Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Complicated

 Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. 
Oliver Wendell Holmes
*For those of you who asked for an explanation of the was my crystal paperweight combined with a number of decanter stoppers. I purchased the crystal stoppers at Henry's place in Ohio over 10 years ago. Henry bought and sold antiques. Somewhere around Canton or Lima (really can't remember where) there is a two story house packed to the gills with stuff. I dug the stoppers out and gave them a new home in Alabama.*

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mid-Life Paradigm Shift

paradigm shift
Part of speech:   n
Definition:          a fundamental change in approach or assumptions

The most unfortunate thing happened to me when I was 43.  I got a divorce.  In most ways the divorce turned out to be a good thing. The unfortunate thing was the timing, because it fell smack-dab in the middle of the years when a woman enters THE CHANGE.

Because of the combination of these two majorly defining events, I've never been able to decide if I lost my mind because of the divorce or through the gradual loss of my womanly hormones (I never would have called them this when I was young, but now I know.....they were my best friends). 

The thing I do know is that somewhere along the way, I stopped reading for pleasure.  Beginning with The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew, I had been a voracious reader from the time I was in the third or fourth grade onward.  I devoured every book I came across. When visiting at other kids homes, I read their books while they played. From the time I was ten, I walked to the library by myself  and returned home with the five books they allowed (my local library was miserly with the number of books they let children check out).

In my twenties and thirties, I read historical novels, trashy novels, biographies, true crime stories, best sellers, mystery stories, long books, short books, children's books, non-fiction books and how-to fix myself books. I read a couple of books a week, maybe more.  And magazines and newspapers....I read them from cover to cover.

One of the things my ex disliked about me (and there were plenty) was the fact that I read so much. He thought I should be doing more productive activities. One thing I will never forget he said to me near the end of our marriage was, "you're a smart person...too bad you had to read so many books to get that way."  My mind boggles to this day when I think of how much that statement says about him, not me.

But sometime during the decade of my forties, I lost the concentration needed to stick with a book until the end. The paradigm shift was so profound it left me without an escape from reality or an effective way to decompress after a trying day or the ability to feed my needy soul. It added much to the overwhelming changes that I went through during that ten year span.

After 26 years, I had to learn how not to be a wife. I started college. I got my first job outside the home in 25 years. I watched my children leave the nest. I learned how to live alone. (but I've never learned how to cook for one...when I cook, no matter what I do, it always turns into enough to feed six people)

I missed reading so much until I thought of listening to audio books.  For at least eight years that's how I've ingested most of the books I've read, with maybe one or two exceptions each year.  Slowly, slowly over the past year or so, I've started reading before sleeping once again. 

So, all of this explanation to ask those of my readers who are of a certain age.....have you experienced anything like this phenomenon?  I'm wondering was it going through THE CHANGE that started the loss? Was it a chemical imbalance due to depression brought on by the major life changes I experienced?  Or could it have merely been the fact that my eyesight was changing and I simply couldn't see the page as well anymore?  (I still concentrate on reading better once my contacts are out and I am able to hold the book inches from my myopic eyes....hence my enjoyment of reading in bed.)

Maybe I'll never know why, but I am happy to think that perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I will be a voracious reader again one day. Maybe I will feel like my former smart informed self once again.

Maybe there is a better paradigm shift waiting for me in the future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day Three

It's the end of day three and I still like it, which is great since it's this job or bust. I wish I could sit and chit-chat all night, but I've got to wash underwear.  The clothes basket has reached critical mass.

I'll be back soon and pop in on all of y'all real soon!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Day One

The first day at a new job is something that usually gives me a tremendous tension headache. So, I think it says a lot when I say I didn't have to take the two Excedrin I tucked into my purse this morning. There is much to learn, but that will come with doing.  My fellow employees were warm and welcoming. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxing.  I think I'm going to like this job. 

My long time readers will remember how I used to park near the woods during lunch at my former job. Listening to the wind blow and watching birds fly around helped me detox from the noise and activity inside. After spending a quiet hour in the car (maybe even taking a power nap), I was always able to return to work refreshed.  The new workplace is in the middle of a business and entertainment isolation....what to do for lunch?

Well friends, I think I found my new lunch time sweet spot. 

I drove over the mountain to pick up a carry out lunch and on the way back I realized how close and convenient this parking lot would be for my daily outdoor rendezvous. I've got Vulcan's ample rump for my northerly view and this vista for my southerly view. 

Until and unless security guards tell me to move along, this is where you will find me around noon anytime I've had enough....any time I need the peace and quiet one can only find in a mountaintop parking lot. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ta Da!

After 8 1/2 months without a job, I am once again gainfully employed!  I start on Monday.

No more spending all morning in my pjs.

No more staying up really late and sleeping until all hours.

No more doing as I please when I please.

