Hello dears! Come in and let's share a glass of iced tea. I'd love to say we'd have coffee but it's hot, nearly 100F today and though John says coffee is cooling, I like something with ice in it. One day perhaps I'll figure out how to make Iced Coffee that tastes good. Until then I like a tall glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon. I take mine unsweetened and like it just fine, provided it's a good brand of tea. Like coffee, not all teas are created equal and so I seek out a brand that really tastes good to me. Come to think of it, there's fewer calories in my iced tea, so maybe I'd better stick with it and leave off the iced coffee except as a treat.
John's gone out to sit on the porch. It's breezy and the windchime is just ding, ding, ding-ing away. That's about all we have seen of the hurricane, these steady eastern breezes. Not one drop of rain nor a cloud in the sky. Yesterday's breeze didn't ring the chimes but it blew my curtains dry before I could get a second and third load of them washed. I thought that was pretty cool because it meant I could take in one load to rehang at the windows and hang out the next load. So you see, we've had some good out of the weather and no harm.
Hmmm....I just had a thought about sharing that we had seen good and not come to harm with this hurricane. Years ago, someone posted that we hadn't ought to share our blessings, or even say we had been blessed, because it might make another feel bad that they hadn't been. I remember thinking long and hard about that statement at the time. I never want to cause unnecessary hurt but then again, I don't want to stand around mum about blessings I see have come my way, either. Which is the better witness? To never acknowledge that one sees a blessing or to say quietly that they do see something as a blessing? Not in a bragging way mind you, not in a "look at me, God blesses ME and maybe you should examine why you aren't getting blessed..." sort of way. I know some folks who are just ready to be offended by anything at all, not saying you're blessed or saying you're blessed. To put it quaintly, they are the 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't" sorts of folks and nothing pleases them anyway. So which way is the better way?
If I share something with y'all and say "I'm blessed!", I am really reminding myself that there's plenty to feel gratitude for in my life. I am hopeful it spurs you to think of the blessings you've received in that day or week. It's so easy to focus on the problems and anxieties and hurts and comparisons, at least I find it so. How much better is it to say, "I'm content where I am," than to whine about where I am not? Goodness! I'm rather expert at whining over things, believe me. I can slip right into a complaint without even blinking. It takes some thought to say "I am blessed," and then to state why I feel blessed. That's a sad but true statement. I have to be very pro-active in being grateful. I have to stop and think about it. I guess no one will ever accuse me of being Polly-Ana, but it would be a great compliment if they did.
On the other hand, I don't wish another to think it's a comparative moment. I don't consider myself blessed beyond any other. Differently, perhaps, just as I have different circumstances and different talents. But not more blessing than another for any reason.
Yesterday evening I found myself very hungry and there was nothing in the house to eat...Now you all know that's not true. There was plenty of food in this house. No, what I mean is there were no leftovers, nothing in the freezer much that could be quickly and easily thawed to eat. I do not keep convenience foods as a rule, to my detriment on days when I've worked harder than usual and haven't taken time to prepare a meal for myself. I did not give thought to food I might want early in the day, so everything was frozen solid as a rock and was raw as could be besides. I was the sort of hungry that Isaac was on Wednesday. It was a right now sort of hungry that demanded to be fed and mighty quick! I dug hard and found half a Chuck Flanken Shortrib (which was about three bites) in the fridge and a double spoonful of green bean casserole that was in the freezer. I wondered as I ate these two items how it was that I had two such small portions of food put aside. I ended up supplementing my supper with a spoonful of peanut butter and a few vanilla wafers because it was really not enough food and I was still hungry.
note: these Chuck Flanken shortribs are another of those beef cuts that you may or may not see in your meat market case. Look them up...
Well today I know just what the problem is and it's one I have created myself. I made tuna casserole for dinner. I served our plates and though I was generous, there was still a nice single serving left in the pan. John always finishes eating before I do...well most everyone except Josh finishes eating before I do because I am a slow eater. I politely encouraged John to have more if he wanted it...and here's my failing. He is always equally polite about taking the last of anything and so he will eat exactly half. Now he does it with cookies or candy or fruit, too, not just those single servings left after our meal. He never takes the last of anything, he always leaves the last bit for me to finish off, only I seldom will take a second helping, halved or otherwise. And so when I went back to the kitchen to clear up there was a tiny portion of tuna casserole, just about half a serving, sitting in the pan. I stood and gazed at it and the temptation to just put it in the dog pans tomorrow was at the back of my mind but I hate to do that when it's perfectly good food...but seriously, half a serving? Even with a salad it's not enough for one person to call a meal.
