, I just finished reading Joni, by Joni Eareckson (Tada). I read this book years ago, but had forgotten what a struggle she went through spiritually. It's intriguing to read it today and know how God has used her and her life to meet so many needs.
I am still reading Gone With the Wind, as well. I'm more than two thirds through. This past weekend the lovely Bess was here and mentioned that she'd never read the book. I've promised to loan it to her when I'm done, so I have added incentive to read on. Last week I read the section where the men were coming home from war. I wept reading it, thinking of the men, all of them, Reb or Yank, trailing home in illness and weariness. So many Georgia men came home to find their homes gone, their families living who knew where, because the postal service was so very bad then. It made me wonder if this was the story of some of my family men who fought, the trailing home sick and weary, because some of them were prisoners of war and some were wounded. All were hungry, all of them, those who came to fight in the South and those who were from the South. It brought home to me yet again what a terrible thing war is, where ever it is fought.
I finished Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill last week. That book was one of her first published as an adult I believe. There's less of her staunch faith in that book, but it's there as an undertone. I found myself commiserating with the heroine as I haven't in a long time in my reading. Not that my life parallels the book at all, not even a little, but I just felt it more strongly. Perhaps because it's been so long since I've read a compelling story?
John and I have been discussing finances around here. There's a group of bills we pay where we're seriously considering all alternatives. It's our plan this week while he's off to sit down and list each item and determine just what we want to research about each. I told John on our way to church this weekend that really these items we're considering reducing constitute our 'entertainment': cell phones, internet and satellite TV. We know there are many alternatives out there and we plan to systematically go through our list of wants, costs, etc and decide just where we can cut or alter what we do.
We've talked and talked about satellite TV service. We've had it for the all years we've lived in this place because when we moved here even local channels were not received. My brother nor Granny had TV service for a while there. Granny did have TV service for many years but something changed in the late 1990s and she couldn't pick up a thing. Now that signals are sent out differently we should be able to get local channels with an antenna. We mean to try, anyway. I know there are many other alternatives. I have friends who have tried them (such as Roku and Hulu) and they are pleased. John and I agree that what we'll miss most are the old black and white films we watch so often, far more often than we watch modern films but we agreed that we'd rent or buy.
It's hard to believe that we're so far into August isn't it? And next month begins the fourth budget quarter of the year for us! I won't have so many changes this next month to put on our page I don't think. I increased the amount we're repaying to the loan we took from ourselves because I want really badly to pay it all back by end of December.
Sam and Bess visited with us this past weekend. The baby is now smiling and he has his Mama's dimples. Oh my heart just about burst when I leaned over him to say hi and I saw the dimpling and then the smile he gave me. He moved constantly, working his arms and legs and feet nearly all the time. At 9 weeks he weighs 11 pounds. He likes to stand up already, which is highly unusual and he stands for quite a little while. I so enjoyed the visit. We four never lack for anything to say and apparently the little boy is going to join right in. He spent more time cooing and squealing while he was here. Samuel handles him like he's had a baby about all his lifelong. Bess is smitten with her son. It's lovely to see her smile when she looks at him and the pure joy that shines in her eyes.
John and I feel as though our heads are spinning. Our weeks have been full of late and keeping up with what day it is with this work schedule is a huge challenge if we have anything social going on as well. We have one weekend that is ours and this month that was spent going to Katie's wedding. I've been just longing to go off to our mountain one day, but between lawn mowing and necessary stuff and John recovering from one long shift so he can go to another...well it isn't happening. He's also picking up the occasional 'half' shift, which means he usually works the first 12 hours of a 24 hour shift (or a day shift in old schedule lingo).
EMS has required a lot of sacrifice in our lives. Missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, family visits, events, etc. I'm not complaining just stating fact. By this stage I've accepted the necessity of working with a schedule that may not be to my liking. I'm deeply grateful my children accept it and work with it. Katie was a wise girl to determine what her dad's schedule was ahead of time, plan accordingly (and telling him right away so he could plan as well!).