The trade off is a regular payday!  And security!  And a nice place to work!

I'm happy. I was beginning to think that it would never happen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Never, Neverland

Hello. My name is Stephanie and I'm a mess. Even when I clean out drawers or closets. Even when I purge and purge and purge. I am and shall always be a mess.

My craft area will never resemble this neat rolling caddy. Paper stacks will continue to topple over no matter how many times I carefully rearrange the items.

The floor will be littered with reams of cut up magazines pages. My trash can over-floweth yet, everywhere I look there are excesses of bits and pieces.

I could vow to stop saving torn out magazine pages, snippets of pretty paper, canceled postage stamps or pretty advertising,  but it is a vow I cannot keep. I'm helpless in the sight of PAPER!

Just looking at this drawer makes me feel defeated!  There is no way I could keep a drawer looking this pristine for even one day.

Buttons would jump over the edge of the bowl in wild abandon just as soon as I closed the drawer.

Once I piled the half dozen pairs of scissors I own in the drawer, the pretty emptiness of the space would be forever ruined.

Why you ask do I own a half dozen pairs of scissors?  (it's really more than that)

Because I hate not being able to find a pair when I need them. Besides, I keep using the cloth scissors on paper and ruining them. Then I HAVE to buy a new pair.

This last image makes me feel like laughing. Who could keep a stationary drawer looking as neat as a pin?

Maybe you, but surely not me!

Disclaimer: In no way do the above images represent, either now or in the past, any storage spaces in my home.  Photography custody of Better Homes and Gardens.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

One Week Later

It's unheard of.

It's surprising.

It proves that it's been cold here.

It's been almost a week and there is still snow on big patches of my yard and deck.

It also proves that I have a army of squirrels that live in my backyard. See the acorn shells littering the deck? They have been hard at work all week, excavating their winter cache. The deck railings are covered with nut casings as well.

But, there are signs of hope.

Spring is on the way!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Thoughts

 This is my new desktop background.  I need to see green growing things.

It's been four full days since it snowed.  My yard has the same coverage today as it did on that first morning. This may be no biggie for those of you who receive regular snows. Not for us here in the South. Here, it's snow today...gone tomorrow usually.

I learned something. You can call the Highway Dept. and request that they send out a truck to sand your street.

Today, I drove off my hill for the first time this week.

I had a job interview.

I think it went well.

My fingers are crossed.

It's time for me to go back to work.

I better get my closet cleaning done tomorrow....just in case.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just a Day in the Life

Their sled makes the sound of ice crunching, as the little boys across the street ride it down the hill in front of their house.

The phone rings. I talk to Rachel awhile.

I hear the neighbor boys yelling and crying.

I look out the window to see them fighting a big black dog who is determined to steal their sled. One brother runs to tell Mom, while the other loses the battle with the dog.

Dog walks proudly down the street carrying the purple saucer sled in his mouth.

Mom looks out door as boys tell her all about dog.

Door closes behind boys. Apparently, Mom has told them to go get sled back from irrant dog.

Slowly, they walk through snow covered yards.

Big black dog wanders up onto neighboring porch sans sled. 

Right before disappearing over the hill, I see big brother raise his arm and point. Little brother waits while big brother runs to retrieve sled.

Mission accomplished.

Folks, this little scene has been the excitement of my day.

I am in my pajamas for the second straight day.

I'm slowly taking the ornaments off my Christmas tree.

Yes, I do know that it is January 11th. 
 War Eagle!!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rapscallion (get ready for a rant by me)

Merriam Webster says that,

The word "rascal" has been part of English since the 15th century, but on its own it apparently didn’t quite capture the disagreeable nature of the wily knaves of yore. By the 17th century, English speakers had modified "rascal" to create "rascallion." But it seems that even that term didn’t sound quite mischievous enough. By the century’s end, "rascallion" had been further altered to create "rapscallion." Today, "rapscallion" is still commonly used as a synonym for "blackguard," "scoundrel," and "miscreant." "Rascallion" is still around as well, but it’s very rare.

Mark Twain says,

Them rapscallions took in four hundred and sixtyfive dollars in that three nights. I never see money hauled in by the wagon-load like that before. By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim says:

"Don't it s'prise you de way dem kings carries on, Huck?"

"No," I says, "it don't."

"Why don't it, Huck?"

"Well, it don't, because it's in the breed. I reckon they're all alike,"

"But, Huck, dese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat's jist what dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions."

"Well, that's what I'm a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out."

"Is dat so?"