So I have come to the conclusion that I either put the remaining food away as a full serving and stop offering it up to John as a second portion, or I stop trying to save the half portions that are left. I know that John had enough food on his plate when I served it earlier. I never try to skimp on food as I'm serving, but I don't go "let's eat it all!", either and he doesn't complain. He is always respectful of what I portion out. In fact, he always says "That's your department!" when I tell him to help himself to something. That's an old habit from the days when food was a too well moderated commodity. Now if for some reason he is still hungry after we've eaten, he will make himself a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So I am at a crossroads...And I think I'm going to have to choose on the side of saving the extra portion of food.
In a way, it feels a little bit stingy but on the other hand, I really do hate to waste food and I do consider feeding it to the dogs to be waste. There's always this fine line between being cheap and being frugal, you know? And I can easily be cheap but I don't think it's cheap to say, "This is a portion and it's enough," when I serve us. And if I'm allowed a third hand, I'll tell you I get awfully tired of scrounging for food on days when I've worked hard and forgotten that I need to eat and realize that there's nothing in the house...
While we're talking of food, some of you may remember my mentioning the vlogger, Penny Pinching Granny a few months ago. She's changed her name to "Mornings With Granny". This week she's posted a 'What if???" post. What if you had only these foods, in these limited amounts and needed to eat three meals? What would you make? How would you make it stretch? It's an interesting exercise.
I've also come across a blog or two more about cheap meals. Remember the Mother Hubbard series of posts I did in January, February and March of 2017? I did NOT eat the meals exactly as planned because I was cautious about how they might affect my blood sugars but it was a challenge to figure out how we might survive on a drastic reduction of our food budget as well as having no pantry or freezer to draw. It brought me back to some simpler things like making my own bread and yogurt at home because the savings was so substantial. It led me to try my hand at making tortillas and noodles. So it was a great exercise for me! I thought of these meal plans when I found a vlogger called 'The Quaint Housewife" who had $10 for a week of food and showed the meals she made. And yes, they did eat them as planned.
While I enjoy watching videos of 'cheap' meals and grocery hauls, etc., it's hard not to be critical at times, too. I know good and well that what we purchase is as individual as we all are. What my household deems necessary is not what another might consider a necessity at all. Tastes differ considerably. But yes, as a seasoned homemaker, it's easy to look at some of the videos and think "Hmmm...if she'd bought this instead of that..." "If I had that I'd have made..."
That's why I've enjoyed the post from Mornings with Granny. She actually invites comments about what you'd do different than she'd planned. And in that invitation is also the opportunity to share ideas that might expand the possibilities for others.
I much prefer to watch those vloggers who keep an honest to goodness pantry, but now and then you come across a good vlog where weekly shopping is the norm and an excess supply of food is not kept. I always find that interesting, to be honest, because I grew up with the idea that a pantry was a necessity, not a frivolous thing, and certainly not a hoarding of food thing, but just good sense, like any other emergency fund you might keep.
Big Mama's pantry was a closet in her kitchen. She hung her apron on a hook on the door and put it on first thing each morning, then she stepped into the pantry and brought out her coffee and bread. I was always fascinated to see her step into that doorway, disappear and come out holding some food item in her hand. She never did let me walk into that pantry though, so I have no clue how she had it arranged, but I do remember the good things she'd pull from it, like jars of jelly and green tomato relish.
Granny's pantry was outdoors on a set of shelves in Granddaddy's work shed from my earliest memories. I don't know just why she chose to keep her pantry there but perhaps it was the only available spot...Her house was small and there were no closets nor an excess of cabinets in which to store things in her kitchen. Later she stored things in the second bedroom and still later, when she was getting to be less her normal self, under her bed.
In the houses where I grew up, we had a variety of pantries. In the oldest house, it was built in with great deep bins to store flour and sugar and meal and oatmeal and wide shelves above to hold canned goods. In the last house where I lived with my parents, the pantry was a deep set of shelves in one corner of the big laundry room. Mama put up all sorts of canned fruits and jellies and vegetables and the shelves bowed under the weight but they held.