Not complaining, but I did feel a bit as though there was no time for us of late. Oh we've had days at home, but they were days John spent recuperating from a shift or going to a shift, etc. I confessed to him my feeling a little neglected. I am so happy my husband listens to me. He had a meeting Monday morning for work. He called me as he started home to say he'd picked up his check and if I'd be ready when he came home we'd go to the bank. Big outing, huh? I came close to just wearing what I had on around the house but decided to fix up a little, change clothes, put on some make up... and I'm so glad I did! My fellow took me out to lunch after the bank. We didn't go far afield and it wasn't fancy, but it was thoughtful and a spot we favor, that Subway sandwich shop with a covered patio. We took the 'long cut' over to the town and chatted away. It was lovely. The weather co-operated nicely with a steady breeze to help keep things pleasant.
Yesterday John worked. I've promised myself for weeks that I'd take a day for myself and then when it came down to it, I just couldn't. I either felt the need to hold on to any spending money I had, or just didn't want to leave home, a bothersome disease I have this love of home! Yesterday I could feel the day was right. I made out my lists of things I was going to look for as I wandered about. I wasn't shopping thrift, either, but purely retail, albeit closeout/discount stores. I had in mind that I really needed to start shopping for shoes. I need a new purse (that deep wanting sort of need, not dire need) and I wanted to see if I could find a few pieces to extend my summer/fall clothing. I wanted pretty decorative pillows for my bed, a wire shelf to organize a cupboard, another permanent coffee filter...Oh I had it all listed!
So I went off to Macon to the shopping center that is nearest us here at home. There are a number of good stores in that shopping center and I felt it would prove helpful to be in a place where there were several together. I had minor success at one store: a wire shelf, three tops, a cardigan. No shoes, no purse, no coffee filter. I saw just lots of pretty shoes, shoes I'd have loved to have brought home, shoes in my size even...but when I tried them on I found in every single one I needed either a half size up or a half size down to fit just right and there were none in those sizes to be had. It was so frustrating. There's one pair that purely smote my heart to leave behind, sigh. Oh well.
While in the one store where I purchased all the items I bought that day, I went to the dressing room to try on things. The girl there was new, had just started the job she said and she admired a shirt/cardigan I'd paired together to try on. "I just love this, I could wear something like this here to work..." she said and she was quite right. I had five items to try on and for once in my life all five fit and fit perfect. I came out of the dressing room and told the girl they all fit and put them in my buggy. I nearly wept when she said rather sadly, "Oh!...That's nice...." I wanted to tell her that I seldom buy all I put in my buggy, had in fact, already planned to put back the maxi skirt, much as I liked it because I felt a solid would be better than the pattern for long term wear, that I was deciding between the two purses, that I'd saved my allowance all summer long to go shopping with...You see I recognized in her voice the desire to have something new and not having the money for it. Oh I've been there so much of my life! I knew just how she was feeling. It really broke my heart for her in a way.
Well, I did put back the skirt and one of the purses after determining that the one really was enough. When I got to the register, I discovered the bag I'd chosen was torn in a small way, enough to make me think twice about paying that much money for a marred item that was likely to continue to tear, so I gave it to the cashier to return to the stockroom.
I was interested in the kitchen section of the store because I need to buy a new pan to replace one that isn't up to snuff, the one that went 'bonk' on me when I put the Quiche in the oven. It's been troublesome for some time now but the mess I had to clear up following that was the last nail in its life as far as I was concerned. I don't mind using older items at all. I mind terribly being frustrated repeatedly with an item. Anyway, I was going to look for a new pan and instead found myself admiring the many organizational items for fridge and freezer. There were acrylic bins with lids of all sizes. I did admire them but feel my assortment of plastic baskets does the same job quite well and to the same end. I found a wire shelf for the cabinet in the same section. I chuckled over the price which wasn't in the least unreasonable. In fact, at my last Goodwill visit I refused to buy one that was priced a smidge higher!
There are two more shopping centers I shall visit and if I find nothing for shoes then I'll resign myself to ordering despite my dislike of not being able to try any on until I've paid for them. However, I am very hopeful that I shall find some as my search continues.
I shall never make the shopper my Mama used to be. She could go all day and get up and go again the next. Aside from the absolute horror I have of spending that much money at once, I do not have that sort of stamina. I was tired and hungry and ready for home when I left the last store. It might have made more sense to drive to the north side of the city and go on to those stores there but I just couldn't face it. Half an hour to go home or half an hour to go north? Home was my choice.
Oh gracious! Just hear that thunder! You'd best run or you'll get rained on. I'll talk to you again soon!