"You read about them once -- you'll see. Look at Henry the Eight; this 'n 's a Sunday-school Superintendent to HIM. And look at Charles Second, and Louis Fourteen, and Louis Fifteen, and James Second, and Edward Second, and Richard Third, and forty more; besides all them Saxon heptarchies that used to rip around so in old times and raise Cain. My, you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He WAS a blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head next morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was ordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he says. They fetch her up. Next morning, 'Chop off her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane Shore,' he says; and up she comes, Next morning, 'Chop off her head' -- and they chop it off. 'Ring up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the bell. Next morning, 'Chop off her head.' And he made every one of them tell him a tale every night; and he kept that up till he had hogged a thousand and one tales that way, and then he put them all in a book, and called it Domesday Book -- which was a good name and stated the case. You don't know kings, Jim, but I know them;  
-excerpted from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Did you hear about this?  Our national obsession with political correctness has got to stop!

I figure the guy (Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribben) who recommended changing the "N" word and the word "injun" in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to less offensive wording might be called rapscallion by Mr. Twain himself.  

Gribben says he was merely trying to prevent the censor of the book by schools so that more school children will be able read it.  Doesn't the erasure of Twain's use of  racial slurs dampen, even weaken the lesson of the book? Twain used those words specifically to show how wrong the treatment of those who are different from us is.

What has happened to logic and discernment and good sense? We live in a crazy world, if we aren't free to hear the truth, if we think there is anything wrong with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn just the way Twain wrote it.  Children should read the book. They should be taught the meaning of the book. In doing so, they will learn something about America's history and the way we should think about our fellow man. Hopefully they will  gain a clearer understanding of all of mankind. 

If there is a real problem with people calling for censorship of the book, then in my opinion it lies with people who make judgment calls about books they have obviously never read.

'Classic.' A book which people praise and don't read.
-Mark Twain

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Afternoon at the Cinema

Way back when I saw the 1969 version of True Grit and today I saw the 2010 version.  As beloved as John Wayne was and still is as a larger than life movie star, my vote goes to Jeff Bridges for his crusty rendition of that washed up codger of a US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of Hailee Steinfeld  on the big screen. She gave an outstanding performance as Mattie Ross.  As usual, Matt Damon gives a spot on performance as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and give it a resounding 4 1/2 (out of 5) thumbs up.

How about you?  Got an opinion?  Are you a lover of westerns like me and wish the genre would make a come-back?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cleaning Out...Letting It Go

Sadly, hoarding is in my DNA, so it is not part of my nature to get rid of stuff.  But even I acknowledge how wonderful a parred down closet or pantry can be.  A couple of years ago, Rachel helped me clean out the attic. I was brutal and gave or threw away most of the stuff we'd stored up there for the past 20* years.  My  neighbor asked if I was moving, because I put such a big pile of garbage bags out for pick-up.

This year, I'm determined to rid myself of unused, unneeded items that are cluttering up my life.

Back when I was married and had 4 children living at home, I had one closet to call my own. Now, my clothes can be found in 4 closets, with bunches more hanging on the laundry room hanging rack. This is ridiculous. I've resolved to pare them down to the two closets in my bedroom. Since, I have clothes that span a range of sizes and decades, I am asking myself..."if I lose weight, would I even wear this again?"  If the answer isn't a resounding YES, then it must go.  When my mother was moving a few years ago, she kept bringing things over a bridesmaid's dress I wore when I was 18 or the pantsuit I wore on my honeymoon (see what I mean about having hoarding genes).

I am resolved be a hoarder, so clean out I must. Give away, throw away, let it go...that's my motto!

Except with my craft/art supplies. I love them. I use them.  I can't let my babies go...even to a good home.

But, one thing that was no problem to let it go recently, was the leaf debris in my gutters. Lots of leaves on the ground means packed gutters which need emptying regularly. I hate to ask someone to do this job, so it was so nice when my son, Brandon, noticed and took care of it while he was here over the holidays. Some things plainly are trash...well, not really....decomposed gutter compose gets left in the's good for the grass....see...I really am a hoarder!

I'm thinking about starting to collect a box of paper towel tubes, empty oatmeal and cereal boxes, bottles tops, etc. so the grands and I can use them to make castles and stuff whenever they visit. The thing that makes me hesitate is the idea...that now I will be saving trash! 

Which is a scary step for a hoarder to take.  :  )

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Quiet in the House

the Texas crowd arrived last Sunday night

blow 'em up and let 'em fly

meet Miss Personality

 meet Miss Sweet-Cheeks

a few days after the snow melted, in true Alabama style, the temp soared up into the 70s...these poor, poor girls are leaf deprived in their part of Texas, so a part of the afternoon was spent raking and jumping

 let's dress up

 my son gets in on the act...he is pretending to be Mama Ginger (from the Nutcracker) with all the little Gingers hiding under his skirts

 the reveal

Earlier this week, the house was filled with girls, gifts, fun, food, and dirty dishes galore.  There were books to read, stories to tell, paper and tape to make stuff, lots of running and whooping and a little bit of sickness as well. They left early this morning.

It sure is quiet this afternoon..