Grandmother was also another who never let me look in her food cupboards...I don't recall her doing much canning but she froze all sorts of things. Her freezer was in the shed for years and towards the end of her life it was on the back porch, just outside the back door. I know that she kept a supply of canned goods because I cleared her cupboards when she died and I found she had a small stock in a closet in the dining room made over into a den.
I believe tomorrow is the anniversary of her death, 15 years ago now. I've always called her Grandmama but this summer, I made up my mind to start referring to her as Grandmother. Why? Was it her desire that we call her Grandmama? I find it hard to fathom since my father and his siblings always called her mother and I have a feeling she would have preferred Grandmother over Grandmama. I don't know that but I just think she would have.
I wasn't as close with Grandmother as I was with Granny. That wasn't entirely her fault mind you. Grandmother usually lived a little distance from us, more than Granny did. There was the added complication of an alcoholic uncle who lived with Grandmother and Granddaddy and he tended towards violence when he was drinking and he was always drinking. It was only during the months he spent in jail that we were allowed to go visit. Sad but true.
Grandmother never wrote us letters (nor did Granny, mind you) and she was of the old school about long distance calls. Three minutes at best and never any longer. Well long distance calls were mighty expensive back in the day. We've just all become so accustomed to our cell phone bills with our 'unlimited call and text' that we don't even think about talking an hour or two as it's all 'free', but no one is giving away anything for 'free'. We're paying for it all right. Grandmother had a healthy respect for budgets and such, having been very poor in her growing up years, and long distance calls were nothing to be loose and spendy about. Seriously, for a long time, a single long distance call could be translated into a substantial amount of groceries...so no long chatty calls. You wanted a long chat, you wrote a letter. Her letters went to her mother and sister for the most part and perhaps her daughter.
She was not one to air her troubles to anyone, and she had a few. There was her youngest son for instance who lived at home his whole life long and spent months and months at a time in jail. She never spoke of my uncle's failings nor did she criticize my parents or granddaddy. Well she did confide something to me just once, a hint of a trouble she'd had with Granddaddy and I could see immediately she hadn't meant to speak so I never mentioned it to her again. She was very private in that way. I never knew anything of her personal feelings or thoughts. I never knew really how she came to meet Granddaddy and certainly not how she must have felt to leave home at 16 or so and move hundreds of miles away from all the family and folks she'd ever known. She just wasn't given to talk as Granny and I did, in a heart to heart sort of way.
But she was a hospitable soul and enjoyed people stopping by. She believed work was there to be done and she went at it and got it done. But I've seen her, too, stop right in the midst of some necessary chore, and sit relaxed and happy amidst company of which there was just enough. She and Granddaddy both came from large families and though she lived far from her own family, his was nearer by and prone to dropping in. She never let on that you'd interrupted her at any job she needed to get done or that there was anything more important than seeing you had a glass of tea and a chair to settle in.
I wish I had known her better. I tried, as I got older to see her more often but she'd call and say, "Today's just not a good day to come visit..." when a planned visit was in the offing. I remember how hurt I'd feel, even as a grown up, but I realize now that was her way of saying that my uncle wasn't fit to be seen.
She died on a hot September morning. She'd been out cutting grass with a push mower on her three acre lot and came indoors to lie down and put a cool rag on her head. She was 84, a good old age. Not one of her children lived as long. My father was the oldest and lived the longest, dying at 73 two years after Grandmother passed away. Her funeral was a great tragedy in it's own way. But we shall leave that dog sleeping...
Let me end on a happier memory of Grandmother because she deserves it. She was a pretty woman, really pretty with a ready smile, a wonderful laugh, lovely sparkling eyes but she was also shy. Not one to call attention to herself really, but one summer night when we were visiting, Granddaddy and my uncle took out the guitar and banjo and began to play. (Here I must slip in the memory of us being told not to tell Daddy that our uncle wasn't in jail...) They were talented musicians but seldom pulled out these instruments when we visited. They played some song, something blue grass or country. And Grandmother caught the melody up and began to dance in the way her mountain born and bred ancestors had danced, keeping time with her heel. Clogging is the type of dance it's called and now it's done with metals taps on heel and toe and all sorts of elaborately choregraphed moves, but in her home state it was done with soft soled shoes, so the sound of her tapping feet was soft and sounded like a rhythmic shuffle, timed to the beat of the music. I can see her still, dancing on that back porch, the light of the kitchen shining through the screen door like a spotlight upon her. She seemed so young, and she may well have been at that moment. In years she was surely younger than I am now...I remember her sudden realization that she was dancing and she stopped, embarrassed at herself, but I was forever in awe of that glimpse of her, dancing freely, unaware of anything except the joy of the music.
Yes...That is a happier memory to end with I think.
I don't guess you all had planned to stay a couple of nights had you? Well you have, though you didn't plan on it. I hope you didn't mind the pallet beds all over the floor and the thrown together meals...
I'd written all that above on Thursday and thought I'd finish up and share it then but I didn't. I had written of some things I have never shared and I got a little blue about it. I wondered if I was wronging those long gone to leave the post as written. I wanted to let it mellow and go back and re-read it and then decide what I'd do. So today, I've altered it a bit, leaving out the messiest messy things I had shared, things that I've never mentioned before and I think, now, I shall not mention again. I owe that much.
I thought surely I'd finish this post on Friday, but Friday was the sort of day that kind of wrestles you to the ground and then holds you there until you say "Uncle!". Lady though I might be now, in my youth I wrestled with my brothers many a time and sometimes I won and sometimes I didn't, so I know what I mean about having to cry "Uncle!" in order to get the contest to end. I was already tired, something I've been feeling a good bit of late. It's mostly stress, born of this and that set of tensions in our day to day lives and some things I am trying to sort out in my own head, as well...So I came to the blog only long enough to send out that weekly diary post and then I shut down the computer and went on about the business of my day, trying to squeeze in what I could of the work I'd missed earlier.
And then I found myself waiting a bit in the car for Katie that evening, feeling the heaviness of my day upon me, and I pulled up my email and I was shocked at the blog comment I found there.
I consider this my peaceful space, and all the messier stuff in my real life can remain unremarked upon the other side of this screen. I hate disagreements amongst my family or people I've come to consider friends or really good acquaintances. I assure you all that I never intended harm to anyone in my last 'Diary' post. But when it was obvious I had unwittingly upset someone, I reckoned I owed it to her to ask her not to be hasty in going away. I wanted to extend an olive branch to one who, for all I know, had had a perfectly horrid day or had been dealing with things about which I knew nothing or aching over things about which I did know.
I tried to make amends best I could to one who had always displayed courtesy, a willingness to share her knowledge and a generosity of spirit that I admired. I was wrong, however, not to try and find out how to close comments immediately following my reply. In fact, it didn't occur to me until this evening that I might do so. I was wrong not to think of it sooner because some of you were unkind, though loyal in your defense of me. I posted this on my diary post and will post it again here and I ask that you respect my wishes in using this to consider what you are about to say, especially about another on whomever's blog you might visit:
THINK: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Needful? Is it Kind?
This is not the first time that there has been a misunderstanding with a long term reader nor the first time someone has taken offense and walked off. It happens more often than you all might realize. But in this instance, I have now closed comments on that post and they shall remain closed. I am done with it. Please let it be.
I wanted to provide something here that was positive to you all: encouragement, ideas, inspiration, rest, consolation, help, witness of the need of a personal relationship with Christ, to make someone smile, or even find a point to ponder. I do not take this blog lightly. I don't sit down and glibly type out 'x' number of words a minute just to fill a space and walk away nor load it with two dozen ads to distract from the content. I really do put my heart and soul here.
I share as much of myself as I can in an effort to be all those things I said above. I know it's a lot of ordinary daily details for the most part. But isn't that what makes up a great deal of our lives? I try to keep it real, but I do try to make my reality here personal, too. I don't share every heartache and concern in my life because I owe it to the people I love to protect their privacy. This is not meant to be my whining zone or a space to be passively aggressive towards family who have angered me. That's uncomfortable for you and me and everyone. But I have shared relationship dilemmas that puzzled me, that I wanted to sort out on my side. I've shared my questioning heart and spirit. I've shared areas where I knew I personally had failed. Those are mine to share. I share them so another won't feel alone at the same place in their life...
But I won't lie to any of you. I was deeply disheartened on Friday evening. I seriously considered shutting down this blog and walking away. And I've pondered it all day long today as well.
I thought about what it would mean to never write another word here. To reclaim the hours I spend pouring out my days, my joys, my fears, my heart to you all. To skip re-reading passages a dozen times so I can edit them into coherent sentences and catch misspells only to find when it's published that I'd missed something anyway.
There is no monetary reward in the time I spend here. There's no acclaim. I am not particularly well known. My only reward comes when someone very occasionally writes and says, "Thank you...I thought I was all alone in feeling this way, " or "I can't tell you how I look forward to my quiet time with you each week," or, "You inspired me to try to..." do something that bettered their life in some way. That's it.
But what you don't see or hear from me is that my ordinary life is not all peace and sunshine and fresh baked bread. There's a great deal you don't know...About my own dances in the dark... Like how often I am discouraged because I can't seem to manage all the demands I find upon my time. That I try and try to please people and often end up hurt because I offend one while helping another. That I am co-dependent and that ruins the natural order in even healthy relationships. That I am a wonder at helping others to not help themselves. That I can be a great dis-courager to my husband at times. That I have been walking around and around and around some of the walls in my life blowing trumpets and raising a shout for at least 50 years and I don't seem to be even one step closer to the promise of watching them fall. That I am deeply lonely at times for someone to talk to. That I ache for the mistakes I make. That I am often overcome with anger, compassion, and sorrow simultaneously because of the choices I see others make over and over again. That my soul aches with the burden of secrets I can't share with anyone. That I doubt my parenting skills even after 39 years. That there is a voice in my head and it screams constantly "Selfish!" "Immature!" "Lazy!" "Liar!" "Ugly!" "Useless!" "Stupid!" and I can't shut it off. That I shake with anxiety and fear more often than not because of worries I am trying hard to not think about. That I have been mortally hurt and for all the scars I wear, there are still gaping wounds in my soul abcessing underneath. That I search hard and thoughtfully for words that will heal and then sear someone's soul with what comes from my mouth. That some heartaches I carry are never mentioned but my eyes fill with tears in a second if I ever allow myself to consider them. That my fight or flight reaction is almost always flight. That I can stare my blessings in the face and complain bitterly about them. That I cannot ever quite shake the very real fact that "Life is not fair", and that is just how life is. That I battle daily with the desire to return to my old coping habits of compulsive eating or other self-destructive behaviors. That sometimes all I want to do is lie down and turn to dust.
That I am braver than most people would ever dream because I never quit.
That's me, too. But on a day when I am mighty stressed and tired and anxious I consider greatly that it might be easy to just quit writing and forget this was ever a goodly part of my life, these last 22 years.
I keep saying I need to get away and that I need a vacation but I don't see that happening any time soon. In fact, this very afternoon, I had to acknowledge to myself that I am just putting one more strain on myself and John in insisting that we get away when I'm only just barely coping as it is. And frankly I'm so very very tired of hearing that inner voice of mine saying "I can't..." The truth is there isn't enough money or time or me to go around to cover everything I'm trying to stretch it to fit. At some point you have to stop and realize that you're doing the same things over and over and over and they.are.not.working.
I'm more than a little tired. I'm wearier than I can tell you. I'm trying desperately to shove too many square pegs in too many round holes and make too many lemon pies from a truck load of rotting lemons and I'm beating myself up because it's not any of it working. And to find myself doing the same sort of battling here, in this 'safe haven', is too much.
I'm going to step away for a bit. I need some distance from a great number of things in my life and this is the easiest thing I have to step away from at present, as well as the hardest to give up. I need to stand back and really consider if I am doing anything worthwhile with my time here. If I am being uplifting and supportive or if I'm really just hoping to hear the faint sounds of applause and praise. If I really mean what I say about helping or if I really want to be rewarded for my time and effort here and now. Why am I really here? Do I honestly have a ministry or is it just me fooling myself because I secretly long to be adored?
I don't know if this will be a week or if it will be a year or if it will be permanent. I just need to let go. Thank you all for being part of my journey. Give me time to see what I need to see about myself.